Street Fighter 6 draws ever closer, and standing at the poster child of this new game is the American MMA fighter Luke. He was even originally introduced in Street Fighter V as the bridge to the anticipated sequel. But as prominent as Luke is, I actually think another new character might be the true protagonist of Street Fighter VI: the black female ninja, Kimberly.
The new Street Fighter leans heavily into an urban street aesthetic, most notably in the use of spray paint/graffiti as reflective of hip hop culture. While this motif been around to certain degrees since the very first Street Fighter (like on the title screen), here it’s a defining part of the look and feel of SF6. And if you look at all the new characters, only Kimberly incorporates spray paint in her moveset. She combines it with her ninjutsu training under Guy from Final Fight, taking the old and giving it a fresh coat.
I’m entertaining this possibility because I see it as a way for the Street Fighter franchise to stealthily push a forward-looking diversity that celebrates its international fandom while simultaneously shielding itself from the pitchforks of overly sensitive cultural conservatives who are afraid of having their games not be represented by a conventionally muscular manly man. Luke almost feels like a Trojan horse: “Look over here at this blond American tough guy! Isn’t he what you want?” Meanwhile, Kimberly thoroughly embodies the spirit of SF6.
And that’s on top of having Ryu, Ken, and Chun-li still around. I could be completely wrong in the end, but even if I am, I think Kimberly is already a breakout character among a crowded roster of excellent new designs. She’ll at least wind up being the Chun-Li of Street Fighter 6.