Akuma is undoubtedly one of Street Fighter’s most popular characters. When it comes to the fighting game genre everybody knows him, but not everyone knows just what turned Akuma into the raging demon that he is today. Origins follows the lives of both Akuma and Gouken. To fully understand just what made Akuma what he is today we need to learn what has moulded Gouken as well.
The story opens with the siblings’ father receiving a visit from his past. To Akuma and Gouken their father was no more than a rice farmer, but he was far more; he was a prized pupil of Gotetsu the sensei of Ansatsuken. Their father, however, had turned away from his former life, as his use of Ansatsuken to assassinate people had led him down the path of the infamous dark hado. This unexpected visit from the past changes their lives forever and the young boys and their mother are forced to flee from the comfort of their home. It is here that we see the different ways in which the events that occurred had affect the minds of these impressionable children. Whilst Gouken sought to protect, Akuma sought revenge. Guess you could only expect this of a child named Akuma, which translates to the equivalent of Demon/Devil.
Angered by his desire to punish those that lack honor, Akuma decides to venture into the forest and fight a bear in order to calm himself. He barely survives, but Gotetsu saves him from certain death. Akuma is then adopted and trained by the very man that trained his father. From here we get to see just what led to Akuma living the life that he leads. We are also given the opportunity to see him experience his first street fight. He believes in honour and that those who place anything above it are less than worthy and deserve to be punished. Meanwhile, Gouken finds his way to the Ansatsuken sensei. He seeks training as well and is sent on his own introspective journey to find what is meaningful in his life. So the reader gets to see a bit of Gouken’s growth as well, albeit it’s far less entertaining than Akuma’s story.
Yes, there is quite a large portion of storytelling in this one, but make no mistake about it there are some stunning action sequences. Being a street fighter book, you can expect to see flaming uppercuts, whirlwind kicks and hadokens. The clash between brothers is illustrated perfectly in this issue and it covers quite a number of pages, really drawing you into the intensity of the battle as you are never quite certain as to whose gauge has more health. The purple energy generated by Akuma translates very well. Espen Grundetjern certainly pulls off some excellent colouring in this one.
Joe Ng gives us some great artwork. You get to see Akuma grow throughout the book, from being a skinny lad with and anger problem to a muscular specimen of martial arts perfection. As he starts to embrace the dark side he only gets bigger and more demonic looking. The movements in this book are smooth. You can feel that the artist has tried to keep the flow of battle fluid as though it were a round of the game. The attentions to detail on the faces are great, as it helps the reader to see the stages of Akuma’s demonic transformation as well as the fear he invokes within his prey.
This origin story made for a great read. It offers a well thought out story and packs some stunning visuals during action sequences. The final pages of the book also provide the reader with various bonuses such as pictures of the characters that show their representation across all of the Street Fighter games. You are also given some sketched pages as an added treat. So this book is definitely bang for your buck. It is definitely something all Akuma fans, even Street Fighters fans, should own.