Blame The Lag

Mushroom Soup For The Pixelated Soul

Character Corner: Zangief

For this blog, I have decided to add a few categories that pertain to a certain subject. One of these categories will deal with videogame characters, in which I dedicate a single post to whichever character I feel like dissecting with praise, pondering, or pity.

With the recent release of Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (if you had time to read that title, then you have time to go download it off your PS3 or Xbox 360 if you hadn’t done so already), I’m dedicating the first character watch to Zangief.

No, no, I’m not a big fan of him. Consider me part of the crowd that likes his Shotoclones and badass moe cuties. Sure, I like to have fun with the big, muscular guys now and then (that sounded really wrong, but I already dug myself a hole by using the term “moe”), but if it’s a serious match, then I always stick to good ‘ol reliable down+down-forward+forward+fierce.

So why am I talking about Zangief today? Because well…I don’t get Zangief.

I know what you’re thinking: “What is there to get?”. Not like the giant steroid characters ever have a deep story, right?

Well that’s the thing, most of them do have a story, a motivation for fighting. Nothing big, usually it’s something to prove there’s a heart hidden under all that muscle mass, like protecting their homeland, girlfriend, kitty cat, whatever.

What the hell is Zangief’s reason for fighting? In the original, it was to represent his beloved homeland of Mother Russia.

But lately it seems he only likes to fight for the sheer hell of it. As you know, Street Fighter has appeared as other forms of media, mainly anime, manga, comics, and that live movie everyone tries to forget, but can’t. In most of those situations, Zangief usually makes a brief appearance, sans dialog. Growling and roaring like the very bears he massacres on a daily basis, when Zangief shows up it’s usually to fuck up whoever is in the scene with him.

Take the Street Fighter Alpha OVA. We get an original character in the form of Ryu’s brother Shun.

This kid. And for you purists who haven’t seen it, keep the bitching down; he’s not really his brother. Duh.

Naturally, the kid wants to become an awesome fighter like his big not-brother. He signs up for a tournament, and guess who his first opponent is.

Good Lord, he’s so pumped up that he pops a vein just by grimacing. Holy shit.

As I mentioned before, the giant muscle character is usually a softy at heart, respectful of mother nature, little kids, and all that noise. But Zangief? He doesn’t say a word. Soon as the bell rings, he’s doing this.

Now to be fair, Shun isn’t a normal fake brother of Ryu (again, big surprise). He gets into a psycho rage when fighting, and he’s tough enough to give guys like Zangief a tough time.

But this was only partly into the fight. Before the match was even official, Zangief was tearing out the door to his steel cage and throwing it at Shun.

Also, ouch.

A similar scenario occures with Sakura, both in her Udon miniseries and manga miniseries. Sakura comes across Zangief, eager to test her abilities. Does Zangief show any restraint with the knowledge that he’s a seasoned bear wrestler and she’s just a naive high school girl?

Nope. “Bring it on!”, Zangief tells both Sakura and Cammy in the manga. “One arm to take on each girl!”

So basically, Zangief will fight whatever you throw at him. A chicken, an old guy in a wheelchair, the cub of the bear he decapitated, it doesn’t matter. Zangief will rip you apart.

It’s a bit disheartining, becuase in the earlier days I considered Zangief the gentle kind of giant. The kind of guy that loves to have a serious competition with you, but laughs off the match and has a beer with you afterwards. Just look at his ending from Street Fighter Alpha 3.

How awesome is that? The combined power of Zangief’s muscles and Honda’s blubber saved the day. Why can’t we have more stuff like that?

Even the live movie had Zangief start off as a villain, but his cartoonish stupidity made him hard to dislike, not to mention the fact that he switched to the side of good by the end. The USA cartoon went and made him a villain again, though.

At this rate, they should just make his Marvel vs Capcom incarnation the main canon one.

It fits his current bloodthirsty style much better. Also he gushes blood from his head in a faster and wider rate.

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This entry was posted on November 27, 2008 by in Character Corner and tagged , .
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