Capcom's Street Fighter franchise boasts many larger than life characters each capable of crippling you at a moment's notice, but one of the most powerful, more dangerous, and most mysterious combatants is Akuma. First appearing as a secret character in Super Street Fighter II Turbo where, under certain difficult circumstances, he interrupted the climactic final battle against M. Bison, he's gone on to become one of the faces of the Street Fighter brand. Den of Geek chronicles his history across video games, movies, anime, comics, crossover appearances in other games, and much more.
Akuma is the younger brother of Gouken. Together, they studied Ansatsuken (“Assassin’s Fist”) under their master Goutetsu. Akuma, obsessed with becoming the strongest, believed that the dark side of the martial art style is where it’s at and let the killing intent consume him. He mastered the Raging Demon (also known as “Shun Goku Satsu”), a Penance Stare-like fatal attack that does more damage depending on the sins of the victim, and used it on both his teacher and brother. Now Akuma hides in the shadows, hoping to find the one worthy opponent that he can fight to the death. He’s powered by his own negative emotions, and it's physically transformed him into a demon.
I remember first reading about Akuma in an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly right about the time that SSF2T was hitting arcades, but I knew I would never be able to face him there. He remained a secret character locked away behind complex requirements for most of his early appearances, and it wasn't until the original release of Street Fighter IV that I finally was skilled enough to unlock him on a regular basis. While other Street Fighter warriors have complex reasons for why they fight, Akuma's is refreshingly simple. After all, anyone who is known for a special attack called Instant Hell Murder probably has his priorities straight.
Reading the Den of Geek article, I was surprised at just how many guest appearances Akuma has racked up over the years. Making him appear as a technologically augmented Cyber Akuma in Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter should feel like Capcom descending into self-parody, but it works. I want to see him appear in Street Fighter V, but for now he's only slated to play a large part in the upcoming Tekken 7 where instead of being a guest character for the sake of just being a guest, trailers imply he's a major part of the storyline. That's a pretty good character arc for a character originally created to keep up with Mortal Kombat which gained extra popularity and mystique during its rivalry with Street Fighter II thanks to the hidden ninja Reptile.