Tekken 6 Character Countdown Part 9: Ganryu


His biggest muscle is the one that beats deep within…

As a way of counting down the time to the release of Tekken 6 for the PS3 and Xbox360, I’ve decided to begin this weekly series of lengthy, character-specific articles, each one featuring one of the 40 or so competing warriors in the latest and greatest King of Iron Fist Tournament. Hopefully, by the time we finish and reach character number 40, we’ll have the console version of Tekken in our hands already.

Part 9 brings us to admittedly one of the more, er, niche members of the roster. Certainly not one with the popularity of the Mishimas, Laws, Hwoarangs or Paul Phoenixes of the world, this fighter’s devotion to his ancient art and school gives him a unique look and style, but it also sets him as a character with an ‘acquired taste’. Being a half-naked, big fat bloke in his fifties with a fetish for Pocahontas coplayers doesn’t help either. But still, anyone going up against Tekken’s one and only sumo would be wise to never, ever underestimate the wily Yokozuna. We’re talking, of course, about Ganryu.

Ganryu

Distinguishing Features: He’s a big, fat Japanese guy with a samurai topknot in a loin cloth.

Strengths: Despite his obvious bulk, a sumo’s power lies not just in his sheer mass and ability to push forward with brutal momentum… he’s also incredibly balanced, flexible and surprisingly agile, allowing for some pretty deceptive attacks and surprising tactics. As goofy as this sumo can be in love, when in the ring he’s all business… and his business is all about taking the competition out of the picture.

Weaknesses: Once blocked, he is wide open to getting punished. Not the fastest of fighters. Gets weak in the knees when in the presence of his lady loves, Michelle or Julia Chang.

Affiliation: Himself. Despite having worked for Kazuya Mishima in the past, he is currently competing in the tournament for his own personal goal of advertising his new restaurant.

Background: The youngest ever to attain the rank of Yokozuna in the sumo world, Ganryu gained fame and notoriety when he joined the ranks of Heihachi Mishima’s lieutenants in the first Tekken Tournament. Ganryu participated in some unsavory deeds as one of the Tekken Force. After being defeated in the tournament by Michelle Chang, he was dealt a second blow when he learned that his ill-gotten wealth had been stolen and redistributed among the poor by Yoshimitsu’s Manji Clan.

But while he eventually shrugged off the theft, one wound continued to hurt him- inexplicably, Ganryu had fallen in love with Michelle Chang. In Tekken 2, though he worked as a bodyguard for Kazuya, his efforts were totally dedicated to wooing Michelle. Predictably, Michelle flatly refused his advances, leaving the sumo heartbroken.

Ganryu apparently sat in the sidelines for the next few tournaments, burying himself in the work of establishing his own sumo stable in order to forget Michelle. When a young woman with virtually the same beauty of his lost love appeared on TV years later, Ganryu’s heart was suddenly filled with yearning. And so, the sumo came out of retirement (at age 55) to participate in the King of Iron Fist Tournament 5 with the goal of winning Julia Chang’s heart.

During his time in the tournamnet, Ganryu eventually wandered into the Mishima Research Facilities and found the Forest Research Data Julia was searching for. He made his escape and after the tournament contacted the object of his affections for a meeting. Julia was grateful for Ganryu’s offering, but unfortunately for the sumo, by the time he could muster the courage to profess his love, Julia had already disappeared.

Once again heartbroken, Ganryu decided to finally give up and just concentrate on another goal- that of building his own sumo-themed restaurant. As the war raged around the world and the latest King of Iron Fist Tournament was announced, Ganryu enters to make his dream come true.

Character Analysis: Okay, let me get this out of the way first. Ganryu is NOT a favorite of mine. Just what can be more painful to the eyes than a half-naked man-mountain like this dude? Well, to be fair, I do enjoy his cool and brutal throws, and he’s one of the faster big fighters. But the most I enjoy from him is his story. I guess the devs really hit a nail on the head by giving this otherwise uncharismatic character a pretty funny and humorous storyline to make players enjoy following his ‘saga’ in the game. It came from left field but it just works. It’s hilarious and goes a long way to making this guy a lot more approachable than other sumo in other games.

Despite having a bad rap early on as a villain and henchman, time has eventually revealed that the sumo really isn’t such a bad guy. Take away the sumo trappings and the layers (and layers) of fat and muscle, and you’ve got a simple guy, with simple dreams- the dream of owning one’s own chain of restaurants with your lady love at your side. I mean, who wouldn’t want his own beautiful martial arts Indian princess to tickle his tummy with her little feather…? Well, my distaste of his fashion sense and Rock Lee-magnitude eyebrows aside, I wish ol’ Ganny all the luck in the world.

What lies in the future for Tekken’s Yokozuna? Certainly I don’t see him walking down the aisle anytime soon to meet a half-Indian, half-Chinese bride… but Ganryu is pretty clever for such a big guy. He’s got a good chance of making it through the tournament with a pretty penny (even better than that of the pauper crew of Law and Paul, I think), so we can probably expect Sumo-San Tekken to open its branches soon. However, longevity is questionable, as it’s pretty certain that the next Tekkens will surely have a need for a sumo back on the roster, for another try at glory or big bucks. And perhaps, another shot at love..?

Next week, we’ll take on another fighter’s story! Stay tuned.

Tekken 6 comes out for the PS3 and Xbox360 in Fall 2009.

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