Street Fighter 6 adds American Ninja Kimberly

Meet Kimberly, a ninja girl with plenty of pizzazz. 

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During EVO 2022, Capcom introduced Street Fighter 6 newcomer Kimberly, a spunky fresh energetic ninja from the United States of America in a trailer. After more than 30 years, she is the first Black American female fighter to grace the franchise. 

To sum up Kimberly's character, she is a modern-day ninja (and prodigy character) who is obsessed with '80s pop culture. She also carries around a portable cassette player and several graffiti spray cans to express herself.

Despite all this, Kimberly's bio states that she actually had an normal upbringing and graduated from college early. Though at some point in her life she decided to become a full-fledged ninja.

Show ya moves

As a student trained under street Fighter veteran Guy, Kimberly uses the Bushinryu ninjutsu fighting style reminiscent of Guy/Zeku, however with her own twist.

For instance, alongside her traditional ninja techniques, the young woman utilizes her spray paint cans as smoke bombs and graffiti, kind of like the exaggerated swagger of a Black teen. As seen during one of her special moves, the music she's listening to also gives her an adrenaline rush. 

But don't get it twisted, because Kimberly takes her craft seriously and embodies Bushinryu Ninjutsu. She is a devoted Student, who has trained in body and mind in order to execute expert ninja skills, reminiscent of her master, Guy.

As you're probably already aware, Kimberly is a quick and nimble fighter with speedy acrobatic movements. But that doesn't take anything away from her high physical strength, which is showcased during her arsenal of techniques.

To top that, she is also an expert at sprinting and attacks in the air, overall making her a formidable and unpredictable opponent in the right hands. 

Character design

In terms of Kimberly's character design, SF6 director Takayuki Nakayama told Playstation blog they aimed for an outfit fitting for a girl as nimble and acrobatic as Kimberly, who he revealed also excels in sports like track-and-field and cheerleading.

He also said that the brightly coloured gi and sneakers she rocks are suitable for moving around quickly, while they tried to make her hairstyle and outfit showcase her striking silhouette, since she is an expert at running and airborne attacks. 

There's no denying that Kimberly is peak character design and perfectly fits the “brand new era” of Street Fighter and hip-hop vibe which Capcom is aiming for. Her long flowing poetic justice braids compliments her brown caramel skin, while her toned abs shows us she keeps in shape and means business.

She is a also a a snappy dresser whose unique personal style makes her stand out even more so. She manages to rock a sleek headband, shoulder padded gi, leggings along with a pair of converse shoes and still end up looking kickass. 

It's actually refreshing to see a phenotypically unambiguous Black woman in a Japanese fighting game made by Capcom. While Street Fighter 3 Elena was the first Black woman to be introduced to the series in 1997, compared to Kimberly she is just brown-skinned with "anime features", despite hailing from Kenya.

Funnily enough for years, Elena's race has been questioned by certain fans who insist that the Kenyan princess is not Black and merely tanned, due to her racially ambiguous features. Though surely Kimberly won't have this problem, because she is a brown skin girl with textured hair, dark brown eyes, and a flat nose bridge.

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The first  

An interesting fact about Kimberly is that she's the series first Black American female fighter and joins the boxer character Balrog as the second playable African American character to appear in the Street Fighter series so far.

However it's worth noting that she actually isn't the first Black female character from the USA introduced, because before her was the Judgement girl Fair Libre, a tall Black American woman from Brooklyn New York, who decided on a winner in the event of a draw in Street Fighter 3.

However Fair LIbre is relatively unknown, mainly due to the fact that she only appeared onscreen during a draw match, which is extremely rare to obtain. Fair Libre is similar to Kimberly in some aspects as they are both Black American woman with brown caramel skin and long hair, who love music.

The master and the prodigy

The Street Fighter series has always leaned on prodigy characters to freshen up the roster from time to time, which is a pretty cool aspect. Kimberly joins a long line of prodigies who slightly defer from their masters to shake things up

Much like how Sakura is a keen yet laidback student of Ryu, and Sean Matsuda emulates his idol ken Masters moves to the best of his ability, Kimberly takes notes from Guy and his master Zeku as the 39th successor to Bushinryu.

Kimberly puts her own twist on the fictional ninjutsu style

In the announcement trailer which showcased the kunochi ninja's moves, fans of the franchise immediately recognised a handful of manoeuvres she pulled off, which looked identical to Guy and Zeku. Though as previously stated, Kimberly puts her own twist on the fictional ninjutsu style and is by no means a carbon copy.

The thing which is most cool about Kimberly as a protégé, is the fact that she isn't portrayed as a lesser skilled rookie like Sean, or even Sakura to a degree. Her animations all express confidence, power and skill. She's not clumsily copying Bushinryu, she's showcasing mastery of Bushin Style.

To elaborate a little more, she's a far cry from how Sean and Sakura are portrayed, in the sense that Kimberly is shown to have a ton of confidence in how she fights and practises Bushinryu. On the other hand Sean has this "oh wow I did a move" amateur aspect to him, where as Sakura is more a "I' m just here for fun" character which translates to how they perform moves and their personality.

Kimberly isn't neither, she's just cocksure the entire time, while forging her own path to get around her inexperience when using Bushinryu. It's a very refreshing blend and is probably the best take on the apprentice tropes the series has seen yet. 

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Behind the voices

The English voice actor for Kimberly is Anairis Quiñones, an American voice actress from Orlando, Florida who has lent her voice to a number of anime characters, her most noteworthy roles being (Mirko in My Hero Academia and Nessa in Pokémon: Twilight Wings). Meanwhile in the Japanese version she is voiced by Nao Toyama.

What is she listening to?

As previously stated, Kimberly carries around a portable cassette player with her due to her love for 80s pop culture. With that being said, in a tweet on Twitter,  director Nakayama hinted that she is listening to an musician from the Street Fighter Verse. 

In the tweet he said "
The music she listens to originate from a certain person, but you’ll have to wait to find out who that is in #StreetFighter6." 

Now the only known musician in the series is the Jamaican kick boxer Deejay who has made a name for himself not only in the ring, but also as a famous musician and recording artist. He also happened to be one of the characters who appeared on the leaked street fighter 6 roster.

Final thoughts 

Kimberly is a breath of fresh air in a franchise which had being prioritizing blonde characters to the point that Street Fighter 5 earned the nickname "Blonde Fighter V". Thankfully a character like Kimberly is a step in the right direction for the franchise and definitely brings something new to the table in terms of her look and original graffiti ninja style of fighting.


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