I’m writing this while waiting for things to spawn in World of Warcraft (both rares AND news, ho ho ho), but if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed me being obsessed with Zangief from Street Fighter the past few days. Well, Zangief, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, which I’ve been watching recently. I figured I’d do a post dedicated to his glory!
Zangief first appeared in Street Fighter 2, and of course represents Russia, or the Soviet Union as it was back then. His primary aim is to fight for the glory of Mother Russia! He’s fearless, he’s proud of his magnificent muscles, he’s tactically astute in a fight (contrary to his appearance as a muscle-bound brute), but also contrary to his appearance (I mean, look at that picture above!) he’s good-humoured and rather gentle in nature. His story in Street Fighter 4 was all about him trying to win the admiration of his young fans who were starting to think he (and wrestling itself!) couldn’t stand up against other forms of martial arts!
His initial concept wasn’t too far from what he ended up becoming, though he had a different name (Vodka Gobalsky), a tattoo, and black vest-top. He kept the scars, the muscles, the facial hair and the mohawk, and his name was changed to be a reference to Victor Zangiev, a Russian wrestler who primarily wrestled in Japan.
It was rumoured that Zangief was gay, as his Street Fighter II profile claimed he dislikes “beautiful young women,” and in IV he refers to Akuma as “kinda cute,” (like a pug apparently) but nothing has ever been officially stated on this. It could just be that he prefers older women, and perhaps “cute” was a mistranslation of some sort.
Either way, whether he is or he isn’t, he’s rather popular with a section of gay fans due to his appearance as a “bear,” i.e. masculine, hairy and large (either muscular or fat!). Personally, I kinda think it’d be cool if he was as here we have a powerful, confident, utterly MANLY character that would help to dispel the stereotype of gay people being feminine and passive. Even if he’s NOT, it won’t stop me liking him. He fits firmly into the sphere of “men I think are fuckin’ HOT” after all, but it’s not just aesthetics that makes him appeal to me. It’s how he plays too.
Everything is better with spinning.
Zangief is the archetypal “grappler” character. His effective range is “in your damn face” and if he’s outside that range, he will be doing his damnedest to get in it. He hits like a truck, but he takes effort to be able to do so and “zoning” characters (those that use projectiles and long-ranged normal/special attacks to keep opponents at a distance they are not effective at) have the easiest time against him.
That being said, he does have tools to deal with them. His Spinning Lariat moves let projectiles pass through him, his Banishing Flat when timed right can absorb projectiles, and his EX Flying Power Bomb can absorb a single hit. He’s all about timing your advance then destroying your opponents when you get close. His command throws have no startup, meaning if you’re in range and grounded/not otherwise throw invincible when he performs them, you’re gonna be eating a LOT of damage, and as you see in the video above, you’re not even safe in the air.
So there we go. He’s strong, he’s hot, he’s damn bloody effective, he’s patriotic and he cares for his fans, and I am extremely excited that I get to carry on playing as him when Street Fighter V comes out next year.