Ryu is a ruthless killer. The guy is incredibly skilled at murdering people through different acrobatic, creative ways. Now, in his defense, usually these people and/or monsters are trying to murder him right back. The fact still remains, however, that at his core, he is an assassin, often for hire, and never has qualms about straight-up killing people until they’re dead.
So, what does this say about his mind? Is Ryu a sociopath, able to kill people wantonly without any sign of remorse. Is he a more complex individual, killing out of a sense of necessity, but never without feeling a bit of guilt about his actions? Does he distinguish monsters from people, or are all the people he kills merely monsters in his mind?
The third game has periods that suggest he does, in fact, feel remorse for a lot of the people he kills. The plague that infects his arm and spreads through his body is effectively the physical manifestation of all the souls he’s taken, and the lives he’s extinguished. He has a moment, later, in the graveyard of souls, where he is convinced by another that he should not feel guilt for the people he’s killed, and that he needs to shed the burden he’s carrying.
However, I don’t think Ryu carries a burden like The Arrow does, at least not in the same way. He doesn’t have a crippling guilt complex that stays his blade, or causes him to make bad decisions. He’s also not an emotionless machine, and he shows compassion and caring for his own clan, which kind of rules out the sociopath option. I believe, at his root, Ryu has a comfortable moral high ground that he rests upon.
Most of the people that he kills are either in open combat with him, or are in service to dark demons and monsters. In fact, if you look at his motivations in all of the games, he is basically committed to saving people, eliminating the darkness, and protecting his clan. Yes, he kills a lot of people in service to these causes, but it’s not a quest of pleasure or gratification.
The fact is, Ryu is, at his worst, incredibly driven. He was raised in an environment where death and combat are considered “normal.” He is not sadistic, so much as he is cold. Sadism would imply he takes pleasure from cruelty. Instead, he prefers a quick death to a long, drawn-out engagement, and his kills are merely a means to an end.
Ryu doesn’t allow barriers of any kind to get in his way. He goes up, around, or through them, regardless of whether they’re people or physical obstacles. If we are going to emulate Ryu, we must be adaptable and indomitable. As an Assassin, his preferred method is actually to evade, avoid, and find creative ways of getting around trouble. He only fights when presented without other options. Unfortunately for Ryu, his foes are skilled enough that he doesn’t often have other options, but even then his combat style is based strongly upon evasion and acrobatics, rather than simply smashing through his target.
If you are trying to be an Assassin, you should have two thoughts in mind. First, any obstacle that exists in your path should be solved in the simplest, quickest, and least noticeable way possible. Second, any obstacle, and I mean any obstacle, is capable of being solved, by any means necessary.
Basically, your approach to solving problems should be as ghost-like as possible. When you’re working at your best, no one should even notice that you’re working. However, there is also literally no problem you are not willing to solve, and no methodology of solving problems that is taboo. Avoid the extremes if at all possible, but be willing to go to extremes if the problem presents no other solution.
Ryu does not carry guilt like a normal person would in his situation because he does not see people, he sees problems to solve. If that problem can be solved by scaling the back side of a building and avoiding an entire platoon of Vigoorian soldiers, then that is how the problem is best solved. If the only way to solve the problem is to take down a military helicopter, then you better get yourself some explosive arrows, damn it.
That’s all for Ryu Hayabusa! I hope you all enjoyed our time with the super ninja (I know I sure did). This Saturday we’ll have a video post. Unfortunately, it’s still as cold as Siberia outside, so I won’t be able to finish the salmon ladder construction video yet, so we’ll have an indoor exercise breakdown instead (featuring some stuff from The Ryu Hayabusa Workout, among other things.) I’ll see you then! Until then, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace