Monday was a big day for Street Fighter V fans. That’s because we weren’t just getting one new character. No, we were getting two! Both Oro and Akira were both released on the same day and both of them are veterans of other Capcom fighters. Oro from the Street Fighter III games and Akira from the Rival Schools franchise. I had to choose between them on who to write a review for and it was an easy choice. I just had to get my hands on Akira and test her out.
There was simply a lot to Akira which singled her out as the one I wanted to test extensively. She’s technically a guest character as she’s the first and only Rival Schools character (excluding Sakura) who made the transition to the Street Fighter world. I wanted to see if and how some of the mechanics from that game made it over here. Akira also has a very nice design, retaining most of her iconic look from the Rival School games while still transitioning well into Street Fighter. I will say her proportions do look a little weird as it’s like her head seems a little too big for her body, giving her a more anime look than the rest of the Street Fighter characters. It’s not distracting but it does bear mentioning. I even like her overall personality she exudes. While she comes off as a tomboy, she’s still feminine enough to make her adorable as all heck.
Akira does seem to have a lot of good tools to be viable in Street Fighter V. She has several good anti-airs available to her normally. Her crouching heavy punch is great against most jump-ins. Her standing medium kick also can work well to counter jumping opponents. If all else fails, she also can meet her opponent in the air for an air throw, which is always neat. Akira also has a lot of really good tools in neutral. Her standing heavy kick has really good range and, at the right distance can be relatively safe on block. Her standing medium and heavy punches also make for some nice pokes to keep the opponent away. In fact, her standing heavy punch is kind of godlike as, not only can it work in frame traps, you can also confirm it into her 3-hit target combo which does really good damage as well as a lot of corner carry.
This does make it disappointing that Akira’s special attacks don’t really come off as all that special on their own. Her short range projectile, Kiko Kai, can be performed both on the ground and while jumping forward. The jumping version is rather cool as it can cover her descent pretty good, even beating out some normal anti-airs if done preemptively. The EX version of the Kiko Kai, however, is awesome! It travels virtually full screen, can nullify most regular projectiles and still hit the opponent and has great vertical range! Her dashing elbow, the Urarimon, is good as a combo ender or extender but very dangerous if used raw. The Senshubu is a kick special that hits at 3 varying heights and you can tack on an additional Senshubu afterward. The light version hits low but doesn’t have good range. The medium version has the best range but unsafe on block. The most rewarding would be the heavy version, which launches the opponent in the air but will whiff on crouching opponents. This can be mitigated in combos by using her crouching heavy punch, which forces the opponent to stand.
Akira’s best special has to be her Hotenshu. It’s a vertical kick that looks and behaves like a Shoryuken but so much better. All versions take priority over jumping attacks but the heavy version is notable because of how deceptively it can it from a ways out! You can also use it in juggle combos for the most part. Still, if you whiff or this is blocked, be prepared to eat a really damaging combo afterwards.
What makes Akira really good are her V-Skills and her V-Triggers. Her V-Skill 1, Kiko Rensei, powers up her next Kiko Kai special. It doesn’t actually do more damage but it now causes more hitstun, allowing Akira to link into her normals afterwards if close enough. The heavy punch version of the powered up Kiko Kai can even link into Akira’s standing heavy punch afterwards, which, I already mentioned, can link into one of her target combos! If she shoots out the powered up Kiko Kai while jumping, Akira lands much faster, making it possible to do jumping combos from it. Her V-Skill 2, Tsutenda, is a very high launcher if done raw or a shorter version if done from her target combos. This is really good if you can get the timing down for the aerial hits. You can really tack on an enormous number of hits, which is awesome to look at. Unfortunately, the damage scaling does really hurt it quite a bit. It’s not bad enough to discount it but you have to be really optimal with your attacks after Tsutenda.
Akira’s V-Triggers are also really awesome as they both have their uses and only require 2 bars to activate. Her V-Skill 1, Okoto no Senaka, summons Daigo, her brother to plummet from the sky and stomp on her opponent. It works a lot like R. Mika summoning Nadeshiko. However, Daigo is a little more fearsome as he lingers on the screen before shooting out a massive pillar of energy, launching her opponent! This cannot be interrupted, making it both a way for Akira to extend combos but as a keepaway threat. Her V-Trigger 2, Haten no Kamae, is a little more tricky to use. Activating this puts Akira into an attack stance which leads to different attacks. She also gets a really good anti-air from this! What makes this scary is you can immediately cancel the stance by pressing down on the controller, making it possible to take your opponent by surprise with a throw if you’re close enough!
Suffice to say, I really like Akira. However, she does have a rather high technical barrier as her V-Skills and V-Triggers requires a lot of setup to use properly. Her normals are great for footsies but she can definitely be outranged by a good number of the current cast. Her special attacks seem to be a big sticking point for me as, while they’re good, they could have been so much better and more useful. I kind of wish she had better tools against projectile throwers but this just means she has to close the distance to be viable. Then again, with Akira’s walking speed, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. I can see someone like Punk using her really well as she does play like Karin a bit. Either way, Akira is a blast to play but perhaps her skill level is just a tad too high for me to fully appreciate.
Have you tried playing as Akira? What did you think of her? Let me know in the comments section below!