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Volume I: Heaven
Some time after the events of Street Fighter Alpha and Sakura Garburo, we see an older Ryu training by Shujyaku Temple, revisiting memories of his adolescent training with Ken Masters, his past struggles with the Dark Hadou and his overall mission of becoming a true martial artist. Meanwhile, Ken tracks down Gill and challenges him to a fight. Gill is unimpressed by Ken's ambition for using him as a stepping stone towards surpassing Ryu, but nevertheless obliges. Revving up his power, Gill announces to Ken that he will soon taste the power of a “god” and both fighters clash.
Months later, Ryu and Ken's disciple, Sean, visit Ken and his family on his flashy sea cruiser. Sean expresses concern to Ryu about his master, believing that recently Ken has gotten soft and it has diminished his overall fighting prowess. After the two rivals catch up, Ryu and Ken engage in a rematch with Ken overwhelming Ryu before his wife Eliza and their son, Mel. Ken claims to have become a true martial artist, finally finding his “power of soul”, his inner strength that manifested after nearly dying at the hands of Gill. Ken chides Ryu that his newfound strength comes from his family, something that he could never have achieved by himself and that Ryu will have to find his own strength on his own. Determined to find his own power of soul, Ryu soon departs.
Later, while Ryu is napping, the hermit Oro attempts to rob Ryu of his belongings. Ryu easily senses Oro's presence and calmly asks for them back, only to have Oro challenge Ryu for the right to his belongings. Ryu accepts with Oro surprising him with his mystical powers and skills, proving to be more than just an ordinary hermit. During the fight, Oro reveals that he knows of Ryu's search for his power of soul and determines that he has already found it after witnessing Ryu's power, but that Ryu simply doesn't know it yet. Identifying and refining Ryu's chi manipulation with an attack of his own, the Yagyou Dama, Oro overwhelms Ryu and is victorious. Disappointed that Ryu's belongings are just garments, Oro declares that instead Ryu shall be his apprentice and will help him discover his power of soul.
Oro trains Ryu by using his mystical powers to keep a massive boulder steady on his back, working to push his physical body to its limits. Riding the boulder, Oro orders Ryu to head to a nearby town in Germany so they can eat. Overhearing Oro's predicament on their limited income, the pro wrestling manager Poison meets up with the two and suggests a way to earn some extra cash by participating in a three-minute match against her fighter, Hugo.
During the fight, Hugo is adamant about fighting because of his desire to make his mother proud, but after some goading from Poison, Hugo violently emerges from Poison's trailer truck and the two begin their fight. Ryu is stymied by Hugo's monstrous size, but fights on despite having his energy drained due to Oro's boulder training. The fight is evenly matched, Hugo wanting to end the match with his Moonsault Press attack, but is forbidden by Poison from using it. Hugo becomes frustrated by Ryu's persistence and eventually convinces Poison to let him to use the Moonsault Press to end the match. As Hugo prepares to complete the attack, Ryu counters with a Shoryuken, pushing his body past his limits despite Oro's efforts. Oro is convinced that Ryu's power of soul comes from his bringing out the best of his opponents, transforming them into worthy fighters with Hugo being no exception. The simultaneous attacks ends the exciting three-minute match with a double K.O. With both fighters content with the end result, they collect their earnings and go about their separate ways.
In Rome, Ryu and Oro purchase supplies for their travels. As Oro complains about their meager necessities, he states that despite Ryu's fledgling power of soul and strength, he believes that Ryu doesn't rank himself as a true martial artist. It is then he realizes that Ryu has indeed met a true martial artist (Akuma) and that he is currently not even close to that level of mastery. They encounter the twins Yun and Yang, who knocks a chef through a window of his restaurant after a dispute over their meal. As the chef clings onto Ryu and begs for help, the brothers realize that the person before them is Ryu, and requests a spar with him. Ryu accepts, fighting Yun first.
Yun fights valiantly, but despite his superior speed, his predictable moves and lack of experience makes quick work of him as Ryu powers through Yun's attacks. After defeating Yun, Ryu explains his meeting with the true martial artist (Akuma) back when he was a boy. After trying to get Gouken's acceptance into being his apprentice, a younger Ryu first goes on a quest by Gouken to defeat a monstrous bear that's been attacking the nearby villagers by the end of the day. Ryu accepts, Gouken not realizing until later that Ryu was wounded sometime earlier by the bear and goes off to find him for fear of Ryu's life. The bear becomes feral after getting a taste of blood and easily overwhelms Ryu. As the bear is about to kill him, Akuma springs from out of nowhere and easily dispatches the bear by punching through the back of its skull with his Fatal Strike. The wounded Ryu confronts Akuma, saying that he could have easily driven the bear away instead of killing it, with Akuma arguing that a martial artist wields his fist with all his might and that it is foolish to possess hesitation. Ryu states killing to be wrong and then faints, Gouken arriving on time and orders Akuma to leave. Akuma obliges, saying that he'll leave Ryu's to Gouken's care.
To this day, Ryu believes that Akuma had challenged him to spend his life to overcome the killing strike and end the conflict for future martial artists once and for all. Yang proceeds to take Yun's place in combat, using strikes with unnatural paths to prevent Ryu's prediction of his attacks. However, the altered courses also reduce the strength of his attacks and Ryu plows through them and uses his superior power to gain dominance in the fight. Yun and Yang are convinced that they need more training, and Ryu states that they'll fight again when they're more experienced.
In England, Ryu spots a giant tree on the horizon and reminisces of the tree he would spend time with while training years ago. Not long afterward, Ryu and Oro narrowly avoid being hit by Dudley as he crashes his Jaguar into a wall while driving with boxing gloves. Dudley apologizes for his recklessness and invites the two for tea at his cottage where the giant tree they spotted was. While there, Ryu alone could hear the giant tree laugh and talk to him, believing the tree to be alive. Dudley requests a match with Ryu to test his strength and Ryu complies. Dudley's raw strength and speed is more than a match for Ryu and his distraction to the tree further disrupts his concentration as he falls victim to Dudley's attacks, disappointing the boxer greatly. The giant tree turns out to be a communique between him and the tribeswoman Elena in Africa. In an epiphany, Ryu contemplates his role in surpassing the fight and becoming a true martial artist. He declares that he must have his killing strike be one of guidance without destruction or death. Dudley states that he uses the term as well and challenges Ryu to see whose killing strike is superior.
Ryu summons and releases energy from the earth and prepares to use his killing strike, the Fist of the Wind (風の拳 Kaze no Ken?) against Dudley. Dudley does so with his Corkscrew Blow, believing that his attack will strike first because of his arm length. As they attack, Dudley realizes that Ryu's target isn't Dudley himself, but his actual fist! The attack breaks Dudley's arm and Ryu is victorious, apologizing to Dudley for using excessive force due to his lack of experience and control with the Fist of the Wind. Dudley is pleased with the end result, feeling proud to witness that life-altering moment of Ryu's killing strike evolving into something greater and declares Ryu to be transcendent.
Volume II: Earth Edit
In the aftermath of their battle, Ryu and Dudley talk about the giant tree that spoke to Ryu during their fight. Dudley reveals that the tree was originally from Africa and suggests that a spirit within the tree was the one whom Ryu had communicated with. Oro believes that it is time for Ryu to finally face Akuma, but Ryu wants to first face the Emperor of Muay Thai, Sagat one last time.
Meanwhile in Thailand, Hugo is shown attacking Sagat, with Poison shocked at Sagat's resistance as Hugo's knuckles begin to bleed. They exchange insults (Sagat with stating Hugo's inadequacies and Hugo declaring his superiority over Sagat by the result of his fight with Ryu). Sagat mocks Hugo's lack of advancement after facing Ryu and angrily ends the fight with his killing strike, the Tiger Knee.
Ryu and Oro enter a farm in Thailand where they meet vegetable farmers Chit and her older brother, who owe their servitude to Sagat after him saving them years ago from poachers who used them as tiger bait. They offer him tomatoes to regain his strength, joking that Ryu must love getting beaten up after each visit with Sagat. Ryu and Sagat meet, with Ryu declaring to fulfill a promise to him, revealing to Sagat his Fist of the Wind. The two square off, Ryu declaring his rejection of the Dark Hadou and praising Sagat for his battle spirit and as the inspiration of his courage. Ryu and Sagat exchange their most powerful attacks (Ryu's Fist of the Wind and Sagat's Tiger Knee) with Sagat emerging victorious. Sagat states that Ryu's attack as newborn fist that still needs to mature and that it gives life to something other than hate and death. The massive scar over his chest opens up with Sagat smiling, declaring that Ryu has fulfilled his promise brilliantly. As Ryu leaves, Sagat, knowing of Ryu's upcoming battle with Akuma, states that he has gotten tired of waiting for him, and that next time he will be the one to seek him out. Ryu accepts Sagat's proposal and proceeds to Shujyaku Palace for his final battle with Akuma.
Ken and Sean await the two, with Ken revealing to Sean the origins of Akuma's and Ryu's feud. He reveals that Akuma believes that Ryu has the capacity to surpass the Dark Hadou and willing embraces it himself so that Ryu can overcome it. After an intense battle with Gouken, Akuma kills him with his Killing Strike and claims his prayer beads as his own. With a younger Ryu and Ken witnessing the act, Ryu demanded why Akuma choose the Dark Hadou, with him responding to uncover that answer for himself.
When Ryu and Oro finally arrive, Ryu and Ken burn down Shujyaku Temple to produce a smoke signal for Akuma. Requesting one last spar before the final battle, Ken accepts. In a single move, Ryu defeats Ken with his Fist of the Wind, while a single lightning bolt strikes the burning temple, revealing that Akuma has accepted Ryu's challenge. Sitting on a boulder-like cluster of the temple obliterated by the lightning bolt, Akuma descends from the heavens and meets with Ryu. The two have a brief exchange of words, Ryu stating that Akuma has indeed became a whole demon despite Gouken's final words and that he is stubborn beyond saving. With both sharing a laugh, Ryu prepares to face off against Akuma.
Ryu revs up his Denji Hadoken and fires at the floating cluster, knowing that his attacks will have little effect, but does so anyway in honor of his past friends and rivals. He then unleashes his Shin Shoryuken at the cluster, breaking it apart before finally reaching Akuma himself. With terrible strength, Akuma grabs hold of Ryu's hand and crushes it, then attacking his torso and then breaking his leg, crippling Ryu in an instant.
Rising despite his bloody injuries, Ryu declares that he will overcome Akuma and triumph over the Dark Hadou and its ultimate technique, the Shun Goku Satsu. Akuma accepts Ryu's challenge and proceeds with the attack. Rather than attacking the soul, this incarnation of the Raging Demon unleashes an internal Hadoken explosion upon the victim with each successful strike. After taking several hits, Ryu willingly lowers his defenses and allows Akuma to punch through Ryu, avoiding further damage and bringing Akuma in close proximity of a counterattack. Impressed at his volition, Akuma willingly allows Ryu to proceed and Ryu blasts a Hadoken through Akuma.
Akuma's grievous wound gives the Dark Hadou within him the opportunity to take over his body, causing Akuma to slowly hollow out and break apart. Despite his impending victory, Ryu declares that he doesn't want this battle to end in death, but Akuma insists that he proceeds on, advising him to stop seeking supremacy and instead wield his fist for his children. With their final attacks, Akuma's Killing Strike and Ryu's Fist of the Wind, Ryu is victorious and what's left of Akuma disappears in a burst of flames before bidding farewell. With Akuma gone, Ken, Sean and Oro check up on the crumpled, bloodied Ryu, who remains motionless.
Some time later, we see Alex crumpled in the alley after suffering defeat from a street fight, found by his friend, Tom and his daughter, Patricia. Alex isn't proud of his defeat, but he is left with a calmness that he's never felt. He later faces Ken in a martial arts tournament, who reveals to Alex that fighter was indeed Ryu and asks if he wants to see him again. Alex loses to Ken from his Shoryuken and afterward, Mel gives Alex Ryu's red headband. Ken tells Alex where to find Ryu and he ends up at the ruins of Shujyaku Temple.Alex ties Ryu's headband to a wooden post, sensing Ryu's presence behind him. Alex asks Ryu if he has the same fighting spirit as him, something that can only be conveyed through their fists and Ryu smiles as he gives Alex his answer, “Find out for yourself.”
- Like other SF mangas by Masahiko Nakahira, certain parts of the story have been adopted into canon;
- The two Thai children Sagat take care of in Super Street Fighter IV originated in this manga.
- The chest scar that the SFIV incarnation of Evil Ryu (which is far more powerful than his Alpha incarnation) possesses is based on the one Ryu has at the end of the manga but serves a vastly different purpose (In Ryu Final, the scar was a result of battle with Akuma in which he overcame the Satsui no Hado).
- The sacred tree Ryu used to communicate with Elena is mentioned in her and Dudley's story in Street Fighter X Tekken.