Blanka (Japanese: ブランカ Hepburn: Buranka) is a fictional character in Capcom's Street Fighter fighting game series. He first appeared in the 1991 video game Street Fighter II as one of eight playable characters, and was subsequently featured in sequel and spin-off games. Blanka is also present in a number of Capcom's crossover games, including the SNK vs. Capcom series. The character has appeared in other media adaptations of the franchise, including an animated film, a live-action movie, an animated television series, a comic book and manga series.
Blanka was originally designed as a human character by Akira "Akiman" Yasuda, and underwent several re-conceptualizations during the production of Street Fighter II before reaching his final depiction as a feral savage with green skin and long orange hair. Blanka's backstory is that he was once human, but after a plane crash in Brazil he mutated (resulting in his green coloring and his ability to generate electricity). Blanka was generally well received by critics and fans, becoming one of the most popular characters in the franchise.
Conception and design
Designed by Akira "Akiman" Yasuda, the concept behind Blanka emerged in an early design as an African man named Anabebe who was raised by a lion. After the release of Final Fight, Capcom again approached Street Fighter II and considered several designs for the Blanka character (including a masked wrestler modeled after Tiger Mask and a ninja-style warrior). His design later changed to a large man with thick hair and sideburns, named "Hammer Blanka". The staff then adopted Blanka's feral appearance, because they felt the game would be "dull" with only human characters.
Blanka's most prominent physical characteristic is his green color, initially attributed to his consumption of chlorophyll from plants to blend into his jungle environment. However, when Street Fighter was brought to the U.S., Blanka's coloring was attributed to his being struck by lightning during the electrical storm in which his plane crashed. In Street Fighter II Blanka's skin is yellowish-green, but later versions of the character are bright green.
Blanka fights in a self-taught, animalistic style. In several of his special moves he rolls into a ball, launching himself at an opponent. In Blanka's signature attack, he crouches and emits an electric current shocking anything it touches. Although Blanka growls in combat, except for Street Fighter Alpha 3 he uses words in cutscenes.
Blanka first appears in Street Fighter II, when he sees his mother (who tells his backstory) after he competes in the World Warrior tournament. According to the story, Blanka was born as a boy named Jimmy who was involved in a plane crash in the Amazon rainforest. Although in the initial games Blanka's mother says the plane crashed when he was "a little boy", the manual for Street Fighter IV says it happened when he was a baby. After the crash he was exposed to electric eels, triggering the mutation which changed his appearance and gave him electric powers. In Street Fighter Alpha 3, a prequel to Street Fighter II, Blanka rides on a truck to civilization for the first time. After defeating Zangief, Balrog and the leader of the Shadaloo criminal organization M. Bison, Blanka joins old friend Dan Hibiki and Sakura (Dan's pupil) to destroy Bison's "psycho drive" weapon. Blanka then returns to the jungle.
In Street Fighter IV, whose events are set after Street Fighter II, Blanka, living in a town, feels out of place and decides to travel the world. At the end of the game, Dan helps his mother find him in Hong Kong. In Super Street Fighter IV, Blanka enters a worldwide tournament to be recognized by people so his mother will be proud of him. When he returns home, the townspeople visit him and he plays games with the local children.
Blanka also appears in several spin-off titles. He is a playable character in the later Street Fighter EX series games Street Fighter EX2 and Street Fighter EX3, Capcom vs. SNK, Capcom vs. SNK 2 and the home version of Street Fighter: The Movie. Blanka is a playable character by default in the PlayStation Vita version of Street Fighter X Tekken, and via downloadable content in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions. He is a boss character in Street Fighter X Mega Man.
Blanka briefly appears in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, when he is lowered from a cage and defeats Zangief. The live-action Street Fighter film combined Blanka and Charlie into one character. Charlie is taken captive by Bison, who forces Dhalsim to subject him to genetic testing to create the perfect soldier. Blanka was played by Robert Mammone, while Kim Repia played the role in its home console video game adaptation. The American cartoon series retained the film's origin story for the character, as he and Guile search for a cure for his mutation. In UDON's Street Fighter comic adaptation, Blanka is used as a living weapon by Shadaloo until he is rescued by Delta Red (Cammy's squad). Returning to his senses, he reunites with his mother. Blanka is an opponent faced by Ryu, Guile, and Chun-Li in the Street Fighter manga history, and makes a cameo appearance in the Disney film Wreck-It Ralph.
Blanka has been described as a fan favorite by video game media UGO Networks, IGN, GameSpot and 1UP.com, with IGN calling him "one of the most recognizable Street Fighter characters". GamesRadar said that Blanka "never quite approached Chun-Li's popularity, but has gained a strong fan following nevertheless". Sharing ninth place with Ken Masters in the Japanese magazine Gamest's 1991 best-character list, in the 1992 poll he finished 38th. Blanka was voted 20th in Capcom's poll of 85 characters for the series' 15th anniversary. In 2008, the character was the tenth-most-popular video game character (out of 500) in the United Kingdom. Although Blanka was well received by Brazilian gamers, Capcom was criticized for its depiction of Brazil. Capcom producer Yoshinori Ono, surprised when told that Blanka is popular among Brazilians, apologized for the poor impression of the country given by the character. When the Brazilian program Custe o Que Custar asked people in Spain who the best-known Brazilians were, Blanka ranked third (after Gisele Bündchen and Pelé). In 2009, after Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, an internet meme spread making Blanka the games' unofficial mascot. A 2012 meme said that O Maior Brasileiro de Todos os Tempos, the Brazilian version of 100 Greatest Britons, had chosen Blanka the "Greatest Brazilian of All Time".
IGN ranked Blanka seventh of its "Top 25 Street Fighter Characters", noting his unique characteristics, and GameDaily placed Blanka fourth on its "Top 20 Street Fighter Characters of All Time" list. He was ranked the franchise's 17th-best character (out of 50) by UGO as initially "hook[ing]" gamers and "an indispensable part of Street Fighter now." Including Blanka on a list of "The 30 best Capcom characters of the last 30 years", GamesRadar staff said that they could include all of Street Fighter II's characters but would only choose "the wildest of the crazy characters in the game. Blanka exemplifies the special brand of insanity that made us love Capcom." Edge's James Leach called him "by far the best character" in Street Fighter II. GameSpy called Blanka one of the "25 Extremely Rough Brawlers" in video gaming, praising the brutality of his attacks. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review described the character as resembling "some ridiculous hair-club-for-Hulks member", although his electric attacks made him an effective character. Computer and Video Games, GamesRadar and Game Revolution also noted the difficulty of fighting Blanka. Blanka has been called a "monster" and "weird", and GamesRadar said he "is a bit goofy looking in the Alpha series" (described by GameSpot as "comical"). GameDaily and GamesRadar joked about the character's "sweet" ending (in contrast to his appearance), and Empire called his ending "the worst ... in the game."