Why is Akuma called Gouki in Japan? A full history

By Kenneth Williams

|

Jul 22, 2023

Reading time: 2 min

Akuma is on his way to Street Fighter 6 but casual fans may not realize it due to being called Gouki in the reveal.

Akuma is one of Street Fighter’s most iconic characters. From his villianous appearance to his devilish Raging Demon super, he’s popular enough to be recognizable even outside of the fighting game community. However, his dark and troubled past also includes a name change as part of the original games’ localization.

Here’s the history of Akuma, why he’s called Gouki in Japan, and which name he’ll keep as DLC in Street Fighter 6.

Akuma’s Street Fighter history

Akuma first appeared as a secret boss in Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo as a secret boss. Players that completed arcade mode with several perfect and super finishes without losing a round would face him instead of M. Bison, and he was an extremely challenging fight. He is playable in some versions of Street Fighter 2, but is generally banned in tournament play for being overpowered.

Players in Japan had the exact same experience but with a different name. The developers originally named the character Gouki, but the American localization team chose to change it to Akuma. 

Blog post image

It’s not clear exactly why Capcom chose to rename Gouki to Akuma for America, but it could be to make a more intimidating-sounding name. Another popular theory states that Akuma is a banned name in Japan, as parents are unable to name children Akuma. It’s not clear why that would affect a video game character, but the real reason is probably lost to time. 

In Japanese, the word “Gouki” can translate to a variety of different things. The kanji used for the name, 豪鬼, can translate to “grand demon.” Akuma, or 悪魔, literally means “demon” or “devil,” showing an obvious relation between the two meanings. Using the same kanji, it is also possible to translate Gouki to “Australian demon,” though the character has never shown signs of Oceanic heritage.

Will Akuma be called Gouki in Street Fighter 6?

When Capcom revealed the DLC lineup for Street Fighter 6 Season 1, Akuma went by the name Gouki. Will he get his original name back in the English release?

The answer is almost definitely no.

Akuma Gouki Street Fighter 6

While some promotional materials have called him Gouki, Capcom has released other previews that specifically keep his name as Akuma. While reverting it to the original would be fun for series veterans, the name is too iconic at this point to double-back on. Akuma is one of the series’ most iconic faces just below Ryu, Ken, and Chun Li. It’s safe to say that he will always be called Akuma in the English-speaking world.

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