Although at this present moment it's uncertain until the full game's release in February 16th, it appears as if Capcom has done the absolute unthinkable and apparently decided to whitewash Street Fighter's 3's Brazilian fighter Sean Matsuda.
He also happens be the younger sibling to Street Fighter V's Laura and we can't say we didn't see this coming, especially when you take into account how light his sister's skin tone is.
In Laura's comic book story art, the young brawler who was formerly dark skinned and had afro textured hair has appeared to have been given an extreme makeover, alas a race lift.
The once melanated hopeful martial artist student now seems to have been redesigned to unquestionably appear more caucasian, complete with straight, light brown/reddish hair and fair skin, he also happens to have a piece of tape plastered on his face which hides his nose.
Originally it appeared Sean was a black kid from New York who played basketball and took up an interest in Martial arts.
It's worth noting that all the the in-game art (including these story panels) were drawn by long-time Capcom illustrator Bengus, who's style rapidly changes with each iteration, nonetheless we highly doubt the veteran is colour blind nor senile and overall it's ultimately a bad look for both Bengus and Capcom if this is to be canonically Sean's new look.
Sean was originally depicted as a young black man with kinky hair. so suddenly we're to believe all this time he only had a tan and is actually a pale redhead? No.. Sean looked black in all three Street Fighter III games and this drastic change is totally uncalled for.
For Bengus to abruptly remove Sean's African genes and the part which made the character so charming and unique in the first place is unsatisfactory and shows the lack of investment from him into these characters, a lot of overall ignorance on his part no matter how "renowned" he is.
|Sean's original character design in the Street Fighter III series|
Originally it appeared Sean was a black kid from New York who played basketball and took up an interest in Martial arts, when Capcom decided to add Ken and Ryu to Street Fighter III, they changed Sean's nationality to Brazilian, which is why the radical transformation Sean has received is awful.
Everything about Sean's appearance screams "black shoto." Again let us remind you, he plays basketball, has a hi fade haircut with dreadlocks and his stage in Street Fighter New Generation was New York, Elena was in fact suppose to be the Brazilian character.
While it's not known if Sean Matsuda's skin tone in Laura's comic book story art will be his finalized appearance yet or if he'll be be a future DLC character for SFV, nonetheless it's totally unacceptable in 2016 for characters to be getting whitewashed and changed so rapidly.
This isn't Capcom's first time race-swapping their characters either as it's happened several times in the series. The first racial change in the series happened to Birdie who used to be white but would later become black british. (The reason? He was supposedly 'ill' in the original Street Fighter which gave him pale skin).
Other race-swapping has occurred during the character's development, Street Fighter's III Urien was originally depicted as black man with an large afro but his final design would have you think otherwise. More recently in Street Fighter IV, the Rufus we know today wasn't always fat nor caucasian.
In fact he was a bald and slender gi wearing African American martial artist with great potential called "King Cobra". Down the line though, his look was drastically changed and the result became Rufus.
It's pretty obvious as to what needs to be done to restore balance and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out, it's clear as day. The best thing for Capcom to do is restore Sean's complexion to his original skin tone in the Street Fighter III series and give him back his hi fade dreadlocks, There was no reason to change it in the first place, whether it be in art or cut-scenes.
If Capcom insist on keeping Sean pale then it should be in their best interest to debut a new black martial artist character, presumably from American or Africa, who isn't "quarter Japanese." Better yet debut Rufus's concept character King Cobra as a brand new character for Street Fighter V.
You have to admit there's been an absence of black martial artists in Street Fighter and fighting games as whole despite their long standing legacy and impact. Don't believe us then check out these 12 Legendary black martial arts masters.
Laura's family tree has been revealed in Street Fighter V and yes we can confirm Sean Matsuda has been moderately and unsurprisingly whitewashed in Street Fighter V, in comparison to Street Fighter III: New Generation.
Ono Yoshinori and Capcom, was it too hard to give players a non-strerotypical dark-skinned black character who didn't box? Okay, Sean has indeed been hitting the bleach (although ironically SFV's timeline before SF III), there's no question behind it, but where's the alternate black martial fighter?
In Street Fighter V there's currently one black character, Birdie and Laura to a lesser extent, but where's the rest? If Capcom no longer want Sean to be a "brotha", then why not create a young black martial artist to take his spot, as stated above King Cobra would be perfect.
Though it's still quite early to tell, it appears that Sean may have only been whitewashed in the artwork of SF5, since the Afro-Brazilian's look in the recent unveiling of Street Fighter V's story mode expansion appears to be more akin to his Street Fighter 3 days.
Amidst the major June update announcements that came out this past week, Capcom unveiled a couple new screenshots featuring scenes from the upcoming Story Mode Expansion, one of the screenshots revealed Sean and in addition he looks less pale.
Capcom appeared to have backpedalled on their decision in completely erasing Sean's blackness as evident in the story mode screenshot which sees the young Matsuda with darker skin, kinky hair and his signature basketball, a large improvement over the official SFV artwork, which had us questioning whether Sean was the latest victim of whitewashing.
Again it's still a little early to celebrate but if Sean does look like this in-game and cut scenes then we can sigh in relief, considering the fact that Sean's skintone and overall appearance in the artwork had him looking like the newest advocate of skin bleaching.