The ten fighters on the events of Season One (Episodes 1 to 24). Spoilers up to Episode 24.
Excerpt from “Winner Takes All” by David Leytze, from the album Virtua Fighter “SEGA SATURN” IMAGE by B-univ NEO RISING. Lyrics and music copyright 1994 Toshiba EMI/Futureland Label.
Virtua Fighter is copyright of Sega and others.
The match begins
Right here we cleanse our sins
We fight for pride
For us, it’s do or die
Fighting for the sake of winning
Living for the chance to win again
The one who’s the best
Comes out from the rest
The winner takes all
Only months ago, in one of the places I visited in my travels, I heard some people say that once you have decided to leave a place, you can no longer go back. Things would never be the way that they used to, and some part of you would become a stranger.
It’s true what they say, that you could never go home again.
I suppose I really do need the eight lights in the sky to help me find my way. A guide, tiny flickering candles against the pitch-darkness of my true destiny.
Only then would I know that I am still walking the right path.
It leaves me strangely empty.
For so many years, hate fueled me to train harder, to make myself stronger, to live each day with caution and wariness and with confidence only in myself.
I was so independent. I outran an entire criminal syndicate across countless nations, using only my wits and Ensei-ken.
After the failed wedding in Hong Kong, when I found out the true reason behind my father’s coldness and he proceeded to disband the Koenkan, everything that I believed in seemed to have made a sudden jolting turn. Then I was left with the feeling that, all the while, I have been fighting for and against nothing.
Or maybe there really was nothing to begin with, and I was only seeking my own selfish reasons for moving onwards with my life.
I have always tried to be the best, in one way or another.
I studied Jeet Kune Do to take on the bigger bullies who picked on Sarah and myself when we were younger. It didn’t stop there. Being strong wasn’t enough then; I had to be the strongest, the most skilled, in our class.
If you were gifted to be so proficient in such an ability, then why not learn it to the fullest? It wouldn’t be fair to yourself if you did otherwise.
When it came to racing, it was still the same. I have to be the fastest, the most wily, the one who left everyone else behind. It was so simple, just drive on and on until no one could reach you.
But, afterwards, I wonder what happens you have gone too far up, too far away, and no one could be there with you anymore.
It never fails to surprise me that I actually have a spirit of my own, after all their lessons on what to be and what to do.
It had taken them years to make a significant imprint of that practiced corporate veneer onto me, yet it took only hours, no, mere minutes, to rid myself of that cold facade.
This fresh sweet strength, the realization that I could make my own decisions and fight for my choices, is overwhelming.
Is this the feeling you get when you have a second lease at life?
I feel as if I have been reborn into a world where people are no longer those who want me to live up to an ideal. With my newfound friends, I was myself and they never demanded for anything more.
Why can’t other people feel the same way?
Hurting them. Not really their bodies, but in their hearts.
That’s what I always feel I do when I defeat someone in the ring. It seems as if I had taken something away from their hearts, a piece of their dreams. I can still recall the eyes of each and every one of my opponents as I deliver my final blow, the one that would send them crashing painfully onto the canvas, ridding them of the chance for victory.
Victory. It used to be an elusive thing, for me.
I have won so many times, countless times, but I never once did I feel the way people think I should. Proud and roaring happy, perhaps. But no, all that fills me is a sense of wonder, asking myself what would I do if I were at the other side of the fence.
When I lost in the ring for the first time, I learned that victory is only felt when you have experienced defeat. They are two sides of the coin that is life, and, in fighting, it is no different.
When you have a dream, there is nothing else to do but work and fight for it.
I wanted that boat, something to make my family proud and a vehicle for me to defeat the fearsome Satan Shark.
In the past, I decided that I would work hard until I could make that dream into a reality. It was such an uncomplicated way to live my life. Everything was then directed towards the sole goal of making enough money to afford that boat.
In the end, it was not about the dream itself, but what I did to hold on to it without sacrificing my honor and dignity.
They might have destroyed the boat, with their petty reasons for gaining power, but they had never succeeded in destroying me, the one who lived and worked and fought for the dream.
They did not win.
Time. It is such a strange, fickle thing. How things change, and yet remain strangely familiar.
That is the wisdom that they say comes with age. It is merely the ability to be cautious of and knowledgeable about what you have experienced before. It is not really about being more adept in everything–you just learn to expect things better.
Again and again, I saw one generation rise to become the best, only to be surpassed by those who would come after.
Perhaps time also charges its toll.
When you already know what to expect, hope would become a dim thing, and the heart would no longer be what life revolves around. All you do becomes a matter of pride, a fight for being better since you are older, and that is no longer enough.
Power is only given to those who deserve it, who can handle it.
When I was learning to master all the nuances and secrets of Ensei-ken and Koen-ken, this had been hammered into my mind repeatedly, like an echo echoing another echo. An endless mantra, almost a taunt.
Little did I know how this painfully foretells my destiny.
Later, I gained the power, the nigh-unequaled strength, to break water and crush rocks and destroy all other manner of things.
But when it came to being able to save the woman I love, the mother of my only child, the one who gave true meaning to my life, I was reduced back to a mere ghost of a man. A helpless, useless soul.
I have long since asked myself if all my effort to gain a sense of power had never really borne fruit. Maybe I was deceiving myself all along.
Why is it that I don’t feel so free?
When I told Jacky in the plane, on the way to Hong Kong, that I was planning to go back to our parents after all the fighting was over, I thought that I was making a very good decision. A step that would sever my ties with the life that had nearly led me into a fate worse than death.
As I try to find bits and pieces of myself in the clutter of thoughts and memories, I find my soul drowning in wave after wave of confusion. There is no one to follow or look up to anymore, and some say that is the beginning of freedom.
Now, I try to believe in it with all my heart.
That way, I still have something to believe in, something to give me the strength in finding the best way to live my life.
When I became the headman of Hagakure so many years ago, I swore on my life to put my people, our laws, and the Way of the Warrior above myself.
It seemed so easy back then, when I did everything for honor and duty. Sacrifice was almost like a second nature, when you have such a clear-cut, singular purpose for living.
The one thing I did not consider then was what I could possibly feel when I fulfill my responsibilities as the tenth generation of the Shadow Warrior. I had thought that, to an extent, I was invincible, quietly impenetrable in the shield of my strength and knowledge of age-old secrets.
What happens when I hear such a strange thing as my soul calling out?