Ken has been one of gaming's most iconic characters since his appearance in Street Fighter II, when it was released in arcades during 1991. He still remains as a staple character in the fighting game genre and makes several appearances as a guest character in other video games. Ken is one of the few characters that is in almost every Street Fighter game, other than Ryu. They join a league of popular mainstream character pairings like Mega Man and Zero, Master Chief and Cortana, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, Sub-Zero and Scorpion, or Dom and Marcus. The list can go on and on, but no one can deny that Ken is still a staple in popular culture. Most people know a ton of characters from the Street Fighter series and Street Fighter is still alive and well with tournaments being held all around the world. Ken and Ryu will always be the faces of the Street Fighter brand that can appeal to both vets and new comers.
Ken is a layered person with several tidbits and facts that most people don't know. He is an American born fighter that trained in Japan in the art of "Ansatsuken" aka Assassination Fist. In many ways, Ryu is only a great character because of his supporting cast since Ryu's story and personality is dull. Ken in a lot of ways is a much better character than Ryu. Ken Masters is as strong as Ryu, can balance life pressures and defends the world against evil on several occasions.
15 Ken Is A Reliable And Great Friend, Unlike Ryu
You what's one the best feelings in the world? Having friends that you can truly rely on when times are good or bad. Friends that you can share memories with and that can lend a helping hand when needed. Ryu fails as a friend because he is unreliable, a lone wolf, and the only thing in the world he cares about is his fighting technique. Ken has always been there to help Ryu in is endeavors, while Ryu is constantly moving from place to place with no form of communication. How would he know if Ken or anyone is in trouble and be there for them? Ken, on the other hand, has always been there for Ryu and has helped out many of the Street Fighter cast in some form or another. Ken is a nice, outgoing guy and it's in his nature to help, defend, and be there for his friends. He is a good friend and would do anything to protect Ryu, his family, Sean, Chun-Li, and Guile.
14 Ken Is A Great Dad
Ken is a great father figure and husband, even though he looks like a bachelor. Ken always makes sure that Eliza, his wife, is well taken care of. He worries constantly about her and his son, Mel, when he is out defending the world from villains like Akuma, M. Bison, and Seth. Ryu will most likely be an absentee father if he ever has kids, like Goku's parenting style from Dragon Ball Z. Ken can provide, be stern when he needs to, be fun, and will train any of his children in the art of "Ansatsuken" for self protection. Ryu would either take his son/daughter with him on his journey or leave his child with their mother. Ryu would suck as a dad, but I could see Ken being a father figure even for Ryu's kids! Why? Because Ken is a great overall guy that knows how to balance his life (most of the time).
13 Ken Owns A Successful Business
Ryu travels all across different countries and fights other dojos in order to improve his fighting technique. A character that is training and learning to become the best is a popular trope in various kinds of fiction. However, let's be honest, Ryu is a bum that doesn't have a single penny to his name! What does he eat? How could he afford to travel the world if he has no cash? Ken, on the other hand, runs a successful chain of high end hotels that he inherited from his father. It is more likely that Ken funds his best friend's excursions to other countries since he has loads of cash. Ken knows how to navigate a successful business because of his father, but he is still humble because of the training he received from Gouken and Ryu. Ken's father didn't want his son to grow up to be a snobby rich brat, as he wanted Ken to grow up with good values and character. Ken runs a successful business with a humble upbringing, while Ryu bums around living in the wilderness.
12 Ken Is A Better Dresser
Ken knows how to dress himself better than Ryu. Ken wears fashionable clothing when he isn't fighting, which can be seen in cut scenes, anime, or manga. In Street Fighter II V, he is seen wearing a yellow suit jacket with white slacks, black leather shoes and a belt to match. Even his new clothes in Street Fighter V are a huge upgrade that look awesome and stylish. Ryu always wears the same thing like a cartoon character and he's always carrying a duffel bag! What clothes does he carry in there? Several white Gis and boxing gloves? Ryu would wear his traditional white gi to any event if he could, making Ken the best dressed even among other Street Fighter characters.
11 Ken's Shoryukens Are Better than Ryu's
Ken and Ryu trained under the same teacher and learned all they could about Ansatsuken. Ryu may have better fireballs than Ken, but Ken has the strongest Shoryuken, as Ken's dragon punch and fists can produce enough flames to set a person on fire! Ken'sSshoryuken is what sets him apart from Ryu most of the time, depending on what fighting game you play. Ken will ether have a better Shoryuken or a better multi-hitting hurricane kick. Ken's Shoryuken has always been a staple in his combos, but Ryu's Shoryuken is better used as a anti-air. Did we mention that Ken's fists lights people on fire? Future Street Fighter games should modify Ken's Shoryuken to have a burn effect that does a small amount of damage when it connects.
10 Ken's Family Members Can Fight Ryu
Ryu is an orphan whose closest 'relatives' would be Gouken, Ken, and Akuma. Family is important in most people's lives and having family members that will be there for you is almost necessary. Did you know that Guile is Ken's brother in law? Guile is a strong American fighter with his signature Sonic Boom projectiles and Flash Kicks. Guile has always been a formidable pick against Ryu in certain Street Fighter games. Ken and Guile are not seen together often, but considering the type of family they have, I wouldn't doubt they would help each other out in case of emergencies. Guile respects Ken and gets along with him, but he doesn't particularity like Ken's personality being a military guy himself. Ken's own family members can take on Ryu, unless you count Gouken to be his father rather than his master.
9 Ken Is A Better Mentor Than Ryu
Ken is a better mentor with the right touch of discipline and fun to teach newcomers into martial arts. Ken trained Sean, from Street Fighter: Third Strike, and has also started teaching his son, Mel, some basic fighting techniques. Ken may look like a playboy on the surface, but his training with Gouken and Ryu made him much more disciplined than he lets on. Ryu is a horrible mentor and he never wants to train anyone because he lacks self confidence in his own technique. Dan and Sakura had to learn martial arts by watching Ryu. They could be stronger fighters if Ryu could at least train them for a couple of months. Ken is caring and will train anyone who shows enough devotion to take his martial arts training seriously. After all, training with Gouken and Ryu gave him the tools to be a well rounded person instead of a self-centered rich snob.
8 Ken's Kicks are Deadlier Than Ryu's
Ken's deadly kicks should never be underestimated and are stronger than Ryu's in certain games. Ken's kicks have more utility in many crossover games like Marvel Vs Capcom, SNK Vs Capcom, or the mainline Street Fighter series. His normal kicks are key to his fighting style and do a good amount of damage, have range, and are great for controlling space. Ryu kicks are solid, but they don't set up any combo potential other than the medium down kick into a Hadoken. Ken's V-Trigger and kicking attacks have made him far more deadlier as a rush-down character in Street Fighter V. Ken's hurricane kick can hit crouching opponents, can cause knockdowns, and has frame advantage when in V-Trigger Mode. In Marvel Vs Capcom, Ken's hurricane kick has a diagonal trajectory that can push opponents towards the corner and is visually satisfying. Ken's kicks are useful in many more situations than most players know.
7 Ken's Design Is Based On A Karate Champion
Ken's design is way better than Ryu's, as his design and the inspiration for his character is rumored to be based on a Jeo Lewis. Mr. Lewis was a famous karate champion born in America who won his first championship with only 22 months of training. He also has trained with Bruce Lee and Joe Orbillo (boxer). Mr. Lewis was an intimidating fighter who had a powerful and fast side kick. Joe Lewis, like Ken, also trained in Japan and returned to America to win several marital arts competitions. There is a famous magazine cover of Joe Lewis were he sports a red gi and this cover is believed to be the basis for Ken's look. As far as we know, Ryu's design isn't based on anyone. His design is supposed to be generic in order to attract new players. There's no denying that Ken's design is far superior to Ryu's, when considering the career and accomplishments of Joe Lewis.
6 Ken's Ultimate Attacks Are Better
Ken's ultimate attacks and supers are much more appealing and visually stunning when compared to Ryu's. The only thing Ryu has going for him is his Shinku-Hadoken which is pretty much a rip off Akira Toriyama's Kamehameha attack. Ken's Shoryureppa deals far more damage and looks visually stunning when compared to Ryu's slower one. Ken always has access to great super attacks like his Shinryuken and Shippu Jinraikyaku in both the Street Fighter series and Marvel Vs Capcom. His Shinryuken is a great tool as an anti-air super and engulfs Ken is a spinning tunnel of flames! Jinraikyaku was part of one the best eSports moments when Diago (The Beast) Umahara defeated Justin Wong's Chun-Li with it. Ken's ultimate attacks just look great and have a lot of visual flare, as many of his supers are used as combo finishers.
5 Ken Can't Be Corrupted, Unlike Ryu
Gouken trained both Ryu and Ken in a martial art known as "Ansatsuken." There are two different forms to this martial art style. One form of Ansatsuken is used for upholding peace and harmony, the other is using the style for its intended purpose as an assassination tool. Akuma is the only known fighter who uses the murderous kill power of this style to its full potential, which unleashes the Satsui no Hado. Ken cannot be corrupted by Satsui no Hado, because he has made several adjustments to his form of Ansatsuken that matches with his style and personality. Ryu struggles to maintain control because he practices the proper form of Ansatsuken, which can lead him to becoming Evil Ryu and unleashing his Satsui no Hado. Ken, by tweaking the Ansatsuken form, along with balancing his family life, is less susceptible than Ryu who wants to become a strong fighter. Thus Ken doesn't get corrupted by his Satsui no Hado because of his unique lifestyle and personality.
4 Playing As Ken Is More Fun Than Ryu
Ryu and Ken have been staple fighters since Street Fighter II. Their friendship and rivalry have sparked debates about who is better. However, we believe Ken is a much more satisfying fighter to learn to play with than Ryu. Ryu is the vanilla character to train newbies how to play fighting games and to learn the basics of Street Fighter. Playing as Ryu gives gamers the fundamental skills to learn several nuances about zoning, footsies, combos, and etc. Ken's play-style is appealing from a visual aspect and satisfying because of his combo finishers. Ken has always been the cooler character and learning combos with Ken can be extremely rewarding. Ken is an aggressive fighter who takes risks, has strong Shoryuken, great kick attacks and with several supers that do big damage.
3 Ken Has A Cooler Voice Actor
Ken's english voice actor is better than Ryu's and has done several iconic roles in other Capcom franchises. Reuben Langdon voices Ken in several iterations of Street Fighter and other crossover games. Did you know that Langdon also voices another famous Capcom character? That's right! Mr. Langdon is also the half demon/human hybrid slayer himself, Dante from Devil May Cry. Ken and Dante's character designs are based on American personas and both of them are known for wearing a red attire. Mr. Langdon has voiced Dante for the original Devil May Cry games(not DMC) and for the Marvel Vs Capcom series as well. He is also the voice for Chris Redfield from the Resident Evil franchise. Rueben Langdon also does stunt motion acting for several games, including The Uncharted series and The Last of Us. Mr. Langdon's career is impressive and I couldn't imagine those characters without his voice.
2 Ken Wins More Championships Than Ryu
Ryu is always busy training to stop M. Bison, all while trying to keep his Satsui no Hado in check. Ken, on the other hand, has won several tournaments in the US. He does that and makes time to take care of his family, his business, and has helped Ryu and Chun-Li. He won the US Marital Art Tournament which Charlie Nash had won the previous year and meet his future wife, Eliza, during that time. It is heavily implied that Ken won the Second World Warrior tournament against Ryu. Ken has won at least three US Marital Arts tournaments according to his endings and is always competing to test his fighting skills against his best friend. Ryu doesn't have as many championship wins under his belt like Ken does. Ken is a true champ.
1 Ken Gave Ryu His Iconic Red Bandanna
You know what's another fact that makes Ken better than Ryu? Ken completed Ryu's iconic look by giving him his red bandanna. Ryu had always felt guilty after his First World Warrior Championship when he lost control and scarred Sagat for life. Ken has always been there to support his friend in need, through thick and thin, by battling psychotic dictators like M. Bison or Seth. Ken gave his red bandanna to Ryu as a reminder to focus and to inspire Ryu into believing that he could control himself. Ryu has always been grateful towards Ken and has worn that iconic red bandanna ever since. Ken, in many ways, is better because he shows kindness to those who need it, strength to defend and help his friends, and is a caring father/mentor.