For veterans of the VF series this is going down memory lane; and for a new generation of VF fans, a story worth telling. This is about the Tetsujins in the 1990s before the internet and the term "esports" was commonly known. Sega officially named Shinjuku Jacky, Kashiwa Jeffry, K.K. Yukikaze, Ikebukuro Sarah, Bunbunmaru, and Kyasao as Tetsujins. The latter 3 had a roundtable discussion with Den Faminico Gamer (in Japanese) about a week after the release of Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown (Virtua Fighter esports in Japan).
Left to Right, names linked to their twitter account Bunbunmaru, Ikebukuro Sarah, Kyasao
The article is fairly long, but I think many will find it to be an enjoyable read, even with Google translate. Notes of the discussions I found to be of interest is posted below:
1. Before these 6 players were officially recognized by Sega at a VF2 National Tournament in 1995, some players were already informally calling themselves Tetsujins and doing 100-man kumites. The origin of the Tetsujin name came from the show Iron Chef 料理の鉄人 (Ryouri no Tetsujin, literally translated to "Ironman of Cooking").
Tetsujin Official Certificate
2. At its most popular, the Tetsujins went to all 47 prefectures in Japan. Kyasao commented that at times he did the kumites 2 stores on Friday, 2 stores on Saturday, 2 stores on Sunday, and only making a stop to hotel for a shower. Jokes that if Youtube was available back then, it would have been fun for him to chronicle these marathon trips.
3. Kashiwa Jeffrey was the only Tetsujin to win all 100 battles in the 100-man kumite tour. He did it twice! Kyasao best kumite was 99 wins and 1 loss.
4. "Star Players" was Sega's next official roster of strong players. It started with the Virtua Fighter 5 series. Their name in the game was Gold colored to stand out from other players.
5. The Tetsujin and 100-man Kumite became such a social phenomenon in Japan that they were on television shows such as ASAYAN. Bunbunmaru actually was in a live-action version of the manga GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka). When Onizuka was playing in the arcade, Bunbunmaru' hands were used instead of the actor portraying Onizuka (Takashi Sorimachi).
6. For a time, there was a perception that playing Virtua Fighter was "cool," so many people that normally would not play fighting games, did so. A distinction unique to Virtua Fighter in Japan.
7. Origin of nicknames. Bunbunmaru - the bunbun ブンブン is the sound associated with Wolf's Giant Swing, a type of onomatopoeia; maru 丸 is a suffix used to name things. Ikebukuro Sarah - strong Sarah player from Ikebukuro. Kyasao's original nickname was Kyasarin (キャサリン) "Catherine" (note: unsure of this translation) given to him by Yamagishi (Beat-Tribe organizer). As it would be embarrassing to be called that on a fully-packed train, he changed it to Kyasao キャサ夫. Working on Gamest high score page, he noticed some people adding 夫 (husband) at the end of their nicknames. So Kyasao can be read as "Husband of Kyasa".
8. Virtua Fighter impressed many through its fluid animation of the fighting techniques. What drew Bunbunmaru to the game was not Wolf's Giant Swing, but from Jeffry's Power Bomb. They noted that, at first, it was strange to play a fighting game with a Guard button and that movement felt difficult.
9. The concept of frames, having advantage and disadvantage, was not something common to players until Virtua Fighter 3. The concept of frames for the first VF was messy and strong techniques were extremely strong in the first VF. VF2 reduced the "lawlessness" from the first VF.
10. Chibita originally played Akira, but switch to Lion since many people choose to play Akira.
11. Kashiwa Jeffry was the strongest of the Tetsujins. Bunbunmaru commented that what Kashiwa was doing back then, was what they now call moral play style (In contrast to abare play style).
12. Back then, with no internet, each region have a unique subculture where players imitate the strong player within the region and had different game knowledge. For example, Hokkaido have a strong Jacky player, Souma Jacky. So players in that region copy the techniques of the Jacky player. In Kyoto, many players copied Daimon Lau.
13. 3rd Athena Cup with Bunbunmaru vs Daimon Lau - This is a historic rivalry that you can read up from this old thread in more detail. https://virtuafighter.com/threads/historic-rivalry-bunbun-maru-vs-daimon-lau.15150/
14. The release of VF3 divided the community. Many of the older players (those that started with VF1 and VF2) did not like the game, while those that started during the middle of VF2 were the ones that continued to play VF3, such as Segaru (Segirl), Yami Yodare, and Chibita.
15. They prefer the VF5FS online matchmaking as that is more similar to arcades than how VF5US make matches for rank. Note: The game's rank mode was very buggy (still is?) and this interview took place one week after the game was released.
16. Kyasao does not have a home console system since the first Playstation. He bought a new system just to play VFes.
17. Discussion about differences between arcade and console latency and whether the next Beat Tribe will use VF5FS or VFes.
18. The interviewer ended the article how this round table discussion was not just looking at the old glory days of VF with "former" Tetsujins, but active Tetsujins that continues to play the game online. Note: Ikebukuro Sarah, at the age of 56, recently did an online 100-man kumite (73 wins, 27 losses).
Images and the Article were from Den Faminico Gamer website / Tip: gosokkyu twitter / Additional Info: Myke
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