The thing with some character themes is that, after a while, it’s hard to explain why they fit the character in question. They’ve been associated with that character for so long that it just works, with no proper explanation. When you hear that track, you immediately think of the character. For me, Ryu’s theme is the perfect example of that.
I can’t for the life of me tell you why this track fits Ryu so perfectly, but I can tell you that it’s an awesome piece of music. While the theme has always remained relatively the same, I’d argue that this is the most dramatic or “epic” it’s ever been. It blends together that traditional, ancient Japanese feel with modern rock. Somehow, those sick guitar riffs complement the softer, almost calm-sounding strings.
Now that I think about it, maybe I can explain why the theme fits. The intensity of the track represents Ryu’s drive – the Ryu that we see during the fight. Whereas the track also hints towards the calmer side of him; the side that we see when he’s travelling down the open road with nothing but his thoughts.
For such a basic and vanilla character, Ryu really does have one of the most iconic and memorable themes to ever grace video games.