Ryu, the current Street Fighter champion, must overcome the power of the "Dark Hadou" which consumed Akuma, the brother of his sensei, Gouken. Plus, he deals with the unexpected arrival of Shun, a young boy who proclaims to be his long-lost brother.
"Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation" came a lot later than "Street Fighter II: The Movie", and it's not a patch on it. (Just to confirm: I'm talking about the animated movie, not that goddam awful live action one starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Kylie Minogue...) The visuals aren't as good, nor is the production, nor anything else for that matter. The action is not that great - half the time it's hard to tell what's going on, and the other half of the time they're charging up fireballs. In fact they spend so much time charging up fireballs that that the anime feels hollow and
seriously lacking in substance. There is one thing that's good about the fighting though - the bone crunching blows has a sickening, brutal quality to it when they land, helped along by a dark and twisted atmosphere that's prevalent within the anime. In fact that heavy atmosphere is probably the one thing about the movie that stood out for me.
Content wise, Ryu's struggle with the dark hadou is mildly interesting, as is his brother appearing. These concepts might have been put to better use if the anime wasn't too busy dragging its feet and doing, well, doing nothing really. When the characters aren't wasting time charging fireballs, the anime generally takes on an air of contemplation. But what are they contemplating? Well, turns out this is yet another one of those crappy fighting anime which spend the length of the show asking that "all important question": why do we fight. By the end of it, they come to the laughable conclusion: to find the answer!!! Or something stupid along those lines. Wow that was worth the wait. Such talent is surely wasted in street fighting - these guys should have become philosophers instead!
Ultimately, "Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation" feels sluggish and forgettable. Though it's not quite as worthless as some of the other fighting game to anime conversions floating about ("Fatal Fury" and especially "Tekken" jumps to mind), it's quite a way away from hitting the standards set by "Street Fighter II: The Movie" (the animated one, not that goddam awful live action one staring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Kylie Minogue).
Now I’m not an avid Street Fighter fan, but I have played through about 60% of the games and know the characters and the compelling back stories. So before I watched this I had high hopes, just thinking about what a Hadōken would look like in an anime format was a fabulous thought. Unfortunately this isn't the awesome SF film i expected. It feels like it made was for fans so it misses the mark in terms of capitalizing on the game material they have to work with, but overall the film is a good watch if not a very interesting one.
The story is pretty
straightforward and easy to understand, Ryu is trying to overcome the evil force inside of him that consumed Akuma (the brother of his sensei) and this force is known as the "Dark Hadou". While Ryu tries to deal with these problems that are affecting his life, another unexpected aspect comes into play in the shape of a boy called Shun who claims to be Ryu’s brother. Ken happens to catch up with Ryu joins him on his journey to help overcome is powers, Chun-Li happens to be sorting through a police investigation that happens to tie into a fighting competition and Sakura after chasing after Ryu after seeing him fight for the first time comes into play and all of them happened to become interlocked by the fighting tournament with their own reasons for entering.
It is a story that holds up well enough for it to be considered true Street Fighter canon material with most of the characters involved feeling right, Ryu is still a lone warrior with great fighting skill, Ken is Ryu’s friend and training partner who fights in numerous tournaments, Chun-Li is also fighter, working with the police with a smart and calm attitude and Sakura is an energetic young fighter with unpolished skills who idolizes Ryu. Enemies like Gouki (Akuma), Dan, Zangief and Vega do what they do with creditable performances, however the main antagonist really didn’t do it for me, he just seemed like a power-hungry fool who got his fifteen minutes of fame and then was dispatched with. I feel they should have gotten a more interesting villain as this guy didn’t have the proper personality to properly be an antagonist worthy of the SF series. Also the fact that Ryu had a brother is just nonsense to me and it breaks the image of Ryu as a lone wolf searching for answers to his powers which he may never know of.
When it come to the art and animation we see that the film is very stylized for better or for worse depending on your preferences, some characters and signature attacks look good while others look like they could have been better. The art style for the characters looks good works well, but a fair amount of the characters look too musclar and bulky and the art also makes certain people look beefier and heavier in movement then they are in the actual games. There is also the point of the energy-based attacks that didn’t look as impressive as they could have with most of them being ball-shaped with no defining features and being one main colour which really disappointed me. But then maybe that’s just me being picky.
Now I know that in an adaptation of anything nothing is going to fully be spot on, but with an anime film you have the chance to show off things that games can’t do, you have to wow the viewer. The film felt like it was almost there but could of had more style, there are some pretty good fight scenes and some painful blows dealt to characters that shows that there was care put into the film, but at other points the film forgets choreography and battle sequences, the game material and gives you something that could have looked a lot better. When it comes to audio it’s pretty good, the soundtrack is nice and the having watched it in subbed and dubbed formats I’d say they both work.
I conclusion this is a film that was created truly for Street Fighter fans, it’s based off of the games and for what it’s worth it does what it can fairly well, but unfortunately it comes up short in not delivering the full anime experience it deserves. Style and art design play a big part in carrying the film along and it is worth a watch whether you’re a fan of the Street Fighter series or if you are person who likes action, fighting and story that works and is rather enjoyable.
It's been almost four years since I talked about Street Fighter II, the anime film by Group TAC. It was a film I was pretty positive towards and with good reason. It had some solid action sequences, a compelling plot and was pretty close to everything that the game's fans wanted. This film comes from the same studio six years later in 2000. It's not connected to the first, but they surely must have had time to iron out those elements that didn't work and make something improved, right?
Like last time, I'll be using the Japanese character names.
We open with Ryu contemplating on his
old master while also struggling with some strange energy. This is the dark hadou, a power force that corrupted Gouki and may very well do the same to Ryu if he lets it overtake him. Meanwhile, Chun-Li is trying to track down a Doctor Sadler who's reportedly working for Shadaloo, Sakura is trying to find the mysterious martial artist (Ryu) she saw beat up a bunch of thugs alongside Chun-Li & a boy, Shun, claims to be Ryu's brother and starts living alongside Ryu & Ken at the dojo.
There are a lot of issues with this film. The first is the whole struggle Ryu has with the dark hadou. The film portrays this as an inner struggle that could lead Ryu down a path where he cares about nothing but fighting but we see no real evidence that that's the outcome. We never see Ryu get into a fight for no real reason, he always fights to protect someone else or because he thinks he's in danger and has no trouble turning down fights. The same is rue with Gouki, the man who was “consumed” by the dark hadou. Ryu and Chun-Li go to his island to talk with him and he just lets them go after a short, vague chat. And the whole big thing about it kind of ends in an anti-climax. Then we have the stuff with Sadler. It's largely boring. Sakura spends the film trying to meet with Ryu but she never speaks with him. Instead, the pay off to her whole arc is a short lecture from Ken. And the whole thing is completely irrelevant to the main narrative. Then there's the stuff with Shun. Which is probably the worst part of the film. Not only is this kid an annoyance but the latter part of the film has a lot of tension that relies on us caring about this kid and what befalls him. All while not giving us any compelling reason to care.
I guess you can give the film some credit for tying most of its narrative threads together but it kind of doesn't work when you have no reason to care about any of them.
While the other film gave us a good sense of character for the major characters, at least, this one gives us kind of dull, generic focus characters. And if you thought this being based off of Street Fighter Alpha specifically was going to affect which characters get major roles, you'd be mistaken. The two Alpha characters we see the most of are Rose & Sakura. Neither of whom really gets to fight. Sakura spends her time in the pointless side story of trying to find Ryu. Rose spends her time appearing to Ryu as a sort of mystical guide. We see some other Alpha characters like Birdie, Dan, Guy, Adon, & Sodom, for very brief parts that give them virtually no sense of personality. Our main antagonist isn't even an actual Street Fighter character. He's a completely original non-character. Shun is the worst, though. He's obnoxious and the attempts to make him sympathetic are completely cliché.
If there's one thing you'd expect from a film based off of Street Fighter, it's probably strong action. Which is not something this film possesses. You know how those long running mindless action anime frequently involve lazy action sequences that feature characters stopping to charge their special attacks while their opponent sits back and lets them, side characters getting taken out easily and then the protagonist jumping in and ending the whole skirmish disgustingly easily? That's the major action sequences in this film in a nutshell. The more minor ones just show our major characters fighting nameless henchmen or they're ten second snippets of the Street Fighter cast fighting on an island. I guess you can give the film some credit in that its character designs do mimic the Alpha art style pretty faithfully but this is the type of franchise that's known for its action and those sequences are pretty lousy.
They did get some capable actors for this. Including Orikasa Ai, Touma Yumi & Nishimura Tomomichi. Their performances in this, however, aren't very good. They're okay, especially considering what they had to work with. The music by Matsuo Hayato is really forgettable.
This film doesn't develop its characters or their relationships enough for any of them to seem romantic.
Alpha is a lousy film. The disparate narrative threads are pretty bad and they don't form a stronger whole. The characters range from obnoxious brat Shun to bland major character. The action sequences are weak. All in all, it's barely better than what Hollywood did with the franchise. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Next week I'll take a look at Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation.
Street Fighter Alpha is based on the 1995 video game of the same name. The film features most of the cast from the game, and even squeezes in at least four characters from the video game sequel. The film is rumored to be the sequel to the Street Fighter V series. In all honesty, I do not see the connection any where. There is just no possible way this could be the sequel or prequel to anything. If for some strange reason it is, then it creates nothing but continuity issues. I simply look at this movie as a stand alone and nothing more. Casual
fans can come into this and quickly understand what's going on. However, this movie was clearly meant for the fans of the video game, and even a majority of them has trashed this one over the years.
The Street Fighter franchise has went down hill since the original animated movie. Now make no mistake, the original was no work of art, and I would never consider it to be very good anime or god forbid great anime; but at least there was one area where it shined, and it happened to be in the fights. That film contained the best action scenes in the Street Fighter animated franchise. Unfortunately, the action scenes are only one of the many issues with this film, as they don't even begin to compare with the weakest scenes from the original film.
The action scenes can be halfway decent when they want to, but too many fights consist of either unseen action or two seconds of displaying a move. The fight scenes never exercise the animation to its full ability, which results in nothing more than just mediocre action meant to kill time. I wasn't the least bit impressed or entertained at all during this movie. There are small occasions when the animation is pretty fluid delivering decent choreography. However, these scenes are few and far between. The artwork is very passable, and the characters perfectly resemble their video game counter parts.
The plot has a few decent moments that will mainly mean something only to fans who have followed the game. It revolves around the mystery of the "Dark Hado", and pushes a possible confrontation between Ryu and Akuma. The movie contains the usual, and most obvious martial art theme, which is one seeking to become stronger, but I found the drama to be completely non engaging because I found the characters to be boring.
Now speaking of the characters, most of the beginning spends time building the relationship between Ryu and Shun. This happens to be the hardest part of the movie to get through. Shun is a detestable character in everything that he does, and his repetitive dialogue grows annoying very quick. I really hated Shun, and not too many people were fond of him from what I remember.
The biggest problem that I've known fans to have with this anime happens to be the lead villain. The main characters: Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li battle against a man who does not appear in the game. Although I can forgive if a video game to anime ignores the source material. The villain should at least be interesting. The villain by the name of Dr. Sadler comes off as just another stock bad guy who wants to rule the world, and is unconvincing at trying to obtain his goal. Been there, done that.
Street Fighter Alpha isn't the worst video game to film that I've seen. It's not even close actually, but it's nowhere near a good anime, and I highly recommend skipping it if you're not a fan of the franchise. If you are a fan, then I recommend setting your expectations very low.
High: Decent artwork and animation
Lows: Boring plot, boring fights, insipid villain, just plain boring