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Street Fighter Alpha Generations
voice cast: Yasuyuki Kase, Yuri Amano, Mao Kawasaki, Eiji Hanawa

director: Ikuo Kuwana

45 minutes (15) 2004
Manga DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
Back in the early 1990s Street Fighter 2 was a big deal and a huge success. So successful was the videogame that not only did it launch dozens of sequels only slightly different from each other, but it crossed over into film and anime form. Apart from the famously bad US movie with Kylie Minogue and Jean Claude Van Damme, the franchise also left its mark on Hong Kong and, of course, anime. Street Fighter II: The Movie was a decent enough martial arts anime with loads of violence and a knack for blending the real world with a world of super-powered martial artists, demons and monsters. Since then though, there has visibly been a lot of water under the bridge and this 45 minutes of anime should be seen as the final dregs of what was once a vast ocean of goodwill and consumer interest.

The story starts before even the first Street Fighter game as a Master teaches his two students the secret of the Hadou (as in 'Hadouken!'). What follows is basically a rip-off of Luke Skywalker's character arc from Return Of The Jedi as Gouki surrenders to the dark side Hadou, kills his master and runs away to become a demon apparently called Akuman. Twenty-five years later, Ryu the student of Gouken (Gouki's fellow student) returns to pay his respects to his master's master and gets taken in and trained by an old monk. Eventually Gouki turns up and Ryu has to battle him, he starts to give in to the dark power of evil Hadou and then remembers that he loves the monk's granddaughter and stops fighting. But Gouki doesn't kill him and apparently he's his father. Oh, and Ken and Chun-Li turn up but apparently Chun-Li's changed her name.

Now... I know that that's not much plot and I know that it doesn't really make sense but I'm trying my best with what I have to work with. The plotting of this anime is utterly atrocious. Firstly, the plot assumes that you are not only familiar with the videogame but that you are familiar with all of the videogames and all of the anime. It is breathtakingly inaccessible. Secondly, the plotting is needlessly complicated and hamstrung by a director who refuses to tell you a story, preferring instead to ambush you with backstory and plot leaving you struggling to piece it all together. According to the producer, the plot and the backstory are the point of this anime so if we are to believe the producer there's more than enough evidence here to dismiss this anime outright as an artistic failure. However, my research tells me that the real point of this DVD is the fight between Ryu and Gouki.

The fight scenes in Street Fighter Alpha Generations are ugly, poorly thought out and utterly underwhelming. Firstly, the fights adopt trendy quick cutting editing to make sure that there's no need to really choreograph any of the fights. Secondly, the fights themselves don't make any sense because who wins has nothing to do with how many punches are thrown or how hard you hit but is instead dependent upon the spiritual characteristics of the fighters. So Chun-Li runs up to Ryu, peppers him with kicks and he doesn't take a scratch. But all he needs to do is punch her and she's on the ground gasping for air. Similarly, in the final fight the two fighters throw fireballs at each other, gurn, kick, punch and scream and either it works or it doesn't and it's impossible to tell who came out of it strongest. So even if this anime is all about the fighting, it's still pretty disastrous.

So we have a weak plot and weak action scenes, what else is there? Well the animation is visibly done on computers and is something of a mixed bag. The artists have clearly gone for a form of photorealism but once the fights start this results in astonishingly ugly and deformed characters. The animation itself is somewhat weak apart from the moments where a tree sheds it leaves or falls to pieces. These moments of superior computer animation serve to underline quite how ugly the rest of the cartoon is and as a result stick out like a gimmicky sore thumb. The voice acting, on the other hand, is competent enough in Japanese but the English subtitles are poorly written and the English-language dub is an absolute disgrace by modern standards.

All things considered this is weak. It's almost �11 for 45 minutes of poorly written, poorly drawn and poorly directed anime. However, given how inaccessible this is, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a big enough number of uncritical fanboys to make an outsider's opinion utterly irrelevant.
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