Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation Review

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AKA: Street Fighter Alpha: The Movie, Street Fighter Zero

Genre: Martial Arts
Year Released: 2000
Distributor: Manga Entertainment
Origin: Japan/USA
Running Time: 93 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Street Fighter II V, Street Fighter Alpha: Generations, Street Fighter (American animated series), Street Fighter (live-action), Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, Street Fighter IV: The Ties That Bind, Street Fighter: Legacy, Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist, Street Fighter: Resurrection
For Fans Of: Virtua Fighter, Dragon Ball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, Fist of the North Star, Naruto, King of Fighters: Another Day
Notes:
-The characters will be addressed under their American names. The Japanese names will be on the left while the English ones will be on the right.
Balrog=Vega
Gouki=Akuma

-Despite being based on Street Fighter Alpha which is a prequel series, this movie doesn’t follow the same canon as the Street Fighter II anime series or movie.
Fun Facts:
-Manga Entertainment was involved in the production of this movie and is second only to Capcom in terms of the credits. Think about that.

-The screenplay was written by Reiko Yoshida who was also a writer for K-On! and is the co-creator of Tokyo Mew Mew AKA Mew Mew Power. The irony so strong.


Video games aren’t exactly the best bases for movies whether live-action or animated.

I mean, how many good adaptations of video games can you name? Even I have trouble figuring it out.

 I didn’t have amazing high expectations for Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation despite being a fan of the game series back when I was a gamer. It wasn’t going to be anything like a Yoshitoshi ABe or Satoshi Kon in terms of plotting or production.

 However, even my low expectations were hampered quite a bit.

The plot isn’t that big as expected. Ryu is traveling around wondering about his master Gouken dying, and also dealing with the curse of the Dark Hadou. Basically, it’s a dark power that turns one evil and it’s associated with the Shotokan Karate art that Ryu and Akuma (one of the big Street Fighter villains for those not familiar with the games). While he’s contemplating about that event, the criminal organization Shadowlaw is running amok, Ryu finds out that he has a younger brother Shun, and there’s fighting tournaments because OF COURSE!

Yeah, even a child would be able to come up with a basic plot like that. Not only that, there are so many plot holes and inconsistencies with or without the context of the Street Fighter games. Much like King of Fighters: Another Day, characters show up left and right just to show that’s based on the Alpha series, but most of them barely have any impact on the plot. Even the subplot with Chun-Li looking for her father was dropped which was incredibly stupid because anyone who has played the games or even saw the terrible American adaptations such as the cartoon series or the 90s live action movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme as Guile knows that M. Bison killed her father. When those abominations got that fact right, then you know something’s wrong.

Most of the characters are just mediocre. Despite having multiple characters I know from the game, most of them that have any kind of role barely have personalities. Zangief is reduced to a mute brute. Chun-Li is a typical “strong female character” that most writers resort to when it comes to writing action movies. Sakura does have a personality with her idolizing Ryu which is in character, but she’s useless throughout the movie. Then there’s Birdie, and I had to facepalm. The minor issue with him is that he’s a good guy despite working for Shadowlaw in the Alpha games. The major issue with that character in general is that he’s another entry in the stereotypical Black thug portfolio and not just because of his looks. He’s dumb, brutish, always has chains on his person (unfortunate implications, ahoy!), and spoiler alert: Birdie is the first Street Fighter to die. Looks like you don’t have to be in a Hollywood studio to enforce racial stereotypes.

The only tolerable characters are Ryu, Ken, and Akuma. While Ryu has always lacked in the personality department in most iterations of his character, he does have some personality traits like self-doubt. One quote that he said after scolding his “brother” Shun is “I’m not strong…I fight against myself.” As much as I have issues with that movie, I thought that was an unintentional deconstruction of his character which could have lead to some really good character development, but it rarely goes anywhere given the ending. Ken is alright. I do appreciate him having his sarcasm and friendly rivalry with Ryu. He’s always had more of a personality than Street Fighter’s own white-gi wearing mascot, so I didn’t have that much of a problem with him. Then, there’s Akuma who should have had a much bigger role in the film. I swore he had only three or four minutes of total screen time. Say what you will about him being a Villain Sue in some variations of his character, he had a sinister presence and was a legitimate threat to Ryu in that scene. If there’s any other fault besides the lack of Akuma in this movie, it’s his voice. Why does he sound like Darth Vader in the Japanese dub with the reverb and pitch-lowering effects? That made no sense even though that villain does have a naturally deep voice.

The animation and art were inconsistent. The visual presentation only got good during the fight scenes. The character designs were mixed to negative. Sure, the characters from the games actually look like their Alpha versions despite Chun-Li wearing a red variation of her outfit from that prequel trilogy game series, but the original characters (Shun, Sadler, Wallace, Rossanov) just looked bland at best or ugly at worst. Speaking of Sadler, the lead villain of this movie, his empowered form in the last fight scene looks like some bizarre mutated fusion of Hugo from the Final Fight and Street Fighter III series, Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, and Gluttony from Full Metal Alchemist if he lost a ton of weight and got abs. Even the Street Fighter characters got off-model sometimes. The mixed quality was disappointing.

Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation was a disappointing watch even for a dumb action flick. The threadbare plot, lack of dynamic characters, and the defilement of the Street Fighter physics brought this down. Characters show up only to prove that they exist and remind me that it’s based on the Alpha games, but albeit extremely loosely. Side note about Alpha: I thought it was too weird when Sakura played a Street Fighter game on a Bandai Wonderswan (because product placement) as Ibuki from Street Fighter III against Chun-Li despite the latter being a character in the movie. It just didn’t grab me despite my past fandom with this game series. Please look elsewhere.


Adjustable Rating System:

Add 2 points if you don’t care about plotting

Pros:
-Decent fight scenes
-Ryu having a personality for once
-Akuma’s brief screen time

Cons:

-Inconsistent animation
-Storylines get added and dropped with no reason
-Predictable plot

Final Score: 2/10 points

Content Warning: Teens and up. This is based on a fighting game, so of course there’s going to be a good amount of violence. There’s some blood, but it’s nothing too much. With that being said, some of the violence gets directed at Shun, who is a child, so that’s a big warning there. I also thought it was disturbing how you see one character (remaining nameless) literally inside an android villain’s stomach with his face and hand pressed out sometimes. One scene that will make people uncomfortable when some minor villains threaten to “have fun” with Sakura (who’s a teenager, I might add) before they get beat up by Ken before they can do anything.

-Curtis Monroe

Photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.

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