AKA: Street Fighter II: The Animated Series
Genre: Martial Arts/Action/Adventure
Year Released: 1995
Distributor: Manga Entertainment
Running Time: TV Series, 29 episodes, 23 minutes each
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, 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, Ninku
-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.
-This anime is loosely based on Super Street Fighter II and is unrelated to the American cartoon or live action films.
-The Japanese version was used for this review. In Manga’s US release, they dubbed over the opening and ending themes regardless of which language track one uses.
-Street Fighter II V was directed by Gisaburo Sugii. This is his second time working on a Street Fighter anime since he also directed Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie which was the first time that video game franchise was animated. Outside of that game series, he’s directed Lament of the Lamb, Night on the Galactic Railroad, and Nine. Interestingly enough, Sugii was an animator for the original Dororo series back in 1969.
-Ryu is voiced by the late Koji Tsujitani who is also known for his work playing Bernie from Gundom 0080: War int he Pocket, Seabook from Gundam F91, Miroku from Inu-Yasha, and Itsuki from Yu Yu Hakusho.
-Hilarious in Hindsight: When M. Bison talks about having a delicious plan while watching that fight between Ken and Vega, don’t tell me you weren’t thinking of a famous meme-tastic quote that the American animated version of that same character said.
-Gamer Bonus: Am I the only person to notice the multiple Akuma cameos in the background like in those airport scenes?
-In addition to animating several Street Fighter anime, Group TAC has collaborated with Warner Brothers for Superman: The Animated Series and Road Rovers.
I’m back, everyone! I haven’t reviewed anything since October. Things have been busy and rough because I was busy writing for NaNoWriMo, dealt with work, and I had my own personal issues to deal with even though I haven’t fully recovered in the last aspect. Never mind that though. I do have a passion for reviewing in addition to my other endeavors. In these last few weeks of the year lat alone this entire decade, I had to buckle down to complete some goals. One of them involved re-watching DVDs and digital movies I own. This one involves a previous birthday gift I got in college when I was knee deep into Capcom’s fighting games (okay, I liked a bunch of them since childhood, but that’s besides the point). Granted, this isn’t my first go around with reviewing the Street Fighter franchise with both of the Alpha movies even though I wasn’t kind to them to say the least. Perhaps re-discovering the first Japanese TV series of one of the biggest fighting game franchises could work.
Will this be a critical hit unlike the Alpha movies?
Street Fighter II V involves a teenage Ryu who is busy training in his native Japan until he gets a letter from his best friend and fellow martial artist Ken Masters. He flies over to his rich buddy’s place in San Francisco and the two of them have a goal to be the best fighters in the world. After a chance encounter fighting with Guile, both of them decide to travel to multiple nations to take on some of the best martial artists around. They befriend others such as the tour guide Chun-Li and action star Fei Long since entering Hong Kong, but there are sinister organizations such as the drug cartel Ashura who have multiple routes across Southeast Asia or the even bigger organization Shadowlaw owned by the maniac despot M. Bison. Will these martial artists be able to survive each fight and getting caught up against these nefarious organizations?
I remember watching this in college with some friends of mine, but it was good to refresh my memory. Even though there were differences between this anime and the Street Fighter II game series, I could at least see some good in it. For example, Ryu and Ken don’t go straight out of the gate with the Hadouken ability since they eventually learn it later on in the series. Both main characters also have more personality than most of their original game incarnations. Ken is a devil-may-care spoiled brat who uses money to bend the rules (insert Seto Kaiba joke here), but he’s still loyal to his friends and will use his influence to help save others. Ryu shockingly isn’t some emotionless blank slate of a character. He has moments of being perky, jocular, and even gets gluttonous multiple times. Yes, Ryu certainly has a lot of Goku-isms in this incarnation, but I do appreciate how he doesn’t win every fight and actually learns from his mistakes. One thing that I thought was a pleasant surprise was how much the anime doesn’t focus on tournaments even with the numerous fight scenes that happen. Sure, there’s a tournament here and there, but they last two episodes at most unlike so many shonen fighting series that would spend entire seasons or arcs on one big fighting extravaganza. The plot incorporates mystery elements, crime drama, and a bit of sci-fi in the last major arc with Shadowlaw which was surprisingly eclectic for Street Fighter. Most of the voice acting in the Japanese version was well-cast. The characters don’t have the exact voices in the games, but they at least fit their personalities. Ryu and Ken have VAs that work, Chun-Li’s voice did fit in for her character even if it was a tiny bit high-pitched, and Bison’s VA was so over-the-top and hammy that he’d make Vincent Price or Jeremy Irons look wooden by comparison. One villain who was an unintentional highlight was Vega. This iteration of the Spanish masked claw-wielding maniac is way more threatening with his personality and goals. He actually creeped me out even if one aspect was much harsher in hindsight when it comes to his obsession with Chun-Li. Also, am I the only person who thinks Zechs Merquise/Milliardo Peacecraft from Gundam Wing TOTALLY looks like this version of Vega when he’s unmasked? Okay, I know Zechs is one of those Char clones, but Vega existed before that Char clone did. I’m tempted to put that Gundam pilot up there with other obvious examples of anime villains with obvious clones like the Tetsuo Shima/K9999 (of King of Fighters fame) issue or the Claw/Scar one since it was so glaring to me. There was certainly effort put there instead of just resting on the laurels of Street Fighter’s legacy.
Street Fighter II V could use some training here and there. The animation is certainly dated and looks like several other early to mid 90s action anime shows. The budget runs out later on and the show relies so much on recap footage and flashbacks to an annoying degree. While some differences I could actually forgive, some made no sense to me. Here are some examples. Why is Dhalsim of all people the one to teach Ryu the Hadouken? Where is Sagat’s eyepatch and chest scar and why is he not working for Bison? Why is Bison wearing blue? How the heck is Balrog an undercover spy for Bison and he doesn’t even use his boxing prowess at any time? Speaking of Balrog, I’m not a fan of that boxer character in general (Dudley from SFIII, FTW!). He plays up the big bad black man stereotype and (spoiler alert!) gets jobbed out by Cammy so quickly even though she weighs at least half as much as him. He totally looks like a buffoon in hindsight which left a bad taste in my mouth. The music is very mediocre. The dubbed over themes were super lame and the background music sounded like it came a decade before in some low budget kung fu movies. Would it kill to use the original Street Fighter II theme song or some of the background music? The fact that you have Guile in multiple episodes and his theme song doesn’t play (HIS THEME GOES WITH EVERYTHING!) throughout the entire series was a huge missed opportunity regardless of it being meme-tastic or not. Even though I’m not expecting Street Fighter II V to be some masterpiece, there were plot points that were so predictable and got boring for me.
This version of the Street Fighter anime was better than the Alpha movies I previously reviewed, but I’m not going to say this is a big must-see. The animation quality is mediocre and some of the fight scenes just looked lazily animated especially near the end. The voice acting and certain characters were good which I don’t fault. The music choices were just bland and dated. The changes from the original Street Fighter game were hit and miss depending on the situation. While Street Fighter II V did legitimately try to tell a complete story and incorporate other genres into that anime, some of those efforts were better than others. If you want a dumb action series, you can do far worse, but I’ve seen action anime done much better than this one.
Adjustable Rating System:
Add 2 points if you’re a Street Fighter fan.
Add 1 point if you like 90s action anime.
Subtract 2-3 points if source material accuracy means something to you.
Subtract 1-2 points if you want great animation production.
-Ryu and Ken having personalities and getting character development
-Not being reliant on tournament cliches
-Telling a complete story that surprisingly makes sense
-Mediocre dated animation
-Bad scoring and music choices
-Some Street Fighter changes just didn’t work
Final Score: 5/10 points
Content Warning: Teens and up. The fight scenes actually get more brutal than the games with the blood shown such as that Ken/Vega fight. There’s language that gets strong at points, some nudity (both female and male), and fan service especially with Cammy’s screen time. Some plot points involve Ashura doing drug trafficking, some disturbing forms of torture, and the storylines with Vega and Bison respectively being interested in Chun-Li get very disturbing because she’s 15 in this version of Street Fighter and both of those villains are adults. While nothing explicit happens to her, Vega does kiss her in her hotel room while she’s asleep (that counts as sexual assault, you devil), and Bison’s dialogue towards her aren’t much different than the lyrics from “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke or even “Hellfire” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (that Disney villain song is rapey, and you know it!). There’s also Ryu and Ken’s bromance which certainly has a bit of ho yay in it. I know Ken has interest in Chun-Li in the series, but it’s hard not hearing the song “Guy Love” from Scrubs in your head with some of their interactions.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Street Fighter II V is property of Manga Entertainment and Capcom. The screenshot is from Amazon and is property of Manga Entertainment.