Let me preface this review by saying that I don’t have the same problems with Capcom that a lot of gamers do. However, one legitimate complaint that always comes up about them is that they milk their fighting game franchises to an absurd degree. Capcom always seems to have a “super ultimate hyper deluxe turbo” edition released a year after the first installment comes out that’s pretty much the same game with a few very minor additions and the Street Fighter franchise is the biggest offender, which isn’t surprising since it’s one of Capcom’s biggest franchises. Also unsurprising is the fact that it’s had quite a few adaptations, the worst of which were brought to us by Hollywood. Most of the anime versions, including this one, were handled by Group TAC, the same studio that brought us Shinigmai no Ballad and Night on the Galactic Railroad.
Before we take a look and see how much better this is than the Hollywood film that came out the same year, please note that I’ll be using the original names for M. Bison, Balrog and Vega. I know that some versions switched that around so, for reference’s sake, M. Bison is the boxer, Balrog is the matador and Vega is the big bad.
Our tale opens with Sagat fighting Ryu while strange computer readings appear on screen. The battle ends with Ryu giving Sagat his signature scar and we skip ahead to the British minister of justice being assassinated by none other than Cammy, who can’t remember much, not even her position in British intelligence. It turns out that Vega and Shadowlaw have found a way to brainwash street fighters into doing their bidding and they’re looking for Ryu. Meanwhile, Chun-Li and Interpol team up with Guile and the American military to find and defeat Vega and Shadowlaw. While all of this is going on, Ryu is wandering around, presumably as part of his goal to become the greatest martial artist there is.
It probably seems like there’s a lot going on, but the story is well paced (somewhat fast-paced but not to a ridiculous degree) and the disparate plot threads all come together really neatly. The story builds tension well and has quite a bit of intrigue, which does go beyond what you’d expect from a story based on a fighting game. That being said, it isn’t a perfect story. One issue with the narrative is that there are some pointless moments. The whole scene in Las Vegas, for example, contributes nothing. The only reason it’s there is to have a fight scene between Zangief and Blanka because… they wanted all the game’s characters to at least appear briefly. The worst of these scenes, not in terms of pointlessness but just in general, is Chun-Li’s shower scene. It’s a pretty long scene with Chun-Li’s bosom and buttocks being shown in detail. The problem with the scene, aside from the basic gratuitous nudity for fan-service and ignoring the lack of class, is that it takes place right before a really violent fight scene between Chun-Li and Balrog. During this fight scene there are several panty shots which, especially when combined with the previous scene, bring it uncomfortably close to sexualised violence.
Most of the focus characters are surprisingly three-dimensional. Ryu, Ken, and Chun-Li in particular. The antagonists, however, are kind of flat and generically evil. The closest to having any kind of developed motivation is Sagat, but he doesn’t get much screen time aside from that opening sequence. Most of the Street Fighter characters just appear for a short scene or two and then get banished from the film, which gives them no time to get fleshed out.
The art is really strong for this film. The character designs are spot on. The backgrounds are lively and have a nice variety (they even sneak in several of the game’s stages.) The action sequences, aside from the aforementioned uncomfortable one, are absolutely fantastic. They’re dynamic and intense with movements that are very natural. Surprisingly so given that they incorporate the game’s special moves like the Hadouken and the Sonic boom.
The voice acting is pretty good. Haga Kenji and Shimizu Kojiro give capable performances as Ken and Ryu respectively. Fujitani Miki does a good job as Chun-Li and Kusaka Takeshi makes for an imposing Vega. The music is frequently unfitting. Most of the film uses soothing and soft music which clashes a bit with the atmosphere. Sometimes it makes sense, like when a character deliberately selects the music in question while relaxing, but at other times it’s just jarring.
Somebody at Group TAC was shipping Ryu and Ken. Throughout the film these two are constantly thinking about each other and their flashbacks almost inevitably feature what can only be called “mood” music. At one point Ken broaches the subject of marriage with his girlfriend, which surprises her since he’s never mentioned it before and, shortly after, we hear his thoughts. “Ryu, I’m tired of waiting for you.” These two bump the ho-yay factor up to a 5/10.
That’s Street Fighter II: The Movie. The action sequences are awesome, the major characters are fleshed out nicely, and the story is well told. The biggest flaw is that one particular fight scene between Chun-Li and Balrog which does detract from the film. That being said, if you can forgive that scene and you want to see some epic action, you’ll enjoy this one. My final rating is a 7/10. My request queue going into May is: Doki Doki Precure, Sword Art Online, Shingeki no Kyojin & Kill La Kill. I’ll get back to that shortly, but next week Ancient Book of Ys.