Tag Archives: Capcom

Street Fighter Alpha: Ryu fights his emo side

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.

SF Alpha1.png

Story:

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.

Characters:

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.

Art:

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.

SF Alpha.png

Sound:

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.

Ho-yay:

This film doesn’t develop its characters or their relationships enough for any of them to seem romantic.

Final Thoughts:

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. You can also expect the bonus review this Sunday. 

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Devil May Cry: Sephiroth cut his hair

A lot of gamers are, at least, familiar with Capcom’s Devil May Cry. The franchise is pretty beloved, except for that reboot one where Dante had dark hair and was, objectively, a piece of shit. In 2007, after the third instalment but before the fourth, our old friends at Madhouse started releasing an anime based off of the games. That’s right, the studio that brought us such adaptations as X-men, Metropolis, and FF Legend of the Crystals was behind this. Well, maybe this one isn’t a pile of garbage like those were. Well, except Metropolis. It was just sub-par.

DmC.png

Story:

We open with Morrison bringing Dante a job. Now, you might find yourself asking “who the hell is Morrison?” He’s an original character who basically exists to bring Dante work and, occasionally, drive him around. The job is simple, Dante just has to safely escort a young orphan girl to the estate of the deceased father she never met to claim her inheritance. Naturally, she’s being hunted by demons.

This is one of those anime where the underlying plot is pretty light and most episodes are just doing their own thing. Dante gets a job that somehow involves demons and then he goes out to slay them. In fact, the weakest part of the series is the big underlying plot. You get little snippets of it in quite a few episodes, but it ultimately involves a lot of contrivance and it’s just not very good in general. Even the ongoing stuff that’s meant to draw your attention to the fact that something is afoot is largely just dull and really obvious. To the point where it’s just “this again” after a few times. The episodes also have a general problem of trying way too hard to give happy endings. To the point where they can just go completely off the rails and not make much sense. There are quite a few episodes that set things up for sad or, at the very least, bitter-sweet endings and then pull happy ones out of their anuses. I guess I missed the memo about DMC being for small children who can’t process tragedy on account of the PEGI 16 ratings.

With that being said, a lot of the episodic scenarios are pretty interesting. Varied too. Yeah, you know that Dante is going to fight some demon, but there’s a lot of variation in what kinds of demons he’ll fight and how they’ll approach. Some of them use stealthy approaches or try to use guile, others prefer the direct approach. Some are after him specifically, others just happen to stumble upon him while going about their terrible business. And some of the scenarios are really intricate. The death poker game being a prime example.

Characters:

The characters from the games, Dante, Trish & Lady are all portrayed pretty true to character. Which is more than a certain reboot managed. In terms of original characters, some of the ones Dante encounters on his missions are kind of interesting. Others are pretty mediocre. Then we have our reoccurring Ocs, Morrison & Patty. Morrison is a boring character. We don’t know why he’s bringing Dante jobs, how they met or anything beyond “he brings Dante jobs.” He’s pretty much on par with the plot coupon guy from your average PreCure series. And those can get by with it because they are actually for children. Then we have Patty. Have you ever wondered what Devil May Cry would be like if Dante had a slightly annoying child sidekick? No? Well, it’s not the best decision that Madhouse could have made. She spends a lot of time pestering Dante, having to be rescued and contributing virtually nothing.

Art:

The artwork is pretty decent. The characters look like themselves and Madhouse clearly made an effort to make the aesthetic look like DMC. The demon designs are generally pretty good as well. The trouble is that the action sequences themselves aren’t all that good. In a series that relies heavily on action sequences. A lot of the “big” Dante fights end very quickly without having much content. And a lot of the sequences focus heavily on scenes of Dante attacking while not showing, or barely showing, his opponent. It would’ve benefited from showing them striking at one another in the same frames a bit more, is what I’m saying. Oh, and expect a lot of deaths to go the blood fountain route. I guess demon blood streams are highly pressurised.

DMC2.png

Sound:

The series did get some good voice actors. We’ve got Morikawa Toshiyuki as Dante. Yes, Dante and Sephiroth are the same guy. We all suspected it given the resemblance. We’ve got Orikasa Fumiko and Tanaka Atsuko, both of whom are damn good actresses, as Lady and Trish respectively. Even the less interesting characters got some decent voices. The musical score by Hama Takeshi & Tsutsumi Hiroaki is pretty close to fantastic.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any, really. The closest you’re going to get is Lady and Trish forming a friendship.

Final Thoughts:

Devil May Cry is an anime that had some potential. After all, there’s a lot to work with from the games. Unfortunately, it’s held back by a dull underlying plot, trying too hard to provide happy endings, the slightly annoying child sidekick and mundane action sequences. Ultimately, I’d still say it’s all right but it certainly could have been better. My final rating is a 6/10. Next week we’ll continue video game month with a look at Street Fighter Alpha.

Street Fighter II: The Movie- More than friendly rivals

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.

Story:

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.

Characters:

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.

Art:

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.

Sound:

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.

Ho-yay:

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.