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