Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation (2000)

Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation (2000)

“I fight because I’m not strong. I fight myself. Against myself!”

- Ryu

Well, Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation kept popping up on my Netflix, so I thought I’d review it. It’s culturally important to gamers, and thoroughly sci-fi; both of which fit the bill for Through Alien Eyes. First off, I love fighting game movies. But, I know they’re never straightforward tournament fighters, like their videogame counterparts. Now, just remember every time you do a hadoken in Street Fighter, you’re throwing out all the manifestations of evil in Ryu’s soul. Ryu struggles against the “dark hado” in his body, which I assume is like The Force, which he learned from the evil Akuma, who killed his own master.

    After witnessing a gunfight between Chun Li and some crooks in which kids become involved, Ryu steps in to stop the fight, and everyone recognizes him as the famous tournament fighter and is impressed with his ability. One of the kids Ryu protects is a Brazilian boy who claims to be Ryu’s brother. The kid hears about a fighting tournament in Kibuki Town, and trains with Ryu and Ken for a bit. He gets squashed by Zangief, and then a big beefy steampunk cyborg hadokens them all and destroys the town to provoke Ryu. I know, it makes little sense.

    Later, the kid goes nuts on some punks who start a fight with him and chokes them with chains, and we find out the kid actually possesses the dark hado. So, Ryu tells him not to fight (with the above cheesy line…clearly a bad moral for a fighting game. You know, fight the urge to fight. In a fighting game!) So, he confronts Akuma who he believes is influencing him, and Akuma invites him to another tournament.

 Now, clearly, you’d be thinking Ryu would be there to face Akuma. But, this never happens. Instead, the other characters like Adon and Birdie trash talk each other for a bit, and then an evil scientist named Sattler collects the data on the fighters and sucks their souls out leaving the other fighters’ disembodied husks as he absorbs their power into his steampunk cyborg body…also he absorbs the Brazillian kid into his body, and becomes a gray Blanka.

     I thought Blanka was just a monster. But, no. He’s a mutated mad scientist with a Brazilian kid stuck inside his body. Geez, how did none of this make it into the game? Birdie tells Ken and Ryu to get out of there, while he’s being choked by Sattler’s cyborg form. Then, Ken fights him, but not even a shoryuken (Dragon Punch) special move knocks him out. Ryu launches a hadoken to destroy Blanka/Sattler. Finally, he’s shown in a mid-air jump kick against Akuma, and the movie ends.

    Listen, I love Street Fighter II and Street Fighter Alpha as much as any 90s kid. Fighting games are my favorite types of videogames. But, this…is ridiculous and confusing. Why is Ryu fighting not to fight? Who is Sattler…and why does he absorb the Brazilian kid? Why does the movie end in mid-fight? I guess Ryu wins?

   On the upside, many of the game’s fighters make it into the game. Adon, Birdie, Chun-Li, Ken, Rose, Dan, etc. But, we don’t need to see a Star Wars type story to explain why Ryu can throw fireballs, or an overly-detailed Blanka origin story. And the explanations are just creepy! Why can’t Ryu just throw fireballs? Why can’t Blanka just be a monster?

   I admit, I’m biased in my rating of this animation because I like Street Fighter and because the standard kung fu movie moral it uses (Focus your mind to train your body.) works well with my own stance on disability rights. But, admittedly, this is a mess. No boss characters show up except for Vega (I’m American, so that’s Balrog to all you international readers out there.) and Akuma, who never really faces Ryu. Plots with Sakura, Ken, and Chun-Li are all immediately dropped to focus on Ryu vs. Sattler. (Who never even appears in the game. I think he’s made up just to account for Blanka!)

Even the 1994 Street Fighter II anime follows it’s own rules, and it doesn’t need to make up weird origin stories to account for the fighters. I don’t know, I am disappointed…but at least the animation is charming and somewhat surreal. For a final rating…I’ll just rate it a D. It’s the “Blanka is Sattler + a robot + a Brazilian kid” thing that really confuses me, and the rest is a bland Street Fighter version of Star Wars. Like the game says when you‘re defeated: “YOU LOSE”.      


  1. Ryu doesn't tell him not to fight; he cautions him against fighting for shallow reasons.

    Glad I found this, as it's the only place I could find the quote I wished to find (the one you posted at the very top of the post).