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Street Fighter II had a monumental effect on the video game industry during the early nineties, virtually redefining the beat-em-up genre and establishing a global multi-million dollar franchise. Ask anyone who owned a Megadrive or SNES and it is more than likely that they will have encountered Street Fighter in some shape or form. Toys, comics and an endless number of spin-offs started appearing from every direction, not to mention the various film and TV adaptations. Whilst some were truly dire and borderline illegal (check out the South Korean, Hong Kong and Hollywood efforts), others remained faithful to the source material. Street Fighter II: The Movie is arguably the finest of the bunch, showcasing unapologetically violent scraps but never at the expense of an enriching premise. Now that the demand has calmed down, only dedicated fans remain to consume any leftovers that come their way.

Street Fighter Alpha: Generations

Film


Street Fighter Alpha: Generations illustrates the earliest traces of the Street Fighter saga, depicting the tragic tale of Gouki and his transformation into Akuma. Once an honest martial arts pupil, Gouki was seduced by the Dark Hadou – a powerful force that has the ability to cause maximum destruction if not handled with care. The dark arts are strictly forbidden by Gouki’s master, who is forced to challenge his pupil in an effort to end this madness. After defeating his master, Gouki then targets fellow pupil and former friend Gouken, who is the master of none other than Ryu. The story follows a young Ryu, as he begins his journey towards becoming the ultimate fighter.

It should be clarified that this is not a film, but a small forty-five minute chapter of Ryu’s early days and the origins of his nemesis Gouki. Due to the relatively short runtime and the writer’s attempts at capturing a vast amount of history, Generations feels far too condensed and is ultimately unfulfilling with no real resolution. Street Fighter II exhibited solid, diverse characters, encouraging audiences to follow their favourite fighter in their quest for winning the tournament. However any attempts at expanding the history have been futile, resulting in mass confusion and misery. The problem with the stories is that they struggle to maintain consistency. There are so many conflicts and contradicting tales that it is now impossible to pen an accurate Street Fighter timeline.

Generations tries to clear the facts but instead has made the storyline more complicated than ever before, insinuating unusual relationships and coincidences that do not really make sense. This is partly due to the introduction of unnecessary characters that do nothing but fuel further bewilderment. Street Fighter regulars Ken and Sakura appear in wasted cameos, with the battle between Ryu and Gouki remaining the centre of attention. It is remarkably frustrating because the two have yet to face each other properly and the fans are still waiting for the ultimate fight.

Street Fighter Alpha: Generations
Another startling difference between Street Fighter II: The Movie and its sequels is that the former limited the amount of supernatural activity to suitable characters. Generations experiments with spirituality but subsequently destroys the authentic ‘street fighter’ image. Never before has a ‘hadouken’ looked so ludicrously absurd.

The quality of animation is highly polished, providing a blend of computer generated imagery with hand drawn characters. Whilst the backgrounds retain a glossy texture, the foreground objects, namely the characters, do not exhibit the same level of care and detail. Facial features, hair structure and fabric composition are unusually bland – it seems as if cut-outs have been superimposed on an immaculate background. At least, the fights are vividly illustrated and nicely choreographed. The primary characters do not resemble their video game counterparts, most noticeably Gouki who looks like a piranha with his stretched face. A further example of anime bastardisation is highlighted in the horrendous rhythm and base soundtrack, which is a startling contrast to the exquisite pictorial beauty of the dojo and its agricultural surroundings.

I must mention that I have never been overly keen on recent anime titles that are dependant on computer effects as opposed to a traditional hand drawn approach. In addition, anime has now descended into childish humour and morals – it is not often that one encounters a truly mature title. The era of groundbreaking anime, dominated by such refined works as Ninja Scroll and Akira, is well and truly lost.

Street Fighter Alpha: Generations

Video


Street Fighter Alpha: Generations is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The transfer sustains tremendous detail and utilises a lush pallet, comprising of healthy greens, blues and reds. Every fundamental object is sharp and instantly distinguishable, with no evidence of softness or grain. Due to the nature of the animation process, the foreground items are heavily emphasised due to a strong black border. In addition, traces of edge enhancement are noticeable but these are not extensive as to cause visual discomfort. The only major issue is that there is a fair amount of interlacing and combing, particularly during the fight segments. Other than that, every other body motion remains fluid and pristine.

Audio


There are a total of four soundtracks; Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround and Dolby Digital 5.1 in either Japanese or an English dub. Examining the Japanese tracks, there is surprisingly little difference between the 2.0 and 5.1 efforts. Both express remarkable aggression during the fights, where every impact resonates with optimum clarity. As expected, the 5.1 mix is slightly richer, especially in the directional effects department. The rears capture a wonderful array of ambient noise and provide a subtle reverb with the conversations; unlike the 2.0 option, which restricts the dialogue output to the frontal array. In addition, the score has been masterfully reproduced and maintains a delicate dynamic balance, as to not cause interference with the primary effects.  

Both English soundtracks are very similar to the Japanese counterparts, with negligible differences. At least in terms of dynamics, both maintain similar volumes and utilise an identical separation scheme. This makes a refreshing change from most dubs that have a tendency to increase the dialogue volume. The lip movement is incredibly well synchronised, right through to the correct choice of words to match the shape of the mouths. Of course, the translation had to be compromised but not to a massive extent; the overall story is accurately delivered. However certain sections are radically different to the Japanese version. The English subtitles are of the bright yellow variety and are nicely paced and free of errors.

Street Fighter Alpha: Generations

Extras


“Inside the Voice Actors Studio” is a featurette that interviews the Japanese voice actors for Ryu, Ken, Sakura and Fuka. It is amusing to see that neither has any idea of what the story is about, as they are unable to explain the relationships between their characters. This should provide an indication as to how confusing the character histories have become; if the actors cannot explain then who can? All four actors are interviewed individually and together to provide their interpretation of what their character is feeling. Towards the end, they share a few laughs and express their traditional Japanese humbleness.

There is an interview with producer Kaoru Mfaume, who is a representative of Manga UK. He explains the origins of the story and how the script came into focus. It would appear that the intention was to always clear up the origins of the Street Fighter characters, which indicates that there may be more to come. Mfaume later describes his involvement with the Japanese staff, eventually resulting in the story’s production.

Manga have provided a soundtrack - basically songs from Generations being played over DVD menus and anime artwork.

The Art of Anime and Manga Trailers conclude the supplementary materials. Both are essentially a collection of trailers promoting the vast range of anime titles from Manga Entertainment.

Street Fighter Alpha: Generations

Overall


The Street Fighter craze is evidently no way near as appetising as it was during the nineties; only dedicated fans remain to savour Capcom’s greatest outputs. Generations is a weak attempt at penetrating the mythology behind the game’s integral character but unfortunately destroys an already confusing timeline. Its problem is condensing a vast amount of history into a forty-five minute time slot, which has resulted in a lazy, rushed production that carries insufficient depth. There have been too many Street Fighter film and TV adaptations but the best remains to be the 1994 anime movie – nothing else has come even remotely close.


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