Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie
Released by: Manga Video
Length: 99/101 minutes
After doing a review for Manga Video's previous anime release, KARAS (an incredible feast for the eyes), I was also lucky enough to receive a review copy of the upcoming Street Fighter II - Uncut, Uncensored, Unleashed DVD due in stores next week!
Street Fighter II The Animated Movie was originally released stateside in 1994, and was the true adaptation of the smash hit arcade series (unlike the woeful live action Hollywood version). I'm a bit of a Street Fighter II fan, as I fondly recall my days facing off against my friends at the local 7-11's, or beating down unsuspecting strangers at the arcade with Chun Li's patented turbo kicks, so I rented the original VHS release of SFII around a decade ago. I still recall, even before hearing of this new release, how impressed I was by the animation, direct translation of the Capcom designed source material, and the cutting edge visuals. Japanese anime always had a leg up in all of those regards over US animation, and even Hollywood in terms of true translation. Of course in the years since, anime and manga culture has exploded stateside, and most of anime's strong points are now common knowledge to those in the know. Anyway, as I said, I remembered this movie fondly, and had always wanted to rewatch it (especially with the release of the SFII comic series), but I'd also always remembered the version I'd seen, seemed edited for content. As much as it was in your face, it was obviously toned down for US consumption.
So this new release looked to not only remedy my need to rewatch this classic anime, but to also cure my disdain for heavy handed editing upon translation (something I avoid for any import - give it to me straight, or not at all), by serving it up uncensored with never before seen scenes.
So how does the anime feature hold up 12 years later?
And just what were we missing in the original translation?
The answers can be found below...
The first thing that stands out about the Street Fighter II feature, is the excellent quality of the animation throughout ,perfectly capturing the amazing original designs and style of the Capcom video game characters. SFII the arcade game was a mega hit, not only for it's unprecedented and genre defining fighting controls, but even more so for it's unique and rich character designs. Any adaptation that holds true to those, has a leg up on it's audience. SFII the animated movie stays completely true to those characters, and showcases ALL OF THEM, both in well choreographed fight sequences straight from the games, or fleshing out their personas via the story. For it's time, I'm sure SFII offered the highest quality and techniques in animation. Visually it holds up very well, especially since most characters are featured in their iconic costumes, and not bogged down by contemporary fashions (though we do catch some characters, especially Ken, in goofy duds). The movie takes around the globe, and serves up plenty of candy for the retinas along the way. Scenes come to life with mood and style, like the best anime, it's the attentions to details such as blades of grass bending in the wind, or lightning streaking across the sky, that helps immerse the viewer in the experience.
The story, while pretty simplistic, serves it's purpose, highlighting all of the popular characters and pitting them against each other, while raising the stakes to give the movie an overall story arc, that takes the main character Ryu on a journey, true to the mythos. Street Fighter is a world where normal people can control unlimited power, through discipline and training. These super powered heroes, can accomplish amazing physical feats, simply by force of will (no radioactive spider bite required)! That's perhaps the biggest charm of the Street Fighter universe, it has a broad appeal, to video gamers, action movie fans, fight buffs, or comic book and superhero nuts.
As far as the new scenes, or uncensored content? It's seemed pretty light. As I said, I hadn't watched the original in a decade or so, so nothing stood out to me as a new scene or something I hadn't seen before, but I haven't seen mention anywhere of just what may have been added (or how much) in this new uncut version. In the promotion, it lists that this version is more graphic, and there are a few scenes with mild language, one with mild nudity, and the fights are overall only mildly bloody. Nothing excessive, you'd almost wonder why they bothered cleaning it up in the first place. Of course, I'm sure it had to do with expanding the audience (before the general public understood that anime content skewed more mature), but the core target for this film are old enough to handle it's slightly edgy themes.
The new release includes a package that features two versions; the original Japanese on one side, and the uncensored UK version on the other. As for bonus features, it's a little light, there are some trailers, and a cast/character menu that give info on all the characters, with links to little loops of them from the film. Also included is a mini comic by Udon, makers of the current well produced batch of SF comics, that ties into the film. A great tie in to turn SF fans onto the existence of the comics, but not much more. The title menu is a fun arcade themed interface, and the content offered is alright, but the features could stand to be a bit more extensive. A guide to the new uncensored content, or explaining the differences from the original would've been nice, for example.
Overall, I'd say Street Fighter II the uncut edition is a great anime, perfect for fans of the Street Fighter universe, and this would be the version to add to your collection. It's also a great watch for any anime, action, fighting, or comic book fans that holds up well to the tests of time.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, a true festival of fighting in the Street Fighter mold!
Be sure and check out Street Fighter II when it hits stores this week!