Judge Adam Arseneau can't wait to see Ryu fight Capt. James T. Kirk. His money is on Kirk.
The ultimate fight is about to begin!
The sequel (or is it prequel?) to the Street Fighter Alpha original anime video, Street Fighter Alpha: Generations is an overly short adventure filling out the back story between Ryu and his ill-fated master, slain at the hands of Gouki (nee Akuma, in North American adaptations).
With a running time of 45 minutes, there isn't much here to get excited about, but die-hard fans of the material should begin salivating…wait for it…
Facts of the Case
Ryu, the tireless street fighter who wanders the world looking for the next great fight, returns home to his dojo to pay respects to his deceased master, Gouken. He remembers his master's killer, the fearful Gouki, a former student drawn inexorably towards the darker side of the battle in his never-ending quest for strength, soon unleashing the forbidden and terrifying power of the dark Hadou, a kind of internal anti-energy strong enough to tear the world asunder.
As Ryu struggles to improve his abilities for his inevitable confrontation against Gouki, he slowly realizes the fight with his nemesis is less important than the battle raging within his own heart…and the manifestation of his own dark Hadou!
AStreet Fighter expert I am not, but I possess enough nerd knowledge and a general sense of the back story between video games and anime episodes to realize that Street Fighter Alpha: Generations makes no sense whatsoever. The packaging lists Generations as a prequel to the anime OAV Street Fighter Alpha, but shoots itself in the foot by introducing relationships between characters that were previously created in Alpha, like Ryu meeting Sakura, and Gouki and Ryu being students together (the latter of which is just wacky). Far be it from me to expect an anime based on a video game to hold itself up to some sort of continuity, but there is probably a fine line between creative license and outright deception that needs exploring here. The continuity is so confusing that Generations seems at times to be an entire reworking, rather than a prequel, to Alpha. Try not to give it too much thought.
Helmed by first-time anime director Ikuo Kuwana, who has worked on much better projects like Steamboy, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Blood: The Last Vampire, Generations brings together a fair offering of talented people and veterans together to create something decisively more mediocre than any of the aforementioned anime. The animation style of Generations has a flat, earth-toned style of simplicity and old-fashioned design (small eyes, neutral proportions, etc.) which tends to give way to absolute raging insanity during fight sequences, a transition that feels inconsistent and awkward. I didn't particularly enjoy the visual style of the feature or the CGI effects, but I can acknowledge that a fair amount of care has been put into crafting the fight sequences, which are of decent length and entertainment value. The fluid movements are easy on the eyes, and allow for some intense combinations of fists and feet.
Generations isn't a particularly well-written anime, but it does the best it can with the material, emphasizing the internal struggle developing within Ryu as his dark Hadou begins to manifest around him, just like in Street Fighter Alpha…but never mind. A debatable improvement is the thinning of the cast in Generations, which makes no attempt to even drop names of other Street Fighter alumni, deciding merely to focus on its core cast of central characters…Ryu and Gouki and, to a lesser extent, Sakura and Ken, the latter who only gets seconds of screen time. From a fanboy point of view, it kind of sucks, but the culling makes for a much more cohesive and structured story, unlike Alpha, which tried to cram every single character into it at the expense of any sort of reason or explanation. The major flaw with Generations from a story standpoint is the brevity…45 minutes is barely enough time to get started, let alone wrap the story up.
Considering how exciting the material should be, this anime is a bore. Outside of two major fight sequences, the film snoozes along, too short to develop any real interest in plot or character, but too long to have the film only be one big fight scene. As a result, most of Generations is spent in boring flashback, paralleling the development of Ryu and Gouki into their respective adult selves, wasting time with a pointless segue of hooking Ryu up with a mysterious monk and his enigmatic daughter, and sparring with Sakura. By the time we get to Ryu vs. Gouki, we are excited, because we know the anime will be ending soon. Yawn.
The subtitles, in a word, suck. Once again, like many anime before it, preferential treatment has been given to the English dub, and through some bizarre set of decisions of the part of management—inexplicably—somebody decided to time the subtitles to match the English dialogue, rather than the Japanese. This phenomenon could be called "dubtitling," if you fancied yourself a huge anime nerd. The end result of this particular gaffe, of course, is that watching the Japanese language audio track leads to total incoherency. Entire segments of subtitled dialogue appear at totally incorrect times, delayed by a good 30 seconds, often flashing quickly on the screen too early or far too late to do the viewer any good. Suffice it to say, there is nothing quite like watching subtitles timed to a language you are not actually watching the film in.
The transfer, I have to admit, is phenomenal. One would think that tiny Japanese animators are actually hand-drawing the frames directly on your television too fast for the eye to see. That's how good we're talking here. The level of detail is unearthly, the black levels are deep and rich, and the color tone is strong. If there is a flaw with this presentation, it eludes me. Simply fantastic.
Audio is pretty good, too. We get both English and Japanese 5.1 surround sound track, and both again in 2.0 stereo. Preferential mixing treatment has been given to the English dub tracks and the dispersal of various environmental effects is much more effective, but the corny and blasé quality of the English dub itself precludes me from recommending it over the Japanese track. Both surround sound tracks are the way to go, with strong bass response, clear dialogue, and a reasonably engaging use of the rear channels, especially during fight sequences.
Not much in the way of extras…only thing of note is a behind-the-scenes featurette with the Japanese voice actors coming in at about 12 minutes. It's a great look at the process, if you are into that kind of thing. The Japanese cast is particularly charming, politely asking the viewer to enjoy their work…very whimsical, in that overly polite Japanese sort of way.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Just what the hell is going on with all the ghosts?
Clocking in at a lousy 45 minutes, this DVD could only be recommended to die-hard Street Fighter canon fans, if such a thing exists. For the more casual anime or Capcom fan, you would be much better sticking to the emotionally bankrupt yet more entertaining Street Fighter Alpha.
But boy, what a good-looking transfer.
Well, at least it's better than Van Damme's version.
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