It was a dark and stormy night. Lightning struck the empty plains. Violent winds blew the blades of grass in what seemed to be total darkness. A mountain of a man was standing there, labored in his breathing, missing an eye with shortened vision in the other. His chest bled profusely from a newly formed scar that went from the top to the bottom of his massive chest. Across from him stood another man who was much smaller in stature, breathing heavily and maintaining a stance in preparation for the next attack. Energy crackled around the shorter man, building steadily until it raged. He reared his hands back to store the energy. The giant came running after this man, attempting to strike. As the energy built, one of the most notable things you could see was his headband blowing wildly. As the giant got closer, the other warrior thrusts his hands toward him with great strength, speed, and precision. At that very moment, a ball of fiery energy left his hands with explosive fury. The final reading: his fighting potential was over 3000.
Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie is not just my favorite anime of all time, and not just my favorite anime movie of all time, but it stands as one of my top animated movies of all time, if not at the very top. To this date, it stands as probably the best adaptation of the Street Fighter video game series to media, from top to bottom. Aw, heck! It is the best adaptation of the Street Fighter video games series to media. Ok, so it doesn’t cover the entire series, but it covers the most prolific part, and that’s Street Fighter II. Everything from its execution to its art style is perfectly fitted for this anime. I have seen all 3 versions of this movie and every one of them works to a tee. How do I know this works? Even Capcom, the company that gave Manga Entertainment the rights to make this anime takes cues from it, helping to build the Street Fighter story. Yes, there’s a story to Street Fighter. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. They’re either lying to you and/or maybe holding a grudge against the game and games like it, for whatever reason. It’s probably because they aren’t really good at it, but I digress.
The anime tells the tale of street fighting all around the world as part of the 2nd Street Fighter tournament. The first one ended with what I explained in the beginning of this review, which doesn’t do the justice. You have to see this for yourself in action. The story follows the winner of the first tournament, Ryu, on his quest to perfect his fighting ability. He travels the world, looking for challengers to battle. While this is happening, his best friend and rival, Ken Masters, is battling in various fights just like Ryu so he can be ready to fight Ryu and defeat him. Amidst their travels, an evil organization known as Shadaloo is putting together the second tournament to hunt down and capture street fighters from around the world. The sponsor of the tournament is M. Bison, the leader of this organization which deals with drug smuggling, weapons trafficking, and corruption in the armed forces amongst other things. His dealings lead him to find out about Ryu and Ken, putting forth a plan to capture both of them. At his stead are the other “Grand Masters” of the tournament: Balrog, a vicious boxer, Vega, a psychopathic bull fighter, and Sagat, the scarred Muay Thai kick boxer who lost to Ryu in the first tournament. But, Ryu and Ken aren’t without assistance. Captain Guile of the U.S. Air Force and Chun Li of Interpol are hot on Bison’s trail. When it all comes to a head, it’s definitely something to behold.
SFII: The Animated Movie is definitely a classic anime to watch. The fight scenes are intense and hard-hitting. All 17 fighters from Street Fighter II make an appearance in this movie, playing a part to flesh out the story in their own way. No one is left out, and everyone fits their representation perfectly, based on their involvement in the tournament. If I were you, I’d definitely watch the European uncensored version of this anime, which is just the unrated American version first. Why? The best compliment to the anime: the soundtrack. Yes, it is definitely steeped in the 90’s music scene, but it fits all too well to pass up. Even the presentation for this version is great. The Japanese version is worth a watch to see how the movie was originally cut. And, yes, it has the “controversial” scene that got this movie its initial attention (Chun Li taking a shower) in all its full glory….if that’s what you’re into.
This anime means so much to me in so many ways as it gave me a good interpretation to the SFII story. It had great fights, a great soundtrack, and it does the justice per character as best it can. It was so well, that, as stated earlier, it gave extra dimension to the characters in future games after this was released. So, if you haven’t already, pick up the DVD of this anime, pop it in, and enjoy. And, don’t be afraid to “pop in a quarter” and watch it again once it’s over. FIGHT!