Street Fighter II V
Ryu and Ken are martial artists who take great pride in their successes at tournaments. After a chance encounter in a bar, they realize that though they mastered the world of tournament fighting, when it comes to the realm of the unregulated street fight they are weak. Determined to improve their skills, the two friends set off to travel the globe to improve their skills. Little do they know, this will lead them into the dangerous hands of the powerful and sinister M. Bison.
It is hard not to be entertained by a show with episode titles like: "The King of the Air Force: An Explosion of Menacing Military Combat" and that ends every next episode trailer with the handy catch phrase "Gonna Burn Some Muscle!" Incidentally, the King they are talking about is Guile. Whereas in previous animated incarnations Guile was a field grade officer, a Colonel no less, it seems he’s been knocked down to a mere Staff Sergeant this time around. Poor guy!
This show, to my knowledge, is the only current full television length series treatment of the Street Fighter universe with the exception of the unfortunate American version, which I should note just in case you are wondering, is not simply a dubbed version of this. So, what do we end up with? Well, it is Street Fighter, so you end up with a lot of martial arts action, but by actually having a large number of episodes to work with, you are also provided with something utterly novel in the realm of Street Fighter-related anime: character development.
While this show’s characterization is perhaps not going to be held up as one of the greatest examples ever of writing, the main characters (Ken, Ryu, and later on, Chun-Li) do get enough fleshing out to make them somewhat engaging and not flat. As expected from a Street Fighter title, almost every character from the Street Fighter II (pre-Alpha) universe makes an appearance as a major or minor character. Some of these appearances are multiple episode roles where the character gets decent to good development and others just involve the character appearing for an episode to basically engage in a fight. Amusingly enough, fan favorite Akuma appears in almost every episode, but only in background shots, for a sort of "Where’s Waldo?" effect. I should note that viewers who are some sort of Street Fighter purists may be surprised to find that the personalities of several of the characters are a bit different than some of the "standard" interpretations. Unfortunately, the primary antagonist toward the end, Bison, stays just a bit too close to stereotypical for my taste. In fact, many of the antagonists in the show end up rather uninteresting and undeveloped something that makes the conflict between several of them and our plucky protagonists less interesting.
The overall plot, though done decently enough, still ends up being a series of vaguely connected encounters as Ken, Ryu, and company travel around the world improving their skills. A little better integration of the final plot arc with the rest of the show would have helped improve the impact of the finale, so it seemed a bit less like the characters were simply leveling up until they were ready to take on M. Bison. Yes, yes, I know. It IS Street Fighter after all. I will say, though, that the improvement in the fighting skills of the characters flowed rather well and naturally. When Ken and Ryu come into some of their more unusual abilities later on, it actually is a bit more exciting since you’ve seen how hard they had to work to develop them.
Of course, the true measure of any Street Fighter animation is the action. This show is fairly strong in this realm and though the fighting gets fairly intense at times, still stays grounded in actual melees rather than the overwhelming use of special powers. They do a good job of alternating between more chaotic and rushed scenes along with slower paced scenes. More than a few times I thought they made particularly good use of slow motion, something that is quite easy to misuse in action titles. The fight scenes for most of the series, don’t really drag, and are well paced but the final few episodes somewhat reverses this trend and as the show closes in on its final plot arc, it really does begin to drag a bit. I tend to think, in general, that Street Fighter fans will generally be pleased with the action scenes that do a good job of striking dramatic balance while preserving the character and style of the various characters from the video games.
While not the deepest anime or featuring the most impressive writing, I will say that I was entertained by Street Fighter II V and that is even taking into account this usually isn’t exactly my favorite genre. The restrictions placed on the narrative framework based on its origins somewhat limit its overall potential and impact in terms of overall drama but those seeking simply a martial arts show with likable protagonists and lots of solid fights will definitely want to seek it out.
Gonna Burn Some Muscle!
A generally entertaining, though not spectacular, martial arts action title. I almost gave it four stars but it really needs a bit more tightening in the plot and character development areas. I’m pretty ambivalent about the video game but I tend to think that Street Fighter fans or those who really enjoy fighting shows will probably want to add a star. If you are the type who can’t stand martial arts fighting shows, you’ll probably want to subtract a star and avoid this. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: Guys and gals fight ... a lot. There are a few suggestive shots (such as shower scenes) and a few tight outfits here and there, though they keep it relatively in check. A lot of the fights are fairly brutal but they don't get exceedingly graphic. Overall, appropriate for teens and above.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (29/29)
Street Fighter II V © 1995 Amuse Video / CAPCOM / Group TAC / Yomiuri TV
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