Street Fighter Alpha: Generations Review
Looking at the disc’s sleeve it’s fair to say that there’s some talent behind Streetfighter Alpha: Generations, its contributors having worked on, in various capacities, the likes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Steamboy, Blood: The Last Vampire and Ninja Scroll. Indeed, their presence may even raise expectations, yet it’s also hard to disguise the fact that, for the most part, this effort represents incredibly cynical exercise. Opting for the prequel approach – always an easy answer – it goes for that most typical of martial arts narratives, that of the young apprentice you must learn various skills and, most importantly, discipline in order to avenge his master’s death courtesy of a bruising final showdown.
Though thankfully brisk, the brief running time nonetheless comes with its own problems. When faced with such a clichéd setup its scant 45 minutes are unable to do much in the way of depth or originality. We merely get the various set pieces, the wafer thin characterisations and the exposition – nothing else. To an extent you could argue that this is the result of Generations’ makers presuming we have prior knowledge of its characters – certainly the likes of Ryu and Gouki will mean little otherwise – but even then they add up to nothing but the basest of clichés. All the traits you’d expect, from the stern but playful martial arts master to the wholly evil villain and naive but good-hearted hero, are present and correct, whilst their dialogue seemingly deals in exposition only. Any signs of a second, let alone a third dimension are strictly off limits.
Furthermore, the animation is similarly under par. Depending on your viewpoint the visuals are either extremely quaint or just plain crude. Whilst efforts have been placed on providing detailed backgrounds and natural phenomena (cloud patterns, steam, etc.), the actual character animation feels clunky and uninspired. Indeed, it’s tempting to decry the entire thing as a rush job, something which seems highly likely given Generations’ overall cynicism and laziness.
A Region 1 Manga release, Street Fighter Alpha: Generations in this incarnation is something of a let down. Presented in, presumably, its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the visual side of things has plentiful combing to cope with, an aspect which makes the otherwise fine print feel somewhat disappointing. Certainly, the colours are sharp and the overall clarity is there, but then this problem does serve to be a major distraction. As for the soundtrack here we find both Japanese and English soundtracks in either DD2.0 or DD5.1 form. All four sound equally free from any major flaws or damage and as such the original Japanese would seemingly be the one to go for. However, the optional English subs (sadly of the yellow variety) would appear to be adaptations of the English dialogue and not that which they should be accompanying. As such certain passages of silence are met with subtitles, whilst some of those which deal more exclusively in dialogue leave patches out. Indeed, once again it amounts to a frustrating experience.
With regards to special features the disc is similarly lacking. Aside the from the usual cross-promotion Manga trailers, the sole extra is a brief 12-minute featurette entitled ‘Behind the Voice Actor’s Studio’. Essentially B-roll footage of the Japanese performers going about their work, proceedings are enlivened by platitudinous and decidedly ineffectual interviews with these various cast members. In other words, it’s essentially filler and nothing more.