Street Fighter Alpha Generations (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Monday, October 17, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2005



What They Say
In this thrilling prequel to Street Fighter Alpha, Ryu returns to pay homage to his deceased mentor, but is tormented by disturbing memories of his master's killer. In a quest to become a true martial arts master, Ryu sets out to hone his street fighting skills and to deliver himself from the haunting legacy of the Dark Hadou. But the ultimate test of his new power can only be accomplished through one last fateful confrontation with his arch-nemesis, Gouki.

The Review!
You can't keep a good franchise down and Manga Entertainment does its best to try and keep the former glory of Street Fighter alive.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The provided mixes for both languages included a stereo and a 5.1 mix and while the stereo mix definitely does a good job, it's the 5.1 mixes that really shine here with a lot of directionality both in the forward and rear soundstages. Right from the opening when the trees are blowing, a great moment by itself, to the power behind the Hadouken throws with the bass, this is a solid 5.1 mix with plenty of action to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally released in 2005, the transfer for this OVA is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The transfer for this release is just sparkling throughout with great colors, lots of lush moments but also a real mastery over the dark areas which maintain a very solid feel even amid a lot of action and movement. There are a lot of very slick movement pieces in the film and they're all quite fluid throughout here and just look spectacular. With a show that's based around fighting, you need as clean and good looking a print as possible and they've got that here. Visually, this simply looks fantastic and is pretty much problem free.

Packaging:
The artwork for this release is pretty much as expected with what seems to be the fairly standard shot of Ryu in some sort of action pose while the main villain takes up the background pose. That's what we get here with a very dark background of a stormy night while the villain, Gouki, is plenty dark himself so the two blend nicely. It has a good feel to it that is pretty much pure Street Fighter in its style so it definitely achieves what it's setting out to do. The back cover provides a few small shots from the show and spends most of its space providing a summary of the premise and listing the credits of those involved. The discs features and production information is fairly well done though the layout of the languages is confusing as pretty much every other Manga release is. It's almost like they're trying to be obtuse. There's no technical grid and there's a few things unlisted that would be helpful but otherwise it's decent but doesn't match up to most other studios releases. No insert is included with this release nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu layout is decent enough with a faux letterbox feel where the background sections are of the creepy forest scenes while animation clips play through the center portion. The bottom strip remains black and provides a spot for the basic and effective navigation bar. The disc has a fair number of transitional animations depending on which area you select and some are brief while others, such as the special features, are painfully long. Long the first time around, brutally long the second and third time around. Other than that, access times are decent but not terribly fast and the layout is easy to navigate.

Extras:
The only included extra is a twelve minute behind the scenes in the actors studio piece that talks with most of the principal Japanese voice actors involved as they talk about what they think the show is best watched for. Most amusing is the voice actor for Ken who comments about his very brief role which feels like half a dozen lines at best. He's at least got the right attitude about it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sometimes I think the Street Fighter franchise just can't catch a break here, or at least a lot of its fans seem to be left wanting when it comes to the anime releases. The first movie, definitely popular at the time, was hamstrung with no Japanese language to it and the TV series was stuffed onto four discs with less than stellar quality and I believe issues with the opening sequence. So what's the problem with this release?

It's unfortunately dubtitled. And not even dubtitled well. It's dubtitled badly which is doubly sinful. When watching the show with the Japanese track and the single English subtitle track that's included, it's not so bad at first and nothing seems out of place. But as it gets further in, you start to notice areas with subtitles and no dialogue. Then dialogue with no subtitles. So there are obviously issues there. Originally we believed that that subtitle track came from the first pass ADR script but we've learned it comes from the Japanese translation so that explains some of the similarities and differences between the two. Regardless of this though, the subtitle track is definitely mis-timed as we mention above.

In terms of the show itself, I'll be upfront and admit I have no idea how this really fits in with the overall mythos. It seems like every new animation seems to want to reinvent itself so I tend to just treat each piece as its own and let it stand on its own merits. The focus of this storyline keeps to two people who trained under master Gouken. Gouki and Ryu both underwent their training with this master and had excelled quite a lot but during their practice matches, Gouki revealed he had been practicing with the Dark Hadou which the master had expressly forbidden. This allows him an edge to win but it also starts warping and transforming him into something less than himself. Ryu's apologetic about not noticing it but the master just waves him off, realizing that Gouki is seeking his own path but it's a path that leads to destruction.

With Gouki succumbing to the Dark Hadou nature entirely and killing his master, he sets off to master his abilities even more. Ryu's spent years searching for him and has returned to the old dojo once more to honor the anniversary of his masters death. His visit this time though leads him to meeting a strange old monk who is surprisingly powerful and is able to teach Ryu a few new tricks about things as well as trying to get him to marry his granddaughter Fuka. A lot of what the old monk teaches is psychological, when he's not peeping at young ladies, as he tries to get Ryu to understand why he's fighting and aspiring to be a true fighter. The main issue that Ryu will face is not defeating Gouki but not falling to the Dark Hadou temptation himself.

Before he goes to the obvious final confrontation with Gouki, since you can't have this kind of show without that actual showdown, he gets to have a bit of fun as Ken met a young schoolgirl in Tokyo named Sakura who aspires to be a fighter herself and idolizes Ryu. She's come out all the way to the dojo in order to be able to take him on knowing that she can't win but the entire thing will be one hell of an experience. Ken himself doesn't make it out until later on for one of his half dozen or so lines before he gets stomped on by the old guy which is a prelude to the main fight.

Visually, there's a lot to like about this presentation. The backgrounds are fantastic and very detailed. The opening sequence has a lush visual and aural moment of the trees shaking in the wind that was just incredible. The animation itself has a great fluidity to it when it comes to the fight sequences and it meshes the CG material in rather nicely so that it doesn't stand out. The character designs are good for the new original characters like Sayaka and Fuka while the old men characters look like they've been around a couple of hundred years. What continues to look off to me but I believe fits the franchise is the kind of style used for the men like Ryu where they're bulkier in a way that doesn't seem like muscle or would allow the kind of movements they make. This just looks odd to me but again, I believe it's consistent with the franchise in general.

In Summary:
With this being the first new release from Manga Entertainment in over a year as well as a co-production of theirs that wouldn't have existed without their involvement, it's a real shame that for those wanting the Japanese language experience they've blown it so badly. After watching it through once, I can't imagine watching it subtitled again and just winging it for getting what's being said. To do dubtitles on any release is bad enough, never mind a high profile title like this. The show itself is a pretty decent little forty-five minute OVA action piece but that's about as far as it really goes. Fans of the franchise who watch it in English will enjoy it but those watching it in Japanese have plenty of reason to complain about this release. Not recommended.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Voice Actor Interview

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.



Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B-
Menus Rating: C
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Manga Entertainment
MSRP: 24.95
Running time: 45
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Street Fighter (All Variations)