Street Fighter Alpha (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, January 30, 2001
The Street Fighter Zero OAV series makes its way to America (in record time, thanks to Manga Entertainment co-producing the original Japanese version). This stuff is top-notch material, so let's get started, shall we?
This disc comes with 3 audio tracks: 2 English audio (one Dolby 2.0, another Dolby 5.1) and one Japanese 2.0 track. My system's not exactly fantastic for sound (it's not even wired for more than Dolby 2.0), but I did notice that the 5.1 English track is louder than the 2.0 English or Japanese tracks. All come in clear as crystals, with no signs of fuzziness or distortion. And all include plenty of directionality, especially in the scenes where anyone uses the Dark Hadou. Audio is great overall.
Video is crisp and clean, with no noticeable artifacting or other such problems. Everything flows smoothly, just as it should. The subtitles are just like those Pioneer has been using lately for its TV series, and I'm glad Manga picked up the idea. The aspect ratio is full-screen, so don't be fooled by the "Movie" title on the cover... this is a cut-together 2-part OAV series. It's not in widescreen, folks. Sorry!
Unlike my favorite anime film, Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro, this came in a standard yin-yang disc casing that I love so dearly. Manga seems to have wised up since Cagliostro. The insert is a basic one-page folded with scene list and still shots of the film. The image on the front is an awesome dark red shot with most of the cast's profiles illustrated, even Akuma/Gouki! The back is equally evil-looking, with another dark image of Ryu and company. This really fits into the internal "evil and good" battles which take place in the film. The disc itself has a pretty image from the cover sheet.
Beautiful! Animated throughout, easy to navigate, and well-chosen. No problems here. Note: In Japan, Akuma is "Gouki." When Manga designed their Interview menus, they listed the name "Gouki" next to Akuma's voice actor. When you actually watch the clip, the subtitles say "Akuma" instead of Gouki. It seems confusing when I type it, but when you see it, you'll understand what I mean....I hope.
Ka-pow! Extras, extras, extras! This disc would not have been that great on extras had Manga not included the interviews with all the show's major Japanese voice actors, the character designer and the director himself! All are cool little tidbits which let us in on how the actors felt about the characters they portrayed, and how seriously they took their roles. Now I kinda wish Manga had done something similar with the English voice actors, too...so we could see two sides to each character. I think that's a little demanding though. After all, they are "extras," not "required." The "Making of SFA" segment is a musical walkthrough of the show's progress. It's long, but fairly entertaining. There's also the standard Manga self-promotional fiddle-faddle that you see on every Manga disc.
For a nice little Easter egg trailer, visit the weblinks section and highlight the Manga Video logo by pressing "up". Hit "enter" and you'll get to see the Japanese trailer for the Region 2 DVD release (the two prices at the end are with and without the optional T-shirt).
Ryu, our hero (always in white), seems to be having some trouble controlling himself. You see, this approach to his Shotokan training (called the "Dark Hadou") regularly rises up inside of him, making it difficult for him to stay focused on his life and training. Rose appears in a vision to warn him of his possible future. Ken shows up to attend a street fighter tournament in Japan. Of course, he can't come to Japan without hanging with Ryu for a while. Then we have another mysterious character appear- Shun. Shun, an original character for this film, claims to be Ryu's younger brother. He also has a talent for using the Dark Hadou, which entices Ryu to use it all the more. We also get to see the antics of Chun-Li and Sakura, but not much else, as far as fighting is concerned. This disc has plenty of monologue and dialogue to go in between the highly impressive fight choreography. There's even some comedy (for the first half, that's Sakura's job...on part 2, it's Dan's)! It may not end how you hope it will, but the conclusion for this disc is still pretty satisfying. If you're hoping for another pure beat-em-up Street Fighter II: MOVIE, this is not it... but it's pretty close. And I have to keep everyone's hopes a little low on this one area: while Akuma does show up quite a bit, we never really see him fight anyone (What? What's up with that?!). It's still good though, and you won't want to walk away from the set as the story unfolds and Ryu continues his struggle against evil.
Another 4 stars/Divis/take-your-picks.
Pioneer DV-525 DVD/CD/VCD player, Magnavox 20" CRT TV, Mitsubishi amplifier (model unknown)
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: A+
Extras Rating: A+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Manga Entertainment
Running time: 90
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Street Fighter (All Variations)