Street Fighter II Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Udon Entertainment
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 180
  • ISBN: 0-9781-3861-9
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Street Fighter II

Street Fighter II Vol. #01

By Ben Leary     April 15, 2008
Release Date: July 30, 2007

Street Fighter II Vol.#01
© Udon Entertainment

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Masaomi Kanzaki
Translated by:Michelle Hayasi and Mai Kusuyama
Adapted by:Jim Zubkavich and Matt Moylan

What They Say
The stage is set for the best fighters from around the world to face off in the ultimate martial arts tournament. But behind the scenes of this glorious contest, an evil crime boss has a hidden agenda: to use the world's greatest warrior as his next living weapon!

The Review
Super-charged fighters from around the globe take to the ring in an all-out battle to prove who is the least ridiculous. Okay, that isn't really fair. It's actually not too bad.

It's easy to award high marks in this area. The larger size is always welcome to me, and what's more, I get a nice glossy cover that somehow resists fingerprints. The cover art is quite impressive in its own right; the bold contrast and vivid colours are really eye-catching, and the characters exude determination and strength. The Street Fighter II logo splashed across the top clinches it. The rear cover is divided in two, with the left half giving us a black and white picture of Chun-Li as a background for the publishing info, and the right half a red panel with the write-up and an insert picture (the Japanese cover, unless I miss my guess). Moving inside we find four full-colour pages highlighting the tournament contestants and their best bouts. Paper and print quality are decent and problem free. The only imperfect printing I saw was on the single phase "Printed in Canada." How's that for irony?

Topping it all off are a generous selection of extras. In addition to the nifty colour pages there are eight pages of character profiles, a message from the author, a chart of character relationships and a page on the design of Gouken, a character mentioned in the games but never before seen until the publication of this manga. Also included are two previews for other Udon titles. Ordinarily I don't count these as extras, but with the Street Fighter Alpha preview running a dozen pages, and the Dorothy of Oz 25+, I feel I have to make an exception. (I really want to read Dorothy now.)

The style here is a rough, tough, hard-edged sort that I tend to associate more with American comics than manga. But there's no doubt it's a good fit for the material. Character designs are easy to distinguish and, within the context of people beating the snot out of each other, appealing. The backgrounds are much better than I expected, showing a high level of detail even when bodies aren't smashing into them. There are a couple of confusing moments during fights due to unclear layout or blurred motion, but nothing too distracting. As a whole, the art is a distinct asset.

The text has received very good treatment. Different fonts and text sizes are used to good effect and the lettering always fits within the speech bubbles well. An interesting approach to the sound effects has been taken, in that the original Japanese effects are intact, but with translations running alongside. This works much better than I would have thought, and gives fans the best of both worlds. It's something I'd like to see more of. The translation is quite readable, and though there's some corny dialogue I don't think the translation is to blame.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Adapting a fighting game into a manga isn't the easiest thing in the world; and, in general, neither is reading a manga adapted from a fighting game. The difficulty is easy enough to see. In playing a fighting game I am involved in the fight as a participant. Take the interactive aspect away and I'm simply a spectator: I'm watching someone else play the game. A comic adaptation is a further step away: I'm (almost) reading about watching someone else play the game. That's a pretty high hurdle to clear. Most manga in this category are lucky to escape sheer awfulness. And on the admittedly humble terms of escaping awfulness, Street Fighter II succeeds.

The background is set up rather effectively, all things considered. The story plays out on the artificial island of Shad, a place built with the world's most advanced technology, but which has degenerated into an anarchic society where only brute strength is respected. (The tournament bouts take place in an unfinished stadium - a nice touch of authenticity.) This isn't the kind of story that can develop a theme of that sort, but hey, nice try. Anyway, Shad is the city where street fighting developed into a major sport, and now fighters from around the world come to test their strength in the GF tournament and prove themselves the greatest in the world.

Of course, the GF tournament is what brings our hero to Shad so the story can get started. He happens on a local girl running a restaurant with her brother, and helps them out of their debt to the local thugs by having them bet their cash on him in the tournament. (It was either that or put on a show in the old barn, I guess.) From there it's fight after fight, with Chun-Li's drug investigation providing just enough plot to string everything together. The bouts themselves work well enough on a basic level; they're never boring or particularly confusing, and the characters have the shounen ability to trade life-stories along with punches. There's nothing too far out of the ordinary, but it manages not to stink it up, and that's what really matters. There's even one decently surprising plot-twist.

I'd be interested to know what long-time fans would think of this release, which comes more than a decade after the original printing. For myself, I have no experience at all with the game apart from playing it years ago with some "friends" who battled each other all the time and knew all the combos, while I was still trying to remember which button I was supposed to kick with. The results were exactly as you would imagine. (I later took comfort in the thought that I could probably whip them all at Bubble Bobble.) So this isn't something I can come to as a member of the target audience. I suspect there won't be much of a market for Street Fighter II at this point and time; but I may be wrong. The folks at Udon evidently think so, at any rate, and they've given this title an excellent presentation all around. The die-hards may find this a better read than I did, especially with the added attraction of seeing the first appearance of Gouken, but I wouldn't blame anyone else for giving this a miss. I've seen better - but on the other hand, I've seen far, far worse.


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