Street Fighter Alpha-The Movie (1999)

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Released 19-Jun-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Street Fighter Alpha
Interviews-Cast & Crew-31:58
Theatrical Trailer-1:14
Trailer-Ghost In The Shell,Blood:Last Vampire,Perfect Blue
Easter Egg-Japanese Trailer
Easter Egg-Alternate Japanese Trailer
Easter Egg-DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 92:45 (Case: 90)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:52) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Shigeyasu Yamauchi
Studio
Distributor
Capcom
Madman Entertainment
Starring Kane Kosugi
Kazuya Ichijô
Yumi Tôma
Tomomichi Nishimura
Case DV-4
RPI $34.95 Music Hayato Matsuo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, a few cigarette butts found on the ground.
Annoying Product Placement Yes, for a Bandai Wonderswan, it's basically an ad!
Action In or After Credits Yes, glimpses of the fighters after the battle.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Although I was never a huge fan of the Street Fighter video game series (mainly due to the fact that I was never a top class player) I still followed the game through its incarnations, and kept up-to-date with the new characters most of the time. So when the opportunity arose to review the DVD, I jumped at the chance, as I had heard that the Street Fighter animations were quite good. Also, it was a chance to reacquaint myself with the very popular series of games.

    I was familiar with the storyline that accompanied the original Street Fighter games (i.e. anything before and including Super Street Fighter II Turbo) but as for Street Fighter Zero (or Alpha as it is called outside Japan) I was a little less sure of its origins. Luckily, this anime focuses on three main characters from Street Fighter II: Ken, Ryu and Chun-Li, ones that I am familiar with. Ryu lives in Japan, training hard to become strong. In fact, the whole point of the movie is to become strong, but spiritually rather than physically. Chun-Li is a cop following the case of Dr. Sadler and Ken turns up in Japan to fight in a tournament that is being held by Dr. Sadler. Another character, Shun, Ryu's very youngest brother, turns up in Japan to meet his brother. The last main character, Sakura, is a schoolgirl who becomes, well, obsessed, with the martial arts after seeing Ryu fight. Although she isn't integral to the plot of the film, her presence is noted for the way it adds more depth to the characters in general.

    The plot is split into several sub plots with the main one being about Ryu and his quest against the Dark Hadou, a dark force that is attempting to overwhelm him. Ryu is obviously trying to fight it with his main motivation being Gouki (Akuma), someone who has already been consumed by the Dark Hadou. The film even hints that Gouki may indeed be Ryu's father. The other plot is a more clichéd good vs. bad story involving Chun-Li and her battle against Shadowlaw (a group of thugs) and Dr. Sadler. The reason why Ken is in the film is to explain why they would visit a fighting competition, but this is where the film gets interesting. When Shun is nearly killed after fighting in the competition, he is snatched away by Dr. Sadler so that he can sample his data, or in other words, drain his power. Shun is especially important since he is a user of the Dark Hadou also, albeit a less experienced one. Once Shun is captured, Ryu attempts to rescue him, along with Ken for backup and Chun-Li who accompanies them with the purpose of catching Dr. Sadler. What follows is an excellent example of anime - one of the best I have seen to be sure.

    For fans of Street Fighter, or fans of anime, this is for you. I can only hope that the other Street Fighter animes make an appearance in R4 sometime soon, especially Street Fighter II.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a great transfer only marred by some trivial problems.

    Street Fighter Alpha is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not anamorphically enhanced. As this was a direct-to-video effort, 1.33:1 is the original aspect ratio.

    The opening credits and the first scene lack definition. Fortunately, this significantly improves as the first day scene occurs. For the most part, the sharpness is quite good, although the background mattes are slightly blurry compared to the animated characters. This can be attributed to the inherent resolution of DVD, as a problem such as this would be less apparent on VHS or broadcast TV. Careful inspection of lines and borders is rewarding. In comparison to other anime that I have reviewed, the lines are smoother and don't exhibit any staircasing effects. Shadow detail is all dependent on the black level which in this case is slightly off at times, such as 50:14. For the vast majority of the time, though, shadow detail is perfect. Unfortunately, low level noise was noticed all through the opening credits and at 2:08. The closing credits do not feature this annoying artefact. 

    The colour palette used was a very mature one (if colours can be mature?), with no fluorescent colours being shown during the film. The colours were, however, vibrant when they needed to be (blood being a good example), although uses of vibrant colour were scarce. Dark scenes were more common throughout the film.

    No MPEG artefacts were noticed. The only significant problem with the transfer is edge enhancement, especially in the first half of the film, such as at 3:18. There are numerous other times when it is evident, unfortunately. Aliasing was also noted at 13:20 in the background. The print was very clean and I only noticed one instance of grain at 60:40.

    As I watched the whole film with English subtitles activated, I compared them to the English language track and found them to be accurate 99% of the time, with the only problems being a small word omitted here and there or a rephrasing of an occasional sentence.

    This disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 50:52. I nearly missed the change on my first time through the film and had to quickly back up to find it. The change occurs right at the end of a scene and is quite seamless. 

Audio

    This is by far the best 2.0 (surround-encoded) track I have ever heard.

    There are two audio tracks on this DVD. They are an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. I listened to the Japanese track first and sampled most of the English track.

    Since I do not speak Japanese (not yet, anyway), commenting on the dialogue quality can and will be misleading. For the words I did know, I could pick them up easily within each sentence they were spoken in. The English track's dialogue quality is excellent, as it should be. I had no trouble discerning any word or phrase while sampling that track.

    Audio synchronization was better in the Japanese track than the English track, as it is most of the time, but this is animation so we aren't expecting anything spot-on.

    Unlike Dragonball Z and its English dubs, where the music is altered, Street Fighter Alpha has the same music for both Japanese and English audio tracks. The music is quite tranquil at times, before it becomes involved with the action. By far the most memorable track is the theme song which plays during the feature at times before being reprised for the credits.

    Originally presented in 2.0, the audio has been remixed to 5.1 for the English track. The actual Japanese stream doesn't feature a surround flag in it, but by activating Pro-Logic on my amp, ample surround information was extracted. The Japanese track is (as stated above) the best Pro-Logic surround track I have heard. Besides having a wide front soundstage with layer upon layer of imaging effects, it also adds subtle ambience through the surround channel to add to the forest scene especially. The 5.1 track exhibits all of these traits but with an even wider soundstage, although I still preferred the Japanese audio track for the original language. 

Extras

    Although not the largest collection of extras ever assembled, there is some depth to a couple of them. There are even three (yes three!) Easter Eggs which I stumbled upon. I'm impressed!

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The menu is aesthetically pleasing and features a very quiet audio track.

Featurette-Making Of (5:31)

    Presented in full screen black & white, this shows various aspects of the film's production set to music. It ranges from drawing the characters to composing the music to recording the voices. Although a little odd, at least it doesn't feature anything from the actual film itself. It is accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Cast & Crew Interviews (31:58)

    These are very extensive interviews with basically all the cast members and the director and the producer. All are presented in Japanese which means you will have to watch subtitles, even if you don't like them. This was filmed after the last voice recording session. What was really odd was when the actors started talking about when they were going to buy a DVD player - how is that relevant? Besides that eccentricity, this is a very worthwhile extra.

Theatrical Trailer (1:14)

    The American trailer for Street Fighter Alpha. It is presented at 1.33:1 and features a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Other Trailers

    Trailers for three other animes; Ghost In The Shell (1:34), Blood: The Last Vampire and Perfect Blue (1:38). Perfect Blue looks very interesting I must say.

Easter Egg - Japanese Trailer (1:11)

    The one thing that I thought was absent from this disc was a Japanese trailer, so you can imagine my joy when I found this one. To find it, go to the extras screen, highlight Manga Trailers and then press left. This should then highlight Ryu's face. Move up to Chun-Li and press Enter and you have found it.

Easter Egg - Alternate Japanese Trailer (1:03)

    Another Easter Egg? Yes! To find this one, you have to let the feature run through to the end, where it will return to the DVD Credits screen. Highlight the Japanese symbols and press Enter. Note: If you go to the DVD Credits screen via the Easter Egg below, the Japanese symbols will NOT be there - you have to let the video stream finish.

Easter Egg - DVD Credits

    Three? To find this one, highlight Explore Extras from the main menu and press right. This will then highlight Ken's face. Press Enter and you are transported to the DVD Credits screen.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   The only features that the R1 version of this disc has that the R4 doesn't are Ninja Scroll and Street Fighter II trailers and the Manga DVD-Video catalogue. The R1 is missing the original Japanese trailers, so that makes the R4 the winner this time around.

Summary

    Street Fighter Alpha is a good piece of anime that is presented on an excellent DVD. In fact, it is one of the best discs I have reviewed in the past while. The video quality is great and the audio is superb. The extras are low in quantity but high in quality, especially when there are Easter Eggs involved. Recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Andrew Siers (I never did my biography in primary school)
Friday, August 03, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 34N9UXA. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationPioneer VSA-E07
SpeakersMain Left and Right Acoustic Research AR12s, Center Yamaha NS-C70, Surround Left and Right JBL Control 1s

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