Capcom’s Street Fighter II was a groundbreaking arcade fighting game that changed the trajectory of an entire segment of video games, almost singlehandedly saving arcades from decline when it arrived […]
Capcom’s Street Fighter II was a groundbreaking arcade fighting game that changed the trajectory of an entire segment of video games, almost singlehandedly saving arcades from decline when it arrived back in 1991. It’s a cultural phenomenon to this day; its diverse cast of colourful fighters being recognised by many even if they don’t have a huge, ongoing interest in video games.
The guys at Udon Studios are clearly big fans, with their animé and Manga-styled, hyper-kinetic artwork bearing the hallmarks of the action-packed fighting game even before they got their hands on the Street Fighter license in 2003.
This volume collects issues #0-6 and opens with series figurehead Ryu finding his master Gouken murdered. Travelling to the US to meet his friend – and training partner – Ken, they both seek to avenge their master’s death. Crime syndicate Shadaloo is being investigated by Interpol agent Chun-Li, as they kidnapped her father – and US soldier Guile is also investigating the organisation after the disappearance of his friend Charlie. When they discover that Ryu may be able to lead them to the sinister head of Shadaloo – M. Bison – they both try to find him in Japan.
Other characters – familiar to players of the video game – drift in and out of the narrative; British Secret Agent Cammy appears in an earlier guise as a mind-controlled assassin working for Bison, and Bison’s more familiar underlings – and Street Fighter II boss characters – Sagat and Vega also feature quite prominently.
Honestly, the narrative is all over the place. It’s messy, it’s soapy, it’s daft and the dialogue feels like it could be straight out of a poorly translated animé. And yet, all of this is part of the charm; it really does feel like an animé adaptation of the video game source material. I could definitely do without the overly sexualised depictions of some of the female characters though; this feels like a dated, unnecessary aspect of the visuals that adds little but awkward attempts at titillation and objectification to the comic.
That aside, the art is absolutely spectacular. The action scenes are undeniably thrilling and it genuinely retains the incredible kinetic style of the video games it’s based on.
More casual fans of the video game series are likely to be a bit lost with some of the characters that appear here, but on the whole it’s reasonably friendly to readers less well versed in the Street Fighter saga.
The art alone makes Street Fighter worth checking out; the spectacular visuals are amazing, despite the odd change in art style in a few of the bonus stories included. There are threads and cliffhangers left dangling to be picked up on in the next volume; despite the issues with an overstuffed narrative – told in a very cheesy manner – I must admit I was thoroughly entertained all the way through this volume.
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