I’m sure that we’re all familiar with the Street Fighter video games at this point. I only own Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken, but the franchise is so popular that I’m still familiar with several of the characters. Its great to see that Street Fighter got a manga and it’s safe to say that I had some decently high hopes heading in.
The series is only two volumes so they couldn’t really fit everyone in, but that’s all right. Two volumes is better than one and while I do wish that all series could be over 20 volumes; it won’t affect the score. That would be pretty unfair to short, but epic franchises like Zombie Powder and Megaman ZX. There is still a decent amount of plot and the series is very fast paced.
One of the many positives of Street Fighter Alpha is the fact that the story is fast paced, but the author also knows when it’s time for a long fight. Bison vs Rose and Ryu takes up most of the second volume and it’s a great fight. Length is important and it’s one area that Marvel and DC continue to struggle in. I don’t want to see a fight that only lasts for two pages before the rest occurs off screen. I want to see some serious DBZ action and Street Fighter delivers.
One of the reasons why the delivery goes smoothly is thanks to the art. The art is the classic 90’s style so everyone looks pretty tough. The fight scenes are great and you feel the power behind each blow. It’s hard to describe why the 90’s had such awesome art and you really need to view it firsthand to appreciate how well done the drawings are.
The plot involves Ryu, the hero of Street Fighter, as he is not really a fighter anymore. He’s basically a bodyguard for hire at this point and he’s worried about how the Dark Hado may take control of him someday. We don’t get to see all of his previous history first hand, but he mentions his tough fight against Sagat and how it changed him. Ryu isn’t the happy go lucky guy that he used to be.
Unfortunately, the Dark Hado consumes Ryu once again and he’s forced to take on Chun Li and his other friends. Ken is not frightened by the darkness and he still loves to fight. Ken wants Ryu to accept this as well, but will Ryu comply? Meanwhile, the true threat behind the curtains is Bison and wide spread devastation will occur if he is not stopped. Ryu will have to put on his fighting gloves once more and take on this strong opponent as well as shutting down an underground fighting arena. It’s going to be a tough day for this fighter!
Ryu is a good main character. He’s definitely not as cheerful as I had imagined him to be, but I’m sure that it’s temporary. By the end of the series, Ryu is already showing signs of his old self. Ryu’s dark form is pretty fierce and he’s much stronger than his normal form. Ryu doesn’t look very impressive without the dark powers, but he’s still strong enough to defeat most opponents. He’s just not at the high level that other fighters like Bison and Akuma have reached. Naturally, Ryu will likely possess incredible powers once he masters the dark powers and merges them with his natural abilities.
Ken is one of the bigger supporting characters, but he doesn’t get a lot of action. His big moment is when he has a big confrontation with Ryu. The manga portrays Ryu and Ken as being similar in power and I’m okay with that, but I’m glad that they weren’t dead even. Ryu’s accelerated healing and dark hado powers should definitely give him the edge. Even without those two factors in Ryu’s favor; I would still pick him in a fight. Ken’s heroic, if not a little generic, but he’s a good character as well. He’s not the type of guy that would come close to being my favorite hero, but he’s a good supporting fighter.
Chun Li is pretty high tier as far as cops go, but she’s definitely not as powerful as Ryu or Ken. Her energy blasts seem to be decently powerful and she does know martial arts, but she’s not a master at this point. She’s a good character and she proves it when she goes into the ring to save Cammy. Unfortunately, Chun Li misses most of the climax, but maybe we’ll see her more in a future series.
Guy is definitely the best hero of the series and everything about him is awesome. The manga hints that he could take down Bison and he makes short work of Ryu during their fight. (It should be noted that Ryu was using his dark powers) Guy is definitely a master at hand to hand combat and he doesn’t mind letting his opponent know how the battle is going to end. He gets a pretty small role, but I definitely would have liked to see him appear more. Akuma may have met his match against this fighter!
Cammy is more like an android in this series. Not literally, but she doesn’t have much emotion due to circumstances. She’ll likely learn the values of teamwork and friendship at some point, but she’s still a good character. She does pretty well in her first match, but she definitely lacks experience and she’s not one of the strongest fighters in the ring.
Birdie was all right I suppose. I was really wondering why he was here the whole time. He uses a gun….which isn’t awful, but that’s not going to cut it in Street Fighter world. (Even counting the fact that a pair of bullets nearly took out Ryu) I didn’t recognize him from the games so I just figured that he was made up for the manga. He could have been worse, but I never found him that likable. A decent power boost or fight scene could change that.
Rose is a mysterious character that pops up from time to time. She seems to be on the side of justice or maybe she just wants to defeat Bison. Either way, she’s a pretty fierce fighter and a good character as well. Her paralysis was strong enough to keep Ryu pinned down for a while and she gave Bison a decent fight. The victor was never really in doubt, but Rose was still able to put up a fight. Sakura also gets a small role, but she doesn’t look very impressive. Her heart is in the right place, but she simply doesn’t have the abilities to win the tough fights. She’s too young at this point and Bison takes her down pretty quickly. Sakura actually makes the situation a little dicey for Ryu because of this.
Bison is the big villain in the series and he’s definitely powerful. As mentioned earlier, his fights are quite long and he’s likely in the top 5 strongest characters of the franchise. He’s a solid villain and he can back up his bragging with action. The other villains look pretty bad in comparison since we only got some minor guys like Vega and Adon. Vega doesn’t have his signature mask and he looks downright weak. (Although he was fighting a high tier fighter) Adon just seems petty and not the kind of villain that I could really respect. He underestimated the Dark Hado. Bison definitely makes these guys look bad by being so cool and even his design puts theirs to shame.
Akuma is easily one of the best characters in the series. He only appears for an instant, but it’s an awesome appearance. Ken acknowledges Akuma’s incredible power and they hint that he could have easily defeated Bison. Unfortunately for the heroes, Bison is below someone like Akuma and the latter does not want to bother fighting him. Akuma does want to challenge Ryu and that should be a quick match. Ryu doesn’t seem to be on the same level as of yet, but a little training can go a long way.
Overall, this was a pretty fun manga. I’d like to see Tekken or Virtua Fighter top this series. The series was definitely short, but we got some great fights, a good cast of characters, and a good plot. You don’t really need much else to be a good manga. The series does end on a pretty epic cliffhanger and you’ll want to make your guesses on who will ultimately win the fight. I recommend this manga to anyone that likes some solid action scenes!