Time to take a step back and
take a look at a few things you might have seen available,
but not paid much attention to. These both come courtesy of
Ghost in the
First off for this week,
I've got Ghost in the Shell,
the UMD version (that's PSP only). If you're a fan of
anime, you can't have avoided hearing of GitS, especially
since the new spin-off series
Stand Alone Complex
has been running on Cartoon Network. For those who've missed
it, GitS is one of the earliest "blockbuster" anime that
made its way to North America; along with Akira and
the Dragonball series, this is one of the stereotypical
anime that just about all fans and even non-fans have
probably heard of.
For those who somehow missed
out, GitS's story follows a futuristic world; in 2029, a
female cyborg from "Section 9" works to fight terrorists,
and the underlying plotline examines the question of a
cyborg's humanity while the overarching story involves
hunting down a mysterious hacker called the "Puppet Master."
The movie, and the later series, have alternatingly been
compared both to the Matrix and Blade Runner, and there's a
little of each to be seen if you look closely.
But this is a review of the
UMD movie, not the movie as a whole. For the record, I've
seen GitS several times, in both formats (original Japanese
with subtitles, and English dub), and I have no particular
hold to either. After viewing plenty of anime on my PSP,
converted myself from the divx fan-subtitled releases, I'm
sure that subtitles work fine. Therefore I'm sure many fans
will be disappointed to hear that the UMD has only the
english dub for sound, and if you're intending to really
watch it, you're going to need headphones better than the
little studphones that came with your PSP.
Graphically, it's a pretty
faithful conversion, fully utilizing the capabilities of the
PSP. There's an underlying gripe I have here that the PSP
doesn't have some form of TV-out capabilities, even an
external add-on, because paying $12+ for a UMD video like
this seems to be a bit much. Until such an adapter or a
video player capable of reading UMD's comes out,
Also, on the UMD version,
there are no extras - there were plenty on the special
edition DVD released earlier this year, and even a "making
of" documentary on the 1998 original DVD release, so the
lack of any special extras on the UMD is a sad thing.
If you really enjoy GitS and
don't own it in any other format, AND want it to stay
mobile, this might be for you. For your money, you're almost
better buying the DVD and using a utility to convert that
over to memory stick-capable video instead.
Fighter Alpha: Generations (DVD)
Fans of the fighting series
have been facing a serious gaming crisis recently - the
fighting game genre has been stagnant for some time,
tournaments still revolve around Street Fighter Alpha3 or
Street Fighter 3 because nothing better has come out (SNK vs
Capcom, face it, haven't been as good as these classics),
and fans of beatdown-style titles have been stymied ever
since the Marvel VS Capcom line of games died out. In the 3D
realm it hasn't been all that much better - Tekken
stagnated, and the only major line keeping the genre afloat
is the admittedly excellent Soul Calibur line.
Of course, Capcom have
always had interested fans willing to take their work and
make it into anime. The latest - following after some good
and some bad movies - is
Street Fighter Alpha: Generations.
Generations isn't a sequel
to anything, but a storyline prequel set before either the
Street Fighter Alpha (video game) storyline or the generally
reviled Street Fighter Alpha movie: take your pick. As far
as being a prequel, it does a good job for what it is, even
if it's relatively short (run time ~45 minutes).
Short plot synopsis: nearing
the anniversary of Gouken's death at the hands of Gouki (Akuma
to english audience), Ryu has returned to the dojo to pay
his respects. He meets up with an elderly man who also knows
the Shotokan style, who offers him a "lesson" and lets him
stay at his house while waiting for something. After finding
his reason to fight in a challenge from Sakura (yes, she
shows up) he returns again to the dojo, and faces off with
Gouki, the student who was taken over by the "Dark Hadou."
There are also some odd generational parallels, and lots of
backstory to absorb, some of which makes sense and some of
which makes very little sense; it also seems very off
compared to the storyline of other Street Fighter
games/series, which has always been one of Capcom's problems
- they can't seem to keep their stories self-consistent.
The upsides: A relatively
cool fight between Sakura and Ryu, and a decent animation
style that works for most of the movie, but gets a bit odd
when faces are too close to the camera - almost as if
certain things had been rotoscoped.
The downsides: a storyline
that doesn't quite seem to fit the characters, one secondary
character who quite possibly shouldn't even be alive, and a
revelation about Ryu's parentage that fits in with about
half of SF canon... maybe. The final fight between Gouki and
his master? Not even shown on screen, and certainly not
given the time it deserves. Likewise for the fight between
Gouken and Gouki, which should have been a starting point to
explain, at some time, where all Ryu's rage was coming from.
If you're a die hard Street
Fighter fan, the type who insist on owning the entire
fighting game series / video series, you might go for this
one. The rest of people will probably watch it once,
probably on rental from your local anime shop, and let that
be that. It's about a 2.5 of 5 stars at best; had it been
longer and a bit more involved, it could really have been
Comments? Send 'em to Michael (at) Glideunderground.com!
right here for everyone to see!