This short animated film is more or less a sequel to the highly regarded Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie . That film tour de force is a hard act to follow. Its quality was high, the fighting outstanding and the art direction so well received that it in turn changed the game franchise. SF4: TTTB did not equal its predecessor in these qualities (honestly, what could?) but it is still good and well worth checking out.
The cast is smaller. M. Bison and his goons are off the stage for the moment. You only spend time with classic characters Ryu, Ken, Guile, Cammy, Chin Li, and Sakura (I know, Sakura is not really a classic SF II character). You get introduced to two new losers Crimson Viper and Seth. You see more of Crimson Viper than most of the other characters combined, and that is too bad because she is annoying.
Nobody wants to see their favorite SF characters mistreated by someone of her calibre, especially since she is the goon for Seth. He is okay as a villain. He spends most of his time saying cryptic things in front of a monitor in extreme close up. He does not have the screen presence of M. Bison, but makes for a decent fight scene at the end.
Speaking of the fight scenes, I found them disappointing. They really went all out in the 1994 film to make the fighting exciting, filled with signature moves and… special. This included consultation by professional fighters. SF4: TTTB missed the mark in this area more than any other. The fights are typical. They are not unlike something you might see in an episode of a good quality anime.
Where the 1994 film’s story went out of its way to set up head-to-head matches between the fighters, SF4: TTTB seemed to stumble into disorganized fights of less interest. If you saw the 1994 film’s epic fight between Chun Li and Vega you know what I mean. Even so it was nice to see the characters out and about again, going on with their lives but not forgetting their friends.
The art direction was well done. Character designer Ikeno came in after SF II, but people have grown accustomed to his stylization since then and it is pleasing. The animation quality could have been better though, to show off his designs. The music at times hinted back to the 1994 film’s memorable soundtrack. Aside from that I have to say it is not nearly as memorable.
Guile and Chun Li got little in the way of fighting scenes. Chun only got to beat some security guard heads and Guile only fired a single sonic boom. Ken threw one punch. Cammy got some action, but the single scene was unsatisfying. However she did sport her famous posterior pose, and was voiced enticingly well.
The film tried and partially succeeded in having some heart. Ken with his wife Eliza. Sakura and her idolization of Ryu. Ken and Ryu’s deep friendship. These plot points gave the film some needed emotional buy-in. If you are a Street Fighter fan, you do not really need emotional buy-in to see SF4: TTTB. For those who are not this film is still a fun way to spend 65 minutes.