And now, Scary-Crayon reviews...
STREET FIGHTER
"Getting to Guile"
by: Wes

And once again, Scary-Crayon returns to "Street Fighter: The Animated Series". It's been over a year since our last and only look at the show (until now!), but despite my rather forgiving analysis of the obviously crappy "The Flame and the Rose", that article has remained one of the more popular pieces on the site. In fact, one person who read it apparently installed AIM for the express purpose of flirting with me and inducing me to send him my DVDs! (Seriously; see the blog.) I guess even shitty Street Fighter merchandise has that effect on people.

It certainly had that effect on me, because I recently found myself buying the first DVD set in order to complete my ownership of this abysmal series. However, viewing these earlier episodes has taught me a few things. For one, this series isn't just similar to the live-action movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and the late Raul Julia -- it's actually explicitly based after it. Numerous references are made to the climactic battle in Shadaloo; Blanka curses Bison and Dhalsim for having turned him into a monster; Chun-Li maintains her day job as a television news reporter. Of course, there are notable differences -- for instance, Zangief is markedly evil, Bison didn't die, the characters regularly perform SPECIAL MOVES, and Guile is actually American -- but for almost all intents and purposes this could be regarded as a continuation of the events depicted in the live action movie. Joy.

"Getting to Guile""Is that any way to greet an old friend?"

On that note, today's episode, "Getting to Guile", begins with Bison holding a bunch of United Nations workers hostage for some undisclosed reason. In later episodes -- and as the series moved further away from the movie on which it was based -- Bison would get a little more ambitious in his plans to subvert the social order, but in these initial shows his actions more resembled those of a militant terrorist leader than those of a megalomaniacal supervillain bent on world domination. Anyway, Guile bursts in, makes short work of the guards, and then comes face to face with the man himself -- who makes the rather odd remark that Guile's behavior here doesn't constitute a fitting way to greet an old friend. Now, it's true that villains are sometimes quite fond of addressing their nemeses in friendly terms, but here there almost seems to be a sincerity in Bison's voice. He's glad to see Colonel William F. Guile -- and not because he's anxious to snap his spine. Guile's attacks scare him off, though, and he teleports away just before asking Guile about the time. As Guile's watch literally melts, the hostages are vaporized by an explosion. Having failed in his mission, Guile wakes up screaming.

"More nightmares, Colonel?"It's like something out of DarkStalkers!

You see, it was all a dream! This is a serious victory for Bison. He may have failed in his attempt to ransom $20 billion from the UN and integrate his Bison dollars into the world economy, but he's succeeded in haunting the dreams of his enemies -- a feat replicated by only a few other villains, most of whom star in horror films and pick on helpless teenage girls. Bison scares the subconscious shit out of a decorated military officer who can throw energy blasts from his hands. Hell, Guile is so distraught by the dream that he discusses it the next morning with his boss, Escher, who's pretty much Charlie to the Street Fighters' Angels. Here, not only do we learn that these are recurring nightmares, but that they apparently happen even when Guile is awake! The office door swings open to reveal Bison himself, whereupon he cries, "Watch out, my friend!" -- and we soon see why, as Escher declares that the Street Fighters have no further use for Guile and transforms into a fireball-tossing wolfman. Again, Guile screams, and the screen fades to black as the audience wonders just what the hell is going on.

The evil dream machine!!!"Soon, we'll be best buddies!"

Ah, and there's the problem. It seems that Bison has somehow captured our hero -- and in order to turn him evil and enlist his cooperation, Bison's making him have freaky dreams about his colleagues turning into monsters while pretending that they're friends. I'm not exactly sure how that's supposed to work, especially given that Guile appears to be slightly conscious during the process and, at least while awake, is aware that Bison is the cause of these nightmares, but whatever. It gave the animators an excuse to draw werewolves and vampires into the episode (that's right; the best is yet to come!), so it works for me. I like monsters.

SPINNING BIRD KICK!Big pimpin'.

Meanwhile, because some news reporters like to relax by participating in street fighting tournaments in run-down gymnasiums, we find Chun-Li breaking out her patented Spinning Bird Kick on a poor goon in some remote European location. Apparently winning this fight was the crux of an information deal with a local pimp; if she beat his best man, he'd meet with her later that night and tell her what she wants to know about... something. We never find out what that is, however, as she receives an ominous message bearing the logo "SF" and the words "discipline", "justice", and "commitment" -- the three guiding principles of the Street Fighters. That's another odd thing about these early episodes. Whereas these principles are referred to in the opening, they're not explicitly stressed as much in the later shows. Here, however, the characters prattle on about them at length during every mission. It's almost as if the writers were trying to inculcate respect for and identification with these traits by shoving them down the throats of the kids at home. I guess they had to, though -- given that the show's cast includes pimps and terrorists, they wanted to be sure that kids didn't get the wrong idea.

"I just lie dere worthless, mon."Zangief is still a bad guy!

In Escher's secret office, Chun-Li learns what we already know -- that Guile has been kidnapped by M. Bison. However, because we have no idea how it happened, none other than Dee Jay steps in to reveal the specifics of the capture in a flashback. See, on their way to hang out with some of Dee Jay's friends, the two Street Fighters (much like in the Madballs cartoon, only the good guys are denoted by the series' title) were ambushed by Zangief and a handful of thugs, whom they easily defeated. Unfortunately for the heroes, Bison was not so easily dealt with, as he utilized a shocking move to paralyze both combatants and walk off with Guile in tow.

Following this recap, Dee Jay refers to himself as "worthless" for being unable to prevent this dire consequence. Now, this pisses me off. Any other character would at this point raise up a fist and attempt to rally the troops in an effort to recover Guile, but Dee Jay lowers his head and mopes about his weakness here. And yeah, he may kinda suck, especially given that even when he's supposed to be part of a military operation he's walking around shirtless and barefoot with baggy pants that say "MAXIMUM", but -- hello! -- BISON USED A PARALYSIS MOVE. Hell, why doesn't he use this move more often? He doesn't, of course, because cartoon supervillain powers must suit the plot -- when Shredder needs to be badass, he mops the floor with all four Turtles; when he's facing them at the end of the episode, he runs away like a scared little bitch -- but still. If a show's going to take time out to lecture me about discipline and justice and commitment, it could at least commit to the idea that its supervillain will abuse any advantage and make him do that shocking move ad infinitum. Seriously.

Remember: Discipline, justice, commitment!Words to live by, even for green mutants.

Anyway, in order to save Guile, Chun-Li enlists the aid of Ryu and Ken -- who, oddly enough, are involved in their own unrelated adventure with the pimp from earlier. Seriously, who is this El Fidiel (who, I now notice, is voiced by the same guy who voiced Ken, Blanka, Rolento, and like ten billion other characters in his career), and why are all of the Street Fighters hanging out with him in their spare time? As far as I know, he never comes up again in the series, so what's the point of making multiple references to him in this single episode? Were the writers trying to draw some subtle connection between the real-life horrors of prostitution and pimpology and the monstrous visions to which Guile was subjected during his captivity? Weird. So after Ken and Ryu abandon their plans to use the pimp's map to steal the treasure from sacred Indian temples and agree to help save the good Colonel, Blanka rolls up out of nowhere in a hat and trench coat and joins the team as well.

Here, by the way -- despite his so-called worthlessness -- Dee Jay reveals himself to be the most discerning of the Street Fighters. Whereas the others are just glad to see Mister Monster Man, Dee Jay raises an eyebrow and says, "Hey, how'd you find us in dis alley, mon?" which is a damned good point, because it really doesn't make any sense. Hell, it's highly unlikely that they would've been able to find Ryu and Ken in the alley, and then Blanka comes walking up the pier after apparently having just arrived from Tibet (following his mutation, Blanka now lives with monks in order to deal with his rage). Quickly, however -- almost as if she recognizes that the show is about to collapse into a gaping plot hole -- Chun-Li responds to his question by saying, "We'll have time for cookies and gossip later!" And given that the show's writers think it's appropriate to refer to important plot developments as "cookies and gossip", you have a pretty good idea of how this show works.

The young William Guile.'Tis better to have loved and lost...

Meanwhile, deviating from his plans to secure Guile's trust by warning him about impending monster attacks, Bison and his scientist use the dream machine to cause Guile to relive his childhood. Bison's not all that happy with this turn of events, though, as he apparently wants to cause Guile to relive a painful past memory. Pissed, Bison threatens the scientist, calling reference to his genetic experimentation project and insinuating that the worker will soon become a subject if he doesn't find a painful memory SOON. As this is going on, the screen repeatedly cuts to a meter reading conveniently marked "DANGER" to emphasize the pain that this process is causing Guile. You know, as if the shocky lines and the screaming weren't enough to communicate that fact.

Sufficiently moved by Bison's motivational efforts, the scientist stumbles across Cindy, Guile's former lover -- and in addition to causing Guile to relive their initial meeting and subsequent romantic courtship, the poor guy is also subjected to their painful breakup and her regrettable departure from his life. And now it's time for more backstory! Remember how, in the live-action film, Guile disobeyed direct orders from the UN to get in his boat and ride up river to kick Bison's ass so hard that the next Bison-wannabe would feel it? Yeah, well he was apparently courtmartialed for that brave act of defiance. The trial was, of course, a front -- while Guile was reportedly discharged from military service, he was in reality inducted into a secret operation to thwart Bison's efforts -- but his cover prevented him from telling the truth to Cindy, who also happens to be a doctor with the UN. As such, believing Guile to be a traitor and an all-around dishonorable guy, she left him. SO SAD!

"Take that, you traitor!"The Vampire Chun-Li. Seriously.

With this key knowledge, however, Bison has the information he needs to win Guile's loyalty. In the next scene, we find Guile being abused by giant-sized versions of his Street Fighter teammates. They kick him, call him a traitor, and -- most importantly -- repeatedly talk about how Cindy will be better off without him. Naturally, this causes Guile to freak out and start screaming and crying -- and it is in this distraught state that none other than Bison comes to his rescue. With Guile's arm draped around his shoulders, Bison escorts the fallen hero away from this humiliating scene and into a nearby house, whereupon the resemblance between this episode and the Nightmare on Elm Street films is cemented as the house turns into a vicious monster thing while red lightning flashes. We then find Guile inexplicably pitted against monster versions of his friends, including a yellow-eyed Blanka that doesn't look all that different from the normal, red-eyed model and The Vampire Chun-Li. Yes.

Vampire Chun-Li
Is she a DarkStalker now?
Look out, Morrigan!

And now you know why I just had to review this stupid episode. Vampire Chun-Li. Vampire Chun-Li. Amazing.

E. Honda is a hacker now......and Cammy is a pilot!

Next, we get the obligatory cameos from other Street Fighter characters. First, E. Honda utilizes his 1337 |-|4x0r 5|<i11z to discern the location of Bison's island base in the Adriatic Sea; then Cammy shows up in the SF-Jet to fly them there. Now, I don't know about you, but while I might've pictured Cammy flying a jet after first encountering her in Super Street Fighter II, there's no way in hell I'd ever have expected to see Honda sitting at a laptop computer -- especially not while wearing his sumo garb and traditional facepaint. At least in the movie they gave him a crazy fat guy Hawaiian shirt for this kind of thing. Even sillier is that, during Chun-Li's briefing concerning the upcoming mission, Ken makes a crack about this boss being "easier on the eyes" than Guile. Now, while this kind of flirting fits with Ken's personality, this is still a military operation (albeit a top-secret one) -- and with Chun-Li being in command, she should simply shrug it off and lead accordingly. Instead, she responds to this lighthearted compliment by kicking Ken to the floor of the moving aircraft. Then everybody laughs.

"Hello, friend!"Onward, brave Street Fighters!

On the island, Bison explains to a newly awakened Guile that he arrived just in time to save the Colonel from certain death at the hands of the evil Street Fighters -- and given the horrible behavior we've just seen on their part, it's no wonder that Guile immediately buys into it. Then, as a test of Guile's loyalty, Bison escorts him to a room and bids him to smash up robotic counterparts of his teammates. Admittedly, I don't really get this scene. Yeah, it gets the message across -- Guile reaaaally doesn't like the Street Fighters and now wants to kick their asses so hard that the next Street Fighter-wannabes will feel it -- but these robots aren't fighting back and are pretty well-detailed. For a guy working with a bunch of paper money, Bison sure isn't afraid of wasting resources. And apparently he doesn't need to worry, given that the Street Fighters blow up his island hideouts at the end of every episode and he always has another advanced facility ready by the start of the next show. Where is he getting his funding? Inquiring minds want to know. Meanwhile, ignorant of the fact that Guile presently wants to tear them limb from limb, Chun-Li and company infiltrate the base in the hope of rescuing their captive friend.

BISON MADE A CTHULHU!!!Why are they fighting? They're kinda like family!

Of course, the ever-vigilant Bison is watching, and is soon able to trap Ken and Ryu, Blanka and Dee Jay, and Chun-Li in separate enclosures with a few keystrokes on his mighty control panel of DOOM. Alone together, Ken bitches to Ryu about not being off getting rich by looting sacred Indian temples. Note that his comment here further distinguishes this Street Fighter universe from that of the games and animes, since in those Ken was already incredibly wealthy and had no need to participate in these idiotic schemes to make a quick buck -- which was totally cool, because it also meant that we didn't have to hear Ryu spout platitudes like, "Riches without honor is its own poverty." Another bullshit proverb later -- "Remember, in confidence lie the seeds of victory" -- and the original fighting game clones find themselves facing those genetic experiments Bison mentioned earlier. Children, MEET CTHULHU AND THE GANG!!! Apparently, unsatisfied with the failure that Blanka turned out to be, Bison pumped up the volume and attempted to replicate the great Elder God Himself. Twice, even, as another Clonethulhu and a green man-bat thing take on Blanka and Dee Jay in the next room!

"Bison cares about me!"Don't do it; she's your friend!

Meanwhile, the important battle is going down in the third enclosure, as Guile attacks Chun-Li while she tries to convince him that she's actually on his side. Sonic Booms are thrown, Chun-Li insists that Bison is evil, and Guile says something about the warlord that nobody except maybe a brainwashed Cammy has ever said before: "He cares about me!" Which again highlights the general weirdness of this episode. In addition to featuring monsters and subtle horror flick references, Bison's plan was focused on convincing Guile that they are friends in order to enlist his complicity. Why? Why not just experiment on him, warping his mind and body and turning him into the perfect genetic soldier? Hell, why didn't Bison just kill Guile outright, thereby ridding himself of one of the greatest obstacles to his rise to power? Consider that Bison would've gotten his $20 billion if not for Guile's actions in the film. I can understand wanting to bring Guile over to his side, given that the guy's a powerful fighter, but this still seems like a very odd way of going about it. Perhaps the writers meant to say something about loyalty, and that alliances founded upon friendship -- even twisted, artificial friendship -- are stronger than ones predicated on genetic manipulation and brainwashing? I don't know, but the ass-kicking Chun-Li receives as a result of remaining true to Guile and not fighting back doesn't make me think too highly of the phenomenon.

Whatever.Discipline, justice, and commitment save the day!

In the next rooms, proving that these replicas of the mighty Cthulhu are highly inferior to the original, the Street Fighters make short work of Bison's mutants and, after bursting through a wall, arrive just in time to prevent Guile from killing Chun-Li. How do they do it, you ask? By reminding him of the Street Fighter code: DISCIPLINE, JUSTICE, COMMITMENT!!! I'm not making this up -- Chun-Li even chants the words several times in order to bring him back to his senses. Anyway, with Guile firmly back on the side of good, Bison actually blows up his own building this time in the hopes of at least taking out the Street Fighters. Of course, Bison gets away, the Street Fighters escape the exploding facility with seconds to spare, and, except for the fact that a terrorist madman with apparently unlimited resources is still at large, all is right with the world again.

GIVE THE MAN SOME FOOD!Asshole.

Back on the SF-Jet, Guile actually follows Dee Jay's example and admits to feeling ashamed for fighting his friends. Of course, Dee Jay got shocked and lay unconscious, whereas Guile somehow let himself be convinced that his friends were undead creatures and tried to kill him, but whatever. He's sorry, he's very glad to be okay now, tears are shed, and then Chun-Li rounds out this rather sappy ending with the following words: "The Street Fighters are your family... you were able to hang on so long because, deep down, you knew we'd be there for you." Right. Then, almost as if to intentionally ruin the mood, Ken makes a crack about Guile buying them dinner -- whereupon Guile makes a comment that blatantly excludes Ken and Ryu from the group. Everybody smiles and is happy, but you know, given this treatment, it's no wonder that Ken thinks so little of helping the Street Fighters and upholding the principles of discipline, justice, and commitment. He gets floored for giving women compliments and gets insulted for expressing hunger after battling Cthulhu clones to rescue Guile from waking nightmares involving vampires and houses with teeth. I mean jeez, given his obvious commitment during this episode, you'd think that feeding him is the least Guile could do. Dude's dirt poor -- he's still wearing that outfit Bison gave to him at the training dojo, for crying out loud! Hell, Ryu's gi is torn, and he shows nothing but loyalty to the Street Fighter cause. These guys deserve medals and a new set of clothes, Guile -- not your snotty remarks. Maybe your attitude is the reason Cindy left you, hmmm? Asshole.

Clonethulu is lame.

Well, that does it for this episode review, kids. And what have we learned? We've learned that it's easy to talk about discipline, justice, and commitment ad infinitum, but that truly upholding these principles in one's daily life and professional relationships is easier said than done. We've learned that pimps are behind the scenes in almost every unimportant subplot in the Street Fighter universe. We've learned that even as a vampire creature, Chun-Li is still exceedingly hot. We've learned that cartoon supervillains will never succeed in their efforts to take over the world simply because they are cartoon supervillains, which necessitates that they possess certain glaring weaknesses that will always result in their downfall. We've learned that if you want to secure the trust and loyalty of even your worst enemy, all you need to do is discover a painful event in his past, get monsters to tease him about it, and then save him from them. We've learned that when it comes to Cthulhu, nothing beats Lovecraft's original. And, once again, we've been reminded that "Street Fighter: The Animated Series" was a very weird and stupid show. Goodnight, minna-san! And pleasant dreams...

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