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"The Flame and the Rose"

by: Wes

I don't care who you are -- if you're reading this site, I'm pretty sure you're no stranger to the Street Fighter phenomenon. Even if you've never seen the animes or the live-action movie or owned any of the figures, you've damned sure played the one or two of the games. And if you haven't, I pity you, since without Street Fighter II and Capcom -- remember, Street Fighter II and its successive incarnations MADE Capcom, Mega Man be damned -- video gaming as it is now simply WOULD NOT BE. And if you hate video games because they steal the souls of the young and turn them into slovenly game-crazed stink things, and thus have no understanding of the vast influence of Ryu and company, now you know what's to blame. STREET FIGHTER II. But I'm betting you already knew that.


I'm also betting you knew about the Street Fighter cartoon. Not the animated movie, folks, and not "Street Fighter II: V". See, the anime was good (unless we're talking about Street Fighter Zero; that one kinda sucked), and "V" at the very least didn't suck. But the Saturday morning cartoon of the same name was an entirely different matter -- what we've got here is more/less the cartoon adaptation of the live-action Street Fighter movie. And despite the fact that it featured the late Raul Julia in his final screen role as M. Bison, few people remember the film fondly. Or if they do, it's for all of the wrong reasons. 'Cause Jean-Claude Van Damme notwithstanding, most of us know that Street Fighter was crap.

Go go Team Street Fighter!!!When the evil Bison attacks...

That said, welcome to "Street Fighter: The Animated Series". The intro tells us what we already know -- Guile leads a team of "international crime fighters known only by their code name, STREET FIGHTER!!!" Then it introduces the team, showing Blanka flipping around in the jungle and Chun-Li kicking through a tank. Of course, no Street Fighter cartoon would be complete without Two-Face Ryu and Ken. And naturally, Bison is the badass to beat. A bunch of the characters through Super Street Fighter II and even Alpha make appearances throughout the series -- Fei Long, T. Hawk, Dee Jay, E. Honda, Cammy, among others -- but it's kinda hard to get used to the whole idea of them being united under a military Super Friends kinda deal. I mean in the game you had the backstory about Bison's crime empire and all of that jazz, but I don't recall Bison having Sentinels giant robots at his command. Seriously, once you bring the military and all this other baggage into the plot, it's a lot less like "Street Fighter II" and a lot more like "G.I. Joe" with SPECIAL MOVES instead of guns. Or maybe it's like X-Men. The intro sure reminds me of the X-Men cartoon.

Oh no, something's happening!!!WORLD ON FIREEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Today's episode, entitled "The Flame and the Rose", begins with a quiet nighttime scene, possibly in Venice. Then all of a sudden an unseen woman starts shrieking, "GET OUT!!! GET OUT BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!" As the ground starts crumbling and cracks open, Rose from the Street Fighter Alpha games magically appears and leaps over the flames that begin spewing from the gaping wound in the earth...and rises higher and higher, until she beholds the entire planet burning from her vantage point somewhere in outer space. Then, as if it'll do any good, she screams her fucking head off as beads of sweat dribble down her face.

Mmmm...bedtime cleavage.CONSULT THE CARDS!!!

Of course, it was only a dream, and she wakes up in bed, wearing pajamas that display her massive heaving cleavage and muttering something about the "soul power" having been disturbed. After climbing out of bed and using her AMAZING power to turn her PJs into her usual gyptastic wear, she consults the tarot cards, all the while explaining their import aloud for our benefit. It seems that according to the cards, three persons will be responsible for bringing about the death of the world -- the fool, the beast, and the one who is fire. So naturally, Rose has to use her soul power to destroy them before they can destroy the earth. Woo.

BLANKA WILL EAT YOUUUU!!!!!!Pretty pink glowy gem make Blanka feel nice.

Cut to the jungles of South America, where two pirate thief guys with laser guns are running and babbling something about being pursued by a monster. Of course, the monster is closer than they think, and Blanka jumps their asses, shouting something about how they hurt two of his Inca brothers AND NOW MUST DIE. But before he can commence with the killing, a bunch of Inca people or whatever run out to restrain him. He came to them seeking inner peace, after all, and he must let them help him to control his rage. The pirates run off. Blanka starts screaming wildly -- 'cause apparently he really wanted to EAT those guys -- but is momentarily calmed when one of the Incas bids him to look deeply into the soul gem. Its soothing pink glow softens his anger...and then suddenly the Inca drops the gem as Rose emerges from it and pulls Blanka inside.


Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Ken appears to have gotten himself into a spot of trouble, along with Ryu and a young woman they're supposed to be protecting. The motorcycle gang hired to kill her bears down on the two warriors, but with their SPECIAL MOVES the evildoers are easily taken out. Impressed, the girl takes a fancy to Ken -- or "Kenny" as she calls him... -- but then phantom Rose appears out of nowhere and snatches him into her purple whirlwind of SOUL POWER. Because THE FOOL IS FAR TOO DANGEROUS TO BE FREE, and everyone knows that Ken is an idiot. Sure, Ryu might've thrown flaming fireballs, but Ken was the guy who thought it was cool to light his own fist on fire in order to score a couple more hits. Flashy, yes, but he spends a fortune in plastic surgery to keep his hands from looking like Freddy Krueger's face. Good thing he's rich.

BLANKA SMASH!!!"They'll destroy each other's evil!"

So anyway, he ends up in some purple cloud world with Blanka, who immediately jumps on him and starts BRINGIN' DA PAIN!!! In the background, transparent Rose appears and waxes poetic about how they'll destroy each other's evil, thus saving the world. Well planned, Rose.

SHOCKING!!!"Now you die, MONSTER!!!"

So they fight on, each busting SPECIAL MOVES, before about fifteen seconds later finally Ken gets the upper hand and is about to do Blanka in. Rose appears behind and eggs him on, but no, Blanka's his friend, so that's out. Besides, KILLING IS WRONG and all that jazz. Rose considers Ken's words and thinks that perhaps she's made a mistake, since "evil entities should not hesitate to cause harm." And then she runs a quick one-second probe on them that confirms her suspicions -- Blanka and Ken are, in fact, not evil. Why she didn't do that before sucking them into purple cloud land and trying to get them to battle to the death is beyond me, but hey, at least we got some SPECIAL MOVES out of the inanity. Anyway, Rose surmises that it is the third man, "the man of DOOM," who threatens the well-being of Earth. But she's unable to determine who he may be...

Enter the badass.The statue of KALI!!!

...aaaand that's our cue to cut to Bison's castle. In one of the earlier episodes, Bison was injured and had his lackies steal a statue of the Hindu goddess Kali, which is, naturally, a relic of IMMENSE POWER. Having been healed by Kali's magical rays, he now seeks to further increase his strength by bathing in her light. So besides screwing Cammy (yes, they're an item), that's what he's been up to.

Hello, sex slaves."When is it our turn?"

Green fire overtakes the psychic purple cloud world as Rose cries out in agony, so the three of them once again find themselves in the physical Rose's bedroom, where her muscular sex slaves help her to her feet and proceed to strip her naked and double team her while Ken and Blanka wait their turn. Just seeing if you were paying attention, people. Anyway, once the slaves leave, Rose goes on about how she's devoted her life to protecting the world from mystic threats and about how recently she's been having dreams about the world ending in flames. But to understand their meaning, she needs Ken and Blanka to join her in the "ritual of revelation." Personally, I'd just tell her to cool it with the midnight snacks or maybe see a therapist, but the two STREET FIGHTERS offer their assistance.

"That bitch isn't good enough for you!""I'M POWER-HUNGRY AND I LIKE MYSELF."

Back at Casa de Bison, which for some reason is decked out with sculptures of winged fat women with enormous asses, Bison speaks lovingly to the statue of Kali as it dances around on the pedestal and fills him with its naughty green energy. Of course, this makes Cammy jealous, so she comes up with some bullshit excuse about Kali's power being too much for even him to contain. Besides, she says, Kali is the goddess of death, and by utilizing her powers Bison may unleash powers that can DESTROY THE WORLD. Says Bison, "If the planet will not bow to me as its natural ruler, IT DESERVES TO DIE!!!!" He then cackles like mad while his eyes glow green and the screen zooms in on his face. Well, alrighty then.

Threesome."Look into my mind..."

Meanwhile, Rose, Ken, and Blanka do the ritual thing. She bids the two men to look into her mind to see the memory that spawned her fear...

The horror of Bison...

Rose was standing in a marketplace when YOU KNOW WHO walked by. She turned to look at him, but when she beheld him, she saw something your mouse cursor over the image to see what Rose saw. Yup. Now, I'm not sure how I'd react to a sight like that, but I'm pretty sure I'd at least shit my pants and go temporarily insane before declaring myself to be Earth's protector from the dark forces. But Rose dreams about ascending into outer space as the world goes up in flames on a regular basis, so I guess seeing a person on fire calmly strolling down the street isn't all that frightening by comparison.

"BISON MAKE BLANKA'S HEAD HURT!!!""Afterwards, know."

Anyway, Blanka immediately recognizes Bison, and upon speaking his name Rose suddenly leaps to her feet, declaring that now that she knows his name she can finally destroy him. I don't get it. Her problem before was that she couldn't find him, despite knowing what he looked like and his "energy signature" of sorts, so I don't entirely see how having the name helps much. I mean, is she using a psychic phonebook? Ken also seems kinda confused, but Rose explains, "Now that I know who it is I seek, I can make a mystic link to the fiery domain that is in his mind." THANKS FOR CLEARING THAT UP, ROSE. So while Rose engages him in battle on the psychic plane, Blanka and Ken are supposed to sneak up and kill him by attacking his defenseless physical form. Doesn't sound very honorable to me, but Blanka and Ken start off on the four mile trek to Bison's castle while Rose seeks him out in the psychic warzone.

M. BISON VS. ROSE!!!"A beautiful name...ON A TOMBSTONE!!!!"

Yes, Bison recognizes Rose from the marketplace. He says that he considered killing her then, but he let her live because he felt a bond with her...and thought that she might understand him and the power he craves. But she's come to fight him, not to join him, so alas, there will be no psychic love connection today. Before they get it on, Bison asks for her name. Upon receiving her answer, Bison replies, "A beautiful name...ON A TOMBSTONE!!!!" I haven't felt like actually commenting on the dialogue until now, but that was a really good line. YOU GO, BISON!!! And now I find myself wondering if rose petals would make a good pizza topping. Hmmmm...


Having run four miles in just under a minute, Ken and Blanka burst through a wall in Bison's castle. They rush over to kill him, but suddenly Zangief and Cammy step forward to defend their unconscious master. They're shocked to see Cammy -- until her recent heel turn, she was one of the good guys -- and cry out her name, forgetting to pay attention to Zangief at all. He seems a bit hurt, asking, "What, no greeting for Zangief??" Blanka growls and replies, "Bison's lackey not worth greeting." Again with the dialogue! This is pretty hardcore stuff for a Saturday morning cartoon.


So yeah, lots of trash-talking and fighting and SPECIAL MOVES ensue. This sure brings back memories...

SPINNING CLOTHESLINE!!!You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Zangief uses his SPINNING CLOTHESLINE to send a brick column crashing down on Blanka's head, but Blanka picks it up and uses it as a battering ram...and proceeds to try to crush Zangief against the wall. Zangief murmurs something about not being able to breathe, prompting Blanka to cry out, "DID YOU THINK BLANKA COULD BREATHE BENEATH THE RUBBLE?!?!? DID YOUUUUUUUU?!?!?!?!?"


Yep, Blanka's really trying to murder Zangief. This is some pretty serious shit, folks.

Psycho fist to the gut!Followed up by a knee!

In the psychic plane, the battle between Bison and Rose rages on, and in the midst of handing her ass to her on a psycho-powered platter, Bison lets it slip that he draws his power from Kali. With this knowledge, Rose pauses to send a telepathic message to Blanka and Ken: "Destroy the statue of Kali!" Ken's a little too busy getting his ass kicked to do anything about it, and Blanka's killing Zangief, so he doesn't have the time...



Yep, Bison breaks out his trademark special, and Rose urgently reiterates her request for Blanka to stop his murderous rampage and break the damned statue already.


So yeah, Blanka overcomes his rage, letting Zangief live so that he can go crush the statue before it's too late. For his part, Zangief decides that one brush with death was enough for the day and hightails it out of there. In the psychic realm, Bison defeats Rose with the Psycho Crusher and reawakens in the physical plane just in time to see Blanka raise Kali high above his head...and then...



So the castle explodes and Kali is destroyed. Bye-bye, dancing statue. Bye-bye winged fat lady sculptures.


Later, Rose finds Ken and Blanka amidst the rubble of Bison's castle, informing them that Bison and Cammy have escaped. However, a few questions remain...


Recall the Tarot cards from the very beginning of the episode -- the fool, the beast, and the doomed one. Ken points out that Blanka was able to control his rage in the end, and thus wasn't the beast after all...and because they did everything right, no one was the fool. And since nobody died, no one was doomed. What gives? Rose smiles and responds that perhaps Bison was all three... "His mad quest for power makes him both a fool and a beast, and will ultimately lead to his doom." She continues, "Could it be that I am all three...? A fool for not knowing my true foe... a beast for bringing you into my battle against your wills... and doomed if I lose my ultimate battle with Bison. I must retire to contemplate these mysteries..." As should you, because this is pretty deep for Saturday morning fare.

YAY Team!

Thus ends "The Flame and the Rose". Well, I was expecting worse -- and oh, I've seen worse, and so will you whenever we review those other episodes -- but this was one of the better episodes of the Street Fighter 'toon. I think in part that had to do with the voice actors of this episode's cast. If you look at the IMDb information page, you'll see that some actors voice three or more characters...which can result in a lot of confusion, since not all of the voice actors are very skilled at doing different voices. Forunately, Scott McNeil's Ken sounds very little like his Blanka, so that wasn't a problem this episode. And it had Rose! I couldn't do crap with her in the games, but I always liked the character's look... Anyway, all things considered, you could find worse ways to spend a half hour. By the way, the background is purple.

-- Wes --

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