In creating the same-numbered sequel to Street Fighter IV known as Super Street Fighter IV, Capcom has opted to ditch acclaimed animation studio 4C in favor of GONZO to do the anime accompaniment to the game.
“Wait, GONZO? You mean those guys who ran out of money and weren’t even allowed to do Strike Witches Season 2?” Yes, those guys, but when you think about it they’re a really good fit for Street Fighter IV. Production IG would’ve been better, but you can’t have it all.
Let’s first get out of the way the fact that the Studio 4C Street Fighter IV anime was pretty terrible, and much less than what we’d expect out of a studio which prides itself on its creative animation. Looking back, it’s easy to see that it was simply the wrong studio for the job. Illustrating muscley men (and women!) beating each other up is not really 4C’s thing. GONZO on the other hand is quite good at it.
GONZO utilizes a certain style when animating for international audiences, one that combines the basic aesthetics of “anime” with a very American and masculine idea of “cool,” with the most prominent example being Afro Samurai, and that style just so happens to mesh well with Street Fighter IV ‘s. Looking at it relative to the rest of the series, SFIV looks the least like anime out of any of the games ever, and it’s a style that appeals to an audience that also consists of people who don’t like anime (or their image of anime) too much. It’s 3D, it’s “realistic” in an American comic book sort of way even if we’ve got some weird character designs, and it’s close to how GONZO rolls and vice-versa. If you don’t believe me, check out the trailer.
GONZO’s weakness as a studio has generally been utilizing money poorly and mediocre to poor direction on their shows leading to bad endings. But give GONZO enough money for the job and they’ll turn out something pretty-looking for sure. That’s why I predict that this GONZO SSFIV animation will turn out well. First, this is game industry money after all, and even if it’s feeling the effects of the recession it’s still faring better than the anime industry, and they’d be able to at least fund a one-shot bonus feature. Second, this anime will probably be a mere setup for the game itself, so there’s no need for an ending and thus no conclusion to sabotage. And even if there was an ending, it’s not too hard to predict. In fact, I’ll spoil the ending for you: Ryu punches Seth, everybody wins.
All in all, I don’t think it’s going to be the pinnacle of Japanese animation, but it’ll definitely get the job done.