With the impending release of Street Fighter IV, and my massive resurgence of interest in SF Alpha 3 on the PSP, I've been buying up some of Udon's Street Fighter series (of which there is no shortage).
These particular volumes, the most readily available of Udon's output, collect the early manga adaptation by Masaomi Kanzaki which was originally released in 1993 and serialised in the monthly Family Computer Magazine.
Taking the original 12 fighters, the story starts with Chun Li's attempts to bring down the Shadaloo organisation, her subsequent introduction to the other World Warriors and their combined efforts to stop Bison taking over the world with his "Doll" drug.
The storyline is pretty simple stuff - a new fight in each chapter, advancing the story along at a solid pace, but the actual plot is pretty old hat, and certainly shows it's age when compared to the more recent Udon Street Fighter books written by Ken Sui-Chong, who uses multiple plot threads and character interactions with far greater dexterity than Kanzaki.
The artwork is also pretty old-school, but that actually helps it out - a lot of time obviously went into drawing Chun Li, who always looks stunning on whatever page she's on, but the male characters are a bit more hit and miss - Ryu in particular seems off somehow, but more distinctive characters like Blanka are spot on. That said, the expressions/poses are always dynamic and convey the moods and actions very convincingly. The layouts are suitably dynamic, and the fighting is always clear and concise, with some lovely attention to detail in the special attacks.
Each book features a number of nice extras - there are some superb colour illustrations featuring the "best bouts" in the book, and character profiles help to flesh out the backgrounds of each character. The last book has an interesting interview with the writer/artist, who reveals that his interest in Street Fighter began with Chun Li, something I'm sure many of us can relate to! The rear of each book has lengthy previews of other manga, notably "Sakura Ganbaru!" which I'll be covering at a later date.
While these books lack the complexity (and colour) of Udon's highly sought after Street Fighter series, it's a solid if forgettable read for those that want a Street Fighting fix at a reasonable price. Non fans should probably skip this title and head for something more recent, like the aforementioned Sakura title.