Scary as it may seem, I can fondly remember the days of my youth spent surrounded by coin-op games like PacMan, Mario Brothers, and Space Invaders in the local arcade. These games and their characters, which were incredibly popular by that time's standard, got made into everything from Underoos to stuffed toys. Inevitably, television shows were another step. To no one's surprise, they were incredibly awful. To take a one-dimensional character that does one thing (whether that's eating through dots or zapping aliens) and try to make a full show based on that one character doing their thing is ludicrous. Over the years, the games have gotten better, but the spinoffs have been just as bad. Even live-action movies like Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter haven't gone very far, though one might give some credit to the campy but entertaining Mortal Kombat.

Tekken is the latest popular video game to have gotten the star treatment and it fares little better than the others. The plot is no different from that of other fighting games--the main character is out for revenge on his father for throwing him off a cliff as a child to prove his mettle. Other characters are gunning for him because of their connections with his father, but there's lots of rivalries caused by their infighting. Still more characters get involved when it turns out that a tournament site might actually be the testing grounds for a doomsday weapon. If that wasn't bad enough, when the characters all gather for the tournament, they don't even bother to have a good fighting match, but wind up blowing things up (rather badly) and fighting dinosaurs. I've seen this story a million times in anime, and it hasn't gotten any better. However, even overtold stories can be done well and bring new life to a genre--but Tekken falls flatter than a 10 ton hammer on a box of Bisquick.

For those who are interested, the animation is OK, though some of the backgrounds and vehicular movement looks cheaply done. Tekken fans will probably appreciate seeing the characters more than I did, though I doubt it. One final, special note: this is the first anime I've seen where the English soundtrack actually makes a notable improvement over the Japanese. In this case, though, that's not saying much. The Japanese voice acting is better by far, but the music is not exciting and tends not to add anything to an already lackluster show. The English dub is bad, but what makes up for it is a full-throttle punk/industrial/metal score including the likes of Offspring and Stabbing Westward. The English soundtrack actually made the movie a tad more entertaining, though the lack of a new plot (or much of any plot, for that matter) lives on through both versions. One to avoid.

Tekken -- brief nudity, graphic violence, mild language -- D- (Japanese version)
Tekken -- brief nudity, graphic violence, mild language -- C- (English version)