Tekken: Bloodline

Since its first appearance in 1994, the success of Tekkenfighting game series created by Namco (today Bandai Namco), has always been inextricably linked to that of Playstation from Sony that has always hosted it. Anyone who has one in the house Playstationof any number, it almost certainly also has a game of Tekkenand, in particular, if you have had the first version of the Playstationit is highly likely that you have also had Tekken 3the most popular chapter of the saga, released in 1998, in the period of greatest boom of the first console Sony.
If the two OAVs released in 1998 (published in our country by Dynamic Italythe current Dynit) had told more or less the story of the first two games, it is precisely of Tekken 3 which deals Tekken: Bloodlinea six-part miniseries recently released on Netflix.

The series was produced by Studio Hibari and its subsidiary company Larx Entertainment. Starting with the director Yoshikazu Miyao (Special A), most of the names involved in the project are Japanese, except for the script, credited to Gavin Hignight. Bandai Namco and, of course, the historic producer of the video game series Katsuhiro Haradawere extensively involved in the project.

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The story is very faithful to the original one of Tekken 3: the young Jin Kazama, after having witnessed the death of his mother Jun at the hands of the mysterious demon Ogre, goes to his grandfather Heihachi Mishima in search of help and a teacher, and is trained by him in anticipation of the great martial arts tournament organized by him, which will serve as bait to attract the demon. But the Mishima family hides various secrets and mysteries, and things won’t be that simple for Jin.
There are several goodies and cameos from more recent games, such as the characters of Leroy and Marduk, but the basic story is that of Tekken 3.

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Tekken: Bloodline has more or less the same problems that old OAVs had and that almost all fighting game adaptations have in only one or two movies / OAVs (such as the animated film dedicated to Street Fighter or the OAVs of Samurai Spirits And Fatal Fury). There is not the necessary space to tell the stories of numerous characters, so we focus only on the protagonist, his opponent and a couple of other secondary characters, while the rest of the cast is already lucky if more than two appear on stage. seconds. Tekken: Bloodline is no exception. The Mishima are beautifully told, both as regards Jin, a tormented young man with an easy grip on the public, and as regards Heihachi, endowed with an austere, slimy and malignant charm. Their story, the relationship between them, their characters, the mysteries of their family are told in a clear, thorough and compelling way, being the fulcrum of the whole miniseries, and keep you glued to the screen with continuous revelations and twists. in each episode. The narrative alternates battles, training, speeches and revelations and is always compelling, except for the last episode which has several dead moments, since it exaggerates in a redundant way with flashbacks and scenes / sentences repeated from the previous ones.

All the other characters had less luck: if Xiaoyu, Paul, Hwoarang, King and Leroy had a little more space, if Nina and Julia had the honor of saying a couple of sentences (throwing in there, however, various ideas that are never really explored, such as the role of the medallion that binds Julia, her mother, Heihachi and Ogre), the various Anna, Kuma and Marduk appear only on the tournament board, there are many great absentees (Eddy Gordo or the robot Jack, to name a couple) and the Ogre final boss himself just stands there, hardly ever saying a word or getting too noticed.

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The graphics immediately catch your eye, made in cel-shading with all the pros and cons that this entails. Personally, it is a choice that always leaves me a little dumbfounded. Sometimes I think that, since you like using CGI so much, such films could have been made with more realistic computer graphics, similar to that of games (a bit like what was done for the movie. Tekken: Blood Vengeance of 2011). Then, however, I also think that characters like these are also unrealistic in some cases and have also been a bit conceived as characters from a nineties anime, so a traditional 2D graphics like that of the old OAVs would have given them more justice.

The character design of the illustrators Heart And Satoshi Yuri it’s fluctuating. Some characters, such as Heihachi for example, are rendered very well, others are a bit too square and caricatured, see Jin or practically all the female characters, who totally lack the sex appeal that a more realistic design like that of games always has. donated. There cel-shading it makes the movements seem, as it often does, too much plasticky in some cases, while in others it performs very well. In particular, the fights are spectacular and animated very well, also thanks to the veteran Junichi Hayamahistorical animator who has served here as a consultant for martial arts and combat scenes, holding a role similar to the one he had in another fight anime of some time ago, Tiger Mask W. However, you gradually get used to graphics, you are kidnapped by the good fights and you don’t even notice the computer graphics that much in the long run.

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Being a production for the international market, made in collaboration with the United States and branded as “Netflix Original“, the well-known streaming portal offers voiceovers in various languages, but the one labeled as the” original language “is English, rather than Japanese, as was already clear from the first trailers that were all dubbed in English.
The dubbed version in Italian is not evil, but paradoxically many more experienced voice actors and several big shots like Claudio Moneta or Mario Zucca they are used to recite only short off-screen lines instead of being assigned to the characters, who are voiced by younger or lesser-known voice actors. The work they do is still excellent, with the only exception of the voice actor of Heihachi, who manages to give the character a very mellifluous and malignant tone but totally lacks the power that has always characterized the patron of the tournament, who has historically always had strong voices like that of Daisuke Gouri you hate Unsho Ishizuka.

More interesting, however, the version dubbed in Japanese, which in my opinion deserves to be credited as “original audio” instead of the English one, given that the voice actors of practically all the characters are the same as in the various video games, and they are all big shots in the world of Japanese dubbing: Isshin Chiba (Jin), Mamiko Noto (Jun), Maaya Sakamoto (Xiaoyu), Toshiyuki Morikawa (Hwoarang), Hidenari Ugaki (Ganryu), Hochu Ohtsuka (Paul). The only new entry is, inevitably, the voice actor of Heihachi, since the historical rumors of him have gradually left us. Here he is played by Taiten Kusunokiwho is a little more powerful than the Italian voice actor, but still, unfortunately, does not reach the levels of his predecessors.

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Tekken: Bloodline is a miniseries without infamy and without praisewhich obviously fails in the limited span of only six episodes to tell about all the characters in the game and remains an end in itself (we hope that the story is continued with other seasons), but remains a pleasant divertissement of a couple of hourswhich entertains newbies to Tekken (like more or less myself, who has always played the various games in bits and pieces) also thanks to several stories relating to the past of the Mishima family, and certainly excites video game fans with different cameos and interesting battles, obviously provided that your favorite characters are Heihachi and Jin, as the others are just wallpaper. It does not differ too much from previous fighting game adaptations in single or few episodes, nor does it manage to reach the glories of Virtua Fighterwhich in my opinion remains the top of the genre, as it had 35 episodes available to deepen the entire cast and succeeded in its intent, which other fighting game adaptations, Tekken: Bloodline including, they never managed to do. Katsuhiro Haradathe historic producer of the series, apparently was happy with the result, given that he is continuing to advertise the miniseries on Twitter, as opposed to what happened with the live action films, which were widely criticized by him on social media at the time of the release. . Tekken: Bloodline it is nothing particularly revolutionary, if in the nineties you followed the various films or OAVs based on Street Fighter And Fatal Fury, more or less we are there, only this time they are in CGI and streaming instead of videotape. Maybe 12 or 13 episodes instead of only 6 would have given the time to deepen the storylines of some secondary characters, but being a production for the web we know that they tend to compress the stories so as to be able to make as few episodes as possible, unfortunately.

The great popularity of which Tekken enjoys all over the world and the particular success of the third chapter to which this miniseries is inspired maybe they had created a little higher expectations for the fans of the game, but personally I have not seen anything particularly striking or particularly bad, and given that the creator of the game (one who doesn’t mince words and doesn’t send them to tell anyone, usually) had nothing to complain about, I have no reason to. Remains a pleasant vision, capable of entertaining a couple of hours with good fights and an intriguing storytherefore it is recommended for those looking for a martial arts miniseries of pure entertainment, less demanding than the longer ones Kengan Ashura And Baki and therefore easier to follow, plus the nostalgic value of being based on a successful game that marked the childhood and adolescence of many.

Tekken: Bloodline – Review