Friday, April 19, 2019

Shenmue Documentary Update: Interview Translations Completed


Work continues on the Shenmue Documentary, and last week Adam Sipione, the project's originator, released a Kickstarter Update to keep everyone informed on the current state.
  • Currently work is continuing on editing the story, following which it will undergo refinement.
  • Translations of the Japanese video interviews which were held during the team's visit to Tokyo at the end of last year, have now been completed - and in fact these are what I have been working on in recent months. (Thanks to Adam for the shout-out to PRS!)
  • Planning has been carried out for integrating some highly-stylized and cinematic pieces into the documentary to help set the mood: reference was made to the documentary's Kickstarter video teaser that can be viewed on the campaign page as an example of the kind of pieces we can look forward to.
  • Backers are also reminded to submit your photos and videos for your rewards tiers.
Note: in case you missed the message in February's update, the release date for the documentary has been adjusted to be after Shenmue III comes out (exact date to be confirmed).

Go here to read the official update on Kickstarter
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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Yu Suzuki Speaks to Weekly Famitsu on Shenmue III: Part Two | Translation


We complete our translation of a new article released by Japan's Weekly Famitsu magazine who interviewed Yu Suzuki about the latest state of Shenmue III. For Part One of the translation, go here.

YS = Yu Suzuki


Q: There's also an element of having been able to realize in Shenmue III ideas that you've had from back then but weren't able to implement, isn't there.

YS: Yes - although part of me wonders how much of what I originally wanted to do I've actually been able to realize. It's always been this way; I always want to take things further.

To give an example from the Shenmue I and II days: when you order ramen noodles, they give off steam; when going to eat them, people hold chopsticks properly, pick up some noodles and the bowl's content decreases by the amount they've eaten; and when the noodles grow cold, the steam disappears.

Back then, I called it "4D," as opposed to 3D. 3D represents a solid object composed of three dimensions: x-axis, y-axis, z-axis, right? The concept of the previous games was "4D": let's add another dimension so it's not 3D, but with the addition of "t"...

Q: That's "time," isn't it.

YS: We add a time axis. For example, a cup of coffee that is left here [points at a coffee that sits in front of him in the conference room], will be gone tomorrow.

Q: The liquid would evaporate, or someone might clear it away.

YS: That's the case for the coffee; for the ramen I mentioned earlier it will disappear if someone eats it, and so on. So having the world change with time is something I wanted to do in Shenmue. But when you're trying to do things like that... well, there's no end to it really! [laughs]

Q: That's true.


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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Bracelets & Prayer Beads at the Waterfront | Shenmue 3

Bracelets & Prayer Beads at the Waterfront | Shenmue 3
Yu Suzuki shared several new Shenmue III screenshots at the Reboot Develop conference last week, and one of these was the above image of Ryo strolling along the waterfront in Choubu (Niaowu) at night.
This post will talk some more about the first stand, as it has a few extra details of interest.
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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Recap & Analysis: New Shenmue 3 Screenshots (High-Res) | Reboot Develop 2019


To the delight of Shenmue, Yu Suzuki revealed several new screenshots and new gameplay details on Shenmue 3 during his one-hour on-stage talk at the Reboot Develop 2019 game developers conference held in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

This post presents the new screenshots (update: now refreshed with 1080p versions obtained via the official Shenmue.link site), with notes and comments on each. When zooming in on details, the images have been enhanced for clarity using image-processing software to upscale and filter.

At points along the way I've provided my own translation of Yu's words, although I have to say that the on-stage MC, Ben Judd, did an excellent job at digesting and translating what Yu said, and combining that with his own input.

New Screenshot: Ryo at the Waterfront (Choubu / Niaowu)

Notes on this image:
  • Yu Suzuki says: "This is the Guilin we created. It's Guilin only as far as the mountains go [indicating the distinctive shape of the mountains]: there are also outdoor stalls that are a little similar to those in Japan, and the scenery along the shore on this [right] side is from a place that isn't Guilin, called Fenghuang (Phoenix Ancient Town). I've assembled pieces of scenery that really feels like China from various places and made alterations as needed to bring them closer towards what I want to portray.

    In contrast to the fair amount of "shaping" that was carried out with the backgrounds, is the accuracy of things like people's movements and their small every-day gestures - for example when someone feels troubled and so on. NPCs too; we've made a lot of different faces of Chinese people, and I don't think there's any other game that has put this much effort into portraying old men and women NPCs!

    For the music also, I've used Chinese musical instruments as much as possible, for example.

    To bring out the feeling of China, there are certain areas like these that I've really focused on".
  • The items for sale at the first stand appear to be bracelets.
  • On the green awning of the first stand, the large characters 珠宝専科 mean "Jewelry Specialists" (hence the picture of a cut diamond in the center).
  • The smaller characters above are 五十年店. Update: I initially misread the fourth kanji - thanks to yuc02 for the clarification! The meaning in Chinese is that the shop has been in business for 50 years.
  • The writing on the other stalls is hard to make out, but it looks like one of the characters on the red awning is 董, which is part of the word "antiques".
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Friday, April 12, 2019

Shenmue Mugs | 1999 Shenmue Premiere Merchandise

When Shenmue was launched in Japan back in 1999, there was a wide range of merchandise available for sale at the premiere event: calendars, ballpoint pens, figurines, posters and more.

Today we'll focus on one of the types of merchandise items, namely the Shenmue mug.

There were a total of four mug designs based on the concept sketches of four key characters. These concept sketches were also used for posters and several other items, as can be seen in this scan from a premiere merchandise leaflet (mugs circled in red):


A closer look at the four designs: Shenhua, Niao Sun, Ren and Ryo.
Image credit: Shenmue Master
Niao Sun was one of the four major characters to be promoted during the Shenmue premiere, but she has yet to make an appearance in either of the first two games. However it is the expectation of some fans that she will be making her debut in Shenmue III (and indeed what looks to be her character model was spied in the background of a 2017 Shenmue III "teaser" trailer).

Below is the Niao Sun mug with its original box: 
Niao Sun mug & box (image: Retro Import Gamer)
On the mug, above her image is the classic "Shenmue" logo; at the lower left corner the copyright text of "©SEGA 1998", and on the right the name of the character shown in the concept art. Instead of "Niao Sun" we see "Choujhun," which is the pronunciation of this character's name in Japanese.

Turning our attention to the box, on the side it has a label with "Sega Enterprises" written at the top, followed by the company address in Tokyo and a free-dial number and service hours for the Dreamcast Support Center.

Yu Suzuki can be seen sipping from one of the Shenmue mugs (the Shenhua one) back in Kickstarter Update #66.

Even Ryo uses one, as can be seen in this (fan-created) image!
Image credit: Blasto on the old Shenmue Dojo forums

The Niao Sun mug shown in this article is currently available from our friends at Retro Import Gamer on their Ebay store. Item ships from the UK.

View the Niao Sun mug (unused with box) listing on Ebay

Or view other Shenmue items listed on the Retro Import Gamer website.

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Yu Suzuki Speaks to Weekly Famitsu on Shenmue III: Part One | Translation


This stunning new image above, showing Ryo at the wheel of - yes! a forklift truck - in a warehouse setting, accompanied an article released today by Japan's Weekly Famitsu magazine who have interviewed Yu Suzuki about the latest state of Shenmue III.

We are currently translating the interview, with a preview section below.


YS = Yu Suzuki

Forklifts: World Premiere

Image caption: Revealed to the world for the first time is the figure of Ryo Hazuki driving a forklift in Shenmue III! The location, which looks like a warehouse, has a different feel to it from the recent trailer or the images of Bailu village we saw during our private media viewing. Will the story take us to visit a harbor town again? In our 2015 interview, Suzuki had responded "The forklift's popularity is amazing, isn't it! I'm considering them," but it would seem that they will be implemented!!
[Notes from Switch]
1. In a 2017 Famitsu interview, Yu Suzuki said "Forklifts... if I don't include them, everyone will be upset with me. [laughs] Forklifts are being readied."
2. A forklift, albeit of a differing design, was also present in the background of the warehouse battle scene image distributed with Kickstarter Update #85 (July 2018).

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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Shenmue Shorts #54 (w/e Mar 31st): Weekly News Round-Up

Shenmue Shorts #54: Weekly News Round-Up

Each week we post a Shenmue news round-up, including selected fan community highlights, for our blog patrons.

Here's what was going on in the world of Shenmue during the week ending March 31st (link to public post):
https://www.patreon.com/posts/shenmue-shorts-25782205
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Monday, April 8, 2019

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for April 2019

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. The results are in for April's topic. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months) the winning topic was...

"Yu Suzuki's Research Trip to China 1993: Part Two"

In 1993 Yu Suzuki spent two weeks in China gathering material for his upcoming Virtua Fighter II game, and his findings also greatly influenced his creation of Shenmue. In Part One, we translated blog posts about the trip by Kazunari Uchida, the person who accompanied Yu Suzuki.
In Part Two we will be continue this in-depth look at the places and people Yu visited as we translate the first of a series of magazine articles that Uchida wrote about the research trip for the Japanese Bleep! MegaDrive magazine in 1994 on their return.

Watch for it later this month!


For early access to this and other articles published on the blog, check us out on Patreon. Link to Phantom River Stone on Patreon.

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Saturday, April 6, 2019

[Closing 14th April, 2019] Submit Your Questions: Brianna Knickerbocker Interview


Brianna Knickerbocker, the new English voice actor for Shenhua in Shenmue III, has kindly granted an interview, and we would like to hear your question suggestions. A subset of the questions gathered will be selected for the interview.

Brianna is a Los Angeles based actor and voice artist who was introduced in a Shenmue III Kickstarter Update in February. She started recording her lines for the game at the end of last year and this is now complete.

She has voiced characters in an extensive number of anime, movies and video games as can be seen on her profile page on IMDB. Her roles include the voice of Sakura, Est, Ninian and Charlotte in the role-playing game series Fire Emblem and the voice of Yuna in the anime series B: The Beginning. You can hear samples of her voice work at her official site.

What would you like to ask Brianna?

Submit your questions below, bearing in mind that Brianna will not be able to disclose unreleased details about the actual game. This is a great chance for the community to learn about topics such as her background, her thoughts voicing the character of Shenhua and her experience in the studio recording for Shenmue III.

Update: Acceptance of submissions will close at the end of this weekend (Sunday, 14th April 2019).
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Friday, April 5, 2019

Analysis of Writing on the Chinese Building | Ryo and Master Trailer

Analysis: Writing on the Chinese Building | Ryo and Master Trailer

Today's post is a guest post contributed by Shenmue Dojo’s yuc02 and Araviel (Chao Yu and Hanna). Read on as they explain the meaning of the Chinese writing that can be seen decorating a building in the recent "Ryo and Master" trailer.

Note: upscaling & noise reduction has been applied to some of the images, to aid readability.


As this blog continues to showcase, the recent “Ryo and Master” MAGIC 2019 trailer has given us a bunch of fascinating aspects to explore and discuss!
  • Related posts: Observations on "Ryo & Master" Shenmue 3 Trailer Part One and Part Two.
In one of the segments with the old, drunken Master himself, Ryo is training outside in front of the entrance to a traditional Chinese building. Above the door frame we can see horizontally-written characters on a sign as well as writing running vertically down the central pillars. These form a very commonly-used decoration for traditional Chinese buildings.
Writing can be seen above the entrance and on the front pillars.
Writing can be seen above the entrance and on the front pillars.
The left and right vertical lines are called a 对联 Duilian, which is an Antithetical Couplet, and the placard across the top is called a 横批 Hengpi with an inscription is in the form of a 成语 Chengyu: an idiomatic expression usually consisting of 4 characters.
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Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Part Two: Observations on "Ryo & Master" Shenmue 3 Trailer

Part Two: Observations on "Ryo & Master" Shenmue 3 Trailer

Welcome to Part Two of our close-up examination of the Shenmue 3 "Ryo & Master" trailer that was released at MAGIC 2019 earlier this month.

In the previous part, we saw a defeated Ryo being taunted by a character wearing the distinctive costume of a Mongolian wrestler: "Did you really think you could beat me with kung fu like that?"
Now let's continue with the next part of the trailer.

"Bad Ending" Scene


With a dramatic crashing sound effect and a flash of white, the scene changes and we see Shenhua standing in a black void, with the pink petals of the Shenmue tree falling around her. The camera pulls back to reveal the ominous figure of a man in green silk robes adorned with the motif of a dragon clutching a blue crystal ball: Lan Di. He moves towards Shenhua as she draws in her breath. 
Shenhua faces Lan Di
Shenhua faces Lan Di
Behind him, he holds a mirror in his hands, and as the light catches it we see a red stone in the center that identifies it as the Phoenix mirror.
Lan Di has managed to get hold of the Phoenix mirror
Lan Di has managed to get hold of the Phoenix mirror
There are strong similarities between this clip and part of the "bad ending" cut scene in Shenmue II that plays out if Ryo has taken too long (specifically, after he goes to sleep on the night of July 31st). This cut scene consists of two parts: first, Ryo is holding the Phoenix mirror as it glows and cracks in front of his eyes, after which he is attacked by Lan Di; then Shenhua is approached by Lan Di who snarls, "I shall take your power for the Chi You".

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Shenmue 500K and Shenmue Forever Interview with Yu Suzuki | Shenmue 3


Another new fan community Shenmue 3 interview write-up with Yu Suzuki is out, brought to you by Shenmue 500K and Shenmue Forever! The interview with Yu took place in Monaco on the day before the MAGIC 2019 event. Phantom River Stone is pleased to have been able to help with the translation of Yu's responses into English.

The article is a top-quality read, and it is exciting to hear Suzuki explain that enhancements have been made to the Shenmue world in Shenmue 3 through tighter overall cohesiveness of it elements. He also notes the effect of play guides and the like being so readily available these days, and indicates that Shenmue 3 has been designed to minimize such impact.

>> Read the interview here at the Shenmue 500K website.


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Phantom River Stone Topic Selection for April

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll for patrons to vote for a Shenmue topic they'd most like to see on the blog.

Here is the selection of topics for the latest poll.

The selection of topics for our  latest Patrons' Choice poll.

Watch for an article on the highest-voted topic from the list above to be posted on the blog in the coming month!
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