Saturday, October 23, 2021

[Part Three] Subtle Details from Shenmue the Animation Trailer: Recap & Analysis

This is the third part of our in-depth breakdown of the Shenmue the Animation trailer, which was launched recently at New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2021 to a positive reception from fans and the general public. Read the previous parts here:

And now, let's continue with the trailer analysis. One comparison image in particular is sure to astound with the attention to detail and its faithfulness to a real-life location in Yokosuka. Read on to find out more!

Battle with Chai in the Hazuki Dojo


The next clip opens with a strong band of yellow-red light streaming across a polished wooden floor. Its sharply-defined edges suggest sunlight coming in through the narrow opening of half-open doors. A shadow is cast as a figure approaches from behind the camera, pausing briefly after reaching the opening. The figure's speed is steady, with arms held at the side and thus does not appear to be expecting trouble or in a state of high emotion at this point.


The camera switches to a wide-angle shot, which reveals the location to be the Hazuki Dojo, with the light of the setting sun illuminating the interior through one of the open double-doors, and two characters present: Ryo (the presumed owner of the shadow above) and Chai.


Ryo now stands at the far side of the room in a fighting stance as Chai rushes towards him. The rays of sunlight and lens flare add nicely to the visual effect, although a slight discrepancy in the direction of Chai's shadow compared to that cast by the doorway is apparent.

This image is clearly not sequential to the previous image, so presumably a section was skipped for the trailer edit.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

[Part Two] Subtle Details from Shenmue the Animation Trailer: Recap & Analysis

In this post we continue with Part Two of our in-depth breakdown of the Shenmue the Animation trailer, which was launched last week at New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2021 to a widely-positive reception.

  • In case you missed it, read Part One here.
Our analysis continues below.

Shenhua


A new scene shows the figure of Shenhua standing on a mountainside in a rural location at night, facing a full moon that bathes the landscape in its glow.

Although the scene is dimly-lit, details such as the winding path, fence at the side, rock formations, houses and outline of distant mountains can be distinguished. The biggest clue to the location is the tall tower, matching the bell tower in Bailu village as depicted in Shenmue III. Interestingly, the anime has chosen a more natural-looking moon size compared to its oversized appearance in the game.

Bailu village at night in Shenmue III

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Monday, October 18, 2021

Sega Created a Shenmue Synopsis Movie for Pioneer in 2000 | Home Theater DVD


In the days of the Dreamcast, it was common for game demos or trailers to be found on magazine cover discs, and Shenmue occasionally featured on some of these. Today we will take a look at a DVD that contains a rather special Shenmue video - one that was produced by the Shenmue project team soon after the release of the first game in Japan, especially for Pioneer. I had no idea this existed until recently!

About the Shenmue Video


Booklet entry for the Shenmue video

This is the description of the Shenmue video from the booklet accompanying the DVD, translated:
"The CG parts of Shenmue, one of the most popular SEGA Dreamcast titles, have been re-edited by the creative staff in a special version that is only for this disc. Sound has been remastered with Surround EX*, from the voicing through to foley audio such as sound effects and footsteps. Check out the dialogue and kung fu action, as well as the detailed environmental sounds placed in the everyday settings."

Note: "Surround EX" refers to Dolby Digital Surround EX, which provides an extra surround channel for home theater systems that have rear surround speakers. 

The instruction booklet that accompanies the DVD

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Saturday, October 16, 2021

[Part One] Subtle Details from Shenmue the Animation Trailer: Recap & Analysis

 

Promotional image from the newly-opened official Japanese website

The first trailer for the upcoming Shenmue the Anime trailer, was launched last week at New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2021 and did not disappoint with its montage of recognizable characters, scenes, locations, and fighting action. Already it has generated a great deal of positive buzz, not only in fan forums but in the wider media.

In this post, we will continue the time-honored tradition among fans of picking apart the new trailer in excruciating detail to see what clues and information can be squeezed out of it (with a dose of speculation thrown in for good measure).

Related link: to read some background about the anime, we posted this translation of a Famitsu interview last year with creator Yu Suzuki and producer Yu Kiyozono:

  • Shenmue the Animation: Famitsu Interview with Yu Kiyozono & Yu Suzuki: Part One and Part Two
Let's get started with the play-by-play recap and analysis of this trailer!
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Friday, October 8, 2021

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for October 2021

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months), the winning topic for October 2021 is...

"Unused Inventory Items Found in Shenmue disc files"

All Shenmue players will be familiar with the inventory screen and its depiction of small icons that represent the things Ryo is carrying at the moment.

Ryo's inventory display (Dreamcast)

As to be expected, the inventory icon graphics themselves are contained within the Shenmue files. A similar, but different, set is also present on the What's Shenmue demo version of the game that was distributed in Japan a few months ahead of the full release.

Where things get interesting is when the What's Shenmue icons are examined more closely. We'll be sharing discoveries made by LemonHaze of the Dragon & Phoenix project, who found a small number of object icons on the earlier What's Shenmue disc that are not used in either game. A few are readily recognizable as objects Ryo interacts with (but does not keep) during the main game, while a couple are harder to identify.

We'll be examining these unused icons in this upcoming post, and with input from readers perhaps they can all be identified.

Watch for it on the blog in the near future.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Mini-Interview with Shenmue Composers Yuzo Koshiro & Takenobu Mitsuyoshi | January 2000

A mini interview with Yuzo Koshiro and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, two composers on the Shenmue project who were already known as legends in the gaming world at the time. This interview was translated from the January 2000 issue of the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine, published soon after the initial release of Shenmue in Japan.

The translation starts below.

Yuzo Koshiro and Takenobu Mitsuyoshi

Usually, only one or two people are in charge of the sound for a single game. However, Shenmue has more than 30 music team members involved. Some of you may have noticed the name of a legendary sound creator among them. Yuzo Koshiro. This legendary man has enchanted fans with the numerous famous songs he has composed for classic games of the past. Let's take a closer look at the secrets of the Koshiro sound that inhabits Shenmue!

About Yuzo Koshiro

Yuzo Koshiro is 32 years old. In the past, during Nihon Falcom*'s heyday, he developed sounds that made full use of FM sound generation for games such as Ys, Sorcerian, Dragon Slayer V, and Xanadu, and quickly gained a strong reputation among fans. His relationship with Sega began during the Mega Drive era when he established a sound that thrilled fans with The Super Shinobi and Bare Knuckle.** Ten years ago, that "Koshiro sound" was his trademark. Recently, after Vatlva and Culdcept, he has been stepping away from the sound business to focus on his work as senior managing director of Ancient Corp.

*[Switch] A Japanese video game developer of role-playing video games, most notably the Ys, The Legend of Heroes, and Trails series. The company was founded in 1981.
** Known as The Revenge of Shinobi and Streets of Rage respectively, outside Japan. 
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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Weekly AM2 Vol. 4: Shenmue New Year's Card Giveaway | 4th Jan 2000

In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. News and information about the Shenmue series could be found regularly within these pages from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Vol. 4 was a fairly brief update posted at the start of the new millennium, shortly after the official release of Shenmue in Japan on December 28th. While not much news is contained, we do learn the nickname of Megumi Yasu, the actress playing Nozomi (read on to find out!). A lucky draw is announced for Shenmue-themed New Year Cards - of which only two were available. Let's hope they were kept and treasured by the winners.

-Switch

 

Vol.4: 2000.1.4

Happy New Year to you all.

This is Takuan.

I hope you're all well and enjoying Shenmue.

Let's have another great year!

This week's contents:
  • New Year's Greetings from the Shenmue actors
  • Outtrigger Event [omitted from translation]
  • Shenmue New Year Card Present

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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Shenmue Tree? Cherry Tree? | Shenmue 3 Translations

Something that has led to a lot of discussion among fans is the nature of the tree that stands gracefully in full bloom at Ternary Spring, outside the house of Grandmaster Feng in Shenmue III. When Ryo visits the area, the tree is mentioned in conversation with both Shenhua and Grandmaster Feng, but nothing is said that would remove doubt about its identity - is it supposed to be an actual Shenmue tree?

The tree at Ternary Spring

This question is not as easily answered as it may at first appear, since the tree is treated inconsistently between Shenmue II and III, as well as between the Japanese and English language versions.

In this post we'll attempt to bring together the known evidence to help judge the tree's true nature.

The Shenmue Dojo forums served as a useful reference for this post, with various theories and discussions made on this topic.

Shenmue Tree Hypothesis


An obvious place to start is by examining the tree's appearance, in particular the pattern of its bark and the shape of its flowers, and compare this to the tree at Shenhua's house which we know from Shenmue II to be a Shenmue tree.

Complicating matters, the Shenmue tree in the third game was considerably reimagined. This is how it looked in the second game:
Appearance of the Shenmue tree in Shenmue II (roots, whole form and blossom)

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