Saturday, January 14, 2017

Shenmue Comic: Training in Guilin

Today we take a look at a Shenmue-themed comic strip that was published on the official website around the time of the release of the Shenmue games, to which I've added an English translation.

Comic strip in Japanese
The comic strip in Japanese only. (Read on for the translated version.)
First, a few background notes that tie in to the comic.

Muecas and

This comic strip was part of a section of called "Muecas" (a word that was formed from "Shenmue and Dreamcast" Cast Fans" - thanks to Kiyuu for the clarification! Trust me, it sounds less weird in Japanese). Contributors to those section were called the "Muecas team", and consisted of a group of actual Sega staff who had been working on Shenmue, as well as a number of fans from the general public.

Muecas team logo
The logo of the Muecas Team.
"We love Shenmue deeply" screen capture
Muecas provided fans with regular information updates, articles and illustrations about Shenmue over a long period of time. Unfortunately for non-Japanese fans, the content was only available in the Japanese language however.

New updates from the Muecas team ceased in April 2004, and the entire site was decommissioned at the end of 2005. However, although the site is now long gone, the media images from the Muecas pages were fortunately archived through the forward-thinking action of Ziming from the Shenmue Dojo, to prevent them being lost forever. It is from this archive that today's comic strip is taken.

Update: Kiyuu, a veteran of the Shenmue Dojo forums and hardcore Shenmue guru, has shared this information about the Muecas team and identified the illustrator of today's comic strip. In her words:
アニィたかはし (Anii Takahashi) who drew the comic was not an official Shenmue project team member, but one of us, Shenmue fans. Muecas-dan was formed by the official Shenmue team to communicate with fans and the fans who contributed to their web magazine were acknowledged as Muecas-dan members. Anii-san was the first fan who got the honor and awarded #011 as a Muecas-dan member.

Anii-san who was an amateur cartoonist back then now has become professional and even published a comic book like this:
Not only that, but Kiyuu was an official member of Muecas-dan herself, being awarded #023!
Muecas team members, from the last magazine [31 Mar 2004]:
The Sega editorial staff are shown at the top & fan members below.

Segata Sanshiro

Segata Sanshiro is a fictional character created by Sega who appeared in advertisements for the Sega Saturn in 1997 and 1998, and he became extremely popular in Japan. His mission is to seek out people who do not play the Sega Saturn, and teach them a "harsh" lesson.

Advertisement with Segata Sanshiro
Segata Sanshiro.
"Play until your fingers break!"
His name and character is a parody of a legendary judo fighter named Sugata Sanshiro, who featured in Japanese director Kurosawa's directorial debut film. The name is also a play on words, sounding similar to the phrase "Play the Sega Saturn!" (Sega Satān, Shiro!) in Japanese. He even had his own theme music which played during some of the TV commercials.

Segata Sanshiro was acted by actor Hiroshi Fujioka, who has a connection with Shenmue since he did the Japanese voice of Iwao Hazuki (thanks to blog reader Jay-El Romeu for highlighting this).

A collection of Segata Sanshiro TV commercials

Comic Strip with Translation

And now, onto the comic strip where we join Ryo in a forest in Guilin, with his father Iwao appearing in his imagination. But wait... is it really Iwao?

Turns out to be the legendary hero Segata Sanshiro, trudging up a mountain path with that oversized Dreamcast strapped to his back, as his theme song plays. In the last panel, the phrase in Japanese "Sega Saturn, Shiro" transforms into "Dreamcast, Shiro", giving the translation: "Play the Dreamcast" (with special mention of Shenmue, of course!).

Muecas Comic Strips

The archives have many other Shenmue comic strips that should make a fun series to translate and post up from time to time. Watch out for more in the future.

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  1. Really interesting Switch, even though it Seems that the non Japanese fans have been more vocal about their passion over the last decade it seemed that there was initially a lot more fab support from Sega in Japan. Wish we had something like this. Love this blog

    1. Thanks for your comment Robert. I think you're spot on with your comment around the support from Japanese fans which was apparently strongly tied to the site (as opposed to the spread of fan sites in English). When Sega closed it down in a few years' time the impact was heavy.

  2. Thank you for adding my comment on the Muecas-dan, Switch-san!
    I forgot to point out one thing, though. "Muecas" was originated from "Shenmue's Cast fans" as you see here:

    Keep up the wonderful work!

    1. Oh, I see! So it wasn't actually to do with "Dreamcast" at all. Thank you Kiyuu for this correction, I'll update it above. And also for your support for the blog!

    2. Thank you for all your translation work! If you're interested in a bit nerdy Shenmue scene in 2001, this page may be entertaining to you:

    3. Aha, an index of the "Weekly AM2" back numbers. Thanks! It looks like there's a lot of interesting information in there.