Friday, December 21, 2018

1998 Shenmue Premiere 20th Anniversary [Video | ENG Subs]

Today, 20th December 2018, marks the twentieth anniversary of the Shenmue Premiere, an extravagant event that was held in Yokohama in 1998 - as well as in five other cities around Japan thereafter - at which Yu Suzuki introduced his groundbreaking new game, Shenmue, to the public.

The free event lasted for two hours and included a live orchestra, videos and live gameplay. Every attendee also received a bag packed full of Shenmue items such as a T-shirt, CD single and Shenhua figurine to take home with them. For those who wanted more, many other items of Shenmue merchandise could be bought in the lobby.

Premiere Video (Digest)

In the following months, Sega released a ten-minute digest video of the Yokohama premiere.
A frame from the Magic Weather demonstration.
The digest video touches on the following:
  • A snippet of the live-orchestra performance of the Shenmue theme.
  • The characters in Shenmue
  • Magic Weather (using a test environment with multiple "Water Dragon" and other shops)
  • In-game conversations
Enjoy watching a young Yu Suzuki showing off the features of his game in the video below (with English captions that I created a few years ago for the Shenmue Dojo):

This video was included on the first volume in 1999 of Sega's Dreamcast Express series of demo discs, among with several other videos and demos.
The cover of the Dreamcast Express Vol.1 disc, on which the Shenmue Premiere digest video was included.
A full-length video of the premiere event was also made available but unfortunately the extreme compression used at that time rendered it almost unwatchable; we hope that perhaps someday the original recording may be unearthed from Sega's vaults.

One of the MCs at the event, actress Reiko Chiba, is still a good friend of Yu Suzuki to this day. A few years ago, she posted a photo of herself at dinner with Yu and animation producer Hiroaki Takeuchi on Twitter.
Yu Suzuki, Reiko Chiba and Hiraoki Takeuchi (link to tweet)

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