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Friday, January 4, 2019

Season's Greeting Illustrations | Shenmue 3

Over the past couple of weeks the Shenmue III team has sent out a number of new greeting illustrations to all backers.

The following illustration was sent as part of a short Christmas update that confirmed that Shenmue III will be partnering with Tencent and Oasis Games for distribution in China.


Fans will recognize Fang Mei holding her broom, Shenhua looking optimistic, Ryo riding a "Yu Suzuki Reindeer" #5 forklift truck (!), Xuiying looking as serious as ever, and Joy riding a motorbike that is based on the Super Hang On cabinet bike - right down to the number 7 on its side. Joy also has a passenger who we will talk about later on.

Koch Media, the parent company of their publishing arm Deep Silver, sent out Shenmue season's greetings of their own.

The design is rather straight-forward, with just Ryo and Shenhua sitting inside a loop of Christmas decorative lights. Again we see a little yellow guest flying next to Shenhua!


And today, the Shenmue III team has sent out a New Year's greeting message to all backers, accompanied by a colorful illustration.
"Happy New Year!
May this be a happy and fruitful year.
Thank you again for your continued support!"

Observations

This latest illustration contains several points of interest, so it's worth running through them in more detail. The order is numbered below for convenience.

Before starting, one general observation is that while the New Year's illustration for 2017 featured Ryo and Shenhua in Japan; this year it has a Chinese theme (although the official Chinese New Year / Spring Festival starts in February).

1) The two large kanji characters at the bottom of the image, literally having the meaning "welcome" and "spring" respectively, form the word 迎春 which is commonly used as a New Year's greeting.

2) On the left and right side are two more characters written on red diamonds.The one on the left is 福 meaning good fortune, and on the right is the kanji for spring 春 again. Notice that both of these are written upside-down - the reason for this is a Chinese custom that relates to wordplay, as a wish for good luck to arrive to those who display it at the entrance to their homes.

3) Hanging down on either side are strings of firecrackers. Fireworks and firecrackers are an important part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. In traditional Chinese culture, firecrackers were originally used to scare away evil spirits.

4) The decorative head that Ryo is holding up is the head of lion. The lion dance is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture and other Asian countries in which performers mimic a lion's movements in a lion costume to bring good luck and fortune. The lion dance is usually performed during the Chinese New Year and other Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals.

5) The lion dance is normally performed by two people. In this illustration, Ryo is the one operating the lion's head - so who is the second? From the shape of the legs and feet we can see extending out from the lion's body, it is a reasonable guess that creepy Chai has invited himself along to the celebrations!
Chai's appearance in the 2016 Halloween greeting illustration. Note the similar legs and pointy feet!
6) In the background can be seen the distinctive roof-line of a pagoda (and a rounded red bridge down below). This is reminiscent of the temple complex location where the "temple maiden" character was previously introduced.
The "temple maiden" and temple complex; similar roof features and bridge.
7) Shenhua is holding a fan, and the Chinese characters written on it are numbers for the new year: 2 0 1 9.

8) Plum blossoms are a common motif in Japan and China that represent spring and the new year.

9) This is the third time now we have seen this yellow bird-like character, who has made an appearance in all three illustrations.

We don't have any further information about him at the moment, but given that a three-dimensional model of him has been created it suggests there is a good chance of him being featured in some form in Shenmue III!

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