Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Observations on "Ryo & Master" Shenmue 3 Trailer | Part One

A new Shenmue 3 trailer was shown at MAGIC Monaco, giving us the chance to see Ryo interacting in several different situations around Bailu village. In this post, we'll highlight some of the details, especially the smaller, easy-to-miss ones, with an assumption that the reader has already watched the trailer through (if not, the link follows).
The observations will be spread over a series of posts, this being the first.

Note: some of the images in this post have been upscaled / filtered.

Sound and Music

Two main pieces of music play in the trailer, both from the original games' soundtrack. The video initially opens to the majestic crash of cymbals from the opening notes of the original Shenmue main theme, which accompanies the scenes. When the action turns to fighting, the music changes to the well-known piece known in English among fans as "Earth and Sea" (and officially as "Continent and Sea" as Sega Japan recently clarified). Finally, the main theme reprises with an erhu solo at the end.

Sound effects also can be heard: the chirping of birds, the scrape of a sliding door being pulled open, the tread of boots on ground as well as various whooshes and swishes during the fighting sequences. Not forgetting the anxious cluck of the chickens as they dash out of the way.


The trailer is voiced in Japanese (with Masaya Matsukaze and the new voice for Shenhua, Haruka Terui, both doing a superb job), with subtitles provided in English. I think these subtitles have been made specifically for the trailer, as they do not show the speaker-specific coloring we have seen in development images until now. Also, there are one or two lines where the English translation does not match the original Japanese line, and I'll point these out along the way.
Early example of colored subtitles (September 2017 Kickstarter Update)


The trailer scenes are set in the first area of the game, Bailu village. The clips and scenes in the trailer can be roughly grouped into the following situations:

  • Ryo after defeat in a fight with a large, muscled man.
  • A "nightmare" sequence showing Lan Di threatening Shenhua.
  • Ryo and Shenhua questioning the villagers about thugs who recently ransacked their houses.
  • Ryo speaking with elderly villagers who knew his father.
  • Ryo being taught by a master.
  • Ryo sparring with opponents (a female, and a large rotund man).
  • Ryo training with a fixed target.

Opening Title

The trailer starts the Shenmue III logo appearing in gold on a black background. The iconic Shenmue tree petals tumbling slowly about, echoing back to Ryo's dream of the Phoenix mirror from the first game, being reminiscent also of the Kickstarter announcement video at E3 in 2015. The music and aimless swirling of the petals set a suitably ominous tone.
Falling or swirling petals are a repeating motif in Shenmue. Left: the new trailer title; top-right: Ryo's dream of the Phoenix mirror in Shenmue 1; lower-right: the Kickstarter announcement video at E3 in 2015.

Ryo in Defeat

The sound of birds chirping heralds a scene near a well at Bailu village. Ryo lies on the ground, with Shenhua crouching down worriedly at his side. A small detail in the top-left of the image below: collection of newly-harvested vegetables: carrots and what appears to be a case holding watermelons.

A rural harvest is tucked away in the corner.
The well with its shelter above reminded me of a structure that we glimpsed in the birds-eye view of part of the village from in an earlier Kickstarter update, Development Report #2 back in early 2017. While the number of pillars does not match exactly, possibly it showed an earlier design that has since changed.
Birds-eye view of an early model of Bailu village from 2017.
As the clip starts, we can see Shenhua's hair and the fabric of her garment moving, indicating she has just discovered Ryo there and crouched down next to him.
Clothes and hair are affected by character movement.
Past Shenhua, in the background of the next image, the characters 商店 that form part of a sign are visible meaning "shop". The illustration of vegetables in a bowl beneath suggest it could be the local vegetable store.
A shop sign can be seen in the background.
A muscled man then strides across to where Shenhua and Ryo are, and we notice there are a number of people lying around nearby (marked with arrows in the image below), one raising their head as he goes past. Merely enjoying the sun? Perhaps, but it would seem more likely that they are other defeated opponents who have met the same fate as Ryo.

The background also holds some nice details, such as the potted plants under the windows of the house, and an enclosure with an animal (a cow, or possibly a pig?) inside.

In the foreground lie multiple bodies - defeated opponents (arrowed)? In the background: (A) potted plants and (B) an animal enclosure. Also, the subtitle differs from the Japanese speech.
One other note is with regards to the subtitles: as shown in the image, he taunts Ryo with the words,"You're pretty dumb, kid!" However in the original Japanese he rather calls Ryo inept or clumsy, which makes more sense as he goes on to boast that it would take more than the level of kung fu skills that Ryo has to beat him.

When the camera angle changes, we see there is a plaque on the wall of the building located in the direction he came from, which reads 公堂. An online dictionary suggests that this means a (legal) court-room in Chinese, however another possibility is that the meaning of "public hall" is intended, which is the meaning it has in Japanese.
The building behind has a plaque indicating a public facility.
This character's role in the story may be to provide motivation for Ryo to learn new moves and improve his skills, as he comes to terms with the fact that he still has a long way to go in order to be a match for Lan Di.

Additional Note: Mongolian Wrestling

The costume worn by the fighter identify him as a Mongolian wrestler. These include items such as a jodag (a collarless, short-sleeved jacket) and gutal (high leather boots).

Thank you to yuc02 for advice on Chinese readings and the research on Mongolian Wrestling.

This is the end of Part One of the trailer observations. Part Two coming soon. 

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  1. Here I am to thank for everything you do for Shenmue. Now a question: In an interview on ign, Yu Suzuki said he had to trim a few edges to complete the game and one of them were the "throw moves". Honestly, I was sad that I did not have such skills, yet Ryo is a jiu-jitsu fighter. What do you think about that?I Congrats from Brazil!

    1. It's a pity that throw moves couldn't be included, but it's also not unexpected that sacrifices were necessary. I think I would prefer throw moves to be dropped compared to losing a voiced dialog with characters for example. And for me, the main thing is that, according to the report, the game has stayed true to its Shenmue roots and feels like a true sequel.

      Thanks for your comment!

    2. Agreed with you! All we know the road so far and sacrifices are necessary to deliver a good experience. I believe they are keeping the essence of what Shenmue means. Thanks for replying my commentary.

  2. Renato, podes enviar o link dessa entrevista?

  3. Renato, you are aware that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Gracies) is quite different from Japanese Jiu-Jitsu (Ryo's style), right?

    While throws are heavily-incorporated, Japanese is not a strictly holds-based martial art; Brazilian JJ has more in common with Judo, than Ryo's style.

    That's all!