Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Yu Suzuki at Japan Expo 2019: Ryo Hazuki Concept Sketches

Continuing on from our previous post about Yu Suzuki's on-stage interview at the Japan Expo 2019 in Paris, this time we'll look at the section of Yu's presentation where he introduces several early Shenmue candidate sketches for Ryo Hazuki and talks about the process of finding the "right" Ryo.

Link to the previous Japan Expo 2019 post:

Sketches of Ryo Hazuki

A number of concept sketches of Ryo Hazuki were displayed on the large screen behind Yu Suzuki, who made comments about each one. The sketches were created during the early design stages for Shenmue in the mid-1990s.

I've translated Yu Suzuki's words from the video.

Sketch 1

YS: This is a sketch that was drawn around 1996. I'd always liked forklifts!

Sketch 1: Ryo leaning against a forklift truck

Sketch 2

YS: I've brought along a lot of different styles of Ryo. These are from the time when I was trying to decide what kind of person we should have him start off as. Originally with Virtua Fighter RPG, the main character was modeled on Akira, but I had to decided whether we should go with that model or make him more gentle, or someone who's a troublemaker.
Sketch 2: another style of Ryo

Sketch 3

YS: this is a design for a somewhat gentle Ryo. I had been considering various different designs. The concept at that time was to to portray his change from a weak character to one who grows rapidly stronger.
Sketch 3: a somewhat gentle Ryo.

Sketch 4

YS: this one where Ryo starts off looking like a bit of a ruffian. He's got a wild kind of look about him. This sketch was to consider how it would be to have him like this from the start.
Sketch 4: ruffian Ryo.

Sketch 5

YS: This is a fight scene.
Sketch 5: Ryo in a fight.

Sketch 6

YS: This is a sketch of Ryo in Yokosuka. I think we're gradually getting closer to the current Ryo.
Sketch 6: Ryo in his hometown.

Sketch 7

YS: This sketch is from the period when Shenmue was still "Virtua Fighter RPG." This is Akira's face.
Sketch 7: Ryo as Akira (and some cryptic calculations down below).

Sketch 8

YS: This is an image of the Ryo that I eventually decided upon, after all those deliberations.
Sketch 8: the final Ryo.
This sketch might look familiar, since Yu Suzuki has previously tweeted out a colored version during the Kickstarter campaign in 2015:

Final Comment

The most interesting part of this discussion for me was when Yu mentioned considering showing how Ryo changes throughout the saga. He also talked about a similar theme in the IGN Japan interview we recently translated on the blog, where he described Ryo as starting out as a "blank canvas" and someone who is likely to continue to mature and change in his upcoming journey.
In the next post we'll look at some new screenshots of Shenmue III that Yu Suzuki shared at the Japan Expo.

Source: Yu Suzuki's Masterclass presentation at Japan Expo 2019 (video)
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