Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Changing Beauty of the Hazuki Cherry Tree

The Shenmue series is beloved by fans for its ability to draw you into its world with attention to the smallest details that really make you believe in it as a living, breathing world. And a new video by James Brown illustrates that perfectly, showing off the incredible depths in the game implemented by Yu Suzuki and team.
The cherry tree that stands in the Hazuki garden is brought to the player's attention in the starting prologue, which occurs during a thundery winter day, where it's calm domain is violated by Lan Di and his henchmen who dig up the earth to locate the Dragon mirror that has been buried there. After that, while it makes further appearances in a childhood flashback and dream sequences, it's appearance during game play may escape the player's notice.

James has captured its gradual season transformation that is portrayed in detail as time goes on, emphasizing its role as a time keeper in the game. Not only that, but other areas of the garden also undergo changes with the arrival of spring flowers popping up.

In a post on the Shenmue Dojo forums, James describes what led him to making the video:
"I checked up on the typical dates for a Cherry Tree to be in bloom, and roughly in Tokyo the best viewing would be around 31st March to the 7th April. So I decided to investigate to see if anything happened to the tree around those dates... I'd never thought to think or look to see...I just always assumed the tree stayed the same (mainly because the game is easy to complete before the end of December, so the tree has no reason to change).

I skipped to March 26th, and was shocked & surprised to see just how detailed Yu Suzuki and his crazy team took this...

I decided to take screenshots and video footage for each day up until the bad ending, and if you aren't aware of this being a thing in Shenmue like myself, prepare to be blown away!"
An immense amount of work has clearly gone into putting this beautiful video together, which is set to music with narration. Watch it below.

This sequence captures the tree's changing appearance:

October 2020 update
The talented Shenmue Forever has also produced an amazing timeline graphic from the video:

  • Make sure to check out the variety of other Shenmue-related videos over on James' SkillJim channel on YouTube! Link to Skill Jim on YouTube.

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  1. Awesome post dude! Thanks so much for this :)

    1. Thanks for making it, I wonder what topic you'll choose for your next "Did You Know" video!