Sunday, October 20, 2019

Niao Sun, Shrine Maiden & Other Character Profiles on the New Shenmue 3 Site

A new official Japanese-language website has just been unveiled for Shenmue 3!

While much of the content will be familiar to Shenmue fans, it also contains information not seen to date in other promotional material. We are introduced to the character of Niao Sun and learn more about the identity of the "shrine maiden" seen in previous Kickstarter updates.

In this post we present the character images on the website and translate the summary text for each.

Character Profile: Niao Sun (鳥隼)

Niao Sun is a character who was scheduled to be in Shenmue III since the start of the Kickstarter project, but her existence has long been known to fans since the time of the first game's release, when her image adorned merchandise such as posters, mugs and telephone cards. And during the development of Shenmue III, she was even glimpsed in the background of a teaser video.

Here are images of Niao Sun's character & her description from the new Shenmue III website:
Niao Sun
"One of the leaders of the shadowy Chi You Men criminal organization. Belying her captivating beauty, she is an expert martial arts practitioner. However, her greatest talent is said to lie in the area of plotting and strategy, and she makes use of her cunning wits to play dirty tricks. 'Niao Sun' is merely her nickname inside the organization, a reference to one of the Four Heavenly Beasts - the Vermilion Bird*. However regarding such details as her real name, background, and why she joined the Chi You Men, nothing at all is known".
*This is due to the meaning of the Chinese characters that make up her name: Niao (鳥) = bird, Sun (隼) = a falcon.

The Four Heavenly Beasts are four mythological creates which appear among the Chinese constellations and are said to guard the four cardinal directions. They are the Azure Dragon who guards the East, the Vermilion Bird - the South, the White Tiger - the West, and the Black Tortoise - the North.

If you have played the Shenmue III backers' demo, you may have noticed that the Four Heavenly Beasts can be seen illustrating the Lucky Hit boards in the gaming area.
The Lucky Hit boards in the Shenmue III backers' demo illustrate the Four Heavenly Beasts. The Chinese writing on the board reads (from the left): East / Azure Dragon, South / Vermilion Bird, West / White Tiger and North / Black Tortoise.
As alluded to in Niao Sun's profile, the names of the Four Heavenly Beasts have been appropriated by the Chi You Men to name their four main leaders. Niao Sun is the leader of the South, and Lan Di, who is also known as Azure Dragon, is the leader of the East.

Niao Sun is obviously not someone to be underestimated, however her description in the art book that was produced for the Shenmue Premiere in 1999 paints an even more alarming picture:
"Wearing a voluptuous red dress, her manner seduces and distracts. Her fearsome eyes pierce everything and are constantly on the hunt for their next prey. She takes pleasure in cruelty and eliminates people like bugs". 
Will this streak of cruelty reveal itself in Shenmue III?

It is also interesting to see how her model has evolved for the latest game when compared to the original concept art. One notable difference is that here, her hair color is black.
Niao Sun concept art created during the original planning for the series (from the Shenmue III Kickstarter page)

Character Profile: Lin Shiling (林诗铃)

This character first made an appearance in Kickstarter Update #69, where she was described as looking "strong-willed". We also saw that her costume was very similar to the traditional costume worn by a Japanese miko or "shrine maiden", leading to her informal nick-name among fans.

Left: concept art. Right: photo of a shrine maiden in Japan.
Since then, she has appeared in a few other screenshots, a end-of-year illustration and on the wallpaper of the PS4 Character Theme pre-order bonus.

Now at last, we are able to learn more about her, starting with her name being Lin Shiling (thanks to yuc02 for the Chinese reading). Here are images of her character and description from the website:
Lin Shiling
"A maiden serving at a beautiful and historic hexagonal temple facing the Li River, on the outskirts of the town of Niaowu. One day, the temple was attacked by a group of thugs calling themselves the Red Snakes, and valuable treasures were stolen. Ever since, she has been vigilantly keeping a watchful eye for ruffians who get close. An only daughter of a family who have served at the temple across generations, her parents are busily looking for a suitable husband for her, but she is not enthusiastic about this as she is still young. Recently she has started to think about leaving Niaowu town, and increasingly gazes dreamily at the boats going to-and-fro on the Li River."

Other Character Profiles

The website also contains summary profiles for other main characters met in the first two games.

Character Profile: Ryo Hazuki

Ryo Hazuki
"The main protagonist. A young man who was born and raised at the Hazuki Dojo in Yokosuka. His mother died when he was a child, and he was raised under the strict instruction of his father and martial arts teacher, Iwao Hazuki. One winter day in 1986, when Ryo was a high school student, a mysterious martial artist going by the name of Lan Di suddenly appeared at the dojo and made off with the Dragon-motif mirror that was hidden there. Without properly grasping the meaning of Iwao's final words: "Keep friends... those you love... close to you", Ryo vows to seek revenge."

Character Profile: Ling Shenhua

Ling Shenhua
"A young girl with a curious air about her, who lives in Bailu village in the inner region of Guilin. One day, at a swollen river in Guilin she had a fateful encounter with Ryo as he was making his way towards Bailu village. On seeing the Phoenix mirror in Ryo's possession, Shenhua senses that it is deeply connected to an ancient legend. Shenhua is swept up in her encounter with Ryo and the grand destiny that will be brought about by the Dragon and Phoenix mirrors."

Character Profile: Lan Di

Lan Di
"A man who suddenly appeared at the Hazuki Dojo in Yokosuka and took the life of Iwao Hazuki. An expert with his fists, powerful enough to strike down such an adept martial artist as Iwao with a single blow. He is an influential leader of a criminal organization called the Chi You Men. For Ryo, fate has determined Lan Di to be his enemy. But Lan Di claims that in the past, Iwao killed his father, Zhao Sunming, and that he was taking his revenge. Furthermore, he is trying to obtain both the Dragon and the Phoenix mirrors to accomplish some aim."

Character Profile: Ren Wuying

Ren Wuying
"The head of a street gang called the Heavens who operate out of Beverly Hills Wharf, Hong Kong. He's always on the look-out for ways to make money, but isn't picky about how: whether by scamming people or cheating at gambling. He never trusts people who aren't part of his group, but has joined forces with Ryo, defeating a great number of enemies and extracting themselves from sticky situations. However, when it comes down to it, he's only going along because he has heard that the Phoenix mirror in Ryo's possession is the key to locating great wealth. He is a dangerous man who cannot be trusted completely." 

Separate Post: Voice Credits

The website also lists the credits for the Japanese voice actors. We will cover these in a separate post.

Link to the new Japanese website:
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  1. How switch :)
    NIce job! Those bios are so fun to read.
    All this talk abou graohics and stuff , people are forgeting the main atraction of this game. THE STORY!
    And hopefully it will be good :)

    1. Hey Joel! I'm really looking forward to some interesting interactions between Ryo and the maiden at the temple (maybe she mistakes him for a thug at first!), and of course eventually... Niao Sun.

  2. Anyone else feel that Ren is going to betray Ryo at some point in the storyline?

    That description of him on the Kickstarter, the potential of the later chapter cards including a character looking similar to Ren seemingly standing against Ryo. And I remember yu suzuki having an early baseline for the story which mentioned being betrayed at some point. Only person I can think of betraying Ryo thus far would be Ren. And would also make for an epic storyline.