Monday, November 11, 2019

MAGIC Kyoto 2019 Travel Report

Held on November 6th, the MAGIC Kyoto event that took place in the Kansai region of Japan is one of the last major events to feature Shenmue 3 prior to its release on the 19th. I traveled down to Kyoto to attend the Shenmue 3 conference live (would there perhaps be a new trailer?) and meet with a number of other Shenmue fans both from within Japan and overseas.

In this post I'll share some photos of the trip and event (a mix of those taken by myself and by others).

The venue was located a short bus ride from Kyoto station.

Kyoto tower: the first thing to greet you on exiting the train station.

The MAGIC Kyoto venue location: the Rohm Theater.

It seemed that a line of expectant fans had already formed in the courtyard! However, I later realized that this line was for a different event taking place in the complex...

Waiting with for the gates to open with other Shenmue fans (one of these being Adam Koralik!)

Cedric Biscay and Yu Suzuki at the same spot earlier in the day! (Photo: MAGIC Kyoto on Facebook)

Before the program started, it was a great chance to talk with other Shenmue fans gathered in the lobby - readily identifiable by their Shenmue-themed wear such as Ryo's leather jacket, a genuine  "Sukajan" jacket and Shenmue themed t-shirts. Most were people living in Japan (both Japanese and non-Japanese) but there were also a few who were attending from overseas.

The Shenmue 3 stage conference was scheduled for the last slot, in the evening, so there was plenty of time to enjoy watching some of the earlier items on the program such as an interpretive Japanese sword dance and a talk by ex-Sega developer Tetsuya Mizuguchi (involved in the production of such games as Sega Rally Championship, Space Channel 5 and Rez) about his latest experiments with vision and music.

And it was while I was sitting in the darkened theater watching one of the earlier presentations that one of the staff members quietly approached and informed me that my earlier-sent request for an interview with Yu Suzuki had been granted - and furthermore that he was available immediately. Hastily gathering my belongings, I was led out a side-door to the back-stage dressing room area, and shown to a table in an empty room. A few minutes later, Yu Suzuki himself entered and shook my hand with a smile. We sat down and I commenced the interview with my opening question.
Following the interview, Yu Suzuki held an autograph signing session in the theater lobby. Shenmue fans lined up with various items, including Shenmue pamphlets from the original Shenmue Premiere around 1999 and a number of people even brought along Dreamcast consoles. Yu even took a group photo with fans.
Yu Suzuki & Shenmue fans

The main Shenmue 3 event was still ahead, and this photo (from the most recent Shenmue.Update) shows the preparation for the presentation. 

From left: model and Shenmue fan Satsuki, Shenmue 3 co-producer Cedric Biscay, IGN Japan journalist and conference host Esra Krabbe and creator Yu Suzuki.

The Shenmue 3 presentation was in the form of a play-through of the backer trial, with Yu Suzuki providing commentary.

Satsuki, Yu Suzuki and Esra Krabbe on stage, talking about Shenmue 3 while playing the backer demo.

Following the play-through, a new cut scene from within the game was also revealed. It is an interaction between Ryo and a little girl at Bailu village named Rin.

Ryo explains that he is looking for a particular person (named "En" in Japanese) who is a stone sculptor. Rin informs him that her own father is also a stone sculptor, and that he always gets back home at 7 pm.

As per the MAGIC custom, Cedric and Yu add their signatures to the board.

The Shenmue 3 stage presentation also marked the end of MAGIC.

Afterwards several Shenmue fans went together for an informal dinner that was filled with Shenmue talk.

It was the first time I've been to a gathering of Shenmue fans in Japan, and there was an international atmosphere with a mix of conversation in English and Japanese. Everyone shared an amazing passion for the series.

I hope the bridge between the English-speaking and Japanese Shenmue fan communities will continue to grow even stronger. I can't wait to meet again soon!

Post-event Shenmue fan meet-up.

An alley in the nearby restaurant district.

After it was all over, it was time to return back to Tokyo.

  Kyoto city view at night.

...and what more fitting way to travel than on the "Nozomi" Shinkansen.

And now, as I write this, there is just over a week to go until the release on Shenmue 3!
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