Sunday, July 25, 2021

Takumi Hagiwara (Ren): 1999 Interview & Current Whereabouts | Article Translation

In today's post we present a translation of an interview with the Japanese voice and motion actor for Wuying Ren in Shenmue II: Takumi Hagiwara, which was published in the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine in early 1999. We also try to piece together Hagiwara's movements after the release of Shenmue II.

This topic was selected by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll on the Phantom River Stone Patreon and was available for early access.

Dreamcast Magazine Interview with Takumi Hagiwara (March 1999)

The most memorable performer appearing in this game is probably Takumi Hagiwara, an actor that doesn't merely play the part of Ren Wuying, but rather embodies him completely. What's lies in his appeal? Let's close out our 3-week interview series by talking with someone who, in a sense, exemplifies the art of "getting into" a Shenmue character.

A Hong Kong street gang. His sharpened, abrasive personality has earned him the nickname "Ren" (which means "blade").

Editor's Diary: Yu Suzuki Recognized His Charm

Ever since the Shenmue premiere in Yokohama (December 1998), Hagiwara has been giving off a slightly different vibe. At the premiere, Yu Suzuki said, "I thought: this is the person I want to play Ren." But when I actually spoke with Hagiwara, there was a bit more to the story of how he was hired that was interesting to hear.

In the video that was shown at the Shenmue premiere in other cities, Yu said of Ren: "After all, he is the head of a gang. So I don't think he cares about what happens to the other members of his gang in Aberdeen. He's not the kind of guy who cares about others like that." But I think seeing how his feelings begin to change after meeting Ryo and Shenhua will also be something noteworthy to watch for. Looking back on it now, I have a feeling that Ren will live on in everyone's heart as a really distinctive character.

Hagiwara, who plays Ren, seems to be the type of person who would rather have people see for themselves how the game turned out than talk about it. I hope everyone will take a good look at Ren's performance in the completed game.


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Saturday, July 17, 2021

Toripicals: Chobu-chan Style Tropical Fruit Capsule Toys

"I found it!" - Ryo Hazuki, hunting for Chobu-chan in Niaowu
If Yu Suzuki were to officially release a fruit-themed series of Chobu-chan capsule toys... it might not be far from these.

Meet the Toripicals, Set #3: Watermelon, Blueberries, Lemon, Mango and Fig.

The name of these figures is Toripicals - a word-play on the Japanese word for bird, "tori", and the word Tropical. They are part of a series of fruit-themed capsule-toy sets that were initially released in 2018. Each toy varies in size depending on the fruit variety, with large fruit like the watermelon filling a great part of the capsule toy interior!

As can be seen, these fruity figures give off strong Chobu-chan vibes and with their mix of colors would not be out of place in a Chobu-chan hunt. Some, like the Lemon, come with separate feet to be fitted on to complete the figure.

Peach and Lemon

They appear to also be popular with collectors on social media in Japan:
Tweet source

In addition to the capsule toys, large plushies add to the Toripical line-up.

Ebay Listings

Retro Import Gamer has a small selection of Toripical capsule toy figures available on their Ebay store: Lemon, Blueberries and Mango (all as-new, sealed).

It is still nice to dream of a day YS Net releases an official line of Chobu-chan merchandise!

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Friday, July 9, 2021

Ryo Visits the Sun | Shenmue II Out of Bounds Hack (With Video)

In a blog post last year we took Ryo Hazuki on an adventure in the sky to visit the moon above Hong Kong (with the help of an out-of-bounds hack), and found that it was modeled as a three-dimensional object moving above the city. In today's post we'll be investigating another noticeable feature of Shenmue II's sky: the sun.

Does the sun move through the sky in the game, in the same way as the moon? How far away is it positioned, and how large does it appear close up? Let's find out.

  • Scroll to the end of this post to watch the video footage.

The Sun in Shenmue II

The first game in the series introduced its revolutionary Magic Weather system, and while a range of weather and light conditions were simulated, it didn't actually feature a moon or sun in the sky during normal gameplay (the moon did appear during a cut scene in the game).

In Shenmue II, on the other hand, the player's attention is drawn to the presence of the sun right from the start of gameplay, complete with an impressive lens flare effect that can be seen during the opening title sequence as Ryo's ship, the Genpū Maru, docks at Workers Pier.

Lens flare effect in the opening sequence.

The ship slowly docks at the pier, bow first (left). Living up to its name, which means "Mysterious Wind", the ship mysteriously ends up facing in the opposite direction in the next cut of the sequence (right).

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Sunday, July 4, 2021

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for July 2021

Every month Phantom River Stone holds a poll among our patrons to choose a topic for the blog in the coming month. After tallying the votes (including accumulated votes from previous months), the winning topic for July 2021 is...

"1999 Interview with Takumi Hagiwara" (Translation)

In March 1999, the Japanese Dreamcast Magazine published an interview with Takumi Hagiwara, the voice and motion capture actor for Ren Wuying in the Japanese version of Shenmue II.

At the time this interview was held, Hagiwara had already been recording voice and motion capture at the SEGA offices for more than a year, although Shenmue II itself would undergo a further two years of development before its release.

Takumi Hagiwara is said to have been praised by Yu Suzuki as a perfect fit for the character of Ren, but the interview reveals that he at first been considered for the role of Chai.

Read Hagiwara's comments on this and more in the upcoming blog post, coming in the near future!

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