Wednesday, November 3, 2021

[Part Four] Subtle Details from Shenmue the Animation Trailer: Recap & Analysis

This is the fourth and final part of our in-depth breakdown of the Shenmue the Animation trailer, which was launched last week at New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2021 to a widely-positive reception. Read the previous parts here:

The analysis continues below.

Shenmue The Animation Title

The next clip starts with an initially-blinding golden glow of sunlight in the sky over a cityscape of tall, densely-packed buildings. A low mountain range stretches in the background.

The camera pans down and out to reveal two figures in the foreground, standing at the top of a building: one is Lan Di, and the other Ryo.

This is not an action scene like the others, but it is almost like a snapshot of action, frozen in time: Ryo is shown lunging forward, elbow outstretched, a grimace of determination on his face; Lan Di has an arm raised to block the attack as he fixes Ryo with his glare, his pigtail sweeping out dramatically to one side. A narrow ray of sunlight can also be noticed beaming across the screen from left to right.

The high rooftop location with its railings and antennas, the background mountains and buildings, and golden evening sky draw from the rooftop battle with Dou Niu in Kowloon in Shenmue II; with the difference of Lan Di now on the rooftop itself and no longer simply looking down from his rope ladder on the helicopter.

Battling Dou Niu on the rooftop in Shenmue 2. A golden sunset and distant mountains can be seen.

Another clear parallel is Ryo's use of the Counter Elbow Assault move, which is the move he uses to defeat Dou Niu in Shenmue 2.

Ryo performs the Counter Elbow Assault to win the battle against Dou Niu in Shenmue 2

At the end of the beam of sunlight, a golden logo starts to form at the right side of the screen: "Shenmue the Animation". At the sides are illustrations of a dragon and a phoenix. 

The golden glow fades from the logo, and it is displayed in stark white. Finally, the release timing is announced by the narrator as the same words appear underneath: "Coming in 2022".

A fuller promotional image of the above scene has also been released on the official Japanese website

Battle Outside Warehouses

The final clip of this trailer shows Ryo involved in fast-paced fighting action against four opponents outdoors, in an area of warehouse-like buildings.

Firstly, the face of a man in a hat and brown jacket is shown in close-up, as a fist swishes in from the side. From his expression, it seems Ryo's attack may have caught him by surprise.

The punch connects solidly, and the man winces in pain.

A nice detail is the way the medallion on a chain around the man's neck flies up as he falls.

In a wide shot, the attacker is revealed as Ryo, who follows up with a kick to complete the job. Three other enemies stand alongside, and start to raise their arms in reaction as if they, too, have been caught off guard.

The next enemy, a man in a fawn-colored jacket, attacks with an attempted punch, which Ryo deftly deflects then counters with a punch of his own.

A man in a purple sports jacket, and a pair of sunglasses on his forehead, then rushes towards Ryo, his fist raised. Ryo swings around and lands a roundhouse kick to take out the enemy.

As Ryo's back turns to the camera, it can be seen that his jacket is missing the tiger motif on the back during this clip, although it is unlikely this is deliberate; more likely it is something that will be corrected in the full anime.

The frame above also shows a view of a row of the warehouse-like buildings, with crates stacked outside. From the sky coloring, the time is early evening. The buildings look similar to the ones shown in the "70 man battle" scene earlier in the clip, so my guess at the location would be the New Yokosuka harbor warehouses.

There is then a cut to show a man in green with a distinctive hair style, the fourth opponent, whose punch attack is blocked by Ryo who then delivers a knee to his chin.

A new cut shows Ryo throwing a familiar opponent over his shoulder to the ground - it is the man in the hat again, who must be back for more.

A blurring effect together with camera movement are used to convey the impact of the man's fall.

Finally, the logos for Adult Swim and Crunchyroll, on whose networks the anime will be shown (outside Japan), are displayed to bring the trailer to an end.

Final Comment

Over the four parts of this trailer breakdown we have stepped through the trailer practically frame by frame, and gathered a few riddles to be resolved in the future (such as whether a fight with Chai is when Ryo injures his cheek, or the story around the clip of Ryo's motorbike ride through the tunnel with Nozomi during the day) as well as appreciating the attention to detail and connections to the game (the detail in scenery and objects on the screen, and the appearance of a number of familiar characters including Chai, Terry and Guizhang).

There is one more aspect we haven't yet covered, which is the prophecy in English, which is not quite the same as the ones we have heard before. It's worth a separate "bonus" post on its own, to follow, where we will examine how true it is to the Japanese meaning, and how it compares to the other English versions.

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