Saturday, January 29, 2022

[Part One] Twenty Striking Observations from the 2022 Shenmue the Animation Main Trailer: #20 to #11

The official main trailer for Shenmue the Animation has been released, along with announcement of its premiere date coming up very soon on 5th February, 2022 on Crunchyroll and Adult Swim - for all countries except Japan, for which the trailer specifies "Coming in 2022".

In this post, we have gathered together 20 observations from the trailer that impressed or astonished us most, starting with the simpler ones and ending with those that are more subtle. Read on to find out what they are! In this first part, we count down #20 to #11.

Observation 20: Multiple Versions of the Trailer

Although one might expect a single main trailer, in fact it has been released in multiple versions, with each aimed at a different audience. We'll differentiate them using the following naming:
  • Action-oriented trailer, which has English voicing and focuses on adrenalin-filled fight scenes. This version may be effective at attracting newcomers to the franchise.
  • Toonami-specific variation of the action-oriented trailer which contains identical footage for the most part but a brief scene showing Ryo removing the sword from a box is replaced with one of him sneaking past the security office in the Old Warehouse District.
  • Story-oriented trailer (Japanese voicing, no subs). This trailer mixes in even more material, cutting quickly between numerous scenes, events and characters and has onscreen text in Japanese introducing the characters and story outline. With many recognizable faces and places, this trailer does a good job at appealing to existing fans. The text does tend to cover up the artwork however, so the following version with English subs is recommended for a better view.
  • Story-oriented trailer with English subs: as well as adding subs, at the same time much of the Japanese onscreen text is removed. One other small difference with this trailer compared to the non-subbed one is that in place of the title screen for Shenmue the Animation, which shows the exterior of the dojo with lightning flashing above, instead there is a plain screen with the Crunchyroll/Adult Swim logos.

Watching all the trailers is recommended to fully enjoy the content!

Observation 19: Move Instruction Confirmed

In the game Ryo has the opportunity to learn the Double Blow move from Yamagishi-san at Suzume Park, and part of a recreation of this scene can be seen in the story-oriented trailer. (There has been no sign yet of Tom or his hot-dog truck so far however, so whether Ryo will acquire the Tornado Kick from him remains to be seen...).
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Friday, January 28, 2022

Yu Suzuki to Appear on Japanese TV on 1st Feb 2022 | SEGA Arcade Game Developer Reunion

Yu Suzuki will feature on TV in Japan on 1st Feb, 2022 in a reunion of the developers who turned out revolutionary hits in SEGA's arcade division over the years.

"We'll go back in time 37 years & take a closer look at the behind-the-scenes development, never revealed before."

Short promo video:

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Seven Superb Pieces of Backdrop Art | Shenmue the Animation

Ahead of the upcoming premiere of Shenmue the Animation, the official Japanese-language website has recently been updated and integrated within are several pieces of superb scenery artwork that really show off an attention to detail and authenticity. Some of the locations are immediately recognizable from the game, while others are new. Enjoy the 7 backdrop images below!

Shenmue I Locations

  • Yokosuka Suburb
The first image shows a narrow suburban roadway on a slope, with a vehicle speed limit of 20km/h prominently displayed. The green strip running along the side of the road shows that this road is in a school zone, used by school children walking to school (this is also indicated by the green sign on the lamp post with the character "文"). On the left are a row of low concrete posts, with trees and shrubbery beyond them - perhaps the entrance to Sakuragaoka Park.

Yokosuka Suburb (Sakuragaoka?)
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Friday, January 21, 2022

Dobuita St: Shenmue Anime vs Real Location

One of the pages on the official Japanese site for the Shenmue Anime contains a superb background of Dobuita St. These comparisons shows just how closely it portrays the real-life location by combining elements from both the present day and from the time in which Shenmue's story is set in 1986.

In our first comparison we can see an almost perfect match on the shape of shop fronts including and around the iconic military clothing store Kakita (on which the Kurita Military Surplus shop is based in the game) to shop light fixtures, the shape of the downpipe, position of the electric pole and even the wording of "HONCHO YOKOSUKA" on a shop awning.

Dobuita St: anime vs real life (2014 photo)

Next, let's see how the anime scene compares to the way Dobuita St looked when Lan Di turned up in Yokosuka in 1986. The photo below shows how the street looked in 1986. In particular, note the decorative internationally-themed flags strung between the buildings, and the prominent hobby shop at the front right.
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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Shenmue Anime Premiere Date Announced & Two New Trailers!

The premiere date for the release of Shenmue Anime has been announced! The new anime will be premiering on Crunchyroll & Adult Swim on 5th February 2022.

This comes together with the simultaneous release of TWO new and varying trailers. The first contains the premiere date announcement and English-language voicing, while the other features Japanese-language voicing by two of the original voice actors who are reprising their roles from the games (Masaya Matsukaze as Ryo Hazuki and Takahiro Sakurai as Lan Di) as well as showcasing the official opening theme music.

Following the videos is our full translation of the official Japanese-language press release material, which includes new artwork images.

As usual, keep an eye on the blog for analysis of these incredible new trailers!


Trailer #1 (Crunchyroll / Adult Swim Premiere Date Announcement, English)

Trailer #2 Japanese, featuring Masaya Matsukaze & Takahiro Sakurai) 

Japanese Press Release [Translation]

  • Trailer released, featuring latest footage!
  • Key art also released, depicting several characters!
  • Main character roles to be voiced by Masaya Matsukaze (Ryo Hazuki) and Takahiro Sakurai (Lan Di)
  • Opening theme also announced: "UNDEAD-NOID" by Kashitaro Ito!

The legendary action-adventure game Shenmue was released in 1999 on Sega's Dreamcast home video game console, and has influenced many other games. An animated version of the game, "Shenmue the Animation," is scheduled to be released in 2022! The animation will be produced by Telecom Animation Film, the company behind Lupin the 3rd Part V: Misadventures in France and Blue Thermal, and directed by Chikara Sakurai (One Punch Man Season 2).

A trailer with latest footage from Shenmue the Animation has now been released. Beginning with an account of the dramatic past of the protagonist Ryo Hazuki, it goes on to feature intense action scenes involving his sworn enemy, Lan Di, and a story filled with mystery. Set in the nostalgic and beautiful city of Yokosuka, it depicts the epic story of the protagonist as he grows stronger.

A spectacular piece of key art featuring main characters from the anime has also been released. The main protagonist features prominently, blazing with a passionate fighting spirit, along with a succession of distinctive characters who also appear in the games.

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Monday, January 17, 2022

Developer Interview on Shenmue Passport: Eigo Kasahara [Feb 2000]

When the first game in the Shenmue series was released on the Dreamcast, along with the three game discs was a fourth disc called Shenmue Passport. This was a stand-alone piece of software which acted as a companion to the main game, containing additional content to enhance the player's experience such as music, guide videos and in-depth information about the characters, places and objects in the game. It even made use of the Dreamcast's ability to connect to the Internet to download data and display Shenmue related event news and other messages. (Unfortunately, the Shenmue Passport was not part of Sega's Shenmue I & II re-release in 2018, so the fan community has created an app called Suka Pass that recreates the experience for mobile devices).

In this post we will be translating a magazine interview from shortly after Shenmue's release in February 2000 with senior Sega developer Eigo Kasahara, who oversaw the Shenmue Passport in addition to his role as Planning Director for the main game.

The translation starts below.

Eigo Kasahara was head of the Planning section for Shenmue, overseeing things like the game maps, mini-games, and characters' daily cycles. For the Passport, he was in charge of content planning and organization.

The Shenmue Passport uses the network to expand the game world. In the words of the developers themselves, you'll get a sense of the appeal of this software, which is filled with details you can't get just from playing the main game. It will surely inspire you to play the game a second time!

Shenmue Passport, Japanese version: entry screen (left) and Theater page (right)

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Saturday, January 8, 2022

Ryo Hazuki's White Timex Watch | Unused Asset

Ryo's trusty Timex watch is a familiar sight to players of the the original Dreamcast and Xbox versions of the first two Shenmue games (although in the Shenmue I & II re-releases, the Timex branding on the dial was replaced with the Sega logo for licensing reasons).

The design was closely based on an actual Timex Expedition T43371, which was released in 1999 just before Shenmue's publication. Hence it did not actually exist at the time of the game's setting of 1986 - something that is not unheard of in Shenmue, with the Sega Saturn at the Hazuki household being one example!

The Timex Expedition (left) served as a model for Ryo's watch in the game (center, right).

The real-life watch is an unusual combination of analogue and digital: the alarm is set by rotating the bezel and triggered by physical contact of wires as the hands move, which triggers an electronic alarm sound.

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Friday, January 7, 2022

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for January 2022

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 that has been voted in to help kick off 2022 is:

"Interview with Shenhua's Theme song vocalist IOLI" (translation)

In early 1999, to mark the upcoming release of Shenhua's Theme as a CD single, Japan's Dreamcast Magazine featured a short interview with IOLI, the singer who performed the moving vocals on the track.

There is not a great deal of information to be found about this singer online, even on Japanese-language sites, so this short snippet of history will make a welcome addition.

We will also look at what can be found about the path her career took following her involvement with Shenmue.

Coming soon to the blog!

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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Ys Net Animated Ryo & Shenhua Greeting Illustration 2021/22

Ys Net has continued their tradition of Shenmue-themed greetings this season with a new animated illustration, this time featuring Ryo and Shenhua. The image was shared on Twitter by Gameblog's senior editor Romain Mahut, who received the greeting card from Ys Net last month.

Shenhua is wearing a Santa hat in addition to her scarf and mittens, and her earring glistens in the snowy air. Ryo also has on gloves, and stands with his familiar bag-over-shoulder pose - but this time he appears to be taking on the role of Santa's helper by carrying a large sack, presumably packed with presents.

The Shenmue III logo is also present - hopefully the day will not be far away when we see a Shenmue IV logo in its place on new illustrations!

Here are other Shenmue seasonal greeting illustrations from past years that we have covered on the blog :

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