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?)
  • Hazuki Dojo
The next image shows the spacious Hazuki Dojo, looking very similar to its appearance in the game with its wooden flooring and wall scrolls, and a candle in the corner illuminating the interior.

Looking at the area above the two hanging scrolls on the side wall, it seems there a new addition has been made - there is now a small Shinto altar (known as a kamidana in Japanese) sitting above on a shelf.

A kamidana is something that can be found in households, shops and martial arts dojos in Japan, and is typically placed high on a wall and contains a wide variety of items related to Shinto-style ceremonies. (One can also be seen in the shady premises of Nagai Industries!).

Hazuki Dojo

A kamidana (literally, "god-shelf")
  • Alley to Heartbeats Bar
This image can be recognized as the alleyway leading to the Heartbeats bar. The "Berkley" graffiti from the game, a nod to the game's early codename of Project Berkley, has been kept and a variety of new graffiti has been added to the walls, along with new details like a coiled hose, air vent and a number of barrels.

A Heartbeats electric sign has also been attached here to the wall (in the game the sign was around the corner outside the entranceway) and it is good to see that the logo from the game has been faithfully reproduced.

Alley to Heartbeats Bar

  • Dobuita St., Evening
This backdrop shows Dobuita Street in the evening, with the streetlights and shop lights giving off a warm glow. While the vibe matches the street in the game closely, much is based off real-life shops as we covered here in our recent post.

Dobuita St.

Shenmue II Locations

  • Shopping Street in Hong Kong
The scenery here is strongly reminiscent of Wan Chai from the game, and shows a proliferation of electric signs with Chinese writing suspended over a city street lined with tall apartment buildings and shop fronts - which are all currently shuttered. It is easy to imagine this scene springing into life and become filled with street vendors and customers.

Shopping Street (Wan Chai?)

  • Residential Area in Hong Kong at Night
Multiple apartment buildings stand together closely, their roofs bristling with antenna and satellite dishes, and walls spotted with air conditioning units. The scene is at night, and many windows are lit up from interior lighting or TV screens. In the background can be seen forested mountains, with apartment blocks or hotels dotted across them, while in the foreground is what looks to be the tip of a signpost.

Hong Kong at night

On the website, the version of this scene for mobile devices (shown below) reveals some more of the image, showing a curved wooden structure of some kind in the foreground. Potentially this could be the outline of a wooden boat, which would place this scene at Victoria harbor.

More of the foreground is revealed in this image for mobile devices

Shenmue III Locations

  • Shenhua's House
Another instantly-recognizable location, here we see a view from the path outside Shenhua's house, looking towards Bailu village. The Shenmue tree stands at the left, the rope swing in place. Notably, the branches are bare, as is much of the grassland that can be seen in the distance. My guess is that animated blossoms and trees will be layered on top of this background when this backdrop is used in the anime.

Shenhua's House

This completes the overview of the set of backdrops from the website. The quality of the artwork in these images is so good that it is hard to choose between them for setting one as new wallpaper!

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