Friday, April 29, 2022

Shenmue Anime Merchandise: Stamp Sets (with Pins or Hand Cloth)

SEGA / Shenmue Project has released a set of stamps themed on Shenmue The Animation through Japan Post. They are named "Frame Stamps" which is the registered trademark for Japan Post's customizable stamp creation service.

Each set has 5 genuine large-size stamps of 84 yen value each which depict the following characters from the anime: Ryo, Lan Di, Shenhua, Nozomi and Ren.


(During the recent Shenmue The Animation livestream in Dobuita, Yu Suzuki commented that, although he had not been aware of this merchandise being planned, he has always wanted a set of Shenmue themed stamps).
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Thursday, April 28, 2022

Shenmue x Yokosuka: Livestream with Yu Suzuki, Yu Kiyozono, Masaya Matsukaze and Esra Krabbe

Tune in 29th April at 6pm JST for a special livestream in which Yu Suzuki and other special guests will be talking about Shenmue The Animation!

Featuring special guests:

  • Yu Suzuki (anime executive producer, YS Net)
  • Yu Kiyozono (anime producer, Telecom Animation Film)
  • Masaya Matsukaze (voice of Ryo Hazuki, Japanese voicing)
and with Esra Krabbe (MC, IGN Japan) as MC.

According to the stream description:
"We have invited some illustrious guests related to the anime series to talk about what makes Shenmue The Animation so appealing, as well as details of the Shenmue ✕ Yokosuka Anime Commemoration Project promotion".

Watch: 


Note: the livestream will be in Japanese, but we plan to provide English subtitles, or a summary, in the near future after the stream has ended.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

[Part Four] The Secret of Miao Village: Temple Screenshots Analysis

Welcome to Part Four of our analysis of cut-content screenshots of the mysterious "Miao Village" and temple that were revealed in 2002 on the Shenmue.com website by AM2, Yu Suzuki's development team at Sega.

Parts in the series:

  1. Village Screenshots Analysis
  2. Village Content Left Behind
  3. The House in Xiuying and Ziming's Flashback
  4. Temple Screenshots Analysis (this post)
  5. Temple Content Left Behind
  6. The Original Plan for Miao Village in Shenmue II
  7. Content Reborn
In this part, we will now turn our attention to the remaining four screenshots of a temple location:

The four "cut content" screenshots of a temple

Order of the Screenshots


We saw previously with the village screenshots, that the images originally presented on the Muecas page are not necessarily in time sequence order; keeping this in mind, we will consider whether any change in order may be appropriate.

Temple Screenshot 1/4: Exterior


The image of Ryo outside is clearly the first in the sequence.

Screenshot 1: temple grounds


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Monday, April 25, 2022

Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life: Kowloon Walled City

"There's this guy I know of, Yang, who worked for Yuanda."

In Episode 10, Ren gives Ryo a possible lead in Kowloon - a location which is introduced with a panning shot of a crowded high-rise blocks of apartment buildings with a plane soaring overhead.

Although Kowloon Walled City was demolished in 1993, this scene is in fact directly modeled on a location which exists today. It is an apartment tower called Montane Manion, which is located on King's Road in Quarry Bay.


Thanks to George Kitchen for identifying this location and for sharing the photos below, which were taken by George on a visit to the same location.

Montane Mansion, Quarry Bay (photos by George Kitchen)

The crowded, run-down aesthetic is certainly strongly reminiscent of the Kowloon Walled City that once existed. 


Other Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life comparisons:

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Saturday, April 23, 2022

Online Gacha Gacha Commences | Shenmue x Yokosuka: Anime Celebration Project

Today marks the official start of the Shenmue x Yokosuka: Anime Celebration Project promotion, with real-life Yokosuka playing host to a number of special activities such as exhibition of anime and game materials at certain shops associated with Shenmue.

Fans around the world can also take part in a virtual capsule toy game, which is now available for play!

Four of the collectable digital scenes that can be obtained from the gacha gacha game

Rules

Players get 20 free turns per day, and the aim is to collect a full set of 20 15 digital stills of scenes from the anime and the game.

Once you have completed the full set, you qualify to enter into a draw to win a physical greeting card.

One entry per person.

Sample of one of the 15 scenes to collect (translations added)

I Should Try It


The gacha gacha game is live now! It can be played from this page.


(Personally, I still need four to complete my set: #8, #10, #11 and #14 but I've run out of turns for today...)


Related post: an overview of what is planned for the Shenmue x Yokosuka: Anime Celebration Project promotion:


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Friday, April 22, 2022

Mirror Pouches | Shenmue x Yokosuka: Anime Celebration Project

The Yokosuka City tourism office has announced some new Shenmue merchandise that has been created for the Shenmue x Yokosuka: Anime Celebration Project promotion which starts officially tomorrow (23 April, 2022).

The items are embroidered drawstring pouches, which come in both Phoenix Mirror and Dragon Mirror designs. The Shenmue logo appears underneath, and the fabric used is special to Yokosuka, being the same material as used for the "Sukajan" jackets.

Size: 250 x 180 x 20 mm

Price: 2,420 yen each (including tax)

Purchase limit: one of each design, per person


The pouches will be available at MIKASA Vol. 2, the Sukajan jacket shop on Dobuita Street. However unfortunately, there are no online sales. But if you have the chance to visit, you won't want to miss checking them out.

MIKASA Vol. 2 information:
  • Open daily from 11 am to 6 pm.
  • TEL:046-823-0312


Related post: an overview of what is planned for the Shenmue x Yokosuka: Anime Celebration Project promotion:



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Thursday, April 21, 2022

[Part Three] The Secret of Miao Village: the House in Xiuying and Ziming's Flashback

Welcome to Part Three of our analysis into screenshots of the mysterious Miao Village revealed in 2002 on the Shenmue.com website by AM2, Yu Suzuki's development team at Sega, showing content that had been cut from the game before release.

Parts in the series:

  1. Village Screenshots Analysis
  2. Village Content Left Behind
  3. The House in Xiuying and Ziming's Flashback (this post)
  4. Temple Screenshots Analysis
  5. Temple Content Left Behind
  6. The Original Plan for Miao Village in Shenmue II
  7. Content Reborn
In the previous post, we identified several object models from the first few floors of the Yellow Head Building in Kowloon that are likely to have once been part of the Miao village seen in the screenshots.

In today's post, we will investigate another location in detail: the setting for the flashback showing Xiuying as a child with her brother Ziming inside a house that shares many similarities with the houses seen in Miao village.

The House in the Xiuying and Ziming Flashback 


The flashback occurs when Ryo goes to bid farewell to Xiuying at Man Mo Temple, informing her that he will be leaving to follow Lan Di's trail to Guilin.

The flashback plays just before Ryo travels on to Kowloon.

Xiuying gives him a stone that makes up half of a yin yang symbol, and after doing so, the flashback scene plays.

The flashback shows Xiuying and her older brother (Ziming) as children, sitting together on the floor of a dark interior that is illuminated by a fire that heats a pot over the hearth. Xiuying receives the stone from Ziming who tells her to keep it safe. 

Flashback scene with Ziming and Xiuying.

Due to the limited visibility during the flashback, it is hard to distinguish details of the environment. 
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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Shenmue Anime on Japanese TV from May 2022

The official Twitter account for Shenmue The Animation has announced that the anime is scheduled to be broadcast on Japanese TV!

Episodes will be broadcast on TOKYO MX, a free-to-air channel serving the Tokyo metropolitan area, from early May.

The TOKYO MX website provides the following coverage information:

Targets approximately 15 million households (as of August 2017) throughout Tokyo and part of Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, and Ibaraki prefectures. Parts of Tochigi, Gunma, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka prefectures can also be viewed on cable TV.

Shenmue The Animation broadcast schedule on TOKYO MX:

  • Weekly on Tuesday evenings at 7 pm, starting 3rd May, 2022.


 

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Monday, April 18, 2022

Shenmue 2 Cut Bicycle Event Part Three: Grandfather Model Identified

Previous posts have covered a bicycle riding feature for Ryo that had been shown in promotional footage for Shenmue in the months leading up to the release, but was not kept in the final version.

As seen in the previous coverage, one of the cut content screenshots shows a little girl, Xiaoqin Liu on the back of a bicycle with Ryo, with her grandfather watching from his store, Sunny Capital Pharmacy.

While Xiaoquin and the store are included in the released game, the character model for her grandfather, Fushou Liu, differs from the one shown in the screenshot:

Top: cut content screenshot. Bottom: capture from the released game, showing a different character model for the shop's owner.

With only a single screenshot of her grandfather available, and furthermore being viewed from behind, it might be assumed that the character model may have been scrapped completely.

However, after some investigation of Shenmue II's character models, based on his features a close match can be made with a character model that exists elsewhere among the disc files:


The distinctive hairstyle and wrinkles match up exactly.

In fact, this character model is one that can be seen in the final game: it is Shi Yi Ming, the owner of Wise Men's Chemist. It would appear that the model selection for Xiaoqin's grandfather was adjusted during the development process.

In the released version Shi Yi Ming is of course is not involved with any bicycle-related event - but he is able to provide some information about Man Mo Antiques if Ryo needs it!


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Friday, April 15, 2022

[Part Two] The Secret of Miao Village: Content Left Behind

We will continue with Part Two of our analysis into screenshots of the mysterious village revealed in 2002 on the Shenmue.com website by AM2, Yu Suzuki's development team at Sega, showing content that had been cut from the game before release.

Parts in the series:

  1. Village Screenshots Analysis
  2. Village Content Left Behind [today's post]
  3. The House in Xiuying and Ziming's Flashback
  4. Temple Screenshots Analysis
  5. Temple Content Left Behind
  6. Original Plan for Miao Village in Shenmue II
  7. Content Reborn
In this post, we will gather together models of various objects that may have once been part of the Miao village seen in the screenshots.

Models and other data were extracted from the game discs with the excellent Wudecon converter tool created by LemonHaze. 

Content Left Behind: Miao Village


Over the years, fans have wondered if there are any traces of the village left behind in the game files, and in fact there are several pieces of content left on the disc that appear to once have been intended to be part of the original village content.

Loading Screen


The existence of an unused loading screen for "Miao Village" was first mentioned as a discovery on the Shenmue Dojo forums by LanDC way back in 2003. This loading screen was left in the game files, but is not displayed during normal play.

A simple way to trigger this to display is to run the Shenmue II US prototype that was recently released on the Sega Dreamcast Info site, through the use of its debug menu (Scene=02, Area=SM00, Entry=01):
Debug menu: settings for displaying the Miao Village loading screen

This results in the loading screen being displayed:

The Miao Village loading screen (the time and date are default values)

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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Unidentified Photo in Shenhua's House | Shenmue II

A photograph that may be of significance has been uncovered among the documents of Shenhua's father in Shenmue II, and suggestions are invited as to the location it shows!

Details follow below.

First, we'll recap the documents that Ryo finds on the desk at Shenhua's house.


Documents on Shenhua's Father's Desk


After Ryo reaches Shenhua's house after their trek over the Guilin mountains, Ryo is invited to explore the house and examine her father's collection of items. Eventually, Ryo finds a desk set in the corner of the bedroom that contains various architectural tools and documents.


Although Ryo would not yet recognize its exact meaning, the uppermost document shows a diagram of caves, with several shapes and lines that the player may later come to realize may represent braziers and other special features that have been installed. The writing itself is too indistinct to reveal any clues.
Cave diagram on the bedroom desk

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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Secret of Miao Village: Analysis of Village Screenshots [Part One]

Following the release of Shenmue II on the Dreamcast in 2001, a number of intriguing screenshots (a selection of which is shown above) were revealed on the Shenmue.com website by AM2, Yu Suzuki's development team at Sega, showing content that had been cut from the game before release.

Several of these screenshots showed an unfamiliar village and a temple setting, with some even containing subtitles of dialogue between Ryo and a character who was unused in the released game.

Fans later also managed to uncover unused loading screens, one of these showing the name  "Miao Village" - and so it is by this name that the location of these screenshots has come to be known by the community.

Various theories have been put forward and discussed over the years, although even today, these screenshots still hold a great sense of mystery. In this series of posts, we will gather together as much as we can find about them, as well as carrying out some digging of our own, and see what conclusions can be drawn as to their true nature.

There is a lot to talk about, so the planned post topics for this post series will be as follows:
  1. Village Screenshots Analysis (this post)
  2. Village Content Left Behind
  3. The House in Xiuying and Ziming's Flashback
  4. Temple Screenshots Analysis
  5. Temple Content Left Behind
  6. The Original Plan for Miao Village in Shenmue II
  7. Content Reborn
Models and other data were extracted from the game discs with the excellent Wudecon converter tool created by LemonHaze. The comprehensive Shenmue II Character Database by Stuart of the Shenmusings blog, was a fantastic resource for checking character names and usage.

Let's get started!

Screenshots Analysis


The screenshots first appeared in issue #29 (June 2002) of Muecas, the name of AM2's online Shenmue fan club. They were grouped into three sections: Ryo on a bicycle with Xiaoqin (which we have talked about in this post); Ryo in a village setting; and Ryo in a temple setting - this series will focus on these last two sections. At the time they were presented as content that had been cut from the released game, but no further explanation was provided.

We'll start by examining the three screen shots that show Ryo exploring the village, and highlight any features and small details:

Village screenshots

After that, we will move on to the four screenshots of a temple setting which include subtitled dialogue.

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Monday, April 11, 2022

Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life: Xuhe Hall Interior

Xuhe Hall is the name of the restaurant Lan Di visits in Episode 3 of Shenmue The Animation to pressure the owner for information on the mirrors taken out of China.


A previous post showed how closely the exterior matched the real-life Heichinrou restaurant in Yokohama.

It is not just the exterior that has been reproduced, however; the interior also serves as the model for the anime's depiction, which was spotted by George Kitchen:

As mentioned previously, Heichinrou Yokohama branch will be closing on 15 May, 2022 to move location, so if you are in the area plan a visit soon!.

Other Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life comparisons:

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Sunday, April 10, 2022

Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life: Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

"You're after Lan Di, huh? You obviously don't know... who you're up against. When you get to Hong Kong... they'll be waiting!" [Terry of the Mad Angels]

An unknown land awaits Ryo as he pursues the menacing Lan Di across the sea to uncover the truth about his father's death.

Photo of Victoria Harbor by Paddy J. Fuller.


Other Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life comparisons:

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Friday, April 8, 2022

Shenmue The Animation: Signed Episode One Script Give-away (Japan)

The first episode of Shenmue The Animation released this week on streaming services in Japan, approximately two months after the rest-of-world premiere, and to celebrate a give-away has been announced on the official Japanese Twitter account with an incredible prize!

3 winners will be selected by lucky draw. The prize is a copy of the Japanese script for the first episode of the anime, signed by the following voice actors:

  • Masaya Matsukaze (Ryo Hazuki)
  • Takahiro Sakurai (Lan Di)
  • Haruka Terui (Shenhua Ling)
  • Haruka Fushimi (Nozomi Harasaki)
  • Ryuichi Kijima (Guizhang Chen)
  • Yoshimitsu Shimoyama (Chai)
Unfortunately the draw is not global, but is open to those residing in Japan (see the detailed conditions further down).

The signed script, the cover of which is shown below, certainly looks very special!

Signed script cover for Episode One. Left page: Masaya Matsukaze, Takahiro Sakurai, Haruka Terui. Right page: Haruka Fushimi, Ryuichi Kijima, Yoshimitsu Shimoyama. The notice on the front prohibits 

Below is a summary of the rules, translated from Japanese.

Eligibility and Entry Conditions


Eligibility: open to anyone living in Japan.

How to enter:
  • Follow the official Shenmue the Animation Twitter account (if not already)
  • Retweet the entry tweet by 15th April, 2022
  • Note: your Twitter account must be set to Public and accept DMs

Announcement of Winners & Delivery

  • Winners to be contacted by DM on Twitter from the official Shenmue the Animation account for name, phone number and prize delivery address
  • The prize may not be transferred to a third party or exchanged for cash.
  • Prizes shipped between late April and early May 2022
  • Delivery within Japan only
  • The delivery address must be the entrant's residential address

If you are living in Japan, you won't want to miss entering!

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Thursday, April 7, 2022

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for April 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 this time is:

"Alternative Letter from Iwao to Ryo (Unused Asset)"

In the first game, players discover a note addressed to Ryo from his father Iwao, who seemingly had some inkling that his life was in danger.

In that note, Iwao gives advice to Ryo about being true to one's convictions:
"Dear Ryo... those who follow the path of a warrior, must be prepared to die in order to stand by their convictions. Live for one's convictions, die for one convictions. That is how I lived my life. Ryo, it is up to you to discover your path and follow it through."

Upon reading this, Ryo murmurs "My father must have known that Lan Di was coming..."

Reading through this letter is a memorable moment for players of the game.

In fact a second unused version of Iwao's letter to Ryo exists in the game files. However, although it is not actually shown in the game, we can access the data on disc to read what it says.


In the post we will be examining and translate Iwao's unused letter to see what other advice he had for Ryo.

Watch for it to come on the blog!

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Friday, April 1, 2022

Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life: Xuhe Hall

In Episode 3 of the Shenmue anime, the exterior of a restaurant called "Xuhe Hall" is shown in a short flashback scene in which Lan Di and his men shake information out of the unfortunate owner regarding the whereabouts of the mirrors.

In a previous post, we saw that the restaurant's name in the anime is a small Easter egg of sorts, with the Chinese characters in its name actually being a subset of those in the word "Yokosuka".

How about the appearance of the restaurant itself? Thanks to the sharp eyes of Kohji on Twitter, it has been identified as a real-life Chinese restaurant called Heichinrou in Yokohama's Chinatown. Features such as the bamboo, decorative statues, signboard and even the positioning of the menu boards all match closely.


Here is how the restaurant looks at a wider angle, showing other surrounding buildings in Chinatown:


Heichinrou is one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Japan, with several branches throughout the country. The main Yokohama restaurant was founded as many as 130 years ago.

A New Pilgrimage Spot Is Born... But Not For Much Longer?

It seems that Lan Di and his men scared the owners to such an extent that they have made the decision to move out from the present building! A recent notice on the restaurant's homepage advises that the Yokohama Heichinrou will be closing on 15th May 2022 and will be reopening elsewhere. This is unfortunate news for Shenmue fans wanting to visit the restaurant at its original location as part of their Shenmue pilgrimage on a future visit. If you living in Japan and able to make a visit to Yokohama, now would be a great chance to head along before it closes.

Update 15th May, 2022: plans regarding a potential reopening have not yet been announced.


Other Shenmue The Animation vs Real Life comparisons:

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