Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Shenmue Anime Real-life Location Photo Report: Yokosuka Arena

The depiction of the high school karate tournament that Ryo attends in Shenmue The Animation was based on a real-life multi-purpose sporting venue known as the Yokosuka Arena. Previous posts on this blog have shown how remarkably closely the stadium interior and building exterior were reproduced for the anime.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Yokosuka Arena and obtained permission to go inside the main hall itself. I was pleased to discover that even minor backdrops in the anime such as the stairs leading up to the seating were faithfully portrayed in the anime, as you will see in the additional comparisons below.

Although this view was not shown in the anime, the Yokosuka Arena complex consists of several buildings, with a futuristic elevated pedestrian skybridge joining separate areas together. The main stadium, where the karate tournament took place, is at the far side behind the skybridge:

When I visited, there was a Tai Chi class taking place in the main stadium, which helped to provide a suitable Shenmue atmosphere:

In the anime, the tournament segment starts with Ryo having just defeated his opponent in a match. In the background can be seen a row of tall windows rising above spectator seating. Here is a comparison of the introductory anime scene vs the actual seating area:

Following this, Ryo and his teammates climb a staircase to the spectator level. This staircase is situated at one end of the main hall. In this shot, the signs and notices on the far wall, as well as the vent on the left-hand wall, match the real-life layout exactly.

As they reach the top of the stairs, they turn to see the opposition team sneering at them. A sweeping camera pan gives a good view of both the upper floor where Ryo's opponents were standing, as well as the stairwell where his team's manager is beckoning to him.

Interestingly, while the the floor and walls in present-day real life are a rusty orange, in the anime they are colored blue. The pattern on the left-hand partition is also more curved.

Even small background details, such as the wall clock and a bust on a table, have been reproduced.

In Ryo's next match, he decisively defeats his over-confident opponent. One interesting small difference in this shot is that the blue-green panels close to the ground have been given a wooden appearance in the anime.

And finally, to wrap up, the location where Ryo bids farewell to his friends and heads home for training - I couldn't resist trying to recreate the moment, although it really needs to be done in jeans and Ryo's leather jacket! (This is a small suburban road just next to the Yokosuka Arena - in real life, the arena is about a 30 minute walk from Dobuita).

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  1. Wow crazy how close to the real thing it is!

    1. I was also impressed at how faithful the anime was to many real-life locations. The Yokosuka Arena is worth a visit if you ever get the chance!