Saturday, December 30, 2023

Yu Suzuki's Key Theme for 2024: "Creating Games I'd Want to Play Myself" []

"163 Game Creators' New Year's Resolutions" from Famitsu (the dragon represents the 2024 animal sign of the Chinese Zodiac: the Dragon) has unveiled its yearly survey of individuals within the Japanese gaming industry, engaging with a noteworthy 163 game developers. As customary, the survey prompted them to select a "keyword" or phrase encapsulating their focus for the upcoming year. Additionally, participants were asked to share their New Year's Resolution and provide a comment regarding their present circumstances.

Yu Suzuki, CEO of YS Net.
(This archive photo was seen in 4Gamer's developer survey last year)

Yu Suzuki's responses for the coming year in 2024 were as below, translated from the original Japanese:

Q: Your Key Theme for 2024?

YS: Creating games I'd want to play myself!
Q: Your New Year's Resolution / Aspirations for 2024?

YS: Collaborate on a project with scriptwriters and musicians from different industries.

Q: Status update

YS: In 2023, we successfully released a fantasy shooting game called Air Twister on home gaming consoles and PC. Feel free to enjoy the year-end and New Year holidays with the casual fun of Air Twister!
Q: What will you be keeping an eye on in 2024?

I believe that clever and compelling stories like those found in Spy × Family*² and The Apothecary Diaries*³ could be beneficial in game development. By the way, I recently got my hands on the Juzo Itami Film Collection Blu-ray Box* and have been grinning happily ever since.
  1. In Japanese the first question translates more literally as "your keyword(s)", however it is a versatile term that can refer to both a single word or a phrase that encapsulates a main theme, idea, or concept. Taking this into account, here it is translated more broadly as "key theme".
  2. Spy × Family is a Japanese manga series that was first published in 2019 and was subsequently adapted to an anime television series, and has been described as "an action-packed comedy about a fake family that includes a spy, an assassin and a telepath." It has received widespread acclaim, having won several manga prizes and awards. An anime film adaptation and a novel were released in Japan earlier this month.
    Spy × Family

  3. The Apothecary Diaries (Japanese name: Kusuriya no Hitorigoto) is a fictional series set in Ming-era China that was originally published as a novel, and has been subsequently adapted to a manga series as well as an anime television series.  

    The Apothecary Diaries

  4. The Juzo Itami Film Collection Blu-ray Box is a collection of all 10 movies by acclaimed director Juzo Itami who made his directorial debut at the age of 50 with the film "The Funeral" in 1984. The movie gained popularity in Japan and received numerous awards, including Japanese Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. However, it was his second film, the 1985 "Tampopo," with the story of a woman's quest to create the perfect bowl of ramen, that brought him international recognition and praise.

Yu Suzuki's response to his theme or concept for the year - "creating games I'd want to play myself") - suggests a personal and passion-driven approach to game development. Throughout his successful career, he has often developed games based on concepts suggested by others, particularly during his earlier years at SEGA. In this later part of his career, he has the freedom to create games that he finds personally engaging, as an initial benchmark for their broader appeal. It may also reflect his desire to continue to bring innovation and creativity into the development process and explore unique ideas and gameplay mechanics that resonate with him personally.

His mention of involving scriptwriters and musicians from other industries (i.e. outside of games) recalls his response to Famitsu's survey held in December 2021 in which he expressed a similar desire to "bring a different style to game making" by working with people from other industries. And indeed, this has already been seen in Air Twister, collaborating with Dutch artist Valensia who provided the amazing soundtrack for this game.

Suzuki ends by emphasizing his appreciation for "clever and compelling stories". He has mentioned in previous interviews his admiration for a scene in director Juzo Itami's "The Funeral" that depicts the everyday life of the Japanese culture in a humorous way - in one scene a guest staggers from "pins and needles" (the tingling feeling in one's limbs) when trying to stand after sitting with his legs folded underneath for a long period of time. It is pleasing to see his affirmation of the importance of story-telling, something that is an important component of the Shenmue series.

The "pins and needles" scene from the movie "The Funeral", directed by Juzo Itami

Related Links

Yu Suzuki's end-of-year interviews from recent years:

Source (Japanese):

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Friday, December 29, 2023

Photo Report: Visiting Shenmue's New Yokosuka Harbor in Real Life (Nagaura Port)

Nagaura Port is the real-life harbor on which New Yokosuka Harbor in the first game is modeled. True to its depiction in the game, it can be reached by a short ride from the bus stop near Dobuita Street. This post contains photos that highlight how close certain features of the real-life location still match today with the game's 1986 version.

Current-day Nagaura Port

Ryo admires New Yokosuka Harbor
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Thursday, December 14, 2023

Two Pre-Release Screenshots of Langhuishan Village in Shenmue 2 | Analysis

Today we will examine two early-development screenshots of Ryo's arrival in Guilin from a Japanese magazine from the time of Shenmue II's development, showcasing the charming riverside village of Langhuishan.

Accompany an article about Shenmue in Japan's Famitsu DC magazine in February 2001, these images offer a fascinating glimpse into how its design changed during the game's development.

Langhuishan (Feb 2001 image 1)

Langhuishan (Feb 2001 image 2)

Analysis of Langhuishan Image 1

The first image depicts Langhuishan's village square, overlooking the tranquil river. A comparison with the final release version of the game reveals some intriguing differences:

Langhuishan view towards river showing a stall in the early screenshot (top) that was relocated in the release version (bottom)

The background mountains and dock are almost unchanged in the release, but the pre-release image features an additional element: a vegetable stand beside the dock, facing away from the river.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for December 2023

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:

"Weekly AM2: Translation of Next Issue (Vol. 10)"

The topic selected this time is a continuation of our translations of the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 team back in the day, the Weekly AM2. This magazine published content about the Shenmue series from December 1999 through to around the release of Shenmue II in 2001, and a link to issues of the Weekly AM2 thereafter became a regular feature of the website.

This time we will be translating a further edition of the Weekly AM2: Volume 10, published online on 15th February 2000.

Contents Preview:
  • Results announcement for the 3rd Network Ranking Tournament
  • Notice of the 4th Network Ranking Tournament
  • Messages from Winners of the 2nd Network Ranking Tournament (70-player Battle)
  • Strategy Guide for Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka Confirmed for Release!
  • Shenmue Spoiler BBS (Bulletin Board System) Launched!
  • Opening of the AM2 Supporter Homepage
  • Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka Director Okayasu to Feature on the "Super Mobile Anime & Game Master" Radio Show
  • i-mode Gallery Image #3
This edition will be translated in a future post on the blog.

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Sunday, November 19, 2023

Motivations and Secrets: The Significance of Two Letters | Analysis

The start of Shenmue's tale revolves around two intriguing letters obtained by Ryo Hazuki, setting the stage for the enigmatic narrative to unravel.

The first letter holds poignant meaning as it was written by Ryo's late father, Iwao, who passed away in a violent encounter with a man in Chinese clothing called Lan Di. Ryo discovers it sitting out on his father's desk for him to find.

Adding to the intrigue, a second letter arrives from Hong Kong, sent by a mysterious individual whom Ryo later learns is named Zhu Yuan Da. Written in cryptic Chinese script, it arrives shortly after Iwao's passing.

Upon having it translated, Ryo uncovers that this letter served as a warning to his father, although it arrived too late to fulfill its intended purpose.

The two letters raise some interesting questions. How did Zhu Yuan Da know about the threat to Iwao? And did Iwao Hazuki know Lan Di was coming?

Today, we will attempt to answer these questions by examining the letters, comparing the Japanese and Chinese sources with the English translations provided by the game, and by delving into the events that take place over the course of the first two games.

This topic was suggested by blog patrons Patrick Fuller and James Brown.
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Sunday, November 12, 2023

14 More Tweeted Anecdotes from Former Shenmue Developer Morio Ashizuka

"Morio Ashizuka" is the pseudonym used on Twitter/X by a former developer who was deeply involved with development of the first two Shenmue games, in particular character animations and motion capture. He tweets prolifically about video games, SEGA and other topics - along with occasional fascinating insights and anecdotes from the day.

Last time, we introduced a selection of Shenmue inside stories and anecdotes from this former developer.

This time we continue on with a whole new batch of Shenmue-related tweets we'll be translating, again touching on his many experiences during the game's development:
  • Revelation #15: A Stand-alone Forklift Racing Arcade Game Was Floated
  • Revelation #16: The Scrapped Alternative Forklift Racing Start Scene
  • Revelation #17: Actor Photos: Fujioka and Matsukaze Meet With Yu Suzuki
  • Revelation #18: Notebooks Were Used for Cut Scene Management
  • Revelation #19: Shenmue II's Motion Capture System
  • Revelation #20: There Was a Slider Tool For Ryo's Facial Expression
  • Revelation #21: Sleeping at the Office
  • Revelation #22: "Open-Door" Policy
  • Revelation #23: Ryo's Wooden Motorbike 
  • Revelation #24: Suzuki Wanted to Make a Shenmue Alarm Clock
  • Revelation #25: Questioning Why There's a Saturn at the Hazuki Residence
  • Revelation #26: Shenmue II's Distinctive Characters
  • Revelation #27: Yu Suzuki's Theme for Shenmue II
  • Revelation #28: Ashizuka's Most Satisfying Animation
  • Bonus Revelation: Fujioka at the Motion Capture Studio
Read on for details!

This topic was selected by the Phantom River Stone blog patrons via our monthly poll on the Phantom River Stone Patreon and was available for early access. Thank you for your support!

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Thursday, November 9, 2023

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for November 2023

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:

"Inspiration or historical basis of the Chawan Sign in Shenmue"

In Shenmue II, Ryo learns that arranging teacups in a certain pattern in a public place is a secret method to discreetly communicate with allies. This is known as the "Chawan Sign" (chawan means teacup in Japanese).

Arranging four teacups

However he is warned that placing them at the wrong location, or carelessly arranging them in the wrong pattern, can result in unwanted attention...

Trying at the wrong location may attract trouble

But was the Chawan Sign something that Yu Suzuki and team created purely for Shenmue, or did it have some kind of historical basis?

In this upcoming topic, we will try to answer this question by looking at a possible source of inspiration.

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Thursday, October 12, 2023

Weekly AM2 Volume 9 - Results of the 2nd Network Rankings Competition & Shenhua's Theme Ringtone

In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. These pages regularly featured news and information about the Shenmue series from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Vol. 9 follows up the Network Rankings Competition #2 announced in Vol. 8 with a third one - this time it's Forklift Racing! The prize line-up is very similar, but there is an amazing new framed print for the first-place winner. Also in this issue is a new ringtone tune of Shenhua's Theme. It is fun to recreate the notes to hear how it would have sounded - video demonstration at the end of this post!



Vol. 9: 2000.2.8

Hello, this is Takuan. I've finally completed Shenmue.

This week we will again be announcing Network Rankings Competition results. What kind of time secured first place for the winner? Let's take a look!

This week's contents:
  • Results of the 2nd Network Rankings Competition
  • Announcement of the 3rd Network Rankings Competition
  • Ringtone Service: Second Tune!
  • F355 Challenge Net Ranking Prizewinners Announcement! [omitted from translation]

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Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for October 2023

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:

"Examining the Maps from the Shenmue Premiere Art Booklet: Unused Canal & Island Locations"

During the showing of the Shenmue Premiere in 1998/1999 in various cities across Japan, ahead of the game's original release on the Dreamcast, a 36-page art book was one of the items of merchandise made available. It was filled with concept art, photographs, design diagrams and other materials related to the making of the games.

In past posts on this blog we have analyzed some of the fascinating snippets of early design documents that can be glimpsed in this booklet, such as:
Such charts and drawings are used as background images to accompanying pages describing the making of the game. As such, they are often partially obscured and hard to decipher.

On the following pages of the booklet, two maps representing towns can be found that are not of places Ryo has visited so far in his journey. One is in blue ink, and the other in black ink:

The page with the mysterious maps (image credit: Shenmue Master)

The blue one appears to be a city that has canals running through it, while the second looks to have buildings built out upon water, surrounding a mountainous island.

In this upcoming post, we will examine the maps and the labels in detail to see what hints they may shed on Ryo's once-planned - or future - travels.

To be published in a future blog post!

Cover of the Shenmue Premiere Art Booklet

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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Did You Know? The Three Blades

Did you know? The Three Blades Ryo learns about in Shenmue has a historical basis. In the early 1900s, the Japanese government restricted jobs permitted for Chinese workers to 3 occupations (chef, barber, tailor) known as the sanbato. (三把刀).
"This resulted in the popularization of Chinese food and consequently the development of ramen".
- Display at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

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Monday, October 2, 2023

Upcoming Indie Game Set in 1980s Japan: "Last Time I Saw You"

In IGN Japan's recent interview with Yu Suzuki at TGS 2023, host Esra Krabbe mentioned having spoken earlier in the livestream with a developer working on an upcoming game that was influenced by Shenmue, among other inspirations. The game's name is "Last Time I Saw You" and is set in Japan in the 1980s.

The studio founder, who is Spanish and has been living in Japan for several years, is also responsible for the game's artwork and has captured the atmosphere of the Shōwa era of Japan perfectly. The beautifully-portrayed townscape is sure to make fans of Shenmue feel right at home:

The game's tag line describes it as a narrative-driven coming-of-age adventure about a first love. The protagonist of the story is Ayumi, a 12-year-old boy, who "wanders the melancholic countryside of Japan in search of the mysterious girl he has been seeing in his dreams" - another element that evokes a parallel with Shenmue. 

The art is breath-taking and completely hand-drawn, with an anime style that employs parallax scrolling, and small but detailed animations throughout. Game play is set to a melancholic ambient soundtrack. The locations are brought to life with other characters who can often be spoken to, as well as various animals, including a dog - and yes, petting it is possible!

A demo is available from the game's Steam page, and this looks to be well worth adding to the watch list of any Shenmue fan. Release is scheduled for 2024. The studio, Maboroshi Artworks, can be followed here on X (Twitter).

No 1980s story set in Japan would be complete without a run-in with the local thugs!

View the Announcement Trailer

IGN Japan Livestream Developer Interview at TGS 2013

(Replies are in English)

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Friday, September 29, 2023

Yu Suzuki Confirms Desire to Make Shenmue IV (TGS 2023)

Yu Suzuki's Livestream with IGN Japan 

Yu Suzuki attended the Tokyo Game Show last week to promote the upcoming release of the YS Net arcade game Air Twister for the PC and consoles, having been originally released last year for Apple devices.

On the third day of the event, Suzuki appeared as a guest on a livestream with Esra Krabbe of IGN Japan.

While the talk was centered around Air Twister, Suzuki made comments about future ideas, touched on a new unspecified project YS Net has underway and even spoke briefly on Shenmue. This post picks up conversation snippets of particular interest.

Yu Suzuki Classics Re-imagined

With Air Twister having its roots in Yu Suzuki's classic arcade game Space Harrier, Suzuki was asked if he has any plans to develop further games similarly inspired by his other past hit games such as Out Run, Power Drift, Hang On, After Burner and so on.
Yu Suzuki: I'd like to make a kind of set of around six games... that's if discussions happen about something like that. It would be nice to have them collected together, don't you think? Like a series.


Air Twister Special Edition: Yu Suzuki Interview Booklet

It was highlighted that the Special Edition of Air Twister will come with a booklet containing an extended written interview with Yu Suzuki.

Esra Krabbe:
I was the one who conducted the interview with you, and it lasted for about three hours if I recall correctly. While the booklet is for Air Twister, I have a feeling it also touches on Shenmue quite a lot - my bad! It has a lot about your upbringing and contains stories that we haven't heard before, doesn't it.
Yu Suzuki: Yes, it has quite a few in-depth stories.

Esra Krabbe:  I think we spoke for around three hours. I think that your fans can look forward to both the actual game as well as the interview.

New Project In Progress


Esra Krabbe: Recently you've announced Air Twister, but are there still various other games you're planning to create going forwards?

Yu Suzuki: I can't talk about it yet, but we're working on something.

Esra Krabbe: Oh, really? That's big news just to mention casually! I hope it was okay for you to say it.

Yu Suzuki: [laughs] I can't say any more than that.

Esra Krabbe: Well, hearing that there's something else to for fans to look forward to is really good news.

Yu Suzuki: It's still in development right now, so...

Esra Krabbe: I'm looking forward to it!

Shenmue's Influence

Esra Krabbe: I myself of course love Shenmue, and at the session just a little while ago there was a Japanese game set in the 1980's, so I asked them whether it had been influenced by Shenmue. And that turned out to be the case*! They said that they started development when they had been playing Shenmue I and wanted to incorporate the atmosphere of Japan in the 1980s. Recently do you also come across a lot of people who admire or have been influenced by Shenmue?

Yu Suzuki: Being at the game show today, I've been meeting a lot of different people who have said things like their life was changed by Shenmue, or that they started creating games thanks to Shenmue. I'm extremely happy to receive comments like that.

 *Note from Switch: the game being referred to is "Last Time I Saw You". There is a free demo currently out on Steam. I've made an introductory post about it here.

Yu Suzuki On Shenmue IV

Esra Krabbe: There are a lot of people who have been influenced by Shenmue in this way. We'll soon be coming up to 4 years since Shenmue III [was released]. Are you still wanting to continue on with Shenmue? 

Yu Suzuki: Yes, of course. Because it's still partway through.

Esra Krabbe: So it sounds like you have a lot of possibilities and things you'd like to do, such as Shenmue, arcade-style games, as well as a lot of other ideas?

Yu Suzuki: Yes, there's a lot I'd like to do... it's a matter of having the opportunity. If I meet the right people, or can find the right partner.

Esra Krabbe: Publishers, if you are listening...! I'm looking forward to what you will surprise all the fans with next.


IGN Japan Video

IGN Japan's full Air Twister segment with Yu Suzuki, from which the above interactions were extracted, is embedded below. Auto-translate captions are available.

Air Twister for PC & Consoles

Air Twister will become available in both physical and digital formats for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 & 5 and digitally for Xbox and PC on November 10, 2023. There will also be a Special Edition that comes with extras.

The Air Twister Special Edition, at right, includes soundtrack, interview booklet & art

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Monday, September 11, 2023

Japanese Idol Group Plays Shenmue on TV Tokyo

TV Tokyo is showing a new video game-related variety show series called Game Majime-san which roughly translates to "Serious Gamers". It bills itself as a series in which "top idols of the Reiwa era [i.e. those of the modern day] play famous games seriously" and features the reactions of members of popular female idol groups playing classic video games for the first time.

The first two episodes covered Metal Gear Solid 3, and the latest episode was Shenmue! It features  comments from Esra Krabbe of IGN Japan as well as Susumu Aketagawa (the original voice recording director of the first two games).

While the title of the show is clearly somewhat tongue-in-cheek - you'll find several references emphasizing how "serious" the players are with respect to their respective missions - it should help to introduce Shenmue to a younger generation of game players who may not know about it, and the background information it shares about the game is accurate. It even contains short interviews with journalists and a former project team member (not Yu Suzuki!).

As the broadcast was in the Japanese language, we present is a full transcription of the show in English, below.

Narrator: Good evening, everyone. This show delves into classic games in an academic way. Idol heartthrobs of the Reiwa era make a serious effort to clear the games. This is a "Super-hard Educational Game Variety" show!

TV Tokyo's new series, "Game Majime-san"

The classic game we'll be talking about this time is...

Esra Krabbe (IGN Japan)

Esra Krabbe (IGN Japan): I don't think I'd be sitting here right now if this game didn't exist.

Narrator: Released in 1999, it's the first entry in the legendary Shenmue game series. Developed on a massive scale as a flagship title for the dream game machine, the Dreamcast, its attention to detail is so impressive that it was even praised by Steven Spielberg.

So, how did Shenmue influence the gaming industry at the time?

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Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for September 2023

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:

"Concept Art from the Shenmue The Animation Promotional Event in Dobuita (2022)"

In April to June 2022, Yokosuka City ran a promotional event in celebration of the Shenmue's adaption anime form, which was run in collaboration with IGN Japan.
There were various activities arranged including give-aways of Shenmue The Animation themed postcards at participating stores and an online gacha-gacha game.

In addition, there were physical exhibits of concept art and sketches from both the early days of the game's development as well as during the anime's creation, to be found on display inside a number of stores around the Dobuita Street area.

In this post, we will aim to bring together and present as many pieces as possible of the fascinating art that was displayed during this event.

Coming soon to the blog!

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Monday, September 4, 2023

"Bailu Cave" in Kamakura, Japan | Real-life Location

Engaku-ji is the name of a peaceful temple compound in Kamakura, Japan that houses over twenty temples and halls, and is considered to be one of the most important Zen Buddhist complexes in Japan.

At Engaku-ji

On visiting the temple, a small cave entrance can be discovered at one side, just off the main path, with a stone post next to it engraved with the kanji characters of its name.

A mysterious cave

The first two characters of the name look strongly familiar: 白鹿洞 = White Deer Cave! You may recall that these are the same written characters of the name of Shenhua's village of Bailu in Guilin - she explains to Ryo the white deer is the guardian of her village.

How did this cave come to have this name? A sign nearby gives some additional background. 

White Deer Cave

According to this sign, legend has it that on Engaku-ji's opening day, a herd of white deer emerged from this cave to listen to the sermon of Zen master Mugaku Sogen, the temple's founder, along with a great many people. Hence, the cave was named "White Deer Cave". (Note: in Japanese, the pronunciation is "Biyaku Dou", however, with no similarity to "Bailu").

Kamakura is a place we know Yu Suzuki has visited in the past - a recent example being with the Kickstarter super backers on the day of their Kickstarter Backer Dinner. Perhaps Yu Suzuki and team were inspired in the naming of Bailu Village through this very legend.

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Friday, September 1, 2023

Sacred Spot Guide Map (Shenmue The Animation Version)

In Dobuita, June 2022 witnessed the emergence of an electrifying two-month spectacle known as the "Shenmue x Yokosuka: Anime Commemoration Project," coinciding with the highly-awaited broadcast debut of Shenmue the Animation. Amidst this festivity, a renewed rendition of the much-beloved Sacred Spot Guide Map was introduced by Yokosuka City. The map can be collected on location for those visiting the area.

For preservation purposes, we've scanned all pages of the map for download at the link below. Note that this version of the map was released only in Japanese.
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Sunday, August 27, 2023

What Has Changed? Sacred Spot Guide Map (Shenmue The Animation Version)

Since its debut in December 2017, a result of a collaboration between Yokosuka City and SEGA, the Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Map has become an essential companion for Shenmue enthusiasts exploring the nostalgic charm of real-life Dobuita Street and the surrounding area. This sought-after map holds the key to exploring many of the real-life locations that inspired the immersive world of the first game. From the serene Suwadai Shrine to Kurita's military surplus store, visitors can uncover the connections between reality and the virtual realm, stepping into the footprints of Ryo Hazuki in his hometown.

The following year, during the 2018 Tokyo Game Show (TGS), the map received a rejuvenating update. With a brand-new cover and subtle tweaks, it paid homage to the momentous release of Shenmue I & II.
Covers: original (left) and Tokyo Game Show 2018 (right)

In June 2022, an exciting two-month-long event called the "Shenmue x Yokosuka: Anime Commemoration Project" unfolded in Dobuita, marking the much-anticipated release of Shenmue the Animation. As part of this grand celebration, a fresh iteration of the Sacred Spot Guide Map was unveiled, igniting a wave of enthusiasm among fans, (although unfortunately Japan had closed its borders to overseas visitors at this time due to the Covid pandemic).

Cover: Shenmue The Animation version

Shenmue The Animation version: inner pages

In this post, our focus will be on exploring the changes and distinctions found within this version of the map compared to its predecessors. Specifically, we will be delving into the Japanese-language editions, as although the original release and the Shenmue I & II versions were available in both English and Japanese, the anime edition is exclusively offered in Japanese.
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Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Poll Result: Patrons' Choice Topic for August 2023

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:

"Translation of an early 'Muecas Dan' edition"

What Was Muecas Dan?

The "Muecas Dan" (ムーキャス団, meaning Muecas Club) page was a regularly-published online section of Japanese-language Shenmue content which ran from early 2001 to 2004.

It was introduced in the March 2001 (Vol. 62) edition of the Weekly AM2 online magazine, inside a section called 'Shenmue Cast Fan' - with 'Shenmue' of course referring to the game, and 'Cast' referring to the voice and motion actors/actresses. The name "Muecas" (ムーキャス) was formed from an abbreviation of  the words "Shenmue" and "Cast".

Logo for the "Shenmue Cast FAN" series which ran for only a few weeks before being replaced.

Muecas Dan was presented as a shadowy, elite organization with members known only by a code number or alias.

Two members gave their own tongue-in-cheek introductions:

"T.C." (which stood for "Top Cat")
T.C: "I'm T.C, Code Number 001 of the Muecas Club. I've got the vigor of a Wednesday morning and no one can beat my hourly voice dubbing output! My special skill is imitating Ryo's voice!"
Giwara: "Hic. I can't drink anymore... Oh, it's my turn? I'm a sabotage specialist, Code Number 00... hic, 002. I'm also known as 'Giwara.' I can destroy everything from a chicken coop to a satellite - except for twelve things."
Although never stated outright, the more perceptive readers may have realized from the humorous hints that these two members were, in fact, the genuine Masaya Matsukaze (the Japanese voice/actor for Ryo Hazuki) and Takumi Hagiwara (the Japanese voice/actor for Wuying Ren) themselves. Together with other members of the Shenmue project team, they would go on to write humorous responses to fan submissions each week.

Before long, the new Muecas Dan page would grow in size and become the main place for Shenmue-related content, replacing the earlier Shenmue Cast FAN page and branding, and finding a new home on the official website.

Muecas Dan logo and slogan ("We are the Muecas Club!! ~I Love Shenmue Deeply~")

Post Topic

In the near future we will be translating into English one of the first editions of Muecas from 2001. Watch for it to come!

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Sunday, August 6, 2023

Weekly AM2 Volume 8 - Results of the 1st Network Rankings Competition | 1st Feb 2000

In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. News and information about the Shenmue series could be found regularly within these pages from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Vol. 8 reveals the winners of the First Network Rankings Competition, and announces a second tournament.



Vol.8: 2000.2.1

Hello, I'm Takuan, and I spend all my time in Shenmue working as a forklift operator.

This week we will be announcing the results of the Network Rankings Competition. Is your name included? Check now!

This week's contents:
  • Results of the 1st Network Rankings Competition
  • Announcement of the 2nd Network Rankings Competition
  • News: Creation of a "Shenmue Spoilers BBS"
  • What is 18 Wheeler? [omitted from translation]

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