Sunday, July 16, 2023

Joe & George Kitchen's Magical Fan-made Videos

A hilarious skateboard scene from Episode 7 of the Shenmue Short Stories video series

Anyone who has not yet discovered the collection of fan-made Shenmue videos created by Joe and George Kitchen... you've been missing out on a fantastic experience.

It is truly mesmerizing to see Shenmue's world in such beauty, with a cinematic presentation that pulls the viewer into the stories being told. Joe has hand-crafted the graphics and animations for each video over the course of weeks, months - even years before each video's release. From a technical standpoint, the scenes aren't running on the Shenmue engine, but were built inside animation software from the original assets. The result is just as convincing as if they were part of the original games.

Characters are fully animated and interact within meticulously-recreated environments enhanced with a multitude of stunning visual effects: blossom petals drift down from cherry trees, puddles still glistening from recent rain reflect the surroundings; mist swirls on a mountain road in the evening; clouds gradually change shape as the sun sets behind distant mountains; Christmas lights strung along house roofs softly illuminate a wintry night.

Entirely new environments that weren't present in the original games have been expertly imagined and crafted to the point of being indistinguishable from those of the original games: office and bedroom interiors, mountain cliffs and even the interior of a train.

Making the videos even more special are the gorgeous original musical compositions. Each music piece could easily be mistaken for an official Shenmue track, and they have been written with such detailed attention that the brothers even located and obtained the actual musical instruments and synthesized sounds. The music consists of compositions by both Joe and George.

Some videos bring officially-unused models to life, such as Master Yunhai from Shenmue II's cut Miao Village storyline

Shenmue Short Stories

For particular mention is the Shenmue Short Stories, a video series that expands upon the characters in the Shenmue world with creative and entertaining portrayals of their challenges, aspirations and hidden accomplishments.

Each video focuses on a selected character and offers captivating and humorous glimpses into the lives of characters from the games, an experience that would otherwise be inaccessible to us as fans. Meticulous research has gone into every video to maintain consistency with the backgrounds of the characters as hinted at during gameplay and in official biography profiles, expanding on the established lore.

Episode 8: Iwao puts young Ryo to bed

Watching these videos as each story unfolds before your eyes, accompanied by poignant theme songs and musical compositions, is immensely satisfying, and will undoubtedly evoke emotions and bring a tear to the eyes of many Shenmue fans.

The most recent episode, Episode 10: Megumi Grows Up, is yet another technical marvel with a tale that pulls at the heart-strings. George Kitchen's newly-composed set of five songs enhance the atmosphere within Joe's spectacular visual presentation. In addition, for this episode professional voice talents Eric Kelso (returning as the voice of Fukuhara-san) and Chelly Li recorded exclusive lines for this episode.

As always, the video showcases meticulous attention to the smallest details, inviting repeated viewings. Here are a few things to watch out for!
  • It is fun to see Ryo wearing his backpack on both shoulders, rather than his typical style of slinging it over one shoulder.
  • Subtle yet natural shadows caused by characters and objects, reflections in puddles, and the layer of mud that forms on a certain character after he takes a tumble, the flashlight illumination effect at the park.
  • A cameo from Mark.
  • Yamagishi-san's hilarious scene steals the show, while being true to his background.
  • Completed at last: keep an eye out to see how the construction site in Sakuragaoka is transformed in the future.
  • If you wished you could see Yu Suzuki's cut "boat chapter", you won't want to miss this one!
  • A special scene at the end, set on a moving train, gives a shout-out to all the Shenmue communities (it was an unexpected and moving surprise to see a Phantom River Stone billboard inside Shenmue's world!).

There are currently 10 Shenmue Short Stories, with new videos being added regularly:

  • [Episode 1] Haru Hirata Christmas: "Hirita-san gets her own short story and theme!"
  • [Episode 2] Shinkichi Noda: "owner of Uokichi Seafood on Dobuita Street, Yokosuka".
  • [Episode 3] Fantuanzi of Languishan: "Only 10 but already taller and heavier than the older kids in the village. He often gets into fights and is mostly an outcast. He aids his Grandfather who is in poor health". 
  • [Episode 4] Minoru Asada: "Minoru Asada gets a theme song and a short story starring himself."
  • [Episode 5] Hisaka Sawano: "Valentine's edition starring Kondo-san & Hisaka-san".
  • [Episode 6] Xin Bao: "Short story starring Xin Bao from Shenmue 2".
  • [Episode 7] Zhouji Lin Visits Godhead Fortuneteller's: "Zhouji Lin (Camera man) pays a visit to Tang Lu in seek of direction after being robbed by a local female biker..."
  • [Episode 8] Iwao and Young Ryo: "Shenmue Story of Iwao and Young Ryo w/ Chonger of Languishan."
  • [Episode 9] Arihiro & Rika Sato Battle Nagai Industries: "loosely based on Shenmue Passport character profiles".
  • [Episode 10] Megumi Grows Up: "a story of Megumi and her adjustment to a Yokosuka without Ryo and Nozomi". 
Episode 6 tells a story of Xin Bao

Visit the Joseph Kitchen Fried Noodles YouTube Channel

The Shenmue community is incredibly fortunate to have fans like Joe and George generously sharing their skills and creating fresh and imaginative content for the enjoyment of the entire community..

All of these incredible videos and more can be found on the Joseph Kitchen Fried Noodles YouTube channel, managed by Joe. Make sure to subscribe to his channel to stay updated with upcoming videos upon their release.

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  1. What a surprise! Thank you for all the detailed analysis and of course I was gonna have your billboard in the Megumi video!

    1. Too kind :) Keep up the great work!.

    2. Making me want to rewatch the whole series again guys, never stop ๐Ÿ™ DVD season 1 material ๐Ÿ‘€? Replying as Anonymous too, so humble! ๐Ÿ˜‡

    3. A DVD is a brilliant idea!