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.

The Cover

This updated version of the Guide Map features character art from Shenmue the Animation prominently on the cover. In a departure from the previous iterations, the presence of a large Shenmue logo has been omitted, and instead there is a smaller promotional logo for the Shenmue x Yokosuka Anime Commemoration Project.

Comparison of covers (left to right): Original, TGS 2018, Shenmue The Animation

The copyright notice at the bottom of the map includes alongside SEGA the words 'Shenmue Project', which is the entity name we have previously seen associated with Shenmue The Animation. Additionally, a subtle alteration can be observed in the large Japanese characters running across the bottom. In the initial two versions of the map, it read "Shenmue Chapter 1 Yokosuka Sacred Spot Guide Map." However, in the anime version, the "Chapter 1" designation has been omitted, and the character size has been slightly increased to span the page. The style of these characters aligns with the TGS version but features thinner strokes.

Lower text detail (top to bottom): Original, TGS 2018, Shenmue The Animation

In the older two versions of the map, the smaller text on the cover reads:
"1986, Yokosuka. Pursuing the whereabouts of the man who killed his father, Ryo Hazuki races through the winter streets. Revisit the streets of Yokosuka that he once ran through".

In the anime map, the text has been expanded:

"1986, Yokosuka. Ryo Hazuki's journey began as he pursued the whereabouts of the man who took his father's life. It has been 23 years since the Shenmue story started within the game. And now, the stage expands to the world of animation. In both the gaming and animation realms, revisit the streets of Yokosuka that he once ran through."

Inner Pages: Map of Dobuita

The anime version of the map introduces an orange-colored background, departing from the blue and green hues of the previous versions. However, apart from this alteration, there are not many significant changes.

One notable modification is the depiction of Ryo Hazuki in the graphic, where he now stands on the right side. The end of the rope he holds over his shoulder leads to the duffel-style bag, evidence that this model is one from the game's early development stages.

The three versions are compared below.

Map of Dobuita: comparison of the three versions (top to bottom): Original, TGS 2018, Shenmue The Animation

Inner Pages: Heading Illustrations

The small illustrations next to each heading have also been updated with new images. The comparison below shows how the images vary between the original, TGS 2018 and anime versions.
  • "PLAYBACK YOKOSUKA 1986" heading: Ryo and Nozomi on the motorbike -> Nozomi at the flower shop, with Ryo superimposed -> Ryo and Nozomi with the moon behind
  • "Dobuita St." heading: Nozomi -> Kurita-san in front of his shop -> Saijo-san, the bartender at Bar Yokosuka
  • "Sakuragaoka ~ Yamanose" heading: Iwao Hazuki -> Nozomi holding a bunch of tulips -> Lan Di
  • "New Yokosuka Harbor Warehouse District / Route 16" heading: Ryo in a fighting stance -> Mark at the harbor -> Guizhang

Heading illustration variations (left to right): Original, TGS 2018 and Shenmue The Animation

Inner Pages: Map of Yokosuka

It is a nice touch that with each new map version, the graphics accompanying the text descriptions have also been changed each time. 
  • [New Yokosuka Harbor Warehouse District] Guizhang -> Goro -> Ryo (on a forklift)
  • [Route 16] Ryo -> Nozomi -> Nozomi (a different image from the earlier one)
  • [Dobuita St.] Nozomi -> Tom -> Kurita-san
  • [Sakuragaoka ~ Yamanose] Megumi -> Ine-san -> Iwao

Yokosuka Area Map character head variations (top to bottom): Original, TGS 2018, Shenmue The Animation

Location Photos

Below the map is a collection of photographs of actual places that inspired locations in the game. One update of significance is that Tom's Hot Dog Truck is no longer included in this section, and instead has been replaced by the KNOCK MOTOR shop.

Until a few years ago, a food truck did in fact operate from one of the parking lots in Dobuita St, however it seems to have moved elsewhere in recent times. KNOCK MOTOR is a motorbike repair shop that was situated just off Dobuita St in the 1980s and was of course the inspiration for the Knocking Motorcycle Shop in the game.

One other minor change has been made in this section: where an illustration of Iwao once accompanied the text describing the Sakuragaoka/Yamanose area, this is now of Ine-san.

Tom's Hot Dog Truck in the previous map versions (left) has been replaced with a new location: KNOCK MOTOR. In the nearby description of Yamanose, the illustration now has Ine-san in place of Iwao. 

The scenery photos in the "Playback Yokosuka 1986" panel have also been renewed with a fresh selection.
The photos in the "Playback Yokosuka 1986" panel have been renewed (left: previous versions, right: Shenmue The Animation version)

"Shenmue Briefing" Page

The briefing page retains similarities to the TGS 2018 version but has undergone a revamp:
  • A minor detail is that the image for the Shenmue I & II release now shows the standard edition, and not the Japanese Limited Edition box (which included the Sound Collection CD)
  • The Japanese text is now horizontal rather than the vertical orientation of the earlier versions. The text content itself remains unchanged from the TGS 2018 version.
  • The images of Shenhua and Ryo, that were previously on the page, are no longer present.
The last two changes have allowed space for a new banner graphic for Shenmue III to be added at the bottom of the page.

A Shenmue III banner has been added to the "Shenmue Briefing" page. 

Shenmue The Animation Page

The most significant update to the pamphlet is the rear page, which previously introduced local specialty foods and parks in the area. This entire page is now dedicated to the anime.

The top half of the page introduces several of the key characters making an appearance during the Yokosuka section of the story: Ryo Hazuki, Lan Di, Nozomi Harasaki, Guizhang Chen, Shenhua, Iwao Hazuki, Master Chen, Mark Kimberly and Chai. Beneath each is the name of the corresponding voice actor (for the Japanese voices).

Shenmue The Animation character introductions

The bottom half of the page is entitled "Introducing the Yokosuka of Shenmue The Animation!" (with Goro and Mai featuring at either side of the heading). Here, several real-life locations are described as featured in the anime.

Anime vs Real-life Location Comparisons

Here comparisons are shown of the locations as seen in the anime, together with photos of the real-life places on which they were based, as follows:
  • Shenmue The Animation location: Yokosuka City Sports Center
    Real-life location: Yokosuka Arena (related: our comparison photo post)
  • Shenmue The Animation location: Mikasa Park
    Real-life location: Mikasa Park (related: our comparison photo post)
  • Shenmue The Animation location: Dobuita St.
    Real-life location: Dobuita St. (related: our comparison photo post)
  • Shenmue The Animation location: New Yokosuka Harbor to Dobuita St.
    Real-life location: Route 16 (related: our comparison photo post)
  • Shenmue The Animation location: Knocking
    Real-life location: KNOCK MOTOR (related: our previous interview with the owner)
  • Shenmue The Animation location: 'Suka High
    Real-life location: Yokosuka High School (related: our comparison photo post)

Final Comment

The Shenmue Sacred Spot Guide Map has become a must-have companion for Shenmue enthusiasts exploring the real-life charm of Dobuita Street and its surroundings. From its debut in 2017 to the recent release commemorating Shenmue the Animation, this map has captured the hearts of fans. With each version, Yokosuka City and SEGA have taken the time to carefully update the map to reflect the growth of the franchise and its expansion into different mediums. One thing has remained consistent: it allows fans to uncover the connections between the virtual world of Shenmue and the reality of Yokosuka, tracing Ryo Hazuki's footsteps around his hometown.

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