Friday, January 26, 2024

(Part 1/3) Concept Art from the 2022 Shenmue The Animation Promotional Event

Concept art displayed at the entrance of the Honey Bee restaurant

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.
During the event, exhibits of concept art and sketches from both the early days of the game's development as well as during the anime's creation were put on display inside a number of stores around the Dobuita Street area.

The event was divided into three periods or "phases" that lasted 3 weeks each. The artwork selection was completely refreshed at the start of each period, rewarding those visitors lucky enough to be able to visit Dobuita St multiple times across the event period.

As only a limited number of fortunate fans would have been able to attend the event in person, we have gathered together as many photos of these art pieces as possible, with adjustments applied for perspective and/or contrast. There was a mixture of sketches and art from Shenmue The Animation, as well as from development of the first Shenmue game.

This first post focuses on images displayed during the Phase One of the event.

Special thanks to も_なお Mo_Naomi (@greed_air on Twitter / X) for providing her photos for the art displayed during Phase Two and Phase Three. The Phase One photos were sourced from my own visit. 

Karate Tournament

"Background Art #01: Yokosuka General Sports Hall, Corridor (Day)"

Rival high school opponents (top) and Ryo's team members (bottom)

"Background Art #01: Yokosuka General Sports Hall, Match Venue (Day)"

Close-up detail

"Karate Tournament"

Hazuki Residence & Dojo

"Shenmue (Game), Stage Rendering Image During Development: Hazuki Residence Dojo"

"Lan Di vs Iwao"


"Shenmue (Game), Stage Rendering Image During Development: Sakuragaoka"

"Background Art #01: Sakuragaoka Park (Day)"

Close-up detail

"Background Art #01: Sakuragaoka Park (Day, Snow)"

Close-up detail


"Background Art #02: Alley to Heart Beats"

Close-up detail

"Background Art #02: Heart Beats Interior (Night)"

Heart Beats bar: close-up detail

Shenmue (Game), Stage Rendering Image During Development: Dobuita St.


"Shenmue (Game): Early Rough Sketches"

"Ryo Fighting"


"Ryo and Nozomi"

"People Ryo Meets"


"Shenmue (Game) Storyboard: Meeting Joy"

"Shenmue (Game): Sketch of Dragon & Phoenix Mirrors"

More art from the event to follow in Part Two!

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  1. Some of the CGI renders used for the back cover (and manuals) of the Japanese and PAL versions, but also some never-before-seen, neither on magazines nor Press Kits!
    If only these were somewhere, out there, in high quality PSD file format...

    Is that a bicycle wheel peeking to the side of the house entrance?
    It'd be a logical place to put it, but perhaps even more logical to actually show it in full?
    Maybe that was one of the reasons they scrapped it: where to put it; not practical to traverse through Yamanose and Sakuragaoka; does Ryo own (it) or "picks/steals" the one that Guangji Wang leaves at Maison de Ishikawa?

    'Cause in Shenmue II it's justified for the completion of the Xiaoqin Liu quest, in which case the context of having it borrowed from her grandpa makes sense, as does the distance...

    1. It does indeed look like a bicycle wheel at the side of the house entrance! In fact, you also get a similar glimpse in the What's Shenmue VHS:

      I agree that having a useable bicycle for Ryo in the first game would have introduced a lot of headaches e.g. trying to navigate through Dobuita on a crowded afternoon, or parking the bicycle in the middle of the road and causing a traffic jam. Letting Ryo "borrow" Wang's bicycle would have been quite funny though!

  2. Oh, hadn't noticed!
    I think that confirms it: it's even possible to glimpse the luggage carrier/metal rack!