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Our First Look At Shenmue: The Animation

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A year ago Adult Swim announced they were working with Crunchyroll to produce, among other things, an anime series based on Shenmue. Today, thanks to New York Comic-Con, we got our first real look at the adaption in motion.

Shenmue is a series of video games created by Yu Suzuki, set in the 1980s and revolving around Ryo Hazuki, a Japanese citizen who witnesses his father’s murder and vows revenge. Catching his daddy’s killer, however, is far from simple…Ryo’s journey takes him across Japan, into Hong Kong and through parts of China, all the while honing his karate skills for the day he confronts his target.

The original Shenmue was considered revolutionary when it hit the Dreamcast in 2000; it was one of the first open-world 3D games and an ambitious attempt to create as realistic a world as possible. In this case, that meant the plot was not advanced by simply cutting from action scene to action scene. Your activities in Shenmue involved Ryo simply living his life, collecting gacha figures, playing Sega 80s arcade games like Hang-On, or driving a forklift around.

In adapting Shenmue for television, we expected a lot of that fat to be trimmed out, and we appear to be right. The trailer mainly shows Ryo kicking and punching people, an activity you only rarely got to do in the game series. One thing that still isn’t clear is if the show will be doing something the games never could: completing the story. Yes, a Shenmue 3 was famously crowdfunded by enthusiastic fans in 2015, but Suzuki made the risky choice of NOT wrapping it up. This could be his last chance. Will he take it?

The Shenmue anime will be directed by Chikara Sakurai (One Punch Man, Naruto) with Telecom Animation Film, a TMS subsidiary, handling the animation. Sola Entertainment is producing and Suzuki will watch over in an executive producer role. The show’s sub will hit Crunchyroll in 2022 and the dub will air on Toonami at the same time.