The first Shenmue: The Animation trailer is officially here, offering a glimpse of how the pioneering Dreamcast series translates to anime. As expected, it’s filled with a lot of solid kung fu action, which should please long-time fans of the series.
You can check out the trailer below, which went up shortly after the conclusion of the Shenmue: The Animation panel that took place during New York Comic Con 2021.
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The panel featured series creator Yu Suzuki as well as director Chikara Sakurai and producer Yu Kiyozono. Along with Sola Entertainment producer Joseph Chou, they discussed how the anime will adapt the game’s sprawling story and its unique world.
Talking about Shenmue’s legacy, Suzuki said that Shenmue’s story is “so grand and long that it’s hard to convey to many people as a game series.” Suzuki has previously said that Shenmue 3 only takes the sprawling martial arts epic to about the 40% completion mark,
“Animation is a lot more straightforward than a game. It is perfectly suited for creating a linear story,” Suzuki said.
Sakurai, meanwhile, admitted that he hasn’t actually played the original Shenmue, saying that he didn’t have enough money at the time. In a bit of self-awareness, Sakurai said, “I am making a movie out of a the game I was not able to play. That is interesting.”
Set in both Yokosuka and Hong Kong, Shenmue: The Animation will feature familiar characters and scenes from the series, including flashback scenes featuring characters like Shenmue. It will utilize a mix of hand-drawn and computer animation to create many of its backdrops.
The series was first announced last year at the Crunchyroll Expo, with Suzuki confirmed as the executive producer. It will comprise 13 episodes and a dubbed version will air on Adult Swim and stream on Crunchyroll. The anime has been in production since before the release of Shenmue 3, and will see the return of several of the core voice actors from the games.
Shenmue 3 revived the series back in 2019, picking up the story from 2001’s Shenmue 2. In our review, wrote that it feels like it’s from “a different era” and that it’s about “five steps behind modern games.”
“This direct continuation of Shenmue 2’s story and gameplay did feel like coming home for someone who had all but given up hope of ever returning to Ryo Hazuki’s world, and for that reason, I am glad Shenmue 3, in all its oddity, exists. I just wish it had given me the satisfying story I returned for,” reviewer Kyler Hilliard wrote.
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Suzuki, at least, sees Shenmue’s more dated aspects as a feature rather than a bug. “You can experience and taste the inconvenient times of 1986. If you simply want to enjoy playing the game, it can be a bit stressful unless you are a real enthusiast,” he said during today’s panel.
We’ll see whether Shenmue: The Animation is more accessible to general audiences when it releases in 2022.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN