1985, Yokosuka. Ryo Hazuki has trained to master the Hazuki Style Jujitsu under his strict father in the Hazuki Dojo from his childhood. However, one day a mysterious man named Lan Di murders his father and takes the “mirror” his father was protecting. Ryo is determined to find the truth behind his father’s murder, but soon finds himself getting stuck in a war between the underground organizations…. Traveling from Yokosuka to Hong Kong, Ryo’s long journey begins!
Ho boy... Shenmue, the anime. You can't write a review of it, without mentioning the fact, that this anime is an adaptation of a video game series, with episodes 1-5 being an adaptation of the plot of the first game (Shenmue I, 1999), episodes 6-13 being an apdatation of the plot of the second game (Shenmue II, 2001). When adapting the storyline of an interactive piece of media (such as a video game) to a less interactive form of media (such as an anime, live-action movie or TV series), there are so many things that can go wrong, and much to my positive surprise, Shenmue the Animation did everything right.It captured the essence of the story perfectly, it has all the important characters, and at times, it even expanded upon the story a bit, which is quite the feat given, given that...Well, you see, both of the aforementioned games (Shenmue I and Shenmue II) have a run time of around 23 hours each (adding up to around ~46 hours for both games), while the entire anime series is made up of thirteen 23-minute episodes, adding up to a total playtime of roughly 5 hours. How do you compress 46 hours worth of story down to 5 hours? I don't know, but the creators managed to do it pretty well, if you ask me. In fact, some parts actually felt a bit drawn-out, so maybe they didn't compress it enough?The animation, soundtrack, voice acting, etc. everything is perfect, no complaints there. The story is engaging and constantly keeps you thrilled and engaged. A ton of eye-candy too for those who are looking for fanservice amidst the serious plot. A must-watch anime for both Shenmue-fans and people who never played (or even heard of) the original games. Looking forward for the future sequel.
As a Shenmue fan I can confidently say this animation did the games justice with the great animation, VA cast, soundtrack and attention to story. I felt like I was reliving the glory of Shenmue, back when the games were better (unlike the third game). I do however wish the anime was fully animated, I noticed that background characters were 3d models with no faces, most likely due to the budget. Another issue was the fact that Ryo felt too OP (overpowered) in a lot of his early fights and they just didn't feel like a challenge for him so it felt like he shouldn't have found as much success right away, but I think this also may have been due to the budget. I also wish this had become a full series that finished the story but I understand that Shenmue's story will never be finished because of Yu Suzuki. I can only hope that one day the games will be revived by a great team (like the team that handled Yakuza 0) and that will be enough to add more seasons to the anime. Despite the shortcomings of Shenmue's creator, I am at least glad that the story and characters will never die since they are immortalized in this anime.
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