Crunchyroll, Adult Swim Announce A Shenmue Anime, Will It Be Good?

Tornado kicks, canned coffee and forklifts, Shenmue The Animation will definitely change a few things so the Shenmue formula can work as a TV anime.

September 5, 2020

In a surprising move, Crunchyroll announced at the Virtual Crunchyroll Expo an anime adaptation for Shenmue is coming, titled Shenmue The Animation. It’ll be a 13 episode TV anime produced by Crunchyroll itself and Adult Swim. The anime itself is made by Telecom Animation Film, the studio which recently worked on the anime adaptation of popular Korean manga Tower of God, which was also co-produced by Crunchyroll.

Yu Suzuki is credited as Executive Producer for the anime, and it’ll be directed by Chikara Sakurai, a veteran animator who also directed Magimoji Rurumo and the second season of One Punch Man at JC Staff. More details like airing date, the cast and further names on the staff will be coming later. It’s likely the cast will be the same one as in Shenmue 3. We’ll know for sure when a first trailer comes over. An official Twitter opened for now:

Note that something related to Shenmue was recently reported to be revealed. It turned out to be Shenmue The Animation.

Shenmue is a very particular game where players spend most of their time investigating and questioning NPCs. It’s often compared to the Yakuza series but it’s actually very different. Mainly in how Shenmue has way less action and fights. Most notably the first Shenmue game, which I assume is what will be adapted with these 13 episodes. If it turns out well, it might be a good entry point into the franchise for those who never owned a Dreamcast or didn’t try out the recent remasters. Keeping all of the above in mind though, I assume there will be a lot of changes made for Shenmue to work as an anime series.

Moreover, the story of Shenmue in itself isn’t particularly innovative or interesting. The adventure of protagonist Ryo Hazuki trying to avenge his father by pursuing Lan Di is a typical martial arts story. What makes Shenmue so impressive and memorable is its game package. How it encompass this story, its charismatic characters and resonating themes. It’s still one of the most immersive games ever to this day. I have a hard time imagining how the anime will reproduce Ryo questioning everyone, knocking on every door, and longingly examining every shelf and drawer he comes across. If it does manages to pull it off though, it’ll definitely be a fun experience for any 20 years long Shenmue fan.

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Shenmue 3 did a lot of things wrong, most notably its battle system, but it wasn’t as bad if you actually like the series. Personally, my main gripe was how it barely advances the overall story, especially considering how Yu Suzuki teased it a few weeks before release. Maybe this anime will be a good way for fans to wait until Shenmue 4.

In a short video interview for Shenmue The Animation, Yu Suzuki said he hopes fans will warmly welcome the series. Director Chikara Sakurai mentioned he was too poor to buy the game back when it released, so he’s really happy to be working on this project now. However, he needs to be careful and not go overboard with doing everything he wanted to back then but couldn’t:

Crunchyroll in the past has already been on anime production committees of certain anime series, guaranteeing itself the licensing rights to stream those series in the process. On February 25, 2020, Crunchyroll announced a new “Crunchyroll Originals” label that will include everything it produces or co-produces. Shenmue The Animation should be under that label.

Shenmue III is available now on PS4 and PC. Shenmue I&II the remaster compilation, is on PS4, PC, and Xbox One if you’d like to discover the series.

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Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane (He/Him) is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. He speaks Japanese, has been watching anime for over 25 years, and plays Genshin Impact mainly for its story. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07.

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