Differences Between the Anime and the Games (SPOILERS!)

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Nov 23, 2019
Unsure if this has already been covered but obviously there are going to be differences between the anime and the games and even in the first episode there are already some big ones! Here's what I noticed:

1. Ryo's character: first of all, the anime takes place shortly before the events of the game so we get to see what Ryo was like before his father died. He's a great fighter (duh), he's popular with a big social circle, and he's super disciplined. Even after his father's murder, his judgement is less clouded by revenge: he makes time for Nozomi and even laughs! Overall he's characterized as way less of a "blank slate" and much more of a "normal guy" while still feeling absolutely true to the character. Love it.

2. Lan Di gave Ryo his cheek scar. I get why they did this, they establish that Ryo is king shit for his age to the point where he's never been hit and the first thing Lan Di does is make him bleed in a place that everyone will be able to see. It's likely that Ryo's scar was just a visual flourish and not meant to be anything important so I don't think it'll affect the story or anything. I actually like this change as well.

3. Lan Di knows about both mirrors! We'll see how this plays out in future episodes but if Lan Di knows about both mirrors and suspects that both are in Japan it'll be very interesting to see why he leaves with only one. This isn't really a change, more just establishing what was always a possibility but because they are now cutting to different perspectives, I really hope they address why Lan Di would leave with only one mirror.

4. Ryo beats Chai in the dojo. I get why they wanted to end episode 1 with a bang and the ending to Shenmue 1 isn't even going to be the ending to this season so Chai isn't necessarily the "big bad" he was in the first game but it will make his next appearances a little anti climactic. I'm not a huge fan of this change but we'll see what they plan for the ending to S1.

What's the vibe? Do you guys like the changes?
 
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1. Ryo's character: first of all, the anime takes place shortly before the events of the game so we get to see what Ryo was like before his father died. He's a great fighter (duh), he's popular with a big social circle, and he's super disciplined. Even after his father's murder, his judgement is less clouded by revenge: he makes time for Nozomi and even laughs! Overall he's characterized as way less of a "blank slate" and much more of a "normal guy" while still feeling absolutely true to the character. Love it.

Love it too. It's a great table setter for the tragedy to come in Ryo's life.


2. Lan Di gave Ryo his cheek scar. I get why they did this, they establish that Ryo is king shit for his age to the point where he's never been hit and the first thing Lan Di does is make him bleed in a place that everyone will be able to see. It's likely that Ryo's scar was just a visual flourish and not meant to be anything important so I don't think it'll affect the story or anything. I actually like this change as well.

Yeah the only unfortunate revelation is that I thought for decades there was a hidden meaning behind the band-aid on Ryo's face that would be revealed in a future installment. Now that it appears it was just a design choice for the character, I like that they tied it to his fight with Lan Di. Gives it more meaning.


3. Lan Di knows about both mirrors! We'll see how this plays out in future episodes but if Lan Di knows about both mirrors and suspects that both are in Japan it'll be very interesting to see why he leaves with only one. This isn't really a change, more just establishing what was always a possibility but because they are now cutting to different perspectives, I really hope they address why Lan Di would leave with only one mirror.

I can't remember now, but didn't Lan Di know there were 2 mirrors but assumed the other was in China? Isn't that why he was going after Yuanda Zhu?


4. Ryo beats Chai in the dojo. I get why they wanted to end episode 1 with a bang and the ending to Shenmue 1 isn't even going to be the ending to this season so Chai isn't necessarily the "big bad" he was in the first game but it will make his next appearances a little anti climactic. I'm not a huge fan of this change but we'll see what they plan for the ending to S1.

Surprised by this too. I'm fine with it ultimately and they can always do something in the middle with Chai where he evens the score to show he isn't a slouch and just underestimated Ryo the first time.

Some other changes I liked were the personality changes to Nozomi, as well as giving us some context with Tom showing that he's popular with the youth.

Also stunned to realize the original game never involved the police which upon retrospect was crazy. How in the hell did they have nothing to investigate? :LOL: Makes total sense for the show to at least mention the police.

Another change I really like is seeing Shenhua. She's the next important character so it makes sense that the show reminds the audience of her before they meet later. I hope we see slice of life snippets of her in Bailu here and there during the season while Ryo is in Japan. Also hope we see Ryo having dreams of her and even Shenhua possibly dreaming of Ryo.
 
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I can't remember now, but didn't Lan Di know there were 2 mirrors but assumed the other was in China? Isn't that why he was going after Yuanda Zhu?
Yeah I assumed that's what was going on but now that the story isn't exclusively told from Ryo's perspective it'll be nice to get clarification. It'd be kind of weird if they show Lan Di telling his lackey to find the second mirror and then he just chills in his hotel room before taking off to Hong Kong without establishing why. But then this season might cover Kowloon, so who knows?

I'm fine with it ultimately and they can always do something in the middle with Chai where he evens the score to show he isn't a slouch and just underestimated Ryo the first time.
It works when you consider that Chai is going to be a recurring villain. I was one of those people that thought he was done after the first game but if he's gonna keep coming back then Ryo is going to keep beating him.

Also stunned to realize the original game never involved the police which upon retrospect was crazy. How in the hell did they have nothing to investigate? :LOL: Makes total sense for the show to at least mention the police.
Loved that as well. Even when Chai attacks Ryo their first thought is to call the police. I love how everyone is gradually concerned about Ryo and he's more concerned with finding out WHY his father was killed than with outright revenge.

Another change I really like is seeing Shenhua. I hope we see slice of life snippets of her in Bailu here and there. Also hope we see Ryo having dreams of her and even Shenhua possibly dreaming of Ryo.
Totally agree! Especially if they don't make it to the cave this season, it really helps put the emphasis on where the story is going and even in the first episode lets you know that this isn't just a story about a boy in Japan. I wonder if we'll get other perspectives? Maybe introduce more Chi You Men earlier on?
 
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It's interesting the way they've switched around certain plot beats and introduced certain elements earlier.

As it stands, Ryo actually has two threads to investigate simultaneously: investigate the "Chinese mafia", which looks like it's leading to Charlie next episode, and also Yuanda Zhu's letter. Excited to see how they handle this, and we may even be meeting master Chen by the end of episode 2.
 
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Oct 31, 2019
Lots of small differences, I'm sure I missed some as well.

Aside from the overall structural changes to the story (i.e. introducing the S2 ending in the opening, he fights Enoki before his father dies, etc.) there were little things I noticed omitted. Lan Di no longer mentions Meng Cun when bringing up Suming Zhao, no shot of his Chi You Men tattoo either. Lan Di also mentions to Ryo that he's not ready for him yet, really reminded me of this scene (TS 5:34) in S3.

As mentioned, the biggest change is Ryo's reaction to his father death. His entire motivation now is clearing his father's name in his mind rather than revenge. We'll see how that plays out in the next few episodes.

In terms of making the story feel more natural, I love that they included the police and showed some of Ryo's life prior to the beginning of the game. I also thought the way they introduced Ajiichi and the information about how he finds out that Lan Di was connected to Chinese cartels very natural. I'm sure we'll still see a investigation montage in ep2 though.

I think there is a lot of potential, and we've only seen the pilot, so excited to see what comes next. I'm pretty sure this will be an active thread as we notice a lot more divergences from the games in the coming episodes.
 
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Aside from the overall structural changes to the story (i.e. introducing the S2 ending in the opening
Hopefully this means that the anime will make it that far in the first season. I think they announced that it won't finish S2 though. It's hard to remember that "Shenmue 1" doesn't mean anything in terms of the anime since it's only a few episodes. The season will have a totally different "ending".

Lan Di no longer mentions Meng Cun when bringing up Suming Zhao, no shot of his Chi You Men tattoo either. Lan Di also mentions to Ryo that he's not ready for him yet,
It's possible that these only existed as breadcrumbs for gameplay purposes, especially the tattoo. Unless there's something special about Meng Cun in particular, there's no reason that Iwao couldn't have killed Sunming literally anywhere. Could also be information that's being saved for a different time as @Mr Sun said.

As it stands, Ryo actually has two threads to investigate simultaneously: investigate the "Chinese mafia", which looks like it's leading to Charlie next episode, and also Yuanda Zhu's letter. Excited to see how they handle this, and we may even be meeting master Chen by the end of episode 2.
In terms of making the story feel more natural, I love that they included the police and showed some of Ryo's life prior to the beginning of the game. I also thought the way they introduced Ajiichi and the information about how he finds out that Lan Di was connected to Chinese cartels very natural. I'm sure we'll still see a investigation montage in ep2 though.
Looks like S1 might get wrapped up in as few as 4-5 episodes at this pace. Episode 2 might even have him explore the basement.
 
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I kind of like the idea of Lan Di giving Ryo his scar. That's actually a cool little retcon to me and maybe gives more meaning as to why he keeps it bandaged the whole way through. As in it's his physical scarring to go along with his mental scarring.

There's honestly nothing to say that Lan Di doesn't know about both mirrors in the games.. With the games, we are so locked into Ryo's perspective that we never actually get to see anyone else's perspective. So this is the one cool thing about the anime. It actually allows us a chance to see other perspectives. It's never established in the games that Lan Di doesn't know about the second mirror because we never see a single scene from his perspective. In the games, we have no access to Lan Di's perspective at all. We know barely anything about this guy. But with the anime, it's clear we're gonna get a little more.

As for the Chai stuff, I think that was the point where I had to accept that this isn't going to be a verbatim retelling of the game and that it will stand on its own two feet. Which I'm kind of okay with. I don't necessarily mind if it does treat things a little differently just because I like the idea of telling this story in a new way. I've seen and played Shenmue 1 and 2 countless times. They will always be there. But to have a new presentation of the story is really interesting to me and I can't wait to view it on its own two feet.
 
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Unless there's some sort of mistranslation, Lan Di apparently wasn't aware there was even a 2nd mirror in the Shenmue 1 bad ending. At 1:15 he says "I heard there's another mirror".


I do wonder if he thinks the Phoenix mirror is in Japan or somewhere else. Also, it's possible that the location of the Phoenix mirror is changed in the anime, though I would love for there to still be the basement scene as that was my 2nd favorite scene in S1 besides the opening.

I always thought Ryo's scar came from the Karate tournament, but I could be mistaken. I agree that the scar coming from Lan Di is a nice change. It's very simple and dare I say "tropey', but effective nonetheless.

I don't feel too strongly either way for Ryo's motivation to be driven more by learning about his father vs taking revenge. In a way I wonder if that's setting up the story for the audience to have a larger focus on Iwao's past compared to the games.
 
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In the anime, Enoki and Nagashimi pick on the kid because he made Enoki drop his ice cream. :LOL: Of course, in the game, the kid hit him in the head with his toy airplane.

I'd also like to see some fuller type episodes approved by Yu Suzuki that ads to Ryo's character like the introduction scene. Like a couple of flashback episodes where Ryo is dealing with bullies in school, crushes, how Ryo performed academically
 
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he's more concerned with finding out WHY his father was killed than with outright revenge.
That's the one thing I don't like in the new interpretation. Revenge is a big part of Ryo's journey and the biggest motivation. He learned a lot of lessons through his journey : becomes more patient, calm, starts to control his anger. He gets stronger not only like martial artist, but also like person. It seems like he got all of those from the start in the anime. Would Iwao's past be enough to drive the story?

The main role of Xiuying is to convince Ryo that revenge isn't the way and it will not make him feel better. What's role of Xiuying will be now?
 
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I think it will become clear in the next few episodes that Ryo, does in fact, seek revenge. It seems too big of a plot point to change entirely.

Also have always been curious why Lan Di assumed Iwao only had one mirror. If the first episode implies that Lan Di thinks the other mirror is in Japan too, all the curiouser. At some point, perhaps from Chai, he learns of Zhu's letter to Iwao and decides he needs to go after him instead. But, it's possible his sights are on Zhu/China all along. Does Lan Di ever actually extract any information from Zhu? In the game, it is implied Ryo rescues Zhu in time, but something sends Lan Di to Bailu after that and somehow Zhu knows that's where he is headed...

However after S3, I also can't help but wonder if these ambiguities to the story are pointless to over analyze. Is there really a reason Lan Di lingered in Japan longer than necessary? After 3 games, I don't think that matters much anymore.

Will be interesting to see if the anime attempts to answer some of these things and if it does, is that the anime creators taking some liberty in filling the gaps or do they have full access to the future story of Shenmue?
 

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Hmm. Biggest difference I saw was the peculiar decision to drop Ryo seeing the Chi You Men tattoo on Lan Di's arm. Now we have no idea how or if Ryo will seek out Charlie or how Ryo will find out about Lan Di's Chinese cartel. It was basically his only big lead in the first game that eventually leads him to Hong Kong. Maybe the anime version of Lan Di will work alone?? Who knows. But it was a significant thing to leave out of this adaptation. Maybe it was intentional, seeing as how in this day and age everything causes political controversy, or perhaps one of the anime investors is owned by the PRC and disallowed portraying any anti-government Triads in the wake of the 2019 Hong Kong rebellion, although a cursory examination of the public investors only show Japanese and American companies. You never know, though. It's a weird one, given how accurate everything else was.

Also, no kitten yet. I think it's an important enough symbol for Ryo's character to care for the kitten.

And now that I mention one cool cat, I loved that Tom is back, but didn't love that this iteration lacks his distinctive Jamaican accent, and I also really missed his girlfriend, Honey Jackson. I think it was important to show that Ryo's friends have family too, and they don't just exist as lonely NPCs.
 
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I think it will become clear in the next few episodes that Ryo, does in fact, seek revenge. It seems too big of a plot point to change entirely.

Also have always been curious why Lan Di assumed Iwao only had one mirror. If the first episode implies that Lan Di thinks the other mirror is in Japan too, all the curiouser. At some point, perhaps from Chai, he learns of Zhu's letter to Iwao and decides he needs to go after him instead. But, it's possible his sights are on Zhu/China all along. Does Lan Di ever actually extract any information from Zhu? In the game, it is implied Ryo rescues Zhu in time, but something sends Lan Di to Bailu after that and somehow Zhu knows that's where he is headed...

However after S3, I also can't help but wonder if these ambiguities to the story are pointless to over analyze. Is there really a reason Lan Di lingered in Japan longer than necessary? After 3 games, I don't think that matters much anymore.

Will be interesting to see if the anime attempts to answer some of these things and if it does, is that the anime creators taking some liberty in filling the gaps or do they have full access to the future story of Shenmue?
I'm wondering if, in the anime, Lan Di thinks Master Chen has the phoenix mirror (but isn't totally sure.) Would add more to why he's at the harbour/working with the mad angels and so on. Although his line in episode 1 is a bit vague, as on the surface it suggests he doesn't know where to look, but is presumably certain there is no second mirror at the Hazuki residence. Guess we'll find out.
 
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Why didn’t Lan Di question Iwao about the other mirror at least? I get that it would of ruined the story if he walks out with both mirrors, but this interpretation means he is fully aware both are in Japan, yet doesn’t ask him about the other mirror? And I am assuming Meng Cun isn’t relevant any longer? Not a big deal since it was never espoused on in the first place, but wondering what other small changes we will see.
 
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Hmm. Biggest difference I saw was the peculiar decision to drop Ryo seeing the Chi You Men tattoo on Lan Di's arm. Now we have no idea how or if Ryo will seek out Charlie or how Ryo will find out about Lan Di's Chinese cartel. It was basically his only big lead in the first game that eventually leads him to Hong Kong. Maybe the anime version of Lan Di will work alone?? Who knows. But it was a significant thing to leave out of this adaptation. Maybe it was intentional, seeing as how in this day and age everything causes political controversy, or perhaps one of the anime investors is owned by the PRC and disallowed portraying any anti-government Triads in the wake of the 2019 Hong Kong rebellion, although a cursory examination of the public investors only show Japanese and American companies. You never know, though. It's a weird one, given how accurate everything else was.

Also, no kitten yet. I think it's an important enough symbol for Ryo's character to care for the kitten.

And now that I mention one cool cat, I loved that Tom is back, but didn't love that this iteration lacks his distinctive Jamaican accent, and I also really missed his girlfriend, Honey Jackson. I think it was important to show that Ryo's friends have family too, and they don't just exist as lonely NPCs.
What the fuck does that Hong Kong protest have to do with Shenmue: The Animation?
 
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That's the one thing I don't like in the new interpretation. Revenge is a big part of Ryo's journey and the biggest motivation. He learned a lot of lessons through his journey : becomes more patient, calm, starts to control his anger. He gets stronger not only like martial artist, but also like person. It seems like he got all of those from the start in the anime. Would Iwao's past be enough to drive the story?

The main role of Xiuying is to convince Ryo that revenge isn't the way and it will not make him feel better. What's role of Xiuying will be now?
It's a balancing act. Ryo in the games is a very shallow character so I can totally understand why they would need to give him more development and a more complex arc beyond "angry boy seeking revenge keeps getting told not to seek revenge". I'm sure his anger will play a role, especially because *spoiler alert* Ryo decides to throw his life away and chase Lan Di to China.
 
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Hopefully this means that the anime will make it that far in the first season. I think they announced that it won't finish S2 though. It's hard to remember that "Shenmue 1" doesn't mean anything in terms of the anime since it's only a few episodes. The season will have a totally different "ending
I heard mixed things about where it will end. My guess is it wont make it to Guilin but end either in Kowloon or just as Ryo departs to Guilin. Agree it will have a different ending though, not sure where the best hook is to leave it for S2.
It's possible that these only existed as breadcrumbs for gameplay purposes, especially the tattoo. Unless there's something special about Meng Cun in particular, there's no reason that Iwao couldn't have killed Sunming literally anywhere. Could also be information that's being saved for a different time as @Mr Sun said.
The tattoo led to Charlie which could easily be altered but it also tied Lan Di to the Chi You Men. they show a plate with Chi You on it in the trailer so it could have tied in there. Either way not a big deal but it factors into the dojo scene just feeling rushed/briefly paced.

Meng Cun is part of Cangzhou which is the birthplace of Bajiquan. There is significance to this especially coming from the VFRPG. It's sort of the moment Ryo becomes "Akira" so to speak. In theory though it could just as well be somewhere else but I'd be surprised if they make that kind of a fundamental change later on in the story. Of course it remains to be seen how much the anime will diverge from the games.
Looks like S1 might get wrapped up in as few as 4-5 episodes at this pace. Episode 2 might even have him explore the basement
More like 5-6 ep if I had to guess. I think 6 is the sweet spot for me if they gave it breathing room in the pacing but they could wrap it up in 5 just fine. We may see the basement but I have a feeling that will be saved for ep 3.

I would guess ep 2: is translating the letter, investigations, heartbeat bar/charlie, the docks, meeting Master Chen
ep3: Basement, legends of the mirror, Master Chen again, fighting Chai, finding a way to Hong Kong

ep4-5 Disc 3 basically. That's also assuming they add in little scenes to flesh out the characters more and possibly show more Lan Di/bad guys which I would appreciate
 
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I was thinking about the reason why they established that Lan Di is aware of both mirrors in the anime, when he only knew about the Dragon mirror in S1 (according to the bad ending). I'm guessing that the Phoenix mirror is indeed in another location and they're going to set-up a race to find it as a major plot point in one of the episodes.
 
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I heard mixed things about where it will end. My guess is it wont make it to Guilin but end either in Kowloon or just as Ryo departs to Guilin. Agree it will have a different ending though, not sure where the best hook is to leave it for S2.
It's a tough one since they'll have to end it in such a way as to have a big climax/cliffhanger that will have people craving another season and, apart from the ending to disc 3, S2 doesn't really have any moments that lend themselves to that. But obviously they're going to change the story around so who knows? The issue with season one ending at S2 disc 3 is that means that season 2 of the anime is going to have to spend quite a lot of time in Guilin/Bailu village which doesn't lend itself to as much action as this series is apparently packed with. I'm really curious to see how this plays out.

I was thinking about the reason why they established that Lan Di is aware of both mirrors in the anime, when he only knew about the Dragon mirror in S1 (according to the bad ending). I'm guessing that the Phoenix mirror is indeed in another location and they're going to set-up a race to find it as a major plot point in one of the episodes.
It's also for the audience. In S1, the player is learning along with Ryo, in the anime 1. we're shown 2 mirrors in the opening cave prologue and 2. It might not necessarily be in the same order/serve the same function. It's even possible that Ryo will find the Phoenix Mirror and HAVE to leave because the CYM are chasing him and it puts everyone he loves in danger. There are a lot of ways the story could potentially be tweaked depending on what they're going for.
 
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The trailers showed Ryo accessing the secret basement, I'd be pretty shocked if the Phoenix Mirror location is changed.
 
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