This is an excellent point and something that I noticed myself when replaying the game in later life.While many of us probably were oblivious to the gate keeping around tattoo parlour/finding Charlie, 22 years after its initial release you can at least understand how those that didn’t engage in all the games minutia can highlight the games pacing issues. That’s why I appreciated his emphasis when evaluating any type of media you have to look at it as a product of its time to provide proper context.
Due to how revolutionary Shenmue was at the time, it was easy to fill any periods where Ryo needed to wait with exploration. Whether wandering around the streets of Yokosuka looking for secret interactions or blowing Ryo’s allowance in the arcade or on Sonic figures, I could easily kill time in Shenmue back in my younger days.
These days, however, I feel like I’ve seen all there is to see and so generally just want to get on with the story. I can definitely see how somebody new to the game might not be too interested in Shenmue’s distractions on a first playthrough, though, as although they may not have done those things in Shenmue before, they have likely done them in countless other games.