SPOILERS - SHENMUE THE ANIMATION EPISODE 13 "SHENMUE" THREAD

24Nathan

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With 13 episodes, how long do you (anyone) think the fights should be to satisfy you? Have you seen a lot of anime fights? Unless there is significant room in the story, fights don't last long. Yeah, the Chai fight in the Dojo was quick, but I was able to shrug it off as "that's anime" and not be bothered by it...I thought the liberties they took were respectful and didn't totally overthrow everything we know and love about Shenmue. I'll reiterate what I said in another post, I think some people (painting with a broad brush towards some of the negative comments I've seen from numerous people around the web) need to appreciate this anime for what it IS, not for what it ISN'T. This is an adaptation of the games, not a replication of the FREE genre. They are and have to be two totally different things. We can't have four hour fights in a thirteen episode show. You can make the argument that the season should have been longer or attempted to adapt less material to flesh out things like the Baihu fight, the Chai fight, Guilin, etc., but we also don't have the luxury of being anime only watchers who have never played the games. You loved the disc 4 gameplay of Shenmue II? Great, so do I. But this is the season, possibly series, finale. It simply wouldn't make much sense to go the risky route that the games did with the last episode. Again, you can make the argument that they shouldn't have even touched Guilin if that was the case (I kind of agree with that), but how many posts do you see across the internet of people hating on Shenmue II's "forest simulator" - esque disc 4 gameplay?

I'm not saying never complain about anything Shenmue, but (again, painting with a broad brush), this can't and was never meant to be a 1:1 replication of the games, word fo word, scene for scene, fight for fight. And for what Shenmue The Animation IS....I think it does a pretty good job. And the numbers and impressions from the grand majority back that theory up.
 
Joined
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I can't speak for anyone else, but I thought the Chai fight was amazing (so was Iwao/Lan Di) and I was hoping we'd get a few more fights on par with that, but it ended up being the benchmark for me in terms of fluidity and style.

Don't get me wrong, there was some really cool fights throughout the run, they just weren't quite as smooth. Doesn't make them bad. And I have no problem with short fights, either, though with Master Baihu I can understand the complaints.
 

Darkside_Hazuki

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With 13 episodes, how long do you (anyone) think the fights should be to satisfy you?
I think this is a great question to get people talking about what kind of quality they expect in the fight scenes of a "martial arts anime".

Me personally, I don't associate "good fights" with how long or short they are, but with how great they look. As in how fluent the motions of the competitors are, the "camera" work (use of wide shots, close shots, steady cam, etc), and seeing both of the competitors deflecting, countering, or working around eachother's body parts in what I think is summarized as "fight choreography". I understand that anime TV shows don't get the same high quality animation treatment as anime films or OVAs, so I should never expect amazingly fluent character motions or highly choreographed hand-to-hand sequences in a TV series. So in the case of Shenmue The Animation, I should really only draw a comparison to other TV shows.

Now I've been LED to believe ("led" as in I'm not really sure if this is true) that modern, digital anime is supposedly "better/cleaner looking" and is "easier" to produce than the old, handrawn anime that used to cost studios a fortune? Which means it should be more feasible in 2020 to make a visually attractive martial arts sequence than how things were back in 1990? Correct me if that's wrong. Also, I've always assumed that the shorter a TV series is, then the better each individual episode can potentially look. For example, it's most likely easier to spread-out an animation budget among a 10 episode TV show as opposed to a 30 episode TV show. You get more of a quality-over-quantity product.

So here's what I'll compare Shenmue The Animation (a 13 episode TV series) to:

Street Fighter had a 29-episode anime TV series in 1995, and truthfully, I think most of the show was pretty bad. In fact most of it just flat out sucked, man. I sat through that whole series once and never again. BUT, it was worth it just for episodes #2 and #3 alone, which had these VERY short yet VERY exceptional fight sequences that today still look great to me. These scenes most likely blew out a big chunk of the animation budget which led to the rest of the show having pretty mediocre fights, which I guess is the price that gets paid for creating something memorable. I won't suggest watching these fight scenes in their entirety, instead I'll only time stamp the parts that I considered "exceptional".

#1.) Less than a minute.
(from 5:36 to 6:24)


#2.) Not even ten seconds long.
(from 3:24 to 3:31)


#3.) Less than a minute.
(from 17:01 to 18:00)


I'm by no means saying that these are "THE BEST TV ANIME FIGHTS EVER" or that they avoid every visual trope, camera gimmick, or shortcut in the book. I myself haven't seen every single TV martial arts anime, so compared to other shows these sequences in SF2V could possibly be considered "average" for all I know with my limited catalog. But for something so old in 1995 and without the luxury of digital animation, and taking into account the amount of frames and hand-to-hand choreography (with no signature over-the-top "Street Fighter" moves being used by the characters), these short scenes looked absolutely impressive compared to anything that I saw in Shenmue The Animation. This isn't a "The Shenmue anime sucks compared to Street Fighter anime" rant, it's a "Shouldn't a show in 2022 look much better than (or at least on par with) an old 1995 show like this?" discussion. Which I think isn't too much of an unreasonable comparison seeing how both are TV shows that put the spotlight on animating a martial arts video game. Although I admit I did have a bigger expectation of quality from the Shenmue anime when I found out it would only be 13 episodes long, which made me think the studio would be focusing on more of a quality-over-quantity production.

I'm sure other people here can suggest more visually impressive martial arts TV anime examples than the stuff that I listed above. But my point is: Shenmue's fight scenes full of choppy motions, the overuse of "Avatar The Last Airbender" wind effects on simple punches & kicks, and the obnoxious "shaky cam" really disappointed me to where I was floored that it could look more bland than something that I saw over two decades ago (and in a TV show that I didn't even like).


Honestly, in Shenmue the best "sequences" I probably saw on the entire show were probably these:




Meanwhile I was underwhelmed with stuff like this:





The camera work on the show can just be abysmal. It's either too close and obscuring character movements, or it's being held by Michael J. Fox. And I was extremely deflated by the seventeen times we saw a wind-blowing Swallow Dive, or how bodies were too often being wildly launched high into the air in almost comedic fashion (like against Charlie or during the 70-man Battle), or the Master Baihu "fight".

TL;DR - Fuck Telecom Animation.
 
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ShenSun

Site Staff
Joined
Jul 24, 2018
I find it mind-boggling that people expect Shenmue to have the same level of fights as established franchises. That doesn't make logical sense.

The Shenmue anime was made with a very strict budget. It doesn't allow room for super complex fight scenes. You can even see the budgeting issues in some of the episodes. For example, the Baihu fight being sacrificed, so we could get a good Dou Niu fight, using animation frames from past episodes, and clever effects to mask some of the attacks to avoid animating them fully.

Why on earth would a studio give Shenmue a big massive budget for an anime when it hasn't proven it can draw numbers and make money in the anime space? Not to mention its history, struggling to make a profit in general.

I think it's unrealistic to expect top-tier fight scenes in the Shenmue anime. In the same way, it's unrealistic to compare it to big-budgeted titles like Street Fighter and Avatar.

It reminds me of how some fans want a 26 episode series. The anime managed to reach 13 episodes at a very good quality, but you can see it was struggling. Can you imagine a 26-episode series on that budget? It wouldn't make it.

The anime fights we got were great considering everything. Hopefully, season 2 gets a much bigger budget for fights now that it has proven it can make money and draw numbers.

But yeah, I think fans need to be realistic about a lot of things when it comes to Shenmue. I think a lot of their disappointment is self-inflicted most of the time.
 
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... Ryo's response to being told that Lan Di killed Iwao because Lan Di believed that Iwao had killed his father Longsun Zhao was proportionate, which can hardly be said about his response in Shenmue II when he reacts as though he is hearing for the first time that his father killed someone even though he had already heard Lan Di accuse his father of murder. His response in Shenmue II bothered me so I'm glad it was 'fixed' in the anime.

I heavily disagree. I see it as the other way around. His reaction with a very dry "I see" in the anime was waaaaaay too muted for that kind of realisation! Because Ryo knew about the accusation of murder, but at least in the game it wasn`t an option for him that his father did what he was accused off. But realising Lan Di actually killed your father for vengeance, not just in a business or any other manner but for a personal reason; above all the same reason you are actually doing what you do, is huge revelation and the reaction should be accordingly, which imo it was in the game and in the anime it wasn`t...

So in short: the realisation, that what Lan Di did was not because of retaliation, but because of vengeance is what prompted Game-Ryos reaction. Not the revelation of the accusation!
 
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At the risk of coming off like a sort of wishy-washy middle-of-the-road guy...

I sort of agree with @Darkside_Hazuki that the fights were disappointing. I didn't necessarily expect longer, but I did expect better. I don't think it's necessarily budget-related either, it's just stylistic choices that held it back. Certainly other shows have done better with less, so I think it's a fair criticism... I just don't think it's a huge problem, either.

For me, the fights were adequate, which is good enough in a series that's never really been about the fights. It's sort of odd to say, since it's a martial arts game/anime, but it's about the exploration of the soul of a warrior, a warrior's place in a changing world, and, more generally (particularly with the games), the wider exploration of life and motivations.
 
Joined
May 1, 2022
Being a recent fan and just finding about Shenmue about a couple of months ago through watching Let's Plays and Playthroughs, I think the anime team did an excellent job in adapting the game into an animation format. While I was disappointed in them cutting out the Guilin walk, one of the most enjoyable parts of Shenmue 2 for me, I do understand why they did it. As for the first 10-15 minutes, it was definately the best part of the show so far for me. It was very action-packed and stuck with the game for the most part. The part that I really liked is when Ren pretty much calmed Ryo down, which was a pretty strong moment that wasn't in the game. Getting to learn about the backstories of all of the side characters was very interesting too.

I know many were disappointed by the Master Baihu fight, but I do feel a bit differently about it. I do feel that the ingame fight was artificially expanded to a best of 3, but I also believe that the fight should have been more than just wude and Iwao flashbacks and a single kick. The shorter fight and flashbacks works better with the Dou Niu fight because it was more than just one kick. They handled that fight perfectly. I also think that having the Lan Di fight on the rooftop was excellent to have some kind of payoff at the end of the season. It seems like they pulled this fight from S3, but it works very well here. However, I do wonder how they will handle the S3 fight between Ryo and Lan Di.

I'm very excited to see how they handle everything in a Season 2 of the anime and I'm hoping for a Shenmue IV game. Hopefully when I get some free time, I can play through the games on my own for the first time and experience everything on my own instead of by watching playthroughs or reviews.
 
Joined
Aug 24, 2018
Going to post before I read the comments, I get the feeling I'll be repeating some things but here goes.

Overall much like S3 I appreciate the love that's gone into the anime. A lot of heart goes into these projects. Unfortunately, again like S3, it's stuck to time constraints/budget and the story flies past at breakneck speed. Personally I was disappointed the Baihu fight went without incident, we didn't see Chunyan, and Ryo's total time with Shenhua was, what, between 6-7 minutes? Completely misses the magic of the Guilin part of the game.

I think the MAL ranking of 6/7 out of 10 is fair to be honest. It was never going to be outstanding, and it's not going to attract loads of people to the franchise. I believe Shenmue's time has effectively gone and it'll be treasured by its hardcore group of fans.

Is this the overall end of Shenmue? Never say never, but I would be flabbergasted if we ever see a Shenmue 4.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2019
I think that as the anime progresses into season 2, it will deviate further from the exact sequence of events in the games.

As the Lan Di encounter occurred on the rooftop, there will likely be a change to how they next meet in Niaowu. Shenmue 3 generally speaking couldn't take more than 4-5 episodes (at a stretch).

So the questions coming to mind are;

How many episodes in season 2?
Season 2 will likely cover S3 and S4 but will that be enough content for a 13 episode season?
Could they take a different direction with what happens in Bailu Village? It was fine in gameplay but as an anime, there likely needs to be some more flavour

I'd be quite happy if the anime just went off on its own way to tell the story. I enjoy the contrasts and they've gained my trust that they do a good job whenever they do deviate from the exact events in the game(s).
 

Kyo_JP

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I have to go to the office last week (in another city) so I have not been able to watch the last one yet. Saving it for tomorrow night with some pizza :)
 
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Seeing it again after some time to digest, I have to say those last two fights are epic! The look in Ryo's eyes, the choreography with both Lan Di and Dou Niu – it was spectacular and very much lived up to the games in my opinion. The encounter with Lan Di on the helicopter rungs had the same gravitas as I'll always remember, and I think for the anime he had to come down that ladder or the newcomers would feel the series was lacking a payoff. I didn't mind it at all. As far as the ending of Shenmue III is concerned, that itself was an abbreviated version of Yu Suzuki's kickstarter ambitions for Baisha and beyond, so I wonder whether in the anime series 2 (on an increased Crunchyroll budget!) we may get the full story as Yu intended rather than the rushed end that Shenmue III got. Surely that's a dream scenario?

As for Guilin, I feel surprisingly ok with it having seen it a second time and knowing that it wasn't getting an episode-long treatment. The anime team did an an outstanding job fitting these two epic games into 13 episodes, and with all the character and story depth they brought with it! I'm also not certain that wandering around the forest maze and listening to songs would transfer well into the anime, as much as I adore those parts of the game. The quarry scene was really great – jaw-dropping stuff – and someone has to screenshot that last image of Ryo and Shenhua facing each other in the sunset with the eagle flying by :fearscream:

In terms of the mystical elements, these were obviously dropped again, just as they were in Shenmue III (although Shenhua still seemed to retain some powers?). The more time goes by, the more I'm coming to accept that the Shenmue II team probably just went a bit mad with it when they understood that there wouldn't be a sequel, and turned the craziness up to 11 to blow our minds and go out with a bang. Possibly the ret-conned story without the mystical elements was closer to Yu's original script, but I hope we find out one day. Personally I'd love to see all the magical intrigue pursued if the game or anime can ever get the budget it requires!

It isn't easy being a Shenmue fan, since our desires do not come cheap! Hopefully the story truly does go on, but what a period of 13 weeks it's been. What will I do at 5am on a Sunday now? Thanks Yu, thanks to the team, thanks to the dojo, and let's get tweeting!
 

Hiki

このまま・・・時間が止まるといい
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My Analysis of EP 13 is now on the blog of the Dojo.

I would like to thank all the people who read my analysis of the episodes, your support means a lot to me, it was really intense to me
doing this every week, english is not my first language, and it is not easy to put everything together in analysis like this in a weekly basis, but i managed to do it and i'm really happy with the result, now let's hope we can get the game Shenmue IV and the second season of the anime, thanks everyone. ❤️

LetsGetShenmue4 LetsGetShenmueSeason2



1652144598906.png
 
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Kyo_JP

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Finally saw it. I really like it, I don't see a problem in the changes they made.

Thank god there was no 23 minutes of Ryo and Shenha walking through the forest, because that would not work for Anime, might work as an indie film. Anyhow, all the information they have skipped from Disc 4 can be presented diffrently if they do a second season.

Pretty happy with the anime in general.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2018
Finally finished watching the series over the past week. Overall I think it's one of the best game-to-series/movie adaptations that I've seen. They had to walk a fine line to make the story accessible to newcomers, while also satisfying long-time fans with some new insights. Artwork was generally very good. The new soundtrack was a pleasant surprise. I love the CG backgrounds they created for Kowloon in particular (and how awesome would it be if they can somehow be leveraged for a future game remake?). Was it perfect? No, I think there have been some valid criticisms brought up. But man, looking at some of the hatchet jobs that have been done to other game IPs, I think we got a real treat with this series, with showrunners who truly understand and respect the source material. What an amazingly cool part of the Shenmue experience.
 
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