Shenmue the Animation Brings Video Game Sensibility to TV
Who is this crime lord? Why did he want his father dead? There are a lot of tropes involved. Fate, Revenge, and Secrets are all well-worn devices that are shown in Shen Mue in the beginning. What makes the anime worth your time, whether you’ve played the games or not, is how it takes the rich atmospheric density of metropolitan Japan and begins to flesh it out similar to the source material. , while carving out their own identity.
As good as the Dreamcast’s graphics are, the rich art style used in the Adult Swim and Crunchyroll co-production is more modern and in line with other modern anime. The color palette is darker, literally and literally. This leads to a much more engaging storytelling style. Viewers are worried about Ryo. They are intrigued by the mysteries that hide behind every corner. Thugs can turn into allies, and the main characters begin to learn things about each other that they think will slowly expand for greater revelation later.
There’s some great symmetrical character work done in the third episode when Ryo meets Master Chen and his son, Guizhang. The two martial artists tell Ryo where he can go to find out about Lan Di, but there’s something driving a wedge between father and son. Guizhang seems to be provoked by Ryo’s quest to avenge his father, desiring a stronger fatherly relationship with his own parents. Master Chen refuses to feel the same way, delving deeper into the story of father-son relationships outside of Ryo’s perspective on the matter.
Viewers wonder how important these two characters will remain in the series, as Ryo will follow clues about his father in Hong Kong. This is where the first video game ended. With only three episodes including the entire title, that likely means there will be a lot of deep artistic freedom in the series. The source material will be sold out so quickly that it will practically force showrunners to think outside the box and forge their own trail.
One of the characters that hasn’t been explored much is Ryo’s love interest in games, Nozomi Harasaki. There is a mystery to their relationship, and although Ryo clearly loves Nozomi, his mind is focused on learning about his father. It feels like viewers are about to find out more about this young lady and how she will factor into the main character’s life as the plot unfolds.
There are so many possibilities that the TV format allows shows like this to explore that movies can’t give the time. The program is an excellent character study of an introspective teenager, someone who wants to learn more about his past and that of his family. These themes are fairly common in animated series, but seeing them translated very well from the Dreamcast to TV all these years later gives hope for more video game adaptations on the big screen.