Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Shenmue the Animation Ep. 2: Daybreak - Summary/Review

Back again with more of Ryo's journey to find his Father's killer. Last time, he received a letter addressed to his Father and that is currently his only clue. I'm eager to keep going so click "read more" and let the journey continue.


We begin this episode we Ryo having a bad dream about his Father's dead and Lan Di threatening to kill him if he pursues the truth. Cut to the intro for the first time. The theme song does not sound like anything from the games, but a good fit for an action anime.

After the theme song, we see Shenhua delivering medicine to elders and talking about legends within her village. This is worth noting, the anime is really trying to give Shenhua a larger role then she had in the first 2 games. She once again recites the legend that hints at Ryo's arrival.

Cutting back to Ryo's house, Ryo is examining his Father's letter that he cannot read because it is in Chinese. However, the sender is readable as Yuanda Zhu. So, with no other leads, Ryo begins his search to find someone who can read Chinese.

Had to point out the Tails Easter Egg

Many capsule toy cameos appear throughout the episode.

Ryo asks native Chinese speakers and even tries to use a book to translate, but no luck because it is written oddly. Nozomi bumps into Ryo and forces him to let her find a Chinese translator despite Ryo being distant with her. 

A few scenes go by showing that The Great Chai is still perusing Ryo and one where Yamagishi-san tries to dissuade Ryo from his intentions. Eventually, Ryo remembers being told that Lan Di's gangs operate by the port and decides to check them out while Nozomi finds a Chinese translator. To do so, Ryo visits a bar where his friend works to gain information; he is directed to the Heart Beats Bar. And here I thought the sailors bit was going to be skipped over. Upon approaching the bar, Ryo is ambushed by 2 sailors. 

Anyone who played the first game will remember these two drunken sailors. But, probably not their names.

They both attack Ryo but are quickly taken down. Upon entering the bar, Ryo tries asking about the Chinese businesses and gets attacked by everyone who was drinking there. Once again, Ryo easily beats them with his martial arts, this prompts the bartender to tell Ryo what he wants in exchange for never going back to that bar. Charlie is the man Ryo must find for the answers.

In the games, all of this happens before Ryo gets the letter from Yuanda Zhu and I thought the anime was going to skip past it. However, they are telling it in another way where more than 1 thing is happening at the same time. Definitely taking advantage of being a show that does not have to maintain a linear line of progression like a video game does. Very nicely done. 

Ryo begins asking around around about Charlie but gets comes up short. He spoke to everyone you needed to talk to in the games. However, a tattoo artist warns Charlie that someone is asking around about him which causes him and his gang to suspect trouble and go after Ryo. The next day, Ryo meets a crying child that had his soccer ball stolen by Charlie who told him to bring Ryo to them. This leads to their confrontation. 

He always wears a black leather jacket, sunglasses and has a tattoo on his arm.

Ryo easily defeats Charlie's gang, but Charlie gets away. With that lead gone, Ryo and Nozomi resume searching for a Chinese translator. All the while, Ryo is being reminded of University applications by everyone including Nozomi. This is the B plot. Clearly Ryo does not care about school right now but does not have the heart to tell anyone.

Charlie thinks Ryo is part of Chen's crew who is making a move in a turf war. He even recruits the two sailors who tried to ambush Ryo earlier. The two of them find Ryo in an arcade (where several Sega titles are featured including Virtua Fighter) and act really friendly towards him. This is an act, they tell Ryo they will lead him to Charlie but take him to an ambush instead.

 Ryo gets caught off guard and drops the letter from Yuanda Zhu. Charlie picks up the letter which causes Ryo to go into a rage and takeout everyone that attacked him. The two sailors run away and coincidentially passes by Yamagishi-san who quickly runs over to see what is going on. Upon arriving, he sees Ryo kick Charlie, take back his letter, and then explain to him about how he perusing Lan Di and his Father's past to prove he is no killer. Charlie warns Ryo that Lan Di is known as one of the most dangerous people in this organization.

On his way home, Ryo finds Yamagishi-san in the park having a drink in honor of his Father Iwo. He also explains to Iwo about his past as a student of martial arts that would often spare with Iwo. Ultimately, this leads to Yamagishi telling Ryo that the owner of the pottery shop is known to be able to read all sorts of Chinese and can translate the letter. Also, teaching Ryo some martial arts moves as well. The episode then ends with Shenhua once again reciting the legend about the man from the East.

This encounter with Yamagishi in the games is an optional event that is done in order to learn the Twin Blow hand move. Such a scene in the anime would have been nice but also a waste of screen time. So, I am happy with the way they implemented it in the anime.

Final Thoughts

This episode was full of information and subplots, but featured brilliant ways to implement events in the game that would have dragged if they were adapted exactly the same. I will admit I am too bias to really critique the story, this is why my review is mainly focusing on how well it was adapted, and so far it is excellent. In addition to that, the animation was once again great, more side characters, mainly Yamagishi and Nozomi, got to be developed more, and even Charlie got to play a bigger role than he had in the games. A lot of Easter Eggs and references were also included which any Sega fan like myself will appreciate from arcade games to capsule toys. 

Something that is less obvious in this episode is the foreshadowing. While this is just my theory, between showing Charlie's gang talk about Ryo, the Great Chai stalking him, Ryo ignoring everyone talking to him about Universities, and the increasing amount of street brawls that Ryo is getting in, it is really setting the stage for how Ryo's quest is going to cause a lot of trouble down the line. Now, I already know the story from the games inside and out, but this anime has expanded on it so far and I have no doubt they will continue to do so, which means the consequences may also be increased.

Overall, this was another great episode. I hope a lot of people watch it so it gets a second season and maybe aid in the release of Shenmue 4. 5/5

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