Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Shenmue The Animation Episode 6: Dignified - Summary/Review

We have officially entered Shenmue 2 territory. My favorite video game of all time, which is going to make this difficult for me to watch without being biased. While a fair amount was cut from Shenmue 1, none of it was major content with the exception of the homeless old man. However, Shenmue 2 had a lot more story and plenty of extra content. I do not expect to see any of that extra stuff beyond an Easter Egg. (So no duck racing or collecting move scrolls.) Despite that, I am actually eager to see what they do with the Hong Kong arc since the Japan one was handled very well. So, click "read more" and let us get started.


The episode begins with Ryo arriving in Hong Kong while thinking about everything he has been through up to this point. Upon arrival, he is nearly run over by girl on a motorcycle. Her name is Joy. She gives some advice about thieves and rides off. A seemingly meaningless encounter, but it will hold significance later. 

Things go wrong pretty quickly. A kid in green runs to Ryo begging for help because some punks are going to "kill" him. However, this is all a setup that the kid is in on that results in Ryo getting his bag stolen.

This is a cringe flashback. Never before were there thugs and a kid in a game that I wanted to hurt so bad.

They manage to get away from Ryo. Just before cutting to the theme song he says "so this is Hong Kong."

This is what I expected so far. No reason to include the arm wrestling scene who references to the boat.

One theme song later, Ryo is at the police station who basically tell him they can't help. But his cash and valuables were not in his bag but in his pocket. Possibly that bottomless back pocket of his. This leads to Ryo trying to find a hotel to stay in so the police have a place to find him. Sadly, every hotel he tries is full. Is Ryo seriously just going to give up on his bag? Eventually, Ryo begins searching again for Chen's friend Lishao Tao when he comes across an old man in the park practicing Tai Chi. 

Dang, that is a big jump right there. Ryo fighting to get his bag back lead to Wong starting to like him and Joy helping Ryo find a hotel and a part-time job. I didn't expect the crate carrying job to stay but are Wong and Joy getting pushed aside?

The old man, whose name is Jianmin, can tell Ryo is a martial artist and demands a sparing match. This match is pretty short. Jianmin dodges or parries all of Ryo's attacks and Ryo concedes defeat after Jianmin shows he could have hurt him.

Ryo respects his opponent by admitting defeat.

Afterwards, Jianmin tells Ryo how to get to the Yan Tin Apartments where Lishao Tao is supposed to live. Once he gets there, an old lady thinks Ryo is a landshark and goes off on him. However, she quickly figures out Ryo is not a landshark and even tells him that he can meet Lishao Tao at Man Mo Temple. That is a big time saver.

Upon arriving at Man Mo Temple, Ryo sees a woman praying. Ryo asks her about Lishao Tao and if she knows where he is, but she refuses to answer.

Ryo made 1 mistake when asking. He will learn later.

One of the monks approaches Ryo about meeting the master. Ryo shows him is letter of introduction from Master Chen, but it is not enough to get a meeting. The monk simply tells him to be patient and that things will happen when they are supposed too. 

Outside, Ryo runs into the praying woman again and he asks her why she was at the temple. She tells Ryo that she has a wish she is praying for and can tell that Ryo also has one and that his eyes are consumed by his own desires. 

Ryo goes back to the park to get advice from Jianmin. He offers Ryo a "small hint" if he can over the ground with leaves with leaves using an arm move called Iron Palm.

A cutaway shows Wong and Joy talking. Wong is upset that there was nothing valuable in Ryo's bag and Joy seems concerned about Ryo.

I was disappointed to see Ryo give up on his bag so easily. Seeing Wong disappointed makes me feel better.

Ryo is not doing well with the Iron Palm because of his impatience. He goes on about how he is in a hurry and cannot waste time. Jianmin gets upsets upset and leaves telling Ryo that Kung Fu in Hong Kong is not something he can learn instantly no matter what success he had with his martial arts in the past.

Later that night, Ryo is looking for a place to stay when two guys drinking call him over. Ryo instantly does not like them and tries to leave but they insist they know everything about Hong Kong and be helpful if he asks. Giving in, Ryo asks if they know a cheap place to stay to which they say they don't but demand payment for doing that "favor", 

The Poison Brothers

Ryo refuses, and the two drunks attack him. They get one punch in that Ryo easily blocks before Joy rides in and breaks up the fight. Joy knows the kid who stole Ryo's backpack but does not want to sell him out to Ryo because she can tell he is strong. She then tells Ryo about Wong's background, that he is an orphan who is just doing what he needs to in order to survive that area full of thieves and poverty and even gives a hint about her own tough background. Nobody looks out for each other and people need to just accept a raw deal when they get one. Afterwards, Joy helps Ryo find a place to stay, a hotel called The Come Over Guest House that will give him a discount by mentioning Joy's name. Ryo thanks Joy from out his rooms window and tells her his name.

There is a lot we don't know about Joy. Maybe this series will tell us more. Also, seems like Ryo is nicer to Joy in this incarnation. I don't really like Joy's motto of just accepting a raw deal like getting robbed, but I get where she is coming from.

The next day, Ryo returns to the park to continue trying to cover the ground with leaves. He is getting better, and Jianmin comes back impressed that Ryo has not given up. The two have a conversation about that style of martial arts as well as Jianmin giving Ryo a lesson on how martial arts is not about inflicting harm on others. Ryo seems to understand. I am going to try and talk like a martial artist like they do, but to sum it up, it is the basic lesson that martial arts is for protecting not harming.

Later, Ryo asks Joy to tell him where Wong is because he needs his backpack. Joy is hesitant at first, but Ryo promises not to hurt him. When Ryo confronts Wong, he runs off in fear and Ryo gives chase in a short scene that resembles one of the Quick Time Events from the games. I was wondering if those would appear.

Wong runs back to the 3 thugs from earlier, Sam Larry, and Cool Z for protection. They all attack Ryo but cannot hit him. But, Ryo does not hurt them, just scares them with what he learned from Jianmin.

Wow! This episode really redeemed itself. This kind of character development did not happen in the games. Amazing. Wong returns Ryo's backpack and he does not turn him into the police.

Ryo returns to the tree where he demonstrates that he can finally cover the ground with leaves. With this, Ryo has learned one of the 4 Wude. GON - Discipline yourself to keep training everyday without neglect. With this knowledge, Ryo should be able to gain an audience with Lishao Tao. Jianmin and Ryo talk abour Ryo's martial arts style.

Looks like Ryo only needs to learn one of the four Wude to meet Tao. But, if this episode taught me one thing it is to not be too hasty in assuming too much was cut.

Joy thanks Ryo for not hurting any of the 4 guys that robbed him. In the games he beat up 2 of them in some scenarios or interrogated one in another but whatever. She asks Ryo why he came to Hong Kong and Ryo tells her that he cannot abide by the rule to accept any raw deal given too him referencing Lan Di and that he went there to learn the truth and make his goal happen. This impresses Joy.

The episode ends with a final scene that plays over the credits. Ryo returns to the temple and recites GON to the monk from before and declares that he will visit the temple every day until Master Lishao Tao agrees to meet him. When asked why, Ryo says it is to learn about Yuanda Zhu. Master Lishao Tao appears, revealing that the praying woman from earlier was who Ryo was searching for.

One last cutaway shows Wong telling Ren about Ryo in order to gives us our first peak at him. The End!

Final Thoughts

This episode quickly went from disappointing to incredible. Never have I had my views changed so drastically in mid-viewing. At first it seemed like they were just going to skip a lot of plotlines and rush things along, but almost everything skipped was worked back into the story in a way that made the events seem more important than if they played out the same as the games. Something I really should have learned by now is that this series does not simply cut content but re-works it to fit into other content in order to shorten the overall needed time and allow multiple things to happen at once. It is actually pretty brilliant writing. 

Although, I cannot help but question how all of this seems to someone who has never played the games and is unfamiliar with the story. Everything is introduced nicely so there is no need to be familiar with the games in order to enjoy this anime, but Ryo definitively has some character changes. (Actually, it may be more interesting to see someone play the games for the first time after watching this.)

Regardless of what ifs, this was a great episode. I am hoping they do not cut out the other 3 Wude. In the games, Ryo had to know all 4 before meeting Tao. However, if they do them the same as GON where instead of just information learned they serve are character building moments for Ryo, then that would be fantastic. Overall, slow start, but jam packed episode. Loved it. 4/5

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