Famitsu recently published a lengthy interview on the Shenmue anime series. Famitsu interviewed Yuu Suzuki (Shenmue series creator) and Yuu Kiyozono (Shenmue the Animation producer, Telecom Animation CEO). Both gentlemen offered insight into how production is going, voice casting, and much more. We’ve translated some of the important bits of the interview below.
- The anime will cover Yokosuka and Ryo arriving in Hong Kong.
- The director, writer, and animation team really wanted to include characters that show up in the Hong Kong parts of the game.
- Kiyozono says the anime has been in the works for 2 to 3 years, during the development of Shenmue III.
- The anime didn’t come about because of Shenmue III‘s release.
- Kiyozono feels that his studio can bring the strengths of Shenmue to life. He was attracted to the Shenmue IP because it represents shows off Japan so well. He liked that the game starts in Yokosuka.
- Suzuki: “After Shenmue II released, fans often asked me when Shenmue III would come out. At that time, I was seriously considering the possibility of releasing Shenmue III as an anime, a novel, or a manga.”
- Suzuki: “Shenmue is a bit of a unique game. It might be kind of difficult to get a wide audience to play it. But now that it’s becoming an anime, the barrier for entry will be lowered. … I hope people watch the anime, get interested in the series, and play games.”
- Kiyozono says the team went to Yokosuka to get a feel for the narrowness of the streets and the atmosphere. They also took photos of the signs and architecture, all to represent Yokosuka accurately. Says Dobuita Street still feels like it did in the 1980s. They really want to capture the Showa era Yokosuka where Japan is not as clean as it is now. They hope they can convey to non-Japanese people the nostalgia that Japanese people have for this era/aesthetic.
- Says the budget is higher than a typical anime TV series. Putting a lot of effort into crowds, NPCs, streets, etc.
- The core voice cast from the games will return in the anime.
- Some new voice actors will be included, too, to get younger anime fans interested in Shenmue.
- Kiyozono says after announcing the anime adaptation, they received messages on Twitter from fans overseas that they wanted to participate in the production. Says it’s the first time having that happen to him, despite being in the industry for many years.
- In terms of where they are in the production at this point, Yuu Suzuki has just looked over the first and second parts. The voices have not been incorporated yet.
- Suzuki approves of it. Likes how they’ve incorporated CG effectively. Feels like they’ve done the games a good service with unique excellence only found in anime.
- Though he’s listed as an executive producer, Yuu Suzuki describes his position more as a “supervisor on the world-building”. For example, making sure Ryo doesn’t pick up a knife to fight, or that a particular character would or wouldn’t say a particular thing. Suzuki will also ensure there is a sense of urgency portrayed throughout the series.
Finally, Yuu Suzuki was asked about the development status of Shenmue IV. Suzuki eagerly responded, “I guess it’s a situation where I’m ready to go whenever I have the chance to do it.”
Though no release window has been announced, the Shenmue anime series will be available on Crunchyroll and Adult Swim platforms.