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Shenmue Anime Series Announced by Crunchyroll and Adult Swim

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Adult Swim

Streaming service Crunchyroll announced a partnership with Adult Swim and Telecom Animation Film to distribute a Shenmue anime series, according to announcements made at the Virtual Crunchyroll Expo 2020 event. [Thanks, Segabits]

The Shenmue anime will be thirteen episodes long and is based on the original Shenmue games. The games follow the story of Ryo Hazuki, a young martial artist. After Ryo’s father is killed, he drops out of school to search for the murderer. The press release stated that the series will take Ryo “from the Japanese streets of Yokosuka to beyond the Hong Kong metropolis,” implying that the narrative may cover the events of Shenmue and at least part of Shenmue II.

Directed by Yu Suzuki and first released in 1999, Shenmue is a pioneering title that helped lay the groundwork for modern open-world and action titles. At the time, the original was considered the most expensive game ever developed. Though the games were a commercial failure, they attracted enough of a cult following that when Suzuki announced his intention to develop Shenmue III in 2015, its accompanying Kickstarter campaign became the most-funded video game project ever on the platform.

Telecom Animation Film, a veteran studio that produced such series as Lupin III and Futakoii, will be producing the Shenmue anime under the direction of Chikara Sakurai. Sakurai has a long slate of credits, mostly in animation, and served as Chief Animation Director on several Naruto and Naruto Shippuden feature films.

The Shenmue anime is currently in production. Though no broadcast window was set, the series will be available outside Japan via the Crunchyoll and Adult Swim platforms. Meanwhile, both original Shenmue games have been remastered for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, while Shenmue III (which just released its latest DLC) is on PC and PS4.

Josh Tolentino
Josh Tolentino helped run Japanator as Managing Editor since 2012, before it and Siliconera teamed up. That said, it's been years since he watched enough anime to keep his otaku license valid. Maybe one day he'll see enough of a given season to pretend to know what's hot. Until then, it's Star Trek reruns, gacha games, and bylines at Destructoid and GameCritics.