Fans of Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue saga got the surprise announcement of a lifetime this weekend, as Crunchyroll and Adult Swim have formally announced that they are collaborating together for “Shenmue the Animation” — a 13-episode Shenmue series based on the critically acclaimed action-adventure franchise that first released on SEGA’s final console system, the Sega Dreamcast in 1999.
The first game, then known as “the most expensive game ever developed” in 1999, follows the story of teenage martial artist Ryo Hazuki — who witnesses his father’s death at the hands of a Chinese cartel warrior named Lan Di in their own dojo. Dedicating his life to finding this man and getting revenge, Ryo travels from his hometown in Yokosuka, Japan to Hong Kong and later China, searching for father’s killers while also discovering more about the martial arts and himself. The game was the first true exploration game, preceding Grand Theft Auto and allowing you to roam around their environment and interact with other characters, as well as pioneering “Quick Time Event” or QTE’s, where players needed to press a button or a series of combinations during a cutscene.
Shenmue would get two sequels — Shenmue II in 2001 and then Shenmue III in 2019. The latest game was one of the most successful Kickstarter projects crowdfunded by fans, with Yu Suzuki announcing it during E3 2015 and bringing to life a new sequel that fans have waited nearly 20 years for. While no release window was given for the anime series, Shenmue the Animation will be directed Chikara Sakurai of “One Punch Man Season 2” fame, with animation production overseen by Telecom Animation Film and Yu Suzuki himself serving as Executive Producer for the project.