First look on the Shenmue the Animation trailer

Shenmue fans will not have to wait nearly as long for the next anime as they did for the last game. Shenmue: The Animation's debut teaser reveals that the series will premiere in 2022.


The Shenmue anime was first announced in September of last year, with the major selling point being that it will have series creator Yu Suzuki as an executive producer. This new 13-episode installment of the Shenmue narrative is a Crunchyroll and Adult Swim production, with Telecom Animation Film handling the animation chores under Chikara Sakurai's supervision (One-Punch Man).

Suzuki has been outspoken about his plans for Shenmue in the past, stating that the game's plot is far from finished, maybe just around 40% completed, which makes sense given how many questions the Shenmue games left unresolved. It's unclear if Suzuki will ever be able to achieve his vision in video game form, given Shenmue 3 was a disaster for sticking to old systems and clichés from open-world games released almost two decades ago.

With that in mind, the trailer for Shenmue: The Animation does not look to disappoint in any way, providing a sneak peek at some of the bouts to come while without giving too much away about the plot. Shenhua Ling, Ryo Hazuki's dream girl, narrates the trailer and relates the mythology of the dragon and phoenix mirror. Ryo is shown aboard a boat, probably on his trip to China from Japan, implying that the anime may continue into the narrative of Shenmue 2.

Lan Di and the cunning Chai, as well as Ryo's father Iwao Hazuki and Guizhang Chen, are among the characters seen in the video, all of whom appear in quick glimpses of some of the game's famous sequences. Although no exact launch date has been set for 2022, it has been revealed that Shenmue: The Animation will be an Adult Swim exclusive in the United States, with Crunchyroll handling distribution outside of Japan.

When a Shenmue anime was revealed, no one was shocked because everything is becoming an anime. But there's a reason to be particularly thrilled about a Shenmue adaptation: the series has always been character- and narrative-driven, and given the cliffhanger that Shenmue 3 ended on (after an 18-year wait), many fans are ready for more. Shenmue is great, which is the third and most essential reason.

Despite this, Shenmue has a strong community of fans and modders who are now working on updated Shenmue 1 and 2 remakes that aim to improve both the aesthetic and gameplay features of the old games. Because of its linear structure, anime, as Suzuki points out, is a lot simpler art form to convey tales in, so perhaps he can make up for the letdown that was Shenmue 3.

The project is a collaboration between Crunchyroll and Adult Swim, with Shenmue executive producer Yu Suzuki serving as executive producer. Chikara Sakurai, the director of One Punch Man, is in charge of the direction. The 13-part series is set to premiere next year.