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SYFY WIRE Adult Swim

Shenmue: Adult Swim & Crunchyroll seek vengeance with NYCC teaser for SEGA-inspired anime

By Josh Weiss
Shenmue the Animation Trailer Still

Adult Swim and Crunchyroll set off on a warpath of vengeance with the first teaser for their Shenmue anime TV series. Based on the classic SEGA title of the same name, the upcoming show is set in 1986 and follows Ryo Hazuki, a teenage martial artist who seeks to avenge his father's murder. Armed with a strange and coveted artifact known as the Dragon Mirror, Ryo tracks down Lan Di, leader of a vast criminal organization and master of an ancient fighting style.

"In the form of an anime, it has become more accessible and can be enjoyed by small children as well," executive producer and Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki said during a pre-recorded discussion for this year's edition of New York Comic Con. "I can't wait to see the TV series go on air."

"Obviously, this had to respect Yu Suzuki's vision of the project," added producer Joseph Chou. "This is very a story-driven game [and] I thought it was perfect for an adaptation ... It's a challenge of trying to stay faithful to the game itself as well as...there are things that you need when you're trying to tell a story, especially in a long series format."

Watch the sneak peek now:

Suzuki was very hands-on with the project and even helped the production crew flesh out the narrative with "hundreds of thousands of pages of backstory" that have never made it into the games, Chou revealed. "We were able to actually build that little-by-little in the anime itself."

In addition, the team also wanted to capture some of the open world magic of the original game, whose trailblazing mechanics allowed the player to freely roam about the virtual environments and interact with NPCs of their choosing. "In the game, one can talk to different characters [and] we wanted to incorporate a bit of that in the anime too," explained the anime's director, Chikara Sakurai. "So, we made the protagonist talk to people on the street. We paid attention to create those details within the time limit. We wanted to reconstruct a bit of the atmosphere of the game."

The gaming franchise spans three separate titles. Shenmue I and II were released in 1999 and 2001, respectively (both were available to play on the SEGA Dreamcast). The third installment arrived in 2019 after raising over $6 million on Kickstarter. Adult Swim and Crunchyroll announced their intentions to adapt the series for the small screen last September.

Shenmue: The Animation will premiere on Adult Swim sometime in 2022.

Click here for SYFY WIRE’s full coverage of New York Comic Con 2021