It has been a weird ride for fans of Yu Suzuki’s RPG-slash-life-simulator Shenmue. The original game, released in 2000 for the Dreamcast, was one of the most innovative of its time, one of the first to attempt an authentic, living, breathing world where people went about their activities as they do in reality. Suzuki managed to get a sequel out before the Dreamcast prematurely bit it, but only Europe would see the original release — Americans got an XBox port.
Then, for over fifteen years, fans demanded another Shenmue. It wasn’t until the invention of crowdfunding that it became possible for Suzuki to sidestep executives with closed pocketbooks and appeal directly to the fans. The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter shattered records and the finished product was released in 2019, to…mixed reactions. It was the expectation that Suzuki would choose to close out the story and make this a “trilogy.” He chose not to, and it’s unlikely there will ever be a Shenmue 4.
But the series will live on in other forms! Crunchyroll and Adult Swim have announced their latest partnership anime creation…Shenmue: The Animation! A 13-episode season is now under production, expected to follow the plotline of the game (minus all the forklift driving, we’re guessing, though you never know). Telecom Animation Film is bringing the show to life, Sakurai Chikara is serving as director, and Suzuki will oversee as an executive producer.
“The world of Shenmue is Fascinating and unique and we are so excited to partner with Yu Suzuki to bring his epic creation to anime – and make kick-ass martial art epic!,” said Adult Swim vice president Jason DeMarco, who also runs Toonami (likely where this anime is ending up).
At this early date, it is unknown when we can expect Shenmue: The Animation on Adult Swim or Crunchyroll. There are multiple original anime productions expected to premiere in 2021, including a Blade Runner series.