Recent teasing and rumors about the Shenmue video game series came to fruition on Friday with a surprise announcement at the Virtual Crunchyroll Expo: The cult Sega game series will soon receive an anime adaptation, complete with series creator Yu Suzuki on board as an executive producer.
Crunchyroll issued a formal announcement shortly after the Expo presentation, confirming that production is already underway at anime studio Telecom Animation Film with a single-season, 13-episode commitment. The episodes will air on Adult Swim’s “Toonami” block in the United States, while Crunchyroll will carry its streaming rights through much of the world. No dates were attached to the news.
The announcement didn’t confirm any hard details about what to expect plot-wise. Suzuki-san has gone on the record saying he wants to continue telling the series’ story after the events of 2019’s Shenmue III, but at least one insider, who teased the news at gaming forum ResetERA days before it was official, has suggested that the new series will be a retread:
The [Shenmue TV] season tackles the first game and part of the second game. Includes a lot of story ideas they never got to put into the game either due to budget, time, or mature rating reasons. It’ll be an adult animated retelling of Shenmue 1 & 2 with lost story beats.
Should that apparently well-placed source be correct, this would be very good news for anyone interested in the story, characters, and atmosphere of the series’ first two games—but not necessarily interested in their dated gameplay. The same could be said for any eventual anime version of Shenmue III, a game that broke Kickstarter records (and melted Kickstarter servers) when announced in 2015 but didn’t necessarily blow fans away four years later.