"It is up to you to discover your path, and follow it through."
Purpose and Objective
Welcome to inaugural volume of Iwao’s Scroll. This ongoing
feature’s objective is to facilitate discussion and analysis of
a variety of elements and topics regarding the Shenmue series
and its respective community. The scroll will also serve to
report on news and rumors regarding the series’ future.
Additionally, the scroll will also highlight the efforts of
those within the community who keep the essence of the series
alive in their own creative endeavors.
To be published on a monthly basis, the scroll will focus on a
given number of topics regarding thematic and stylistic details
of the series. Areas of discussion can include: specific moments
within each game and player reactions, emotional attachments to
certain characters, reactions to respective musical
arrangements, and the treatment of the real-life locations
within the series.
The scroll will also emphasize the creative works of community
members that are related to Shenmue. Every edition of the scroll
will award a Hazure (はずれ) point to those singled out for their
efforts. While these points will not carry any intrinsic value
nor will they earn their recipients any tangible rewards, they
will signify badges of honor within the community in recognition
of genuine creative achievement.
Much ado about scrolls
Amongst all of the symbolic objects unveiled thus far within the
Shenmue series, the significance of the scroll is something
which cannot be ignored. The scroll is in fact a source of
learning and discovery.
Ryo Hazuki advances his skills throughout the series largely in
part due to the presence of scrolls. From the discovery of
Iwao’s basement to his defeat of Dou Niu, Ryo also receives
scrolls as rewards for advancing his quest. As he discovers more
about his role in the greater scheme of the world the more he
realizes his own potential. The scrolls that he discovers are
indicative of a progression and growth of his individuality.
Scrolls also symbolize an element of mystery and wonder within
the world. From the hidden scroll in the Hazuki Dojo to the
letter left by Shenhua’s father, these items manifest a
particular sensation of awe that has lasting implications. These
talismans indicate that there is a greater phenomenon at work
within the universe and that the facts that we take as granted
to be true within the world may not be entirely accurate.
While much as been speculated regarding the significance of the
mirrors, I claim that the Dragon and Phoenix mirrors act as
scrolls themselves, albeit in a more nuanced manner.
According to Yuanda Zhu’s testimony and demonstration, when the
two mirrors are brought together a map emanates as a result of
this union. However, the conclusion of Shenmue 2 suggests that
the mirrors hold attributes that reach beyond mere cartography.
The esoteric spectacle steers the direction of the universe into
the spiritual domain and as a result of this phenomenon, the
mirrors can no longer be treated as inanimate objects and must
subsequently be re-interpreted as living (animated) entities.
The fact that the mirrors are fashioned out of stone that
portends mystical qualities further establishes their
extraordinary nature. The resulting sentiment of animism follows
the traditions of Japanese Shintoism and Chinese Taoism and
cosmology; which explains that the natural elements of the world
(water, air, rock, soil) are actually mediums (vessels) through
which cosmic forces permeate one another. Ryo must learn to read
the forces of the natural world and of those around him
(Shenhua) in order to “find the proof” and realize the nature of
The method by which scrolls are studied and internalized is
essentially the same method in which the mirrors must also be
read and understood in order to reveal their meaning. Iwao’s
teaching to Ryo that “One must know the fundamentals to reveal
the essence” thus becomes a lesson which must be utilized both
on and off of the dojo mat.
The man, the myth, the statue
First 4 Figures, a company known for their collectable sculpture
creations based on popular video game licenses, recently
announced the commission of a pair of statues based on
Yokosuka’s finest, Ryo Hazuki. Both editions of the statue,
standard and exclusive, stand at 1/6 scale and are 12 inches in
height. Both versions are cast in high quality polystone and are
additionally painted by hand. The exclusive edition, in which
Ryo is stood upon the Phoenix Mirror, has already been sold out
on via preorder. The anticipation and excitement over the
release of these figures is indicative of the Shenmue
community’s continued dedication to the series and its ravenous
affection over new content.
For well over a year now, various members within the Shenmue
community have banded together on Twitter in order to foster
support for the continuation. The specific goal of the twitter
campaign is to discharge the Shenmue license from Sega’s control
and to allow series creator Yu Suzuki to be in direct control of
the series’ future. Using the hashtag #GiveYuTheShenmueLicense,
a makeshift “tweetathon” is launched on the 3rd day of every
month in order to appeal to gamers and the powers that be that
the series deserves to be continued in a proper and dignified
The organizers @TeamYuNeedsYOU and @Shenmue500K reach
out to Sega directly to make sure that their voices are heard.
Regardless of how some may feel regarding the premise of the
campaign, what cannot be disputed is the level of organization
and care demonstrated by the campaign’s caretakers.
: Andrew Pine
The first recipient of the Iwao’s Scroll Hazure award is Mr.
Andrew Pine from down under in Australia. His YouTube video
entitled “In Ryo’s Footsteps” is a wonderful documentary about
the actual in-game locations of Shenmue II. Andrew travels
throughout Hong Kong in the video and artfully engages in the
source material of Shenmue as well as the people and culture of
the city. The production was especially reflective for Andrew:
“Shenmue, to me, has always been an amazing experience. I
connected to Ryo like many people because I felt like his
journey is one we all share to a degree; one of self-discovery.
My film was made because as a passionate fan I wanted to be more
involved in the fiction and I wanted to share with other fans
things they may never be able to see. I love how open and
supportive the community has been about my work and I hope
everyone enjoys the sequel even more." Andrew’s work is a true
testament of how engrossing and influential Shenmue is not just
as a game but as an overall artistic experience.
Readers can help support Andrew by
towards his In Ryo's Footsteps 2 project.
The story goes on…
In our next edition of Iwao’s scroll, we will discuss the
current state of Sega and its role in the upcoming
next-generation console battle. We will also touch on both the
Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 in terms of analyzing
the future of the industry and to discern what this future will
mean in terms of Shenmue.
Thanks for scrolin’ along with us and see you next time.