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"It is up to you to discover your path, and follow it through." –Iwao Hazuki

By: Sean

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.

Phantom River…Scrolls?

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 his quest.

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 manner.

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.

Hazuremashita : 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 donating 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.

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