Men in Black Mix Up

mib-b and zhou yue
Left: Man in Black Suit B from Shenmue I, Right: Yue Zhou from Shenmue II. But are they the same person?

Apologies it being so long since the last post! Real life has gotten in the way as of late, but be assured there are many ideas for posts in the pipeline. Of course, since my last post, the announcement of Shenmue HD came, at long last – truly a cause for celebration. These are very good times for Shenmue fans, what with the imminent Shenmue IIIand, now, finally, the re-release of the first two games after fans pleading Sega for so long. The third game has now been delayed (again) to 2019, but this should certainly tide us over until then.

Anyway – this post concerns a somewhat confusing situation regarding a certain black-suited member of the Chi You Men. This post is my effort to try and make sense of it, and figure out if two seemingly-identical looking characters featuring in the first two games really are the same person or not…

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Antiquity Trees and Flower Girls: Symbolism in Shenmue (Part 2 of 2)


In Part 1, we discussed the meaning of the name, ‘Shenmue’, the various examples of the meaning being foreshadowed before it’s reveal, as well as how flowers are often used as a symbol within the series. In Part 2, we will be exploring the other trees besides the titular tree of the series, (as well as nature in general) and how they represent Ryo’s character development and growth across the two games.

NOTE: This post will contain plot SPOILERS for both games in the series, so it is highly recommended you only read if you have completed both games. It also assumes you have basic knowledge of the two games and the series in general.

So, trees in Shenmue then. Given what we have learned about the meaning behind the name of the series, it only makes sense there would be other trees besides the all-important titular one outside Shenhua’s house. And we see this almost immediately in the very opening moments of Shenmue I – I refer to of course, the cherry tree outside the Hazuki Dojo; where the Dragon Mirror is buried (before Lan Di takes it, of course).


Now, I’m not sure if there is meant to be any deeper meaning to the Dragon Mirror being hidden under a tree, and the Phoenix Mirror being hidden behind a far more labyrinthine series of secret doors and passageways that lead to the Hazuki Dojo’s basement – but the tree’s narrative importance itself cannot be denied. If the player focuses on the tree the first time they approach the Dojo when first gaining control of Ryo, it triggers a flashback of him as a young boy being trained by his father – at a time the cherry blossoms have bloomed and are falling serenely to the ground. Iwao tells him to ‘find his centre of balance’ – an early indicator of something that becomes a recurring theme throughout the series – Ryo being encouraged to concentrate first instead of acting rashly or wasting his energy. While something merely hinted at here in the first game, this theme becomes far more prevalent in the second game, which we will come to…

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Antiquity Trees and Flower Girls: Symbolism in Shenmue (Part 1 of 2)

shenmue tree

NOTE: This post will contain plot SPOILERS for both games in the series, so it is highly recommended you only read if you have completed both games. It also assumes you have basic knowledge of the two games and the series in general.

As all fans of the series will know, towards the end of Shenmue II’s Guilin scenario (Disc 4 of the Dreamcast version), there is a pretty significant plot reveal – namely, that ‘Shenmue’ is actually the tree outside Shenhua’s house in Bailu Village, and that she herself is named after the flower of the tree. I remember being surprised by this reveal on my first playthrough of the game – it works so well because I had never really thought to question what ‘Shenmue’ meant before that point, or even if it was relevant within the series’ own story and mythology. And obviously for any players who had been eagerly awaiting an explanation, I expect it would have been satisfying for them as well. The other really great and clever thing about it is that there are actually several hints and foreshadowing to this reveal before this point – some admittedly not within the main narrative, but they are there nonetheless – and there are many examples of trees and nature being used as symbolism before Ryo even sets foot in Guilin – which I will be exploring in this post.

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The Shenmue II Character Database


More substantial content will be coming, I can assure you; but I just wanted to share on here a project I completed in 2012 (but had been working on since about 2003!) – the Shenmue II Character Database , which compiles profiles on every single character in Shenmue II – a lot of this information was previously only available in Japanese guidebooks, and it took a lot of effort and collaboration with others in the fan community to translate and put all of this information together. I hope you’ll agree the end result was worth it! I’ll likely be referring back to this database as I dig into the trivia and little known facts about Shenmue II’s characters in future posts on the blog 😉

You can download the database here (also includes scans from the Shenmue II Perfect Guidebook)

It is also available to view online, many thanks to Giorgio of the Shenmue Dojo for providing this:

Below you can read a little history and background on the project and how it came about (originally written in 2012 – before the shock announcement of Shenmue III). I’m sure you’ll agree it is a testament to just how dedicated and persistent this crazy ol’ fanbase is! Enjoy…

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Discovering Shenmue (Part 2 of 2)

An older incarnation of the Shenmue Dojo site (thanks to for the pic)

(Read Part 1 here)

As I stated at the end of Part 1, Shenmue II felt like where the saga’s story was truly beginning, the hints that it was more than a simple revenge story becoming a lot more apparent. As Ren might say – things were ‘getting interesting’…

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Discovering Shenmue (Part 1 of 2)


So then, welcome to Shenmusings! This introductory post serves to give you an idea of what to expect from the blog, as well as a little about why I am so passionate about this series, and how I first discovered it and became part of the fandom and online community (surely there can’t be a more persistently hopeful fanbase than ours?). I honestly consider both Shenmue games to certainly be up there as among some of the best games of all time (and criminally overlooked and underappreciated), and as writing just happens to be another passion of mine, I thought it high time to express my love of these games, and offer a blog that explores thematic discussion of the story, little known facts and tidbits from both games, and also posts like this one, about my own personal history with the series.

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