REVIEW: ‘Shenmue the Animation,’ Episode 2 – “Daybreak”

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Shenmue Episode 2 - But Why Tho

Shenmue the Animation (Shenmue) is a Crunchyroll/Adult Swim exclusive action anime based on the video game Shenmue and is developed by Telecom Animation Film. Having set himself on a course to discern the truth about his father, Ryo begins his quest for answers by trying to learn the contents of the mysterious letter that arrived for his dad. Meanwhile, those close to Ryo are beginning to grow concerned for his safety in Shenmue Episode 2.

When I reviewed its inaugural episode, I commented on how fast the series seemed to lurch into its main plotline. This was particularly striking given how much the show gave the impression that the journey our protagonist Ryo was setting out on would be a long and winding one. Shenmue Episode 2 feels much more in line with what I would’ve expected from the messaging that the show gave viewers last week. That’s not to say that nothing happens in this episode. Quite a bit does. But as far as overall narrative progress goes, little headway is made on that front.

With Ryo’s only clue being the mysterious letter written in Chinese, he sets out to find someone who can translate it for him. Running into numerous roadblocks in his journey, Ryo soon begins to search for those who may be involved with smuggling Chinese people in through the ports around town. Needless to say, having a strange teenager suddenly asking about these sorts of individuals quickly causes concern for those Ryo simply wants to talk to. Assuming the young man is a member of a rival gang, he is soon beset upon by assailants. Unfortunately for them, Ryo is quite good at martial arts.

Shenmue Episode 2 provides an entertaining mix of action and character. As Ryo becomes more set in his search, those around him take notice. Some offer help, while others attempt to dissuade the young man. This mix of thematic elements allows the episode to have a pleasant flow to it. It never becomes overly dramatic as its predecessor did, while also never devolving into mindless action either.

Speaking of the action, Shenmue Episode 2 delivers its fight sequences brilliantly. While not as flashy or over-the-top as many anime, this series does a great job of showcasing the technical side of martial arts. Counters, throws, and grabs are all utilized when appropriate to show just how smart of a fighter Ryo is. The delivery of these moments is always smooth and kinetic. This gives every action sequence the ability to make the best possible impression on the audience.

When all is said and done, Shenmue Episode 2 is a solid step forward in the series. It delivers a lot while remaining clear, easy to follow, and enjoyable to watch.

Shenmue Episode 2 is streaming on Crunchyroll and Adult Swim.

Shenmue Episode 2
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10


Shenmue Episode 2 is a solid step forward in the series. It delivers a lot while remaining clear, easy to follow, and enjoyable to watch.