REVIEW: ‘Shenmue,’ Episode 5 – “Equal”

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Shenmue Episode 5

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. With Harasaki falling victim to the Mad Angels, Ryo is forced to fight Guizhang to save her. But he suspects that the Angels are setting him up and sets a plan in motion in Shenmue Episode 5.

Breaking from what I’ve come to expect from this series, this week’s episode delivers a fair amount of energy. Thanks to an opening half that includes an extended fight sequence, Shenmue Episode 5 manages to avoid the problems brought by its less than exciting lead for much of its run time. These fight sequences bring an interesting flow with them. While Ryo and Guizhang have their duel, the fights look to deliver a fair amount of accuracy as the two fighters block, parry, and counter each other’s moves. However, as the fight expands, it soon breaks down into bizarre moments of over-the-top mayhem as we see multiple attackers swept aside by single kicks. This sudden change of tone, while odd, does allow the two fight scenes to feel different from each other, delivering a few headshaking chuckles after the episode’s opening tension.

Unfortunately, Shenmue Episode 5 cannot keep the energy going for its entire run. Despite an ample dose of Goro’s trademark ridiculous humor, by the time the credits run, the show has sapped what momentum it once had as we are left watching Ryo perform his charisma-draining magic on the show once again.

I feel bad harping on the same point with each episode’s review, but the character just can’t seem to create any real presence in the story. Even in moments with Harasaki, when the show tries to impart the concerned tension Harasaki has for Ryo, it just doesn’t work. The camera captures her emotion-laden eyes just to cut to Ryo, as he responds to her with all the energy of a dead fish. I usually root for the “good guy” protagonist to get the girl, but I think Harasaki would find herself bored with this guy in a real hurry.

The visuals throughout Shenmue Episode 5 continue to deliver the story well. The fight scenes provide their unique energies through the animation and the calmer moments are served just as well. The only thing the visuals bring to the table that I could’ve done without is a couple of eye-rolling piss jokes. The sort of thing anyone over the age of 12 isn’t going to laugh at.

When all is said and done, Shenmue Episode 5 continues to deliver the mediocrity that has come before it. But, with the narrative coming to its first big turning point, perhaps next week’s installment will breathe some new life into the series.

Shenmue Episode 5 is streaming on Crunchyroll and Adult Swim.


Shenmue Episode 5, "Equal"
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Shenmue Episode 5 continues to deliver the mediocrity that has come before it. But, with the narrative coming to its first big turning point, perhaps next week’s installment will breathe some new life into the series.