REVIEW: ‘Shenmue,’ Episode 12 – “Guidepost”

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shenmue Episode 12 - 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 discovered that the Yellow Heads Gang is aware of Ryo and Ren’s plans, Wong meets up with Joy hoping to find some way to help their friends. Meanwhile, in the gang’s hideout, Ryo and Ren are caught by surprise when they are confronted by the gang’s leader. But the duo doesn’t have time for grudge matches if they are going to achieve their objective in Shenmue Episode 12.

This week’s entry comes out swinging and never stops. With both Ryo and Ren’s side of the adventure, as well as Joy and Wong’s, Shenmue Episode 12 can keep its narrative clipping along at a great pace. A solid mix of plot developments and brief spurts of action help to give the episode a nicely tuned cadence that has been rare for the series. The only time this episode ever really stumbles is when it is forced to incorporate its past.

When Wong initially finds Joy and attempts to enlist her aid, the woman is resistant to facing off against Hong Kong’s biggest gang. It is only after a flashback montage of her many interactions with Ryo that the woman has a change of heart and sets a plan in motion to help her missing friends. Though from what the flashbacks showed, I don’t understand why.

This sequence delivers what may be the flimsiest excuse for a change of heart I’ve ever seen in any fictional media. With a single exception, each of the moments that Joy recalls of Ryo is of him saying mundane everyday things. There is virtually nothing to inspire or engender the kind of loyalty that would drive a person to face off against a powerful gang. But where plots demand, characters tread. And so, off she goes.

The ruckus that the cast creates throughout the enemy’s base is a great blend of chasing, fighting, and fun. The tone of the episode remains in a solid middle ground, that feels right for the amount of commitment the storytelling has created in me. It doesn’t try to make things overly dramatic nor does it ever allow the proceedings to devolve into a complete farce. While this sort of neutral ground would often put me off, it feels right for how this series has developed its narrative.

The visuals do a strong job of following the story’s lead where the tone is concerned. It delivers the action well but shies away from trying to create too dramatic of a presentation.  It does a great job of keeping all the comings and goings straight for the viewer, as well as capturing the closeness of the many long corridors and small rooms the bulk of the story takes place.

When all is said and done, Shenmue Episode 12 does everything it can with what it is built upon. Its core elements deliver some solid moments and I look forward to seeing how the story will wrap up this leg of Ryo’s adventure.

Shenmue Episode 12 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.


Shenmue Episode 12 — "Guidepost"
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

When all is said and done, Shenmue Episode 12 does everything it can with what it is built upon. Its core elements deliver some solid moments and I look forward to seeing how the story will wrap up this leg of Ryo’s adventure.