The main focus of the Shenmue story is Ryo's quest to find and take revenge on his father's murderer, the mysterious Lan Di. The adventure sees Ryo exploring his home city of Yokosuka, Japan in Shenmue, and travelling to Hong Kong, Kowloon, and Guilin during the events of Shenmue II.
On November 29th 1986, Ryo returns home to find his father confronted by a mysterious man with a dragon tattoo and a scar on his face (Lan Di). He seeks the Dragon Mirror
from Iwao Hazuki
(Ryo's father), and threatens to kill Ryo to force Iwao into revealing its location. Ryo watches his father die and swears he will have his revenge.
Ryo's investigations start in Yamonose, Sakuragaoka
, and Dobuita
and focus on obtaining information about the day of the murder from locals. After collecting all the information he can, a letter arrives at the Hazuki residence from a man called Zhu Yuan Da
. It was a warning letter for Iwao that arrived too late, but advises to seek the aid of Master Chen
. Ryo tracks down Chen's headquarters to a warehouse in Yokosuka
Harbour; Chen and his son, Gui Zhang
, agree to help Ryo if he helps them clean up the Mad Angels, a gang at the harbour that are a threat to Chen's business. He also learns that Lan Di is heading to Hong Kong, and that there is a Phoenix Mirror that matches with the stolen Dragon Mirror, found hidden in a basement beneath the Hazuki dojo.
Ryo continues to disrupt the Mad Angels whilst working as a forklift truck driver at the harbour, so much so that the Mad Angels kidnap Nozomi Harasaki
, Ryo's long-time friend and love interest. Ryo and Gui Zhang team up to defeat the Angels' leader, Terry Ryan
, and rescue Nozomi. With the help of Master Chen and Gui Zhang, Ryo manages to get a boat to Hong Kong to pursue Lan Di.
Ryo arrives in Hong Kong with instructions from Master Chen to seek out Master Lishao Tao. He discovers that this is an alias used by Xiuying Hong. She sees Ryo's desire for revenge as a path that will destroy him and attempts to teach him that revenge is not the answer, but he remains determined to avenge his father's death. He finds out that the leader of a local gang might be able to help him locate Lan Di, and after seeking out Ren of Heavens
and convincing him to help, the two travel to Kowloon to continue the pursuit.
Ryo seeks out Yuanda Zhu and finds him, but the man who had tried to warn Iwao is captured by Dou Niu
of the Yellow Head organisation, a
group in line with Lan Di's own organisation, the Chiyoumen. Ryo battles to the top of the Yellow Head building, defeating Dou Niu and rescuing Zhu, at the same time coming agonisingly close to Lan Di - he escapes in a helicopter from the top of the building. After this event, Zhu reveals to Ryo the purpose of the two mirrors: tools to resurrect the ancient Qing Dynasty. On his advice, Ryo travels to Guilin (this time alone) to find out more about the mirrors.
Arriving in Guilin, meets a woman called Shenhua Ling
. Although this is the first physical appearance she makes, she is seen in Ryo's dreams during the first game. Shenhua's family is closely connected to the Dragon and Phoenix Mirrors, and she takes Ryo to her village to meet her father. He is not at the village, but Ryo and Shenhua discover a sword that reacts to the Phoenix Mirror. Large replicas of the two mirrors appear in the cavern and sword is seen to float in mid-air - the game ends on this cliffhanger.
Beyond Shenmue II
After the Dreamcast's discontinuation and the first two Shenmue games selling poorly, the story was never continued. Rumors surface sporadically about a sequel, and the actual story has been finished, but Shenmue fans are still waiting for the conclusion of Ryo's quest. Shenmue Online
, an MMORPG, was due to be released but there is uncertainty as to whether or not it has been cancelled. It is rumored to feature Ryo, but not as a playable character, and the game itself was not intended to be a continuation from Shenmue II.
Ryo's most recent appearance is as a character in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. Ryo's transport is the motorbike he drove to the harbour while on the way to rescuing Nozomi. A power-up allows Ryo to drive the forklift truck from his harbor job, and a pre-order DLC allows you to race in the forklift for the whole race.
Shenmue originally started development as a Virtua Fighter
RPG, which explains Ryo's similar physical
features to Akira
from that franchise. Ryo's most recognisable features are the plaster beneath his left eye and the jacket he wears which has a tiger design emblazoned on the back. The plaster is present from the opening scene of the first game and remains to the end of Shenmue II, and the reason for this is never explained. The jacket is the only one ever worn by Ryo, despite having a room full of clothes at the Hazuki residence, and is only taken off when he goes to sleep. However, in the Saturn version that the first game was originally planned for, Ryo didn't wear the jacket, just the white shirt underneath it.
Ryo was taught the Hazuki-brand of jujitsu by his father. In the first game, the player can spar once a day with Masayuki Fukuhara
, a live-in student at the Hazuki residence who is like a brother to Ryo. Alternatively, you can train solo in public locations like the car park in Dobuita
and an empty warehouse at Yokosuka Harbour. Ryo's style is rooted in the jujitsu he was taught, but he learns moves from other styles of martial arts. For example, he learns a dynamic leg move from Tom
and a throw move from Master Chen
that is rooted in Chinese martial arts. In addition to this, you can find and buy moves scrolls to have Ryo learn more techniques.
Ryo is shown to be a skilled martial artist, dispatching most grunts in cut-scenes and QTEs with little difficulty. However, he has a tendancy to be rash and over-eager - he is outmatched by Chai
in the You Arcade, and Xiuying Hong
exposes many weakness in his technique during a sparring session. This can be traced back to childhood during flashback scenes in the first game, and is probably exasperated by his father's murder.
Throughout the two games, Ryo - though reluctant in romance - has a number of love interests that are hinted at. Nozomi Harasaki
is first and most notable, a childhood friend who has a crush on Ryo but is unsure whether to tell him (feelings that are mutual from Ryo's perspective). Depending on how often the player talks to and phones Nozomi in the first game, their relationship will play out differently. Although they never explicitly get together as a couple (Ryo leaves for Hong Kong and Nozomi returns to Canada where she grew up), the scenes that play if you talk to Nozomi enough suggest they care for each other a lot.
In Shenmue II, there are a number of female characters that might be considered love interests. Joy
, a fiery redhead that rides a motorbike, is introduced early in the story and helps Ryo when he arrives in Hong Kong, and later in Kowloon. Fangmei Xun is another potential love interest, a maid at Man Mo Temple who makes her feelings known to Ryo if the player talks to her enough (and engages on the Fangmei's Birthday quest). The two other female leads in the game are Xiuying Hong
, but there is little suggestion of a romance unfolding with either: Xiuying acts as a teacher and older sister to Ryo, and there is not enough story progress to learn enough about Shenhua.
Ryo has amassed a number of funny quotes over the two games, some of which have become popular on Internet forums. "Do you know where sailors hang out?"
(while searching for leads about the harbor) "Let's get sweaty."
(before a training session) "No reason."
(numerous ocassions to avoid a follow up question) "Do you know anything about Chinese people?"
(when searching for leads on Lan Di) "Don't you know that blackmail is way uncool?""
(to a thug at the harbor) "Do you want to play a game of Lucky Hit?"
(when working a Lucky Hit stand)