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Toonami fans on Tuesday received a double dose of good news for the block, as the block announced that not only would One Piece be making its return to the better cartoon show this upcoming Saturday, January 22, but Shenmue: The Animation, the anticipated anime adaptation of Sega’s cult classic video game hit, will be making its world premiere in two weeks’ time on February 5.
Toonami first revealed the surprising return of One Piece upon releasing the schedule for this Saturday, January 21-22, 2022, with an hour-long premiere from 1:30 to 2:30 a.m. Eastern. Toonami will resume One Piece at episodes 517-518, which kicks off the “Return to Sabaody Arc” following a two year in-universe time skip.
The full schedule can be seen below:
One Piece previously aired on the modern incarnation of Toonami back on May 18, 2013, to much fanfare starting from episode 207. The show aired near-continuously for four years, until flagging ratings and increasing licensing fees to renew the series from Toei and Funimation would force Toonami to pull the show from the lineup.
According to Jason DeMarco, a changing landscape of the conditions that forced the show off the air combined with Toei’s willingness to see the show back on Toonami would allow for One Piece‘s return.
SPIRAL CURSE DEMARCO on Twitter: “All I can say is that One Piece came back largely because the way we get that show is different from most other shows that Funimation distributes. And Toei VERY MUCH wanted us to run it. And yes, the TV landscape has changed utterly from what it was when we took of off the air. / Twitter”
All I can say is that One Piece came back largely because the way we get that show is different from most other shows that Funimation distributes. And Toei VERY MUCH wanted us to run it. And yes, the TV landscape has changed utterly from what it was when we took of off the air.
Earlier this month, Toonami announced that they will premiere a new show every week “for the next month or so,” to fill the schedule gaps that have been apparent since October 2021. This past weekend, Toonami added to the lineup Made in Abyss, the critically acclaimed anime based on the manga written and illustrated by Akihito Tsukushi and animated by Kinema Citrus. The week before on January 8, Toonami brought back Assassination Classroom for its second season.
While good relations with Toei likely helped with negotiating a lower licensing price for One Piece, the same can not be said in regards to their current relations with Aniplex USA and Funimation since their parent company Sony purchased Crunchyroll last year. On Wednesday, Funimation announced that the dub for Demon Slayer season 2 will be premiering on FunimatonNow instead. Last month, Jason revealed in a Twitter discussion that Sony is presently “freezing” Toonami from renewing Demon Slayer to air season 2. It would not be surprising if deteriorating relations with Sony played a major role in Toonami’s schedule gaps since October 2021, as Jason mentioned: “We had many shows lined up, including [Demon Slayer], and we are no longer sure we can get any of them. Things appear to be changing…”
Following the One Piece return announcement, when asked if there will be additional announcements for Toonami, Jason DeMarco replied: “Something else coming today actually. MAYBE something coming next week?”
That former announcement would arrive a few hours later, as Toonami and Crunchyroll revealed new details for Shenmue: The Animation, including a new trailer and release date for the upcoming anime adaptation of Sega’s cult classic video game franchise. Fans won’t have to wait much longer until Shenmue hits the airwaves, as the premiere episode will be airing on Toonami and streaming on Crunchyroll on February 6, 2022 at 12:30 a.m. EST.
As with the airings, the Adult Swim trailer is English Dubbed, while the Crunchyroll trailer is Japanese with English Subtitles.
A new key visual was also released, which you can see below:
Adult Swim and Crunchyroll also revealed the cast for the English dub. Of note, the Shenmue anime did not bring back the original voice actors that were in the games, opting for an entirely new cast instead. The dub stars Austin Tindle as Ryo, and featuring names familiar to Toonami viewers whom are regularly cast for Funimation and Sentai Filmworks productions in Texas.
- Ryo Hazuki voiced by Masaya Matsukaze (Japanese) and Austin Tindle (English): A high school boy and heir to the Hazuki style martial arts. When his father is murdered by a mysterious man named Lan Di, Ryo begins a journey to polish his martial arts and uncover the truth behind his father’s death.
- Lan Di voiced by Takahiro Sakurai (Japanese) and Scott Gibbs (English): A high-ranking member of the underground organization Chi You Men who murders Ryo’s father and steals the Dragon Mirror.
- Shenhua voiced by Natalie Rial (English): A young girl who lives in a rural village in Guilin under the care of her foster father. Pure and simple, she has vast knowledge of plants, animals, and other natural survival skills.
- Nozomi Harasaki voiced by Cat Thomas (English): Ryo’s classmate who has secretly admired him ever since he saved her from bullies in middle school. Strong and considerate, she usually spends her time helping in her grandmother’s flower shop.
- Guizhang Chen voiced by Jeremy Gee (English): Guizhang was born in Yokohama and taught martial arts by his father from a young age. Since Ryo has a similar upbringing, although Guizhang acts cold he feels close to Ryo.
- Chai – voiced by Greg Ayres (English): A member of Chi You Men. He has a unique condition allowing him to do superhuman-like moves. After Lan Di has taken the Dragon mirror, he begins looking for the second mirror.
- Wong voiced by Bryson Baugus (English): A member of Heavens. He looks up to Ren like a brother and aspires to be like him.
- Joy voiced by Luci Christian (English): Joy is a young woman who loves motorcycles. Her father runs a trade business and is highly trusted by many. Like Ryo, Joy has also lost her mother at a young age.
- Xiuying Hong voiced by Christine Auten (English): Her priest name is Lishao Tao. Although she is young, she is known as the grand master of Bajiquan. Her facial expression is always calm, but her clear eyes look like she can see through people’s hearts and intentions.
- Ren voiced by Cody House (English): The charismatic head of Heavens, a street gang that operates in Beverly Hills Wharf. He is obsessed with money and does not trust anyone other than his friends. Ren is rivals with the Yellow Heads gang and plans to beat them one day.
- Dou Niu voiced by Joe Daniels (English): While being the boss of Yellow Heads, Dou Niu is also part of Chi You Men. To gain trust from Lan Di, he also begins looking for Yuanda Zhu. Dou Niu has a large bear-like body, which puts Ryo and his friends in a difficult situation when fighting him.
The reason for a recast was due to the producers wanting a “clean slate” for the Shenmue anime. When asked if this was indeed the case, Jason DeMarco confirmed it to be so, saying “Respect to the original cast, but this is OUR version of this story.”
SPIRAL CURSE DEMARCO on Twitter: “Clean slate. Respect to the original cast, but this is OUR version of this story. / Twitter”
Clean slate. Respect to the original cast, but this is OUR version of this story.
The anime series will be 13 episodes in length. Storyline-wise, the Shenmue anime will cover the plotlines of the first two Shenmue games, Shenmue 1 and Shenmue 2.
Shenmue: The Animation is being animated by Telecom Animation Film, a subsidiary of TMS Entertainment, which itself is a subsidiary of Sega. Shenmue’s original creator Yu Suzuki serves as the executive producer, and the show is directed by Chikara Sakurai (whom previously directed One-Punch Man season 2).
The show’s synopsis is as follows:
1986, Yokosuka. Ryo Hazuki has trained to master the Hazuki Style Jujitsu under his strict father in the Hazuki Dojo from his childhood. However, one day a mysterious man named Lan Di murders his father and takes the “mirror” his father was protecting. Ryo is determined to find the truth behind his father’s murder, but soon finds himself getting stuck in a war between the underground organizations…. Traveling from Yokosuka to Hong Kong, Ryo’s long journey begins!
Shenmue will be premiering dubbed on Toonami in the United States and streaming subbed on Crunchyroll worldwide (except Japan and mainland China). This project will be the third co-production by the two anime distributors after Fena: Pirate Princess and Blade Runner: Black Lotus.
The first Shenmue game was released in 1999 for the Sega Dreamcast, while the sequel, Shenmue II, was released in 2001. While the Shenmue games were critically acclaimed (Shenmue I sold 1.2 million copies, the fourth best selling game on the Dreamcast), it was unable to make a profit for Sega as the games had a production budget of $47-70 million, among the most expensive video games ever developed. Financial difficulties ultimately lead to the downfall of the Dreamcast and the end of Sega as a console creator in 2002. Suzuki’s hope of continuing the series never wavered, and a third installment, Shenmue III, was released in 2019 due in part to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $6 million in funds.
What are your thoughts on the recent news? Are you looking forward to One Piece’s return this Saturday? Are you excited for Shenmue’s anime debut? Let us know by commenting below or directly on our social media.