- "They killed my father right in front of me. I will have my revenge! I need to do this ... for my father."
- ―Ryo declaring revenge for his father's murder.
His mother died of an illness when he was three years old. Ryo has been taught martial arts by his father, Iwao Hazuki, since he was seven.
Ryo is Japanese and is 176 cm (5'9") tall. He has black spiky hair, dark brown eyes (His Shenmue Passport model, in the boxart for the first two games, a lot of the 3-D artwork, the Xbox version of Shenmue II, and in Shenmue the Animation he has light brown eyes), and a bandage on his left cheek. He wears a brown leather bomber jacket with a tiger design on the back of it and a short-sleeve white T-shirt under it. He also wears light blue jeans, white, red and black sneakers, and has a Timex brand watch on his left wrist (The Timex brand is removed in the re-release for the first two games Shenmue I & II and in Shenmue III due to licensing issues.). In Shenmue III, Ryo's clothes can be changed and there are several different clothing accessories that can be bought in-game or are Downloadable Content (DLC).
Ryo was a naive high school senior until he witnessed the murder of his father at the hands of Lan Di and has vowed vengeance. Ryo investigated into events leading to his father's death, but the more he investigated, the greater the mystery as he's pressed into the shadow world of martial arts and gangsters. With the limited clues and combat techniques he acquired, his quest began in his hometown and took him deep into China for answers.
As Ryo is only 18 years old, he is a bit naive at times and does not have all the sensibilities of an adult. He can be blunt with his language, such as when he accidentally offends Fangmei Xun by telling her she has eyes that remind him of a cat. Rather stubborn and competitive to a fault, he tends to act impulsively rather than think through a situation logically (i.e. when being contacted for the first time after performing the Chawan Sign, he unquestionably dives into the situation despite the signs that one would otherwise feel is dangerous and shady). As seen multiple times in the series, if Ryo feels he has been wronged, he does not give up easily until he is satisfied, such as when his ticket is stolen. He is very risk-driven.
Although sometimes dense around people with bad intentions, Ryo is also quite intelligent and inquisitive in order to find leads. He also knows when surrendering is the better option instead of fighting. He shows that he can adapt remarkably when it comes to driving forklifts and motorcycles.
Ryo has put any resemblance of a love life on hold until his revenge is complete. He knows how Nozomi Harasaki feels about him, but he hides his feelings and acts indifferently towards her.
Ryo has well-intentions and wants to protect his friends and loved ones. This is especially true in Shenmue III, in which he must protect Shenhua Ling at times. He also knows how to act properly around children and does not like seeing them being bullied. He can also be merciful to strangers who've done horrible things; he saved the life of Chunyan Xu who murdered a man (although it is implied that he agreed to be murdered if he lost a fight with her), which stunned her and she could only ask "why?" He can also be interpreted as caring for animals, as he can care for an orphaned kitten in the first game, and can obtain a pet duck in the second, although it is unclear if Duck's inclusion is canon.
However, Ryo is prone to emotions like rage, revenge and anger, often putting himself in morally ambiguous positions. Xiuying views him as impulsive and impatient. Many people throughout the series try to dissuade Ryo from his path of revenge due to the danger involved. It could be said that Ryo's strong desire for revenge is his entire motivation for the series. A bit of his hot-headed and perhaps immature/childish nature could be seen as overlapping with his desire for revenge, as he even goes so far to quit high school and confront gangs just to pursue his father's murderer, while it could be argued that a sane adult would call the police instead of going on a long journey to hunt them down physically just so the revenge can be "personal".
Initially, Ryo is hesitant to fight women, saying, "No way... I'm not fighting a woman." However, he becomes more comfortable with the idea when confronted by Xiuying Hong, which makes him willing to challenge Guixhang Lee, Eileen M. Edelweiss, Chunyan Xu, etc.
Hobby-wise, Ryo seems to enjoy video games to a degree, as he can often play them via arcades, and he also owns a Sega Saturn. He could also be interpreted as a food aficionado of sorts, as he also seems to enjoy experimenting with food, as the player can often try and collect many types throughout the series. The same goes with a perceived hobby of collecting capsule toys. He may have a slight gambling addiction, evident by the fact that he will sometimes say that he should "get another" when using the Gashapon machines, and likes going to the small casino in town.
For combat, Ryo is the heir to the Hazuki Family Combat Style (a mix of Jujitsu and Karate). He has been trained by Iwao since a child and haven't fully mastered his training to succeed the school. Due to his martial arts foundations, he was able to pick up new techniques quicker than most people, but haven't reached to the rank of master yet. In his hunt for Lan Di, he encountered several martial artists (mostly kung-fu masters) that taught him a few moves of their respective styles. In Japan, he picked up the Tornado Kick from Tom Johnson, Double Blow from Shigeo Yamagishi, Shadow Step and Cross Charge from Shozo Mizuki, Swallow Dive from Guizhang Chen, and Swallow Flip (from Master Chen). In Hong Kong, Ryo picked up various Tai Chi combat techniques from Master Xiuying Hong, Jianmin Tao, and Guixiang Lee. Through is adventures, he also picked up other martial art moves from various people, books, and scrolls, evolving Ryo into a mixed martial artist of various styles.
At age 7, Ryo began to seriously study the martial arts under his father's tutelage. Around this time, he was dubbed "Suede headed Ryo" by Setsu Abe, the owner of the Abe Store, and was often scolded for being bratty.
He experienced his first feelings of love for a girl during this time, but when a friend of his teased him about it, Ryo started a fight with him. Since then, he has shied away from any involvement with girls.
He joined his high school's karate club, as mentioned in a conversation regarding Nonaka-san.
On November 29, 1986, Ryo returns home to find a mysterious black car outside. After finding his housekeeper Ine Hayata and friend Masayuki Fukuhara injured, he enters his family dojo to find his father, Iwao Hazuki, battling with a man dressed in a green silk Chinese suit known as Lan Di. Lan Di demands Iwao hand over an item known as the "Dragon Mirror", though Iwao refuses to reveal where it is. Ryo intervenes in battle after his father is felled, but is injured by a blow from Lan Di. He then lifts Ryo from the ground and threatens to kill him with a final blow, which prompts Iwao to reveal its location underneath the cherry blossom tree. After Lan Di leaves, Iwao dies in Ryo's arms. Ryo swears vengeance for his father. After this incident, Ryo decides to drop out of Yokosuka High School.
As he collects information around Yamanose, Sakuragaoka, and Dobuita, Ryo is led to the New Yokosuka Harbor District and to "Master Chen" who was mentioned in the Chinese written letter addressed to Iwao. The meeting gives Ryo some new information, there is a another mirror called the Phoenix Mirror. Ryo finds the mirror in the Hazuki Residence basement.
While this is going on Ryo gets a job at the harbor driving a forklift as he has learned a gang operates there called the Mad Angels, who may have contact with a "Chinese Big shot" who Ryo presumes to be Lan Di. The Mad Angels and Ryo come to fights a few times at the New Yokosuka harbor, and as a result, they kidnap Nozomi Harasaki, one of Ryo's friends from school. Ryo comes to rescue her and he and Terry Ryan, the leader of the Mad Angels make a deal. Terry will take Ryo to Lan Di if Ryo beats up Guizhang Chen, who has been causing the Mad Angels problems with their plans at the harbor. Ryo confronts Guizhang and asks for him to lose explaining that Terry will take him to Lan Di if he beats him. During the fight Terry tries to kill them both, leading the two of them to fight the entire Mad Angels gang, 70 men.
Master Chen believes that Lan Di has left Yokosuka, heading for Hong Kong, so Ryo decides he will head there next as it is his only lead. Guizhang says that he will accompany Ryo to Hong Kong, but a fight between Ryo and Chai leaves Guizhang with an leg injury meaning he is not able to travel with him. Ryo leaves Yokosuka heading for Hong Kong, taking the Phoenix Mirror with him and an introduction letter from Master Chen telling him of a martial arts master named Lishao Tao who should be able to help him locate Yuanda Zhu, the writer of the warning letter sent to Iwao.
Ryo arrives in Aberdeen, Hong Kong and sets about trying to find the Yan Tin Apartments in Wan Chai where Lishao Tao is supposed to live. He runs into a woman riding a motorcycle named Joy and later has his bag stolen by three men Sam, Larry, Cool Z and a child named Wong. He chases Wong, fights Sam and Larry, and gets his bag back.
He stays at the Come Over Guest House which Wong and Joy mentioned. He soon finds that the address he has been given for Lishao Tao is no longer valid as he doesn't live at the Apartments anymore. Eventually Ryo manages to find Man Mo Temple in Scarlet Hills, where Lishao Tao is said to be and discovers eventually that Lishao Tao is a woman named Xiuying Hong. Xiuying is willing to aid Ryo with the information he needs to continue his journey, because she believes he is falling onto the wrong path.
Ryo continues his journey without her help by asking people about Yuanda Zhu in Wan Chai. He comes into contact with Shuqin Zhang Yuanda Zhu's aid, but even he doesn't know his whereabouts as he has gone into hiding. He tells Ryo there is something he can do, and that is to find Ren of Heavens, the leader of The Heavens a gang in Aberdeen, but warns him that Ren is a dangerous person. Ryo is eventually able to find Ren and finds out how dangerous he can be, but through his perseverance and Ren's thought that large sums of money must be involved in what is going on, Ren tells Ryo that Yuanda Zhu is in Kowloon.
Ryo heads to Kowloon with Ren where they encounter Dou Niu, the leader of the Yellow Heads gang that operates in Kowloon who are also looking for Yuanda Zhu. Ryo and Ren barely manage to escape and wind up handcuffed, but are freed by Wong. Eventually, Ryo manages to find Yuanda Zhu but before he can even ask him anything he is kidnapped by Dou Niu and taken to the Yellow Head Building.
Ryo soon learns that the only way to get inside the Yellow Head Building is to be scouted as a possible new member of the Yellow Head gang, so to draw attention to himself he competes in street fights in Kowloon. Eventually a scout for the Yellow Heads arranges a meeting between himself and Ryo. Ren decides to follow him and he knocks the scout out, the two of them now have access to the Yellow Head Building.
The building is very tall and through many fights with members of the gang, they make it to the roof. By this point Joy and Wong have accompanied them and on the roof they find Dou Niu with Yuanda Zhu who he is about to deliver to Lan Di who is flying skyward in a helicopter. Ryo fights Dou Niu and eventually, remembering what he has been taught by Xiuying, he is able to defeat him and save Yuanda Zhu. Lan Di takes off and they all head back to Ren's Hideout.
At Ren's hideout they finally get to ask Yuanda Zhu some questions. Yuanda Zhu explains that the reason Lan Di killed Iwao was because Lan Di believes Iwao killed his father Sunming Zhao. Yuanda Zhu doesn't know if this is true but he does know that Zhao did die. Yuanda Zhu explains the Dragon and Phoenix Mirrors and that when they are brought together they form a key. Yuanda Zhu also tells them that Lan Di has probably went to Bailu Village in Guilin, so Ryo heads on to Guilin alone.
Once Ryo arrives in Guilin he starts the long journey towards Bailu Village, where on the way he meets a girl, Shenhua Ling, who offers to show him the way to Bailu Village as it is near where she lives. They walk for two days and eventually arrive at Shenhua's house where she lives with her adoptive father. In the house Ryo finds some artwork of the Dragon and Phoenix Mirrors, so the next day Shenhua and Ryo go to see her father in the stone pit where he is working but he is gone. He has left behind a letter and a sword, and on the wall two giant editions of the Dragon and Phoenix Mirrors. The letter encourages Shenhua to follow Ryo to "find proof" and says that the "time of destiny" has come.
Ryo and Shenhua discover that a group of thugs have attacked and raided several stonemasons in search of the Phoenix Mirror, leaving their houses a mess. This includes stonemason Guowei Xu. With the help of martial arts expert JiuSi Sun, Ryo defeats the thug leader, Yanlang, although he was previously injured by Yanlang to the point he was unconscious for two days. Shenhua interrogates Yanlang and learns her father and Xu are in Niaowu. Ryo and Shenhua are also attacked by Chai, but Ryo thwarts him away.
Ryo and Shenhua go to Niaowu and search for traces of Shenhua's father. Along the way, they encounter a mysterious woman, Feng Li, and encounter a criminal gang called the Red Snakes who have been terrorizing shopkeepers.
Ryo meets Ren again by chance, who has come to Niaowu in search of treasure. Ryo discovers the Red Snakes hideout in a warehouse located by the hotel. Ryo tries to defeat the gang but is unable to defeat their leader, Longqi Ge. Later, Ryo has Ren help him try to fight the Red Snakes leader, but the two are unsuccessful. Ryo tries to pinpoint a weakness in the leader's style, and has experts Qiu Hsu and Xianzi Bei assist him.
When Ryo and Ren plan on fighting the Red Snakes leader again, they find Feng Li alone in their warehouse hideout. Ryo and Ren ask where the Red Snakes went. She vaguely tells them that the land belongs to her, so she had them leave. She tells them that the gang are in the old castle and abducted Shenhua. When Ryo and Ren return to Hotel Niaowu, they find a letter from Feng saying that if Ryo wants to save his "little girlfriend", he should come to the old castle and bring the Phoenix Mirror with him.
Bei agrees to help Ryo cross the river to the old castle. Ren also shows Ryo a fake Phoenix Mirror he found by chance at a local store, which could serve helpful in rescuing Shenhua. Ryo takes a boat to the old castle with Ren, Bei, Hsu, and Shiling Lin who is a shrine maiden who has taken a liking to Ryo. Ryo finds Yuan and Xu locked in a cell and releases them after defeating Chai.
Ryo and Ren find a woman (Niao Sun) waiting for them. Ryo realizes Niao is a disguise of Feng Li. Knowing that if Niao realizes the mirror is a counterfeit that Shenhua could die, Ryo trades Niao the real Phoenix Mirror in exchange for Shenhua's life. Ryo and Ren fight their way to the top of the castle, defeating the Red Snakes leader. Ryo confronts Lan Di, intending to complete his revenge, but Lan Di proves too powerful for Ryo. Niao has her bodyguards burn the headquarters, and Ryo and Ren are forced to flee.
The group leaves Niaowu by boat. Ryo, Shenhua and Ren are last seen walking along the Great Wall of China.
Ryo will appear as the main character in the upcoming anime of the Shenmue series which is a retelling of the series, but with extra scenes that were cut from the games due to budget, time, or mature rating reasons.
- Unnamed mother: Ryo once had a mother who was also Iwao's wife. She passed away when Ryo was three years old so they did not have a real relationship.
- Iwao Hazuki (father): Iwao was Ryo's father who was very influential in his life. He started teaching him martial arts when he was seven years old. He also influenced him to not waste carrots and taught him the values of friendship. Iwao was murdered by Longsun Zhao (Lan Di) on Ryo's birthday. Ryo swears vengeance for his father's murder.
- Ine Hayata (Live-in housekeeper / mother-figure): Ine-san knew Ryo since he was three years old. She knows him very well and gave him ¥500 allowance daily four days after Iwao's murder.
- Masayuki Fukuhara (Live-in student / brother-figure): Fuku-san and Ryo acted like normal brothers when they were young even though they were not related. Fuku-san and Ryo practiced martial arts together in the past and Ryo can choose to practice with him while searching for Lan Di in Yokosuka. If Ryo was murdered; Fuku-san would feel responsible.
- Longsun Zhao (murderer of his father): Longsun Zhao; commonly known as Lan Di killed Ryo's father Iwao right in front of him. Ryo swears vengeance for his father's death.
- Nozomi Harasaki (classmate / love interest): Nozomi has feelings for Ryo, although Ryo is unsure of his own. She is often worried about Ryo because of his thoughts of revenge. Ryo felt he caused her so much pain because it was his fault she was kidnapped by the Mad Angels. If he hadn't beat up some of their members she would have never been kidnapped.
- Naoyuki Ito (classmate / friend): Ryo first met Naoyuki when he was being picked on by other students for being new to the school. Ryo defended Naoyuki and they have been friends ever since. Naoyuki allowed Ryo to borrow his prized possession; his motorcycle when he was in a hurry to rescue Nozomi from the Mad Angels.
- Wuying Ren (friend / rival): Ren first appears as an enemy for Ryo. Ryo had to pay him $500 for information on Yuanda Zhu, and after he dodges his attacks (determinant), Ren will act like he is taking him to Zhu, but instead he takes him to the F Warehouse, only so he could steal the money that was involved in a deal with Yuan and Gangfang Lin and leave Ryo to deal with them. After Ryo chases Ren through Lucky Plaza, he tells him that Zhu is in Kowloon. He only helps Ryo through Kowloon for his own personal greed as he feels there is money involved. He often made Ryo do all the work, and wasn't very helpful. He even cheated when flipping a coin, by having one coin with both sides heads and one with both sides tails so he would always win the bet. However as the story progresses, they begin to develop a friendship. After they defeated Yuan in the Yellow Head Building, Ren dealt with the Yellow Heads and let Ryo head upstairs to rescue Zhu. Also during the fight on the rooftop with Dou Niu, Ren made the fight easier by taking out multiple men in black suits.
- Joy (friend): Ryo first met Joy when he first arrived in Aberdeen, she barged into him riding her motorcycle. Ryo didn't appreciate that, and he shys away from having a romantic relationship with her like he does with all the women he meets. Joy helped him find a place to stay by suggesting the Come Over Guest House and even told him how to get a discount in rent. The day after, she even helped him get a job at Fortune's Pier. Joy gets mad later on, when Ryo doesn't stay at the guest house anymore and when he didn't tell her goodbye when he left for Kowloon. But, he does save her from Master Baihu and their relationship grows.
- Shenhua Ling (traveling companion and confidant): Ryo meets Shenhua after saving her from a river during a storm. She becomes his traveling companion in China, teaching him about nature and showing him the way. The two share a special bond together.
If Ryo fails certain commands; he will die non-canonically and may be given a chance to retry.
- "Is that so." (in countless conversations)
- "I see." (in countless conversations)
- "Ah good." (after drinking a vending drink)
- "Toy capsules. 100 yen each huh?"
- "Bye-bye." (when ending a conversation with almost any child)
- "On the day of the incident, did you see any men wearing black suits?"
- "Did you happen to see a black car the day the snow changed to rain?"
- "Do you know any places where sailors like to hang out around here?"
- "I'm looking for a guy named Charlie."
- "Do you know someone who can read Chinese?"
- "Do you know where Warehouse #8 is?"
- "Do you know anything about the Mad Angels?"
- "Fuku-san, get real, would you!"
- "Please don't call me little suede-headed Ryo." (to Setsu Abe)
- "A group of four stole my bag. One of them was a little kid."
- "Have you seen a kid named Wong? He was wearing green clothes."
- "I'm looking for the Yan Tin Apartments. Which way is it to the South Carmain Quarter?"
- "Do you know the four Wude?"
- "Do you want to play a game of lucky hit?"
- "Are you Yuanda Zhu?"
- "Have you seen a person called Yuan?"
- "I can't complain." (when Xiuying tells him he's sleeping on the sofa for free)
- "I won't be worth anything if I don't eat."
- Ryo's zodiac sign is Sagittarius, year of the monkey, and he has a O blood type.
- Ryo's birthday is November 29th. His father was murdered on his birthday.
- Originally, Shenmue was supposed to be a Virtua Fighter RPG game, so Ryo was originally supposed to be Akira Yuki from Virtua Fighter.
- In Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, Akira can be customized to look similar to Ryo, and also in the offline DLC mode you can fight Akira with a brown leather jacket and blue jeans under the name "RYO".
- In the What's Shenmue? demo, Ryo has the ability to crouch while in free roam by pressing the X button. This was removed in the actual games of the series.
- As seen in beta footage of Shenmue, Ryo was originally supposed to have the ability to travel around Dobuita and Hong Kong with the Push Bike. The feature was likely taken out as Ryo was able to run everywhere faster.
- Yu Suzuki reveals how Ryo got his bandage on a Twitter event called "#YouAskYu". "It didn't appear in Chp.1, but there was a martial arts event. The scar is from the final match."
- Ryo, being Japanese, goes to China and is inexplicably able to communicate with everyone in Chinese, even with a villager like Shenhua. When asked about this plot hole, Yu Suzuki simply said, "Let's not go there..." In a video interview, Suzuki said, "Because it's a game." In the first game, Ryo even needs assistance reading Chinese.
- Although not stated, it seems Ryo somehow mastered Chinese. In between his quest from Hong Kong and China, he was able to converse with Chinese people fluently of southern and northern dialects. Suggestively, he somehow picked up Cantonese and Mandarin before the events of Shenmue II and III. One could theorize that Ryo may be adept at picking up other languages, and practiced Chinese during unseen time. For example, Ryo consistently wakes up at 8:30am, and since an average human needs about 8 hours of sleep, it can be assumed he goes to bed around midnight, and if a player goes to sleep at 9pm, that would give him 3 hours to study, perhaps through books or the people who can speak the language around his hometown. Shenmue II also canonically begins late February, giving Ryo about 3 months to practice during unseen time.
- A common joke in the fandom is a theory that Ryo is asexual, "murder-sexual" or "revenge-sexual". He travels around Japan and Hong Kong, all the while being constantly assaulted left and right with female flirtations and innuendos, but almost always ignores them and shows little to no interest back. Even when Nozomi tries to tell Ryo she has a crush on him, he replies, "I... I don't really know how I feel."
- Apparently, according to the Prima Official Guide (non-vertbatim): "It tells you why Ryo is the way he is with girls. Apparantly when he was a kid he used to be a bigshot with the ladies in his school but ended up getting into a fight with someone. This turned him into the guy we know now and he prefers not to get involved as much as he did in his youth."
- It should be also noted however that Ryo was driven/focused only by revenge so his primary goal was to kill Lan Di and avenge his father but as the time passed Ryo slowly began to leave his quest for revenge behind and he is now embarking on a quest for self-enlightening and to protect the world.
- Initially in Shenmue, there was a hidden secret where Ryo could finish Goro Mihashi off with a move resembling Ryu's Shin Shōryūken move from Street Fighter during the QTE battle with him by inputting certain commands and boosting the kitten's affinity score. However it was unused, but the code to trigger it is hidden within the game's files and can be enabled through modding the game. 
- As seen in early screeshots for the first game, there initially was going to be a free battle with some members of the Mad Angels in Yamanose, but this was cut in the final version of the game. In the actual game, there are no free battles in Yamanose.
- Yu Suzuki said in an interview that by the end of the Shenmue saga, Ryo does eventually overcome and lets go of his desire to get revenge on Lan Di. However, this does not necessarily mean Lan Di never dies, as there is a possibility of Lan Di accidentally dying somehow, or by being killed by someone else (such as Ziming Hong). All this means is that Ryo accepts Xiuying Hong's philosophy.
- In ESPN NFL Football, Ryo is an unlockable free agent player (being #26), along with other Sega characters including Beat from Jet Grind Radio, and Jeffry McWild and Kage Maru from Virtua Fighter.
- Although Ryo was a playable character in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing he did not initially return in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. Sumo Digital made petitions for people to vote for the Sega characters they want to be future Downloadable Content. Ryo was one of the characters to choose from and he had the most votes. Ryo later appeared in the game as a playable character via DLC, but only in the PC version.
- Ryo is one of the many Sega characters who made a small cameo appearance in the Japan-exclusive Playstation Vita game Samurai & Dragons as a card.
- Ryo appears as a character in the tactical role-playing game Project X Zone 2 as a solo unit.
- Ryo appears as a character in the mobile game SEGA Heroes.
- In Sega's mobile game in Japan called Kotodaman, Ryo would be given a cameo in the game if a sufficient number of registrations of interest were received. Ryo's cameo has been achieved on February 15h, 2018 as fans across the world responded.
|Shenmue Wiki has a gallery for Ryo Hazuki.|