- "You saved my life. I want to thank you. Please rest for a bit. Please? Good. Follow me. We'll see my house soon."
- ―Shenhua to Ryo Hazuki
Shenhua Ling (Hànzì: 玲莎花, Pinyin: Líng Shāhuā, On'yomi: Rei Shenhua) is a mysterious teenage girl. Her name can also be translated as Sha Hua. She is named after the flower of the Shenmue tree located outside her house. Shenhua first appears in Ryo's dreams in Shenmue and her first physical appearance is near the end of Shenmue II. She then becomes Ryo's traveling companion and the deuteragonist of the series.
Though her presence is shrouded in mystery, Ryo's fate is deeply influenced by her and the two share a special bond together.
- "You want to go for round two?"
- ―Shenhua threatening to torture Yanlang again
Her innocent looks hide her internal strength and courage created by the wilderness of China. Shenhua is well versed with nature and knows many things, such as how to find her way in the wild, what herbs and flowers are useful, etc. Shenhua occasionally goes on treks to the Languishan docks to get herbal medicine for village emergencies as they are only sold in town, which is why she crossed paths with Ryo. In Shenmue III, it is also shown Shenhua has a secret method of torturing people (possibly pinching them with her nails until they confess), as she does with Yanlang.
She is quite compassionate, helping to save the life of a drowning deer. She cares for the animals around the village, and decides to help Ryo along his journey.
Due to her lifestyle and background, she is unfamiliar with many concepts, such as what Japan is, what people elsewhere in the world eat for cuisine, etc. Shenhua also mentions she is not that great of a cook. In Shenmue III, it is revealed she hates eating carrots, like Ryo.
Shenhua was born to what appears to be a wealthy couple of sorts who lived in a beautiful temple-like house. Her parents are seen in a flashback here, where they decided to name her Shenhua after the flower of the Shenmue tree. Her parents hoped the Shenmue tree would protect her throughout the many trials and hardships of her life would bring.
Due to mysterious events, her parents apparently died, although this may be a lie or misunderstanding. Shenhua was told they died and she does not remember them at all. She was then raised by her adoptive father, Yunshen Yuan. She has since lived in a house at the edge of Bailu Village in Guilin, and has never stepped foot outside Guilin. The Yuans have been stonemasons for generations, including Yunshen, and are the family who made the Phoenix and Dragon Mirror.
As a child, Shenhua would throw tantrums because she wanted a mother and brothers and sisters. Shenhua always played with the boys rather than girls, a secret she kept from her adoptive father. However, she still made friends with Meimei Mao and Wei Zhen as a child. Shenhua is close to Wei Zhen as a friend, admires her honesty, and that she doesn't care what other people think of her. Shenhua's closest friends, however, are actually the animals and she tells Ryo she is a bit of an "animal whisperer".
She plants vegetables in the garden and feeds the goats. She doesn't go to school and if she needs to know anything, she talks to her adoptive father and the other villagers.
Shenhua appears in the prologue, speaking of a legend.
In the actual game, she first appears in Ryo's dreams. Shenhua also inexplicably appears on the potato chip, caramel, and chocolate packages that are at the Tomato Convenience Store in Yokosuka, as well as on a cassette tape and on the Winning Can, which is likely the series self-referencing itself in a humorous way.
She also speaks in the passport.
Near the end of the game, Ryo meets Shenhua in Guilin on his way to Bailu Village. While walking on a forested path, Ryo witnesses Shenhua dive into a river to save a white fawn (deer). Ryo dives in after them and tells her to let go of the fawn, but she refuses to. They end up being washed ashore, and all three of them survive. Shenhua explains that she just had to save the white deer because it is her village's "guardian" and that Bailu means "white deer".
Shenhua offers to show Ryo the way to the village as it is near her house. They get to know each other along the two day trek across mountains and through the forests and rocky cliffs. Ryo tells her he is from Japan, and Shenhua doesn't seem to have a clue what Japan is, but takes note that it is a "country to the east". Eventually, they rest in a cave for the night and Ryo shows her Nozomi's photo. He tells her she's in Canada and Shenhua doesn't seem to know what Canada is either. He also tells her about Tom Johnson, Guizhang Chen, Goro Mihashi and Xiuying Hong.
They eventually arrive at Shenhua's house where she lives with her adoptive father. Shenhua talks about the Shenmue tree outside her house, and says it holds special meaning. As a baby, her parents named her Shenhua after the flowers from the Shenmue tree. Shenhua lets Ryo stay at her house overnight as a thank you for saving her. The next morning, Ryo and Shenhua go to the stone pit where Shenhua's father is supposed to be working but they find he is missing. He has left behind a sword called the Sword of the Seven Stars and a note:
- "Dear Shenhua... My work is done. The Phoenix entrusted to our people is now complete. The time of destiny has come. Shenhua... Go with the one who holds the Phoenix, and find the proof. Yield yourself to the one... and go, together. I shall give you the family treasure, the Sword of the Seven Stars. Think of the sword as a part of me and keep it with you. I shall always watch over you."
- ―Shenhua's adoptive father in a note
Shenhua helps Ryo during his investigation. She begins to suspect that perhaps Lan Di and the Chi You Men abducted her adoptive father, which would explain his sudden mysterious disappearance, and so she intends to rescue him, her motives overlapping with Ryo's.
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 Xu Qiu. With the help of Ryo, Shenhua interrogates the thug leader, Yanlang, and learns her father and Xu are in Niaowu.
In Niaowu, Shenhua rents a room beside Ryo's in Hotel Niaowu, and she has less of a role in the story. Eventually, Shenhua gets abducted by Niao Sun and is taken to the Old Castle as a hostage. Ryo is left a note ordering him to give the Chi You Men the Phoenix Mirror. Ryo trades the real mirror for Shenhua's life, as she is held hostage at knifepoint by Niao Sun's bodyguard.
Shenhua is last seen walking with Ryo and Wuying Ren along the Great Wall of China. Although Shenhua's father has already been rescued, this apparently means that Shenhua has been so invested in Ryo's journey, as well as Ryo as a friend, that she wants to stay by his side in his journey across China.
Shenhua appears as one of the main characters in Shenmue the Animation. She appears in Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3 in scenes showing what she's doing in Guilin before Ryo meets her. These scenes never happened in the game series. In Episode 4, she appears at the beginning of the episode in a nightmare Ryo has where Lan Di approaches her and presumably kills her. This scene is very similar to the bad ending of Shenmue II. In Episode 8, Ryo has the same nightmare again while sleeping in Xiuying's room at the Da Yuan Apartments.
- "Yes?" (after Ryo asks "Shenhua?")
- Shenhua means "sedge, nut grass" (莎) (shen) and "flower/flowery, bloom/blossom, inflorescence, fancy pattern, spend, expend, multicolor/multicolored" (花) (hua).
- Ling means "tinkling" (玲).
- Shenhua's zodiac sign is Virgo and she has a A blood type.
- There is an implication Shenhua was born in a real-life city named Luoyang. Her adoptive father has a tapestry of Luoyang for a long time and it gives her a nostalgic feeling. When she closes her eyes, she can see the landscape of the city, and people bustling by.
- This likely means that the temple-like area seen in her flashback with her real parents in Shenmue II is that city. This also means that there are two Shenmue trees, one presumably in Luoyang, and one in Bailu outside her house. This could also mean that Shenhua's story may have involved revisiting Luoyang and perhaps her biological parents if they are still alive.
- In Shenmue III, Shenhua has an unlockable green outfit obtained by completing the story pack DLC.
- In Shenmue III, her house was given an extra room (her father's room which Ryo sleeps in), so she and her father now have separate rooms instead of apparently sharing the same room in Shenmue II. Although her room can't be entered, players can hack their way in. It is revealed the drawers in her room can be opened. They contain hair pins, clothes, jewellery, bowls of seeds, and books (one of which is about stars and Chinese constellations).
- Yu Suzuki told Brianna Knickerbocker that he wanted her to voice Shenhua as a strong character, and he wanted no weakness or vulnerability in her voice. This has been a somewhat controversial decision among fans, as some feel it made Shenhua seem stiff and wooden, and would have preferred a bit more emotion.
- Shenhua appears as a character in the mobile game SEGA Heroes.
- Shenhua is Yu Suzuki's favorite character and he says she always has been.
|Shenmue Wiki has a gallery for Shenhua Ling.|