How Yakuza leaving Japan would change the games

A Yakuza game set outside of Japan would involve more than a new aesthetic, but an entirely different tone of the story and what it means to be Yakuza.

Although the Yakuza games have developed a fan base in the west, the Yakuza series is (along with its derivative series, Judgement) one of the most uniquely Japanese gaming franchises ever produced, offering the prospect of a Yakuza game taking place outside of Japan seems like a crazy idea. Yakuza game stories, as well as the film adaptation of the first Yakuza, have remained rooted in the conflicts surrounding Japanese crime, emphasizing brotherhood and honor as much as profit and power. Getting out of Japan however radically changes the role of the Yakuza and would lead to a very different tone.


The series focused on a more realistic portrayal of today’s Japan. It provided snapshots of popular culture in different time periods, as payphones were phased out to flip phones, then smartphones, and Tokyo’s fictional Kamurocho neighborhood also changed to accommodate it. era. The games went beyond their original focus on Kamurocho, establishing the Kiryu Orphanage in Okinawa in Yakuza 3, exploring the mysteries of Hiroshima by Yakuza 6, and new protagonist Ichiban establishing himself as the Yokohama Dragon in Yakuza: like a dragon. These locations all remained in Japan, however.

Related: How Yakuza 5 Subverted Grand Theft Auto Gameplay

Lost judgment director Kazuki Hosokawa, in an interview with The Gamer, recently discussed several issues related to the Judgement and Yakuza series, including the challenges of game production during the pandemic, the low point of the Yakuza series after zombie spin-off Dead souls, and how the future Yakuza the games could involve stories outside of Japan. This last point particularly caught the attention of many fans of the series, because Yakuza and its derivative series have never left Japan.

An executive outside of Japan would make the Yakuza foreigners

Many games in the series have focused on conflicts involving foreign gangs, starting with Yakuza 2 battle with Korean mafia Jingweon, until Yakuza 6 The succession drama of Chinese Saio Triad and Yakuza: like a dragon several gangs are fighting for control of Yokohama. The series has made efforts to develop these groups, as Yakuza 6 highlighted the struggle of undocumented children born outside of China’s one-child policy in search of a better life in Japan, among other examples. In each of these matches, the Yakuza, although a criminal organization, were the “home team”. The original protagonist Kiryu embodied the ideals of tradition and honor of the Yakuza, while Ichiban, perhaps wrongly, viewed the Yakuza as heroes, acting as a force for stability and helping people outside the law. A game focused on Yakuza operations outside of Japan would involve a very different perspective than either.

It is known that, like many other organized crime syndicates, the Yakuza operate outside their home country. Over seven matches, including Yakuza Zero, Kiryu has been grappling with the question of what it means to be a Yakuza from many different angles, but he never had to answer what it means to be a Yakuza operating outside of Japan. . A focus on this would make the Yakuza strangers, bringing their own traditions and values ​​to another country. It would be a major paradigm shift, which any Yakuza protagonist should grapple with, as they could be seen as opportunistic outsiders, and perhaps a “foreign threat” from the perspective of law enforcement and local unions. .

Aside from the tonal changes and dramatic changes in story inherent in a change of scenery, a new set would require a lot of effort on the development side. Although Kamurocho, the framework shared between Yakuza and Judgement titles, is a fictional neighborhood, it was originally modeled after Kabukicho, Tokyo’s real-world red light district. The developers were able to draw inspiration from familiar cultural hobbies and businesses, with things like host clubs, arcades, and pachinko lounges. To create the same level of verisimilitude, developers should seek out the nightlife, recreation, and culture of another country, stepping away from familiar elements of Japan. It is still unclear whether the Yakuza the series will actually make this change, and if so, in which country the new game might be installed. If a Yakuza game set outside of Japan, fans can expect an entirely different experience, both in terms of the aesthetic of the setting and the tone of the story.

Next: Review of Lost Judgment: A Masterpiece of Crime, Punishment, and Growth

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