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Video Game / Like a Dragon

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Rolling eyes fall...
Ruling dies out...note 
"I can take another name, and build a new life... But on the inside I'll always have that instinct, no matter how much I hate it. I'm yakuza through and through. Guile only gets you so far in this game. Remember that. You won't get another chance."
Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima, Yakuza 5 note 

For the series' first installment, click here.

Like a Dragon (龍が如く Ryū ga Gotoku) — formerly known in the west as Yakuza — is a Beat 'em Up/Sandbox/JRPG video game series that follows the exploits of the Japanese underworld. Featuring twisted conspiracies, gang warfare, soap opera plot twists, cool tattoos, bizarre sidequests, huge shirtless men punching each other over their ideals, and more minigames than you can shake a stick at, Like a Dragon is as much an intense, heart-pounding crime drama as it is an avenue for exploring intensely-detailed virtual districts of Japan and partaking in numerous diversions and side activities.

Like a Dragon was conceived by veteran game designer and Sega employee Toshihiro Nagoshi in the early 2000s. His pitch was met with skepticism among Sega's brass, who were hesitant toward the proposed game's adult themes and its focus on organized crime; they also believed that the extremely Japanese flavor of the game would make the game have less appeal outside of Japan. Nagoshi still staked his career on getting the game produced, and got the project off the ground after some convincing. The first game was released in late 2005, and got heavy acclaim in Japan for exploring yakuza culture with previously unseen depth and authenticity; it was also a massive sales success, ensuring a localization and the release of several sequels and spin-offs.

Like a Dragon games take place in an sandbox setting, with the most prominent location being red light district Kamurocho (神室町; Kamuro-chō, a fictionalized version of the real-world Kabukichō), Tokyo, with other cities of Japan coming and going between different games. Beyond the linear focus of the main story, there's a truly staggering amount of sidequests, minigames, and secrets scattered about. Players can solve the problems of myriad people on the street, play in hidden illegal gambling halls, hit some balls at the batting cages, learn powerful moves from an enigmatic martial artist, take part in underground fighting tournaments...

The combat up to Yakuza 6 (and still present in spinoffs like the Judgment series) is a 3D beat 'em up with RPG elements. Scoring hits and dodging attacks will fill the Heat gauge — in most games, keeping the meter filled will increase the character's speed and damage, or the gauge can be spent to activate a powerful, context-based attack called a Heat Action. Combat becomes more complex as the series goes on, from introducing multiple characters in 4 to the addition of a Stance System in Ishin!.

Beginning with the eighth main installment, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, the franchise shifted to turn-based, party-focused JRPG battles, featuring a Dragon Quest-style Job System.

Although Like a Dragon is one of Sega's flagship franchises, the series took a long time to actually get there outside of Japan, where it remained a cult classic for many years. The commercial failure of spinoff Dead Souls seemingly halted all localization plans, and the English website for the series was shut down in September 2013. In December 2014, Sony announced a partnership with Sega to localize future games, beginning with 5, which was finally released in English in 2015. Prequel Yakuza 0's English release in 2017 and subsequent PC port a year later brought many newcomers into the series and restored Sega's confidence in its success outside of Japan. The success of 0 ensured localizations of the first two games' Kiwami remakes, and eventually, remasters and new localizations of 3, 4, and 5. Lost Judgment, released in September 2021, was the first game in the series to have a simultaneous worldwide release.

In 2022, it was announced that the series will ditch the Yakuza title in the west and will be going by the name Like a Dragon as it does in Japan.

See also Binary Domain, a sci-fi Third-Person Shooter developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku studio in the downtime between Yakuza 4 and 5, which features Kiryu, Majima, Goda and Akiyama as guest characters.

Games and other media revolving the Yakuza/Like a Dragon franchise:

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    Yakuza series (Kiryu's Saga) 

  • Yakuza, released in Japan as 龍が如く (Ryū ga Gotoku lit. Like a Dragon): Released in December 8, 2005 in Japan, September 5, 2006 in North America and September 15, 2006 in Europe for the PlayStation 2.

    On October 1st, 1995, Dojima Family lieutenant Kazuma Kiryu takes the fall for a crime he didn't commit. Ten years later, Kiryu is released only to learn that 10 billion yen have been stolen from the Tojo Clan, and the criminal underworld is looking for it. Following the trail of the Tojo Clan's turmoil leads Kiryu to protecting the young orphan Haruka Sawamura, whom the Tojo Clan believes has the key to finding their lost money. Along the way, he unravels several conspiracies, fends off rival yakuza after his head, and beats up the many, many punks cocky enough to step up against him.
    • To celebrate the series' tenth anniversary, Yakuza Kiwami (JP: 龍が如く 極, lit. Like a Dragon Extreme), a Video Game Remake of the first game, was released in January 2016 in Japan for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in Japan, and August 2017 in NA and Europe only for the PS4. Beyond utilizing Yakuza 0's engine for significantly updated gameplay, dialogue has been re-recorded by most of the original cast, the story has been expanded with cutscenes that show what happened to Nishiki during Kiryu's prison sentence, and the Majima Everywhere System is added, where Goro Majima can pop up anywhere to fight Kiryu.
  • Yakuza 2, released in Japan as 龍が如く2 (Ryū ga Gotoku 2, lit. Like a Dragon 2): Released in December 7, 2006 in Japan, September 9, 2008 in NA and September 19, 2008 in Europe for the PS2.

    In December 2006, the Tojo Clan's fifth chairman, Yukio Terada, requests Kiryu's help to prevent an all-out war with the rival Omi Alliance, only to be ambushed and killed by Omi assassins. Now back in Kamurocho, Kiryu must not only make amends between the Tojo and Omi, but also find a new chairman for the Tojo and fend off the Omi's fearsome "Dragon of Kansai", Ryuji Goda.

    While fairly similar to the original game, Yakuza 2 features numerous refinements to the combat, a more grand scope in its storyline, and the addition of a second city in Osaka, bringing the series outside of Kamurocho for the first time.
    • Yakuza Kiwami 2 (JP: 龍が如く 極 2, lit. Like a Dragon Extreme 2), a remake on Yakuza 6's Dragon Engine, was released in Japan on December 2017 and worldwide in August 28, 2018 for the PS4. Like the first Kiwami, it expands on the original story, introducing a new playable storyline with Goro Majima shortly after the events of the first game.

  • Yakuza 3, released in Japan as 龍が如く3 (Ryū ga Gotoku 3, lit. Like a Dragon 3): Released on the PlayStation 3 in February 26, 2009 for Japan, March 9, 2010 in the US and March 12, 2010 in Europe.

    In March 2009, to leave his criminal past behind, Kiryu has moved to Okinawa, where he runs the Morning Glory Orphanage with his newly-adopted daughter Haruka Sawamura. After multiple eviction notices from the land owner, the boss of a local yakuza clan, Kiryu's friend Daigo Dojima is shot, the landowner is attacked, and Morning Glory's deed is stolen, which forces Kiryu to return to Kamurocho and face the ones responsible.

    The first mainline game in the series released for an HD console, Yakuza 3 features seamless transitions between field and battle, a photo mode through which Kiryu can learn new moves, and a first-person view.
  • Yakuza 4, released in Japan as 龍が如く4 伝説を継ぐもの (Ryū ga Gotoku 4: Densetsu wo Tsugumono, lit. Like a Dragon 4: Heir to the Legend): Released for the PS3 in March 18, 2010 in Japan, March 15, 2011 in North America and March 18, 2011 in Europe.

    In March 2010, generous loan shark Shun Akiyama gets an unexplained request for a 100 million yen loan by a woman known as "Lily". Meanwhile, ex-Tojo yakuza Taiga Saejima escapes from prison after discovering he was wrongly convicted, corrupt cop Masayoshi Tanimura, "the Parasite of Kamurocho", seeks revenge for his father's murder by the Tojo Clan, and Kazuma Kiryu learns from an escaped convict that the 10 billion yen stolen from the Tojo Clan in 2005 is connected to a new financial crisis the clan is facing.

    While the setting stays solely in Kamurocho, there are now four playable characters, and Kamurocho can be explored underground and on rooftops.

  • Yakuza 5, released in Japan as 龍が如く5 夢、叶えし者 (Ryū ga Gotoku 5: Yume, Kanaeshi Mono, lit. Like a Dragon 5: Fulfiller of Dreams): Released in December 6, 2012 in Japan and December 8, 2015 worldwide.

    In December 2012, as another war seems to break out between the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance, Kazuma Kiryu, now working a cab in Fukuoka to escape his past, finds several forces trying to draw him back into the fray for their own agendas. Meanwhile, baseball player Tatsuo Shinada sets out to clear his name in Nagoya after false accusations of insider gambling, Haruka and Akiyama work together in Osaka to investigate the murder of a colleague, and Saejima faces assailants trying to keep him in prison in Sapporo.

    With a new graphics engine, five playable characters, five different districts to explore, and greatly-expanded combat, Yakuza 5 has been called "the San Andreas of the series" by Toshihiro Nagoshi and writer Masayoshi Yokoyama.

  • Yakuza 0, released in Japan as 龍が如く0 誓いの場所 (Ryū ga Gotoku 0: Chikai no Basho, lit. Like a Dragon 0: The Promised Land): Released for the PS3 and PlayStation 4 in March 12, 2015 in Japan, May 4, 2015 in Taiwan, and January 24, 2017 in NA and Europe.

    In December 1988, the rookie yakuza Kazuma Kiryu is framed for killing someone on an empty plot of land sought by the Tojo Clan, and he sets out to clear his name while fending off gang members trying to kill him for the clan's favor. Meanwhile, hostess club owner Goro Majima is sent to carry out an assassination to get back in the Tojo Clan's good graces, but his loyalty and sanity are tested when he finds the truth about his target.

    0 sets up much of the conflict seen in the first game, and for the first time, features Goro Majima as a playable character in a mainline title.

  • Yakuza 6: The Song of Life, released in Japan as 龍が如く6 命の詩。 (Ryū ga Gotoku 6: Inochi no Uta., lit. Like a Dragon 6: Poem of Life.): Released for the PS4 on December 8, 2016 in Japan, and on April 17, 2018 in the West.

    In December 2016, after three years in prison to clean his slate, Kiryu finds out Haruka has disappeared to avoid public scrutiny. Returning to Kamurocho, he discovers that not only is Haruka in a coma due to a hit-and-run, she also has a son — and he's being targeted by a criminal faction so powerful, even the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance can't touch it.

    The first game developed solely for the PS4, Yakuza 6 is the Grand Finale for Kiryu's arc, boasting an all-new game engine and massively-reworked, physics-based combat.

    Like A Dragon series (Ichiban's Saga) 

  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon, released in Japan as 龍が如く7光と闇の行方 (Ryū ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue, lit. Like a Dragon 7: The Whereabouts of Light and Darkness): Released for the PS4 on January 16, 2020 in Japan and Southeast Asia, and later on in 2020 worldwide on PS4, PlayStation 5, XBO, Xbox Series X|S and PC.

    On January 1st, 2001, Arakawa Family grunt Ichiban Kasuga takes the fall for a crime he didn't commit. After eighteen years, Ichiban is released from prison, only to find that has his family's parent Tojo Clan has been exiled from Kamurocho and the Omi Alliance has joined forces with the police — all thanks to Ichiban's mentor Masumi Arakawa, who asked him to take the fall in the first place. After being exiled to the Yokohama city of Ijincho, Ichiban must fight his way up from rock bottom with a motley crew of misfits to get to the truth behind the Tojo Clan's downfall.

    Like a Dragon features not not only a new protagonist in Ichiban Kasuga, but also an all-new turn-based combat system in place of the 3D brawling from the classic series.
  • Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, released in Japan as 龍が如く7外伝 名を消した男 (Ryū Ga Gotoku 7 Gaiden - Na wo Keshita Otoko, lit. Like a Dragon 7 Side Story: The Man Who Erased His Name): Releasing worldwide on PS4, PlayStation 5, XBO, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on November 9, 2023.

    After the events of 6, Kazuma Kiryu is living in hiding as the hundredth disciple of the Daidoji Temple, where he carries out various missions on behalf of the Daidoji faction under the codename "Joryu."

    An interquel set between the events of 6 and Infinite Wealth, the game stars Kiryu and deals with what he's been doing between the two sagas and the circumstances surrounding his return as a protagonist in Infinite Wealth. The game is pitched as a shorter, smaller-scale instalment in the series, and makes a one-off return to the Beat 'em Up style of Kiryu's saga.
  • Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (stylized as Like a Dragon: Infinite ∞ Wealth), released in Japan as 龍が如く8 (Ryū ga Gotoku 8, lit. Like a Dragon 8): Releasing worldwide on PS4, PlayStation 5, XBO, Xbox Series X|S, and PC On January 26, 2024.

    A sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon starring Ichiban Kasuga and Kazuma Kiryu as dual protagonists. Despite the format change, Kasuga will still serve as the main character, with Kiryu framed as a supporting figure in this chapter of Kasuga's story. Other confirmed returning characters for this installment will be Adachi, Nanba, Saeko, Han, Seong-Hui, Zhao, Sawashiro, Daigo, Majima, Saejima and Arakawa.

    Like a Dragon's turn-based combat system returns with Kasuga and Kiryu each having their own separate party. The game is set to be RGG Studio's biggest, featuring the familiar locations of Isezaki Ijincho in Yokohama, Kamurocho in Tokyo, and Sotenbori in Osaka, as well as Honolulu, Hawaii.

    Judgment series (Yagami's Saga) 

  • Judgment, released in Japan as JUDGE EYES: 死神の遺言 (Shinigami no Yuigon, lit. Wills of Death): Released in December 13, 2018 in Asian territories and in June 25, 2019 worldwide, for PS4.

    In December 2018, disgraced attorney and private detective Takayuki Yagami follows the trail of a serial killer targeting yakuza members in Kamurocho. When an everyday investigation links the killer to his past, Yagami dives into Kamurocho's criminal underworld to discover who set him up.

    Judgment is a Gaiden Game to the greater Like a Dragon franchise, starring ex-SMAP member Takuya Kimura as Takayuki Yagami. Featuring a whole new cast of characters and few story ties to the Kiryu saga, Judgment is described as a "courtroom thriller", and offers a new perspective on Kamurocho through the eyes of Yagami.

  • Lost Judgment, released in Japan as LOST JUDGMENT: 裁かれざる記憶 (Sabakarezaru Kioku, lit. Unjudged Memory): Released worldwide on September 21, 2021.
    In December 2021, a sexual assault case for disgraced cop Akihiro Ehara takes a shocking turn when Ehara reveals footage of him killing a man in Ijincho at the time that he was originally arrested. Yagami takes up the case to discover the truth of the matter which leads him into the path of a brutal gang and a mysterious "handyman".
    • The Kaito Files, released in Japan as 海藤正治の事件簿 (Kaitō Masaharu no Jikenbo, lit. Masaharu Kaito's Casefile): Released on March 28th, 2022 worldwide.
      The first story-focused DLC in an RGG game, it stars Yagami's partner Masaharu Kaito who mans the agency while Yagami is out of town. Approached by a tech mogul for a missing persons case, Kaito finds himself embroiled in a case connected to a woman from his past.

    Other spin-offs 

  • Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! (龍が如く 見参! "Like a Dragon Arrives"): Released in March 6, 2008 only in Japan. Five years after the Battle of Sekigahara, Miyamoto Musashi has retired from his life as a ronin to become a yojimbo in Gion, Kyoto under the alias "Kazumanosuke Kiryu". Now, on a one-ryō request from a little girl named Haruka, "Kiryu" moves to assassinate an impostor claiming to be Musashi.

    Kenzan is the first game in the series for the PlayStation 3, and a Jidaigeki spin-off featuring series regulars as a Universal-Adaptor Cast to fit the setting.

  • Yakuza: Dead Souls aka Like a Dragon OF THE END (龍が如く OF THE END "Ryū ga Gotoku OF THE END"): Released in June 9, 2011 for Japan, March 13, 2012 in North America and March 16, 2012 in Europe for the PS3.

    In April 2011, a Zombie Apocalypse has struck Kamurocho, and only four men have the power to fend off the hordes: loan shark Shun Akiyama, infected construction worker Goro Majima, takoyaki chef Ryuji Goda and the legendary ex-yakuza Kazuma Kiryu. Dead Souls is a non-canon spin-off set after the events of Yakuza 4.

  • Like a Dragon: Ishin! (龍が如く 維新! "Like a Dragon: Restoration!"): Released only in Japan in February 22, 2014 for the PS4 and PS3.

    In Japan's Bakumatsu period, Sakamoto Ryoma ("played" by Kazuma Kiryu) has fled to Kyoto after taking the fall for the death of his master, Yoshida Toyo. There, he joins the Shinsengumi force to hunt down the man that not only killed Yoshida, but also instigated the Tosa coup d'état.

    Ishin!, like Kenzan!, is a Jidaigeki spin-off with series regulars as a Universal-Adaptor Cast and the first series release on PS4. However, being set in a later historical period, the story is not related to Kenzan!.

    A Kiwami style remake was announced in September 2022, rebuilt from the ground up in the Unreal 4 Game Engine. It is set for a worldwide release on PS4, PlayStation 5, XBO, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on February 21, 2023.

  • Kurohyō (クロヒョウ Black Panther): Japan-only PSP spin-offs developed by Syn Sophia. As a Japan-only PSP game.

    • Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō (クロヒョウ 龍が如く新章 lit. "Black Panther: Like a Dragon New Chapter"): Released in September 22, 2010. In September 2010, while posing as a Tojo Clan enforcer, the delinquent Tatsuya Ukyo kills Tojo member Naoki Toda in a botched robbery. On an ultimatum from Toda's boss Ryutaro Kuki, Tatsuya is forced to enter the Dragon Heat fight club while trying to clear his name.

    • Kurohyō 2: Ryū ga Gotoku Ashura-hen (クロヒョウ2 龍が如く 阿修羅編 lit. "Black Panther: Like a Dragon Ashura Chapter"): Released in March 22, 2012.

  • Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise (北斗が如く Hokuto ga Gotoku, lit. "Like the North Star"): Released in March 8, 2018 in Japan and October 2, 2018 worldwide.

    Kenshiro, heir to the Hokuto Shinken martial art, travels to the idyllic city of Eden to find his fiancée Yuria, who has been kidnapped by his rival Shin.
    Lost Paradise is a Fist of the North Star licensed game developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, with a new storyline set during the similar gameplay to their namesake series, a voice cast with many Yakuza regulars (including Kiryu's actor Takaya Kuroda as Kenshiro), and the series' trademark sense of humor.

  • Ryū ga Gotoku Online (龍が如く ONLINE "Like a Dragon Online"), an online RPG for mobile devices and PC, released in Japan on November 21, 2018. The game's story is set after the events of Yakuza 6, and introduces Yakuza 7's protagonist Ichiban Kasuga.

  • Streets of Kamurocho: Given a free limited release from October 17, 2020 to October 19, 2020 as part of a celebration of Sega's 60th anniversary, as well as a second run by popular demand from November 13, 2020 to November 16, 2020. A Video Game Demake done in the style of Streets of Rage while loosely retelling the story of the first Yakuza game. Players control either Kiryu or Majima as well as Ichiban as they fight their way through the streets of Kamurocho following the unexpected death of the Tojo Clan's third chairman.

    Other Media 

  • Books
    • Kamutai Magazine (カムタイマガジン): a Japan-only Pre-Order Bonus full-color print book for Ryū ga Gotoku, with articles about the many in-game locations and Japanese adult film actress Mihiro Taniguchi as the cover girl, in-character as the hostess Rin. More "issues" were released with other games, featuring different cover girls, and further were printed for Ryū ga Gotoku 4 and Kurohyō.
      • Ryū ga Gotoku 2: Nana Natsume
      • Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan!: Yinling (Joytoy)
      • Ryū ga Gotoku 3: Shizuka Mutou, Sayaka Araki and Rina Sakurai

  • Live-Action Adaptations
    • Like a Dragon: Prologue (龍が如く 〜序章〜 Ryū ga Gotoku ~ Joshō ~): a 2006 Direct to Video crime drama directed by Takeshi Miyasaka, with Takashi Miike as executive director. Released in March 24, 2006 in Japan and in August 15, 2006 on Sega Europe's official Yakuza website, Prologue is a prequel to the original game focusing on Kazuma Kiryu's childhood in the Morning Glory Orphanage.
    • Yakuza/Like a Dragon (龍が如く 劇場版, lit. "Like a Dragon: The Movie"): a straight film adaptation of the original game directed by Takashi Miike. Released in March 3, 2007 in Japan and in February 23, 2010 direct-to-DVD in North America.
    • Kurohyō: Ryū ga Gotoku Shinshō: a TV series based on Kurohyō. Aired between October 5 and December 21, 2010 on the Tokyo Broadcasting System.

  • Radio dramas
    • Ryū Ga Gotoku Presents Kamuro-cho Radio Station (龍が如くPresents神室町RADIOSTATION)
    • Shin Kamuro-cho Radio Station (新・神室町RADIOSTATION)

  • Web TV
    • Kamurocho Caba Jou TV (神室町キャバ嬢 TV)

  • Digital Comics
    • The Dragon's Path: an interactive comic launched for Yakuza 6's worldwide release, summarizing the series' events through several different perspectives. Hidden within certain chapters are a codes for Yakuza 6's Clan Creator minigame and a secret safe. Read here.

This game series includes examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Probably one of the most well-known aspects of the series, each game in the series offers myriad ways for the player to be occupied; all with counts down to that 100% mark. Crafting weapons, dating hostesses, singing karaoke, gambling, etc.
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Yakuza 4 allow the characters to go through Kamurocho's sewers, which Saejima uses to avoid any police presence due to him being a wanted man. They return in 5 to reach Purgatory and are used in the finale.
  • Alternate World Map: While Kamurocho in Tokyo is the mainstay map of the series, some games have other districts to visit:
    • Sotenbori, Osaka in 0, 2, 5, and Like a Dragon.
    • Downtown Ryukyu in 3.
    • Yakuza 5 also has Nagasugai in Fukuoka, Tsukimino in Sapporo, and Kineicho in Nagoya.
    • Onomichi, Hiroshima in 6.
    • Starting from Yakuza: Like a Dragon onwards, Isezaki Ijincho in Yokohama will replace Kamurocho as the main map of the series.
    • Infinite Wealth takes the series outside of Japan with one of the new areas being Honolulu, Hawaii.
  • Ambiguously Gay: The male massager who provides the protagonists a Super V.I.P massage.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Ambition is a common motivation for villains, where they are driven to commit all sorts of nefarious deeds in order to secure their rise to power.
  • Action Commands: Some of Kiryu's Heat Actions have these to potentially increase their damage (and pain to the unfortunate recepient). From the second game onwards, these sometimes crop up when Kiryu has to avoid some damaging move, tying in with Press X to Not Die.
  • Action Girl:
    • Kaoru Sayama in 2. She'd already cut her teeth against underworld thugs as a part of Osaka PD, but she can join Kiryu in street brawls for some tag team Heat Actions.
    • Saeko Mukouda and Eri Kamataki in Yakuza: Like a Dragon stand out being the first playable female combatants in the franchise.
  • Actually Four Mooks: Used extensively. Anytime you walk into some random punk on the streets, you may safely assume that he's got anywhere between 1 and 3 buddies hiding somewhere Behind the Black, ready to jump in to help him the moment the fighting starts.
    • Also used with an amusing twist by a Recurring Boss in the third game, the Abhorrent Admirer Drag Queen, Michiru. His uncanny ability to pop up behind you when you least expect it culminates in a lengthy chase where, every time you think you've shaken him, he appears AGAIN, right in front of you, Daffy Duck style. In the end, it's revealed that he's actually a team of cross-dressing identical triplets, and the other two were just chasing you to make sure you 'broke up' with the real Michiru so she could get back together with her Drag-King ex-'boy'friend.
  • All Chinese People Know Kung-Fu:
    • While the native Japanese folk use a wide variety of fighting styles, the vast majority of foreign Chinese enemies tend to be skilled in some form of Kung-Fu. This perhaps is best seen whenever Kiryu clashes with the Snake Flower Triad which happens in multiple games and is exemplified by their powerful leader, Lau Ka Long. Moveset Clones of him throughout the series also tend to have Chinese names.
    • As mentioned in Shout-Out, one Revelation a player can encounter in 4 is a kung-fu battle between a cheating man and his scorned wife straight out of Kung Fu Hustle, with a bicycle kick, thrown butcher's knives, and using random stools as makeshift weapons and shields.
  • Alternate Character Reading: The Kiwami (極) subtitle of the remakes is the first kanji of gokudō (極道). It typically means "(the) ultimate path", but it's also another word for "gangster", which is how yakuza refer to one another in Japanese.
  • Amazing Freaking Grace: Played over the end credits for the first game.
  • An Aesop: Many of the side quests end in one, and sometimes from extremely bizarre scenarios.
    • A recurring one throughout the series is that ex-cons, sex workers, homeless people, illegal immigrants and other people straight society looks down on are still people, and deserve respect and dignity.
    • Another one is that the world doesn't exist solely in black and white; sometimes there exist gray zones between them, some of which are necessary.
  • Anyone Can Die: Played straight in the first game, with very few of the important cast members surviving to the end. From 2 onwards, with the game being established as a series, the important characters now enjoy a hefty coat of Plot Armor, but new characters are still very much at risk of being in the wrong end of a gun. Funnily enough, new characters that make it to the end of their introductory game are safe, with two notable exceptions: Yukio Terada in 2 and Osamu Kashiwagi in 3 (with Like a Dragon later implying he survived anyway).
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: Guns vary in power depending on the games from being weak and annoying to being very dangerous (and still annoying). They are also far less effective on bosses than they are on mooks.
  • The Artifact: The Mach Bowl bowling alley is Kamurocho appeared in 2, 3, 0, and Kiwami. In 6, the site was turned into the RIZAP Gym, in Kiwami 2 and Like A Dragon it's an inaccessible restaurant, and in Judgement it became the Paradise VR salon. Despite these new incarnations of the venue however, the building has always prominently displayed a neon sign of bowling pins on its side.
  • Artifact Title: The series was officially titled Yakuza outside of Japan until September 2022's RGG Summit event. While the yakuza are frequently involved in the games' stories, Kiryu himself is only a yakuza in the first game's prologue, and he spends 0 on the run from a yakuza clan.
  • Artificial Stupidity: You can count the number of allies that actually fight alongside you mid-battle and are good at it on one hand. Most will straight up charge enemies head on and attack non-stop, doing pitiful damage before a tougher foe punts them across the room, and in cases where you have to protect your allies or minigames that rely entirely on their fighting capability, you might just rue their Suicidal Overconfidence. The enemies aren't exempt from this, either; some games give them Artificial Brilliance and are right bastards to fight, but most of the time the average Mook is going to stand there to be ragdolled and weaponized at your discretion.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Koji Shindo was just a lieutenant of the Nishiki Family notable for leading the back alley ambush on Kiryu at Serena in the first game. In the second, he became the Patriarch of the Nishiki Family.
    • Hiroshi Hayashi was a minor boss fight in the first game and one of Ryuji Goda's right-hand men in 2. In Dead Souls, he's a freaking zombie. And not just any zombie. He's the insanely durable zombie (mutant may be a more suitable term for him) who kicks off the zombie outbreak. Granted, he didn't turn into one by will, and wanted to stop Nikaido and DD from whatever their plans were before he was mutated.
  • Ass Shove:
    • If Akiyama becomes friends with the owner of the M Store, he will come out and throw Akiyama a magazine if he gets into a fight right outside, which will then be shoved up your assailant's rear end with enough force to make him flip through the air.
    • In Kiwami 2, the heat action with pole weapons involved Kiryu sticking the pole up the victim's rectum before hitting the pole to send them flying.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking Typically any character who holds a position of authority is likely going to put up more of a fight than the average goon.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Quite so many songs to hear while fighting enemies, especially bosses, such as:
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Several Heat Actions and most weapons fall into this. Some Heat Actions require very specific setups that are not worth the trouble more than ticking off a box in completion. Many weapons have low durability that doesn't make them viable when Good Old Fisticuffs can work just as well, if not better.
    • Essence of Pole Dancing in Yakuza 3. Learned by watching a drunk perform a pole dance on a lamppost, it does good damage, is an incredibly flashy looking hurricanrana, and... well, was learned by watching a drunk perform a pole dance on a lamppost. However, it uses up your HEAT gauge and far more importantly, instantly removes your drunken status. Also, it's very easy to accidentally do when you're trying to perform another HEAT action.
    • There's also the other drunk Essence, Essence of Drunken Thrust. Same thing as the one above, but the one upside it has is that it's easier to pull off without doing another HEAT action. Other Essences require certain environment objects, so during some storyline missions, you won't be able to pull these off.
    • A good chunk of the weapons fall into this, especially the Patriarch weapons. High power, but will break in about five swings. The most use they'll get will be for some Heat Actions.
    • Certain attacks and summons in Like A Dragon can devastate enemies with ease, but their price becomes quite steep, moving them into this territory. Most notable of these is Essence of Orbital Laser, which has Ichiban go nutty with a Kill Sat. The problem is that the earliest level he gets it at won't give him enough MP to use it, and it already costs 200 MP.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: The Revelation mechanic. By witnessing some bizarre and awesome accidents and fights, the heroes can get inspiration for new combat maneuvers. This further extends into Yakuza 0, where Kiryu and Majima can watch about twenty seconds of someone performing a new style, say "That's rad!", and then be able to perform the style themselves.
  • Ax-Crazy: Goro Majima. Yakuza 0 reveals this is a facade to protect himself.
    • Kanda in the third game. But he's more bark than bite.
    • Homare Nishitani in 0 can give Majima a run for his money in the bat-shit insane department and (it being a prequel) appears to be who Majima used as a model for his own "Mad Dog" persona.
  • Back from the Dead: Lau Ka Long in the third game. Considering he doesn't survive this encounter, this is also a case of Back for the Dead.
    • Ryuji in Of The End/Dead Souls. He is now a cyborg with an Arm Cannon.
    • Kashiwagi in Like A Dragon. Apparently, being riddled with machine gun fire just sends you in a long coma. Similarly, Lau Ka Long too in the same game, if Chau Ka Long really is him.
  • Badass Crew:
    • Everyone who supported and helped Kiryu has at least done something awesome to earn this. Examples being his True Companions in 4 (Akiyama, Saejima and Tanimura) and the other playable characters in Dead Souls (Akiyama again, Goda, Majima).
    • The Amon clan in 4 also qualifies. As the deadliest assassins in all Asia packing skills and abilities more at home in more high-end fantasy works paired with a Kill Sat, it's small wonder how they're baffled when an ex-yakuza, a loan shark, an ex-con, a Dirty Cop, and a disgraced baseball player are able to beat them with just their fists.
    • Ichiban and his friends end up becoming this, where despite being overall far weaker than previous protagonists still manage to kick a lot of ass.
  • Badass Normal: Very few things, even the Amon family despite the crazy nature of their Superboss fights, actually try to stretch into any real idea of supernatural in the series, which means that every combatant that can stand their own is typically really, really good at their job and/or have some serious Charles Atlas Superpower. And in Kamurocho particularly, that's a high count. Tanimura himself pulls a Lampshade Hanging before his Final Boss in 4, which isn't even an exaggeration considering what the heroes have been through up to that point.
    Tanimura: In this town, there are men who'll take down a hundred guys by themselves if they have to.
  • Bad Guy Bar: Debolah in the original is populated solely by people who exist to be beaten up by you.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Since none of the protagonists kill people, villains are usually killed by other villains, either because they've outlived their usefulness or as a final act of redemption.
  • Bag of Spilling: A slightly milder example in that characters typically retain some moves in-between games (barring complete overhauls of the combat system) but still start from scratch statistically, usually handwaved as them being out of action in-between games.
  • Bathhouse Blitz: Ryu ga Gotoku Ishin! has Ryoma fighting Saigo in a bathhouse, with both of them completely nude and shielded only by Censor Steam. Also, in Yakuza Kiwami Kiryu and Majima get into an argument about whether the movie Passionate Manly Bathhouse Battle qualifies as porn.
  • Bathos: The entire series is steeped in it. The main plots are serious crime dramas full of murder, passion, betrayal, strong themes of father- and brotherhood and Hot-Blooded Hunky guys beating the crap out of each other in battles that are as much expressions of conviction, loyalty and commitment to ideals as knock-down, drag-out slugfests. Between the story beats the games are pure unadulterated cheese, with protagonists singing karaoke, racing slot cars and go-karts, playing mahjong and arcade games and helping every weirdo in Japan with the stupidest problems imaginable, while still often being treated as serious issues by the eternally earnest Kiryu.
  • Batter Up!: Goro Majima, in one of his more psycho moments, takes a baseball bat to one of his underlings.
    Majima: This is the part where you're SUPPOSED TO LAUGH! [WHACK!] LAUGH YOU STUPID MUTHAFUCKA!
    • In Dead Souls, Majima uses his shotgun as a bat to knock a thrown grenade into the mouth of a boss monster.
    • The bat's HEAT action first involves hitting the target in the knee, wind up...and HOME RUN TO THE FACE!
    • In 0, Majima gains a fighting style centered around using a bat.
    • Subverted by Shinada in 5, an ex-baseball player who refuses to tarnish his beloved sport by using baseball bats as weapons. If he picks one up, he'll gently set it down.
    • In Like A Dragon, Ichiban's default class is centered around using bats as a weapon.
  • Battle Aura: The protagonists and stronger opponents have battle auras of various colors. It's also visible by characters In-Universe.
  • Battle Strip: Anytime a major boss battle is about to happen, the characters will rip off their clothes in a single swoop. It's considered in-universe an official challenge to a duel that's not just exclusive to those in the Yakuza. Averted in Dead Souls as the bosses there are experimental mutated freaks of nature.
  • Betting Mini-Game: The two hidden (and illegal) Casinos as well as the (also hidden and illegal) Cho-Han Dice Parlor in Kamurocho, although oddly enough they don't offer a direct cash payout, rather relying on a prize exchange system. There's also the Volcano Video Slot Parlor which is more legal and also relies on a prize exchange system for the payoffs. note 
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The other side of Kiryu, once he has been pushed. Don't push him.
    • Akiyama is harder to push (Given his mostly carefree nature) but misuse money or people in any way and he will literally kick your ass to curb.
    • Frankly all the playable characters fall under this as a natural consequence of a handful of Nice Guys and Jerks With Hearts Of Gold in a series where Combat Pragmatism is encouraged. They manage to acquit themselves as helpful, selfless, considerate people but in gameplay, they're capable of some absolute brutality and will resort to every trick in the book to even the odds against the mobs of goons the games keep throwing at them.
  • Big Bad: Sohei Dojima in the prequel, Akira Nishikiyama and Kyohei Jingu in the first one, Ryuji Goda and Daejin Kim (Yukio Terada) in the second, Yoshitaka Mine in the third, Isao Katsuragi in the forth, Tetsu Nikaido in Dead Souls, Tsubasa Kurosawa in the fifth, Tsuneo Iwami in the sixth and Masato Arakawa in Like a Dragon.
    • Man Behind the Man: Ryo Takashima in the second game; Andre Richardson in the third; Seishiro Munakata in the fourth, DD in Dead Souls, and Katsumi Sugai in the sixth.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The third game introduces Tsuyoshi Kanda, third patriarch of the Nishikiyama family. He is shown to be short-tempered, violent to his men and also seemingly a rapist, and is named as the most likely suspect for Kashiwagi's murder. Then you actually fight him and it's revealed he's only good at hitting you with furniture, he's too stupid to plan something like an assassination attempt, and the implied rapes are actually heavy-handed back massages, which some of his victims end up liking!
    • The same game has Hamazaki, who comes closer, but he vanishes from the plot after Lau's death until the very end, where he stabs Kiryu in retaliation for losing everything.
  • The Big Guy: While Saejima is the definitive one, in practice nearly any of the playable protagonists could qualify due to the sheer amount of brutal physical violence they'll inevitably engage in per the genre as well as consistently standing considerably taller than the vast majority of the Japanese population, including the many goons they'll encounter.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: The games often end with the villains being defeated but also losing many close ones on the way.
    • The first game may have resulted in Kiryu saving the Tojo from absolute ruin, but led to the death of nearly all his old friends, his mentor/father figure, former best friend, and love interest to the point he was actually willing to go back to jail if Date hadn't snapped him out of it by pointing out he still had Haruka to watch over.
    • The third game. While Kiryu is able to stop the smugglers and save the clan, several good people have died in the process.
    • Kiryu's saga ends with him faking his death and going into hiding, but Haruka, her child and the orphans are now safe from his past and in capable hands.
    • Like a Dragon ends with the fall of Bleach Japan and (for better or for worse) the end of both the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance. However, Ichiban loses both Masumi and Masato Arakawa, the two men he considers family.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Almost every game will have Kiryu (or whoever is the protagonist at that point) held at gunpoint by a villain at some point in the story. Since our protagonists are equipped with several layers of Plot Armor, one of the following will happen: the villain will fire and either miss or hit a non-vital area (expect the protagonist to recover from this in a cutscene or two), the villain will not shoot and instead either decide to fight the protagonist in a proper fistfight or just leave the scene for no apparent reason; the villain will be overpowered and disarmed by somebody, usually because he spent too long monologuing; the villain will properly fire towards a vital area but will be blocked by another character's Heroic Sacrifice; the villain will run out of ammo; the villain will shoot himself instead; the villain will only use the gun in the ensuing boss fight, at which point it'll be much less lethal than if it was used in a cutscene. One way or another, the protagonist will have a way to survive the situation no matter how implausible it may seem.
  • Booze-Based Buff: Every game in the series has some form of this, varying from a damage boost to gaining access to exclusive, easier-to-use Heat Actions that can only be done while drunk. Using the latter causes the Player Character to sober up a little, preventing players from spamming these moves unless they have spare alcohol in the inventory.
  • Boss Rush: 4's climax is played this way, with each playable character pairing up with a different opponent. In order, we have Akiyama vs. Arai, Saejima vs. Kido, Kiryu vs. Daigo and Tanimura vs. Munakata (and his personal corrupt Special Assault Team squad.)
    • Starting with the 3rd game, additional "Ultimate Skill" missions are unlocked after beating the game. The final challenges involve various boss rushes, with the final one usually being a boss rush against almost every single boss in the game.
  • Boss Remix: The fight against Goro Majima in the first game is a remix of the game's main theme, titled "Receive You - The Prototype". Each game has a new remix of the song when he's fought against in them.
  • Boss Subtitles: Whenever a new character is introduced, the screen turns monochrome, the character's name and occupation show up in big red letters, and two hits of an ominous-sounding drum are heard. This applies to every new character, not just the bosses. Kiryu, the protagonist of the vast majority of the franchise, gets a unique, much less ominous tune in his introduction.
  • Breakable Weapons: The series does include an exact counter to how many hits the weapon can take before it breaks. Equipable weapons can be repaired... for a hefty price.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: One holding 100 million Yen plays a role in Yakuza 4.
    • In 0, Kiryu purchases businesses by dramatically opening a briefcase full of money.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: The protagonists are all tough guys who are always ready to throw down who nonetheless happen to be men of unshakable moral fiber who will always defend the less fortunate from bullies, will do anything to make a child's day and love singing soulful karaoke.
  • Building of Adventure: The Millennium Tower is typically used as the centerpiece of climaxes.
  • Bullet Time: In certain mini-games that don't rely on physical combat, the heat gauge can be used to slow down time instead. This can range from baseball, air hockey, and actual shooting during car chases.
  • Bully Hunter: The protagonists will never hesitate to punish thugs bullying those weaker than them and are always quick to defend the innocent.
  • Bullying a Dragon: While most random encounters are cases of Mugging the Monster, many thugs and gangs seek out fights against you knowing full well who you are and thinking they can take you anyway, often believing that beating him would skyrocket their reputation.
  • Call-Back: Despite being a prequel, Yakuza 0 does reference several events and characters that would eventually occur and appear respectively. The Fortune Teller in particular spoils the plot for 1, 3, and 5, and you also meet younger versions of Shinji Tanaka, Daigo Dojima, and Ryuji Goda. Kiryu back then didn't even think he would actually willingly fight 100 Tojo Clan punks rather than a big boss in part 4 of his story in 5. The entire plot of 0 even revolves around the piece of land that would eventually become the Millennium Tower, where the majority of significant events in the series happen. Additionally, every subsequent game released after calls back to 0 itself:
    • Kiwami adds extra dialogue that directly references Kiryu and Majima's previous substories through their various encounters, most notably real estate and cabaret club respectively. Some substories (such as Pocket Circuit Fighter and Munan Chohept Onast) continue from 0, and some also call back to past characters such as Tachibana and Oda if you answer questions correctly.
    • 6 yet again continues the substories concerning Pocket Circuit Fighter and the former leader of Munan Chohept Onast, Munan Suzuki (although they do not directly continue from Kiwami, as Fighter only remembers seeing him in 1988 and not 2005).
    • Kiwami 2 references Kiryu's previous real estate job again in a mock interview substory, and Kiryu gets his own opportunity to run a cabaret club after Majima did so, with Yuki and later, the Obatarian to boot. Majima will even save the day once the substory progresses further, and speaking of Majima, Makoto also returns in the Majima Saga for a touching reunion.
    • Like a Dragon continues to see Pocket Circuit Fighter's career advancements (as he now runs Dragon Kart), makes a Continuity Nod to AHA Water, also features a chicken named Omelette in the business minigame (after the infamous Nugget Kiryu can hire as a manager), and the fight against Kiryu brings back his Rush and Beast styles.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Almost literally. Yakuza 3's main story starts with Kiryu being called, that a friend has been shot. The secondary story, is that the call keeps trying to evict him. Happens again during the fourth game, although to be fair, Kiryu has less of a personal stake in the matter (compare the safety of his kids versus his loyalty to the Tojo, which is still pretty freaking big).
    • Kiryu suffers from this hard in 5. It seems that despite moving to Fukuoka and going by the alias "Taichi Suzuki", either everyone who wants to bring him out of hiding knows where he lives and how to get his attention, or stumbles upon him by accident.
  • Call to Agriculture: Kiryu's call is to manage a tiny beachfront orphanage with nine kids in it, but it's the same idea: this is his peaceful retirement from a life of crime. Or so he hoped, until Yakuza 3 happened. And then 5. And then 6. At least in 4, he wasn't exactly forced to get involved and decided to take a look at the latest conflict in Kamurocho of his own volition.
  • Car Chase Shoot-Out: The franchise has such sequences in its first game and its remake, as well as Yakuza 0 (as a throwback to the original), where Kiryu has to fend off waves of cars, motorcycles and helicopters full of gun-totting thugs while on a highway. Despite Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's attempts to improve the sequences, they're generally reviled by fans for their Fake Difficulty, which leaves them a rare oddity in the series. Even Yakuza 2's equivalent highway fight turned out to be an over-the-top brawl atop several flatbed trucks, to players' audible sighs of relief.
  • Car Fu: In the first game, everyone's favorite Psycho for Hire Goro Majima literally crashes the party at the Shangri-La soapland with a truck.
    • When Futoshi Shimano grabs Kiryu on his second encounter at Shibaura Wharf, a mook starts up his car ready to pummel the bound Kiryu and a successful hit deals massive damage if the player doesn't manage to break free of Shimano's grasp.
    • In Yakuza 3 Majima outdoes himself by being The Cavalry to a surrounded Kiryu, with a semi-truck.
    • An Action Command must be used at one point in Yakuza 4 to allow Tanimura to safely dodge a truck that takes a swing at taking him out.
    • Starts cropping up more often in Yakuza 5 in comparison to previous games, during story sequences where the player is running through the city to get somewhere. Saejima goes to the point of stopping one cold by rooting himself in place.
    • Appears again in Yakuza 0 when Tachibana rescues Kiryu from angry Tojo Clan members by driving through them. Also Drives Like Crazy, due to him having to steer with a prosthetic hand.
    • Playable characters can also indulge in the superhero variety, sort of. Its' less Car Fu and more Bicycle/Moped/Motorcycle Fu.
  • Cartoon Physics: While most techniques and Heat Action aren't too far from what you might see in an action movie or a wrestling video game, a decent fraction of them would be impossible in real life mostly due to liberal application of Charles Atlas Superpower. This is perhaps most prominent with Taiga Saejima whose Heat Actions include grabbing a "bouncing" thug by the leg to launch them upwards, spinning like a pinwheel, before clotheslining them at the neck while they're upside down.
  • Celebrity Cameo: Several throughout the series.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Despite ostensibly taking place in a realistic modern day setting, characters (especially protagonists) frequently demonstrate nigh-superhuman feats of strength and durability. Kiryu in particular can casually shatter a marble statue in a single punch as well as take a glass bottle to the back of the head without flinching while Majima can create shadow clones simply by backflipping.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: To Ocelot levels, for some characters.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: There are a few characters who disappear or are Put on a Bus and seemingly never come back:
    • Kaoru Sayama, the Osaka police officer and Kiryu's Love Interest from 2 goes to America at the beginning of 3, and never reappears, aside from Kiryu alluding to her in 4 to a hostess and one character mentioning her influence on the Osaka police in 5. Exacerbated in 6's beginning sequence where he mentions Yumi as the only woman he ever loved.
    • Masayoshi Tanimura, the Corrupt Cop deuteragonist from 4 completely disappears after said game, barring one mention when Akiyama tries to call him for the Amon Clan rematch in 5. He does not answer, leading everyone involved to believe he ran for his life. However, both Kiryu and Yagami eventually inherit his parry in 6 and Lost Judgment respectively.
    • Tatsuo Shinada, ex-baseball player and Tanimura's replacement, completely disappears after 5, even though all the other playable characters from 5 show up to the hospital where Kiryu is immediately after the ending of said game in a flashback in 6.
  • The City Narrows: Purgatory.
    • The series as a whole focuses on the shadier sides of normal Japanese cities with Kamurocho being the Entertainment and Red Light District of Tokyo and all the other various overworld areas similarly being Entertainment Districts. It helps justify the sheer frequency in which street fights break out as well as how often the protagonists defend innocent pedestrians from street thugs.
  • City Noir: The PS2-era games were heavily inspired by this style, set in near-perpetual night time and overcast weather with a heavy emphasis on the grunginess of their city settings. While it never completely went away, later games tend to go for a wider range of settings and stylistic presentations, with Yakuza 4 and Judgment standing out as the clearest post-classic examples of noir.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: Characters of seemingly average to below-average builds often wear suits that hide incredibly muscular physiques that they only reveal when they rip it all off.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: At least in the first game's English dub, which was the only game that had one for a long time. This was mostly due to the dubbers taking a few creative liberties.
    • Downplayed in future games, as the original Japanese dialogue is much tamer compared to the first game, which spews F-bombs any chance it gets. Even when the games started to receive English dubs again, their use of four-lettered words was still more reserved than the first game's dub.
  • Collection Sidequest: The series usually has a collectible item present that earns extra rewards for getting them. Most of the time, it's coin locker keys.
  • Colour-Coded Characters:
    • Kazuma Kiryu = White/Grey
    • Shun Akiyama = Red
    • Taiga Saejima = Turquoise/Green
    • Masayoshi Tanimura = Blue
    • Tatsuo Shinada = Brown
    • Haruka Sawamura = Pink
    • Goro Majima = Purple/Black
  • Combat Pragmatist: The way all the protagonists are able to fight (minus Haruka) shows them to be absolutely brutal fighters that will take any advantage they can get. Anything that isn't nailed down can used as a weapon such as bicycles or random furniture. Whatever is can instead be used to slam thugs faces against like cars or lamp posts. Think they'll lighten up on the onslaught because they just knocked you flat on your ass? Think again. To be fair, they all learned to fight on the streets where everything's fair game so it's unsurprising how unscrupulous they tend to be when they're constantly fighting against larger numbers.
    • Notably averted in Yakuza: Like a Dragon: It's stated early on that Ichiban is a good enough fighter that he doesn't have to take half the hits he does, but he lets his enemies get some in since he's insistent that's how a hero acts.
  • Comic-Book Time: Averted; The games are all set in the year in which they were originally released, meaning that characters age in real time. As such, Kiryu has gone from being 36 at the beginning of the series to being in his 50s (though the only sign of his age is him going silver).
  • Company Cameo: The series allows you to go to Sega-owned arcades and play classic titles like OutRun, Virtua Fighter, and even Sonic the Fighters.
  • Compilation Rerelease: In Japan, the first two games were given an HD upgrade as Ryū ga Gotoku 1&2 HD Edition for the PS3 and Wii U, which also upgraded the first game's combat with features found in the second.
  • The Conspiracy: Exist in most games be it from one of the mafia clans, government or both
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Elite bosses are pretty much the only real threat to Kiryu and company. Mooks exist to be splattered across the curb in spectacular fashion.
  • Container Maze: Tanimura fights through an army of mooks in the docks of Tokyo in 4. Shinada later does the same in 5 but on the docks of Nagoya instead.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Bosses tend to break out of grabs far more easily than the common goons, which tends to work against grappling-focused characters like Tanimura and Shinada.
  • The Coats Are Off: Major battles/boss fights are often precluded by characters dramatically pulling their shirts off with a single yank just to show how serious they are.
  • Cool Old Guy: Detective Makoto Date, who even fights alongside Kiryu at times and is pretty reasonable to him in the first game.
    • It's not just him, Kawara doubles it for being a Cowboy Cop and there's Kage the Florist who "plays fair," Sotaro Komaki, Fuma/Kazama, his cop brother-turned-CIA Agent Joji and finally Nakahara that wrestled with a bull. By the later games Kiryu, Majima and Saejima qualify as this since they're in their fifties and still as hardcore as ever.
  • Counter-Attack: Kiryu can learn several from Sotaro Komaki in the games. The easy-to-pull-off Knock Back, the strong Tiger Drop, and the stunning Komaki Parry.
  • Cowardly Boss: Koji Shindo from the second game.
    • Also from the second game, Sengoku. He doesn't even fight, he has his pet tigers take on Kiryu.
    • The third Game has Hamazaki who lets Lau and his henchman fight his own war. You don't even fight him!
    • Munakata in the fourth game. While Kiryu, Akiyama, and Saejima have one-on-one boss fights with their enemies, Tanimura has to deal with half a dozen elite police forces while Munakata runs around and shoots him with his pistol.
  • Cross Counter: The final battle of the second game ends with an epic one (mixed with Press X to Not Die). The fifth game is scattered with them.
  • Crossover: The playable characters of Dead Souls appeared as DLC characters for the Japanese version of Binary Domain, which was also developed by Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios. Kiryu and Majima later appeared as partners for the second Project × Zone game.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • You might as well not even bother trying to fight the Dragon of Dojima if you're a nameless thug, because you *will* be sent to the infirmary... if you're lucky.
    • Sotaro Komaki and Jo Amon WILL do this to you unless you make a plan or abuse moves like the Tiger Drop.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Characters get less competent in cutscenes (with smaller crowds of enemies that players would normally tear through being presented as a threat), and much less bulletproof.
  • Cutting Off the Branches:
    • As Kiwami, 6, and Like A Dragon each follow up on it, at the very least, the Pocket Circuit arc of 0 is canon, as far as sidequest chains go (although in 6, Fighter doesn't seem to remember seeing him previously in Kiwami). Likewise, the photo Kiryu has in the Gaiden cinematic for "Bakamitai" has him and Fighter together from back in 1988.
    • As shown by Kiwami 2, Majima canonically completed the Cabaret Club Czar storyline in 0, and Majima being literally everywhere was real, since Kiryu also mentions the time Majima brought up his "Lord of the Night" nickname (which could've only happened with the encounters in Bantam and Club Shine).
    • As shown by each subsequent one, Kiryu does beat every Amon boss fight.
      • If the completion requirements to even make them appear are accounted for, then nearly every substory has actually happened. Yes, including Shinada's interview. And the man-babies Kiryu begrudgingly fought. And all of the times he called up the wrong girls.
  • Dance Battler: One of Majima's fighting styles in 0 is a mix of break-dancing and Michael Jackson impressions. Said fighting style is also available as a job in Like a Dragon, meaning every male party member can bust out breakdancing moves.
  • Dating Catwoman: You'll see it just by hearing Majima's way of speaking to Kiryu. As part of Kiwami's "Majima Everywhere" system, not only does Goro now stalk Kiryu throughout the entire game, often accompanied by suggestive dialogue, but he goes so far as to perform a pole dance and cross dress as a hostess for him. Kiryu can even play along and is given the choice to treat him like any other hostess.
  • Dating Sim: Every game has had an optional series of side quests where Kiryu could visit the local cabaret clubs and woo a collection of lovely ladies for 100% Completion and some neat bonuses which includes XP, sometimes very valuable items, and photo portraits of the women. Note that this is not how cabaret clubs work in real life.
    • In the original version of the second game, Kiryu can also optionally help out the hapless employees of a host club getting screwed over by their boss... by signing on as the newest employee and working to become the Number One Host as a gambit to root out the boss from hiding.
    • In the western release of the third game, the whole "hostess club" aspect was cut, which just allowed Kiryu to simply take the girls out for a couple of dates, then reap the benefits (no relationship values, expensive hostessing minigame, multiple choice dialogue, etc).
    • The hostess clubs return in full in the western release of the fourth game (at least for Akiyama, Tanimura, and Kiryu).
    • In Dead Souls, wooing a lady allows you to use her as an escort into the Quarantine Zone. One of the DLCs allows you to change their outfits as well as what gun they use.
    • In 0, not only can Kiryu meet women using "terekura" (telephone dating clubs), but Majima takes on the role as a hostess club manager, in a minigame in which you micromanage the club, including the dress style of the women working there and coaching them in conversation.
    • In 6, Kiryu can chat with cam girls and go on dates as well as go on dates with hostesses.
  • Death Glare: Kiryu does these on a regular basis when some punk kicks the dog once too often, but the absolute worst is when Mine has the Tamashiro family destroy Morning Glory Orphanage. Kiryu clenches his fist trembling in anger and does a stare so intense and full of rage that Mine would have been killed on the spot from the intensity of it. Cue incoming karmic vengeance.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: This is pretty much how Kiryu snaps Daigo Dojima out of his hedonistic spree and gets him focused on taking charge of the Tojo Clan. Also applies to Rikiya, Saejima and Majima (although he genuinely enjoys fighting Kazzy, he's a Recurring Boss after all).
  • Desperation Attack: There are a few abilities and heat actions in the series which can only be used while the user's health is critical. The most frequently recurring example is Kiryu's Essence of Wreckage. Normally, using a heat action on a prone opponent will make Kiryu hit the victim with either a head stomp or a kick to the gut. At critical health, he will instead give the victim a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The first two games take place around Christmas in December of 2005 and 2006 respectively. "Amazing Grace" is played in the credits of the first game, while "Silent Night" is played during the credits of the second. The third and fourth games avoid this due to the time of year they take place in, but it returns in the fifth game which takes place in December of 2012. One of Saejima's sidestories has him beating down some thugs while wearing a Santa suit, with Christmas trees and sleigh decorations nearby to use as weapons. Averted in Yakuza 0 and Yakuza 6 despite taking place in December 1988 and 2016, respectively.
  • Digital Tabletop Game Adaptation: Some of the minigames are adaptations of board and card games, such as Shōgi and poker.
  • Dirty Cop: The series has a number of corrupt law officials, ranging from regular cops on the payroll of organized gangsters to the upper echelons having their own schemes.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Shimano in a you failed me moment cuts off the fingers of his underling for losing to Kiryu and getting shot by Shinji in the first game. Ritual mutilation of this type is a common punishment among yakuza (and, incidentally, why the Four Fingered Hand never took off in anime) so it isn't that surprising.
    Shimano: Let me see your hand for just a second...
    • The entire plot of Dead Souls is this in a nutshell. Kiryu and Goda aren't too pleased. To elaborate: the zombie outbreak on Kamurucho was kickstarted by Tetsuo Nikaido, the new head of the Omi Alliance and an old subordinate to Goda. He planned to wipe out the Tojo Clan in response to Goda's defeat in 2, and even offered Goda his old place back out of respect. However, both Kiryu and Goda point out how insane his plans turned out to be in the end, and he even begrudgingly accepted his fate had DD not turned him into a monster.
  • Disappeared Dad: Hanaya/Kage to Takashi. And Kawara to Kaoru in the second game.
  • DLC:
    • Appears on all main PS3 games in the form of unique costumes and weapons. In the USA, the DLC is free! (Well, save for Yakuza 3.) Dead Souls even offer up rare items that can't be obtained until MUCH later!
  • Drunken Master: For every game in the series, drinking alcohol and getting drunk will increase the rate at which Kiryu and other protagonists gain heat in combat. More heat means more heat actions which means more pain for poor unsuspecting street thugs. There are even certain special heat actions that require being drunk to perform.
  • Dual Wielding: Hayashi from the second game.
    • And one of the available styles in Kenzan!, a no-brainer considering that Kiryu is also Miyamoto Musashi.
    • Lau Ka Long in the first game also takes up a pair of swords after receiving a good amount of physical damage.
    • Prisoner #1356 carries a pair of forks this way.
    • Kamiyama, the weapons master, actually wields Kali sticks during the arena matches. And he's fairly tough!
  • Dub Name Change: Shintaro Kazama becomes Shintaro Fuma for the US release, probably to avoid confusion with Kazuma Kiryu. Ditto for his younger brother in the third game. Also, Nishikiyama was shortened to Nishiki.
    • In addition, Hanaya was called Kage, although the second game referred to this specific Dub Name Change by adding the title "Florist." Hanaya is literally the Japanese word for "florist". As of Kiwami, he's now addressed as the slightly more fitting "Florist of Sai".
    • Interestingly, the Western release of the fourth game averts this trope and refers to almost everyone by their original Japanese names (the only exception is Kage, who is referred to as "Kage the Florist" in the subtitles).
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Played straight and subverted. Only once in a blue moon does Kiryu's insane reputation prevent a fight or frighten an enemy. Despite being one of the most dangerous men alive, nearly every goon and boss in Japan is still gunning for him in spite or because of his reputation.
    • And this is played within the second game. In a sidequest, Kiryu finds out that a couple of clowns have been shaking down goods and services from people by masquerading as him and his late buddy Shinji Tanaka. Rarely in video game history has there been such an instance of NPCs invoking a Curbstomp Battle on themselves.
    • Played with in 3: part of the beginning tutorial is a gang of mooks working for the Kazama Family, a family with which Kiryu has a good history. Like all other mooks, they pick a fight with Kiryu just for shits and giggles. After beating them within an inch of their life, their boss shows up and chastises them for not bowing to the Tojo Clan's Fourth Chairman. The mooks are HORRIFIED.
    • Pretty well averted in 4 and Dead Souls, whose multi-character gameplay (with Kiryu being the last character) allows him to be presented as more of a larger-than-life character from the perspectives of other characters. Additionally, many of his random encounters in 4 are people attacking him knowing that if they should take down the Dragon of Dojima, their own reputations will skyrocket. Still Suicidal Overconfidence, but it's Suicidal Overconfidence out of respect. Plus, there's the fact that Dead Souls' enemies aren't the usual gang members, so Kiryu gets bonus points for being THE legendary yakuza who fights off the zombie infestation in Kamurucho.
  • Dueling Player Characters: Happens quite often in a series with multiple playable characters. Averted in Yakuza 0, however.
    • Yakuza 4:
      • Saejima vs. Kiryu.
      • Kiryu vs. Akiyama and Tanimura.
    • Yakuza 5:
      • Kiryu vs. Saejima again. note 
    • Yakuza Kiwami and Kiwami 2:
      • Kiryu vs. Majima. note 
    • Yakuza 6:
      • Kiryu vs. Akiyama again.
    • Yakuza: Like a Dragon:
      • Ichiban vs. Joon-gi Han.
      • Ichiban vs. Nanba.
      • Ichiban vs. Majima and Saejima.
      • Ichiban vs. Kiryu.
  • Edible Collectible: These games have a selection of restaurants and bars serving a variety of food and drinks including ramen, sushi, pasta, takoyaki, burgers, coffee and alcoholic drinks, plus convenience stores stocked with inventory items like onigiri and sandwiches. As you sit down to eat, your character will comment on the food, and there's even an in-game checklist keeping track of what you've eaten and completion points gotten from eating everything at a restaurant.
  • Encounter Bait:
    • The Charismatic Photo, a black-and-white photo of an unidentified yakuza, plays this trope straight by spawning more random street battles. It also adds more enemies per encounter.
    • The Mew Shoes equipment plays with this. They indirectly increase the random encounter rate by making the person wearing them more noticeable while running, drawing the aggro of random encounters from farther away. On the other hand, they also make said enemies less aggressive in combat.
  • Encounter Repellant: The Goddess of Children Amulet, in games where it's present, reduces the frequency of random street battles when eqipped.
  • Engrish: Far more often than not, allegedly foreign characters in the series will speak really broken English. They will often have Japanese voice actors and speak perfectly good Japanese (in the Japanese versions) except for randomly throwing English words in the middle of sentences and speaking with exaggerated nonspecific accents. This happens to Japanese characters as well, such as Mine's infamous "There is no change in the plan" scene, but it's more justified given that English is not meant to be their native language (although they're still often portrayed as being far more fluent than they really are).
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: Several of the later games allow the protagonists to run businesses via minigames that become a primary way to make a good chunk of money. This ranges from real estate to managing Cabarets and even outright venture capitalism.
  • Everybody Smokes: Practically every adult character is a heavy smoker and most of them look cool doing it.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • From the first game, Akira Nishikiyama, who basically cracked under the pressure over the years and molded himself into a cold version of what Kiryu would have become (a head of a family of the Tojo) if he hadn't been in prison.
    • Ryuji Goda from the second game, who also bears a dragon tattoo. He and Kiryu also mutually believe there's only room for one dragon in Japan, but Goda, despite having his own codes of honor, is more of a Blood Knight than Kiryu is and wants to wage war against the clans and spread chaos in Japan for the hell of it.
    • And the third game has Yoshitaka Mine, who grew up as an orphan like Kiryu, but without the support of friends like he had, grew up lonely and with a very twisted mentality.
    • Yakuza: Like a Dragon features Ryo Aoki (later revealed to actually be Masato Arakawa, Ichiban's adoptive brother), whom of which is a Manipulative Bastard to Ichiban's Guile Hero. There are also their contrasting suits and mannerisms - Ichiban is very flamboyant and hot-blooded whereas Aoki is cold, calculating, and pragmatic.
  • Evil vs. Evil / A Lighter Shade of Black: Series-wide, the Tojo Clan is portrayed significantly more positively than the Omi Alliance, and as a generally noble organisation and force for good. Only issue is, while the Omi are significantly more hot-blooded and willing to start a fight, at the end of the day both organisations are nothing more than vast criminal enterprises that are shown to engage in violent street battles, and profit from all manner of unpleasant crimes such as loansharking, protection rackets and pimping. Neither is particularly "good"; it's just that our protagonists happen to be on the Tojo's side. This is never clearer than in Yakuza 0, where the Tojo is seen to be perfectly comfortable with murdering a completely innocent civilian woman in cold blood purely to expedite a property transaction, just as much as the Omi are.
  • Expy:
    • Doctor Minamida, who first appears in Yakuza 3 and runs the IF7 virtual reality game, is clearly one of Dr. Emmett Brown.
    • The boss of the Purple Killers in the fourth game is The Joker. This is apparent even before you meet him, being described as a guy in a purple suit with an insane smirk. Then you find out he's a killer in clown makeup with mannerisms very similar to Heath Ledger's Joker and... yeah.
  • Extremity Extremist: Akiyama and Tanimura in the fourth game are both mild examples. Tanimura's attack on a downed attack is even a crouching punch as opposed to a stomp like everyone else. Their basic combos play it straight, but as they learn new abilities their HEAT actions (and more advanced combos) they branch out considerably.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Goro Majima, who pretty much fights Kiryu in most games at an even footing. The fourth game and the prequel expand on how he got the eyepatch in the first place.
  • Fanservice: Considering the game's adult themes, the game is filled with them.
    • In the first game, the infamous "Price of an F-Cup" substory has a well-endowed woman tries to seduce Kiryu, with the camera focusing on her breasts.
    • Some mini-games that involve the hostesses, such as ping-pong, the public bath and air hockey, emphasize their assets.
    • On the lighter side, several of Sega's other franchises are referenced and featured in various ways, including characters that can be won as UFO toys, and music from various games can be heard in various locations. In the fifth game, tunes from various racing games can be used for Kiryu's taxi racing missions.
  • Fan Disservice: Usually Played for Laughs. The fifth game has "Shinada's Interview", where he's unwittingly hired to perform services for men wearing next-to-nothing, and has to fight them. Kiwami has Majima disguise himself as a hostess for Kiryu. In Dead Souls, a zombie can be caught in the Fishing Minigame and used as a minigame opponent, but really serves as an alternate skin for the hostesses, camera chest zooms and hearts filling the screen included.
  • Fetishes Are Weird: Susumu Gondawara, who appears in Yakuza 2 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon, is obsessed with infant play, where he and his underlings put on diapers and are doted on by a woman named Machiko wearing little more than an apron. He's also eager to the point of violence to get others involved in his fetish, resulting in a fight with Kiryu when his "hospitality" is rejected. His underlings make it clear afterwards that they are not into this, but because he's their boss, they have to go along with it.
  • Fiction500: Akiyama has just an absurd amount of money.
  • Fictional Counterpart:
  • Finishing Move: Starting from the second game, knocking down an opponent's health sufficiently in a Boss Battle will open up a window of opportunity where you can quickly charge Kiryu's HEAT Meter with rapid button mashes (if it's not filled already) to execute a special and often devastating HEAT Action that will usually drop the unfortunate recipient in one hit. Saejima has a variant of this.
  • Fight Clubbing: Each game has some sort of underground fighting tournament that the protagonists have to compete in as part of the Inevitable Tournament. Afterwards it becomes a standard side activity you can compete in for rewards. 6 is the exception, having only one underground fight that is not revisited.
  • Fishing Minigame: The third game introduces one where fish and other items can be caught and sold for money, which has remained in the series since. Dead Souls puts a bizarre spin on it, allowing players to fish for a particular zombie which can then be used as a partner for various mini-games.
  • Five Moves of Doom: Kiryu's "Hell's Floor" finisher in 3: a German suplex, followed by an arm bar, followed by a triangle choke, followed by an anaconda choke, followed by a guillotine choke, finished with a mounted punch to the face. Just the chokes would probably leave the opponent's trachea reduced to the consistency of burger.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Applicable in the fourth and fifth games, where there are multiple playable characters.
    • Kazuma Kiryu = Melancholic
    • Shun Akiyama = Phlegmatic
    • Taiga Saejima = Choleric
    • Masayoshi Tanimura = Sanguine (in 4)
    • Haruka Sawamura = Supine (in 5)
    • Tatsuo Shinada = Sanguine (in 5)
  • Flashback: Most of the games (save for Dead Souls) after the first allow someone who never played the past installments to find out the storyline in segments either through an in-story prompt at the beginning of the game, or through a menu option.
    • A small example in Dead Souls: the end credits are a slide show from previous Yakuza games (save for the one PSP release in Japan), which include cameos from characters in those games (Akira in 1, Saejima and Tanimura in 4.) (Note: the part where flashbacks to Kenzan! may not make sense to non-Japanese gamers.)
  • Flung Clothing: Everyone in the setting can remove all the clothes on their upper body simply by tugging on their shoulders once. Even gloves.
  • Food Porn: Various restaurants across the games feature a variety of food to eat to recover health (and in later games, gain EXP), including burger joints, ice cream parlors, sushi restaurants, ramen shops, and more. The food is often represented through actual photographs of the real items, especially branded items, with almost literal Flavor Text describing them. Like in real life, the many restaurants, bars, and convenience stores of the city have gorgeous pictures of their wares plastered everywhere as well. Even the descriptions for the various types of cat food in some games sounds mouthwatering.
    • Some games go a step further when drinking at a bar. Ordering a drink will prompt the bartender to give a brief but detailed description of the flavor and history of the drink.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Shinji Tanaka from the first game and especially Rikiya from the third game. Despite both being The Lancer, neither of them get a mention in the following games, outside of the Reminisce menu.
  • Freeze-Frame Introduction: In every game, whenever a major character or an important yakuza-affiliated character is introduced to the story, the cutscene fades out and freezes and displays their full name and title.
  • Friend to All Children: Nothing brings out Kiryu's good side like kids, especially his kids from the orphanage and his adopted niece Haruka. Subsequently, nothing brings out Kiryu's BAD side like someone hurting a kid. The most savage and satisfying beatings Kiryu's rained on someone are those in retaliation for abusing a kid. The protagonists of the series in general all tend to be great with children and will do anything to look out for them in Substories.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: Tatsuya Ukyo of the Kurohyou series cannot drink booze with hostesses since he is below the drinking age of 18/19 (in the sequel). The hostess clubs offer non-alcoholic alternatives for him and his hostess though from premium cola to fresh fruit juice and in the sequel, virgin cocktails.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In Ishin!, a boss battle between Ryoma Sakamoto (Kiryu) and Saigo Kichinosuke (Ryuji Goda) takes place in a bathhouse, and both characters fight entirely in the nude, with only Censor Steam hiding the naughty bits.
  • Gambit Pileup: Plots usually involve various different factions and characters making power plays that stack up on top of each other, with the protagonists stuck right in the middle of the mess.
  • Game Within a Game: The Club Sega branches will always have a UFO Catcher skill crane and even playable video game machines. These can serve as part of a Side Quest. Some of them are made exclusively for the series, while others are actual arcade games.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Whenever a story cutscene takes place which has the player character drinking at a bar, they will often have a mild intoxication effect in place during gameplay afterwards.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Only in cutscenes does Kiryu suffer an actual injury that would cripple him.
    • Several characters, both major and minor, have been shown dying or getting severely injured from gunshots, but during gameplay, damn near anyone can shrug off a bullet and keep fighting as if they were never shot in the first place.
  • Golf Clubbing: Golf clubs can be used as weapons in fights, and enemies can be sent flying from it if a heat action is performed when it's equipped.
  • Good-Guy Bar: Serena and New Serena typically serves as the typical Player Headquarters of the heroes. Like A Dragon adds Survive Bar.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • In the third game, the severed head (or body part) of Tsuyoshi Kanda is never seen on camera when Mine brings it to Kiryu and company.
    • The same goes for Majima's lost eye when he reveals it to Saejima in 4.
    • Kuze performing Yubitsume in 0: his severed pinky is never shown, and his hand is bandaged quickly afterwards. Only some blood is shown on the cutting board as Kuze's body and the camera angle hide the gore.
    • Also in 0, the fight with Lao Gui has a QTE where if successful, Majima avoids his remaining eye getting gouged and gouges Lao Gui back in return; the animation is cut short and partially off camera.
    • Shockingly averted in Like a Dragon, however - Sawashiro gouges out the eye of a Tojo Clan patriarch for mocking Arakawa's death. You'd think the camera would turn away before Sawashiro digs his thumb into the patriarch's eye, but it just doesn't.
  • Go-to Alias: The name "Suzuki" gets used a lot by everyone as a quick alias.
    • In 4, Akiyama uses it as an alias when dealing with someone stealing his identity until he's run them out of town. Saejima uses it to hide his true identity to Kiryu and Haruka when he first meets them and again after getting back to Kamurocho for his "Brother and Sister" substory chain since he's broken out of prison after 25 years.
    • In 5, Kiryu uses it as his new identity as a taxi driver in Fukuoka so he can give Haruka's new idol career distance away from his life as a yakuza. Ironically works against him since he is the only person in Fukuoka named "Taichi Suzuki", making him easily found by the new characters Masato Aizawa and Yu Morinaga.
  • Gratuitous English: Since the games have used the Japanese voices since Yakuza 2, Andre Richardson in the third game is the only major character who speaks in English.
    • Also, not to mention some of the karaoke songs that have sprinkles of English words in the lyrics just like every other Japanese song has in reality.
    • Some of the theme songs themselves have English lyrics but are sung with Japanese pronunciation, making them difficult to understand for native speakers. Songs include the first game's "Receive You," the fourth game's "For Faith" and the prequel's "Reign".
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Some Korean characters in the second sequel speak their native tongue. One of the residents of Kamurocho's multi-Asian community area Little Asia, where Masayoshi Tanimura helps them out, speaks Chinese at some point.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Several Heat actions involve picking up an enemy and swinging/throwing them at their allies.
  • Guns Akimbo: Several regular bosses, most notably Arase, Andre Richardson and super boss hitman Jo Amon in classic John Woo style. Which makes it all the more badass when they are beaten to death by fists and feet (if the player chooses).
    • This is Shun Akiyama's default weapon configuration in Of The End/Dead Souls. After you wooed a hostess, you can have them wield double pistols. Not to mention after completing a specific set of side missions you can recruit Arase himself to join you in the zombie hunts.
    • Averted in Jo Amon's case in Kenzan!, as his expy uses a sword in that game.
    • Joon-gi Han in Like A Dragon uses two handguns in his default class.
  • Hack and Slash: Kenzan! and Ishin! allow you to use and upgrade multiple melee weapons, giving the combat flavors of this genre. You also have the option to buy and use weapons in the main series, though most of them have limited durability and are often a case of Awesome, but Impractical.
  • Hammy Villain, Serious Hero: This is the main dynamic between The Stoic Kazuma Kiryu and the Wild Card Goro Majima, with the former being more serious and quiet yakuza with a code of honor, and the latter who's a hammy and unpredictable yakuza who usually rivals with Kiryu and goes after him in a special (and implicit) kind of Stalker with a Crush, especially with the "Majima Everyhere" feature in later games and the two "Kiwami" remakes.
  • Harder Than Hard: The Ex-Hard and Legend difficulties.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: Yakuza has a lot in common with Heroic Bloodshed movies in terms of thematic elements.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: So many. There's an instance of Taking the Bullet pretty much once per game.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • While Kiryu's fists bring justice to man, his voice will shake your soul.
      • Many characters throughout the series also qualify, who kick all sorts of ass and are just as adept at singing karaoke. Yes, even Majima. Especially when he puts his heart into it.
  • Hollywood Healing: Most main characters, and even mooks to an extent, regularly survive beatings that would kill most men ten times over. It's especially obvious when you use a triple katana slice or pistol on a lowly purse snatcher... and they live.
    • Even moreso in Kenzan!, where the sword combos can be way longer...
  • Honor Before Reason: SO MUCH. Many of the characters live and breathe this.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism:
    • Food can be used to restore your health instantly. Eating at restaurants is one way to quickly restore HP, although you won't be able to order any more food than what it takes to top off your health bar without a specific item. As your health bar is upgraded, you'll quickly reach the point where Kiryu is ordering 4 or 5 entrees and a drink just to get to full health again.
    • Kiwami and Kiwami 2 have inversions of this: Kiryu can buy a consumable called AppStim RX, which sets his HP to One (or by 50% for AppStim Half), mainly to invoke invokedSelf-Imposed Challenge. If it wasn't already obvious from the item's name, their Flavor Text explicitly mentions that AppStim "stimulates your digestive tract", which is represented by Kiryu losing HP. AppStims also appear from 6 onwards, but they're no longer inversions of this trope — they reduce an actual hunger gauge instead of a health bar in these games, which only serves to prevent experience gains from eating when it's full.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: In the second game, Kiryu can gain improved Strong Attacks and later improved Heat Actions with the baseball bat, golf club and bowling ball by playing enough times at the batting cage, driving range and bowling alley respectively then completing the related Side Quest for each location. By the next game, by refighting bosses, he can 'learn' new techniques, such as using knuckles.
    • Zig-zagged with Tatsuo Shinada in 5: as a former baseball player, he has techniques that are inspired by the sport. He refuses to use bats as weapons, though: if he picks one up, he'll examine it nostalgically for a moment before putting it back down.
  • Idiot Ball: Let's just say that protagonists' IQs drop considerably whenever a gun comes into play.
  • Illegal Gambling Den: A regular feature in the games, where the gambling dens are primarily run by homeless people. There's also an underground pleasure district called Purgatory that includes a casino.
  • Impaled Palm:
    • An uncommon HEAT action when Kiryu is holding a knife near a wall is to throw the mook at the wall, then stabs his hand against the wall, or against a desk.
    • Mine also stabs his subordinate's palm all the way through with a butterknife for not having proper reverence for Daigo Dojima.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: There are several HEAT actions that involve doing this in some fashion. One of Shinada's HEAT actions has him actually use the pole to lift himself in the air after impaling someone with it.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Kiryu and the other playable characters can make use of unorthodox weapons (usually through HEAT actions) such as super glue, oranges, salt shakers, magical girl wands (they're modified kali sticks but still), and bottles of mystery liquids.
  • Improvised Weapon: Practically anything laying on the ground can be swung around and used as a weapon. This ranges from traffic cones and store signs to bikes and (in the cases of particularly strong characters) motorcycles. Some of these ad hoc weapons even come with their own HEAT actions!
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • The War God Talisman is the franchise defining example. Equipping it grants infinite Heat by quickly filling the Heat Gauge to maximum, ensuring that you always have access to all your Heat Moves and any Heat Mode perks gained from leveling up. You typically have to beat Ultimate Match Mode/Climax Battle Mode in order to earn it, and that mode doesn't fully unlock until you beat the Yakuza games once, often causing the Talisman to fall into Bragging Rights Reward territory. The only exception to this is Kiwami 2, where it's possible to earn the War God Talisman before you end the first playthrough.
    • The Golden Pistol is just as much a Recurring Element, and for good reason. Firearms usually fall under Too Awesome to Use because they can stagger enemies but have pitiful ammo counts along with them. The Golden Pistol is not only one of the strongest firearms one can own, but it has infinite ammo. Mooks tend to go down in 1-2 hits from this baby, and bosses can now be blasted to death from a safe distance. Also doubles as a Bragging Rights Reward in most Yakuza games because you have to complete the vast majority of each game to earn it.
  • Informed Attribute: The series bends over backwards to ensure that the protagonists never kill. Regardless of how brutal the HEAT moves can be (many of which would leave men crippled for life) the only wounds they leave is broken pride. And then there are moments such as Kiryu using a random waiter as a Human Shield, getting into gunfights with exploding cars and even shooting a helicopter down with an RPG that are far harder to justify.
  • Inevitable Tournament: At some point in each games, the protagonists will be forced to participate in some sort of fighting tournament in order to progress the plot.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Ever since the series hit the Playstation 3, many major characters and hostesses were modeled after their voice actors. Notable examples per game:
    • Kiryu himself and his expys (though only partially, as Kiryu's face was made narrower and sharper) from Kenzan! onwards.
    • Masayoshi Tanimura, Yasuko Saejima, Junji Sugiuchi, Takeshi Kido, Hiroaki Arai, and Seishiro Munakata in 4.
    • Tatsuya Ukyo in the Kurohyō games (though strangely, his model only voices him in the sequel).
    • Kazuhiko Serizawa, Shigeki Baba, Mayumi, Naoki Katsuya, and Koichi Takasugi in 5.
    • All 3 Dojima Lieutenants, Tsukasa Sagawa, and Tetsu Tachibana in 0.
      • In the Chinese version only, Lao Gui is portrayed by and modeled after Hong Kong actor Sam Lee.
      • 0 also did this for many more side characters than previously, including both Mr. Libidos, both Mr. Moneybags, all Mr. Shakedowns, and all 30 Gandhara girls, who appear in various locations and substories in either city.
    • Tsuyoshi Nagumo, Yuta Usami, Kiyomi, Takumi Someya, Toru Hirose, and Tsuneo Iwami in 6.
    • Jiro Kawara, Ryo Takashima, Tsutomu Bessho, and Wataru Kurahashi in Kiwami 2.
      • Most of these characters were recast from the original 2, which made for some discrepancies such as Takashima looking much older than he was originally and Kawara not looking quite like Kaoru Sayama's father.
    • Takayuki Yagami, Ryuzo Genda, Mitsuru Kuroiwa, and Kazuya Ayabe in Judgment.
      • In the original Japanese release, Kyohei Hamura was modeled off his voice actor Pierre Taki, but the character was recast and remodeled after Taki's arrest for cocaine possession.
    • All of Ichiban Kasuga's party members (except Joon-gi Han and Tianyou Zhao), Masumi Arakawa, and Jo Sawashiro in Like a Dragon.
    • Yagami, Genda, Jin Kuwana, Akihiro Ehara, and Kazuki Soma in Lost Judgment.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: Any poor sap on the receiving end of a Heat action. At least half of them in any game would cripple or outright kill their victim in real life, but they're usually still capable of limping away afterward.
  • Irrelevant Sidequest: Just about the most irrelevant in the gaming industry. It's half the fun.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: The climax of the games typically involve fighting your way up a building (typically the Millennium Tower) and a boss fight in either a fancy room or the rooftops.
  • Japanese Delinquents: The second and fourth sequels introduce you to traditional Japanese motorcycle gangs (known in Japan as "bosozoku"). The second game has the sidequest in Kamurocho where male host Yuya must defend Stardust from his former peers of the gang he was once in and the fourth sequel has them serving as one of the encountering gangs Kiryu can drive out of Kamurocho by defeating their leader. Biker gangs are also a common random enemy to run into in Yakuza 0, especially Sotenbori as they were at the height of their relevance in the 80's.
  • Kill the Parent, Raise the Child: Shintaro Kazama worked as a ruthless and efficient hitman in the criminal underworld, whose work left many orphaned children. Out of guilt, he started Sunflower Orphanage, where he would take in the children of his victims and raise them as best he could. This includes the trio of Childhood Friends Yumi Sawamura, Kazuma Kiryu, and Akira Nishikiyama, the latter two serving as The Hero of the series and the first game's Big Bad respectively.
  • Knowledge Broker: The Florist has a huge surveillance network spread throughout Kamurocho, and offers information at a price. Most of the time the protagonists end up fighting in Purgatory instead to get the information they seek.
  • Kung-Foley: Kiryu's stronger attacks- particularly with his infamous Komaki Tiger Drop and some of his Heat Actions- have a deep bass echo to convey just how brutally powerful they are. Certain games exaggerate this effect with certain moves to such a degree that it almost sounds like these seemingly mundane men are punching the universe itself to death.
  • The Lancer: Akira Nishikiyama in the prequel, Shinji Tanaka in the first game, Daigo Dojima and Kaoru Sayama in the second, Rikiya Shimabukuro in the third. Shun Akiyama becomes this from the fourth onwards. Yu Nanba serves this role for Ichiban in Like a Dragon.
  • Laser Blade: Some games feature a "Photon Blade" as a secret unlockable weapon.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Kiryu helping out the fun-loving crazy old lady in the second game will not only give him the obligatory Side Quest XP, it'll also give him access to some useful combat skills. Which becomes self-explanatory when it's revealed that the fun-loving crazy old lady is in fact Lau Ka Long's former martial arts instructor.
  • Limit Break: The Heat moves are brutal cinematic attacks that can only be initiated with certain amounts of Heat.
  • Loan Shark: Shun Akiyama from Yakuza 4 operates as one. Subverted in that he loans out money with no interest or collateral, as long that the recipient passes one of his tests. Many of his random encounters are actual loan sharks who want Akiyama to stop, since he's encroaching on their territory.
  • Lost in Translation: Majima is quite fond of calling our hero "Kiryu-chan", or "Kazuma-chan" in the American dub. In Japan, the only time that a man would ever call another man by the effeminate suffix -chan is 1.) they are close family or childhood friends, or 2.) as a diminutive insult. The original Japanese games make "Kiryu-chan" sound affectionate; the American dub of the first game makes "Kazuma-chan" sound more diminutive. The English subtitles starting from some of the later games' releases have Majima calling Kiryu "Kazzy" which not only is a more approximate term of endearment but also might reference Mark Hamill having voiced Majima in the U.S. release of the first game. In 0, Majima's superior Tsukasa Sagawa does the exact same thing to him, calling him "Majima-chan".
    • The word yakuza itself. In English, it's more or less the only commonly-used word to refer to Japanese organized crime, but in Japanese it's just one term out of many different synonyms and euphemisms which are all used in the series and carry different connotations. Besides yakuzanote , many characters use words such as gokudounote , ninkyo/ninkyo dantainote , shitei boryokudannote , honshokunote , as well as sujimon, ya-san / ya-kou, hanshakai seiryoku... you get the idea.
  • Love Interest: Yumi Sawamura in the first one, Kaoru Sayama in the second, Mayumi in 5.
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money: The 10 Billion Yen that goes missing from the Tojo Clan in the first game. By extension Haruka (or more specifically, her locket), as people quickly realize she's the key to the missing money.
    • That incident rears its head again in 4, as apparently it's tied to Big Bad Munakata's plan to wipe out organized crime.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Tanimura in 4 and Kyohei Hamura in Judgment. Both their original voice actors and 3D models were replaced for the Remastered editions of their respective games due to drug abuse allegations, as they were modeled after their voice actors. Contrary to popular belief, the former was not the reason Tanimura disappeared from the rest of the series; the allegations happened near the end of 2016, shortly before the release of 6 and long after they had already omitted him from the story of 5.
  • Man Behind the Man: Pretty much at least one per game. Some games go trigger-happy with his trope. Literally.
  • Market-Based Title: The series name was changed to Yakuza outside of Japan, perhaps to make it more clear what the game is about. The first game to (partially) avert this was Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which added the Japanese series title as a subtitle. However, starting from 2022, all localized titles going forward were changed to Like a Dragon, thereby matching the Japanese name.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: What is that fiery Battle Aura that appears when particularly strong combatants get serious? Who knows? It's never mentioned in-story, it just kind of is.
    • On a related note, Cyclops Oba in a substory in 2 will make note of Kiryu's "scary, flaming death moves" which is a direct acknowledgment of the Heat Actions that can be used while emanating said flaming Battle Aura. The aura is also mentioned by Ichiban at the start of ''Like a Dragon", notably before his imagination goes haywire. So it's definitely not merely something only the playable character or the player themself can see.
    • On a more creepy note, a number of the substories across the series, like in 0 or Kiwami 2 reveal that ghosts and curses may be more real than the characters would believe...
  • Menu Time Lockout: While paused, you can perform actions like consuming items, changing equipment, or learning new abilities. This applies even if you're in the middle of a battle. A boss got you on the ropes? No problem, just pause the game, chug a few Toughness Zs, learn that new HEAT move that you happen to have the EXP/money for, and unpause to turn the tables on them!
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: An easy and effective way of taking out mooks is to knock them down, grab them by their leg, perform a throw, and before they get up, repeat until dead. It's not always an ability that is immediately usable without upgrading for it first. Also when it first appeared in 2, it used to expend Heat to use as well so it was harder to use it succession.
  • Mini-Game: The Yakuza series is absolutely stuffed to the gills with betting mini games: blackjack, slots, dice games, pachink, RC car races, fishing, golfing, darts, table tennis, and even arcade games (Yakuza 5 has a near-perfect emulation of Virtua Fighter 2, while Yakuza 0 has games more appropriate for its era, like Space Harrier and OutRun).
  • Money Spider:
    • You gain money after winning regular fights, though it's justified since you're just taking it from regular people.
    • Exaggerated in Yakuza 0, where enemies explode in a shower of coins and yen bills when beaten, a reflection of the "Bubble Economy" of The '80s when there was an overabundance of cash flowing through Japan as well as the fact that money doubles as XP. There's also the indomitable "Mr. Shakedown" enemies who can literally beat cash out of you, but if you can defeat them you'll get back everything you ever lost to them and then some.
    • Multiple games in the series and its spinoffs have the recurring "Nouveau Riche" enemy type. They're always found by themselves wandering the streets, decked out with ridiculous all-gold suits and slicked-backed hair dyed blonde, and usually either drop tens of thousands of yen or a high-value plate. Depending on the game, they might also be a Metal Slime by virtue of being surprisingly hard to beat.
  • Mood Whiplash: Between the serious Heroic Bloodshed main stories, utterly insane Irrelevant Sidequests, and Comically Serious protagonist, this is a huge part of the appeal of the series. The contrast between how serious the games' storyline is and how STUPID the sidequests can be is mindblowing. It's hard to believe Kiryu can be fighting for his life against the most bloodthirsty gangsters in the world in one mission, and then running from a lovesick crossdresser in another.
  • Mook Chivalry: Most of the enemies in every game take turns making potshots at the protagonist during battle. The only exceptions to this are angered Elite Mooks, enemies with firearms or grenades (who infrequently attack out-of-turn for harrassment), and equipment that specifically averts this like the Champion's Ring.
  • Mook Horror Show: Several actions can turn fights with weaker enemies into this, cowing them into holding back for a bit.
  • Mooks: An endless horde of thugs, gangbangers and Yakuza endlessly harass Kiryu with their tough talk and cruel actions. He is not impressed.
  • Mugging the Monster: The thugs constantly trying to beat up/extort the main characters as they walk down the street have no idea what they're getting into. In Tanimura or Akiyama's case, that's somewhat forgivable as neither of them looks anywhere near as strong as they are. Well-built, clearly-a-Yakuza Kiryu and built-like-a-brick-shithouse-on-steroids Saejima, on the other hand....
  • Multiple Life Bars: Most bosses have at least 2 or 3, while tougher bosses can have up to 6. Subverted in Yakuza 6, where all bosses (save for the final fight with Koshimizu) have a single large health bar.
    • The Final Boss of Yakuza 5 has 9.
    • The final fight with Ryuji in Kiwami 2 does one better with 10 health bars, although damage is inherently higher in the Kiwami remakes.
    • The Amons of Yakuza 0 turn it up to eleven by having 14 each.
    • Yakuza Kiwami gives Amon two phases of 8 health bars, for a total of 16, albeit again with less defense than before.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The series enjoys making boring tasks look extremely awesome.
    • Revelations, which involve a character realizing something and doing something furiously to capitalize on it.
      • In the third and fourth games, Kiryu and Akiyama have mad blogging skillz. Saejima and Shinada also show them in the fifth.
      • And in the fourth, Saejima's epic woodcarving.
      • Also in the fourth, Tanimura's fast pen sketching.
      • In Infinite Wealth, the whole cast get new jobs and weapons from vacation and tourist events.
    • In Yakuza 0, there's the telephone club, which has Kiryu answer a phone and deciding what to ask next in an extremely awesome manner.
    • In Like a Dragon, the exaggerated JRPG tropes and the bizarre enemy types are actually justified as Ichiban's overactive imagination filtering his perception of fights. He can also make share holder meetings seem like life-or-death ordeals.
    • Kiwami 2 takes this to ridiculous extremes with Kiryu going full Dragon of Dojima when peeing.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Because first, it won't do any good (unless you're Majima). And second, Kiryu will then use it on your friends.
    • Guns won't be any better either, especially once Kiryu has mastered the Komaki Shot Stopper. He'll deflect your aim off, then proceed to beat the shit out of you.
      • On the other hand, if it's Kiryu bringing the weaponry, massive damage ensues. Crude Pistols will one-shot weaker enemies and the shotgun one hit kills all but the end game mooks. Not to mention the brutal attacks he can pull off with melee weaponry....
    • Averted in Dead Souls, it's (usually) impossible to kill a zombie with melee attacks, and Kiryu has a rough time when he goes into the quarantine zone without any weapons.
  • Nice Guy: Kiryu missed his calling in life as the Patron Saint of Niceness. He helps any innocent bystander no matter how big or small the problem, rescues young girls, pets, old women crossing the street, and forgives men who try to kill him on several occasions at the slightest hint of their redemption. This makes his status as the entire underworld's Butt-Monkey so far as picking fights go all the more hilarious. In 3, he goes so far as to track down the most dangerous hitmen in Japan... JUST to beat the crap out of them and drag them to a reform center so they can get out of the criminal life.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: Despite their gangster background, protagonists like Kiryu or Saejima is portrayed as the old school "Protect the streets" type of gangster to the point that the series infamously goes out of its way to keep their hands clean of blood (or ignore moments that would contradict said image). To a lesser extent, supporting characters like Kazama and Daigo are portrayed as honorable (albeit willing to kill when necessary) and don't seem to be directly involved in anything worse than white-collar crimes.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Tojo Clan is a stand-in for the real-life yakuza group Sumiyoshi-kai. Like its game counterpart, it's the 2nd largest yakuza group in Japan and is based in Tokyo (specifically active around Kabukicho). Likewise, the Omi Alliance is based on the Yamaguchi-gumi, the single largest yakuza group in Japan that also happens to be the aforementioned Sumiyoshi-kai's greatest rival. This is more or less where the similarities end, though; turns out depicting actual criminal syndicates and leaders in an action video game would probably not be a great idea.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Almost all the locales and neighborhoods are patterned after real-life Japanese wards with their names changed for various reasons. Kamurocho is based off of Kabukicho, Tokyo, Sotenbori is based off of Dotonbori, Osaka, and Isezaki Iijincho is based off of Isezakicho, Yokohama. Averted in the case of Onomichi, Hiroshima, which is a real town and not fictionalized like the other locations.
  • Non-Combat EXP: The player can gain additional experience points by eating at local eateries, hanging out at the hostess clubs and completing substories - some of which don't even involve any form of combat!
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: No matter how much you brutalize enemies, especially with HEAT moves that should give the victim severe brain damage, compound fractures, and multiple ruptured organs at the very least, nobody you attack ever actually dies by your hands (and if they do die, it's usually due to someone else finishing the job). In the case of Random Encounters on the streets, the worst you ever of them is that they're doubled over and clutching their guts apologizing for picking a fight with you.
  • Oh, Crap!: If you pull out a weapon in the middle of a heated random encounter battle or finish off the penultimate enemy, your enemies may suddenly panic and start to back off. Kiryu even has a HEAT action against scared enemies holding weapons.
  • Old Master: Sotaro Komaki. And when you can actually fight him in a tournament, he will show you just why he is the Old Master.
  • Older Than They Look: With the exception of Yakuza 0 the protagonists tend to be on the older side, particularly by video game standards. You'd never know it by looking however, as they and most of the other characters appear to have stopped aging somewhere in their late twenties.
  • Old Save Bonus: Starting a file for the second game in a card with the files from the first nets Kiryu a bonanza of items, most of which Haruka gave to him in the first game to indicate his Relationship Values progression and comprise of one-shot healing items and accessories that affect his stats.
    • In 3 (JP version only), having a Kenzan! save file will net you Ukiyo's Bell, an exclusive protective item.
    • 4 and Dead Souls offer up items if you played the last game. 3 gives you armor and an accessory that restores HP over time and 4 nets you an item that offers high defense and charm.
    • Yakuza 5 gives items for having saves not only from Yakuza 3, Yakuza 4 and Dead Souls, but from games that never made it into the region, such as Kenzan and the HD versions of the first two games.
    • Future games in the series give items simply for having another Yakuza game's system data.
  • Once per Episode: There's a certain recurring sequence in the games. Kiryu beats up someone with a gun, he doesn't move the gun away from them. He turns his back. The guy gets back up and shoots either Kiryu or someone else. The character introduced that game stands in the path and takes the bullet lethally.
    • In every main series game, all of Kiryu’s final boss fights have both him and the antagonist fight shirtless.
    • You can always count on a substory or some sort of optional event where one member of a walking group of thugs bump into Kiryu and then pretend that the collision injured them badly. His gang friends will demand that Kiryu pays them back to pay for the supposed hospital charges. While you often have the choice to submit to their demands, it's obvious that it's just a cheap con so you're always better off denying them and fighting off the group when they become hostile.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Many side quests are caused by this.
    • In 0:
      • There's a guy who sells mushrooms in a dark alley... which are all of the non-hallucinogenic kind, to the anger of his customers.
      • A mysterious lady repeatedly calls a telephone club, but nobody understood what she's saying until Kiryu comes along. They agreed to meet... Turns out it's a guy using a voice changer trying to call the parents of the boy he kidnapped for ransom, but the boy gave him the number of the telephone club he saw through the window of the room he was locked in.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The Artful Dodger. After all, all you got to do is to hit him just once. Also applies to Yasuo Sodachi from 4 to 5, who is somehow even weaker than his students and remains that way until 6.
  • One-Man Army: Kiryu. In the course of three games he was able to fight alone against almost everything, from entire yakuza families to triads to trained military personnel and even rogue CIA agents.
    • This also extends to the other playable characters as they are powerful in their own right (Akiyama, Saejima, Majima, Tanimura, and Shinada). Hell, in the near climax of Yakuza 5, Kiryu, Akiyama, Saejima, and Shinada were surrounded on all sides by hundreds of yakuza thugs. A huge army of thugs tried to take on a quartet of one-man-armies, with predictable results. Subverted by Ichiban, who as a JRPG protagonist fights primarily with a party and within the story is treated as nowhere near the level of previous protagonists.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: No matter how brutal the protagonists can get in gameplay (up to gutting people with blades or outright using guns) they do not kill. Enemies beaten by them are usually just treated as either knocked out or limping away. Moments where this is much harder to excuse (such as blowing them up with a rocket launcher or throwing them off skyscrapers) are typically just ignored.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: Most of the third part of 5 follows Haruka's pursuit of her idol career, in which the Beat 'em Up fights are replaced by Rhythm Game dance battles to catchy J-pop music, more reminiscent of The Idolmaster.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not mess with little Haruka, Kiryu's adoptive daughter, if you value your life.
    • And in 3, don't mess with ANY of Kiryu's kids. It counts against your life expectancy.
    • And if you plan to mess with his grandson Haruto in 6, then you must be exceptionally stupid.
  • Paper Fan of Doom:
    • Ryuji gets to use this of all things to fend off various mutated zombies in Dead Souls, when trapped in a gas leak. Taken literally, as it only takes a few hits to kill what could've taken lots of bullets, and has infinite durability.
    • Haruka can use one in Yakuza 5 in one of her substories as part of a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The more common, less savory yakuza moneymaking methods such as extorting small businesses or dealing drugs are often glossed over, particularly when it comes to the more heroic characters. Kiryu has the excuse of not actually being an active yakuza member for most of the franchise, but in the few instances where he is (such as the intros to 0 and 1/Kiwami), the targets of his brutal debt collecting are conveniently scumbags so that Kiryu won't look villainous in the process.
  • Point of No Return: Each game has one toward the very end of the main story, where players are given one last chance to save their game, stock up on items and finish any loose ends before going off into the final battle. Players are always given fair warning when this moment occurs.
  • Police Are Useless: Even though Kamurocho is home to so much violence that it should probably be put under martial law or classified as a warzone, the presence of law enforcement ranges from being minimal, nonexistent or outright harmful due to the alarming amount of corrupt cops and double agents in the force. It should be noted that the real Japan had strict anti-yakuza laws since the 90s and has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.
  • Power Glows: In almost every game in the series, the strongest weapons tend to have Battle Auras of their own. Even the guns.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Near the end of the first game, Kiryu and Haruka are about to head for the Millennium Tower to locate her mother and the missing Tojo money. Suddenly pedestrians clear the street and they're surrounded by an armed mob. Kiryu reassures Haruka that he'll get her to her mother, then turns around to stare down the mob and let them know what's coming:
    Kiryu (English dub): So you're ready for me? Then step the fuck up, it's time to die.
  • Pre-existing Encounters: The games feature these with enemies hanging around town looking for a mark (most often you) to harass in some way. Because of this its possible to avoid these encounters entirely, or purposely engage them in case of any ulterior motives on the part of the player. 0 and Kiwami blend this with Roaming Enemy where groups of mooks will actually be roaming the town themselves and will pick a fight with you if they see you running or you accidentally rub shoulders with them. Even incidental enemies who aren't part of a mob who are minding their own business will engage you in a fight if you bump into them.
  • Press X to Not Die: Quick Time Events happen sometimes as part of a Boss Battle. In specific battles, this becomes Fridge Brilliance when you realize it's actually the enemy attempting to use a HEAT Action on you and you're trying to evade it.
  • Product Placement: A surprising amount and remarkably they tend to avert Enforced Plug for the most part, making contextual sense where they do appear.
    • The Don Quijote discount stores that can be visited are based on an actual chain in Japan, as well as in Hawaii. The theme song played at the stores is also real, and there's an English version made for the Singapore outlets.
    • The Suntory group also has prominent placement, ranging from soft drinks like Boss iced coffee all the way to premium brand-name liquor that they have distribution rights to in Japan, including Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey.
    • The Other Wiki has more specific details on the Product Placements.
    • The karaoke machine in the bar is always a Joysound product. Joysound is a very prolific karaoke equipment and software company in Japan that got a short stint in the limelight in the west for region-locking their PS3 title so tightly that it will not work outside Japan even if the PS3 is a Japanese region console.
  • Protagonist Title: A mild subversion for the English title. The protagonists are former yakuza during most of the stories, but the stories are undoubtedly centered around organized crime.
  • Random Effect Spell: Mr. Random, an aptly-named endgame handgun that appears throughout most of the series, inflicts a random status effect every time its user lands a shot. While it usually lacks attack power in comparison to other handguns, the ease in which it can stun lock enemies to death more than makes up for it.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: While Kiryu dresses like the stereotypical yakuza and has the back tattoo, real yakuza who reviewed the game noted that his threads are typical of low-level members (chimpira) and he should've upgraded to a more conservative top brand suit when he became boss (as worn by the other bosses), and his tattoo should've covered his whole body (this is probably justified since he was expelled from the Dojima family and is only back in the business for short terms after getting out of prison). 0 also has his kyoudai Nishikiyama mock his fashion sense before and after he settles on his now-iconic suit, suggesting Kiryu's a poor dresser for a Yakuza in general.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Yakuza in real life have been on a steady decline due to an increasing amount of legislature and restrictions that make it extremely hard and often not worth the effort for them to carry out their business as usual (at least not "out in the open" as they are stereotypically known to do). This becomes more and more prevalent in the games, which tend to take place in the year they were released in, thus making it difficult to realistically portray yakuza freely roaming the streets and having public offices as late as the 2010s / 2020s. This reaches a breaking point in Like A Dragon, where Daigo decides to disband the Tojo Clan with their pride still intact since it'd be either that or watching it become a puppet of the police/government.
  • Recurring Boss: Occurs often in the series, though the most prominent example is definitely Goro Majima in Kiwami.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The second game reuses some background and cutscene music from the first. In the later games, the songs from various mini-games often get reused. Some of the more popular songs also get remixed or updated in later games.
  • Redemption Equals Death: While not wholly repentant, Nishiki died avenging someone he cared about. Ditto Mine in the third game. Also Hamazaki in Yakuza 4. Goda was fatally injured saving a half-sister he didn't even know he had minutes prior (and getting revenge on the man who betrayed him as a bonus).
  • Red Baron: This being a game about gangsters, we're bound to get a few examples. We have the Dragon of Dojima (Kiryu), the Mad Dog of Shimano (Majima), the Dragon of Kansai (Goda), and for a couple of non-yakuza examples, there's the Lifeline of Kamurucho (Akiyama) and the Parasite of Kamurucho (Tanimura).
  • Reformed Criminal: Possibly a few examples in the games, but in particular The Florist. In the first game he had been a former police intelligence officer who was busted by Date for selling some of the information he gathered and ended up becoming the de facto ruler of Purgatory while continuing to sell information. In the second game, it turns out that the police contracted him for his abilities and he left Purgatory in the charge of Goro Majima to move his base of operations to the Millennium Tower.
  • Remember the New Guy?: The franchise has a habit of introducing entirely new yakuza families and their members both within and outside the Tojo with each new installment, to justify antagonists that had been plotting for years or perhaps had risen From Nobody to Nightmare under everyone's noses. The story and in-game database tend to give some context to them, but rarely stop to exposit, thus coming off as acting like they were there the entire time which isn't unreasonable given that the Tojo Clan alone has over 30,000 members for most of the series. One notable non-Tojo example is the rival Ueno Seiwa Clan that apparently had been fighting off-screen with the Tojo for over thirty years in 4.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Akira Nishikiyama, a childhood friend of Kiryu who, after a series of tragic events, really changed during the years Kiryu was in jail for a murder that Nishiki himself committed - granted, he had a good reason.
  • Roaming Enemy: Kiwami features this in the form of the Majima Everywhere system, where Majima can be seen as a wandering encounter around town, hiding in certain spots around town such as manholes, giant traffic cones or even as "random" encounters where a scripted Patrolling Mook will instigate a fight with Kiryu, only for Majima to show up 10 seconds later. You're not even safe inside certain stores as performing certain actions will also instigate a (one time thankfully) Majima fight.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Played most straight in Dead Souls, when Kiryu enters the quarantine zone to confront those that kidnapped Haruka... and proceeds to fight zombies. Unarmed.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: The series loves final showdowns on top of very tall buildings.
  • Rotating Protagonist: Several games feature multiple protagonists and cycle between their perspectives periodically. Their plotlines typically don't start connecting until past the mid-point and near the end of the game you'll get the option to switch between them manually.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: In the first game, Kiryu also has to rescue Haruka from Lau Ka Long's Snake Flower Triad.
    • The sequel has Kiryu fighting against the Jingweon, Korean gangsters/terrorists as well as the other yakuza.
    • The third one has Black Monday, a weapons dealing syndicate headed by corrupt CIA operatives. Lau and the Triads also return.
    • The sixth game has the Jingweon return as well as a new triad gang.
  • Sad Battle Music:
    • "For Who's Sake", the final boss theme for Akira Nishikiyama which empathizes on the grief of him and Kiryu. Here's the Kiwami mix.
    • "A Scattered Moment", the final boss music for Ryuji Goda whom Kiryu fights for the third time as they are both severely wounded by Ryo Takashima's gunshots. After Kiryu's victory, Ryuji dies in his half-sister Kaoru's arms. It returns in the Updated Re-release as "A Scattered, Eternal Moment", which adds strings and guitars to give it a true sense of finale and respect.
    • "Cry...", from Yakuza: Dead Souls, an emotional track which is heard during the fight against Tetsuo Nikaido, who helped put the events of the game into motion and has now become one of the undead.
    • "For Face", Daigo Dojima's version of "For Faith" from Yakuza 4, is a track which represents an inexperienced man's desperation to steer the organization straight and meet the high hopes of the hero who entrusted him with its leadership, even if it meant betraying those around him.
    • "ism" (also known as "Light and Darkness") in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which is similar to "For Who's Sake" from the first game (see above) and the circumstances that it plays in are also quite familiar.
  • Scary Black Man: Gary "Buster" Holmes, although only in the ring. Outside of it he's a rather amicable Gentle Giant.
    • And in Dead Souls, Gary is your personal Drill Instructor for Zombie Killer Boot Camp.
    • Gary also returns yet again as a summon in Like a Dragon.
  • Scenery Gorn: Dead Souls has this to spare: the areas in the quarantine zone look like bombs went off all over.
  • Schmuck Bait: The series does not seem to be without them and they have a great diversity of methods in both storylines and side quests.
  • Scenery Porn: Just every hub is really majestic given the Japanese setting, especially when they are glowing with neon during evening or night.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Pretty common, with Daigo refusing a land deal in 3 because it would inconvenience Kiryu, and the entire main cast (especially Akiyama) throwing away 100 billion yen to figure out who was pulling the strings and bring them to justice.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first game revolved around a stash of 10 billion yen. In the fourth game, the plot revolves around a 100 billion yen stash.
  • Serial Escalation: Tiger punching.
    • For a game that repeatedly escalates, the zombie apocalypse in Dead Souls shatters every known perception of possibility.
    • Saejima fights a giant bear with his bare fists in 5.
    • Fighting against an excavator in Like a Dragon. No, seriously.
  • Series Mascot: Perhaps befitting his Ensemble Dark Horse status (which he inexplicably possesses in-universe), Ono Michio-kun seems to be becoming this as he appears in every game from Yakuza 6 onwards, despite originally being a minor character in a set of sidestories:
    • In Yakuza 6, he's introduced as the mascot of Onomichi, used for marketing the town as a tourism destination as repeatedly played by Kiryu, much to the latter's intense displeasure.
    • In Yakuza Kiwami 2, he's available as a character for Clan Creator by way of DLC.
    • In Judgment, a side case revolves around a robber using an Ono Michio costume to commit robberies, with the mascot somehow having become famous nationwide, including in Kamurocho.
    • In Yakuza: Like a Dragon, in addition to a substory in which knock-off merchants are using Ono Michio's new-found national fame in order to hawk fake action figures that, in addition to being generally shoddy, are literally explosive, you can optionally customise your party to all have Ono Michio's head, regardless of their actual class.
    • In Lost Judgment, his ridiculous head is used as a hiding place by one of Yagami's impossibly shy DLC girlfriends, while Yagami can also use his outfit as a disguise while stopping a robbery at Cafe Alps. Additionally, you can see advertising for Onomichi as a destination that features him in at least one place.
    • The only other character for which the UK Sega shop sells licensed merch, besides Kazuma Kiryu? Not series favourite or one-time protagonist Goro Majima, not new protagonist Ichiban Kasuga... Ono Michio.
    • In Gaiden, the new karaoke video for "Sayonara Silent Night" shows a depressed Kiryu in costume as Ono Michio acting as a busker, performing for a disinterested public. You can also get Ono Michio decals for your Pocket Circuit car.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": Mooks can take dozens of sword slashes, but they'll always be alive enough to apologize after the fight and give you a reward.
  • Sidetracked By The Golden Saucer: A common occurrence with these games, since they all have a ton of side content. The two biggest offenders are the Substories and Management Minigames. Substories are short but funny sidequests that usually center around odd situations happening in Kamurocho that the player character stumbles onto. Some famous ones include Majima rescuing a woman's daughter from a cult in 0, Saejima escaping from some Christmas-mad kids while dressed as Santa Claus in 5, and the infamous Adult Baby Diaper Lover story in 2 which is unique among these examples for being mandatory. Meanwhile, Management Minigames are much more involved sidequests that usually have the main character become the leader of a business and must guide it to the top of the rankings. These games are the principle source of money in the games they feature in, and usually boast a more complex story than the average Substory. They also often feature guest characters, with the Cabaret Club Czar minigame in 0 having many of the Hostesses take their likeness from real gravure actresses, or the Majima Construction Company minigame in Kiwami 2 having the main opponents be cameo appearances from New Japan-World Wrestling.
  • Signature Sound Effect: The loud echoing crack that rings each time Kiryu delivers a finishing blow to the last opponent in a combat round... even if it's just a simple straight punch to a suicidally overconfident and fragile twerp.
  • Shop Fodder:
    • Plates mostly exist solely to be sold to vendors for a decent chunk of yen, although they occasionally play a minor plot role in some games. They're sometimes obtained from random battles in place of yen and are often seen as rewards for Betting Mini Games as well as from coin lockers.
    • In Yakuza 4, the protagonists can find and pick up various types of garbage throughout Kamurocho. Their use isn't readily apparent until Saejima's story, where he encounters a shopkeeper in Kamurocho's sewers calling himself the "Mean Green Machine". He doesn't deal in yen, instead giving Saejima "Ecopoints" to use on his exclusive wares, such as rare crafting materials and the unique Dragon Flak Vest. Saejima can also spend these Ecopoints on a food stall close to the Mean Green Machine, making it one of the few places where he can conveniently obtain recovery items while using the sewers to avoid Random Encounters.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: According to actual Yakuza who played it, it's not wildly off the mark, and most of the inaccuracies fall under Acceptable Breaks from Reality or Reality Is Unrealistic. However, this was not the case with the first draft of the first game's script, which suffered from major inaccuracies, requiring the staff to truly explore the culture of the Japanese underworld and rewrite it.
    • In the case of the New Japan Pro Wrestling bosses in 6:
      • Each of them bosses can perform their Finishing Moves during their respective fights.
      • Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima are fought together, since they are tag team partners in real life.
      • Kazuchika Okada's theme plays during his encounter; he is the only NJPW boss with this distinction.
  • Simulation Game: The second game plays with this a bit, as an optional sidequest where saving the owner of the hostess club Marietta from Mook harassment opens up the opportunity to run the place with the aim of trying to make it profitable while the owner attends to family illness.
    • The fifth game has Kiryu working as a taxi driver, and some missions require him to take passengers to their destination while abiding by traffic laws (stopping at signs and signaling for instance).
  • Sinister Surveillance: Inverted. Kamurocho has a very extensive surveillance network installed, that seems to be able to note every square inch of the city inside buildings well as out and includes the ability to zoom in and presumably enhance images. The Florist uses it as his primary tool to gather information for clients and to help out Kiryu at certain instances.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The main plots of the game are often serious crime dramas with various twists and turns throughout as the cast plays against each other and tackles serious concepts such as honor, loyalty, revenge and family. The sidequests, on the other hand, can run the gauntlet from serious drama to downright ridiculous.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: Despite the grandiose scale of the drama, schemes and battles regularly portrayed in the series, nearly all of its characters are given relatively mundane Japanese names in contrast. While the surnames used have a tendency to be chosen from rarer (albeit existing) surnames like Yagami (八神), for instance, the given names of characters are uniformly commonplace. Villains who have larger-than-life personalities, borderline superhuman mastery of the martial arts and Charles Atlas Superpowers can have names as ordinary to Japanese eyes as Goro Majima, Yosuke Tendo or Mitsuru Kuroiwa, for instance — all of which you can easily find walking around in Tokyo.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Shenmue. Both series have Wide Open Sandboxes set in thriving Japanese towns and cities with a wide variety of side-activities to partake in, deep combat systems with inspiration from Virtua Fighter, and intricate stories.
  • Spontaneous Crowd Formation: As a means of cordoning off the fight areas, and also perhaps to highlight the culture of violence in which street brawls are common spectator sport.
  • Stance System: The first spinoff game set in Japan in the past, Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan! has 4 styles of combat you can switch on the fly, hand to hand, one sword style, two sword style, and two handed swords.
    • Ryū ga Gotoku Ishin!, the other historical Japan spinoff released several years later once more has a stance system, this time more diverse than Kenzan, and you unlock more styles as you progress.
      • A single sword style that plays similar to Saejima's combat style from Yakuza 4 and 5, where you have slow yet powerful attacks, as well as having the ability to charge your attacks. It is also the most defensive style in the game.
      • A hand to hand style that plays like a mixture of Kiryu's regular fighting style, but also mixing in Tanimura's style from Yakuza 4 by having parries and counters. Once you parry an attack, you become invincible for a short time, allowing you to fight against the sword wielding bad guys if you're skilled enough.
      • The pistol style, in which you wield a pistol. With it, you have no defence, but you are able to damage enemies from far away and basically play keep away from them.
      • And lastly, the Wild Dance Style, which uses the pistol and sword at the same time and it makes you very agile and quick to make up your lack of defense in this style, and it possibly is the most visually pleasing.
    • Yakuza 0 has this for Kiryu & Majima, each having up to three styles, along with a secret style. Kiwami keeps these styles for the two, but Kiryu is the only one playable. As a boss, Kiryu switches between his stances as the fight progresses.
      • Kiryu's Brawler style is an Unskilled, but Strong version of his usual fighting style in earlier games. It's a bit sluggish and puts a lot more weight and force than necessary behind every attack, but this style also allows Kiryu to Counter-Attack whenever he's hit as long as he's not knocked down.
      • Kiryu's Rush style puts an emphasis on speed, similar to Akiyama's fighting style. While he cannot grab in this style, he is able to quickstep multiple times in succession and can strike much faster, with a mechanic that stuns an enemy if they are hit at least ten times successfully. Kiryu is also able to weave in place of blocking, allowing him to dodge attacks.
      • Kiryu's Beast style makes him into a Mighty Glacier, putting more emphasis on sheer strength, like Saejima. While he is very slow and cannot dodge as fast as his other styles, Kiryu will automatically grab any nearby object or weapon as he attacks, also allowing him to use motorcycles and other heavy objects he cannot normally use as weapons. The style also possesses a Resist Guard in place of blocking, where he takes a minimal amount of damage, but it is in effect everywhere instead of being vulnerable from behind.
      • Kiryu's Legend style, later known as the Dragon style in Kiwami, is his classic fighting style as the Dragon of Dojima, albeit without Komaki's moves, as he doesn't meet him until several years later in the first game. Instead, he can only dodge once like with Brawler as well as possessing different counters; the "Knockback Counter" instead of the "Komaki Knock Back", which is functionally similar, the "Iron Fist Counter" takes the place of the "Komaki Tiger Drop", which consumes the Heat Gauge, the "Twist Counter" takes the place of the "Komaki Parry", where it does effectively the same thing as the Tiger Drop, Kiwami gives the style a significant nerf by the time Kiryu comes out prison, due to him not fighting for the ten years he was incarcerated.
      • Majima's Thug style is his basic style. Weak, but Skilled, Majima does not hit as hard as Kiryu, but he is also quicker and far more refined in how he strikes, able to quickstep twice, as well as possessing an Eye Poke move that disorients the enemy. He also has a second Rush Combo following the first that limits his movement, but also strikes much faster, which can be extended with certain upgrades.
      • Majima's Slugger style puts an emphasis of Majima's skill with weaponry, primarily in the form of a baseball bat he found in an alleyway. With it, Majima is slower, but possesses a much larger range of attack suitable for crowd control, but does not work well in enclosed spaces as it can bounce off walls. Unlike other styles, Majima's mastery of the style comes in the form of mastering other weapons that he can also use with other styles. In Kiwami, Majima does not possess the weakness of his bat bouncing off walls when he uses the style.
      • Majima's Breaker style is perhaps the most difficult moveset to utilize to the fullest extent. While the rush combo is rather sluggish and cannot dodge as fast as the other two, this is Majima's speed style, but places an emphasis in crowd control, moreso than Slugger. As it takes time to reach a specific finishing blow, said finishing blows cover a large area once they're initiated. They're followed up with "Freeze", in which Majima is locked in a pose before he initiates the final blow of the combo. Said Freeze can also be started quickly at any point of the Finishing Blow. In Kiwami, Majima possesses a red aura instead of pink.
      • Majima's Legend style is basically his style as the Mad Dog of Shimano, representing how he usually fights when he's fought as a boss in 1. With it, Majima uses his Demonfire Dagger, along with any other knife he can wield, in many of his moves. One particular move he has is "Savage", which allows to Majima to move at a fast pace following any Finishing Blow. He can follow this up with another move called "Chomp", where he viciously strikes an enemy as he passes by. He also possesses a special dodge called "Shadow Trail", where the dodge covers a significant distance, but consumes Heat if he has any. Like Kiryu, Majima also has a special Counter known as "Demonfire", where he brutally stabs the attacking enemy with his dagger that takes away a significant chunk of their health, as well as leave them open for a few more attacks.
  • Status Quo Is God:
    • A small example: Akiyama's overweight secretary Hana becomes a gorgeous bombshell through dieting by the events of 4's end. She ends up returning to her old body type by Dead Souls. She's actually back to her old body type by the non-canon Premium Adventure Mode, but when/if that actually takes place isn't clear.
    • In Yakuza 5, Haruka has left the orphanage and is living on her own in Osaka, pursuing a career as an Idol Singer even though it means not being able to see her family. At the end, she forfeits her career after she couldn't bear to be away from those she considers family any longer: Kiryu. Ultimately subverted in Yakuza 6, where Kiryu is immediately sent to jail for 3 years and Haruka leaves the orphanage after her confession leads to a scandal.
  • The Stinger: Most of the games end with an additional scene after the credits.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: "Hey, we're having a pretty bad day, so we need to take out our aggression on you. Huh? Why you looking at us funny? You wanna die, old man?!"
  • Taking the Bullet: Pretty much at least once per game.
  • Super Mob Boss: Even in a World of Badass, several, often high-ranking members of the of the various Yakuza clans across Japan stand out with their seemingly superhuman strength and durability: Countless yakuza in gameplay have little trouble shrugging off lethal tactics such as guns, knives, and katanas only to show themselves capable of singlehandedly taking down entire armies of mooks and even punching out vicious beasts such as tigers and bears without missing a beat.
    • Played straighter with Goro Majima and Kazuma Kiryu's appearance in Project × Zone. Despite the relatively mundane titles of being high-ranking yakuzas, they're able to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of M Bison from Street Fighter and Selvaria Bles from Valkyria Chronicles among others.
  • Tattooed Crook: Given that the game series deals heavily with the subject of Yakuza this is de rigeur. The tattoos on the main characters (Kiryu- Silver Dragon, Nishiki- Nishiki Carp, Majima- Han'nya, Goda- Gold Dragon, Mine- Kirin, Rikiya- Viper, Daigo- Fudo Myou, Saejima- Tiger, Ichiban- Koi Dragon) turn out to be very symbolic in the games and are often reflective of their personalities and traits.
  • There Can Be Only One: Kazuma Kiryu, "The Dragon of Dojima", is considered The Paragon and all-around biggest badass, leading to at least one rival per game being driven by jealousy or ambition to defeat him and become the next "Dragon", frequently sporting dragon tattoos of their own just to emphasize this tropenote .
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Beating the crap out of dozens of people? Forgivable. One lowly punk getting shot/stabbed to death? Serious Business. Like, clan-war serious. This may come off as Values Dissonance for people used to western crime dramas, but remember that guns (and thus, gun violence) are a lot rarer in Japan, plus yakuza are really political. That is, ignoring the times Kiryu's shot or blown up enemies during high-speed shootouts.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: The events of the first game could have been avoided had Kiryu not taken the fall for Nishiki. This decision leads to a civil war that severely weakens the Tojo Clan and its repercussions can be felt in many subsequent entries.
  • Turn Coat: So far, apart from Shinji Tanaka, significant individuals in the Nishiki Family are doomed to this role.
  • The Tyson Zone: The series has become infamous for the amount of utterly bizarre things that goes on despite being on surface a realistic crime drama. This ranges from employing a chicken as a real estate manager to the ability to remove all the clothes from your upper body simply by yanking your shoulders.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: Very much the case with Kenzan! and Ishin! which star Japanese historical figures Miyamoto Musashi and Sakamoto Ryoma respectively, who are both portrayed by Kazuma Kiryu. The supporting cast of both games are comprised of characters appearing in this series, although Haruka is the only one who exists as her own character in both titles.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Apparently, fistfights and random gang brawls are common enough in Japan that nobody cares when Kiryu smacks people with plungers and leaves them unconscious on the streets.
  • Updated Re-release: The first two games were re-released in Japan in 2012, a Compilation Rerelease called Ryū ga Gotoku 1&2 HD Edition for the PS3 and Wii U, which updated the combat in the first game using the improved mechanics in the second.
  • Vice City: You'd think Japan is the most dangerous country on Earth playing this series. On a good day, Kamurocho is swarming with yakuza, pickpockets, swindlers, human traffickers and weirdos; on a bad day, you can also add exploding buildings, serial killers and zombie outbreaks to the list. The other cities in the series vary in severity; for instance, Sotenbori and Ijincho are usually slightly safer than Kamurocho but are still riddled with crime, whereas Ryukyu and Onomichi are actually peaceful enough to have children walking around unsupervised in the streets, and they only occasionally have to deal with gang wars or government conspiracies.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In Premium Adventure Mode, unlocked after beating the main story, you can let Haruka follow Kiryu around town. She will sometimes request to stop in at a restaurant or other attraction. You'd be hard-pressed to not get the warm fuzzies from it... until you find she can put you to shame at the bowling alley as a teen.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Of the Enemies only type. Sure, the various mooks and bosses Kiryu meet are either punks or scum but did they really need to suffer that badly by various brutal heat actions? Of course, it is kind of their fault for provoking him in the first place.
    • While you can't assault civilians, there's nothing stopping you from harassing them by repeatedly bumping into them while running and even knocking them over if you hit them at the right angle.
  • Video Game Long-Runners: The series has gone on since 2005, with the final chapter for Kiryu released 11 years later.
  • Video Game Remake:
    • To mark the series' 10 year anniversary, Yakuza Kiwami was released, which is a remake of the first game using the engine and gameplay from Yakuza 0. The story was slightly expanded to include a new segment where Kiryu buys Yumi a ring in the prologue, new cutscenes explore Nishiki's Start of Darkness, and Breakout Character Goro Majima's role has been expanded to serve as a Stealth Mentor for Kiryu after he returns from his ten-year prison sentence.
    • Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a remake of the second title using the Dragon Engine created for Yakuza 6. Featuring updated graphics and new actors, the story has also been expanded to explore Goro Majima's role during the game's events, making him playable once more.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: While the above trope about guns and fistfights is mostly true, actually getting shot or stabbed in some games in the series still has devastating and jarringly realistic, relative to other forms of damage, anyway, consequences. Your character will scream, suffer large amounts of damage, and reel in pain for several long seconds, all while the camera shakes and flashes red.
  • The Unfought:
    • Yayoi Dojima in the first game, who challenges Kiryu and is fully prepared to do so, but you only fight her mooks.
    • Hamazaki in the third game, unless you download a certain DLC.
    • Jo Amon has always been the Superboss in the series, but in Dead Souls, he gets knocked out by ancestor Rasetsu Amon, whom you fight instead.
  • Violence is the Only Option: It's essentially the series' signature style where almost all encounters end with a huge scuffle. For example; a protagonist attempts to convince someone to stand down or ask for aid/info, only for said someone to stubbornly refuse and fight, or have the protagonist conclude that only through fisticuffs that can make them listen. It's rare for a situation to be solved without violence.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: At least once per game, Kiryu will rip off his shirt to reveal his dragon tattoo, typically before the climax of the game. If his opponent is also yakuza, they'll likely return the gesture and shed their own shirt. Completely averted in Dead Souls for obvious reasons.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: Kamurocho in general, and other locations as the series goes on.
  • World of Badass: This is a setting where a majority of characters tend to be men of great physical shape who get into fights on a near-daily basis and where climactic grudges are settled via shirtless fistfights.
  • Would Hit a Girl / Would Hurt a Child: Poor Haruka is usually on the receiving end of this, and has been kidnapped in more than a couple of titles.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Imposed by the games on the player; Kiryu will never find himself in a situation where he must (or can) strike a woman. On the rare occasions where he is tracking or is attacked by a woman, it will always turn out to be a guy in drag. This even extends to the developer being very careful to not allow Kiryu to appear in Massive Multiplayer Crossover games where he could end up fighting women.
    • Which is hilariously subverted in a Side Quest in the first game. Refusing to go into a Hotel for some "fun" with a woman results in her calling her thug brother in an attempt to pummel Kiryu. After the obligatory trashing ensues, it's then revealed that the siblings are Gender Benders, with the "woman" being male and the thug "brother" being the actual female.
    • The end result of the Michiru substory in 3 reveals that the 'guy' you originally rescued 'her' from? That was a post-op man.
    • The lack of female opponents is somewhat averted in 4. While helping her out with her investigation, Tanimura takes up a female Filipino cop named Nair who's in Japan chasing a Filipino criminal as a sparring partner. She's the only female opponent in the game, though, and neither one of them have any intention of holding back on each other.
    • Finally averted in Dead Souls, which has female zombies, including special mutants that are exclusively female. Given the circumstances, it's no surprise that any reservations about genders have to be put on hold.
    • When fought as a boss in Like a Dragon, Kiryu will not directly attack female party members. Attempting to exploit this by having two of them isn't a good idea since Kiryu will frequently target Ichiban which ends in a game over if he gets knocked out.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Pretty much everyone in all the games, actually, but special mention goes to Saejima and Yoshitaka Mine in the third game, who gives the Big Bad a Dragon Suplex off a thirty story building.
    • Kiryu has a wrestler handle: Dragon Mask.
    • And taken to its logical next step in Yakuza 6, when an antagonist gang - JUSTIS - counts six (fictionalised versions of) New Japan Pro Wrestling roster members amongst its number: Toru Yano, Tetsuya Naito, the Ten Cozy tag-team (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan), Hiroshi Tanahashi and their leader, Kazuchika Okada. While they all have their signature moves presentnote , Okada gets special mention for being the only one to have his NJPW music play during his boss fight.
  • Yakuza: Nearly every major character in the series is a member of a Yakuza clan, though Kiryu eventually retires to run an orphanage.
  • Yubitsume: Deconstructed, if anything. Some characters pay for their failures this way, yet many others avoid it and redeem themselves through more practical means. On several occasions it is called out as an outdated and pointlessly cruel practice. Futoshi Shimano being especially keen to demand yubitsume as punishment for failure from his underlings is treated as nothing but yet another indication of his sadism.
  • Zip Mode: Taxis can transport you to different parts of the map or sometimes completely different areas, for a fee.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Dead Souls. Yes, a Yakuza game features zombies. Somewhat subverted in that the outbreak is contained to Kamurocho and is thus not a truly global Zombie Apocalypse.

Alternative Title(s): Ryu Ga Gotoku, Yakuza


Essence of Tropical Tornado

A Geodancer can summon a wind storm with her dancing to send enemies flying.

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5 (6 votes)

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Main / BlowYouAway

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