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Video Game / Yakuza 4

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Spoilers for all preceding Yakuza entries will be left unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
The legend of the Dragon of Dojima is no longer the only one.

"Better hurry, Kiryu-chan. It's all one big spider web. The hit back in '85. The ten billion yen. Even Yasuko-chan. If we don't do somethin'... the Tojo's gonna bite the dust."
Goro Majima

Yakuza 4, known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku 4: Successor of the Legend is the fourth main entry in Sega's Yakuza series, which was released in March 18, 2010 in Japan and March 15/18, 2011 for NA/Europe for the PlayStation 3. A remastered port for the Playstation 4 was released on January 17, 2019 in Japan, and is scheduled for the West in October of the same year.

Set in March 2010, the fourth game marks a major change for the series as there is no longer one, but a total of four playable characters, who each bring their own unique moves and play style to the table. While the setting remains in the series mainstay Kamurocho, it has been expanded vertically, allowing players to explore the city rooftops and go underground.

The playable characters include:

  • Shun Akiyama, an easygoing Loan Shark infamous for giving out ridiculous amounts of money at a zero-percent interest rate, so long as a client can pass one of his Secret Tests of Character. He is drawn into the story when a mysterious woman named Lily asks for a loan of 100 million yen and refuses to explain why while investigating a series of murders after his benefactor and business parter Hiroaki Arai murders an Ueno Seiwa Lieutenant and disappeared. His fighting style is comprised almost entirely of kicks done in rapid succession.
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  • Taiga Saejima, a former yakuza member from the Sasai family under the Tojo Clan. He has been languishing on death row for twenty five years after being convicted for the murder of eighteen men, but when he discovers that he may have been set up to fall, he resolves to escape from prison and discover the truth. He uses both brute strength and charge attacks.
  • Masayoshi Tanimura, a young and corrupt cop who is infamously known as "The Parasite of Kamurocho". His goal is to investigate the death of his father, who was also a cop. His fighting style emphasises counterattacks and can chain combos into heat moves.
  • Kazuma Kiryu, the legendary former yakuza and the protagonist of the earlier games, who now runs an orphanage. He becomes involved when an old enemy informs him that the money stolen from the Tojo Clan in 2005 is somehow connected to the current crisis the Tojo Clan is facing.

With a highly involved, emotional story, the four playable characters all find that their separate paths lead to the murder of a low-ranking gangster, and further events soon thrust them into a conflict that threatens to embroil all of Tokyo in gang violence. The story casts every major organization in Tokyo—the yakuza, the police, the government— as members of an elaborate conspiracy, tied into events that happened both in the distant past and in the first Yakuza game.

As a result, Yakuza 4 has less baggage to deal with, so the game can be used as a starting point for the series, since a lot of new characters are coming into the game, the references to the past games are minimal and former protagonist Kazuma Kiryu is only playable during the final quarter of the game. Players can also use the Reminiscence feature to view a quick summary of the past games, a feature that would not return in the sequel, Yakuza 5.

The game was followed up by the spin-off title Yakuza: Dead Souls, a Third-Person Shooter where Kamurocho suffers from a zombie outbreak following the events of this game.

Yakuza 4/Ryū ga Gotoku 4: Successor of the Legend includes examples of:

  • AB Negative: While the specific blood type is never mentioned, this resulted in Saejima locating Lily's biological father when she had kidney failure, and doing whatever it took to get him to donate one of his to her.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: In Saejima's story chapters, he uses Kamurocho's sewers to avoid any police presence due to him being a wanted man.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Instead of controlling Kazuma Kiryu, the game begins with its newcomers, starting with Shun Akiyama, followed by Taiga Saejima and Masayoshi Tanimura. Kiryu becomes playable toward the end.
  • Arbitrary Gun Power: Rubber bullets can actually be lethal when fired out at close range or straight to the skull, which Saejima and Arai are clearly shown doing. Yet everyone who gets hit just falls unconscious.
  • Arc Words: "Protect the Tojo Clan. It's only proof that we walked on this earth." The idea behind the Tojo Clan drives the actions of various characters, both past and present, from motivating Daigo to betraying his men so he can secure the organization's financial future to being used as a rallying cry by Kiryu near the end.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Kiryu (natch) and Akiyama. In the climax of the game, all of the playable characters sport black suits that they wore to Yasuko's wake.
  • Big Bad: Seishiro Munakata.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Kazuo Shibata. He gets killed by Arai when the latter has no more use for him.
  • Big Brother Worship: Yasuko to her stepbrother Saejima, to the point where she visited the prison where he was being held every day for 25 years, and was willing to take out a loan of 100 million yen and kill members of the Shibata family in order to have a chance at freeing him/seeing him again. Mostly justified in that he became a yakuza in the first place as a result of a (successful) effort to save her life.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Saejima's murderous rampage at the start of his story has a surprising lack of gunshot wounds on his victims. Which makes perfect sense when you later discover he was set up as The Scapegoat by Katsuragi.
  • Boss Battle
  • The Cameo: Many characters from previous games appear in Kiryu's substories.
    • Kiryu bumps into Gary Buster Holmes, who has turned a new leaf and joined Majima's family to help with the construction of Kamurocho Hills. Although his days fighting in Purgatory's Underground Coliseum are behind him, he regrets not being able to beat Kiryu then and the two duke it out in a friendly bout.
    • Keisuke Baba, better known as the (former) leader of the B-Kings, challenges Kiryu but has reformed himself into a major league baseball player. Instead of fighting him, he wants Kiryu to hit one of his famed "Twisted Curves". Although he insists he was never wrong in the past, and believes turning himself into a living success will prove he made all the right choices all along.
      Kiryu: Figures. You're just as twisted as ever.
    • Date's daughter Saya also appears, who wants to introduce her dad to her boyfriend Minoru, another hair stylist she also plans to move in with. Minoru gets tied up with people who need his help, and has a hard time winning over the former detective.
    • Kage the Florist's son Takashi also appears, who's now working a stable job, but is looking for his Disappeared Dad now that Kyoka is pregnant and has no one on his side of the family to invite to their wedding. The Florist tasks him with stopping three troublemakers in the city who happen to be Tanimura, Akiyama and Saejima, before giving him the information he wants in a rather unusual way. The whole thing was set up by the Florist as a Secret Test of Character, which the other protagonists were completely in on.
    • The Fake Kiryu is up to his antics once again, bullying people using Kiryu's image and posting it on his blog for everyone to see.
  • Callback: The conflict of this game is directly tied to the missing ten billion yen in the first game. The scene where the bomb explodes in Millennium Tower, causing the missing yen to rain on the streets is shown again, showing Akiyama as one of the homeless bums who benefited from the incident and was given another chance at life.
  • Celebrity Cameo: Mari Yaguchi, formerly of the Japanese idol group Morning Musume appears in the game as a massage therapist.
  • Central Theme: How the past affects the present, a majority of the events that happened in Yakuza was due to actions done 15 years ago
  • Chase Scene:
    • The chase mechanic returns from the previous game, taking place on the streets and now the rooftops of the city, and players are given more maneuverability and offensive means of slowing down their targets.
    • Late in Tanimura's chapter, he engages in a speedboat chase against Sugiuchi.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Video Game!
  • Competitive Balance:
    • Fragile Speedster: Akiyama - He can pull off long combos with his kicks and is agile to boot, but does not hit as hard as the others.
    • Mighty Glacier: Saejima - A powerful grappler who doubles as the slowest character in the game.
    • Glass Cannon: Tanimura - He can counter blows and can occasinally One-Hit Kill foes by arresting them, but is lacking in stamina.
    • Jack-of-All-Trades: Kiryu - His fighting style is simply the most balanced out of everyone's.
  • Corrupt Cop: Tanimura is introduced as one, but aside from Date and Sudo, there's a lot of them. Almost all the police in the game are corrupt to some degree.
  • Dulcinea Effect: Men are falling over themselves to protect Lily, though everyone does have their own reasons. Doesn't change the fact that only one of the main characters has known her for more than a week. In fact the OP song in the Japanese version Butterfly City revolves around that.
  • Dueling Player Characters: In Taiga's chapter, he fights against Kiryu shortly after meeting him. In Kiryu's chapter, he fights both Akiyama and Tanimura at once, who mistake him for one of Katsuragi's men.
  • Eye Scream: This game reveals how Majima lost his left eye, which was knife stabbed by a Shibata member after stopping him from meeting up with Saejima during the 1985 hit.
  • Foreshadowing: Akiyama tells Lily not to open the briefcase containing the 100 million yen he's loaning her on the roof of the Millennium Tower, telling her that it could blow away. This foreshadows both Akiyama's past and how he first made his money, and more importantly, the climax of the game when his entire fortune is blown away by the wind from a helicopter.
    • Akiyama has a really bad habit of leaving doors unlocked. This extends to the vault door housing his one-hundred billion yen fortune.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • The Four Gods: Each of the four playable characters is themed on one of the Four Gods, protective animal deities that preside over the cardinal directions:
    • Akiyama as the Vermillion Bird of the South. This god is similar to a phoenix or firebird, rising from the ashes in a new form. The flashy, crimson-clad Akiyama moves as if flying and kicks as if pecking, and fell from grace only to rise back to the top with the explosive aftermath of the Ten Billion Yen incident.
    • Saejima as the White Tiger of the west. This beast symbolizes strength, ferocity and courage, all represented well by the savage but honorable Saejima. He also has a tiger tattoo, and his first name is even the Japanese pronunciation of the English word tiger. Like Saejima, the White Tiger is the only match for the Azure Dragon.
    • Tanimura as the Black Tortoise of the north. This god is often associated with water and portrayed as a large tortoise or turtle with a long serpent wrapped around its shell or protruding as a tail, reflecting Taninura's slow and defensive but fluid, adaptive fighting style. Tanimura wears a thick blue jacket, almost resembling a shell.
    • Kiryu as the Azure Dragon of the east. Wise and majestic, it presides over springtime, but is vicious if crossed. Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima, has a tartoo of a dragon on his back, and perfectly captures the wrath and compassion of the sacred dragon.
  • Four Is Death: Oddly averted with the main characters, given that they go so far as to have four playable characters despite it not being a necessity. Played straight however when facing against the four Amon brothers.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Daigo Dojima. The Tojo Clan is running out of money and is facing a big crisis to boot. Daigo starts plotting, manipulating behind the scenes and betraying his own men just for the sake of getting enough money to save the clan.
  • Gratuitous English: Believe it or not, the game's theme song "For Faith" is comprised entirely of English lyrics, but the pronunciation of the words makes it difficult to understand for native English speakers, and only through a pre-order CD with Ishin! were the lyrics discovered.
  • Great Escape: When Saejima learns from Hamazaki that he had been set up in the Ueno Seiwa hit, the two of them bust out of prison together, but end up getting separated at the last minute. When Saejima regains consciousness, he finds himself on a beach in front of a certain orphanage. Hamazaki ends up in the same place days later, much to Haruka's horror.
  • The Lancer: Kido is that to his boss Arai, with a dose of Undying Loyalty. Subverted in the end when he allies himself with Daigo, and considering Arai shot him in the gut earlier as well, who can blame him.
  • Loan Shark: Shun Akiyama 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.
  • Manipulative Bastard: You will find a whole lot of them here. Daigo Dojima, Kido, Munakata... It would be faster to name people who don't try to do that in this game.
  • Not Quite Dead: Much of the game's story revolves around people getting shot just to show up later.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Haruka sees a seriously injured Hamazaki arriving at Morning Glory Orphanage, she has a moment of complete horror since this is the very same man that she watched stab Kiryu a year ago.
  • Panty Thief: The subject of Akiyama's first revelation is one, who jumps across buildings like a ninja.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Hamazaki is dealt this treatment by a very hostile Haruka, despite how forgiving Kiryu is. Considering he stabbed Kiryu in the gut right before her eyes a year prior, she's quite within her rights to hate him. Hamazaki for his part concedes this as fair. She does eventually come around.
  • The Reveal: One in each chapter, at least!
    • The woman that asked for a hundred million yen from Akiyama has been killing off Shibata family members. She is actually the younger sister of a death row inmate who gets wrapped up in a conspiracy to either procur the money or pick off yakuza in the hopes of seeing her brother again.
    • Taiga Saejima never actually killed anyone in the Ueno Seiwa hit he took part in: all of his guns were loaded with then-experimental rubber bullets designed to incapacitate without wounding. After he left the scene of the crime, an Ueno Seiwa traitor who wore a kevlar vest proceeded to murder his fellow yakuza to implicate Saejima.
    • The reason why Saejima's blood brother, Goro Majima, didn't arrive for the hit was not because of betrayal, but because he had been abducted and detained by the Shibata clan. It was during this detainment that he lose his eye.
    • Tanimura's father had investigated the hit Saejima had taken part in, but stumbled upon a conspiracy, and was murdered in order to keep a lid on said conspiracy by his father's partner, and his superior officer, Sugiuchi.
    • The big one: First off, from the page opening quote alone, Majima makes it crystal clear that Kyohei Jingu's ten billion yen, and its later theft during the events of the first game, is part of the reason why the Tojo Clan's in such dire straits. So how exactly was Jingu and his money involved in this? Jingu, and the money he was asking the Tojo Clan to launder, was part of a conspiracy to construct secret privately-run prisons, like the one that Saejima had been transferred to. Those prisons would be used to house and quietly kill yakuza who were of no use to the police. The conspiracy goes all the way up to the top levels of the police brass, being overseen by the Deputy Commissioner of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police!
  • Sequel Escalation: Previously, only Kazuma Kiryu was the series' sole playable character, and here, we have not two, not three, but four different characters to play as! And while there is no Alternate World Map as with the previous two games, players can now explore the rooftops and underground sections of Kamurocho.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Taiga winds up meeting Kiryu shortly after his prison break. Naturally, they end up fighting each other, and the fight ends in a draw.
  • True Companions: By the endgame, Kiryu has formed a companionship with Shun Akiyama, Taiga Saejima and Masayoshi Tanimura. A more impressive collection of bonafide badasses will be hard to find.
  • Walking Armory: Taiga Saejima made his debut by using more guns than anyone else in the entire series: six at once! Two in either hand, two in his pockets, one in his belt, and one in his teeth. 36 bullets to wipe out an entire branch of an enemy clan. In Japan, where guns are rare to begin with, this is ludicrous.
    • This was an Invoked Trope, and patently looks ridiculous (even though he apparently completed the mission well enough), because Majima was supposed to turn up and use half of the guns. The reason why they packed more guns than either could wield simultaneously is that reloading would lose critical seconds, especially since the hit was to be carried out in a small area, and Majima and Saejima would be heavily outnumbered. Also, the guns came from the police, who are bound to have plenty.
  • World of Badass: More apparent, the new playable characters are all badass in their own way.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Yakuza 4 is a whirlwind of betrayals and shifting alliances. It starts with a plot between Katsuragi, Munakata and Arai (who is an undercover cop working for the corrupt Munakata) to seize valuable property rights from the Tojo Clan and funnel the profits to Munakata's Okinawa Penitentiary #2 project. This changes when Kido discovers the location of Akiyama's hundred-billion yen fortune. Kido tells Daigo, who tells him to tip off Arai, then manipulates Kiryu, Taiga and Munakata into destroying the Ueno Seiwa Clan so he can be free to seize the money for the Tojo Clan. Munakata betrays Katsuragi when he has outlived his purpose. Arai betrays Munakata when the latter orders him to kidnap children as leverage against Kiryu.
  • You Are Not Alone: When Kiryu is challenged by the four Amon brothers, he doesn't want Akiyama, Saejima, or Tanimura to get involved, knowing they'll all end up on the Amon's hit list if they do. They decide to help him out anyway, telling him that they've got his back and he shouldn't have to risk his life all by himself.


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