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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.note 

"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, 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) is the fourth main entry in Sega's Like a Dragon 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 in the rest of the world on October 29 that same year, with PC (via Steam) and Xbox One ports releasing on January 28, 2021.

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. Meanwhile, Akiyama follows the trail of Hiroki Arai, a benefactor and friend of Akiyama's who murdered an Ueno Seiwa lieutenant and has been missing ever since. His fighting style is comprised almost entirely of kicks done in rapid succession.
  • 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, and ends up stumbling upon a plot that connects the Yakuza directly to the Tokyo Police Department. His fighting style emphasizes 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. The trope applies especially if you undergo Master's training, which sees you unearthing two cavernous WW2 air raid shelters underneath Kamurocho. There is no visible roof, with the walls just sloping away into the darkness.
  • 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Downplayed. When Hana initially leaves, any substories tied to her become unavailable for the rest of Akiyama's chapters. However, in the final chapter of the game in which every character becomes playable and all substories are supposed to be completable, if you haven't finished all of the "Hana substories", you can examine Akiyama's desk in order to "reminisce about Hana-chan" to "bring her back" and complete them as well as sing karaoke with her. Weirdly enough, you can't do this if you've already completed the substories in which she's relevant so you'll have to wait until after the Final Boss if you want to sing any Karaoke with her then.
  • 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 the only proof that we ever 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.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: A major plot point in the game is that the guns Saejima used to kill the Ueno Seiwa Clan officers were actually loaded with rubber bullets so that Katsuragi, the real mastermind behind the hit, wouldn't end up getting killed by his own catspaw. The game treats the rubber bullets as non-lethal but still powerful enough to knock someone out, but rubber bullets when fired at close range can still be fatal in real life.
  • Automatic Door Malfunction: One of the Revelations sees a drunk salaryman wearing a Necktie Headband confronting a young punk harassing a woman. While he exits the Poppo convenience store, the tie gets caught onto the automatic door closing behind him, which causes the salaryman to fly backwards, delivering a kick into the punk's face, and the salaryman to fall flat on his back, with the automatic doors trying to close in on him after his fall. It gives Saejima the Essence of Clotheslining and Kiryu the Essence of Taunting.
  • 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 and Isao Katsuragi. Shibata gets killed by Arai when the latter has no more use for him, and Katsuragi, along with being out of his depth, gets outsmarted by Munakata, Arai, and Daigo.
  • 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 is especially noticeable considering that Saejima in contrast had blood from his gunshot wounds when Katsuragi shot him. Which makes perfect sense when you later discover he was set up as The Scapegoat by Katsuragi, and that none of the victims actually died by his hand.
  • Blunt "Yes": Tanimura is approached by an old man at the casino who claims to know a place where Tanimura could score a much bigger pot. Sensing it's a scam, Tanimura tries to rebuff him:
    Tanimura: Besides, do I look like I need money?
    Affluent Old Man: Yes. Yes, you do.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: In Saejima's Master arc, the two of them find a journal left behind by Master's father, who was a general in World War II. The samurai code of old has no place in the then-modern world during the war, having to forsake the sword for guns.
  • Boss Battle
  • Boss-Only Level: The finale consists only of all four protagonists fighting against their Final Bosses.
  • 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 hairstylist 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.
    • The Florist of Sai'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.
    • Kotaro and Ibuchi from the Honest Living Association in 3 reappear in a sidequest, with Kotaro still unable to land a stable job.
    • Kiryu's substory "Color Gangs" has the leaders of the Color Gangs from the first Yakuza game reappear - the Akai Brothers of the Bloody Eye gang reveal that they disbanded shortly after their encounter with Kiryu and started a successful porn business. Shiraki of the White Edge reveals that his gang broke up and he became a semi-legit used car salesman and front for Yakuza business. Aota is still running with the Blue Z gang, and after getting beaten by Kiryu, the gang members show appreciation for Aota for sticking with him unlike the leaders of the other Color Gangs and decide to go legit with him.
  • 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.
    • While walking around town, two NPCs talking about Kyushu No. 1 Star Ramen, and one of them has only had the instant kind. This calls back to the "Instant Ramen Takes Time" substory Kiryu did in the previous game where he helps a man go through so much process just to get the restaurant's owner to officially license the restaurant for instant ramen.
    • During Kiryu's initial Hostess meeting in Jewel, when he talks to Chihiro, one of the things he brings up is replacing an actor in the "Silver Screen Dragon" substory in the last game.
    • The "A Doctor's Pledge" substory reveals the Snake Flower Triad has a bone to pick with Kiryu, holding him responsible for Lau Ka Long's death.
  • Casting Couch: Chihiro, one of Tanimura's hostesses, almost ends up forced into one of these in a talent agency when she's recruited to one at the end of her substory. Tanimura realizes it's nothing more than a sham to trick girls into sex before beating up the fake producer and his cronies.
  • 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 25 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!
  • The City Narrows: This game introduces the Little Asia district of Kamurocho, familiar to Yakuza 0 players. Tanimura, a polyglot, is able to freely explore the area, a warren of narrow alleys and apartment corridors run by Asian Gateway, a charity that provides homes for Asian immigrants and orphans.
  • 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 occasionally 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.
  • Complexity Addiction: Courtesy of Katsuragi not thinking things through, the Ueno Seiwa hit boiled down to a lot of this. The conspirators have Saejima seemingly do all the kills via non-lethal ammunition and take the blame, so that Katsuragi can get back up and kill the targets afterwards from beneath suspicion while extracting Ueno safely. Sugiuchi would then wound Katsuragi as part of the ploy and try to fudge up the police reports a little to cover for him. All of this so they and Shibata can rank up and get a higher personal standing in the years to come while butting Ueno out of the way. The moment Munakata looks at the fine lines of the reports, however, this overly-complicated plan falls apart in seconds as he points out Saejima doesn't line up as some ace gunman that would perfectly headshot everybody there yet fail to kill Katsuragi. Through Sugiuchi, the conspiracy is thus blackmailed by Munakata for the next 30 years.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Two carjackers in one of Tanimura's substories attempt to bribe him with what's left of a wallet they stole, but spent most of it on food resulting in there only being 420 yen left. Tanimura refuses.
  • 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.
  • Deadly Game: A Tanimura substory has him being approached by a man in the Dragon Palace Casino about a game with a 3,000,000 yen reward. He soon finds out the game is Russian Roulette. Some clues tip him off that the game is staged - his opponent's calmness when pulling the trigger on himself, the presence of bodyguards who risk being hit by stray shots - and works on that assumption, fearlessly pulling the trigger on himself three times. After he wins, his opponent fires into the air, revealing there was in fact a live bullet chambered.
  • Did Not Think This Through:
    • Katsuragi, Sugiuchi, and Shibata, the masterminds behind the staged Ueno Seiwa hit, were so caught up in their ambitions that they concocted a high-risk, high-reward plan that numerous flaws and too many loose ends that could easily be unraveled by a competent detective. This allowed Munakata who quickly discovered the truth, to blackmail all of them into becoming his pawns.
    • In "Kotaro Gets A Job," even if Kotaro is a former Reaper who can hold his own against yakuza, it's still frowned upon talking back to customers and getting into fights with them, getting him fired...again. Turns out his problem is even though the place was quite packed and the open seats were clearly marked "Reserved," it's his utter rudeness that got him into this mess.
  • 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.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • A lot of characters who become very significant to the plot appear in Akiyama's section before their importance is really known, and who disappear from the story for significant chunks.
      • Arai appears as a friend of Akiyama's, showing up to his fistfight with Ihara in Club Elnard; he disappears after shooting Ihara dead, and only reappears at the end of Part 3, Chapter 1, talking with Shibata.
      • Tanimura briefly appears to examine Ihara's corpse, giving the player a quick peek at his lackadaisical work ethic. He scarpers from the scene before Akiyama can get his name, and doesn't appear again until his playable section much later in Part 3.
      • Sugiuchi hounds Akiyama throughout his section, and is entirely absent from Saejima's story, before returning in Part 3 as a foil for Tanimura.
      • Katsuragi appears in a single cutscene, as Sugiuchi explains the situation in the Tojo Clan to Akiyama and the significance of Ihara's murder, and once again in the flashback of the Ueno Seiwa hit, before disappearing for the rest of Saejima's section; he reappears in Part 3, Chapter 2, as Tanimura tries to learn about the circumstances of his father's death from him.
    • Hamazaki appears in Part 2, Chapter 1, befriending Saejima and helping him break out of Okinawa Penitentiary No. 2; he's shot 3 times by Saito, and disappears for the rest of Saejima's section and all of Tanimura's, the player presuming him dead. He reappears in Part 4, Chapter 1, washing up on Morning Glory beach in time to get Kiryu involved in the plot.
  • Easy Evangelism: In one of Saejima's substories, he deals with a corrupt politician who's hired thugs to beat up a rival. It's serious stuff, but fortunately one conversation with a guy he's never met before inspires the politician to go legit.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: The "Master vs. Apprentice" substory has Matsuyama get his inspiration for the Black Tonkotsu Ramen by seeing Ueda with a suntan.
  • Eye Scream: This game reveals how Majima lost his left eye. It was stabbed by a Shibata member stopping him from meeting up with Saejima during the 1985 hit.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Neither Majima nor Saejima bothered to check the bullets supplied by the Dojima Family before commencing the hit. Justified as both of them were still young and inexperienced Yakuza who placed too much trust in their superiors to question the orders given to them, and little knowledge of firearms due to Japan's strict gun control laws.
    • Near the end of the game, Arai fails to notice the complete lack of a bullet wound and splattered blood after shooting Munakata in the chest in his office. Had Arai closely inspected the gunshot wound for any amount of time, it would have been very obvious that something was off - namely that Munakata had loaded the gun he had given to Arai with rubber bullets.
    • The heroes at the end also do this, twice. First they fail to react in time to a furious Munakata going for a live gun on the ground, which gets Akiyama shot — straight into a wad of cash beneath his suit. Once it seems like all is well, they just leave Munakata to mull on his loss, and he promptly grabs the exact same gun again not long after and kills himself to escape punishment.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Saejima often comments on how different Kamurocho is, and doesn't know what newfangled technology like a "seedy-Rawm" is, since he spent the last 25 years in prison.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Saejima becomes one with Hamazaki after they both escape from prison together; Saejima considers Hamazaki his brother (kyodai) after the escape, and Hamazaki returns the favor because he's never trusted and been trusted by someone implicitly before.
  • Five Stages of Grief: The "White Lie" substory is one for a woman named Chigusa, introduced by bitchslapping Kiryu in anger because she thought he was her lying boyfriend Yusaku. She takes Kiryu around town to their significant places like Mach Bowl and their office as Bargaining, along with Kiryu beating down some loan sharks. Denial comes from her playing a message on an answering machine that says he's dying of cancer and that he left her a claim ticket for something at Le Marche. Said ticket is for two engagement rings. It's back to bargaining when she has Kiryu try a ring on and it's too small for his finger, putting her right in depression, finally allowing her to cry. It's when she finally calls him Kiryu that acceptance sets in and she gives him the rings so she can find the strength to move on.
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: A flashback to events that occured in the first Yakuza game occurs early in Kiryu's portion of the game. The original release of 4 reused clips of the cinematics from the first game on PS2 complete including the lower quality models from that era. However, the Remastered version of 4 instead uses clips from the Kiwami remake of the first game.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A very minor example: in his first scenes, Akiyama is shown being very friendly with Kamurocho's homeless people, buying them beers and chatting with them around a fire. In Part 4, he uses his connections with those people to find Taiga Saejima.
    • 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.
    • When Akiyama returns to Sky Finance to find Hana has been assaulted and the office ransacked, she flashes back to how she ended up that way. The flashback opens with Hana walking in on Kido awkwardly fumbling with a large, green book, which he replaces in the bookcase on the wall. While he nervously makes light conversation with her, the camera strangely focuses on the book. The foreshadows the reveal of the preceding few minutes in Part 4, wherein he finds a button behind said green book, and on pressing it, accidentally stumbles on the hidden vault containing Akiyama's 100,000,000,000 yen. Panicking after seeing Hana in the street on her way back, he hurriedly shuts the vault door and replaces all the books dislodged when it opened - Hana comes in as he's putting the green book back.
    • The Ueno Seiwa hit had quite a surprising bit of foreshadowing towards its true nature.
      • The first and biggest clue that something is up is Katsuragi being noticeably alive and without permanent injury in the present day despite seemingly being killed or rendered comatose by Saejima in the flashback.
      • There's a noticeable lack of blood on some of the gunshot injuries. This is because all the Ueno Seiwa members had been shot with non-lethal rounds. The few cases where there is blood drawn are close range enough to still realistically draw blood from the injury, and the Blood from the Mouth from one guy that Saejima punches out. The liquid flying about the place is otherwise a light orange, much like the broth from the noodle bowl Saejima kicks aside, compared to the dark red blood seen there as well.
      • Despite being in a perfect position to blast Saejima dead from behind, Katsuragi makes an odd show of only winging him before diving in front of Ueno.
    • The game uses revolvers a lot, being Tanimura's standard issue sidearm (along with the rest of the Tokyo PD) and being prominent in the Ueno Seiwa hit, and pointedly renders the bronze brass rounds in the chambers when the guns are armed. But the non-lethal rounds in both Saejima's six revolvers on the hit as well as the revolver that Arai shoots Munakata with noticeably have a darker, non-reflective end, distinguishing to a player with a sharp eye which guns aren't killing anyone. The hit and scene pre-empting it also specifically avoid showing the chambered rounds except for a few key shots just to hide the abnormality so players don't notice it too soon.
  • Formerly Fat:
    • If you go to Club Asia with Akiyama and take in the show, the manager tells Akiyama that the dancer used to be rather "plus sized" until she took up pole dancing and just melted off the pounds. It also works as a topic of discussion in the cabaret clubs, though the only one who'll enjoy that information is Nanami in Elise once you've finished her Hostess Maker story.
    • Hana returns to Sky Finance at the very end of the game "as thin as a rail", having apparently lost a lot of weight due to stress after quitting. She regains those pounds in Dead Souls seemingly returning to her normal eating habits after coming back.
  • 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. If you take them to Orchid Palace Mahjong, they each have a Tournament named after their respective theme.
      • 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 tattoo of a dragon on his back, and perfectly captures the wrath and compassion of the sacred dragon.
    • The Dark Clan, the Greater-Scope Villain in Kiryu's Gang War activity, each also represent the Four Gods:
      • Noir, represents Genbu the Black Turtle even down to his coat being the shell, fought in the Underground Parking Lot. Oddly enough, he and Rouge's positions are the ones that are flipped.
      • Blue, representing Seiryu the Blue Dragon, is fought in the Champion District and comes with Wolverine Claws.
      • Blanc, representing Byakko the White Tiger, is fought on the roof of Sky Finance, fighting with Guns Akimbo.
      • Rouge, representing Suzaku the Red Phoenix, is fought in the basement of Millennium Tower.
  • 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.
  • Happily Adopted: The boss of the Takasu Family, being unable to have blood children, freed Akiko from the guy keeping her as a slave and adopted her. He offers to do the same to Tadashi, her brother, but Tadashi decides he's happy enough just knowing Akiko is safe.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]:
    • In the substory The Homeless Men and the Cats, Saejima can name the two cats the homeless men have been taking care of.
    • The Kiryu the Babysitter substory has Akiyama give a test to the baby's mother, that being Akiyama having the honor to name the baby.
  • Identical Stranger: The mysterious Lily bears an uncanny resemblance to Akiyama's ex-girlfriend from Toto Bank, which Hana accuses Akiyama for why he decided to lend her the money. It's turns out they aren't connected at all. Lily is actually Taiga Saejima's sister, Yasuko Saejima, and Akiyama's ex is never brought up again. They just look really similar.
  • Kappa: One substory revolves around Saejima trying to find a supposed kappa, which turns out to be just a guy in a kappa custome. It ends with an actual kappa peeking out of a manhole. You can see its model in full in the Ultimate Challenge "Sprint Match 3" where you have to outrun a horde of kappas trying to tackle you in the streets of Kamurocho. Suffice it to say, it Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.
  • 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.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Anyone who played Yakuza 0 before 4note  would know that the Ueno Seiwa hit was a set-up and that Majima lost his eye trying to bail out Saejima.
  • Limited Wardrobe: If a hostess is requested enough times then she'll comment that the protagonist always seems to be wearing the same clothes when they visit. That said, all of them get at least one outfit change during the story, even if it's just to suit up for the finale.
  • 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.
  • Local Hangout: Typical of the series, every character has one or two. Akiyama has his office, Sky Finance, as well as his hostess club, Elise; Saejima - at least, when he makes it to Kamurocho - will often come back to his hideout in the former office of Hatsushiba; Tanimura has Homeland, a chinese restaurant owned by his long-time friend, Zhao, and Kiryu as always comes back to New Serena, which now counts Date among its staff.
  • Manipulative Bastard: You will find a whole lot of them here, such as Daigo Dojima, Kido, Munakata and Katsuragi (Even if the game makes it clear he's not a very good one.) It would be faster to name people who don't try to do that in this game.
  • Money to Burn: At the end of Akiyama's "Counterfeit Bills" substory, after getting rid of the counterfeit ring, he finds he has a counterfeit bill and remembers it was one of the bills from his client Hayashida that led him onto this substory. He lights it at a burning trash barrel in West Park as a means to light his cigarette before throwing it in the fire.
  • More Hero than Thou: While they're escaping prison, Saejima insists that Hamazaki leave first and then disposes of the many guards coming after them. Their situation is reversed a few minutes later, at which point Hamazaki tells Saejima not to worry about him.
  • Necktie Headband: Saejima and Kiryu learn Revelations from the same place, at Nakamichi Poppo where a scout for a host club tries to convince her to come in. A drunken customer comes out to save the day, only for his tie to get caught on the automatic door, though the momentum is enough for him to knock the scout flat on his ass. It gives Saejima the Essence of Clotheslining and Kiryu the Essence of Taunting.
  • New Jobs As The Plot Demands:
    • The substory "Kotaro Gets A Job" has Kotaro, a former Reaper from the previous game unable to hold down a job, being introduced being fired from a ramen shack. He manages to get hired at Kanrai, but after Kiryu helps him beat down some unruly customers, he gets fired from that job. It's also shown his outright crude mouth is the problem. The next job he gets is at Sushi Gin here he gets a Curbstomp Battle from the customers earlier after trying to not be violent or cuss them out. Kiryu gives them the beating and the Sushi Gin master keeps Kotaro on.
    • Makoto Date has gone from a detective, to a journalist, to helping Mariko at New Serena while she's absent in this game.
  • Not Quite Dead: Much of the game's story revolves around people getting shot just to show up later.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Averted. The Tojo Clan's ridiculous size finally gets hit with shortage — Namely that a clan that gargantuan need a lot of money to keep running. Money Daigo has all but run out of, forcing him to throw in with Munakata's scheme.
  • 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.
  • The Oner: Used in the cutscene in which Tanimura first walks through Little Asia, following behind him as he navigates its tight corridors. It highlights the claustrophobia of the district's lack of space, and Tanimura's intimacy with its confusing layout.
  • Panty Thief: The subject of Akiyama's first revelation is one, who jumps across buildings like a ninja. He's first seen hanging upside down from a bridge, cackling like a madman, before leaping and bounding to another building, slipping on a guardrail, and falling some 6 stories to the ground, a solitary bra gently floating down onto his face to cap it off.
  • Penal Colony: A large subject of the plot. 25 years after the Ueno Seiwa hit, Saejima is transferred from Tokyo Penitentiary to "Okinawa Penitentiary No. 2", which Hamazaki swiftly informs him is a black site, hidden from the public, where the police send yakuza to disappear. At the end of Tanimura's section, it's revealed that Tokyo PD Deputy Commissioner Munakata blackmailed Katsuragi to provide funds for the prison, with the intent of making the yakuza held prisoner commit crimes, which specific police officers could "solve" for brownie points and cash incentives.
  • Piñata Enemy: The oddly dressed "Rich-Looking Guy" that rarely spawns in Kamurocho's street level. He has a chance to drop anything from high-level healing items to Gold and Platinum Plates that sell for 100,000,-150,000 Yen. He's also pathetically easy to beat even on the hardest difficulties and always fights alone.
  • Pooled Funds: Akiyama's substory, "The Fate of the 30 Million Yen" has him getting fleeced out of 30 million yen by a father who said his daughter was kidnapped. When he catches up to them, the man's wife is bathing in a hot tub full of money, with the father and daughter estatic to join her by the substory's end.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A lot of fights only happen because one of the guys involved didn't feel like explaining their reasons for doing something.
    • Minami doesn't explain that he's searching for Lily so he can protect her, leading to a fight with Akiyama (who has the same motivation).
    • Saejima has a reason for not telling Yasuko he's about to commit a capital crime- he was ashamed- but if he had, she might not have been so traumatized by the event that it caused her Start of Darkness.
    • Takasu's minions don't tell Saejima about Akiko's adoption, so he assumes that she's still a slave and busts them up trying to "free" her.
    • Kiryu's Dual Boss battle against Akiyama and Tanimura happens because all three of them manage to say the exact wrong things, despite being on the same side. Because of their fight, Yasuko goes up to the Florist's mansion on her own and gets kidnapped by Katsuragi.
  • Purposely Overpowered: Kiryu, the legendary Dragon of Dojima, is by far the strongest playable character in the game. Even at level 1, he already has about half of his skills unlocked and his skills is good against all sorts of combat scenario, be it a one on one battle or against crowds of thugs.
  • 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!
    • In Akiyama's chapter, The woman that asked for a hundred million yen from him has been killing off Shibata family members. She is actually the younger sister of a death row inmate, who got wrapped up in a conspiracy to either procure the money or pick off yakuza in the hopes of seeing her brother again.
    • Saejima learns at the end of his chapter that 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 lost his eye.
    • Tanimura's chapter has him and the audience learning that 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.
    • Tanimura also learns during his section that his 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.
  • Russian Roulette: The "A Dangerous Game" substory in Tanimura's Chapter 4 has him play this against an old gambler. After making it to the final shot, Tanimura calls his bluff there was never any chance of either player killing one another, and the bodyguards surrounding them as witnesses would have been hit if a live round went off...only to find it was a real bullet in the end. Passing the substory gets him paid 3 million yen for showing no fear in the face of certain death.
  • Secret Test of Character:
    • The late game substory, "Floriography," is one for the Florist's estranged son, Takashi, who wants to find his father, unaware that he's in front of him. His first task is to find a cheater in the Fukuma Casino which happens to be Tanimura. He offers a way to cheat in the games, though Takashi turns it down and offers to work for his money the hard way. The next is to break up a sleazy scout trying to recruit girls for his hostess club, and that scout happens to be Akiyama acting like a total pervert. After Takashi drives him out, the hostess is now the one trying to tempt him away from his girlfriend, which he quickly avoids. The third task is to break up a fight in the Champion District where Saejima is "robbing" a homeless victim. Takashi is about ready to fight him, but backs down...and then goes for it anyway, only to get knocked down. Saejima tells him that it's one thing to be brave, but getting killed is stupid.
    • Part of the main plot in Saejima's section. After making it to Kamurocho, he wants to find his old boss, Sasai, to find out what happened to him after the hit. This naturally leads him to the Florist, who makes him a deal: win Coliseum deathmatch, and he'll help him find Sasai. Saejima obliges and fights the Coliseum champion, Ivar Ibrahimovich, with ease. After knocking him out, the crowd erupts and starts screaming for Saejima to finish his opponent off, as per the rules of the deathmatch: only one man walks out alive. Someone throws him a sword, and Saejima takes it up, prepares to slice, and then throws it to the ground, before chewing out the crowd for being the bloodthirsty savages they are; he openly weeps for the 18 men he mistakenly thinks he killed in '85, and walks out of the arena, deciding his deal with the Florist isn't worth killing again. Outside, the Florist stops him and reveals that it was all a test of his character, that he would have called off the deal if Saejima had gone through with the murder.
  • 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.
  • Shop Fodder: Throughout Kamurocho, the protagonists can find and pick up various types of garbage. 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mr. Purple, the leader of the Purple Killers is dressed like a Monster Clown... This is as close as Kiryu gets to fighting The Joker.
    • The first of Akiyama's revelations has him spot a Panty Thief performing some impressive acrobatics on the rooftops, but eventually losing his grip and falling to the ground. His slow motion fall plays out like a comedic version of the famous Green Bird scene from Cowboy Bebop, complete with women singing in Latin and falling underwear in place of broken glass.
  • Smug Snake: While setting himself up as a master manipulator and conspirator, Katsuragi ends up proving himself as only this, as his plans fail to account for things such as Yasuko's love for her brother, trying to get an amateur police report past Munakata, Sugiuchi growing tired of the whole thing and Kiryu getting involved in the first place. He acts very cocksure when he has Daigo in the palm of his hand but when he's deprived of his money, his power and his victory, and when Yasuko has him dead to rights, he's left a horrified mess.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: In Majima's flashback to the day he failed to show up to support Saejima during the Ramen Shop shoot-out, he was held up by Shibata's henchmen who were ordered to keep Majima from meeting up with Saejima. Majima actually managed to take them all for a single goon wearing leather gloves who had somehow managed to subdue Majima and chain him to a post. If it weren't for him, Majima might have been able to at least reunite with Saejima and probably disrupt the schemes that would lead to the events of 4. Hell, that goon's the reason Majima got captured, tortured, and forced into menial labor as punishment which would lead to the events of Yakuza 0. Lastly, he's the man who personally cut out Majima's left eye which would lead to his now iconic Eyepatch of Power. It's frankly staggering how much of an impact he has on the plot of the series when he's never even given a name.
  • Solo Mission Becomes Group Mission: This is how Akiyama, Saejima, and Tanimura end up tagging along with Kiryu for his usual bout with the Amon clan. Kiryu is sent a letter from Amon, and when the others offer to help him fight against the assassin, Kiryu insists that it's his problem alone and leaves. What he doesn't know is that Tanimura, who had been given the letter to give to Kiryu, had read it before passing it along, and so the trio shows up at the meeting spot to offer their help. Good thing too, because Amon just so happened to have brought along his three disciples for each of the protagonists to face off against.
  • Spanner in the Works: The Gang War story for Kiryu, once he finally comes to the Big Bad of that story, has him learn he's this every time he comes back into Kamurocho, and even moreso since Lau Ka Long's death.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Goh Hamazaki, who was a major antagonist in Yakuza 3, helps Saejima escape from prison and eventually dies in a hospital in Okinawa. He was first shot by a guard while trying to help Saejima escape, before washing up at Kiryu's orphanage, only to succumb to his wounds after helping Kiryu escape from the police.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A panty thief leaps from buildings to get away from his target and slips off the railing. Beginning to fall, he flings one of the bras he had stolen onto a nearby fire escape like a Grappling-Hook Pistol. It slides around it and stops his fall... for all of half a second since it had nothing to clip onto (and would have just ripped if it did), sending him crashing into the street below.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: One of Tanimura's Police Scanner missions involves a man trying to jump off a building. Tanimura has to go up and beat some sense into him, then safely hand him off to the police. This particular mission is infamous because of the Heat Action that will instantly KO an opponent by throwing them off a rooftop... which the player is not penalised for using on the attempted jumper.
  • 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 due to Saejima collapsing from previously sustained injuries.
  • Tinkle in the Eye: In "Kiryu the Babysitter" substory, a baby is left at New Serena and Kiryu wisely guesses it's crying cause he needs his diaper changed. Soon as he takes the baby's diaper off, he gets a face full of pee for being right.
  • 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.
  • Unique Enemy: At the end of Tanimura's Long Battle sequence at the Docks of Kamurocho, Tanimura has to fight one last group of Shibata Family goons. Included in that is a pair of heavyweights with the same healthbar as early boss fights with grey suit Sakakibara carrying a pistol and purple suit Hiiragi carrying a katana. What stands out, is that despite being borderlines nameless and faceless generic mini-bosses, they have the honor of completely unique movesets that have never reappeared in this game nor any others in the entire series. In a series rife with asset reuse, that's very surprising, especially when the only other similar examples in this game are Arai and Kido, two Final Boss fights and primary antagonists that actually have the sort of story relevance to justify being so unique.
  • 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. It's quite a sight, though justified as Majima was supposed to show up and use half of them, the guns were stolen from the police and the amount of guns was because reloading would have wasted too much time and gotten them killed, given the cramped quarters the hit took place in.
  • What Are Records?: Played for laughs at the end of Saejima's "Mother and Daughter" substory where he promises to buy Makiko's record, which gets her laughing. Justified due to him being out of the modern world for the last 25 years. After the substory, two NPCs can be heard in Theatre Square talking about her new album...confused about why it's on CD and vinyl.
  • When I Was Your Age...: Date's Grumpy Old Man pokes out when he first meets Tanimura and helps patch him up after a fight. When Tanimura winces from the pain, Date complains that the police force nowadays is full of babies. Tanimura gets his own back in the finale, where he complains about how men like Date will spend all their time yapping away once they get past 40.
  • Woman Scorned: One of the Revelations sees a husband cheat on his wife, resulting in the wife taking out her anger on said husband in an impressive kung-fu battle in one of the Little Asia alleyways. This gives Akiyama the Essence of Comebacks and Saejima the Essence of Smashing.
  • World of Badass: More apparent, the new playable characters are all completely badass in their own ways.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Features a female enemy, Nair, and Tanimura has no qualms fighting her. Granted it was a sparring match but neither of them pulls punches. Tanimura also has no qualms hitting Saki-Chan during a chase sequence, which is not "sparring".
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The "Gourmet Reporter" substory has Ajikawa, who works for the Michelle Guide Corporation which is this game's version of the Michelin Guide.
  • 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.


Video Example(s):


Shun Akiyama

Shun Akiyama primarily fights using kicks when it comes to combat, standing in stark contrast to the three other playable characters, who are much more liberal with the use of their arms. While Akiyama only really uses his for grabs and counters.

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Example of:

Main / ExtremityExtremist

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