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Video Game / Yakuza: Like a Dragon

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The legend of the Dragon of Rock Bottom begins herenote 

"We'll take the top, and it'll be a happy ending! Just like in Dragon Quest."
Ichiban Kasuga

Yakuza: Like a Dragon, known in Japan as 龍が如く7光と闇の行方 (Ryu ga Gotoku 7: Hikari to Yami no Yukue, meaning Like a Dragon 7: The Whereabouts of Light and Darkness), is the eighth major entry in the long-running Yakuza series. It released in Japan on January 16, 2020 on the PlayStation 4, with a Western release on the Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Microsoft Windows, and Xbox One on November 10, 2020, and PlayStation 5 release on March 2, 2021.

This is the first game in the main series following Yakuza 6, the final entry in the story of the legendary Dragon of Dojima, Kazuma Kiryu. Taking over as the leading man of the series is Ichiban Kasuga, of the Arakawa Family within the Tojo Clan. When the family's captain finds himself on the hook for murder, Kasuga happily takes his place, turning himself in to the police and taking the rap for a crime he didn't commit in 2001. Eighteen years later, he finishes his sentence and returns to civilization, only to find no one to welcome him home. Desperate to find out why he was forgotten, he searches for his family, only to receive a bullet from his leader for his troubles.


Now in the coastal city of Ijincho, Yokohama, Kasuga finds himself with more questions than answers, and no one to turn to. He must now fight his way from rock bottom back to Kamurocho, and find out why the Tojo Clan has forsaken him. Thankfully, he won't have to fight alone: joining him in his journey are a motley crew of misfits from all walks of life, including Yu Nanba, a homeless back-alley doctor; Koichi Adachi, a disgraced former detective; Saeko Mukouda, a tough-as-nails cabaret club barmaid; and others.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon represents the most radical shift of gameplay in the series's history, changing from a free-roaming action-RPG to a more traditional JRPG. A menu-based battle system was originally teased in an April Fools video before Sega confirmed that it would be implemented in the game during its official announcement.


Even with a new battle system, the heart and soul of the Yakuza series remains strong, as the game weaves a hard-hitting crime drama story with amusing sidequests and a plethora of other amusements to participate in, from new diversions such as go-kart racing to returning classics like karaoke, hostess clubs, and arcade games.

Much like the previously-released spinoff title Judgment, Yakuza: Like a Dragon features an English dub — the first game in the main series to do so since the 2006 original — in addition to an option for the original Japanese voice-overs. Headlining the dub cast are Kaiji Tang as Ichiban Kasuga, Greg Chun as Yu Nanba, Andrew Morgado as Koichi Adachi, Elizabeth Maxwell as Saeko Mukouda, and George Takei as Masumi Arakawa.

Not to be confused with the film of the same name, which loosely adapted the first game.

Debut trailer, TGS gameplay trailer, December 2019 gameplay trailer, English dubbed trailer

Yakuza: Like a Dragon provides examples of:

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Even if you, understandably, ignored it, during the final fight with Masato Arakawa, while you are forced into it, you get a fully-leveled version of the Freelancer class.
  • Action Commands: Some attacks have additional prompts that appear during the attack, and if you complete them the attacks are enhanced in some way.
  • Action Girl: Saeko and Eri are the first female protagonists in the series who can participate in battles.
  • Action Prologue: Downplayed. The opening starts off with how Arakawa got his scar and some of his past, before transitioning into a playable chase sequence of Ichiban chasing an adult video seller.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • One scene has Namba hide in a box with Adachi watching. The latter is voiced by Akio Ohtsuka, who is also the Japanese VA for Solid Snake. David Hayter is also the English voice for the bartender of the Survive Bar... yeah, both of Solid Snake's voice actors are present and accounted for.
    • One of Saeko's job skills is a casino dealer, which involves the use of a roulette wheel. Elizabeth Maxwell was the English VA for Sae Niijima, who has a Shadow version of herself in a casino with a roulette.
      Saeko: Let's play a game!
    • Near the end of Nanba's 4th Drink Link event, a woman named Futaba speaks to Kasuga. Her voice actor? Erica Lindbeck. Now where have we heard that before?
  • All for Nothing: In a broader series-wide sense. After spending every mainline entry defending the Tojo Clan, it disbands along with the Omi Alliance, rendering all past efforts completely pointless.
  • All Just a Dream: After being blown away by Kiryu, Ichiban dreams of himself wearing knight armor and slaying a dragon based on the man's back tattoo. He even sings the Dragon Quest victory fanfare before he wakes up.
    • The romance scenes with Eri and Saeko are presented as this too - it's not made clear whether what is shown to have happened actually happened, and Ichiban is commented as having been dreaming. Although they seem to think it did happen, since once everyone has been "romanced" they are both enraged that he's been cheating on them and join in with the other women beating the shit out of him as punishment.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: Kiryu. Going from his performance in past games he’s more than strong enough to handle the conflict all on his own but is hamstrung by the deal where he has to stay legally dead and therefore can’t draw attention to himself.
  • Almighty Janitor: A variation, but one interpretation of Nonomiya would imply he was not only more well-informed but also more forward-thinking than he let on. After his death, Eri mentions his dream was a safety net of legitimate business for Yokohama, which is the dream that prompts Ichiban to take up being the president of his businesses. Later in the story, after Eri tells you this, you learn the leaders of the 3 warring gangs know each other well and cooperated to produce counterfeit cash, an effort which is said to have kept the town together and prosperous despite the gangs being at each other's throats all the time by virtue of each gang being able to contribute and getting benefits from doing so even if they don't know the whole story. If the correct interpretation was that he knew of this story and the operation's role in keeping Yokohama together, then it would mean he was actively trying to build an out for Yokohama in case something ever happened to the single rope holding it all together.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Kiwami skills, being cutscene triggering attacks, can't be evaded or even countered. The same deal applies when bosses use their Kiwami skills which may potentially devastate your party.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: Inverted. The Japanese cover (as seen on this page) is colored a sharp red, with Ichiban giving a mean look. The international release instead is colored a vibrant yellow, with Ichiban giving a DreamWorks Face and several goofy enemies and substory characters in the background.
  • Anti-Climax: After being released from 18 years in prison, Kasuga loudly proclaiming thanks the people he thought were there to pick him up. When he actually looks around, he realizes that nobody but an elderly woman was in hearing range.
  • Anti-Grinding: A variant. The game awards two kinds of XP: "EXP" and "JP". EXP is the standard-issue experience points, but JP are "Job Points" which go towards improving your job's ranking. Each job can level up to a cap of around thirty, giving you stat improvements and new permanent abilities as you go. However, there are severe diminishing returns for increasing your job rank, as bringing it too high causes the game to slow down the JP gain for each job until you progress through the story and unlock new areas. You're also immensely rewarded for levelling up several jobs over the course of the game and can end up much more powerful by the endgame if you've been switching between multiple jobs.
    • However, this practice actually stops once you reach the endgame. The final few areas are full of very tough, high-level enemies, so the game gives you the incredibly lucrative Sotenbori Tower to run a few times to bring you up to speed. Completing it rewards copious amounts of EXP and JP, meaning it can take only a few minutes of grinding to be able to enter into the final areas and stand a chance.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Ichiban now has unlimited stamina compared to previous playable characters in the series by default as opposed to having to buy the ability first. Also, simply pressing the Sprint buttonnote  is enough for Ichiban to run; you no longer have to hold the button down. This is especially helpful as Ijincho is significantly larger than Kamurocho and especially Sotenbori before it. Both of which also make an appearance in this game.
    • While you do have to search for them across the city, once a Taxi is found, simply interacting with it unlocks a new Fast Travel point on the map for Ichiban to use. Furthermore, any previously found Taxis are now registered in the new Taxi app for Ichiban's smartphone (accessed by pausing the game) and only cost 1100 yen to use.
    • The final boss battle of the game against Masato switches Ichiban back to the Freelancer class. For the players who likely haven't touched that class since unlocking the Hero class, the game will temporarily boost your job level high enough to give you access to all its abilities.
  • April Fools: On April 1, 2019, Sega streamed gameplay of a Yakuza game that played more like a JRPG than a brawler. A few months later, however, Sega confirmed the battle system they had presented then was legit, even demonstrating it in a TGS 2019 gameplay trailer.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Only 4 party members out of seven playable characters can participate in a fight.
  • Arc Words: "Rock Bottom", which is used for Ichiban to describe his underdog status as well as for the bottom barrel of society that he inevitably ends up standing up for.
  • Area of Effect: Various classes are capable of AoE attacks.
  • Aside Glance: In the sidequest "Fast Times at Ounabara", deals with an American tourist, Ichiban will talk about how he can't speak English. If a player is playing the English localization and has the English dub enabled, Ichiban then turns his head towards the camera while giving a thumbs up.
  • Ass Kicks You: The flasher enemies use their butts to perform melee attacks.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Essence of Orbital Laser, a magic skill that Ichiban earns for completing the Business Management side story. It's the highest damaging thunder-based magic attack in the game, which makes it especially helpful against the penultimate boss. However, it costs a whopping 200MP to use, a cost high enough that Ichiban likely won't have enough MP to cast it at all when it is first unlocked. Even at a higher level and without excessive grinding, you'll likely only be able to cast it once or twice per battle without having to start draining through your MP restoration items.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Rather bizarrely, Joon-Gi Han is alive and well in Ijincho, despite being shot in the head by Toru Hirose in Yakuza 6. Subverted, as this one is a replacement body double named Yoon-Song Kim, acting as such after the original's demise.
    • Just as bizarre is Kashiwagi. Yes, the same Kashiwagi that got hosed by a minigun. He doesn't outright reveal his identity, however; the clues provided by the Survive bar's owner are enough, given his scar and that he once mentions facing an armed helicopter. Kashiwagi's feet are also not obscured by miasma in Daigo's summon, something shared with the Sixth Chairman who is supposed to be the only one left of the original Tojo powerhouses at that point.
    • Lau Kau Long gets shot in the head in Yakuza 3. However, Ichiban can meet a weapons merchant named Chau Kau Long who looks like Lau with a different hairstyle and alludes to being in hiding from Kiryu.
    • In a more metaphorical sense, Kiryu resurfaces after Faking the Dead at the end of 6 in order to act as a bodyguard for Daigo and Watase.
  • Backup from Otherworld: One of Kasuga's Poundmates is Daigo Dojima, who summons the spirit of his father Souhei Dojima, along with Futoshi Shimano, Osamu Kashiwagi (except not really), and Shintaro Kazama. And they're all packing heat!
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Han Joon-gi makes a return from Yakuza 6, being the one to free Ichiban from the clutches of Mabuchi's goons after being an Unwitting Pawn in one of his schemes.
    • Just when it looks like Watase, also returning from Yakuza 5, is about to be skewered by one of his own men, out comes a mysterious man in a suit and glasses, punching the shit out of Watase's would-be killer. Just who is this mysterious man, exactly? Kazuma Kiryu, the Dragon of Dojima and Fourth Chairman of the Tojo Clan, of course.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Ichiban delivers quite an emotionally charged one to Masato in a very heated moment after the latter's defeat.
  • Black Comedy: In the English version the fourth chapter's achievement can combine this with some very severe Mood Whiplash. the chapter focuses on you working for a soapland, a kind of "brothel light", and trying to help them out with one of their workers going through a crisis. Come the end of it, after a rather heavy resolution to the worker plot, the party of three comes across the manager they've been working for hanging in his own side room, dead for a decent while. The achievement for completing the chapter? "Soap on a Rope".
  • The Big Guy: Adachi is big-boned and has the highest health of the party.
  • Big Bad: The Governor of Tokyo Ryo Aoki, aka Masato Arakawa, and by extension, the entire Bleach Japan movement are the key source of all the conflict in the story.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • Masato's plans have been stopped, his allies arrested, and Ichiban has clawed his way up back to the top. However, both Arakawas have perished (even if Ichiban was the real one instead of Masato), and the impossible has happened: Both the Tojo Clan and the Omi Alliance have been officially disbanded. Fifteen years have been spent defending the Tojo, only for it to amount to nothing in the end. In addition, with Hoshino dead and the Ijin 3 in disarray, it's ambiguous as to whether peace will remain in Ijincho. As one story with the Tojo clan and the traditional Yakuza way ends, another begins with Ichiban and his group.
    • And while the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance are both now disbanded, Daigo and Watase have joined together to form a legitimate security company staffed by former members of both groups, which can give them all an honest living, if nothing else.
    • While the Ijin 3 have lost most of their resources and will likely never be as strong as they once were, they are also on the road to rebuilding. Ichiban and his friends have also chosen to stay and act as its protectors, so the situation isn't completely hopeless.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Millennium Tower (which already serves as The Very Definitely Final Dungeon) becomes the "Final Millennium Tower" in the post-game, including refights against amped-up versions of main storyline bosses, climaxing with a battle against who else but Shin Amon. Beating that turns it into the "True Final Millennium Tower", which is even harder.
  • Bookends:
    • Masato's story begins and ends at the same set of lockers that had led to his condition and ultimately sparked the events of Ichiban's arrest, pointing a gun at a Yakuza after a Despair Event Horizon.
    • In a metaphorical sense, Masato began life in one Arakawa's arms and it ended in the arms of another Arakawa (since Ichiban is revealed to be Masumi's biological son.)
    • The first and final fights of the game are one on one fistfights with a member of the Arakawa family, with Ichiban using the Freelancer class.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Made specifically for the English dub is an animation of Kasuga giving the camera an Aside Glance, and a thumbs up, when talking with the English speaking tourist, as a way of silently saying "yeah, we know it's absurd we kept this faithful despite everyone speaking English, just laugh at how insanely stupid it is."
    • Kiryu's final speech after beating Amon in the Final Millennium Tower is all but a direct rebuff to people disappointed that he's no longer the protagonist, saying that Ichiban isn't Kiryu's "replacement" but someone following his own, different path.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory:
    • The In-Universe version is Poundmates, the game's Summon Magic, which costs in-game money to Summon Bigger Fish via hiring powerful mercenaries.
    • The real-life versions come in the form of several purchasable packs that give you materials, stat-boosting items, Management Mode employees, or extra jobs. All of this is included in the Legendary Hero Edition of the game.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Characters from the Kiryu saga make an appearance, including Goro Majima and his blood-brother Taiga Saejima. Kazuma Kiryu, himself, also makes an appearance.
    • Quite a few characters from Kiryu's saga- even minor ones- feature as Poundmates Ichiban can literally call on by phone.
      • Susumu Gondawara, the ABDL patriarch of the namesake family from 2. He is an offensive Poundmate who inflicts debuffs on enemies with his infantile wailing.
      • Gary Buster Holmes is another offensive summon, throwing force punches with the spiky fist maces he wore in 2.
      • K-Pop star Il Yu-Jin is an offensive Poundmate who can inflict the "Cold" status effect on enemies by reenacting a scene from Winter Sonata with a female costar. "Winter Sonata" is the (at least in Japan- Fuyu No Sonata) actual name of the summon.
  • But Thou Must!: Unlike Judgment, Ichiban isn’t allowed to choose whether to romance all the girls or remain friends. Substory completion requires that he cheat on all 6 women at which point the final substory unlocks with him getting the ever-loving tar beaten out of him not unlike Joker from Persona 5. It even ends eith the Survive bartender calling up all of the jilted women and somehow managing to bail Ichiban out similar to how Sojiro does so..
  • Call-Back:
    • When Ichiban comes to Shangri-La after his time in prison, which has become abandoned, Adachi tells him how it's been destroyed since some moron (Majima) drove a truck into it.
    • The kick that Kiryu does towards the end of his summon is quite familiar to longtime Yakuza fans as well as those that have played Yakuza 0. Receive You ~Tech Trance Arrange~ from the aforementioned game also makes its triumphant return during said Summon as well.
    • Ichiban has a substory involving a chicken as well, this one being called Omelette.
    • The tutorial party chat, where Ichiban explains to Nanba that his tattoo is a dragonfish rather than an ordinary dragon because only the top of the Yakuza food chain are worthy of wearing a dragon on their back, is called "Weight of the Dragon." That same name is given to the end game cutscene where Tendo reveals that he has a dragon tattoo before the boss fight against him.
    • The way in which Ichiban and Tendo trade blows with each other after the latter's defeat is quite reminiscent of the Dynamic Intro between Kiryu and Nishiki in Yakuza Kiwami.
  • Can't Drop the Hero: Kasuga must always be in the main party at all times.
  • Cash Gate: At the start of Chapter 12, Ichiban is tasked with getting 3 million yen to fund an election campaign against Kume. Assuming you've been doing plenty of the Management minigame, this isn't as hard as one might think.
  • Cast from Money: Poundmates are free for the first time you use them, but cost money after.
  • Cats Are Mean:
    • It wouldn't be a Yakuza game without a boss fight against a tiger.
    • Kasuga can also summon a kitten who turns into a giant tiger.
  • Chest Monster: There are trash bags that turn out to be enemies in disguise. Literal trash mobs, you might say.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Each class in the Job System gives Kasuga and his mates a unique outfit: the "Yojimbo" class dresses him in a badass black suit, while taking on the "Host" job gives him a flashy jacket.
  • Climax Boss: Yosuke Tendo. Also overlaps with Marathon Boss as he has the highest health out of any major boss encounter in the entire game.
  • Combination Attack: Aside from an always-available Tag Team attack that calls upon all your current party members to beat down an enemy, by maxing out a party member's bond Kasuga can perform a unique Kiwami Action with them.
  • Color Motif: All of the party members have a certain color in all of their base Job outfits.
    • Ichiban is red.
    • Adachi is blue.
    • Zhao is yellow.
    • Eri is grey.
    • Saeko is white.
    • Han is black and silver.
    • Nanba is green.
  • Continuing is Painful: Losing a battle costs you half of your on-hand money.
  • Continuity Snarl: A minor one in regards to Dragon Quest being referenced to. In Yakuza 0, they used a parody name (Arakure Quest), while in this game they use the series name proper. This is mainly because Toshihiro Nagoshi got permission from Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii to do so.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Sure is convenient that the company Eri manages just happens to be named "Ichiban Confectionery".
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Non-human opponents such as Excavators, or Tigers are completely immune to any Grapple Moves.
  • Counter-Attack: When Kiryu is low on health, he'll use his signature Tiger Drop counter against any attacks that don't trigger a cutscene.
  • Game Within a Game: Like in previous titles, classic Sega arcade games such as Virtua Fighter and Super Hang-On can be played in arcades.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Kaede from the Forget me Not substory. Foreshadowed by the fact that she claims to have known Ichiban from before he went to prison and yet she looks like a teenager or young adult.
  • Denser and Wackier: It is by far the wackiest out of the mainline Yakuza games (Dead Souls and Paradise Lost were spinoffs), with giant crabs, defeating enemies with music and turn-based combat. Averted in regards to the actual story, which is just as dramatic and serious as prior entries, only offset by the fact that Kasuga would participate in the more light-hearted moments rather than being an observer.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Kiryu, Saejima and Majima are not present in the final chapter, the former due to having to keep a low profile and the latter two having to protect Daigo and Watase from Omi reprisals. Considering how strong they’re shown to be in this game alone they could’ve easily taken down Tendo and Aoki if even one of them were present.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • It's common knowledge that Kasuga's base class is called Freelancer. That said, if you look at it during the first two chapters, you'll see it actually starts off as Yakuza, then changes to multiple names, including Arakawa Loyalist and Deadbeat, then finally ending as Freelancer.
    • An early sidestory is about a pawnshop owner who refuses to throw anything away and thus trash is piling up in the street. One of the suggestions Ichiban can make is buying said trash to which the owner demands 10 million yen, a price that the player is unlikely to have unless they saved the sidestory for way later or are in New Game+. Assuming you do have the money, however, Ichiban will agree and the representative who asked for help will incredulously ask if Ichiban’s really homeless with that much cash on hand.
    • Ichiban really only starts visualizing the more absurd enemy designs after he picks up his bat and switches to the Hero class. This includes Nanba who doesn’t wear his hood and wears his regular outfit even during combat.
  • Disc-One Nuke:
    • Eri. She can be unlocked as early as Chapter 5 (roughly a third into the game) and she's quite a capable party member in her own right. She has much higher damage output than Saeko by default while also having more health and access to the same classes as her. And given how you spend about four chapters with only two other party members in Adachi and Saeko because of Nanba's absence, she becomes all but essential during this period. On top of that, she's considered great with the Dealer Job, which allows her to use it's Dart Airstrike skill to clear a ton of enemies in turn 1 because of her high speed. This is doubly so because, as long as you have enough Charisma, you can nearly immediately get her the Dealer's Infinity +1 Sword through one of the secret casinos.
    • The Idol class becomes available when Saeko is at level 15 (or level 1 for Eri) and is borderline essential for the late game, as by Job Rank 6 (which is trivial to reach) it carries a skill that can heal all party members to 100% for negligible MP cost, by rank 12 it can debuff and potentially charm all enemies at once, and it has a number of unique weapons available to it which restore MP with attacks.
    • For the company management minigame, Hanayama. His substory is unlocked at the same time as the aforementioned activity itself and is right near Ichiban Confections, just due north. He's a Rank S employee and has favorable stats as well as high Persuasion, making him ideal for Boardroom Meetings.
    • Completing the Company Management storyline not only maxes out Eri's potential job prospects, it gives a great way to grind cash, and make sure you can easily max out Romance Workshop, as well as anything else that requires money.
    • The DLC employees for the Company Management storyline are unlocked from the get go, have negligible salaries once you get your businesses going a bit, make the Shareholder meetings a cakewalk with their high Persuasion abilities, and, long as they're properly placed, become incredibly profitable workhorses with their amazing stats.
    • The Stat Boost set given with the Legendary Hero Edition gives an early boost to Kasuga's social stats, allowing early access to various areas and classes normally reserved for leveling those stats up, and syncs well with his Hero class, itself considered a Game-Breaker, since a number of his specials scale in power depending on his social stats.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Ichiban getting a beatdown from all six women in the final substory is portrayed as justified and played for laughs despite him looking worse off afterwards than in many story fights. While it might be considered karmic considering he did cheat, the fact that the player isn’t allowed to choose whether to cheat or remain faithful can make it come across as excessive and unearned. Especially since Saeko and Eri actually don’t confess to Ichiban but still act as jilted as the other women.
  • Duel Boss: The first boss fight against Sawashiro and the final fight against Masato have Kasuga fight against them one-on-one.
  • Dueling Player Characters:
    • While infiltrating the Omi HQ, Kasuga and his gang run into Majima and Saejima, who decide to pick a fight with them.
    • Han is fought in chapter 6.
    • Namba is fought alongside Ishioda in chapter 9.
    • Later on, Kiryu challenges Kasuga (and to a lesser extent, his team) to a fight in order to test them.
  • End of an Era: After being the central mainstays of the series, the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance disband by the end of the game.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: The business side-activity this time around involves Ichiban becoming president of the coincidentally-named Ichiban Confectionery and attempting to make it the biggest business of Yokohama through hiring employees, buying up assets and dealing with shareholders.
  • Exact Words: Subverted. At the start of the game, Sawashiro tasks Ichiban with recovering the wallet from a debtor who needs money for his ailing mother. Ichiban takes the wallet, but lets the debtor keep the yen. However, he replaces the missing yen with the money that Masato gave him. Unfortunately, Sawashiro recognizes the bill strap as being from Masato's bank and nearly cuts off his pinky for disobedience anyway.
  • Fastball Special: Majima and Saejima use a wide-ranging variation in their Boss Fight where Saejima swings Majima around so he slashes away at surrounding enemies, then throws him at the primary target as a feint to double-team with a brutal punch/knee combo.
  • Final Boss: Ryo Aoki/Masato Arakawa.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The angry crayfish that you can summon to claw the hell out of enemies is named Nancy. The cat that turns into a tiger is Robson.
  • Forced Level-Grinding: It's entirely possible if not likely for your party to be at around level 30 when you fight Kazuma Kiryu, and as he's level 50 at that point you will get beaten senseless. The game gives you a selection of different dungeons to fight through to level up in at least, although these have their own detractors.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The parallels between Arakawa and his father, and Arakawa and Kasuga, when planning a special Peking Duck dinner, along with their similar skin tones, foreshadows Kasuga being Arakawa's real son surprisingly well.
    • Why would Akane seal the locker instead of leaving it open so Arakawa could get their baby quicker? She didn’t. Sawashiro’s flashback later on shows that the locker next to Masato’s wasn’t locked, which makes more sense for a woman on the run who had to be pressured to leave her baby behind.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Against all odds it seems like Kiryu and the Amon’s relationship has become this considering their chat after Ichiban’s party beats Shin Amon. Ichiban and Shin’s relationship appears to be developing into this as well since neither side holds any animosity to the other and even during rematches Ichiban is eager to fight while Shin never holds a grudge for being beaten again.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Initially, the English menu was Skills, Items, Guard, and Attack. After a fan suggested it, due to the appropriate acronym, the devs went Sure, Why Not?, and changed it to Skills, Etc., Guard, Attack. note 
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Reflecting Kasuga's love of Dragon Quest, the game is much more traditionally turn-based, with other common RPG elements given a Yakuza makeover. Even the Japanese subtitle, "Whereabouts of Light and Darkness", is similar to the kind of subtitles found on Dragon Quest games. Furthermore, the game actually goes out of its way to justify it as much as possible, like saying Ichiban has a habit of letting his opponents get a slug in (to justify the turn-based combat), and everything looking like an RPG is because everything is seen Through the Eyes of Madness.
    • This game has by far the most varied and quirky enemy variety in the series, ranging from simple thugs and punks to murderous otakus, con artists who smack you with briefcases, hobos disguised as trash bags, and hammer-wielding men twice Ichiban's size. This is explained to be due to Ichiban's out-of-control imagination, and the rest of the party see the enemies as standard thugs.
    • In the one time the party has lost their equipment Ichiban will be forced back to the Freelancer class since his bat was also taken. During Saeko’s side story she also keeps her Nanoha disguise in combat regardless of her class.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Nanba, Saeko and Adachi are in most cutscenes despite that they don't need to always be in your party. Likewise, Eri never shows up in main story cutscenes at all and there are times Joon-Gi-Han and Zhao are inexplicably absent despite never leaving the party after joining.
    • Ichiban is almost always alone when undertaking substories despite the fact that he always has a party with him. When combat inevitably starts his party just appear then disappear after the fight ends like Ichiban fought all by himself.
    • Nanba tries to dissuade Saeko from joining in a fight during a story cutscene because she’s a woman. Nevermind the fact that the player has likely gotten into at least a couple of battles with Saeko in the party by that point due to random encounters and it’s impossible to get to that cutscene without triggering the Part-Time Hero substory which requires two fights.
    • As always, guns are treated as extremely deadly threats in cutscenes, while in gameplay they’re not nearly as dangerous.
    • By the end of the Management minigame, Ichiban will effectively be a captain of industry who owns a powerful Megacorp with billions of yen in revenue and properties all over the city, but since that is completely separate from the story he can't use any of that supposed corporate power when it really matters.
    • Related to this whenever the topic of money comes up Ichiban always acts like he’s poor and that gathering money will be an issue.
    • Cutscenes always depict Ichiban fighting with his bare hands like previous protagonists despite the fact that he switches to the bat-wielding Hero class early on and it’s unlikely players will return to Freelancer since it can’t equip weapons. The same applies to party members who just put up their fists before combat starts, even Nanba and Saeko.
    • Kiryu joins as a Poundmate after Chapter 14 despite explicitly telling Ichiban that he can’t get involved at all any more than he already has. While the other Poundmates already stretch believability Kiryu is the only one who has no reason to ever come to Ichiban’s aid.
  • Gender-Restricted Ability: The classes are segregated by gender, meaning that you can't have Ichiban be an Idol or have Saeko be an Enforcer. Neither Saeko or Eri can use Electric attacks unless they have a specific weapon for a specific job.
  • Genre Shift: From open-world brawler to turn-based JRPG, as shown in the TGS gameplay trailer and the associated demo.
  • Good-Guy Bar: The Survive Bar serves as the gang's hideout much in the way that Serena did in the previous games. Serena itself becomes this once again once the heroes get to Kamurocho.
  • Graceful Loser: Oddly enough, Shin Amon bucks the usual trend of the Amons by being almost proud of Ichiban and his party for beating him. Even during rematches he just says that Ichiban is worthy of being the new Dragon.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • You know how Masumi's father was murdered in his backstory, and that led to a chain of events that eventually brought that Kabuki actor into the Yakuza?, and, by extension, all the tragedy surrounding his family and associates as a result? His own mother's greed was the cause of it.
    • The Omi Alliance is ultimately responsible for the Ijin Three going to war.
  • Gratuitous English: In one substory, a generic American tourist asks Kasuga for the way to the station. Kasuga doesn't understand him, but then a passerby butts in and gives directions at the top of his lungs with a Japanese accent:
    Diligent Man: "Go! Straight! And! Turn! Right! Go, go, go! Go your way! Believe yourself!!"
    Foreigner Man: "Oh! Alright! Thank you!"
    Diligent Man: "You are welcooome!"
  • Groin Attack: Ichiban's "Atomic Drop", Saeko's "Jewel Breaker" and Night Queen's "Vital Vibration".
  • Guide Dang It!: The game never tells you that, if you want to explore every nook and cranny you can, it's mandatory to give Kasuga the Foreman job at least once (don't have to level it, just gotta assign it to him), since it immediately grants you the Demolish skill, which can break down barriers.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose:
    • How the fight with Kiryu plays out. You have to win the fight, but it ends with Ichiban's entire team all completely winded and Kiryu looking only slightly bruised by comparison. Then Ichiban makes one final charge only to wake up after a bizarre Imagine Spot, having been knocked unconscious.
    • To a similar extent, the fight with Saejima and Majima also count. Just like the above Ichiban’s party looks exhausted after the fight while the worst they get is Majima having some blood on his lip. Saejima doesn’t even have that.
  • Hero of Another Story: Kiryu really gives off this feeling. Even the way he meets with Ichiban in Chapter 14 is reminiscent of a side-story with Ichiban being one of the NPC’s he has to help.
  • History Repeats: A yakuza takes the fall for a crime he doesn't commit, only to return from his prison sentence to find the Tojo Clan in turmoil? Sounds very much like Kiryu's story...
  • Humanoid Abomination: The sleep spirits that the Seagull Cinema minigame is based around, combined with Animalistic Abomination. The REM Rams, named for REM sleep, try to widdle away at Kasuga's will to stay awake, and the Alarm Cocks keep him awake as long you avoid hitting them. They're both types because their heads are their respective animals, and everything neck down looks like a Japanese Salaryman (presumably, they're doing their jobs, so it's a Visual Pun of them being Punch Clock Villains and Punch Clock Heroes).
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The weapons and armor from the Sotenbori Battle Arena are the second strongest in the game but can’t be upgraded.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Specific weapons like Ichiban’s starter bat are the best in the game once upgraded. Almost all of the best weapons for each job actually start off very weak and require millions of yen in upgrades to become the best.
  • Insane Equals Violent: The "Imp Patient" is speculated to be wildly hallucinating.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: THE GAME. Not even taking into account the main story, which is filled to the brim with many moments like these, you've also got the Substories and even some of the minigames like can collecting or Vocational School. Whether you're fighting against tigers (again) or telling a foreigner how to get to a train station while your character doesn't speak a single lick of their language... there's plenty of laughs to be had here!
  • Job System: There are a variety of classes that Kasuga and his comrades can take on. Played for (literal) laughs as you're required to go to an employment agency to change a character's job. They include:
    • "Yakuza/Arakawa Loyalist/Deadbeat/Freelancer", a balanced class for Kasuga focusing on fisticuffs.
    • "Hero", an offensive class for Kasuga that specializes in wielding a baseball bat as well as healing and buffing the party. Also has skills that improve with Kasuga's personality stats.
    • "Homeless Man", Nanba's base class, which allows him to summon pigeons to attack enemies or breath fire with liquor.
    • "Detective", Adachi's base class, which lets him pummel enemies with a baton, toss them about, or counter their attacks.
    • "Barmaid", Saeko's base class, which gives her AOE attacks and allow her to inflict status ailments.
    • "Hitman", Han's base class, which involves attacking at close and long ranges.
    • "Gangster", Zhao's base class, which lets him attack with a lot of forward momentum via the use of martial arts or a sword.
    • "Clerk", Eri's base class, which specializes in speed and large hit counts.
    • "Bodyguard", a heavy-damage class that grants its users a sword and utilizes attacks that deal damage to both themselves and the enemy.
    • "Breaker", an offensive job that has access to attacks that buff the user and wide-range AOE's.
    • "Host", a supportive class that can empower allies and debilitates enemies.
    • "Idol", a class for Saeko and Eri that lets them use music to heal their allies.
    • "Foreman", a class that involved low speed and movement that can cause heavy damage and big arcs. Can be used to break open locations with sledgehammers while free roaming.
    • "Musician", a long ranged offensive job and team buffer.
    • "Hostess", jack of all trades Job with a wider range of attack types.
    • "Enforcer", a tank job that grants massive amounts of health and defense.
    • "Dealer", a long-ranged Job with randomized effects.
    • "Chef", a jack of all trades job, with a bias towards giving you a wide range on attack effects.
    • "Fortuneteller", a Job resembling a Mage.
    • "Night Queen", A high-damage, single-target job, obtained at the cost of either Saeko or Eri’s support skills from the other Jobs.
    • "Devil Rocker", a DLC offensive job with a wide range of attack types. Mainly focuses on applying high damage to enemies in front of you.
    • "Matriarch", a DLC offensive job with a focus on massive arcs of attacks and longer range.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Attacking a downed enemy will guarantees a critical hit. So you're encouraged to do that.
  • Kill Sat: Completing the Management plotline grants Ichiban the "Essence of Orbital Laser", which has him call down a death ray from a satellite via his phone. It deals massive electric damage to all enemies and may inflict paralyze, but it's also the single most expensive skills in the entire game to the point that if the story is completed early Ichiban will simply not have enough max MP to cast it. Shin Amon can also use this against your party.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: It's a turn-based Yakuza game and there are two playable Action Girls. Additionally, poison is now purple as opposed to green. Also, you can get hit by cars. Less drastically, you can't change fighting styles on the fly anymore.
  • Made of Explodium: One substory is about a spate of knock-off talking Ono Michio action figures, which are so poorly made that they literally explode in the user's face.
  • Magikarp Power: The best weapons in the game start of as low level, weak gear that require millions of yen and rare materials to upgrade to being the best weapons. Ichiban’s starter bat is the best example since it’s the first weapon he can equip.
  • Market-Based Title: Notable since the subtitle in English is the series' name in Japanese ("Like a Dragon").
  • Meaningful Name: In a substory, there's a pawnshop that is surrounded by so much garbage that it's unrecognizable as a pawnshop so people just call it a trash mansion. The owner of said pawnshop is appropriately named Gomi, whose name means garbage.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class:
    • The Musician Job has a special Voltage meter that can be filled up to three levels, and powers up certain attacks the job uses.
    • The Foreman Job, when given to Kasuga, is the only one with a Character Ability given at Level 0. It gives the Demolish ability, which is used in the field to open blocked paths.
  • Metal Slime: There's the Invested Vagabond, which usually only takes a single point of damage per attack, is usually found in the optional sewer dungeons, and, unless you're lucky, or can take it out in one turn, can easily run from you. That said, just one can give upwards of five levels worth of xp for both your character level and job level.
  • Mirror Boss: Like his predecessors, Shin Amon fights using a variant of your party member's skills and Kiryu's four fighting styles.
  • Monster Compendium: Known as "Sujimon" in this game, the compendium is filled out whenever you defeat an enemy and you'll get rewards for milestones.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Due to Ichiban being a manchild with an overactive imagination he imagines everything as part of an RPG, from attack names flashing on the screen for special attacks to him using a bat not unlike a fantasy hero's sword.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Hamako is absolutely disraught when she finds out that the women she encouraged to go to the new Bleach Japan housing centers were deported instead of being offered work and visas as promised.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Joon-gi Han's default class, "Hitman", prominently features dual handguns. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise villain Targa also wields handguns, and both are voiced in Japanese by the same actor, Yuuichi Nakamura. Han even has a Kiwami action that replicates the QTE in Targa's first fight.
    • The "Assassin" enemies are based on Tohru Hirose from 6 and are not only dressed like him but use his boss animations.
    • Ichiban Confectionary's company pet is a chicken by the name of Omelette, who is reminiscent of Nugget from 0. Aside from being an employee, it is also a Poundmate that can be summoned to restore HP or MP via one of it's eggs.
    • Ono-Michio once again returns after featuring in Yakuza 6 and Judgment, this time with Ichiban forced to deal with a shipment of explosive knock-off figures mixed in with some real, high quality ones. The real ones speak with Kiryu's voice.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The "Bubble, Bubble Toil and Trouble" substory has Ichiban encountering a naked man who got trapped on the streets after he got an urgent call saying his grandma's in the hospital and he hurried out of the soapland he was in without a thought. Ichiban must escort him to the nearest clothing store white avoiding water, since the water will wash out the Censor Suds covering him and the man will be arrested for Streaking.
  • Nature Tinkling: The "Golden Opportunity" substory has Ichiban being enlisted by a cop to help stopping a man that frequently urinates on the Ichinjo river. After picking the right guy out and then beating him up, the situation seems to be resolved... until Ichiban himself realizes he needs to take a leak. He's just about considering doing what he beat the guy up over before deciding to just go find a restroom instead.
  • No-Sell: Kiryu doesn't even flinch when Kasuga punches him straight in his forehead in the intro of the boss fight against him. Tendo one-ups Kiryu by not even budging when Kasuga delivers a full-on dropkick to his chest.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: By the end of the game, both the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance have disbanded, putting an end to two long-established pillars of conflict in the series.
  • Old Save Bonus: If you have a save from a previous Yakuza game, Judgment, or Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, you get a Legendary First Aid Kit as a gift.
  • One-Winged Angel: Parodied. After the boss fight against Kiryu, Kasuga imagines Kiryu as a giant silver fire-breathing dragon and himself as the Knight in Shining Armor complete with full armor and sword and shield ready to vanquish the monster.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: Early on, Ichiban and his gang come across a bat stuck in the ground. Ichiban is the only one capable of pulling said bat out, which fuels his inner chuuni and unlocks the "Hero" Class for him.
  • Passing the Torch: Chapter 14 is called exactly this with Kiryu handing the reins over to Ichiban both as the new protagonist and the one to deal with Aoki’s plot. Beating Shin Amon will also have him and Kiryu chat with the latter saying that Ichiban isn’t meant to be his replacement but rather his own hero.
  • Phonýmon: The whole Sujimon sidequest, where Kasuga has to help a "Sujimon Sensei" research Sujimon, his term for suspicious people (sujimono). He can even pick out which of three similar Sujimon the professor brought for him to fight first.
  • Press X to Not Die: Curiously, only the final boss features a quick time event sequence to finish the fight.
  • Poison/Plague/Bleeding: Summoning Nancy inflicts poison and knives have a very high chance of causing bleeding.
  • Punny Name: Another (offensive) Poundmate is Jiei-san, a goalie-masked butcher whose summon Butcher's Show damages an enemy... by terrifying them with an exhibition of his Slasher Movie skills on a large animal carcass from which he then produces a delicatessen-grade order of sliced meat. Naturally, his name is a very intentional Shout-Out also.
    • There’s also Kan-san who, of course, runs the can collecting side-quest.
  • Regional Bonus: During the Memetically-famous "can you tell me how to get to the station?" scene, for the English dub, rather than change the foreigner's ethnicity, it's just played straight, but with Kasuga giving a brief Aside Glance as to acknowledge the absurdity of a currently-English Speaking Japanese person not understanding English.
  • Reset Button: After the final substory where Ichiban's numerous lovers take out their frustrations out on him one could expect that a number of different, crucial NPCs would now be implacably hostile to Ichiban. Never mind: Bartender makes sure to ring around and tell everyone that it's all a misunderstanding and that it's all fine after all. Eri brings up that he was demonstrably cheating on her with a mutual friend in the same room and is quickly shouted down, and the whole thing gets dropped for good.
  • Rooting for the Empire: An In-Universe example where if you take Nanba to see Shark Vacation, he says he was actually cheering for the shark, who he calls Mr. Fins, to eat the dumb college kids.
  • Sad Battle Music: Light and Darkness, the theme that scores the final fight against Masato is noticeably sadder and more melancholic than The Way of Life before it in Yakuza 6.
  • Sequential Boss:
    • The boss fight against Kiryu has four phases based on his fighting styles from previous games. At first, he uses his Dragon of Dojima Style from 6 and Kiwami 2. He then switches to his Rush Style that favors long combos and a lightning-fast uppercut. He switches to his Beast Style and starts utilizing and throwing nearby objects. In his last phase, he uses his original pre-Dragon Engine Dragon of Dojima Style, with the original 4-hit combo and devastating Tiger Drop.
    • The second boss fight against Sawashiro starts with him wielding a katana. He switches to a cane around a third of the way through, then wields the broken remains of the cane and katana during the final phase.
    • Partway through Tendo's fight, he puts on knuckle dusters to boost his attacks.
  • Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: When Kasuga and Nanba go to a Hello Work jobcentre early in the game, they're turned away for being homeless (because job applications require a contact address). Immediately afterwards, a mysterious old man tips them off about a grey-market job at a nearby bar that pays suspiciously well, and a savvy viewer will immediately assume they're being set up for something ghastly and exploitative. After they leave, the clerk who rejected them confronts the man for soliciting in the office because he's her boss, and she's annoyed at him bending the rules for people he likes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Kasuga directly namedrops Dragon Quest every now and then, being a fan of the games. The games are also referenced in numerous other ways;
      • Kasuga's response to examining a passed out drunk is reminiscent of Dragon Quest's memetic "There's no response. It's just a corpse." line.
      • Several people scattered around Ijincho offer Kasuga a "Honk-Honk".
    • One of the playable pachislot minigames is themed after Souten no Ken.
    • One of the summonable characters is a butcher wearing a hockey mask, whose name is "Jiei-san".
    • The Substory "Who's that Sujimon" is a massive Homage to Pokémon, starting with a run in with the "Sujimon Sensei" after an encounter with one, to gaining a "Sujidex" used to record data on enemies, to part of it involving choosing between a Red, Blue, and Green Sujimon, and even down to some of the dialogue referencing famous phrases (heck, the name of the Substory is based on the "Who's that Pokemon" segments between commercial breaks).
    • The partier category of enemies dress and pose like New Age Retro Hippies.
    • The Part-Time Hero Challenges have their own little shoutouts as well.
  • Spot the Imposter: Happens when Adachi gets wrangled into a struggle with Mirror Face, an assassin disguised as him. Since Adachi worked at the DMV, Ichiban decides to quiz them on traffic laws, with one answering accurately and the other being utterly baffled by them. Ichiban proceeds to punch out the one who answers accurately, leading to Mirror Face lying on the ground wondering how someone like Adachi even kept his job in the first place.
  • Squishy Wizard: The Mage-like "Fortune Teller" job has the 2nd lowest health in the game. Namba fits this trope overall, as he has the lowest health but highest MP and magic damage of all the males.
  • Standard Status Effects: Rage, Fear, Sleeping, Forget, Brainwash, Charm, Paralysis and Stun, among others listed above.
  • Stone Wall: The Enforcer is the resident tanking class, complete with a riot shield.
  • Summon Magic: ...well, not quite magic, but the idea is the same. Through the Poundmate delivery service Kasuga can call in help for a nominal fee from a variety of allies. The allies include a swarm of angry crustaceans, a masked man named Jiei, Il Yu-Jin, a man in a diaper (Gondawara), a tiger, Daigo Dojima and even some of the previous protagonists; Taiga Saejima and Goro Majima, alongside their longstanding ally, Kazuma Kiryu.
  • Surprisingly Good English: One substory features a generic American tourist who speaks English completely naturally. In the English dub, the tourist instead just yells awkwardly.
  • Taking the Heat: The story begins with Kasuga accepting an offer to go to prison for a shooting committed by his family's captain.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Much better at it than previous games. Due to Ichiban being a confirmed Unreliable Narrator in combat with the over-the-top moves being in his imagination it’s much easier to swallow the absurd attacks not killing any of the opponents. He also can’t do very questionable HEAT moves like throwing people off buildings.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: A relatively lighthearted version justifies the game being a Turn-Based RPG. It's all through Ichiban's Dragon Quest-influenced imagination that everything looks like a RPG. Heck, the first battle after he gains the Hero class, his overactive imagination makes the enemies look like they transformed into monsters, whereas the rest of the party see them as normal.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The long story trailer reveals Masato Arakawa to be the founder of the antagonistic Bleach Japan movement, with him now going by the name Ryo Aoki. It also spoils Kiryu's appearance in the game ever since 6 supposedly ended his story arc.
  • Translation by Volume: In the English dub of Fast Times at Ounabara, the foreigner speaks loudly and slowly.
  • Trash of the Titans: The substory "One Man's Trash..." has Ichiban run into a mountain of garbage in Yokohama. It's supposed to be a pawn shop and the garbage outside is "merchandise," but it smells terrible and attracts bugs. The town officials have tried to make the owner move the heap, but he threatens to sue if they touch his property. It's revealed that the owner's wife died while working on the store, and he refused to sell all the items as he saw them as Tragic Keepsakes. The situation is resolved when Ichiban convinces the owner that running the pawnshop is what would truly honor the dead wife's memory.
  • Turn-Based Combat: This game switches from beat-'em-up to turn-based RPG, a first for the series.
  • Villainous Gentrification: Bleach Japan is an NGO dedicated to gentrifying the "Grey Zones" of Japan regardless of what happens to the people who have no where else to go. It's also merely a tool for Governor Aoki's rise to power to achieve both "Front-facing" (political influence) and "Back-facing" (influence over the underworld) power.
  • Walking Spoiler: Kiryu's entire existence in the game, since his story was officially finished in the last game, and this game was meant as a soft reboot.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If Kasuga is KO'd, you automatically lose the current battle. If it's a random street encounter, you lose half of your hard-earned yen. If it's a story battle, you'll have to either do the battle over again, or reload a save, unless you have in your possession either one of two self-revival items to be used specifically to avert this.
  • White Mage: The female job Idol is the most effective job for healing.
  • Whole Plot Reference: There are a considerable amount of comparisons that can be made between the game's overarching plot and the Ryo Murakami novel Coin Locker Babies; the shared backstories of both The Hero and the Big Bad start with them literally being left in coin lockers as infants and being adopted, and one of them serves as a stronger underling to their weaker superior. While one is imprisoned early on as an adult, the other, using the power of drugs (as a weapon for Kiku; as a means of Throwing Off the Disability for Masato/Aoki), wreaks havoc across Japan. The sole distinction being that the character who has a Compelling Voice becomes the antagonist rather than protagonist... in a less literal way, at least.
  • Willfully Weak: After the boss fight with Majima and Saejima, both reveal that they were holding back the entire time to Ichiban's completely exhausted party. Just when it seems like they're about to fight for real, Arakawa interrupts. Sawashiro also proves much stronger in his rematch, easily matching Ichiban’s entire party.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Most of the enemies, as Saeko and Eri are potential party members. This includes Majima and Saejima, surprisingly enough.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: In the boss fight against Kiryu, he won't attack your female party members, Saeko and Eri, at all. He does hit them if they hit him during his counter phase but they will take no damage. There are also no female enemies.


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