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The video game series by Sega:

YMMV: All Games | Yakuza 1 | Yakuza 2 | Yakuza 3 | Yakuza 4 | Yakuza: Dead Souls | Yakuza 5 | Yakuza 0 | Yakuza 6 | Yakuza: Like a Dragon


Whole Series

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Yakuza 6 presents a subtle but interesting example of this for Kiryu, specifically on him possessing a Thou Shalt Not Kill rule. When asked about if he would really kill Tsuneo Iwami to ensure Haruka's safety and how that would break the aforementioned rule he holds himself to, Kiryu's response implies that he is in no way adverse to killing when he needs to. This addresses several instances in the series where Kiryu is directly responsible for several deaths that were not cases of Gameplay and Story Segregation but as events that really occurred that Kiryu doesn't dwell on or bring up. This single discussion actually implies that Kiryu, like any true Yakuza as the series presents them, views the act of killing as a last resort to be avoided whenever possible and is only done when truly necessary. Kiryu's personalty would also make it plausible that he finds using the end of one's life as a boast or threat distasteful. His use of a triad-allied waiter as a human shield in Yakuza 1, comments to Kaoru and the nature of his final battle against Ryuji and the battle's outcome in Yakuza 2 just discredits the notion further.
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  • Americans Hate Tingle: Daigo is a Base-Breaking Character in the West compared to the East, where he's seen much more favorably and is actually one of the most popular characters overall, and his leadership of the Tojo is seen as him showing responsibility in fulfilling his duties.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail:
    • When the very first game was pitched, Nagoshi had to overcome countless hurdles to get it made, as Sega feared a game geared towards adults and especially about the yakuza wouldn't appeal to a wider audience in Japan or overseas. Nagoshi even proposed that if the game wasn't the hit Sega needed, he would resign from the company. The game was a surprise hit and became another Cash Cow Franchise for Sega, especially in Japan.
    • In the west, the series did fail, at least until fan-response led to Yakuza 5 seeing digital-only release. But with the release and tremendous success of Yakuza 0 the series has been cemented as a breakout hit in the west.
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  • Archive Panic: With Yakuza 0 out in the west, many reviewers admitted that one of the reasons they didn't jump into the series sooner, particularly with the PS3 titles, was because they weren't familiar with the previous stories or characters and feared they would be lost not knowing the details. Due to better marketing and 0 being a prequel, serving as an excellent entry point into the series, many jumped on board and discovered what they had been missing out on, with some expressing a desire to go back and play the previous titles. Anticipating this, Sega of America ordered a limited reprint of the first four games, including the now difficult-to-find PS2 games, shortly after the game's release which can be ordered online.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Daigo Dojima. He's either a sympathetic figure who tries his hardest to keep together an organization filled with power struggles and traitors together, and when trouble comes it's usually the result of problems beyond his control, or he's an incompetent buffoon who actively fails at keeping the Tojo Clan in one piece and everyone in it in line, and has to have Kiryu make up for his shortcomings. Come Yakuza 6, Kiryu openly blames himself for not becoming a proper mentor to Daigo.
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    • Each of the new protagonists introduced in the fourth and fifth games also fall under this. Akiyama is loved for his kind and laid back personality as well as his comic relief, but is also disliked by some for the same reasons, and some find his popularity overrated. Saejima is liked for his monstrous strength, allowing him to take on a giant bear with his fists in the fifth game, and tearfully revealing his guilt for the lives he took in the Ueno Seiwa hit, but some find that he's a bit flat and simply more of a brutish and overpowered Kiryu. Tanimura was liked for his unique defensive gameplay, but his character wasn't seen as interesting as the others. Shinada is seen as funny and likeable, but some fans think he's too much of a loser and a lot of fans consider his subplot a pointless waste of time that ties poorly into the main plot.
    • To a mild degree, Kazuma Kiryu himself, who has been defined by his strength, his loyalty to his friends and family, the compassion he expresses for his enemies, his wisdom and sense of honor, and his stoicism in the face of the madness of the yakuza world and the bizarre Slice of Life substories. Because of this, fans either adore him and see him as an irreplaceable icon of the series, or see him as another boring expressionless Japanese hero who doesn't have nearly enough personality or is as interesting as other playable characters such as Akiyama and especially Majima. A lot of fans can't imagine the series going on without the Dragon of Dojima, seeing him as an integral part of it, but with the announcement of a new series protagonist, some are glad to see him go.
    • The new protagonist of the series, Kasuga Ichiban, became this the moment he was announced, and will inevitably be measured against the high bar raised by his predecessor. Some don't like the idea that he appears to be designed to be Kiryu's opposite as yet another laid-back and comical counterpart in contrast to Kiryu's stoicism (traits already found in Akiyama and Shinada), while others welcome him for that very reason. Some of his critics also don't like that he has an identical backstory to Kiryu's, with some expressing that they would've preferred an existing character like Akiyama or Majima as the new hero instead of a new character, while others feel that the series has a long history of great playable characters and trust that Ichiban will be no different. But those who like both protagonists aren't exactly thrilled to see the series go on without the iconic Dragon of Dojima, who view Ichiban's introduction trailer as him winning Kiryu's approval and the passing of the torch from one hero to the next.
    • Haruka Sawamura. A cute, sharp and adorable moe who brings out the best side in our heroes and serves as The Heart of the series, or an annoying and shoehorned Tag Along Kid that ruins the mood of a dark and gritty crime drama? The fanbase was split harder with her playable appearance in Yakuza 5 being non-combative and engaging in dance battles instead, and even further in Yakuza 6 where she makes numerous poorly thought-out choices that drive the game's plot and play an indirect role on Kazuma's ultimate fate.
  • Broken Base:
    • Starting with Yakuza 4, the number of playable characters. Some fans enjoy the variety the other characters have to offer, while others don't like the idea of having to play as three different characters before they can play as Kiryu again (the case with Yakuza 4 and Dead Souls), which was addressed in Yakuza 5 by having him as the first playable character. The stories have also been criticized for how they're played out between the different characters, leading many to express that they would benefit from less playable characters. Many were pleased to see these issues addressed in Yakuza 0, which narrowed it down just to Kiryu and Majima, now each with their own Stance Systems and the story was better received than the previous outings. While many fans like the idea of Kiryu being the sole main character once again in Yakuza 6, others miss the concept of multiple playable characters.
    • Kiryu's role as the protagonist of the series. Does he work great alongside other playable characters, should he be the sole playable character once more, or should the torch be passed to another so our aging dragon can get the peaceful retirement he deserves? It seemed the developers felt the same way, and even taking Takaya Kuroda's age into consideration, they designed Yakuza 6 as Kiryu's final chapter. However, many fans don't seem to be pleased that Kiryu and Haruka didn't receive the peaceful sendoff they felt they both characters deserved.
    • From the third game onward, the narrative decision to keep the identity of the final bosses a surprise until towards the end of the story. While a good portion of fans like being kept on their toes on who the final opponent is, and that they're shown to be More Than Meets the Eye, some fans see it as an Ass Pull to reveal an antagonist suddenly being just as strong as the protagonists to be final boss material, especially if their strength wasn't hinted at throughout the story and didn't have enough build-up to serve as a credible rival. Although sometimes it works in the game's favor depending how well the character is written or designed, it's not uncommon that fans find the final opponent to be underwhelming from a narrative standpoint. While some are willing to easily look past this if the fight itself makes up for it, others feel dissatisfied beating the game having been denied a true and Worthy Opponent who could have benefited from more screentime.
  • Catharsis Factor: There's very few game series that ride this trope as HARD as the Yakuza series. You can turn every random mook battle into a curb stomping of horrifying proportions, which is immensely satisfying. Part of the game's replay value is finding all the ways you can wreck the bad guys.
    • Here's a 10-minute video of just Kazuma's many different ways to end a bad guy in Yakuza 4. These are not ALL of them and there's three more characters to play as.
  • "Common Knowledge": Kazuma Kiryu is a member of the Yakuza, right? Well yes, but only very briefly (the prologue and epilogue of Yakuza 0 and the prologue of the first game). For a vast majority of the series he's an ex-member who gets embroiled in Yakuza-related conspiracies as a private citizen.
  • Complete Monster: Kyohei Jingu; Tsuneo Iwami; DD. See those pages for details.
  • Crazy Awesome: Goro Majima. Completely off his rocker and loving it.
  • Cult Classic: The series was formerly this in the U.S. Dead Souls's release was an attempt to jump onto more mainstream Western audiences by jumping onto the zombie bandwagon, but its underperformance almost killed the series in the west. Sony announced that due to fan demand Yakuza 5 would be localized and released as a PSN exclusive. 5 exceeded Sega's expectations in the Western market, which led to localizations of 0, Kiwami and 6, all three of which also did well in the West, and likely signals a strong Western future for the series.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Goro Majima, the series' personification of Crazy Awesome. A fan favorite Breakout Character who's fought in almost every game, he's Promoted to Playable in Dead Souls and becomes the playable deuteragonist of 0. Kiwami, a remake of the first game, adds a new system where he can be fought at any given time, expanding his role in the game, while Kiwami 2 makes him playable once more. Sega held a character poll on the official Ryu Ga Gotoku website, and Majima came in at #1, outranking Kiryu! And lastly (for now), he appears alongside Kiryu in the second Project X Zone game.
    • Ryuji Goda quickly cemented himself as the fans' favorite villain of the series. Not only was he brought Back from the Dead and Promoted to Playable in the same game, the non-canon Dead Souls, but he also makes a cameo in Yakuza 0 as a teenager, and has a special arc in the Japan-exclusive Ryu Ga Gotoku Online.
    • Kiryu's Evil Former Friend Akira Nishikiyama also appears to be becoming one, where he not only plays a large part in the prequel as The Lancer, but Kiwami adds more story focusing on him and his fall from grace.
    • Hiroshi Hayashi is this to some degree as he was just another soldier to the Omi Family that got his ass kicked by Kazuma and somehow managed to come back in the second game with plenty of new fancy moves.
    • Gunman Kazuto Arase. He returns as a sidequest boss in 3, and in Dead Souls he can become an ally.
    • Osamu Kashiwagi has his share of fans for being the one of the few yakuza members to stick with Kazuma 'til the end. And when he showed up in 0, he shows how much of a threat he can be if he isn't on your side.
    • Kaoru Sayama, the deuteragonist and Kiryu's love interest of Yakuza 2, is popular amongst fans for being a badass Action Girl and her endearing chemistry with Kiryu. Fans were disappointed that she was Put on a Bus at the start of 3 and hasn't been seen since.
    • Especially for those who started with Yakuza 3, Yoshitaka Mine is seen as one for being a rather complex villain who can really give Kazuma a run for his money and provides one of the best final boss fights in the series. In the the same character poll mentioned above, Mine came in at #10. He's also the 4th most requested character to be in Yakuza Online, standing above other popular characters like Ryuji Goda and Saejima.
    • Shigeki Baba from Yakuza 5 is surprisingly popular, enough to beat out many series mainstays in the above character poll. Likely because people found his character more compelling than the actual Big Bad of that game.
    • The series' recurring Bonus Boss, Jo Amon, who is seen as one of Kiryu's greatest rivals. Fans are always eager to see what new tricks he has up his sleeve, how far he's willing to go in his grudge against Kiryu, and how much of a beating he can take. Their rivalry appears to reach its conclusion in Yakuza 6 as Amon finally surrenders himself and is recruited into the Clan Wars minigame.
    • Nishida, Majima's Number Two, is popular among fans due to his Undying Loyalty to Majima, despite constantly having to put up with his crazy boss's shenanigans.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: As the series is becoming more popular in English-speaking regions, botched mispronunciations of certain words and names are also starting to become this for fans, with some of the biggest offenders being "Yuh-kOOzuh" (Yakuza) and "Muh-jee-muh" (Majima), which is odd considering the names are spoken out loud on a regular basis.
  • Fandom Rivalry: With the Shenmue series, the forthcoming Shenmue 3 in particular. Many fans of Shenmue take issue with the idea that Yakuza is a Spiritual Successor and that they want a proper Shenmue 3, resenting that Yakuza became a hit series in the US. Yakuza fans claim such a game is a waste of time considering just how far their series has come in the time between Shenmue 3 being announced, funded, and released, and that whatever they come up with will be inferior to your average Yakuza game on all levels. That being said, there’s significant overlap between the two fandoms as well.
  • Foe Yay: You'll see it just by hearing Majima's way of speaking to Kazuma. As part of Kiwami's "Majima Everywhere" system, not only does Goro now stalk Kiryu throughout the entire game, often accompanied by suggestive dialogue, but he goes so far as to perform a pole dance and cross dress as a hostess for him. Kiryu can even play along and is given the choice to treat him like any other hostess.
  • Game-Breaker: The Komaki Tiger Drop (or any variation of this), basically a lighting fast counterpunch. The timing is quite strict, requiring you to execute it right when the enemy's attack touches you, but it destroys at least half of a life bar per hit and knocks the enemy on his ass (except bosses immune to knockdown, of course). Once you master the timing, you can do it very often to devastating effect.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The series has a very strong fanbase in the West. When the series became in danger of being restricted to Japan following an apparent lack of interest following the commercial failure of Dead Souls, massive amounts of fan demand convinced Sony to publish Yakuza 5 in the west as a digital title to gauge interest. As a result of the success of 5, Sega greenlit the localization of 0, followed shortly by Kiwami and 6. Word of God says that due to the overseas success of 0 and Kiwami, Kiwami 2 was greenlit out of a desire to re-introduce the second story of Kiryu's saga to new fans outside Japan, and the PlayStation 4 ports of the third, fourth and fifth games were greenlit for the same reason.
  • Goddamned Bats:
    • The random mooks in the streets may sometimes be this, especially if you're trying to progress to the plot. They even chase you down just to pick a fight. You can NEVER run away from these encounters once started.
    • Mooks with stunguns in particular. You can't block them without a weapon equipped, and they stun you for about a full second, THEN you fall to the ground. They don't do much damage, but it's just irritating.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Kiryu was cemented as one in Yakuza 2, which was infamous for showing him punching out a tiger in one blow. His Badassery got him and Majima included in Project X Zone 2.
    • Saejima followed up in Yakuza 5 for facing against a giant bear with his bare hands and punching it out after being thrown in the air.
    • Kashiwagi became one in Yakuza 0, where missing a QTE in his boss fight has him punch Majima so hard it sends him flying across the roof.
    • Haruka of all people became this after the release of the trailer of Yakuza Online, where she's shown effortlessly kicking ass in her idol outfit.
  • Memetic Loser: Daigo. While it's debatable how much of the problems with the Tojo are the result of his own actions, fans like to exaggerate him into a complete Butt-Monkey or Damsel in Distress. Doesn't help that he gets beaten up, captured, and/or incapacitated in just about every game.
  • Memetic Mutation: See here.
  • Misblamed: Crime novelist Seishū Hase had often been credited for being the head writer for the first two games, and some fans weren't happy with the direction the series took after his departure from the series after the second game, blaming head writer Masayoshi Yokoyama for things like making Kiryu run an orphanage and the convoluted plots of the fourth and fifth games. In actuality, Yokoyama has actually been the head writer for each game in the main series and Hase only served as a supervisor for the first two games to ensure that the yakuza was depicted accurately and prevent it from suffering from Critical Research Failure, which Yokoyama's initial script did. Kiryu running an orphanage was the result of Nagoshi's and the team's desire to explore a more human side to our hero.
  • Narm Charm: The sheer amounts of hilarious ways Kiryu can beat people up, as well as the fact they bleed from no open wounds is downright hilarious yet at the same time awesome.
  • Never Live It Down: After the decision to remove content from the localized version of Yakuza 3, fans have since suspected that each new installment released in the west has significantly changed or removed content that affect the overall package. Although little has been removed since Yakuza 4, many licensed songs usually don't make the cut.
  • Periphery Demographic: The director of the series Toshihiro Nagoshi noted that while the series is aimed primarily at adult males, a significant and growing portion of the fanbase is comprised of women, and that it's become very popular in overseas Asian countries despite its heavily Japanocentric bent.
  • Saved by the Fans: The release of the series in the west. Due to the series being created solely for a Japanese demographic, the games haven't particularly sold well in the west, enough to make Sega struggle and reconsider localizing the series altogether when sales didn't meet demand. The underperformance of Dead Souls appeared to kill off the series outside Japan, as Sega had no intention of localizing 2012's Yakuza 5 or further entries and removed the English website. But when Sony's third party relations asked gamers what they wanted to see localized, Yakuza 5 was among their most requested games, and took it upon themselves to localize the game and release it as a PSN digital exclusive in 2015. Days prior to its release, recognizing the demand and hype for the game, Sega announced that Yakuza 0 would also see a western PS4 physical release and would handle the localization themselvesnote . Fans still had their doubts on whether Kiwami and/or Yakuza 6 would be released in the west as well, until it was announced at the 2016 Playstation Experience, a month before the US/EU release of Yakuza 0, that both titles would be also localized and released.
  • The Scrappy: Although players are expected to win over the hostesses throughout each game, they can also fall into this status if they're more of a pain to be around. It varies depending on the girl and the players.
  • Signature Song:" Receive You" seems to be the franchise as of whole, due to almost every single game having some remix of it and it being Majima's theme. Even Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise has its own rendition of Receive You.
  • Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: There is a ridiculous amount of activities for players to do to just waste time, from arcades (the fifth game includes a full version of Virtua Fighter 2 that can be played online with a fight stick for crying out loud), to mahjong, cage fights, hostess clubs, karaoke, golf, fishing, billiards, darts, bowling, even bounty hunting.
  • Spiritual Adaptation:
  • That One Boss: As a Beat 'em Up where badasses fight badasses, the series is filled with them.
    • Goro Majima in the earlier games, whose speed was unlike most enemies and his knife never failed to inflict a lot of damage.
    • Sotaro Komaki, the Old Master who teaches Kiryu some counterattacks and new moves. He can be fought in the Underground Coliseum and later becomes a training opponent, and you'll know why he's the old master. Except if you're Haruka in the fifth game.
    • The series' infamous Bonus Boss, Jo Amon, and his brothers in later games. Exceptionally fast, have more health than the final bosses, and have several attacks which will instantly destroy your life bar.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Kiryu's physical appearance in the PS3 games has been criticized by fans of the PS2 games who found him nearly unrecognizable from before, and weren't pleased that Sega continued to use it throughout the PS3 games. But with the jump to the PS4 hardware, the same fans are praising his appearance in Yakuza 6, believing he looks like a modern version of how he looked in the PS2 games, although many have also complained that he looks much younger than he does in Yakuza 5.
    • A common reaction when a licensed vocal song featured in the Japanese versions (usually for the opening demo) gets lost and replaced in the localization. Also a case of Broken Base, as some consider the replacements to be good in their own right, even better, or don't care.
    • Also common when one of the mini-games from a previous entry has been altered or is completely absent from a new title, with the most vocal reactions going toward hostess clubs.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Kaoru Sayama, Kiryu's love interest and the deuteragonist of the second game, only appears briefly in the prologue for 3, leaves for America and hasn't been seen in the series since. She's adored by many fans in the west for being a well-rounded Action Girl and the only one to fight at Kiryu's side, and many are upset that she was effectively written out of the series, with some accusing the creators of doing it to keep Kiryu single so he could keep going out with hostesses without moral backlash. She hasn't even appeared in Kenzan! or Ishin!, although many kept their hopes up that she returned some day.
    • Some fans feel that Osamu Kashiwagi had a lot of unexplored potential, who liked his character as one of the few yakuza in the Tojo Clan that remained a loyal ally to Kazuma through and through, and felt the third game Dropped a Bridge on Him. They were pleased to see he returns in Yakuza 0 and shows that he wasn't someone to be taken lightly at all, and also appears in the remakes of the first two titles with a slightly expanded role.
    • Yoshitaka Mine, the Big Bad of the third game. A lot of fans are unhappy with the manner in which he died, especially since he could've defeated Richardson without Taking You with Me, and the reason he performed a Heel–Face Turn was due to Kiryu's speech about clinging to life in the face of adversity. They feel he had a lot of potential if he reformed to become one of Daigo's staunchest allies. Some fans hold out hope for him to be brought back in a Dead Souls sequel or other non-canonical spinoffs much like Goda. Fans got their wish with his appearance as a major heroic character in Ishin!.
    • Some fans feel this about Akiyama's assistant Hana. Another fan favorite that came back in Dead Souls, she has a minor role in Yakuza 5 and doesn't actually make a physical appearance in the game. Many are disappointed she's mentioned briefly in Yakuza 6 and doesn't appear in the game at all.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: One of the more criticized aspects of the first two games revolve around a brief subplot involving the Florist's son Takeshi and his Yakuza Princess girlfriend Kyoka. Although they tend to give Kage the Florist some Character Development, they have no effect on the overall plot, and haven't appeared in the main story since.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Some of the criticisms and concerns about Kasuga Ichiban, the new protagonist of the series following Yakuza 6, is whether he'll compare to the original decade-long protagonist of the series, Kazuma Kiryu. Time will tell whether Ichiban proves to be a worthy successor or end up in the shadow of his predecessor.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • In Yakuza 3 and 4, enemies struck by heat actions also suffered from some truly warped, twisted, stretched-out faces. The similarity to Edvard Munch's "The Scream" was probably not intentional.
    • Despite using 3D facial scanning, some of the women and hostesses can come off as looking way more artificial than intended, especially if they're wearing heavy makeup.
  • Values Dissonance: The games depict intrinsically old-fashioned characters in Japan during the Turn of the Millennium, which sometimes leads to scenes and dialogue that play oddly to a modern Western audience. For instance, the Date/Saya subplot in the first game features Kiryu telling Saya that she's wrong to disrespect her father Date. To a Westerner, it seems odd to scold someone else's daughter for that given the context—Date is an alcoholic who basically abandoned his family, and that very day got too drunk to go to a prearranged meeting with Saya where he had hoped to reconnect with her.
  • Woolseyism: After the first game, No Dub for You aside, the localizations for some games went for this as far as the subtitles go. For example, Majima calling Kiryu "Kazzy" is a good way of localizing him calling the guy "Kazuma-chan."

The Film based on the first game

  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The film has a scene in which Detective Date becomes shocked about something from out of nowhere, runs back and enters a random building. Instants later, several gunshots are heard from the higher floors. This is given absolutely no explanation.
  • Video-Game Movies Suck: The live action film adaptation leaves much of the plot unexplained, expecting the viewer to have played the games or watched the separate prologue short film. It presents several concurrent stories but doesn't develop and intertwine them very well. The good thing is that the action scenes are well worth watching, especially when they involve lovable madman Majima — even if he's got his eyepatch on the wrong eye.

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