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Yakuza, originally released as in japan is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Sega in 2005 for the Sony PlayStation 2. Sega announced that the budget for the game and its sequel together was 2.4 billion yen (21 million US dollars).

A sequel to the game, titled Yakuza 2, was released in Japan on December 7, and in North America and Europe on September 9, and September 19, respectively. A spin off, titled Ryū ga Gotoku Kenzan!, was released in Japan on March 6, 2008. A third installment, titled Ryū ga Gotoku 3, was released in Japan on February 26, 2009. A fifth game, Ryū ga Gotoku 4: Densetsu wo Tsugumono, was announced on July 24, 2009.


The game follows the story of , a former Yakuza whose release from prison after a ten-year sentence sparks the setup of the game's plot. After his release, he returns to find his friend is missing and the clan he was once a part of (the Tojo Clan) has had ten billion yen (at $1=100yen, approx. USD$100 million) stolen from them, which the entire Japanese underworld is now searching for. The game was heavily acclaimed in Japanmarker for combining innovative game play with cinema like story telling and character development on the back of Japan's criminal underground.


Kazuma Kiryu (桐生 一馬)

Voiced by: Takaya Kuroda (Japanese), Darryl Kurrylo (English), The protagonist of Yakuza, Kazuma was known as "the Dragon of the Dojima Family" because of the dragon tattoo on his back. He was planning on starting his own subsidiary group until he take a blame for the murder of his God father, Sohei Dojima, to protect his best friend, and was imprisoned for ten years. After his release, Kazuma returned to his home town Kamurocho but due to his patricide, he is marked for death by the entire yakuza community. He quickly quickly find himself pulled back into the Yakuza underworld.

Fighting style
Kazuma at the beginning of the game uses a mixture of street fighting and puroresu. Later on in the game you have the option to learn from jujutsu master Komaki.

Akira Nishikiyama / Akira Nishiki (錦山 彰)

Along with Yumi, Nishiki grew up in the Sunflower Orphanage with Kazuma. Nishiki was the one actually responsible for the death of Dojima, but reluctantly allowed Kazuma to take the fall for it so he could tend to his ill sister, who disappeared shortly thereafter. When Kazuma returns to Kamurocho, he finds that Nishiki has not only started his own subsidiary group of the Dojima Family, but has changed into a cold, heartless man completely unlike his former self. He has a koi tattooed on his back, much like Kazuma's dragon.

In the Japanese version, Nishiki's name is actually Nishikiyama and Nishiki is only his nickname.

Yumi Sawamura (澤村 由美)

Yumi grew up with Kazuma and Nishiki, and worked as a hostess at Serena with Reina. She was abducted by Sohei Dojima, and the trauma of the event caused her to lose her memory; shortly after, she checked herself out of the hospital and disappeared.

Haruka (遥)

Haruka is a young girl searching for her mother, Mizuki, whom evidence seems to indicate is Yumi's younger sister. Haruka is also somehow connected to the money that went missing before Kazuma's release. A combination of these reasons and pure chance leave Haruka in Kazuma's tentative custody. Before arriving in Kamurocho, she too lived at the Sunflower Orphanage.

Makoto Date (伊達 真)

After Dojima's murder, Detective Date was the only one not fully convinced of Kazuma's guilt. He continued to investigate the case even after Kazuma's incarceration, which earned him an unwanted transfer to the Organized Crime Unit.

Reina (麗奈)

A friend of Kazuma, Reina is the owner of Serena, the bar that acts as a safe house for Kazuma as he attempts to reestablish himself as a force in Kamurocho. She helps look after Haruka.

Sohei Dojima (堂島 宗兵)

The honorable but violent head of the of the Dojima Family and the top captain of the Tojo clan of which he is affiliated, Dojima was known for getting his way by any means necessary. His death caused discord among the men of his family, and forced them to choose a new oyabun to follow. Nishiki was responsible for his death but Kazuma took the blame for his death.

Masaru Sera // Masa Sera (世良 勝)

The third chairman of the Tojo Clan. He headed up all the affiliate families that made up the Tojo Clan. He was regarded as a legend for achieving the position in his 40s and under his leadership the Clan prospered. Akira Nishiki called an emergency meeting of all the captains of the Tojo Clan where he revealed that the 10 billion yen that the Clan had gained over the years had been stolen. Sera went to investigate what had happened to the money only to be assassinated when he found out what happened. The chairmanship was left open as a result, and the top captains; Fuma, Shimano, and Nishiki all vied for the position.

Shintaro Kazama / Shintaro Fuma (風間 新太郎)

A kind and honourable man, Fuma is a lieutenant of the Dojima Family, captain of the Fuma Family, a Tojo Clan affiliate, and a father-figure to Kazuma and Nishiki. He had provided funding for the Sunflower Orphanage Kazuma, Nishiki, and Yumi grew up in. After Sohei Dojima was assassinated Fuma took over the remains of the Dojima family, thus making the Fuma family the most powerful family in the Tojo Clan. This advantage helped keep the other affiliate captains in check. However, five years after the murder a rift was created in the Fuma Family when Nishiki, a supposed soldier of the Fuma Family, broke away and declared his own family. This caused many of Fuma's men to desert to the newly formed Nishiki Family. Fuma was the one that helped inform Kazuma Kiryu about the current state of affairs when he was released from prison. At Masa Sera's funeral, Kazuma met up with Fuma but was shot by an assassin. The bullet pierced his left shoulder. The assassin was Nishiki. Shinji Tanaka, a soldier of the Nishiki Family, took Fuma to a hospital to recover. At some point Shinji would turn Fuma over to Yukio Terada, a lieutenant of the Omi Family that owed Fuma a lot for things that he had helped him get through. Fuma was kept on Terada's yacht until Kazuma could come. Futo Shimano than attacked the yacht and was defeated by the Fuma Families reinforcements. Fuma was killed while protecting Haruka from a grenade that Shimano had thrown. Shortly before he died, it was revealed that he was the one who assassinated Kazuma's parents and that the Sunflower Orphanage was where Fuma sent the children of the people he assassinated, making them into orphans. Despite this, Kazuma forgives Fuma and calls him the only parent he ever had.

Futoshi Shimano / Futo Shimano (嶋野 太)

Shimano is the head of the Shimano Family, an affiliate of the Tojo Clan. Much like Dojima, he has a reputation for his ruthless, violent nature, and has a brutal grudge against Kazuma for Dojima's death. At Masa Sera's funeral, Shimano had fought with Kazuma after Kazuma was found out in the funeral. After Shinji turned Fuma over to Terada and was kept on the yacht until Kazuma came, the Shimano family attacked the yacht with Shimano leading the attack. After being defeated by Kazuma and Fuma Family reinforcements, Shimano threw a grenade towards Fuma and Haruka shortly before getting shot a few times by Terada which led to his death. He has a tattoo of a tiger on his back

Goro Majima (真島 吾朗)

A lieutenant of the Shimano family, Shimano's right-hand man and head of the Majima Family, Majima is an acquaintance of Kazuma with a twisted sense of loyalty. His temper and lack of mercy earned him the nickname "the Madman of the Shimano Family". Because of his friendship with Kazuma he believed himself to be the only one entitled to kill him, and nearly died attempting to protect that right. Majima and Kazuma fight each other twice in the game, the first time in the batting cages (and nearly died) and the second time in the soapland, Shangri-la.

Shinji Tanaka (田中 シンジ)

Kazuma's "little brother", Shinji looks up to Kazuma and helps him out when he can. He is a high-ranking "soldier" under Nishiki, but his true loyalties lie with Kazuma and Fuma. While many of Kazuma's old friends forgot him when he was in prison, Shinji did not. He is part of the Dojiima family.

Sai no Hanaya / Kage (サイの花屋)

The mastermind behind a self-sufficient underground world called Purgatory and a district-wide surveillance system, Kage is a notorious professional informant, and can provide any piece of information for a price. He abandoned his family when he went underground, but still watches over them. His son, Takashi, is involved with a girl called Kyoka, who happens to be the daughter of the head of the Atobe Family.

Kazuki (一輝)

Kazuki is the young owner of Stardust, a popular host club located directly across from Serena. Kind and charismatic, he is indebted to Fuma and helps Kazuma at his request.

Yuya (ユウヤ)

Yuya is a host at Stardust and Kazuki's right-hand man. He is outspoken, proud, and more than willing to fight for both Kazuki and Stardust. His girlfriend, Miyu, is the main attraction at the Asia strip club. It is revealed that he has a deep hatred for the Yakuza when Yuya mistakes Kazuma for a yakuza before getting beaten by him.

Saya Date (沙耶)

The rebellious daughter of Detective Date, she often goes looking for trouble in the streets of Kamurocho.

Minor characters

  • Shota: Is in chapter 6. Shota (short for Shotaro) is a host at Stardust and Saya's boyfriend. Later in the chapter, it is revealed he was merely using Saya for money when him and some yakuza beat up Date. He is not seen again after being defeated by Kazuma.
  • Takashi: Is in the first half of chapter 6. Takashi is Kage's son whom was raised by his mother alone after his father, Kage abandoned them although Kage has always watched over him. He gets into some trouble with the street gang run by B-King and the Atobe family for running away with the Oyabun's daughter, Kyota. He is seen again with Kyota in a side-mission in another chapter.
  • Jackal Yagisawa: Appears in the side-mission "Betting on Boxing". Jackal is a boxer who is "encouraged" by the yakuza to throw his match for the championship title and sinks into depression, getting himself drunk. When Haruka asks for an autograph, a drunken Jackal replies with a slap and Kazuma gets into a streetfight. After defeating him, Kazuma decides to help him (although the player has the option to say no instead when asked if he wants to help Jackal) by finding and defeating the yakuza harassing Jackal. Jackal is then able to win the championship title without any fear.
  • Tamura: Appears in chapter 1 and 10. Tamura is a small-time news reporter who, after Kazuma gets arrested for his oyabun's murder, kept looking for evidence to clear his name and eventually got into trouble. Though many believe he was killed for getting into trouble with the wrong elements, he was actually hiding under Kage's protection at Pergatory.
  • Reina: A story figure who runs the bar, Serena. She's been friends with Kazuma and Nishiki for a long time as Serena was Kazuma and Nishiki's favorite hangout 10 years ago. Reina helps Kazuma by letting him use Serena as a hideout and takes care of Haruka whenever Kazuma has to go somewhere. In chapter 9, it is revealed she betrayed Kazuma out of love for Nishiki and became his informant. After attempting to kill Nishiki, she is rescued by Shinji and killed along with Shinji.


Yakuza received a generally good reaction among critics.

  • GameSpot: 7.4 out of 10
  • IGN: 8.2 out of 10
  • PSM Magazine: 8.5 out of 10
  • Official Playstation Magazine: 8 out of 10
  • Electronic Gaming Monthly: 7.67 out of 10
  • Game Informer: 6 out of 10
  • PSX Extreme: 8.1 out of 10
  • Game Revolution: C-

IGN praised its combat system and sense of style but criticized its tedious gameplay.

Product placement

  • Japanese coffee brand Boss Coffee is visible in many parts of the game. Boss Coffee has a reputation for having very aggressive marketing.

  • Japanese instant noodles maker Ace Cook advertised through product placement in the third installment of the game, and created a new instant ramen product based on a fictitious ramen shop that appears in the game.

  • A Ballantines whiskey bottle appears on chapter 1.


  • Although the game does not explicitly say it, much of the game takes place in Tokyomarker's Shinjuku ward, most noticeably a recreation of Shinjuku's red-light district Kabukichōmarker, which is famous for its organized crime presence. Although the area was recreated as a fictionalized "Kamurocho district", much of Kabukichō's landmarks remain (such as Theater Square, Don Quixote, the red neon sign in the district's entrance, and Seibu Shinjuku Stationmarker).

  • The actual streets in the game can be viewed on Google street viewer using this link.

This starts you off just across the street from the red sign in shinjuku/kamurocho

  • The arcade machines found in Club Sega feature screenshots of Sega's own popular fighting series, Virtua Fighter.

Live-action adaptations

Original video

Takeshi Miyasaka directed an Original Video during the promotion period for the western release of the game which depicted Kazuma, Nishiki and Yumi growing up at the Sunflower Orphanage and then leaving for Tokyo. This short film called Like a Dragon: Prologue (龍が如く 〜序章〜, ryu ga gotoku -joshou-) serve as a prequel and set up the events which take place in the game.

Feature film

A film adaptation was released in Japanese theaters in March 2, 2007, called Like a Dragon: movie version (龍が如く 劇場版, ryu ga gotoku: gekijoban). It was based on the first installment of the game and is directed by Takashi Miike. The movie was premiered in the USA in June 23, at IFC theater.


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