Yakuza 3 deleted scenes reveal the darker side of English schools in Japan

Sega cut lots of content from Yakuza 3 in order to lessen the cost of the localization process. In apostover at the Japan Subculture Research Center, Jake Adelstein takes a look at a particularly interesting deleted scene involving English conversation schools and its relation to real-life Yakuza.

Adelstein understands the Yakuza better than most foreigners, having covered the crime groups for Japanese newspapers for years. As detailed in his book Tokyo Vice - a great read for anyone interested in Japanese culture - the reporter has befriended and pissed off more Yakuza than any of us are ever likely to see, let alone meet.

Above: A side story that was cut from localized versions of Yakuza 3, which reveals the shadier side of English conversation schools in Japan

The cut section involves series hero, Kazuma Kiryu, taking an interest in English conversation, only to be scammed and forced to show untrustworthy foreigners his own brand of Yakuza justice.

Adelstein points out that the sequence accurately depicts some of the shadier aspects of the English teaching industry in Japan. Specifically, English conversation schools called Eikaiwa. When the largest such school, Nova, was closed down in 2007 due to shady business dealings, they left hundreds of their employees penniless and homeless. The company had been known to bring in Yakuza thugs as union busters when Nova employees attempted to organize. Even beyond blatantly illegal activities, many Eikaiwa engage in pyramid schemes, or try to sell students into lessons by promising them the chance to date their teachers.

"The English conversation school has been and will probably always be a good business for the Yakuza. The same principles used to get men and women into hostess clubs/host clubs are applied to recruit students. Just like a hostess club, there is the possibility of actually dating one of the teachers dangled out as bait to keep the customer coming back,"wrote Adelstein.

Having spent a fair amount of time in Japan and around those in the English teaching industry, Adelstein's points ring true. However, we never had the misfortune of working in the industry ourselves. So we turned to one who had, a young woman who spent years in the industry and wished to remain anonymous.â€They had our pictures out front for the students to pick their teacher. Students would come in and say, I want the teacher with the big breasts.â€

The game sequence in question presents many localization problems. Atrocious English rampant in the Japanese version would need to be cleaned up. The Japanese ability of the non-Japanese characters is terrible, and about as accurate and subtle as Lo-Wang's English in the mid-90s FPS Shadow Warrior. Translating bad Japanese into bad English wouldn't make sense, given that the characters are supposed to be English teachers.

Above: The foreigner's Japanese in Yakuza 3 is about as offensive as Lo Wang's accent in Shadow Warrior

This is not the first article Adelstein has written about Yakuza 3. In hisYakuza 3 reviewlast year,Adelstein sat down with his real Yakuza pals to play the game and discuss its authenticity and realism. The answer: Yakuza 3 was realistic in a comic book-y way; there were more unambiguously good and bad guys in Sega's criminal underworld, and far less crystal meth use. Having played Yakuza 4 in Japanese,it seemsthat game throws even campy realism out in favor of large-scale cinematic set pieces and soap opera-worthy plot twists. We can't wait to see what the Yakuza think of that.

Feb 15, 2011