Yakuza is more about "lust" than crime, director says

Yakuza 8
(Image credit: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio)

Yakuza director Masayoshi Yokoyama has said in a new interview that Yakuza isn't trying to depict authentic Japanese crime syndicates, but rather focus on real human emotions, and specifically, lust.

Hold up, Yokoyama, are you telling me you won't find killer chickens, time travelers, and haunted videotapes in real-life Japan? I've been lied to! Talking to our sister publication Edge (opens in new tab) for their upcoming issue, Yokoyama explained how, despite the series' focus on various crime families - and, ya know, the whole Yakuza title - studio Ryo Ga Gotoku's main focus is on telling stories that evoke authentic human drama.

"Our studio's main objective is not to depict Japanese Yakuza," Yokoyama said. "It is to depict people who are in positions where they are more likely to experience life-or-death situations. This enables us to explore fundamental human emotions and drama."

It's counterintuitive to hear that a series titled Yakuza isn't even trying to replicate actual Yakuza life, but if you've played any one of the main games, not including the Judgment spinoffs which are more grounded in reality, it's not all that surprising. There's a side quest in Yakuza 7 where you throw fists with a gang of grown men who dress up and act like babies. Another substory has you reuniting someone with his pet crawfish named Nancy. I've only been to Japan once, but I've never assumed these were the sort of things real Yakuza thugs kept themselves busy with.

Anyway, the next game in the Yakuza series is the (confusingly) titled Like a Dragon: Ishin, a remake of one of the few Yakuza games to never be released outside of Japan. After that launches on February 21, Like a Dragon: Gaiden, a smaller scale game exploring what happened to former series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu between Yakuza 6 and 7, will launch sometime in 2023. Then there's Yakuza 8, which is (again, confusingly) titled Like a Dragon 8, launching in 2024.

Here's how we ranked the best Yakuza games available now.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.