Yakuza: The Least Sympathetic Characters
By Pedro Guillen
Published Jun 06, 2021
Despite most of the Yakuza series characters being criminals, they’re very likable. These characters, however, are quite the opposite.
The Yakuza series is known to have extremely likable characters that you follow for dozens of hours or even throughout multiple entries in the franchise. Occasionally, they’ll pull on your heartstrings with justifiable or likable antagonists. However, the series does just as good of a job at making sure they create some unlikable and downright evil characters that stand out even in a series where everyone is a criminal.
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These characters pull you out from the fun and cheery side activities and action-filled drama of being a member of the Yakuza. The lovable heroes that we follow might vow their loyalty to these criminal organizations but ultimately, they are filled with some detestable human beings that remind us why this life shouldn’t be glamorized.
Reader beware: This list will contain spoilers for mainline Yakuza games.
Although Sagawa doesn’t have much screen time in Yakuza 0, even with it being a super long game by Yakuza standards, his presence is surely felt throughout Majima’s portion of the story. He keeps a cool demeanor for most of his introduction and manipulates the audience into thinking he has a friendly dynamic with Majima — sarcastic quips and kiddy nicknames included.
Little did you know at the time, Majima’s traumatic backstory involves two years of torture administered by Sagawa and Shimano as punishment for betraying the family. Throughout the rest of Yakuza 0, Sagawa shows no tolerance for insubordination and doesn’t hesitate to torture Majima again or almost kill him. Sorry, Tiger. It’s part of the job but it doesn’t make you too sympathetic.
Kugihara is as psychotic as it gets in Yakuza while having none of the charm that other maniacs like Majima have. His sole purpose is to assault and harass Saejima, a recurring series protagonist, during his stay in prison.
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With little to no rhyme or reason, he and his men begin assaulting Saejima. This explains Kugihara rather well and why he’s on the list — everything he does is practically for no reason. He is downright sadistic in nature and cruel, even to his own men. Not only is Kugihara always out for Saejima, but he breaks down and turns into a coward when things start looking dark.
Murdering 18 of his fellow clansmen to rise in status within the Ueno Seiwa Clan is a good enough reason why Katsuragi is one of the least sympathetic characters in Yakuza. Throughout Yakuza 4, it would be an understatement to say that Katsuragi blackmailed a few times during his master plan.
As manipulative as a Yakuza antagonist can be, Katsuragi uses anybody and everybody he can to satisfy his own needs. Isao even blackmailed Kiryu before attempting to have him killed once he no longer served any purpose.
Kurosawa goes against the codes and ideals of Yakuza that fans have grown accustomed to throughout the series. He is disgusted at the ideals and morals that protagonists such as Kiryu follow.
”Listen, in the end, Yakuza are mostly idiots. When you run a family, it’s your job to rule over these simpletons… Know what kind of men flock to a guy in charisma? Useless idiots.” —?Tsubasa Kurosawa
Kurosawa is a spiteful character that clashes ideologically with Kiryu, with all the scumbag traits that belong to multiple series antagonists. The ruthless and inhumane actions that must be taken in a criminal organization drive Kurosawa’s way of thinking and lead to him almost inciting a war.
Heizo Iwami has?done many?unspeakable crimes without many positive character traits to balance any of it out. Holding immense power as the founder of Iwami Shipbuilding and a chairman of the Yomei Alliance, Iwami has been in the position to carry out a lot of evil.
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Blackmailing, manipulating his adopted son into becoming a murderer, and killing anyone who knows the secret of Onomichi are just a few?items on the list of crimes that he has committed throughout his lifetime. Ultimately, what makes him unsympathetic is his disdain for his biological son and complete disregard for human life.
Tamashiro, toward the end of Yakuza 3, is responsible for possibly the most devastated state that we have ever seen Kiryu in. His actions made the recurring protagonist break down into tears as he had to hold a comrade in his arms, voice cracking before screaming out into the silence of the night. Tamashiro is the sole cause of one of the franchise’s most heartbreaking moments.
He is ruthless, sadistic, and manipulative with no regard for playing by the rules. Tamashiro seduces a mother only to kidnap her daughter before almost killing her. He locks people in bull cages and plans to have them killed. He tries to demolish orphanages. Tamashiro is a wicked character and his battle style doesn’t make it easy to tolerate him.
Sugai is as close to a dastardly, mustache-twirling villain as the Yakuza series can get. He does everything for the sake of power and profit?and acts exactly as you’d expect a high-status Yakuza patriarch obsessed with power to?act.
Katsumi Sugai had set fire to Little Asia and framed Majima, Daigo, and Saejima for it. He kidnapped Someya’s wife to blackmail him into fighting Kiryu. Above all, he held Haruka and Haruto at gunpoint to get the best of Kiryu.
Tsuneo Iwami is the biological son of Heizo Iwami. Being unsympathetic and incredibly unlikable seems to be a trait that runs in the family because both Iwami family members very much deserve a spot when talking about the least sympathetic characters in the franchise. Tsuneo is obsessed and entitled, believing that he must inherit his father’s company and control over the Yomei Alliance.
He instigates a war, murders multiple people, betrays whoever he sees fit, and even kills his father. However, as evil as he is, he is also cowardly. He almost always uses proxies and henchmen to do his own bidding. Kiryu described him best as a “pathetic fool bringing civilians into Yakuza conflicts.” By the end of Yakuza 6, the only good that comes out of him is how satisfying it feels to finally beat him up. Plus, anyone who tries to harm Haruka is no good.
Jingu is a major antagonist in Yakuza Kiwami. He appears toward the end of the game and is revealed to be a politician conspiring with the Omi Alliance in an attempt to control Japan.
He will do anything it takes to reach his goals, whether it includes betraying comrades or trying to shoot his wife and child. An already despicable act is taken to greater heights as Yumi and Haruka are beloved by many fans. Jingu’s greed knows no boundaries. He can’t even allow Kiryu and Nishiki to have a somber moment after fighting it out as he interrupts to slay Yumi.
Sohei Dojima, the patriarch of Kiryu’s family, is the main antagonist in Yakuza 0 and the catalyst for the events in Yakuza Kiwami. Within the first hour of Kiwami, we know that Dojima kidnaps Yumi and tries to rape her. This alone makes him one of the most unlikable characters in the series. The kidnapping forces Nishiki to kill him with Kiryu left to take the blame. The series protagonist ends up in prison for 10 years and the connection between him and his oath brother is forever changed as the effects of Dojima’s murder has a ripple effect throughout the Tojo Clan.
In Yakuza 0, Dojima shows how greedy for power he really?is?as he tries to acquire the empty lot through any means necessary. This includes the attempted murder of Makoto and multiple other deaths as a result of his subordinates following his will.
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About The Author
(14 Articles Published)
Pedro Guillen is a writer hoping to produce informative gaming content that will grab your attention for a few minutes. He’s done a bit of everything, from IT to visual arts. He’s a support main that doesn’t want to admit it and instead says he plays what the team needs.
From Pedro Guillen