Yamai's Yakuza Yarn: Like a Dragon Gaiden's Perfect Spin-Off
Ah, the sweet taste of success! Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name proves that we hunger for more Yakuza goodness (or should I say, Lik...
Ah, the sweet taste of success! Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name proves that we hunger for more Yakuza goodness (or should I say, Like a Dragon, but it'll always be Yakuza to me). These bite-sized adventures offer the perfect opportunity to dive into character backstories, plug those pesky plot holes, and take a trip down memory lane to when the cast was young and the Kamurocho arcades were still Club Segas.
Now, I've already selected the ideal candidate for the next Gaiden spin-off. Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth introduced us to a character that I'm certain fans will adore—Yukata Yamai. As the leader of the Yamai Syndicate in Honolulu and one of the antagonists of Infinite Wealth, there's something about Yamai that struck a chord with me. Perhaps it's his quirky, eccentric behavior and his insatiable thirst for battle, reminiscent of our beloved Majima.
Now, if you've read my spoiler warning and you're still with me, either fully committed to having the game spoiled or just not caring at all, let me tell you about Yamai's brilliantly crafted character arc. He's not just some two-dimensional villain with quirks for the sake of fun. No, he evolves into an anti-hero, playing a pivotal role in helping the team achieve their goals by the end of the game.
Throughout Infinite Wealth, we catch glimpses of Yamai's past through well-crafted flashback scenes. We witness a young Yamai when he was a part of the Tabata family in Japan, deceived into committing patricide, used as a scapegoat, and eventually finding solace in Hawaii, where he built his own crime syndicate. These flashbacks offer insight into the origins of his quirks, like his sensitivity to the cold, which comes full circle in a bittersweet moment in the closing chapter.
By the end of the game, Yamai surrenders himself to be arrested for the murder he committed long ago. Now, prison has never been a deterrent for Yakuza characters to make a comeback (so we shouldn't rule out a return by Yamai), but it's his untold past that truly intrigues me.
Yes, we know the basics, just like we did with Kiryu in Gaiden. We knew where Kiryu ended up in Yakuza 6, and we knew how his story continued in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, setting him up for a new life in Hawaii. Yet, Gaiden managed to deliver an intriguing, emotional story by introducing new elements, characters, and plot threads. The same magic could be applied to Yamai's tale, for it still feels incomplete.
While we may have a general idea of how Yamai's story unfolds and the broad strokes of his family's fate, the Yakuza series has taught us that the lives of Kamurocho's yakuza families are filled with drama and dilemmas. A throwback to Yamai's youth would settle fans comfortably in a familiar time, when the yakuza were at their peak. It would provide an opportunity to explore and expand on this new favorite character. And let's not forget the cherry on top—a cameo by a younger Kiryu. Perhaps they'd cross paths on the bustling streets, igniting a moment of intrigue and nostalgia.
So, dear fans of Like a Dragon, let's rally together and demand Yamai's Yakuza Yarn! It's time for a Gaiden spin-off that delves deep into his past, uncovers hidden secrets, and paints a vivid picture of a time gone by. Let's celebrate this captivating character and embark on an unforgettable journey that will leave us hungry for more.