I bet you guys all have already known about the yakuza. Yes, it is! Yakuza is the term to call the members of organized crime syndicates in Japan. Just like the other big crime syndicates in this world like Triad, Italian mafioso, and the Russian mafia, yakuza is one of the biggest and most popular crime syndicate in the world. Thanks to the anime, manga, and the Japanese video games that often insert yakuza in their stories, the yakuza name became well known in this world. Because of that, in this article we’re going to cover about the existance of yakuza in the Japanese Pop Culture. Let’s take a look…
Different than the other crime syndicates which always keep their presence secretly and silently, yakuza is more open to public since they clearly made their headquarters in a giant building and named it, usually using a piece of wooden board. This kind of thing made yakuza is still felt as a part of Japanese society, and, moreover there are lots of people who prefer to cling on yakuza rather than the police. Because of that, it became such a common thing to insert yakuza in their works like manga, anime, movie, or even in the video games. There are a lot of yakuza appearences in the Japanese Pop Culture and it’s fun to know more about it, so let’s check on some of them…
- Ryuu ga Gotoku / Yakuza (video game & movie )
Ryuu ga Gotoku or Yakuza in the US is an action adventure video game for the Playstation 2. Yakuza was first released in 2005 in Japan. This game also has lots of sequels, which are yakuza 2, yakuza 3, yakuza 4, and some of the spin off series. In this game, you will play as Kazuma Kiryu, a former yakuza who was released from prison after a ten years sentence for murdering another yakuza boss. After he was released, he found out that his friend Yumi Sawamura is missing and there’s a big incident in the yakuza world because of the Tojo Clan, which Kazuma was part of it, had 10 billion yen stolen from them. This incident force Kazuma to return to the yakuza world while he has to protect a girl, named Haruka Sawamura, which somehow connected to the 10 billion lost money and Kazuma’s friend Yumi.
The yakuza appearance is pretty clear in this game since you will play the main character that was a yakuza and will have to fight lots of yakuza. Kazuma Kiryu, the main character and the former yakuza, decribed as someone who has a high sense of justice and always act to protect the weak ones. He is a kind and loyal person as well. Though Kazuma Kiryu makes the image of yakuza become good, there are still lots of yakuza in this game who would fit into your original image. But at least, this game make us realize that not all of the yakuza is a bad person and still have a high sense of justice, just like Kazuma Kiryu.
- My Boss My Hero (dorama)
Most of the people often imagine yakuza as a group of cold blooded men who do everything necessery to gain money, like murder, extortion, drugs selling, and etc. But, what if your image of yakuza change 360 degree because of this dorama? I’m sure it will, because the story of this dorama is about a 27 years old yakuza boss, named Sakaki Makio (Tomoya Nagase), who can’t even know the answer of a simple mathematics question for junior school. On the other side, Makio is well known for his fighting ability, he’s a super strong human, and because of that he’s nicknamed as Tornado Makio and really famous in the yakuza world. On the other hand, because of his stupidity, he always ruins the transaction of his yakuza group and always make the big boss , which is his father, angry. One day, his father who’s been fed up by his son’s idiocy, forces him to go studying in one of the high school and get the diploma. If not, his father won’t let him succeed him as the big boss and give that position to his younger brother, Mikio.
Can’t you even imagine that one of your classmate is a yakuza boss? Scary? No, not at all in this dorama!!! It turns out to be a really hilarious story, one of a kind! In the school, Makio who’s a yakuza, tries really hard to live the high schoolers life, like making homework, cleaning the classroom, and even getting his money extorted by the snot nosed punk in his class. Makio tries really hard to cover his true identity by disguising himself into a kind and friendly person because if his cover is blown, he obviously will be dropped out of the school and he can say good bye to his dream to become a big boss. In the beginning, things was really hard for him since he really sucks at all subjects, except sport, and his classmate always teases him up because of his stupidity. Still, he does all of the things thoroughly and he even become the head of the class because of his ambition to become a leader. As the days pass by, Makio learns there’s lots of interesting things in the school, than just studying and doing exams. Although most of his classmates were making fun of him in the beginning, in the end, Makio is able to gain the supports from all of them ( he even get a girl who loved him which is starred by Yui Aragaki ).
This dorama is one of the best dorama that I’ve ever watched. In this dorama, you can know that, even yakuza, they are still humans and really have a strong ties between each of them. Moreover, there’re a lot of emotional moments that you can get, beside the hilarious moments that are all over the dorama.
- Gokusen (manga, anime, and dorama)
Originally, Gokusen is a manga series, but because of the popularity, Gokusen is addapted into anime series and dorama series. The dorama itself also gained big popularity since in each series there’s always lots of cool actors who are always starred as the students. The story of Gokusen is about Kumiko Yamaguchi, the granddaughter of a yakuza boss from the Ikka family, who just started her carrer as a teacher. Actually, Kumiko is supposed to be the next big boss of her yakuza family by succeeding her grandfather, since Kumiko parents died when she was a kid, and her grandfather has no other decendants. However, being a teacher is her big dream since she was a kid, and knowing about that, his grand father let her to choose her own path.
While teaching her students at school, Kumiko is always called as Yankumi, her given nickname from her students. Her students in her class are all boys and most of them are delinquients. However, because of her background as a member of a yakuza family, that kind of thing doesn’t enough to scare her. Instead, she tries her hardest to teach lots of things to them, both the academics and the lesson of life. Even though her students always cause her lots of trouble, like have problem with other teachers, other school’s students, or even yakuza, Yankumi always help them to solve the problem and be a great hero for them. The whole gokusen story is filled with lots of humor scene and some of the emotional scene.
Those stories above are just some of the existace of yakuza in the Japanese pop culture, to tell you the truth there are still sooo many of story which include yakuza. The appearance of yakuza in their story also varies, most of them as the bad guy or antargonist, but some of them, they use yakuza as the good guy or the protagonist. To tell you the truth, I’d like to believe that yakuza is different than the other crime syndicates as well.