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Here’s which games the Like a Dragon: Yakuza show adapts & canon status

yakuza amazon prime header poster of kazama kiryu

The long-running Yakuza series is getting a TV series on Prime Video with Like a Dragon: Yakuza, and fans are wondering about which games it will adapt and whether it’s canon.

The Yakuza franchise, now known as Like a Dragon, is one of Sega’s most beloved series. Although Yakuza only had reach in Japan once upon a time, everything changed with the release of Yakuza 0. The prequel brought an explosive number of new fans to the franchise, and it has become one of Sega’s staple IPs in recent years.

Sega has tried adapting the Yakuza franchise to cinema screens before. Ichi the Killer director Takashi Miike loosely adapted the first game’s story into the feature-length film Yakuza: Like a Dragon. However, the adaptation received mixed reviews, with criticism leveled at the film’s changes to established lore and characterizations. Sega has a second shot at the classic story with the Amazon Prime adaptation.

What games will the Like a Dragon: Yakuza show adapt?

Like a Dragon: Yakuza is set to be an adaptation of the first Yakuza game.

The adaptation will follow Kiryu Kazuma and his three childhood friends in 1995 and 2005. The three childhood friends likely refer to Akira Nishikiyama, Yumi Sawamura, and Reina. Fans of the series will know these three met unfortunate ends during the course of the game. It’s also possible that the Like a Dragon: Yakuza show will expand upon series canon by expanding upon Kiryu’s childhood, a subject that wasn’t extensively detailed in the games.

However, it’s worth noting Yakuza 1 barely stayed in the 1995-era past flashbacks. With the freedom of six episodes, the writers may have time to flesh out Kiryu’s life before his imprisonment, much like Yakuza 0. Of course, six episodes to focus on two distinct eras of Kiryu’s life likely means a lot of side stories get cut out in favor of the main plot. 

Young Kiryu
A young Kiryu Kazuma

While the wacky nature of those side stories will be missed, Kiryu Kazuma actor Takeuchi Ryoma, who previously starred in Kamen Rider Drive, states the series will include “intense fight scenes.” Director Take Masaharu claims Takeuchi did all the stunts himself, so at least as far as action goes, fans might be able to breathe easy. Another question in fan’s minds is if the series will be canon in any shape or form.

Will Like a Dragon: Yakuza be canon to the series?

It is unknown whether Like a Dragon: Yakuza will be canon to the main series.

As a loose adaptation of the first game, it’s unlikely that the Like a Dragon: Yakuza show will override the canon of the games. The directors never made any claims about the game’s canonical status and focused on its merits as an adaptation that could surprise even longtime fans.

Given the first film adaptation was similarly not canon, the series will likely follow suit. Still, the speculation is not without precedent. Adaptations like Amazon Prime’s Fallout are considered canon to the video game franchise, though that did lead to some confusion as certain details didn’t line up. Like a Dragon: Yakuza will premiere on Amazon Prime on October 24, 2024.

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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