6 Crucial Plot Points to Remember Before Like a Dragon Gaiden
The Dragon returns
The Like a Dragon franchise is having a busy year, with Like a Dragon Ishin in February and now Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name setting the stage for the next mainline entry. Gaiden also puts the spotlight back on former series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, chronicling the events after his send-off in Yakuza 6. Before you get intimidated by the loads of history baked into the series, there are really only a few vital plot points you need to be familiar with before jumping into Gaiden. Whether you’re looking to make this your first Like a Dragon game or simply need a refresher, here’s what you need to know.
For the most part, you don’t need to be familiar with the entire Yakuza series to play Gaiden. There are plenty of references to find, but there are only a few essential story points you need to know beforehand — mostly relating to Kiryu’s adopted children.
Morning Glory Orphanage
Having grown up as an orphan himself, Kiryu founded the Morning Glory Orphanage to help provide a stable and loving home to those who need it. Of course, his adopted daughter Haruka is a huge motivation for this, but he also adopts eight other local children. For a time the family was happy, until Kiryu inevitably gets drawn back into the affairs of the criminal underworld. At the start of Yakuza 5, Kiryu has moved to Fukuoka and gone incognito, working as a taxi driver and sending every penny he earns to the kids at the orphanage.
Kiryu barely sees the orphanage for years during the events of Yakuza 5 and 6, but the kids are at least able to live comfortably. In the future, however, the orphanage becomes Kiryu’s critical weakness.
While Kiryu is working as a taxi driver, Haruka moves to Sotenbori to pursue becoming an idol, also with the intent of supporting the orphanage. What’s really important to know about her plotline, though, is the confession at the end.
Without getting too in the weeds, the Chairman of the Omi Alliance has called for Haruka’s assassination, and while the group of protagonists try to stop it, she sees Kiryu in a televised broadcast. This changes her mind about being an idol, as she reassesses her priorities.
On stage at the massively televised finals of the Princess League, Haruka admits she was raised by a yakuza and announces her immediate retirement. After leaving the event, she finds Kiryu on the brink of his demise in the snow, managing to save his life as he’s taken to the hospital.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
The Search For Haruka
For months, Kiryu is in the hospital, and is then sent to prison for his role in the events of Yakuza 5. During this time, internet rumors spread about Morning Glory Orphanage’s ties to the Yakuza, and paparazzi start hanging around the house taking pictures of Haruka.
She leaves to protect the other kids, completely vanishing as Kiryu is still serving time. When Kiryu gets out, he learns of Haruka’s disappearance, and once again, leaves the orphanage to find her in Onomichi. Through a string of events, he discovers Haruka in a coma, and learns about her child Haruto, born out of wedlock.
Haruka has become embroiled in a conspiracy with the Yomei Alliance, the third largest criminal organization in Japan, and by extension, Kiryu finds himself involved.
Kiryu Leaves Everything Behind
Kiryu and The Hirose Family of Onomich discover the Yamato Mark II, an illegally built battleship meant to be used against occupying American forces post-WWII. The existence of the ship has dire ramifications for the Japanese administration, and the Yomei Alliance works with Iwami Shipbuilding, the company that built the battleship, to use it as leverage over key politicians in the upper echelons of leadership.
At the end of Yakuza 6, Kiryu defeats Tsuneo Iwami, the CEO of Iwami Shipbuilding, and puts an end to the Yomei Alliance’s ambitions. However, those key authority figures learn of Kiryu’s actions and the fact that he knows about the Yamato.
Kiryu is threatened while recovering in the hospital and in the ultimate sacrifice decides to fake his own demise, guaranteeing the protection of Haruka and the other orphans. This is where the events of Like a Dragon Gaiden kick-off.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Like a Dragon Gaiden largely takes place before the events of Yakuza 7 (Yakuza: Like a Dragon), but Kiryu’s story will carry on after the events of that game as well. Because of that, at the very least, it’s good to know how Kiryu ties into everything.
The New Generation and Fall of the Tojo
Yakuza: Like a Dragon introduces a brand new protagonist, a down-on-his-luck yakuza named Ichiban Kasuga, who spent years in prison after taking the fall for someone from his family.
Throughout Like a Dragon, we start to see hints that both the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance, the two largest criminal organization in Japan, are in dire straights. In 2019, the leader of the Omi, Watase, is released from prison and travels to a joint meeting with the Tojo. There, he and Daigo Dojima announce the dissolution of both organizations, planning to bring an end to the criminal underworld as it's known. Kiryu was brought in to act as protection for Watase and Dojima, still hiding his identity.
In the latter half of the game, Ichiban and the party face Kiryu in a duel, as the older protagonist wants to make sure the group is capable. While Kiryu easily comes out on top, he gains respect for Ichiban, but still says he can’t help the party, due to shadowy organizations threatening his family.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon ends with the fate of the Omi and Tojo in question, along with what will happen to Kiryu, Ichiban, and everyone else. That’s where Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth will pick up when it releases on January 26, 2024.
Yagami Detective Agency and Kaito
Just when you thought it was over, there’s more. Judgment is a separate franchise that takes place in the same location as Yakuza, Tokyo’s red-light district known as Kamurocho. Both Judgment games take place alongside the Yakuza franchise, and while you don’t need to know the events of those games, you’ll at least want to be familiar with the main characters, as one is set to appear in Like a Dragon Gaiden.
Judgment revolves around Takayuki Yagami, a former lawyer who founded the Yagami Detective Agency in Kamurocho, where he works as a private eye. His right-hand man is Masaharu Kaito, a former Yakuza who was part of the Matsugane Family, a Tojo-clan subsidiary. Kaito left the Yakuza life long ago and has tried to live a, mostly, honest life since. In many ways, he’s the polar opposite of the stoic Kiryu, with a larger-than-life personality and quick-to-anger tendencies. Kaito likely won’t play a huge role in Like a Dragon Gaiden, but considering how central he is to the Judgment games, he might just crop up again in the future.