The Story Leading Up to Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

The Story Leading Up to Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

By  Dylan Pamintuan - 16th Jan 2024

Catch up on this totally serious crime drama.

The Story Leading Up to Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth

The Like a Dragon series (formerly Yakuza) is really long, both in playtime and in story. There’s a lot that happens over the course of all nine mainline games, and it can be difficult to get into if you’re a newcomer to the series and a lot to remember if you're a veteran. However, that’s why this article exists! To catch you up on the adventures of Kiryu Kazuma and Ichiban Kasuga in time for Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. So let’s get started.

Disclaimer: This article spoils every game in the series.

The first six games focus on the life of Kiryu Kazuma, starting from the original Yakuza game (which is retold in Yakuza Kiwami). In 1995, in the fictional town of Kamurocho, Kiryu was a yakuza lieutenant under Tojo Clan subsidiary Dojima family, earning him the name “The Dragon of Dojima”. He was living a rather good life with his friends, his sworn brother Akira “Nishiki” Nishikiyama and his love interest Yumi Sawamura. They all grew up together in the Sunflower orphanage, which was established by the Patriarch of the Kazama Family and surrogate father Shintaro Kazama.

However, on the night of Yumi’s birthday, everything changes. Nishiki shoots the patriarch of the Dojima family after he sexually assaults Yumi and Kiryu takes the fall, ending up in prison for 10 years. When he gets out, Yumi is missing, Nishiki has become a ruthless patriarch of his own family, there’s 10 billion yen missing from the Tojo’s bank accounts, and everyone and their grandfather wants Kiryu’s blood for killing the patriarch and to become the next chairman of the Tojo Clan. And the key to all of this is a young girl named Haruka Sawamura, who is looking for her mother Yumi.

A lot of stuff happens, but the basic gist of it is that a lot of people Kiryu cared for die. Nishiki, Yumi, and Shintaro Kazuma (who was a former hitman who murdered Kiryu’s real parents and why Sunflower exists, to house the orphans he creates) all get killed, the 10 billion yen is scattered across Kamurocho, and Kiryu is named the fourth chairman… for all of 15 minutes before announcing his retirement so he can raise Haruka away from the world of the yakuza.

However, this never lasts. Despite Kiryu’s efforts to stay away from the criminal underworld, even opening up his own orphanage named Morning Glory, he’s always pulled back in to solve the Tojo’s problems and deal with their rival, the Omi Alliance, which often puts his and his loved ones lives in danger (mostly Haruka, she’s usually a target), By the time of Yakuza 6: Song of Life, Kiryu has had enough of watching his friends and family die, be kidnapped, and used against him. So, at the end of that game, he makes a deal with a shady organisation and fakes his death to ensure Haruka and the other kids in the orphanage live peacefully.

And that’s just Kiryu’s side. Now we get to Ichiban Kasuga in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, who is known as the “Dragon of Rock Bottom”. An appropriate title, as despite his name meaning "Number One", he had nothing straight from the start. Born and placed in a coin locker and raised in a soapland (essentially a brothel) in Kamurocho, Ichiban grew up playing a ton of Dragon Quest and looking up to his father figures, Jiro Kasuga (the owner of the soapland who died in his teenage years) and Masumi Arakawa (the patriarch of a minor family in the Tojo). He grows up to work under Arakawa as a yakuza grunt and caretaker of his disabled son, Masato Arakawa. However, just like Kiryu, Ichiban takes the fall for a murder he didn’t commit and ends up in jail for 18 years (it would’ve been 15, but it got extended) on the day of his birthday, the 1st of January, 2001. When he gets out, everything has changed. The Arakawa family is part of the Omi Alliance, after selling out the Tojo, effectively destroying it after Masato is declared dead. Oh, and when Ichiban finally meets his boss… he shoots him and leaves for dead in Yokohama.

Despite all this, Ichiban claws his way back to the top, assembling a party of friends to aid him in finding the answers he seeks and combat a criminal conspiracy. Along the way, he finds out Masato is not only alive and can now walk but assumes a new identity as Ryo Aoki and has been using the yakuza as his pawns to climb up the government ladder. In order to weaken his power and stop his plans, the chairmen of both the Tojo and the Omi Alliance decide to dissolve their yakuza organisations (which also makes Kiryu’s efforts worthless, but don’t worry. He helped out).

However, not everything is resolved, as Masumi Arakawa is murdered that very night by the orders of his son. Not only that, afterwards, Ichiban discovers he might be Masumi’s real son because, well, there were two babies in those coin lockers that night. Still, Ichiban fights on and stops Masato’s plans by revealing his crimes, and even manages to convince him to atone… but then Ryo Aoki’s biggest supporter, Kume, stabs him and ends his story there.

Despite all the death and shocking revelations, Ichiban still manages to smile as now he’s got good friends he can count on, a reputation as the Hero of Yokohama, and a future that has never looked brighter than before… until Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth and that all gets ripped away from him, so he has to climb back to the top all over again.

You won’t believe me, but this was a very brief summary of the Like a Dragon story so far, and there’s still so much I couldn’t fit in. I haven’t even mentioned Goro Majima, one of the most popular characters in the series, and Daigo Dojima and his many, many failings. You’re better off playing the games yourself, and they're all available in Fanatical as well as the latest entry, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, coming out on the 25th of January 2024.

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