Sega’s Yakuza franchise is full of unforgettable villains, and seven of them are the best antagonists of the entire series.
Throughout the history of Yakuza, we have seen many memorable boss fights, and their secret was colorful antagonists, over whom it was very pleasant to defeat. The franchise has never had a problem with well-written villains, including experienced fighters who literally exude toughness, and calculating geniuses who preferred to stay in the shadows.
Each villain had their own strengths and weaknesses, and in our today’s selection we will focus on the best of them. Although these antagonists did things that are difficult to justify, they were usually driven by complex and compelling motives that were fully revealed at the climax of a particular game. We apologize in advance to the fans of Majima, who will not be on this list precisely because he never played the role of the main antagonist of the game; otherwise, he would be the head of this collection.
Ryuuji of the Year
Ryuuji, also known as the Kansai Dragon, was the main opponent of the Dojima Dragon in Yakuza 2 (and in its remake called Kiwami 2). The hero has very unusual notions of justice and moral principles, which, nevertheless, fit perfectly with his ruthless nature.
Let’s be honest, the authors of the second part managed to make Ryuuji incredibly cool. Even his general narrow-mindedness does not cause rejection. He is selfless, straightforward and prefers to go ahead in any incomprehensible situation. Ryuuji hates behind-the-scenes intrigue and takes no pleasure in dishonest victories, which is vividly demonstrated in the main storyline of Kiwami 2.
At the time of the events of Yakuza 0, we see Kuze as the stubborn and wayward lieutenant of the Dojima family. He regularly gets into fights with Kiryu and has a heightened sense of honor. Daisaku basically does not touch the weak and prefers to fight with opponents equal or superior in strength. This character trait is emphasized in the scene in which Daisaku scolds his henchmen, who happily beat the hostage.
Daisaku Kuze’s fortitude is the foundation of his character, and the hero does not give up even after several defeats to Kiryu. He is not ashamed to lose in fights, because a real shame for him would be to give up and surrender. And this is perhaps the main life lesson that Kuza can teach.
How long can a boss fight get? If you have not played Yakuza 0, then you have no idea how intense this segment can be. And although Shibusawa is not technically the main antagonist in Yakuza 0, he managed to enter the ranks of the cult heroes of the series, bypassing other villains of this part – and it’s not just a spectacular battle with the protagonist.
Keiji Shibusawa is a classic manipulator, ready to do anything for his own purposes. He is cruel, cold-blooded and strives with all his might to take a place at the top of the criminal hierarchy. Shibusawa is not shy about using others to his advantage, and his rational mindset allows him to calculate his own and others’ actions several steps forward. He is not one of those people who brag about his power and influence, because he is great at acting from the shadows.
Throughout the Yakuza 6 story campaign, Takumi challenges Kiryu several times, with each fight being better than the previous ones. But since flashy boss battles are common in the Yakuza franchise, why exactly did Takumi make it to the list of the best villains in the series? As part of the story of Yakuza 6, we are shown Takumi’s multifaceted relationship with the characters around him, thanks to which you can see a complex personality in him.
Someya exists not only for the sake of fights with Kiryu – the hero has his own clear goals and motives that can even be imbued with. That is why his sacrifice for Kasahara looks very touching, as well as further tragic events.
Tsuneo Iwami is by no means a pleasant or controversial villain. As you play Yakuza 6, you will hate him with all your heart. The hero is needed in the plot only for the sake of this, and he copes with the task perfectly.
Of course, if you want, you can dig a little deeper and prove that Iwami is a complex character. For example, behind his actions are clearly a strained relationship with his father, and his broken moral compass is the result of poor upbringing.
Mine is the main antagonist of Yakuza 3 and the interim clan chairman, holding this position in Daigo’s absence. Yoshitaka Mine is intriguing with its cold prudence, and therefore it is very interesting to watch his actions. His ideology is the direct opposite of Kiryu’s worldview, since Mine is confident that it is necessary to achieve anything solely on its own.
But Maine’s cynical nature is revealed from a different angle when we see his devotion to Daigo. The hero deeply respects Daigo for his kindness and boundless nobility, so after Daigo is on the verge of death, Mine rushes to his aid without further hesitation.
Akira Nishikiyama is forced to struggle with feelings of inferiority, as he remains in the shadow of his named brother, Kiryu. He constantly has to deal with reminders that Kiryu is superior to him in everything, and therefore it is difficult for Akira to restrain the flow of negative emotions that push him into questionable actions.
It is possible that you do not even consider Akira a villain. Yes, he did a lot of troubles, but his motives and worldview made him one of the most beloved heroes of the series by fans. And the point is not only in his appearance or impulsiveness, but in his multifaceted history, which simply cannot but arouse sympathy. If in flashbacks we see a loyal and sympathetic comrade, then at the time of the main events of the game he turns into a very callous person who has turned his back on his own brother – and all these metamorphoses are gracefully explained in the plot.