Amazon’s Like A Dragon Is The Perfect Video Game Adaptation For People Who Hate Video Games

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

After the success of Fallout on Amazon Prime and signs of life with the Phoebe Bridgers Tomb Raider series, it was only a question of what series would be next to be adapted. Now we know, as Amazon announced Like A Dragon: Yakuza is coming this fall with a six-episode first season, and if you aren’t excited about this, don’t worry, you will be.

The SEGA video game franchise, which follows the rise and fall of the Japanese mafia, has the potential to appeal to everyone, from those who have experienced the life of Kiryu to gamers who haven’t played it yet and even people who have never played a game in their lives.

The Univeral Themes Of Like A Dragon

Known for years in America as Yakuza, the series was changed with the seventh mainline entry to match up with its Japanese name, Like A Dragon, hence the slightly awkward title of the Amazon series. What hasn’t changed about the series is the story of each game, which deals with revenge, redemption, honor, brotherhood, and remaining true to oneself as the world changes.

The other part that’s been consistent, spending more time dealing with crazy sidequests and playing mini-games, will likely not be part of the Amazon series.

Likely Based On The First In The Series

Like A Dragon: Yakuza will most likely adapt the first game in the franchise, which follows Kazama Kiryu after his release from 10 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Kiryu, a man of honor, took the fall when his best friend, Akira Nishikiyama, murdered their boss for assaulting their friend, Yumi. Back in Tokyo in 2005, Kiryu finds himself in the middle of a mob war, trying to find Yumi, reconnecting with Akira, and realizing that he has to leave behind his old life as an enforcer.

A Grounded Video Game Franchise

Every game in the series has multiple twists and turns, as what starts out as a simple plot at the beginning expands to encompass more of the Tokyo criminal underworld, and Like A Dragon: Yakuza will likely follow the same pattern.

As great as Fallout is, it’s still post-apocalyptic science fiction and even Tomb Raider is an action-adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones, which is why I believe, against all odds, the SEGA Action-RPG series will be the big cross-over series that lets video game adaptations break out into the general public.

Like A Dragon Will Appeal To A Vast Section Of The Streaming Audience

Similar shows have become hits in the last decade, from Tokyo Vice to Narcos, which is why using subtitles shouldn’t be an issue for Like A Dragon: Yakuza. Crime and mafia shows are also incredibly popular, and Kiryu is a hero cut from the same mold as Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy, so with him as the center point, fans of Sons, Breaking Bad, Peaky Blinders, and even Boardwalk Empire or Brotherhood, will have a character they can latch onto.

All the pieces are in place for this to be a massive success, but there’s one part of the video games that, sadly, the show could do without the side quests.

Don’t Expect The Goofy Sidequests To Remain

Anyone who has played a Like A Dragon game knows the wild side quests are part of the fun. From helping an entertainer working as a living statue avoid paying the “dark price,” which is the greatest euphemism for “he has to use the bathroom,” to helping a live streamer hunt down ghosts, they help offset the seriousness of the main plot. If you mainline one of the games without spending more time on sidequests and playing mahjong or pocket racer, you’re not playing it right.

Like A Dragon Streams In October

While we don’t know any details about Like A Dragon: Yakuza when it’s a hit, there’s plenty of material for more seasons, and in the later games, there’s an expanding cast of protagonists, though none are as fleshed-out as Kiryu. As excited as I am, as a huge fan of the franchise, for the upcoming series, I’m even more excited knowing that I’ll be able to get my dad, who has only played Microsoft Flight Simulator, to sit down and watch the adventures of Kiryu in Kamorocho.

Amazon’s gamble on a video game franchise outside of the mainstream is going to pay off big time. We’ll know for sure if I’m right or not when Like A Dragon: Yakuza airs its first episode on October 25.