I Love How Yakuza: Like A Dragon Humanizes Homelessness

The Yakuza franchise has at all times had a robust monitor document concerning how it handles illustration of marginalized teams, however Like a Dragon is an entire new ball sport. My pleasure going into the most recent journey starring a brand new protagonist had me anxious to dive in, however what I skilled as Ichiban Kasuga left me in tears quite a few occasions all through the story in one of the simplest ways potential. 

The homeless group performs a big function within the newest Yakuza narrative, and whereas I had religion that the goodwill would proceed in Like a Dragon, it is at all times a hit and miss in media about how the homeless are portrayed. For me, the extra adverse annotations of the homeless hit significantly arduous, as a result of that was my actuality for a big portion of my life rising up.

With out going into the main points, a lot of my earlier years had been predominately shifting from sofa to sofa, sleeping in fast-food eating places, parking garages, and (throughout one significantly darkish 12 months) cemeteries. Particularly once I was younger – a minor – and had no choices as to the place to go outdoors of shelters, that point in my life was terrifying, dehumanizing, and one thing that continues to paint my experiences to today. 

There are 1,000,000 completely different explanation why somebody would instantly discover themselves within the scenario of residing on the streets. Abuse, dependancy, over-ambition; there isn’t any one formulation to instantly end up with out 4 partitions to maintain you protected from the surface world. Typically within the media, the homeless group is seen as aggressive, harmful, and addicts past purpose. Whereas that definitely is a actuality for some, that’s not an correct illustration of everybody’s scenario, however it’s that illustration that continues to overshadow how our society views individuals who stay on the streets, successfully stopping many from doing something about it. 

With a relentless barrage of media representations that convey the message “these aren’t folks,” it is sadly simple for empathy to get eroded away by assumptions and preconceived notions. I used to be by no means hooked on any form of drug, I didn’t have any grand scheme pulled out from underneath me. I used to be a child who grew up in a risky surroundings – an surroundings that made residing out on the road a safer various. 

Rising up and studying at a younger age find out how to discover my very own security, there have been moments that crawled inside my very psyche to inform me I didn’t matter. I used to be dust, an inconvenience, and an individual that didn’t need to even be checked out. I have been spit on, peed on, I’ve had baggage of vomit thrown on my pillow. That actuality seeped into my each being, making me terrified to have a look at folks within the eye for concern of “dirtying up” their day. I discovered myself, and nonetheless do at occasions, apologizing only for present. 

Individuals, at massive, don’t care concerning the homeless. It’s a group ignored by some, used as a political ploy by others, and customarily reviled by many. Yakuza: Like a Dragon counteracts these societal bins positioned on folks that have discovered homelessness to be their new actuality. Nobody needs to be in that place. Nobody goals of being in that place. However so many discover themselves in that place regardless, a proven fact that the studio over at Ryu Ga Gotoku takes particular care to discover in a considerate and useful manner. 

At one level within the story, our protagonist finds himself on the streets and brought in by the native homeless group. Some are welcoming, others are suspicious, and a few turned lifelong pals. 

Each dialogue interplay means one thing on this sport, and the interactions with the assorted characters all through Like a Dragon every inform a special story about how they’ve come to be the place they’re. 

Yu Namba, for instance, is a companion to Ichiban. We study that he got here to be within the scenario we meet him in as a result of his ambitions for cash flew just a little too near the solar. As a nurse who stole medication from the hospital he labored at to promote on the aspect, his unlawful hustle expanded past what he might management. From success to stranded, Nanba rapidly discovered himself with out a nursing license and with out a technique of revenue. 

One sub-story is a couple of man who befriends a youthful boy on his route to high school. That boy that’s across the identical age as the person’s  personal son was earlier than he misplaced all the pieces. Throughout this specific quest, Ichiban should assist the “outdated man” named Jinnai to craft a present for the boy’s birthday. The younger boy, named Shota, is a professed reader with a love of recent adventures. With that in thoughts, the hunt then turns into a mission to construct a bookshelf for Shota with supplies discovered. “It’s the thought that counts,” the bookshelf isn’t the best high quality, however it was constructed from a spot of affection and data of the recipient’s hobbies that make him joyful. 

When the reward is first given, the boy is so thrilled to obtain it. He says he’ll treasure it at all times, a sentiment that warms Jinnai’s coronary heart. To have fun, Jinnai invitations Ichiban for drinks, solely to see the created bookshelf sitting deserted atop a pile of trash. Jinnai thinks it is because Shota didn’t just like the reward, a proven fact that Ichiban disputes by saying the bookshelf was a good suggestion. What broke me was Jinnai’s response, a response alongside the traces of ‘it’s not the bookshelf, it’s that it got here from me.’ “Individuals don’t need presents from folks like me,” he says, referring to how society as an entire views the homeless. 

Fortunately, the hunt performs out and we uncover that Shota loves the reward and that it was thrown out by his father, one thing that can also be later settled in a heartwarming manner. The look of reduction and happiness that emanates from Jinnai felt like a punch to the intestine within the worst and very best manner. I used to be so joyful to see his story unfold and to see a cheerful decision, however the reality about why he was so beat down to start out with loomed as a reminder of occasions I’d fairly neglect myself. 

This character wasn’t an addict both. He was a person whose solely objective was to guard his household. Throughout this questline, Jinnai confesses that he grew up poor in order that when he married and had a son of his personal, he labored “evening and day” to make it possible for his son by no means knew the struggles he knew intimately rising up. The irony is that he labored an excessive amount of, and his spouse felt disconnected to the purpose the place she took their son and left. That abandonment acted as a catalyst for him to lose his job and his goal and earlier than he knew it, he was among the many homeless. A person labored himself to the bone to guard his household and it backfired, however that makes him no much less human. 

One other second that struck out to me was the second that Nanba and Ichiban discovered themselves with shelter for the primary time after assembly one another, getting a job at Hamako’s “restaurant” with room and board above the bottom of operations. There may be nothing within the room besides for 2 very soiled mats, however the pair couldn’t be happier, taking enjoyment of a roof over their heads and a chilly drink of their arms. 

I purchased my first dwelling a number of years in the past, one thing I by no means in 1,000,000 years imagined for myself. I keep in mind our actual property agent was very a lot the “hold discuss and emotions to a minimal” sort, one thing I revered when coping with him. So think about his discomfort after we signed the home and my husband and I stood within the empty front room, our empty front room, and my knees buckled and damaged sobs simply got here pouring out. This was mine. I earned this. I labored arduous for this. I bled for it, I cried for it, I labored till I believed I used to be going to die for it. It was mine. That feeling of gratitude and disbelief is one which I’ll by no means be capable of describe totally and to see that feeling mirrored in that scene, even minutely, was a second in gaming I’ll treasure at all times. 

So why am I scripting this? I wished to say thanks. Thanks for people who had been in a position to claw their manner out, and thanks for these which can be nonetheless trying to find their mild. Thanks for humanizing the homeless when so many others do all the pieces they will to make us appear to be animals; like monsters. Thanks to Yakuza: Like a Dragon for championing marginalized teams, a theme that’s prevalent by the Yakuza franchise as an entire. Thanks for not abandoning that and thanks for not shying away from that vulnerability. 

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