The latest chapter of the Yakuza series, Yakuza: Ishin!, is a trip back in time. Much like in Yakuza: Kenzan!, the game will feature series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as a famous historical character. However, this time, Kiryu will be two historical figures instead of one.
Featured in this week's Weekly Famitsu, Yakuza: Ishin! will have the "Dragon of Dojima" as both the famed anti-feudal government activist Ryoma Sakamoto and the mysterious "Wolf of Mibu," Hajime Saito. Both are men of importance and notoriety in Japanese history, Saito perhaps more so in the West, thanks to the '90s manga and anime Ruroni Kenshin.
Factually, Sakamoto and Saito were different people (ironically, Sakamoto was said to have been assassinated by the Shinsengumi — the police force that Saito was a member of). However, the developers are admittedly taking some creative licence with Yakuza: Ishin! and have mashed the two together into a singular character with the personality of Kiryu. Much like Yakuza: Kenzan! the game is more about the exploration of the character of Kazuma Kiryu and having him be part of history than it is about historical accuracy.
Supposedly, the game will start with the player as Ryoma Sakamoto and along the way, after a particular event involving betrayal and murder, he will abandon his name and take on his new identity: Hajime Saito.
Series director Toshihiro Nagoshi spoke on the decision to develop the new game separate from the main numbered series. "With Yakuza 5, it felt like we'd done everything we could, both in terms of volume and quality." Nagoshi explained. "If we were to do another numbered game, I wanted more time. With that in mind, I tried to figure out how to meet the series' fans' expectations and decided upon development [of Yakuza: Ishin!]." Nagoshi also noted that Yakuza: Kenzan! is one of his personal favourites of the franchise and this chance to revisit the possibility of another history-based Yakuza was something he'd been hoping for.
For the Japanese, the feudal era of Japan carries with it a lot of romanticism, much like the Western genre does for Americans. As someone who is Japanese and somewhat familiar with the history and characters involved, I find myself pretty damn excited to see how this original story will play out and all the fun swordplay I'll be able to enjoy, regardless of any historical inaccuracies.
Yakuza: Ishin! currently has no announced release date or platform, though at the very least it'll probably be on one of the PlayStation consoles.