Kazuma Kiryu is a character from the action-adventure series Yakuza/Like a Dragon, where Kiryu is the protagonist. He is called the Dragon of Dojima, as he has a dragon tattoo, and is a member of the Dojima family. His character first appeared in 2005, when he accepted the responsibility for his boss’s death to protect Akira Nishikiyama, his best friend, which led to his removal by the clan members and imprisonment for ten years. After he comes out of prison, he faces many challenges in his life. He meets Hakura Sawamura during this time and becomes her adoptive father.
Initially, there were a few confusions regarding the age and position of Kazuma Kiryu and whether it would be realistic. He was then positioned as a noble samurai who cares about everyone’s safety. Kiryu is a very important character for Yakuza, but the Sega producer, Toshihiro Nagoshi, refused to call him the protagonist because the story focuses more on the character of Haruka Sawamura. Similarly, in Yakuza 2, the focus was on Kaoru Sayama, the new character, instead of Kiryu.
When the video game Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan! was released, the producer promised to complete the storyline of Kazuma. Consequently, Kiryu and Haruka were made to live life like humans in Yakuza 3. The plot where Kiryu starts running an orphanage was loved by everyone among the Sega staff. Initially, the idea was to make Kiryu go to prison again, but it was changed. The makers tried very hard to make Kiryu’s character lovable to the audience, as he was the only playable character. In Yakuza 4, they made him seem immortal. He was also mostly referred to by his last name, unlike before, to prevent it from looking odd as the other characters were referred to by their last names. There were many developments in the character and storyline of Kiryu Kazuma that we will discuss in this article.
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Kiryu is 20 years old and works as a debt collector with the Dojima family. When a man was found dead in an empty lot, he left the Dojima family to prove his innocence in the murder.
To protect his best friend, Nishikiyama, Kiryu takes on the responsibility of killing Sohei Dojima, the boss of Yakuza, in 1995. When he comes out of prison after ten years, he finds out that the conspiracy for theft and murder is on everyone’s minds. He also finds out that his biological parents were murdered, and he was raised by the man who killed them as a tradition to raise the kids of their victims.
Six months later, Yukio Terada, the Tojo clan’s fifth chairman, is killed. The investigation leads Kiryu to another conspiracy from twenty years ago.
Kiryu leaves life as a yakuza and starts to run an orphanage, but soon, a real estate issue regarding the orphanage pulls him back to his early life.
Kiryu finds Taiga Saejima, a murderer and Tojo clan member, near the shoreline when he was still running an orphanage. It makes Kiryu return to Kamurocho, where he encounters other protagonists of the game.
Kiryu started living a life as a taxi driver under a fake name. Soon, he is contacted by Daigo Dojima, who informs him about a new clash between the Omi Alliance and the Tojo clan, which makes him get into the middle of it to protect his buddies.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Due to a turn of events in the game, Kiryu is sent to prison for the next three years. After returning, he was unable to find Haruka and went back to Kamurocho to find her. He finds out that she has a son without marriage, and the search for the kid’s father lands him in another conflict involving mafia groups from China and Korea.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
In this game, Kiryu was not playable, but he made an appearance to resolve the previous conflicts. He could only be used by the players to do a special attack, and as per his codes, Kiryu does not attack females.
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Kazuma Kiryu was voiced in Japanese by Takaya Kuroda. He portrayed Kiryu as a shy character and was surprised by the success of the first Yakuza series. Kuroda also expressed his joy that many people now recognize him by his voice as Kiryu.
The English voice behind the character, Darryl Kurylo, was impressed by Kiryu and wanted to perform his best. However, he was disappointed that some lines could not be translated.
Kiryu’s character received a positive response from many critics. They loved how Kiryu was different from Yakuza, and he stood out as a kind character throughout the series.