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Yakuza: Like A Dragon Ending Explained

If you have any familiarity with the "Yakuza" franchise, you know that developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio likes to blend soap opera-style drama with absurd gameplay and side stories. "Yakuza: Like a Dragon" takes that formula and gives it a fresh set of characters with a JRPG framework. The game follows Ichiban Kasuga, who spends 18 years in prison for a murder that he didn't commit at the request of his patriarch, Masumi Arakawa. After being released, his Arakawa shoots Ichiban and leaves him for dead in Yokohama.

"Yakuza: Like a Dragon" has multiple storylines that all begin to culminate at the end of the game, with the toppling of multiple crime families and the possibility of some babies being swiped at birth all being thrown at the player. The ending feels like information overload, but it's not as completely insane as it might seem at first glance. After over 40 hours of gameplay, here is everything that happens at the end of "Yakuza: Like a Dragon."

The end of the Yakuza

In Chapter 12 of the game, Ichiban and his crew make their way through the Tojo clan headquarters, eventually meeting back up with Masumi Arakawa. Arakawa is with Daigo Dojima, the sixth and current chairman of the Tojo clan. Here, it is revealed that Governor Ryo Aoki (who is also Masato Arakawa, the son of Masumi) was able to drive crime, and the Yakuza, out of Kamurocho using information from Arakawa — with Daigo's permission. Basically, everyone is backstabbing everyone.

It is revealed that because anti-Yakuza laws in Japan have become so open to interpretation, most Yakuza could be forced to do whatever government officials demanded. Daigo says that together with the Omi Alliance, they would disband both Yakuza organizations to prevent the Yakuza way of life from being twisted by the government. The announcement is made the following day, when Ichiban and company must fight off the angry former Yakuza. Afterwards, Ichiban gets to reunite with Arakawa, whom he tells he feels is like a surrogate father, and the two share a nice moment.

While ending the two largest Yakuza organizations in Japan is a significant development (after all, this is a series based entirely around organized crime), it's interesting to see such an action-packed series make this decision through the use of real-world politics (or at least something that resembles the real world).

Swapped at birth ... maybe?

Arakawa is murdered shortly after he and Ichiban part ways, and Ichiban believes that Jo Sawashiro, one of Arakawa's captains, killed him. After Ichiban beats Sawashiro in a fight, the latter reveals that he didn't kill Arakawa because he feels like he has a life debt to him. The game then dramatically rolls into a flashback from when Sawashiro was 15, and his girlfriend at the time was pregnant. Unable to deal with a child, they chose to put the baby in a locker. They went back to save the baby, but Arakawa had already freed the baby from the locker, declaring that it was now his child.

Sawashiro felt indebted to the man raising his child and joined his Yakuza family. However, Sawashiro later claims that after Arakawa left with Sawashiro's son (Ryo Aoki), the owner of the local brothel came to pull another baby out of the locker (Ichiban Kasuga), who is Arakawa's actual son. While it is never revealed that Sawashiro was telling the truth, Ichiban still felt as though both he and Aoki were sons to Arakawa.

Beyond being a wild plot twist, this also ties nicely into Ichiban's character arc. Ichiban spent much of his youth in Arakawa's Yakuza family, so its understandable that he would feel like Arakawa had a direct hand in raising him. In fact, Ichiban spends the majority of game saying that he has always felt like Arakawa is a father to him, so the reveal that he might actually be his father drives that connection even deeper.

The fall of Ryo Aoki

Chapter 15 is the final chapter of the game and culminates with a fight against Ryo Aoki, the son of Arakawa and the governor of Japan. Ryo Aoki rose to power with a group called Bleach Japan, which focused on getting rid of "gray" areas and crimes in Japan, like the Yakuza and brothels. It also has been revealed that Aoki used the Yakuza to help him attain power, which is why the Tojo and Omi were disbanded.

Ichiban shows a video of Aoki admitting to his crimes to the police, dooming Aoki's plans. Aoki escapes, leading him and Ichiban to the lockers where they were put as babies. Aoki admits that he is the one who committed the murder that sent Ichiban to prison years ago. The two reconcile, but before Aoki can turn himself over to the police, Kume, a member of Bleach Japan and a newly elected representative, stabs Aoki. Aoki dies, and it's unclear if Kume is arrested.

Aoki's arc is sad, as he spent the first several years of his life wheelchair-bound, feeling like he had no control over his life. After getting surgery in America, he gained the use of his legs and began trying to gather power, hoping to make up for the years when he felt helpless. During his pursuit of power, he did horrible things and lost sight of the people who were there for him when he was a nobody. He realizes far too late how important his family is.

The future of Ichiban and company

Koichi Adachi is one of the members of Kasuga's party, a former cop who lost his job and pension due to corruption in the department. After Aoki dies, the game cuts to Juro Horinouchi, the Kamurocho police commissioner who worked closely with Aoki and took money from him. Horinouchi is also the person responsible for having Adachi demoted. Adachi confronts Horinouchi with evidence of the bribes, and the villainous cop is arrested, bringing closure to Adachi's storyline and leaving him feeling vindicated at last.

As Ichiban and company prepare for Arakawa and Aoki's funeral, Ichiban says that he doesn't feel the need to get a DNA test to prove if Arakawa was his real father, because he feels as though Arakawa was his father regardless. At the funeral, Daigo offers Ichiban a job at a security company. Ichiban declines, saying that his place is in Yokohama with his new friends. He tells his crew that he is sticking around, and the game fades to black as he reflects on Aoki's dying words: "Keep living, Ichi."

Despite the amount of bloodshed throughout the story, this is one of the most optimistic endings in the series. Ichiban is presented with the chance to choose his own path for the first time in almost 18 years. After working for Arakawa and doing whatever was asked of him, he got sent to prison for 18 years at Arakawa's request. After that, he was compelled to understand why Arakawa shot him and took one dirty job after another. Now, he is given the opportunity to pursue whatever he wants alongside his friends.