Yakuza Kiwami Makes Akira Nishikiyama’s Actions More Understandable

By Jenni . September 8, 2017 . 12:00pm

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There were gaps in the original Yakuza. It was absolutely a story focused on Kazuma Kiryu and his quest to protect Haruka and set things in Kamurocho right. This meant we suddenly went from seeing Akira Nishikiyama, a man Kiryu had been raised alongside and known for his entire life, go from a best friend and brother to an enemy. It might be especially confusing for people who came to Yakuza Kiwami from Yakuza 0, where Nishiki was a brother, someone Kiryu would even hang out with. One of the highlights of this remake is how it addresses those gaps, offering explanations for how and why Nishiki became the man he did.

 

Editor’s note: there will absolutely be Yakuza Kiwami spoilers below.

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The additional segments getting into the Dojima Family business and Nishiki’s situation come on pretty quickly. After Kiryu is fingered for Sohei Dojima’s murder, Matsushige and few other members of the family talk about what happened to him, then moved on to Nishiki, since he was Shintaro Kazama’s other “favorite” and was raised at the Sunflower Orphanage. People right away mention how it would be less complicated if Nishiki had been the one who killed the boss. Of course, Nishiki was the one who murdered the boss and he was in the other room when he basically overheard his fellow yakuza saying it would have been better, easier, and less complicated if he had done it. He’s devalued by his own. Shortly after, when he tells Reina what happened, he has to deal with the guilt of failing to protect Yumi. When she is grief-stricken and asks how he could let this happen, he lashes out at her both verbally and physically.

 

In spite of this, it almost seems like there is hope for Nishiki. Osamu Kashiwagi gives him hope of becoming a patriarch and having his own family. It seems like he would be out from Kiryu’s shadow. Like he might get to stand on his own, with some of the thanks due to Kazama’s support. But then, there’s the catch. Kashiwagi implies that this is happening so Kiryu has a place to go when he gets out, since he was expelled and can’t be brought into the Kazama Family. There’s a responsibility for the Nishikiyama Family. It almost seems like it could be a positive, a chance for him to pay back someone who’s both a brother and a friend.

 

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Except when Nishiki gets this family, things don’t immediately take off. Despite being given men, they don’t respect him. Matsushige shows his disrespect to his new “boss.” Nishiki may have underlings, but they’re only there because of Kazama. Matsushige says to Nishiki’s face that he respected someone like Kiryu, who worked for his position, and implies Nishiki got there because he sucked up to the right people. He’s made to be useless, as “his men” go off to do what they like to get by. Again, he’s made to be useless.

 

One of the straws comes when his sister, Yoko, needs a heart transplant. It is framed as her only chance. It’s a situation where it could be years before a match appears and the cost is great. Nishiki is then taken advantage of. He’s in another situation where he’s useless, and Dr. Hiyoshi of the Touto University Medical Center takes advantage of that. He essentially blackmails Nishiki into dealing with organ brokers and getting 30 million to cover the transplant. He’s left begging the man who doesn’t respect him, Matsushige, for the money. Matsushige’s methods infringe on Kashiwagi’s territory, he laughs at the thought of respect, and is willing to let Nishiki suffer any repercussions. Again, Nishiki is useless. He can’t stop his own men, he can’t earn the money on his own, he can’t save his own sister, and he’s left apologizing, bowing, and crying at the feet of the man who have him a patriarchy, pities him, and remarks how Kiryu would never have been in such a position.

 

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Shimano then taunts Nishiki at his lowest. He points out how Kazama gave him the men who don’t respect him. He suggests that the only reason Nishiki has a family is because Kazama wants Kiryu to have something waiting for him when he gets out. The seeds of doubt are planted, cementing Kiryu as someone with street cred who accomplishes things. Especially since, even though he’s gotten the 30 million he needs, it was from the very doctor who demanded the money from him. The doctor leaves town, Yoko dies, and Nishiki is useless yet again. All after constant reminders that Kiryu is still respected, may still have a chance to rebound after getting out of prison for a crime Nishiki committed, and that he will never be the main his friend was. At the point of suicide, Matsushige comes in at the worst time. Nishiki kills him, marking the turning point where the brother and friend Kiryu knew becomes the villain we see in Yakuza Kiwami.

 

It’s a sobering and enlightening transition. All of these scenes show how someone who was a friend turns into an enemy. Yakuza Kiwami shows Nishiki pushed until he breaks. After being seen as useless for so long, as less than the person who was supposed to be his equal, and abused by so many, he snaps. While he does abhorrent things, this game makes it easier to see why he changed and became the man he did. These new scenes make things so much easier to understand and strengthen both the story and game in the process.

 

Yakuza Kiwami is available for the PlayStation 4.


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