‘Like a Dragon: Yakuza’ Live-Action TV Adaptation Roars Onto Amazon

Amazon Prime Video is expanding its live-action repertoire with a new series based on Sega’s popular video game series, previously known as Yakuza, now rebranded as Like a Dragon. The series, titled Like a Dragon: Yakuza, will make its debut on Prime Video later this year with a six-episode season, as per Variety.

Directed by Masaharu Take, known for The Naked Director, and starring renowned Japanese actor Ryoma Takeuchi (Kamen Rider) as the protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, the series is set to captivate global audiences. It will launch in two parts, with the first three episodes releasing on 25 October and the final three on 1 November, reaching over 240 countries and territories.

Like a Dragon: Yakuza

Set in the iconic Kamurocho entertainment district, the series delves into two pivotal years — 1995 and 2005 — in Kiryu’s life. It explores his evolution from a fearsome Yakuza warrior to facing the repercussions of his past actions, which include a decade-long prison sentence. The narrative intertwines Kiryu’s personal growth with his struggles against the criminal underworld, providing a rich canvas for drama and character development.

Ryoma Takeuchi described the physical transformation required to embody Kiryu, noting the extensive preparation involved, “You can’t play Kiryu Kazuma without getting into shape, so I knew I had to throw myself into it. This was a job not only for me but also for the costume and makeup teams. It took two and a half hours just to prepare for this shot.” He also shared his deep connection with the character, “It’s partly Kiryu Kazuma and it’s partly me. I got so close to the part that it was hard to distinguish where he ended and I began. That included getting into shape for the part, the costume and so on. Rather than acting the part of Kiryu, I feel like he became part of the family.”

Director Masaharu Take praised Takeuchi’s dedication, “Having someone with such a large physical presence as Takeuchi makes all the difference. I understood that he knows his body better than anyone, so I left it to him to get into shape. Takeuchi did all the action himself as well. It was impressive.”

Like a Dragon: Yakuza

The adaptation aims to blend the subjective experience of the games with a more objective narrative approach, as explained by Masayoshi Yokoyama, head of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and executive producer of the series:

“It’s because I understand all too well the challenges and hardships that come with remaking a finished title. However, if I were ever sent to the past through some kind of cosmic joke, this is the experience I’d want to create. If I had to go through the wringer anyhow, I’d want to make the most engaging versions of Kamurochō and Kazuma Kiryu I could — and this show has it all. While the games let you experience their world through the subjective lens, this adaptation will be the ultimately objective way to enjoy the show. I have no doubt that fans of the series will be drawn to how it brings the games to life and adds new surprises. Newcomers, I’m sure will find themselves invested simply in the gritty realism of the show.”

Like a Dragon: Yakuza is set to be a major addition to Amazon’s growing portfolio of video game adaptations, following the success of Fallout and the development of a Tomb Raider series. As anticipation builds, fans and newcomers alike can look forward to experiencing this gripping narrative on Prime Video this fall.