Yakuza: Like a Dragon producer and Ryu Ga Gotoku studio head Masayoshi Yokoyama has revealed One Piece to be one of the game’s biggest influences, saying its cast was effectively based on Luffy and his crew.
Speaking to Crunchyroll, Yokoyama said the long-running manga and anime series was on his mind during the entire writing process, resulting in Like a Dragon being essentially Yakuza: One Piece in his mind.
“I’ve never really talked about this before, so I’m not sure if I should just go for it now, but for [Like a Dragon] I was really, really inspired by One Piece,” Yokoyama said. “To me, Ichiban is basically Luffy. And around him there’s Zoro and Nami and basically the rest of the party. One Piece’s party composition was on my mind so much during writing that it was a massive influence.”
He added: “This is definitely not official, but in my own heart, [Like a Dragon] was basically my ideal version of what would be Yakuza: One Piece. That’s how I got the inspiration to make it.”
The influence even bled into Like a Dragon’s promotional material. “If I recall correctly, even the catch copy for [Like a Dragon] was something like ‘Life is an adventure,’ with the keyword being ‘adventure’, Yokoyama added. “You can definitely feel the One Piece inspiration coming through there.”
It makes sense in retrospect, as Like a Dragon was a lighter take on the Yakuza series that featured a protagonist who could switch between being a badass and goofball, much like Luffy from One Piece.
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The manga is finally approaching its end after more than 1,000 chapters and 25 years, though the franchise will likely continue to grow. Netflix is currently working on a live action series with some incredible sets that recreate the manga’s weird and wonderful pirate ships, a new video game is coming in January, and a card game is also in development and expected to be released this winter.
Given Yokoyama’s inspiration, it will also somewhat live on in Yakuza 8 (officially rebranded as Like a Dragon 8), which continues the story of Ichiban Kasuga.
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.