So I just finished JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind a little while ago, and I devoured the last volume of The Way of The Househusband last night. I,m also watching Tokyo Revengers as we speak. For unknown reasons, I’ve been thinking of anime yakuza lately…
When I decided to put this little list together for funsies, I suddenly realized that there are TONS of fun yakuza characters in anime. Like really a lot. So this list is most likely not going to include a whole bunch of yakuza’s that you like. Heck, I’m skipping over a bunch that I like as well. I’m not even getting into Durarara! OK, never mind, I’ll mention Durarara. Let’s just say this is a very partial list of anime yakuza that I like, in no particular order…
5. Giorno Giovanni – Jojo’s Bizarre Adevnture: Golden Wind
It was an interesting move to turn an entire season of JoJo into what could almost be called a classic crime drama. But you know, JoJo has never been afraid to play with styles and genres. And of course, a JoJo crime epic is going to come with an assortment of eccentric and very fashionable mafiosos.
I guess technically, these are members of the Italian mafia so they’re not really yakuza but I’m saying close enough. And I decided to pick by look! I was divided between Giorno and Bruno, to tell the truth. I think Bruno’s overall design is more striking and I prefer his outfit but Giorno’s hair is what really did it for me.
Good hair is very important for a proper gangster character…
4. Nitta – Hinamatsuri
Hinamatsuri was a fun show and making the central relationship between a little girl with alien powers and an old fashion yakuza clearly out of his depth, brought something very unique to the show. Despite being an actual Yakuza, Nitta is in fact the responsible straight man of the series.
Nitta’s involvement and attachment to a little girl follows the classic formula of movies like The Professional. We love to see how a man hardened by life and circumstance can just melt in the presence of the innocence of a child who needs him.
Of course, Hinamatsuri suberverts this formula. It’s arguable whether Hina needs Nitta or anyone really, but she certainly finds life easier when he’s around. And Nitta never really seemed all that hardened, to begin with. Still, underneath it all, you can recognize the heartwarming bond between the two and it’s cute.
3. Izaya and Shizuo – Durarara!!
I said I would put Durarara in and here it is.
Ok, so this one is a bit confusing. I put both characters in there because I’m not sure which actually counts as yakuza but I like them both. Shizuo is a bodyguard for a debt collector. That’s the official title. But said debt collector doesn’t exactly work for a bank if you know what I mean. And he deems it acceptable to collect debt by letting his ridiculously strong bodyguard go on a rampage. Also, what type of “debt collector” needs a full-time bodyguard. I’m just saying, we both know what’s going on here.
On the other hand, Izaya is an information broker., more specifically, an underground information broker. It’s very clear that what Izaya does is illegal but he’s an independent. He’s not associated with any group and as such, I’m not sure if I can count him as a yakuza. He’s more yakuza-adjacent.
In any case, both are great characters and there is in fact a lot of official yakuka in Durarara, especially the second season.
2. Mori – Bungo Stray Dogs
To be honest I could have just thrown all of the Port Mafia in here and also Dazai for good measure. Oh, and Oda, let’s not forget Oda. Despite being called the Port Mafia, they are clearly a Japanese organized crime group and pretty much all the members rock. I was going to put Chuuya originally because he just evokes the stereotypical gangster but in the end, I had to go with Mori.
Mori is a great character. Also, he’s irredeemable. Mori is often charming and even fun to have around. He has his own brand of honour and is disciplined. In a certain way, you can believe that he’s acting towards some sort of virtue, at least in the way he sees it. When watching the series, is easy to think that Mori is one of those reasonable gangsters, you could talk to and cooperate with. And sometimes, he is.
But the man is also a monster. When push comes to shove, Mori simply does not have any regard for life. And that’s just such a fundamental rift that when you clash with it, he becomes almost incomprehensible. We don,t often see characters that have so many likeable traits but are clearly just plain evil. They can’t be saved, they don’t believe there’s anything to save them from and they wouldn’t have turned out differently under different circumstances. Awesome!
Tons of Special Mentions
I’m going to try to breeze through these
Ash Lynx – Banana Fish
Just because I noticed that he introduced a new audience to the world of crime dramas, I think Ash deserves to be thought of when we think about anime gangsters. I’m starting to think I shouldn’t have used the word yakuza, but I like it…
Fuyuhiko – Danganrompa
I’ve always really liked Fuyuhiko. In general, Danganronpa has some great characters. To be completely honest, I’ve only watched one season of the anime but I have played every single game and the game Fuyuhiko is a really great twist on the yakuza boss.
Reborn – Katekyō Hitman Reborn!
First, I think we don,t talk about Reborn enough so I like to mention the show every once in a while. Second, he’s a super-powerful hitman baby. A hitman baby…
Nero – 91 Days
91 days is by far the most serious and “realistic” anime on this list. It was occasionally heartwrenching and rather unique. And it does stand out in my mind as the premiere anime about organized crime. A lot of it is thanks to Nero, and the surprisingly gentle nuance he brought to the story.
Xianming Lin – Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens
I think he’s the closest to a female character I’m going to have on this list. I’m going to need a second list because there are some outstanding yakuza grand dames. But back to Lin. He’s an assassin for a rather large and vicious criminal organization. At least he starts out that way. And he has a few other hobbies. Lin starts off pretty stereotypical but soon shows a childish side that is a very nice clash to what he’s supposed to be.
1. Tatsu – The Way of the Househusband
This is the longest Top 5 list I have ever written. I might need to familiarize myself with the notion of “5”.
Like I said, I finished the last volume I got of The Way of the Househusvband last night and was reminded once again about what makes this particular series so great. It’s Tatsu. Well, it’s Tatsu and everyone else but it wouldn’t work without Tatsu.
In a weird way, Tatsu both ridicules and idealizes the yakuza cliché. We laugh along at his antiques and at how out of place he is, but we also kind of admire his discipline and loyalty. Tatsu is the kind of character that makes you think, I might want to be friends with a yakuza all the while reminding you that you never ever want to get on the bad side of one.
I’m not sure if that’s a very good lesson to take away. But I do finish every volume smiling from ear to ear!