Today, during a livestream from Tokyo, Sega and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio announced the five winners of the audition for Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
The five winners, portrayed above, are Ayu, Ai Kaname, Kson, Ai Sayama, and Kokoro Nakayama. They will play live-action roles as hostesses working at a cabaret club that will appear in the game. They were selected among a large number of participants competing via a series of auditions.
If you haven't played the Like a Dragon (formerly known as Yakuza in the West) series before, you may not know what a "Cabaret Club" is. It's a (perhaps excessively) literal translation of the Japanese term "Kyabakura" which indicates Hostess Clubs. They're establishments often visited by businessmen in which they can pay to drink and chat with attractive ladies. They have appeared in several installments of the series, and we'll see one again in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name.
The series' protagonist Kazuma Kiryu has been both a customer and a manager of several Kyabakura and even worked as a host club (the version intended for ladies employing attractive men) himself. It's worth reminding that, while the media (mostly Western) often associates Kyabakura with a form of sex trade, any sexual interaction with hostesses and hosts is usually strictly forbidden, at least at the workplace itself.
If you follow YouTubers and vTubers (virtual YouTubers) one of the names included among the winners will likely sound familiar: Kson is a popular YouTuber and vTuber known for the channel Kson ONAIR. Besides being a big fan of the franchise, many fans believe her to be the same person behind Hololive's Kiryu Coco, who retired after a widespread harassment campaign by Chinese users and bans on local media started with the mention in passing of Taiwan as a separate country during one of her streams.
Seeing Kson star in Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name will certainly please many Western and Japanese fans, who supported Kiryu Coco through that ordeal. Incidentally, the name "Kiryu" was an intentional homage to the franchise.
During the livestream, we also heard from studio head Masayoshi Yokoyama that this is most probably the last audition of this kind to be hosted for the franchise. While he had said this before, and he ended up doing it again because there was the time for it, he believes that this group of ladies truly represents the finale of this tradition. Of course, this doesn't mean that there won't be private auditions going forward.
Incidentally, we already know that an overall winner will be chosen among them to play a role in Like a Dragon 8, but her identity was not revealed today. According to the developers, we'll have to wait for the official reveal of the game to learn her name. Feel free to consider me biased, but I'm rooting for Kson.
You can check out the full livestream below.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name is coming later this year for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC. It'll mark the return of protagonist Kazuma Kiryu and showcase the events between Yakuza 6: The Song of Life and the next game, Like a Dragon 8, which will see Kiryu Share the protagonist role with Yakuza: Like a Dragon hero Ichiban Kasuga and will release in 2024 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
Recently, we saw videos showing behind-the-scenes footage of development and voice acting for Like a Dragon 8.