Akira Nishikiyama (錦山 彰, Nishikiyama Akira), often shortened to Nishiki (錦), is a recurring character in the Yakuza series first introduced in the original Yakuza. He is a supporting character in Yakuza 0 as well the main antagonist of Yakuza/Yakuza Kiwami.
Nishikiyama has a large, muscular build and black shoulder length hair in a bob cut in Yakuza 0, as well as the prologue and flashback sequences in Yakuza Kiwami, which is eventually slicked back in Yakuza/Yakuza Kiwami. His tattoo depicts a red koi swimming upwards and was tattooed by Utabori. His tattoo represents his ambition to climb the ranks of the Tojo Clan, as in Japanese myth, the Koi must swim up a waterfall through the dragon's gate to turn into a dragon.
In Yakuza and Yakuza Kiwami, Nishikiyama wears a double-breasted white suit, black dress shirt, white patterned necktie, and black crocodile leather oxfords. In Yakuza 0, he wears a maroon suit with a black and gold patterned dress shirt, necklace with a silver pendant that has a diagonal checkered pattern, a dark brown leather belt with a gold buckle, and shiny dark brown cap toe oxfords. During the prologue and flashback sequences of Yakuza and Yakuza Kiwami respectively, he wears a two button notch lapel white suit jacket with black slacks and a black dress shirt with a popped collar, instead of the double breasted peaked lapel white suit and black dress shirt with a white tie that he wears later on.
As seen in Yakuza 0, Nishikiyama started off to be very loyal and supportive towards his friends and family such as Kiryu and Kazama. He also hangs out with Kiryu often in several activities and frequently banters about his inadequate taste in fashion. Despite being forced by the Dojima family to fight against Kiryu, Nishikiyama fought alongside his sworn brother many times and promised that he'd always be there. Nishikiyama also seems to worry about Kiryu for his reckless attempts against the Dojima family. He also firmly believes that people can succeed in the world through appearance rather than substance.
During the 10 year time skip of the first game, Nishikiyama has drastically changed to a cold and vengeful person. This stems from his deep inferiority complex against Kiryu, triggered by the Dojima family, who made it clear to Nishikiyama that he is useless and unfit to be a leader of a family much less the chairman. Compounded with Kazama's favoritism to Kiryu, even though he gave Nishikiyama a family since he believed in second chances, Nishikiyama frequently misinterpreted the words of those around him, thinking that they're tormenting him, except for Matsushige, who was genuine in his insulting remarks towards Nishiki. There are hints of Nishiki's inferiority complex in Yakuza 0, where he tearfully disparages himself for not having the strength to kill Kiryu so that he could spare him from being punished by the Tojo clan. To get to the missing 10 billion yen, he went as far as hurting his former friends and betraying them for his ambition of becoming a chairman. It was at the end of the game where he finally regrets his actions and sacrificed his life to stop Jingu as well as an attempt to reassert one last degree of control in his life that was defined.
At the age of 17, he joined the Dojima family along with his best friend Kiryu, despite excessive protests and even a beating from Shintaro Kazama. Contrary to Kiryu's motivation for joining the Yakuza to "help Boss Kazama and carry on his will", Nishikiyama felt indebted to Kazama and the Yakuza for paying for his sister's medical bills when she fell into illness. Even though both brothers were frequently involved in fights, both feel self-gratified in this new criminal lifestyle.
Yakuza 0: 1988
Nishikiyama first appears to pick up Kiryu, after watching him beat up some street thugs. Then Kiryu and Nishikiyama go to a karaoke bar where Kiryu sings. After, they go to a ramen shop where they learn that the man Kiryu had just collected money from had been murdered.
Nishikiyama contacts Kashiwagi who gives them both the jist of the situation; If Kazama loses his position, he is likely to be expelled from the Dojima family and killed to maintain his silence. Nishikiyama tries to talk Kiryu out of leaving the family but Kiryu remains adamant on protecting Kazama. Nishikiyama reluctantly drives Kiryu to the HQ of the Dojima family while reminiscing about how they asked Kazama to join against his wishes. However, Kiryu survives and tells Nishikiyama that he is alive and left the Dojima family. Kiryu also says that now he cannot come inside the Kazama family building and asks Nishikiyama to tell Kashiwagi that he is alive. After being formally employed by Tachibana, he calls Nishikiyama to help him buy a new suit for the Tachibana estate meeting at Cafe Alps. They got to a shop and Nishikiyama decides for Kiryu to buy the white suit before heading back to Serena.
Jun Oda eventually arrives at the bar, beaten by Dojima family men led by Awano's men. Kiryu fights the Dojima family. Meanwhile, Nishikiyama and Awano have a little chat. Nishikiyama objects and is pinned down by Awano himself as he demands Kiryu to hand over Tachibana or have his entire family tortured to death. Kiryu refuses, leading Awano to order a manhunt led by the entire Dojima family, with Nishiki being forced to join.
Kiryu is saved by Nishikiyama and he promptly asks Kiryu to get in his car to hide from Dojima family members who are searching him. Nishikiyama drives Kiryu to the woods with intent to kill Kiryu to save him from Dojima family and The Hole. Nishikiyama bursts into tears, unable to kill Kiryu, telling him he is nothing without him. Kiryu takes Nishikiyama's car and goes back to Kamurocho to finish what he started against Nishikiyama's wishes, informing him that from this point onward, they are no longer sworn brothers. As he drives off, Nishikiyama looks up towards the sky and yells with rage and misery.
When Kiryu returns with Makoto, he runs into Nishikiyama again, who was ordered by his fellow men to kill Kiryu for causing them so much trouble. One of Dojima's thugs, knowing about Nishikiyama's inferiority complex, even offers Nishikiyama credit if he could succeed. However, Nishikiyama refuses and instead joins forces with Kiryu to fight their way back to Makoto. They managed to find Tachibana but it was too late for him as he was dying from his injuries from torture.
When Majima arrives at Serena, he demands that Nishikiyama tell him Kiryu's and Makoto's location. Nishikiyama refuses, and they fight. Majima manages to overpower Nishikiyama and asks again where Kiryu and Makoto are. Nishikiyama initially refuses to speak, but after Reina tells Majima that nobody knows where she is, he tells Majima about her relation to Tachibana and says she was last seen in West Park. Then Nishikiyama goes to Kiryu and tells him that he had an encounter with Majima, telling him that he is on Kiryu's side as he is wanting to protect her.
Nishikiyama later informs Kiryu that the Kazama family is considered as an enemy by the Dojima family due to the promotion of Shibusawa, who takes over Kazama's position and becomes captain of the Dojima family. He also reports that the Dojima Family has launched a raid at the Shibaura wharf. So, Shibusawa orders his men to eliminate the Kazama family and sends Kuze to the Kazama family HQ, who tells Kiryu about Shibusawa's true plan. Nishikiyama and Kiryu go to the Nikkyo Consortium, where Makoto is hidden from the Dojima Family while she recovers. However, the Dojima family manages to find Makoto and slaughter most of the Consortium members with the intention to draw out Sera and any remaining Kazama
loyalists. Kiryu and Nishikiyama arrive and fight the Dojima family. Kashiwagi brings his reinforcements to fight off the Dojima family. Nishikiyama and Kiryu manage to enter the ship and fight the Dojima family. They are confronted by Dojima family members armed with pistols on one side of the ship’s lower deck. Nishikiyama tells Kiryu to go ahead and find Makoto Makimura without him. Nishikiyama stays behind and provides cover fire for Kiryu to continue.
Nishikiyama manages to defeat the remaining Dojima family members and arrive in the nick of time to save Kiryu from killing Shibusawa. He urgently tells Kiryu he "can't cross that line," and swears that if they must kill someone to advance up the ranks, they will do it together.
Afterwards, Nishikiyama can be seen at Serena, where he meets Kiryu who is in his new suit and criticizes it, pointing out that the style is on its way out and it doesn't suit him. Kiryu responds that he'll decide who he is from now on, to which Nishikiyama light-heartedly complains, "See if I care! Wear it for the rest of your life!"
Kiryu then expresses that he feels indebted to Nishikiyama for his support and swears to pay him back, even if it takes the rest of his life. Nishikiyama requests that Kiryu take him out to an expensive steak house, but Kiryu admits he doesn't have enough money, leading Nishikiyama to jokingly scold him and lead him out the door, arm around his shoulders as they leave Reina's bar.
Yakuza/Yakuza Kiwami: 1995-2005
— Akira Nishikiyama, Yakuza Kiwami
"After the incident ten years ago... I lost what felt like a piece of my life. And then I decided that I'd sacrifice everything to change the fates."
Nishikiyama asks Kiryu about starting his own family and scoffs at Kiryu's nervousness, stating that Kazama always liked him. He explains that his sister is in the hospital and that her next operation is going to be her last. Nishikiyama and Kiryu noticed Yumi coming in to join them. Nishikiyama, Kiryu and Yumi were having fun drinking before Kiryu fell asleep. Nishikiyama and Yumi have vanished when he wakes up. It's revealed that he is chasing after Dojima who kidnapped Yumi and took her to the Dojima family office. Upon seeing Dojima trying to rape Yumi, Nishiki furiously shot him cold-blooded. Kiryu is alerted by Shinji about the commotion and arrives at the office. Nishiki tells Kiryu that he would take responsibility but Kiryu volunteers to bear his punishment, so that Nishiki could spend time with his dying sister. Nishiki reluctantly agrees and escorts Yumi, traumatized by the attempted rape, out of room.
Shortly after the murder of Sohei Dojima, Nishikiyama is back at the Dojima Family office where he overhears a conversation between Dojima family members about the murder of their patriarch. In the midst of the conversation, one of the members claims that the situation of what to do with Kiryu wouldn't be as complicated if Nishikiyama was the one to pull the trigger seeing (they didn't know that Nishiki was the true killer) as he is not Shintaro Kazama's “favorite”. As they all agree on that notion and insult him for being useless, Nishikiyama furiously clenches his teeth and leaves. Nishikiyama goes back to Serena to deliver the news to Reina about Kiryu and Yumi. Reina becomes distraught over how Nishiki didn't keep his promise in not making her worry over Kiryu and Yumi and frantically asks why he couldn't do anything to save them. Nishikiyama then assumes she is calling him useless in the same way those Dojima members were, which confuses Reina. In his unstable state, Nishikiyama slaps Reina leaving her further in tears as he looks at his hand dumbfounded over what he just did.
A year later, Nishikiyama is finally given the news by Kashiwagi that he is to run his own family. Nishikiyama is grateful and happy to learn that Kazama believes in him and has even given him some of his most experienced soldiers to help him run the business. Kashiwagi also tells him that another reason to give him his own family is to help Kiryu join the Tojo clan again seeing as he can't be accepted back to the Dojima family given “his” crime. Encouraged by Kashiwagi, Nishikiyama vows to work hard to make his family strong for himself and for Kiryu. However, little they did they know that they've pushed Nishikiyama further into the road of darkness. This is because his new subordinates openly despise and mock him for his ineptness, with Matsushige (one of the veterans on loan to Nishikiyama from the Kazama family), being the most egregrous, stating that if it were Kiryu it would be different as he is not a suck up-to-the boss type like Nishikiyama.
Some time later, Nishikiyama goes to the hospital to learn from a doctor that his sister Yuko needs a heart transplant which will take time to find a donor, time that Yuko doesn't have. Nishikiyama asks if there is an alternative to which the doctor says that he has some illegal contacts which can provide a heart for Yuko for the price of 30 million yen. Nishikiyama, desperate to save his sister, agrees to the deal and asks Matsushige to get him the 30 million, whatever it takes. Matsushige seems surprised but quickly agrees to it, delighted at the control he has over Nishikiyama. Nishikiyama later finds Matsushige, demanding to know why he would take money from shops in Kashiwagi's territory. Matsushige seems unfazed by this and only replies by claiming if he doesn't like his methods, Nishikiyama can do it by himself. Kashiwagi soon learns this and proceeds to beat Nishikiyama in his office as punishment for betraying all that Kazama and he did for him. Nishikiyama doesn't resist and takes it, only sobbing after the beating, feeling ashamed that he betrayed the very man that gave him his family. Kashiwagi later forgives him but tells him that this wouldn't happen if Kiryu was around, a comment that shocks Nishikiyama.
Nishikiyama leaves the office only to run into Futoshi Shimano, who knows all about Nishikiyama's situation. Shimano tells him that Kazama only cares about Kiryu having his family, commenting that even though Kiryu “killed” his patriarch, that has only strengthened his reputation, one that not he nor Nishikiyama can reach and that is all that matters in their world: reputation. Nishikiyama replies that he will take Kiryu into his family but Shimano corrupts this young man's mind even further, claiming the only one who needs to be looked after is Nishikiyama himself. Shimano even mockingly suggested that he should quit being a yakuza. Nishikiyama is once again in his office when Matsushige walks in with the money necessary for NIshiki to pay the doctor. Matsushige says that a doctor paid his gambling debt which is how the doctor got his money, something that gets the attention of Nishikiyama. He then identifies the doctor as the same one who asked him for the money in the first place and races to the hospital to confront him, only to learn he has vanished. Nishikiyama then leaves the hospital, broken and depressed at the fact that all his efforts were in vain and that his sister will die, crying in front of the hospital.
After all he has been through and failing, Nishikiyama stands in an office about to commit suicide. Before he can do it, Matsushige walks in and continues to treat Nishikiyama with the same disrespect he displayed in the past. Having enough, Nishikiyama stabs Matsushige with the same knife he planned to commit suicide with and told him that he was the one who killed Dojima. Nishikiyama slicks his hair back with Matsushige's blood as he swears to kill as many people as he desired to reach to the top.
When Kiryu is released from jail, he finds that Nishikiyama has not only started his own subsidiary group, but he has changed into a cold, heartless man completely unlike his former self.
He tries to kill Kiryu on several occasions, even using Omi Alliance thugs to do the deed. When Kiryu escaped the funeral of Sera of Tojo Clan, which devolved into a violent brawl between the Tojo clan and Omi Alliance, he notices Nishikiyama sadistically smirking at him. Nishikiyama even shot Kazama, as he sat besides Kiryu, just to traumatize him.
Nishikiyama learned Kiryu went to meet the tattoo artist from Reina and called Kiryu to ask him if he learned about Mizuki's body. Nishikiyama wishes to meet him in private at Serena. Nishikiyama and Kiryu finally meet again after 10 years.
Nishikiyama explained that killing Mizuki wasn't supposed to happen. His men accidentally killed Mizuki while trying to interrogate her. Nishikiyama gets angry and shoots down two of his men for killing Mizuki before leaving. He also explains that Mizuki has been on his radar ever since he learned that Yumi had a sister. Nishikiyama reveals that he indeed wished to work with Kiryu again after his sentence had ended. He explains how a war in the Tojo Clan is about to break out and Kiryu can't stop it. He asks Kiryu to help him win the war by handing over the Ten Billion Yen and Haruka, who he has learnt is the niece of Yumi. Kiryu refuses and criticizes him for the man he has become. Nishikiyama makes cynical remarks on Kiryu's steadfast morality and Kiryu asks him whether he hates him for it. He tells him that "he doesn't know anymore" before revealing that he was the one behind the shooting of Kazama. Kiryu becomes enraged and punches Nishikiyama to the ground. Before leaving, he says that Kazama is still alive and well and that he is in hiding with the help of Shinji. Nishikiyama reveals that he has a bug placed on Shinji and has been tracking him ever since he escaped with Kazama. Nishikiyama leaves Serena, telling Kiryu that even he won't be spared if he refused to give up Haruka, before expressing that he "wishes to go back to the old days". He then orders his men to kill Kiryu.
It is revealed that Reina, the owner of Serena and former ally of Kiryu, was a mole for Nishikiyama. Because she was in love with him she betrayed her friends, but later regrets it and calls Nishikiyama to Serena to kill him and atone for her sins. She fails and, after a failed rescue attempt by Shinji, is killed by Arase on a rooftop along with him.
Finally, in Chapter 13, Nishikiyama reveals that he knew Jingu was trying to use and bribe him. After his best friend went to prison and his sister passed away, he has never trusted anyone since. He reveals he was jealous of Kiryu seeing as his love, Yumi, loved Kiryu instead of him. Wanting to surpass Kiryu, he has made sacrifices and numerous betrayals in order to claim the 10 billion yen so that he may become the Tojo Clan's fourth chairman. With that realised, he will claim Yumi for himself. Yumi asks Nishikiyama if he is truly happy with the things he's done because of his obsession, that he has failed to confront his inner problems. Nishikiyama scolds Yumi for not falling in love with the person he is, which makes Yumi cry. Kiryu then tells Nishikiyama to stop treating those around him like objects, reminding him that he and Yumi are irreplacable. He also tells him that he can't change the hurt from the past, even if he wanted too.
Then, Kiryu says that they both must settle this feud once and for all. Nishikiyama accepts this final showdown with his former best friend Kiryu, both removing their shirts to display their yakuza tattoos on their backs - the Dragon and the Koi. They fight to the bitter end and are evenly matched, but Kiryu eventually wins. Yumi appears and wants to blow up the money to put an end to the strife it is causing, but Jingu suddenly arrives, fatally shoots Yumi and shoots Kiryu in the leg, looking to steal the money for himself. Before Jingu can finish Kiryu off, Nishikiyama redeems himself by stabbing Jingu with a knife and shoving both him and himself into the vault. Jingu shoots him in response, but this doesn't bring Nishikiyama down.
To take responsibility for his actions, Nishikiyama then points his gun at the bomb in the vault, ready to blow the vault up. Kiryu screamingly urges him not to do it, but he pulls the trigger anyway, blowing up himself and Jingu, and sending the ten billion yen flying into the streets of Kamurocho. While Yumi died moments later from her gunshot wound, his actions saved Kiryu and Haruka from Jingu. After his death, it is clarified within the yakuza that Nishikiyama was the true killer of Sohei Dojima. He is succeeded by Koji Shindo as the patriarch of the Nishikiyama Family.
In the first Yakuza, he uses a simplistic fighting style during his final boss sequence that combines powerful punches and kicks. Nishiki's fighting stance is very similar to Kiryu's dragon stance. He can mount Kiryu and deliver multiple blows to the face in a QTE when Kiryu is laying on the ground. His heat aura color is a pale red, contrasting with Kiryu's blue heat aura.
When fought as a final boss in Yakuza Kiwami, he primarily uses jabs and hooks combined with roundhouse kicks and flying from his younger self in Yakuza 0, (and has two quick time events involving Reina), and incorporates karate hammer fists similar to Kashiwagi and Kazama. His usual combo is a jab, right hook, left roundhouse kick, and right spinning back kick, though he will sometimes end the combo on the roundhouse kick. This combo is similar to Kiryu's dragon style rush combo and finisher. He will often combo a left jab into a left backfist, sometimes followed by an uppercut finisher, throw quick shoulder tackles, perform a high right roundhouse kick, throw a high spinning right roundhouse kick, knee, or throw a wide right hook. On rare occasions, he will combo his knee into left side kick and a pac punch, similar to Kashiwagi and Kazama. For defense, he uses a continuous dodging maneuver akin to Kiryu's "Rush" style and he is able to deflect counterattacks from Kiryu's "Thug/Brawler" style by default. When Kiryu is knocked on the ground, Nishiki is able to kick him to deal extra damage. Nishiki will often taunt Kiryu in Kiwami by performing a dancing shuffle. He is also able to mount Kiryu after Kiryu is laying on the ground and deliver multiple blows to the face in a QTE. Nishiki is one of the few characters in the game that can be attacked by the Essence of Extreme Dragon when he begins to rejuvenate health. His heat aura color is pale blue with white highlights, contrasting with Kiryu's red heat aura in his Dragon of Dojima Style.
In Yakuza 0, Nishiki is able to taunt and counter any attacks to his taunt by throwing a right and left side kick combo that grants him super armor throughout. When grabbed, Nishiki may respond with a reversal, including a belly to belly suplex. Unlike in Kiwami, Nishiki can perform a charging grapple in which he will grab behind Majima's legs and pull upward to dump him on the ground. His heat aura is blue, like Brawler and Thug style's heat aura.
- The names Nishikiyama and Nishiki are most likely derived from derived from the Nishiki carp (錦鯉, nishikigoi, lit. "brocaded carp"). Appropriately, the koi serves as Nishikiyama's animal motif and tattoo.
- In Yakuza 6, Nishikiyama is one of the characters Kiryu can mention to hostesses.
- In Yakuza 6, after obtaining the photograph of him within the Millennium Tower, Nishikiyama's ghost may appear in photos taken in certain areas across Kamurocho
- In a poll conducted in 2018, Nishikiyama was voted the seventh most requested character for Ryu ga Gotoku Online, coming in at 152,420 votes.
- The Yakuza 0 Hot Dog Magazine reveals several facts about Nishikiyama:
- Nishikiyama is in charge of a rehab program that sets up people with honest jobs, as well as hostess scouting and restaurant troubles.
- Nishikiyama washes his hair daily and spends an hour with a leave-in treatment, as well as taking half an hour to dry it. He "always has beautiful hair."
- Nishikiyama uses his Dojima Family pin to get out of parking tickets.
- Nishikiyama drives the highest-quality domestic brand saloon. It cost him six million yen. He also installed the newest 5-set cassette and car stereo as well as a car phone.
- Nishikiyama's preferred brand of cigarettes is Seven Stars.
- Nishikiyama regularly sends gifts and money back to Sunflower Orphanage.
- Nishikiyama's lighter cost him one hundred thousand yen.
- Nishikiyama's total income in 1988 "comes to tens of millions", which is "several tens of thousands" higher than Kiryu.
- Nishikiyama's theme in Yakuza, For Whose Sake and the remix of said theme, For Whose Sake・Revised, has two remixes whose titles are answers to this question:
- https://ryu-ga-gotoku.com (December 16, 2005) - 主要登場人物紹介 (Ryū ga Gotoku shuyō tōjō jinbutsu shōkai, lit. "Ryū ga Gotoku main character introduction") - Archive
- https://ryu-ga-gotoku.com (September 12, 2018) - 「龍が如く」シリーズキャラクター総選挙 (Ryū ga Gotoku series character sō senkyo, lit. "Ryū ga Gotoku series character general election") - Archive
- "Ryu Ga Gotoku 0, Hot Dog Press" 2015, p. 6-9. English Scanlation