— Hiroki Awano to Kazuma Kiryu, Yakuza 0
"I couldn't give two damp shits about livin' like a proper yakuza. I wanna eat good food, wear nice clothes and blast down the highway in a sweet-ass car...And if I got a hot girl during that, so much the better. Being a yakuza's a career for me. A job. My means to enjoy the sweet life."
Hiroki Awano (阿波野 大樹 Awano Hiroki) is a major antagonist in Yakuza 0. He is one of the three lieutenants of the Tojo Clan's Dojima Family, and the patriarch of its subsidiary family, the Taihei Association.
Awano is a middle aged Japanese man with black hair in a pompadour. Though his face is slightly chubby, he retains an extremely muscular body despite his gluttonous lifestyle.
Awano's tattoo depicts Momotaro, the main character from a popular Japanese folk tale where Momotaro travels to an island of demons that are threatening his village and slays them. This is likely a reference to how he would eventually clash with Majima, who has a demon motif and a Hannya tattoo.
Awano's attire is a purple paisley pattern designer double breasted peak lapel jacket with a black turtleneck sweater underneath and a small gold chain. He wears basic black suit pants and a pair of black patent leather shoes.
Awano is a man of leisure who often finds himself going with the flow rather than fighting against the rising tide. Unlike Kuze or Shibusawa, who both take the yakuza seriously, Awano views yakuza membership as a way to revel in living the high life of the 1980s (golfing, women, fine liquor, etc.).
However, beneath his laconic exterior is a cunning man, skilled in gathering information and making good on the Dojima Family's threats. He is also extremely sadistic, as shown by how he casually killed a random woman in front of Kiryu and how he joined the yakuza in the first place because he liked the feeling of beating a guy's face.
Yakuza 0: 1988
Awano is first seen during the first chapter in Dojima HQ, when Kiryu goes speaks to the three lieutenants about his alleged murder of Taichi Kurihara at the Empty Lot. Awano complains about Kiryu's incompetence and the situation. Awano and Shibusawa leave when Kuze wants to speak to Kiryu in private.
After Kiryu defeats Kuze in Dojima HQ, Awano appears with Shibusawa and Dojima himself. Awano criticizes Kuze for lying to Sohei about deciding to expel Kiryu on his own and hands him a board and knife to perform yubitsume for his disobedience. Awano and Shibusawa are present when Dojima expels Kiryu from the family.
After Kiryu joins Tachibana Real Estate, Awano and his men from the Taihei Association meet Kiryu and Nishikiyama at Serena with a bloodied and beaten Jun Oda . Awano reveals he attacked Oda, because Tachibana Real Estate is a threat to the Tojo Clan and the recently expelled Kiryu decided to join them. Awano reveals his men were extorting people in apartments with a squatter, and Kiryu and Oda ruined their deal, so the ringleader, Okabe, had to perform yubitsume for his failure. Nishikiyama interrupts their conversation, so Awano slams his head the bar. Awano lets his men fight Kiryu outside, while he has a drink Nishikiyama and Reina. Later, Awano comes outside and sees that Kiryu defeated his men. Awano compliments Kiryu's strength and how he's become more of a yakuza after leaving the family. Kiryu attempts to attack Awano, but the latter casually grabs his fist before it connects. Awano questions Kiryu over why he joined Tachibana Real Estate, because he suspects Kazama using Kiryu and Tachibana to make a move on the Empty Lot, but Kiryu refuses to answer. Awano figures out the Tachibana hasn't found the Empty Lot's owner yet. Kiryu tries to leave, but Awano asks Kiryu to set up a meeting with Tachibana, but Kiryu says he isn't inclined to do anymore favors for the Dojima Family. Awano gives Kiryu an ultimatum that he must answer by the following morning: Hand over Tachibana's whereabouts or he and his friends will hunted down by the Dojima Family and killed.
The next day, the three Dojima lieutenants have a meeting at the Kazama Family Office, realizing Kiryu won't give up Tachibana. Awano calls Dojima and tells him they will have to kill Kiryu, before looking at a photo of Kazama, Kiryu, and Nishikiyama. Awano tells Osamu Kashiwagi, that since Kazama brought Kiryu into the family, the Kazama Family should work their hardest to find Kiryu. Kuze orders the Kazama Family members to find Kiryu and bring him to their office.
After Kiryu defeats Kuze a second time in a sewer tunnel, he ends up at a dance club and finds Awano dancing with a girl. Awano says he's been waiting for him and isn't surprised Kuze failed to defeat him again. As he continues dancing with the girl, Awano asks Kiryu why he didn't call him and jokingly asks Kiryu to dance with him. Kiryu, fed up with Awano's nonchalant attitude, decides to leave, but as soon as he starts walking away, Awano cuts off the music and begins talking seriously. He claims he is grateful to Kiryu for giving him the chance to take down Kazama and Kuze. Awano says he wants to repay this debt to Kiryu and sits down to explain. Just after Kiryu and Kuze's first fight, Awano went golfing at the Koshu Country Club and visited the Sunflower Orphanage, the childhood home of Kiryu. Awano puts his hand on Kiryu's shoulder and explains that his role in the Dojima Family is extortion and he only became a yakuza to live a hedonistic lifestyle. He gives Kiryu a choice to give Tachibana up or die an painful death. Kiryu takes his hand off of his shoulder and says he isn't impressed by his extortion methods, before walking off. Suddenly, Awano shoots the girl he was dancing with and aims the gun at Kiryu. Awano says Kiryu will die with her, because there are a hundred Dojima men with guns waiting for him outside the club. Awano gives Kiryu one last chance to take his offer, before throwing the gun away. Kiryu refuses Awano's offer and leaves, saying he would rather die then join someone like him. Awano sits down and smokes a cigarette, and says to himself threats don't work on idiots.
After tracking Kiryu to Serena, a small army of Dojima Family members, the three lieutenants, Kashiwagi, and Nishikiyama wait for him outside. Awano taunts Kiryu for his choice and says he's past empty threats now. Awano tells Kiryu he will be tortured until he gives up Tachibana and even if he does, he still won't be saved. Kuze asks Awano to let him be the one beat Kiryu, but he'll let him take credit. Kiryu and Kuze fight and Kiryu holds the advantage, until a Dojima Family member sneak attacks Kiryu. Kiryu is about to killed by Kuze, until he is saved be the arrival of Tachibana in his sports car. Awano quickly orders the Dojima Family members not to let them through and shoots at the sports car, but Kiryu and Tachibana successfully escape and Awano angrily throws his gun in frustration.
Later, during Majima's side of the story, Awano is seen with the rest of the Dojima Family and Lao Gui at the top of the Sebastian Building to meet with Makimura Makoto, who reached out to the Shibusawa Family in order to sell the Empty Lot. Kuze and Awano are visibly displeased when Sohei offers the position of captain to Shibusawa for bringing Makoto to him. Makoto tells Dojima she will only give him the Empty Lot, if he offers the heads of his three lieutenants for murdering her brother. Dojima refuses her offer and explains that the Empty Lot is overpriced and was only discovered by chance after the surrounding land had already been bought. If the Empty Lot remained unnoticed, the Kamurocho Revitalization Project would move forward, but it would be ruined because Makoto could make a claim for the land, so Lao Gui shoots Makoto with his pistol. Shortly afterward, Goro Majima appears, while the three lieutenants, Dojima, and Lao Gui exit by helicopter.
Awano returned to the Dojima Family Office with Kuze, Shibusawa, Lao Gui, and Dojima. Awano was very displeased with Shibusawa's promotion and almost instigated a physical confrontation. Shibusawa tells the four men that they must initiate a purge of the Kazama Family and its supporters and allies, so that no one else can stand in the Dojima Family's way.
During the final chapter, Awano meets Majima at the top floor of Dojima Family HQ, during the latter's quest for vengeance on Makoto's behalf. Awano reminisces about Majima and his oath brother Taiga Saejima. Awano asks Majima why he would risk so much instead living carefully, but Majima says a yakuza who tries to live safe and comfy is a fool. Awano states his belief that having money is real power and yakuza need to adapt to it. Majima insults Awano for living his life obsessed with money. Awano removes his shirt and reveals he originally joined the yakuza because he enjoyed hitting people and that fighting is much more fun than living the easy life. Majima takes off his shirt as well and vows to kill all the Dojima Family members. The two battle and Majima emerges victorious. Majima admits that Awano had the potential to reach the top, but wasted it by living the luxury life. Awano says as long as people like Kazama are around he couldn't ever reach the top, but wished he could've been more like Majima. Majima talks about how Wen Hai Lee and Homare Nishitani lived and how he admired them for their actions. Suddenly, Lao Gui appears and tries to shoot Majima but Awano, impressed by Majima's actions and words, shields him with his body and the lieutenant is shot multiple times. Awano chastises the assassin for interrupting their conversation and attempts to attack him, but he is finally killed when the assassin impales him with six of his throwing needles.
Awano's fighting style revolves around brawling. His attacks are mainly jabs, wide swings, and a flip kick. His heat aura is yellow.
He proves to be quite a powerful individual as one of his QTEs show him punching a stone wall hard enough to majorly crack it without even injuring his own hand.
He is not a difficult boss for the majority of the fight, with most of his attacks being easily telegraphed and his guard easily broken. This changes with the passing of the above QTE, where he regains his old fighting prowess, now striking extremely quickly and can potentially half a players health on higher difficulties. In heat mode, he has the ability to shake off a strike to get in close for one of his combos.
- Awano's tattoo may possibly be a nod to Takeuchi's role as Seiji in the movie Kikoku since he has a similar Momotaro tattoo.
- Awano's signature purple suit jacket was originally meant to be yellow, but was later changed to purple based on his voice actor Riki Takeuchi's suggestion since he believed that the previous color "didn't properly mirror the atmosphere of the bubble era".
- Awano's tattoo being Momotaro battling demons could be foreshadowing his eventual fight with Majima, as Majima has an oni tattoo and motif.