Ichiban Kasuga (春日 一番, Kasuga Ichiban) is the main protagonist of the Yakuza series from Yakuza: Like a Dragon onward, as well as the main protagonist of The Legend of Ichiban Kasuga: Part 1 in Ryu ga Gotoku Online.
The dragonfish tattoo on his back earned him the nickname "The Rock-Bottom Dragon" (どん底の龍, Donzoko no Ryū).
Described as having been born with "nothing but physical strength," Kasuga has a balanced muscular build that gives him the opportunity to be proficient at a variety of fighting styles. His eyes are grey and he has medium-length dark hair styled into an afro after his release from prison, as well as a beard. Prior to this, his hair was styled into a much shorter punch perm, growing out long enough during his time in prison to be tied into a short ponytail.
Kasuga's tattoo covers most of his back and ends just above his thighs. It depicts a dragonfish (龍魚, ryūgyo), the in-between state of the koi in the legend of a koi that swims up to the top of a waterfall and is rewarded for its tenacity by being transformed into a dragon. The tattoo represents the strength and perseverance of the koi as it struggles upstream, as well as a greater destiny that lies ahead, as the koi has not fully finished its transformation into a dragon.
- Ryu ga Gotoku Online: Kasuga's inspiration for the tattoo was Jo Sawashiro, whose tattoo depicts the same creature. The two both hold a strong admiration for Masumi Arakawa and view him as the 'dragon' they aspire to be. Only the outlines of the tattoo are filled in up until Chapter 21, but it is seen in its completed state in the rest of the game.
Utabori is the tattoo artist who designed Kasuga's dragonfish, and he incorporated elements from both Kazuma Kiryu and Akira Nishikiyama's tattoos in its design. For reasons unknown, Utabori did not include his signature in Kasuga's tattoo.
Kasuga's signature attire consists of a maroon suit worn over a white shirt with an upturned collar and a gold chain necklace. He also wears black leather loafers with gold buckles and a matching black leather belt with a gold buckle. When assigned his unique class, Hero, the way he envisions his attire changes slightly in battle; his sleeves are rolled up to the elbow, he wears black leather gloves, and his necklace is replaced by a red silk ascot.
Kasuga is a fiercely loyal and steadfast individual, perhaps to a fault. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is prone to letting his emotions get the best of him, whether it be sheer rage or getting overly excitable. However, he has a strong sense of justice and is always willing to help out anyone in need. Kasuga is also a huge fan of Dragon Quest, a video game he loved to play ever since his youth. This contributed to his strong sense of imagination where he imagines his battles as if they were a turn-based JRPG. This imagination has also made him a quick thinker and a creative tactician in battles despite his rash and impulsive demeanor.
One of Kasuga's notable traits is his unfailing kindness and general love for people. These traits have made him an infectiously charismatic person that never fails to inspire admiration from the people around him. He cares deeply about his party members and leads them with grace and in turn, they stand by him and are ready to have his back no matter how overwhelming the odds are.
Kasuga was born to Akane and Masumi Arakawa on New Year's Day, 1977, in Shangri-La. He was hidden in coin locker #101 at Shinjuku Station by Akane on Arakawa's instructions in order to keep him safe while they were being pursued by members of Hikawa Industries; however, Arakawa unknowingly retrieved the baby locked in the adjacent locker #99. Kasuga was instead taken in by Shangri-La's manager, Jiro Kasuga, and raised by the people of Kamurocho. Although beloved, he lived in poverty and the people who raised him were considered "trash" by the rest of society. To escape this reality, he spent his nights playing Dragon Quest in the back office of the soapland and dreaming of being a hero one day. He had apparently been struggling with toilet training until fifth grade.
The year after the death of his father, he stopped going to junior high school at fifteen and resorted to whatever means necessary to earn money and support himself, leaving his education behind for good. He spent most of his days fighting people for money, regardless of who they were. However, one day, he severely injured and hospitalized a yakuza. The family the yakuza belonged to sought revenge and managed to capture him. They beat Kasuga to the brink of death, and fearing for his life he blurted out the name of a feared yakuza, Masumi Arakawa, saying that if they killed him they'd be hearing from him; in reality, he had never met the man and was only aware of him due to his reputation as "Killer" Arakawa.
Kasuga hoped mentioning his name would somehow get him free, but it only backfired. The family that held him captive were enemies of the Arakawa Family. They summoned Arakawa to their office and asked him to collect Kasuga in person, assuming Kasuga was part of his family. To Kasuga's surprise, Arakawa arrived. The men demanded he takes responsibility for Kasuga's actions. Arakawa offered them his finger in exchange for Kasuga's freedom and the men quickly let Kasuga go.
Kasuga followed Arakawa and tried to thank him, but Arakawa punched him, saying he didn't cut his finger off for his sake. He explained to Kasuga that being a yakuza meant you had a reputation to uphold, and he would have lost face if he simply bowed his head and asked for him back. Kasuga asked him why he would go to such lengths for someone he didn't even know, to which Arakawa responded, "Maybe I just wanted to look cool in front of a kid who knew who I was."
Kasuga decided then and there he'd follow Arakawa for the rest of his life. He waited outside of the Arakawa Family office for one hundred days before Arakawa finally gave in and agreed to swear him into the family at sixteen, against Jo Sawashiro's wishes. The two went on to become akin to father and son, with Kasuga being tasked to care for his adoptive brother, Masato Arakawa, sometime after his induction to the family.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon: 2000-2019
In December 31, 2000, Kasuga is on a collections job for Jo Sawashiro with Mitsuo Yasumura, interacting with his friends on the way. He later takes Masato to the cabaret club he frequents and receives money from him, which he tries to use as payment for his captain, who realizes where the money actually came from. Sawashiro tries to have Kasuga's finger cut off, but Arakawa interrupts them and takes Kasuga out for dinner.
On his 24th birthday, Kasuga is called into the Arakawa Family office, where Arakawa informs him of Sawashiro's involvement in the murder of a member of the Sakaki Family. Arakawa asks Kasuga to shoulder the blame and go to prison on Sawashiro's behalf, and that he is banished from the family. He turns himself in to the police and is sentenced to 15 years in jail, which is extended to 18 years following an incident in the summer of 2002.
In 2019, now 42, Kasuga is freed from prison with no one from his old days waiting for him. He meets Koichi Adachi, who did his research on Kasuga, but he is not interested in partnering with the detective. While visiting a graveyard, he sees his former patriarch and is ignored by him, learning from Adachi that the Arakawa Family has sided with the Omi Alliance, who forced the Tojo Clan out of Kamurocho.
Kasuga arrives in Kamurocho and is shocked by how much society changed during his prison term. Adachi joins him, and explains his reasoning for wanting to be with him, then hands him a smartphone, which he learns how to operate with assistance from Nick Ogata. They sneak through the sewers and rooftops to where Arakawa is. On the way, a helicopter spots them on a rooftop and Adachi stays behind. Kasuga faces Sawashiro upon arrival and defeats him, then opens the door to a dinner between Omi officers, looking for answers, but is shot in the chest by Arakawa.
Kasuga wakes up under a pile of garbage in Isezaki Ijincho, having been patched up by Yu Nanba. Nanba joins Kasuga after Yokohama Liumang member Zheng demands payment from the homeless, and the two drive him off. Nanba explains the situation with the Ijin Three and shows Kasuga the severity of his bullet wound, which leads to him discovering a defective counterfeit 10,000 yen bill.
Through Shuichi Kanbe, the duo find jobs. They meet Hamako and Bleach Japan after a bodyguard job, and Adachi rejoins them afterward. The three are directed to Otohime Land to work for Isao Nonomiya, and rescue Nanoha Mukoda from having to pay large fees to Sunlight Castle, and meet Ryuhei Hoshino, who recognizes the bill. After their job is done, however, Nonomiya dies apparently from suicide.
Through Saeko Mukoda, they learn one of the Liumang's bosses Akira Mabuchi may be involved. She joins the trio after tearfully asking for their help, and they eventually learn they might meet him at the Yokohama Trading Company. They attempt to expose the company's counterfeiting scheme, but their plan goes awry and they are captured and framed by Mabuchi. A masked Joon-gi Han frees them and they rush to Chinatown to stop a war between the Liumang and the Seiryu Clan. There, they meet the Liumang leader Tianyou Zhao and convince both him and Mamoru Takabe to stand down temporarily.
They head to Geomijul at Zhao's demand, and are led there by an incognito Seong-hui. They get what Zhao wanted, but an established conflict between the Geomijul and Nanba causes him to leave and Han to fight the others. They later meet the heads of the Ijin Three at Heian Tower and learn about the scheme they set up with Yutaka Ogikubo, but for information on Kasuga's fake bill, he is asked to retrieve Nanba. Initially hesitant, he accepts after learning the Liumang had sent assassins after Nanba. They find Nanba collaborating with Mabuchi, Bleach Japan, and Hajime Ogasawara. After defeating them, Kasuga learns that Ryo Aoki is actually the supposedly-dead Masato Arakawa.
In the ensuing chaos, Kasuga is called by Han and Seong-hui. He and his friends are asked to hold the invading Omi Alliance at bay until they can burn down their operation. Afterwards, he interrogates Ogasawara to learn of Aoki's ambitions and plans to use the Omi. They learn Zhao may be in trouble, and Han joins the party to rescue him from Mabuchi and the Omi, where Nanba rejoins them. Afterwards, Zhao directs Kasuga to meet with Mitsuo, who is keeping a low profile. He tells Kasuga that Arakawa will need allies shortly.
The Chief and Hoshino tell Kasuga of their history with Arakawa, and he learns Arakawa had sent him there intentionally to save him, renewing his faith in his former patriarch. Zhao joins Kasuga's party, and they decide to meet with Aoki for answers. He learns Aoki had ensorsed Sota Kume for an election. Meeting Aoki in person, he learns of his recovery in the US, that he is intending to purge Ijincho of its residents reliant on gray zones, and that Kasuga had taken the fall for Aoki's murder, not Sawashiro's.
Kasuga decides to head to Sotenbori after becoming restless waiting for an update from Mitsuo. Sneaking into the Omi Alliance Headquarters to meet Arakawa, he and his party are met upon by Goro Majima and Taiga Saejima. Before their fight escalates, Arakawa and Daigo Dojima explain that Arakawa's betrayal was planned by them and Masaru Watase in order to split the Omi forces between Tokyo and Osaka to make their plan of disbanding the Tojo and Omi easier to accomplish. When the dissolution is announced, they join Arakawa in defending Dojima and Watase alongside Yosuke Tendo, who had deccided to fight for them, and Watase's mysterious bodyguard.
Arakawa and Kasuga catch up after returning to Yokohama, but the next day, he learns Arakawa was killed. Hoshino is able to get him to cheer up and suggests he run in the upcoming election to get close to Aoki. During the campaign, he learns Hoshino is being targeted by Sawashiro, but arrives too late to save him, and learn from Sawashiro that Aoki is his son and Kasuga is Arakawa's. With the rough events, Kasuga starts to lose himself, but an exchange of blows with Kazuma Kiryu gets him back to his senses. Learning from Reiji Ishioda that Tendo murdered Arakawa, the group goes into hiding with Nick and heads to Kamurocho.
Kasuga bluffs to Aoki of having incriminating evidence to lure him and Tendo to the Millennium Tower. Kasuga defeats Tendo, and engineers a confession with the help of Mirror Face to end Aoki's political career. Kasuga pleads to Aoki to start anew, but he is killed by Kume before he can do so. At the Arakawas' funeral, Kasuga turns down an invitation into a security firm by the ex-Tojo and Omi officers to stay with his newfound treasured friends in Ijincho, and reflects on Aoki's last words to him.
Wanderings of the Golden Dragon: 1999
- Main article: Ryu ga Gotoku Online#Wanderings of the Golden Dragon
The duo eventually encounters their targets in Nagasugai, Fukuoka. Their fight is soon interrupted by a group of thugs led by Shou Takayama, the acting chairman of the Go-Ryu Clan, who has been chasing Ryuji for a while. Knowing that they couldn't face so many enemies at once Ryuji and Han decide to split up. Kuze and the Go-Ryu follow Ryuji, while Kasuga chases after Han.
After vowing to make Kasuga pay for all the pain the Tojo Clan has inflicted to the Jingweon, Han and Kasuga start fighting. Suddenly, a member of the Go-Ryu Clan appears, giving Han a chance to escape.
Streets of Kamurocho
Kasuga appears as a hidden character in the short beat-em-up title inspired by the story of the original Yakuza and the gameplay of SEGA's Streets of Rage franchise. His gameplay, much like that of Kiryu and Majima, is a reskinned version of the Streets of Rage series' main character, Axel. He can be unlocked after completing the single stage once.
Kasuga's fighting style is based around streetfighting and pro-wrestling techniques that—while lacking in finesse—are powerful and highly adaptive to his immediate environment. His fighting style includes a wide right hook, left hook, and uppercut combo for a basic attack, a stomp for an Opportune Strike, wild haymakers that have Kasuga wind it up before throw his entire weight into it, headlocks, headbutts from a lapel grab, dropkicks, a front kick to the face, an atomic drop, and a release German suplex. Kasuga can make use of the environment with the Essence of Roadside Weapon and can use a skill called Hyper Swagger to shadowbox and weave in place, causing his evasion and attack to rise. With his exclusive Hero job, Kasuga can use bats with incredible skill and power. His attacks consist of wild but strong swings with his weapon, even being able to swing it like nunchaku in a fashion incredibly similar to Goro Majima's use of bats in Slugger Style. Throughout the Business Management mini-game, Kasuga gains optional but powerful new abilities such as the three variants of Stack Slap which sees him striking an opponent with hard stacks of money across their face. His most powerful new skill comes in the form of the Essence of Orbital Laser in which Kasuga calls down a giant satellite laser beam with a press of a button on his phone. The laser deals a heavy amount of damage and can paralyze most foes.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Kasuga has two character-specific jobs that remain exclusive to him; the first is Freelancer, a high-offense fighting style which utilizes his hand-to-hand combat prowess. The other is Hero, in which Kasuga uses a baseball bat as a weapon, wielding it like a hero's sword. The Hero job transforms Kasuga into an all-rounder, gaining him access to a wide-array of support, recovery and offensive abilities. Also in Kasuga's arsenal is the Poundmates system, which allows him to summon various characters Kasuga and his team have befriended to give the party various buffs, and attack/de-buff enemies during battle.
In the final boss fight of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Freelancer will be forcibly equipped, but will have all its skills unlocked if they are not already. Character skills unlocked from other jobs will still be usable.
|Ichiban Kasuga exclusive job. Relies on bare-knuckle brawling and Kasuga's pro wrestling moves to knock enemies senseless. A high-offense job that allows Kasuga to learn terrain-based Skills.|
|Requirements||Ichiban Kasuga||Yu Nanba||Koichi Adachi||Saeko Mukoda|
|Joon-gi Han||Tianyou Zhao||Eri Kamataki|
|Characteristics||Weapon||Element||Elemental Bonus||Stat Bonus||Criticality Rate||Accessories|
|Bare-Handed||Blunt||—||Attack, Agility||2%||Dragonfish Tenugui|
|See Freelancer for a full overview of this job's statistics.|
|Search for hidden treasures scattered throughout the city. |
Try pressing [Interact] any time you find something shiny on the ground.
|2||Tenacious Fist||8||1 Enemy||Attack||Blunt||Stun||Light (1.3×)||Job|
|Kasuga puts all his energy into a single punch that may leave the enemy stunned.|
|4||Rock Swing||10||1 Enemy||Attack||Blunt||—||Light (1.4×)||Job|
|Damage an enemy by putting them in a headlock and throwing them.|
|5||Headbutt Barrage||13||1 Enemy||Attack||Blunt||—||Light (1.6×)||Job|
|Damage an enemy with an onslaught of headbutts.|
|Kasuga hypes himself up and attunes to the flow of battle, boosting his Evasion and Attack for 2 turns.|
|12||Dropkick||21||1 Enemy||Attack||Blunt||—||Medium (1.8×)||Job|
|Damage an enemy with a flying kick. High chance to land a critical hit.|
|16||Ruffian's Kick||28||1 Enemy||Attack||Blunt||—||Medium (2.0×)||Job|
|Damage an enemy with a swift, brutal kick.|
|20||Atomic Drop||43||1 Enemy||Attack||Blunt||—||Heavy (2.4×)||Job|
|Damage an enemy by hitting them hard in their vital spot. High chance to land a critical hit.|
|24||Release German Suplex||50||1 Enemy||Attack||Blunt||—||Extreme (2.7×)||Character|
|Damage an enemy with a wrestling technique known as a release German suplex. May instantly knock out the enemy.|
|28||Essence of Roadside Weapon||65||1 Enemy||Attack||Blunt||—||Extreme (2.8×)||Job|
|A powerful skill that damages an enemy with an improvised weapon lying about the city.|
Changes depending on the surrounding area.
|See Freelancer#Skills for a full overview of this job's skills.|
- Kasuga was given the name "Ichiban" (一番, lit. "number one" in the context of being the best) by executive director Toshihiro Nagoshi and lead writer Masayoshi Yokoyama. They decided on the name due to its contrast with his background and lifestyle being emblematic of Kasuga as a character, who "[lives life] to the fullest like he doesn't see the irony."
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. .BIN File — "character_model_model_data.bin". Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
https://dengekionline.com/ (November 1, 2018) - “新・龍が如く”の幕開けとなるスマホアプリ『龍が如く ONLINE』の実態を直撃！【電撃PS】 ("Shin Ryū ga Gotoku" no makuake to naru sumaho apuri 「Ryū ga Gotoku ONLINE」 no jittai wo chokugeki! [Dengeki PS], lit. "Getting Straight to the Facts on the Mobile App That's Raising the Curtain for "Shin Ryu ga Gotoku," Ryu ga Gotoku Online! [Dengeki PS]") - Archive Yokoyama: その頃はまだ新主人公は未定だったのですが、名越から「この男には一番という名前を背負わせたい」という話があり、後に春日一番という名前が決まりました。“究極の名前負けというビリっ尻人生を、一番という名前であっけらかんと強く生きる”いう思いが込められています。 We were still figuring the new protagonist out when Nagoshi said, "I want to burden this man with the name 'Ichiban.'" So then I decided on Ichiban Kasuga. The "ultimate example of not living up to your name," who'd get the ass-end of life despite the name Ichiban and live it to the fullest like he doesn't see the irony—that's the thinking behind it.