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Ryo Aoki (青木 遼, Aoki Ryō?), formerly known as Masato Arakawa (荒川 真斗, Arakawa Masato), is the main antagonist and final boss of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. He is the current governor of Tokyo as well as the founder of the non-profit organization Bleach Japan.

Profile[]

Appearance[]

Aoki has a slim build. As Masato, his short black hair is combed back save for two loose pieces on either side of his face, and he has a neatly-kept goatee. His attire consists of a dark gray pinstriped suit over a gray and black patterned shirt and black dress shoes. He also has gold stud piercings in both ears and wears a silver chain necklace. When not using ephedrine injections, he requires the use of a wheelchair. By 2019, he no longer needs either.

During his time as Governor of Tokyo, he changed his attire, changing his hairstyle to a more conservative style, shaves his face clean, and wearing a conservative navy blue suit over white shirt with green pinstriped tie, a pair of matching navy blue pants, and brown leather shoes. He also wears a pair of prescription glasses by 2019.

Personality[]

Though he and Ichiban Kasuga are the same age, Aoki can be considered the opposite of his adoptive brother, as a calm and quiet individual who prefers to keep to himself. Though the story implies that Aoki and Kasuga were close friends when they were younger, by the year 2000, Aoki is deeply resentful of having to be chauffeured by Kasuga due to his disability and treats him as little more than a servant.

As the Governor of Tokyo, Aoki is very conscious of his image and optics, maintaining a seemingly down-to-earth image. However, behind the scenes, he is is obsessed with power and control. Aoki is ruthless in pursuit of what he calls "front-facing power", enacting complex schemes to manipulate Japan's political apparatus, with the singular aim of concentrating authority on himself. He is also very controlling of his associates and allies, demanding that none of them act without his approval when their actions could affect his plans or public perception of him.

Aoki's desire for popularity and front-facing power stems from his youth. He resented being completely dependent on others due to his disability and being socially ostracized due to being the son of a yakuza boss. However, instead of developing empathy for people facing similar plights to the one he faced, he came to hate the vulnerable and marginalized because he hated being one of them. After going into politics, Aoki campaigned against Japan's most vulnerable (like the homeless, foreign migrants and sex workers) in order to expand his popularity with a Japanese public that shared similarly negative view of those marginalized groups. This puts him in sharp contrast with Kasuga, who passionately defends the people whom Aoki would harm because of their low station in life.

Aoki is also a deeply hypocritical person, criticizing the "gray zones" of legality in public, while employing the yakuza as hired thugs and assassins behind the scenes in order to advance his political objectives.

Background[]

SPOILER WARNING: Plot details for Yakuza: Like a Dragon follow. (Skip)

Aoki was born to Ikumi and Jo Sawashiro on December 31, 1976[a] in the bathroom of a department store. He was locked in coin locker number 0099 at Shinjuku Station as a newborn and abandoned by his parents, who were unable to care for him.

Masumi Arakawa retrieved him, unknowingly believing him to be his child with Akane, who he had instructed to hide their baby in a coin locker in order to keep him safe while the two were being pursued by members of Hikawa Industries. However, it was a cold night, and hypothermia set in before Arakawa was able to take Masato out of the locker and bring him to a hospital, resulting in multiple organ failure.

He was given the name Masato Arakawa and raised as Arakawa's only son. Although he grew up in wealth, he appears to have had an unhappy childhood due to chronic illness, which required him to use a wheelchair from a very young age. He experienced a great deal of shame about this, to the point that he was once in such distress about his inability to walk that he had to be restrained from hitting his legs, a sight that inspired Sawashiro to join the Arakawa Family in order to watch over him. Ichiban Kasuga was tasked with Masato's care some time after his induction into the Arakawa Family.

Involvement[]

Yakuza: Like a Dragon: 2000-2019[]

On his 24th birthday, Masato is taken by Kasuga to visit Yumeno's hostess club for her birthday celebration. Taking an illegal Ephedrine injection, he is able to walk for the evening. He meets Juro Horinouchi, a law enforcement official who rebukes Masato's bribe to see Yumeno. That day he learns of Yumeno's true feelings while she talks with Horiuchi, that she sees him as nothing more than someone to squeeze money from.

Dejected, he attempts to go home by himself only for the medication to wear off before he can make it back to his wheelchair. He is attacked by Chikao Suzumori, who believes he was trespassing. Provoked and driven by desperation, he murders Suzumori and calls Sawashiro to report the murder that Kasuga would take the fall for.

The events that happened on that fateful birthday make Masato despise the world that he grew up in. With the Arakawa Family's help, he fakes his death and steals an identity to travel to America under the alias of Ryo Aoki and receives a lung transplant that allows his body to function properly. He aims for the position of Tokyo Governor to gain popularity, as he was not satisfied with the power his criminal connections afforded.

There, he meets Hajime Ogasawara and talks of his ambition. From Aoki's idea, the two form Bleach Japan and Aoki uses the Arakawa Family to make it appear a success and gain traction, with Sota Kume being one of his most loyal supporters. Aoki leaves Bleach Japan to enter politics, and runs for the House of Councilors in 2010. He receives the endorsment of the Citizens' Liberal Party and wins with a great lead over his competition.

At some point, he visits Horinouchi and his now-wife Yumeno, who does not recognize Masato and praises him. This perceived hypocrisy deepens his resentment and accelerates his implementation of the Kamurocho 3K plan. In order to obtain the support of the police, he bribes Horinouchi and several other senior police officers into collaborating with him. In 2017, Aoki becomes the governor of Tokyo with assistance from the Arakawa Family. He enacts the Kamurocho 3K Plan to crack down on crime and drives the Tojo Clan out of Kamurocho. He threatens his father Arakawa into leaking intel that allows the plan to succeed, unaware that Arakawa is collaborating with Daigo Dojima to allow the 3K Plan to succeed for Dojima's own agenda.

By 2019, the Tojo Clan's presence in Kamurocho is no more and Arakawa surprises Aoki by having the Omi Alliance take over thanks to the bribed officers allowing it, with Aoki intending to use the Omi to further his ambitions. He aims to take Yutaka Ogikubo, his last political opponent, out of power by exposing the underworld connections Aoki detects from him. He approves Akira Mabuchi's plan to kill Isao Nonomiya to find that connection, then lends men to Ogasawara when he learns of Ogikubo's operation with the Ijin Three. Although the offensive is defused by Kasuga and others, it also leads to the destruction of the Geomijul's intelligence network and the end of the counterfeit money business.

Afterward, Aoki orders a hit on Ogasawara when he sees from his eyes that he gave up confidential information while captured. Then, in order to bolster his popularity, he holds a funeral for Ogasawara and feigns mourning him. Aoki promotes Kume's campaign for the Kanagawa District Two seat, during which Kasuga approaches Kume and humiliates him. Kasuga soon approaches Aoki, making arrangements to meet at Otohime Land. After they exchange greetings, Aoki leaves during Kasuga's declaration and orders his men to dispose of him.

Aoki loses an important asset when Dojima and Watase dissolve the Tojo Clan and the Omi Alliance. He orders Sawashiro - now the chairman of the Tokyo Omi Alliance - to kill Arakawa for assisting with the dissolution, but he refuses. He instead orders Sawashiro to kill Ryuhei Hoshino while Yosuke Tendo kills Arakawa. Sawashiro is arrested after Hoshino dies, and Aoki sends Ishioda and Mirror Face to silence him, but they fail thank to the intervention of Kasuga and his party. Tendo informs Aoki of this failure and is given permission to detonate a bomb meant to kill everyone present.

Kasuga pretends to be dead and approaches Aoki in Kamurocho, claiming that Sawashiro left a recording as criminal evidence in the Millennium Tower office. Although Aoki is skeptical, he sends Tendo to investigate while he attends a conference. During the conference, Nick Ogata pressures Aoki to leave by issuing a fake criminal charge against him and revealing his real name in front of the press. He calls Tendo, who asks him to arrive at the Millennium Tower, unaware that it is actually Mirror Face in disguise leading him into a trap for trying to kill him. When he arrives, Kasuga and party play possum and Aoki order them killed, which is recorded and broadcasted live, ruining his reputation. Aoki's men are defeated and Kasuga himself beats Aoki in a fight. Kasuga tries to persuade Aoki into atoning for his mistakes, but is unaffected and escapes by holding a policeman hostage and taking his gun.

Aoki arrives at the locker where he was born, Kasuga meeting him there. Aoki complains about his life to Kasuga and then tries to kill himself. Kasuga cries and begs him not to commit suicide, and he gets through to him. However, just as Aoki says goodbye to his secretary and is ready to turn himself in, Kume, who feels that he had been used as a pawn by Aoki, stabs him. In his dying moments, Aoki gives words of encouragement to Kasuga before he bleeds out.

SPOILERS END HERE. (Return)

Trivia[]

  • The kanji characters in the name Masato are a combination of his father and grandfather's given names: (masa), the first kanji in Masumi and (to), the first kanji in Toshio.

Gallery[]

Notes[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 While it conflicts with some other material published since the release of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Sawashiro's account of the events surrounding Aoki's birth states he was born on New Year's Eve (December 31, 1976) rather than New Year's Day (January 1, 1977).
  2. The given height of 185 cm (6′ 1″) is based on the character model's scaling factor within Yakuza: Like a Dragon's data.[1] For Dragon Engine games, this method is believed to be very accurate (±2 cm). However, this is intended as an estimate, not a substitute for an official statistic.

References[]

  1. Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio. .BIN File — "character_model_model_data.bin". Yakuza: Like a Dragon. SEGA. PS4/PS5/XB1/XSX|S/PC. 2020.
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