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Ryo Aoki (青木 遼, Aoki Ryō), also 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 Ichiban were close friends when they were younger, by the year 2000, Aoki is deeply resentful of having to be chauffeured by Ichiban 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 Ichiban, 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: Major plot details for Yakuza: Like a Dragon follow. (Skip)

Aoki was born to Ikumi and Jo Sawashiro on January 1, 1977 in the bathroom of a department store. He was locked in coin locker #99 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.

At one point, he attended Harvard University, majoring in political economy. During his studies, he met Hajime Ogasawara, who later became co-founder of Bleach Japan and received a lung transplant which restores his mobility.

Involvement[]

Yakuza: Like a Dragon: 2000-2019[]

On the 24th birthday on New Year's eve, Masato is taken by Ichiban 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. Driven by anger and desperation, he murders Suzumori and calls Sawashiro to report the murder that Ichiban 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 to travel to America under the alias of Ryo Aoki and receives a lung transplant that allows his body to function properly. There he meets Hajime Ogasawara and talks of his ambition to end the existence of Grey Zones in Japan and formed Bleach Japan, a social movement to do so with Sota Kume being one of his most loyal supporters.

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.
  • His final boss theme "Light and Darkness", is a callback to the previous somber final boss themes for Akira Nishikiyama ("For Who's Sake", Yakuza) and Ryuji Goda ("A Scattered (Eternal) Moment", Yakuza 2) as they are also former friends of the main protagonist, Kazuma Kiryu. And just like those two, Ryo Aoki is a former friend of Ichiban Kasuga as Masato Arakawa, indicating that history can repeat itself with two former friends duking it out in a final battle.

References[]

  1. The given height of 185 cm (6′ 1″) is based on the character model's scaling factor within the game's data. For Dragon Engine games, this method is believed to be very accurate (±1 cm). However, this is intended as an estimate, not a substitute for an official statistic.
    • Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Ryu ga Gotoku Studio, PC, November 2020) - .JSON File - "character_model_model_data.json"

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