Hitoshi Ozawa, the voice actor and face model for Yakuza 0 antagonist Daisaku Kuze, created a sequence of let’s play videos last year where he started tackling the game that bears his likeness. Now, thanks to Yakuza fan channel Dragon Enterprise, some of those videos have been translated to English for our enjoyment.
There’s a lot to recommend in Yakuza 0, the breakout PC entry in Sega’s long-running series of crime melodramas, but I’m a particularly huge fan of its three main villains. Ozawa, alongside fellow actors Hideao Nakano and Riki Takeuchi, supplied voice and likeness to the three ruthless Yakuza lieutenants that face off against protagonist Kiryu in 1988. There’s not a lot out there that beats the full-send performance of these salty, craggy-faced character actors, and it’s especially a hoot when they tear off their shirts for a boss fight and are insanely ripped.
Ozawa’s Kuze in particular is a real winner: a washed up, impotently wrathful former boxer who hounds Kiryu throughout the game across multiple boss fights, slowly growing from a loathsome villain into a weirdly noble, tragic figure. He’s also just got an absolute banger of a boss theme.
The real main event in the Dragon Enterprise videos is seeing Ozawa square off with himself. He begins the video where he takes on Kuze by declaring, “Kuze, I will take off your finger,” and I gotta say, he makes good on the promise. As far as “people who don’t usually play games playing games on camera as a bit” goes (see also: Conan O’Brien’s Clueless Gamer), Hitoshi Ozawa kinda kicks ass at Yakuza 0.
He’s on the game’s easy mode, but still—it’s not that much easier than normal, and I remember getting my teeth kicked in by Kuze, constantly chugging healing energy drinks just to survive his knockdown combos. Highlights of the fight include Ozawa musing about the heat action glow coming off the characters perhaps being cartoon stink lines, and also him accusing Kiryu of “cheating” by bringing a baseball bat to the fight (then continuing to use the bat anyway).
You can check out Dragon Enterprise‘s channel for more fan-translated Yakuza-related videos, but I’m still just in awe of Ozawa’s personal YouTube channel. A character actor with a distinctive face who makes you go “Hey, it’s that guy! Hell yeah!” whenever you see him is one of the entertainment industry’s greatest treasures, and to have a full YouTube channel dedicated to one of them? Now that’s a treat. I’m imagining a new, beautiful world of Eric Bogosian restaurant reviews and Paul Walter Hauser lifestyle vids. We can make this world a reality.