One of Judgment’s intriguing characters is also a major antagonist in the game.

One of Judgment's intriguing characters is also a major antagonist in the game.

Yakuza’s Sink or Swim: Hamura Kyohei’s Chaotic Leadership

Being a leader while your yakuza family ship is sinking isn’t easy. Such is the situation for Hamura Kyohei. The more you uncover the interweaving and frequently horrific events at the core of Judgment, the more it becomes clear that our obnoxious, white-suited, trash-talking family captain is in way over his head and doing his questionable best in the only ways he knows: violently. And through poor life choices.

The whole first chapter of Judgment pretty much centers on having to defend this guy in court on a charge of murder. That’s difficult not only because he looks as guilty as sin but because he’s such a jerk it’s hard not to want him to go down for it. And yet, once he’s apparently off the hook, his bizarrely powerful rough-around-the-edges charisma and intriguing role in all the mysteries at play make him one of the most interesting characters in the game.

Strong Convictions

image (Image credit: Sega)

image (Image credit: Future, Remedy)

He also undoubtedly has some important answers so we can’t just let him die after fighting to keep him out of jail. Defending him in battles, whether it’s with your wits or your fists, can feel like a sunk-cost fallacy. Hamura serves as an excellent foil to both protagonist Yagami and his gentle giant ex-yakuza assistant Kaito. He’s just as strong in his convictions as they are, but his priorities are very different, which is why he’s such a pain in the neck, butting heads with the Yagami Detective Agency throughout the whole journey.

It’s hard not to hate him – by desGameTopic. But, piece by piece, we see Hamura is trying to shoulder the burden for the family and for his patriarch as much as possible. Where it seems like he was trying to usurp Matsugane, we also see he was trying to defend him and the rest of the family in a world where you have to play dirty to survive, and kindness often leads to death.

After spending so many hours alternately fighting with him and protecting him, when his story finally concludes as the conspiracy core to the game spirals out of control, you can’t help but feel sad anyway. Through it all, we became attached to Hamura. He may be a jerk, but he’s our jerk.

This feature first appeared in issue 15 of PLAY magazine. For more fantastic features, interviews, reviews, and more, you can subscribe here.