Yakuza-themed anime incorporate yakuza culture into their storytelling in a variety of ways, and criminals may appear as protagonists, antagonists, or supporting roles. Yakuza stories set themselves apart by depicting organizations with strict hierarchies and specific rules. Recent series have been experimenting with the genre, pushing beyond the boundaries of traditional crime stories. Recent series have been experimenting with the genre, pushing beyond the boundaries of traditional crime stories.
While the concept of organized crime is not uncommon in anime, the stories specifically focus on or highlight elements of organized crime. yakuza culture surprisingly rare, given their presence in other forms of Japanese fiction, such as video games. For those who want to enjoy such stories, best yakuza anime successfully integrate this theme into their storytelling in one way or another.
The Yakuza are often confused with the mafia, which is not surprising since both are organized crime groups. However, what sets these yakuza stories apart is their strict hierarchy and specific rules. Additionally, as the genre has become incredibly popular, recent series have experimented with it, going beyond the scope of traditional crime stories.
10 Paths of a househusband
The Way of the Househusband revolves around Tatsu, a former yakuza who has abandoned his old lifestyle, choosing instead to live as an honest househusband. Naturally, he can never truly escape his past, which is still recognizable through his appearance, attitude, and behavior, but the legendary “Immortal Dragon” is gone, and so were his fighting days. Instead of living for his yakuza group, he now dedicates himself to taking care of his family, shopping, cooking, and even sewing for them if needed. This is a simple but interesting comedy title, introducing the yakuza from a completely new perspective.
Hinamatsuri is an underrated title that combines two topics that at first glance seem completely unrelated, namely childcare and organized crime. The story revolves around an odd duo consisting of Hina, a mysterious girl with supernatural powers, and Yoshifumi Nitta, a yakuza member, the former of whom suddenly appears in Yoshifumi Nitta’s house. Feeling threatened but also intrigued by Hina’s powers, which could be useful to his own life as a yakuza, Nitta decides to take care of her. Thanks to its unique cast of characters and comedy that surpasses all expectations, this title stands out as one of the most memorable shows of its kind.
8 people take revenge on Tokyo
For the most part, Tokyo Revengers depicts gangs more akin to bosozoku – young bikers – than yakuza, as they are not composed of adults involved in criminal activity but rather interested teenagers to local wars. However, there are scenes where Toman’s natural evolution into a full-fledged yakuza group is made clear, such as the timeline where the now-adult characters are noted to be involved with many various crimes, aimed at controlling Tokyo. However, much of the story revolves around the origins and development of the Toyko Manji Gang, as Takemichi Hanagaki relives his past in an attempt to prevent the tragic death of his first and only girlfriend. .
While not directly mentioning the yakuza, the story of K revolves around clans led by Kings, who demand respect and loyalty from every clan member. Therefore, despite their different names, these clans can easily be associated with the yakuza theme because they share a common emphasis on hierarchy and loyalty. As such, in a world dominated by supernatural forces where honor is valued above all else, the brutal murder of a member of the red clan triggers one of the best revenge plots in anime, gradually grows into something much larger, revealing a surprisingly complex story. defined by plot twists and unexpected developments. The beautiful visuals and sound design also contribute to the experience.
When Kumiko Yamaguchi finally gets the chance to start her dream career as a math teacher, the class she is assigned to turns out to be full of rowdy delinquents with no interest in learning. . While their attempts to torment teachers would make most people give up, Kumiko is no ordinary teacher. She is also the heiress to the Oedo Group, a powerful yakuza clan, and her incredible resilience and strength help her quickly gain the respect of her students. Naturally, she also cannot tell others about her background because that would pose a serious threat to her career.
5 great pretenders
Due to a series of unfortunate events, Makoto Edamura feels he has no choice but to turn to a life of petty crime and drama, which leads him to become Japan’s top conman. However, one of his usual tricks ends up backfiring, leaving him the victim of a deception. This is how he met conman Laurent Thierry and joined his group, involving himself in increasingly complex international fraud schemes. While the yakuza may not be the main focus of this title, the film is divided into different cases, the last of which revolves around the yakuza and their international crimes that Makoto’s team infiltrates and intervention.
4 Great Teacher Onizuka
Although not directly depicting the yakuza, Great Teacher Onizuka is an influential title with a similar theme. A former biker gang leader, Eikichi Onizuka famously grew up surrounded by crime and vandalism, all too familiar with illegal activities and unruly groups. Even his decision to become a teacher was not determined by altruism or a long-held dream, but by a simple desire to meet high school girls. However, he quickly abandoned this idea when he realized how much he could impact and help students, in his own unique ways. While it’s not exactly a yakuza show, GTO is still a gem worth checking out for general anime fans.
3 Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
Another title looking to depict a former yakuza turning over a new leaf and experiencing one of the best redemption arcs in anime, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu follows Yotarou, a man who after being released from prison decides to intending to give up his old lifestyle and pursue a new one. Inspired by the performances of the famous Yakumo Yuurakutei, Yotarou is determined to enter the world of rakugo, eventually becoming the first apprentice of the one who allowed him to find his dream. From its profound and affecting story to its nuanced and realistic characters, there are many reasons why this unique film is so highly regarded.
2 Akiba Maid War
Combining maids with yakuza may seem like a strange idea, but Akiba Maid War proves to be more effective than one would expect. Here, Akihabara’s famous maid cafes are not just places where apron-clad girls serve customers but also have groups, like the yakuza, vying for influence, competing with each other behind the scenes. school. Furthermore, they do not simply compete based on profits or customers; They are always at war, attacking each other with knives and guns. At times, this title can be brutal and serious but it also has a humorous side, making it that much more interesting and unique.
1 stray dog Bungo
Bungo Stray Dogs presents itself not as a story about the yakuza but as a story about people fighting against the yakuza. The show centers the action around the Armed Detective Agency, a group of people who use supernatural abilities to fight the Port Mafia and stop their damage. Despite its name, Port Mafia is a criminal organization that resembles the yakuza more than the mafia in many ways, as they follow similar structures and rules. Not only are they widely accepted by police because of their financial and political influence, but they also tend to stay away from the drug industry.
Some of these titles focus exclusively on yakuza-themed settings or other similarly organized groups that resemble the yakuza in every way except their specific names. In others, they play a less central but still important role, serving as antagonists or sometimes as supporting characters driving the action behind the scenes. Whether they are still active or safely retired, such characters often turn out to be interesting and engaging in their own right. As such, although they may not be many, yet best yakuza anime always brings a refreshing and interesting feeling.