Apparently Ryu ga gotoku 3 (known as Yakuza 3 outside Japan) had an entire series of side-quests cut from the international version where Kiryu studied English. As seen in the above clip, a woman on the street gets him to buy increasingly expensive textbooks from which he learns one or two phrases. These phrases pay off immediately when, minutes later, he meets a white woman named Stacy. Not only does she seem to be falling in love with him, she gives him presents.

Each conversation they have gets more and more ridiculous/steamy, but in the end it proves to be a scam; the women just want to get him alone to extort a huge amount of money (250,000 yen, nearly $3 grand). In the clip, the player refuses which triggers a battle with three foreign punks. When Kiryu wins, he gets a complete refund of everything he previously paid. Stacy apologizes and gives Kiryu one last gift.

While I find this hilarious, it is a shame that the game relies so heavily on Japanese stereotypes of non-Japanese. Stacy is shown speaking English and Japanese, but her Japanese is written in katakana, suggesting that her speech is somehow “off.” This is typical in Japanese media where subtitles are commonplace - foreigners are often shown speaking katakana-Japanese no matter how normal their pronunciation might be.

There’s also the matter of Kiryu having to speak English in order to talk to Stacy even though she demonstrates a knowledge of Japanese from the start. Granted, in this case she is a con artist, but even when that’s not the case that’s exactly how Japanese people perceive non-Japanese. I’ve been living here for years and I still encounter people who feel they must address me English. Most of the time their English is really bad, making simple conversations labored affairs where I must interpret their every word into Japanese in order to understand.

For more on the connection between English study and the (actual) Yakuza, read this post on Kotaku from Brian Ashcraft.

  1. feitclub posted this