Japanese mixed martial artist Mikuru Asakura took a jaunt down to Sega's development HQ recently, and while there managed to grab the world its first tantalising glimpse of Yakuza 8.
In a video documenting the visit, Asakura chats with Sega bigwigs and pulls faces into the cameras of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio's facial capture rig. But the most intriguing parts come when the camera captures monitors which clearly show images of Yakuza characters, including Ichiban Kasuga, Yu Nanba, and Koichi Adachi. You can check out the video above; the Yakuza segment begins at around 10:25.
The most shocking thing about these images is that Ichiban seems to have traded in his afro for a far more sedate ponytail. Personally, I don't see how the series will recover from this blow, but there's a chance it's only a temporary costume change.
Aside from those scant few peeks at returning characters, news about Yakuza 8 is still sparse. Reports from Famitsu suggest that the next game will also introduce a new town and that Asakura will make a cameo appearance (hence the time in the capture rig). Apart from that, we don't even know if 24-hour Cinderella will be making a reappearance.
The last Yakuza was 2019's Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which we gave a healthy 72% in our review, praising its "eccentric charm, likeable characters, and moments of warmth and absurdity" and criticising the repetitive combat. Sega has in the past released these titles at a more breakneck pace, but the series has also become much more popular over time and is now a genuinely big-hitter where expectations are high. Don't expect to see Yakuza 8 for a while, then, which will hopefully be enough time for Ichiban to reconsider his visit to the hairdresser.