Judgment, the new game from Ryu ga Gotoku Studios (creators of the Yakuza franchise), recently went through a tumultuous time due to legal troubles of an actor who lent his likeness and voice to a major character. Pierre Taki, who played the high-ranking yakuza Kyohei Hamura, was arrested for suspicion of cocaine use in March 2019. The game was subsequently pulled off shelves and digital storefronts in Japan, and the state of the worldwide release was in limbo.
Soon after the controversy hit, it was confirmed that Judgment would be made available again in Japan in the future and still hit its intended Western launch date of June 25, 2019 with the necessary changes. And now, the new character model for Hamura has been revealed. Sega has confirmed that it's using an original character model as opposed to another actor's likeness–you can see a comparison between the two models in the image below.
In the video above, you can watch Hamura's introductory cutscene in Judgment featuring the character's new look; however, the clip has English voice acting which remains unchanged. Sega stated that it's in the process of recording the new Japanese voice work and will be shown in the near future, but it's not ready to say who the actor is yet. There is also currently no word on when the game will go back on sale in Japan. The worldwide release of Judgment will feature dual audio with English and Japanese voiceovers and EFIGS (English, French, Italian, German, Spanish) subtitles, which is a first for a game in the Yakuza universe.
As mentioned in previous stories, Japan has very strict drug laws with severe consequences, especially as it relates to one's public image. Not only was Taki removed from Judgment by Sega, all screenshots, trailers, and social media via official channels were deleted. Sales of Disney's Frozen were also halted since he plays the jolly snowman Olaf in the Japanese dub. Disney is looking for a replacement to voice Olaf in the Japanese release of Frozen 2 as well.
Earlier this year, I got hands-on with Judgment and came away impressed with its narrative-focused action-adventure crime drama, similar to that of the Yakuza games. While the game takes place in the same world as the Yakuza series (even using Kamurocho as the central location) Judgment flips the script by having you play as a private detective named Takayuki Yagami. You'll investigate the on-going turf war between the Tojo Clan and Omi Alliance and a deeper mystery about a series of murders that hit close to home.
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