The Judgment says more about police violence than we give it credit for
Yakuza is a law-abiding entity. Kazuma Kiryu was plagued by politicking at both the national and international levels. She often got involved and took the fight to the government and the police, and everyone in between.
Judgment was a case in which the law won. Takayuki Yagami was a detective who faced a brutal, ruthless serial killer. He beat his victims to a pulp, then left them to rot in Kamurocho’s back alleyways. The serial killer was Mitsuru Kuroiwa. He was the shining star of the Tokyo Police Department and was respected and loved by all, even his superiors. Also, he was generally known as an up-and-coming detective. Judgment examines the cyclical nature and corruption of police violence and corruption, focusing on Kuroiwa’s view of law enforcement as a violent and corrupt organization that will do anything to protect itself before it is held accountable.
The Judgment reveals how the justice system continues allowing those in power to abuse their positions. Organizations like the police are not up to the task. This is an indictment against the police force for protecting its violent members. At the same time, Lost Judgement examines how those associated with the police force and who benefit from the force will always be protected by them, no matter what they do.
The player first encounters the serial killer in Judgement. They only know them as “The Mole,” a somewhat affectionate nickname for someone so evil. The Mole, dressed in a black raincoat and his first scene in Judgment, enters as a reaper. He murders six men in one night and executes two others with a single bullet to their heads. The player discovers that Kuroiwa is the serial killer they have been chasing since the beginning of the game. He is the supposed gold standard for Tokyo P.D. cops. The Mole and Kuroiwa must be connected. This will allow you to bring the former down into the psychotic level of the latter and infuse how manipulable the entire police force is with the right kind of power.
These systems are utterly deplorable. Yagami, a disgraced lawyer and rogue private eyes in one of Asia’s most red-light districts, must step in to hold the police force responsible for the murderer. This is a blatant attack on the police force. In Judgment, one of the most potent prosecutors in Japan’s largest city intervenes to protect Kuroiwa against Yagami. This Judgmentscene demonstrates how society cannot trust anyone to hold police officers accountable for their frequent abuses of power.
You may also like:
- The Trials and Tribulations of Localizing Sega’s Lost Judgment
- The Yakuzaverse’s Lost Judgment Identifies Its Voice, but It’s Messy
- Lost Judgment Tip Guide: 26 Things The Game Doesn’t Tell you
Judgment posits a view about police violence and corruption cyclical because of Kuroiwa’s rise to power in Tokyo P.D. Kuroiwa was fired by his mentor after he failed to report him for corruption. Although the report did remove the corrupt cop from office, it left Kuroiwa with no choice but to grab the power without a second thought. The Judgment shows that going through the “proper” avenues to eradicate police corruption and violence won’t work because there will always be someone like Kuroiwa ready to take over.
In a way, Judgment sees institutions such as the police force susceptible to the “absolute power corrupts absolutely” mindset. After Kuroiwa was exposed as a serial killer, his body count rivals Agent 47’s, and the police force’s top brass still protects him. Judgment is explicit in its teachings about how removing a “bad” apple from the police force doesn’t solve any problems. The force will always look inwards to protect and cover those who have done irrefutable harm.
This contrasts with Marvel Spider-Man’s approach to the police force. Peter Parker’s 2018 adventure saw the web slinger actively supporting the police force, maintaining a close relationship with detective Yuri Watanabe and even installing listening devices throughout New York City. Spider-Man was made an integral part of the U.S. Police force by the organization that has killed 930 persons in the last year. This is as of November 2021.
Tom Ley from Deadspin wrote, “They made Spider-Man into an awful cop, and it sucks.” It was hard not to agree with Spider-Man as he donned his Spider-Cop persona. He had a raspy voice and a determination to do the job no matter the cost.
Two years later, the police force is virtually absent from Spider-Man. Miles Morales has replaced it with a focus on family bonds and Miles’ mother running in NYC for elected office. The police presence was gone, as was any commentary about the police force. Insomniacs ignored the issue and showed the police force the door rather than changing its stance. Judgment’s criticisms and engagement with the police force is a positive step in understanding the violence and exploitation it can sustain. This game shows how effective it is to directly address the police’s presence in society instead of pretending otherwise.
The 2021 sequel to Yagami’s first appearance examines the system’s defenses. Kazuki Soma is the big bad in the sequel. He’s a handsome, eloquent criminal who loves to run people through with a knife. Partway through Lost Judgment, it becomes clear that Soma is an FBI agent and a Public Security operative. He was charged with infiltrating Yakuza’s underworld and converting the Tojo Clan to a new surveillance organization.
However, Soma’s handlers don’t say anything about him doing whatever it takes to kill people or slit throats with his sadistic enthusiasm. Public Security protects Soma from being run over by wild dogs and conceals him from law enforcement when he is in danger (read: he has murdered someone).
Both Judgment, and its sequel, have critical views on law enforcement in general. Judgment focuses more on the cyclical nature and corruption of police violence. It argues that replacing one corrupt cop through the proper channels won’t work with psychotic rot at every police force’s core. Lost Judgment shows how powerful cop-affiliated people will be protected by systems designed to protect the public from predators. The Yakuza series has moved beyond tackling corruption within government agencies, particularly in The Song of Life and Like A Dragon. But Judgment deserves credit for taking on law enforcement’s violent and corrupt nature.