One of the most bitterly disappointing possibilities we heard earlier this year about a Lost Judgment sequel is the series’ uncertain future. In the face of disagreement between publisher SEGA and the talent agency Johnny & Associates, it may be possible that mega-star Takuya Kimura, will cease to portray protagonist Takayuki Yagami, at least not in a degree to the satisfaction of both parties.
“Nikkan Taishu aka The Japan Times suggests that because Johnny’s “has strict control over the [likeness] rights of its talent, and the use of their image online is still limited to a few,” it may be closed to the idea of releasing the games to PC. […] Nikkan Taishu maintains that Sega considers the PC to be vital to their plans for Judgment.
“The Judgment series future may be uncertain, but […] Sega could also retool Judgment to feature a new protagonist and star, as it did with Yakuza. It’s better than letting a budding franchise wither before it has a chance to bloom.
It would be incredibly unfortunate if Lost Judgment were the last installment in the series, a very out there possibility suggested by Nikkan Taishu. Moreso over the very silly fact that Takuya’s management simply cannot wrap their heads around adapting to image and celebrity in the 21st century. But a newly announced DLC from the official Judgement account suggests a backdoor opportunity.
The announcement, which Twitter auto-translates from Japanese, reads as follows: “Kaito is the main character’s additional DLC story “Case book of Masaharu Kaito” will be distributed. Stay tuned for more details, including delivery dates!” That’s right, according to the tweet there will be extra cases where you play as Kaito, former lieutenant of the Matsugane Family and Yagami’s investigative assistant.
Before I continue, I do want to emphasize that you shouldn’t take auto-translations from Twitter or Google at face value, and are no substitute for professionally translated sources. So expect more clarity or information about Judgment once other game journos with translation skills turn their eyes towards this development.
All that being said, this announcement, made so soon after lingering doubts over the series’ future rather than earlier in development or in post-launch feels a bit canny. Faced with a very difficult to persuade agency like Johnny & Associates, it makes sense to test the waters and see how series fans feel about playing as other characters in the Ryu Ga Gotoku Expanded Universe.
Kaito is fairly popular and such a lovable big boy, a true himbo prince, and isn’t based on any particular actor’s likeness that would cause the same legal complications that are the source of SEGA’s disputes with Johnny’s. It’s not ideal, for while Kaito is a fairly distinct character, he hews closely to a familiar archetype embodied by franchise legend Kazuma Kiryu.
Still, exploring options with other characters might be the best option SEGA and Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio have got, barring the ideal scenario of Johnny’s just getting with the times and letting Kimura make his PC debut. Personally, I’d like to see a Ryu Ga Gotoku game centered around Saori Shirosaki, defense attorney at Genda Law Office and if that game is the Lost Judgment sequel I won’t be disappointed.
In other related information, Lost Judgment launches on September 24, 2021 for Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles. The original Judgment is also available for Xbox. The newly announced Kaito DLC, possibly named The Case Book of Masaharu Kaito, will be sold separately and as part of Lost Judgment’s Collector’s Edition.