Sega Pulls Judge Eyes Following Drug Scandal (Updated)
By Yung Namahage • 2 months ago • 1 comments

Japan has a strict set of standards for their celebrities. No matter how long they've spent building a reputation, it can quickly come tumbling down as soon as they get embroiled in an illicit news story.

Case in point: The Yakuza series of video games, known in Japan as Ryu ga Gotoku, has often featured celebrity guests. From hostesses based on gravure and AV idols to pro wrestlers as side antagonists, and even characters in the main story based on and voiced by famous actors, including the renowned actor, director & comedian Takeshi Kitano in the sixth numbered instalment in the franchise.

Judge Eyes, the latest game by Ryu ga Gotoku studio and a spin-off of the main series, features actor & singer Pierre Taki, whose previous credits include Shin Godzilla as well as the live action adaptations of Attack on Titan and the first Parasyte movie. Recently, Taki was arrested by the Narcotics Control Department of Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on account of cocaine usage after failing a drug test. In response to this, Sega have halted sales of the game both physically and digitally, and have deleted all tweets marketing the game. On top of this, several TV shows that featured Taki have dropped him, his band Denki Groove have cancelled an upcoming concert, and his dubbing role as Olaf in the sequel to Disney's Frozen very well may be recast.

This isn't the first time an actor whose likeness was used in the series has been caught up in a drugs scandal. Yakuza 4 featured a trio of new protagonists kicking ass on the streets of Tokyo alongside series stalwart Kiryu Kazuma, one of which was the laidback cop Masayoshi Tanimura. Tanimura's voice actor Hiroki Narimiya (also known for his role as Phoenix Wright in the live action Ace Attorney ) retired from acting and modelling after allegations of cocaine abuse, and his role was recast to Toshiki Masuda in the PS4 re-release of Yakuza 4.  

Considering Judge Eyes has already been released in Japan, it's probably not possible for Sega to recast Taki's character like they did with Narimiya. However, the game is set for a western release on June 25 under the more straightforward title Judgement, and it's currently unknown whether or not the western release will be affected. Either way, check out the trailer below; Judgement is the first game in the Yakuza series to feature an optional English dub and features a new look on the familiar streets of Kamurocho from the (judge) eyes of private detective Takayuki Yagami as he gets wrapped up investigating a string of murders.

Do you think Sega was right in their response to Taki's arrest? Will the western release will be affected by the controversy? Leave your thoughts below.

UPDATE: Turns out his voice role as Olaf in the Japanese dub of Kingdom Hearts III will be patched out of the game in a future update. When the patch will be released and who his replacement will be are still to be announced. This approach would be more difficult in the case of Judgement, seeing as the character he voices also shares his likeness and it'll be considerably more work for the studio to create and patch in an entire new character model, especially since the Ryu ga Gotoku series is known for its incredibly detailed characters. However, Sega have yet to announce what they intend on doing following the controversy, if anything.