First Yakuza 8 footage appears online - thanks to an MMA fighter

What appears to be the very first off-screen images of Yakuza 8, the sequel to Yakuza: Like a Dragon, have made their way online - thanks to the official YouTube channel of a Japanese mixed martial arts fighter.

Featherweight class Japanese MMA fighter Mikuru Asakura is also a fairly popular YouTuber - and he today posted a video to his YouTube channel of a development tour of the SEGA Sammy offices where the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio - the team behing Yakuza - is based. During the tour, he stops by the cubicals where developers are working - only for the camera to pan over to a screen showing a work-in-progress cutscene from Yakuza 8.

Also along for the trip to the studio was Japanese gaming outlet Famitsu - which then posted about the visit and Asakura's video. 

The images confirm the return of fan-favorite characters from Like A Dragon, including eccentric protagonist Ichiban Kasuga - who sadly appears to have swapped his afro for a new hairstyle. Famitsu also mentions that the game will feature a new town. The footage crops up around ten minutes into Asakura's video:

Yakuza 8 is hardly a secret, of course. While it hasn't been revealed with the fanfare of a trailer, Sega confirmed another entry in the series was in the works back in October 2021. The company has also casually confirmed that the Yakuza series will remain in role-playing game form introduced in Like a Dragon for its next entry - while the more action-focused games continue in the Judgment series.

Mikuru Asakura wasn't at the offices for no reason, of course - he's to be the latest in a long line of Japanese celebrities to have their appearance captured for an in-game appearance within the Yakuza series. In the video, fans can see him sit in the facial capture booth - and can now look forward to seeing him in the game. 

Last October, Yakuza series steward Toshihiro Nagoshi departed Sega after a decades-long tenure in order to form a new development group at another company. The Ryu Ga Gotoku studio continues, however - and Yakuza 8 will be its first title without Nagoshi's direct involvement.

Yakuza 8 off-screen images