The lead character of video game developer Sega’s "Judgement" had some big shoes to fill. Released in 2018, "Judgement" was the real-time action successor to the company’s yakuza series, whose charismatic protagonist Kazuma Kiryu had carried the franchise through seven games at that point before going into retirement at the end of his narrative saga.
But Sega brought in some serious star power by recruiting none other than Takuya Kimura, former member of boy band SMAP and arguably the most popular man in Japanese show business, to play the role of "Judgement’s" main character, lawyer-turned-private investigator Takayuki Yagami. Takuya didn’t just provide his voice, either, as Yagami is a dead ringer for the 48-year-old singer/actor.
"Judgement" went on to be a hit, selling over one million copies worldwide, and Sega is currently putting the finishing touches on a sequel, titled "Lost Judgement," that’s scheduled for release this fall. However, regardless of how well "Lost Judgement" is received by fans and critics, it might end up being the last game in the series.
▼ Trailer for "Lost Judgement"
Speaking to an unnamed entertainment industry insider, Japan’s Nikkan Taishu web magazine cites that a disagreement between Sega and Johnny’s, Japan’s most powerful male performer talent agency, to which Kimura is attached. Johnny’s has traditionally kept a very tight grip on visual representations of their performers, and it likely took no small amount of wrangling and financial compensation to clear Kimura to appear in "Judgement," which was a PlayStation 4 exclusive at the time of its release.
However, Sega now wants "Judgement" to be a multi-platform release. In April of this year, an upgraded re-release came out for PlayStation 4 and 5, as well as Microsoft’s Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Google Stadia. For "Lost Judgement," Sega wants the game to be available for PC through Steam as well, and according to the insider, it’s these non-console versions that are causing a rift between Sega and Johnny’s.
Essentially, Johnny’s doesn’t want games starring a Kimura lookalike to be distributed for PCs, presumably because it would make his likeness within the game easy to copy and/or modify. Sega, on the other hand, feels that Steam/PC releases are critical to the financial viability of continuing the "Judgement" series, and that it doesn’t make economic sense to go on making the games if their potential marker size is limited to consoles.
Carrying on the "Judgement" series would thus require some sort of compromise to be made, but it appears that neither side is willing to compromise at the moment. Kimura himself is actually extremely unhappy with the prospect of the series coming to an end after just two installments, according to the insider, who says the star loves video games and has spent considerable time playing "Judgement" since its release.
▼ No word on whether or not he had to choke a dude out to relieve his stress over the situation.
This isn’t the first time "Judgement" has run into issues connected to its use of real-world celebrities. In March of 2019, three months after "Judgement’s" Japanese release, actor and musician Pierre Taki, who portrayed one of Yagami’s adversaries in the game, was arrested on cocaine charges. Subsequently the facial model for the character was modified to bear less resemblance to Taki, and his lines of spoken dialogue were rerecorded by a different actor.
Source: Nikkan Taishu via Jin
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