It's never easy to fill another's shoes, let alone that of a fan-favourite character of the calibre of Kazuma Kiryu, the long-time protagonist of the
Yakuza Like a Dragon franchise. That's precisely the difficult situation in which recently revealed YouTuber and professional voice actor Yong Yea now finds himself after replacing Darryl Kurylo in the role. As a part of Anime Expo 2023, Yea took part in a panel organised by developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio and gave audiences a preview, which hasn't exactly gone over well.
Apparently intended to hype fans up, the snippet was quickly packaged together on Twitter, where it promptly picked up steam for the wrong reasons, and the comments section became a predictably mixed bag. Much of the reaction appears to have to do with Yea's being a popular and recognizable YouTuber, although some appeared to be good faith critiques, while others still will always resent change for change's sake.
To give Yea the fairest shake, he posted an updated take in a more controlled environment (but still not at professional studio quality), and we've included his version below so you can decide for yourself. We would gently remind readers to wait for the finished product (Like a Dragon Gaiden, Infinite Wealth) before rendering a final verdict.
We won't pretend to be an expert on the matter (and generally prefer subs to dubs in Japanese-set media anyway), but it sounds decent enough to our ear, out of context. How are you feeling about Kiryu's new English voice? Sound off in the comments section below.