Members of Yakuza groups are mainly Japanese organized crime syndicates. Since ancient times, Yakuza groups have existed in Japan. The group is no longer active, but they have still influenced Japanese society on a very deep level, all of which have inspired many great anime.
The perfect story and satisfaction from a gangster movie/show await you in these anime if you love gangster movies and are interested in the life of a mafia.
With anime based on Yakuza, you get to see the more real and gritty facet of Japan. This book explores Japan’s politics, gangster life, Yakuza philosophy, and their operations. As a result, we have compiled a list of the best gangster and yakuza anime. If you are into gangster movies, then you definitely need to watch these.
Kumiko Yamaguchi is the heir apparent to the Ooedo Clan, one of Japan’s most powerful clans, in Gokusen. In spite of that, her fate has her wanting to be a teacher, so she joins a school full of troublesome boys and teaches mathematics to them.
In addition, she has to teach her lawless students and lead a yakuza clan, while also doing her best to be a good teacher and help them become better people.
There is a nice conflict brewing in the story of this anime, making for an interesting watch. She also tries to hide her yakuza membership from her classmates at school in order to hide her ‘secret life’ as a yakuza.
In this anime, you learn that things don’t always go according to your plan, but you have to overcome your problems in order to be happy in what you do. Students who are less enthusiastic than Yamaguchi are in contrast with her passion.
It is very well written, and whether it’s the main character or a side character, we like them all, because they’re very likable. This anime is full of action and emotions, and there are both serious and humorous moments in it.
9. Golden Kamuy
Sugimoto The Immortal, who performed death-defying acts during the Russo-Japanese War, is the subject of a novel called Golden Kamuy. The only motivation for Sugimoto after the war is to fulfill the last wish of his best friend, to take care of his family.
Having lost all hope, he sets off on a quest to discover gold, hidden by a man who killed a group of Ainu and kept it hidden somewhere in northern Japan. It is understood he can only use a skin map as a clue, and that he only has Ainu for a partner.
Both of them are seeking the fulfillment of their wishes. One is trying to fulfill the wishes of their dying friend, the other is seeking what is really rightfully hers.
During their journey, they run into various problems, such as fighting gangsters and yakuza members who are also after the gold. The adventure is both fascinating and exciting. The animation is impressive and the art delightful.
It is also tastefully done with regard to character development. The history of the 20th century is downplayed and rarely discussed in this anime. Therefore, if you enjoy violence and gritty animes with compelling stories, then this is the show for you.
8. City Hunter
An honorable assassin or yakuza will be able to assassinate anyone to keep a city “clean” in this anime. There are many references to the underground culture of Japan and specifically Tokyo in this show.
It follows the story of Ryou Saeba, a contract killer who is a key member of the ‘City Hunter’ organization.
In fact, Saeba’s skills are so good that the yakuza hires him to murder other gang members, and they even work together to achieve their own goals. Whoever is in his way is slain, whether it is pickpockets or crime syndicates. The anime has gritty, interesting moments that aren’t always serious.
There are comedic moments, and some of them are hilarious. This anime achieves the perfect combination of action and comedy without feeling forced.
Each episode gets more interesting and the main character’s storyline gets more intense. The storyline isn’t anything extraordinary, but the likable and memorable characters more than compensate. A lot of care has been taken in developing the characters. Anime like this one provide good action, a lot of comedy and a lot of compelling characters.
7. Black Lagoon
Rokurou Okajima was once afraid of someone who later became the person he was once betrayed by. The life of Rokurou is that of a normal Japanese businessman. His business trip to Thailand ends in an odd kidnapping by the Black Lagoon mercenary group.
Although they tried to use him for negotiations, he was no help to them at all. The Black Lagoon leaves him alone after he learns how much he has been neglected. A few of his friends deserted him and he is out on his own.
The kidnappers, Black Lagoon, decide to accept him as a member. His story shows how people can push you to the limit and bring out the worst in you. As a result, he must adapt to the new life he has chosen, adapt quickly to the new way of life, and kill people.
Throughout the series, ethics and values are constantly questioned as well as how far a person can go after being betrayed and left alone.
Unfortunately, the antagonists do not have much depth to them. Even though there are plenty of humorous moments there is still a serious tone to the story. It is an engaging and deep anime worth your time if you are a fan of this genre.
6. Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha
In South America and Japan, a ‘Heaven’s Gate’ and a ‘Hell’s Gate’ appear, defying all notions of physics. With the gates, contractors also came into existence, who gain superhuman abilities in exchange for their humanity.
Ten years have passed since the gates opened, and contractors gained superpowers in exchange for their humanity. As the gates reopened, they became increasingly powerful, posing a threat to the existence of normal people.
It turns out that chief Misaki Kirihara lives near Hell’s Gate, where she happens to face out the guise of ‘Black Reaper’–an underworld contractor named Hei. Bringing their own personal interests to bear, they are working together to solve the mystery of the gates.
As they investigate, they find some mysterious items which could make contractors obsolete. Several yakuza members are scheming to gain advantage from the presence of gates, as they have some of the other relations with them.
We are presented with political drama that ensues, an overarching theme of an inevitable war, and people like yakuza members doing stuff for their own personal gain in this anime.
This is a sci-fi anime that you should watch, as it will capture your interest right from the start and keep you engaged throughout.
Yoshifumi Nitta, a yakuza member, is the main character in this anime. His world was turned upside down when a capsule-bound girl named Hina literally dropped on him. Nitta and the Yakuza might be able to use Hina’s telekinesis powers to their advantage. Prior to using Hina’s power on him, Nitta makes use of hers for his own purposes.
It is not a serious anime by any means. Hinamatsuri just makes the situations crazier and crazier and it makes for an extremely entertaining and comic anime to watch.
Although there are serious moments in this show that make you care for the characters even more, comedy is the show’s strongest point. An anime like this benefits from good animation and sound design.
We care about the relationships that develop between our characters and the worldbuilding is gorgeous. Anime’s side characters play a crucial role in making it memorable and likable to us.
There are many surprises and secrets in this anime, which we learn as the narrative moves forward. Immediately after watching the first episode, you’ll be hooked. I recommend watching this anime if you want to learn more about the yakuza.
A very diverse anime, this anime is a fusion of many things such as mythology, sci-fi, gang wars, betrayal, friendship, the identity crisis of characters, and everything else in between. There are a lot of subjects in this book, but they are addressed neatly, rather than making it seem like a hodgepodge.
There are many aspects to this anime, so we are always kept on our toes as it unfolds. There are a lot of secrets lurking within the bland and seemingly boring characters.
Defending himself against the threat of violence, Mikado Ryuugamine is only trying to live out a childhood dream after he relocated to Tokyo but now is in a position he could never have imagined.
The anime not only explores many ideas but also has many characters. These characters don’t just show up and disappear; they serve some purpose in the story and are important as well.
As Mikado and each of the characters build their relationship, we get to know their strengths and weaknesses. You will not become bored for a minute watching this anime. When watching this anime, you’ll go on a rollercoaster ride.
The aimless and apathetic Kaiji Itou drinks beers and steals hubcaps so he can pass the time. In an attempt to steal away from his friend, he takes out an impossible loan that he will never be able to repay, and then he gets sucked into the world of underground gambling, which makes things really difficult for him.
As a result of mind-games, dealing with yakuza members, and a huge debt, he has fallen into a life of constant betrayal.
When he is forced into this lifestyle, he sees a different side of himself and the people around him whom he once considered friends. Despite constant efforts, he is unable to pull himself out of the rabbit hole of gambling.
Despite being aimless and simple initially, our main character in this show is now being pushed to his limits as he has to deal with people and situations that are outside his comfort zone.
The characters of this anime are not members of the yakuza. Rather, they are their victims, providing an interesting point of view to the gangster/yakuza anime genre as a whole. For something gritty and serious, you must add it to your watchlist.
Baccano! You should watch this anime if you wish to watch an anime about gangsters and the mafia. In addition to gang-wars, it has relationships and everything in between as well.
This show doesn’t follow the story of one single character or location at any given time. We follow four stories at first that appear to be unrelated. At the end, they all converge and feel like a single story.
Their only connection is the characters Isaac and Miria, two kindly, would-be thieves who have hidden agendas of their own. It feels very natural and realistic when the stories merge without ever feeling rushed. Despite following different stories, it never feels confusing or overwhelming.
In anime, the stories are set up and served one by one to the viewer. It does not feel like a single story has received more attention than the others in terms of character development. A delight to listen to and watch, the soundtrack and animation leave a lasting impression.
This beautiful gangster anime is not based on yakuza, but it deserves to be on this list due to its intricate and beautiful story.
1. Great Teacher Onizuka
A 12-episode anime series, Great Teacher Onizuka makes a deep impression on the viewer despite its short length. Onizuka, a member of a biker gang, is determined to become a teacher, not because he is passionate about teaching but so that he gets a wife that can take care of him when he gets old.
When he first starts teaching, his motivation is not that great but as he teaches and gets to know new students, a new passion for teaching develops.
In Onizuka’s class are unruly, unruly students, who drove out their previous teacher but he is no less capable as he was one himself.
Great Teacher Onizuka addresses many problems students face such as harassment, bullying, and suicidal thoughts maturely. Both Onizuka and the students have beautiful character arcs.
Even though he is not the best teacher out there, he is making his way to being the best teacher by trying his best and being the best teacher on his journey.
An anime like this makes you feel satisfied at the end, makes you laugh, and makes you feel emotional. Definitely worth watching.