It was just last week that Judgement, a Yakuza spin-off that has been available in Japan since the end of 2018, finally received a Western release date. However, this launch could now be in jeopardy, as Sega has just put a hold on shipments and digital sales of the title following the arrest of one of the game’s voice actors.
Specifically, 51-year-old actor Pierre Taki has been arrested for alleged cocaine use. While reports suggest that the substance was not located in searches of the Judgement actor’s home and vehicle, a urine sample tested positive for cocaine, and Taki has admitted to having used a small amount of the drug.
Sega has since issued a statement, suggesting that the company is «confirming the facts» of the arrest. In the mean time, sales of Judgement will be halted, and Sega has indicated that it will refrain from things like «posting the product’s homepage» while the matter is investigated. The company has even begun deleting old tweets that reference the title.
Indeed, Japan takes a strong stance against the use of illegal drugs, and this investigation may lead Sega to replace Taki’s performance in Judgement. This type of action has a recent precedent, as Hiroki Narimiya’s voice acting was removed from Yakuza 4 at the end of last year following a similar drug allegation.
Moreover, Taki is also the voice of the talking snowman Olaf in the Japanese release of Frozen and, by extension, Japan’s version of Kingdom Hearts 3. It remains to be seen if the companies behind these titles will take action to remove Taki’s work, but reports suggest that Disney is already looking to replace his performance for the forthcoming release of Frozen 2 in Japan.
At this point, the effect of Taki’s arrest on the Western release of Judgement is not known. Takashi Mochizuki, a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, indicates that Sega is still discussing how to proceed, but no decision has been made. While it is true that Taki’s work may not appear in the English language version of the title, it does seem that Sega has a lot to consider before making its next move with Judgement.
More details on Taki’s arrest can be found on Kotaku.