So first, here's a quick mea culpa from me: I've been thinking about Yakuza 5 completely wrong.
Admittedly, I have not played much of the Yakuza series, and if you caught our live stream last week you saw the bulk of what I've played already. But here's one important lesson that I've learned: You're not acting like Yakuza 24/7.
Well, I mean, you are - Kiryu, Shinada, all the rest of the protagonists are embroiled in a story rife with the danger that only Japanese gangster life could bring about, but the only thing going 24/7 in this game is the fact that you're in Japan.
And Yakuza does a PERFECT job of recreating that feel. What do I mean? Well, it's the middle of the afternoon, and Kiryu doesn't have to be out doing gangster things. He can do whatever he wants - whatever the likes of Kamurocho can offer him.
See that screen-shot above? That's a hardened criminal taking a picture in a photo booth that you can put sparkly hearts around. You can spend days and *hundreds* of thousands of yen trying to get a hostess to like you enough to meet up with you outside of the confines of a Hostess Club. YOU CAN BREED, AND RACE, AND BET ON CHICKENS.
Yakuza 5 isn't just a taste of the gangster lifestyle, with all the violence and intrigue that it brings; it's a taste of the Japan lifestyle that just happens to be embroiled in the midst of an all-out Yakuza upheaval.
Is there any shame in spending hours perfecting the timing in Taiko no Tatsujin? No. Or spending thousands of Yen to win the ideal Hatsune Miku or NiGHTS statue from a UFO catcher? NO! Gamble! Drink! Cavort! Play! This is the essence of Yakuza, and Yakuza 5 has some of the best selections of diversions to date!