Freelance announcer Kanda Aika, “In ‘Yakuza,’ they’re the world’s best couple!” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Freelance announcer Kanda Aika, “In ‘Yakuza,’ they’re the world’s best couple!”

44th Edition: Me, Pink, and Sometimes New York

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Illustration drawn by Kanda-san

“Don’t play video games!” 

They said it’s because it would harm my eyesight, and studying would be more beneficial for my future. But one night, while sleeping in bunk beds with my brother (I was on the top bunk), I woke up to the bright light of the ceiling fluorescent lamp. (“What’s going on!?”) When I looked down, I saw my brother playing video games. He had apparently acquired a game console from somewhere without our parents’ knowledge. (Even though I’m sleepy!) I felt angry. After a while, my brother carefully placed the game console in a paper bag and hid it under the drawer. The next morning, as soon as I woke up, I told my mother where the game console was hidden. And then, the next night, my brother noticed that the game console had been replaced with an empty shoebox. ‘Why is this?!’ he shouted loudly. I woke up again because of his voice, but seeing my brother crying from the top bunk, I thought to myself, ”Serves you right,” and went back to sleep.

This happened when I was in the sixth grade. Since then, I rarely touched a game console or even looked at a game screen, and got married to my husband at the age of 37.

That’s when I was surprised. At the time, my husband was 45, but he was playing games. I’m an adult now, too. I won’t criticize how people spend their precious free time, especially those who work hard every day. But it was the first time I had seen an older man playing games in person, and it was shocking. I asked, with the meaning of “Are games fun? Can adults play too?” He answered, “They’re fun! Age doesn’t matter!”. My intention didn’t come across.

So, I sat beside him and watched. It depicted a red-light district called Kamurocho, resembling Kabukicho, where men with tattoos were punching and kicking each other. (What’s this?) I recoiled for a moment, but the protagonist drank a nutritional drink to recover when his power decreased and received various rewards when he won fights, making it easy to understand. The name of the game was “Yakuza”.

It was interesting. I used to frequent Kabukicho during my university days. I spent nights in karaoke rooms, but when I saw such intense fights outside, it felt more real, and before I knew it, I found myself standing up, pointing at the screen, and shouting, “Enemies over there!’” or “That place is glowing!”

I discovered something even more incredible. My husband usually murmurs, “I’m hungry”whenever he has free time and tries to sneak something to eat behind my back. But while playing games, he holds the controller and doesn’t try to grab food, nor does he glance at food with eyes fixed on the TV screen. (Being able to spend hours without eating anything) For a wife who wishes for her obese husband to live long, it’s like a miracle.


Precious time for the couple.

Currently, my husband is playing the latest installment of “Yakuza 8.” The setting is a familiar place for me, as it features Isezakicho, which is reminiscent of Yokohama where I’m from, and my beloved Hawaii. The buildings and streets are incredibly true to life.

What’s even more exciting is that this time, I’ve been given an important role too. In the real world as well, it seems I have a knack for finding freebies quickly. Even when my husband is sprinting the protagonist at full speed, I never miss a free item. I instantly spot even the faintest glimmers in the distance and can call out, “On the right side of the road ahead!” My husband swiftly collects the items according to my instructions. It’s teamwork, and we’re getting stronger and stronger together. It’s because we’re a team! (That’s right! We can only do this together!) It makes us feel like the most amazing couple in the world.

In the game’s version of Hawaii, the security is poor, and there are constant fights. Yet, every day, it feels like the two of us are on a trip to Hawaii. We even went shopping at the Anaconda Shopping Center, modeled after the Ala Moana Shopping Center, looking for metal bats for fights. It felt like we were really shopping and it was incredibly fun.

Forget what my parents used to tell me when I was a child. Now, I rush home early, finish bathing before my husband returns, prepare a quick and easy dinner menu, and even cut dessert into small pieces and stick toothpicks in them. My intellect is currently fully engaged in figuring out what needs to be done to enjoy “Yakuza 8” comfortably.

Who would’ve thought that a medium I used to consider evil could provide such enjoyable moments for us as a couple? From the bottom of my heart, Thank you, “Yakuza 8”!

Illustration drawn by Ms. Kanda

Kanda Aika/Born in 1980 in Kanagawa Prefecture. After graduating from the Department of Mathematics at Gakushuin University, she joined NHK as an announcer in 2003. She retired from NHK in 2012 and became a freelance announcer. Since then, she has been active mainly in variety shows, and currently appears as the main MC on the daytime program “Pokapoka” (Fuji TV).

From the March 22, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • Text and illustrations by Aika Kanda

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