In The Quiet Don: A New Chapter Vol. 1, our hero Shizuya Kondo finds himself sucked into living a double-life as a salaryman and the head of the Yakuza gang, Shinsen-gumi. Unlike the majority of Yakuza movies exported from Japan that emphasize the gritty realism of a life of crime: The Quite Don is a comedy.
The film abounds with parody. By day Shizuya is an clumsy panty designer. By night, he is the smooth, take-charge leader of the Shinsen-gumi. There is also a lot of humor from the Nakamura clan leader and the Hirakata clan leader. These two “heavyweights” of the Shinsen-gumi don their bright clothes and tinted sunglasses reminiscent of the 80′s. Their rivalry is the centerpiece for many of the best comedic moments throughout the film. At one point, Nakamura exclaims his clan is experimenting with the atom bomb. Hirakata one-ups him, saying his gang will develop a hydrogen bomb. The comedy in scenes where Shizuya is a salaryman is much more lighthearted, playing on his crush on Akemi and his ineptitude at his job. Shizuya’s boss is constantly telling Shizuya how horrible an employee he is and that he should just resign. Even the scenes with action have comedic overtones.
Despite the film being farcical, there is some truth in its portrayal of Yakuza. Throughout the film and the series, the Shinsen-gumi are the “good guys.” Shizuya Kondo doesn’t mess with honest people and doesn’t like violence. The Yakuza in Japan would have you believe similarly that they are noble organizations and they often refer to themselves as, “ninkyō dantai” (chivalrous organizations). Not to the degree of the fictional Shinsen-gumi but at times, in fact, they are. After the Kobe Earthquake in 1995, according to Japanese media outlets, the Yamaguchi-gumi, the largest Yakuza gang in Japan, whose headquarters are in Kobe, mobilized itself to provide disaster relief services. Their reaction was faster than the much criticized and slow Japanese government.
Generally though, the characters in The Quiet Don are quite different from real Yakuza. In reality, Yakuza dabble in everything from simple bribery and extortion, to drug smuggling and human trafficking. In The Quiet Don the girls are willing, the drugs in Vol 2 are disposed of by Shizuya and his comrade, and all the violence has comedic overtones. Today’s Yakuza have groups around the world and the American Yoshitomi-gumi are allied with many other well-known criminal enterprises such as the Bloods and Los Zetas. They are bad guys and one has to wonder if they find the humor in the representations portrayed in comedies like The Quiet Don.