Hard Days Ending, Explained: Is Yazaki Dead?

The Netflix Japanese intense drama film ‘Hard Days’ follows the story of a man caught in a bad situation whose corrupt choices lead him down a troublesome path. Yuji Kudo, a dirty cop belonging to a shady Police department involved in heavy bribery from the Yakuza, discovers Internal Affairs is investigating him the same night that his sick mother dies. On his drive to the hospital, under a drunken and frantic haze, the Detective ends up running over a young man. As he attempts to cover his tracks and get rid of incriminating evidence, his paths cross with Yazaki, the officer assigned to his bribery case, who seems to have a connection with Oda, the young man whose dead body is in Yuji’s trunk.

As the film’s narrative unfolds, several harsh truths begin to emerge about Yuji and Yazaki, who are not much different from one another. If the mystery of Oda’s death and Yuji’s steady spiral into immorality has caught your attention, you must be curious to know where this journey ends for our characters. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Hard Days Plot Synopsis

On the night of December 29, Yuji Kudo drives down a rainy road to the hospital to tend to his sick mother’s bedside. However, the man has other troubles in his mind after his Chief informs him of the internal affairs investigation going on against him due to his connections to the Semba Syndicate. Even though several other officers from his department were involved with the Yakuza, rumors about Yuji’s entanglements had leaked to the media, branding a target on his back.

Thus, the news of his mother’s death, coming from his distant wife, Misako, catches Yuji off-guard, leading to a roadside accident wherein he runs over a pedestrian. Bewildered by the series of events, Yuji rushes to check on the man, only to discover that he’s passed away. The string of bad luck follows, and a police car approaches the scene, compelling Yuji to make the decision to hide the body. Thus, the detective ends up with a dead body in the trunk of his car.

On his way to the hospital, Yuji runs into more trouble with roadside safety but manages to weasel away with the help of an Internal Affairs officer, Yazaki. Afterward, the man uses his mother’s death to shirk away from the Police Chief when he tries to contact him for an IA investigation. Still, once he’s left his mother at the Mortuary Aihara hall, his boss arrives at the location to talk to Yuji. For the same reason, Yuji hides the body inside a building vent.

Although Yuji manages to escape from his boss’ scrutiny, he has to agree to visit the station for a conversation with Yazaki the next day. As such, he intentionally crashes his car to ensure no one can trace the guy’s death to him with it. Surprisingly, his conversation with Yazaki goes well, and he decides not to trouble Yuji for his Yakuza bribery connections, deeming them a common occurrence.

Out of one pickle, Yuji arrives at the Aihara hall to arrange his mother’s funeral rites and realizes the personal room where her body will be kept overnight has a direct vent connection. Consequently, he decides to stay with his mother the following night to sneak the man’s dead body into her casket. The same night, the Yakuza crime boss, Semba, also pays a visit to him and his mother. The other man tells Yuji about a man who has stolen from the Zenmyoji temple’s money laundering schemes. As such, he offers Yuji a way out of his troubles by delivering the boy to the gang.

Furthermore, before his mother’s funeral, Yuji discovers the identity of the man he ran over, Oda, a 29-year-old drug dealer. Additionally, upon arriving at the funeral, the man receives a cryptic message from a stranger who claims to know about Yuji’s secret. When the detective tries to dismiss the threat, Yazaki appears and beats him within an inch of his life. The IA officer needs Yuji to bring Oda’s body to him in the next few hours and holds his daughter, Mina, hostage until then.

Hard Days Ending: Does Yazaki Die?

Although Yazaki’s character poses a threat to Yuji from his initial introduction as an Internal Affairs officer, he ends up playing a much different role in the other man’s story. Given his arrival in town to look into the bribery rumors surrounding Yuji and his department, everyone assumes he’d taken an interest in the other man to decipher his Yakuza connections. Yet, he seems the least bothered about these connections.

Instead, Yazaki is much more interested in Yuji’s roadside accident that led to Oda’s death. As it turns out, Yazaki’s department is involved in the safekeeping of the laundered money. As such, Oda had thrown them under the bus by stealing from the organization and making off with the key that unlocks the vault that holds all the stolen riches. As a result, the responsibility to catch the guy and return the money to their clients had fallen on Yazaki.

In an added layer of pressure, Yazaki’s boss and father-in-law, Uematsu, was delegating the orders directly to him. Worse yet, the former man had gotten tricked into sharing his handprint on his wedding day with Uematsu’s daughter. Thus, Oda can break the vault’s second line of defense and access the money. Therefore, in order to save his marriage and career, Yazaki must stop the other man before the year ends.

For the same reason, Yazaki starts tracking Oda. At first, he sics Semba onto the guy. However, Semba’s financial demands start rising soon, putting Yazaki in a tough spot. Likewise, Uematsu keeps pushing the other man until he finally breaks and beats his own father-in-law to death. Ultimately, Yazaki’s life completely falls apart, and finding Oda becomes his purpose.

As such, on December 29, when Yazaki finally tracks Oda down, he chases him down with the intention of killing him. Yazaki only needs Oda’s key and his fingerprints to access the vault and secure the money. Consequently, once he catches up to the younger man by the roadside, he fires his shots, killing Oda. However, at that moment, Yuji runs into the guy and assumes he killed him.

Therefore, Yazaki desperately needs Yuji to bring Oda’s body to him and kidnaps his daughter to ensure the other man doesn’t cross him. When one of Yuji’s colleagues tries to help him out of this situation, Yazaki quickly lays waste to his life to show the detective how serious he is about this issue. Yet, all his actions do is anger Yuji, who decides to end their feud once and for all.

Although Yuji meets Yazaki at their agreed time and place, he hides a bomb inside Oda’s dead body before handing him over to the other man. Therefore, after the handoff, Yazaki’s car blows up, and Yuji manages to rescue his daughter, Mina. Nevertheless, unbeknownst to the detective, Yazaki isn’t actually dead.

The bomb’s detonation had been brutal and blown the car up in two, sending a part of it flinging into the river nearby. Yazaki’s body, which also gets shot into the water, manages to escape any life-threatening injuries. As a result, in the end, the man returns to continue chasing Yuji.

The following night, Yuji uses Oda’s keycard and the finger that he dismembered from his dead body to enter Yazaki’s vault. The place holds stacks of cash, with enough money to keep his family happy for generations to come. Yet, Yuji’s celebration is short-lived since Yazaki, haggard as he remains after his brush with death, returns for him. In the fight that follows, both men deliver brutal attacks on each other. Still, in the end, neither emerge victorious.

Instead, the Yakuza boss, Semba, arrives at the scene and administers a drug on Yuji to make him pass out. Turns out, the former orchestrated the entire thing and used Yuji to gain access to Yazaki’s vault and steal the money for himself. In the end, both Yuji and Yazaki lay outside, bloodied, bruised, and unconscious as the new year arrives.

Does Yuji Return to His Family?

On January 1, Yuji assumes Yazaki has died after their altercation last night. As a result, while he sits alone in his car with blood and injuries marring his body, he reaches out to Misako to try and get his family back. The couple had been having problems long before Yuji got into this mess. As such, Misako had already made the decision to divorce the man. Yet, Mina’s kidnapping finally pushed her to accept that she needs to get away from her husband.

Likewise, Yuji also understood that he could never truly escape from trouble and that he must accept his lot in life as a desert lizard, doomed to struggle until his death. Therefore, he lets his family slip away from his fingers. Still, the new year brings new hope and compels the man to call up Misako barely a day after their final goodbye.

Although Misako knows getting back together with Yuji isn’t the wise thing to do, she agrees to give him another shot for the sake of their family. Nonetheless, even after her insistence to return home as soon as possible, Yuji takes a moment to himself, alone in his car. Until Yazaki finally returns to his life, slamming into Yuji’s car from behind.

Earlier, Yazaki tells Yuji that the two men aren’t much different from one another. Both men crave chaos and thrill in their life. For the same reason, they had gotten caught up in the corrupt underworld of police life and continued to put their lives at risk. Time and again, both men make immoral choices, condemning themselves to a disappointing and hurtful future. Yet, they are creatures of habit and cannot turn their backs on such a life.

Therefore, even after Yuji gets the chance to return to a happy life with his family, his story ends with him in another maniacal chase with Yazaki. Both men are covered in their own blood. Still, a smile adorns their faces, gleeful in the face of bad decisions.

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