Please note this article contains relatively minor spoilers for Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
When Yakuza 6: The Song of Life was billed as the final chapter in series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu's story, more cynical fans would have probably told you that he'd no doubt return at some point. But even with that perspective, it was a bit of a surprise to see Kiryu make a comeback so soon, as he popped up in the very next game, Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Some players have felt as though his almost immediate revival was a bit forced, with developer RGG Studio reluctant to let such a popular character leave the franchise for good.
But according to series producer Hiroyuki Sakamoto, Kiryu's return was always part of the plan. In an interview with IGN, Sakamoto claims that as far back as Yakuza 6, the team had decided that Kaz would play the role of a second protagonist in the upcoming Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (otherwise known as Like a Dragon 8 in Japan).
"Initially when we said goodbye to [Kiryu], we were still planning to have him appear as a double protagonist for 8," Sakamoto reveals. "So, this has been kind of a long time something that we've been thinking about."
Now, obviously, a story-heavy series such as Like a Dragon will need to be planned out well in advance, so there's no real reason to raise an eyebrow at Sakamoto's comment. That said, we do distinctly remember Yakuza 6's marketing angled towards it being a big Kiryu-focused finale. And to be fair, in a lot of ways, it was — but with Kiryu once again reprising a starring role in Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, it's hard not to feel as though the man deserved a bit more of a rest.
Being the hypocrites we are, though, we're still hyped for Gaiden, which releases in November. But how do you feel about Kiryu's role in the latest Like a Dragon games? Do you think his return really was planned? Let your fists do the talking in the comments section below.