Like a Dragon Series Producer Says Devs Always Intended for Kiryu to Return



Since the reveal of Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, many veteran fans of the series have been perplexed by the decision to bring back long-time series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu as a dual protagonist. However, Like a Dragon series producer Hiroyuki Sakamoto claims that Kiryu’s return has been in the cards for a long, long time.

First, some context. Be warned: below the video, we’ve included spoilers for the ending of Yakuza 6: Song of Life, and the late-game of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

At the end of Yakuza 6: Song of Life, Kiryu fakes his own death to protect those closest to him, effectively ending his career as a member and/or pawn of the yakuza. However, he made a brief return in Yakuza: Like a Dragon in a dramatic segment where he battles protagonist Kasuga Ichiban. The late-game fight is incredibly difficult, and was seen by many players as symbolizing Kiryu passing the torch of being “the dragon” from himself to Ichiban – a true final farewell for Kiryu of sorts.

With that context, it makes sense why fans were so surprised to find out that Kiryu would return in full in not just the eighth series installment, but also in an upcoming spinoff entitled Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. However, when we spoke to Sakamoto at gamescom 2023, he indicated that the plan had always been for Kiryu to return, even as far back as the development of Song of Life.

When we said goodbye to [Kazuma Kiryu], we were still planning to have him appear as a double protagonist for [Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth]

“When we said goodbye to [Kazuma Kiryu], we were still planning to have him appear as a double protagonist for [Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth]. So, this has been kind of a long time something that we’ve been thinking about. So, also in [Yakuza: Like a Dragon], Kazuma kind of appeared as a sort of backup character, and a lot of people who played [Yakuza: Like a Dragon] but weren’t familiar with the previous games in the series are probably still wondering, ‘Who is this character and what’s his role?’ within the series.

“So, [Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name] was kind of invented as a spinoff, a Gaiden, but what we really wanted to do with it was talk about what sort of life Kazuma had from the end of [Yakuza 6] to the events in [Infinite Wealth]. So, what he was doing in the background and what he was up to. This is the goal for this whole game.”

We also spoke with Sakamoto about more details from Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, including some tidbits about his fashion, a new battle arena called the Coliseum, and the presence of Ono Michio in the game. You can read our full Q&A right here, and catch up with all the rest of the news coming out of gamescom with our roundups of day one and Opening Night Live. And for more Like a Dragon Gaiden, check out our first preview of the game right here.


Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to [email protected].



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