After revealing that the famous "Dragon of Dojima", Kiryu Kazuma, would be returning in Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Sega's CCO Toshihiro Nagoshi has confirmed that other Yakuza series regulars will feature in some capacity during the events of this latest installment. This includes familiar faces like Majima Goro, Akiyama Shun, Saejima Taiga, and Dojima Daigo.
The details were revealed in Sega's latest "Sega Nama" broadcast on YouTube. When asked if other characters would be present, Nagoshi stated, "Majima, Saejima, and others will be there...like Daigo." He didn't give too many other details but stressed that it would be strange to see them all the time. This is a game about a new protagonist, after all.
This isn't unprecedented for the series. Some of the events of Kiryu's own games resulted in characters getting killed, yet saw them returning in cameo appearances during non-canon mini-games. Yakuza knows when it keep things light, which results in a bizarre atmosphere that has attracted tons of fans. It's one of the charms of this series: creating a fun experience that sticks with you for ages.
It's also no surprise that Majima, of any character, is returning. In Japanese fan polls, Majima has been rated the #1 most popular character (ahead of Kiryu, even!). Saejima and Akiyama are also highly regarded thanks to their charm and different perspectives from Kiryu's stoic demeanor. If there's one thing Yakuza knows, it's how to craft a believable and gripping character.
The only fear is that all of this fan-service might cripple the potential of Like a Dragon. Despite some problems with gameplay, Yakuza 6's story worked so well because it didn't rely on every character stopping in to say hello. Free from the curse of having to include a massive cast, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios was able to create a personal journey for Kiryu that sent the character off in style.
Judgment, a spin-off game set in the same universe, is much the same. Because that title doesn't need to cater to fan expectations, it allowed the game's developers a chance to tell a tale that was different from the norm. This is really all speculation, though. There has yet to be a Yakuza game that wasn't good in some fashion.