The Mad Glory of the Mad Dog Goro Majima
If you read my column in the April zine in which I discussed the utterly insane Yakuza series, you may recall me mentioning a character by the name of Goro Majima and stating that he is "the greatest collection of nonsensical bullshit to ever exist." Due to our insanely tiny 500 word limit, I was unable to really delve in to why he is so phenomenal and brilliant. So please, allow me to explain the beauty of Majima. If you have interest in playing the series I will spoil some plot moments from the first two entries, the series prequel "Yakuza 0," and the general backstory of Majima before the series began, but nothing major that would impact your experience of the series.
Look at this magnificent man
Goro Majima was your average everyday yakuza tough guy, until a planned hit went awry. He and his sworn brother, Taiga Saejima, were planning to assassinate members of a rival clan, as you do. This plan was altered when Majima was stopped on his way to meetup with Saejima by members of his clan. They convinced him not to do it by asking him very nicely, and after Majima refused . . . carving out his eye and locking him into solitary confinement for about a year. Saejima went ahead on murdered a ton of people and went to prison, but we aren't talking about him.
So after this Totally Not Traumatizing Event™ Majima was free and his journey began, with a heart full of dreams and one less eye, and no longer belonging to any family. After a crazy journey in "Yakuza 0", he was back in the game. He was also completely unstable now. Which brings us to the character we Yakuza fans know and love.
Always ready for a night on the town
Majima is a weird dude. When the series begins proper, he has his own family and is borderline sadistic (and voiced by Mark Hamill once), and he will use that power to do whatever he wants to achieve his primary goal. What is this goal? Fighting with his buddy Kiryu, the protagonist of the series, over and over and over again. Kiryu will walk around the city and find Majima just itching for a good old fashioned scrap, and Majima will use whatever weird tricks he can to make this happen. . . How does he do this? Well he sometimes just interrupts any fight Kiryu is already in to take him on, hides under manhole covers and under large traffic cones until Kiryu passes by, locks himself in the trunk of a car screaming for Kiryu, cross dresses and works at a cabaret club to entice Kiryu, kidnaps Kryu's adopted daughter, makes his whole family become zombies and essentially turn the city into a B horror movie, and whatever other incredible scenario he can dream up. He does all this out of a genuine love and respect for his beloved "Kryu-chan". At the end of the day, Majima just wants to hang out with his buddy. He will always accept a call to go sing some karaoke, go bowling like he's cousin Roman, hit the batting cages, or hit Kiryu with a bat. Now of course Majima isn't just there for Kiryu, he is a family patriarch and a successful businessman.
Majima indeed owns his own company on top of being a yakuza. What does he do? Does he have a casino? Run some underground Colosseum? Manage construction? All of the above. Within one district Majima's company, Majima Construction, creates a massive land expansion project above an area with gambling and fights. How does he do this? He gets his family members all nice construction hats and tells them to look it all up on the internet, because the internet holds all our answers. This man truly has no limit, the series could literally make him do anything and it would not shock me.
So Majima is full of over the top antics and ridiculous situations, much the series from which he hails, but that cannot be all there is to him right? Absolutely not, Majima is a genuinely enjoyable and sympathetic character. Throughout the course of the games you will see Majima gradually get emotionally manipulated and ruined by the yakuza world time and time again. He is lied to and betrayed more times than a soap opera character and loses basically everything he cares about. Despite this he never assaults anyone for no reason, never kills anyone, and helps Kiryu at every turn he can. Even when he kidnaps Kiryu's adopted daughter, it is to save her and protect her until Kiryu comes and gets her (after a nice fighting session with Majima of course).
You may be thinking that this blog post, much like my original Yakuza column, was utter insanity and all over the map. One character cannot possibly be that insane, kindhearted, fun, and weird all at once right? WRONG, MAJIMA CAN! Much like the Yakuza series overall, Majima is known for ridiculous antics amidst a very emotionally-charged crime drama with high stakes and better action than any Bruce Willis film you've ever seen (many of the plots in the series even take place near Christmas as well). I cannot possibly fully capture the Essence of the Mad Dog™ in one simple post, so I will implore you to try out this ridiculous series if you can. There is no series in television, film, or video games with as much variety in tone and as many moments that are unforgettable for so many different reasons. If you do try out the series you will remember the name Goro Majima because, as his company's anthem will remind you . . . He's the man As you saw Goro Majima!