Kyo Kusanagi (草薙 京 Kusanagi Kyō) is one of the main characters in SNK Playmore's King of Fighters videogame series; he was first introduced in The King of Fighters '94 as the leader of the Japan team. Having won KOF '94 through '97 and 2003, Kyo is the KOF character with most championship victories in the tournaments, having won 5 tournaments. He is one of the iconic characters of the series and regularly appears on publicity material and merchandise. His name and abilities were designed in order to relate him with the Yamata no Orochi legend. Due to the fact he was highly popular and his outfit changed along the series, the designers created a few clones with his old appearance.
Kyo is first introduced as a cock-sure delinquent high school student who is the heir to the Kusanagi clan, who can use pyrokinetic powers. In The King of Fighters universe, his clan is one of the three clans that sealed the legendary snake entity, Yamata no Orochi. Due to his clan's past, Kyo fights against the Kusanagi's enemies; his rival Orochi's soldiers. He enters every The King of Fighters tournament representing Japan and uses his clan's fighting style to combine fire with kenpo. Aside from the main series, Kyo also appears in several other media series such as spin-offs and crossover video games as well as comic adaptations of the series.
Video games reviewers have praised his design and fighting style as one of the best from the series. Reviewers noted him to be a necessary character to have in every video game from the series and commented of him to have the best winning pose. Within Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Kyo was voted as the staff's second favorite character. A variety of collectibles based on Kyo have been created, including key chains and figurines.
Character Development and ReceptionEdit
When designing characters for the first King of Fighters, developers wanted a "snazzy" new hero who would easily fight against Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting characters. Through most of his development, Kyo was meant to be called Syo Kirishima, and was dressed in martial arts clothing common with fighting games at the time. But late in production, his name became Kyo Kusanagi, likely due to the KOF story's change in direction towards the Yamata no Orochi legend. His change in fighting style was also made as a part of the series' overhaul in '96. To appease all fans, they also included an older version of Kyo from KOF '94 into '97 and placed the '95 version of Kyo in '98, which made both versions of Kyo popular during location tests. The idea of having two Kyos at once lead to the concept of his clones.
During the early development stages of The King of Fighters '99, SNK planned not to add in Kyo (his clones included) or Iori to the game, as the story's focus was meant to center on the new protagonist, K'. However, they retracted this decision as "they couldn't leave these popular characters in limbo". Kyo was redesigned but some designers wanted his return to '99 with his school uniform. When they were nearing the end of their production schedule, staff members were indecisive upon which uniform the Kyo clone should wear ('94 or '95) when the project head said to just make two clones instead. To save time, the project head then drew designs for Kyo-1 and Kyo-2 on the spot.
Veteran developers for the series admit that Kyo's repeated appearances in the series is due to the marketers and the main planners' insistence to add him, Iori, and other SNK regulars in every game, making it a challenge to decide the story for each title. Kyo's voice actor, Masahiro Nonaka, related greatly with his character as being young and reckless until he "grew up" in his later appearances. He then expressed some difficulty accepting Kyo on the same level. Along with his rival, Iori, Kyo has been noted by several of the series' designers as being one of the most difficult characters to illustrate because of his popularity amongst fans.
As of today, Kyo has sported 5 different outfits:
|The green or brown or black school uniform with a white headband, white shoes, and gloves embroidered with the Kusanagi emblem.|| KOF '94-98|
The King of Fighters: Kyo
Capcom vs. SNK
Capcom vs. SNK 2
SNK vs. Capcom: SvC Chaos'
|A black long-sleeve shirt with a white cross outline, a white jacket, black fingerless gloves, blue jeans with a pocket chain and black shoes (sometimes referred to as Shin Kyo).|| KOF '99-2001|
KOF: Maximum Impact'Neo Geo Battle Coliseum
KOF XI (console version only, as EX Kyo).
|A black motorcycle leather jacket with the Kusanagi emblem, white T-shirt, gloves embroidered with the Kusanagi emblem, black jeans and brown shoes. In KOF XII and XIII, he wears blue jeans with pocket chain and black shoes instead.|| KOF 2003 |
KOF XII KOF XIII
|A black T-shirt with a white cross outline, a necklace, a black motorcycle leather jacket with red and white features, black and white full-hand gloves, greyish-black jeans, and white shoes with a pocket chain(sometimes referred to as Shin Kyo 2).|| KOF: Maximum Impact 2|
KOF: Maximum Impact 2:Regulation
|Kyo's alternate outfit as a striker where he was wearing a brown leather jacket, a bandanna, jeans and oddly enough, no gloves at all.||KOF '99 (Dreamcast and PS2 version)|
Kyo has also sported the most "versions" of any other character in the entire series.
- The REAL Kyo
- Kyo '94 and '95 (hidden characters in KOF '97 and '98 respectively)
- Kyo-1 & Kyo-2 from KOF '99
- KUSANAGI(CLONED KYO) and Kusanagi (Dark Kyo) from KOF 2002-03
- EX Kyo in KoF XI
- and Classic Kyo in KoF: Maximum Impact 2 and KoF: Maximum Impact 2:Regulation
Additionally, a character with his prototype name appears as an alternate striker for Kyo in KOF 2000 (bearing Kyo's unused character design). Sho's design reappears as Kyo's unlockable 3rd alternate outfit in KOF: Maximum Impact and in the KOF: Maximum Impact 2 as Classic Kyo's unlockable "normal" outfit. Another deviation of Kyo comes in the minor appearance of Cosplayer Kyoko, an alternate Striker in KOF 2000 who is a homage to female fans dressing up as Kyo.
In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Kyo was voted as the staff's second favorite character, placed behind his rival, Iori.
Maximum Impact 2 Regulation Edit
- DOWN + LEFT/RIGHT + SQUARE : Right hand fire-punch
- DOWN + LEFT/RIGHT + TRIANGLE : Left hand fire-punch
- (DOWN + LEFT/RIGHT) × 2 + SQUARE/TRIAGLE : Spinning fire-punch
- DOWN + LEFT/RIGHT + TRIANGLE × 2 : Results Kyo fire-punching his opponent continuously
- (DOWN + LEFT/RIGHT + SQUARE) × 2 : Combination of right-punch + left-punch to the chin of his opponent + left-elbow
At first, from the year 200, the Kusanagi and Yasakani clans were allies. However, by 1330, the Yasakani had become jealous and hateful over the Kusanagi's prestige. Therefore, the Yasakani struck a blood pact with Orochi for more power. They renamed their family name to Yagami and their flames, previously red like their former allies, changed to violet from Orochi's taint. Since then, the clans have waged a generation long grudge with casualties made from both sides. It continues in The King of Fighters series with Kyo and Iori Yagami.
The Rugal saga takes place in The King of Fighters 94 and 95. Shortly after the completion of his training, Kyo competes in a preliminary held in Japan to determine the members of the country's representative team in the King of Fighters tournament. He bests Goro Daimon and Benimaru Nikaido to become the leader of the team, the two becoming his teammates and eventual friends. They reach the finals, where they met the host of the tournament, a powerful fighter named Rugal Bernstein. Rugal boasts his desire to fight powerful opponents and challenges them. After his defeat, he self-destructs his ship in attempt to bring them with him but the team escapes unharmed.
In the next tournament, Kyo and his team are invited to another King of Fighters tournament, organized once again by Rugal, who survived his craft's self-destruction. This time, Rugal also brainwashed Kyo's missing father, Saisyu Kusanagi, into attacking his son. Kyo's father regains his senses after he was subdued by the team. To counter the team's strength, Rugal challenges them with power sapped from Orochi. However, Rugal's body was overwhelmed by the power's immensity and he was vaporized after his defeat. Pleased with his son's prowess, Saisyu leaves unnoticed, insinuating that he entrusts the clan's duty to Kyo.
Prior to the events of The King of Fighters 96, a mysterious man -later revealed to be one of the "Four Heavenly Kings" of Orochi, Goenitz- challenges Kyo to a fight. Kyo arrives, powered by his overwhelming confidence in his fists, only to be defeated soundly by his challenger and sent to the hospital. In spite of his injuries, his anger and spirit from his loss drove him to invent powerful new techniques -this is the canon explanation for Kyo trading his ground-fireball attack for his now trademark flame-laced melee attack strings. He enters the year's tournament to prove his strength to his unknown attacker. In the tournament's finals, he meets the host of the tournament and the younger heiress of the Yata clan, Chizuru Kagura. At the tournament's end, he vanquishes Goenitz with Iori and Chizuru's help. Though he is warned by Chizuru of his clan's destiny with Orochi, Kyo ignores her and promptly departs.
Before The King of Fighters 97 takes place, he is pestered by fellow high school student, Shingo Yabuki, to teach him how to create his flames. Though annoyed and flustered by his persistence, Kyo partially agrees to mentor him as a means of gaining free meals. He also experiences nightmares of a strange man defeating him at the King of Fighters tournament but continues to participate. Though it's ambiguous as to which team he enters during the tournament, it is canonly accepted that Kyo joins with Iori and Chizuru for its conclusion.
He advances into the finals, where he confronts the remaining "Four Heavenly Kings" of Orochi, Yashiro Nanakase, Shermie, and Chris. When they are beaten, Orochi possesses Chris' body and attempts to destroy the three clans at once. As was done in the legends of their clans, the trio successfully defeat him. In a last-ditch effort, Orochi (manifested in Chris' body) causes Iori to enter the berserk Riot of Blood state, expecting him to turn on Kyo and Chizuru. Instead, Iori snares Orochi by the neck, and Kyo obliged his rival by crippling the great demon with one last deathblow, allowing Chizuru to reseal Orochi. Exhausted, Kyo passes out.
The King of Fighters 99 took place immediately after the events of The King of Fighters 98. Kyo was taken by the NESTS syndicate and his DNA was used to make various beings for their purposes. He awoke at th 15th day of his coling and find himself surrounded by bizarre gadgets and needles. Kyo enters KOF 99 and KOF 2000 for revenge .in The King of Fighters 2001, Kyo reunites with his old teammates and Shingo to make a comeback in the Japan Team. They join the now NESTS-sponsored KoF tournament to relive their time together as a team.
Tales of Ash SagaEdit
In The King of Fighters 2003, Chizuru appeared to both Kyo and Iori, requesting that they form a team and investigate suspicious activities concerning the Orochi. Kyo initially protested allying with Iori (though Iori apparently did not do likewise), but relented to form the Sacred Treasures team. After besting Mukai, the team then investigated the weakening Orochi seal that they had been transported to before fighting Mukai, but were ambushed by Ash, who stole the power of the Yata no kagami or Yata mirror from Chizuru, promising to go after Iori next. Ash escaped and Kyo swore vengeance.
In The King of Fighters XI, Kyo, Iori, and Shingo formed a team to try and stop Ash once more. However, the growing presence of the Orochi (namely, the appearance of Magaki) caused Iori to snap and enter the Blood Riot state, and he trashed Kyo and Shingo in a berserk fit. Ash appeared thereafter and stole the Yasakani no Magatama within Iori's body -and presumably Iori's flames. The Rival Team (Benimaru, Duo Lon, Elisabeth) arrive after the incident to whom Ash tells them that Kyo will be next.
In the games, Kyo's style of speech (pronouns and grammar style that are indicative of arrogance and even rudeness in Japanese culture), distinctive victory cry (Ore no... kachi da!, Japanese for "This is my victory!" and translated in KOF: Maximum Impact as "I am... the champion!"), and win quotes seem to indicate that he is arrogant, a little devil-may-care and very cocksure of himself. Despite this demeanor, he treasures his friends and family, enjoying their presence and particularly doting on his girlfriend Yuki - a detail reflective of his heritage, as she is descended from the bloodline of Kushinada, the maiden that was nearly sacrificed to Orochi before the intervention of the Kusanagi, Yasakani and Yata clans. He and his often-absent father Saisyu tend squabble with and grumble over each other when they are together, but merely in jest. By contrast, he gets along well with his mother Shizuka and is very respectful to her.
Following the formation of the Japan Team in The King of Fighters '94, Benimaru Nikaido and Goro Daimon became good friends with Kyo. Goro (also a friend of Saisyu) is a mentor figure and Benimaru a friendly rival. Kyo has also apparently known Athena Asamiya since childhood, a detail that has received little attention outside of some spin-offs like the KoF: Kyo manga. His extreme disinterest in studies has led to his chronic inability to graduate from high school (which has become subject to in-jokes, though he seems to have just ditched without graduating after KoF'97), and it also was how he met a fan and eventual student of his, Shingo Yabuki.
Kyo appears to be strongly driven by his heritage, particularly a sense of justice (or at least a hatred or disdain for villains) and a bond with Iori (of the Yasakani) and Chizuru (of the Yata) - he, however, tends to see such things more as personal matters rather than being a part of his heritage. His hostility towards Iori (which is equally, if not more so, returned) is also a result of his lineage; however, their mutual grudge dwindles somewhat, evidenced by their cooperation against Goenitz, Orochi, NESTS, and during KOF 2003 and XI (admittedly, the two only cooperate grudgingly or as a last resort, and Iori still intends to carry on their blood feud -- Kyo seems to care very little either way about it). Though he never knew Chizuru Kagura prior to the events of KOF '96 and does not appear to have actively befriended her (it's remarkable, though, that he now refers to Chizuru by first name, which in Japanese mindset denotes a noticeable closeness -- his girlfriend Yuki, his best friend Benimaru and his "student" Shingo are the only other characters he is known to regularly refer to by their first names), he became enraged over Ash stealing her powers, and swore to get even with him.
The Kyo Clones Edit
In The King of Fighters '99, two clones of Kyo appeared as selectable characters: Kyo-1 and Kyo-2. They are clones created by the mysterious organization known as NESTS. After capturing Kyo following the climax of the King of Fighters 97' tournament, they used his DNA to create thousands of identical lifeforms which possess his fighting style and some of his memories, albeit with somewhat differing personalities and traits. They also have an overwhelming hatred of the original Kyo. During the course of the King of Fighters 99', Kyo-1 and Kyo-2 were merely two of thousands ready to be activated by Krizalid. They were presumably destroyed, since both characters don't have a personal ending and don't belong to any team. Kyo-1 is available as an extra costume for Kyo in SVC Chaos for PS2, and is obtainable when pressing the Circle button to select Kyo. In his intro in KoF 99, Kyo takes off his bandana and burns it to avoid being confused for a clone; his winquotes in this game further support his awareness of his clones.
Another Kyo clone was introduced in 2002: Kusanagi. He was believed, by many fans, to have been originally created as a NESTS experiment, because he has a special intro with K9999. During this intro, K9999 yells "Kusanagi!" and he acknowledges him as if they both knew each other. This introduction is, in fact, a homage to Akira, because K9999 and Kusanagi have the same voice actors as Tetsuo and Kaneda, respectively. However, his actual backstory is revealed in KoF 2003, which says that he is the product of Chizuru Kagura's magic, used to test the strength for the tournament's contestants. His evil appearance is possibly due to the fact that he was created by Chizuru while under the control of Those From The Past members Mukai (the leader of the KOF 2003 operation) and Botan (the puppeteer who had Chizuru under her control). However, contrary to this, a piece of official art for King of Fighters 2002 shows Kusanagi's flames burning off the flesh on his arm revealing robotic musculature, suggesting he was in fact originally intended to be one of NESTS' Kyo clones.
His moves are based primarily on Kyo's KOF '95 moveset. Also, in KOF 2002, he has a special intro with some characters that use weapons in battle, like Choi, Chang, Billy and Whip, being "Temae! Sude de shoubu shiagare!" (You! (bastard!) Fight me with your bare hands!)
Also, in KOF: Another Day, episode 3, the Ikari team briefly mentions a Kyo clone walking around the vicinities of South Town. While there's no evidence to this fact, some fans consider the "Kyo clone" that Heidern mentioned to be Kusanagi (although it is actually them mistaking the actual Kyo for an escaped NESTS copy).
- The King of Fighters '94 (1994)
- The King of Fighters '95 (1995)
- The King of Fighters '96 (1996)
- The King of Fighters '97 (1997)
- The King of Fighters '98 (1998)
- SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash (1999)
- SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (1999)
- The King of Fighters '99 (1999)
- SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters 2 Expansion Edition (2000)
- Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 (2000)
- Capcom VS SNK: Pro (2000)
- The King of Fighters 2000 (2000)
- Capcom vs. SNK 2 (2001)
- The King of Fighters 2001 (2001)
- The King of Fighters EX: Neo-Blood - (2002)
- The King of Fighters 2002 (2002)
- SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom (2003)
- The King of Fighters 2003 (2003)
- The King of Fighters EX2: Howling Blood (2004)
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact (2004)
- The King of Fighters Neowave (2004)
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact: Maniax (2005)
- The King of Fighters XI (2007)
- Neo Geo Battle Coliseum (2005)
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2 (2006)
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2 Regulation (2007)
- The King of Fighters XII (2009)
- The King of Fighters XIII (2010)
- The King of Fighters XIV (2016)
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