|“||I will end your pain!||„|
|~ Iori in battle intro English or Japanese|
|“||Are you just going to writhe like that? You're one pathetic piece of work!||„|
|~ Iori's win quote|
Iori Yagami is a fictional character and an anti-hero in The King of Fighters video game series who made his first appearance in the Neo Geo fighting game, The King of Fighters '95. He is a central recurring character and the initial enemy (and eventual rival) of Kyo Kusanagi.
He is the heir to one of the three clans that sealed the legendary snake entity, Orochi, 1,800 years ago. His clan, formerly known as the Yasakani (八尺瓊, Yasakani), wields pyrokinetic powers. They keep the seal over Orochi intact with help from the Kusanagi and Yata clans using three ancient artifacts. His family's treasure is the Yasakani Jewel (八尺瓊曲玉, Yasakani no Magatama) and his family crest is the crescent moon, which he wears on the back of his jacket. He also wears a plain silver ring around his left middle finger; the significance of the ring, if any, is unknown. His official nickname is Unbridled Instinct.
Aside from the main body of the King of Fighters series, Iori features his own drama CD and character image album. His character is also a member of SNK's character image band, Band of Fighters and he also appears as a regular antagonist in the spin-off manga, The King of Fighters: Kyo.
Iori is a serious, blunt and rude man. He is not interested in making friends or enemies. Despite his crass deposition, Iori hates violence yet sees it as a "necessary evil" to get results.
In various drama CDs, Iori is frequently tormented by an Orochi identity that resides within him, which mocks and belittles him as its "master". Iori can be sympathetic to other people, but his Orochi persona often threatens to take over and harm them. Iori tries to ignore it until it angers him, causing him to physically snap in a usually violent manner. In his KOF XII profile, he seems to have trouble knowing which identity is actually his and suffers from a slight identity crisis. It's due to this personal trait that he doesn't like to associate with others and he lives as a lone wolf. He still retains pride for his humanity and won't let himself die under any circumstances.
He seems to want to kill his rival at every opportunity they meet, but he can't recall the reasons why he hates Kyo. Like his rival, he doesn't care about the ancient family feud between them and just seems to instinctively hate him. Iori is also wary of Kyo's father, Saisyu Kusanagi, the man Iori erroneously blames for his own father's death. Iori is plainly unwilling to accept help from Saisyu despite the latter claims that he wants to save Iori. Unlike Chizuru, the matter of losing his flames has not personally scarred or affected him in any way.
While he still wants to hurt or even kill Kyo in XIV, should the opportunity present itself or if Kyo provokes him, it is noteworthy that he has taken a more active role as a member of the 3 sacred treasures, being the one with the initiative to seal Orochi instead of Chizuru. His experience of being free of both the Orochi curse and the Yasakani bloodline during KOF XIII may have some influence over this action.
According to his KOF XIII team story, he smokes frequently.
Legend of Yasakani
660 years before the game takes place, Orochi's seal began to weaken. The three clans decided to move its vessel into another location. Wanting to disrupt their unity, one of the Hakkesshu killed the leader of the Yasakani's wife. Under a disguise, the murderer then approached the Yasakani head and reported that the Kusanagi clan was responsible, saying that it was "atonement" for letting the seal weaken. To add more fuel to the fire, the corpse of his wife was found in the Kusanagi homeland. Angered by the revelation, the Yasakani made a blood pact with Orochi to gain the necessary means for revenge. Gaining a forbidden technique called "Kin Sen Hyaku Juuichi Shiki: Ya Otome" (Forbidden Method 1211: Eight Maidens), the Yasakani renamed themselves as the Yagami clan.
As a side-effect of the Orochi's curse, the once crimson flames of the Yagami have a bluish tint. The curse also causes each heir to die young and each mother to die in childbirth.
Before the events of The King of Fighters '95 tournament, Billy Kane and Eiji Kisaragi end a sudden duel in a draw. Billy then introduces Eiji to Iori who comes in dragging the body of one of Geese's assassins. Overwhelmed by Iori's strength, Billy invites both Eiji and Iori to form the Rival team to enter the tournament. Iori joins them as a means to meet his rival. At the finals, he helps the hero team defeat Rugal Bernstein. Before Rugal dies, Iori mocks him for trying to use the power of Orochi. Claiming that such power could only belong to him, Iori severely injuries his fellow team members. He then declares Kyo and his clan will be next.
Before the King of Fighters '96 tournament, Iori is visited by two mysterious women who introduce themselves as Vice and Mature. They tell him of Kyo's entry in the tournament and try to coerce him to join as well. After a brief fight, he agrees to enter once the two submit to be his servants, intending to use them to help him kill his rival. When he leaves, Vice and Mature contact their employer, Goenitz, ensuring him everything was going to their plan.
During the finals of the tournament, he helps his rival and Chizuru Kagura, heir to the Yata clan, to deal with Goenitz. The former dies leaving a warning to not underestimate the power of Orochi or Yagami. Vice and Mature are left shaken by the ill omen. It is then when Iori suddenly undergoes symptoms of the Riot of the Blood. Unable to control this surge of Orochi power, Iori violently kills his companions.
Before the events of the King of Fighters '97 tournament, Iori learns of his rival's entry from the local news. Later that night, he has a nightmare of two women mocking his inability to defeat Kyo. The women disappear with the promise of meeting him again soon. When he awakes, he coughs up blood. Filled with a sudden hate and rage, he declares to defeat his rival. However, at the tournament's conclusion, he joins both Kyo and Chizuru again.
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 causes Iori to enter the Riot of Blood, expecting him to turn on Kyo and Chizuru. Instead, Iori snares Orochi by the neck, and Kyo obliges his rival by crippling the great demon with one last deathblow, allowing Chizuru to reseal Orochi.
Shortly after discovering the creation of clones of Kyo, Iori gained word of another King of Fighters tournament, and he began to suspect that the person responsible for cloning Kyo might be there. Iori followed the battles from the shadows, and eventually found an abandoned warehouse where Krizalid had fought the New Hero Team and Kyo.
The whereabouts of Iori were unknown after KOF '99, and it is assumed he cared little about Southtown and the events of KOF 2000, instead focusing on the opportunity for a fight against his rival.
The next year, an agent named Seth invited Iori to join his team for the next King of Fighters tournament, under the presumption that he would get his shot against Kyo if he entered. Iori made it clear from the beginning of the tournament that teamwork was irrelevant, as he could take on whole teams by himself. However, near the climax of the tournament, he assisted K', Kula Diamond and Kyo in besting Igniz aboard a massive space station. He later escaped the destruction of the station before its impact with Earth.
Tales of Ash
In The King of Fighters 2003, Iori was so reluctantly that teamed up again with Kyo and Chizuru Kagura at the latter's request, as it seemed that the current tournament might be linked to the Orochi. After their battle with Mukai, Ash Crimson stole Chizuru's powers. He then made an offer of servitude to Iori, who answered with a fiery attack, which prompted Ash to disappear while Kyo swore revenge. With the defeat of Chizuru and the crippled Orochi seal spelling possible catastrophe, it seemed that the Yagami clan would soon be changed forever.
In The King of Fighters XI, Iori agrees on Chizuru's request to team up with Kyo and Shingo Yabuki in hopes of opposing Ash. At the end of the tournament, the strengthening presence of Orochi caused Iori to enter the Riot of Blood, in which he trashed Kyo and Shingo before Ash Crimson appeared and stole Iori's sacred treasure, the Yasakani Jewel, and his power.
Before the KOF XIII tournament, Iori pays a visit to Chizuru to see if she needs her treasure to use her power. Realizing that his predictions are true, she presents Iori with the prospect of ridding the Orochi curse from his bloodline since he is no longer hindered by his treasure. Uninterested in rectifying his family's mistake, he remarks that Chizuru's mirror will return in due time and leaves. With Mature and Vice haunting him to join the tournament with them, they perk his interest to settle matters with Ash.
In the tournament climax, Iori regains his treasure once Ash disappears. Mature and Vice remark that he can still choose to rejected the treasure, saved by himself from the Orochi curse once and for all. He questions what will happen to his teammates if he should accept the treasure again, but they voice that he should choose whatever he thinks is right. Therefore, he mercilessly regains his flames and his teammates disappear once more from the mortal realm. Back in action, he challenges Kyo to an undecided outcome.
Mature and Vice warn him of a new threat. During Verse's invasion, Iori senses the souls trapped within Verse. Once Verse is defeated, Iori tracks down Orochi's weakened soul in Hungary and helps to reseal it with Chizuru and Kyo.