This Hero was Headlined on August 2016.
|“||Heh, heh. You got burned!||„|
|“||Don't let it get you down. You probably have some talent... Probably.||„|
|~ Kyo in The King of Fighters XIV.|
|“||I am the champion!||„|
|~ Kyo's win quote.|
Kyo Kusanagi is the main protagonist in SNK Playmore's The King of Fighters series of fighting games; he was first introduced in The King of Fighters '94 as the leader of the Japan team. 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. Because 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 cocky delinquent high school student who is the heir to the Kusanagi clan, who can use pyrokineticpowers. 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 Iori Yagami, the last member of the Yagami clan, and the 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.
660 years ago, the Kusanagi and Yasakani clans were once allies. However, due to a horrible misunderstanding, 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 Orochi saga takes place between The King of Fighters '94 and 97. Kyo surpassed his father at the age of fifteen and was designated as the clan's leader. 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 are reach the finals, where they met the host of the tournament, a powerful criminal 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. Afterwards, Kyo decides to travel abroad in order to train.
In the following year, Daimon and Benimaru were waiting for Kyo's ship to dock, when they were attacked by a masked assailant. Kyo returns and throws a fireball at the enigmatic person, only to destroys her mask and reveal her to be Rugal's secretary. She hands over an invitation letter to another King of Fighters tournament, organized once again by Rugal, who survived his craft's self-destruction. This time, Rugal wanted to brainwashed Kyo's lose father, Saisyu, 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 battle. 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 projectile attack-based technique set 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 last tournament, he later meeting 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. Being 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. In pre-tournament, his girlfriend, Yuki was feared on to kidnapped by the Hakkesshu, in order to be used as the last of the sacrificial maidens for Orochi's revival. 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. The Hakkesshu also mention the plan to sacrifice Yuki in order to resurrected Orochi. Fueled by these turn of events, Kyo fights an emotional and heroic battle. 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 beating him. In a last-ditch effort, Orochi (manifested in Chris' body) causes Iori to enter the berserk Riot of the 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 last thing he sees is Yuki, saying that she will wait for him.
The King of Fighters '99 took place immediately after the events of The King of Fighters '97. Kyo was taken by the NESTS syndicate and his DNA was used to make various beings for their purposes. He awoke one day to find himself surrounded by bizarre gadgets and needles. Deciding to search for answers, Kyo broke out of captivity and managed to escapes the hidden fortress despite the sedatives. While escaping, he constantly heard references to the NESTS cartel. He tries to personally gain answers from his captors, but is forced to retreat when the base around him begins to collapse. He decides not to come back home before NESTS is taken down and attempts to investigate privately again the following year but learns very little. As the fiasco of South Town's destruction ensued, Iori confronts him and they fight to an unknown outcome. In The King of Fighters 2001, Kyo eventually reunited with his old teammates and Shingo to make a comeback in the Japan Team. They are joining the now NESTS-sponsored KoF tournament to relives their time together as a team and to fight NESTS. They disband as soon as the tournament is over, leaving Shingo to muse about life.
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 the defeat of Mukai, the team then investigated the weakening Orochi seal that they had been transported to before fighting Mukai, but were ambushed by Ash Crimson, who stole the power of the Yata Mirror from Chizuru, promising to go after Iori next. Ash escaped, and Kyo swore vengeance.
In The King of Fighters XI, Shingo has volunteered to join Kyo and Iori, in Chizuru's name. After several attempts, Kyo abides to Shingo's requests and joins forces with his groupie and his rival, in order to stop Ash. However, the growing presence of the Orochi (namely, the appearance of Magaki) caused Iori to snap and enter the Riot of the Blood state, and he trashed Kyo and Shingo in a berserk fit. Ash appeared thereafter and stole the Yasakani no Magatama within Iori's body, along with his flames. The Rival Team (Benimaru, Duo Lon, and Elisabeth Blanctorche) arrived after the incident, to whom Ash tells them that Kyo will be next.
The incident had Kyo hospitalized, but he escapes rather than wait for his recovery. As he wanders the city, he encounters a mysterious boy and his female partner, who try to attack him. Showing them his flames, they hand him the "R" invitation before taking their leave. Soon after the encounter, Benimaru and Goro find him. Seeing no need to visit the hospitalized Shingo or Chizuru, he reunites with his old team members to relive his past glory days together with them. After Ash disappears, Iori challenges Kyo once more to a fight. Though surprised to see Iori again with his flames, Kyo accepts and the rivals fight to an undecided outcome.
When the tournament was announced, Saisyu informs Kyo of a new threat which will cause untold chaos during the tournament. On his father's suggestion he convenes with Tung Fu Rue and a time-displaced Nakoruru to investigate while participating the tournament with his old teammates.
When his team wins the finals, Verse appears to wreak havoc and targets Shun'ei. They manage to defeat Verse but noticed the souls contained within had burst forth and scattered; one among those disbursed is Orochi. After the fight's conclusion, Kyo advices Shun'ei to keep training to control his powers. At the airport, Kyo tells his teammates to go home without him as Kyo has other business to finish.
However, Kyo arriving in Hungary after Chizuru called him out for it, and aid to seal a weakened Orochi.
Kyo is the over-confident but well meaning protagonist of the series, more interested in enjoying life than having to partake in any particular responsibilities. He is quick to dismiss subjects that don't interest him and will often carry out his actions with a devil-may-care attitude. Despite his seemingly arrogant and rude demeanor, he treasures his friends and family as well as enjoying their presence and particularly doting on his girlfriend, Yuki. His extreme disinterest in studies has led to his chronic inability to graduate from high school (which has become subject to in-jokes). Although he is confident in his poetic talent, most of his poems aren't considered to be good by his listeners.
Kyo takes his clan's responsibilities on a more personal level, disregarding ancient legends and predestined events as any reason for his actions. His strong sense of justice and his zeal to fight stronger opponents are what he believes to drive him to carry out his destiny. His rivalry with Iori is one of instinctually mutual hatred and was hardly spurred by their clans' history.
When Kyo and Iori formed an alliance with Chizuru Kagura, it is often begrudgingly and as a last resort solution to the conflict at hand. Both however are genuinely willing to set aside their, at times, nigh homicidal disdain for one another, as they did in KOF 96, KOF 97, KOF 2003, KOF XI (with Shingo), and in KOF XIV where not a single hint of hostility was felt nor shown as they worked together.
As mentioned by Kim Kaphwan, Kyo has not finished high school yet because of the KOF Tournaments. According his conversation with Athena Asamiya in KOF XIII, Kyo doesn't wear his uniform anymore because no one will wear it in his age.
Kyo fights using the Kusanagi style of ancient martial arts, a Japanese style of empty handed combat taught only to the Kusanagi clan members. Like most of the clan members in modern times, these are labeled as Method/Style with numbers; numbers that actually use alternate kanji different from their originals. These examples are 108 Shiki: Yami Barai (Method 108: Darkness Sweeper), etc. with "Reverse Methods" being stronger versions of other attacks such as Kyo's signature DM, Ura 108 Shiki: Orochinagi (Reverse Method 108: Great Serpent Mower) being an example. In some sources, this even applies to his "unnamed" normal attacks.
Kyo also knows Kenpo, and uses it in most of his normal attacks. Kyo's moveset emphasizes Kenpo from KOF '96 onwards, discarding his 108 Shiki: Yami Barai and 101 Shiki: Oboroguruma (Method 101: Hazy Wheel), making way for a series of completely new techniques which are a series of chain punches (the 114 Shiki: Aragami/Method 114: Wild Bite and 115 Shiki: Dokugami/Method 115: Poison Bite) with several different followups, and thus adds a varying amount of kicks and elbow dropping attacks which are also types of notable moves in Kenpo. The names of Kyo's new moves are anything but vague and simple names (such as 402 Shiki: Batsu Yomi/Method 402: Punishment Recital and 125 Shiki: Nanase/Method 125: Seven Rapids), possibly due to Kyo's taste for poetry.
Thus, Kyo is a strong combo character that takes a while to master as his moveset from KOF '96 and following games explodes to ridiculous levels. Mastering it though allowed players to more easily adapt to use other characters that had more diverse movesets. Kyo made way for archetypes with moves that not only had multiple inputs, but each followup had its own unique features. This would also pave way for powerful mixups and combos if pressure was well-setup. Story-wise, this was possibly due to his initial defeat by Goenitz, Kyo reformed his style into a more-offensive focus.
In the original games (especially in KOF '95), Kyo followed the "Ryu and Ken" archetype with Iori, as Kyo's moves differ slightly from game to game in the same manner as Iori, mainly their Desperation Moves. Changes in KOF '96 and onwards made them vastly different from each other. Alternate versions of Kyo would retain his old movesets from older games for nostalgia's sake, though each alternate version would be notably different from game to game. The 100 Shiki: Oniyaki (Method 100: Demon Baker) is the one technique both Kyo and Iori still share to this day.
In KOF 99 onwards, Kyo even applies personal touches derived from his father's techniques of the Kusanagi style, via his Hikigane (Plowing Iron) mimicking Saisyu's Kamukakari (Divine Consult) and even adapting his father's Nata Guruma (Hatchet Wheel) attack in KOF: Maximum Impact 2.
In KOF 2003, Kyo, Iori, and Chizuru's LDM's are all named the San Shingi (Three Divine Arts), taking after their clans, destinies, and treasures. Kyo's San Shingi no Ichi (Three Divine Arts No. 1) however, is his SDM version Saishuu Kessen Ougi: Mu Shiki (Final Play-Off Secret Skill: No Method), as opposed to Iori and Chizuru's versions being original attacks.
In The King of Fighters XII and XIII, his default self switches back to his old KOF '94/'95 moveset. His Neo Max in XIII, the Ama-No-Murakumo (Gathering Clouds of Heaven) is a reference to the original name of his heirloom. His NESTS-Style version uses his traditional "Kenpo chain punch" moveset, and is given a Neo Max named Saishuu Kessen Hiougi: Totsuka (Final Play-Off Hidden Secret Skill: Ten Fists), a nod to the famous Totsuka-no-Tsurugi (Sword of Ten Fists). Another possible nod is his 182 Shiki/Method 182, a powerful flaming punch attack, which may be the finishing blow dealt by Kyo to Orochi in the Orochi Saga's end (though in some other games, the 182 has a different animation, while its SDM version in XIV is a combination of its two different animations).
Also, two other new moves in XIV that compliment his poetic taste are an overhead finishing move to his new low-attacking Munotsuchi (Six Mallets) followup from Aragami, and his Climax DM; they are respectively known as Tsurube Otoshi (Well Bucket Fall; a term for sinking quickly) and Yaegaki (Double Fences; a term for fences over fences).
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