Kyo in The King of Fighters XIV. Illustration by Ogura
|Full name||Kyo Kusanagi|
|Birthdate||December 12; 19 years old (KOF'94), 20 years old (KOF series)|
|Height||181 cm (5'11½")|
|Weight||75 kg (165 lbs)|
|Blood type||Type B (RH-)|
|Family/Relatives||Saisyu Kusanagi (father), Shizuka Kusanagi (mother), Souji Kusanagi (cousin), Aoi Kusanagi (cousin), Kyo-1 (clone), Kyo-2 (clone), K' (has Kyo's DNA), Krizalid (has Kyo's DNA), K9999 (has Kyo's DNA), Nameless (has Kyo's DNA), Yuki (girlfriend)|
|Likes||His motorcycle, his girlfriend (Yuki)|
|Favorite food||Broiled fish|
|Forte in sports||Ice Hockey|
|Fighting style||Kusanagi style of ancient martial arts + personal style of Chinese boxing (Kenpō)|
Kyo Kusanagi (草薙 京, Kusanagi Kyō) is the main protagonist in SNK's The King of Fighters video game series. He was first introduced in The King of Fighters '94 as the leader of the Japan team. He is the rival of Iori Yagami.
He was first introduced as a cocky delinquent high school student who is the heir of the Kusanagi clan, one of the three clans that sealed the legendary snake entity, Orochi, 1,800 years ago. His clan wields pyrokinetic powers, an inherited power that few members obtain. They, along with the Yasakani and Yata clans, keep one of the three sacred treasures used to contain Orochi long ago. His family's treasure is the Kusanagi Sword (草薙の剣, Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi), and his family crest is the sun, represented in a stylized halo of fire. His official nickname is Scion of the Flame.
Aside from the main series, Kyo also has a spin-off manga story based on his adventure in The King of Fighters '96, entitled The King of Fighters: Kyo. A video game under the same name was also created to further expand his character. In addition, a number of image songs and audio dramas featuring Kyo's character have been released, including the contents of his own character image album consisting of all of his theme songs. He is also a member of SNK's character image band, The Band of Fighters.
When designing characters for the first The King of Fighters, developers wanted a new hip 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. The idea for his flames -as well as the other elemental powers for the rest of the Japan team- was derived from the anime Getter Robo; in the show, there were three featured heroes who served as the inspiration for the KOF trio: the protagonist had a "fiery" persona, his friend was "edgy and daring", and the third hero was the "down-to-earth giant". It is also a homage to a Japanese phrase of giving birth to fire (roughly translated as "lighting strikes the earth which sparks the flame").
His change in fighting style was also made as a part of the series's overhaul in The King of Fighters '96. To appease all fans, they also included an older version of Kyo from The King of Fighters '94 into The King of Fighters '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 versions of Kyo at once lead to the concept of his clones; during the early development stages of The King of Fighters '99, SNK planned to avoid adding any version of Kyo altoghether, 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". Since then, 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.
Kyo, along with his rival, Iori, has been noted by several of the series's designers as being one of the most difficult characters to illustrate because of his popularity amongst fans. In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Kyo was voted as the staff's second favorite character. In a 2005 poll made by SNK-Playmore USA, he was voted as the sixth fan favorite character with a total of 176 votes. In the character popularity poll on Neo Geo Freak's website, he was voted as the third favorite character with a total of 2,574 votes.
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 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. 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 mysterious person, only to destroy 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 also brainwashed Kyo's missing 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 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 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 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. Before the tournament, his girlfriend, Yuki was 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 revive 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 defeat 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. Still knocked out from his previous battle with the godlike Orochi, 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 escape 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 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 and to fight NESTS. They disband as soon as the tournament is over, leaving Shingo to muse about life.
Tales of Ash
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 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 Daimon 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 and Kyo's team won another tournament, Iori appears and challenges Kyo to a fight. 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. At his father request, Kyo enters the tournament once again with his old teammates.
After the tournament's conclusion, Kyo advices Shun'ei to keep training to control his power. At the airport, after sending his teammates off, he heads to Hungary. Chizuru had called him there for his assistance in dealing with 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, 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 mutual hatred and was hardly spurred by their clans' history. When Kyo and Iori join forces, it is often begrudgingly and as a last resort solution to the conflict at hand.
- Pyrokinesis - Due to his Kusanagi heritage, Kyo can control fire. He can create fire from thin air, create fire balls, deliver punches of fire, create pillars of fire and put his own body on fire. He is neither immune to other types of fire nor able to control other fires that he didn't create. However, the fire he wields is nothing more than just ordinary fire: it does not have the 'trapping' ability of Iori's mystical and holy flame.
- Motorcycle Driving - Kyo likes to drive his motorcycle around the streets of Japan. Some official pictures depict Kyo driving a scooter.
- Poetry - Kyo likes to write poetry as a hobby.
- Ice Hockey - Although representing the element of fire, Kyo likes ice hockey.
- Musical Instrument - Kyo is also an accomplished guitarist, as seen in The Band of Fighters
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: Punish 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: Ogre 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).
A notable trait that makes Kyo stand out in the Maximum Impact games is that while the input windows are fairly tight, some of his Stylish Arts are styled akin to a majority of crouching light kick-to-light punch normal attacks in the original 2D games.
- ESAKA - The King of Fighters '94 and a remixed version in KOF '98 and '98 UM
- FUNKY ESAKA - The King of Fighters '95, '98, '98: UM (as EX Kyo, with Benimaru and Daimon)
- ESAKA? - The King of Fighters '96, '98, R-2
- ESAKA FOREVER - The King of Fighters '97, '98 (against Iori), '98 UM (against Iori), R-1, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium
- Cool JAM ~Arashi no Saxophone 3~ - The King of Fighters '98 (as Iori's opponent), The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match (as Iori's opponent)
- Tears - The King of Fighters 99, 2002
- Good Bye ESAKA - The King of Fighters 2000, EX2, XIII (as EX Kyo in console version)
- Inner Shade - The King of Fighters EX
- Flame of Invincibility - The King of Fighters 2001, Maximum Impact 2 (against Seth in the Neo Geo Land stage)
- Blaze - The King of Fighters 2003
- New Order - The King of Fighters XI
- ESAKA ~Acid Remix~ The King of Fighters XI (as EX Kyo in Playstation 2), XIII (when the music is set to "Type B", console version only, shared with Benimaru Nikaido and Goro Daimon)
- ESAKA? '08 - The King of Fighters XII
- Esaka Continues... - The King of Fighters XIII
- Yappari ESAKA - The King of Fighters XIV
- New Order -KOF XIV ver.- - The King of Fighters XIV (as Iori's opponent)
- ESAKA!! - The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match
- E-Groove (DJ Turbo's Paradise Mix) - K.O.F. Dance Trax
- R.E.D. Run - Days of Memories
- Burning Devotion! - 1997 image song
- The Sun & The Moon - Duet image song with Iori
- Pieces - 1998 image song
- The Song of Fighters II - Shared image song with other King of Fighters characters
- Masahiro Nonaka - debut - KOF XIII
- Tomoaki Maeno - The King of Fighters XIV
- Andrew Roth - Maximum Impact series (English voice)
- Ryōtarō Okiayu - The King of Fighters '94 Dengenki drama CD
- Tomokazu Sugita - King of Fighters movie (Japanese voice)
Live Action Actors
- The King of Fighters '94
- The King of Fighters '95
- The King of Fighters '96
- The King of Fighters '97
- The King of Fighters: Kyo
- The King of Fighters '98
- The King of Fighters R-1
- The King of Fighters R-2
- The King of Fighters '99 - hidden character
- SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millenium
- Capcom vs SNK
- The King of Fighters 2000
- The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise - as a striker
- The King of Fighters EX
- Capcom vs SNK 2
- SVC Chaos: SNK vs Capcom
- The King of Fighters 2001
- The King of Fighters EX2
- The King of Fighters 2002
- The King of Fighters Neowave
- The King of Fighters Maximum Impact
- The King of Fighters 2003
- The King of Fighters Maximum Impact 2
- The King of Fighters XI
- Neo Geo Battle Coliseum
- The King of Fighters Maximum Impact Regulation A
- The King of Fighters XII
- The King of Fighters XIII
- The King of Fighters (pachinko)
- CR The King of Fighters
- KOF Sky Stage
- Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting
- Core Masters - Guest Character
- The King of Cyphers - Guest Character
- The King of Fighters XIV
- Days of Memories (second, fourth, seventh and ninth titles) - unplayable
- NeoGeo Tennis Coliseum
- The King of Fighters Mobile
- The King of Fighters Mobile R-2
- The King of Fighters Volleyball
- The King of Millionaire
- The King of Fighters Mahjong
- Moeyo! KOF Daiundokai
- SNK Dream Battle
- Lord of Vermilion RE: 2 - as special edition card from the producer.
- Beast Busters Featuring KOF - guest playable character
- The Rhythm of Fighters
- Metal Slug Defense (unlockable)
- Brave Frontier
- Crusaders Quest
- YAMATO Chronicle
- World Cross Saga
- Ultimate Heroes
- Crash Fever
- Grand Summoners
- Bokuto Dragon
- Valkyrie Connect
- Fatal Fury 3 - in Pao Pao Cafe 2
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves - In Hokutomaru's Stage
- Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits: Bushidou Retsuden (Neo Geo CD version only)
- SNK Gals' Fighters - in Miss X's ending
- The King of Fighters 2
- Maximum Impact
- Samurai Spirits Gaiden: Cham Cham
- Sister Quest
- Dai Shingeki RPG! Sister Quest - as a cosplay for collaboration event