||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (April 2013)|
|Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive character|
Ryu as seen in Dead or Alive 5
|First game||Ninja Gaiden (1988)|
|Created by||Hideo Yoshizawa|
|Voiced by (English)||Justin Gross (NG 2004)
Josh Keaton (NGII)
Troy Baker (DOAD, NG3, DOA5)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Hideyuki Hori (games)
Keiichi Nanba (anime)
|Portrayed by||Kane Kosugi|
|Fighting style||Hayabusa Ninjutsu|
|Weapon||Dragon Sword, various others|
|Occupation||Antique shop owner|
Ryu Hayabusa (Japanese: リュウ・ハヤブサ/隼 龍 Hepburn: Hayabusa Ryū?) is the protagonist of the Ninja Gaiden video game series as well as a player character in the Dead or Alive series by Team Ninja and Tecmo. According to the game canon, Ryu (lit. "dragon") Hayabusa ("falcon") is a ninja and the leader of the Hayabusa Clan (隼一族 Hayabusa-ichizoku?). The clan is said to have spiritual, physical and magical ties to ancient dragons. He is arguably the most popular ninja character to ever be featured in video games.
In video games
As the son of Joe Hayabusa (Ken Hayabusa in the NES Ninja Gaiden), "the ultimate ninja" Ryu is an heir to the Dragon lineage and is the holder of the legendary Dragon Sword. Although his father should have carried the sword, he passed the sword to Ryu early, due to his bravery and valor. His mother was not mentioned nor seen in any Ninja Gaiden games, although she was mentioned in the Worlds of Power novel where she gives Ryu the letter from his father. Ryu is 21 years old in Ninja Gaiden and two years older in the Dead or Alive series. Although he appears as a normal man, he is not completely human; because his ancestors draw their blood from the same Deities as the Fiends and Vigoor, he is susceptible to the Blood Curse and therefore is able to be turned into a Fiend.
In Ninja Gaiden, Ryu is known by some as the Dragon Ninja. The CIA knows about his clan, abilities, and history. Ryu has been betrayed by some of his alleged allies such as A. Foster (Ninja Gaiden NES), and his uncle Murai (Ninja Gaiden Black). He is the ninja Hayate's best friend and an ally of Kasumi and Ayane. Ryu has also befriended several people from the Dead or Alive tournaments, notably Jann Lee, with whom he shares a mutual respect.
Ryu Hayabusa made his debut in the 1988 Ninja Gaiden arcade game. There is no defined story in the original arcade version of the game, besides the setting taking place in the United States. Ryu's story actually commences in Ninja Gaiden for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), released in the same year. When he receives a letter from his father, who has departed to fight a life-or-death duel and does not return. Ryu then begins a search for him, meeting many in his long quest. The game was followed by two subsequent NES titles in early 90's that deal with many of the same characters. However, the series did not have a consistent plot in later titles for the next 13 years. In 2004, Ryu and the series returned with a new Xbox title, Ninja Gaiden. The story had shifted to before the events of the original NES trilogy with a few small retroactive continuities. Ninja Gaiden had also begun to connect itself to the Dead or Alive series, with the addition of Ayane.
According to the mythos of the series, the Dragon Lineage had sided with the dragons against the Evil Deities, only to defeat the Dark Dragon, a God of Death and Destruction. The Dragons are described as god-like, benevolent creatures with metallic bones, teeth and claws. They were created by Gurdu, the Deity of Creation, to counter the Evil Deities. The prologue includes a brief history of the two Dragon Swords. The first is the Dark Dragon Blade, carved out of the bone of the legendary Dark Dragon that betrayed his brethren out of jealousy and thirst for power, joining the Evil Deities. This blade consumes evil, charging as more evil is committed in its vicinity. As a result, the weapon turns its wielder into the devil incarnate. The second sword is the Dragon Sword, carved from the fang of a dragon, and bequeathed the Dragon Lineage from generation to generation, and finally to Ryu. The Dragon Sword used by Ryu is the same in both the original Ninja Gaiden trilogy and the modern series.
In the original Ninja Gaiden (1988), Ryu's father disappears. Ryu finds a letter from him, informing that he was on his way to a life or death duel, and instructing that, should he not return, Ryu is to go to the United States and find his friend Walter Smith. During his time in America searching for Smith, Ryu crosses paths with the CIA, in particular with Irene Lew, and is immediately spun into a globe-trotting adventure. He eventually crosses paths with Bloody Malth, the man who defeated Ryu's father. Ryu eventually finds his father then who tries to attack him, being under a spell that Ryu manages to break. However, Ken is killed by Bloody Malth's master, the Jaquio (whom Ryu encountered midway through his adventure). Ryu avenges his father's death by killing Jaquio and also the mighty Demon, one of the original Evil Deities alongside fellow Archfiends. After Ryu vanquished the evil beings, he is to be terminated by Irene Lew on Foster's orders, but she does not comply and Ryu vows to "get Foster" while Ryu and Irene begin a relationship.
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos (1990) continues the story, revealing that Ashtar, Jaquio's master and the Emperor of Darkness, planned to rule the world with the power of the Demon. His plans foiled, Ashtar kidnaps Irene to lure Ryu to his home dimension. Ashtar wields the Dark Sword of Chaos, made from the bone of the Demon at the same time that the Dragon Sword. Ryu eventually confronts and defeats Ashtar, but before he can get Irene to safety, she is captured by Jaquio, who now bears the Dark Sword. Ryu confronts and defeats the Jaquio a second time at an altar made from the Demon's bones. However, the Jaquio's blood flows into the Dark Sword, awakening it. The Jaquio is revived by its power and stabs Irene with the sword. Ryu slays the Jaquio again, but Irene's blood empowers the sword further, and revives the Demon. After Ryu kills the Demon again, the Dark Sword of Chaos shatters, and he carries Irene back to Earth, where she succumbs to her wounds and dies. Crying over her body, Ryu calls on the spirits of his ancestors, saying his victories are meaningless without her. The Dragon Sword then begins to hum and glow, emitting a blue light which flows into Irene, reviving her. The couple then watches the evening sunset (unlike the sunrise in the other two NES Ninja Gaiden games).
The plot is concluded in Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom (1991). The game starts with Ryu's doppelgänger supposedly assassinating Irene and framing the original for murder. During his quest to clear his name, Ryu discovers that Irene is really still alive and that his doppelgänger was a BIO-NOID sent by Irene's own boss and former acquaintance of his, Foster. This is followed by an engagement with Ryu's doppelgänger which ends in Ryu's defeat. In their second encounter, Ryu turns the tables, defeating his doppelgänger instead. Foster is then double-crossed by his accomplice, H.P. Clancy, who murders him and reveals the true nature of their location, the Castle Rock Fortress, as an inter-dimensional warship, which he intends to use for global dominance. With both Irene and himself caught up in Clancy's machinations, Ryu is forced to take action. Subsequently, he foils Clancy's plans and flees the crumbling Castle Rock Fortress with Irene.
Although the series is mostly consistent, there have been single iterations in the span between the original NES trilogy and the modern series. In Ninja Gaiden for the Sega Master System, the plot involves the elite ninja Ryu Hayabusa simply as a high-ranking member of his clan. One day Ryu receives a message revealing that the Hayabusa clan's village had been brutally massacred. The last survivor of the village tells Ryu with his dying breath that the Sacred Scroll of Bushido, of power so strong that its owner can control the world, has been stolen. As the last ninja of the Dragon Clan, the fate of the world is in his hands, and he must embark on a trip to regain the scroll from the hands of the evil Shogun of Darkness and his minions.
In Ninja Gaiden (2004), the plot shifts perspective to before Ryu inherited the Dragon Sword. Ryu is a young but ruthless ninja from the Hayabusa Ninja clan. One day he borrows his father's famous Dragon Sword on a quest to improve his skills as a ninja. As he visits his uncle Murai, the Hayabusa Village is annihilated along with Ryu's childhood friend Kureha, and the Dark Dragon Blade is stolen by the evil Lord of the Greater Fiends, Doku and his minions. Ryu attempts to stop him, only to be killed in the battle. Though he was in lethal condition, Ryu is revived by the clan's animal spirit, the falcon, and embarks on a journey in search of the stolen Dark Dragon Blade and to avenge his clan's destruction. As he proceeds, he meets the Fiend hunter Rachel, who is in search of her sister Alma. Ryu also comes across Alma, who was morphed into a Greater Fiend but eventually saves Rachel from Doku. Eventually, Ryu defeats Doku and his overlord, the supreme evil god Holy Emperor Vigoor, and retrieves the Dark Dragon Blade. In the end, Ryu and Rachel come across the mysterious Dark Disciple, revealed to be Ryu's uncle Murai, who then betrays and challenges him. Despite wielding the evil Dark Dragon Blade, Murai is defeated and Ryu destroys the sword. He then returns to the village to restore the Dragon Eye to Kureha's grave.
The story of Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (2008) takes place six months later, beginning with the female ninja Momiji. After a battle with enemy ninja, she is kidnapped by the rival Black Spider ninja clan led by Obaba. Ryu sets out to find seven Dark Dragonstones, defeating several bosses along the way. At the climax of the adventure, the former Doku's servant Ishtaros (an Ancient Greater Fiend of Creation, once worshiped as Ishtar) steals the Dragonstones from Ryu, who is left almost powerless and quickly defeated by Ishtaros. However, when Kureha, Momiji's sister, appears and fuses with Momiji's Dragon Eye, the sword becomes the Dragon Sword once again. After defeating Ishtaros and her sister Nicchae (an Ancient Greater Fiend of Creation, once worshiped as Nike) in the form of the Dark Dragon, Ryu brings Momiji back home. The Hayabusa village mourn for Kureha's death, and Momiji once again starts training with Ryu, hoping to fulfill her promise to her sister to become stronger.
Ninja Gaiden II (2008), set five months after Dragon Sword, begins with CIA agent Sonia visiting the old man Murama's shop. She asks him for the whereabouts of Ryu, telling him that she has information concerning the Archfiend Vazdah, the third evil god. Ryu arrives in the nick of time, but is unable to save her and she is kidnapped by the Black Spider clan. He eventually finds her after traveling through the skylines of Tokyo, whereby she warns him of the plot of the Greater Fiends to steal the Demon Statue, which is being protected by the Hayabusa ninja village, in order to resurrect the Archfiend. Informed by Sonia, Ryu heads back to the village to see it burning once again. Fighting his way to the Castle of the Dragon where the statue is held, he finds his father, Joe, fighting Genshin, leader of the Black Spider clan. They are unable to stop the statue being stolen by the Queen of the Greater Fiends Elizébet. Ryu follows her trail, defeating the Four Greater Fiends along the way, as well as Genshin who just became a Greater Fiend himself. Ryu is unable to stop the resurrection of the Archfiend Vazdah, created by his High Infernal Priest Dagra Dai, but ultimately destroys Vazdah at Mount Fuji. In the aftermath, Ryu reunites with Sonia. He places Genshin's sword among many others in a field to act as a graveyard, and subsequently leaves, claiming that he still has "much to learn".
Ryu returns in Ninja Gaiden 3 (2012), which is set several months after its predecessor. He is called by the JSDF to assist with the suppression of a terrorist group called the Lords of Alchemy, or as they were known corporately, LOA. Ryu is given a deadly Slavic curse referred to as the "Grip of Murder" by a man known as the Regent of the Mask. He learns that without intervention, the curse will kill him. Ryu spends a week chasing the Lords of Alchemy and their mysterious leader around the globe trying to stop their plans, but fails. He realizes that he must then obtain the Dragon Sword. After he does so, he tracks down LOA, hoping to save a young girl he promised to protect, named Canna. On the eighth day, Ryu defeats the LOA forces and chimera attacking Tokyo, and after defeating a God-like creature hellbent on destroying the world, he saves the child and returns her to her mother before escaping to the shadows. Ryu's story continues in Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, where he is pursued by a new protagonist, Yaiba Kamikaze.
Dead or Alive
Taking place chronologically years after his exploits in the Ninja Gaiden series, he adopts a new, sleeker look. After the events of Ninja Gaiden for NES, as chronicled in the Ninja Gaiden anime, he moved to America where he married Irene and bought an antique shop he ran with her. His story is fleshed out more, as a new ninja clan is introduced, several other supporting characters, and a new, serpentine plot that he finds himself intertwined in. He has been a participant in every DOA tournament, canonically winning the second championship by killing Tengu. His friends have also won most of the other DOA tournaments, except the fourth one.
In Dead or Alive, Ryu joins the first DOA Tournament looking for the disappeared Kasumi. In Dead or Alive 2, Ryu joins the second tournament because he was informed by his own clan that a creature from another dimension named Tengu joined it to create chaos in the world. Eventually, Ryu comes across his lost friend Hayate (as Ein, still suffering from a memory loss) and defeats him, restoring his memory. Ryu then defeats Tengu to save the world from his evil plot and effectively wins the second tournament.
In Dead or Alive 3, Ryu faces off against Hayate, who has become the 18th leader of the Mugen Tenshin ninja clan after recovering from his memory loss. In his ending cut-scene, Ryu receives a mysterious letter from an unknown ninja while he's fishing near the river. In the next game, Ryu joins Hayate, Kasumi and Ayane to stop DOATEC. He and Ayane come across Christie, who is trying to stop the ninja from destroying the DOATEC Tritower. In his Dead or Alive 4 ending, Ryu destroys three DOATEC special helicopters before disappearing into the night. In Helena's ending he destroys a single helicopter, showing a man trapped inside the aircraft who could have been Donovan. However, this speculation is later proven false in Dead or Alive: Dimensions, as Donovan is shown to be alive and well in the game's ending.
Ryu returns in Dead or Alive 5 (a demo version of DOA5 featuring Ryu and Hitomi as playable characters was added as a downloadable bonus to the pre-order version of Ninja Gaiden 3 for the PlayStation 3, as well as the collector's edition release for both the PS3 and the Xbox 360), aiding Hayate and Ayane in their battle against Donovan's new organization, MIST, to stop him from selling his modified soldiers to the militia of powerful countries around the world. When Hayate is captured, Ryu sends his falcon to send a message to Kasumi, who has been in Japan the entire time with Muramasa, to summon her to battle. When she frees Hayate, the four of them destroy the MIST laboratory and Alpha-152.
According to Prima Games' official guide for Dead or Alive Ultimate, Ryu is "fairly fast and has decent power, though he doesn't necessarily excel at either, making him a fairly well-balanced character," adding that he is "fun to mess around with" and can be useful to a moderate-level player in certain situations. Prima's official guide for Dead or Alive 4 states that the revamped Ryu "continues to be one of the top characters in the Dead or Alive series" and can still be played at top levels; he was rated overall 7/10. According to GameSpot, Ryu, "as the world's most super ninja, is indeed a master of the devious arts" in DOA4, and "while some of his moves are difficult, the bulk of them are actually fairly easy to pull off, and he's quite fast to boot, making him an excellent choice of character for new players." Team Ninja wrote that in DOA5 "his signature move is the Izuna Drop—a powerful throw that he can perform even from strikes or holds."
Ryu, along with Ayane and Momiji, makes an unplayable guest appearance in Koei's video game Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce, in commemoration of the 2009 merger between Koei and Tecmo that created Tecmo Koei. (GamesRadar included their guest appearance in DW: Strikeforce in their 2010 list of 55 "awesome character cameos" in gaming.) In Warriors Orochi 3, Ryu, Ayane and Rachel appear in another dimension and assist the other warriors there. Ryu also appears together with Ayane in the Japan-only Dynasty Warriors Vs. (previously known as Dynasty Warriors 3DS).
"Hayabusa Ninja" is an alternative costume for the character Max in Super Swing Golf: Season 2. An armor similar to Ryu's outfit also makes a cameo in the Xbox 360 game Halo 3, as an unlockable armor set called Hayabusa (for the player to obtain the chest, shoulder, and helmet pieces of the armor they must collect all hidden skulls in campaign mode). Additionally, a Halo 3 player is awarded an in-game (and unusable) replica of Ryu's Dragon Sword if they get the gamerscore of 1000. In 2011, Ryu's Ninja Gaiden costume parts were available as exclusive DLC during the first anniversary promotion campaign for Dynasty Warriors Online.
|This section requires expansion. (September 2010)|
A Ninja Gaiden II statue of Ryu was released by First 4 Figures in 2008. A NGII action figure from NECA was also released the same year. Several other action figures and statuettes were released in Japan.
Ryu Hayabusa has been an extremely popular character, especially among similar ninja type characters. He was nominated for the Nintendo Power Awards '89 and '91 in the category "Best Character (Best Hero)". In 2005, GamesTM called him "easily one of the most athletic characters we've ever seen." In 2007, ScrewAttack ranked him as the sixth "coolest" character in video games. In 2008, The Age ranked him as tenth best character on the Xbox series of consoles. In 2009, GameSpot featured Ryu as one of the 64 characters in the "Greatest Game Hero" poll, in which he won against The Nameless One and Sackboy, but ultimately lost to Duke Nukem. In 2010, readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu voted Ryu into 43rd place in a poll for the best video game character of all time. Empire also included him on their list of the 50 greatest video game characters, adding that "this is a man not to be messed with, and his honour, grace, and iconic image as the superlative gaming ninja, he'll never be forgotten." In 2011, UGO.com included him in their list of 11 video game characters who need their own live-action movies. In 2012, GamesRadar ranked this "particularly brutal good guy, but a good guy nonetheless" as 26th "most memorable, influential, and badass" protagonist in video games.
Ryu has been ranked as number one top video game ninja character ever by numerous publications, including on the lists compiled by CrunchGear (in 2008), Unreality (in 2009), GamePro (who also commented that Ryu "has the most fearsome arsenal of weapons we’ve ever seen in a video game") and ScrewAttack (both in 2010), machinima.com (in 2011), and WatchMojo.com and PLAY (both in 2013). In 2008, when readers of IGN voted on which of the two ninja would win in a "Hero Showdown" between him and Joe Musashi of Sega's Shinobi series, Ryu won with 82% of the votes. That same year, IGN included him on the list of characters that should be included in a hypothetical ultimate fighting game as "few videogame heroes make killing look easier or more stylish than Ryu Hayabusa" and "all other ninja seem lame by comparison." According to Cheat Code Central in 2011, Ryu has "been ranked number one on more top ninja lists than one can count, and he tops this list, too."
In addition, he was featured by Virgin Media on the list of top ten video game ninja heroes in all media, who stated that the "only problem with naming Ryu as gaming's greatest ninja is that he doesn't actually get up to much ninja-like activity," as well as unusually ranked as second on the list of top ten gaming ninja characters by 1UP.com in 2004. In 2008, GamesRadar included him among the top video game assassins in the category "ninja" even as they have "never known Ryu to specifically take on assassination jobs". In 2009, GameDaily listed the "badass ninja" in their top 25 video game archetypes, using Ryu as an example, and featured him among the "gaming's greatest patriots" of Japan. In 2010, Nintendo Power listed Ryu as one of the best ninja characters on Nintendo consoles; he was also featured among the top ten ninjas for PlayStation consoles by PLAY in 2011, and ranked as the second swiftest ninja by Complex in 2012. In 2011, GamePro guessed Ryu to be the next guest character in the Soulcalibur series as neither its Taki nor Yoshimitsu are "a conventional ninja the way Ryu is." In 2012, Complex also listed him among the characters they would like to see in the next Soulcalibur game, stating that "we've had our fun going ninjitsu crazy with Taki and Natsu, but now it's time for Tecmo's ninja to enter the fray." That same year, Cheat Code Central also ranked him as the fourth top swordsman in gaming. Lisa Foiles of The Escapist made this "one sexy ninja" number one of her 2014 list of top five katana wielders.
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