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|Athena and The King of Fighters character|
Athena Asamiya in The King of Fighters XI
|First game||Psycho Soldier (1987)|
|Voiced by||See character design|
|Portrayed by||Kei Ishibashi (Athena)|
|Fighting style||Chinese martial arts|
Athena Asamiya (麻宮 アテナ Asamiya Atena) is a character originally from the former SNK's 1986 video game Psycho Soldier and a descendant of Princess Athena from the earlier Athena game. She later appears in The King of Fighters series of fighting games as a female fighter character and has appeared in each of its 14 editions. She was also given her own video game Athena: Awakening from the Ordinary Life, which only released in Japanese regions for the PlayStation in 1999.
Creation and design
In her first appearance in Psycho Soldier Athena has long pink hair and wears a black Japanese school uniform. For The King of Fighters '94 series, there was pressure within staff about including the character. The staff worked so much on her that other developers accused them of favoritism. One of the designers tried to explain Athena's poses but the developers found it funny. Athena wears new outfits in every game, some with little changes. Her hair, however, is purple and becomes short from The King of Fighters '99 to The King of Fighters 2001. The staff from the series has been requested by fans to return her Japanese school uniform in several games, but they only made her wear it only in her introductions as they thought it would not be well received by gamers from other countries. However, by The King of Fighters XI, Athena appears with a white school uniform and in The King of Fighters XII she returns to her original Psycho Soldier outfit as the members from SNK wanted to return The King of Fighters series to its "original concept." In The King of Fighters XIII, Athena returns wearing the same clothes but with a color alteration (white shirt and blue skirt; more in line with her attire from The King of Fighters XI).
Athena has been voiced by several voice actresses since her debut in Psycho Soldier in which she was played by Rushina in the game and Kaori Shimizu for her image songs. For The King of Fighters series, Athena has been played by several actresses. Reiko Fukui voiced her in The King of Fighters '94, Moe Nagasaki in The King of Fighters '95, Tamao Satō in The King of Fighters '96 and Yukina Kurisu in The King of Fighters '97 and The King of Fighters: Kyo. Since The King of Fighters '98, Athena has been voiced by Haruna Ikezawa in each game she is featured as well as the anime The King of Fighters: Another Day and The King of Fighters: Destiny. Lily Kong voiced Athena in the English dub of The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2.
In video games
Athena first appears in the video game Psycho Soldier, fighting against several creatures attacking Earth along with her friend Sie Kensou. She would also appear in the crossover fighting game series The King of Fighters as part of the Psycho Soldier Team. The Psycho Soldier Team is initially composed of Kensou and Athena's teacher, Chin Gentsai. The team would be present in most King of Fighters tournament as Chin wanted to train more Kensou and Athena as well as searching for evil forces such as the demon Orochi. The team has little changes within tournaments with the only new member joining them being Bao from The King of Fighters '99 until The King of Fighters 2001. The King of Fighters '99: Evolution also contains a Striker version from Athena with her school uniform. By The King of Fighters 2003 the Psycho Soldier Team retires from competition as Kensou and Bao needed to train their new powers. As such, Athena creates the High School Girls Team along with the Sumo fighter Hinako Shijo and a mysterious girl named Malin. The Psycho Soldier Team returns in The King of Fighters XI with Athena, Kensou and a Momoko, a young girl able to use Psycho powers. In The King of Fighters XII, Athena is playable, but like each character, she has no official teams. In the sequel, she is back with Kensou and Chin representing the Psycho Soldiers; she and her team will reappear in The King of Fighters XIV. She is also featured in the spin-off games The King of Fighters Neowave and KOF: Maximum Impact 1 and 2. In the Maximum Impact series, Athena has a self-proclaimed rival named Mignon Beart whom she does not acknowledge or know her.
In the role-playing video game Athena: Awakening from the Ordinary Life, Athena has to find answers about strange things that happened in her school, and later in various parts of Japan. She was also added to the crossover series SNK vs. Capcom, being playable in SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium and Capcom vs. SNK 2. Her character also appears in SNK Gals' Fighters as a playable character, with Athena wanting to win the Gals' tournament to recover her long hair. Athena appears also in the dating game series Days of Memories, in which each game is presented with different personalities (and even with different ages).
In other media
Athena also appears in several comic adaptations from The King of Fighters series which retell the story from various video games. In the Masato Natsumoto's manga The King of Fighters: Kyo, Athena has a crush on Kyo Kusanagi, being also interested in his abilities. She appears in several chapters from the series along with Kensou as they investigate the powers from Iori Yagami. In the manga from Ryo Takamisaki, The King of Fighters G, Athena is featured as one of the lead characters participating in The King of Fighters '96 tournament along with Kyo and Vice, a servant from the demon Orochi. She also makes a short appearance in the 2006 original net animation The King of Fighters: Another Day helping citizens from Southtown in a fire. In the live-action drama entitled Athena, her character is portrayed by Kei Ishibashi, while the story is based on the video game Athena: Awakening from the Ordinary Life. Athena also has her own CD soundtrack named Athena the Music (アテナ ザ ミュージック) as part of the 20th anniversary from the video games of Athena. The CD was published by Happinet and contains various tracks based on Athena's character.
Her character is also featured in various types of merchandising such as figurines from KOF: Maximum Impact and SNK Beach Volley. Athena was also featured along with Mai Shiranui as a part of a set of two action-figures with both her character being chibi. A key-chain from her character was also released by SNK. Athena was the featured character on a 'Neoprint' photo printing machine for a while.
The character of Athena has been very popular within gamers; in the character popularity poll on Neo Geo Freak's website in 2000, she was voted as the tenth favorite character with a total of 1,020 votes. Japanese magazine Gamest ranked Athena at No. 3 in the list of Top 50 Characters of 1994.
Various video games publications have commented on Athena's character, which has received mixed responses. The IGN staff commented that Athena's introductions in the first The King of Fighters seemed a parody of Chun-Li from the Street Fighter series as she wears a similar school outfit. Her new appearance in The King of Fighters XII was noted to be one of the biggest changes from the series by Todd Ciolek from Anime News Network who commented that Athena "looks to have been de-aged five or six years." GameSpot writer Hirohiko Niizumi claimed that several fans complained on this new design as it looked "chubby", but mentioned Athena looked normal-size in comparison to other characters from the game. Ryan King from the Official Xbox Magazine noted that her new appearance makes her look "more pop star-esque than ever." In another review, the writers from IGN noted Athena's skill as an assistant character (named "Striker") to heal characters during fights in The King of Fighters '99 to be one of the best of the game although it has to be used carefully as it is limited. When she was announced to appear in Capcom vs. SNK 2, David Smith from IGN praised her addition to the game but was confused about from what game Athena was going to be based as she has several outfits.
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