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Kyo Kusanagi

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Kyo Kusanagi
The King of Fighters character
KyoKusanagi95.jpg
Kyo Kusanagi in The King of Fighters '95
First gameThe King of Fighters '94 (1994)
Created byShinichi Morioka[1]
Portrayed bySean Faris (2010 film)
Yuichi Nakamura (KOF All-Stars promo trailer)
Voiced byMasahiro Nonaka (KOF '94 - XIII)[2]
Tomoaki Maeno (KOF XIV - onwards)[3]
Ryōtarō Okiayu (CD Drama)[4]
Tomokazu Sugita (Japanese dub of KOF movie)[5]
Information
Fighting styleKusanagi-style Kempo
OriginJapan
NationalityJapanese
American (2010 film)

Kyo Kusanagi (Japanese: 草薙 京, Hepburn: Kusanagi Kyō) is a fictional character in SNK's The King of Fighters series of fighting games. The character was first introduced in the 1994 video game The King of Fighters '94 as the leader of the Japanese team from the series' title tournament. Kyo, heir to the Kusanagi clan, is first introduced as a cocky, delinquent, high-school student who has pyrokinetic powers. His clan is one of the three clans that sealed the legendary snake entity Yamata no Orochi. During the series' story, Kyo meets rivals and enemies who seek to take his flaming abilities. Aside from the main series, Kyo appears in several other media series including spin-offs and crossover video games, as well as comic adaptations of the series, including both his spin-off manga The King of Fighters: Kyo and video game adaptation with the same name.

Kyo, who was created by Shinichi Morioka as a hero who would fight the main characters from other franchises from SNK, Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. His debut in the game was noted by the staff to have received a large positive response by fans. His outfit and gameplay techniques were redesigned throughout the series; the games' designers created clones of his old appearance that wore the high-school uniform, which was popular within the fans. The same occurred with his moves, which were rebalanced across the series.

Video game journalists have praised Kyo's design and fighting style as among the best of the series, and in fighting games in general. His role in the story and his long rivalry with Iori Yagami was also celebrated. The character's redesign in the sequel The King of Fighters XIV earned mixed responses because of the differences to previous incarnations. Kyo's role in printed media and other adaptations of the series has often been criticized, most notably in the live-action film. A variety of Kyo collectibles, including key chains and figurines, has been created.

Conception and creation[edit]

Origin and influences[edit]

Early sketches of Kyo when he was known as Syo Kirishima

Kyo Kusanagi was created by an artist named Shinichi Morioka.[1] When designing characters for the first King of Fighters game, developers wanted a new, "snazzy" hero who would fight against characters from two other SNK series, Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting. Through most of his development, Kyo was named Syo Kirishima (霧島 翔, Kirishima Shō) and was dressed in martial arts clothing common in fighting games of the time. His design was inspired by the main character of Katsuhiro Otomo's manga and film Akira, Shotaro Kaneda.[6] Late in production, however, his name was changed to Kyo Kusanagi to relate him to the Yamata no Orochi legend that was used as the idea for the first story arc. The name Syo would later be used for Kyo's Another Striker in The King of Fighters 2000.[7] Another planned name before Syo was Ryo Fang (霧島翔, Fang Ryo) but no design was elaborated from it.[8] When making of the game, the developers thought Kyo's appeal was his contrast with the characters from Fatal Fury; While Kyo is a young schoolboy, the Fatal Fury characters were much older and had more muscular bodies.[9] Kyo's girlfriend Yuki originated by Morioka's idea, who wanted to establish Kyo as a hardcore character but became jealous of Kyo's female fans and added to his profile the inclusion of his girlfriend.[10]

The game's developers decided Kyo's main skill would be fire, alongside the other movesets from the other members of the original Japan Team inspired by the manga and anime Getter Robo created by Go Nagai and Ken Ishikawa. The three members of the Japan Team, Benimaru Nikaido, Goro Daimon and Kyo had personalities similar to those of the main characters from such anime. Kyo was based on the main character, Ryoma Nagare, who had a fiery persona. The elements and the personalities are also a homage to a Japanese phrase about giving birth to fire: "lightning strikes the earth which sparks the flame".[11] According to Morioka,[1] Ikki Kajiwara's Ashita no Joe and Nagai's Devilman manga series were influences too.[12] However, artist Nona comments that he found it difficult to draw Kyo in a heroic image, since he drew him in the image of Akira Fudo, the protagonist of Devilman due to his dark traits.[13] The pixel art of Kyo was made by Yuichiro Hiraki, who despite leaving SNK to work in another project few years later, was requested by Capcom's Kaname Fujioka to once again work on Kyo's design for the crossover game Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000.[14] Artist Falcoon states that Kyo has a strong attitude, making him one of the hardest characters to illustrate,[15] while also noting that his rivalry with Iori Yagami is strong enough to make the duo likable.[16]

Development[edit]

While Kyo often wears different clothing in each story arc, he was given a major redesign for The King of Fighters XIV

During the early stages of the development of The King of Fighters '99, SNK planned not to add Kyo and Iori Yagami to the game because its story was intended to center on a new protagonist named K', but they reversed this decision because "they couldn't leave these popular characters in limbo".[17] Kyo's repeated appearances in the series at the insistence of the marketers and the main planners Iori and other SNK regulars in every game, making story planning for each title challenging.[11] Several of the series' designers said Kyo is one of the most difficult characters to illustrate because of his popularity.[18] Although Kyo was redesigned for the game KOF '99, some designers wanted to return to his iconic school uniform. Near the end of their production schedule, staff members could not decide which uniform the Kyo clone should wear, so the project head decided to make two clones. To save time, the project head drew designs for Kyo-1 and Kyo-2 on the character roster.[19] The same situation occurred during production of The King of Fighters 2002; the designers created another clone of Kyo called "Kusanagi" to include his school uniform design.[20] Falcoon redesigned Kyo's clothes for the spin-off game KOF: Maximum Impact 2; his jacket was redesigned while keeping the original's appeal. His "Normal Color F" attire is similar to his father's martial arts clothing. The outfit called "Color G" is reminiscent of the costume design of Yuki, the popular protagonist of NeoGeo Battle Coliseum.[21]

While Kyo often wears different outfits for story arc, he was given a more masculine appearance for The King of Fighters XIII. The designers thought he became a more typical fighter, which led to a later modification. The staff gave him a slimmer, more modern appearance for The King of Fighters XIV.[22] Character designer Nobuyuki Kuroki stated the staff wanted to captivate new fans with Kyo's larger redesign. Despite fearing fans would not like Kyo's new appearance, the staff said they aimed it as a challenge and that older players of the series would understand he is still the same character despite cosmetic changes.[23] Producer Yasuyuki Oda noted that while researching new characters for KOF XIV, Kyo's moves avoided stereotypes like Japanese sumo wrestlers to produce more variety within the cast, which included characters of multiple nationalities. Oda added that they "Kyo-ify" the new members to produce originality in the game.[24]

In promoting the cellphone game The King of Fighters All Stars, Kyo was portrayed by Yuichi Nakamura for a commercial alongside Hiroshi Fujioka. Nakamura reflects enjoying this work due to admiring his superiors, most notably Fujoka.[25][26] In the live-action film, Kyo was portrayed by Sean Faris. Kyo's Japanese voice actor Masahiro Nonaka related with his character because he was young and reckless until he "grew up"; in his later appearances he expressed some difficulty accepting Kyo on the same level.[27] Nonaka was also a fan of the franchise for a long time; he said he felt honored to play the voice of Kyo.[28] Tomoaki Maeno replaced Nonaka for The King of Fighters XIV and said he was putting all his efforts and expected the fandom to enjoy his work as the new voice of Kyo.[3] Maeno noted the impact of Kyo was challenging as he was the main character from a famous series of fighting games. During his work for the game, Maeno often played the demo of The King of Fighters XIV as Kyo in order to pay careful attention to his work. He reflects that KOF was his favorite fighting game series which surprised him when being chosen to make Kyo's voice.[29]

Fighting style[edit]

Kyo performing his signature move, the Orochi Nagi. The move was created in order generate major appeal due to the effects of flames.

In his fights, Kyo uses the clan's martial art style, the Kusanagi-style Kempo (草薙流拳法, Kusanagi-ryū Kenpō), attacking opponents using flames and several hits. This was developed by Mitsuo Kodama, an animator in charge of the first game in the series.[6] In later series' tournaments, he combines fire with a personal style of kenpō.[30] His fighting style was changed as part of the series' overhaul in The King of Fighters '96. To appease fans, producers also included an older version of Kyo from KOF '94 into The King of Fighters '97 and placed The King of Fighters '95 version of Kyo in The King of Fighters '98, which made both versions of Kyo popular during location tests.[31][32] In KOF '96 he was given a new move known as the 212 Shiki Koto Tsuki You (弐百拾弐式・琴月 陽), which Yasuyuki Oda said is one of his favorites because it reminded him of mecha series from the 1990s.[33] Oda also noted that Kyo was one of his favorite characters in the series as found his moves easy to learn.[34]

Although Kyo retains his third outfit in The King of Fighters XII, his moves were modified to those from the first two games of the series to make the character fight in close quarters rather than using projectiles, improving the balance of the roster, and making fights more entertaining.[35] Kyo's signature technique is the Ura 108 Shiki: Orochinagi (裏百八式・大蛇薙, lit. "Back Crescent Eighth Formula - Serpent Wave"), a massive slash of fire he creates with one hand. The staff carefully worked in this move ever in order to provide different effects to create an appealing touch. The developers were satisfied with this move when it was finished.[36] This was given a mid-air variation for The King of Fighters XIII; designers kept in mind the concept of coolness and the small difficulty in performing it.[37] Kyo's Neo Max technique, the "Ura 121 Shiki: Ama-no-Murakumo (裏百弐拾壱式・天叢雲)", in which he covers the enemies with walls of fire, was the first move of this category to be made for the game. As a result, the other characters' Neo Max techniques were made according to Kyo's to keep a balance of flashy moves.[37] "NESTS Kyo" was added to the game as downloadable content featuring his hand-to-hand combat that contrasts his original moves from XIII.[38]

Appearances[edit]

In video games[edit]

In the main King of Fighters video games[edit]

Kyo is one of the last members of the Kusanagi clan who can create fire; 660 years before the games' events, the Kusanagi and Yasakani clans were allies but the latter's jealousy over the former's fame led the Yasakani to make a pact with the demon Orochi. Since then, the clans have had a generation-long grudge with casualties on both sides. Kyo's rivalry with Iori Yagami is one of mutual hatred rather than history.[39][40] In the first The King of Fighters video game, Kyo stars in the famous fighting tournament as the leader of the Japan Team with Benimaru Nikaido and Goro Daimon.[30] They become champions and defeat the host Rugal Bernstein.[41] In the next title, the Japan Team again faces Rugal and Kyo's brainwashed father Saisyu.[42] While Rugal dies, Saisyu is saved from Rugal's control.[43] Prior to the events of The King of Fighters '96, one of the Four Heavenly Kings of the legendary creature Orochi, Goenitz, easily defeats Kyo.[44]

The current host Chizuru Kagura wants Kyo and Iori Yagami on her team to defeat Orochi and stop Goenitz.[45] In The King of Fighters '97 Kyo faces Orochi's remaining followers, the New Faces Team, who aim to revive Orochi by sacrificing Kyo's girlfriend, Yuki. Following their failure, Orochi possess one of them, Chris, but Kyo and Iori manage to defeat him, leaving him to be sealed by Chizuru.[46][47] In KOF '98, Kyo appears as a playable character on the Japan Team with Benimaru and Daimon. An alternative version of his character, with movesets used in previous games, is also playable.[48]

Kyo is a secret character in most versions of The King of Fighters '99, and has no team. Kyo is kidnapped by the NESTS syndicate, who use his DNA to make clones of him.[49] Kyo enters his captors' base and tries to obtain answers from them, but is forced to retreat when the base begins to collapse. If thje player has accrued enough points, Kyo can be faced in a bonus fight.[50] He continues his fight against the NESTS alone in The King of Fighters 2000[51] but in the next game, Kyo reunites with his old teammates, and his student Shingo Yabuki, to make a comeback on the Japan Team.[52] In KOF 2002, Kyo is a playable character on the original Japan Team.[53]

In The King of Fighters 2003, Chizuru appears to Kyo and Iori, asking them to form a team to investigate suspicious activities concerning the Orochi seal.[54] During the investigation, the team is ambushed by the fighter Ash Crimson, who plans to get their clans' powers and steal them from Chizuru.[55] In The King of Fighters XI, Kyo and Iori again form a team with Shingo, filling Chizuru's spot to stop Ash.[56] The growing presence of Orochi, however, causes Iori to go berserk and harm his teammates. Ash then appears, defeats Iori, and steals his abilities.[57][58] The PlayStation 2 port added an alternative version of Kyo that has his NESTS saga moves.[59] In King of Fighters XII, Kyo is a playable character but he does not have a team.[60] Kyo reunites with the original members of the Esaka Team in The King of Fighters XIII.[61] Following Ash's disappearance causing Iori to recover his powers, Kyo fights his rival again.[62] Additionally, an alternative version of himself, with different moves called "NESTS Style Kyo", is available as downloadable content.[63]

Kyo returns in The King of Fighters XIV with his old comrades,[64] whereas his classic school costume appears as a downloadable content through pre-order bonus released in the online store.[65] Kyo enters the tournament at the request of his father to meet Tung Fu Rue's students.[66] After an unknown being stops the competition, Kyo reunites with Iori and Chizuru to reseal a weak Orochi, who previously revived.[67]

In other games[edit]

Kyo appears in a role-playing video game titled The King of Fighters: Kyo, in which Kyo travels around the world to prepare for The King of Fighters tournament until the events of KOF '97.[68][69] In this game, Kyo's actor Masahiro Nonaka performs a song named "Pieces" during a karaoke fight between he and Iori. This song was included in the CD Drama NEO・GEO DJ Station.[70] Kyo receives a letter for the KOF '97 tournament and has a month to travel across the world to form his team. Chizuru Kagura tests Kyo's will to fight by creating a scenario in which Kyo's girlfriend Yuki is kidnapped.[71] Following this, Kyo can freely travel across the world until the new tournament begins; he can also choose his teammates.[72] Kyo appears in the spin-off video games The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise as a member of a band,[73] The King of Fighters R-1 again reprises the events of KOF '97; in this game Kyo also teams up with Shingo and Kim Kaphwan in an alternate scenario.[74][75] In the sequel, The King of Fighters R-2, Kyo teams up with his father and Shingo.[76] SNK also released a pachinko based on the series' Orochi storyline and focusing on Kyo's actions during the plot.[77]

He is present in Neowave[78] and the Maximum Impact series. In Maximum Impact 2, Kyo is a playable as his classic version from the first games as well as with a new outfit.[79][80] In each North American edition following Maximum Impact, Kyo is voiced by Andrew Roth, an English voice actor.[81] During The King of Fighters EX: Neo Blood, Moe Habana, the heir of one of the ten sacred treasures, finds Kyo seriously wounded after his fight against Orochi. After healing him, Moe joins Kyo and Benimaru to participate in a tournament developed by the criminal Geese Howard, who is searching for the power of Orochi. In the sequel game The King of Fighters EX2: Howling Blood, Reiji Okami, another member of the ten sacred treasures, asks Kyo to join him as his teammate in a new tournament so they can investigate interference with the Orochi seal.[82] He is also present in the Chinese mobile phone games named KOF: WORLD,[83] and KOF X Arena Masters,[84], the role-playing game The King of Fighters: All Star.[85] and the otome game King of Fighters for Girls.[86] Maeno performed a duet song with Benimaru's actor titled "Let's Fight" in promoting the otome game.[87]

Kyo has also appeared in video games outside The King of Fighters series. He is a playable character in the shooter games Sky Stage, Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting, NeoGeo Tennis Coliseum, and the rhythm-action mobile game The Rhythm Of Fighters.[88][89][90][91] He is also featured in a 2018 augmented reality game The King of Fighters Orochi Go and the Korean fighting game The King of Cyphers.[92][93] In the crossover video games Neo Geo Battle Coliseum and SNK vs. Capcom series, Kyo appears as a playable character; in the former game he appears with his NESTS costume while in the latter he is wearing his school uniform.[94][95] He is also a character card in SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter DS.[96]

Kyo is also featured in the card-battle video games Lord of Vermillion Re:2's Tie-Ups and Core Masters.[97][98] Despite not being playable in SNK Gals' Fighters and SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, he appears in the ending as a cross-dressed Iori and Shermie, respectively.[99][100] Upon Miss X's addition as DLC in SNK Heroines, Kyo makes another cameo in his rival's ending where the two befriend, a situation revealed to be Iori's nightmare.[101] He is also present in the RPGs Kimi wa Hero in his regular outfit and in a vampire outfit, Brave Frontier,[102][103][104] and in his school uniform in the Chinese mobile phone game Wangzhe Rongyao.[105] He is also available in the mobile phone games The King Fighters X Fatal Fury, Puzzle and Dragons, Boku & Dragon and Crusaders Quest.[106][107][108][109] He is also present in the dating sim part of the Days of Memories series,[110] Metal Slug Defense,[111] the beat-em up Fighting Days,[112] A shooting game named Beast Busters has Kyo as a guest character.[113] as well as Lucent Heart.[114] The character's NESTS arc look is also being used in action role-playing Phantasy Star Online 2.[115]

In other media[edit]

Aside from the main series, Kyo has appeared in other media from The King of Fighters series. In the anime The King of Fighters: Another Day, he is featured prominently in the fourth chapter as Ash Crimson stages a fight against Alba Miera, both of whom are stopped by Iori.[116] A number of image songs and audio dramas featuring Kyo, including the contents of his own character-image album consisting of a number of his theme songs, have beenn released.[117]

Kyo also appears in the manhua adaptation of The King of Fighters: Zillion that was created by Andy Seto, which tells Kyo and Iori's story between their fight against Orochi until the one against NESTS. He stars in further manwhua for the games, starting with The King of Fighters 2001 and ending with The King of Fighters 2003, and including the Maximum Impact series.[118][119] Seto also wrote a prequel that shows how Kyo turned into a fighter, met his girlfriend Yuki, and befriended Benimaru and Daemon.[120] Kyo also appears in a spin-off manga story entitled, The King of Fighters: Kyo, which is based on the events following The King of Fighters '95; the story was created by Masato Natsumoto and deals with Kyo's daily life.[121] Ryo Takamisaki's manga The King of Fighters G shows an alternate retelling of KOF '96 where Kyo teams up with Athena Asamiya during the tournament.[122] In the KOF XII manwua, Kyo briefly confronts Ash after recovering from Iori's berserker attack from XI and undergoing new training.[123] Novelizations of the games also retell Kyo's in-game actions, although the KOF 2000 novelization has him returning to Yuki in a comic fashion in contrast to the original games in which he remains distant, apart from the NESTS syndicate.[124][125] In the manga The King of Fighters: A New Beginning, Kyo once again battles his rival during his first round from the competition. The match ends as a tie though Kyo is nearly killed when Iori goes berserker.[126][127]

In The King of Fighters movie, Kyo is played by Sean Faris and is portrayed as Japanese-American. During the story, Kyo joins forces with Iori and Mai Shiranui to defeat Rugal.[128] In the CGI web series The King of Fighters: Destiny, Kyo goes to his first team tournament with Benimaru and Daimon. While he is first interested in fighting Terry Bogard, he becomes concerned when he senses the power of the Orochi within the fighters and seeks to stop the mastermind behind this.[129][130] The web series has an extra episode that shows Kyo befriending Benimaru during a fight against multiple yakuza.[131] After saving the tournament's fighters from Orochi's power, which causes them to go berserk, Kyo, Terry and Heidern meet Rugal, the person using them, and fight him.[132] With help from his partners, Kyo defeats his enemy.[133] He is one of the two protagonists alongside Iori in online gag manga Part Time Stories: Kyo & Iori by Falcoon, in which the two title characters promote SNK's merchandise.[134]

Cultural impact[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Kyo's the cool guy who's able to burn his oppressors by wielding the power of fire. Wow that is cool. We never had to rely on his teammates because Kyo did all the hard work. Those elbow drops of his were mad vicious, son.

Elton Jones, Complex, 2012[135]

Kyo's character has received praise and criticism from several video game publications and other media. In a retrospective view of the series' debut, VideoGamer.com called Kyo one of the most popular video game characters from Japan during his 1994 debut.[136] Although the first King of Fighters game promoted the possibility of fights between Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting characters, Nintendo Life regarded Kyo as the most popular character from the game, calling him the "best star" in the franchise.[137] Similarly, Hobby Consolas said that since his first appearance, Kyo became one of SNK's most popular fighting characters due to his impact on the games,[138] while also naming him and Iori as among the best characters in the series.[139] Damien McFerran of Virtual Console Reviews considered Kyo one of the best creations from The King of Fighters series, as well as the most original one.[140] Lucke M. Albiges of Eurogamer praised Kyo and considered him a veteran character with one of the most unpredictable appearances in the series.[141] Listing him as 38th-best character from KOF, Den of Geek noted that while Kyo was introduced as a weak main character, as a result of the pressure of the series also using Terry Bogard and Ryo Sakazaki—heroes from other SNK's series—by the climax of the Orochi arc he becomes more appealing due to his role in this part and his new movesets.[142] In The King of Fighters '99, Kyo was originally a hidden character. He became instantly playable in the console ports, which led to praise.[143]

In a list of possible crossover series, GameZone writer David Sanchez stated he would like to see Kyo in a game with Cham Cham from Samurai Shodown finding them similar due to their heroic traits.[144] IGN praised Kyo's design for the Capcom vs. SNK series, and noting that players wanted to make him face Ryu from Street Fighter due to his popularity.[145] The ending of Kyo in The King of Fighters '97 has been considered by 1UP.com one of the strangest parts of the story, and considered Kyo's winning pose as the best from the series.[146] The appeal of the formation of the Three Sacred Treasures Team in The King of Fighters '96 was noted to generate a major impact within fans due to the Orochi saga and because of its relation with Japanese mythology.[147] 4thletter enjoyed Kyo's ending of the Orachi story arc, stating, "And THAT [sic] ... is how you write a climax to a four-year-long story".[148] Critics also liked the rivalry between Kyo and Iori which occur in most games during fights.[149][150][151][152] [153] The Daily Star noted that although Kyo and Iori face each other as enemies, they still become allies for next games, leading to their popularity[154] The addition of a unique theme song for Kyo's and Iori's rival fight in XIV was also praised.[155][156]

Kyo and Iori received mixed reactions when The King of Fighters XIV was first revealed. 3DJuegos said Kyo was off-modeled because the game engine distanced him from previous King of Fighters incarnations;[157] Meristation shared a similar opinion.[158] Juan Garcia from IGN liked both the redesigns of Kyo and Robert Garcia.[159] When the game was patched to improve the graphics, Siliconera said Kyo's appearance was highly improved.[160] GamesRadar said the look of Kyo in the game is faithful to his previous incarnations.[161] Slant Magazine said that by XIV, Kyo has been unable to get a diploma from his high school in fourteen years while facing corrupt people behind the tournament to the point of reaching an existential crisis.[162] Anime News Network expressed disappointment with the fact that Kyo was not picked as a SNK representative character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as he had few guest appearances in comparison to Terry who was present in more games in contrast.[163]

Some critics commented on the character's moves. IGN's writer A.E. Sparrow wrote that Kyo is one of the most enjoyable characters to play in the King of Fighters series, praising the dynamism of his moveset and fighting style.[164] In another review, Sparrow considered him to be one of the most useful characters in the games and one of the best for veteran players.[165] Gaming Age writer Jeff Keely praised Kyo's redesign in The King of Fighters '99, saying he felt less overpowered than in previous games, which helped to balance the cast but still felt him weaker in comparison to the new character Terry Bogard.[166] Electronic Gaming Monthly shared similar comments, stating he became a fan of Kyo thanks to his NESTS moves, which made his downloadable version from KOF XIII exciting,[167] and Shoryuken said this version was more interesting than the regular Kyo.[38] GameSpot has criticized the addition of the Kyo clones in this game, writing that they do not add new elements to the game because they share most of the moves of the original Kyo.[168] Prima Games listed his "Orochinagi" as the 40th best technique in gaming due to the way it covers the screen.[169] Complex ranked Kyo as the 11th Most Dominant Fighting Game Character praising his special moves.[135]

Brandon Orselli from Niche Gamer found the character "great" in XIV because his moves would appeal to both newcomers and veterans of the franchise.[170] A Gamasutra writer enjoyed Kyo's mechanics in the Capcom vs. SNK series due to his uniqueness while being confronted by other characters. He said he found the Street Fighter IV character El Fuerte similar to Kyo because they are different from the "shotokan" characters from that franchise Ryu and Ken Masters.[171] Similarly, both PlayStation Blog and Polygon suggested that newcomers from The King of Fighters XIV try Kyo first; Polygon said he has similarities with the Street Fighters characters, which are also recommended for beginners.[172][173] Meristation was bothered by Kyo's simple moves in The King of Fighters XII and XIII, and was pleased with the return of hand-to-hand techniques in XIV.[153]

Outside the video games, Kyo has made appearances that met with disapproval by critics. Lucas M. Thomas from IGN lamented that Kyo has a few appearances in the volume from the manhua The King of Fighters 2003 in comparison to Ash Crimson, who is the greater focus of the series.[174] Den of Geek found the comic SVC Chaos ridiculous because when Kyo is killed by Akuma and Takuma Sakazaki in the first chapter, Iori in turn kills himself to go to the afterlife and kill Kyo there, which causes M. Bison to also kill himself to search for Iori.[175] John Funk from The Escapist found the acot who played Kyo in the series' live-action confusing because his nationality was changed from Japanese to North American when first announced, seeing it as one of the weakest points of the upcoming movie.[176] Beyond Hollywood was also confused by Kyo's portrayal in the film because of flashbacks to his childhood depicting him as Japanese whereas his adult self is American.[177] Stuff also had a harsh opinion on Kyo being played by Sean Faris despite the character's Asian origins.[178] In contrast to this, Kyo's portrayal in The King of Fighters: Destiny received more favorable responses because the plot does not solely focus on his history but also other characters from the games.[179]

Popularity[edit]

Kyo has been well-received by gamers; he has appeared in several popularity polls. In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Kyo was voted as the staff's second-favorite character behind Iori.[180] In a 2005 poll by SNK-Playmore USA, he was voted the sixth fan-favorite character with 176 votes,[181] which led to him having less inclusion on the cover of Maximum Impact in the North American release.[182] Additionally, in the January 30, 1995, issue of Gamest magazine in Japan, Kyo was featured at No. 4 in the Top 50 Characters of 1994.[183] In the character-popularity poll on the website of Neo Geo Freak magazine, he was voted the third-favorite character with 2,574 votes.[184] In another poll from 1997, Kyo took first place with 2,160 votes.[185] A museum of videogames sponsored by the municipality of Rome, a special illustration lists Kyo as the mascot of the mid-90's era of Neo Geo.[186]

For the special endings in The King of Fighters '97, the video game journals Gamest, Famitsu and Neo Geo Freak created a team composed of three characters from the game so they would be featured in an image after passing the arcade mode. Neo Geo Freak's team was Kyo, Mai Shiranui and Billy Kane. The special ending only appears in Japanese versions of the game.[187] In an ASCII Media Works poll, in which fans voted on video game or manga characters they would like to name their children after, Kyo's name was tenth in the male category.[188] In the book Gaming Cultures and Place in Asia-Pacific, Kyo was named as one of the most popular video game characters in Hong Kong from the mid 1990s onwards, alongside Iori and Mai.[189] The developers of KOF noted that Kyo and Iori were also popular in Korea, which led to their immediate inclusion to The King of Fighters 2001, which was the first game not developed by the original company.[190] In 2018, Kyo was voted the fifth-most-popular Neo Geo character.[191] In 2008, Insert Credit, a publisher related to game piracy, created an 8-bit fighting game titled Top Fighter, in which Kyo was one of the characters appropriated for the crossover game.[192]

Merchandising based on Kyo's appearance has also been released. Yutaka released an articulated action figure and a puzzle of Kyo from KoF '97.[193][194] With the release of new video games in the series, SNK developed new action figures and key-chains.[195][196] To choose the covers for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ports of KOF XII, Ignition Entertainment started a survey on May 4, 2009, in which users of its forum could vote for one of two covers, one of which features Kyo and the other Iori.[197][198] When the two surveys ended, Ignition started two new ones to select between the previous winners and the Japanese covers from the game for both consoles.[199][200]

SNK artist Falcoon said he believes Kyo appealed to gamers in the 1990s because of his appearance and fashion style. Falcoon said this also affected him.[201] For the release of The King of Fighters XIV, SNK created a theme featuring Kyo and Iori, and a special "Day One Edition" with a SteelBook finish and an image of Kyo Kusanagi on the cover.[202][203] Two figurines based on Kyo's original form and his XIV look have been released,[204] including a Nendoroid figure based on the former.[205] Kyo's image was used in late 2018 as part of collaborations between SNK and other companies.[206][207]

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