Ryo Sakazaki

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Ryo Sakazaki
Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters character
First game Art of Fighting (1992)
Voiced by English
Alden Crews (AOF anime)
Masaki Usui (AOFNeo Geo Battle Coliseum, KOF XIII)
Tetsuya Bessho (AOF anime)
Akira Kamiya (Dengeki Bunko drama CD)
Masayoshi Kozaki (KOF XII)
Daiki Takakura (KOF XIV onwards)
Fictional profile
Birthplace Japan
Nationality Japanese
Fighting style Kyokugenryu Karate

Ryo Sakazaki (リョウ・サカザキ, Ryō Sakazaki, sometimes written as 坂崎 亮 Sakazaki Ryō) is a video game character developed for the fighting game Art of Fighting from SNK. His name is most often written in kana, although in some games, kanji is used to write parts of his name.

In the series, Ryo is a martial artist that practices his family's fighting style, the Kyokugenryu Karate. He and his best friend Robert Garcia enter the Southtown city to rescue Ryo's sister, Yuri Sakazaki. In their fights, Ryo and Robert learn that the Sakazaki became the target from the criminal Geese Howard, and decide to face him. Ryo is also a regular character in the crossover series The King of Fighters, in which he participates in fighting tournament in a team composed of his friends and family. He would also make appearance in other SNK games under different alias as well as an older form. Additionally, he stars in manhua adaptations of the several series, and appeared in the anime OVA version of Art of Fighting.

Ryo has been well received by gamers; his character has ranked high in several popularity polls from journals. Video game publications have provided praise and criticism on Ryo's character. While Ryo has been criticized for his similarities with the Street Fighter video games' characters, several reviewers have praised his development in several games from SNK such as his introduction in The King of Fighters.

Character design[edit]

During an interview with 1UP.com, SNK revealed that Ryo Sakazaki was created as a homage to the Capcom fighting games characters.[1] Artist Shinkiro has expressed he had no problems with designing Ryo in contrast to Robert due to Ryo's poor state.[2] SNK staff members Youichiro Soeda said that Ryo and Robert's debut was unique to other games based on the company because it did not focus on fighting tournaments but instead of the duo's quest to save Yuri Sakazaki. Soeda and Nobuyuki Kuroki noted that Ryo was their favorite character from the entire series.[3]

For The King of Fighters '94, along with Robert, developers from the game had problems with balancing Ryo with the other characters from the series without removing any of his special moves. However, Ryo was commented to be one of the strongest characters of the game.[4] They also add that this game was created with the idea of having Ryo fighting against Terry Bogard, the lead character from the Fatal Fury series.[5] In the 2016 game The King of Fighters XIV an older self of Ryo was originally supposed to appear but was removed.[6]

In the first Art of Fighting game, Ryo appeared to have orange hair, but in his character artwork he is blond. His sprite appears for the first time with blond hair in The King of Fighters '94 and Art of Fighting 2.[7] However, he was red-haired once again in The King of Fighters XII and XIII. In most games, Ryo appears wearing an orange gi (with the kanji for "Kyokugen" on the left breast area in XIV) with the sleeves ripped off and a black sleeveless T-shirt under the gi. He also wears black wrist and ankle bands. However, in Art of Fighting 2 he has no black T-shirt in the chest of the gi and wears black fingerless gloves and footpads. In Buriki One, his look is similar to Takuma's in the KOF series, only with his traditional spiked hair dyed blond and a dark grey gi instead of orange. In Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, other than looking somewhat older but still with blonde hair, he's unshaved and is not wearing the top of his orange gi, showing instead the black T-shirt underneath. In KOF: Maximum Impact, Ryo's alternate costume is similar to that of his Buriki One costume. If the player completes the game with him, he/she are able to use his "Rigging Model", a few additions to his costume include a Tengu Mask similar to Takuma's.[8] In KOF: Maximum Impact 2, Ryo has two versions: his traditional KOF one and his Mr. Karate version, the primary costume of which comprises a Tengu mask slightly different from his father's, that Ryo is seen using for the first time.[9] His "Another" costume is a very slightly modified version of his Fatal Fury Wild Ambition costume.[10] Although his character does not appear in Garou: Mark of the Wolves, illustrations from the game feature Ryo in his Buriki One outfit, but with gray hair.[11]

For The King of Fighters XIII, Ryo's moves were made to show his strength. His moves leave him open, but the EX version of Tiger Fist does not leave him as open and it allows for easier combos. His Neo Max move, the strongest type of move in the game, has the image of being One Blow Guaranteed Kill (一撃必殺 Ichigeki Hissatsu), so his moves themselves were set in stone without difficulty. Director Kei Yamamoto talks about how he favors it.[12]


Ryo is very serious about fighting and loyal to his friends and family. He has been given discipline through his Karate training by his father, Takuma. He earned the nickname, "The Invincible Dragon" (無敵の龍, Muteki no Ryu) due to his remarkable use of his fighting style.[13] He uses the Kyokugen-ryu style to fight, but unlike Robert he is more focused in punching attacks. While fighting in some games under the name of Mr. Karate or Mr. Karate II, Ryo does not use many of the flashier moves he is known for. Instead, he fights using moves similar to the ones of his father, Takuma Sakazaki. He treats Robert as his rival, but they are best friends. In several games, the Kyokugen style is depicted as a struggling family business, funded almost entirely by prize money earned from KOF and Robert's vast wealth.[14] As such, Ryo and Robert sometimes start fighting since Ryo thinks that Robert is insulting him when he shows something expensive.[15] Compared to Yuri and Robert's ideology on training, Ryo believes he can attain greatness in his art through hard work and experience. It has been implied several that there is some romantic tension between him and King during The King of Fighters series. Upon discovering that, Takuma seeks to intensify that relationship so that he can have a new heir for the Kyokugen-ryu.[16]


In video games[edit]

Ryo Sakazaki as the Mr. Karate II in Buriki One

In the first Art of Fighting, Ryo's sister, Yuri, is kidnapped by Mr. Big, a local criminal mastermind.[17] With the help of his best friend, Robert Garcia, Ryo manages to confront Mr. Big, leading him to a karate dojo where a man challenges the two to a fight. When Ryo prevailes, Yuri appears, telling Ryo to stop, for Mr. Karate was their father.[18] In the second game, Takuma reveals that the crime lord Geese Howard turned him into the assassin Mr. Karate. With the Sakazaki family reunited, they, along with Robert, are focused on exacting their revenge on Geese and providing justice to all others who were wronged by him.[19] While entering into Geese's tournament, The King of Fighters, Ryo is able defeat Geese. However, Geese manages to escape with help from his assistants before Ryo could finish him.[20] In Path of the Warrior: Art of Fighting 3, Ryo acts as a supporting character to Robert, where the game is more focused.[21]

Ryo also appears in Fatal Fury Special, an updated version of Fatal Fury 2. He appears as a hidden opponent at the end of the single player mode and is playable in the home versions.[22] In the PlayStation version of Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, Ryo uses the title of "Mr. Karate" (Mr.カラテ, Misutā Karate), as an aged and more powerful Ryo.[23] Although he has appeared in no other unrelated games, he is often referenced indirectly in Garou: Mark of the Wolves, he has his own student, Khushnood Butt.[24]

Ryo is a member of the Art of Fighting Team in The King of Fighters series in his young form from Art of Fighting. Despite multiple changes in the team, Ryo remains as a member from the team[25][26] including games without storylines like The King of Fighters 2002 and The King of Fighters Neowave, and The King of Fighters '98.[27][28][29] In the two games for the Game Boy Advance titled EX: Neo Blood and EX2, King takes Robert's place in the Art of Fighting Team in the former, and Yuri in the latter.[30][31] He also appears in the spin-off The King of Fighters Kyo, in which he helps the main character Kyo Kusanagi into finding his girlfriend Yuki.[32] The spin-off games KOF: Maximum Impact and Maximum Impact 2 also feature a Ryo as a playable character, with the latter also featuring his "Mr. Karate" version as hidden character.[33]

Ryo is also a central character in Buriki One, a game for the Hyper Neo Geo 64. In this game, he appears in his older persona, and fighting in a grappling tournament. He appears as the sub-boss in the single-player mode.[34] More recently, in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum, Ryo goes by the name "2nd Mr. Karate" (二代目Mr.カラテ, Nidaime Misutā Karate), while his look is the one used for Buriki One.[35] He also stars in the crossover video games SNK vs. Capcom series, without the Mr. Karate persona.[36] Despite not being playable in SNK Gals' Fighters he appears in the ending Yuri.[37]

In other media[edit]

Ryo appears in the anime OVA version of Art of Fighting from 1993. While looking for a cat, Ryo and Robert witnessed a murder related to a stolen diamond. After fighting the murdering mobsters, they discovered that the top mobster, Mr. Big, had kidnapped Ryo's sister to exchange her against the diamond, which he believes to be in the possession of the protagonists.[38] He is voiced by Tetsuya Besho in the Japanese version, and by Alden Crews in the English adaptation. Ryo also appears in the manhua adaptations from The King of Fighters series, which tell how Ryo participates in the fighting tournaments.[39] In CGI animated series The King of Fighters: Destiny, Ryo reprises his role from The King of Fighters '94 where they meet and befriend the Esaka Team.[40] During the tournament, Ryo and Robert are possessed by the power of the creature Orochi but are saved by the Esaka members.[41] There is also an episode that shows Ryo saving Yuri Sakazaki from King's forces based on the first Art of Fighting game.[42]

Cultural impact[edit]


Ryo has been well received by gamers, ranking high in several popularity polls. In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Ryo was voted as the staff's 24th favorite character. He shared the spot with Sie Kensou and Toru Kurosawa, a character from the game series Last Bronx.[43] Gamest also Ryo at no. 24 in Top 50 Characters of 1994.[44] In a 2005 poll made by SNK-Playmore USA, he was voted as the fifth fan favorite character with a total of 193 votes.[45] The scene of Ryo Sakazaki in the first Art of Fighting game where he is driving a bike with his fighting clothes became an internet meme to the point merchandise based on it was developed.[46]

The character of Dan Hibiki from the Street Fighter series is deemed as a parody of Ryo's similarities with Ryu and Ken. However, his design is more similar to Robert's while showing mannerism from Yuri Sakazaki.[47][48] These similarities are addressed in the crossover game SVC Chaos: SNK VS. Capcom with GameSpot's Greg Kasavin stating that fans would appreciate the appearances the interactions between Ryo, Dan and Takuma.[49]

Critical response[edit]

Reviewers from video games and other media have provided praise and criticism on Ryo's character. Wesley Yin-Poole from Videogamer.com commented that Ryo and Robert are "two double-hard bastards" and complained about the "wicked" designs from Ryo.[50] Eurogamer reviewer Spanner Spencer mentioned that Ryo "seems to model himself after Ken from SFII" due to the similarities within their designs,[51] whereas Pedro Hernandez from Nintendo World Report still referred it as "clone" from Ryu to the point of having similar names.[52] David Simpson from AceGamez also noted the similarities between Ryo and Ken, and jokingly commented it could not be avoided to note them.[53] However, William Usher from Cinemablend noted Ryo and Robert's relationship to be unique as they never attempt to kill each other. He also noted Ryo to be one of the main responsibles for the creation of The King of Fighters series, praising his development in the series.[54] Despite noting his similarities from Street Fighter characters to the point they considered him a "clone", ScrewAttack still praised Ryo's character in Art of Fighting.[55] Juan E. Hernandez from IGN also compared both Robert and Ryo to Street Fighter as well Dragon Ball characters based on their type of techniques.[56] Gaming Excellence found both Ryo and Robert as likable characters in the Art of Fighting trilogy alongside the supporting ones.[57]

Simon Wigham from consoleob.com agreed on this commenting he "planted the seeds for the future KOF series". He additionally noted that his introduction in Fatal Fury Special was "token hard old guy".[58] Greg Kasavin from GameSpot listed his "Haohshokohken" move from Art of Fighting as one of the most influential fireball moves in fighting games' history.[59] Akemi's Anime World found the character in the series' original video animation as "downright pathetic" despite noting his skilled martial arts. The reviewer also found Ryo's Japanese voice as "kind of flat" and noted his English voice was more appealing.[60] AnimeOnDVD.com enjoyed the contrast between Ryo and Robert as both "are like night and day in some respects."[61] Armchair Empire liked Ryo's inclusion in Fatal Fury Special which made its previous original version, Fatal Fury 2, "obsolete".[62] Den of Geek listed his inclusion in Fatal Fury Special as the fifth best guest character in gaming, labelling him as the first time SNK performed this move due to The King of Fighters '94 still have not been developed by that time.[63] The same site listed him as the 70th best King of Fighters characters stating that while the Kyokugen cast from the series is appealing, Ryo is the least appealing from all of them as he was the "straight man".[64]


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  15. ^ SNK (1994-09-02). Art of Fighting 2. Neo Geo. SNK. Level/area: Ryo Sakazaki background. Ryo: What is this? You have bought a new car again! Whoa!/Robert: Hey, you can't understand the coolness of a car like this. 
  16. ^ SNK (2007-11-13). The King of Fighters XI. PlayStation 2. SNK. Level/area: Art of Fighting Team ending. Manager: What's wrong? Our policy is to see that all customers are satisfied./ Ryo: Dad, you jerk... What the hell stupid tricks are you up to now?/ Manager: I'm afraid I don't understand. On what grounds would you accuse me of such things?/ Ryo: Pretty much everything you've ever done!/ Manager: It seems that you're displeased with our establishment's service, sir./ Ryo: Would you cut the 'establishment' crap already.../ Waiter: Let us offer this by way of apology./ Ryo: ...What's this?/ Waiter: The top floor here is a hotel. We have prepared a suite for you./ King: .../ Ryo: A-are you people even listening to me?/ Waitress: The view is worth a million dollars alone./ Ryo: That's not what I'm talking about! King, this is all one big misunderstanding. Usually, embarrassing both of them./ King: You.../Manager: We? 
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  19. ^ SNK (1994-09-02). Art of Fighting 2. Neo Geo. SNK. Level/area: Ryo Sakazaki background. Son of the creator of "Kyoku Gen Karate", Takuma Sakazaki, he has been passing the previous year since the rescue of his cute kid sister Yuri in the Japanese Alps, bathing in the frigid streams and dancing on the sharp rocks of Mt. Yuwannafaito. Hearing of the mysterious "King Of Fighters" competition, he ventures once again to his old hunting grounds. 
  20. ^ SNK (1994-09-02). Art of Fighting 2. Neo Geo. SNK. Level/area: Ryo Sakazaki ending. Ryo: I will never forgive you!/Geese: Heh! It's all over./Ryo: Eat this! Ha oh... waaah. What the heck...!/Geese's Bodyguard: This way, Mr. Geese./Geese: I have lost this time, but I'll be back. For now my farewell.../Ryo: Wait! Where...? Geese!!! 
  21. ^ SNK (1996-03-12). Art of Fighting 3. Neo Geo. SNK. Level/area: Ryo playthrough, pre 2nd battle. 
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