Ryo Sakazaki

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Ryo Sakazaki
Art of Fighting, Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters character
Ryo Sakazaki.png
Ryo Sakazaki in The King of Fighters '99
First gameArt of Fighting (1992)
Voiced byEnglish
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)
Fighting styleKyokugenryu Karate

Ryo Sakazaki (Japanese: リョウ・サカザキ, Hepburn: Ryō Sakazaki, sometimes written as 坂崎 亮 Sakazaki Ryō) is a video game character developed for the 1992 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, alongside his sister Yuri, his father Takuma and his best friend Robert Garcia. While Art of Fighting follows Ryo's journey as a warrior to protect those he love, he is also a regular character in the crossover series The King of Fighters, in which he participates in fighting tournament. He would also make appearance in other SNK games under the alias of "Mr. Karate" (Mr.カラテ, Misutā Karate) with 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 was created by the SNK as an homage to the Street Fighter characters as the staff who produced the first game from the franchise left Capcom to join SNK and produce other games. Ryo's inclusion in The King of Fighters series was immediately decided by the staff as SNK wanted to employ characters from other series they created to make them fight in the crossover game. Multiple voice actors have provided their talent during Ryo's appearances.

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 Fatal Fury Special and The King of Fighters.

Creation and design[edit]

During an interview with 1UP.com, Takashi Nishiyama revealed that Ryo Sakazaki was created as a homage to the Capcom fighting games characters as during the release of the game some members from the original Street Fighter video game from Capcom moved to SNK.[1] Artist Shinkiro has expressed he had no problems with designing Ryo in contrast to Robert Garcia 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] SNK artist Falcoon stated that Ryo's characterization between Art of Fighting and The King of Fighters is different but was unable how to explain it.[6] In the 2016 game The King of Fighters XIV an older self of Ryo was originally supposed to appear but was removed.[7] In some games, Ryo goes by the nickname of "Mr. Karate". Falcoon states this was a reference to how Ryo manages to defeat his Takuma Sakazaki and thus became worthy of that title.[8] His Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition design receive favourable response by Falcoon who wished SNK to use him more in their video games, most notably in crossover games.[9] His Buriki One older persona also received this response especially within older gamers based on Falcoon's illustration of him of his black gi.[10]

According to the SNK staff, Ryo is an embodiment of fortitude and vigor that shines even when compared to other fighters. His normal costume for the Maximum Impact series is that same as the material arts uniform he has always worn. The design is the same, but there is a change of mood with regards to his Color F. It is reminiscent of Haohmaru in Samurai Shodown. With regards to his Color G~H, his refined sense is shown through his braided hat, ruler, and mountain ascetic style.[11] For the "Mr. Karate" incarnation of Ryo, his Normal has been given tengu mask, which is reminiscent of his father Takuma, but with his "Another", there is a stylish change of clothing based on his Wild Ambition look. The combination of his shirt and are standard, but there also exists a version just like his "Color E" with a design on his back. Color G appears as a style that brings to mind the clothing of the strong tiger Robert.[12]

Ryo's fighting style is known as the Kyokugenryu Karate (極限流空手, lit. "Utmost' Limit Style Empty Hand"). For The King of Fighters XIII, the team wanted to distance Ryo's style from Robert Garcia and Takuma Sakazaki since both employ the same techniques such as the Haohshokohken (覇王翔吼拳), a projectile move. 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.[13]


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.[14] 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.[15] As such, Ryo and Robert sometimes start fighting since Ryo thinks that Robert is insulting him when he shows something expensive.[16] 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.[17]


In video games[edit]

An older Ryo Sakazaki.

In the first Art of Fighting, Ryo's sister, Yuri, is kidnapped by Mr. Big, a local criminal mastermind.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20] While entering into Geese's tournament, The King of Fighters, Ryo is able to defeat Geese. However, Geese manages to escape with help from his assistants before Ryo could finish him.[21] In Path of the Warrior: Art of Fighting 3, Ryo acts as a supporting character to Robert, where the game is more focused.[22] Ryo reprises his role from Art of Fighting in a slot machine game.[23]

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.[24] In the PlayStation version of Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition, Ryo uses the title of "Mr. Karate", as an aged and more powerful Ryo.[25] 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.[26]

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[27][28] including games without storylines like The King of Fighters 2002 and The King of Fighters Neowave, and The King of Fighters '98.[29][30][31] The spin-offs King of Fighters R-1 and King of Fighters R-2 feature Ryo as part of the South Town Team alongside Terry Bogard and Kim Kaphwan.[32][33] 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.[34][35] 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.[36] 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.[37][38] He is present in the mobile-phone game KOF: ALL STARS and Kimi wa Hero with the latter as his older "Mr. Karate" persona.[39][40]

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, emplyoing regular karate as his fighting style. He appears as the sub-boss in the single-player mode.[41] 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.[42] He is also playable in The Rhythm Of Fighters.[43] He once again wears this outfit in The King of Fighters '98 Unlimited Match Online.[44] He also stars in the crossover video games SNK vs. Capcom, without the Mr. Karate persona.[45] Despite not being playable in SNK Gals' Fighters he appears in the ending Yuri,[46] as well as SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy[47]

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. He is voiced by Tetsuya Besho in the Japanese version, and by Alden Crews in the English adaptation.[48] TWO mangas based on the Art of Fighting games also follow Ryo and Robert's journey.[49][50] Ryo also appears in the manhua adaptations from The King of Fighters series, which tell how Ryo participates in the fighting tournaments.[51] Mangas and novels based on KOF also feature Ryo but on smaller role.[52][53] 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.[54] During the tournament, Ryo and Robert are possessed by the power of the creature Orochi but are saved by the Esaka members.[55] There is also an episode that shows Ryo saving Yuri Sakazaki from King's forces based on the first Art of Fighting game.[56]


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.[57] Gamest also Ryo at no. 24 in Top 50 Characters of 1994.[58] In a 2005 poll made by SNK-Playmore USA, he was voted as the fifth fan favorite character with a total of 193 votes.[59] 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.[60] In 2018, Ryo was voted as the sixth most popular Neo Geo character.[61] Den of Geek 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".[62]

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.[63] GameSpot lamented how Ryo and Robert were the only playable characters from the first Art of Fighting story mode, pointing out the similarities between each other's special moves.[64] Multiple critics compared Ryo and Robert to the Street Fighter protagonists. David Simpson from AceGamez also noted the similarities between Ryo and Ken, and jokingly commented it could not be avoided to note them. 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.[65] Eurogamer reviewer Spanner Spencer mentioned that Ryo "seems to model himself after Ken from SFII" due to the similarities within their designs,[66][67] whereas Pedro Hernandez from Nintendo World Report still referred it as "clone" from Ryu to the point of having similar names.[68] 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.[69] 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.[70] Gaming Excellence found both Ryo and Robert as likable characters in the Art of Fighting trilogy alongside the supporting ones.[71] Nichegamer referred to Ryo as "stoic and strong" in terms of both personality and skills while contrasting him with both Robert and Yuri due to how each perform similar techniques as a result of training in the same dojo.[72]

Critics enjoyed more Ryo's inclusion in other fighting games produced by SNK. 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".[73] Greg Kasavin from GameSpot listed his "Haohshokohken" move from Art of Fighting as one of the most influential fireball moves in fighting games' history.[74] Armchair Empire liked Ryo's inclusion in Fatal Fury Special which made its previous original version, Fatal Fury 2, "obsolete".[75] Hobby Consolas noted Ryo's inclusion in Special came as a surprise and that he was fun to play as in the game.[76] The same site noted that Ryo once again facing Terry Bogard in The King of Fighters '94 surprised the fans due to the game sharing this two combatants.[77] 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.[78] Meristation highly praised Ryo's older persona, "Mr. Karate", stands out within SNK gamers and how fans would enjoy to play as him again in NeoGeo Battle Coliseum.[79]

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.[80] AnimeOnDVD.com enjoyed the contrast between Ryo and Robert as both "are like night and day in some respects."[81] 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.[82][83] 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.[84]


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  17. ^ 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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  20. ^ 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.
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