|Art of Fighting and The King of Fighters character|
Yuri Sakazaki in The King of Fighters 2000
|First game||Art of Fighting (1992)|
|Voiced by (English)||Veronica Taylor (anime)
Amy Walls (Maximum Impact series)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Harumi Ikoma (AOF)
Kaori Horie (since AOF2)
Ayumi Hamasaki (Art of Fighting anime)
Sakura Tange (drama CD)
|Fighting style||Kyokugen Karate|
Yuri Sakazaki (ユリ・サカザキ Yuri Sakazaki?, sometimes written as 坂崎 ゆり Sakazaki Yuri) is a video game character from SNK's Art of Fighting series of fighting games. She first appears in the original Art of Fighting being kidnapped by Mr. Big, a criminal from the city of South Town. The players, Yuri's brother Ryo and his friend Robert Garcia spend the game searching for her. In the sequel, Yuri appears for the first time as a playable character, having been trained by her father Takuma in the art of the Kyokugen Karate. Yuri has also starred in the anime adaptation from Art of Fighting, in which she reprises her role from the first game.
She has appeared in most games from The King of Fighters series, with the notable exception of the non-canon The King of Fighters XII, participating in the annual tournaments from each title. She initially starts in the Women Fighters Team (composed entirely of women), but she later moves to the Art of Fighting Team along with her family. She was also featured in the SNK vs. Capcom crossover series as well as in SNK Gals' Fighters.
Creation and design
Yuri was created to be a spoiled by her older brother Ryo Sakazaki. Although she was given a tragic past due to her mother's death and her father's disappearance, she was still an upbeat character. For the character voices, they used all pro or semi-pro voice actors. Yuri and King were done by the same person. Once it was announced Yuri would be a playable character in Art of Fighting 2, the staff behind The King of Fighters '94 wanted her to be as part of the cast. She replaced the character Big Bear from King's team due to memory issues. Afterwards, the team added Mai Shiranui to the team and form the Women's Team. Yuri's designer said the character had some bosom animation but not as much as Mai. She also spent much work on Yuri's calves.
In the first Art of Fighting Yuri appears with a pink T-shirt as well as with her hair in a Ponytail. In Art of Fighting 2, Yuri appears with her most recurring outfit which consists of a white sleeveless gi fighter, a red headband, a blue shirt under the gi, blue gloves and blue tights. Her sneakers of choice are a pair of red Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Several titles from The King of Fighters series had little modifications with Yuri's outfit as she wears red clog-like shoes instead of the red sneakers in The King of Fighters 2000 and 2001. KOF: Maximum Impact marks the first time since Art of Fighting 2 that she has received a new outfit. Such outfit is composed of a green shirt, short pants, dark green gloves and green shoes. In KOF: Maximum Impact 2, some of her extra normal outfits make her look like fellow Kyokugen practitioners; color scheme B makes her look like Ryo (blond hair, orange gi and black tights), while scheme F resembles Robert Garcia's outfit from The King of Fighters '99 to 2002, which consists of brown hair, orange gi with black long-sleeved tights, and no headband.
In video games
Yuri is the daughter of Takuma Sakazaki and Ronnet Sakazaki and the younger sister of Ryo Sakazaki, who is four years her senior. When she was an infant, her mother Ronnet died of natural causes, leaving Takuma to raise her and her big brother Ryo alone. Takuma dedicated more time to Ryo than to Yuri, as Ryo is to be the Kyokugen Karate heir, but he did his best to not turn his back on her. Yuri later befriended a new boy who had just arrived from Italy, who is Robert Garcia. As a recurring theme in various games, Robert is in love with Yuri, though Yuri does not take notice. However, by Art of Fighting 3, Yuri starts also to be attracted to Robert, something noted by Ryo. Yuri uses the lowest-grade Kyokugenryu movelist in the discipline, called the Raiou principle, which taught only the basic and low-level moves and encouraged personal instinct to be used in conjunction with the tutelage. Among Yuri's personally-crafted moves are the Slipstream Handslap and the Big Butt Press. Because of Yuri's ability to craft techniques based on basic Kyokugen principle, Takuma is slowly acknowledging her as a true Kyokugen disciple.
Although Yuri is not playable in the first Art of Fighting game, she plays a big role in the plot as she is kidnapped by the Southtown criminal Mr. Big, causing Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia to search for her throughout the game. In the end, Ryo and Robert fight Mr. Karate, a soldier from Mr. Big taking Yuri as a hostage, but they are stopped by Yuri who reveals that he is Takuma. In Art of Fighting 2, Yuri becomes a playable character, being trained by Takuma after the events from the previous game. Yuri enters into the King of Fighters tournament along with Ryo, Robert and Takuma in order to defeat Geese Howard, the criminal who turned Takuma into Mr. Karate, wanting him to kill people. In Art of Fighting 3, Yuri is once again unplayable, but she appears along with Ryo searching for Robert, who was helping a childhood friend known as Freya Lawrence.
Yuri is also a playable character in The King of Fighters series first as part of the Women Fighters Team along with Mai Shiranui and King participating in the annual King of Fighters tournaments. However, Yuri (and Mai) was not meant to be included in the game; developers wanted to create the English Team composed of Billy Kane, King and Big Bear but they found problems making the Big Bear sprite from Big Bear. Additionally, the Art of Fighting staff wanted Yuri to appear in the game, thus, she was added to the Women Fighters Team as the leader. In The King of Fighters '96, Yuri is requested by Takuma to participate in the Art of Fighting Team along with Ryo and Robert as Takuma decided to retire from the team. The King of Fighters '98 too features Yuri playable with her Art of Fighting 2 moveset as a hidden character. Due to the new rule that teams must be composed of four members, Takuma returns to the Art of Fighting Team in The King of Fighters '99.
In The King of Fighters 2000, Yuri returns to the Women Fighters Team along with Mai, Hinako Shijou and Kasumi Todoh, having asked King to replace her in the Art of Fighting Team wanting more independence, much to Robert's chagrin. Yuri once again returns to the Art of Fighting Team in The King of Fighters 2001, with Li Xiangfei joining the Women Fighters Team in her place, wanting to win the prize money to help Robert with several economical problems his company has. Although The King of Fighters 2002 does not feature a storyline, Yuri is once again in the Women Fighters Team with Mai and May Lee, but was moved back to the Art of Fighting Team in the remake, The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match. In The King of Fighters 2003, Yuri continues in the Art of Fighting Team, but only with Ryo and Robert as the tournament once again requires only 3 fighters per team. King replaces Robert in The King of Fighters XI as Robert was once again having problems with his company and Takuma was too weak to participate. However, Yuri, Takuma and Robert use this as a chance to intensify the relation between King and Ryo. Yuri's next official King of Fighters appearance is set to be in The King of Fighters XIII, where she joins her fellow team members from The King of Fighters '94.
Yuri appears in the spin-off game The King of Fighters Neowave with the original Women Fighters Team. In The King of Fighters: Kyo the lead character Kyo Kusanagi finds Yuri telling Takuma and Ryo that she wants to return to the Women Fighters Team. After a long discussion, Kyo proposes a fight with them to decide if Yuri can leave. Yuri later appears helping Kyo to find his kidnapped girlfriend Yuki along with Ryo and Robert. She appears as an assistant character (named "Striker") in The King of Fighters EX for the Art of Fighting Team, and as a playable character along with Ryo and Takuma in The King of Fighters EX2. She is also featured in the 3D games KOF: Maximum Impact and Maximum Impact 2 participating in new tournaments from Southtown.
Additionally, she stars in most games from the SNK vs. Capcom series except SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos (where she makes a cameo appearance in Ryo's and Mr. Karate's endings). In the crossover SNK Gals' Fighters Yuri appears as a playable character with her wanting to start her own gym.
Yuri appears in various SNK manga and in the Art of Fighting anime adaptation which retells the story from the first game but with Mr. Big wanting to obtain a diamond that Ryo and Robert found. She is voiced by Ayumi Hamasaki in the Japanese version and by Veronica Taylor in the English dub. An action figure of her character was released by SNK Playmore.
Reception and cultural impact
Yuri has been well received by Japanese gamers, having been voted as the 19th favorite character in the 1997 character popularity poll on Neo Geo Freak's website. In 1995, Japanese magazine Gamest ranked her as number seven in the list of the top characters of 1994.
Yuri's character has received mixed responses from English-language video games publications. Eurogamer noted that Yuri's kidnap in the first game was "a mostly unfathomable quest", senseless since she is later taken as hostage by her own father. GamingExellence liked Yuri's introduction in Art of Fighting 2 as a playable character as it gave more variety to the character roster. However, he complained about her being removed in Art of Fighting 3 "with less than stellar replacements." The Armchair Empire liked her cosplay by Fio from the Metal Slug series in KOF: Maximum Impact as it contrasted other new outfits which he considered embarrassing.
While the character of Dan Hibiki from the Street Fighter series is deemed as a parody of Ryo due to his similarities with Ryu and Ken from such series, he often shows mannerisms similar to Yuri's. The manga author Nobuhiro Watsuki designed the character of Makimachi Misao for the Rurouni Kenshin manga series, some fans complained that the character was very similar to Nakoruru from the Samurai Shodown video games series. However, Watsuki responded saying that the character was more similar to Mai Shiranui or Yuri, comically saying he was "making his own grave" due to the similarities with the SNK characters.
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Mr. Big:Yuri, about that girl. She's almost done climbing the stairway to heaven.
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Yuri: With this Talisman I'll open my own gym!
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