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Benimaru Nikaido (二階堂にかいどう 紅丸べにまる) is a original character from The King of Fighters series and one of Kyo Kusanagi's friends. His straight hair stays up during fights due to a rather exaggerated case of electrostatics. His official nickname is The Shooting Star[1] (シューティング・スター).


Benimaru's appearance was loosely based on Jean Pierre Polnareff from the manga series and Capcom's fighting games series JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, right down to his outfit in The King of Fighters '94 and The King of Fighters '95. Even after Benimaru's name was decided, the game developers continued to refer to him as Polnareff.[2][3] Additionally, his taunt in The King of Fighters XI mirrors Polnareff's stature from the manga. His vocal performance was initially deemed by his original designer to have nothing to do with the character's original image.

The idea for his electric powers—as well as the other elemental powers for the rest of the Japan team—was derived from the anime Getter Robo. In the show, there were three featured heroes who served as the inspiration for the KOF trio: the protagonist had a "fiery" persona, his friend was "edgy and daring", and the third hero was the "down-to-earth giant". It is also a homage to a Japanese phrase of giving birth to fire (roughly translated: lightning strikes the earth which sparks the flame).[4]

Due to the particular pitch in his voice, some fans have voiced question to Benimaru's sexuality to developers, to which they respond, "It's not what you think. (Not that there's anything wrong with that)." [3] A developer also responds that he's a man's man who loves women.[2]


Benimaru, while sometimes outspoken and flamboyant, means business in battle as he's very proud of his skills and doesn't want anyone to look down on him for his good looks. He also respects ladies though he tends to be more than a flighty flirt. Although he seems to have an indecisive mind, Benimaru has a heart of gold. His loyalty and respect can go a long way.

Despite his American heritage, he carries many Japanese mannerisms. Though he would never openly admit it aloud, his pride as a professional fighter was shaken when Kyo beat him before 1994 and he secretly trains for a rematch.


  • Electrokinesis - Benimaru can control electricity.
    • Static - Benimaru can create static around his body. This is what makes his hair upwards.
    • Electric Fist - Benimaru can create an electric ball around his fist.
    • Thunder - Benimaru can summon lightning from the sky. Benimaru can also form sparks on the ground and move them upwards.
    • Discharge - Benimaru can release an electric discharge by touching his enemy.
    • Electric Attacks - Benimaru can fuel his attacks with electric energy, especially from lightning he summons.
  • Super-Speed - Benimaru can move himself so quickly that he leaves several images of himself when he moves.

  • Cooking - Benimaru is an accomplished cook.
  • Modeling - Benimaru is a professional model by occupation.
  • Shooting - Benimaru has interests and has practiced shooting with rifles.

Fighting style

Benimaru specializes in shooting techniques and electricity, though his fighting style is more focused on agility and less on actual submission and raw power, focusing on agile kicks and decent range.


  • Esaka - The King of Fighters '94
  • Funky Esaka - The King of Fighters '95, '98 Ultimate Match (with Daimon and EX Kyo)
  • Esaka? - The King of Fighters '96, '98
  • KD-0079 - The King of Fighters '99
  • Inner Shade - The King of Fighters 2000, EX
  • Flame of Invincibility - The King of Fighters 2001
  • J - The King of Fighters 2002
  • Joyrider - The King of Fighters 2003
  • Queen - The King of Fighters XI
  • Esaka Continues... - The King of Fighters XIII
  • Esaka ~Acid Remix~ - The King of Fighters XIII (when the music is set to "Type B", console version only, shared with Kyo and Daimon)
  • Yappari ESAKA - The King of Fighters XIV
  • Under the Control of... - The King of Fighters XV
  • ESAKA!! - The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
Image songs

Voice actors






Similar characters


  • His name means "crimson, deep red" (べに) and "circle, pills, purity, suffix for ship names, complete" (まる). His surname means "two-storied, upstairs" (二階にかい) and "hall" (どう).
  • When Daimon uses Jirai Shin in KOF '95-'98, Benimaru and Kyo Kusanagi are the only background characters who will jump.
  • Benimaru has canonically won the most tournaments. Kyo, Benimaru and Goro Daimon were the winners of the three hosted in the Orochi Saga; he won in KOF '99 alongside K', Maxima and Shingo Yabuki, KOF XI alongside Elisabeth Blanctorche and Duo Lon, and most recently in XIII and XIV. These victories are confirmed in team stories, light novels, and cutscenes.
  • In Neo-Geo Freak 1998, the characters in KOF '98 have their own interviews. Here are Benimaru's answers to the questions.[5]
    • What is your aspiration in this competition? - "To stand out more than anyone. That is all."
    • Who would you like to fight the most? - "Kyo Kusanagi. I've only had one fight with him. Although it was my loss."
    • Who would you like to team up with? / Who would you not like to team up with? - "I want to fight alone if I can. The rest of the guys don't feel comfortable with just being companions?"
    • What is "KOF" for you? - "Something like a stage for actors...Huh?"
    • Finally, please give a word to your fans. - "I LOVE YOU!"
  • It has been mentioned in an interview that Benimaru has many girlfriends.[6]
  • It can be noted that Benimaru and Jean Pierre Polnareff, his character inspiration, does share more elements than just the hairstyle: Being a gentleman, and their sense of justice.[3] Polnareff also inspired the creation of Capcom's Guile from Street Fighter series (to a degree) and Tekken's Paul Phoenix.
  • One of Benimaru's many quotes is "Yare, Yare." This is possibly another reference to the Jojo's Bizarre Adventure series.
  • His character also pays homage to the Tatsunoko character, Hurricane Polymar. The attacks Shinkuu Katategoma (Vacuum One-Handed Top), Handou Sandan Geri (Recoiling Three-Stage Kick) and Gen'ei Hurricane (Phantom Hurricane) take their names and functions directly from the aforementioned character.
  • Several other of his moves also take their namesakes from various anime and manga, including:
    • Benimaru Coleda/Benimaru Collider from Gunbuster;
    • Elec-Trigger from Super Robot Red Baron;
    • Flying Drill, Raijiken (Thunder Quiver Fist) and Raikouken (Lightning Fist) from Casshern's Denkou Punch (Voltaic Punch);
    • Iai Geri (Re-sheath Kick) from Kako Teito: Ore wa Shubei!.
  • Benimaru dislikes otaku, which is ironic given all of the anime-based references in his moves.
  • In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Benimaru was voted as the staff's thirteenth favorite character. He tied the spot with Samurai Shodown character, Shizumaru Hisame. In the character popularity poll on Neo Geo Freak's website, he was voted as the sixth favorite character with a total of 1,269 votes.
  • Benimaru is the second character of the series with more changes of looks and outfits, being the first Athena Asamiya.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Official character profile from KOF XII website.
  2. 2.0 2.1 - "The King of Fighters '94 – Developer Interview" Archived from the original
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Official character profile from KOF anniversary website.
  4. Akihiko Ureshino, ed. (2005). The King of Fighters Perfect Reader (in Japanese). Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. pp. 136~139.
  6. The King of Fighters XII for novices from Kotaku.

The King of Fighters characters
KOF '94 Kyo KusanagiBenimaru NikaidoGoro DaimonTerry BogardAndy BogardJoe HigashiRyo SakazakiRobert GarciaTakuma SakazakiRalf JonesClark StillHeidernAthena AsamiyaSie KensouChin GentsaiKingMai ShiranuiYuri SakazakiKim KaphwanChang KoehanChoi BoungeHeavy-D!Lucky GlauberBrian BattlerRugal Bernstein
KOF '95 Iori YagamiBilly KaneEiji KisaragiSaisyu KusanagiOmega Rugal
KOF '96 LeonaMatureViceKasumi TodohGeese HowardWolfgang KrauserMr. BigChizuru KaguraGoenitz
KOF '97 Shingo YabukiYashiro NanakaseShermieChrisBlue MaryRyuji YamazakiOrochi IoriOrochi LeonaOrochi YashiroOrochi ShermieOrochi ChrisOrochi
KOF '98UM Nightmare/EX Geese
KOF '99 K'MaximaWhipBaoLi XiangfeiJhun HoonKyo-1Kyo-2Krizalid
KOF '99: Evolution VanessaSethSyo KirishimaAlfredFiolina GermiGai Tendo
KOF 2000 RamónLinHinako ShijouKula DiamondClone ZeroFoxyCandy DiamondAnother K'Another IoriAnother BenimaruAnother RobertCosplayer KyokoKang Bae DalSmart ChangCool ChoiKaoru WatabeBaitangDuck KingLilly KaneKim Jae HoonKim Dong HwanUnknownKing LionKim Sue-ilKaedeDuke EdwardsRockyAthenaNeo & GeoG-Mantle
KOF 2001 May Lee JinjuK9999AngelZeroRonGluganIgnizMistyNests
KOF 2002 Kusanagi
KOF 2002UM Nameless
KOF 2003 Ash CrimsonDuo LonShen WooTizocGatoMalinMaki KaguraAdelheid BernsteinMukai
KOF XI OswaldElisabeth BlanctorcheMomokoB. JenetShionMagakiSilberSho HayateJyazuHotaru FutabaTung Fu Rue
KOF XII Raiden
KOF XIII Hwa JaiSaikiEvil AshMr. Karate
KOF XIV Shun'eiMeitenkunGang-ilLuongXanaduSylvie Paula PaulaKukriMianNelsonZarinaBandeiras HattoriKing of DinosaursHeinNakoruruMamahahaMui MuiLove HeartAlice NakataAntonovVerseNajd
KOF EX: Neo Blood Moe Habana
KOF EX2: Howling Blood Reiji OogamiJun KagamiMiu KurosakiSinobu Amou
KOF: Maximum Impact Alba MeiraSoiree MeiraLien NevilleMignon BeartChae LimDukeRock Howard
KOF: Maximum Impact 2 Luise MeyrinkNagaseJivatmaNinon BeartHyenaHanzo HattoriKyo Kusanagi ClassicWild WolfMr. Karate IIArmor RalfRichard Meyer
KOF: Maximum Impact Regulation "A" Xiao LonMakoto Mizoguchi
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