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Iori Yagami (八神やがみ いおり) is a character from The King of Fighters series. He made first appearance in The King of Fighters '95 as the initial enemy (and eventual rival) of Kyo Kusanagi, as well as the first leader of the Rivals Team and the first rival/deuteragonist of the series.

He is the heir to one of the three clans that sealed the legendary snake entity, Orochi, 1,800 years ago. His clan, formerly known as the Yasakani Clan (八尺瓊やさかに), wields pyrokinetic powers. They keep the seal over Orochi intact with help from the Kusanagi and Yata clans using three ancient artifacts. His family's treasure is the Yasakani Jewel (八尺瓊曲玉やさかにのまがたま) and his family crest is the crescent moon, which he wears on the back of his old jacket.

His official nickname is "Flame of the End" (終焉しゅうえんほのお).[1] In XII and XIII it was changed to "Unbridled Instinct" (はなたれし本能ほんのう),[2] and his Flame variant in XIII became "Iori who has Recovered His Flames" (ほのおともしたいおり).[3]. In KOF XV, his nickname is "Unshackled Instinct" (はなたれし本能ほんのう).

Aside from the main body of the King of Fighters series, Iori features his own drama CD and character image album. His character is also a member of SNK's character image band, Band of Fighters and he also appears as a regular antagonist in the spin-off manga, The King of Fighters: Kyo. Part Time Stories: Kyo & Iori also co-star him and Kyo working together at SNK for the promotion of the company's merchandise.

Development

One of the main objectives planned for The King of Fighters '95 was to properly introduce Iori as Kyo's rival. Creators have stated Iori's personality and other aspects to his character "broke the mold for characters in fighting games at that time". In several interviews for their official anniversary site for the series, several creators and developers—such as C.A.C Yamasaki and Mr. Marito—predicted that Iori would be popular on his release, which they admit happened during their observations of initial location testing for The King of Fighters '95.[4][5]

Because of his popularity amongst fans, some of the main designers for the series have stated that he is "difficult to draw for".[6] Illustrator Shinkiro thought Iori as one of the series's most wild characters because of his hairstyle,[7] with similar sentiments being made by Last Blade illustrator, TONKO[8] and manhua artists Wing Yan and King Tung.[9] Additionally, KOF: Maximum Impact producer, Falcoon, stated that attempting to change an "untouchable" design such as Iori's put him under severe pressure. He stated that designing Iori's alternate (or "Another", as it is stated in the Maximum Impact games) outfit almost felt "unforgivable", unsure of fans' reaction to the change. In an interview with a group of the series's voice actors, Kunihiko Yasui, Iori's voice actor, explains that the staff for the games treat their characters as normal people, and are constantly changing their character line-up to reflect this. He adds that he feels responsible as a voice actor for his performances as Iori, taking care to sound different in each instalment as a means of developing, as well as "protecting", his character's humanity.

Profile from Gamest Mook Vol.197. Illustration by Shinkiro.

Another minor development to his character was his ever changing "most valued possession/valued treasure" information. His bios from KOF '95 until KOF '98 listed various items such as a vintage guitar and chains. A girlfriend was also listed more than once, specifically in KOF '95, KOF '99, and KOF 2000.[10] However, starting in The King of Fighters 2001 and every entry onwards, the space is listed as "None". This has led to several fan theories as to why this is, many of which surrounds his girlfriend's possible death or disappearance. The issue is briefly touched upon years before in Iori's drama CD, The Sun and The Moon ~ Prologue, though a concise answer concerning this shade to his profile hasn't been made by SNK. In addition, Iori also has a little sister who managed to get 70 votes in the Neo Geo Freak poll in 1998.[11]

According to Nobuyuki Kuroki, Iori was one of the characters he wanted to change, however he wanted the hair to remain untouched.[12] He had the designer Eisuke Ogura create his new outfit and the end result impressed him. Additionally, he asked the modeller to have the character exude a masculine sex appeal and to also pay close attention to the details of his eyes.[12] This new design, alongside Kyo's, provoked major controversy during the time it was revealed. However in an interview, The King of Fighters XIV director Yasuyuki Oda said the team wanted the characters to carry a new look due to the game being set in a new story arc.[13]

Appearance

Iori in his "classic" appearance. Worn this outfit from KOF '95 to KOF XI.

Iori is depicted as a young adult Japanese male with an athletic physique and a unique red haircut that extends at the front, often to hide one of his eyes from certain viewpoints. Starting in KOF '95, he has worn a half-buttoned black coat with gold buttons, a large thinly white crescent moon crest marked on the back that represents the Yasakani clan, and open slits from his sleeves, a large-collared white shirt that reached to his thigh area like a skirt and was half-buttoned to expose his chest, red pants with a belt attached to each of his knees, black shoes, and a black choker. Sometimes, he also always wear a silver ring on either of his ring fingers. This unique design is heavily praised from audience, even to make claims as "one of the best fighting game character designs of all-time." A best known example of an overwhelming praise of this design was of Masahiro Sakurai, creator of the Kirby and Super Smash Bros franchise, who has played The King of Fighters '95 and said "When I first saw this character in the game at the time, due to his look and attitude, I thought 'Whoever created this character must be a genius!'", according to his full presentational video of Terry Bogard in his inclusion of Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Iori has extensively worn this attire throughout the majority of his KOF appearances and crossovers, all the way up to KOF XI, while it makes a return as his EX form in KOF XIII, and as an alternate costume in KOF XIV.

Iori in KOF XII and KOF XIII

Iori began to change his canonical appearance in KOF XII to reflect his temporal loss of his flames. He wears a black coat that looked similar to the one of his classic attire, but without the Yasakani crest on the back, a shorter red shirt underneath with his midriff exposed, white pants, a large black belt with a gold buckle, a smaller black belt that hangs loose on the side of his hip, tan shoes with black buckles, a black choker, and a black necklace.

Concept art of Iori's new design in KOFXIV

In KOF XIV, Iori wears a open large burgundy trench coat with black fur on the collar, a white unbuttoned ring-printed shirt, a dark purple printed tank top, black belted pants, white belt with a large silver buckle, white buckled shoes, and two necklaces with one of them having a black Yasakani crest as a pendant. Interestingly, his concept art of this design was originally having him to wear light brown gloves, but is scrapped as his model shown he is bare handed. This particular outfit, while not as polarized as Kyo's appearance in the same game, has met its own critics for being a bit too busy of a design, although his iconic hair remain untouched to the relief of longtime fans.

Concept of Iori's new design in KOF XV with comment of Tomohiro Nakata

In his most recent appearance of KOF XV, Iori sports a large black trench coat with dark red texture on the inside of it and a dark red textured Yasakani crest marked on the back, dark red printed shirt that button halfway to expose his chest, red pants, black shoes, two black belts that were placed similar to his KOF XII appearance, a black choker, and a necklace with a silver Yasakani crest as pendant. According to the illustrator of KOF XV, Tomohiro Nakata, he said "Iori's design has always been reliant on red and black tones, and so we decided to in that direction for this installment." This new outfit has met many positive reactions since in his reveal trailer as that it was more appropriate than his KOF XIV appearance. It is noted that this design seems to bear a resemblance to his Another Striker form in KOF 2000.

Iori in KOF for Girls

In the mobile dating simulator game, The King of Fighters for Girls, amongst various outfits depending on events, Iori's attire is similar to his classic outfit, but with significant alterations; the color of his coat and pants were swapped, his coat's gold buttons were changed into silver, two zippers were added at the front of the coat, black belts on the side of his coat, two belts were added on each of the sleeves of his pants like his KOF XIV, and the Yasakani crest marked on the back shrunk down to the shoulder area.

Personality

Iori is a serious, blunt and rude character. He is not interested in making friends or enemies, only showing investment in getting results that appeal to him. He may seem to be incapable of acts of kindness or empathy but he isn't antagonistic nor mean outside of combat.

In various drama CDs, Iori is frequently tormented by an Orochi identity that resides within him, which mocks and belittles him as its "master". Iori can be sympathetic to other people, but his Orochi persona often threatens to take over and harm them. Iori tries to ignore it until it angers him, causing him to physically snap in a usually violent manner. In his KOF XII profile, he seems to have trouble knowing which identity is actually his and suffers from a slight identity crisis. It's due to this personal trait that he doesn't like to associate with others and he lives as a lone wolf. He still retains pride for his humanity and won't let himself die under any circumstances. The matter of losing his flames has not personally scarred or affected him in any way.

Despite Iori's violent and sadistic personality, killing people in both the Orochi Saga and NESTS Saga, he still follows his own moral code which was touched upon in The King of Fighters '97 ~660nen Hi no Futari~. After brutally beating Shingo who challenged him to a fight, he tells Shingo that he isn't low enough to take pleasure in bullying the weak and promptly leaves.

In regards to whomever he is partnered with, at best, he can be dismissive, distant and blunt but cooperative, and apathetic and treacherous at worst. Eiji Kisaragi and Billy Kane have seen the worst of Iori, and indirectly courts Yashiro Nanakase's ire for upstaging him in a music gig, while Kyo, Chizuru and Shingo has seen reasonably civil treatment from him despite being distant. He is notably dismissive, confrontational and even borderline traitorous when it comes to Mature and Vice, being his natural enemy; however, Mature and Vice have ironically shown some concern and care for his welfare.

Regarding his family duties and his ancient family feud, Iori doesn't care much for them. If the Orochi seal is threatened, however, Iori doesn't back down from the challenge of re-sealing it. His participation often provokes Kyo's pride enough to begrudgingly bring the Three Sacred Treasures together. Iori seems to want to clash with his rival whenever they meet; he can't recall the reasons why he hates Kyo. Like his rival, Iori just seems to instinctively hate him. His intro with Tung Fu Rue in XIV, suggests that he merely wants to keep his own rivalry with Kyo going for an unclarified reason, probably for the sake of his own amusement, which Iori himself promptly denies and/or seems unaware of.

Recent portrayals of Iori and Kyo, his willingness to set his murderous vendetta aside on multiple occasions and the semi-canonical SNK Heroines strongly suggests he's no longer as homicidal as he once was, particularly with Kyo, clashing with him only for the sake of show of strength and to keep Kyo on his toes. Chizuru watches both over men to make sure their rivalry is kept in check, but as of XV, allowed them to go all out on one another, understanding that each other's hostility is a necessity to strengthen themselves, just like in their histories.

Abilities

  • Slashing Hands - Iori specializes in clawing martial arts, and most of his moves are in the form of clawing strikes.
  • Pyrokinesis - Due to his Yagami heritage, Iori can control fire. He can create a bright purple fire from thin air, create fire balls, deliver punches of fire, create pillars of fire and put his own body on fire. His fire also has the sacred ability to put enemies in a stasis-like state. He is not immune to other types of fire. He cannot control other fires that he didn't create. Iori can also occasionally wield crimson flames due to the presence of the former Yasakani clan's power, although he does not have the ability to create them intentionally. This power was stolen by Ash Crimson but eventually regained.
  • Riot of the Blood - Thanks to the pact his clan made with Orochi, Iori goes into this state whenever Orochi's presence is strong. He however still has a degree of conscious humanity remaining even while in this state, having turned against Orochi even under this condition.

  • Musical Instrument - Iori plays the bass guitar very well, and is seen playing guitar as well in some incarnations.
  • Singing - Iori is implied to be a singer too, and is likely developed together with his skills in playing instruments.

Fighting style

Iori fights with the Yasakani style of ancient martial arts, which is a violent offensive style incorporating use of claws. He uses his instincts to fight as well. Like the other two clans, Iori's moves/clan techniques are numbered in a personal "method" order with alternate kanji used for the numbers (even applying to their normal attacks in some Japanese sources). Due to his clan's history of deviation, the Yagami-style has a large number of "Ura Shiki" (Reverse Method) moves compared to the other two clans' span of techniques, with two of Iori's normal attacks being "reverse" versions Kyo's respective crouching heavy punch and heavy kick (and Iori's far standing heavy punch being a "reverse" version of his own close standing heavy punch).

The only moves Iori has ever shared with Kyo are the 108 Shiki: Yami Barai (Method 108: Darkness Sweeper), and the 100 Shiki: Oniyaki (Method 100: Ogre Baker); the latter being the move they both share to this day. However, Kyo later discards the Darkness Sweeper in favor of his Kenpo chain punching style, making the two vastly different from each other.

In terms of gameplay, Iori is a powerful rushdown character with highly damaging combos. Players would need to be careful as failing to master Iori would prevent using him to his full potential due to hsi laggy attacks, slow walking movement and haphazard usage leading to him being easily punished. His most popular command normal, Geshiki: Yuri Ori (Outer Method: Lily Snapper), is a backwards kick that is meant only for crossing up making Iori unique in this aspect. In most games as of KOF '98, Iori can use it in a backdash for a quick getaway. From there, Iori conned the discovery of certain midair attacks being available during a backdash (which was presumed to be a bug at the time), such as Kyo's Geshiki: Naraku Otoshi (Outer Method: Abyssal Drop) and Robert's Hien Ryuujin Kyaku (Flying Swallow Dragon God Leg). Iori is surprisingly an avid zoning-type character, as his Yami Barai gives him an advantage in keep-away due to the movement styles in KOF.

His Kuzukaze (Scum Wind, affectionately mistranslated as "Scum Gale") was also a unique kind of attack during its time as it was a throw that did no damage, and allowed Iori for a quick combo and provided massive pressure setups via tick throwing. It was originally his kick throw back in KOF95 before being repurposed as a command throw, being replaced by a variant of his punch throw, called Saka Sakahagi (Inverted-Inverted Flayer). His moveset was fairly limited compared to Kyo's, but much easier to access. Because of his high potential overshadowing most of his weaknesses if played right, Iori is generally seen as top-tier in several of his appearances, and through his status as top-tier character, Iori can canonically in-universe be regarded as one of the most powerful fighters in the series, as so far any mention of him losing in the preliminaries is a rarity.

His flameless fighting style appears somewhat faster (albeit less mobile) in KOF XII and KOF XIII; his combos seem to have become easier to chain with a slightly higher priority. His old "With Flames" version appears again on the console versions of KOF XIII, though some of this version's original touches have been stripped off for somewhat better balance compared to his default, flame-less version. His Neo Max in KOF XIII is called Kin 1218 Shiki: Yatagarasu (Forbidden Method 1218: Eight-Span Crow), a reference to the legendary creature of the same name; during this, Iori enters a brief feral state (with the screen darkening). With this in mind, it is assumed that Iori without his flames or his clan's curse hindering him, his true fighting instinct is unleashed and can be easily sensed by others (as noted by Takuma). In XIV however, Iori akin to other moves such as his SDM Ya Otome in older games and his Homura Hotogi (as either an HSDM/MAX2DM or Neo Max), undergoes a slight transformation into a crazed state more akin to the Riot of Blood when he uses the Yatagarasu.

Music

Themes
  • Arashi no Saxophone (Stormy Saxophone) - The King of Fighters '95, '98~Ultimate Match, XI (when Iori goes first, console version), XIII (when music is set to "Type B", console version only, shared with Mature and Vice)
  • Arashi no Saxophone 2 - The King of Fighters '96, 2002, XIII (as EX Iori in console version), Real Bout Fatal Fury Special (GameBoy only)
  • Cool JAM ~Arashi no Saxophone 3~ - The King of Fighters '97, '98~Ultimate Match (vs. Kyo), SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, King of Fighters R-1, R-2
  • Esaka Forever - The King of Fighters '98~Ultimate Match (vs. Kyo)
  • Sadistic Eyes - The King of Fighters '99
  • Stormy Scream ~Arashi no Saxophone 4~- The King of Fighters 2000, EX (shared with Jun and Miu)
  • The Immortal Mirror of The Sun - The King of Fighters 2001
  • Cool Jam 2 - The King of Fighters 2003
  • New Order - The King of Fighters XI
  • Arashi no Saxaphone 5 - The King of Fighters XIII
  • Saxophone Under the Moon - The King of Fighters XIV
  • Fictitious or Real - The King of Fighters XV
  • New Order -KOF XIV ver.- - The King of Fighters XIV (vs. Kyo)
  • Yappari ESAKA? - The King of Fighters XIV (vs. Kyo, when Iori is Player 1, in DLC classic costumes)
  • Stormy Saxophone -KOF XIV ver.- - The King of Fighters XIV (vs. Kyo, when Iori is Player 2, in DLC classic costumes)
  • Tranquilizer - The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
  • Aquamarine (Luv and Sax Mix) - K.O.F. Dance Trax
  • Stormy Black (Black Mix) - K.O.F. Dance Trax
  • Cool Jam (Saxophone Storm 3 Mix) - K.O.F. Best Collection ~since '94 to '00~
  • Ura Kusanagi (Reverse Kusanagi) - Days of Memories
Image songs

Voice actors

Live-action actors

Featured Appearances

Games

Mobile

Cameos

Anime

Similar characters

Etymology

  • The name Iori means "hermitage, hut, retreat, cabin, shanty, wigwam, hutch" (庵).
  • Iori's surname Yagami means "eight" (八) (ya) and "god, deity" (神) (kami/gami).

Gallery

References

  1. Official character profile from KOF Maximum Impact Regulation "A" website.
  2. Official character profile from The King of Fighters XII website.
  3. Official site for The King of Fighters XIII website.
  4. C.A.C Yamasaki's interview from KOF 10th anniversary website.
  5. Marito and Kamada's interview from KOF 10th anniversary website.
  6. Hiroaki's interview from KOF 10th anniversary website.
  7. Shinkiro's interview from KOF 10th anniversary website.
  8. Tonko's interview from KOF 10th anniversary website.
  9. Wing Yan and King Tung's interview from KOF 10th anniversary website.
  10. Official profile from The King of Fighters 2000 website.
  11. Neo Geo Freak 1998-08 archive character popularity poll (listed as "庵の妹").
  12. 12.0 12.1 THE KING OF FIGHTERS XIV Premium Art Book, p.045
  13. https://xw.qq.com/games/20151017000037
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