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Iori Yagami (がみ いおり) is a character who made his first appearance in The King of Fighters '95. He is a central recurring character, and the initial enemy (and eventual rival) of Kyo Kusanagi.

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 (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. He also wears a plain silver ring around his left middle finger; the significance of the ring, if any, is unknown.

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]

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]

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. Despite how much he claims he wants to end Kyo's life, as hinted by his intro with Tung Fu Rue in XIV, he states that Iori merely wants to keep his own rivalry with Kyo going for an unclarified reason 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 canonical SNK Heroines strongly suggests he's no longer as homicidal as he once was, particularly with Kyo.

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.

Iori's "Riot of the Blood" super in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum looks identical to the scene shown in his KOF '96 ending when he killed Mature and Vice.

A majority of his clan's techniques have nods to the legends of Orochi as a possible foil to Kyo:

  • His Desperation Move, "Ura 108 Shiki: Ya Sakazuki/Reverse Method 108: Eight Wine Cups", is based off of the Orochi legend when each of Orochi's eight heads drank a cup of wine; each cup would then leave each a head drunk and unconscious (which, in the myth, was part of Susanoo's plan to slay the monstrous serpent). Since it is a "Reverse Method" move, it serves Iori's direct counterpart of Kyo's Ura 108 Shiki: Orochinagi (Reverse Method 108: Great Serpent Mower) via the Kusanagi clan's arts, as both are derived from the Yami Barai.
  • His last and most well known super, "Kin 1211 Shiki: Ya Otome" (Forbidden Method 1211: Eight Maidens; affectionately known among fans as the Maiden Masher), is based off the legend when Orochi had eaten eight maidens who were daughters of Ashinazuchi and Tenazuchi. The move often composes of eight blows, barring the finisher, and Iori uses it often as his signature DM. It is also the very technique which most of the Yagami several years ago used against the Kusanagi, and the first of the clan's many newly-added "Kin Shiki" (Forbidden Method) techniques to their repertoire.
  • His most recent DM in KOF XIV that is an alternate version of his aforementioned Ya Sakazuki (input wise) is referred to as the Ura 1018 Shiki: Yashiori (Reverse Method 1018: Eight Ferments), which is a reference to the Yashiori/Yashio'ori no Sake (Sake of Eight Salt Snappers), the type of wine used by Susano'o to intoxicate the Orochi (hence the reference to the Ya Sakazuki). Unlike the original product, Iori's is written in a different kanji and thus gives off a different translation altogether.

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 flame-less fighting style appears somewhat faster (albeit less mobile) in KOF XII; 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.

Also, Iori's San Shingi no Ni (The Divine Arts No. Two) is the very attack used to pin down Orochi in which Kyo manages to followup the finishing blow in the Sacred Treasures Team's ending of The King of Fighters '97. The very sequence is seen in Kyo and Iori's Special D-Assault in Neo Geo Battle Coliseum. Also, the technique is often named "?????" in Orochi Iori's moveset.

Iori's (in)famous dropkick sweep attack (known as the Ura 98 Shiki via in-depth movesets) is also notable for an oddity; while it is treated like a low-hitting attack when blocking it normally, it is instead treated as a mid-hitting attack when countered/reversed or against anything with low-level invincibility.

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

Appearances

Mainline

Mobile

Cameo

Anime

Similar characters

Trivia

  • Iori and Kyo were designed by Shinichi Morioka. He would later depart from the company to work on The Fallen Angels, a game that would heavily influence the designs for K' and Maxima.
  • In Neo-Geo Freak 1998, the characters in KOF '98 have their own interviews. Here are Iori's response to the questions.[14]
    • What is your aspiration in this competition? - "Don't know."
    • Who would you like to fight the most? - "Don't want to say."
    • Who would you like to team up with? / Who would you not like to team up with? - "No one."
    • What is "KOF" for you? - "It's boring."
    • Finally, please give a word to your fans. - "No."
  • In Gamest Mook Vol.197 Hiroaki comments that Iori reminds him of Yujiro Hanma from Baki the Grappler.[15]
  • In Neo Geo Battle Coliseum's fan Q&A section, a fan wished Iori happy birthday. When asked what he wanted in an "interview", he answered with a death threat on Kyo's life.
  • Iori appears to visit graveyards a lot. He has done this twice in the XI team story[16] and again in his XIV team story. He lights a cigar and places it on a particular grave facing up, then he pulls out another for himself under the moon.[17] It is not revealed if he's particularly visiting a person's grave or if he visits graveyards in general. Interestingly, it is in graveyards where Mature and Vice will sometimes manifest themselves in front of Iori.
  • In media that don't tie into the main story, most notably, the webcomic, Part Time Stories: Kyo & Iori, it is hinted that Iori likes cats a lot.
  • From KOF 2001~2003, Iori's walking animations still uses Iori's pre-2001 sprites. This was fixed in XI.
  • Despite popular belief, he has no relation to Genjuro Kibagami, a character from Samurai Shodown series.
  • Yuichiro Hiraki was the pixel artist for Kyo in KOF '94 and Iori in KOF '95. Although he left SNK in 1997 to work on The Fallen Angels, he was asked by Kaname Fujioka to do Kyo and Iori's pixel art once more for Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000.[18]
  • His eyes are naturally blue. The red eyes visually represent the Riot of Blood on Iori.
  • While yet to make a canon appearance, the presence and existence of Iori's younger sister carries the following implications:
    • If she is his biological sibling, this would mean his younger sister also carries the potential for the Riot of the Blood as well, including the flames of the Yagami. Outside twin births, this puts in question the traits of the maternal mortality curse inflicted at the Yagamis, as it is not revealed who among Iori's parents carried the Orochi blood.
    • Due to lack of details, it may be also possible they are not related by blood, possibly from a different father or possibly half-siblings, sharing the same father.
  • In the Neo Geo Freak's 1997 Volume 8 character poll, he was voted as the sixth favourite character with a total of 1,292 votes.[19] 209 votes from the male fans and 1,083 votes from the female fans.[20] In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Iori was voted as the staff's favorite character, claiming 1st place out of fifty other characters. And in Neo Geo Freak's August 1998 issue, he got 1st again in the 10 best character poll.[21] He also received the same rank on Neo Geo Freak's website with a total of 3,792 votes. In a 2005 poll made by SNK-Playmore USA, he was voted as the eighth fan favorite character with 145 votes.

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
  14. Neo Geo Freak 1998-08 archive. The King of Fighters '98 character interviews.
  15. Video Game Magazine GAMEST MOOK Vol.197, p.011
  16. The King of Fighters XI: Team Story
  17. The King of Fighters XIV: Team Story
  18. Devil May Cry: 3142 Graphic Arts. Capcom, Udon Entertainment. 2015. p. 198.
  19. Neo Geo Freak 1997-08 archive Neo Geo Freak character popularity poll results.
  20. Neo Geo Freak 1997-08 archive Number of votes from both genders, from Neo Geo Freak character popularity poll.
  21. Neo Geo Freak 1998-08 archive Neo Geo Freak 10 best character set original image collection.


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:Evo 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. JenetShionMagakiGai TendoSilberSho HayateJyazuHotaru FutabaTung Fu Rue
KOF XII Raiden
KOF XIII Hwa JaiSaikiEvil AshMr. Karate
KOF XIV Shun'eiMeitenkunGang-ilLuongXanaduSylvie Paula PaulaKukriMianNelsonZarinaBandeiras HattoriKing of DinosaursHeinNakoruruMui MuiLove HeartAlice NakataAntonovVerseRock HowardNajd
KOF EX: NB Moe Habana
KOF EX2: HB Reiji OogamiJun KagamiMiu KurosakiSinobu Amou
KOF: MI Alba MeiraSoiree MeiraLien NevilleMignon BeartChae LimDuke
KOF: MI2 Luise MeyrinkNagaseJivatmaNinon BeartHyenaHanzo HattoriKyo Kusanagi ClassicWild WolfMr. Karate IIArmor RalfRichard Meyer
KOF: MIR"A" Xiao LonMakoto Mizoguchi
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Fatal Fury characters
FF Terry BogardAndy BogardJoe HigashiRichard MeyerMichael MaxDuck KingTung Fu RueHwa JaiRaidenBilly KaneGeese Howard
FF2 Kim KaphwanMai ShiranuiCheng SinzanJubei YamadaBig BearAxel HawkLaurence BloodWolfgang Krauser
FFS Ryo Sakazaki
FF3 Blue MaryBob WilsonFranco BashHon-FuSokaku MochizukiRyuji YamazakiJin ChonreiJin Chonshu
RBFFS Nightmare GeeseShadow AndyEX Blue MaryEX Billy KaneEX Tung Fu RueIori Yagami
RBFFS DM White
RBFF2 AlfredLi XiangfeiRick Strowd
FF 1stC Lao
FFWA Touji SakataTsugumi SendoMr. Karate II
G:MoW Rock HowardB. JenetKim Dong HwanKim Jae HoonHotaru FutabaGatoTizocMarco RodriguezHokutomaruKevin RianFreemanGrantKain R. Heinlein
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