The King of Fighters XIV final concept by Ogura
|Full name||Iori Yagami|
|Birthdate||March 25; 20 years old|
|Height||182 cm (6')|
|Weight||76 kg (168 lbs)|
|Hobbies||Playing in his band|
|Forte in sports||Everything|
|Fighting style||Yagami style of ancient martial arts + pure instinct|
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, Yasakani), 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, Yasakani no Magatama) 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 Unbridled Instinct.
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.
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.
Because of his popularity amongst fans, some of the main designers for the series have stated that he is "difficult to draw for". Illustrator Shinkiro thought Iori as one of the series's most wild characters because of his hairstyle, with similar sentiments being made by Last Blade illustrator, TONKO. 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 installment as a means of developing, as well as "protecting", his character's humanity.
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. 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.
According to Nobuyuki Kuroki, Iori was one of the characters he wanted to change, however he wanted the hair to remain untouched. 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. 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.
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. In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Iori was voted as the staff's favorite character, claiming 1st place out of fifty other characters. 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.
Legend of Yasakani
660 years before the game takes place, Orochi's seal began to weaken. The three clans decided to move its vessel into another location. Wanting to disrupt their unity, one of the Hakkesshu killed the leader of the Yasakani's wife. Under a disguise, the murderer then approached the Yasakani head and reported that the Kusanagi clan was responsible, saying that it was "atonement" for letting the seal weaken. To add more fuel to the fire, the corpse of his wife was found in the Kusanagi homeland. Angered by the revelation, the Yasakani made a blood pact with Orochi to gain the necessary means for revenge. Gaining a forbidden technique called "Kin Sen Hyaku Juuichi Shiki: Ya Otome" (Forbidden Method 1211: Eight Maidens), the Yasakani renamed themselves as the Yagami clan.
As a side-effect of the Orochi's curse, the once crimson flames of the Yagami have a bluish tint. The curse also causes each heir to die young and each mother to die in childbirth.
Before the events of The King of Fighters '95 tournament, Billy Kane and Eiji Kisaragi end a sudden duel in a draw. Billy then introduces Eiji to Iori who comes in dragging the body of one of Geese's assassins. Overwhelmed by Iori's strength, Billy invites both Eiji and Iori to form the Rival team to enter the tournament. Iori joins them as a means to meet his rival. At the finals, he helps the hero team defeat Rugal Bernstein. Before Rugal dies, Iori mocks him for trying to use the power of Orochi. Claiming that such power could only belong to him, Iori severely injuries his fellow team members. He then declares Kyo and his clan will be next.
Before the King of Fighters '96 tournament, Iori is visited by two mysterious women who introduce themselves as Vice and Mature. They tell him of Kyo's entry in the tournament and try to coerce him to join as well. After a brief fight, he agrees to enter once the two submit to be his servants, intending to use them to help him kill his rival. When he leaves, Vice and Mature contact their employer, Goenitz, ensuring him everything was going to their plan.
During the finals of the tournament, he helps his rival and Chizuru Kagura, heir to the Yata clan, to defeat Goenitz. The former dies leaving a warning to not underestimate the power of Orochi or Yagami. Vice and Mature are left shaken by the ill omen. It is then when Iori suddenly undergoes symptoms of the Riot of the Blood. Unable to control this surge of Orochi power, Iori violently kills his companions.
Before the events of the King of Fighters '97 tournament, Iori learns of his rival's entry from the local news. Later that night, he has a nightmare of two women mocking his inability to defeat Kyo. The women disappear with the promise of meeting him again soon. When he awakes, he coughs up blood. Filled with a sudden hate and rage, he declares to defeat his rival. However, at the tournament's conclusion, he joins both Kyo and Chizuru again.
He advances into the finals, where he confronts the remaining "Four Heavenly Kings" of Orochi, Yashiro Nanakase, Shermie, and Chris. When they are beaten, Orochi possesses Chris' body and attempts to destroy the three clans at once. As was done in the legends of their clans, the trio successfully defeat him. In a last-ditch effort, Orochi causes Iori to enter the Riot of Blood, expecting him to turn on Kyo and Chizuru. Instead, Iori snares Orochi by the neck, and Kyo obliges his rival by crippling the great demon with one last deathblow, allowing Chizuru to reseal Orochi.
Shortly after discovering the creation of clones of Kyo, Iori gained word of another King of Fighters tournament, and he began to suspect that the person responsible for cloning Kyo might be there. Iori followed the battles from the shadows, and eventually found an abandoned warehouse where Krizalid had fought the New Hero Team.
The whereabouts of Iori were unknown after KOF '99, and it is assumed he cared little about Southtown and the events of KOF 2000, instead focusing on the opportunity for a fight against his rival.
The next year, an agent named Seth invited Iori to join his team for the next King of Fighters tournament, under the presumption that he would get his shot against Kyo if he entered. Iori made it clear from the beginning of the tournament that teamwork was irrelevant, as he could take on whole teams by himself. In the official novel, during the time of the semi-finals, he and Kyo separate from their teams and fight elsewhere.
Tales of Ash
In The King of Fighters 2003, Iori reluctantly teamed up again with Kyo and Chizuru Kagura at the latter's request, as it seemed that the current tournament might be linked to the Orochi. Before they could seal Orochi, Ash Crimson stole Chizuru's powers. He then made an offer of servitude to Iori, who answered with a fiery attack, which prompted Ash to disappear while Kyo swore revenge. With the defeat of Chizuru and the crippled Orochi seal spelling possible catastrophe, it seemed that the Yagami clan would soon be changed forever.
In The King of Fighters XI, Iori agrees on Chizuru's request to team up with Kyo and Shingo Yabuki in hopes of opposing Ash. Iori and Kyo defeat Magaki, however the strengthening presence of Orochi caused Iori to enter the Riot of Blood, in which he trashed Kyo and Shingo before Ash Crimson appeared and stole Iori's sacred treasure, the Yasakani Jewel, and his power.
Before the KOF XIII tournament, Iori pays a visit to Chizuru to see if she needs her treasure to use her power. Realizing that his predictions are true, she presents Iori with the prospect of ridding the Orochi curse from his bloodline since he is no longer hindered by his treasure.
Uninterested in rectifying his family's mistake, he remarks that Chizuru's mirror will return in due time and leaves. With Mature and Vice haunting him to join the tournament with them, they perk his interest to settle matters with Ash.
At the tournament's climax, Iori regains his treasure once Ash disappears. Mature and Vice remark that he can still choose to refuse the treasure, saving himself from the Orochi curse once and for all. He questions what will happen to his teammates if he should accept the treasure again, but they voice that he should choose whatever he thinks is right. He decides to reclaim his flames, his teammates disappear and he challenges Kyo to an undecided outcome.
Mature and Vice warn him of a new threat. During Verse's invasion, Iori senses the souls trapped within Verse. Once Verse is defeated, Iori tracks down Orochi's weakened soul in Hungary and helps to reseal it with Chizuru and Kyo.
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.
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.
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 Iori's violent and sadistic personality, killing people in both 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, 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 Vice and Mature, being his natural enemy; however, Vice and Mature have ironically shown some concern and care for his welfare.
- 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.
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 "style/method" order with alternate kanji used for the numbers. 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. Like a few select characters, the naming even applies to his "unnamed" normal attacks in other sources.
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, 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.
- 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. 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 Gyaku Saka Hagi. 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 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.
- Arashi no Saxophone (Stormy Saxophone) - The King of Fighters '95, The King of Fighters '98, The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match, The King of Fighters XI (Iori goes first, console version), The King of Fighters XIII (when the 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, The King of Fighters '98 (against Kyo), SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match (against Kyo), The King of Fighters R-1, The King of Fighters R-2
- Esaka Forever - The King of Fighters '98, The King of Fighters '98: Ultimate Match (as Kyo's opponent in both games),
- Sadistic Eyes - The King of Fighters '99
- Stormy Scream ~Arashi no Saxophone 4~ - The King of Fighters 2000, The King of Fighters EX2 (the latter being shared with Jun Kagami and Miu Kurosaki)
- 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
- New Order -KOF XIV ver.- - The King of Fighters XIV (as Kyo's opponent)
- Yappari ESAKA? - The King of Fighters (as Kyo's opponent, when Iori is the Player 1, and only in DLC Classic Costumes)
- Stormy Saxophone -KOF XIV ver.- - The King of Fighters XIV (as Kyo's opponent, when Iori is the Player 2, and only 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
- Moon of Crazy Flame - 1996
- Monochrome - SNK Character Sounds Collection
- The Sun & The Moon - Duet image song with Kyo
- Allegory of the Wind - 1997
- Never Lose My Way - 1998
- The Song of Fighters II - Shared image song with other King of Fighters characters
- Kunihiko Yasui - The King of Fighters '95~XIII
- Takanori Hoshino - The King of Fighters XIV~present
- Eric Summerer - KOF: Maximum Impact series (English voice)
- Sho Sudo - King of Fighters movie (Japanese voice)
Live Action Actors
- The King of Fighters '95
- The King of Fighters '96
- The King of Fighters '97
- The King of Fighters R-1
- The King of Fighters '98
- The King of Fighters R-2
- SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium
- The King of Fighters '99 - hidden character
- Capcom vs. SNK
- The King of Fighters 2000
- Capcom vs. SNK 2
- The King of Fighters 2001
- The King of Fighters EX: Neo Blood - boss character
- The King of Fighters 2002
- SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom
- The King of Fighters EX2
- The King of Fighters 2003
- KOF: Maximum Impact
- The King of Fighters Neowave
- The King of Fighters XI
- Neo Geo Battle Coliseum
- KOF: Maximum Impact 2
- KOF Maximum Impact Regulation "A"
- The King of Fighters XII
- The King of Fighters XIII
- The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match
- Real Bout Fatal Fury Special - hidden boss character, Gameboy version only
- KOF Sky Stage
- Neo Geo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting
- The King of Fighters (pachinko) - Versus character
- CR The King of Fighters
- The King of Cyphers - Guest Character
- Core Masters - Guest Character
- The King of Fighters XIV - ('95-XI Iori as DLC Costume)
- Million Arthur: Arcana Blood - Guest character
- Days of Memories - (second, fourth, seventh, eighth, and ninth titles) - unplayable
- SNK’s DARTS: Three In The Black
- NeoGeo Tennis Coliseum
- The King of Fighters Mobile R-2
- The King of Millionaire
- The King of Fighters Volleyball
- The King of Fighters Mahjong
- Moeyo! KOF Daiundokai
- SNK Dream Battle
- KOF x Fatal Fury
- Lord of Vermilion RE: 2 - as special edition card from producer
- The Rhythm of Fighters
- Metal Slug Defense (unlockable)
- Brave Frontier
- Game of Dice
- Crusaders Quest
- Tian Tian Xuan Dou - Opening Cutscene.
- YAMATO Chronicle
- World Cross Saga
- Ultimate Heroes
- If World
- Crash Fever
- Grand Summoners
- Arena Masters
- Valkyrie Connect
- Tower of Saviors
- Kimi wa Hero
- Puzzle & Dragons
- War Song
- Avabel Online
- The King of Fighters: Destiny
- The King of Fighters: World
- The King of Fighters: All Star
- SNK All Star
- The King of Fighters: Orochi Go
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves - in Hokutomaru's stage
- The King of Fighters: Battle de Paradise
- Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits: Bushidou Retsuden (Neo-Geo CD version only)
- The King of Fighters '94: Rebout - background cameo in the Japan Team, Art of Fighting Team and American Sports Team stages
- The King of Fighters 2
- Maximum Impact
- Lost Saga - as a premium character skin
- Dai Shingeki RPG! Sister Quest - as a cosplay for collaboration event
- Mabinogi Heroes - as an avatar
- SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy - in Shermie's ending
- 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 visits graves a lot. He's done this twice in the XI team story and again in XIV team story. He lights a cigar and places it on the grave facing up, then he pulls out another for himself under the moon.
- In media that don't tie into the main story, most notably, the webcomic, Part Time Stories: Kyo & Iori, it's 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.
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