Joe Higashi (ジョー・ヒガシ, Jō Higashi or 東丈, Higashi Jō) is a character in both the Fatal Fury and The King of Fighters series, used mainly for comic relief. He tried to date Lilly Kane, a relationship which her brother greatly disapproves, although it's implied from within the Fatal Fury Team's backstory in The King of Fighters XIV that he got rejected due to his incident with a drag queen at the end of KOF XIII. His official nickname is The Young Champ of Muay Thai.
In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Joe was voted as the staff's thirty-ninth favorite character. He shared the spot with four other characters, including Fatal Fury character, Jin Chonrei, and Street Fighter character, Zangief. In the character popularity poll on Neo Geo Freak's website, he was voted as the second favorite character with a total of 3,654 votes.
The development team wanted to make a fighter who filled the same role as Ki Ranger from Himitsu Sentai Gorenger. In contrast to Terry and Andy, the "hero" characters who have to shoulder the heavier and more serious plotlines, Joe is meant to be more of a "clown-ish" character and a "life of the party" type. He was modeled after the lead character of Abarehacchaku.
Although Joe's place of origin is Japan, he spent the majority of his time in Thailand, where he trained Muay Thai. When Joe left Japan to travel abroad, that headband was given to him by his grandmother, so that no matter where he went, he would never forget his homeland. It was through his victories that he earned the nickname "Hurricane Upper" Joe Higashi. He seems to have a running gag of sorts where his legend is "just beginning" in his endings throughout the series.
After Joe earned his title as the Muay Thai champion, he heads to South Town to prove himself in the King of Fighters tournament. On his way, he spots Andy and Terry Bogard, who were on the hunt for their father's killer, Geese Howard. As soon as he informs them that Geese is hosting the tournament, they became steadfast companions. In the tournament, he met with a bitter Hwa Jai and was able to defeat him. After this, they eventually became friends and rivals back in Thailand. In his ending for Fatal Fury 2, he also avenged Hwa's defeat by Wolfgang Krauser.
Before the events of Fatal Fury 3, he learns about the Jin brothers and Ryuji Yamazaki, and asks Hwa to come with him to South Town. Sometime after these events, he humorously takes Lilly Kane away from her brother since Geese was out of action. As a call back to this, Billy "rescues" her in his Real Bout ending.
In the Garou: Mark of the Wolves timeline, Joe was busy protecting his title in the Muay Thai championship. According to Akihiko Ureshino's personal blog, he gained an apprentice in the yet to be released Mark of the Wolves sequel from the old SNK team. Her name, as mentioned by Terry and Andy in a original story, was "Kuan" (クアン) and she even had a finished idle sprite. Her age wasn't particularly stated, though he comments that she was a particularly "cute lady". Although she has yet to appear in any games, she first meets Joe in his profile story for The King of Fighters XII. She is a thief who tries to pickpocket Joe. Impressed with her top class physical strength and her daring, he immediately dubs her his disciple and inspires the girl to live a new life learning Muay Thai.
The King of Fighters
Joe is a mainstay of Terry's team throughout most of the King of Fighters tournaments. He is often the motivating factor in getting Terry and Andy to join with him as a team. In this series, he developed somewhat of a rivalry with King. Joe is seen taunting her with his Muay Thai belt in The King of Fighters '98. In The King of Fighters 2001, he enters the tournament with hopes to use the prize money to keep a gym from closing down.
He is absent from KOF XI because a Muay Thai tournament is being held at the same time. Wanting to live their old times together as a team, the trio agree to meet up once more for KOF XIII. Before the tournament, Joe is annoyed by both of his teammates being late for their meeting. Knowing Hwa Jai's entry with both Kim Kaphwan and Raiden while also being upset by Terry's carefree attitude, an intoxicated Joe vents his frustrations out against the team leader in a sparring match at the Pao Pao Cafe. In his team's ending, he humorously gets his congratulation kiss from the same infatuated male fan (now even more effeminate than before, to the point of crossdressing) whose life he saved in his team's 2003 ending.
At first, Joe was a stoic man who lived for fighting and training. As time passed, he became a pretty goofy man who self-proclaims himself to be a genius with mostly everything. He doesn't take battles as seriously as the Bogards, but he loves to fight. If Joe could, he would fight every fighter he sees. He loves the spotlight and the glory of victory.
- Multiple Attacks: Joe can punch several times with incredible speed.
- Energy strikes: Joe can infuse his strikes with chi energy, being able to cause more damage than normal.
- Explosive strikes: Joe can deliver a punch of tremendous strength that generates explosive force upon contact. He has also shown to causing small explosions with some of his super moves, such as his Tiger Kick.
- Aerokinesis: Joe has shown some limited aerokinesis, the power of controlling air and wind.
- Hurricane: With an uppercut, he can create a small hurricane that moves forward. He named this attack Hurricane Upper. The stronger version is Screw Upper, a tornado-like vortex that can cause severe damage to his opponents. He also has a SDM that is an even stronger version of the Screw Upper: the Double Cyclone, which is seen in numerous Dream Match games such as Capcom vs. SNK 2 and The King of Fighters 2002.
- Survival: Joe learned his way to survive in Thailand's jungles, where he trained to hone his skills.
Joe uses traditional Muay Thai moves.
- Chotto Koikki na Kenka Yarou (A Somewhat Stylish Brawling Punk) - Fatal Fury: King of Fighters, shared with Terry and Andy Bogard
- Thai Nanbu no Tsutaetai Atarashii Shi (A New Poem that Southern Thailand Wants to Recite) - Fatal Fury 2, Fatal Fury Special
- Wani no Mi (Crocodile Meat) - Fatal Fury 3, Real Bout Fatal Fury
- Thai Nanbu ni Tsutawatta So no Shi (A Poem that Traveled Down the South of Thailand) - Real Bout Fatal Fury Special and Real Bout Fatal Fury 2
- Napolitan Blues - The King of Fighters '94
- Club M ~Flute in the Sky~ - The King of Fighters '95
- Big Shot! "Elegant Simplicity" - The King of Fighters '96, The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match (When teaming EX Joe with EX Terry and EX Andy)
- The River - Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition
- Kurikinton - The King of Fighters '98, The King of Fighters 2002
- 176th Street - The King of Fighters '99
- Terry 115 - The King of Fighters 2000
- All OK! - The King of Fighters 2001
- Prolongation - The King of Fighters 2003
- Wild Street - The King of Fighters XIII
- Street Dancer - The King of Fighters XIII (when the music is set to "Type B", console version only, also shared with Terry and Andy Bogard)
- Departure from South Town - The King of Fighters XIV
- Sun Shine Glory - The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
- Muay Thai - Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle
- Sharakusee ze - Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture
- Katsuhisa Namase - Fatal Fury (2+Special); The King of Fighters '94
- Nobuyuki Hiyama - Fatal Fury 3~The King of Fighters XIII
- Kōzō Mito - The King of Fighters XIV~present
- Chiharu Sawashiro - The King of Fighters for Girls
- Masaaki Satake - Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf
- Jason Gray-Stanford - Animated films (English voice)
- Kazuki Yao - Dengeki Bunko drama CD series
Live Action Actors
- Benny Wong - Fatal Fury Special live action commercials
- Fatal Fury: King of Fighters
- Fatal Fury 2
- Fatal Fury Special
- The King of Fighters '94
- Fatal Fury 3: Road to the Final Victory
- The King of Fighters '95
- Real Bout Fatal Fury
- The King of Fighters '96
- Real Bout Fatal Fury Special
- The King of Fighters '97
- The King of Fighters: Kyo
- Real Bout Fatal Fury 2: The Newcomers
- Real Bout Garou Densetsu Special Dominated Mind
- The King of Fighters '98
- Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition
- Fatal Fury: First Contact
- The King of Fighters '99
- Capcom vs. SNK Pro
- Capcom vs. SNK 2
- The King of Fighters 2000
- The King of Fighters 2001
- The King of Fighters EX: Neo Blood - As a Striker for the Fatal Fury Team
- The King of Fighters 2002
- The King of Fighters 2003
- The King of Fighters Neowave
- The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match
- The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
- The King of Fighters XII
- The King of Fighters XIII
- Garou Densetsu The Legend of Wild Wolf
- Garou Densetsu Special
- Garou Densetsu Sougeki
- CR The King of Fighters
- The King of Fighters XIV
- Days of Memories (Fourth and Ninth title) - Unplayable; text only cameo in the fourth
- Garou Densetsu vs Fighter's History Dynamite - Boss character, Garou Densetsu side
- SNK Dream Battle
- The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match Online
- Metal Slug Defense (Unlockable)
- Crash Fever
- Kimi wa Hero
- The King of Fighters Destiny (Game)
- The King of Fighters: World
- The King of Fighters All Star
- The King of Fighters: Orochi Go
- The King of Fighters M: Fighting Stars Assembly
- The King of Fighters for Girls
- The King of Fighters XI - During the Fatal Fury Team's ending
- KOF: Maximum Impact 2 - Background cameo
- SNK vs. Capcom: SVC Chaos - Passing mention in Terry's ending
- Athena On Stage - During mini-game
- The King of Fighters (Pachinko)
- The King of Fighters 2
- KOF Sky Stage - In-text cameo in Terry's ending
- Nariyuki Quest
- SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy - his Hurricane Upper appears in the gameplay; also mentioned by Terry in Story Mode
- The King of Fighters EX2: Howling Blood - in the Fatal Fury Team's ending
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - appeared in Terry's Reveal Trailer, background cameo in King of Fighters Stadium Stage and a spirit
- Fatal Fury: Legend of the Hungry Wolf
- Fatal Fury 2: The New Battle
- Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture
- The King of Fighters: Destiny
- Joe's headband is a personal gift from his grandmother. She gave it to him before he went for his Muay Thai training in the hopes that he would "never forget his Japanese spirit."
- In the KOF Station Channel XIV, the Fatal Fury developers state that Joe was never intended to be a comedy character like he was in the KOF series.
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