|“||You bastard... fight me with your bare hands!||„|
Kusanagi (草薙, Kusanagi) is a character from The King of Fighters series of fighting games developed by SNK. He was first introduced in The King of Fighters 2002 as a hidden character, although this Kusanagi (that also has nothing to do with NESTS) is the canonical version that was preferred by SNK themselves. He is the counterpart to his non-canonical counterpart.
In KOF 2003, Kusanagi is the result of a possessed Chizuru (under the control of Mukai and Botan) using her Yata powers to clone a darker and evil Kyo Kusanagi in his classic school uniform. He was used to test the combatants as a mid-boss in the storyline.
Kusanagi is the product of Chizuru's magic while she was under mind control. Chizuru was the host of the KOF 2003 tournament only for it to be revealed she was under mind control by Mukai and Botan. Chizuru was tasked to create a dark, evil copy of Kyo Kusanagi. This clone was created by using her Yata abilities to clone Kyo's shadow and make it a physical form, which birthed Kusanagi. He was then commanded by Chizuru to act as an intermediate threat to the entire KOF 2003 tournament and to test the abilities of the fighters that would come to him, while also attempt to destroy Kyo Kusanagi himself.
Kusanagi fought multiple fighters and defeated a good portion of them, up until he was approached by Team Japan that consisted of Kyo, Goro and Benimaru. Kyo was surprised to see a copy of him, although different then the previous Kyo clones he still strongly believed he was a surviving product of NESTS and quickly tried to destroy him. Kusanagi expressed homicidal joy at Kyo's appearance, his great desire to destroy him now potentially achievable right in front of him.
Through an intense battle, Kyo's team ended up winning while Kusanagi could no longer take any more beatings. Kusanagi disappeared in the shadows, never appearing since.
It's been noted Kusanagi visits South Town from time to time, as noted by K'.
Because he is essentially a clone of Kyo, Kusanagi looks naturally identical to Kyo. However, he has a much darker and evil appearance. His skin is a chocolate brown while his hair is a complete black.
Kusanagi's eyes are scarlet red with slightly darker red irises. His outfit is a black recolor of Kyo's classic school uniform.
Kusanagi lives only to fight, and loves the absolute intensity of it. However, he's more into the root of evil within a fight. He also wants to find a strong fighter that rivals his power so that he can test his skills. In KOF 2002, he has a special intro against characters that use weapons in battle such as Chang Koehan, Choi Bounge, Billy Kane and Whip (save for Mai Shiranui and Malin, whom he is unaware that they use hidden weapons): "Temee! Sude de shoubu shiyagare!" (You (bastard)! Fight me with your bare hands!), which is also taken even further in Unlimited Match when fighting against almost anyone who wields weapons; this is also another Akira reference.
This shows that Kusanagi heavily dislikes fighters who fight with weapons, degrading them as cowards and weaklings. He enjoys fighting hand-to-hand combat pyrokinetics, especially Kyo Kusanagi, someone who he wants to destroy.
He possesses all of Kyo's memories, but deems them unimportant to his life as he considers himself the dark counterpart to Kyo, and not Kyo himself.
- Kusanagi Fighting Style - Because of his memories, he knows the Kusanagi fighting style.
- Kenpo - Because of his memories, he knows kenpo.
- Custom Fighting Style - His custom fighting style is mostly Kyo's own, although it is somewhat customized and mixed up with his own additions and the kenpo techniques while sporting a brutal and violent side to his fighting style.
- Enhanced Strength - Kusanagi is just as strong, if not slightly stronger than Kyo.
- Enhanced Speed - Kusanagi is just as fast, if not slightly faster than Kyo.
- Kusanagi Pyrokinesis - Because he's essentially a clone of Kyo, Kusanagi can control the sacred Kusanagi flame. Kusanagi quickly managed to have a great degree of mastery over the flames, although it's not considered to be complete mastery.
- Razor Hand - Kusanagi's hands are applied with so much force that he can use them to stab, slash or use them as weapons.
- Its possible that since he does not have the same voice as Kyo (until KOF Sky Stage, which he was voiced by Kyo's voice actor), they gave him the voice of Mitsuo Iwata to make him significantly different from his fellow clones as a unique doppelganger to Kyo.
- His voice actor, Mitsuo Iwata, is also the voice actor of Syo Kirishima--and in extension, is the Japanese voice actor of Champa from Dragon Ball Super.
- The reason for his evil appearance remains unknown (besides being considered the dark counterpart to Kyo), as the shadow clone of Maki, Chizuru's deceased sister did not have an evil appearance as Chizuru was possessed at the time she created her.
- The reason for why he was birthed in Kyo's classic school uniform is also unknown in-universe, although it's explained out-of-universe that some of the developers still wanted Kyo's old look when he gained a new outfit in KOF 2003. And so, they decided to make Kusanagi, a darker and evil copy of Kyo with his old look.