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Kyo Kusanagi is the main protagonist of The King of Fighters series. He was first introduced in The King of Fighters '94 as the leader of the Japan team. He is the rival of Iori Yagami.

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Kyo surpassed his father at the age of fifteen and was designated as the clan's leader. Shortly after the completion of his training, Kyo competes in a preliminary held in Japan to determine the members of the country's representative team in the King of Fighters tournament. He bests Goro Daimon and Benimaru Nikaido to become the leader of the team, the two becoming his teammates and eventual friends. They reach the finals, where they met the host of the tournament, a powerful fighter named Rugal Bernstein. Rugal boasts his desire to fight powerful opponents and challenges them. After his defeat, he self-destructs his ship in attempt to bring them with him, but the team escapes unharmed. Afterwards, Kyo decides to travel abroad in order to train.

In the following year, Daimon and Benimaru were waiting for Kyo's ship to dock, when they were attacked by a masked assailant. Kyo returns and throws a fireball at the mysterious person, only to destroy her mask and reveal her to be Rugal's secretary. She hands over an invitation letter to another King of Fighters tournament, organized once again by Rugal, who survived his craft's self-destruction. This time, Rugal also brainwashed Kyo's missing father, Saisyu, into attacking his son. Kyo's father regains his senses after he was subdued by the team. To counter the team's strength, Rugal challenges them with power sapped from Orochi. However, Rugal's body was overwhelmed by the power's immensity and he was vaporized after his defeat. Pleased with his son's prowess, Saisyu leaves unnoticed, insinuating that he entrusts the clan's duty to Kyo.

Prior to the events of The King of Fighters '96, a mysterious man -later revealed to be one of the "Four Heavenly Kings" of Orochi, Goenitz- challenges Kyo to a fight. Kyo arrives, powered by his overwhelming confidence in his fists, only to be defeated soundly by his challenger and sent to the hospital. In spite of his injuries, his anger and spirit from his loss drove him to invent powerful new techniques. He enters the year's tournament to prove his strength to his unknown attacker. In the tournament's finals, he meets the host of the tournament and the younger heiress of the Yata clan, Chizuru Kagura. At the tournament's end, he vanquishes Goenitz with Iori and Chizuru's help. Though he is warned by Chizuru of his clan's destiny with Orochi, Kyo ignores her and promptly departs.

Before The King of Fighters '97 takes place, he is pestered by fellow high school student, Shingo Yabuki, to teach him how to create his flames. Though annoyed and flustered by his persistence, Kyo partially agrees to mentor him as a means of gaining free meals. He also experiences nightmares of a strange man defeating him at the King of Fighters tournament, but continues to participate. Before the tournament, his girlfriend, Yuki was kidnapped by the Hakkesshu, in order to be used as the last of the sacrificial maidens for Orochi's revival. Though it's ambiguous as to which team he enters during the tournament.

He advances into the finals, where he confronts the remaining "Four Heavenly Kings" of Orochi, Yashiro Nanakase, Shermie, and Chris. The Hakkesshu also mention the plan to sacrifice Yuki in order to revive Orochi. Fueled by these turn of events, Kyo fights an emotional and heroic battle. 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 berserk Riot of the Blood state, expecting him to turn on Kyo and Chizuru. Instead, Iori snares Orochi by the neck, and Kyo obliged his rival by crippling the great demon with one last deathblow, allowing Chizuru to reseal Orochi. Exhausted, Kyo passes out. The last thing he sees is Yuki, saying that she will wait for him.

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