The King of Fighters: Destiny Season 1 Overall Review

KOF Destiny

Is a CG animation created in China an anime? Well, it’s closer to anime than cartoon based purely on “anime is an animation from the East, cartoon is an animation from the West” line of thinking… Anyway, regardless, King of Fighters got an adaptation, and for free too! (Why it took me so long to actually watch it I don’t know…) All episodes were uploaded to SNK’s YouTube channel, which makes this rather hard to review because I don’t want to be too harsh on the production values given it’s… cheaper nature. Beyond production values though, is it worth a watch? Has it managed to create a storyline for a game (King of Fighters 94) that hardly had any? Let’s take a closer look!

Official Synopsis:

THE KING OF FIGHTERS – The world-renowned tournament starts now! After arriving in South Town, Kyo, an invitee to KOF, runs into another formidable fighter, Terry. Ten years have passed since the tragedy that changed his live forever… The destinies of the fighters now cross here in South Town

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

KOF Destiny 4

The SNK Heroines arrive to help out the men! (That’s a reference to an up-coming game… or a game that’s been out for a while, depending on when you read this)

Kyo Kusanagi (Tomoaki Maeno) – Kyo is the next generation of the Kusanagi clan who is known as a genius fighter. His father has made him aware of the Orochi menace that once got stopped by their clan along with two others, in case it one day returns…

Terry Bogard (Takashi Kondo) – Terry grew up in South Town, where his father was mysteriously killed by Geese Howard. Terry has sworn revenge, but knew then that he wasn’t tough enough to take him down. Now? Maybe…

Rugal Bernstein (Tsuguo Mogami) – Rugal is after one thing: power. Not just in business, but actual, physical power. He has the blood of Orochi flowing through him, but instead of working to revive him, he wishes to take the power for himself…

Geese Howard (Kong Kuwata) – Geese has reached the top of the underground business world and attained great wealth at the cost of many lives. He now sits proudly at the top of Geese Tower, willing to help Rugal and his plans to hold a King of Fighters tournament to gather Orochi power, though what he’ll personally do with that is another question…

Benimaru Nikaido (Atsushi Maezuka) – Benimaru is a rather vein and arrogant young fighter who vastly over-estimates his still-impressive skills. He is looking to join up with other strong Japanese fighters to take part in the upcoming King of Fighters tournament.

Ryo Sakazaki (Daiki Takakura) – Ryo is the next-in-line to inherit the famous Sakazaki dojo from his father, but actually spends a lot of his time worrying about his younger sister who he had to once free from captivity…

Yuri Sakazaki (Ai Kakuma) – Yuri is fed up being treated like a kid or a harmless girl and wishes to show the world that she is just as much of a Sakazaki as her brother

Andy Bogard (Hiroshi Okamoto) –Andy is the younger brother of Terry who took his father’s death hard. He didn’t understand why he and Terry didn’t try and kill Geese right there rather than wait, but after years of studying fighting in Japan, Andy feels he’s ready to get his revenge…

Athena Asamiya (Haruna Ikezawa) – Athena is a member of the “Psycho Soldiers” team, a team made up of people with psychic ability. Her power is unnaturally strong, but luckily her intentions are purely innocent.

Heidern (Haruo Yamagishi) – Heidern is the leader of the Ikari Warriors, a group of government backed mercenaries. He has a grudge with Rugal after he forcefully removed his eye during their last showdown…

Plus many more!

The Good:

KOF Destiny 3

I wonder if there is an in-universe explanation as to why Terry’s hat has “Fatal Fury” written on it…

King of Fighters 94 was pretty basic, it was more about the unique idea of a bunch of SNK franchises appearing in the same game, it wasn’t really until 95 when an actual story arc got layered onto the series. Due to this King of Fighters Destiny would have been best served going straight to 95, but instead they cleverly weaved the storyline from the Fatal Fury game series into the overall story, and then linked Rugal in with Orochi for this fight, rather than as  a new thing for his second fight in 95. That way they had plenty of story to go on, and tied it nicely into further storylines (apparently two more seasons and a film are in the works, adapting the whole Orochi saga from 95 – 97).

Due to this decision a lot of the story, especially in the first half, is based around Terry and Andy Bogard getting revenge on Geese Howard, including flashbacks to their father’s death and a big showdown on top of Geese Tower, ending with the tyrant being thrown from the roof (as in the ending several of the Fatal Fury games…) It’s a rather basic revenge story, but played out well, thankfully the animation got a lot better by the time the big showdown happened.

Kyo and his buddies from Team Japan got to do a lot throughout, especially towards the second half, where Kyo is rightfully the lead character. Kyo is the cocky badass, Benimaru is the arrogant comedy character, and Goro… just silently stands around… much like in the games! The big end fight with Rugal was really well done, exciting and despite help from other popular characters, Kyo delivers the final blow to Rugal.

Given the size of the cast, there are plenty who didn’t get to do a lot, but still got to fight in the early rounds of the tournament. Say what you want about the fight animation but everyone got to do some of their signature attacks, which is always nice. The Sakazaki clan and Robert probably got less screen time than you’d think given Art of Fighting was a bigger franchise going into the first King of Fighters, but there you go. The storyline from the first AOF game was adapted via a flashback involving female fighter King, so once again it’s nice to see the individual storylines from games get tied into the bigger story arc, even if it wasn’t treated as important as Fatal Fury.

I guess a plus in its favour is that it was free. New episodes just dropped on YouTube (and Steam) and that was it! They’re still up there to view as well. That’s why it feels so wrong to be too harsh on it…

The Bad:

KOF Destiny 1

Rugal has his glowing red eye a year early!

Some of the CG looks ropey, and some of the early animation was stiff rather than fluid (though it got A LOT better by the time the tournament started proper) but again this is a small Chinese team making the series, and although it aired on TV over there, for the rest of the world it was free. I can’t be too harsh.

A couple of episodes were “Side Stories” that were presented like cutscenes from a game where they use still-images and narration. The artwork was good, but it did always seem… even cheaper.

Terry is quite laidback and “cool”, but I felt he was more serious than he normally is. They probably wanted to balance the cast a bit mind, given Kyo was the cocky one. He did get a “Hey! Come on! Come On!” taunt in though, even if it was slowly delivered…

Overall Thoughts:

KOF Destiny 2

Ryo waves off the idea of having a major role in the series.

The King of Fighters: Destiny is a fun series that adapts the source material as well as tinkers with it, but is always true to the core SNK story. It seems to exist mainly to make fans of the lower-tier (especially in the west, I hadn’t really heard of it until Capcom vs. SNK 2 on the PS2. Became a big fan shortly after though!) fighting game franchise smile, and that combined with its price tag of £0 means this deserves a lot of praise, and I’m looking forward to Season 2.

4 Star Watch

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