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We're getting two Samurai Shodown Season 3 character reveals on January 7th, but who are they going to be?

It was confirmed by SNK producer Yasuyuki Oda that we wouldn't just get to see our The Last Blade guest character, but another brand new one as well

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • December 27, 2020 at 10:54 a.m. PST • Comments: 30

During the King of Fighters 15 teaser and character announcement back at the beginning of December, SNK shared a few character reveals with new designs as well as various other details regarding the upcoming sequel to their fighting game juggernaut, but something that definitely did not go under the radar for those of us with the heart of a samurai beating in our chest was the snippet at the end where producer Yasuyuki Oda mentioned that January 7th will also have reveals regarding the upcoming third season of Samurai Shodown.

We were told at the end of October that this upcoming Season 3 for Samurai Shodown would feature a guest character from SNK's other swashbuckling swordfighting franchise The Last Blade, but Oda mentioned during this latest broadcast that we won't just be seeing this as-of-yet unknown crossover character but also be treated to a brand new character besides them to kick off this game's third season of content. So naturally, this draws us to speculation — just who are we going to see revealed once January 7th comes around?

Not too long ago, I outlined a story focusing on which characters from The Last Blade I thought had the best chances of joining Samurai Shodown in the upcoming season and what merits they'd bring with them if they were to do so.

I still largely stand by my choices from that article and I genuinely think it'll be one of those six, so to avoid redundancy I'm not going to repeat myself all too much. However, seeing as this piece will be focusing on what I think we'll see on January 7th, I'm going to focus on the two I think have the best shot and reiterate some of the reasons why they're solid picks for Samurai Shodown and have good chances.

Kaede

As the main character and general posterchild of the franchise The Last Blade, Kaede seems like the most obvious choice at first glance, and the case for him remains strong even under further scrutiny.

Obviously, he's the most heavily tied to the lore of the series and as a main character he also carries with him an accessible and generally agreeable playstyle which will likely make many players try him out and possibly stick with him if he were to be included.

Together with his foster siblings Moriya and Yuki (both of whom I included in my The Last Blade guest character speculation article) he was raised by a master swordsman named Gaisei, who is one day found murdered. In a quest to get revenge for his foster father's death, Kaede embarks on a journey which eventually leads him to his destiny and learning of the power he's capable of wielding.

With outright references to the popular Super Saiyan form from the massively popular Dragon Ball manga, Kaede is definitely a character any person tuned in to general pop culture will be able to gel with quickly.

The only thing that may hold him back is the fact that while he's popular, he also isn't that big of a standout candidate, much like you'd expect from the main character in a fighting game roster, which in a way makes him less appealing as a post-launch downloadable content character, where you'll often find a bit more quirky or specialist-tailored picks.

If SNK are interested in gauging the interest of a The Last Blade revival, which seems likely given that they just did the same for Samurai Shodown after a hiatus of over 10 years, then Kaede is probably the best pick they can go with to gauge the general public's interest.

But for enthusiasts, there's a pick I think makes more sense, and who is the one character I think has an even better shot than Kaede himself does.

Hibiki Takane

The only character from The Last Blade which may carry the banner even bigger than its main protagonist Kaede does, Hibiki Takane is in fact one of the few cast members who didn't make her debut until the second game.

Hibiki is the young daughter of a renowned swordsmith who succumbed to illness after forging a sword for a certain warrior (incidentally another character in the game's roster named Setsuna) and on his deathbed urges his daughter to pursue the man and his blade while claiming that the man and his blade are the reason behind his sickness.

She doesn't enjoy fighting and will visibly be horrified after injuring her opponents, but still embarks on this quest. Her fighting style is heavy oriented around drawing her sword with quick speed and then sheathing it once more, commonly referred to as Battōjutsu.

The main reasons why I believe Hibiki has a fantastic shot is that she's been an enduring presence for the image of The Last Blade 2, the more renowned game of the two in the franchise, and that her fighting style is a different take on what Ukyo Tachibana in the roster currently does, meaning that while it may be somewhat similar visually their gameplay is actually very separate.

The biggest reason of all, however, is the fact that she's already made her mark in crossover history by being a part of the Capcom vs. SNK 2 roster, which makes her a much more famous character in fighting games as a whole than anyone else from The Last Blade 2 is, considering how big Capcom vs. SNK 2 was competitively.

Hibiki has a very large fanbase and has both an interesting personality and an engaging playstyle. I also feel like she'd be a good candidate to merge the gameplay gimmick of The Last Blade where you get to choose "Power" or "Speed" for your character's gameplay when you pick them. She's a character where you could easily merge the two and keep aspects of them both, or go all-in with the crossover and legitimately have two different versions of her without either of them feeling too out of place for Samurai Shodown.

Now that we have the guest characters out of the way, let's get to the meat of the story, namely the Samurai Shodown character. While it is possible that we'll see a brand new character since this latest title did introduce a few in its launch roster with Yashamaru Kurama, Darli Dagger and Wu-Ruixiang, we have yet to see any newcomers show their faces as downloadable content (outside of Warden who's a guest character from For Honor).

Given that we're still missing a great many of beloved characters from previous Samurai Shodown games, my gut tells me that we're getting a returning character here, and I narrowed it down to the two I feel are most likely for a reveal at this point in time.

Cham Cham

By far the most likely candidate at this point in the game out of Samurai Shodown veterans, Cham Cham is an immensely popular character from Samurai Shodown 2 who has intricate ties with someone already in the roster, namely her elder brother Tam Tam.

Worth noting here is the oft-refered-to character popularity poll which SNK conducted for Samurai Shodown's release to gauge interest in DLC characters. At this point, none of the DLC characters for the first season had been announced yet, and the second season wasn't even in development yet, but it showed that SNK had a pretty good idea of the popularities of various characters when they made their decisions.

The first year of post-launch content which featured Shizumaru Hisame, Basara the Executioner, Rimururu, Wan-Fu and Kazuki Kazama — these characters placed 3rd, 5th, 6th, 13th and 16th in the poll, respectively.

This year, we got 3 more classic Samurai Shodown fighters in Mina Majikina, Iroha and Sogetsu Kazama. These characters placed 1st, 2nd and a somewhat less impressive 22nd place (though Sogetsu was likely included because him and Kazuki are something of a package deal).

Looking at this, it's very obvious that SNK take character popularity heavily into account, which brings us to Cham Cham herself — this little feline impersonator ended up in 4th place in the poll, meaning she's already outplaced 5 out of 8 of the post-launch characters in desirability to fans.

As the sole top 5 placer not yet in the game, Cham Cham's inclusion seems unavoidable. She's been proven by official data to be one of the most popular picks, she brings a playstyle not already in the game with her swift boomerang and tricky monkey helper Paku Paku and she's directly connected to Tam Tam who's already in the game.

All these factors together make it very hard to not see Cham Cham taking center stage for Season 3. Season 2 saw Mina and Iroha, the top two placers, included right off the back of the popularity poll results. We're likely going to see the next closest thing bring it all home now that they're already included.

Genan Shiranui

The only Samurai Shodown character I can really think of with any claim to the spot that could possibly eclipse Cham Cham is another lovable sneak with green as one of his primary colors, though this one isn't quite as cute to look at as Cham Cham is.

Genan Shiranui (no relation to famous SNK character Mai Shiranui, I assure you) is one of the original characters from the very first Samurai Shodown game, though he wasn't given quite as much love in subsequent titles finding himself "off" the roster more often than "on".

That said, other characters from the first game like Tam Tam and Wan-Fu haven't exactly been mainstays either, yet they're present in this new game and at this point, Genan is in fact the only playable character from the original Samurai Shodown to not be part of the rebooted game's roster (the first game's boss Shiro Tokisada Amakusa was also part of the first game, but he was a boss character and didn't become playable until later entries).

While Genan hardly has any notable lore to speak of and is more a joke character than anything else, going from a sadistic killer obsessed with darkness to eventually settling down with a beautiful wife and spawning horrifying babies that look just like their daddy, he's still an integral part of the franchise's origins and will be a face that many fans remember fondly.

He didn't do particularly bad in the poll either — he landed at a respectable 9th place, which is still higher than several characters who already made the roster, including Wan-Fu who was the other character from the original game who hadn't returned in the launch roster.

As it stands right now, there are only three characters with a higher poll placing than Genan who haven't been included in the game yet, but he has the legacy advantage over each and every one of them which could possibly give him the edge.

In the end, I still think Hibiki and Cham Cham are the most likely candidates for January's reveal, but there are many other choices that also make sense — with Kaede and Genan possibly leading the pack of the less-acknowledged group.

Which characters are you hoping to see kick off Samurai Shodown's third season on January 7th (6th if you happen to live in the Pacific time zone)? Let us know in the comments.

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