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Samurai Shodown will be getting a Last Blade character as a guest — Who are some cool candidates we'd love to see join the fight?

The Last Blade is also a celebrated part of SNK's history and the roster has a lot of interesting fighters to offer

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • November 10, 2020 at 7:20 p.m. PST • Comments: 52

With a third season confirmed and coming up for Samurai Shodown, people have obviously been excited to see what's coming up next for SNK's swordfighting simulator, especially since there are still many good old cast members from the series that haven't made the cut for the current title's roster yet. However, at the end of last month, we were hit with a surprise announcement from the game's director Hayato Konya that the next fighter joining Samurai Shodown will actually be a guest character from a different SNK franchise. As you may expect when hearing such news, the other SNK franchise is the beloved yet not as well-known The Last Blade, a separate weapon-based fighting game from SNK which saw two installments released in 1997 and 1998, respectively.

As such, it's obviously been quite some time since we saw a Last Blade character in action in a new game, and this will be the first time they're rendered in 3D for a fighting game. The cast of The Last Blade is quite varied with a lot of interesting characters, so I decided to revisit The Last Blade 2 this week and take a look at which one stick out to me as particularly good candidates for Samurai Shodown's third season. To be clear, this is a situation where I basically don't think there's any wrong answer no matter who you end up choosing — but here are the ones I feel the most strongly about.

Kaede

The main character of The Last Blade series, Kaede is a young man striving for vengeance after the murder of his father and swordsmanship master. Although initially misunderstanding who actually killed him, Kaede eventually manages to find the true culprit and bring him to justice after awakening to his true potential.

Within the series, there are four warriors who embrace the spirits of the Four Sacred Beasts of Chinese mythology, through which Kaede is able to channel the power of the Blue Dragon, Seiryū. Although initially appearing with black hair, after his awakening his hair becomes blonde and he gains much more power (likely in a reference to the Super Saiyan state from the highly popular Dragon Ball series, as The Last Blade is filled to the brim with references to various popular works).

While he plays fairly basically, being the main protagonist and all, he's a core part of The Last Blade and seems like he'd fit quite well in Samurai Shodown with the right adjustments. Even if some people may consider him a boring choice, he is one of the most iconic and recognizable characters from the series, and it's definitely most common for main characters to cross over between games.

Admittedly, though, it's slightly different when it's an in-company crossover, as we've seen recently with Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition where Rival Schools' Akira Kazama, who most definitely is not the series' main protagonist, will be joining the roster. With this in mind, it's definitely not set in stone that Kaede would take the spot just because he's the protagonist.

Yuki

The heroine of the series, Yuki is something of an adoptive sister to Kaede, having been raised and trained by the same man as he was. When their master is found murdered, she joins Kaede on his journey for revenge and finding out the truth behind what happened and lends her strength to his cause.

A spear wielder, Yuki can harness ice powers as evidenced by her projectile which fits well with her name, since it means "Snow" in Japanese. Also worth noting is that she's one of the few characters in the series who isn't ethnically Japanese, Yuki is actually Russian by blood but has been raised in Japan ever since her family died in a tragic ship accident.

In The Last Blade 2, it turns out that they key to closing Hell's Gate, a source of evil within the series, actually lies with her and that she must sacrifice her life in order to close the gate. Though Kaede leaves her to make the decision on her own, she ends up choosing to give up her life in order for the evil to be sealed.

Since there hasn't been a sequel since The Last Blade 2, the current canon status of Yuki is obviously that she's dead, though with what we know of fighting games and their rosters, it's highly likely she'd be brought back if a hypothetical sequel were to happen sometime.

Given the massive discrepancy in the time periods in which Samurai Shodown and The Last Blade take place (well over 100 years), there's really no way of claiming a guest character from The Last Blade showing up in Samurai Shodown to be any degree of proper canon anyway, so Yuki's chances shouldn't be impeded by her morbid status in her home series.

Also, after her The Last Blade 2 iteration, it'd be nice to have her be part of a roster and not be the absolute worst character in the game, you know...

Moriya Minakata

The third character who was raised by the very same master, Moriya Minakata was another student of Kaede's father and grew up and trained alongside Kaede and Yuki. He was the first to find their master's body, which led to Kaede and Yuki suspecting him of being his killer, though this was later shown to be incorrect.

Keeping the truth from his sibling students, Moriya departs on his own journey to seek justice for the murder of his master, Gaisei. Spending five long years searching for the true killer, a man named Shinnosuke Kagami, in order to clear his own name Moriya was never successful in tracking him down. Eventually, Kaede would find out the truth and strike Kagami down before Moriya got the chance.

Gameplaywise, Moriya is an exceptionally speedy character who is notorious for a bug with his teleport move in The Last Blade 2, in which he has a move that functions as a teleport and by inputting certain button presses after it, he can cancel its recovery entirely. This obviously makes him an incredibly tough foe to deal with, though even with this unintended feature in mind he's still not considered the best character in the game.

Although many character in The Last Blade 2 skew towards picking their "Power" variants, Moriya is a clear example of character where "Speed" works much better if you want to use him to his full ability. He's a quickdraw swordsman with rekka attacks and strong confirms and would undoubtedly make a great addition to Samurai Shodown.

Akari Ichijou

Akari Ichijou is quite the unique character as far as The Last Blade goes. In a game largely filled with various interpretations of samurai or ninja warriors, Akari embraces a much more mystical side as an Onmyoji, essentially an occult magician or summoner.

She fights by summoning evil spirits and having them comply with her will, making for an exceptionally creative moveset filled with various guest characters assisting her. She's also able to teleport, create a clone of her opponent and even seal certain abilities or attacks from her opponents by sticking traditional "fuda" charms on them.

Given the vast amount of work Akari would require to be faithful to her original design, especially in the current era of 3D modeling, she seems like probably the most unlikely character to enter Samurai Shodown from this selection of fighters. But damn if she wouldn't be a fantastically fun addition, and most importantly, very different from what the roster is already offering.

Shinnosuke Kagami

Shinnosuke Kagami is the very man himself who murdered the father/father figure and swordsmanship master of Kaede, Yuki and Moriya. Much like Kaede, he enjoys the power of one of the Four Sacred Beasts, with his being Suzaku, the phoenix. Due to this power, he uses flames in his moveset in quite brutal ways to burn his opponents to a crisp.

Actually one of the guardians of the Hell's Gate which most characters are trying to seal again, Kagami has a deep disdain for humans, seeing them as beneath himself, and thinks nothing of sacrificing them for what he believes to be a greater power.

Although not a boss character, it wouldn't be too far of a stretch to consider Kagami the main antagonist of The Last Blade games given his central role in the main protagonists' conflict as well as his involvement with the Hell's Gate itself.

Despite this, Kagami ends his journey in The Last Blade series on a hopeful note. After being defeated and killed by Kaede, he is swiftly reincarnated and thanks to the efforts of certain other character he finds a newfound appreciation for humanity and decides to atone for his many misdeeds rather than return to his wicked ways.

Even though I haven't used him all that much while playing The Last Blade 2, Kagami is probably the character I would be most excited to see return in Samurai Shodown due to his suave looks, brutal fighting style and exceptionally slick moves. Given that he's already reincarnated once, he could be an easy fit even storywise if SNK wanted to go a canon route, though I'd say the main thing holding him back is that his presence in any game would inevitably be lessened without his protagonist counterpart present, seeing as he's playing the villain role for most of the story.

Hibiki Takane

The character who likely has the biggest chance of making the Samurai Shodown roster, Hibiki Takane is an exceptionally popular character despite being the only one in this list who actually made their debut in the second The Last Blade game and not the first one.

The daughter of one of Japan's most renowned swordsmiths, Hibiki sets out on a journey after her father is infected with a mysterious illness and succumbs to it after being visited by Setsuna, another character introduced in The Last Blade 2.

One of the more dynamic factors of Hibiki in The Last Blade 2 is that she has different endings depending on how the player finishes their matches. She's initially a shy and withdrawn girl who doesn't seem to enjoy fighting, but if the player gets many perfect victories her ending will show her having grown ruthless and cold, while if the player didn't cut their foes down as masterfully she'll end up a more cheerful and happy person in the end.

A big factor in Hibiki's popularity and why I think she's the top pick for being a Samurai Shodown guest is the fact that she's already been part of a fighting game crossover in the past which gained her many more fans than she already had — Capcom vs. SNK 2 featured Hibiki in its roster as the sole The Last Blade character so a lot of people who never even played her source game will remember her from there.

The fact that she was already picked for crossing over in the past, albeit most likely at Capcom's behest since they were developing the game, speaks a lot in her favor.

In the end, there are a lot of fantastic candidates and in lieu of receiving an actual The Last Blade 3, hearing that SNK are willing to revive at least parts of the franchise by crossing over to Samurai Shodown is great news. While these six characters are the ones I found most likely to join the roster, it's entirely possible that a completely different fighter will be the one who ends up in Samurai Shodown's third season.

Which The Last Blade character are you hoping to see brought back for Samurai Shodown in the near future? Let us know in the comments.

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