Victar's KoF/Shingo Yabuki sketch for Phoenix Reborn

From the beginning of Phoenix Reborn, I wanted to write someone in the role of Jin's teacher, but I wasn't sure who. I contemplated Sakura Kasugano of the Street Fighter Alpha series, but I never could get much of a handle on her character.

Roughly a third of the way through Phoenix Reborn, I had the idea to write in Shingo Yabuki from King of Fighters '98. Before I introduced Shingo in Chapter 14: Teacher's Pet, though, I first typed this document up as a groundline for his history and character. I present it for your amusement, and for the sake of aspiring fanfic writers who'd like to see how one might go about sketching a character/history before writing it all in.

Astute readers of Phoenix Reborn might notice that a few Shingo/KoF details envisioned here were embellished or changed for the final draft of my chapters (in particular, the idea that Chizuru Kagura married Goro Daimon didn't come to me until much later). That's the way it goes.

I don't play KoF 'cause I suck at fireball-style moves and the game has a high learning curve. But I watch my friends play it for hours. Shingo is easily my favorite character. Chizuru Kagura is probably my second favorite.

Official storyline that I've heard: KoF '97 ended when the ancient alliance reforged (Kyo, Iori, & Chizuru) won the Tournament and kicked Orochi's ass. Orochi tried to take control of Iori in the process, and Kyo had to destroy his rival, for once not out of hate, but out of duty and mercy (this is in the Kyo/Iori/Chizuru game ending). So far so good.

I take it a step further. Everyone says KoF '98 has no storyline. I say uh-uh. In my story, KoF '97 took place a few months after the Great Invasion. The Orochi Blood Riots (in KoF '97, when you fight either Orochi Iori or Orochi Leona - the very background changes from a cheering crowd to a destroyed, flame-ridden wreck) disrupted the competition, caused terrible havoc & loss of life, and forever blackened the tournament's name. It was the last official (in the eyes of any Earthly government) King of Fighters Tournament. Chizuru was once asked for a TV documentary, "In your estimation, how many King of Fighters finalists would you say survived the Orochi Blood Riots?" She thought to herself at length, and said, "That depends on what you mean by 'survived.'"

For when Chizuru/Kyo/Iori vanquished Orochi, it caused a great psychic storm that spread to numerous demiplanes of existence. In one of those demiplanes lurked the vile soul of Rugal Bernstein - an evil power & former master of previous KoF tournaments. He was preserved in a state non-life, yet not quite death, because of the "gift" of Orochi Power that further corrupted his black heart & body in KoF '95 (and ultimately destroyed his presence in the real world). Resisting the pull of the Black Abyss because of his state in between life & death, and slowly drifting to further heights of megalomaniacal insanity, Rugal - now calling himself Omega Rugal (the final boss of KoF '98) - worked his dark will.

Omega Rugal used the violent upheval of the Orochi avatar's demise as his chance to strike. He called virtually all the KoF warriors, past and present, living and dead, to his Demiplane of Souls. This explains how characters who died in previous KoF games (Vice, Mature, Iori, Rugal, probably Chris) are back and kicking ass in KoF '98. A few exceptions: Kasumi Todo has gotten married and completely quit the fighting life; Rugal's lure had no power over her. Goenitz is dead and gone to where even Rugal can't call him, etc.

But Rugal hooked 37 other souls (not counting characters like Eiji & Mr. Big, who only appear in the background of KoF). That's 12 three-person teams and Shingo. Rugal also sent a weaker replica of himself into the fray (this is the underpowered, selectable player char Rugal in KoF '98), to pose as the real Rugal and help misdirect everyone. Omega Rugal's plan was to have the warriors fight, and harvest the energy generated from all their many, many battles until he had so much Power he could become a true god, escape the Demiplane of Souls, and return to terrorize Heaven and Earth. That the Demiplane of Souls would be destroyed, killing/disincorporating the KoF warriors that denied Rugal his "rightful" godhood in KoF '94-'95, made his evil plan all the sweeter.

BTW, this is in the same vein as with how Yashiro/Shermie/Chris were harnessing fight energy from KoF '97 to awaken Orochi. It's also why KoF '98 is subtitled "Dream Battle Never Ends" - Rugal cast an illusion glamor over everyone's souls and the whole demiplane. All the KoF fighters believe they're back home, fighting in the latest KoF, with friends/family/spectators cheering them on, etc. It's all a grand illusion - a great lie masked in the collective hallucination of a normal world. The truth is, they're senselessly battling in the Demiplane of Souls, slowly tearing it apart with their violence, all to Omega Rugal's gain.

The mass hallucination hooked everybody. Not even Chizuru or Kyo even suspected, it was so complete. Energy amounted. Rugal was on the cusp of achieving his goal - he was going to ascend to godhood...

...when a lone challenger broke the rules, defied the odds, and dared to contest the awesome power of Omega Rugal all by himself - no other teammates to help him. This was Shingo.

Shingo didn't see through Rugal's illusion any more than anyone else. But he was eager to prove himself to his teacher/idol Kyo Kusanagi, smart enough to track the true Omega Rugal (not just the replica) down in the demiplane, and gutsy enough to risk his life with a one-on-one challege. This is also in keeping with KoF '98, where CPU Shingo will sometimes challenge your team for a bonus match (if you get a perfect victory). CPU Shingo always fights your whole team by himself, making this one of the easiest bonus matches since MK1's breaking wooden blocks.

So, Shingo fought Omega Rugal.

Shingo lost.


Omega Rugal literally tore him apart. Burned off his left arm & left leg, ripped out his left eye, crushed practically every other bone in Shingo's body. But Shingo's sacrifice did have one good result. He broke Omega Rugal's concentration, just for a few seconds - just long enough for Omega Rugal to swat the annoying flea that Shingo was. Just long enough for Omega Rugal to briefly lose his precise control over the grand illusion.

Chizuru Kagura recognized the Demiplane of Souls for what it was. She instantly divined the true extent of Omega Rugal's plans. Other KoF fighters, especially Kyo, also began to have suspicions, but Chizuru alone knew for absolute certain the horrifying truth.

There was no time for Chizuru to track down the other souls of the ancient trio (Kyo & Iori). She knew that if she did not act now, all would be lost. So she took her teammates (Mai Shiranui & King), and teleported straight to the heart of Omega Rugal's lair. The three of them challenged Omega Rugal. After a harrowing battle, they won. So the Neo Female Team were the true victors of KoF '98.

Omega Rugal was a sore loser. Even though godhood had been denied him, he moved to destroy the whole demiplane anyway, seeking revenge on the lives and souls of all the fighters he'd spirited into his domain. This is represented by Omega Rugal blowing himself up if you beat him - only it was a metaphor for destroying the whole "world," and all our heroes too. Even Chizuru, with all her holy powers, couldn't stop the destruction or escape to safety.

But just then, Kyo showed up. It had taken him and his teammates (Benimaru & Goro Daimon) longer to arrive because none of them could teleport on their own - they had to enlist help from someone who could. (This was Athena Asamiya - Team Japan had been in the middle of a fight with Team China; at the instant Kyo realized the truth, he was in a pitched battle with the aggressive Sie Kensou. It took precious minutes to call off the fight, revive beaten team members on both sides, and enlist Athena's aid). Kyo arrived in time to see the bitter results of Chizuru's Pyrrhic victory, and to watch Shingo die. Bleeding beyond any hope of being saved, Shingo's last, delirious words were "Kusanagi-san... gomen-nasai..."

The demiplane started to collapse, and it seemed they would all be destroyed, when Chizuru told Kyo what he had to do.

The Power that Rugal had amassed was still there, but it could only be harnessed by a person of destiny - a living human who had faced and slain a god. Kyo had personally slain the avatar of the god Orochi (Iori & Chizuru had helped, but theirs were not the hands that dealt the killing blow). Kyo was the only one who could prevent disaster, not only for the trapped fighters, but also the real world. There could be no guessing how much havoc the demiplane's collapse would wreak across the dimensions; it could potentially be like dropping hundreds of A-bombs upon the real world... and the real world was still recovering from the savage toll of the Great Invasion. The only way to prevent doom would be for Kyo to accept the amassed Power, and become a god himself.

Kyo hesitated. Because, at heart he just likes to have fun in life, thrill of the fight, hanging out with his girlfriend, etc... not godhood.

Then Kyo heard the soul of his girlfriend Yui call to him, just as she had called once before (in the Kyo/Iori/Chizuru ending of KoF '97 - Yui calls along with other benevolent spirits that only Kyo can hear, and the last scene is a sketchy picture of Yui's face. The evil Orochi servants had kidnapped Yui in KoF '97 as a sacrifice to free their god, and the game never specifies whether she was rescued). Kyo looked at Shingo, looked at Yui, then looked inside himself, and found the resolve.

"I missed you," Kyo said to Yui.

Kyo Kusanagi ascended to the heavens and became a god, along with his divine true love Yui/Kushinada (Kushinada is her soul's ancient name from the legend of the Orochi). I see this represented in the KoF '98 title frames, which have a three-frame flash scene of Kyo sketched against a white background, then fade to white.

United as gods, Kyo & Kushinada at last had the combined Power to free the living, dying, and dead souls trapped in the demiplane. (Metaphorically, you see this as a helicopter carrying away the survivors). Kyo & Kushinada also supervised the demiplane's collapse, so that it perished without causing harm to any other world.

And so, right about the end of 1998 (Rugal's mad fantasy had lasted over a year by the real world's calender), various KoF fighters who had disappeared during the Orochi Blood Riots started reappearing here and there around the globe. Some went public with their stories, but many more did not. And some simply did not appear at all... no one knew whether they hadn't been returned, or had gone back to being dead, or were just keeping a low profile. MIA fighters included all those of Orochi blood except Leona (Yashiro, Chris, Shermie, Ryuji Yamazaki, Iori, Vice, & Mature). Leona and the other Ikari warriors returned to being mercenaries who only fight for just causes.

Shingo and Chizuru were also returned to their lives. Chizuru returned to the quiet life as a priestess and vanguard against supernatural evil, as well as the not-so-quiet party life when she wasn't busy vanguarding. Chizuru also made an effort to watch over Shingo, both out of personal debt to him (for breaking Omega Rugal's illusion) and because she knew it was what the god Kyo would want.

Shingo was another matter. As a god, Kyo was able to save Shingo's life, but he could not restore Shingo's lost limbs or eye. However, Shingo carried even deeper wounds. You see, Chizuru didn't dispel Rugal's illusion/glamor until after Shingo was destroyed and dying. Shingo was almost unconscious after that. He was just barely aware to see Kyo become a god. So, Rugal's illusion/glamor wasn't quite completely broken in Shingo's mind, even after he was physically and psychically removed from the demiplane.

Furthermore, Shingo Yabuki returned to bleakness at home. Almost his entire immediate family - mother, father, and little sister - had died in the KoF '97 Orochi Blood Riots. They came to watch him fight, and perished in the violence ignited by the Orochi's evil followers. Only Shingo's older sister, who hadn't gone to the Tournament because she was bogged down with schoolwork, survived.

Rugal's illusion had created a make-believe world where Shingo's family was still alive (in KoF '98, he says "Did you see me, mom?! I...I won! King of the world!" when he wins a match). This is the heart of why Omega Rugal's illusion retained such a powerful grip on Shingo's soul, even after Rugal was destroyed.

Shingo lost touch with reality. He refused to acknowledge that he had been crippled, or that his family was dead; it was as if he were forever still in the Demiplane of Souls, anticipating his next match in the Tournament. Not even his surviving sister could pull him back.

Shingo's girlfriend (whom he loved dearly - she's from the game storyline, no name is given for her) tried to help him, but even she could not believe his wild stories about devils/demons/Kyo becoming a god, and it shook her how Shingo simply could not accept the death of his family. So she left him, and eventually married someone else. In fact, as of December 2017 Shingo is teaching one of her kids at the Mishima Syndicate Senior Specialty School. He knows who the boy is; if you ask him, he will mention that the boy has his mother's eyes.

Shingo is very obviously in his late 30s, yet he sincerely believes - and will cheerfully tell you - that he is 17 years old. His left arm & left leg are clearly wooden prosthetics, yet he will tell you that he just has "broken bones," and that the "casts" should come off in another week or so. His left eye is glass (noticeable if you look close), but all he'll say about it is "I don't see too well on that side." If you tell him that his eye is gone or he has no depth perception, he'll just smile. He won't acknowledge that his family is dead. He also talks to Kusanagi-sama (-sama now, not -san, because Kyo is a god) regularly, or in the middle of any conversation. It's unnerving. People get edgy because they think he's talking to his dead best friend. If they learn the truth - that Shingo thinks he's talking to a god - it does not set their minds at ease.

Shingo's insanity is such that he accepts blatant contradictions with a beaming smile; not even an anxious thought. His delusion is that strong. You can point out to him that it has obviously been 20 years since KoF '97 (he's teaching the teenage child of his former girlfriend, for goodness' sake), and he will still give you his own age as 17 every time. You can point out that his arm and leg are quite clearly wooden (he removes his prosthetics and glass eye each night before he goes to sleep) and he'll politely acknowledge that yes, casts have to be stiff, bones can't heal if they're not firmly set.

When Shingo's older sister first had a reunion with her delusional little brother in 1998, she was overjoyed to find him alive, and tried her best to help him. But nothing she could do was any good, and finally she could not bear it anymore. So she committed Shingo to an insane asylum with an excellent record (Serenity Consolation Asylum). Shingo's older sister never suffered a financial burden for the care of her brother, though, because a mysterious benefactor anonymously sent her the funds to cover it. This was actually Chizuru, who paid for Shingo's care because of the debt she owed him for breaking Omega Rugal's illusion. As for Shingo's older sister, she eventually got married. Shingo has a couple nephews & a niece now, but their highly protective mother almost never lets them see their crazy uncle.

Shingo lived in the asylum for close to 20 years. He wouldn't even acknowledge it as an asylum; he always called it "the hospital" instead. Although Shingo lived half-immersed in the continuing fantasy of Rugal's illusion, there was still part of him left in the real world. That part was what made him continue his fighting training. After Shingo subdued an asylum inmate who was threatening the lives of the staff, Shingo gained sufficient trust from the staff to be allowed more freedom. They let him carry the claw cane that he uses both as a crutch to get around and as a martial arts weapon. Shingo also worked for the asylum (he didn't think it right just to live there without doing anything). Mostly janitorial/custodian work, but he also taught illiterate asylum inmates to read, and he helped the asylum design & maintain their corporate web page. Chizuru provided him with a small monthly allotment, which he used to enroll in several Internet correspondence courses.

Shingo is techincally not a high school graduate, although he did pass the equivalent of a G.E.D. His educational credentials (he has an internet-college Ph. D. in Humanities, with a double minor in History and English - his English is perfectly fluent except for his very thick Japanese accent) are at best shaky, at worst would be outright rejected by almost any academic institution. However, he always was a good student, and he still has strict self-discipline combined with seemingly infinite patience. Now, believe it or not, he truly is a competent teacher. He's just utterly delusional.

Now for Jin Kazama's first introduction to Shingo. It started a few months ago - shortly before the Ikebukuro disaster, Jin started another disaster that was almost as bad. Jin had gotten into a fight with other students, and Jin's old teacher tried to break it up. Jin didn't see his old teacher until too late.


Jin's old teacher was severely electrocuted. After a few weeks of bedrest & medical care (all paid for by the Mishima syndicate, of course), the poor teacher was pretty much healed, but he also quit the school. No teacher could be paid enough to get NEAR Jin. It looked like Jin would have to drop out of high school, and Heihachi Mishima hated the idea of his grandson being such a failure. A depressed Jin escaped his bodyguards and went wandering late at night to get away from his grandfather's disapproving thoughts. Then, a bad situation got worse.

This was the Ikebukuro disaster. Short version: a criminal named Eijiro Fujisawa tried to rob Jin at knifepoint. Jin fought back. Boom. In addition to starting a massive fire, Jin inflicted such physical & psychic trauma on Eijiro that Eijiro mentally reverted to the psyche of an eight-year-old.

Jin felt great remorse over what he'd done, and took responsibility for his actions by personally committing Eijiro to Serenity Consolation, the finest asylum in the area. Once every week or so, Jin checks on Eijiro (always behind a one-way mirror; Jin doesn't want to chance that Eijiro might turn for the worse upon seeing him). When Jin went for his first visit, he was worrying he might have to drop out of school, and then he happened to meet Eijiro's new friend Shingo.

The Mishima Syndicate Senior Specialty School needed another teacher. A teacher crazy enough to actually be around Jin on a daily basis. A teacher so crazy that the only place Jin could find one was in a goddamn insane asylum. (Usually in Japanese schools, the students stay in one room while the teachers rotate, but Jin is a special case - he rotates from class to class along with Shingo, because no other teacher will stay in the same room with him.)

Shingo was quite pleased to accept the job. It's always nice to be needed. And the salary that the Mishima syndicate paid him was enough that he could move out of the asylum and rent his own place. The Mishima syndicate pulled a few strings, bribes, and fast-talk with Shingo's older sister (actually Shingo's legal guardian) so they could legitimately get Shingo out of the asylum. As for Chizuru, she paid Shingo a personal visit. He told her that he truly wanted to teach for the Mishima Syndicate Senior Specialty School, so of course she could not stand in his way.

Overall, Shingo actually likes Jin. At the same time, though, he immediately recognized Jin for what he was - a devil, cursed by tainted blood. Shingo has had plenty of experience with demons and devils before (mostly those with Orochi blood). He knows that when the dark side of their blood takes control, they can become as deadly to their friends, family and allies as to their enemies. For example: Leona, under control of Goenitz & her demon blood, murdered her parents. Iori, possessed by the Riot of the Blood in KoF '96, murdered his teammates Vice & Mature. Yashiro would have killed Chris, Shermie, and then himself to resurrect Orochi (in the boss team ending of KoF '97). Of course, Ryuji Yamazaki would kill anyone for 25 cents and two Cheerios box tops.

But Shingo also knows that demons are people too, and not all those who have cursed blood are truly evil. Shingo knows that Iori gave up his life to help Kyo destroy the evil Orochi (and Iori did not murder Vice & Mature from conscious choice). On another tangent, once Leona regained the memory of killing her parents, she almost committed suicide out of remorse (Ralf stopped her, as in the Ikari Team KoF '97 ending). Ever since, she has sought to redeem herself through her service as one of the noble Ikari Warriors.

Shingo has told Jin that Jin is a devil more than once, but Jin doesn't take Shingo seriously. Jin thinks that Shingo is crazy (and to a certain extent, Shingo is crazy). However, Jin does treat Shingo with very careful respect, because Jin honestly can't afford to lose another teacher. Jin also believes, rightfully, that Shingo is not a danger to himself or others - Jin never would have sprung Shingo from the asylum if Jin believed otherwise.

In the past couple months, Shingo has gained quite a notorious reputation at the Mishima Syndicate Senior Specialty School. His delusions are widely known, and the subject of much gossip. Some teachers pity him; others are suspicous of him. Nearly all of the faculty avoid him as extensively as they avoid Jin - anyone crazy enough to willingly instruct a devil can't be someone you want to get close to. Shingo is currently in need of an aide, more to help him run errands/carry course lecture materials than to assist in actual teaching (one of his arms isn't very good for holding stuff, after all, and he needs the other arm to use his claw-cane when he walks). His last aide quit because she was getting creeped out over his periodic conversations with a "Kusanagi-sama" whom she could not see or hear.

The high school students are, for the most part, more disdainful than apprehensive of Professor Yabuki. They call him "Crazy Shingo" behind his back. Shingo is aware of this; he is no stranger to allegations of insanity, and takes it all in stride with genuine good humor. He'll make you stand in the hall only if you disrupt his class, or if you make the mistake of bringing any kind of mirror into his presence (a couple of the more vain students have accidentally discovered this quirk of Shingo's the hard way).

Modern-day Shingo is not a sorcerer, but he has learned a few tricks. His gloves carry a blessing that Kusanagi-sama bestowed when he became a god and saved Shingo's life. The gloves' Power is not immediately obvious, even to anyone who's sensitive to sorcery such as Jin. The gloves are exclusively tied to Shingo; if anyone else puts them on, they're just gloves (although Shingo would never let anyone else wear the gloves). Shingo can't use the gloves to throw fireballs; creating weapons with the Power for an offensive attack would have been a violation of the Divine Sanctions, so that Kyo was able to bless the gloves for defensive purposes only. On Shingo's hands, they can create an extendible shield of Power. They can protect people from bullets, fire, etc. However, the gloves' Power has to be fueled directly from the wearer's life-force. They have no built-in safety to keep them from draining the wearer to death (an oversight on Kyo's part - he was new at this whole divine Power thing when he blessed the gloves), so they should not be invoked except in dire emergencies. Shingo knows all this, and does not casually discuss or summon the Power of his gloves.

Shingo has also learned how to make spirit wards from Chizuru, and he's familiar with this or that odd piece of lore about gods/demons/devils/sorcery. He still has a penchant for taking chaotically scribbled notes on ANYTHING; he usually wears a notebook on a cord attached to his inner jacket lining. At the drop of a hat, he'll instantly fish the notebook and pencil out, balance the notebook on his prosthetic left arm, and jot down any miscellaneous details he wants to make sure he'll remember. His apartment has a big storage chest filled with old notebooks. In fact, his vast medley of notes and personal training have allowed him to expand his arsenal of fighting moves. What he lacks in limbs, he makes up for in acquired moves from other KoF characters. For example, he can wield his claw cane in attacks similar to Billy Kane's.

Shingo's pleasant temper is very difficult to ruffle. However, one of the few things that disturbs his good humor is mirrors. He does not like being around mirrors, and never looks into one if he can help it (Shingo keeps himself clean shaven, but often cuts himself on the cheeks or chin because he doesn't use a mirror). Mirrors reflect too much truth about who he is, how old he really is, and what really happened to him. If you press him about his aversion to mirrors, though, he'll just say that they're dangerous because "devils use them to bridge worlds." (Which is technically true, but very rare).

The other thing that Shingo does not care for is his dreams. Sometimes he gets nightmares - nightmares that have become more frequent and intense, ever since he moved out of Serenity Consolation Asylum. He dreams that he's a cripple. He dreams that he's not really 17, but rather a lonely, middle-aged man who's been living in a madhouse for over half his life. He dreams that his mother, father, and little sister all died violently because of him. The nightmares are so horrifying that he wakes up choking on a muffled scream.