No, Ash Crimson is Not Part of the Line-Up. Yet.
We may still be waiting on KOF XV and the anime short, but at least we have some new stuff to tide us over in the meantime. The new character trailers for Benimaru Nikaido, Shun’ei, and Meitenken have dropped, and they contain a startling revelation: the three of them have jumped ship from Team Japan and Team China in favor of making their own. These fighters have reached into the past and resurrected the title of Team Hero–yes, the one Ash Crimson led once upon a time–this time without the quotation marks. According to the press release which accompanied the trio’s character trailers, Benimaru may not have joined up willingly: “During this tournament, Benimaru’s friend and rival, Kyo Kusanagi, forces him into a position where he must watch over Shun’ei and Meitenkun.”
Forced into babysitting the new protagonists? No wonder Benimaru’s trailer is dedicated to him beating the crap out of his new teammates.
Character trailers have also dropped for Shun’ei and Meitenkun. The series’ new protagonist continues to look like every light novel and shonen hero design cliche tossed into a blender–blue hair, bandages on his arms, coat worn as a cape, huge glowy magical fists, always wearing headphones, etc.–but at least the song playing in his trailer is nice. If only the editing was nice, too.
In contrast, Meitenkun is as sleepy and adorable as ever. One of his combos involves tossing his pillow to an opponent to hold and then pulverizing them while they’re distracted! So cute.
According to the character profiles included in the press release, Shun’ei’s reason for entering the tournament again is to continue developing his illusion powers–or rather, his control over those powers. We’re not sure why Kyo is invested in making sure Benimaru is there while Shun’ei pushes his abilities to the limit, but we’re looking forward to finding out. Meitenkun, meanwhile, is just here because Shun’ei is here and Meitenkun considers him family. This is why Meitenkun is best boy.
The King of Fighters XV is expected to come out in 2021 on undisclosed platforms.