Sound Theory – Ky Kiske

Heaven or Hell! What’s up, everybody? 2Tall here once again with a write up discussing some of the sounds we hear in the fighting games we love to play.  If the very first words of this piece didn’t give it away, I’ll be talking about Guilty Gear with my character selection being Ky Kiske. Without further ado, let’s rock!

Character themes are a part of what makes characters iconic. The World Warriors have their themes and even mainstream iconic characters such as Mario have themes that are instantly recognizable to the masses. I chose Guilty Gear and Ky for a few reasons. The first reason is that I’m not terribly familiar with Guilty Gear. I’ll take this as an opportunity to learn something, expand my horizons and maybe even pick up a new fighting game to play. The second reason is that, when I did touch Guilty Gear, I picked Ky. He’s a fly guy with a fly guy sword... what’s not to love about that? Anyway, it turns out that Ky has some deep history in the lore of the game, as he’s been around since the first iteration of it, and he’s got some complexities with regards to his character. Let’s explore.

Remember: Appearances can be deceiving, so check yourself before you wreck yourself...

Remember: Appearances can be deceiving, so check yourself before you wreck yourself...

Ky has been around since the first Guilty Gear and is one of the more well known characters in the series. His usual outfit is a loosely-fitting, blue base version of the white dime-a-dozen Sacred Order of Holy Knights (a.k.a. the Holy Order) Uniform, fastened together by a white belt buckle is inscribed with the word "HOPE". See? He’s fly!  He is a deeply religious man who has extreme devotion to God and the the ideals of law, order and honor. Though he has great faith and strong conviction, he is not one to overlook shades of gray in his predominantly black and white worldview. At just 16 years old, Ky was named the chief of the Sacred Order of Holy Knights. Upon his appointment, he was given the Thunderseal (that fly guy sword I was talking about earlier) which allows him to manipulate lightning. Soon after, he ended the 100 year genocidal war which were also known as The Crusades.

Ky’s theme is called “Holy Orders (Be Just or Be Dead)”, so it goes right along with his outfit (aha). It was composed by Daisuke Ishiwatari, who also designed the characters, storyline and music in the games. Ishiwatari is considered a metal and/or rock composer. The songs he wrote do not usually have lyrics but, instead, feature intricate guitar work. Ishiwatari gives Ky an awesome theme song. It starts out soft, almost classical segment for about 7 seconds, then it explodes with an intense guitar solo. The song takes you on an intense journey that makes you feel like you’re fighting, not just for some arbitrary reason, but that you’re fighting for truth and justice with the dreams of the people resting on your shoulders. It’s great battle music and it’s even seen some variations throughout the years. For example, "Holy Orders III" from Guilty Gear 2 Overture sees a majority of the song kept in tact but with a larger intro segment. The melody of the song is also done via violin instead of guitar. The strings actually give it a really nice touch. "Holy Orders III" is a bit smoother than the original and I think I prefer it because the violin/guitar combo is really unique sounding. It is a very welcome twist to Ky’s rock style theme song.

As I mentioned in the above paragraph, Ishiwatari’s songs for Guilty Gear do not usually have lyrics. However, there are vocal editions of some of the songs and these were released in the early 2000’s. Ky’s theme received a lyrical edition in the Guilty Gear XX in L.A. Vocal Edition CD released in 2004. Here, we are really able to see how Ky’s theme song is a reflection of his personality and his situation. Some of the lyrics are as follows:

We know

Daylight comes after days of war

And knights will fight and die for a piece of peace

And the darkness goes down and wonders

Skies fall and lightning strikes to the sword of

the warrior.

When we apply the lyrics to Ky’s situation, times of war are likened to darkness. It is a time of extreme strife and turmoil especially considering the genocidal nature of the war. Ky, as a Knight of the Sacred Order, has a responsibility to fight hard for peace, even to put his life on the line for it. That, coupled with his extreme devotion to his ideals, makes it easy to see why these lyrics were chosen for the vocal rendition of the song. The latter part of this particular stanza -- “Skies fall and lighting strikes the sword of the warrior” -- seems to be a direct description of his instant kill move Rising Force. As we can see in the video, the skies darken (or fall) and the lighting is flowing through his sword before he strikes his opponent with the finishing blow. Lyrically, the song matches up very well with Ky. It tells a bit about him and even one of his signature attacks. Coupled with the cadence and melody of the song, that makes it a very nice fit.

All in all, Ky’s theme is great! I love the complex guitar work and I like the metal type of sound that it has. It fits his character very well. On top of that, doing the research on Ky himself allows the theme to make more sense and come together very nicely. We get an idea of why it’s designed the way it is and we understand why the lyrics that were chosen to go along with the vocal rendition of his theme. I had a blast learning about Ky and I’m very excited to be playing him when I eventually pick up Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator. I’ll be happy to his hear his theme song playing in the background while I’m kicking ass.

Until next time, my friends.

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