Kirin is an elite warrior of Teki, a mercenary unit whose members boast incredible physical prowess and skill, training their physique until they can be called "weapons". Among them Kirin stands as a top class fighter expert in hand-to-hand combat, having succeeded a secret style of martial arts, and as such he holds the title of the strongest Teki. Silent and stoic, Kirin is a man of little words but strong determination, stopping at nothing to accomplish his goal. He also seems to possess a strong sense of duty as he can't stand being betrayed, revealing a violent and vengeful side to him.
Kirin was summoned by the Federal attorney general, Jack Layzon, to take on a mission. Receiving him on his quarters in Prague, Layzon requests him to recapture the middle-eastern port city of Gran from a terrorist cult named "Slaver". Kirin infiltrates the city and confronts the cult's forces, eventually arriving at their main temple and defeating Herio, a being of fire. The mission, however, turns out to be a trap: Right after his victory, Jack Layzon suddenly appears with a large police force and, using all the destruction caused by Kirin and the cult's battle as legal excuse, has the cultists arrested. As Kirin's part on his plan is over, Layzon then has his men shoot him.
When he wakes up, Kirin finds himself chained to a rock in a desert. Narrowly escaping becoming food for a large monster, Kirin decides to head back to Prague in order to exact revenge on Layzon. Traveling through a Federal mining complex under the desert, Kirin discovers his former allies from Teki want to kill him as well, and kills the first in battle. Kirin then joins a band of pirates to cross the Indian Ocean, where they are chased by a Federal warship and Kirin is suddenly assisted by the goddess Slaver, who recognizes his desire to kill and gives him her permission to kill freely. He also faces and kills the second member of Teki.
Upon reaching mainland, Kirin enters the "Forest of Memory", a place which appears to have a strange effect on people's perception of past and present. Here he faces the last surviving Teki, who reveals to Kirin they have fought in the past and Kirin was killed then, and goads him into choosing the memory of where it happened (in-game this is a choice between the previous three boss areas). Upon winning in the memory, however, it is revealed it was all a false "scenario" manufactured by the Teki in an attempt to kill Kirin. With all enemies out of the way, Kirin arrives at Prague and finally faces Jack Layzon, but at the last moment his revenge is denied when Slaver appears and murders the traitor in front of him.
Slaver then calls to Kirin, calling him her "beautiful murderous weapon" and referring to herself as Kirin's "master", apparently believing he's now under her control. Kirin's bloodthirst, however, grows ever stronger and he eventually targets Slaver herself instead. Slaver sends in several resurrected bosses, a clone of Kirin and even all three Teki, but Kirin kills them all again and reaches her on the Heliosphere. Slaver finally appears in front of Kirin and challenges him to a duel to determine who is the strongest, with Earth standing as the prize. Slaver goes all out against Kirin, but in the end she's defeated. Slaver's face cracks and a single tear rolls out of her eye, which falls into Earth reverting it to a healthier color. She asks Kirin if he knows who she is, proclaiming her godhood, but Kirin then simply proclaims himself the superior god.
Skills and Abilities
- Main article: Osman#Techniques
As a warrior of the highest order, Kirin possess beyond peak human strength, agility and resistance, being capable of feats such as climbing and moving across difficult terrains like mountains effortlessly and without any sort of special equipment. He can perform long jumps, somersaults, mid-air spins and climb through any surface with his bare hands. He's powerful enough to bisect an armored man with his bare punches and kicks.
As a martial arts expert, Kirin dominates a number of special moves including turning, roundhouse and crouching spin kicks he can perform from any position and a fast punch combination called the "Shredding Dance", as well as deadly throw maneuvers for both ground and air-based enemies. When powered-up, Kirin is able to create up to four orange energy copies of himself which mimic his every attack, allowing him to attack from several different angles at the same time. He also counts with a powerful technique known as the "Kirin Star Festival", in which he draws a five-pointed star in mid-air leaving a copy at each point, after which they all converge into its center for a powerful explosive attack.
When at full power he also counts with an unique physical ability that allows him to create a blade of energy with each kick he strikes, extending his melee range and increasing the strength of his attack.
According to artist Utata Kiyoshi, Kirin's character direction was determined one time he was taking the train and saw an ad for the 1994 novel The Fist of God by Frederick Forsyth, which made him decide the main character would fight with no weapon, entirely bare-handed. Kirin's visual design changed very little from the first sketches to its final design, looking roughly the same but lacking some finer details such as the kanji on his chest. In terms of setting, Kirin was initially described as "governing over the Blue Dragon" and he had a rival that was likewise tied to the White Tiger, in reference to the Chinese Four Beasts. While this concept was discarded very early on, some details such as Kirin's dragon embroidery and his pants' default color being blue remained in the final design.
Kirin's gameplay, however, went through a lot of changes during development. Initial sketches played with the idea of "command techniques" not unlike a fighting game, with Kirin having different attacks based on motion and button combinations. A scrapped idea by Utata Kiyoshi included specific button presses and cancelling inspired in the control scheme of Capcom games. Kirin's screen-clearing attack, the "Kirin Star Festival", was also initially planned to be a multi-part move in which the player had to input five different commands in order to complete the five-pointed star, a process inspired in the multi-part command move "Akira Special" from Virtua Fighter 2.
An early build mistakenly provided to Gamest and used to write its walkthrough features a few gameplay differences from the final release, including the lack of the energy copy power-up, the Kirin Star Festival working by pressing forward twice and the attack button and functioning with a small gauge found at the top-left corner which charged up with each defeated enemy, and Kirin's kick extension power-up being part of the Shredding Dance move instead of a power-up activated by an item.
The Kirin or Qilin is an Asian mythological creature often associated with the unicorn, said to bring prosperity to those who see it and to appear when a ruler is about to arrive or depart. This could be symbolic in Kirin's nature as the one who dethrones Slaver and seemingly takes her place, with the Earth placed as the prize of their duel. The Qilin are also known for their peaceful nature, a stark contrast with Kirin's violent and vengeful behavior.
The name Kirin was also derived from the initial proposed name "Killing" to be used for both the protagonist and the game. His English name Osman is the Persian or Turkish transcript of the Arabic Uthman, possibly used to relate him with the Persian-based setting of the first two stages.
Similarities with Hiryu
As many elements of Osman are similar to Strider, Kirin's design and backstory are very reminiscent of Hiryu's: both are the top agents of mercenary-like organizations (Teki and the Striders, respectively) with a claimed descendance from ancient ninja, consummate professionals of few words, experts of close melee combat and both their styles are listed as "Taijutsu". As another small nod to Hiryu, a possible reading of the kanji for Kirin's fighting style (秘流の体術) is a homophone for "Hiryu's Taijutsu". Kirin's fluid animations took a huge amount of data and extended over 1600 different sprite patterns; a similar situation happened with Hiryu as Yotsui stated his animations used the amount they'd use in two games at the time.
Kirin sports a red kanji on his uniform's chest in much the same way Hiryu does. Unlike Hiryu, Kirin's kanji is not related to his name and instead is the kanji "Mu" (無, lit. nothingness) written in the cursive script.
Kirin's ability to create blades of energy with his kicks, however, is the same as used by Tong Pooh and the Kuniang sisters, and explicitly inspired by them as Yotsui designed Kirin based on the idea he was related to the "Tong Pooh clan". Kirin's initial discarded concept also related him to the East, as the Azure Dragon represents the East in Chinese mythology and "Tong Pooh" translates to East Wind.
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