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aka: Strider Hiryu

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This page covers the Strider Hiryu manga and its close video game adaptation for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Strider Hiryu is a 1-volume manga published by Kadokawa Shoten in 1988, the first of the three Strider projects to be released. The manga's plot is set in the year 2048, where the still-Communist Kazakh Federation is doing a crappy job and the country is in economical peril, leading to the rise of rebel groups. As these rebels aren't as well suited to deal with the government police forces, they hire the assistance of the Striders, a mercenary group who claims descendance from the ninja of old. The Striders sent in two agents, Sheena and Kain, but the meeting they attend to is suddenly raided by the Secret Police. Although the Striders easily take down most of the police's heavy vehicles, Kain ends up captured and taken prisoner. Once the news reach the Striders HQ, the group's Vice-Director and current leader, Matic, sees no other choice but to bring in Hiryu, their best agent and Kain's long-time friend, back from his self-imposed retirement. But rather than a rescue mission, Matic forces Hiryu into accepting a mission to find and eliminate Kain, calling him a liability to the organization now that he was captured. Although at first not wanting to get involved with the Striders again, Matic forces Hiryu's hand by threatening the Mongolian nomads Hiryu has been living with since he left the group, after which he reluctantly accepts. Hiryu’s quest to find Kain would eventually uncover a much sinister plot being carried out by the Mega-Corp Enterprise’s president Faceas Clay and Matic himself to control humanity via brainwashing, a project which also involved the events that ended in the death of Hiryu’s sister Mariya two years ago by his hand.

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In December 1988 (two months after the manga's run ended), a one-off special chapter was released titled Strider Hiryu Gaiden. Set 6 months after the death of Hiryu's sister, the chapter has Hiryu going into a dangerous mission to rescue a scientist from a terrorist group led by the Zangi Brothers, a deadly Sibling Team. As a result of his mission to stop his mad sister and her eventual death when he was forced to defend himself, Hiryu became a Death Seeker, uncaring if he dies during a mission, and thus he was sent into this mission aware that, one way or another, it'd be his final mission as a Strider. The chapter was not included in the tankoubon release, making it extremely rare to find nowadays.

The NES video game Strider was released in July 1989, following several delays and even the cancellation of its Japanese counterpart, making this version the only way Western players got to know the cast from the manga. The game follows loosely the same plot as the manga, with Hiryu being forced out of retirement by Matic to find and kill the captured Kain, but certain parts are altered or expanded to cover for gameplay needs, such as the inclusion of new locations and characters, and the story deviates from the manga’s at some crucial points near the end. In terms of gameplay, the game is nothing like its big brother platformer, being instead an action-adventure game with light Metroidvania stylings: the player goes back and forth throughout each location looking for items, keys and/or unlocking abilities that allow to further proceed into the next area.

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These two works provide examples of:

  • Ability Required to Proceed: A few times a specific ability or item is required to proceed in a previous area, such as the large wall in the first stage requiring the Magnet Boots to climb, or the Triangle Jump being mandatory in two sections of Egypt.
  • The Ace: Hiryu is the best the Striders have produced. Matic notes he's the only one who would be able to kill Kain, and not even other Striders of the same rank come close to have a fair chance at killing him without ambushing or tricking him.
  • Adapted Out: Some secondary characters didn't survive the transition from manga to NES game. The two most notable are Yuri (a secretary of the Mega-Corp and Matic's ally in the whole Evil Plan) and the Director of the Kazakh laboratory (responsible for the very Mind-Control Device the whole story circles around).
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Zain computer goes batshit crazy after all the human baddies are killed.
  • Badass in Distress: Kain gets captured and in problems twice in a row during the 4th chapter, when facing other Striders, and Hiryu has to think quickly in order to save him. He never gets in this situation during the other chapters.
  • Badass Mustache: Faceas Clay sports quite a sharp mustache.
  • Berserk Button: If you use innocent people as guinea pigs and then as meat shields, or even worse children... It's best that Hiryu never discovers that, lest you want to end up in tiny pieces.
  • Big Bad: Faceas Clay, with Matic as the true mastermind.
    • The Dragon: Manga-exclusive character Yuri to both Faceas Clay and Matic.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During the final chapter of the manga, Kain comes just in time to take down the two guards about to shoot an exhausted Hiryu, allowing him and Matic to have their one-on-one duel. Seconds later, Kuramoto appears with an entire team of Striders loyal to him, putting Matic on the ropes for good.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Enterprise and ZAIN have been destroyed, plus Faysus Clay and Matic are dead, but it did not happen without the deaths of Mariya & Sheena(along with Cain in the NES Game), this leads to Hiryu quitting again, leaving his Cypher behind.
  • Blood Knight: Commander Keith in the manga profess a desire to test his mettle against the Striders, too bad he was nowhere near at the same level as them. In the NES game, Kodiak tells Hiryu he wants to test a Strider's power.
  • Boss Rush: The NES game has a Mini-Boss Rush, pitting the player against previous stage sub-bosses before facing Matic and the Zain machine.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Kain. Hiryu's sister is revealed to be one as well. Both due to the influence of the ZAIN Project, which turns them paranoid, making them believe their friends and family are plotting to kill them.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Little is known of Hiryu's past other than that he's an orphan of Asian descent (likely Japanese), but when you consider that his sister has blond hair and a Russian / Ukrainian first name, it's possible the manga / NES continuity meant for Hiryu to be Eurasian.
    • Interestingly enough, an old Capcom source lists Hiryu as being born in a region of Siberia. Although this would apply to the coin-op, since both it and the manga were done concurrently, is quite possible this backstory also rings true for the manga.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Matic from the manga. The man is unrepentantly evil and has no qualms over using underhanded tactics and manipulation to get what he wants, in spite of the fact that, as the Striders' second-in-command, he'd be a certified One-Man Army. This is best demonstrated in the final chapter, when he corners an exhausted Hiryu with two armed mooks, and gloats he's in no shape to avoid the bullets this time. When forced into a one-on-one confrontation with him, however, he finds himself intimidated by Hiryu's determination to win, and so after noticing a large crowd of lesser Striders has gathered (which he believes are all loyal to him), wastes no time in ordering them all to kill Hiryu on the spot.
    • Two of the Striders under his charge, Arana and Kubira, are also not above using ambushes or setting up traps to kill him. Kubira actually justifies it as, having been in training school with Hiryu, he's well aware of his monstrous strength and skills and knows very well that, in a direct confrontation, he'd have no chance of victory.
  • Continuity Cameo:
    • Both manga exclusive enemies Arana and Kubira appear as enemy grunts in some stages of the NES game.
    • A weapon from the manga, the "Shadow Tag Bullets", appears to be used by a Russian soldier in the first Arcade game (according to the manual).
    • The game's intro shows Kain blowing up a chopper. This chopper is from the first chapter of the manga, although what's shown in the intro is a mix of references from that chapter. note 
  • Continuity Nod: The 2014 ''Strider'' throws a few bones to the mostly-ignored manga/NES version of the series:
    • The ZAIN Project gets referenced in the "ZAIN Project v2", a "perfect warrior" project seeking to create the ultimate fighting machine with a brain as its core.
    • Hiryu's design reintroduces a number of elements from his manga appearance, such as the single shoulder pad and the mechanical gauntlet. He's also given Kunai as a technique, he only ever used Kunai once during his battle with Kain in the manga.
    • It is snowing in the first areas of Kazakh City; the only instance where Kazakh is under such climate is in the manga (there is a thunderstorm in the NES game, and the Arcade first stage has no particular climate of note).
  • Contract on the Hitman: Both stories start out with Matic forcing Hiryu out of retirement to kill Kain, who was captured by the enemy. After Hiryu discovers the truth and turns on Matic, he becomes the one hunted down by Matic's men.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: Areas in the China and Los Angeles stages have small openings in the ground, where one hides as spiked walls pass by.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Faceas Clay, president of Enterprise, wants to control humanity to remove their destructive impulses and usher in a new era. The company's secretary Yuri, on the other hand, really enjoys the idea of having the power to control the entire world.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Most enemies Hiryu faces in the manga can't even lay a finger on him.
  • Death by Adaptation: Strider Kain in the NES game just before the final stage (he survives in the manga).
  • Death Seeker: Hiryu during the Gaiden extra chapter of the manga, where the guilt over his sister's murder has made him act reckless and suicidal during missions because he's looking to die during an assignment.
  • Determinator: Hiryu. Specially near the end of the manga.
  • Dodge the Bullet: An awesome display of this in the manga. note 
  • Evil Brit: Matic.
  • Evil Plan: The whole story of the manga is revealed to have been the work of Matic, who started it three years before its beginning as a way to get enough power and resources to Take Over the World.
  • The Evils of Free Will: This is the driving force behind Faceas Clay in the Strider manga: a sociopath with no regards for others and a preference for machines over human companions, he compares humanity's potential for doing evil to a computer glitch left behind by a careless God, and plans to "fix" this "factory error" by taking over humanity's free will through a mind-control weapon, creating an utopian world with equality and no conflicts under his guidance.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Faceas Clay's motivation in the manga is to force humanity to evolve through mind control, as he believes all humans to be flawed since inception with malice.
    • A God Am I: He actually says he wants to "take the seat of God" and finish his work.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The stage set in China consists of two large stone towers housing a ZAIN Terminal.
  • The Gunslinger: Sheena is seen wielding firearms exclusively.
  • Heal Thyself: Hiryu gains three healing skills as he levels up in the game.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: Kain has to dodge two missiles sent his way by a chopper during the first chapter of the manga.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: Kuramoto wields a Sword Cane and fights using this style. In the NES game, it's Matic instead the one using this style in his boss fight, striking Hiryu's Cypher off his hands if he dares attack him with it.
  • In a Single Bound: The "Jump" Trick doubles Hiryu's jump height for a short time.
  • Jungle Japes: The 4th chapter of the manga is set in the Amazon rainforest, while the equivalent stage in the game is placed in Africa.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Dragon Fiend wields one able to shoot plasma. Aaron from the Gaiden chapter wields a giant one fitting his ginormous size.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Hiryu is tasked with killing his sister Mariya, an A-Class Strider (and the first woman to obtain the rank), after she went mad and slaughtered ten trainees of the organization. At the end of a fierce battle, Hiryu manages to impale her with the cypher, and a crying Mariya, the shock rousing her out of the brainwashing, asks her brother what happened as she dies. The ordeal affected Hiryu so deeply that he retired from the Striders and spent two years living in Mongolia with a young girl named Rin who reminded him of his sister.
  • La Résistance: The manga features a rebel group early on, who hired the Striders to help them fight the better-equipped Secret Police.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Kain is essentially the Dante of the NES game and manga; his easy-going personality (in contrast to Hiryu and Sheena) belies his ability, that of a man who is Hiryu's equal.
  • Locomotive Level: The first area in the Egypt stage is set atop a moving train known as the "Phantom Train" as it travels into the Egypt stage proper.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: There's an unique music theme for the two machines Hiryu needs to destroy in order to access the game's final area. Thing is, those machines do nothing and can be destroyed in seconds, so the theme goes to waste unless the player stands idly and listen to it.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Badger in the NES game has a rather large shield that protects him from any attack... As long as it's not coming from behind.
  • Mad Scientist: The manga has the Director of the Kazakh Federation Mental Institute, who secretly works for Enterprise and has created the ZAIN Terminals.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: The Kazakh Federation Mental Institute appears to be a mental asylum, but in truth it hides a ZAIN Laboratory and terminal. Hiryu and Kain discover this by checking on its phone and electric expenses, and finding them abnormally high for a commmon hospital.
  • Mandatory Unretirement: In the manga, Hiryu is forced out of his self-imposed retirement to murder his friend Cain, who was captured while on duty and became a liability to the group. He reluctantly accepts the job after his superior Matic threatens an entire village of innocents.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: The files you find in the stages to take back and analyze.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Matic is revealed at the end of the manga as this.
  • Master of Disguise:
    • The older Zangi brother in the Gaiden chapter disguises as the hostage Hiryu must rescue, and manages to injure Hiryu's arm before revealing himself.
    • Hiryu and Kain display this trait in the 5th chapter of the manga, when they disguise as repair men to infiltrate Enterprise' headquarters.
  • Mauve Shirt: A character in the NES game, Ryuzaki, wears the same uniform used by low-rank Striders in the manga, but he gets minor importance by investigating and assisting Hiryu on his mission.
  • Meaningful Name: One of the manga's enemies is Arana, which is Spanish for spider, and he uses web-like threads to ensnare his targets.
  • Mega-Corp: Enterprise in both versions.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Kali in the manga, a large defense machine in the form of a Hindu deity.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Kain really freaks out after finding out he killed Sheena while under mind control in the manga.
    • Hiryu was forced to kill his sister Mariya as part of a mission, which led to him retiring from the Striders. Later he discovers she was brainwashed courtesy of Enterprise.
  • No Name Given: A good number of manga-exclusive characters are only known by their profession.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Director Kuramoto from the manga suffers from senility, appearing very dispersed and oblivious about what's going on around him. Then, when a group of Matic's men show up with orders to kill him, Kuramoto suddenly stands up and kills them instantly, revealing his condition to be faked as he awaited for Matic to show his true colors.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Kain and Kuramoto in the manga.
  • Obvious Beta: The NES game is quite obviously a quick rush-job to fix and translate the unreleased Japanese original into English. This is most notable in the wonky controls and the very spotty collision detection (which in turns makes the Triangle Jump very difficult to perform). When the Japanese prototype was dumped online, it was discovered that, outside of a general code cleanup and some layout changes, the game was pretty much the same.
  • Off with His Head!: If not cut in half, this is the other common fate of anyone on the wrong end of Hiryu's Cypher.
  • One-Man Army: Strider agents are billed as such, with the lowest rank being stronger than a team of Special Forces soldiers. In the manga Hiryu has no problems taking down entire soldier units, and a complete terrorist group in the Gaiden chapter, all by himself.
  • On the Next: The NES game has short "episode previews" when you leave the game after requesting a password.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Faceas Clay is calmly awaiting for Hiryu while sitting in one, in both versions.
  • Player Headquarters: The Blue Dragon in the NES game.
  • Playing with Fire: Hiryu gains several fire-based attacks as he levels up.
    • Shock and Awe: In the manga, Hiryu's cypher makes use of electricity. The NES Tricks "Spark" and "SP-Ball" (Spark Ball) are also this.
  • Pocket Protector: Hiryu gets saved from a bullet by a necklace originally belonging to his sister, during the Gaiden side chapter of the manga.
  • Poison Mushroom: A small skull item sometimes comes out of enemies instead of a healing item, and picking it up substracts 10 points of health.
  • Point of No Return: Once the second-to-last level (Australia) is completed, the only available location to warp to is the final stage, the Red Dragon, making all other areas inaccessible.
  • Posthumous Character: Hiryu's sister, Mariya, died 2 years before the beginning of the story.
  • Puzzle Boss: Some of the NES game's bosses are this, Matic and Badger being the biggest examples.
  • Retired Badass: Hiryu starts as one in both, having retired from active duty for 2 years.
  • Razor Floss: The Weapon of Choice of Strider Arana in the manga, which he uses to create trap zones in which his victims get diced apart by the simple act of walking into the wires.
  • Razor-Sharp Hand: The manga shows Hiryu cleanly slicing off human limbs with his bare hand.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Sheena. Her death is the catalyst for both Hiryu and Kain to go after Enterprise.
  • Samurai: Dragon Fiend, one of the bosses in the NES game, wears samurai armor and a sword. This despite he being a Strider, basically a modern-day ninja.
  • Secret Police: Kazakh has one, and it's not very nice. [[Judge, Jury, and Executioner: They kill off captured rebels just to save off court fees.
  • Sibling Team: The Zangi Brothers, Big Bads of the Gaiden chapter. The younger (and massive) brother Aaron is pure brute force, his only strategy is to rush at the enemy; while the older brother is analytical and comes up with ambushes and plans on the spot.
  • Sinister Shades: Matic wears a set of round glasses at all times. We never get to see his eyes even.
  • Schrödinger's Cast: Kain dies at the end of the NES game, but survives in the manga.
  • Sibling Murder: Hiryu was forced to do this to his sister Mariya after she went insane and started murdering other Striders. He tried to talk her out of fighting, but being unable to, was finally forced to fight back and pierce her through with his Cypher. This would weight heavily on his mind afterwards, eventually leading to him leaving the Striders.
  • Slide Attack: Unlike the Arcade game, the NES version Slide starts as a non-damaging move, and the player needs to find the Attack Boots in order to turn it into an actual attack.
  • Smart Bomb: The "Ground" Trick would serve this purpose...but due to hardware limitations, there's rarely more than two enemies on-screen at any time, making it pretty much useless.
  • Smug Snake: Matic in the manga, full stop.
  • Space Station: The Striders' main base, the Blue Dragon, in the game. Matic has a Space Base that's his personal copy of it, called the Red Dragon.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Kain dies in the NES game, but survives in the manga.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":
    • The president of Enterprise was named "Faceas Clay" in the NES game, but that's an overly literal translation of his Japanese name. A Fan Translation of the manga corrects his name into "Faysus Clay" instead.
    • Kain was actually meant to be Cain, if that big "C" on his chest didn't clue you in already.
    • The manual names the samurai enemy "Dragon Friend".
  • Sword Beam: An unlockable ability for Hiryu in the game, known as the Plasma Arrow, lets him throw charged projectiles of plasma. Dragon Fiend can also perform this move.
  • Tank Goodness: The manga features an advanced tank (model T-48) used by the Secret Police to attack the inferior rebels. Kain notes it's rare they'd bring in such big guns to deal with the rebels, then nonchalantly blows the tank up.
  • Temple of Doom: The Egypt stage from the NES game is set inside a large pyramid full of traps and enemies.
  • Threatening Shark: The NES game has a humanoid shark robot as a mid-boss.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Matic. Although Hiryu shows complete distrust of him from the get-go, he only later discovers that he's working with Enterprise and plans on betraying Kuramoto for his own desires.
  • True Companions: Hiryu, Kain and Sheena. They're been friends since training school and had been frequently joined together for previous missions in the past.
  • Tube Travel: Long pneumatic tubes can be found in the NES game and used to move between rooms and areas.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Two examples from the original manga:
    • The Enterprise scientist in Chapter 3 starts out very confident in the security he has got for his secret lab, as he tells Faceas Clay through a phone call. This confidence vanishes just as Hiryu and Cain make quick work of his men, making him jump on the phone to ask for reinforcements moments before both striders confront him. But the real breaking point comes right after Hiryu destroys the Zain Terminal, which he treated as his child: he goes Laughing Mad, mocking Hiryu and Cain that their efforts are futile since the terminal they destroyed was but one of millons and finally burns to death while fanatically praising Faceas Clay.
    • Vice-Director Matic in the final chapter. Ever the Smug Snake, Matic corners an exhausted Hiryu after he murdered Clay (as he wanted), explains to him all his plans to take over both the Striders and Enteprise, and is about to execute Hiryu when Cain comes to the rescue. From there, it's all downhill for him: he fights an injured and weakened Hiryu, but backs away when Hiryu adamantly refuses to go down, then finds the Striders he thought were his lackeys don't follow his orders, and then Director Kuramoto (who he ordered his execution) was not only alive, but on to his treason. Cornered, he breaks down and threatens all present with a bomb, only to be Impaled with Extreme Prejudice seconds after by the main Zain computer he desired for so long.
  • Wall Jump: The dreaded Triangle Jump, which lets Hiryu jump off a wall into the opposite direction...or would do that, if not for the horrible collision detection missing more than half the time one tries to.
  • Warp Whistle: The game's aptly-named "Warp" ability lets Hiryu return to the Blue Dragon from anywhere in a stage. Before it, the only way to return was to backtrack all the way to the start point and jump.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Some of the early enemies in the manga, mostly secret police officers, pretty much vanish once the story starts focusing on Enterprise. This is specially bothersome with the police Commander, who disappears after raiding a rebel meeting, killing a bunch of civilians just to save court fees, manipulating and hitting a little girl, and gets no comeuppance for any of that.
    • The Flower Girl in the first chapter gets no resolution whatsoever. Her father's in prison, the Commander has no intention of making good on his promise to release him, and she seems to be pretty much on her own trying to survive a harsh winter. Atleast Sheena did find her, so one hopes she helped her in some way...
  • World Tour: Hiryu visits several countries/cities in his quest to stop Enteprise: Kazakh, Egypt, Japan, China, Africa, Los Angeles and Australia. He only visits Kazakh, the Amazon and Los Angeles in the manga, plus Mongolia (where he was living at the beginning).
  • Would Hurt a Child: The police Commander has zero problems slapping the little girl off his way when she starts bothering him to release his father from jail after she did what he instructed her to.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: How Kain is captured at the beginning of the manga: The police commander forces a little girl (promising to release her father from jail) to fake being death so Kain will approach her to help, and get shot with a tranquilizer for his efforts.

Alternative Title(s): Strider NES, Strider Hiryu

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