|“||Tell me something: do you remember the Reaper from the beta? I wouldn't mind going orange to take out trash like you. I'm going to count to 5. If you aren't gone by the time I hit 3 you'll be nothing but a name on the monument in the Town of Beginnings.||„|
|~ Kenji gives Loki his chilling ultimatum.|
|Real Name||Kenji Hiroshi|
|Height||183 cm (6'0")|
|Weight||68 kg (150 lbs)|
Two unnamed nieces
|VR Played||«Sword Art Online»|
|Occupation||Guild leader, Clearer|
|Appears In||«Sword Art Online (Kenji)»|
Kenji Hiroshi (健児博), known by the username Kishi (輝士) in various online games, was one of the original beta testers for «Sword Art Online», where he was referred to as and feared as the Reaper (刈り手). He subsequently became one of the 10,000 players trapped within the game when it was officially launched. In addition, he was viewed as a "dirty Beater" by some. Kenji led a Clearer guild called «Brightscale». He was the eventual owner of the «Sanguine Sword» Unique Skill.
Kenji was a fair-featured man in his mid-twenties during the SAO Incident with aqua-green eyes. In real-life, and the official release of SAO, Kenji sports a toned physique and stood at 6ft (ca. 183 cm) tall, with only Yoshiro being the taller of the initial «Brightscale» membership.[Notes 1] His initial avatar was slightly taller and more muscular than his real-life appearance, with shoulder-length black hair. The only constant between his avatars where hair colour and length: Kenji preferred his natural style, which was several messy-looking spikes atop his head, whilst the back reached roughly to shoulder-length. Momoko was known to style his hair into what Fujimaru dubbed "the Kishi do-over".
A player's physical profile or appearance could change under certain circumstances in Sword Art Online. When activating his «Searching» Skill, for example, Kenji's already greenish eye-colour began to glow an ever brighter shade of green, which gave him an assortment of effects: enhanced cursor identification, enhanced visual range, night vision in darkened areas, and the ability to see players or monsters obscured by the «Hiding» Skill. This would later extend to his use of the «Tracking» mod of the «Searching» Skill. When questing in darkened caves or underground dungeons with poor lighting, it wasn't a rare sight for Kenji's eyes to shine in the darkness like small torches.
The first combative members of «Brightscale» to exhibit a casual uniform outside battle were Kusaka and Yoshiro, both of whom found the weight of their armour impractical. Momoko created a casual uniform rather than a strict battle uniform, allowing for the members of «Brightscale» to exhibit their own unique appearance when questing. The uniform she settled on was distinctly Eastern in design and consisted of a black-coloured kimono, white shitagi, black hakama, white ōbi, white tabi, waraji, and a simple armband with the «Brightscale» insignia emblazoned on its surface. Kenji began wearing this uniform when he wasn't actively questing sometime before the 22nd of December 2022 and even when he wore it, he occasionally equipped his primary weapon alongside it threaded through the ōbi at his waist.
As far as his early equipment was concerned Kenji initially wore minimalist protective gear to maximize his evasion rather than focusing on defensive coverage. His equipment consisted mostly of leather jackets and worn leather trousers, with a single piece of protective metal guarding his heart and lungs, with an emphasis on damage-over-protection. He didn't place as much focus on armour than he did weaponry and thus the majority of his early armour was shop-bought gear, whilst his weapon was a yellow-bladed curved-sword with a bar-shaped guard enhanced to +4, which he carried at his waist in a black sheath. He was known to wear a long leather coat when venturing outside.
It wasn't until Akiye forged the «Cardiophylax» that Kenji began balancing ease-of-movement and protection, whilst adopting a unique appearance. The entire suit appeared to be based on gladiatorial equipment with a mixture of classical Hoplite depictions. He predominantly wore his «Scimitar» on the waist. When experimenting with dual-wielding however he also wore his «Pale Edge» on the same side, with the sheaths crossing in a manner similar to the Samurai's method of carrying daishō. The «Scimitar» and «Pale Edge» were replaced as his primary and secondary weapons by «Razer». This one-handed curved sword had the hilt of a katana and a long, thick blade that ended with a curved, massive tip.
The «Cardiophylax» incorporated three slots. The neck slot and upper-body slot, similar in function to a gorget, focused its protection on the central chest-area and throat. It primarily safeguarded the lungs and heart, with an accompanying shoulder-guard on the left shoulder that extended down to shield his off-hand bicep. The waist slot featured several strips of studded leather that descended to cover his knees and hips, appearing similar to a skirt. Between the metal of the chest-piece and Kenji's skin was a layer of hardened leather. A good portion of his upper torso, including the outside area of the pectoral muscles and his entire right-shoulder, possessed lesser protection than the main cardiovascular areas. The upper-body from the base of the pectorals to the beginning of the waist was unprotected.
He accompanied the «Cardiophylax» with mismatched gloves, boots and leg armour offering a number of effects. The boots were predominantly leather and fashioned in the form of caligae with a lightweight metal shin-guard designed to boost the strength of the «Martial Arts» Skill, whilst the trousers where simple cloth that provided bonuses to jumping and swimming. The gloves that completed the set were acquired on the 5th Floor as the LA bonus from the «Armoured Revenant» from the «Dead Woods Mausoleum», which provided a boost to Agility when worn.
Kenji is generally laid-back and non-confrontational and is noted to be calmer and more relaxed than his guild-mate Kusaka. He tries to use diplomacy to solve his issues and is something of a mediator, especially when Kusaka is concerned, and rarely swears.
Despite his laid-back demeanour Kenji is far from being a pacifist. He quickly intervened when Loki caused damage to Akiye's HP, and admitted aloud himself that he would happily go orange over the whole situation; to the point he threatened Loki's life. Unsurprisingly Kenji's actions instantly earned him Momoko's and Akiye's trust. Loki's actions frightened the girls to the degree that they couldn't initially sleep without knowing Kenji was nearby, and his laid-back and carefree nature allowed him to accept their dependency on him in good spirits, even if Loki's actions infuriated him. This evolved as he spent time with them and Kenji came to develop something of a parental instinct when it came to the girls and swelled with pride whenever he saw them succeed. Per the beginning of 2023 the twins viewed Kenji as a father-like figure, whilst the players at large were under the impression that he was their elder brother.
Kenji had a soft-spot for his initial «Bronze Sabre» because it carried him through his first days in SAO, and he refused to sell it. The weapon served as Kenji's last resort against the «Armoured Revenant» on the 5th Floor. Kenji landed the LA Bonus with his old blade, and silently thanked it afterward.
In social settings he is generally seen as an older-brother type by other players, has been described as "the soul of the party", and is generally approachable. He enjoys poking fun, especially amongst his friends, but has quickly learned not to push his antics too far with Airi, who has shown herself capable of curbing even Kusaka's outbursts. Despite how Airi, and Kenji interacted, it became apparent that they began seeing each other as more than just friends. During the pitched battle with «Zagan the Exile» Kenji willingly kicked Airi out of the way of his lightning breath attack, which ended up hitting him head-on. The attack almost killed Kenji. The two shared an immediate physical attraction and, by Christmas of 2022, the two had grown quite close. By the end of 2022 the two were actively dating.
In addition, he is generous. Despite a non-enhanced Anneal Blade going for around 16,000 cor shortly after the 2nd Floor was opened, Kenji gave the sword to Yoshiro for free because it was far superior to the sword he currently wielded. He also gifted Airi two pieces of armour to heighten her armour-value without impacting on her Agility-focused build only a few hours after having met her. Rather than abandon the twins after their ordeal with Loki, Kenji opted instead to take them with him and look after them, despite considerable disapproval from Kusaka.
|“||This wasn’t exactly easy to explain because it was a matter of exploiting the primary systems employed as part of Sword Art Online’s combat engine to achieve an unfair advantage. This particular kind of exploit wasn’t unheard-of in the gaming industry, but Sword Art Online was uncharted territory. The world’s very first VRMMORPG.||„|
|~ Excerpt from SAOK: Pushing the Frontier, were Kenji muses on an exploit.|
In the real-world Kenji made his money as a professional gamer. This aspect of his life has seeped into his everyday interactions in Aincard, especially with Airi, whom he often has to explain game-related terms to. He admits to being something of a know it all and his close friends have taken to teasing him regarding his many explanations. His long association with the gaming industry and its practices have allowed him to make informed guesses about SAO that, more times than not, tend to be true.
Outside of conversations this profession has yielded a unique mind-set that allows Kenji to more easily exploit the systems used in games, including Sword Art Online. Kenji was constantly striving to test the limits of the system and those of his avatar, find exploits to increase his survival chances, and find ways to use the system assist in ways it wasn't intended such as running along walls using Agility and Strength. He likewise developed a round-about-method of dual-wielding but admitted that it was fraught with risks and highly risky. He even discovered the means of chaining a «Martial Arts» Sword Skill into his sequence of attacks following a successful curved Sword Skill. This exploit became a cornerstone of his overall fighting style.
|“||I seriously hoped he stayed away. I had spent a great deal of time last night doing some soul-searching and the results scared the absolute hell out of me. Because apparently I was the kind of person who could contemplate murder and find the entire scenario perfectly justified.||„|
|~ Excerpt from SAOK: The Business of Grinding, were Kenji muses on the subject of murder.|
Kenji can quickly do an about-face in terms of personality, specifically when he duels, becomes aggressive, or is otherwise annoyed. The only time he is known to swear is when he is genuinely enraged. Prior to the SAO Incident Kenji assaulted his sister's partner for almost bankrupting Kireina, reportedly breaking the man's nose and legs.
When it comes to survival he does not hesitate to kill, even if his opponent should be another player. He did, however, struggle with this aspect of his personality. Kenji admitted that his soul-searching scared the absolute hell out of him because, apparently, he was the kind of person who could justify the murder of another person. He was aware of how uncomfortable the topic of player-killing was in the official release of Sword Art Online and went out of his way to avoid talking about his activities in the beta.
In a duel Kenji becomes cold and calculating, something even his closest friends have observed. He ruthlessly deprived Loki of his sword-arm and primary weapon during their «Half Loss» duel and told the man directly after being victorious that he wouldn't mind going orange if it meant teaching people like him a lesson. He has likewise expressed considerable knowledge regarding the killing of other players from his time in the beta, which hasn't always been warmly accepted even amongst his closest allies.
Kenji grew up on Izu Ōshima, which was one of the volcanic islands of the Izu Peninsula, and described himself as an "island boy". He has a sister and is an uncle to two girls, whom Momoko and Akiye reminded him of. Kenji has been friends with Kusaka Kori for years, having known him since the two were in school, and remained close even when they progressed through adulthood.
Prior to the SAO Incident Kenji's sister, Kireina, had financial problems caused by her partner, resulting in her having to sell her home to resolve his gambling debts. Kenji assaulted him during this time and reportedly broke both his nose and legs. Despite the situation Kenji grew very close to his nieces during this time.
Kenji was a beta tester for the worlds very first VRMMORPG, Sword Art Online, alongside Kusaka. He was a prolific player-killer during the beta test and was, alongside Argo, one of the few testers to discover the existence of the «Martial Arts» Extra Skill. Unlike Argo, who failed to complete the quest and was branded with whiskers for the remainder of the beta test which eventually became her trademark in the official launch, Kenji succeeded after a four-day period with help from a «Trembling Ox».
- Main article -- Sword Art Online (Kenji).
- SAOK: Unexpected Meetings
- SAOK: Pushing the Frontier
- SAOK: The Karma Scales
- SAOK: The Business of Grinding
- SAOK: The Eventful Taurus
- SAOK: The Moneymaking Crusade
- SAOK: The Twin Sword Conundrum
- SAOK: Roving Rovia
- SAOK: Braving the Depths
- SAOK: New Year Resolutions
|Level||12.||December 3rd 2022.|
|Level||14.||December 6th 2022.|
|Level||15.||As of December 22nd 2022.|
|Level||16.||As of December 24th 2022.|
|«Bronze Sabre»||One-Handed Curved Sword||Initial Equipment||Upgraded to +1 (1S) before his acquisition of the «Scimitar».|
Eventually replaced by a Scimitar before December 3rd, 2022.
Temporarily used as a last resort in the boss battle against the «Armoured Revenant» on the 5th Floor sub-dungeon on the 30th December, 2022.
|«Scimitar»||One-Handed Curved Sword||Received as a rare monster drop on the 1st Floor sometime before December 3rd, 2022.||Upgraded to +4 (3S1D) before December 3rd, 2022.|
Upgraded to +8 (5S3D) between December 15th & 17th.
Given to Akiye to be reforged on December 30th.
Converted into a «Razor Ingot» on the 31st of December, 2022, and used to create the «Razer».
|«Anneal Blade»||One-Handed Sword||Left behind by Loki after he lost his sword-arm dueling Kenji on December 6th, 2022.|
Given to Yoshiro on the morning of December 7th, 2022.
|No enhancements made as of December 6th, 2022.|
|«Pale Edge»||One-Handed Curved Sword||Received on December 10th, 2022, where it languished in Kenji's inventory until December 22nd, 2022.||Upgraded to +4 (4S) in the early hours of December 22nd 2022, and used to experiment with dual-wielding.|
Broken in the «Dead Woods Mausoleum» by the boss of the dungeon.
Repaired and converted into base materials for use in the forging of «Razer».
|«Razer»||One-Handed Curved Sword||Player-made by Akiye on December 31st 2022, using materials from Kenji's «Scimitar» and «Pale Edge».|
|«Cardiophylax»||Lightweight neck, upper-body & waist armor.||Player-made for Kenji by Akiye using materials from «Zagan the Exile» and various other rare materials.||Grants +8 to Strength.|
Grants +4 to Agility.
Bonus to the «Hiding» Skill.
|«Oxen Cloth Trousers»||Cloth Lower-body||Player-made for Kenji by Momoko using the skin of a «Trembling Ox.||Boosts jumping ability.|
Boosts swimming speed.
|«Martial Arts Leg Guards»||Boots||Player-made for Kenji by Momoko using left-over material from «Zagan the Exile».||Enhances the damage caused by «Martial Arts» Sword Skills.|
Increases «Martial Arts» skill proficiency gain.
|«Gloves of the Defiant»||Gloves||LA Bonus from the «Armored Revenant» of the «Dead Woods Mausoleum».||Grants +5 to Agility.|
|«Unnamed Strength ring»||Ring||Received December 19th, 2022, as a reward for the «Jade Key» quest.||Grants +1 to Strength.|
|«Sigil of Lyusula»||Ring||Received between December 26th and December 29th 2022, from Yofilis, after the completion of the «Shipwright of Yore» quest.||Allows access to «Dark Elf» areas.|
Increases Skill proficiency gain.
Grants +1 to Agility.
|«Poison Vial»||Poison||Treasure chest reward in the «Dead Woods Mausoleum».||Applied to a single weapon with a 1-hour duration. Provides a Level 2 Poison effect.|
During the beta he was renowned amongst the community for his duelling skills and surprise PK's. He has admitted to Airi that he heavily experimented in this aspect of the game during the beta. Whilst he has attempted to distance himself from the title he earned due to the PKing he performed in the beta, it is no exaggeration to say that his duelling skills remained formidable even in the official release. Despite the act of duelling being incredibly dangerous in the official release Kenji frequently engaged in both Half Loss Mode and First Strike Mode, and is the recognized "Dueller" of «Brightscale».
In the official release Kenji uses an attack-focused build, prioritizing Strength, and prefers the use of the «One-handed Curved Sword». Due to his weaponry and focus Kenji is recognized as a DPS. Upon reaching the 2nd Floor he acquired the Extra Skill «Martial Arts» and immediately slotted it to his third skill slot. Thanks to the «Relaxed Equipment Conditions» mod of the «Martial Arts» skill he can use attacks from the «Martial Arts» skill-tree whilst equipped with a sword. He can likewise perform Sword Skills from the curved-sword category and immediately follow-up with a Sword Skill from the «Martial Arts» tree, allowing him to "skip" a post-motion delay by immediately transitioning into another Sword Skill.
Airi and he prefers the use of various DoT's -- aided by a food buff found in Urbus -- to inflict continual and sustainable damage on larger mobs, even during moments of post-motion delay. He would further supplement this damage with poison effects from a vial obtained on the 5th Floor.
Kenji, by his own admission, experimented at length during the beta on how best to perform PK’s on the player population. One of these experiments was carried into the official release, and this was dual-wielding. Equipping two individual weapons at once places the wielder in an «Irregular Equipped State» that prevents the use of Sword Skills. Despite this Kenji could still launch Sword Skills from the «Martial Arts Tree» that utilized the legs solely. He could also simply «Drop» his off-hand weapon which would instantly remove the «Irregular Equipped State» and allow him to attack normally, though he admitted the entire technique was fraught with risks and prone to backfire. Despite his statements Kenji actively used dual-wielding when faced with multiple adversaries.
Despite his status as a Guild leader Kenji does, on occasion, operate as a solo player for heightened EXP gains and undivided loot. He has both the «Hiding» and «Searching» skills slotted for just such an eventuality and was easily fit to trail Loki, Momoko and Akiye, and remained sufficiently hidden until choosing to reveal himself. His tendencies to play solo have been highlighted most strongly when he's attempting in some way to experiment with the actual system of SAO.
Sword Art Online
|SAO SKILL SLOTS|
|One-handed Curved Sword||Hiding||Martial Arts||Searching|
One-handed Curved Sword
- Reaver -- a basic charging skill with a short delay. Kenji often uses it as his opening skill when duelling to enter close-quarters. He has likewise showed tremendous timing with Reaver; he can deliberately hold the Sword Skill back whilst advancing towards his target, which results in the charging motion to actually take him past his opponent and potentially out of their range.
- Shunt -- a defensive Sword Skill, and the earliest available, which involves a horizontal push. Activated when the hand is placed against the backside of the blade and the user pushes with both arms.
- Leaver[Notes 2] -- a basic two-hit combination skill involving an uppercut slash and a downward stroke. Has a small chance of causing a bleeding debuff. When performed whilst under the DoT buff Kenji claims that Leaver's DoT occurrence actually becomes reliable.
- Fell Crescent -- highly accurate one-hit area attack. He has shown the requisite skill to "aim" the resultant attack, allowing him to hit -- or purposefully miss -- his target.
- Flash Blow -- the fastest «Martial Arts» skill which consists of a basic thrust with the user's hand.
- Crescent Moon -- a backflip kick technique commonly used by Kenji as a follow-up from Reaver when duelling. His go-to technique when seeking to increase his damage through «Motion Delay Skipping» as the technique can be launched from most positions assuming a back-flip is possible.
- Water Moon -- a roundhouse-kick. Kenji has shown the ability to launch this Sword Skill even under less-than-ideal circumstances.
- Tracking -- a mod for the «Searching» skill. In 2022 Kenji's skill was at its lowest level, for he could only detect footprints a minute-old. This allowed him to follow Loki, whom Kenji suspected of leading Momoko and Akiye outside town to rob them, without being detected.
- Detection Range Bonus -- a mod for the «Searching» skill. Kenji could see Loki's cursor turn from green to orange from a considerable distance away, and was able to keep track of Momoko and Akiye even when they weren't members of his party.
Outside System Skills
- Hypersense -- The act of sensing another player's intentions, which often manifests as an odd feeling of tension, even outside battle. Kenji sensed Loki's intentions towards Momoko and Akiye and immediately gave chase. According to Kenji he learned this particular skill during the beta around the time the beta testers arrived at the 5th Floor, where a great deal of PKing was done. By the time of December 22nd 2022, Kenji's sense extended to monster's targeting him for attack, even when his back was turned. Against the «Armoured Revenant» he was able to deflect its attack despite the room being plunged into total darkness.
- Wall Running -- The act of running along walls without falling. As of December 6th 2022, Kenji's agility allowed him to take at least three complete steps along a vertical surface, whilst his strength allowed him to propel himself a fair distance without suffering damage. Only 3 days prior he found the third step difficult.
- Motion Delay Skipping -- the act of bypassing the post-motion delay for a Sword Skill through precisely activating a Sword Skill from the «Martial Arts» category, before the delay begins. Used by Kenji to great effect during his duel with Loki and again during his battle with «Zagan the Exile». By the end of 2022 he had mastered this particular Skill. He eventually extended this particular exploit to allow for a roundabout method of dual-wielding two one-handed weapons, but claimed it was incredibly situational and fraught with risks.
Known quests completed
«Brightscale» was formed by Kenji and Kusaka on the 3rd Floor of Aincrad. Despite a slower start than some other clearers «Brightscale» eventually joined the front-line group.
Kenji first met Airi when she suffered the tumble status when met with a particularly large Dire Wolf. He defeated the wolf with the Sword Skill Reaver and subsequently suggested that she join Kusaka, and he on the path to Tolbana for safety. Kenji was more tolerant of Airi than most and went out of his way to help her in her daily activities, even if it contributed to the slower start joining the front-line. Although he liked Airi he also admitted being somewhat intimidated by her.
The two evidently grew quite close. Kenji noted that Airi, and he eventually revealed various details about their real-life selves to one another, one example being their actual names. By the end of 2022 the two were actively dating.
Momoko and Akiye
Momoko and Akiye where 12-year old twins encountered by Kenji in Tolbana on the 1st Floor shortly after the 2nd Floor was opened, with both reminding him of his own nieces. Kenji ended up protecting the two girls from an orange player called Loki and would have happily went orange himself to protect them. In light of this the girls quickly developed a high degree of trust in Kenji. He subsequently became their guardian in the death game and the two twins joined «Brightscale» as crafters. Due to Kenji often being viewed as younger than he actually is many people, most notably Fujimaru Nakamura, held the belief that Kenji was the twins' older brother. For themselves the twins' viewed him as a father-figure.
Kenji made no attempt to hide his beta tester knowledge. He was thankful to Kirito for alleviating some negativity and anger levied at beta testers by creating the "Beater" category, though Kenji himself adopted the new title. Antagonism also grew against him when he admitted that he was the Reaper from the beta responsible for the highest level of PK's in the beta test.
Loki was an opportunistic former beta tester who attempted to rob Momoko and Akiye under the pretence of guiding them through a difficult quest, but was defeated by Kenji in a Half Loss duel. Kenji admitted that he would happily go orange to teach Loki a lesson and further stated that he would also carry his threat through to its ultimate conclusion should Loki not run away.
- My guild's name is «Brightscale». I'll let you think about its abbreviation -- but I suppose I can give you one small hint! You're talkin' an awful lot of it right now.
Behind the scenes
- Kenji's in-game name is created from letters found in his own name: Kenji Hiroshi, creating Kishi. The kanji chosen for Kishi translates to bright samurai. This likewise plays into the name of the guild: Brightscale.
- Kenji's height and weight measurements, including physical appearance, is modelled on Kaien Shiba from Bleach.
- Due to his achievements in the beta -- namely committing the most PK's -- Kenji was the eventual owner of the «Sanguine Sword» Unique Skill.
- Argo's nickname for Kenji is «Shi».