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«How do you work with this man!? He’s a slave driver! The two new guys look frightened.»
~ Excerpt from SAOK: The Karma Scales, were Airi messages Kenji regarding Kusaka's hostile attitude.
Kusaka Kori
Personal Info
Real Name Kusaka Kori
Kanji 日下コリ
Age 26.[Notes 1]
Gender Male
Height 181 cm (5'11½")
Weight 67 kg (148 lbs)
Family Sojiro Kori (cousin)
Player Profile
Display Name Arashi
Kanji (Display)
VR Played «Sword Art Online»
Occupation Clearer
Affiliation «Brightscale»
Status Alive
Appears In «Sword Art Online (Kenji)»

Kusaka Kori (日下コリ), known by the username Arashi (嵐) in various online games, was one of the original beta testers for «Sword Art Online». 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. Kusaka co-led a Clearer guild called «Brightscale» and was known as the «Raid Leader».

Kusaka's character serves as a foil to Kenji in the author's works and is portrayed primarily as an antihero.


Kusaka is a fair-skinned man with grey eyes and black-coloured hair usually styled into various messy spikes.[1] He is quite intimidating, almost always wearing a scowl, and has been described as frightening to look at even by his closest friends.[2] In terms of physicality Kusaka is a well-built man with clearly defined musculature, with a physique comparable to Yoshiro's own.[3]



Kusaka's tattoos and cosmetic scars.

Sometime before December 7th 2022, Kusaka applied several tattoos to his avatars face, seemingly in response to a quip made by Airi that she would "scratch his face off" when they quested together.[2] The first comprised a set of three scars straight over his right eye that continued down his cheek, the second comprised a "69" on his left cheek, whilst the third consisted of a blue-stripe tattoo that ran across his left cheek and over the bridge of his nose.[3] According to Kenji the tattoos contributed to Kusaka's punk-like look, and he commented a few times that he found him frightening to look at.[4] This opinion was echoed by Fujimaru, who also found Kusaka physically intimidating.[5]

Casual wear


Kusaka's casual guild uniform.

Kusaka and Yoshiro were the first combative members of «Brightscale» to adopt casual attire. When he joined Yoshiro to collect Akiye after her picnic with Fujimaru, he did so without his staple Tanking gear in evidence.[5] Even before this however Kusaka disliked wearing helmets, claiming that they stifled his vision, and voiced a dislike for the weight of the various armours his Tanking role required him to wear as they limited his mobility in a crisis.[1] Seemingly in answer to his venting, 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. In addition, Kusaka's uniform was modified to be sleeveless, and sported two bands on his arms and a third around his neck.[6] These uniforms were in use by the members of «Brightscale» by the 22nd of December 2022.[7]

Early equipment

As a Tank, Kusaka predominantly wore heavy suits of armour with limited mobility and high defensive strength.[8] His initial set was «Iron Armour», and he was thus described as a "tin soldier" by Kenji, with this particular set being worn alongside a large two-handed sword.[1]

Armour of Xiphias

Kusaka was the only member of «Brightscale» whose first unique suit of armour was not crafted by either of the twins, with it instead being a monster drop from a one-time event on the 2nd Floor, known as the «Armour of Xiphias».[9]

This suit incorporated the upper-body, arms, waist, leg and feet slots, and completely covered Kusaka's body in pitch-black interlocked scales described as being darker than a bottomless pit, with the design of the scales being similar to that of a fish. The knees, elbows, and shoulders of the suit featured various spikes.[10] In addition to its defensive functions the suit featured a glowing red eye set in the centre of the chest-piece that glowed demonically, specifically when its HP restoration was active.[4]

This armour had a paired two-handed sword known as «Xiphias» which was roughly as long as Kusaka was tall. It sported a massive chunk of blackened steel with a silver edge, had an enclosed handle offering added protection, but lacked a guard of any kind.[11] It's size and colouration aside «Xiphias» possessed a red eye-like decoration above the handle that glowed demonically, specifically when its HP stealing effects and «Bleeding» status took effect.[4] Prior to its name being revealed Kenji comically referred to it as "Arashi's monstrosity" because of its high attack rating and ridiculous size.[Notes 2]


Arashi’s foot impacted the ground mere inches from my head and his sword glowed a majestic yellow. Zagan had dropped onto all-fours and was preparing to gore me but Arashi swung out at his horns and miraculously managed to divert the raging Boss.
~ Excerpt from SAOK: The Eventful Taurus, were Kusaka saves Kenji's life.

Kusaka is a cage fighter in real life and his occupation bleeds into many aspects of his everyday life.[2] Due to this, Kusaka is more apt to solve his problems with violence as opposed to diplomacy, and has been described as being quick to anger; to the point Kenji has observed Kusaka's temper as a volcano that could erupt at any moment.[12] It takes very little to set Kusaka off, and he often comes across as rude and uncaring, but was actually very worried about his cousin Sojiro. He was initially against welcoming the twins Momoko and Akiye into the group and found their antics childish, especially when said antics directly affected him.[3] His attitude towards the twins softened when they introduced Ino Choyo to the group as this helped to organize the groups finances.[13]

Although his angry outbursts ultimately make him a difficult person to get to know, Kusaka has shown a more relaxed side to his personality when it is just himself and Kenji.[1] Kenji states that Kusaka likes it when people stand up to him and this was one of the reasons he actually liked Airi and indeed this attitude would be extended to her in-turn.[2] Kusaka was impressed by her willingness to stand up to him without backing down and although the two continued to have their spats and differences of opinion, it quickly became apparent that she was one of the people Kusaka got on the best with.[3] Despite a recent argument and her complete ignoring of him the following morning, Kusaka saved Airi's life without hesitation.[4]

Despite his angry responses Kusaka is a serious and reliable man when the chips are down and is trusted to lead the guild's raid-team, replacing Kenji in the role, when Teams A and B join forces.[14] He first demonstrated his leadership abilities when the founding members of «Brightscale» encountered «Zagan the Exile». Kusaka coordinated the entire party, calling out patterns, arranging DPS windows, and organizing pot rotations to accommodate his fellow Tank and keep the damage focused primarily on himself. Kenji was so impressed that he initially offered the leadership role to Kusaka, though Kusaka again cited Kenji's suitability to the role by claiming he was more of a people person.[2] His serious nature extends to questing and grinding and can lead to instances of impatience, especially when his comrades lose focus.[3] Kenji noted his outlook was very different from his own relaxed way of doing things.[15]

Even without using the «Howl» skill Kusaka is naturally loud.[2] Despite being muffled by the entire content of Momoko's inventory Kusaka's shout was still heard clearly by all present.[3] This extends to the battlefield. Kusaka's booming voice can clearly be heard by his friends even over the furious sounds of battle.[4]


Kusaka grew up on Izu Ōshima, which was one of the volcanic islands of the Izu Peninsula, and described as an "island boy".[2] Kusaka has a cousin called Sojiro. Yoshiro claimed that Kusaka was the only relative Sojiro maintained contact with.[16]

He has been friends with Kenji Hiroshi for years, having known him since the two were in school, and remained close even when they progressed through adulthood.[1] Kusaka often served as Kenji's wingman.[2]

It isn't known exactly when he took it up, but Kusaka was a professional cage fighter which, according to Airi, explained a great deal about his personality.[2]

Alongside Kenji, Kusaka was a beta tester for the worlds very first VRMMORPG, Sword Art Online.[1] He was aware of the Martial Arts quest but never attempted it himself.[2]


Main article -- Sword Art Online (Kenji).

Aincard arc

Part I


Part II


Stat Value Time
Level 12.[1] December 3rd, 2022.[1]
Level 13.[3] Evening of December 7th, 2022.[3]
Level 14.[4] Following the battle with Zagan the Exile on December 14th, 2022.[4]
Level 15.[15] As of December 24th, 2022.[15]



Name Type Acquisition Notes
«Unnamed two-handed sword» Two-handed Sword Already in Kusaka's possession as of December 3rd 2022.[1] Replaced by «Xiphias» on December 5th 2022.[4]
«Xiphias» Two-handed Sword Acquired by Kusaka as a rare drop on December 5th 2022.[4] Boasted incredible attacking power.[4]


Name Type Acquisition Notes
«Iron Armour» Heavy Metal Armour Already in Kusaka's possession as of December 3rd 2022.[1] Replaced on December 5th 2022 by the «Armour of Xiphias».[3]
«Armour of Xiphias» Heavy Metal Armour Acquired by Kusaka as a rare drop either on the 5th of December 2022.[4] Boasted far superior defensive stats to the «Iron Armour».[4]
Provides a minor HP regeneration effect.[4]
Possessed a lightweight attribute.[4]


Name Type Acquisition Notes
«Unnamed Strength ring» Ring Received December 19th 2022,[9] as a reward for the «Jade Key» quest.[17] Grants +1 to Strength.[17]


Kusaka is a two-handed sword-wielding Tank with a Strength and Vitality focused build, though he tends to prioritize his Strength stat.[8] This runs opposite to the build of fellow Tank Yoshiro, whose Vitality is higher than his Strength, and whose focus is on interposing himself between his allies and opponents.[15] Kusaka, meanwhile, focuses on counter-strokes, evasion, and outright cancellation of an opponents attacks whilst facing them head-on and toe-to-toe.[4] Despite their differing styles the two have shown remarkable synergy, demonstrating precise switches for potion rotation, even during intense battles.[14]

Kusaka's third Skill Slot, «Howl», is the cornerstone of his Tanking strategy and the bread-and-butter Skill of any player trying to manage monster hate and direct it towards themselves. He commonly catches attention with «Howl» before solidifying it with a powerful Sword Skill or devastating counter.[4] His fourth Skill Slot, «Parry», allows him to effectively block incoming attacks in the same manner as a «Shield» would, with a slight hit to his HP as the only consequence. After many hours of questing alongside Kenji on the 1st Floor the only damage Kusaka had sustained amounted to roughly 30% of his HP gauge.[1] Skills aside, Kusaka has a distinct equipment advantage that persisted even when Momoko and Akiye forged several high-powered pieces for his comrades. His sword, «Xiphias», healed Kusaka with a leeching effect when he dealt damage and additionally could apply «Bleeding» to the target with a 5% chance.[11] The «Armour of Xiphias» possessed a healing effect that triggered at set intervals. These healing effects stacked with the slow regeneration of low-level healing potions which, during the early-game, provided a notable healing buff that allowed Kusaka to withstand the attacks of «Zagan the Exile» without his HP dipping below the green segment.[10]

In addition to his Skills and role, Kusaka is a leader on the battlefield whose booming voice and in-your-face attitude ensures his commands and actions are seen and heard by his party.[14] Against «Zagan the Exile» Kusaka skilfully commanded the flow of the entire battle and even when «Zagan» went berserk and his actions and patterns became randomized, Kusaka remained undeterred and adjusted his tactics to match.[4]

Unlike the core membership of «Brightscale», who all have their assigned roles, Kusaka is the only one whose stats and equipment allow him a degree of freedom. When he led a levelling party to rapidly catch Airi, Yoshiro and Sojiro up with Kenji and himself, Kusaka served as a damage-dealer.[12][3] Although a Tank, Kusaka's choice of weapon gives him considerable attacking power in addition to the ability to shrug off damage. His Strength stat, coupled with his weapon, was sufficient on the 2nd Floor to completely cancel out the Sword Skill of «Zagan the Exile». His strike was actually powerful enough to force the Boss to retreat, the feat drawing several expletives from his shocked companions who couldn't believe what Kusaka had managed to achieve.[4]

Sword Art Online

Two-handed Sword Heavy Metal Armour Howl Parry
217 / 1000
210 / 1000
196 / 1000
188 / 1000

Sword Skills

Two-handed Sword
  • Cyclone -- a two-handed spinning sword slash.[4]
  • Back Rush -- a counter-stroke used when the player is outflanked and approached from the rear. When activated the system assist allows the user to avoid the attack by increasing their reflexes to beyond-human levels, whilst lashing out with a counter.[4]
  • Cascade -- a simple overhead slashing attack.[4]
Tanking Skills
  • Howl -- the Tank's bread and butter skill and Kusaka's main aggro-building Skill.[2] Kusaka's proficiency, coupled with his high attack-power, is extremely effective at building and holding aggro.[3] Kusaka's «Howl» could easily keep his aggro ahead of his party members and even pull it back from Yoshiro without incident.[4]
  • Parrying -- a technique allowing one to parry and suffer lesser damage and is effective even against Boss-level monsters.[4] Kusaka's proficiency in the technique allowed him to constantly parry attacks whilst partying up with Kenji on the 1st Floor and suffer accumulated damage amounting to 30% of his HP over the course of several hours.[1]

Supplementary Skills

Outside System Skills

  • Sword Skill Cancellation -- not a Skill as far as the system is concerned but rather a possibility brought about by clashing Sword Skills. Against «Zagan the Exile» Kusaka demonstrated the precise timing required to completely cancel the monster's Sword Skill with one of his own, whilst possessing the requisite Strength not to be moved backwards whilst simultaneously sending the Boss skidding backwards.[4]

Author's notes

Behind the scenes

  • Kusaka's height and weight measurements, including physical appearance, is modelled on Shūhei Hisagi from Bleach.
  • Kusaka was initially written as the «Brightscale» member who punched Loki in SAOK: Inbetweeners I. Given Kusaka's explosive temper, however, the resultant scene was very different from what was ultimately written. The decision was made to use the more even-tempered Yoshiro instead.


References & notes



  1. Kenji states that Kusaka and he used to be in the same class at school. Kenji himself is confirmed to be 26 in December 2022.
  2. You already knew this, but Arashi’s weapon was an absolute monstrosity of a two-handed sword which was roughly as long as he was tall. -- Excerpt from SAOK: The Eventful Taurus.
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