Benimaru Nikaido (二階堂 紅丸, Nikaidō Benimaru) is a character from The King of Fighters game series. His straight hair stays up during fights due to a rather exaggerated case of electrostatics. His official nickname is The Shooting Star.
He was loosely based on the character Jean Pierre Polnareff fromJojo's Bizarre Adventure, right down to his outfit in The King of Fighters '94 and The King of Fighters '95. Even after Benimaru's name was decided on, the game developers continued to refer to him as Polnareff. Additionally, his taunt in The King of Fighters XI mirrors Polnareff's stature from the manga. His vocal performance was initially deemed by his original designer to have nothing to do with the character's original image.
The idea for his electric powers -as well as the other elemental powers for the rest of the Japan team- was derived from the animeGetter Robo. In the show, there were three featured heroes who served as the inspiration for the KOF trio: the protagonist had a "fiery" persona, his friend was "edgy and daring", and the third hero was the "down-to-earth giant". It is also a homage to a Japanese phrase of giving birth to fire (roughly translated: lighting strikes the earth which sparks the flame).
Due to the particular pitch in his voice, some fans have voiced question to Benimaru's sexuality to developers, to which they respond, "It's not what you think. (Not that there's anything wrong with that)." In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Benimaru was voted as the staff's thirteenth favorite character. He tied the spot with Samurai Shodown character, Shizumaru Hisame. In the character popularity poll on Neo Geo Freak's website, he was voted as the sixth favorite character with a total of 1,269 votes.
Benimaru is a young son of a multi-millionaire family. He is a professional fighter and part-time professional modeler who is very confident in his abilities. When Japan held a tournament for their country's representative team in the King of Fighters, Benimaru entered and made it to the finals. Despite his experience, he lost to newcomer Kyo Kusanagi and earned second place. He and Kyo enter the 1994 KoF tournament with the third place contestant, Goro Daimon. Eventually, he befriends his teammates and joins them for the rest of the saga.
After the climax of The King of Fighters '97, Benimaru resumed his modeling career and went on a world tour. He returns to Japan before the 1999 tournament due to an invitation he seemingly received from Kyo's pupil, Shingo. In reality, both Shingo and him were actually set up to join the "special team" with K' and Maxima. During the tournament finals, he learns about NESTS, a syndicate that is responsible for Kyo's disappearance. After he helps Shingo escape from the crumbling base, Benimaru continues to track NESTS to try and find Kyo.
In the following year, Benimaru forms his own team with Shingo and his old friend, Seth. The agent also brings their final teammate, Lin. Benimaru hopes to use Lin's abilities to help his search for Kyo. In his team's ending, he saves Lin from Ron. After this encounter, Benimaru loosely trusts members from the Hizoku.
Regardless of his search's results, he meets Kyo again in 2001. Looking to relive their glory days once more, he teams up with the old Japan Team and Shingo. Each member goes their separate ways after the tournament's climax.
After he bails Shingo from a false arsonist accusation, he teams with him and Goro in the 2003 tournament. In KoF XI, him and Duo Lon are invited to Elisabeth Blanctorche's mansion. There, they discuss Ash Crimson's thievery of Chizuru's powers, the existence of Those From the Past, and their experiences during the 2003 tournament. The trio forms the Rival team and track down Ash. They find him after he steals Iori's powers. Benimaru sees Shingo and Kyo's beaten states and threatens Ash for an explanation. Before either members can interrogate him further, Ash teleports away and warns that Kyo will be next.
Deciding to let Duo Lon do as he please, Benimaru returns from overseas to Japan. He first visits Chizuru to tell her about what happened in the last tournament, both aware of the dangers that come with Ash's new abilities. Excusing himself to meet with his teammates, he visits Shingo to learn the details of what caused Kyo's hospitalization. Goro arrives and they catch up during the meeting. With the current state of affairs and the invitations from "R" passed out, he and Goro decide to reunite the old team for the tournament.
In the KOF XIII ending, he and Daimon both watch Kyo as he fights once again with Iori to an unknown result.
Benimaru, while sometimes outspoken and flamboyant, means business in battle as he's very proud of his skills and doesn't want anyone to look down on him for his good looks. He also respects ladies though he tends to be more than a flighty flirt. Although he seems to have an indecisive mind, Benimaru has a heart of gold. His loyalty and respect can go a long way. Despite his American heritage, he carries many Japanese mannerisms. Though he would never openly admit it aloud, his pride as a professional fighter was shaken when Kyo beat him before 1994 and he secretly trains for a rematch.
Benimaru dislikes otaku, or anime fans. Whether intentional or not, this is ironic since not only was Benimaru's appearance based on Polnareff (from the manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure) but most of his attacks are taken from various anime as well (most notably Hurricane Polymar). The staff themselves even call Benimaru "Polnareff" as an inside joke.
- Electrokinesis - Benimaru can control electricity.
- Static - Benimaru can create static around his body. This is what makes his hair upwards.
- Electric Fist - Benimaru can create an electric ball around his fist.
- Thunder - Benimaru can summon lightning from the sky. Benimaru can also form sparks on the ground and move them upwards.
- Discharge - Benimaru can release an electric discharge by touching his enemy.
- Electric Attacks - Benimaru can fuel his attacks with electric energy, especially from lightning he summons.
- Super-Speed - Benimaru can move himself so quickly that he leaves several images of himself when he moves.
- Cooking - Benimaru is an accomplished cook.
His fighting technique specializes in shooting techniques and electricity. His character also pays homage to the Tatsunoko character, Hurricane Polymar. The attacks Handou Sandan Geri (Recoiling Three-Stage Kick) and Gen'ei Hurricane (Phantom Hurricane) take their names and functions directly from the aforementioned character. Several other of his moves also take their namesakes from various anime and manga, including Benimaru Coleda/Benimaru Collider (Gunbuster), Elec-Trigger (Super Robot Red Baron), Flying Drill and Raijiken(Quivering Thunder Fist) (Casshern) (original move name is Denkou/Electric Bolt Punch), and Iai Geri (Sword-Drawing Kick) (Kako Teito: Ore wa Shubei!).
- Monster Maezuka - since debut
- Eric Kelso - The King of Fighters XII (English voice)
- Hikaru Midorikawa - The King of Fighters '94 Dengeki Bunko drama CD
- Esaka - The King of Fighters 94
- Funky Esaka - The King of Fighters 95
- Esaka? - The King of Fighters 96, 98
- KD-0079 - The King of Fighters 99
- Inner Shade - The King of Fighters 2000
- Flame of Invincibility - The King of Fighters 2001
- Tears - The King of Fighters 2002
- Joyrider - The King of Fighters 2003
- Queen - The King of Fighters XI
- Esaka Continues... - The King of Fighters XIII
- ESAKA!! - The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match
- Show Time! - 1999 image song
- The Song of Fighters II - Shared image song with other King of Fighters characters
- The King of Fighters 94
- The King of Fighters 95
- The King of Fighters 96
- The King of Fighters 97
- The King of Fighters 98
- The King of Fighters 99
- Capcom vs SNK
- The King of Fighters 2000
- The King of Fighters EX
- Capcom vs SNK 2
- The King of Fighters 2001
- The King of Fighters EX2
- The King of Fighters 2002
- The King of Fighters Neowave
- The King of Fighters 2003
- The King of Fighters XI
- The King of Fighters 98: Ultimate Match
- The King of Fighters XII
- The King of Fighters XIII
- The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match
- The King of Fighters Mobile
- SNK Dream Battle
- Days of Memories (second and fourth titles) - in-text cameos
- The King of Fighters (pachinko)
- The King of Fighters 2
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2 - background cameo
- Garou: Mark of the Wolves - background cameo