Kazuya (カズヤ, Kazuya) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was officially announced at the E3 Nintendo Direct on June 15th, 2021 as the fifth downloadable character from Fighters Pass Vol. 2 and was released on June 29th, 2021 (June 30th, 2021 in Europe and Asia) as part of Challenger Pack 10. Kazuya is the second playable character from Bandai Namco after Pac-Man and is classified as Fighter #81.
Masanori Shinohara, Kazuya's voice actor since Tekken 4, reprises his role in Ultimate in all versions of the game.
Kazuya is a surprisingly heavy brawler, being the 8th heaviest character in the game, who focuses heavily on ground offense, courtesy of his wide array of grounded moves and command specials which consists of almost nothing but grabs, throws, punches, and kicks. Reflecting both his weight class and series of origin, many of his attacks possess astounding damage and knockback, though both his movement and attack speed are lackluster, which renders his approach relatively limited. He possesses an impressive variety of microspacing options and ways to close in the distance, including a kick capable of reflection, a quick dash that grants intangibility, and attacks that move him slightly forward or backwards, allowing him to control his grounded movements better than most of the cast. His attributes reflect his ground-focused playstyle, as Kazuya's movement speed is very sluggish in general and requires use of his kit to properly close the distance. Apart from a very high double jump (similar to Mewtwo or Ness), Kazuya's walk and dash speeds are average, and his air speed is very low. Kazuya also possesses one of the lowest jumps in the game: while this assists his combo game due to his attack's launch angles, this is counterbalanced by his jumpsquat, which is uniquely 7 frames long instead of 3.
Kazuya's arguably most noteworthy attribute is his comeback mechanic in the form of Rage. This is a fighter ability that activates when Kazuya takes 100% damage (or is down to 25% of his health in Stamina mode), which grants a multitude of buffs. To start off, Kazuya's damage output on all of his attacks increases by 1.1x, which already improves his outstanding damage output and combo game. He also gains a strengthened version of Heaven's Door called Rage Drive, which deals massive damage and can KO most characters before 80% near the ledge. Acting as a command grab, this makes Kazuya very threatening to shield against or even approach, as his high damage capabilities grant him the ability to net stocks starting at very early percentages.
One of Kazuya's biggest strengths is his punish game once he closes the gap, being able to dish out large amounts of damage due to his very large and varied moveset. His kit is filled with numerous combo starters that deal high damage and hitstun, and several of his attacks are able to be interrupted halfway through, which creates multiple combo routes to go by, with even the more simple ones being able to dish out at least 30%. He also has options that counter shields, such as shield-breaking options with down smash and Tsunami Kick, as well as some attacks that outright beat shields, such as the last hit of the 10-hit Combo, and Electric Wind God Fist, which uniquely forces opponents out of their shield. Additionally, many of his ground moves have high shieldstun multipliers, making them surprisingly safe on shield if properly spaced. This gives Kazuya a very strong close-range game once he does close the gap, as his kit is filled with mixups and routes which leaves the opponent on their toes, having to keep guessing what he's going to do next.
While his aerial movement is very lackluster, Kazuya's aerials in their own right have varied uses. Neutral aerial is unique in that it meteor smashes both grounded and aerial opponents, while also being very quick to interrupt, granting it the ability to combo into other attacks almost flawlessly, rising or landing with the move. Forward aerial has a similar attribute of being very quick to interrupt, but also has decent horizontal range in front of Kazuya while having respectable knockback, making it useful as a poking option and combo starter overall. Back aerial is the hardest aerial for Kazuya to use consistently due to his auto-turnaround mechanic in 1v1 fights, although it is also his strongest aerial. It deals high damage, has good range and KOs rather early when sweetspotted, making it a viable mixup in his kit. His up aerial has a very wide vertical range, hitting grounded opponents even when rising with the move. Like neutral and forward aerials, it is a fast aerial overall, having numerous combo routes out of the move. It also boasts good KO power when it hits clean. Lastly, down aerial is a stall-and-fall aerial that is risky when used offstage, but it deals high knockback, creating a large area of denial for the opponent attempting to get back to the stage. It also has low enough ending lag for Kazuya to be able to recover back to the stage afterwards, provided he has his double jump.
Kazuya's special attacks are unique, and further support his playstyle. Devil Blaster is a long-ranged projectile attack, similar to R.O.B.'s Robo Beam. It can be angled and deals good damage with respectable knockback to back it up, which makes it good for long-range edgeguarding and keeping the opponent away from the stage, while occasionally being able to net KOs from a long distance. His side special, Devil Fist, is an excellent combo starter that crumples opponents on a clean hit. It also grants Kazuya a horizontal recovery option, albeit a short-range one. His up special, Devil Wings, travels a moderately high distance and is one of the only up specials in the game to not put the character into a helplessness state, which grants Kazuya many recovery mixups. It also has a hitbox that is at its strongest when hit clean, being able to be used as a combo finisher and KO confirm. Lastly, Heaven's Door is a command grab that acts extremely similarly to Bowser's Flying Slam attack. It is capable of being controlled in the air, and the slam is very powerful and capable of KOing at high percentages.
However, Kazuya's flaws aren't to be overlooked. To start off, due to being a borderline super-heavyweight when it comes to weight class and having an above average standing height, he is very susceptible to combos. He has a hard time dealing with pressure due to the rather poor startup of most of his attacks, and his out-of-shield game is rather lackluster due to his unique 7-frame jumpsquat heavily hindering the potential for his aerials to be effective out-of-shield. His up smash and Devil Wings both have a 12-frame startup, which is still below-average speed for an out-of-shield option. This is also supplemented by his poor mobility overall, with his walk and dash both being slightly below average, and his air speed particularly being bottom 10 in the game. This gives him a poor ground-to-air transitioning that most other fighters do not share.
Kazuya's recovery can also be exploitable, despite its coverage. While having a high double jump and an up special that covers a decent distance, Kazuya's horizontal recovery options are subpar. Not only is Kazuya's air speed bottom 10 in the game along with a very slow air acceleration, his side special Devil Fist has a short travel distance in the air and very high ending lag, making it very risky to use if he is not close to the ledge; in this situation, either Kazuya won't be able to make it and suffer from its high lag, or the opponent can fend off the recovery attempt only for it to happen again. Devil Wings travels an average distance, and while it has a powerful hitbox and doesn't put Kazuya in a helplessness state, it is still prone to getting countered. Additionally, Devil Wings' ending lag is high enough to where a directional air dodge is rendered useless to try to gain extra vertical distance, meaning that Kazuya would have to recover in an area that is above the ledge (and thus, leave more of an opening) in order to get the most out of his options. To top it all off, Kazuya's aerials cancel almost all the momentum of his otherwise high double jump, which significantly worsens his chances of fending off opponents with his aerials who try to intercept his recovery.
Additionally, Kazuya's unique Rage mechanic has its own downsides. It does not last forever, as Rage Drive instantly consumes it, and whiffing a grab only reduces the time that it's active for. Kazuya has to pick his positions well in order to best utilize Rage Drive, as too many whiffed grabs can potentially determine the outcome of his combo strings. It also goes away upon taking enough damage, which means that Kazuya has to avoid being hit if he wants to sustain the additional buffs received, which is already hard due to his status as a super-heavyweight with a large frame and poor mobility.
Lastly, Kazuya's vast and large moveset grants him among the highest technical learning curves in the game. He doesn't have the ability to "cancel" his attacks unlike fellow fighting game characters Ryu, Ken and Terry, meaning that he has to be more precise and frame-tight with his combos compared to other characters. His wide range of attacks all have specific inputs and timings, most notably Electric Wind God Fist, which is extremely useful when mastered but can take a lot of practice to pull off consistently, making Kazuya particularly prone to misinputs and their associated consequences. In addition, misinputs can be especially common when dealing with fast opponents who can easily cross up Kazuya, and many of his tilts are fairly sluggish, which in combination with his lack of approach options means he cannot afford to be impatient in neutral. This forces the player to adapt to Kazuya's unique playstyle and learn the ins and outs of every move, carefully anticipate the right time to use a certain attack to avoid being left vulnerable, and see what is most optimal to string together to maximize his considerable damage potential.
All in all, like other characters of his weight class, Kazuya functions as a bait-and-punish type of character, though uniquely with plenty of combo routes and punishment options that differentiate him from other heavyweights. His ability to dish out extreme amounts of damage, sometimes more than characters heavier than him, combined with his ability to close the gap with some of his moves, such as his Crouch Dash, forces the opponent to stay on their toes against Kazuya. Once he is able to close the gap, it is often hard for the opponent to keep up in damage. However, Kazuya himself is very prone to combos and his rather sluggish startup on his attacks means that he must pick his spots well; coupled with his mediocre aerial abilities and Ultimate''s heavy focus on aerial combat, he can easily get overwhelmed on certain stages or against opponents with strong air games. Regardless, his high skill ceiling and formidable grounded abilities supplements this a lot, making him a very rewarding character when played in the right hands.
Due to his recent release, overall high learning curve and complexity, Kazuya’s tournament showings currently remain to be seen. The general consensus is that he is a high-effort, high reward character, as stated by professionals such as Nairo, who believe he can be a serious force to be reckoned with in the right hands, while making note of the fact that his complexity can be challenging even for top players, whereas MkLeo expressed skepticism of his abilities, though he agrees it is too soon to make a definitive opinion on him with the aforementioned factors.
For a gallery of Kazuya's hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
Uniquely, Kazuya is the first fighter in Smash history to not have a victory theme. Instead, his victory screens feature the announcer from Tekken 7 (voiced by Josh Keller) saying "Kazuya Mishima wins", rather than the Smash announcer (Xander Mobus). This is a reference to Tekken's win screens, which don't feature any victory fanfares; instead, depending on the installment and game mode, the stage's current music either gradually fades out, continues to play at full volume, or stops immediately during victory animations. If Kazuya wins a team battle as the leader, the regular announcer will call for his team, but no music will play.
Classic Mode: Fighting Fists with Fists
Kazuya's route features opponents that fight with their fists, referencing his own fighting style and how Tekken literally translates to "Iron Fist" in Japanese. Fitting his home series, all of his rounds are Stamina matches, except for Round 6 and final round. Uniquely, if playing with two players, the AI will have 150 HP instead of 100 (in Round 4, Donkey Kong and King K. Rool will have 100 HP each instead of 70).
Note: Every stage plays a track from the Tekken universe, no matter what universe the stage originates from.
Role in World of Light
Due to his status as downloadable content, Kazuya does not have a legitimate role in World of Light. Instead, he is unlocked for use in the mode after freeing 10 fighters from Galeem's control. If loading an existing save file that meets this condition prior to downloading Kazuya, he is immediately unlocked.
Kazuya's fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 300 coins. Unlocking Kazuya in World of Light allows the player to preview the first spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a fighter spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Unlike most fighters, this spirit only uses its artwork from Ultimate rather than artwork from a previous appearance, making him the only DLC fighter with this distinction.
Kazuya's coat outfit also has a Fighter Spirit of its own, available through the shop. Unlike his default outfit, his coat fighter spirit uses artwork from Tekken 7.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent