The loud and noisy member of the Fatal Fury team, Joe Higashi, also known as the young champ of Muay Thai, was one of the only three characters playable in the original Fatal Fury. He was designed to be the comic relief in order to balance the seriousness of Terry and Andy and their quest for revenge against Geese Howard.
With the exception of only one KOF game, Joe was present in every single entry of the Fatal Fury and King of Fighters series. That just shows how popular and essential of a figure he became. Much like with the characters who were brought from other franchises, this article will be divided into Fatal Fury and KOF parts with each one of them unfolding Joe's story in these two timelines.
Born in Japan, Joe looked up to his father a former Muay Thai champion, and wanted to be like him, as far as he could remember. He spent his childhood and teenage years in Thailand where he mastered the basics of that Martial art and trained hard following the steps of his father.
The training was pretty extreme as Joe also has to learn how to survive alone in the hostile jungle. When he felt he was ready to compete against professional fighters, His grandmother gave him his headband so that would never forget about his origins and homeland. A treasure that Joe holds very dearly and always wears during his matches.
He began traveling to multiple international competitions and won many awards. Becoming a professional Muay Thai boxer himself, he participated in the world championship and made it all the way to the finals where he faced the current champion, a certain Hwa Jay. But just like a hurricane, Joe was unstoppable and defeated his opponent gaining the world champion title, and the bitterness of a newly made rival.
It was also during this event where he earned his nickname Hurricane Upper thanks to his mean uppercuts capable of creating hurricanes. But Joe wasn't content with this title and wanted to add more victories to his career.
After he heard about the King of Fighters tournament hosted in South town by Geese Howard, he enlisted himself in it. Shortly before the competition started, he met the Bogard brothers, Terry and Andy, and befriended them. During their chit-chat, they learned from Joe that he was in Southtown for the tourney that was organized by Geese.
It turned out that the infamous crime boss was the very target of the two brothers. Since the day he killed their adoptive father, they've been training nonstop for the day where they'll finally get their vengeance against him.
Sympathizing with their cause, Joe decided to help the two men getting their revenge and all three entered the competition. He was surprised when he met Hwa Jay during one of the matches.
The former Muay Thai champion started working as one of Geese's henchmen after being chased from the martial art world due to his brutal and violent nature. But just like in their previous encounter, Joe came out from this battle victorious again.
Hwa Realized that Joe won thanks to his strong will and spirit and learned that physical strength alone is not enough to be a better fighter. He finally admitted Joe as a superior and worthy Muay Thai champion and the two became good friends.
With the presumed death of Geese, his half brother Krauser found it to be the perfect chance to establish himself as the supreme boss of the criminal world. To demonstrate his might he challenged and gravely injured several participants in the previous competition and Hwa Jay was among Krauser's victims.
Once he heard about that, Joe entered Krauser's own version of KOF with the objective of avenging his friend. He fought many of Krauser's bodyguards but ultimately couldn't reach the finals, as that honor went to Terry.
Revenge was achieved at the end regardless of who's hands and Joe paid a visit to Hwa Jay in the hospital to announce the good news. After he learned about the presence of peculiar criminals namely the Jin brothers and Yamazaki in Southtown Joe knew that something was up and asked Hwa Jay to help him investigate.
Although he had no interest in the Scrolls of immortality he did find a much more valuable treasure in his eyes. The sister of Geese's right-hand man, Lily Kane. He fell in love with the young woman the moment his eyes landed on her. but Billy, the overprotective brother who hates anyone and anything related even remotely to Terry Bogard was not going to accept this relationship anytime soon.
A small war started between the two, and after the death of Geese Billy just picked up his sister, literally and flee without ever returning. As for Joe, he returned to Thailand where he spent most of his time eating, hanging out with his fans, and training with his friend and rival Hwa.
He was never seen again, but his friends in Southtown knew that he was doing well and still holding the title of the world champion in Muay Thai. He even had a new disciple, a young girl named Kuan. Joe met her when she tried to pickpocket him and was impressed by her skill and speed. He decided to dedicate himself to training the young woman and changing her way of life.
King Of Fighters Continuity
When he received the invitation to participate in Rugal's version of KOF, Joe couldn't find better partners to team up with than Terry and Andy. They formed the Fatal Fury team and became a stable trio present in pretty much all following competitions. Joe was there mostly to measure himself against strong opponents and add new titles to his career.
He met King, another Muay Thai practitioner, on many occasions during these tourneys and she became somewhat his second rival. Truthful to himself, he often taunted her with his champion belt claiming that he was the only true Muay Thai champion while mocking her unorthodox version of the martial art. But his motivations are not always selfish and self-centered.
Joe also showed sympathy and support for his friends like the time when he entered KOF 2001 just to help the gym of one of his friends stay opened with KOF's prize money. In 2003, the Fatal Fury team had its first major change in its members when Tizoc joined the team, replacing Andy who was busy training his pupil.
At the end of the tournament, an accident happened when the spectators got too excited trying to watch the three fighters from a close distance causing three of them to fall from the upper deck. Immediately, Terry and his teammates rushed to their rescue. Joe chose to save who he thought to be a beautiful babe but to his biggest disappointment, it turned out to be a guy, a very effeminate and clingy one.
KOF 11 saw the first absence of Joe in the prestigious fighting tournament as a Muay Thai world competition was held at the same time, and he didn't want to miss it. But that didn't stop him from hanging out with his friends at the Pao Pao cafe when the tournament ended.
When KOF 13 was announced, Joe reunited with his all-time best friends Terry and Andy to reform the old Fatal Fury team and enter the competition. He was actually the one who invited the two brothers and got very mad when Terry showed up late as he usually does. The Muay Thai champion wanted to show the hungry wolf how strong he had become since their last competition together and challenged him into a friendly dual even before the tourney had started.
During the matches, he met Hwa Jay who was a member of the Kim team, and pretty determined to take his revenge against his eternal rival during this tournament. At the conclusion of KOF 13, Joe was starting to be jealous of his two teammates when they were congratulated on their love interests.
This is when an unknown person came out of nowhere and embraced him too. But his moment of joy turned into a nightmare when he discovered that the person was the same effeminate guy from KOF 2003.
Unfortunately for our champion, that was not the worst part. The cameras were rolling, and Lilly Kane saw all of that. Later, she rejected him as she believed that he already had a special someone.
Despite that, he certainly didn't forget about her. He was even happy when he met her much very friendly brother in the next competition. He and his friends gathered at the Pao Pao cafe once KOF 14 ended.
Joe fights using Muay Thai, what a revelation, I know. He utilizes a more traditional form of Martial art, compared to other characters like King. But that doesn't mean he can't have his own share of flashy moves and techniques. Joe is capable of channeling Ki energy into his punches and kicks to boost the power and speed of his attacks, like with his Slash Kick and Golden Heel.
He can also occasionally set his opponents on fire with his Tiger Kick. His signature move is of course his Hurricane Upper a fast and strong uppercut capable of creating small hurricanes that act as projectiles.
Joe has a stronger version of the said move, called Screw Upper which saw the creation of a much bigger hurricane capable of sending its victim flying in the sky. He can even create two of these deadly tornados at the same time or a horizontal one that can catch his enemy by surprise and hit them from a distance.
Joe is pretty self-centered and thinks highly of himself. He's a big show-off with a gigantic ego who never gets tired of praising himself with extreme vanity and arrogance. Yet despite all that, he is by no mean a wicked ill-meaning person. His intentions never go beyond finding and facing strong adversaries.
He also treasures his friends and is always ready to help them. Besides, there is a lot of truth in how he describes himself, to be honest. He did manage to hold the title of the world's strongest Muay Thai fighter for years. And he has yet to meet someone to prove him wrong. Joe learned how to survive alone in the wilderness at a young age and according to him, he eats crocodiles for breakfast. Not sure if he is serious, but I can imagine him do that.
Originally, he was supposed to be a serious and stoic character but became the goofy and comical relief one instead. and I'm personally glad they went with this direction, It just suits Joe better. As mentioned before, he has a pupil, confirmed in both the Fatal Fury and KOF timelines.
Although, she never made an appearance she was, is, supposed to be a playable character in an eventual Garou Mark of The wolves 2. It would also make more sense, since his two friends, Terry and Andy already had their apprentices, Rock and Hokutomaru, present in the first game.
But let's not forget that Joe's story is far from being finished either. In fact, despite making his debut in the first Fatal Fury, all the way back in 91 The legend of the lone tiger and the great champion Joe Higashi is just about to begin. Stay safe and thanks for reading.