Kunio (くにお, Kunio) is the first recurring and protagonist character of the series. He serves as the guardian of Nekketsu High School against rival schools and is the captain of his school's Dodgeball team, although he excels at other sports (such as soccer and hockey). Despite his roughed up appearance and scowl, he is deemed a nice person who helps those in need of it.
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This article contains plot details about the Kunio-kun series. There are spoilers here, just so you know.
Kunio first appears in Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, where he avenges his beaten friend Hiroshi, an honor student and a sophomore (2nd year student) like him. He defeats Hanazono High School students and their banchō Riki, at Shinjuku Station, then he faces off against "Yokohama Funky" bōsōzoku gang and their leader, Shinji the Blue Emperor. Afterwards, he fights a girl gang from the Taiyō Academy and their sukeban, Misuzu. Finally, he faces Sabu, the leader of the Sanwakai crime organization.
In the Famicom version of the game, instead of avenging Hiroshi, Kunio has to rescue him from Sabu.
In the arcade version of Renegade, Kunio is changed to a nameless vigilante who fights against street gangs in order to rescue his girlfriend. In the NES version, Kunio is replaced by the same nameless vigilante, now named Mr. K. Mr. K just happens to run into the wrong part of town and gets in trouble, but he won't run away from it.
Kunio's second appearance is in Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu. Parodying the round intro scenes of Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, Kunio is knocked out by a dodge ball thrown by an unknown assailant. Kunio joins his schools' dodge ball club in order to represent the Japanese team in a world competition, though he has to defeat the Hanazono High School team first (led by his rival, Riki).
In the arcade version of Super Dodge Ball, Kunio is replaced by the unnamed captain of a dodge ball team representing Dallas. They go on to represent the American team in the competion after defeating the Chicago team. In the NES version, Kunio and the Nekketsu team are changed to team USA, with Kunio changed to Sam.
Months after Kunio defeated Sabu (an exploit that has made him well-known) he meets with his rival Riki and requests to help him rescue his girlfriend Mami, who has been kidnapped and is being held in Reihou Academy. He is warned by Hasebe, a student of Reihou Academy and one of his fellow classmates in middle school (along with Mami) and told about the Dragon Twins, who kidnapped Mami. After Kunio and Riki fight against other high schools and their elite students, they defeat the Dragon Twins and meet the true mastermind: Yamada, who was also another one of his classmates along with Mami and Hasebe.
In the original game, Yamada's real objective was to change the series' name to Nekketsu Kōha Yamada-kun. However, remakes of the game such as Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari EX and River City: Rival Shodown reveal that his intentions were to take control of all high schools and reign supreme.
In River City Ransom (the American localization, known as Street Gangs in Europe), Kunio is renamed Alex. Slick (Yamada), who is behind the kidnapping of Ryan's (Riki) girlfriend Cindy (Mami), turns out to be his childhood friend Simon. In the game's sequel, River City Ransom: Underground, Alex works together with Ryan and Roxy (Hasebe), Simon's former girlfriend at A&R Auto Shop. He had (and still has) feelings for Cindy, who is no longer with Ryan and is instead with William, who he considers a bum.
A sequel to Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu, Misako, the soccer club manager of Nekketsu High School approaches Kunio and his fellow members of the dodge ball club with Takashi, one of the goalies in the club. After qualifying for a soccer tournament, the team members went to a sushi restaurant to eat but most of the members were affected by food poisoning. Kunio agrees to help Misako but his fellow members of the dodge ball club want to be rewarded with something, so Misako promises to kiss the players if they win the tournament. After winning the tournament, Misako fulfills her promise by kissing each player on the cheek, but she kisses Kunio on the lips.
A character named Kunio is the captain of the Japan team in Nintendo World Cup. He only looks exactly like Kunio when the CPU controls the team.
After the events of Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari, Kunio accepts the athletic meet challenge presented by the Reihou Academy student council president Mamoru Tōdō. Kunio enlists Sugata, a sophomore, to recruit members for the athletic meet. Sugata has his childhood friend Momozono take the position of cheerleader and team manager and recruits his best friend Nanase. Unable to recruit other seniors or sophomores, Sugata enlists three freshmen: Morimoto, Takamine and Ichijou. The Nekketsu Team is ultimately victorious in the athletic meet, defeating the opposing teams of Hanazono High School, Reihou Academy and the Inter-School Union.
Hiroshi is beaten by Yūji Munakata and cronies in his employ after the former attempts to stop him from taking a fellow Nekketsu classmate Mihoko by force. Hiroshi's recovery will take close to three months. Angry that Hiroshi was beaten so badly, Kunio decides to meet with Yūji and force him to apologize. Riki joins Kunio a second time since Yūji has been using force to take control of other schools and Hanazono is one of them. Kunio and Riki eventually reach Yūji and beat him in a fight, then drag him to the hospital to apologize to Hiroshi.
Kunio appears as Kunimasa.
A direct sequel to Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundōkai. Kunio is invited to another athletic meet, this time hosted by Mamoru's father, Kōnosuke Tōdō. To make things more difficult for Kunio, Tōdō invites a team of American high school players from Oklahoma to participate. In the end, Kunio and his Nekketsu High School team defeat the Hanazono High School, Reihou Academy, the Inter-School Union and the Oklahoma team. Kunio also becomes friends with the members of the Oklahoma team, particularly with the team's captain Johnny and the team's strongest member, Raphael.
A tough guy from Nekketsu High School. His Power Shots are the Nekketsu Nut Shot and the Nekketsu Rolling Shot. His Super Shot is the Nekketsu Royal Strike. He is an all-around type character, and his default teammates are Kamekichi and Musashi.
After defeating D.B Maou, the latter states that he created the tournament for the purpose of making people hate the sport after he became frustrated in an incident where he killed his wife with one of his super shots, thus began to hate the sport. Kunio states that he does not hate dodge ball, and the reason why he entered the tournament is because he loves the sport even after all he went through in the tournament, and should D.B Maou host another tournament, he would wish to participate in it again.
- In Renegade, Kunio was changed to a nameless vigilante who had to rescue his girlfriend from a gang of thugs. The NES version of the game gives him the name Mr. K.
- In the NES version of Super Dodge Ball, Kunio was named Sam, a captain of Team USA.
- In River City Ransom, Kunio is known as Alex. His full name is expanded to Alex Kun in River City Ransom Underground.
- In Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge, Kunio was named Jeff "Crash" Cooney, a captain of Team Southside High School.
- He is named after Technōs Japan's former president, Kunio Taki.
- Kunio is the only character whose name was not mixed up in Nintendo World Cup.
- The character Yusuke Urameshi from the anime and manga series Yu Yu Hakusho bares a resemblance to him.
- Kunio's birthday is on November 27, the same as Bruce Lee. Kishimoto choose this date in order to pay homage to Lee.
- Although never referred as such, Kunio can be considered Nekketsu High's Banchō (番長), a japanese term used to call the leader of a juvenile delinquent gang.This can be noticed due to the fact most of his schoolmates often look up to him (Ex: Hiroshi), and is always the captain of the Nekketsu High sports team in every respective game. Also, the typical image of a banchō is an uncouth fighter who has a strong sense of honor.