Hayato Kanzaki is the main protagonist and hero of the Star Gladiator series of 3D fighting games.
Hayato is a rebellious young Japanese intergalactic bounty hunter who fights with a Plasma Sword and has a strong sense of justice when battling against the forces of evil.
Abandoned by his parents as a young child, Hayato was the uncanny leader of a group of orphans in the streets of Neo Tokyo. When the group was chased by a police officer, the officer was suddenly shot in the foot. Though they could have left the officer's pursuit, Hayato refused to abandon the wounded officer. Out of nowhere however, the officer was killed by another gunshot.
Taken into custody, Hayato was taken in for the blame and was considered for a direct "reeducation program" to rehabilitate criminals by means of forcibly instilling a "good personality" by mental and cognitive brainwashing, which was actively condemned by various human rights activist groups, before the judgment of the court. However, his case was interrupted by a female owner of a local orphanage who had caught wind of the affair, and demanded that the case was to be put into the affairs of child services. Soon after paying a 30,000 yen bail, Hayato and the group were given a new home. Shortly after, Hayato decided to take up the bad old habit of stealing as a means for thrills, and was caught red handed by the police. Awaiting punishment, Hayato however heard the caretaker crying over what he had done. Feeling ashamed at what he had done, he realized that his old life was no longer relevant and that he was now in the arms of someone who cared for him.
As time passed, the caretaker raised Hayato as well as many other disadvantaged children in her own time, but in doing so, she fell deeply into debt. When he turned 19, Hayato decided to stay behind and continue helping the orphanage as a career counselor and the next director. As he continued his education for a year however, Hayato had learned the truth of what the caretaker had to go through just to raise them all, and vowed to help the owner get out of debt. Unable to find other work from within the city, Hayato had reluctantly became a bounty hunter in order to gain easy money so that he could help support the orphanage.
Though the bitterness of bounty hunting he grew accustomed to, and having grown to be a renowned hunter in only a few months time, the red tape for his rewards to transfer did not make things any easier for Hayato. One day after transferring a few of his latest captured bounties to the local authorities through the usual procedure, Hayato had discovered an ad offering a huge reward to join a project called Star Gladiator, realizing that this was his chance and opportunity to help the owner and the orphanage out. Soon, Hayato had joined the project without any hesitation or second thought. From within this point on, Hayato would eventually meet up with his future girlfriend June and his future friends Saturn and Gamof from within the project and that the four of them would find themselves battling against Bilstein and the Fourth Empire.
One year later from within the events of Plasma Sword (Star Gladiator 2), Hayato has become a successful bounty hunter and has settled down with June, spending his days peacefully in rebuilding the orphanage with the bounties he has earned. One day after coming back home from another successful bounty hunting mission, Hayato is shocked to hear and learn that June has suddenly disappeared and that his friends had told him on what had happened. Realizing that Bilstein, who had shockingly and surprisingly returned from his supposed "death" at the end of the Final Crusade, is behind the unexpected situation, Hayato sets out to find June and to finish things with Bilstein once and for all.
Hayato's style is centered vastly on speedy sword strikes, close range blows, and steady streams of combos, with a majority of his Plasma Combos focused on horizontal slashes.
Hayato is the only Star Gladiator character to cross over to another Capcom game; in this case, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (Gore was technically the first, with his appearance in SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, but that game was an SNK release and his appearance was merely a cameo in one of Akari's special moves).
- Due to the nature and cosmetics of his sword, Hayato may have been inspired by the Jedi of Star Wars fame. How he is a bounty hunter, also matches the career of main supporting character Han Solo, while his aspects of Jedi like qualities bear resemblance to main protagonist Luke Skywalker. The fact that Star Gladiator was originally supposed to be a Star Wars game also support this.
- Japanese Buddhism inspired names are a prevalent theming in his special attacks; relevant are the similarities of the Jedi of Star Wars fame, as they are believed to be based off of that of Japanese samurai, with whom Buddhism was historically significant with due to its proliferation during the Kamakura Era, and to especially that of Zen and Shingon, as their emphasis of meditation and internal self development helped cultivate many crucial spiritual and mental concepts to the samurai within their virtues of bushido and martial arts. Star Wars is also said to be inspired by jidaigeki movies such as The Hidden Fortress, and the Jedi are also depicted to cultivate internal harmony and detachment from emotional bias for their purposes of negotiating peace and resorting only to fighting when the need calls for it.
- Guren is that of the red lotus; within the context of Buddhism, lotuses are cherished as a symbol of spiritual growth, overcoming adversity and attaining enlightenment, while its color also symbolizes its fruit of result. Red lotuses are said to be representative of unstoppable compassion and undying love.
- Byakko is a central figure within the Taoist inspired Four Beasts, being that of the White Tiger, who is said to represent the west, the season of autumn, the element of metal, the virtue of justice, and is both feared and respected as a bringer of peace and harbringer of war. In Buddhism, Byakko is said to represent the element of wind and is depicted as an entity along with its three other associates as a ward against evil.
- Ashura are said to be one form of reincarnation within Buddhism and its beliefs of the Six Paths, said to be powerful and semi-divine but fearsome, jealous, violent, and carnage fanatical beings. In turn, their kind are feared as one of the Four Unhappy Births, as it is believed that their world finds no resolution or peace and is of constant conflict and war, and as such, ashura do not find solace or solitude in their lives. However, there are said to exist both good and bad ashuras, with those of good being one of the eight forces that protect the dharma. Being associated with growing and enlarging Hayato's Plasma Blade is also relevant, as ashuras are known to be constantly power hungry and have a neverending want for it.
- Suzaku is another central figure within the Taoist inspired Four Beasts, being that of the Vermillion Bird, who is said to represent the south, the season of summer, the element of fire, the virtue of propriety, and is considered a symbol of harmony and unity.
- Kegon refers to that of the avatamsa or a garland of flowers, which is symbolic of one attaining Buddhahood. Within the context of sects, the Kegon sect is the Japanese adoption of the Chinese Huanyin School of Buddhism, and are eponymous with that of the avatamsa in their respective languages. The school's teachings are based primarily on that of the Avatamsaka Sutra, which emphasizes the Buddhist cosmology and metaphysics of the universe, including teachings on its infinite vastness of otherworldly realms through the metaphor of Indra's net in context to its creeds of sunyata and the release from that of the illusive material world, and to that of the journey of achieving Buddhahood, making most relevant to the intergalactic spacefaring world of Star Gladiator.
- Rasetsu are the Japanese interpretations of the Indian demons known as rakshasa. Much like them, they are depicted as powerful and ferocious magical entities, being either good, as protectors of nature and peace, or evil, being horrific man eating demons and atrocious warmongers. Within Buddhism, rakshasas are further depicted as wayward but neutral dwellers of the wild, a kind of ashura, and to even the forces of Yama, the Buddhist Judge of the Dead, to bring back those who have escaped judgment of the underworld; most importantly, Buddhism also stresses the capability to be enlightened is possible for all beings and being able to repent and do better, even for demons, whom even Buddha helped and reformed.
- Engetsu refers to that of the full moon. Within Buddhist art and symbolism, there is a famous painting of that of Yama, the Judge of the Dead, who is show holding a wheel containing all of existence and reincarnation, symbolizing the futility and endlessness of samsara, while Buddha is shown on the moon, having transcended the material world and the Desire Realm, where human existence is believed to be located.
- Waka, from the Ōkami series, shares Hayato's Plasma Blade activation sequence through the weapon Pillow Talk.
- They also share a reference to the moon and a theme of outer space in some manner; Waka is from the Moon Tribe and came to Nippon, in extension, Earth, from space; Hayato wields a technique named Engetsu (full moon in Japanese), and journeys out into space.
- Bayonetta (the protagonist of Hideki Kamiya's action game series of the same name) also shares Hayato's Engetsu and Ashura techniques through the weapon Pillow Talk.
For more of this character, see their gallery.