Samurai Shodown VI/Zankuro
No, not Sankuro.
Zankuro has received a few neat buffs, including some low attacks and a better WFT, but by far his most important change has to do with his heavy slashes. Zankuro drains significantly less Weapon Gauge from whiffing his far heavy slash (only 48%, as opposed to the entire thing), and even less from all his other heavies. This means no severe penalty from missing just one anti-air, or the opponent dodging just one meaty. Furthermore, deflected heavy slashes will no longer leave Zankuro disarmed. These system changes allow Zankuro to play a simple recoil cancel game with less risk for more reward.
- Dash type: Run
- Damage taken: 98%
- Rage retention: 113
- Rage duration: 8 seconds
Zankuro's 5C is boss. It deals the most damage of any heavy slash in the game, reaches far horizontally and, along with his other heavies, will also recoil on block. This thing also reaches far enough to catch backdashes if the opponent is close enough. An opponent up close may attempt to avoid his heavy slashes by jumping instead. Up close this is a grave mistake, as 2C and n5C both sport incredible vertical reach, allowing them to not only serve as effective anti-airs but also catch an opponent trying to jump out easily. However, heavy recoil is a thing, so Zankuro can't always spam his heavies for that. When up close, he can instead use his 5B or 2B for recoil cancels as these have an earlier recoil cancel window which won't get Zankuro killed nearly as fast. 2B, which is also a low, couples well with his overhead 6D. Zankuro may also use his stomp (4632S) as a low-hitting mixup option, but in return for its high damage output it is much less safe. For aerial encounters, Zankuro can also use jB as an air-to-air. jC has a bad hitbox for air-to-airing so it is best used as a jump-in which Zankuro can easily bully with.
Zankuro is spoiled when it comes to recoil cancel options. His fireball (236S), although it doesn't hit low anymore, is his safest option for recoil cancelling and additionally will serve as a fullscreen poke for where 5C will not reach. For something with better reward, he has his burn knuckle (236D) which deals higher damage, causes a soft knockdown, reaches high enough to catch jumps and can be made safer if spaced at the tip of his 5C. However, this can be low profiled by short crouching opponents, in which case Zankuro may have to settle for fireballs or attempt the same thing with his rush special (623S). This goes over lows and deals more damage than burn knuckle, but also leaves Zankuro much more vulnerable. If Zankuro anticipates a slash attack as the opponent attempts to poke him out of his fireball then the universal deflect is a safe enough option, but for attacks like Sogetsu's 2C which are immune to deflects then his counter (214D), which catches any grounded weapon attack in exchange for being a lot less safe, will come in handy. However, the absolute safest option Zankuro has is to do nothing, provided it has enough support. If your opponent has been conditioned not to poke at Zankuro or to block in anticipation of a fireball or something punishable, Zankuro can simply not recoil cancel and recover well before the opponent knows it. The threat of all of his other recoil cancel options are precisely what allows Zankuro to get away with mashing heavy slashes scot free. Provided he doesn't whiff them, of course.
Zankuro has a few viable Spirit choices. I Spirit gives Zankuro the hardest-hitting Hyper Slash in the game, which is not only useful as a punish tool but can also be used as yet another recoil cancel option for him, and potentially a very rewarding one. Be careful that if the opponent reads you going for a Hyper Slash then you will be deflected and you will be disarmed. If you want to use Zankuro's WFT, which is considerably a lot more useful in this game than before, then VI Spirit is a fine choice because it mitigates Zankuro's short Rage duration and rewards him with extra meter for using heavy slashes, which universally build more meter than other normals. V Spirit may also be considered because it grants the strongest bonus for having a full Weapon Gauge, while at 5C range is where Zankuro can usually afford to meditate safely.
- 5A - A back punch. Zankuro's punches have decent range for their speed and can all be used as checks. Unlike Zankuro's other punches, this is special cancellable.
- 5B - A short slash forward. Pretty stubby for a big guy, but requires way less commitment than his heavies. Will whiff on short crouchers. Recoils on block.
- 5C - This thing is the hardest-hitting heavy slash in the game. It reaches insanely far while Zankuro takes a step forward, and pretty high up as well. This move is essential for poking, recoil cancels and for big punishes.
- 2A - A crouching forward punch. Not cancellable.
- 2B - New move. Zankuro slashes at the opponent's feet. This is a low which recoils on block.
- 2C - A massive upward swing. Highly effective as an anti-air and a meaty, as even if your timing is off you're practically guaranteed to hit the poor bastard if they try jumping out. However, its poor priority means it is prone to trading or getting stuffed completely.
- n5A - 2A but standing. Not cancellable either.
- n5B - Two-hit combo starter.
- n5C - 2C but standing. Given the proximity requirement this is only really used as a meaty rather than an anti-air. Essentially, just like how you would use 5C already.
- n2A - Same as far version.
- n2B - n5B but lower.
- n2C - Same as far version.
- 5D - Zankuro's 5D and 6D combined into the same move, a two-hit upward kick. Special cancellable, giving Zankuro an unarmed combo with Burn Knuckle.
- 6D - Zankuro's universal overhead from V Special. Mainly useful for beating lows and throws while advancing forward, but here it has some mixup with 4632S. Results in a soft knockdown on hit.
- 2D - A low kick.
- 3D - Zankuro's sweep. This still hits mid, but it has decent range for a sweep and it still gives Zankuro a low profile.
- 66A - Running elbow attack.
- 66B - A running overhead. Instead of having a delay you can kara cancel, Zankuro instead leaps high up near-instantly before striking. The increased height gives this move better utility in neutral as an evasive counterpoke.
- 66C - Two-hit punish tool. The second hit knocks down. This attack sports decent range but is punishable if it doesn't hit.
- 66D - Running 3D. This also hits mid still.
- jA - Aerial punch.
- jB - Aerial 5B. This is an air-to-air which looks stubby, but it's extremely important because it covers where jC doesn't hit. The startup is pretty slow so you may want to use jA or jD instead in tight situations.
- jC - This move is strictly a jump-in. There is an annoying blind spot in front of Zankuro which means it can only be used to hit opponents below him, so it is useless as an air-to-air. As a jump-in it serves its purpose well.
- jD - A diagonal kick intended for jump-ins. This move has medium hitstun.
- u5S - Same as n5A.
- u2S - Same as 2A.
- u66S - Running punch. Knocks down.
- juS - Same as jA.
Hyper Slash (I)
- A+B - Essentially his 5C. This is the hardest-hitting Hyper Slash in the game. Whiffing this will drain your entire Weapon Gauge, if you were ever nostalgic for the V Special days, but damage-wise the payoff is worth it. Fear this move.
Gale Slash - 236S
- A ground-skimming fireball. Strength determines the speed it travels. This fireball has been normalised in that it will leave the screen upon making contact with the opponent, but it also hits mid now. The main purpose of this move besides basic space control is as a safe recoil cancel option which will leave Zankuro advantageous if spaced correctly.
Break Down Slash - 623S (Samurai Drive)
- Zankuro runs forward, charging with his shoulder. Strength determines how far. On contact he will slash upwards for a powerful ender, resulting in a soft knockdown. In this game, Zankuro will always perform the followup at any range, which means Blanka Ball feints with the various strengths are not as effective, but still doable. This move actually has a bit of a high profile, meaning Zankuro will run over attacks which are low enough to the ground. Additionally it can be used as a recoil cancel option but in exchange for being rewarding damage-wise it is also extremely punishable.
Immovable Force - 214D
- A catch counter which will catch any grounded weapon attack and nothing else which falls outside of this criteria. Upon a successful catch it will result in high damage and a hard knockdown. The reasons to use this over deflect are that it is active from frame one, catches low slashes and sports a longer active period. However, it is a lot less safe. Use as a very daring recoil cancel option or to combat moves like Charlotte's Violette Lunge.
Fists Of The Lawless - 236D, can be done unarmed
- Burn Knuckle. Zankuro charges forward with a glowing fist. He travels a shorter distance here than he did in V Special, but it will work from 5C at max range. If used as a recoil cancel option then the tip of 5C is what you should be aiming at, as that is where this move will be safest. Zankuro is a big guy so this punch will whiff on low profiles, but to cover that space below you can use your fireball instead. This may also be used as an anti-air.
Infinity Slash - 421S
- After a lengthy pause, Zankuro performs a powerful slash wave in front of him. No difference between strengths. If charged longer Zankuro will deal progressively more chip damage until his blade glows red, in which it will then be unblockable. You have a pretty fat chance of landing this in a real match as it takes a long time for Zankuro to charge red and it's punishable on block otherwise. On hit it causes a wall bounce and a soft knockdown.
- When Zankuro's blade glows green it will deal more damage, but when it glows red it will deal even more.
Shaking Slash - 4632S
- Zankuro stomps the ground then slashes forward, causing a wall bounce and a soft knockdown. This stomp is a low. In addition to being a mixup tool it is also Zankuro's best combo tool without meter for its damage and advantage. The stomp has pretty short range but Zankuro will go for the slash regardless of whether or not it hits. Suffice to say, this is punishable on block.
Toy Transformation - 6321464E (II)
Infinity Cannon - 236AB
- Zankuro charges his sword then fires a wave which travels fullscreen in the blink of an eye. This WFT has been buffed in that it now starts extremely fast, enabling its use in combos and recoil cancels. It still has a blind spot when up close, but this appears to have been shortened and is not an issue when confirming from close mediums. On the downside, this now deals just one hit of damage so it's not that good for chip kills.
Secret Matchless Shaking Slash - 22236BC (II), 236BC (VI) (Samurai Drive)
- Enhanced version of 4632S. Zankuro stomps the ground then delivers a powerful slash wave forward. The stomp hits low and will reach fullscreen, but the wave will only reach around half the stage regardless of whether or not the stomp landed. This is not useful as a mixup option because the super flash makes this telegraphed. Instead, this is best used as a lenient combo ender. The stomp itself deals no damage, so it's useless as a fullscreen punish.
- 5A 623S/236D/236AB - Light combos. 623S deals more damage than 236D but the cancel must be done early. Be careful about the spacing here because n5A doesn't cancel.
- n5B/n2B/5D 623S/236D/4632S/236AB - The stomp works off medium normals, but deals slightly less damage than 623S and doesn't connect from 5D. 5D 236D is also available unarmed.
Secret Move (II/VI)
- 5A SM - Zankuro's Secret Move has much better startup than the regular stomp.
Continuous Slash (IV)
- A+B BBC 623S/236D/236AB - Standard juggles. Delay 623S, otherwise you'll get only the first hit and reset the opponent.