1 Meter: HK double > light Shin On Ryo Zan > HK double > light Shin On Ryo Zan > Shadow Air Shin On Ryo Zan > Awakened Soul ender (51%)
2 Meter: HK double > light Shin On Ryo Zan > MK double > Shadow Spirit Slice > Shadow Spirit Slice > Awakened Soul ender (57%)
( Damage calculation notes)
Notes: Shin Hisako's kick auto-doubles are faster than her punch auto-doubles, so they are mandatory to use in these counter breaker combos. The 0-meter combo is pretty standard, using three heavy doubles and the fastest linker to separate them. The 1-meter combo uses shadow Air SORZ as the linker at the end, because it keeps you on the same side; you can replace it with shadow Spirit Slice for the exact same damage if you want to switch sides. If you forget which one to use in the heat of the moment, both will fit inside the lockout window just fine, but avoid using the 5-hit rekka shadow move, as it is needlessly slow and does the same damage as the faster shadows. The 2-meter combo needs a medium auto-double to help fit the double shadows in, but it does slightly more damage than doing the 1-meter combo with a shadow ender.
As a means of enhancing both her rushdown ability and her mid-range options, Shin Hisako can summon a Spirit Orb by pressing all three punches. After pressing the punch buttons, you can choose to do nothing, which will keep the orb floating in place a short distance in front of Shin Hisako, or you can hold forward briefly, which will send the orb traveling on a slow horizontal path until it is spent or goes off screen. If the orb goes off screen for one second for any reason, it will disappear. Shin Hisako can also only have orb on the screen; summoning another orb will simply replace the first one.
The orb by itself does nothing, but Shin Hisako has three important ways she can spend the orb to enhance an existing tool once it has been summoned.
Firstly, and perhaps the most common use of her orb, Shin Hisako can attack the orb with her katana and create a projectile. Any katana move will work here, which means all of her medium or heavy normals and any special move will fire the orb forward. The angle at which the projectile travels is move dependent, determined by the direction the katana was swung when the projectile was created. Most of the common moves that will fire the orb, like standing MP and Spirit Slice, will send the orb horizontally. The projectile also has high durability, which means it will destroy many projectiles it comes in contact with and still keep going.
While the projectile itself will not go full screen, it can be helpful for a few purposes. The most obvious use is as a mid-screen control tool; creating slow moving projectiles that can destroy other projectiles gives Shin Hisako a nice way to pester her opponent from around half screen away. Because the summoning action and the katana swing are two separate, fast actions, it is not easy to stop by traditional means like jumping -- trying to jump as a response will probably just run into Shin Hisako's extremely beefy Awakened Soul uppercut. The other use is as a cross-up mixup using Spirit Slice. After a knockdown, such as sweep or throw, Shin Hisako can place an orb, then use Spirit Slice to both create a projectile and appear behind the opponent in an instant. To attack from the front instead, simply use any normal or special move like Shin On Ryo Zan. Creating setups involving the orb is one of the main parts of Shin Hisako's scary mixup-driven offense.
Secondly, Shin Hisako's forward dash will teleport to the orb. While you might think at first this can lead to some potent offense, in practice Shin Hisako prefers to use her regular teleport dash (see below) and Spirit Slice, since it is difficult to get the orb in a position where it does not immediately telegraph the side Shin Hisako will land. Instead, this is most useful to get close to a zoning opponent. If you are struggling against zoning, one option is to send the Spirit Orb traveling in a line by holding forward as you summon it, hang tight for a brief few moments, and then teleport dash towards it as it nears the opponent. At the very least, the orb will force the zoner to respect the option of teleport, which can let you walk forward more easily. Also, Shin Hisako's throw leaves an orb permanently above the opponent's head. If you are able to throw a zoner, you may be best served leaving that orb there so you have an easier way in when you get pushed away later.
The final use of the orb enhances the heavy versions of Spirit Slice and Shin Air On Ryo Zan. Like her teleport, doing the heavy version of Shin AORZ will cause the move to track the projectile, although the move remains unsafe on block and has high startup, so you may prefer to simply use her teleport dash instead, which lets you press an air normal on the way down and be much safer on block. The better use however is heavy Spirit Slice, which will no longer stay on the ground and instead launch Shin Hisako at an upwards angle towards the orb, leaving a huge hitbox behind her and making punishes difficult even if you do manage to block this extra-tricky crossup. Use it to situationally escape corner situations, providing you can summon an orb, or as an added mixup layer after a mid-screen throw.
In reality, however, you will mostly spend time summoning orbs and firing them with normals or specials as part of Shin Hisako's mid-range gameplan. Once you land a knockdown from Shin Hisako's excellent sweep, throw, or hard knockdown ender, you can optionally use a freshly summoned orb and beef up her great mixup game.
Shin Hisako does not have a normal forward dash. As shown above, tapping forward twice will instead teleport her a short distance into the air in front of her, where she can choose to attack with an air normal as if she had jumped. If a Spirit Orb has been summoned on the screen, she will teleport directly to the orb instead.
This has two direct implications for Shin Hisako players. Firstly, she is a close range mixup monster; even without an orb on screen, if you are close to your opponent, using her forward dash with a jumping attack like HP or HK is both a fast cross-up and an overhead that will leave you massively plus on block just like most jumping attacks do. In fact, you can even repeat this process multiple times, making blocking a nightmare and perhaps causing multiple resets that will add up the damage really fast. Note, however, that this strategy will lose to someone who is mashing a fast button like LP, since the dash is not invincible. But used sparingly and surprisingly, this mixup is very potent and something Shin Hisako players should learn to represent, especially when coupled with Shin Hisako's excellent grounded buttons, which make you hesitant to block behind you pre-emptively.
The second implication is that Shin Hisako has no easy way to cover horizontal ground quickly. Where most characters (and especially Hisako) would use their forward dash to sneak themselves close to zoners or runaway characters, Shin Hisako really has no option other than using her above average walk speed to close the gap. If you are used to using forward dashes to cover ground, you will probably quickly notice yourself dashing often by habit and not really getting anywhere. If walking forward is simply not giving you the space you need, the only other non-risky option is to send a forward-traveling Spirit Orb, as mentioned previously, wait a few painful seconds for it to get close to its target, then teleport to the orb directly. This means patiently picking your spots is mandatory to play Shin Hisako against characters who excel at keeping their distance, and you may find these matchups difficult if you approach them head first.
Shin On Ryo Zan is Shin Hisako's most common standard opener, and is the main move you should be canceling into from Shin Hisako's great grounded normals. It is a three-hit "rekka" style move, much like Hisako's On Ryo Zan and Orchid's Ichi Ni San, and like those moves, only the third and final hit acts as a combo starter. Each of the three hits in the rekka series can be activated by pressing a different strength punch button, but unlike Hisako, there are no high-low variations in Shin On Ryo Zan. Instead, heavier punches will be slightly more unsafe on block but do more damage. The notable exception to this is using heavy for the third hit; this move is safer on block, does more damage, and has more active frames than the third hits using light or medium, which means you should always use HP for the third hit. Despite this, all third hits are still unsafe on block, so don't go that far unless it is guaranteed, part of a meaty setup, or you are gambling that your opponent will press buttons after the second hit.
For the first hit of Shin On Ryo Zan, the worst Shin Hisako can be is -5 on block if the heavy version is used, with the other strengths being even safer but slightly less range. While this is normally punishable by normal attacks, the pushback on the first hit is very far, which means Shin On Ryo Zan's first hit is virtually always safe on block, and you can easily use this to attempt safe offense and then hit confirm the rest of the rekka string. If you want to use two hits of SORZ as part of your hit confirm, perhaps to represent a non-crossup as a mixup (see below), use LP for the second hit, as it is the safest at -6 on block. It doesn't have the pushback of the first hit, but you may still be out of range of some punishes if you started the rekka from far away. The shadow version of Shin On Ryo Zan is good to punish unsafe moves when canceling a normal because of its higher damage, and a good whiff punisher because of its fast speed, but is easily shadow counterable like most shadow moves in KI. If your opponent is stuck without shadow meter, however, shadow SORZ is a monstrous +10 on block. Make them block a rekka string into shadow SORZ for some great chip damage and then force them to guess. You'll even have time to do a forward dash teleport mixup, since your opponent is frozen in place for so long.
While Shin On Ryo Zan itself does not have a built-in high-low mixup like Hisako's or Orchid's rekka moves, it does have one very important property; Shin On Ryo Zan can be canceled into other special moves on hit, block, or whiff. This means Shin Hisako can change Shin On Ryo Zan midstream to be an overhead attack (cancel into Shin Air On Ryo Zan), or a crossup (cancel into Spirit Slice), although both of these moves are unsafe if the opponent blocks.
Note that if your opponent was already blocking Shin ORZ, and you cancel into the very fast light version of Spirit Slice, the left-right guard protection in KI will make sure the the opponent always automatically blocks, so don't do that. If you want to try a crossup mixup here, you'll have to use the slower medium Spirit Slice. While you can react and block medium Spirit Slice if you're ready for it, it's an option you should bring out on occasion to keep your opponent on their toes. More commonly, you will be using Shin On Ryo Zan's mid-move cancel property to cancel on whiff while your opponent is knocked down; here, the true power of moves like light Spirit Slice can shine through. You can find examples of this in videos a bit lower on this page.
The overhead leaping slash, Shin Air On Ryo Zan, is another of Shin Hisako's openers, but unlike regular Hisako's Air On Ryo Zan, this move is input from the ground and is always unsafe on block. As a result, you should probably not represent this mixup option too often, until you have put appropriate fear in your opponent by using the Spirit Slice cross-up or safer options like crouching MK canceled into Shin On Ryo Zan. The heavy version is the slowest and therefore most reactable, but it travels the farthest horizontal distance and is the safest at -6 on block, meaning the punish will usually start with only a jab or a throw. The shadow version of Shin Air On Ryo Zan is her only projectile invincible move.
Her last opener, shadow Spirit Slice, is an interesting move. It travels full screen but has no invincibility and is actually a fair bit slower than it seems. It's also very unsafe on block, which means you don't need shadow counter to punish shadow Spirit Slice. That said, because Shin Hisako's horizontal approach is often lacking against characters with strong zoning, sometimes she will need to guess with this move in neutral and hope to catch her opponent off guard. It should be used sparingly and only when other options haven't worked, though, because the price of being wrong is high.
Apart from converting Spirit Orb projectiles into combos using a manual, as is common of KI projectiles, Shin Hisako can start juggle combos using the medium or heavy version of her Spirit Slice crossup. The light version is very strong, since it is too fast to react to, but it does not launch high enough to start a juggle. The medium and heavy versions are quite a bit slower than the light version, which means reacting to the startup and blocking in time is certainly feasible, but Shin Hisako has some dirty tricks to help with this.
After certain knockdowns, like sweep and throw, Shin Hisako has the option of placing an orb and then using medium Spirit Slice to quickly travel to the other side. The orb will connect before the Spirit Slice hitbox appears, making the crossup hit more or less instantly, and then the Spirit Slice will pop the opponent up for a juggle opportunity. Learning one or two basic juggles to keep this combo going will help you convert Shin Hisako's mixups into more meaningful damage. You can juggle with normals, Shin On Ryo Zan, the light and medium versions of Awakened Soul, and Shin Air On Ryo Zan, the last of which will cause a ground bounce for more possibilities. You can attempt to recapture using shadow Shin Air ORZ, or do a juggle cashout using the shadow Awakened Soul uppercut. Note that you can get similar combos off heavy Spirit Slice, which is particularly important if you like to make use of the Spirit Orb-enhanced version of this move.
Shin Hisako has three linkers. Shin On Ryo Zan is the most damaging of the three, and the light version is the fastest, which means it's the one you should be using if you earn a lockout from your opponent. Like Hisako's Possession linker, Spirit Slice has quite a bit of startup that can't be broken, so it's a good option if you expect your opponent is mashing and want to try to get a free timing lockout.
Shin Hisako tends to choose between damage or setups. Awakened Soul is a good damage ender to use when you are starting out with the character and don't have a lot of set play planned or want to close out a round. But as you get more practice with Shin Hisako's very scary mixups, you will probably prefer the hard knockdown ender, which gives Shin Hisako enough time to run a scary mixup. You can take a "basic" mixup here involving attacking from the front with a normal, throwing, or doing a teleport dash crossup, or you can try to find some fancier stuff; after the hard knockdown ender, try placing an orb and immediately doing light Spirit Slice. If you do it quickly enough, the Spirit Slice will whiff and you will be able to auto-double or linker after the projectile crosses them up. Throwing in extra wrinkles like this will keep the defense on their toes. And like Sabrewulf, Shin Hisako gets a little extra juice out of her wall splat ender since the teleport dash adds a left-right component to an already scary mixup.
Some of Shin Hisako's scary cross-ups after medium or heavy Spirit Slice will lead to a juggle opportunity, so she has been equipped with a recapture. While it is a shadow move, and therefore quite easily breakable, it is an option to convert Shin Hisako's juggles into a grounded combo, which might let her continue her offense with a hard knockdown and set play. Using the meter to simply cash out with shadow Awakened Soul is an option as well, and much safer against being broken, but Shin Hisako will not get her best setups using this path.
Shin Hisako's instinct is a weird one. She spawns "creepy hands" on the ground which will slowly move toward the opponent, while Shin Hisako can act like normal. If the hands touch the opponent while they are in neutral, they will get grabbed for 20% damage. Pressing HP+HK again will respawn the hands where Shin Hisako is currently standing, in case the opponent slithered too far away from them.
It's important to note that the hands are not a command grab, even though it kind of feels like they should be. In fact, the hands play by their own rules. You cannot be grabbed if you are doing the following: jumping, dashing in either direction, in hit stun or block stun from Shin Hisako, hitting Shin Hisako yourself, or doing any shadow move. Note that being throw invincible (without the use of a shadow move) is not enough to avoid the hands, but this list does mean that you have several options to try and avoid taking the hands if you're in neutral. Being completely immune from the hands while you are hitting Shin Hisako means you can turn the situation around, but be sure to start jumping or dashing away once your combo finishes or else you'll get scooped up.
As Shin Hisako, spawning the hands on top of someone as they are waking up is actually very strong, because trying to block a meaty attack will just cause them to get grabbed. It means they must either jump on wakeup or try to hit you with a shadow move; simply pressing a button in the hopes of hitting you won't work, since it will get grabbed during startup. It means you are free to take huge swings at your opponent, even with risky options like uppercuts, and force them to either eat the creepy hands damage or else take a lot of auxiliary damage and still face the threat of the hands later.
In fact, a lot of players will simply intentionally take the damage from the hands by simply blocking so that they don't get put in even grosser situations. While this is an option for the defender, as Shin Hisako this basically means you will get 40% free damage per game at the minimum, effectively shortening their life bar. It also means that there are opportunities for you to try and come up with perfectly meaty mixups where you will hit the opponent on the first frame, before the hands can grab them and get in significant damage, in addition to the eventual damage the hands will probably give them. Free damage is always good, but this instinct requires a bit of practice to maximize, and as such Shin Hisako can sometimes struggle to use her instinct to mount huge comebacks like some other characters.
Also quite notable is her crouching HK, a long range low-hitting sweep that is safe on block at -3 and causes a hard knockdown that leads into some of Shin Hisako's grossest mixup opportunities. She will have time to perform any mixup of her choice, using an orb or not, many of which will require pure guesses to defend against. Fishing with sweep while playing at mid-range, especially with a pre-planned mixup at the ready, is a strong way to convince your opponent to block low and sit still. Once they start blocking, walk a little closer and press her more advantaged normals and make their life difficult with forward dash mixups.
If you try to use forward dash to approach or as a mixup, it pays to know which normals to use in the air. Jumping MP is probably the best of her fast air normals, since it has unbelievable horizontal range and can be used to start approaches from very far away. If you're looking to potentially cross-up, or if you aren't so far away that you need the range of jumping MP, jumping HP is a great choice. It's slower than MP, so you will have to press it pretty fast after your forward dash completes, but it's a great button to press for frame advantage in mixup situations.
While not a special move in the true sense, it also makes sense to talk about Shin Hisako's insane backdash; without question, she has the best backdash in the game. It travels very far and is the fastest in the game, which means coupled with her strong uppercut she has great defense and she can easily play a frustrating hit and run style. Just make sure you are playing in a matchup where you can get back in close if you need to! Because Shin Hisako struggles with some zoning characters, running away using backdash isn't always the best choice. But if you have a life lead and are prepared to force your opponent to chase you, catching Shin Hisako's backdash requires a very hard read from most characters.
When she does get close, however, she has probably the most difficult to block attacks in the game, since she can whip out light Spirit Slice at any time and hit you as a crossup well before it's possible to react. While the attack is very unsafe, doesn't do a ton of damage and also doesn't lead to any juggles or cashouts, representing this attack fairly often is important to unsettling your opponent so simple, safe button presses or Shin On Ryo Zan pressure will just start working. If you are looking for slower but safer crossup offense, use the forward dash teleport and a beefy air normal, even multiple times in a row on occasion, until your opponent starts to panic. Then, reel in the craziness a bit and watch your opponent take wild risks like jumping to escape your pressure. Be ready with your gigantic heavy Awakened Soul uppercut and capitalize with big damage.
The main deficiency Shin Hisako players will need to overcome is her relatively weak approach from full screen against oppressive zoning characters like Gargos or Kan-Ra. Walking and blocking until you are in range for teleport dash with jumping MP is one option, but perhaps the most common way through is putting out a forward traveling Spirit Orb (you can do this in the air, as well) and biding your time while it travels. Eventually, the orb will get close enough that you can either teleport to a threatening range, or your opponent will stop zoning and focus on trying to anti-air your "obvious" teleport; use this opportunity to simply walk closer. When you do manage to get close in these troublesome matchups, perhaps try to throw them early in your offensive sequences. This will put an orb on their head which will stay there until you use it, giving you a much easier time to approach should you get sent full screen again. And once Shin Hisako is close, victory shouldn't be too far behind.