So I took an hour or so and just kind of played around with Hisako in practice, trying to see if shadow air-ORZ is useful as a damage multiplier within combo. One of the interesting things about Sako in general is that while she has really good meterless and 1 meter damage, she falls off a bit on the 2 meter comparisons because shadow ORZ is so slow that it blows up any lockout timer you might get. Shadow air-ORZ, on the other hand, does it’s damage really fast, so I was wondering if it would be possible to use this mid-combo to get better damage. The answer is unfortunately both yes and no.
Yes, in that there are certain combo strings that let you stack on extra damage very fast, and no in that generally speaking, the starters you need to make this possible are themselves damned slow Basically, in order to get a shadow air-ORZ in-combo, you need to generate a stagger or equivalently long stun state. That means that shadow air-ORZ is really only viable after air-ORZ recaps and heavy linkers, as those are the only moves that give you enough time to fit a stagger manual in there. It’s also possible to just go from recap air-ORZ->shadow air-ORZ, and outside of instinct this is required, as your heavy manual won’t stagger the opponent. But obviously, this option is also fantastically breakable.
So our options to use shadow air-ORZ in-combo outside of instinct basically boil down to combos begun with full wrath, which means combos where counter is the opener. So not exactly a super common state in the first place. Then you’ve got to fit a heavy linker and heavy manual in there (easier than it sounds against most players to be honest), and then you’ve got to play the break/counterbreak game against them to see if the shadow air-ORZ gets to rock.
But what about lockout situations?
Unfortunately, shadow air-ORZ does not seem to be viable/optimal in most lockout situations from what I was able to suss out, because of how much “setup time” is required to even be able to do the shadow. Setting the practice dummy to break immediately and going into a counterbreak lockout, you only barely have enough time to fit in a single shadow air-ORZ, and the damage is not worth it. Because you can’t go into a linker after a counterbreak, the only way to fit this special in within the lockout window is the following: counterbreak->light AD->heavy linker->heavy manual->TK shadow ORZ. This fits the shadow right at the end of the lockout window, but is not particularly damaging. It also has the annoying wrinkle that it is not possible to go from shadow air-ORZ->ender - you must put another manual or double in there. You are much better off just using a standard heavy AD->light linker->etc->shadow possession if you want to maximize damage.
But what about instinct?
So this is the one instance where shadow air-ORZ as a damage multiplier feels viable, but it still requires an annoying amount of things to go right to make it work. In instinct, we are able to utilize TK’d light and medium air-ORZ’s in succession, which both allow for heavy manuals for the stagger whenever we choose (med air-ORZ also has enough advantage for you to combo with a heavy air-ORZ if you want to get really fancy ). So assuming you started the combo with an air-ORZ, you actually do have a good shot of being able to lock out the opponent and getting a chance to use that shadow air-ORZ to stack on damage. The downside is that if you want the shadow, the only manuals that you’re going to be able to use in this instance are heavies, as anything else forces you into the standard combo system and you’ll have to generate another stagger (read: heavy manual off heavy linker) if you want the shadow air-ORZ.
The greater problem on this score I think though might be that these kinds of setups take up a lot of instinct time, and to be honest I think Hisako can do better things with that time with standard command grab and anti-jumpout resets. The TK ORZ combos do have the benefit of being pretty hard to break, which is nice, but they also lead to people hoarding instinct in a way that I personally don’t think is beneficial. I hate to see Hisako’s go down in tournaments only having popped instinct one time because they saved it for that juicy confirm that would let them go into the hard-to-break TK’d ORZ shenanigans. While you definitely get good damage off them (I was hitting 73% with pretty practical 2-meter combos in practice), I don’t think that’s worth only getting a single instinct.
If you want to get shadow air-ORZ within combo though, I strongly recommend doing it off some form of air-ORZ confirm - the heavy linker->heavy manual stagger takes a lot of time and, again, Hisako can do a lot of other stuff with a full instinct bar. That 73% 2-meter combo isn’t the best she can do in instinct, not by a long shot.