Karai (character)

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Karai
Karai TMNT IDW.png
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW Publishing) comic series version of Karai (art by Tyler Walpole)
Publication information
Publisher Mirage Studios, IDW Publishing
First appearance Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage Studios) #54 "City at War" No. 1 (Dec. 1992)[1]
Created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
In-story information
Alter ego Oroku Karai (2003 cartoon)
Hamato Miwa (2012 cartoon)
Team affiliations Foot Clan
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Notable aliases The Shredder and Lady Shredder (Image Comics)
The Shredder (2003 cartoon)

Karai is a fictional character in various installments of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) comics and related media, where she is usually a high-rank member of the Foot Clan ninja organization. She was originally introduced in Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's comic book series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1992. Since then, she has appeared in several different TMNT comics, cartoons and films, as well as in about a dozen video games.

In some incarnations of the character (in particular the 2003 cartoon, the 2012 cartoon, and the 2010s comics), she is closely related to the villain Shredder as his adopted daughter or biological granddaughter. However, in her original comic incarnation, Karai was completely unrelated to the Shredder and was actually higher in the Foot Clan's global hierarchy. In most works, she shares a love-hate relationship with the Turtle leader, Leonardo.

Name[edit]

Karai's name is the same as the Japanese adjective karai (辛い?)[2] that generally translates into "spicy" (for describing foods), but also covers less common meanings like "severe" or "harsh". It also resembles words like kurai (暗い?),[3] meaning "dark", and kerai (家来?)'[4] a word for retainers who serve under a lord or clan. In Japanese localizations of TMNT media, Karai's name is written with the phonetic katakana script as karai (カライ?), rending any connections to actual Japanese vocabulary ambiguous. Her name's pronunciation was changed to "Karrai" in Brazil, to avoid confusion with a local curse word.[5]

In comics[edit]

Mirage Comics[edit]

Karai in the Volume One comics by Mirage Studios (art by Jim Lawson)

In Mirage Studios' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird and Jim Lawson, she is introduced as one of the leaders of the mainstream Foot Clan in Japan (a member of its Council of Five) who came to New York City to restore order in the "City at War" story arc.[6][7][8] Ever since Leonardo killed the Shredder (Oroku Saki), the Foot faction in NYC has been in chaos, with different groups warring with one another for ultimate control, save for Shredder's Elite, who have been carrying out seemingly motiveless attacks on the other factions. Karai captures Leonardo and offers the TMNT a deal: if the Turtles kill the Elite, she will offer them a truce with the Foot Clan. After debate, the Turtles finally agree to seek Karai's assistance in dealing with the Elite.[9][10] As they reach her skyscraper headquarters, they find dead Foot guards and the Foot's leader cradling a girl's corpse. It is revealed that the girl was Karai's daughter, and in despair, she makes Leonardo swear he will help her kill all of the Elite.[11] During a final confrontation, five Elite face off against the Turtles, Karai, and her Foot Soldiers. The disguised Karai, wearing the Shredder's armor, orders the Elite to commit seppuku, but only one does; after a hard fight, the Turtles and Karai are the only ones left standing. Karai thanks the Turtles for their help, but they answer she owes them nothing but her word, to which she agree, saying that "no longer will the Foot Clan bother you", and returns to Japan.[12][13][14]

In the more recent Volume Four comics by Peter Laird and Jim Lawson (without Eastman's involvement), Karai has returned to settle in New York and is using a high-tech armor.[15][16][17] She asks Leonardo to help capture alive one of the mysterious warriors that are giving much trouble for the Foot everywhere.[18][19][20][21][22] When Leonardo sees right through her lie about certain mystic books, even as she is usually a good liar, he suspects that something is either greatly troubling her or something is controlling her.[23] A few weeks later, Karai visits a local high-profile nightclub, meeting Casey Jones, still longing for his wife April O'Neil who has gone on a soul-searching pilgrimage.[24] Karai brings Jones to her private condo, where he awakens naked and remembering nothing of the previous night. He later discovers a noticeably light-hearted Karai knows something of the night before, but is hesitant to tell him.[25] According to Peter Laird, who shared this issue of the comic online,[26] "what's happening with Mike, and with Karai and Casey, will have significant consequences. And I can say no more than that."[27] He also noted: "It's possible that at some point we may know more about Karai's origin and her daughter. I'm not sure exactly how old Karai is, but it might just be that her daughter was adopted. In general, I consider the time span between Volume 2 and Volume 4 to be about fifteen years."[28]

Karai also appears in at least three stand-alone stories in the canon Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, including the stories of her youth and possible future,[29][30][31] as well as in the comic book adaptation of the 2007 animated film.[32] According to Complex, "since her comic book debut, Karai has become an extremely popular character, serving as the sometimes villain, sometimes uneasy ally of our fearsome foursome."[33]

Image Comics[edit]

Karai never properly appears in Image Comics' Volume Three TMNT series, despite Laird previously having considering an idea for Karai to return with "different types of ninja gear for her"[34] as well as introducing a concept that "every new Foot soldier has a third eye ('the Eye of Karai') which is a video transceiver device that constantly relays data back to Karai's central processing computer."[35] It is, however, revealed that she has been deposed as the leader of the Foot in Japan and is presumed to be dead.[36] Had this series continued, Karai would have been revealed as the person behind the mask of Lady Shredder, a character introduced in the series' final issues as a third contestant vying for leadership of the Foot.[37][38]

IDW Publishing[edit]

Karai appears in IDW Publishing's ongoing, re-imagined Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot series by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz and Dan Duncan (later also Andy Kuhn and Mateus Santolouco). Duncan posted a character design sketch of her on his deviantART account, writing that he prefers to "refer to her as Shredder's girlfriend."[39] Waltz said about the future issues: "I can't say much yet other than Karai has played a pivotal role in the events leading to Saki's return."[40] IDW comics' Karai was introduced in the series' tenth main issue, published in May 2012. In 2014, Waltz said Karai is one of his favorites: "Such a cool character – tough, smart, mysterious… you just never know what she’ll do next."[41]

Oroku Karai is a descendant of Oroku Saki (the Shredder) about 300 years[42] after his supposed death in feudal Japan. Her backstory is told in Villain Mini-series #5: as a young girl, Karai found the Ashi no Himitsu, a book detailing the secret history of the Foot Clan, in the library of her father, Oroku Yori. From there, she began to learn about the history of her ancestors in the Foot Clan and used the detailed martial arts instructions to train in the clan's unique style of ninjutsu. She one night had a vision where Oroku Saki appeared and guided her to rebuild the Foot Clan. Training and recruiting new ninja, Karai reverted the Foot from a business enterprise to a clan of ninja warriors. She assisted in Oroku Saki's resurrection and remained as Chunin (second-in-command) of the Foot, until Saki convinced Leonardo to join him, displacing Karai. Karai, in her jealousy, begins to secretly recruit for the Foot, including the creation of Bebop and Rocksteady to earn Saki's trust. After the Turtles recover Leonardo, Shredder praises her for her actions and loyalty and reinstates her as Chunin.[43] Later, Shredder sends her to steal more resources from Krang and uses that to create Koya and Bludgeon, a mutant hawk and hammerhead shark.

In television[edit]

2003 cartoon[edit]

Karai as seen in the 2003 animated series' seasons 2-5

Development[edit]

Also, while it's kind of a neat twist to make Karai a pawn of the Utrom known as the Shredder, I thinks it's also a mistake. I think Karai should be much like she is in the comics, a powerful character who brings unity (and the potential for conflict with the Turtles down the road) to the Foot. This is key because that also means that she can/should come into conflict later on with the Shredder, if we bring him back as I suspect we might. I think she could become a strong adversary for the Turtles in her own right.

Peter Laird in April 2003[44]

Karai (voiced by Karen Neil) is a major recurring character in the 2003-2009 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series by 4Kids Entertainment and Mirage. The supervising producer Lloyd Goldfine envisioned the cartoon Karai as "sleek, no-nonsense, commanding, Japanese accent."[45] The original comics' (and Karai's) original co-creator and the show's consultant Peter Laird agreed, but emphasised that she is also "a powerful and dynamic individual".[46]

Laird opposed to have "all kinds of goofy, ludicrous weapons systems built into Karai's new Shredder armor"[47] and to the proposal that the Heart of Tengu would give her an ability to teleport, as he thought it would be cheating.[48] He was also "disappointed" to see Karai at April and Casey's wedding and fighting on the side of the "good guys" in the end.[49] Regarding Karai being regarded by fans as "Leo's girlfriend" by the time of the show's third season, Laird noted that "contrary to what some TMNT fans might fantasize, Turtles don't mate/have love affairs with humans."[50]

Storyline[edit]

Abandoned by her parents at a young age, Karai was taken in and adopted by Ch'rell, the Utrom Shredder (in the original comics, the Shredder's only daughter was a biological offspring named Pimiko and Karai had no relation to him[51]). Trained in ninjutsu and an aspiring practitioner of bushido, Karai first appears as one of the highest-ranking members of the Foot Clan, similar in status to the Shredder's adopted son Hun (who holds a grudge against her); eventually, she becomes the clan's leader. Throughout the series, she appears both as an ally and enemy to the Turtles, sharing a complicated relationship with Leonardo. Karai was the only Foot member who knew that the Shredder was really an Utrom.[52] After Ch'rell's exile at the end of Season 3, Karai spent all of Season 4 and Season 5 trying to make the Turtles pay for this. When she appeared as a guest of April and Casey's wedding, her vendetta with the Turtles was confirmed to be finally over.

Karai made her animated debut in Season 2, in the series' loose adaptation of the Mirage Comics' "City at War" story arc. Karai arrives in NYC after hearing the news of the gang war taking place after the Shredder's reported demise, quickly enlisting the aid of the Turtles to stop it, with a promise an end to the Foot's feud against them in exchange for their assistance. Leonardo, believing that her Karai is honorable despite her legacy, convinces Donatello and Michelangelo to aid her (Raphael initially refuses). Together, Karai and the Turtles eventually retake control of the New York Foot and consequently its underworld. However, the end of the story reveals that Karai has been manipulating the Turtles and working with the not-dead Shredder all along.[53][54][55] In a homage scene, the way Karai held Leonardo hostage is exactly how the Shredder held him in the first live-action film to force the other three to surrender.

Karai and the Foot reappear as a fully healed Ch'rell retakes control of the Foot. Realizing that their agreement with the Foot had been retracted, the Turtles decide to face the Foot again. When forced to fight Leonardo, and despite his lack of resistance, Karai proves unwilling to kill him. Karai's internal conflict—loyalty to the Turtles vs. loyalty to her father—is the main thrust of her storyline in Season 3, as she is pulled from both directions to take a side during their various encounters, even working together with the Turtles at times.[56][57][58][59][60] She also appears in a cameo in Japan.[61] Karai manages to stay in the graces of both sides until the Turtles face the Shredder again in the season's finale, where she stabs Leonardo in the shoulder, although she later prevents the Utrom Shredder from killing the Turtles while they are unconscious. In the end, the Shredder is taken prisoner and exiled, while Karai and the young head of the Foot's scientific division Dr. Chaplin are also captured and taken back to Earth.[62][63] A "Future Karai" also appears as a villain in an alternate-future episode "Same As It Never Was", in which she is serving the Shredder following his successful conquest of the Earth. She and her robots kill Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael, but she is then herself killed by the missiles fired by April.[64] (In an early draft of this episode, her title was Princess Karai,[65] and April would get into Karai's "Dark Princess outfit" to defeat the Shredder and take control of the Foot in guise of her.[66])

With her father gone and dead in the eyes of the world, Karai takes over the Foot as well as the name of The Shredder (in a deleted scene she even says that Karai "no longer exists", completely replaced by The Shredder[67]). This new Shredder "would retain the traditional iconic elements, but have a different treatment"[68] Furious at what she saw as a betrayal by the Turtles, Karai spends the season plotting her revenge against them, first attacking them on the psychic plane via Foot Mystics, and later coordinating and leading an assault against them at their lair.[69][70][71] She later once again duels Leonardo, who defeats her but then departs with the warning to leave his family alone, giving her one last chance for redemption.[72] Karai next faces the Turtles during their attempt to retrieve a Foot amulet called the Heart of Tengu, but failing to stop them despite her efforts.[73][74]

Unknown to the Turtles and Agent Bishop, who initially charged them with retrieving it, Heart of Tengu was a mystical artifact that allowed the Foot to control its Elemental Mystics, who are in reality the heralds for a man-demon that had centuries ago terrorized Japan as the Shredder. The destruction of the artifact unleash a chain of events that results in the resurrection of the demon, whose first target is Karai for "usurping" the Shredder's name. Despite her efforts and those of the Turtles (who believe her the key to stopping him), the True Shredder bests Karai in battle, seriously injuring her.[75][76] Rescued by the Turtles, Karai heals and, recognizing the threat the demon Shredder poses, agrees to a "temporary" alliance with her enemies.[77][78] It is soon learned that because she shares the Shredder's mantle, Karai has the latent psychic ability to lower the Shredder's defenses through a shared link. This allows the Turtles an advantage in their final conflict with the demon, in which Karai helps pave the way for her namesake's destruction, while Dr. Chaplin helped to co-ordinate the battle. After the victory, Karai and Dr. Chaplin depart hand-in-hand, with her promising him to worry more about their immediate future.[79][80]

Karai is not involved in any main storylines in the Season 6 in which the Turtles and Splinter travel a hundred years into the future. However, she is seen during the events that would have occurred after the Turtles' return from the year 2105, as Karai has abandoned her grudge against the Turtles and is eager to become a student of the Ninja Tribunal, but Leonardo is obsessively distrustful of her, almost ruining Karai's burial ritual of the Shredder and accusing her of being a traitor, in effect leading to his own banishment from the Tribunal. As the events in this book were written by Splinter and Cody to discourage the Turtles from knowing too much of their future, it is unlikely anything of the sort occurred (or will occur).[81] Karai makes her appearance in the Season 7 storyline in the episode "Something Wicked". Here, she is seen in a brief flashback with Ch'rell, the Utrom Shredder. In the series last season's finale,[82] having been invited to attend the wedding of April O'Neil and Casey Jones, and arriving at the ceremony with Dr. Chaplin by her side. She and Chaplin later assist the Turtles in fending off the sudden onslaught of the Cyber Shredder.

Turtles Forever[edit]

Karai returns in the 2009 special Turtles Forever, in which she frees Ch'rell from the clutches of the 1987 series' Shredder, Krang, and Bebop & Rocksteady. She then aids the Shredder in modifying the Technodrome with Utrom technology.[83] The Utrom Shredder, consumed with rage for revenge on the Turtles, wants to destroy every dimension where the Ninja Turtles exist even though it will most likely destroy himself, but Karai intervenes, rescuing the classic Turtles, the 1987 Shredder, Krang, and the 2003 Splinter. In the end, at the Turtles Prime dimension (Mirage Turtles), Karai fights alongside the Turtles, Splinter, as well as the 1987 series' Shredder and Krang, to stop the Utrom Shredder's insane plot.[84] Even though Ch'rell is eventually destroyed, seemingly for good, Karai suggests that he can return again.

2012 cartoon[edit]

Development[edit]

I really like what we’re doing with Karai the most. I mean, I know she’s been part of the universe before but I think the twists and turns we’re doing with her and just watching her evolve as a very key player in a series is really exciting. We’re not really interested in the old Karai canon so much.

Ciro Nieli (executive producer) in December 2014[85]

A new interpretation of the character appears in the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, where she is voiced by Kelly Hu.[86] Nickelodeon published early character design sketches of their interpretation of Karai on the Internet.[87] In the Nickelodeon series, Karai is a 16-year-old teenager and rebellious member of The Foot and a master kunoichi with strong ties to the Shredder.[88] According to the company's official description, "as lethal as she is beautiful, Karai brings a whole new level of chaos and complication for the Turtles."[89]

Shredder's voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson said: "The daughter thing in my opinion to me that is Shredder's sense of humanity for Shredder. And it's the closest thing to a soft spot. But he doesn't treat her like your average daddy's little girl. He's pretty tough. But at the same time, Shredder with his attachment to her that is the only thing he really has that of course we've never really seen."[90] Executive producer Ciro Nieli said the third season is "going to get massively complicated, and distracted by the Karai story. Ultimately the story begins and should end with the struggle between the Hamato clan and the Foot, so we will serve that at some point. But in the meantime we have to deal with the Karai stuff ... Karai will be dealt with a lot, but more towards the second half of the [third] season for sure."[91]

Portrayal[edit]

Fans are going to hate me when they find out that I was not familiar with the character when I auditioned [laughs]. I did do a lot of research online though. There are a bunch of great fan sites for her and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. From what I understand this Karai is written slightly different than past Karais have, which is great so then it is not so predictable and audiences who grew up with her can still enjoy it.

Kelly Hu in April 2013[92]

Karai's voice actress Kelly Hu has only learned later "about her and the different versions" from reading the TMNT wiki.[93] She said that she "was pleasantly surprised at how edgy and cool she was -- and skinny!"[94] and added: "I love the way she looks. I do not recall if I had a picture before I started. You know, it is really just my own voice though. I try pitching it up a bit to sound younger like more around 20."[92] Hu also said that since she has never seen any other version of Karai, she has nothing to compare her to "which is kind of a good thing, because then I just get to play her as I see her myself. But she's sort of feisty, badass and kicks butt. She gets to have a little going on with Leonardo. What I like about playing this character is she's not all bad. She has a conscience that she has to wrestle with...But see, I don't know about the other Karais or storylines in other series, so I don't know how it matches up, if it's the same or different or what."[94]

Asked about what she thinks "makes Karai such a popular and unique character," Hu answered: "I think people love these little tough girls. She's got lots of attitude and she's sarcastic at times. You just never know what she's going to do. She's always surprising you – you think she's going to turn one way and she goes the other."[93] Speaking of the character played by her in the film X2, she added: "You know, Lady Deathstrike is iconic and so tough. I think Karai would really give her a run for her money, though. That would be a good one – I'd be interested to see that!"[93]

Storyline[edit]

The show's Karai was introduced in Episode 13, "New Girl in Town", aired on February 1, 2013. In the first season's finale (Showdown, Part 2"), it was revealed that Karai is actually Miwa, the only daughter of Hamato Yoshi and his wife Tang Shen, who was abducted by Shredder as an infant after the battle that resulted in Tang Shen's death and Shredder's scarring. The Shredder has since raised her as his own, telling her that Splinter is responsible for her mother's death. In "Wormquake", Leo tells Karai the truth that Splinter was her father, but she dismisses it as a lie. In "The Wrath of Tiger Claw", she begins to have doubts towards whether or not Shredder is telling the truth. She initially allows herself into the turtles' lair in order to lead Tiger Claw there, but when she found out that she really was Splinter's daughter, she began to regret her actions, and tries to make up for it by helping the Turtles fight Tiger Claw. But he manages to overpower them and he takes Karai back to Shredder who imprisons her now that she knows the truth.

In "Vengeance is Mine", Karai is rescued by the turtles and brought back to the lair. However, after hearing the story of their rivalry and her mother's death, she returns to Shredder's lair to defeat him once and for all, only to be captured once more. Shredder's real plan was to use her as bait to mutate the Turtles into snakes- reasoning that, as the natural enemy of the rat, the mutated turtle-snakes would then eat Splinter, who would be unable to fight his sons- but he accidentally causes Karai to fall into the mutagen, turning her into a mutant snake that goes on a rampage before escaping as she regains control of herself when about to kill Splinter. Although Donatello hopes to create a retro-mutagen to cure Karai, it is revealed that she can almost completely change back to her human self, retaining only her snake eyes and tongue. In the end of the second season's finale, "The Invasion", Karai appears in her snake mutant form in time to save her real father from drowning in the sewer. She nudges him warmly and then departs, leaving him to recover in peace.

In the third season's "Serpent Hunt" Karai is chased by Anton Zeck, Ivan Steranko, Rahzar, and Fishface to be given to Shredder. Donatello observes that her mind is becoming more snake-like as time goes on, as she can hardly even speak. She managed to give a clue of her current hiding spot to Leo by hissing the world "comet." After the turtles' finally found her at a Comet fun house, she refused to come back with them as her human mind continued to deteriorate. Unfortunately, she was captured by Bebop and Rocksteady and taken to the Shredder; vowing to cure her of her vile mutation. An angered Karai merely hissed at her adopted father. She is currently being contained in a glass tank at Dr. Stockman's laboratory.

In film[edit]

TMNT[edit]

An unmasked Karai in the film TMNT, for which she was designed by Jose Lopez[95]

In the 2007 animated film TMNT, Karai is a new character[96][97] voiced by Zhang Ziyi. Inspired by the original Karai from the 1990s comics,[98] and shown wearing a red mask and a full-body black armor with a hood on her head and a cape, Karai is the Japanese Foot Clan boss and has came to take over the New York Foot after the Shredder's death.[99] This version of Karai may or may be not related to the Shredder;[100] in the bio text of her action figure in the film's merchandise she is described as being the Shredder's daughter and Wesley Morris described her as "Shredder's niece"[101] but no clear indication of this was given in the actual film. Karai was one of favorite comics characters of the writer and director Kevin Munroe and he "was the one who really pushed for Karai" to appear in the film.[102] While making the film, Munroe wrote: "again, we’ll only see her sans-mask for one shot at the end. Up until that point, we’ll make her body a bit less curvy and less feminine to not raise unnecessary questions."[103] Talking about a possible sequel to the film, as well as about comics, Munroe said he would "love to see us explore the Karai and Foot Ninja thing a little more".[98][104]

Karai is the new leader of the Foot, hired by the mysterious billionaire Max Winters to help him and his Stone Generals hunt down the thirteen ancient immortal monsters.[105] She fights with Leonardo (whom she clearly recognizes) and rejects his offer to help them, also engaging in battle with April O'Neil while the Foot battles the Turtles and their allies. During the tide of the battle, both the Foot Clan and the Turtles realized that Winters, revealing himself to be an immortal warlord named Yaotl, only wanted the monsters to be returned to their world to undo the immortality curse he and his Stone Generals had endured. Unfortunately, the Stone Generals have betrayed Winters by deliberately missing the final monster and intend to use the portal to finalize their conquest of Earth. When the Stone Generals offer the Foot a chance to join them in world conquest, Karai refuses, saying that they would honor their contract to Winters. Aided by April and Casey, she then leads her ninja in retrieving the last of the monsters. In the end, Karai parts ways with the Turtles peacefully, but gives a cryptic last word that Turtles "have passed" something (she refuses to elaborate) and "soon we will have further business together; the kind that involves familiar faces from your past",[106] hinting on the Shredder's upcoming return (which was indeed being planned for the film's cancelled sequel).[107]

2014 film[edit]

I’ve been a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since I was a kid, so I was already familiar with Karai from back in the 90s. And without giving away too much, I will say she is a very complex character that was a blast to play. Since Karai is with the Foot Clan, many would say she’s mean or evil… but I like to think of her as just… misunderstood.

Minae Noji in July 2014[108]

Minae Noji portrayed Karai in the 2014 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.[109] Noji confirmed that her character appeared twice in the film's first trailer (released in March 2014),[110] and that Karai is an enemy of the Turtles.[111] Noji, who said she "knew the character backwards and forwards"[112] and described it as her "dream come true," also said she enjoyed the role because she has "always been magnetized to women who are strong women warriors — not necessarily physically, but as a spirit, as a soul, with inner strength."[113][114] Noji said the casting was "unique in that, because the project was so confidential, none of the actors were given the name of character or the sides ahead of time. However, since I’m a fan of the franchise, I was able to piece things together and quickly knew it was for the role of Karai. I was elated."[115]

It was reported there was a filmed but unused scene of a fight between April O'Neil, Vernon Fenwick, Karai, and The Foot in downtown Manhattan that was cut from the finished film. Will Arnett, who played Vernon, said his character "comes out just at the right moment [and] hits Karai with the gurney and knocks her off balance a little bit. Then April kind of finishes her off."[116][117] According to Comic Vine's review, "Karai is apparently just there for fans to say, 'look, there's Karai!' Her role really is limited to shouting orders and failing miserably."[118] Zimbio opined it is "disappointing that in the new movie Karai is so underused. With a story that focuses on Shredder and William Fichtner's villain, Karai is relegated to third-string status, and she just sort of blends into the background" and, unlike in other TMNT stories, does not "show signs of being something more than the one-dimensional villain we got onscreen."[119] Heavy.com also stated that "not getting to see much of Karai in action is a disappointment"[120] and Douglas Walker called her cool-looking but ultimately "entirely pointless".[121] MovieWeb included "A Bigger Role for Karai" among the nine things they would like to see in the film's sequel, stating that "watching the new movie, it feels as though some of her scenes were cut out. We like Minae Noji, let's hope they give her something more to do next time. The character deserves it."[122]

Other appearances[edit]

Action games[edit]

  • Karai, voiced by Karen Neil (her 2003 cartoon voice actress), is a boss character and an unlockable player character in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus (2004),[123] in an encounter loosely based on the 2003 cartoon's episode "Rogue in the House Part 2". Her appearance is that from the cartoon series and she is armed with dual swords and also has a special move of unleashing multiple kunais in every direction. In the game's story mode, the Turtles meet Karai after she very uneasily decided to obey the Shredder's order to put them to death. After defeating Karai in combat, Leonardo pleads for her to choose honor over the loyalty to the Shredder, even going as far as allowing her to strike him down if she chooses so, but she finds unable to do so and asks him to kill her instead. Leonardo refuses in turn and leaves, telling her that he believes they will one day understand each other. According to Prima Games, Karai is one of the toughest opponents in the game's Foot Fight tournament mode.[124]
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare (2005), Karai, still voiced by Karen Neil, is the penultimate boss of the game.
  • Karai has only a cameo appearance in TMNT (2007), where only her voice (by Jennifer Morehouse) can be heard.
  • In the other TMNT game for the Game Boy Advance, Karai serves as the second boss. She appears masked and displays more abilities in this fight than she does in the film (including duplication and teleportation).
  • Karai is also a boss in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Arcade Attack (2009), her appearance reflecting her Back to the Sewer / Turtles Forever design.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2013), Karai, voiced by Renee Faia, appears as a recurring boss, teleporting around and throwing bombs; her design in this game is based on a more grown-up version of her 2012 cartoon version.
  • She also appears in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2013), voiced by Kelly Hu, but is not fought against at any point in the game.
  • Karai appears in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Danger of the Ooze (2014), voiced by Kelly Hu and based directly on the cartoon version.

Fighting games[edit]

  • Karai is the final boss in the 1993 Sega Genesis (Mega Drive)[125] and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)[126] versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters, where she is fighting without the use of any weapon. Karai was notorious as an extremely[127] difficult boss to defeat (especially on Genesis) and is a secret player character in the SNES version (in the Genesis version she is only unlockable with the use of a cheat device) where she can be unlocked by the use of a cheat code.[128]
    • In the Genesis version, Karai looks much more feminine than in the SNES game (quite similar to the SNES version's original character Aska), appearing brown haired and wearing samurai-style armor without a helmet or blades with bare thighs and a thong.[129] She also has a different backstory, in which she has sent the Turtles' clones to kidnap Master Splinter into Dimension X. She suddenly reveals herself to be the true mastermind behind this at the end of the game, following the player's defeat of Krang (in addition, the regular ending has Karai saying that it was only her clone that has been destroyed, as she can be truly killed only in the alternative ending after finishing the game at the hardest difficulty setting).
    • In the story mode of the SNES version, "Master Karai" (who is not known to the Turtles[126]) arrives in New York with "the forces of the Shredder Elite" in order to avenge the Shredder, and kidnaps Splinter and April to lure the Turtles into fighting her minions (oddly with the Shredder himself as the game's sub-boss); before her boss fight, Splinter says Karai "possesses super human powers." In the Tournament mode, "a very strong fighter by the name of 'Karai'" is announced by April to be "still alive" and challenges the winner of the titular fighting tournament to fight her. Her appearance in the SNES version is roughly based on this from the Mirage comics but her in-game design is androgynous and confusingly masculine, leading some players at that time to assume it was a male character.[130] Because of the relative obscurity of the TMNT Mirage comics (as compared to the 1980s cartoon and the films), many players did not recognize Karai in Tournament Fighters and assumed her to be an original character created by Konami for the game.[131][132]
  • Karai (once again voiced by Karen Neil) is one of the selectable characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up (2009).[133] Karai is wielding a single sword and, while not the most powerful, she is the fastest and most agile character in the game.[134] Her appearance is that of the 2007 film and she is described as being the Shredder's daughter. Karai's alternative costume resembles the Amazonian Blade Bots (aka Karai-Bots) robots created by Dr. Chaplin in the 2003 cartoon's episode "New Blood" (also featured in "Same As It Never Was").[129] An illustration created for the play '​s "Girls of Gaming 8" shows her with a longer hair and wearing the Shredder's armor.[135] According to Prima Games' official guide, Karai (rated 10/10) is the best overall character in the game, thanks to her fastest speed and one of the top jumping abilities, as well as unique combo opportunities, but she is less adventagous against other agile characters.[136] In the game's story mode, featuring a motion comic with an original plot co-written by Peter Laird, Karai looks more like in Mirage comics and is the Shredder's daughter who appears to ally with the Turtles. But after they defeat the Shredder, Karai reveals that she used the Turtles to get rid of him so she could usurp the Foot Clan as a next in line. Unexpectedly, the Shredder rises up, but Leonardo kicks him into Karai, landing them into the alien Transmat device that then teleports them away and "that problem is solved."

Toys[edit]

Playmates released an action figure of the cartoon Karai in her Shredder armor (with a removable helmet) in 2005, packed with bonus DVD.[137] They also released a larger action figure based on as she has appeared in the film TMNT (featuring a changeable head, with or without the face mask and hood) in 2007.[138] A "Karai Snake" action figure from the 2012 cartoon will be released by Playmates in 2015.[139] That same year, the TMNT Lego set included Karai in two versions, from the ongoing TV show and from the new movie.[140][141] The Loyal Subjects included Karai from the original comic in the first wave of TMNT Blind Box miniature action figures also in 2014.[142]

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External links[edit]