Kenshi (Mortal Kombat)
|Mortal Kombat character|
Kenshi in Mortal Kombat (2011)
|First game||Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002)|
|Created by||Ed Boon|
|Designed by||Allen Ditzig (MK:DA)
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)
Lisa Tomczeszyn (Legacy)
|Voiced by||Robert Keting (MK:DA)|
|Portrayed by||Dan Southworth (Legacy)|
|Fighting styles||Tai Chi
Kenshi is a player character from the Mortal Kombat series of fighting games. He is a rogue swordsman of Eurasian heritage who possesses psychokinetic powers and nurses a bitter hatred for the sorcerer Shang Tsung, whose deceit had resulted in Kenshi's blindness. Since debuting in 2002's Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, he has persistently featured in the series storyline by freeing Ermac from Outworld emperor Shao Kahn's control, joining the Special Forces alongside Jax and Sonya Blade, and seeking to bring down Mavado and his Red Dragon faction, in addition to associating with the likes of Sub-Zero and Johnny Cage.
Kenshi was included in the 2011 Mortal Kombat reboot as a downloadable character, and appeared in the 2013 second season of the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series. He has proven to be the best-received of the series characters introduced in the three-dimensional games, due to his design, in-game abilities and having overcome his personal handicap.
In video games
As a born fighter, Kenshi wandered Earthrealm in search of worthy competition. He would find an opponent and defeat them just to boost his pride. One day Kenshi encountered a man named Song, who convinced Kenshi that a great warrior needed a great sword; Song then led Kenshi to the location of an ancient, powerful sword Song claimed would befit Kenshi's power. As Kenshi unsealed the well wherein the sword supposedly lay, he was overwhelmed by souls trapped within and permanently blinded. Song revealed himself to be Shang Tsung and proceeded to absorb the released souls and left Kenshi to die within the tomb. However, the sword, which actually did exist, attracted Kenshi and spoke to him, leading him from the tomb and revealing its origin. The sword originally belonged to a long line of great swordsmen from whom Kenshi descended; the well where the sword lay was also the sacred resting place of the souls of Kenshi's ancestors, souls that were stolen by Shang Tsung. Kenshi spent the next decade or so retraining his senses, all while searching for his betrayer and the defiler of his ancestry.
Kenshi's special abilities eventually caught the attention of Jax and Sonya, who were looking for members with special talents to join their side and venture into Outworld; Kenshi jumped at the chance to pursue the man who had deceived him. After going through many tests and examinations, he was accepted to join the Outer World Investigation Agency. His chance at enacting his revenge came when he was assigned to find the lost Cyrax, who was also employed by the Special Forces. In his travels across Outworld, Kenshi encountered the enigmatic Ermac, and, in a moment of pity, broke the mind control that Shao Kahn had over him. In gratitude, Ermac awakened Kenshi's latent telekinetic power, and taught him not only how to use it effectively in combat, but how to 'sense' the presence of people and objects around him. Kenshi soon discovered the Deadly Alliance and their plans, but was unable to contact the OWIA (which had been bombed by Hsu Hao). Unknown to Kenshi, the Deadly Alliance knew of his presence and sent Mavado to eliminate him. Mavado confronted Kenshi, defeated the swordsman, and left him to die.
In Mortal Kombat: Deception, Sub-Zero found the dying Kenshi and nursed him back to health. Because of Sub-Zero's sympathy and kindness, Kenshi forged a temporary alliance with Sub-Zero to find a portal that would take them back home, though this temporary alliance soon became a long-lasting friendship. After Shang Tsung's death upon the Dragon King Onaga's return, Kenshi sensed the souls of his ancestors return to his sword, indicating the end of his quest for vengeance. Kenshi then returned to Earthrealm where, under the guidance of his ancestors' sword, he would hunt down the corrupt. Attacking only during the night, using the darkness as a cover to strike unseen, Kenshi was able to overthrow several criminal organizations.[note 1]
Kenshi is one of only seventeen characters to receive an official biography in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, in which he quits the Special Forces and turns down Sub-Zero's offer of joining the Lin Kuei. He eventually intercepts a coded message sent to Mavado and learns of the Red Dragon's plans to capture the Edenian half-god Taven. Before he could find out the location of their secret base, Kenshi encounters Johnny Cage who is gathering warriors to fight for the Forces of Light against Shinnok. However, Kenshi declines this offer, considering this another pointless struggle between good and evil. While embarking on his mission to destroy the Red Dragon and exact revenge on Mavado, he receives a psychic premonition, becoming fully aware of Taven and Daegon's quest to defeat the fire elemental Blaze. His sword also urges him to side with the forces of good in the forthcoming conflict. Taking heed of this insight, Kenshi decides that he will be the one to lead the Forces of Light into battle.[note 2]
In the 2011 Mortal Kombat game, Kenshi travels the world to seek for opponents. When an elderly man named Song offers to show him the location of Sento, an ancient sword, Kenshi succumbed to pride. He follows Song to the Well of Souls. Spirits of ancient warriors spew out when Kenshi gets the sword, blinding him. Song reveals himself to be Shang Tsung and leaves Kenshi to die. But Sento called to Kenshi and leads him to a warrior that have been buried and happens to be his ancestors. Kenshi vows to defeat Shang Tsung and free the souls of his ancestors. His ending is a near-duplicate of that in Deadly Alliance in that he exacts revenge on Shang Tsung by killing him with his sword.
Design and gameplay
In Deadly Alliance character designer Allen Ditzig's early concept sketches, the character was called "the Kenshi" and was described as a "spirit hunter." During development, Kenshi was unofficially named "Blind Gi" by Midway, which was changed to "Blind Kenshi" before the "Blind" was dropped altogether, thus changing "Kenshi" from a title to a proper name. Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon explained to Playstation.Blog in 2011 that he was "personally always a big fan of Kenshi, as were many of the guys on the MK team" as the reason for including him as a downloadable character in MK2011.
Kenshi was originally conceived as a substitute for Ermac in the series in regards to possessing telekinetic powers, the difference being that he also integrates a physical weapon—his sword—into his offensive arsenal. GameSpy's Deception guide described Kenshi's specials as similar to Ermac's but "not as comboable," while citing his sword as his most potent attack in the game. He is the only character in the game who commits a literal Hara-Kiri, in that he slashes himself across the stomach with the sword. According to the site's Armageddon walkthrough, Kenshi is a midrange attacker whose special moves are best utilized at that distance, as anything closer makes him "vulnerable to counterattacks." In MK2011, Kenshi's powers enable him to create a temporary psychic image of himself that was described by Michael Rousseau of VentureBeat as similar to that of Noob Saibot while comparing his projectile reflect to that of Nightwolf, but added that the character "is much more than the sum of his parts, and though he shares similarities with other cast members, he definitely has his own charm." Julian Williams of VG Chartz said that while "Ermac's abilities rely on pushing, pulling, and throws," Kenshi's offense "relies on long-range invisible punches," and he is "all about combo potential at a distance."
In other media
Being a relative newcomer to the franchise, Kenshi has not featured on any official MK merchandise, and his first alternate-media appearance came eleven years after his debut, in the 2013 second season of the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web series, in which he was portrayed by Dan Southworth, while both his backstory and association with Ermac from Deadly Alliance, played out over the third and fourth episodes, were revisited with significant alterations made by director Kevin Tancharoen. Kenshi is first seen on Shang Tsung's island along with Cage, Stryker, Kung Lao, and Sub-Zero as Raiden fills them in on what to expect at the Mortal Kombat tournament.The story then flashes back to feudal Japan, where Kenshi differs little in physical appearance save for having long hair as well as his eyesight. He winds up rescuing an old traveler from a trio of bandits, whom he kills easily, and later that night, the traveler tells Kenshi about a magical blade called the sword of Sento, which was crafted by Shao Kahn and hidden in a cave where the demonic Ermac guards it, stealing the souls of those who have tried to acquire the weapon for themselves. Kenshi blows off the traveler's warning that Ermac is unbeaten in battle, and goes off in search of the cave. Just as he is about to take the sword, Ermac issues a challenge that Kenshi disregards before confronting him, during which he is instantly struck blind. The story then transitions back to present day and Kenshi now possesses the sword; Ermac reappears to reclaim it and the two engage in combat, during which Kenshi becomes aware that he possesses psychokinetic powers, as does Ermac, who binds Kenshi with a pair of diaphanous snake-like tentacles he shoots from his hands. Kenshi psychically summons the sword and cuts himself free before flinging it from a distance straight into Ermac's chest. He then uses a final burst of psychic energy to penetrate it completely through in a fatal finishing blow. Ermac's lifeless form disappears and Kenshi is left standing victorious with the bloodied sword protruding from a tree.
Tancharoen released a first look at the character in January 2013 by posting on Instagram an editing-room shot of Kenshi's "blinding" scene. Legacy fight choreographer Larnell Stovall called the Ermac/Kenshi fight a personal "geek-out moment," because "who would have thought we would see those two fight in a web series?" In a June 2013 interview with Nerd Reactor, Southworth, who said that Kenshi was his favorite MK character, explained that Kenshi's lack of backstory allowed him to "fill in the blanks with history," giving the character "a clan or a region that he probably came from ... and why he was rogue at the time," but neither were ever explored in the show. Southworth also said that the blindfold he wore was real and that there were "moments where I was just swinging my arms out and was hoping that it connected in the right place, or not." Like Ermac, Kenshi was given a completely black palette in the show that eliminated all traces of red from the game version of the character, with his armor replaced by a more modernized design slightly resembling tactical gear. The Sento sword itself deviated from a traditional katana in the games to the hilt being adorned with small gray skull carvings and having no hand guard.
Though his status in the upcoming Mortal Kombat X is currently unknown, Kenshi is a featured character in the 2015 prequel comic miniseries based on the game and produced by DC Comics. He first appears having been hunted down by Hsu Hao before the latter is killed by Scorpion. Kenshi additionally has a young son named Takeda, an original character who is being trained in combat by Scorpion. Writer Shawn Kittelsen said in an interview with IGN.com that including Kenshi in the comic "was a nod to all the fans that love this telekinetic Zatoichi as much as I do."
Kenshi placed 29th in UGO Networks' 2012 list of the top 50 Mortal Kombat characters. Robert Workman of GamePlayBook listed him as the tenth-best series character: "While our list of Mortal Kombat favorites mostly consists of veterans, we gotta admit that Kenshi is a pretty awesome fighter in his own right." Den of Geek rated Kenshi seventh in their 2015 ranking of the franchise's 64 playable characters, calling him "the best design to come out past the original trilogy" with "a look that feels like Solid Snake mixed with Daredevil." ScrewAttack included Kenshi on their own top-ten character list (seventh), stating that he was one of the few recent MK characters they liked while adding that he "wasn't handicapped, but 'handycapable.' " Complex considered Kenshi one of the series "most brutal" characters: "He's a blind swordsman; not much else gets more brutal than that." They also listed him as the most underrated series character due to his powers and swordsmanship, remarking, "Trust us, you don't wanna let him open the piñata at your niece's birthday party." He was ranked 25th in a 2013 online fan poll hosted by Dorkly that rated the series' entire character roster.
Mike Haseloff of 1UP.com included Kenshi in a list of characters he would have liked to have seen in 2008's Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Carl Lyon of Fearnet wrote in his review of the downloadable-content Kenshi for MK2011, "NetherRealm Studios has given Mortal Kombat a new character that genuinely feels different and adds an exciting new wrinkle to their already fantastic game." Game Informer listed the character in their "DLC To Help You Through The Summer Drought" list.
While IGN stated that his X-Ray attack and Fatalities were "all a blast to watch," ScrewAttack ranked his "Eye Popper" Fatality from Deadly Alliance among the series' ten worst finishers, mainly due to its length: "It just goes on and on and on, forever and ever." James Deaux of Earth-2.net ranked it twelfth in his 2011 list of the series' twenty worst Fatalities, calling it "so long and boring."
- Kenshi's alliance with Sub-Zero factors in both his and Hotaru's Deception endings; in Kenshi's ending, he hacks Hotaru (working for Onaga in both instances) in half before the latter can kill Sub-Zero. This scenario is reversed in Hotaru's noncanonical ending, which has him displaying Kenshi's disembodied head to Onaga before succeeding in dispatching Sub-Zero.
- Despite receiving a biography, Kenshi had no overall impact on the Armageddon storyline and was given a noncanonical ending: "The fire of Blaze burned away the curse responsible for Kenshi's blindness. Not only was his sight restored, but he gained increased sensitivity in his other senses as well. As time went on, however, he found the sensory bombardment unbearable. Kenshi retreated to a remote mountain cavern when he remains isolated in a darkened, soundless chamber."
- Kenshi concept art - ditzig.com. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
- Nguyen, John (June 21, 2013). "Interview with Dan Southworth from Mortal Kombat: Legacy 2". Nerd Reactor. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
- Kenshi Deadly Alliance Biography - Mortal Kombat Warehouse. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- Midway Games (2002). "Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance". Level/area: Konquest Mode, Mission #76. ("Kenshi sympathized with the plight of the enigmatic kombatant, Ermac. The Outworld warrior spirits that had manifested themselves in the form of a ninja had been violated by Shao Kahn in much the same way that Kenshi's ancestors had been enslaved by Shang Tsung. Kenshi was taught the Telekinetic Slam by Ermac in return for freeing him from the control of the emperor.")
- Kenshi's Deception biography - Mortal Kombat Warehouse. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- Midway Games (2004). "Mortal Kombat: Deception". Level/area: Kenshi ending.
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- Midway Games (2006). "Mortal Kombat: Armageddon". Level/area: Kenshi ending.
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- "Kenshi in MK Legacy Season 2 going through editing!". ComicBookMovie. January 9, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
- Fisher, Ian (September 26, 2013). "Interview With Larnell Stovall [Mortal Kombat: Legacy II]". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved June 22, 2014.
- Yehl, Joshua (January 6, 2015). "Mortal Kombat X Comic Will Reveal Origins of Kotal Kahn, D'Vorah and Other New Characters". IGN.com. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
- UGO Team February 28, 2012 Follow (2012-02-28). "Top 50 Mortal Kombat Characters - Mortal Kombat". UGO.com. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
- "The Best Mortal Kombat Characters of All Time - GamePlayBook". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
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- "Top 10 Mortal Kombat Kharacters". ScrewAttack.com. Retrieved 2011-12-29.
- Watson, Elijah (July 11, 2013). "13. Kenshi - The Most Brutal Fighters in Mortal Kombat". Complex. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- Staff (April 11, 2011). "1. Blind Kenshi - Your Favorite Fighter's Favorite Fighter: The 10 Most Underrated "Mortal Kombat" Kombatants". Complex. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- "The Greatest Mortal Kombat Character of All Time". Dorkly.com. 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- "MK vs DLC: The Characters That Got Away!". 1up.com. 2009-07-09. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
- Lyon, Carl (2011-07-14). "DLC Review: Kenshi for 'Mortal Kombat'". FEARnet. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- Icarus, Man (2011-07-07). "DLC To Help You Through The Summer Drought - Features". www.GameInformer.com. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
- Clements, Ryan. "Mortal Kombat: Kenshi Kicking Ass - PlayStation 3 Preview at IGN". Ps3.ign.com. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
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