|Mortal Kombat character|
Kitana's concept art for Mortal Kombat (2011)
|First game||Mortal Kombat II (1993)|
|Created by||John Tobias (with brainstorming input from Ed Boon)|
|Designed by||John Tobias (MKII, UMK3/MKT)
Mark Lappin (MK:SM)
Cy Mandua (MKvDC)
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)
Ha Nguyen (first film)
Lynell Forestall (MK:DotR)
Jennifer L. Parsons (second film)
Beverly Safier (Konquest)
Allisa Swanson (Legacy s.1)
Lisa Tomczeszyn (Legacy s.2)
|Voiced by||Cree Summer (MK: DotR)
Lita Lopez (MK:SM)
S.G. Willie (MKvDC)
Karen Strassman (MK2011)
|Motion capture||Katalin Zamiar (MKII)
Becky Gable (UMK3, MKT)
Lorrisa Julianus (MKvDC)
Brenda Barrie (MK2011)
|Portrayed by||Katalin Zamiar (MKII commercial)
Talisa Soto (films)
Lexi Alexander (as "Lexi Mirai"), Jennifer DeCosta (Live Tour)
Audie England, Dara Tomanovich (Konquest)
Rachelle Glover (MK2011 promotion)
Samantha Jo (as "Sam Tjhia") (Legacy)
|Fighting styles||Eagle Claw (MK:DA, MK:U)
Ba Gua (MK:DA, MK:U, MK:A)
|Weapon||Steel Fans (all media except the first film)
Flying Blade (MKG)
Kitana (also known as Princess Kitana and Lady Kitana) is a fictional character from the Mortal Kombat media franchise, where she was introduced as one of new player characters in the fighting game Mortal Kombat II in 1993. Since then, Kitana appeared in a majority of Mortal Kombat series' video games and its other media, including the films Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and the series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, Mortal Kombat: Konquest and Mortal Kombat: Legacy, becoming one of the most popular and recognisable elements of the franchise.
One of the lead characters of the Mortal Kombat saga, Kitana is the princess of the other-dimensional realm of Edenia and the biological daughter of Queen Sindel, as well as an adopted daughter of the evil Emperor Shao Kahn. In the series' original storyline, Kitana serves Shao Kahn as an elite assassin before becoming one of the leaders of the good characters. She also has a role of suggested romantic interest for the series' primary hero Liu Kang and has an evil twin and nemesis named Mileena, as well as a longtime friend in Jade.
Kitana received much positive critical reception, including having been often regarded as one of the most attractive female characters in video gaming. Mileena and Jade, also some of the most popular Mortal Kombat characters, have debuted as a simple palette swaps of Kitana.
In video games
As a member of the Edenian race in the fictional other dimension called Outworld, the character is over ten thousand years old, although she appears to be a young woman. Throughout the years, Kitana has risen to great importance, first as the loyal stepdaughter of Outworld's evil emperor Shao Kahn; then his enemy, tearing herself away from his grasp and freeing her home realm of Edenia; and then leading an army into Outworld to combat any chance of Kahn rising to power again. Kitana shared a subtle love interest with Earthrealm champion Liu Kang until his death, though they were briefly reunited prior to his resurrection. Despite her loyalty to Shao Kahn for most of her life, she has aligned herself on the good side after learning the truth about her past and her real family. A disfigured clone of Kitana, given the name Mileena, was introduced as Kitana's twin sister to become a prominent archrival in the original game series' timeline.[note 1]
Kitana first appears in Mortal Kombat II (1993) as Shao Kahn's personal assassin, working alongside her supposed twin sister Mileena. After centuries of loyally serving Kahn, Kitana uncovers the truth about her past, discovering that she is actually the daughter of Edenia's former rulers King Jerrod and Queen Sindel, and was taken as Shao Kahn's own when he conquered their realm. She also learns that Mileena was never her real sister, but a grotesque clone of her created at her adopted father's behest by his sorcerer Shang Tsung. Originally intended to replace Kitana should she ever learn of her true birthright, Mileena emerged flawed and Kahn instead decided to make her monitor Kitana's loyalty to him. According to the semi-canonical spin-off game Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks (2005), after Kitana (voiced by Lita Lopez) was found no longer loyal to Kahn, she is put into a spell-induced trance and forced to fight the Earthrealm heroes anyway (along with Mileena and Jade), before being freed from this state by the Shaolin warrior monks Liu Kang and Kung Lao. Eventually, the sisters clash and Kitana emerges victorious, killing Mileena.
During the events of Mortal Kombat 3 (1995), Kitana is put on trial for treason after killing Mileena. Before a verdict and sentence could be reached, however, Kitana escapes (as retconned in MK3 update releases Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy) and joins the warriors of Earthrealm to free her mother Sindel, who has been resurrected and used by Kahn to invade Earth. After convincing her close friend Jade to join her, Kitana locates and frees Sindel from Shao Kahn's mental control, leading to his defeat at the hands of Liu Kang. Kitana, Sindel, and Jade then liberate Edenia from Outworld.
Their jubilance is short-lived, as during Mortal Kombat Gold (1999), Shinnok and his grand vizier Quan Chi escapes imprisonment in the Netherrealm and invades Edenia. Betrayed by the traitorous Edenian Tanya, Kitana, Sindel, and Jade are taken prisoner, but Kitana manages to escape and rejoin her Earthrealm allies. Shinnok's forces are eventually defeated by the joint efforts of Kitana and her allies. With Edenia freed once again, Kitana finally proposes to Liu Kang, offering him the chance to rule Edenia at her side as King and Queen, but he reluctantly rejects her offer, seeing his true duty as champion of Earth. After Shinnok's defeat, Kitana captures Mileena but learns that Shao Kahn has survived his defeat in Earthrealm and is regaining power. Knowing that Kahn would attempt to reclaim Edenia once he was strong enough, she forges an alliance with Goro, prince of the Outworld race Shokan, against Kahn's forces.
In Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance (2002), Kitana, leading a preemptive strike against Shao Kahn's forces, learns that he has been slain by unknown assassins. Thinking her fight is at an end, she begins the journey back to Edenia, hoping to finally live in peace. However, on the way she encounters Kung Lao, who tells her of the plans of the Deadly Alliance of Quan Chi and Shang Tsung, who are responsible for Liu Kang and Shao Kahn's demise and are attempting to revive the undead army of the legendary Onaga the Dragon King. Despite Kitana's grief, she rejoins the Earthrealm warriors and leads them into battle. During the assault on Shang Tsung's palace, she faces Quan Chi one-on-one but despite her improved fighting skills, gained from training with Bo' Rai Cho, Kitana is outmatched and killed alongside her allies. Shortly after, they are resurrected and magically enslaved by Onaga, who then sends Mileena to impersonate Kitana as the princess of Edenia.
In Mortal Kombat: Deception (2004), Onaga uses Kitana to defeat and imprison her mother, Sindel, knowing that the queen would not fight her daughter. Sindel is freed from her own dungeon by Jade, and together they flee to Outworld where they attempt to find a way to defeat Onaga and free Kitana from his influence. Unknown to anyone at the time, Liu Kang's spirit was able to remain amongst the living due to the bond he shared with Kitana. He found himself a new ally and friend in Ermac, as the two embark on a mission to save their allies as well. Ermac and Liu Kang are successful in freeing Kitana and the other Earthrealm heroes.
Afterward, as Kitana travels back to Edenia, she encounters Blaze, who warns her of a coming new danger that will threaten all the realms and advices her to assemble the forces of light into battle. Weary of constant battle, Kitana is disheartened, but Blaze assures her that the wars will soon be over. Following this warning, Kitana returns in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (2006), accompanied by Liu Kang's spirit in order to keep him whole until there was a way to reunite him with his body. They later meet with Nightwolf, who offers to relieve Kitana of her burden to take Liu Kang's soul into himself, allowing her to fight against the coming evil. Kitana ultimately perishes with the rest of her allies during the battle.
In the uncanonical crossover game Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (2008), Kitana is transported to Metropolis, where she encounters her counterpart from the DC Universe, Wonder Woman. Due to the "kombat rage", Kitana hallucinates, believing Wonder Woman to be an assassin sent from Outworld and challenged her. After being defeated, Kitana flees to elsewhere in Metropolis, where she is found and defeated by Scorpion and brought to Raiden's temple, where she tells about seeing the fusion of Shao Kahn and Darkseid: Dark Kahn. Kitana then joins the rest of the Kombatants in traveling to the fused realms of Outworld and Apokolips. She fights alongside them against the DC heroes and villains, and is one of the many knocked unconscious while Raiden and Superman battle and destroy Dark Kahn.
Kitana re-appears in Mortal Kombat, the 2011 re-imagining of the earliest three Mortal Kombat games, voiced by Karen Strassman and motion-captured by Brenda Barrie. In the game's story mode, she and Jade are sent by Shao Kahn to compete in Mortal Kombat. Kitana battles Liu Kang in an attempt to ensure that he will not reach the final stages of the first tournament, but is defeated; expecting to die, she is surprised by his decision to spare her. Later, during the second tournament, Kitana is approached by Raiden, who informs her that her supposed past as Shao Kahn's daughter is a lie, and discovers a newly created Mileena. Before Kahn, she accuses Shang Tsung of attempting to replace her, and is shocked to learn that the Emperor himself ordered Mileena's creation, as he imprisons Kitana in the palace and commands his "true daughter" to be brought to him. However, Kitana is soon freed by Jade and the two escape to Earthrealm to join their new allies against the forces of Outworld. They assist in the battle for Earthrealm, but are killed alongside several others by Kitana's corrupted mother, Sindel. In the end, she is shown to be one of the warriors that are resurrected by Quan Chi in the Netherrealm to battle Raiden.
In 2011, Kitana origins as character were revealed by her creator John Tobias, who disclosed that she started out as an unplayable herald-type character called Kitsune, who was created during the early development of the original Mortal Kombat game in 1991. Tobias' original inspiration while creating Kitsune was the character of Princess Mariko from Jordan Mechner's 1984 video game Karateka.[note 2] Kitsune "was going to fit into the story as Shang Lao’s [Tsung] princess daughter - the spoil of victory for winning the tournament," who would betray her father after she fell for Liu Kang, but Shang became a minion of Shao Kahn when the story was expanded for Mortal Kombat II, while Kitsune was renamed Kitana and made Kahn's stepdaughter. In Tobias' design sketch, she wielded a single fan and wore a Chinese dress. The name Kitsune was rejected for it being a Japanese word and thus not fitting with "Shang and Shao who were both Chinese in origin" (before the games "ultimately became a hodgepodge of nonsensical Asian mythological hooha anyway"), and the name of Kitana was created as "a combo of Kitsune & Katana" that would sound "generically Asian enough."
Mortal Kombat series' co-creator and producer Ed Boon said Kitana's characteristic Fatality "Kiss of Doom" was inspired by the demise of the villain Mr. Big (Dr. Kananga) in the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die, adding that it was his favorite finishing move of Mortal Kombat II and one of the best examples of their attempt to combine violent and humorous elements in the game. He also described Kitana and Mileena as the female equivalents of Scorpion and Sub-Zero, the series' two most iconic male characters with a fierce rivalry of their own. Speaking in 2009, Boon said Kitana has became of the most recognizable Mortal Kombat characters, alongside Scorpion, Sub-Zero, and the series' official protagonist Liu Kang. Mortal Kombat X lead designer John Edwards said Kitana has remained his favourite character.
Kitana was originally portrayed by Katalin Zamiar (Becky Gable took over for Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy), who got hired for the role after Boon and Tobias, who were members of her fitness center, were contacted by her brother who was a Mortal Kombat fan, who proposed that she would take a role in the sequel. Zamiar's simple and swimsuit-based outfit used for creating the game's female ninja characters was Kitana's blue; the costume was tailor-made (the bottoms of the leggings were a bit too slippery for some moves such as jumping kicks) and Kitana's fans were really not actually steel and were Zamiar's own training fans. For UMK3, Kitana and Mileena characters were videotaped in a more revealing red outfit to stand out from blue screen more. Until Mortal Kombat Gold, Mileena, Jade and Khameleon all wore identical sets of costumes as Kitana did, differing from each other through the use of palette swap technique to create their digitized sprite graphics.[note 3]
Kitana's weapon of choice became a pair of razor-edged steel fans, inspired by Japanese war fans and originally being fully metal. Following her debut, Kitana was repeatedly removed from the further sequels due to various circumstances, only to always return in a port or an update, as it was in the case of UMK3/Trilogy (after her absence in MK3), Gold (after her absence in Mortal Kombat 4) and Mortal Kombat: Unchained (after her absence in Deception).[note 4] In Gold, Kitana uses the throwing weapon "Flying Blade", which is similar to Tanya's sharp boomerang due to the two characters' linked development history in the original version of Mortal Kombat 4.[note 5] Her UMK3/MKT Animality transformation animal is a small rabbit, in a reference to the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In Deception, Kitana only appears in the endings for Sindel and Ermac, resembling an unmasked and blue-clad version of Mileena from this game. Kitana's uncanoncial ending in 2011's Mortal Kombat, where she forms a team together with Jade and Mileena, references Charlie's Angels.
In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Kitana is fought as a boss character twice during the game's main story mode and one of unlockable player characters for the versus mode. Besides the "Kiss of Death", her other most common Fatality is an execution through decapitation with a fan, which has been featured in almost all of her game appearances (except of Deadly Alliance and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe) and is expanded in Mortal Kombat 2011 where she cuts off the defeated opponents' arms before beheading them. Most of Kitana's traditional special moves utilize her twin fan weapons, used as a melee weapon, as a thrown projectile, and to lift her enemies in the air.[note 6] Her Animality is a white rabbit that mauled her opponent offscreen. There was also a popular but completely false rumor regarding a supposed "Nudality" finishing move in Mortal Kombat II.
Kitana was picked as the best Mortal Kombat II fighter by the editors of Sega Power and Super Play; Cinema Blend stated Kitana "could absolutely dominate" the game. "Kitana's big combos in the corner" were among Ed Boon's personal favourite things in the game. Boon said: "When I saw people do Kitana's combos I knew there was something special, because people were taking the game to a new direction." According to Complex, "she had the most powerful projectile attack, and along with Mileena, the fastest throws and sweeps." However, GamePro strategy guide ranked Kitana as only the seventh best of the 12 fighters in MKII (citing her devastating combos, powerful "Fan Throw" move, and good sweep and reach hindered by slow release of the fan-based special moves and limited attack patterns); it was her clone Mileena who landed on the top of their chart.
Kitana's famous combo ability was severely downgraded for Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (and, by extension, Mortal Kombat Trilogy), for which she also received no new special moves unlike most of the other characters. According to Nintendo Power, "with such a small repertoire, Princess Kitana will be sorely challenged by experienced warriors," even as her "Fan Toss" is faster than many other projectiles. Sega Saturn Magazine opined that "Kitana's lack of enhancements doesn't make her as exciting to play as some of the other characters, though her excellent juggle combos still work - and they can do loads of damage." On the other hand, EGM Strategy Guide for UMK3 stated: "She had deadly corner traps with damage in up to 90 percent. Now, her Fan Raise combos have been severely crippled to almost not being worth it." According to Total 64, "her moves are a little unfriendly and her combos are a touch difficult." Nevertheless, X360 called her "the worst possible character to come up against" in the tower mode of UMK3: "Fast, imposible to sweep, and capable of rendering any opponent incapable with a waft of her fan.".
Over the time, however, Kitana has received new special moves, including some that have been typically associated with Mileena, namely a ground-roll attack (based on Mileena's classic move "Rolling Thunder" and given to Kitana in MKvsDCU) and teleportation-based moves (since Shaolin Monks). According to BradyGames' official guide for Deadly Alliance, "Kitana stays at the top of the heap as far as kombatants go. In any stance, she can pump out over 30% with relative ease, making her one of the deadliest in the hands of a beginner or a master." Prima Games' guide to Shaolin Monks states she is "quick enough for moderate damage, and has some of the most potent special moves in the game," but needs to be fighting at close range. In Armageddon, however, Kitana is "a tough character to win with" and "like many of the other low tier character types, she's lacking in almost every aspect" (even as she "is a little better on defense than she is on offense"); she was rated overall only 4/10 for this game. Prima's official guide for MKvsDCU, on the other hand, called her "one of the more dangerous characters in the game due to her speed and extremely effective move-set." According to Prima's official guide for MK2011, in this game Kitana is a capable fighter who "is at her deadliest in the corner" and who is best played against Baraka and Cyber Sub-Zero.
In other media
Kitana appears in Malibu Comics's 1994-1995 Mortal Kombat comic book series. She was the subject of the special issue "Kitana and Mileena: Sister Act", in which her backstory is revealed as slightly altered in comparison to the Mortal Kombat II game canon story. In the comic books, Kitana is the princess of Edenia and daughter of King Jerrod and Queen Sindel, but she was already an adult when Shao Kahn killed Jerrod and seized the realm, putting her under a spell that made her forget her past life and believe she is Kahn's daughter. Kitana first appeared during the "Goro: Prince of Pain" story arc, joining Mileena, Baraka and Reptile in search for Goro in Outworld. During the "Battlewave" miniseries, she attempts to rebel against Kahn with the assistance of Kung Lao, Baraka and Sub-Zero. Unlike in the game series' continuity, in the comic series Kitana has no interactions with neither Liu Kang nor Jade. Instead, she has a closer relation with Kung Lao (Shang Tsung even attempts to exploit this while taking Kitana's form).
Kitana was also one of the characters featured in the 1995 stage show Mortal Kombat: Live Tour, where she was played by Lexi Alexander (credited as "Lexi Mirai") and Jennifer DeCosta. She re-appeared in Midway Games's stand-alone Mortal Kombat 4 prologue comic book published in 1997, in which she is arranges peace between the Shokan and Centaurian races, and in the game tie-in title Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: Beginnings, which was drawn by John Tobias and published by DC Comics in 2008.
Despite being a major character in the video games' storyline, Princess Kitana was only a supporting character in both Mortal Kombat live-action films. In the movies, Kitana was portrayed by the 28-year-old Talisa Soto, appearing unmasked and wearing less revealing, all-black costumes (including a long formal dress). In the first film, released in 1995, Kitana is introduced as a companion of Shang Tsung, but eventually joins Liu Kang and the Earthrealm warriors to help them defeat the sorcerer. The character spends most of the 1997 sequel film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation in Kahn's captivity, captured by Scorpion, before facing Sindel during the final battle. Kitana's steel folding fans (for the first time redesigned into several blades on each one, instead of solid all-metal fans) briefly appear as her weapon in the second film.
In the films, Kitana does engage in a romantic relationship with Liu Kang, but her Edenian background, prior loyalty to Kahn, and relations with Mileena and Jade were ignored in both pictures in which she was instead described simply as being the rightful heir to the Outworld's throne. In the 1995 novel Mortal Kombat by Martin Delrio, an expanded novelization of the first film, Kitana is introduced in a new scene, in which she is described as dressed in "scarlet-red silk". Shang Tsung also tells Goro that Kitana "alone keeps alive the memory" of Edenia before Kahn's conquest and "uses her age and her position as a shield to cover her rebellion." Talisa Soto said she was while preparing for her role in the first film she was "educated" about it by her nieces and nephews, and underwent five weeks of martial arts training in kung fu, tai chi chuan and wing tsun. Her role in Annihilation required her to learn Brazilian stick fighting.
Kitana is one of the lead characters in the 1996 television animated series Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm, roughly based on the movie version of the MK universe, in which she did again appear unmasked even if clad in a black-blue leotard-type outfit reminiscent of the one she wore in MKII, and was voiced by Cree Summer. Similar to the films, she is never shown to have ever been loyal to Kahn in the cartoon. In the episode "Skin Deep", a male ninja character Rain is introduced as her former love interest turned enemy. The series' finale involved Kitana leading a rebellion from Outworld against Shao Kahn's rule.
Kitana made several appearances in the non-canonical prequel live-action television series Mortal Kombat: Konquest (1998–1999), her role shared by the 27-year-old Audie England (the episodes "Vengeance" and "Shadow of a Doubt") and by Dara Tomanovich (in "The Essence"), with Christine Rodriguez being their stunt double. In this series, she is fully aware of her Edenian past and the deaths of her parents at Kahn's hands, clandestinely working with the Great Kung Lao to prevent the Emperor from conquering realms while at the same time feigning her allegiance to him. Her outfit and weapon are resembling these she has in the films, but she uses her native Edenian fighting style which she had mastered already before Shao Kahn's invasion and which was supplemented with various moves that she learnt from prisoners of her stepfather. The Konquest version of Mileena is neither her clone nor a sister, and Rain appears as her former best friend. In the series' abrupt finale (due to the show's cancellation, as it was supposed to continue further for a next season after a cliffhanger ending), Kitana appears to die, after she was reluctantly ordered by Shao Kahn to be killed for her plots of treason against him. She is promptly attacked by Shadow Priests and one of them uses Kitana's own fan against her.
The character appears in the 2011 prequel live-action webisode series Mortal Kombat: Legacy, played in her first acting role by a 20-year-old martial artist and stuntwoman Samantha Jo (credited as Sam Tjhia), a self-professed Kitana fan since her childhood, who said she did research "to get on the same page" with fans to see how they perceive Kitana while preparing for the role. She also said: "The biggest hurdle for me was to understand the sibling rivalry and betrayal that Kitana faced in her past, and how it deeply affected the character she is now." Kitana return for the second season of Legacy in 2013, still played by Jo, and her new outfit was revealed by director Kevin Tancharoen in December 2012.
Kitana's origin story is told in part-live and part-animated episode "Kitana & Mileena", which is a fable-like, altered adaptation of their backstory from the original game series' canon. In a notable difference, her mother, Sindel, used a ritual so her soul fused with Kitana's in hopes to avoid Shao Khan's corruption before committing suicide. Kitana appears both masked (only in the animated scenes) and unmasked, and bests Mileena in a fierce sparring match. When the young sisters are sent by Shao Kahn to assassinate the man who is really King Jerrod, Kitana's biological father who is then killed by Mileena, Kitana eventually learns the truth after her past and decides to turn against Shao Kahn in the upcoming Mortal Kombat tournament. In the second season, Kitana rescues Johnny Cage and then fights and decapitates Mileena.
In merchandise and promotion
A figurine of Kitana came in the MKII set with the Argentinian magazine Top Kids in 1995. A 12 inch action figure of Kitana was released in the UK by Toy Island as part of their 1996 Mortal Kombat Trilogy series. An unreleased action figure based on her MKII design and an earlier figure of Mileena was presented by Infinite Concepts in a prototype form at the American International Toy Fair 2000. A 1/6 scale limited edition statue of Kitana was released by Syco Collectibles in the Enchanted Warriors series in 2012. Another statue by Pop Culture Shock Collectibles was announced later in 2012, including an unmasked limited edition. Kitana was one of several MK characters featured on 2.5" x 3.5" collectible magnets by Ata-Boy Wholesale in 2011, and a 3-D mousepad was also released. Io9's Charlie Jane Anders listed Kitana's costume among 2011's "sluttiest and weirdest" store-bought Halloween costumes, but Justin Amirikhani of Complex praised it as one of "last-minute video game costumes that actually look cool" and Brian Altano of IGN included it among "ten ridiculous (or ridiculously sexy) video game inspired Halloween costumes" of 2012.
Rachelle Glover, cosplaying as Kitana, along with others dressed as Sonya Blade and Mileena, was featured in her a 2011 live-action trailer "Kitana Kasting" and an official photo session; all three of them later also attended The Gadget Show: World Tour for a MK game tournament. That same month, UFC's Octagon Girl Brittney Palmer dressed up in a blue costume and played as Kitana in the game in a promotional video on the Playboy vlog of Jo Garcia. Glover also portrayed Kitana in 2012's "Play Anywhere", a live-action trailer for the PlayStation Vita version of Mortal Kombat (first in two teaser trailers and then in the full version with both of them together). Kitana's UMK3 outfit returned in MK2011, first as an exclusive costume in the pre-order bonuses and then later as paid downloadable content (DLC). The MKII-style retro outfits for Kitana and Jade were also later included as part of another, free DLC, jokingly described by the game's developer NetherRealm Studios as "swimsuit party". Samantha Jo starred in Machinima.com's clip "Kitana's Lost Fan" promoting the second season of Legacy.
Kitana has made cameo appearances in comic shorts in the humor magazine Cracked, having been renamed as Princess Kittykat, and in Grant Ginder's novel This Is How It Starts. The character became a popular subject of cosplay. Tanya Jordan won the Ms Fitness Southern California competition with her pole dance while dressed as Kitana in 2010, and the FHM Premiere Vixen champion Karen Bordador had a photo session while dressed as Kitana in 2011. In the Halloween 2011 special edition of Monday Night Raw, professional wrestler AJ Lee dressed as Kitana for the Divas Battle Royal contest and jokingly attempted to perform a "Fan Lift" on her rival. Filmmaker Jen Soska dressed as Kitana to fight her sister Sylvia's Mileena at Fantastic Fest 2011. Others included Maxim's Hometown Hotties finalist Aja Dang in 2012 and the female wrestler Velvet Sky in 2014. According to The A.V. Club, Adore Delano's ensemble at 2014's RuPaul's Drag Race "combine[d] Hannibal Lecter, Catwoman, and Kitana from Mortal Kombat."
"Kitana" has became an occasional neologistic misspelling for the word "katana".[note 7] "Kitana Jade" has been the alias of American adult model Cherie Roberts since 1999, while Kitana Baker is the adopted name of an American model born Christi Josenhans. Some parents actually chose to give this name to their children, such as in the cases of basketball player Kitana High amateur golfer Kitana Hollins, and singer Kitana Andrews. "Kitana" is also the name of the main character in Derek Landy's 2012 novel Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked.
Critical reception and popularity
Critical reception of Kitana has been mostly very positive, often with emphasis placed on her good looks and sometimes also on her relatively complicated personality. She has become commonly regarded to be one of the most recognizable characters of the Mortal Kombat franchise; according to Tom's Hardware in 2007, "Kitana is arguably the best known and most popular woman in the Mortal Kombat series." Kitana placed fourth on Game Revolution's Anthony Severino 2005 list of top "old school" Mortal Kombat characters, ranked as the fifth top character in the series by Robert Workman of GamePlayBook in 2010, and voted the ninth top Mortal Kombat fighter by the staff of UGO in 2012. The series' fans voted her to the Quarter Finals rounds in the "Supreme Mortal Kombat Champion" polls held by Mortal Kombat Online in both 2012 and 2013 (losing to Sub-Zero and Ermac). She was also voted the series' 12th greatest character in a 2013 poll by Dorkly.
At the time of her introduction in 1993's Mortal Kombat II (the game that was actually described by CU Amiga as "Kitana & Co"), Times Union described Kitana as "the sexy and vicious fighter" and "a killer babe who melds a mix of seduction and violence." According to Amiga Format in 1994, while it might be "incredibly sad for adult males to fancy in game female characters," one should be "prepared to fall in love" with Kitana. One of the many urban legend-style rumors surrounding the game in the early 1990s concerned the supposed "Nudality" finishing move (also known under other names, such as "Sexuality") that would be performed by Kitana stripping naked. Years later, in 2004, a Vibe's Stud Houston admitted he had a crush on Kitana, describing her as "sexy as hell," and MTV Multiplayer's Kendra Beltran chose Kitana as the number one female character on her 2013 list of "video game crushes you had as a kid". The relationship between the "smoking hot" Kitana and Liu Kang was ranked as the fourth best video game couple by the staff of IGN in 2006. Rob Wright of Tom's Games included this "enduring and powerful character" on his 2007 list of the 50 greatest female characters in video game history for being a "powerful princess that's lived more than 10,000 years and still hasn't lost her hotness," X360 featured her on the list of "an alternative top ten females in gaming" in 2009, and James Hawkins of Joystick Division ranked her as the fifth top "badass lady" in video games in 2010. VideoGamer.com's Wesley Yin-Poole included Princess Kitana on his 2010 list of top ten "video game crushes" as rivaling Princess Peach for number one video game monarch and winning out "in sheer sex appeal." Danny Gallagher of MTV's Guy Code ranked Kitana as the fourth "best babe in video games" of 2011, stating that she not only has "a great pair of long legs" but also "the deepest emotional core of any of the Mortal Kombat characters." In 2014, Jack Pooley of WhatCulture ranked her as the 16th greatest character of the fighting game genre.
Kitana has quickly become one of the Mortal Kombat series' sex symbols, in a display of what one author described as manifestation of "pseudo-Japanese Orientalist fetishes." She has been featured in many lists of all gaming's most attractive female characters by various publications, including as one of the nine "sexiest babes of action games" by The Times of India and the 21 "sexy ladies of computer games" by Poland's Fakt in 2009. In 2008, GameDaily ranked her as the 28th top "hottest game babe", noting her as "the most worthy of the Mortal Kombat II babes," while UGO similarly ranked her as the 28th top "videogame hottie", and GamesRadar featured her on the list of top 20 supposedly overlooked "game babes". Complex featured her as one of top ten "hottest video game girls" ever in 2009, calling her "the sexiest cougar ever.". In 2011, Anurag Ghosh and Bill Fulks at Bright Hub named "the gorgeous Kitana" as the sexiest Mortal Kombat character, while GameFront's Ross Lincoln ranked her bust in the new game as the 30th finest in gaming history. In 2012, Kitana was declared the second sexiest character in video games by Fernando DaQuino of Tecmundo, who noted her being "well far from a princess stereotype," and included among the 20 "hottest women" in video game history by MSN. UGO ranked her as the 38th "hottest fictional woman" of the year, commenting that the Mortal Kombat series "has always boasted some hotties, but the new game brought back Kitana in a big way." In 2013, Kitana was declared the fifth sexiest female video game character of all time by AMOG's Albert Costill, who referred to her as "not only one of the most recognizable characters from Mortal Kombat," but "also one of the coolest, and definitely sexiest," and also ranked as the second sexiest female video game character by Scarlet Clearwater of Soletron, as well as the seventh sexiest "video game girl" by Nixie Pixel (Nicole Allen) of Revision3.
Kitana has shared some of the media spotlight with her clone, and sometimes with Jade as well. GameFront's Phil Owen called Kitana, Mileena and Jade "basically the same character." At the time of the release of MKII, The Miami Herald called Kitana and Mileena ("leggy ladies who wear masks") to be "an interesting step toward political correctness" as "a far cry from Little Miss Muffet". In a retrospective article from 2011, IGN's Richard George listed "the hot chicks" as one of the reasons why Mortal Kombat II "is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the series." In 2009, GamePro's Aaron Koehn ranked Mileena and Kitana as the 11th best pair of palette-swapped video game characters, writing that "both prefer wearing clothing that shows off their inflated mammary glands, and both have used the usually endearing gesture of kissing as a fatality." The two were featured in GamesRadar's 2006 list of top seven "girls kissing girls" by Mikel Reparaz, and "Kitana's and Mileena's deadly kisses" were also chosen as the favourite Fatalities by Paul Drury of Retro Gamer in 2007. Lauren Alessandra of GamingUnion.net wrote that Kitana "easily fits in" the number six spot on her 2011 list of top video game heroines, stating that "her and her 'clone' sister for that matter quickly became poster girls for the series." In 2012, UGO similarly described "the busty ninja sisters Kitana and Mileena" as the front characters of the Mortal Kombat franchise. Kitana was voted at second place in the Mortal Kombat category of "Miss of Video Games 2012" by Polish magazine PSX Extreme, where she ultimately lost to Jade. In 2014, Jade and Kitana together placed ninth on the sexiest female video game characters list by WatchMojo.com.
She was also compared to other Mortal Kombat characters, especially to Sonya Blade; Austin American-Statesman described Kitana and Mileena as "far nastier than that martial-artless aerobics instructor from the first game." She shared the eight place with Sonya in the 2010 list of the "hottest women in video games" by Complex. During the development of the Mortal Kombat reboot game in 2010, the God of War series' director David Jaffe explicitly wrote how his character Kratos would have "a FUCKALITY" with "Sonya AND Katana [sic]" if he had joined the series;[note 8] following Internet backlash, Jaffe explained he does not advocate rape, as it has been interpreted by some, and this comment was just an "intentionally juvenile" joke to suggest that Kratos would "get a threesome" as a reward. In 2012, Kitana was ranked as the second top "hottest" female video game character by Kristie Bertucci of Gadget Review, who called her "way hotter" than Sonya. That same year, JoBlo.com placed Kitana ninth on their list of "hottest video game characters," likewise stating that Sonya "had nothing on her" and calling her a "videogame babe for the ages," while UGO opined that Kitana and her mother Sindel should be on every "hot females in videogames" list. Kitana and Mileena were included among the "old school hotties that still got it" by Travis Hubert of Cheat Code Central in 2014, who stated that "these two have become synonymous with the sex-appeal of the Mortal Kombat series [and] even surpassed the popularity of Sonya Blade, who was the original MK hottie."
Kitana was listed among the 25 "hottest (and deadliest) ninja assassin chicks" in all media by UGO in 2011, chosen for having "brains and brawns, not to mention a wardrobe full of sparse clothing." Complex editors pitted the "as deadly as she is beautiful" Kitana against Taki from the Soulcalibur series in the 2011 "battle of the beauties" in the category "female ninjas", which resulted in a draw between the two, and ranked Kitana as the tenth top female killer from video games in 2012, noting that "she is still holding down her spot on the hot female assassins list" nearly two decades after her debut. Also in 2012, Gelo Gonzales of FHM listed Kitana as one the nine "sexiest ninja babes in games", comparing her to Eula Valdez. Márcio Pacheco Alexsandro of Brazil's Game Hall placed Kitana and Mileena at second spot of his 2014 list of top ten female ninja characters in games.
Kitana's finishing moves have been critically received variably but mostly positively, especially in regards to her signature "Kiss of Death". Featuring her in their "Girls of Gaming" special in 2003, play cited this Fatality as the aspect of Kitana that she is famous for. Her death kiss was ranked as the eighth best of all Mortal Kombat Fatalities by both UGO in 2007 and IGN in 2010. In 2011, GameFront's Ben Richardson ranked it as the second best finishing move in the series for being "just icing on the cake" for MKI's combination of gore and dark comedy, echoing Ed Boon's opinion. It was also ranked as the sixth top Fatality in the series by WatchMojo.com in 2013, as the 18th top Mortal Kombat finishing move by Kevin Wong of Complex that same year. and as the eighth-best Fatality by Robert Workman of Prima Games in 2014. However, Kitana's kiss was also included on the list of the series' seven worst Fatalities by Dan Ryckert of Game Informer in 2010, and C.J. Smillie of Game Rant ranked it as the series' eighth worst Fatality in 2011, criticizing it for not innovating enough over the years and stating that this "unoriginality...really hurts Kitana’s standing in the series." In another article, Smillie ranked Kitana's new "Splitting Headache" Fatality from MK2011 placed as the eighth best finishing move in this game.
There has been also some controversies and mixed or negative critical reception of the character. In 1994, she was one of the fighting game characters cited by Guy Aoki for AsianWeek as allegedly perpetuating existing stereotypes of Asians as martial arts experts. In the video game violence controversy themed book Interacting With Video, Patricia Marks Greenfield and Rodney R. Cocking used the "two Asian twin sisters, Kitana and Mileena" as an example of "highly eroticized dragon lady" stereotype in video games. When Marsha Kinder accused Mortal Kombat II of misogyny in its handling of female characters, she alleged that "some of the most violent possibilities are against women," whose own "fatality moves are highly eroticised." Patrick Sunnen's book Making Sense of Video Games judged their portrayal as "formidable female opponents" to be potentially progressive, yet arguably made just to increase "the sexist potential of the individual fights", and described Kitana's Fatality of decapitation with a "deceptively feminine razor-sharp fan" to be castration-like. In a humor article "Mortal Kombat II warriors: Where are they now?" by VentureBeat's Jason Lomberg, Kitana "joined the National Organization for Women and started an online campaign to recognize and combat the rampant sexual harassment in organized death tournaments. Mai Shiranui, Cammy, Morrigan, and Mileena all stepped forward to share their stories." IGN's article about the characters they "wanted to murder" in 2011's Mortal Kombat included "stuffing Kitana into a sleeping bag, and smashing it against a living forest tree until she's jelly." Game Front's Richardson opined that, her "most amusing" kiss-killing aside, she has been "not a very compelling character." GamePro's AJ Glasser called her his favorite female Mortal Kombat character in 2010 but nevertheless criticized her repertoire of special moves. Ben Kendrick of Game Rant included Kitana in his 2011 list of ten "most awesome" Mortal Kombat characters in the "honorable mentions" section, but added that "apart from possessing one of the cooler weapons" she "lacks the entertaining/alluring oddity" of Mileena.
In various articles, often being tongue-in-cheek, Soren Bowie of Mania.com listed Kitana as one of ten "psychotic video game chicks with too much baggage," GameDaily featured her as one of ten "babes who shouldn't meet your mom," GamesRadar's Alan Bradley included her among "gaming's most twisted royalty" for having "a thing for bloody decapitations via razor fan and for boys 9,000 years her junior," and Jim Sterling of Destructoid expressed his discomfort at Kitana's design in MK Vs. DCU, implying her bulging crotch made her look like a transvestite. Chad Hunter of Complex chose Jade and Kitana to represent the "women who fight" stereotype in his 2012 list of the 15 most stereotypical characters in video games, for being "half-naked skanks who can fight, hurl lasers and perform aerobatic attacks while wearing thongs, high-heeled boots and keeping their giant breasts under scarves," claiming that this has caused "female gamers [to] slide away from this series." The character's outfits were parodied in the Grey Carter's "Critical Miss" comic strip series at The Escapist, where Kitana is forced to wear skimpy costumes and high heels by her stepfather. Game Informer included her among the palette swapped ninja characters not wanted by them in the future Mortal Kombat games in 2010 and Kotaku's Mike Fahey wrote that "the whole alien ninja woman thing" was not "quite my cup of tea." Reacting to one fan request to not "waste a character slot" on Kitana in MKX, Ed Boon himself commented: "How can any1 [sic] hate on Kitana?"
The alternative versions of the character in other media were also generally well received, with reviews by some film critics noting Talisa Soto's attractiveness in the role of Kitana. Michael Saunders of The Boston Globe opined "Soto never seems to do much more other than look exotic in the role," which Ben Steelman of Star-News described as "basically Princess Leia in black leotards," albeit Destructoid's Sterling included Kitana among the first film's "more sensible makeovers" comparing them to how X-Men comics characters were redesigned for the film adaptations. Malcolm Johnson of the Hartford Courant described Kitana in Annihilation as wearing "a knockout black leather costume [that] gives her the look of the world's sweetest dominatrix." Dimas Sanfiorenzo of Complex ranked the animated Kitana in Defenders of the Realm as 18th on the list of "hottest cartoon women of all time" in 2011. The feature film version of Kitana was ranked fourth on 2012's list of "hottest women in video game movies" by Peter Rubin of Complex, with a likeness factor of 70%. The Legacy episode "Kitana & Mileena" was nominated by the Writers Guild of America Award in the category "Outstanding Achievement in Writing Derivative New Media".
- In Kitana's ladder mode uncanonical ending of the 2011 reboot game, however, she takes pity on Mileena, sparing and accepting her "royal blood" after Shao Kahn is defeated, and the two sisters (and Jade) team-up to fight against the forces of evil. This stood out as an abrupt departure from their usual relations so far in the original timeline, in which Kitana flatly refused to accept Mileena's demand to co-rule during their shared ending of Mortal Kombat Gold (resulting in Mileena's imprisonment in Kitana's canonical version of this confrontation).
- Jordan Mechner commented: "Ha thanks, that's awesome! Kitsune/Kitana vs Mariko... not sure who I'd bet on!"
- Jade, when introduced as secret boss character in MKII, was a faster, recolor of Kitana with green attire and darker skin, using her weapons and attacks. Jade was given her own weapon and distinct special moves in the later games, and was officially written into the storyline in UMK3" as Kitana's friend and a fellow Edenian.
- The MKII-style (albeit modified and noticeably different for all of them) costumes for Kitana, Mileena and Jade have been actually considered to return already in Shaolin Monks, as seen in an early concept art for this game, but got rejected in favour of more fresh designs (in Kitana's case, it meant a cross between the her attires from UMK3 and Deadly Alliance).
- Kitana has been actually included in the early development versions of MK4, before her character model (shown only in Liu Kang's ending; she also only appears in his ending in the original MK3) became basis for creating Tanya, and is accessible to play in the Nintendo 64 version of the game with the use of GameShark cheat cartridge device.
- During the early production runs of Mortal Kombat II, Kitana became notorious as an unbeatable kombatant, as her "Fan Lift" special attack could be done in such a way as to completely immobilize the opponent in the corner of the screen, allowing the player to defeat their opponent with a series of uncontested attacks. Changes were made to eliminate this and balance the game, yet still Ed Boon said that it was amazing seeing people doing combos with her that even he had not thought of.
- Such as in a 2004 AP article mentioning "the kitana-blade wielding Mileena" (by also confusing the katana with the sai) and in a 2012 article by Los Angeles Times where the DC Comics character Katana was written as "Kitana."
- "Katana" is a fairly-common misspelling of Kitana's name and Kratos was indeed soon added to the Mortal Kombat games' character roster in MK2011.
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