|Mortal Kombat character|
A concept art for Kitana in Mortal Kombat (2011)
|First game||Mortal Kombat II (1993)|
|Created by||John Tobias|
|Designed by||John Tobias (MKII, UMK3/MKT)
Mark Lappin (MK:SM)
Allisa Swanson (Legacy)
Atomhawk Design (MK2011)
|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) (stunts by Dana Hee)
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 MKG and the first film)
Flying Blade (MKG)
Kitana (also known as Princess Kitana and Lady Kitana) is 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 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 often 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, debuted as 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 10,000 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 and the murder of 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 insure 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 and Kitsune was renamed Kitana and made Kahn's step-child. 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 favourite finishing move of Mortal Kombat II and one 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. Her UMK3/MKT Animality transformation animal is a small rabbit, in a reference to the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
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 swimsuit-based outfit used for creating the game's female ninja characters was Kitana's blue; the costume was tailor-made and Kitana's fans were not steel and were Zamiar's own training fans. Until Mortal Kombat Gold, Kitana-derived characters 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' shared development history in MK4.[note 5]
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]
Kitana was picked as the best Mortal Kombat II fighter by the editors of Sega Power and Super Play. However, according to the GamePro strategy guide, Kitana is 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), "Kitana's big combos in the corner" were among Ed Boon's personal favourite things in the game. In Ultime Mortal Kombat 3 (and, by extension, Mortal Kombat Trilogy) she got no new special moves as opposed to most of the other characters. According to Sega Saturn Magazine, "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." According to Total 64, "her moves are a little unfriendly and her combos are a touch difficult." 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. Nevertheless, featuring Kitana on the list of "an alternative top ten females in gaming", 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 Prima Games' official guide for Shaolin Monks, Kitana 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 was one of the characters featured in the 1995 stage show Mortal Kombat: Live Tour, played by Lexi Alexander (credited as "Lexi Mirai") and Jennifer DeCosta. Kitana also appears as a secondary character in Malibu's 1994-1995 Mortal Kombat comic books. 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 MKII canon story. In the comic books, Kitana is the princess of Edenia and daughter of Jerrod and 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). She re-appears in Midway'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, drawn by 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 (Soto's stunt double was Dana Hee, who played Mileena in the sequel), 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. In the 1995 novel Mortal Kombat by Martin Delrio, an expanded novelization of the first film, Kitana is introduced in a new new scene, in which she is described as dressed in "scarlet-red silk [...] stitched all around with a golden thread." 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." Kitana 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.
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 attacked by three Shadow Priests, and one of them uses Kitana's own fan against her.
A young Kitana 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 who said she did research "to get on the same page" with other fans to see how they perceive the character while preparing for the role. She added: "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'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. The episode was nominated by the Writers Guild of America Award in the category "Outstanding Achievement in Writing Derivative New Media". Kitana was confirmed to return for the second season of Legacy in 2013, still played by Jo, and her new outfit was revealed by the director Kevin Tancharoen in December 2012.
Cultural impact 
Kitana was featured in comic shorts in the humor magazine Cracked, having been renamed as Princess Kittykat, and in the novel This Is How It Starts by Grant Ginder. 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. Io9's Charlie Jane Anders included Kitana's costume among 2011's "sluttiest and weirdest" store-bought Halloween costumes, but Justin Amirikhani of Complex.com 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. Among the cosplayers in 2012 was Maxim's Hometown Hotties finalist Aja Dang.
Kitana has quickly become one of sex symbols of the Mortal Kombat series, in a display of what one author described as manifestation of "pseudo-Japanese Orientalist fetishes." One of the many urban legend-style rumors surrounding Mortal Kombat II 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. The nickname of an American adult model Cherie Roberts is "Kitana Jade" since 1999 (Jade being the name of another female ninja character in the series), while Kitana Baker is an adopted name of an American model born as Christi Josenhans. The made-up word "kitana" has became an occasional misspelling for the word "katana."[note 7] During the development of the Mortal Kombat reboot game, 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 and this comment was just an "intentionally juvenile" joke to suggest that "as a reward, Kratos gets a threesome with two of the hottest chix in gaming."
Merchandise and promotion 
A figurine of Kitana came in the MKII set with the Argentinian magazine Top Kids in 1995. In 1996, a 12 inch action figure of Kitana was released in the UK by Toy Island as part of their 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. A 3D mousepad was also released.
In April 2011, Rachelle Glover, cosplaying as Kitana, along with those dressed as Sonya and Mileena, was featured in her a 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. In 2012, Glover also portrayed Kitana in "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".
Critical reception of Kitana was mostly very positive, often with emphasis placed on her good looks and sometimes also on her complicated character, and is commonly regarded to be one of the most recognizable characters of Mortal Kombat. At the time of her introduction in 1993, 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; in 2004, a Vibe's contributor Stud Houston admitted he had a crush on Kitana, describing her as "sexy as hell." In 2005, Game Revolution's Anthony Severino ranked her as fourth on the list of top ten "old school" Mortal Kombat characters, adding that "what was really deadly about Kitana was her beauty." In 2006, 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 2007, Rob Wright of Tom's Games listed this "enduring and powerful character" among 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." In 2010, Robert Workman of GamePlayBook ranked Kitana as the series' fifth top character, while James Hawkins of Joystick Division ranked her as the fifth top "badass lady" in video games. Danny Gallagher of MTV's Guy Code Blog ranked her as the fourth "best babe" in video games of 2011, stating that she has Kitana only "a great pair of long legs" but also "the deepest emotional core of any of the Mortal Kombat characters." In 2012, UGO ranked her as the ninth top Mortal Kombat fighter, adding that Kitana and her mother Sindel should be on every "hot females in videogames" list.
Kitana has been featured in many lists of the most attractive female characters by various publications, including being listed as one of the nine "sexiest babes of action games" by The Times of India. In 2008, GameDaily ranked her as the 28th top "hottest game babe", noting her as "the most worthy of the Mortal Kombat II babes," UGO similarily ranked her as the 28th top "videogame hottie", and GamesRadar featured her on the list of top 20 "overlooked game babes". In 2009, Kitana was included on the list of 21 "sexy ladies of computer games" by Polish tabloid Fakt. In 2010, Wesley Yin-Poole VideoGamer.com included Princess Kitana on the list of top ten "video game crushes" as rivaling Princess Peach for number one video game monarch and winning out "in sheer sex appeal." 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 breasts in MK2011 as the 30th finest in gaming history. UGO listed her among the 25 "hottest (and deadliest) ninja assassin chicks" in all media in 2011, for having "brains and brawns, not to mention a wardrobe full of sparse clothing," and chose her as the 38th "hottest fictional woman of 2012", commenting that the series "has always boasted some hotties, but the new game brought back Kitana in a big way." Complex featured her as one of top ten "hottest video game girls" ever in 2009, also ranking the animated series version of Kitana as 18th on the list of "hottest cartoon women of all time" in 2011. In 2012, Gelo Gonzales of FHM included Kitana among the nine "sexiest ninja babes in games" and compared her to Eula Valdez. Complex pitted the "as deadly as she is beautiful" Kitana against Taki from the Soul series in the 2011 "battle of the beauties" as the top "female ninjas", which resulted in a draw. Complex also 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. That same year, Kitana was included among the 20 "hottest women" in video game history by MSN, and ranked as the second top "hottest" female video game character by Gadget Review, who called her "way hotter" than Sonya.
Kitana also shared some of 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", while Austin American-Statesman described them as "far nastier than that martial-artless aerobics instructor from the first game." In the book Interacting With Video by Patricia Marks Greenfield and Rodney R. Cocking, the "two Asian twin sisters, Kitana and Mileena" exemplified "highly eroticized dragon lady" stereotype in video games. Patrick Sunnen's book Making Sense of Video Games judged their portrayal as "formiddable 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 2009, GamePro's Aaron Koehn ranked them as the 11th best pair of palette-swapped video game characters, adding 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 shared the eight place with Sonya in the 2010 list of the "hottest women in video games" by Complex. In 2011, Lauren Alessandra of GamingUnion.net wrote that Kitana "easily fits in" the number six spot on the list of top video game heroines, adding that "her and her 'clone' sister for that matter quickly became poster girls for the series." In a retrospective article that same year, 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 2012, UGO's K. Thor Jensen 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 the Polish console magazine PSX Extreme, losing to Jade.
There has been also some controversy and mixed or negative critical reception (some of it being written in obviously tongue-in-cheek style). 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 2008, Soren Bowie of Mania.com listed her as one of ten "psychotic video game chicks with too much baggage," while GameDaily featured her as one of ten "babes who shouldn't meet your mom". In 2010, GamesRadar's Alan Bradley listed among "gaming's most twisted royalty" for having "a thing for bloody decapitations via razor fan and for boys 9,000 years her junior." That same year, GamePro's AJ Glasser called her his favorite female Mortal Kombat character but criticized her weak repertoire of special moves. In 2011, Ben Kendrick of Game Rant included Kitana on their 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; Game Rant's Ben Richardson called her "not a very compelling character". In 2012, Chad Hunter of Complex chose Jade and Kitana to represent the "women who fight" stereotype on the 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," while Kotaku's Mike Fahey wrote that "the whole alien ninja woman thing [...] isn't quite my cup of tea." In a VentureBeat article "Mortal Kombat II warriors: Where are they now?" by Samir Torres, 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." Kitana's outfits were parodied in the Grey Carter's "Critical Miss" strip series at The Escapist, where she is forced to wear skimpy costumes and high heels by her stepfather.
Kitana's finishing moves were 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. It was ranked as the eight best of all Mortal Kombat Fatalities by both UGO in 2007 and IGN in 2010. In 2011, Ben Richardson of GameFront ranked it as the second best Fatality in the series for being "just icing on the cake" for MKI's combination of gore with dark comedy, echoing Ed Boon's opinion. However, her death 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 eighth worst Fatality in the series in 2011, criticizing it for not innovating enough over the years and stating that this "unoriginality [...] really hurts Kitana’s standing in the series." On the other hand, Smillie ranked her "Splitting Headache" from MK2011 as the eighth best finishing move in that game.
- 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 made to be Kitana's friend in UMK3.
- 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. In Deception, Kitana only appears in the endings for Sindel and Ermac, resembling an unmasked and blue-clad version of Mileena from this game. This is explained by the two early design concepts for Mileena's design in Deception, created by Steve Beran and included as unlockable pictures in the game's bonus gallery "The Krypt". According to the picture's caption text, the first costume shown there was actually originally supposed to be Kitana's, but was later developed into Mileena's primary.
- 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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