Who Was That Female Villain in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'? Meet Karai

Knocking around the comics and cartoons for years, she makes her first live-action appearance in the new movie.

Minae Noji plays Karai in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.'
Minae Noji plays Karai in 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.'
Paramount

Early in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, we're introduced to a female villain with a red streak in her hair who acts as Shredder's second-in-command. Played by Minae Noji, she's a powerful officer in the Foot Clan who's probably unknown to most audiences, but Karai has had a long and varied history in Turtles comics and cartoons.

Karai on the cover of Issue 5 of IDW's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.'
Karai on the cover of Issue 5 of IDW's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.'
IDW Publishing

Introduced in 1992 during one of the most famous story arcs in Turtles comics, "City at War," Karai is a high-ranking member of the Foot who flies into New York from Japan after Shredder's comic book death. She actually ranks higher than Shredder in the Foot's hierarchy, and she's in New York to rein in the fallen villain's "Elite" soldiers, who have been attacking the splintered fragments of New York's Foot Clan. In the story, she ends up offering the Turtles a truce with the Foot if they help eliminate Shredder's Elite, so the Turtles actually fight alongside her.

Karai has since appeared in almost every Turtles continuity with varying origins and alignments. After that first story, she's usually been written as one of Shredder's lieutenants. She's been written as his granddaughter, his daughter, and even as a separate incarnation of Shredder. In keeping with that first story, though, Karai has found herself working with the Turtles under some sort of shaky alliance in several story lines. So you could say she's complex.

All this makes it kind of disappointing that in the new movie Karai is so underused. With a story that focuses on Shredder and William Fichtner's villain, Karai is relegated to third-string status, and she just sort of blends into the background. We would have loved to have seen her show signs of being something more than the one-dimensional villain we got onscreen. But maybe we'll have to wait for the sequel for that. Check out a few more versions of the lady villain below.

Karai was given her first cover on Issue 56 of Mirage's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' title.
Karai was given her first cover on Issue 56 of Mirage's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' title.
Mirage Comics
Karai on the cover of Issue 57 of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' in March, 1993.
Karai on the cover of Issue 57 of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' in March, 1993.
Mirage Comics

I write about movies for Zimbio.com, which means I spend way too much time thinking about the geekiest possible ways to approach the cineplex. I'm also hopelessly addicted to audio books. Follow me: Google
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