He also does a mean omelette.
Oruko Saki, infamous leader of the Foot Clan, is The Shredder. Originally he was just another antagonist for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in their original incarnation, he later was retconned into their main archenemy. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird originally wrote Oroku Saki as “the younger brother of Oroku Nagi who had been killed by a fellow ninja Hamato Yoshi (the owner of Splinter, the Turtles’ mentor) in a feud over a woman named Tang Shen resulting in Yoshi fleeing with Shen to the United States”. Oruko Saki joined the Foot Clan, became their deadliest ninja and the leader of their US branch, taking the pseudonym of The Shredder.
With the Foot Clan becoming involved in criminal activities and Oruko Saki exacting deadly revenge on Yoshi and Shen, it became natural for The Shredder to become a super-villain for the Turtles. So why do I have him as a toy, when I’m not really much of a fan of the TMNT? Well, to be honest and to explain a little bit why I have started this feature, I have a fascination with well-crafted fictional villains. You have four mutated turtles, trained as ninjas by a mutated rat, and your antagonist is basically a self-made human being.
Granted, even as a human has almost supernatural ninja abilities. In most continuities and incarnations, his skill exceeds that of the Turtles and rivals even Splinter’s. Sometimes that has changed as in the original cartoon, when he went from being extremely intelligent to just a bumbling fool for comedic effect. In other media such as the movies, he’s the biggest threat and extremely hard to stop, having being killed and resurrected several times. The design of his armor is extremely hostile. You can’t really approach this guy from any angle where he’s not able to cut you up.
I admire the writing and the craft behind the visual design of such a character. His personality, pushed by hatred but tempered through strife, should prove itself quite a challenge to face. However, as all villains, some weaknesses have to be introduced, as modestly as possible, to allow for the heroes to triumph. Sometimes it’s just the ideal of fair play, sometimes it’s undermining some minor character (enter a human that idolizes the turtles or something of the like) who manages to push some lever or simply rage blinds him from seeing a simple move by Splinter. It’s never skill. It’s always somehow being in the wrong side of the law that for some reason minimizes his prowess just so the good guys get the upper hand.
I don’t have as much figures of The Shredder as other toys, but this third-party action figure (details at the end) is much akin to the actual character and does better justice to the character than most official offerings I’ve seen. This particular figure should not be considered ever for a kids’ toy, though. Too many sharp edges, some of which are made of diecast metal and are sharp enough to cut. That helmet is not plastic – it’s metal. So are the blades in his feet. The rest are indeed soft plastic, but they’re still pointy. Don’t hand this over to a child, please. You’re much safer with the LEGO version, also in these pictures, sold with a bitchin’ ninja bike.
Obviously, I am not advocating for a life of crime and murder. There are real life people committing those, and they don’t have my admiration. This is a fictional character in a fictional universe. To write a proper, enduring and alluring villain, you often have to give him some mixed characteristics to create the right blend. Oruko Saki went through rigorous discipline to become a ninja. He’s also extremely smart, except for those later seasons in the original animated series, where he later has instances of becoming smart again. As most super-villains do, there will be times in which he will seem superior to the protagonist or even fair – most of the times as a ruse – just to intrigue the audience.
Is it possible that Oruko Saki has enough good qualities to walk the path of redemption? The possibility is left in the air. As all super-villains, he’s got more than enough skills to become a valuable asset to the side of good, except that it is his nature to be opportunistic and seek his benefit. Ambition and a large ego are supposed to be his undoing. As a martial arts practitioner, one would think he’s got the patience and the discipline to temper his flaws – and he does, until the plot demands he puts those aside and cast all caution to the wind. Usually that happens when he’s very close to absolute victory. But then again, if he were to ever were to repress that blindness that comes with power hunger he might one day win. And that possibility is why he endures as a villain of note.
As for the action figure above, this is First Gokin NT-02 OrakuSaki, a third-party take on The Shredder with his real name intentionally misspelled. I got this figure from Amazon some years back, so it’s a bit harder to come by an unused version now. I do strongly recommend it for Shredder fans if you can find it.
As for the real Oruko Saki a.k.a The Shredder, I don’t recommend you run into him in a dark alley or even one properly lighted one for that matter.
That will do for now.