Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Shred It

[Shredder: the bad guy from the original cartoon series]
Written by GL

Sorry peeps for the big hiatus in blogging. Well, the leave is over and it's back to work as usual. The break from blogging was not a bad break - it gave me time to rediscover my Playstation and sleeping habits. But enough about me, welcome back to Classic Articulation super-friends.

When the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series first aired in 1987, it was probably the most colorful and accurate representation of our favorite green fighting team ever. It is still considered be coolest series to watch to fully understand the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Of course, a group of heroes would be nothing without an equally awesome villain to match. That's where Shredder comes in.

But before there was Shredder, there were only two unassuming Japanese fellas.

Oroku Saki and Hamato Yoshi were both members of the ninjitsu-practicing Foot Clan in Japan. But, after Saki framed Yoshi for attempted murder (of one of the Clan’s teachers), Yoshi exiled himself to New York (although how he made his way there is not mentioned - as plane tickets to New York from rural Japan could not be bought online at the time). Yoshi lived in the sewers with only four pet turtles for company that were accidentally dropped down the drain.

In the following years, Saki took leadership of the Foot Clan, and took on the mantle of the Shredder. He also met a trans-dimensional alien called Krang, and used advanced technology to replace the Foot ninjas with robots, called the Foot Soldiers. Saki secretly moved to New York, where he found Yoshi still alive, so he attempted to kill him by dumping mutagen in the sewers. As a result of this attempt, Yoshi mutated into the rat everyone loves, Splinter.

[Hamato Yoshi: I think he knows he's turning into a rodent]

And of course, Yoshi pet turtles came to be our very own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

However, the cartoon series was more light-hearted than the comics, and thus, Shredder is depicted as an evil but quite retarded villain. He's actually a whole lot more evil in the comics - and noticeably in the movies as well, later on. He had two henchmen, Bebop and Rocksteady, who even more incompetent; mostly used for comic relief in the show. But even though Shredder's plans are always foiled, he is still shown to have considerable skills. In fighting skills, he is often shown to be tougher than the Turtles. Nevertheless, he usually runs away from a fight whenever possible.

Shredder also has impressive technical skills: he designed and built a robotic body for Krang, prepared the mutagen mixture, knew how to work Krang's teleportation engine, and built numerous other advanced devices.

Not many know that Shredder actually did have family, and they were shown from time to time in the cartoon. Shredder's mother is named Miyoko and proves to be just as villainous as her son. However, she constantly treats Shredder like a baby, until he gets fed up with it and transports her back to her retirement home. Shredder also has a younger brother, Kazuo Saki, who is apparently a good guy and works as a police lieutenant in Tokyo. Kazuo and the Turtles join forces to stop one of Shredder's plans, but find that their differences in crime-fighting actually cause more problems than solve.

In short, and considering the entirety of the cartoon, Shredder spent eight years finding ways to defeat the Turtles. In the series finale titled 'Divide and Conquer', the Turtles return to the Technodrome to take Krang's techno-suit, only to discover that Shredder is nowhere to be seen, but it is assumed that he is still around somewhere in the filled-with-bad-guys Dimension X.

[James L. Avery: his image is only here because I'm a fan of Fresh Prince]

And heres a fun thing to note: Shredder was voice-acted by James L. Avery, Sr. in the 1987-1993 seasons of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. James L. Avery, if you have not heard the name before, is the same fella who played Uncle Phil in Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air (get the DVDs)

Shredder was released by Playmates toys in 1988 (one year after the debut of the first cartoon show), the very first wave of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. Those of you who had or recall Shredder may realize the action figure did not have much of a likeness to the actual cartoon representation.

[The Original Shredder: issued in 1988]

If you notice from the image above, Shredder is uncharacteristically bluish to purple, as well as topless. However, he was still an essential action figure that completed any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan's collection. Check out the detachable weaponry set. Fun Fact: Shredder is stated to have an IQ of 675 on the back of the action figure blister card.

[Shredder Non-Mint: is that Shredder or did Gandhi start hitting the gym?]