Wednesday, August 23, 2023

TMNT Talk: Should Venus ever return?


Missing since 1997

A lesser known incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is its 1997 life action series called Ninja Turtles The Next Mutation. Lasting only 1 season, the show never took off in ratings or fans and is mostly forgotten aside from a crossover with the Power Rangers In Space. However, what stood out the most about this adaptation was the inclusion of a 5th female turtle named Mei Pieh Chi or Venus for short who has not been used since the shows cancelation besides a few comic cameos. Now, I know Venus most likely will never make a full return because of marketing and lack of interest, but should she? Click "read more" for my take.

Personally, I think it is worth bringing Venus back in some form because there is potential with this character. There were a lot of problems with The Next Mutation that led to its failure, but I am not here to talk about that series as a whole. Venus is disliked by many fans and I believe that is mostly unfair. It is possibly some of the hate comes from associating her with this season, but I think it is more on the issue of changing the status quo.

Venus offers a different perspective than the 4 main turtles because she is different type of martial artist, more serious, and extremely spiritual. She could a good foil to the 4 turtles fun loving personalities.

If it were up to me, I would bring her back with changes. First off, I would make her an ally but not part of the core team in order to both allow her to develop more independently as a character and not interrupt the chemistry of the 4 main turtles. Put her on her own quest while appearing once in awhile to aid the turtles but never staying because of their clashing personalities and trust issues. 

Second, I would change up the origins. Instead of a 5th turtle from the same bowl that Splinter somehow did not notice and left behind, I would have her be unrelated to the main turtles but still a mutant of similar origins. Give her a more isolated and tragic background that lead to her serious attitude and trust issues. This would give her story more room to be its own thing and be a potential love interest for one of the 4 main turtles without feeling like a sister. (Don't ask which one.) In addition, the 4 main turtles can have a moment of appreciation for at least having each other growing up.

Lastly, design and abilities. I like that she was not trained in Japanese Ninjutsu like the rest, but as a shinobi of Chinese origins. Shinobi's and ninja's are often confused as being the same, but they aren't. Ninja's train in unconventional warfare while Shinobi's specialize in stealth and deception. In The Next Mutation, Venus just has psychic powers. Now, supernatural powers can work in a Ninja Turtles setting, but I think it would be more interesting to keep it unclear by playing into the Shinobi art of deception. She can perform similar feats such as reading minds or shooting magic spheres, but keep it uncertain whether or not she really has powers or is simply deceiving everyone with her trickery and martial arts. Even the main turtles do not know for sure because she does not fully trust them. 

Design wise, Venus is fine. Maybe change the Cyan bandana to a more distinguished color because Leonardo already has blue. Maybe black or white. 

Now, it is worth pointing out that that comics did eventually add a female turtle named Jennika who has a great story. I have nothing I could add to Jennika's tale, but there is definitively potential in some adaptation that involves all 6 of them, even just for a temporary team up. More importantly, Jennika is proof that simply having a female 5th turtle is not a guarantee for mistake because there are good stories that can come from it.

To speak more bluntly, even if you think my idea's are a no go, I would argue that Venus should still be brought back in some new adaptation. Simply because I do not think adding her was just a mistake as I do not believe in erasing characters completely. Every name and character has potential if treated correctly with good writing. 

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