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Pet Sins October 2000

Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm

Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm is a cartoon series based on the popular vide game Mortal Kombat. This cartoon is cool because there is no main "hero" and all the characters have equal weight. The multiracial team of Night Wolf (Native American), Jax (black), Sonya Blade (white), Striker (white), Kitana (Asian) and Liu Kang (Asian) fight evil under the guidance of Raedon, the Lightning God.

Some unusual points

A main Native American character

A recurring or central Native American hero has been rather rare in American animation. In Defenders of the Realm, Nightwolf and his wolf companion Keeva are an invaluable part of the Kombat Team. When the entire team is infected by a deadly virus which turns them against each other, Night Wolf becomes their only salvation because of his immunity to the evil influence.

The Asian man gets the Asian woman

In Mortal Kombat, Liu Kang and Kitana are lovers bound by destiny. This is a rarity in the world of American entertainment where too many movies/TV series show the white man getting the Asian woman over the Asian man. Mortal Kombat returns some dignity to Asian men. This may seem trivial but too many other cartoons like Titan A.E. and Batman Beyond feature an Oriental girl as the white hero's love interest. Children need to see some balanced representation.

The black man is attractive to both white and Asian women

In one episode, Jax decides to take some time away from the Mortal Kombat team. He meets up with an old acquaintance, an Asian woman Jade, and they rekindle a romance. Sonya Blade, who is secretly in love with Jax, gets upset by this turn of events. Kitana makes things easier by revealing that Jade is an agent from Outworld who had betrayed her in times past. Kitana believes Jade was sent by the Evil Emperor to capture Jax.

The Mortal Kombat team rushes to the rescue, but it turns out that Jade, who is really in love with Jax, defies the evil Emperor and sets him free. Mortal Kombat provides some much needed representation of interracial romance other than the white-guy-woman-of-color combination so common in cartoons.

Though there have been a good number of representations of white-woman-black-man couples in mainstream American media, representations of black-man-Asian-woman couples are still extremely rare. When it comes down to American cartoons, however, the possibility of seeing a black man get ANY woman is pretty slim. So Mortal Kombat bucks the trend in this respect.

The white guy is not the young handsome hero, and doesn't get the girl

The sole white male good guy in Mortal Kombat is a middle-aged colonel who is still single. He confides to Liu that his career-obsession in his youth had cost him the love of his life. In a reversal of the typical "Asian sidekick helps white dude get the Asian chick" sort of deal we see in other American films like Showdown in Little Tokyo", Curtis Striker aids Liu in his quest to rescue Princess Kitana.