‘The Boys’: Kimiko Is the Unsung Star of Season 3 || Amazon Prime Web Series


The third season of The Boys is shaping up to be the series’ most audacious and dynamic season yet. From the introduction of Temp V to the Captain America send-up Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), Season 3 richly expands the show’s storytelling scope. Along the way, the season has been packed to the brim with meme-worthy, jaw-on-the-floor moments. Soldier Boy performs a Debbie Harry cover! The Deep recreates the infamous celebrity “Imagine” video! Every moment during Herogasm! The list goes on. The moments that have received far too little recognition, though, are those featuring the show’s underappreciated asset, Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara). Kimiko partakes in the series’ bloody mayhem, offers an exploration into new genres, and contributes to the show’s thematic weight. No character this season better captures the essence of the series.

Since The Boys’ premiere, the series has been dedicated to the marriage of grisly violence and dark humor. Rather than watching the stylized, bloodless superhero action of most cinematic superhero fight scenes, The Boys revels in its Mortal Kombat-esque bloodbaths that leave fans in sheer awe. No moment in Season 3 better balances the show’s irreverent outlandishness with gory violence than Kimiko’s sex toy fight scene in “Glorious Five-Year Plan,” the season’s fourth episode. While on an undercover mission in Russia, Kimiko is tasked with assassinating one of queenpin Little Nina’s (Katia Winter) targets, the Oligarch (Jasmin Geljo). When Kimiko arrives, the Oligarch opens an armoire revealing a collection of The Seven-branded sex toys.

Moments later, “Black Noir’s Silent Screamer” bursts through the Oligarch’s face, leaving a gaping, grisly hole in the bottom half of his face. His bodyguards begin to attack, and Kimiko must fend them off using each of the super-dildos, which she stabs and rips through the attackers. When she defeats the final threat, the Starlight-inspired toy vibrates in his neck, spurting additional blood onto the floor. All of this occurs as a Russian cover of “I Will Survive” plays on the soundtrack. The song and the weaponized objects render the scene deeply hilarious, even as blood splatters across the setting.

One of the series’ primary themes is deconstructing the elements of the superhero genre. Mostly this is done through the inversion of superhero archetypes or through the show’s satirical lens. In the season’s fifth episode, “The Last Time to Look on This World of Lies,” a Kimiko moment expands the series’ genre to include parallels with other genres. While recovering in a hospital bed after losing her powers, Kimiko and Frenchie (Tomer Capone) cozily watch Judy Garland’s “I Got Rhythm” number from Girl Crazy. After Kimiko utters, “I…got…rhythm,” the episode explodes into an exciting musical number with Kimiko taking over Garland’s vocals. Suddenly the playback recording fills the soundtrack, and the composition shifts into much more highly saturated colors than typical of the series’ gritty palette. Kimiko and Frenchie sing and dance through the hospital with the nurses and patients joining in as background dancers.

In typical The Boys fashion, the moment adds in irreverence, as bed pans become musical instruments. At the end of the song, the scene cuts back to Kimiko and Frenchie on the bed, with Kimiko leaning in to kiss him. It becomes clear that the musical number was in fact a fantasy of Kimiko’s, reflecting her elated state of being powerless and in love. More than just expressing Kimiko’s feelings, though, this number expertly calls attention to the recurring parallels between the superhero and musical genres. In both, energetic choreography, whether fighting or singing and dancing, are the most frequent iconographic elements. Both are also used as a means of expression in each genre. Since Kimiko does not enjoy when she fights, the musical number is contrasted with her other choreographed sequences to demonstrate how the two genres communicate similarly.

Thematically, The Boys is committed to dealing with what is at stake for morality and humanity in relation to heroism. Kimiko’s loss of powers in Season 3 offers a new avenue for exploring this theme, as she questions what her loss of powers means for her. In Episode 6, “Herogasm,” Kimiko is thrust back into fighting after she is kidnaped by Little Nina’s gangsters. She stabs and bites her way through Little Nina’s henchman, once again engaging in a chaotic bloodbath. Because she kills these enemies without her powers, she later questions her own humanity. She tells Frenchie, “I blamed the V for making me a monster. But that’s not true. It is just who I am.” Frenchie comforts her by suggesting her violent capabilities are a remnant of her old life and are not reflective of whom she truly is. Kimiko’s storyline thus brings in questions of nature vs nurture. If Kimiko’s ultraviolent tendencies are only a reflection of Vought’s experimentation on her, she has the potential to unlearn her violent nurturing and return to a non-violent nature.

Kimiko’s narrative beats also solidify the fact that her romance with Frenchie as the heart of the series. Frenchie never judges Kimiko when she brutally defeats their antagonists and he helps her work through her ethical concerns with violence. No matter the situation they are in, Frenchie is there to support Kimiko, and she protects him. Their relationship grows from season to season and continues to be a throughline that offers viewers a comforting constant in a show defined by chaos. Though Starlight (Erin Moriarty) and Hughie (Jack Quaid) are centered as the show’s primary romance, their off-again-on-again romance impedes them from offering a consistent relationship for which to root for.

Kimiko’s narrative beats in Season 3 encapsulate the series’ aesthetic and thematic objectives while still pushing the series in new directions. Though some of the season’s more deplorable and outrageous moments have captured audience’s attention, more credit is due to the season’s unsung star, Kimiko. The fact that Kimiko is such a dynamic and significant character is truly a testament to the performance of Fukuhura, whose performance balances the sincerity necessary for such an affecting character while also fitting into the series’ ludicrousness.

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