Warning: The following contains spoilers through The Boys Season 2, Episode 3. Proceed at your own risk!
The Boys is pulling back the curtain on the mysterious Kimiko.
Over the course of Season 2’s first three episodes, Butcher & Co. discover that the supe-terrorist they’re after is actually Kimiko’s brother Kenji. He, too, was shot up with Compound V and now has the ability to move objects with his mind. But the emotional brother-sister reunion, in which the pair communicate via their own sign language, turns violent when Kenji expresses his allegiance to the Shining Light Liberation Army and flees from Kimiko. Even though they capture him, Kenji later saves The Boys’ lives from Homelander, then rescues his sister from Stormfront. But sadly, he cannot save himself from Stormfront, who snaps his neck as Kimiko watches in horror.
TVLine chatted with star Karen Fukuhara about her big Season 2 undertaking and how Kimiko will be grappling with her grief. The actress also attempts to define Kimiko and Frenchie’s complicated — and soon-to-be fractured — relationship.
TVLINE | They threw a lot at you this season between the more emotional storyline with Kimiko’s brother, the feral fight scenes and the sign language. What was Season 2 like for you in tackling all of that?
You’re completely right. Even more than [in] Season 1, there’s a lot of character development for Kimiko. She did have a backstory in Season 1, through the eyes of Mesmer, if you will, but Season 2 is when we really take a deep dive into her past with her brother and the struggles that come with being apart from a loved one for that long and the differences in ways of thinking. Then in Episode 3, we see her witness his death. It was such an emotional journey filming Season 2, and I had to go to places I’ve never been, in terms of looking inward to do those scenes. Then on top of that, I was [working] with my sign language coach, Amanda [Richer]. She’s amazing. She’s the coach from The Shape of Water. I think she coached Sally [Hawkins]. We were filming as well, but on the days that we weren’t filming, maybe like two, three times a week, we would meet up for two, three hours at a time, trying to get all of the sign language right. That was, in itself, a lot of fun to discover and develop throughout the season… It’s completely made up, and Amanda is the one that created it. She has this beautiful way of connecting the hands, the body language, with meaning. “Boy” is, in our language, as if you’re throwing a ball, throwing a pitch. “Mouse” was something that kind of looked like a little animal feeding off of someone’s hand, and Mouse was Kimiko’s nickname for Kenji.
TVLINE | It gives her more of a voice and so much more agency, even just in these first three episodes. Was that something you were really pushing for after Season 1?
It’s so interesting you say that, because I think, a lot of times, when you see a silent character, a lot of the stories and a lot of their arcs are forgotten, but I didn’t really feel that in Season 1. I was part of this huge ensemble cast, but from the beginning, [showrunner] Eric [Kripke] said that he wanted to create Kimiko more as a humanized version of Kimiko for the show [as] opposed to the comic books, where she’s very much a stone-cold killer, and you don’t really know what her intentions are or what motivates her to kill so many people. But for our show, he wanted to humanize her, and even in the first season, we see glimpses of that. We see her, initially, as a feral creature, captured, captive, and then she’s slowly but surely growing into a woman, a girl, a human being by the final episode, when she’s looking in the mirror and all cleaned up and everything. She’s working towards that direction already. And then in Season 2, we see a lot more of her human side.
I just wanted to connect it back to the sign language. When I began learning it, I knew that it was another way Kimiko could communicate with everyone, and it would be progress from Season 1, which was exciting to me, but I didn’t realize how powerful it is to do the motions… There’s just no fluff. I don’t know how to explain it. There’s no fluff around it, because you can’t fluff, or else you can’t get the point across. In every society, a lot of us put a lot of fluff, or we have manners or things like that, but none of that gets in Kimiko’s way, and it was very refreshing to experience the strength of signing through playing this character.
TVLINE | Episode 3 is a pivotal one. How does what she discovers about her brother Kenji’s allegiance to the Shining Light Liberation Army and then his demise impact her mindset moving forward this season?
Kenji’s mind is another example of how Vought and this evil organization has really f–ked her life up. Not only did they physically kidnap us and put us into an environment where we have no freedom, no agency, any of that, but then she realizes that through this process, even his mind is taken over by this organization, and it’s altered. He used to be this sweet boy that would take care of other people, and he was so kind, and for him to turn into this man with this mindset, who is he? Realizing the damage that Vought has done and the hurt and the pain and permanent change that they have incurred…. It’s a big loss. She loved him. It fuels her revenge. It fuels her vengeance.
TVLINE | How far will she go to get revenge on Stormfront for what she did?
Oh, she will go to the end of this Earth! [Laughs] As you can see in the end of Episode 3, when Stormfront’s talking to the press, it first goes to Butcher, and we see how he’s receiving the news, and then we end on Kimiko’s determination to take her down. Nothing will get in her way. It’s now her life’s mission to take down Stormfront.
TVLINE | There’s so much emotional growth in the character in these first three episodes. Does what happens at the end of Episode 3 set her back, in a way?
Interesting. I don’t know if “set back” would be the right way to say it, but you’re completely right. She developed this friendship with The Boys, especially at the end of Season 1, and then [at the] beginning [of] Season 2, she wants to be a part of this group. She is choosing to be there, because they’re not forcing her to stay or anything. But then because of this loss, it’s going to create rifts within her relationships, especially with Frenchie. In a way, it’s not necessarily Frenchie’s fault or anything he does. Actually, scratch that. He does do something. But Frenchie’s not the source of the pain, you know? The source of the pain is the death, and she doesn’t deal with it. I mean, nobody deals with death the right way. The rest of the season is her grappling with how to deal with loss and grief.
TVLINE | We’re already starting to see that disconnect between Frenchie and Kimiko in terms of them not being able to communicate. How much more fractured will that relationship become?
I think that it will go further. [Laughs] I don’t really want to give too much away, but it definitely goes further than what we see up to Episode 3. And then we go into Frenchie’s backstory episode/flashback episode, which is one of my favorite ones, and that’s when there’s another shift, I think, in their relationship.
TVLINE | Frenchie calls Kimiko “my heart” in French, which is a very affectionate term. How would you categorize their relationship? Is it platonic? Is it romantic? Where does it fall?
I think it’s open-ended right now. Even when I read the comics, it’s not explicitly said throughout any of the volumes, and then at the end of the comic book series, I think he says something along the lines of, “It’s always been you, mon coeur” or something, but that’s still open-ended. It could be love, romantic love. It could be like paternal love, because in the comics, she is portrayed as a younger girl, I think, when you first see her. Or it could be something deeper than friendship, something that we call “twin flame,” something that ties two people together kind of like a magnet, soulmates, if you will. I like to keep it open-ended. It’s exciting to read each script because even Tomer [Capon] and I don’t really know for sure. It’s not that black-and-white just yet. But there’s definitely a chemistry there and a connection between the two characters. I definitely want them to stay together forever, but I don’t know what the relationship is defined as.
TVLINE | In terms of her relationship with The Boys, Butcher says he’ll neutralize her if he has to, and given what has happened so far this season, does she start to question her place within The Boys, or vice versa?
I think, more than anything, she’s not sold on Butcher. He hasn’t been the greatest leader, as far as she can see. He’s motivated by his own mission. Even at the end of Season 1, when she’s captured, he doesn’t come and save her. He could care like two s–ts about her. And then in Season 2, she can kind of see that bleeding into the beginning, and then things change. But to answer your question, she doesn’t really question her position within The Boys, but she does question whether or not she wants to be a part of them.
TVLINE | Without spoiling anything, I will say that you have so many amazing fight sequences this season. Is there one in particular that stands out for you?
Oh my goodness. I have two. The first one, we’ve already seen it, I believe, in Episode 2, when Kenji runs away. There’s a part where the two of them are running on top of cars, and that was just such a funny thing, because with most of my stunt work, I am in control because I’m the one throwing punches. Even though I’m getting thrown to the ground, it’s choreographed, and I know it’s coming. But for this one, the wire work, I had such a fun time trying to figure it out. It was just so fun going from one car to another. And it’s done in a flash, and nobody will even recognize what has happened, probably. But that was just so much fun to film, because you’re really at the mercy of the riggers, and you have to trust them, that they’ll catch you and they’ll place you in the right height, I guess, as you’re going from car to car. So that was fun. I always love collaborative work, so it was fun getting to laugh and have a good time with the riggers and the stuntmen and my coordinator Tig [Fong] as we were filming.
Then there’s another scene in a few episodes from Episode 3. I kill some Russians. There’s a part where I wrap my legs around a guy’s head and kind of do this huge spin. We called it the Black Widow move, because I think Black Widow’s done it before in the Marvel films, and that was me doing it. So that was very exciting, and we got it in one take, so very safe.
TVLINE | I read online that you’re a brown belt in karate and you have training in sword fighting. Has that made those stunt and fight sequences much easier for you, or do they require totally different skill sets?
I think having a background in martial arts helped tremendously, because I kind of have an intuition of space and how to move in combat sequences, whether the style is exactly the same or not. I have a background in karate, but Kimiko’s fighting style is [like] the little girl in [Logan]. The fighting style is very similar to hers. They didn’t learn how to throw punches in a classroom or from a sensei. They learned it out of necessity. So it’s very like “whatever works,” and it’s animalistic, and it’s using your entire body. But I think my background in martial arts definitely helped with stunt work. It also helped because I’m always afraid of hurting the other person. That’s my biggest fear, because I don’t want to hit someone too hard or make accidents like stepping with my left [foot] instead of my right, and then it really just messes the other person up and gets them hurt. Learning choreography, I used to do that because I used to compete in the forms division for karate. So learning the choreography has helped, and also just knowing how hard to go and knowing your opponent. I would never go as hard as I do with another actor or actress as I do with the stuntmen, because I know that the stuntmen know when to react, how to react, and at the end of the day, they are able to take my puny punches if it lands, ever. [Laughs]
The Boys fans, what do you think of Kimiko’s storyline so far? Grade Episode 3 below, then hit the comments!