In these here United States, the third Sunday of June is a national holiday set aside for honoring fathers and father figures from coast to coast. On this day, we rise from our beds, retrieve whatever lame presents we've chosen from the incessant onslaught of Father's Day sales and advertisements in the previous three weeks, and try to tell our dads -- but in a not-too-sentimental way, at least for sons, lest "Father's Day" become "'Dad thinks I'm a pansy so he broke my fucking jaw' Son's Day" -- just how much they mean to us. Traditionally, unless we really hate our fathers, we treat them like sultans on Father's Day no matter how much they actually deserve our high praises, but it goes without saying that some fathers deserve more credit than others. And some fathers, due to being fictional characters and/or giant sewer-dwelling rodents, never get the respect and recognition they deserve at all.
But we're going to change that, folks, at least in one instance -- on Father's Day at Scary-Crayon, we're going to take time out to honor someone who consistently displayed outstanding parenting skills and, to my mind, represented the ultimate example of what a good father should be. Yep, I'm talking about none other than that radical rat, Master Splinter, primarily as he appeared in the first two Turtles films. Before we get into that, however, let's take a quick look at Splinter in the U.S. cartoon. Since I've already discussed the two-part Turtles anime at length on the site, I won't touch on the badass-ness and homicidal rage of the Japanese Splinter here, but it's worth keeping in mind. In the cartoon, the guy used to be human, so you'd fully expect him to be kinda pissed about his lot in life, but in the American 'toon Hamato Yoshi, a.k.a. Splinter, remained a pretty gracious guy, all things considered.
One thing to keep in mind is that while Splinter served as a father figure and mentor for the Turtles, they really weren't his biological sons, so his love for them can't be dismissed as mere instinct or nepotism (unless we're going to posit a theory of mutant nepotism, which probably wouldn't be able to hold up considering the number of evil mutant creatures the Turtles had to fend off on a regular basis). No, he was just a quiet homeless man who loved art and apparently stray animals as well -- most folks would scream and run in circles if four tiny turtles fell on their heads, but ol' Yoshi just looked up and smiled. And where, after being transformed into a giant rat, most folks would shun mutant creatures because they reminded them of their own hideousness and humanity lost, Splinter stuck around not only to serve as the Turtles' father, but to train them in the ways of the ninja. He was just that kinda guy.
Still, I wasn't the biggest fan of the animated Splinter. He had his moments, but more often than not it seemed like he was there solely to play the part of damsel in distress when April was too busy actually doing something useful besides inciting our young minds to lusty thoughts with her cleavage and form-fitting yellow jumpsuits to fill the role. Same deal in the games, for the most part -- Splinter would say a few words here and there, but if he wasn't being carried off by a gaggle of Mouser robots (things so weak they died after one hit, mind you) or hanging from a girder and guarded by the earliest incarnation of MetalHead, he was all but absent from the action. Ninja master my ass.
And yet there were times when he'd take on the Shredder -- who was wielding a sword, mind you -- with nothing but his fucking wooden walking stick. It's tempting to think that this is the reason Splinter was always getting captured, as that seems like a pretty dumbass stunt to me, but I've chosen to highlight this moment because I think it represents the greatest achievement of the American 'toon Splinter. Way better than that Three Stooges ultimate fighting technique.
Honestly, despite having watched this episode -- "Shredder & Splintered", the first season finale -- a dozen or more times, I never even noticed this until I went to take screencaps for this article and viewed the action frame by frame, 'cause it happens that quickly. At first it looked to me like Shredder disarmed Splinter, as Splinter's stick appears to be knocked away, which left me wondering why the Shredder would back up. But if you look above, though Shredder cut into Splinter's stick with his initial swipe, Splinter actually grabbed the stick and used it to break Shredder's sword. That's just fucking cool. So here's to you, cartoon Splinter. Wish you'd done stuff like that more often.
Now go put on some fucking pants already.
But as you know, the Splinter of the movies (and one game, not counting the ones based on the new cartoon) had a slightly different origin. Yes, there was a Hamato Yoshi, and as he served as Splinter's father and master to some extent, it's only proper that he should be mentioned in this article as well -- in every origin story along these lines, Yoshi was depicted as a worthy fighter and an all-around good guy. In the new cartoon, he even won the Mortal Kombat tournament and kept the earth safe from Shao Khan's evil for another 500 years. So rest in peace, Hamato Yoshi. You kicked much ass. And you were also an excellent teacher, since you somehow taught a pet rat the mysterious art of ninjitsu. If only you'd lived long enough to make a career out of appearing on stupid animal tricks shows.
So while the Splinter of the movies got his ass kicked in the first one and had to be rescued as well, he redeemed himself in a number of ways -- not only because he was the one to defeat Oroku Saki in the final battle (in fucking seconds, no less), but because his love and compassion for the Turtles and all others was so painfully evident in every scene, as seen in the subtitled image above. Battered and chained, with teary eyes Splinter thought of his distant loved ones and eventually used that love to project his spirit-form into a blue fire. But even that's not his greatest moment.
No, that came earlier in the film, during a quiet chat with Raphael. Whereas in the cartoon, Raphael was a bit sassy but generally well-adjusted, the movie Raphael had a temper problem that wasn't easily dealt with. But where another father might have dubbed Raph the asshole son and showered head boy Leonardo with praise and compliments, Splinter's love for Raphael was more apparent than it was for any of the others -- but perhaps that's just because Raphael needed him the most. So when Raphael came in bruised and sour from his first encounter with Casey Jones, Splinter sat him down and imparted Master Hamato Yoshi's first rule: "Possess the right thinking. Only then can one receive the gifts of strength, knowledge, and peace." But more than that, he reminded Raph that throughout his ordeal, he wasn't alone. After all, he had his brothers...
...and he had Splinter. I admit it, even today I can't watch this scene without tears coming to my eyes. ;____;
Though Splinter's role in the second film wasn't quite as great, he was still on hand for some memorable sequences, including the customary speech about the Turtles being ninja and outsiders and the junkyard scene in which "Mutual of Splinter Insurance" once again saved our heroes from death at the hands of the Shredder and the Foot. But like the meeting with Raphael, there was another scene in which Splinter's wisdom and love shone brightly enough on the silver screen to reach out and dispel some of the darkness of our real-life troubles. Or it would, if people would listen.
After finding out from Professor Perry that the formation of the ooze that transformed them was a mistake, Donatello was disappointed and even somewhat depressed. When Splinter asked the question above, Don responded that he always thought there would be more to it... and to them. Splinter's wise response? "Do not confuse the specter of your origin with your present worth, my sons." Of course, Splinter is directly referring to the ooze, and is telling the Turtles not to define themselves by the accidental circumstances of their creation, but this quote speaks to something deeper for me. We live in a world in which people go around either priding themselves on or mistreating others because of what they believe to be their ancestry -- "where they came from," as they put it -- and too often they view this as being a vital part of "who they are." Yet it's noteworthy that Splinter refers to the Turtles' origins as being a "specter," even though they've been told the whole story and understand it well enough. Why? Because none of us really knows the circumstances of our origins, and its relationship to who we are today is shadowy at best. But still people will place great emphasis on their "background" and shun others for similar reasons, to the detriment and neglect of their own individual worth and that of those who would otherwise be their friends. If only more people would listen to Splinter.
We took a serious turn there for a moment, but Splinter wasn't all business -- the guy knew how to have a good time too, as evidenced by his traditional "funnies" at the end of every film. Hell, he looked downright manic after the first one, and suggesting "Cowabunga!" as a victory cry isn't even really a funny. Or maybe you just had to be there.
And as seen here, Splinter loves a great rooftop party and barbecue with family and friends as well. By the way, I think that's supposed to be Casey Jones (or Keno?) -- if it's not, I guess that shit about invisibility is only for when the Turtles are working. Off-duty and while in foreign countries, they don't give a shit who sees them. Splinter looks happy.
But not half as happy as he was in the third Turtles flick, in which he and Casey smoked some marijuana in one of the deleted scenes. How else can you explain these pictures? Well, after displaying unconditional love and imparting life-changing wisdom for two films straight, I guess Splinter needed a bit of the bud to relax a bit. Also, when high, apparently Splinter's voice changes and he mutates from a rat into some weird monkey creature with bony scythes for fingers. I think he broke out the lampshade to keep the Turtles from shitting themselves in fear. Not to mention that mutant turtles have the worst-smelling shit on the planet -- it would've ruined his high for sure.
And then there was that time Splinter dropped acid and had the familiar spider hallucinations. But where others would've freaked out and started shrieking, "GET 'EM OFF ME!!! GET 'EM OFF ME!!!!" ol' Splint simply sat the Turtles down and gave them a strategy lesson about how to evade those deadly spiders' attacks. Apparently, the technique for battling spiders is much like the strategy one would employ when fighting Chun-Li. Thanks, Splinter... we'll keep that in mind. :/
And then he felt like hell in the morning. But in all seriousness, Master Splinter was a great father and friend to the Turtles and the world would probably be a better place if more people sought to follow in his furry footsteps. So from Scary-Crayon with love, here's to Splinter -- and to all of those fathers out there who are doing their best in one of the world's toughest jobs. HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!! Let Splinter's wisdom be your guide! And keep up the good work. ;)
Just click the image above! Simple, no? ;)