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She-Ra and Kipo’s Karen Fukuhara on Her Animated Journeys Coming to a Close

Don’t be fooled by appearances: Kipo does not have a big head.
Don’t be fooled by appearances: Kipo does not have a big head.
Image: Netflix

It’s hard to say goodbye to a show you love, let alone two. Karen Fukuhara saw the end of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power in May and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts this month. Now, the actor is sharing what it’s like to have been part of these two fan-favorite shows, as well as how Kipo would convince The Boys Kimiko to turn over a new leaf.

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io9 recently talked with Fukuhara about the third and final season of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, which is now available on Netflix. We spoke about making it to the end of the animated series, although she wanted it to be longer, and what she thinks Kipo would be doing as an adult. We also threw in a question about what would happen if Kipo and The Boys’ Kimiko (who Fukuhara also plays) ever met.

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You can check out our earlier interview with Fukuhara about The Boys season two finale here and read on for an edited, condensed version of the rest of our interview. Be warned, it contains spoilers for the final season (and episode) of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts but we’ll put our spoiler bar out front of that part.


Beth Elderkin, io9: How does it feel seeing Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts come to an end?

Karen Fukuhara: It’s really bittersweet, you know? I think being with the Dreamworks family for two shows and, you know—She-Ra had ended before Kipo. Now that Kipo is over as well, it’s bittersweet. I’ve loved working there and everyone in animation is so sweet and so positive. Not having that kind of warm blanket to walk into for work is very sad.

But like, in terms of the source material for Kipo, I am so happy with where it went. It was short, I was hoping for a few more seasons, but I think Kipo had a lot of growth happening, especially throughout this season. She’s always been this beacon of hope that has just this infectious positive positivity that seeps into every other character, especially Wolf. But she really grows into her own and becomes a leader in season three. So I’m very happy with where their story has gone.

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io9: Like you said, this is your second Dreamworks series to conclude in 2020. You had She-Ra just ending in May. Has that made it extra hard at all?

Fukuhara: Yeah, you know, it has. Like I said, everyone in animation that I’ve worked with, Rad [Sechrist], Bill [Wolkoff], the directors. I mean, Mary [Elizabeth McGlynn], who directed the She-Ra episodes with Noelle [Stevenson]. They just have this like—if you think Kipo has infectious energy, they also have infectious energy. And it’s probably because they write the character. It’s just such a great place to walk into, especially for work, and it amazes me every time and it kind of shifts my brain in a positive way. It affects the rest of my day, the rest of my week.

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I think being a part of two projects that I wholeheartedly believed in—believed in the people, but also believed in this material. I mean, they’re both really quite diverse, quite inclusive. The fan base has been absolutely bonkers. Like, amazing for both shows. So leaving that—yeah, definitely. Definitely harder than I expected in the beginning.

Illustration for article titled iShe-Ra/i and iKipo’s /iKaren Fukuhara on Her Animated Journeys Coming to a Close
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io9: Do you recall a favorite scene you got to play in the booth? The one you had the most fun with?

Fukuhara: Oh my god, so many! Let me look through. I really loved all of the Kipo and Wolf moments. I think when she turns into Wolf—or what she thinks Wolf sounds like. She’s like, ‘Oh, I’m trying to be tough.’ And she goes into her, you know, deeper voice. Those are some fun moments to play, and I think I was in the booth with Sydney Mikaela, who plays Wolf. That’s been really fun.

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Especially in season three, there was a ton of fun moments, like when Kipo tried to help Scarlemagne, and she’s trying to convince him to do the right thing and he’s still in the cage, I think? he’s just so funny to me. I love his humor. So those were some fun moments to play.

Kipo and Scarlemagne share a moment.
Kipo and Scarlemagne share a moment.
Image: Netflix
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io9: How do you think Kipo has changed between seasons one and three?

Fukuhara: Although she’s very headstrong, I think she never loses this positivity and hope for every character, regardless of whether they’re good or bad, which is what I love most about Kipo. She doesn’t really lose herself throughout any of the seasons. At her core, she is a good person. But she does kind of waver in her confidence, I guess—especially in season three, because the situation is so dire. And it seems as though no matter how hard she tries, nothing is moving forward—and especially going against Dr. Emilia. She’s kind of losing a little bit of hope.

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She definitely turns a corner, but it’s with the help of her friends. She’s built this amazing community that loves her for who she is. In seasons one and two, she didn’t leave anyone behind, even if someone was against her or was on the other side. For example, Scarlemagne. She didn’t leave them behind. She knew they could turn into good people. Because of that, she built this community of support. And once she has these doubts, she’s able to quickly recover from it because they’re there for her. She’s grown a lot throughout the seasons. She’s grown into a leader, I think.

io9: What do you think is the ultimate moral message of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts?

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Fukuhara: Wow, that is a loaded question. I think the overall message is that everyone can change and redemption is possible. Because I think in our culture today, there is so much cancellation happening, especially in 2020. Cancel culture has been trending and we have a tendency to cancel, disregard people that have different opinions from us. And I think Kipo is a representation of how we need to have open conversations with these people in order for them to maybe understand our side and for us to understand where they’re coming from. Yeah, I think the main message is to not disregard people so much.

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io9: The series ends on a flash-forward, you see everybody building this new society. If the series had continued beyond that, where would you like to see?

Fukuhara: Ooh. I would love to see Kipo and her family live an actually—you know, I would say normal life, but they’re not a normal family. I think it would just be fun to see Kipo maybe opening up a school. I feel like she would be a really good teacher. Her growing up and fast-forward, she’s a grown woman and she’s teaching classes, maybe elementary school or middle school, leading the youth of the new inhuman world.

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I’d also like to see, you know, Dave and Benson, how they grow to be because they love their dynamic. Dave is such a funny character. He’s so unique. So maybe they go off on adventures to do some kind of band. In season three, we see a little bit of K-Pop with the narwhals, so maybe they band together and they create a band like a pop band or something. I don’t know. Or it’s something like hip hop, I’m not sure what kind of music they would do.

io9: If Kipo and Kimiko were to meet, what do you think that would be like?

Fukuhara: That would be a very interesting combination. I think Kipo would try to save Kimiko from her violent nature, and it would be like another Scarlemagne situation where Kipo’s so hopeful and she has this infectious energy and Kimiko’s standoffish—kind of like Wolf as well in the beginning. But she’ll learn to love Kipo in the end, and one day Kimiko learns never to kill another soul.

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All three seasons of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts are available on Netflix.

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For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.

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Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

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Today I learned that Glimmer and Kimiko are the same person!