Heroes and Hiro

Ok, I’ve been sucked in by the TV series Heroes, kind of. Seeing as I dont have fat bandwidth at home and I dont have the time, interest or energy to watch the show on near obsolete broadcast tv technology, I’ve just been reading the transcripts on my PDA and making do that way. I’ve got through episodes 1-20 and am now waiting for the wonderful transcript person to get off their arse and do the last two.

I’ve read the odd thousand or so comics in my time (plus too much sci-fi/fantasy) so the genre isnt all that new or fantastic to me even if it is very well done in this case. And the plot twists and turns are pretty much out of the box. However, the thing that does stand out from my reasonably jaded point of view is Hiro Nakamura.

There arent many Asian people in main roles on TV or in western movies for that matter and it’s always interesting to me when someone turns up especially wrt the level of stereotype that is applied.

On the face of it, Hiro Nakamura a very geeky young japanese man all enthusiasm specs and wide cheesy grin, is stereotyped. However, even though he is clearly there as comedy relief (the usual occupation for many ethnic minority characters on TV) the writers and actor somehow seems to have transcended that role and the stereotype to create what appears to be a fully fledged asian character on mainstream american tv.

This is clearly not accidental.

Hiro’s character is actually given space and life by the writers to be someone who is culturally different, culturally japanese. Unlike many other ethnic asian characters on TV (think Harry from Voyager),  Hiro is not just a different skin colored white person, Hiro remains Japanese. He and Ando speak Japanese to each other with subtitled english and much of their interaction to my uneducated eye at least seems quite authentic. Watching the Hiro/Ando segments (ok, I’ve seen three episodes on avi format now) it feels like watching a japanese movie that has been spliced into another series.

There are flaws of course but within the confines of the series, these do not stand out as anything particular to Hiro’s ethnicity, possibly a first in my experience watching asian characters on TV.

Kudos to Masi Oka, the writers and the producer of this series.

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