Superheroes Fly to Tokyo

September 7, 2007 at 1:33 pm 1 comment

The cast of NBC’s “Heroes” visited Japan last week to promote the sci-fi drama about ordinary people discovering their superhuman powers. The show is yet to air internationally, but given its cult-like status it’s only a matter of time.


It’s especially interesting to see the cast doing the Japanese press circuit because the show’s main star, Masi Oka, happens to be born there. He left Japan when he was 6, so I was curious to see how well he’d interact with people there.

In the above clip, which is from a Fuji TV morning show called “Mezamashi TV,” Masi tells hosts that he’s taken up translating his own lines into Japanese. He mentions how when he first got the show’s script the now-famous phrase “YATTA~!” (“Yes!”) was written as “Bonsai!” But of course, most people know that bonsai are those mini-trees you place next to the mini-Zen sand garden in your office cubicle. What the writers meant to say was “Banzai,” but Masi informed them of the negative wartime implication the word had, so he took it upon himself to correct it. (WWII soldiers had been known to say the phrase before committing suicide.)

To prove just how popular Masi Oka’s character, Hiro Nakamura, has become in the U.S., the morning show asked New Yorkers who they first think of when it comes to Japanese people. Of course, most people said “Hiro” and followed with a “Yatta!” cheer.

For the most part, Masi did a good job chatting it up with talk show hosts, though judging by his intonation my native friends could tell he’d been in the U.S. for a while. He keeps up with the language by reading comics and watching Japanese TV on videotapes sent by his grandmother. One of his favorite comedians is a duo called Taka and Toshi who are seen in the video below. The subtitles let you know what they’re saying verbatim but there’s definitely something lost in translation.

Hiro, whose superpower lets him travel through time and space, is already being compared to the geeks of “Densha Otoko.” I’m sure in Akihabara they’re counting down the days until “Heroes” airs in Japan. That’s when they can relish, once again, in their geeky-cool glory.


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Entry filed under: Japanese Culture, Japanese Entertainment.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Don’t Talk, Just React « Japanizmo Staff Blog  |  January 9, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    […] 28, 2007 As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, Masi Oka’s morning show spot was a rare moment in Japanese television because he was able to speak in their native tongue. No […]


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riseup japan support japan and be cool


September 2007


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