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Melissa

Arg! I'm a pirate!

Okay, so I've started downloading and watching some of the new TV shows from the new Fall season in the US. (In my own defense, my mother is old-fashioned and still tapes random programs on the good-old VCR and ships them to me, but I've been trying to break her of the habit and just let me download everything online because, well, I'm getting truly sick and tired of dealing with piles of VHS tapes around my apartment. So in the end, the only real difference is that my method saves the environment. Right?) No one really wants to hear what I think about TV, but I thought I'd make some comments about Hiro from "Heroes".


I will fully admit that one of the reasons I decided to watch "Heroes" is because one of the main characters is a Japanese salaryman named Hiro who develops the ability to warp the time-space continuity. I couldn't wait to see what TV-quality "Japan" would look like, so I had to tune in. So, here's what I thought:


  • The Japanese
    Okay, I admittedly couldn't understand Hiro half the time. He kinda... mumbled his way through the lines, and the rhythm of the dialog through me off. His buddy was much easier to understand, although it amused me that his accent (likely Korean) slipped through a couple of times. Oh, and in just one line, the buddy busted out his Kansai-ben, which just make me laugh. ^_^
  • The Bar
    What the hell kind of bar was that supposed to be, anyway? It wasn't even a karaoke bar... it was, like, a lip-synching bar or something. Really odd. First, karaoke bars are fairly uncommon in Japan. Why go to a bar when there are cheap, private karaoke booths every half-block? Second, why someone would just lip-synch, I don't know. Oh, and they played Puffy in the background of one scene, which made me laugh. America! Puffy really isn't hugely popular in Japan anymore! I swear!
  • The Little Street
    Oh my god, the little street outside of the bar cracked me up. I realize that they only used the location for half a scene, but still, the cheapness made me laugh hysterically. It was basically a little alleyway that looked like it could have been anywhere, except that it had rather big and extremely cheap banners that said nothing but "SOBA" or "KARAOKE" on them. It would be like if someone made a New York set that consisted of random building that had posterboards with "BAGELS" or "BURGERS" on them. Oh, it made me laugh.
  • The X-Men
    Overall, the Kitty Pryde/X-men reference was a bit odd, even beyond the fact that Kitty Pryde's powers have nothing to do with controlling time OR teleportation. I think the writers were trying to tie together the "We're mutants; see how we're respecting you, Marvel, and totally not copying you?" angle, as well as add some sort of "He is Japanese, ergo he's a comic geek" characterization. But why the Japanese guy would break out with deep X-Men knowledge is a bit beyond me. FYI, even if, for some reason, these guys happened to be huge X-Men fans, they wouldn't call X-Men "manga". It would be "ame-comi" (or "American comics"). Manga ja nai zo!
  • The Subway
    It didn't look or sound anything like a Tokyo subway, but that's not what I wanted to talk about. As Hiro and his buddy exit the train, the announcer tells them that they have reached Kanda. Which, for no real reason, made me laugh. Because, well, who travels from their office just so that they can hang in Kanda? But the real realization came from the subway TV screens. My first thought was "Why would they have TVs in the subway?" But on the trails of this quickly came my second thought, "Whoa, is that AI!?" AI is an American-born (and raised, I believe) R&B singer who's experienced a huge rise in popularity in the past year and a half. And one of the TV screens was playing an AI video. "Huh," I thought. "That was actually a clever, timely placement."
  • The Office
    Probably the least Japan-like potion of the entire show was the office. I honestly don't know anyone who has a cubicle in Japan. And since I assume that Hiro is supposed to work for some large, traditional, droning company, having a cubicle would be unheard of. My own office has partitions between desks, yes, but they're also about 3 feet high. The only reason my boss and I have to strain to see each other is because our computer monitors are in the way. A friend of mine works at a traditional banking company that only has a common computer shared by half the floor, and she complains that it's located so close to her that if a big guy comes to use it, she ends up having to shift down and share the desk with the person next to her. Cubicles are kinda the symbolism of office drone-ism in the US, but in Japan, it's the clusters of open tables with your boss at one end, overlooking the entire situation like a father at Sunday dinner.

For the record, I actually have no problems with the parts where "Japan" is nothing like Japan. I certainly don't expect them to authentically recreate a major metropolis, especially since I suspect that fewer and fewer scenes will take place in "Japan". In fact, I think it's pretty charming. It's more like a game for me... Count the number of ways that every scene is totally not like Japan!! So in the end, who cares? It actually adds to my viewing experience.


On an unrelated side note, it was hard to tell from the phone call I just fielded, but I think I was just head-hunted at work. It was a really nice American lady, and we talked for a while, and she said she'd email me, which is good because I have no idea what she was trying to say. Was that code for "we want to hire your company" or was it code for "we want to hire you"? I couldn't tell. It doesn't matter to me either way, but I'm slightly disturbed that I had my first English conversation in weeks and I have no idea what it meant.

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Comments

I thought Hiro's coworker's accent was passable, but pretty bad at times. However, I LOVED the little alleyway/street thing outside the bar. It was like a throwback to Blade Runner. A very cyberpunk view of Japan.
The show airs on Mondays, so ep 2 should be showing tonight. I figured I'd give it a few episodes, but it's no Lost or 24 so far.

And yeah, that bar was...weird. Did you happen to see what they were drinking? I could have sworn it was something like Budweiser, but I can't remember for sure...
I'm officially fangirling Hiro. Just because I can and the comic-book thing amuses me to no small extent. He's actually experimenting with his powers in a way only Claire is coming close to. The second episode reveals that his teleportation made five weeks disappear and the scene where he's learning that from his coworker is quite fun.
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