Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Hiro in Heroes

The NBC show Heroes was the #1 new drama this season and it was one of the few dramas that I did watch this season. I found it to be pretty good but it was also difficult to follow and it required a large commitment from the viewer. I'm not a humongous comic book geek so I might not have been drawn in as some other people but I liked it as I like X-Men: All the people with different powers.

It's a TV show that threads together multiple storylines and it juggles them pretty skillfully but some of the stories are more interesting than others. I think the most interesting of the storylines is that of the Japanese desk jockey Hiro Nakamura and his sidekick Ando. I wanted to analyze the relationship a little more here:

I think we love Hiro because he's a post-modern product of the superhero genre. He's this guy who's incredibly alien to our culture (it's kind of blatantly demonstrated through the fact that he doesn't speak Japanese) and understands it through his childhood affections of comic books. This is clearly reiterated through the line of Ando "you will follow in the footsteps of Star Trek and Superman" or whatever he said. That explains his geeky recitations of what a "hero" shouild be like. Also, there's a geographical symbolism. Wanting to come over to America and save New York is a kind of a twisted parrallel to immigrants wanting to come to America and take New York (the city long associated with the American immigrant experience) by storm in the 19th and early 20th century. Japan has higher living standards than America, but that's really irrelevant, anyway. It's kind of like Mystery Men or Galaxy Quest spoofing superheroes and Star Trek in a very post-modern way, by relying on characters who are intimately familiar and base their reality on those texts.

Ando is the muse through which the audience connects. He's this ordinary white collar worker like many of us who has this nutty friend who's a superhero. Like the audience he has a passing knowledge but a healthy superstition of superheroes until he sees Hiro's powers firsthand. Ando is drawn more and more into Hiro's quest and Hiro's enthusiasm spreads to Ando so he will follow him along on his journey, just as Hiro's enthusiasm is supposed to spread to the audience so we will follow him.

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