Favorite Asians of 2014

Instead of Rec Me Friday this week, I thought it would be interesting to compile a list of my favorite Asians of 2014 so far.

The year’s already half over! During that time, I’ve come across some incredible Asian characters and personalities. Before my annoying tendency to forget everything kicks in, I want to commemorate these wonderful Asians.

Favorite Asians of 2014 from comics, TV, movies, and YouTube


FAVORITE ASIANS OF 2014


*Keep in mind that these are Asians I discovered through my media consumption. There are so many other great Asians in both current and past media that I’ve not included simply because I’m not familiar with the series or they  didn’t fit in 2014.

MOVIES


Han Lue, Fast and Furious Series
HAN LUE | Fast & Furious Series
When it comes to Asian men in the entertainment industry, especially Hollywood’s, the men are usually desexualized and reduced to stereotypes as either the nerdy sidekick or the kung fu expert. However in the FF movies, Han Lue never quite fit into any stereotype.

Han was never treated as anything else than an equal member of Dom’s team, much less a sidekick. Like all the other characters in the movie, he possessed a unique skill set in handling cars and because of that, he was always considered a valued member of Dom’s team or family. Han was also one of the few male characters with a romantic and sexual relationship on screen. Han’s relationship with Gazelle in the last two FF movies was one of the most interesting elements of the movies.

Mako Mori, Pacific Rim
MAKO MORI | Pacific Rim
Asian women receive similar treatment where it’s they’re either the innocent nerdy Asian girl, who’s often sexualized by the white man, or the villainous Asian woman.

In Pacific Rim, the film made it clear that Mako is neither of these things though. The film portrayed Mako as this strong and compelling Asian woman ready to do her part in saving the world. Mako’s shown to be skilled enough to be Jageur pilot but at the same time, capable of making mistakes. Mako was never sexualized or made submissive by the men in her life either. Her co-pilot, Raleigh as well as her surrogate father, Pentecost always treat her with respect and equality.

{These choices are more from 2013 because I’m awful at watching movies these days. Have to fix this.}

COMICS


Cassandra Cain, Batgirl Comics
CASSANDRA CAIN | Batgirl
Cass’s origin as Cain’s child assassin, trained with physical movements as her only way of communication was an interesting enough story but then you also have to factor in the fact that Cass was also half Asian. Granted, Cass’s mixed ethnicity was only briefly talked about in the comics but it was acknowledged when Cass attemped to uncover her mother’s identity. So, alongside the iconic Bruce Wayne was this incredibly compelling Asian superhero, kicking ass and maturing as a character.

Toni Chu and the Chu Family, Chew ComicsTONY CHU & THE CHU FAMILY | Chew
From the beginning, Tony’s Asian background was very clearly communicated in the artwork and writing. His ethnicity never needed to be directly discussed though because it’s just not relevant to the story of this crime fighting detective who eats his evidence. Tony as well as the rest of the Chu clan were obviously Asian but always represented like any other character. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Ganke Lee, Ultimate Comics: Spiderman and Nico Minoru, The Runaways Comics
GANKE LEE
| Ultimate Comics: Spiderman (Miles Morales)
Ganke may serve as the best friend and sidekick to Miles’ Spiderman but Ganke has consistently proved himself as an integral part of Miles’ story. Ganke was never afraid to push his best friend to step up and pick up the Spiderman costume. Also, boy got a kiss from Gwen Stacey. The Asian sidekick was the one who gets a kiss from the ex-girlfriend of the iconic Peter Parket! You go, Ganke!

NICO MINORU | The Runaways
I’m actually not a big fan of The Runaways series but I always liked Nico. She has never been bound to any Asian stereotypes. Instead, she’s her own unique character. Nico’s a powerful witch and natural leader but at the same time, so very flawed and self destructive.

YOUTUBE


Jenn Im, ClothesEncounters on YouTube
JENN IM | ClothesEncounters

Yeah, Jenn just does fashion/beauty videos and the occasional vlog but after watching television shows over-saturated with white people, I always liked turning to YouTube. On YouTube I have the choice of choosing a space where for a couple of minutes, I get to see someone who looks like me. In Jenn’s videos, she featured foods, experiences, etc that I can actually relate to as an Asian American. I appreciate the fact that as a media platform, YouTube is a space where anyone and everyone can gain popularity. Not everyone’s great but it’s nice to see a platform where everyone, including POCs like Asians, are given an opportunity to gain success.

Claire Marshall, HeyClaire on YouTube
CLAIRE MARSHALL | HeyClaire

Claire Marshall is my fashion queen. See how she gives me fashion advice?

I also like her as a nice example of what it’s like to be Korean American adopted into a white family. She probably has less interaction with her Asian heritage but she’s still clearly proud of her background and willing to embrace Asian culture.

{In the latter part of the year, I really hope to venture out in the YouTube world and watch more Asians outside of the lifestyle/beauty/fashion genre. Any recs would be great!}

TELEVISION


Queen Joan Watson, ElementaryJOAN WATSON | Elementary
Joan Watson wins as the best Asian of 2014. She is the queen of perfection. Just look at her crown! Whenever I think about Joan, I become so incredibly grateful. I’m so proud to have her and Lucy Liu representing Asian Americans on network TV.

Okay, so no one is absolutely perfectly but Joan is hands down the best portrayal of an Asian American I’ve seen so far. Joan never fit into any Asian stereotypes. She has always been fully fleshed out character and never a prop to Sherlock. The show is always clear in portraying Sherlock and Joan as equal partners. At times, Sherlock is even shown to be in need of Joan. Joan has freely spoken about her Asian heritage with pride but her race never defines her.  Instead, she’s characterized by her brilliance, resourcefulness and compassion.

Bert Harrison, Trophy Wife
BERT HARRISON
| Trophy Wife
Bert Harrison was such an adorable delight to watch every week on Trophy Wife. I discussed his representation as an Asian American in my Rec Me Friday: Trophy Wife post already but basically, I love how he was treated like any other Harrison child. Bert made silly and hilarious jokes without ever having to poke fun at the fact that he’s was adopted from China.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Kira - Teen Wolf, Nikita - Nikita, Melinda May - S.H.I.E.L.D., The Legend of Korra
KIRA YUKIMURA | Teen Wolf
Like Arden Cho has pointed out , Kira is portrayed simply as another teenage American girl with a loving family. The Yukimura family are also Asian and proud of it. Their Asian heritage is simply one of many elements that makes them the typical American family.

NIKITA MEARS | Nikita
I really wished Nikita had acknowledged her Asian background more on the show but nonetheless, it was great to see an Asian woman as the lead protagonist on network TV. Nikita never conformed to any stereotypes and the show made clear that she was always the flawed but morally good hero of the series.

MELINDA MAY | Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In a similar vein, S.H.I.E.L.D. has provided another kick-ass Asian woman in Melinda May. Melinda’s strong, interesting, and compelling to watch. And when entering a sexual relationship with a white man, she maintains her dominance as a strong woman.

EVERYONE | The Legend of Korra
The world of The Legend of Korra, and its predecessor Avatar: The Last Airbender, takes place in an fictional universe heavily influenced by Asian culture. So guess what, everyone is Asian! Stereotyping can’t even occur in this world where the characters are all of different Asian ethnicities. I love just the premise of the show because here, the writers have respectfully selected elements of Asian culture, such as animation style, religion, history, and introduced them to a Western audience to learn about and appreciate.


Oh and hey, it’s technically not an official Rec Me Friday but I hope this list encourages people to check out some of the media I’ve mentioned here. Aside from the great Asian characters and personalities each of these series features, most of these shows are also brilliant entertainment. Definitely worth a try!

Hopefully the second half of the year brings even more good Asian characters for me to add onto this list.

  • I think Mako was probably my favorite character from film/tv of last year just in general. Love of my life, Mako Mori.

    • I still haven’t finished watching Pacific Rim, haha. But I know all of Mako’s scenes and I love her so much.

      P.S. I’m going to take the fact that I dyed bits of my hair blue in my teens as evidence that me and Mako are perfect together.

      • GET ON THAT, WOMAN!!! Lol as long as you finish it before the second one comes out, we’re good.

        I support this 100%. I just feel lucky that Mako and I are both INFJs.

  • Lisa Lynn

    WATCH THIS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuV-RWJb5d0

    It’s pretty amazing, and Ms. Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) is featured in it. :D
    Always,
    Mostly Lisa

    • Thank you so much for the link! I can’t wait to watch.

      I love that they do panels for kick ass women now.