Hikaru Sulu

Hikaru Sulu

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Hikaru Sulu is a character in the Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

 media franchise. First portrayed by George Takei
George Takei
George Hosato Takei Altman is an American actor, author, social activist and former civil politician. He is best known for his role in the television series Star Trek and its film spinoffs, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the...

 in the original Star Trek series
Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry, produced by Desilu Productions . Star Trek was telecast on NBC from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969...

, Sulu also appears in the animated Star Trek series
Star Trek: The Animated Series
Star Trek: The Animated Series is an animated science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe following the events of Star Trek: The Original Series of the 1960s...

, the first six Star Trek movies, one episode of Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. Set in the 24th century from the year 2371 through 2378, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet vessel USS Voyager, which becomes stranded in the Delta Quadrant 70,000 light-years from Earth while...

, and in numerous books, comics, and video games. John Cho
John Cho
John Yohan Cho is an American actor and musician, best known for his roles in the American Pie films and the Harold & Kumar films . He also starred in the critically acclaimed hit film Better Luck Tomorrow...

 assumed the role of the character in the 2009 film Star Trek.

Development and portrayals


George Takei
George Takei
George Hosato Takei Altman is an American actor, author, social activist and former civil politician. He is best known for his role in the television series Star Trek and its film spinoffs, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the...

 recalled Gene Roddenberry
Gene Roddenberry
Eugene Wesley "Gene" Roddenberry was an American television screenwriter, producer and futurist, best known for creating the American science fiction series Star Trek. Born in El Paso, Texas, Roddenberry grew up in Los Angeles, California where his father worked as a police officer...

 wanted the character to represent all of Asia, which symbolized the peace of the Trek universe in spite of the numerous wars in the continent. Roddenberry did not want a nationally specific surname, so he looked at a map and saw the Sulu Sea
Sulu Sea
The Sulu Sea is a body of water in the southwestern area of the Philippines, separated from the South China Sea in the northwest by Palawan and from the Celebes Sea in the southeast by the Sulu Archipelago. Borneo is found to the southwest and Visayas to the northeast.Sulu Sea contains a number of...

. "He thought, 'Ah, the waters of that sea touch all shores'," the actor recalled, "and that's how my character came to have the name Sulu."

In the book Inside Star Trek The Real Story, the character's name is noted as a pun on the name of vice president of Desilu Studios, Herb Solow.

Novelist Vonda McIntyre
Vonda McIntyre
Vonda Neel McIntyre is an American science fiction author.-Biography:Vonda N. McIntyre, daughter of H. Neel and Vonda B. Keith McIntyre, earned a degree in biology from the University of Washington in 1970. That same year, she attended the Clarion Writers Workshop, founded at the Clarion...

 first presents 'Hikaru
Hikaru
is a Japanese verb meaning , and it is the dictionary form of the word . It is also a Japanese given name that can be given to either sex and rarely used as a surname.-Possible writings:Hikaru can be written using different kanji characters and can mean:...

' as the character's first name in the novel The Entropy Effect
The Entropy Effect
The Entropy Effect is a novel by Vonda N. McIntyre set in the fictional Star Trek Universe. It was originally published in 1981 by Pocket Books and is the second in its long running series of Star Trek novels .-Plot summary:The Enterprise is engaged...

. McIntyre derived the character's first name from The Tale of Genji. Although McIntyre was unaware at the time of any controversy surrounding her giving Sulu a first name, editor David Hartwell
David G. Hartwell
David Geddes Hartwell is an American editor of science fiction and fantasy. He has worked for Signet , Berkley Putnam , Pocket , and Tor Books David Geddes Hartwell (b. July 10, 1941) is an American editor of science fiction and fantasy. He has worked for Signet (1971–1973), Berkley Putnam...

 had to clear the name with Gene Roddenberry
Gene Roddenberry
Eugene Wesley "Gene" Roddenberry was an American television screenwriter, producer and futurist, best known for creating the American science fiction series Star Trek. Born in El Paso, Texas, Roddenberry grew up in Los Angeles, California where his father worked as a police officer...

 and George Takei
George Takei
George Hosato Takei Altman is an American actor, author, social activist and former civil politician. He is best known for his role in the television series Star Trek and its film spinoffs, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the...

 in order to supersede Paramount's objections. However, the name did not become canon until its mention in Star Trek VI, and it was included only after Peter David
Peter David
Peter Allen David , often abbreviated PAD, is an American writer of comic books, novels, television, movies and video games...

, who authored the film's comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 adaptation, visited the set and persuaded director Nicholas Meyer
Nicholas Meyer
Nicholas Meyer is an American screenwriter, producer, director and novelist, known best for his best-selling novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and for directing the films Time After Time, two of the Star Trek feature film series, and the 1983 television movie The Day After.Meyer graduated from...

 to insert it.

Reception


Robert Justman, co-producer of the original Star Trek series, noted that Takei had previously played bad guys, but through Star Trek had become one of the first Asian actors to portray a character in a positive light. Justman described him as "the antithesis of the so-called expressionless-unemotional-inscrutable Asian".

Depiction


The fictional character Hikaru Sulu was born in San Francisco
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

, and is of Japanese
Japanese people
The are an ethnic group originating in the Japanese archipelago and are the predominant ethnic group of Japan. Worldwide, approximately 130 million people are of Japanese descent; of these, approximately 127 million are residents of Japan. People of Japanese ancestry who live in other countries...

 heritage. He was shown as the USS Enterprise
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
The USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, is a fictional starship in the Star Trek media franchise. The original Star Trek series depicts her crew's mission "to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before" under the command of Captain James...

's staff physicist in the pilot episode
Television pilot
A "television pilot" is a standalone episode of a television series that is used to sell the show to a television network. At the time of its inception, the pilot is meant to be the "testing ground" to see if a series will be possibly desired and successful and therefore a test episode of an...

, "Where No Man Has Gone Before
Where No Man Has Gone Before
"Where No Man Has Gone Before" is the second pilot episode of the television series Star Trek: The Original Series. It was produced in 1965 after the first pilot, "The Cage", had been rejected by NBC. The episode was eventually broadcast third in sequence on September 22, 1966, and was re-aired on...

", but served as helmsman
Helmsman
A helmsman is a person who steers a ship, sailboat, submarine, or other type of maritime vessel. On small vessels, particularly privately-owned noncommercial vessels, the functions of skipper and helmsman may be combined in one person. On larger vessels, there is a separate officer of the watch,...

 throughout the rest of the series, during which he held the rank of lieutenant.

Throughout the series, Sulu is shown having many interests and hobbies, including gymnastics
Gymnastics
Gymnastics is a sport involving performance of exercises requiring physical strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, and balance. Internationally, all of the gymnastic sports are governed by the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique with each country having its own national governing body...

, botany
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

, fencing
Fencing
Fencing, which is also known as modern fencing to distinguish it from historical fencing, is a family of combat sports using bladed weapons.Fencing is one of four sports which have been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games...

, and ancient weaponry. In the episode "The Naked Time", Spock observes that Sulu "is at heart a swashbuckler
Swashbuckler
Swashbuckler or swasher is a term that emerged in the 16th century and has been used for rough, noisy and boastful swordsmen ever since. A possible explanation for this term is that it derives from a fighting style using a side-sword with a buckler in the off-hand, which was applied with much...

 out of the 18th century".

The character is promoted to lieutenant commander some time before Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Motion Picture is a 1979 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. It is the first film based on the Star Trek television series. The film is set in the twenty-third century, when a mysterious and immensely powerful alien cloud called V'Ger approaches the Earth,...

, and to full commander by the time of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a 1982 American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. The film is the second feature based on the Star Trek science fiction franchise. The plot features James T...

. During the first five Star Trek movies, he serves as helmsman aboard both the USS Enterprise and USS Enterprise-A
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A)
The USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-A is a starship in the fourth, fifth, and sixth Star Trek films.-Origin and design:The Enterprise-A used the same shooting model as the preceding NCC-1701...

. He is promoted to captain and given command of the USS Excelsior three years before the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is the sixth feature film in the Star Trek science fiction franchise and is the last of the Star Trek films to include the entire main cast of the 1960s Star Trek television series. Released in 1991 by Paramount Pictures, it was directed by Nicholas Meyer and...

.

Star Trek Generations introduces Hikaru's daughter, Demora Sulu
Demora Sulu
In the fictional Star Trek universe, Demora Sulu , is the daughter of Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu and serves as helmsman of the USS Enterprise-B under Captain John Harriman in 2293. Demora also appears in the non-canon novels The Captain's Daughter by Peter David and Serpents Among the Ruins by...

, whose origins are also depicted in Peter David
Peter David
Peter Allen David , often abbreviated PAD, is an American writer of comic books, novels, television, movies and video games...

's non-canon
Canon (Star Trek)
The Star Trek canon is the set of all canonical material in the Star Trek universe. It is usually defined as comprising the television series Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, and the motion pictures in the franchise...

 novel The Captain's Daughter.

2009 film



John Cho
John Cho
John Yohan Cho is an American actor and musician, best known for his roles in the American Pie films and the Harold & Kumar films . He also starred in the critically acclaimed hit film Better Luck Tomorrow...

 portrays a young Sulu for the 2009 film Star Trek. Abrams was concerned about casting a Korean-American as the character, but George Takei
George Takei
George Hosato Takei Altman is an American actor, author, social activist and former civil politician. He is best known for his role in the television series Star Trek and its film spinoffs, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the...

 explained to the director that Sulu was meant to represent all of Asia on the Enterprise, so Abrams went ahead with Cho. Cho acknowledged being an Asian-American, "there are certain acting roles that you are never going to get, and one of them is playing a cowboy. Playing Sulu is a realization of that dream — going into space." He cited the masculinity of the character as being important to him, and spent two weeks fight training. Cho suffered an injury to his wrist during filming, although a representative assured it was "no big deal". James Kyson Lee was interested in the part, but because Zachary Quinto
Zachary Quinto
Zachary John Quinto is an American actor and producer. Quinto grew up in Pennsylvania and was active in high school musical theater. In the early 2000s he guest starred in television series and appeared in a recurring role in the serial drama 24 from 2003 to 2004...

 was cast as Spock, the producers of the TV show Heroes
Heroes (TV series)
Heroes is an American science fiction television drama series created by Tim Kring that appeared on NBC for four seasons from September 25, 2006 through February 8, 2010. The series tells the stories of ordinary people who discover superhuman abilities, and how these abilities take effect in the...

did not want to lose another cast member for three months.

Cho portrays a younger Sulu in the 2009 film, though he is actually older than Takei was when he portrayed the role in the original series; Cho was 36 while Takei was 29.

Guest appearances


George Takei reprised the role of Sulu, as part of Star Trek
Star Trek
Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

's 30th anniversary, in the Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Voyager is a science fiction television series set in the Star Trek universe. Set in the 24th century from the year 2371 through 2378, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet vessel USS Voyager, which becomes stranded in the Delta Quadrant 70,000 light-years from Earth while...

episode "Flashback
Flashback (Voyager episode)
"Flashback" is the name of the 44th episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the second episode of the third season.It is noteworthy for featuring characters of the Original Series of the late 1960s, most noticeably Hikaru Sulu and Janice Rand . Both characters appear by means of a flashback by Tuvok...

" aired in 1996. In the episode, Captain Sulu appears in Tuvok
Tuvok
Tuvok is one of the main characters on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. Tuvok is a Vulcan who serves as the ship's chief of security and its chief tactical officer. Tim Russ portrayed Tuvok throughout the show's run, from 1995 to 2001....

's flashbacks of his time serving aboard the USS Excelsior, during events depicted in Star Trek VI. Sulu is also responsible for another future USS Voyager crew member (Chakotay
Chakotay
Chakotay , played by Robert Beltran, is a character in Star Trek: Voyager. He is the First Officer of the USS Voyager.-Character biography:...

) joining Starfleet
Starfleet
In the fictional universe of Star Trek, Starfleet or the Federation Starfleet is the deep-space exploratory, peacekeeping and military service maintained by the United Federation of Planets . It is the principal means by which the Federation conducts its exploration, defense, diplomacy and research...

.

The non-canon fan production Star Trek: New Voyages
Star Trek: New Voyages
Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II is a fan-created science fiction series set in the Star Trek universe. The series was created by James Cawley and Jack Marshall in April 2003...

episode "World Enough and Time" starred George Takei
George Takei
George Hosato Takei Altman is an American actor, author, social activist and former civil politician. He is best known for his role in the television series Star Trek and its film spinoffs, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the...

 as Captain Sulu on the Excelsior recalling a time on the original Enterprise
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
The USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, is a fictional starship in the Star Trek media franchise. The original Star Trek series depicts her crew's mission "to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before" under the command of Captain James...

when a transporter
Transporter (Star Trek)
A transporter is a fictional teleportation machine used in the Star Trek universe. Transporters convert a person or object into an energy pattern , then "beam" it to a target, where it is reconverted into matter...

 accident caused him to come back thirty years older and with a daughter, Alana. Demora also appears in this episode, as well as Hikaru's granddaughter.

Other media


The Lost Era
Star Trek: The Lost Era
Star Trek: The Lost Era is a series of novels that take place during the time period between the 23rd century events of the film Star Trek Generations and the first season of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, set in 2364....

novel The Sundered depicts a USS Excelsior mission under Sulu's command.

The novel Forged in Fire depicts an earlier USS Excelsior mission prior to Sulu's assuming command of the ship.

Simon & Schuster Audioworks
Simon & Schuster
Simon & Schuster, Inc., a division of CBS Corporation, is a publisher founded in New York City in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. It is one of the four largest English-language publishers, alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins...

 released three non-canon Captain Sulu Adventures, featuring voice acting by Takei and various others, in the mid-1990s: Transformations, Cacophany, and Envoy.

In the William Shatner Star Trek novels, it is revealed that Sulu is elected to an unprecedented three terms as President of the United Federation of Planets
United Federation of Planets
The United Federation of Planets, also known as "The Federation" is a fictional interplanetary federal republic depicted in the Star Trek television series and motion pictures...

.

In the TV show Scrubs
Scrubs (TV series)
Scrubs is an American medical comedy-drama television series created in 2001 by Bill Lawrence and produced by ABC Studios. The show follows the lives of several employees of the fictional Sacred Heart, a teaching hospital. It features fast-paced screenplay, slapstick, and surreal vignettes...

, Turk wants to be married by a priest who looks like Sulu. The priest is actually played by George Takei.

George Takei reprised the role of Captain Sulu in the PC game Starfleet Command 2, released in December 2000. The introduction video features Takei, as Captain Sulu on board the U.S.S. Excelsior, describing the outbreak of an interstellar war between several galactic powers as part of his Captain's Log
Logbook
A logbook was originally a book for recording readings from the chip log, and is used to determine the distance a ship traveled within a certain amount of time...

. Later updates to the game also included several bonus voice-scripted missions, that again featured Takei as Sulu.

External links