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Magical Asian
A wise Asian mentor to a usually white character.

The Magical Asian, like the Magical Negro or Magical Native American, exists to dispense lessons to white characters using the wisdom of his people. He will usually be a martial arts master, a practitioner of traditional Asian medicine (which in fact is not magical, but actually works, and is taught in many Chinese universities alongside Western medicine), or a sage of some Eastern religion. If he is not explicitly supernatural, he will often (but not always) be so highly skilled in his art that it will appear superhuman. Martial artists will be impossibly good fighters, the medicine-men will be able to easily diagnose and cure any illness (bonus points if he mentions chi), and the sage will be enlightened with some kind of supernatural intuition. Expect at least one scene of them meditating. They will often quote Ice Cream Koans attributed to Buddha, Confucius, or some other famous Asian sage.

Unlike the Magical Negro, the Magical Asian is not always nice to his white protégé. It is common for the Magical Asian to put his student through a number of demeaning and seemingly pointless tasks. However, it always turns out that there is a purpose to these tasks that helps get his lesson across. Mr. Miyagi's famous "Wax On, Wax Off" routine is one of the best known examples. This tendency is possibly related to Asian Rudeness.

He will speak in proverbs and Koans. He will often be referred to as sensei, sifu, or master. Your training will be complete When You Snatch the Pebble from his hand.

Often overlaps with Old Master.


Examples:

Live-Action TV
  • Master Po and Master Kan in Kung Fu. Their protege Caine is half Chinese and half White.
  • Bruce Lee's character on Longstreet.
  • An acupuncturists' teacher in The Invisible Man. He is able to intuit that the acupuncture needles he is using were stolen by his apprentice from a museum when they are ineffective.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Zeke and Luther, then played straight with the Asian mailman who appears in that episode and tries teaching one of the boys some sort of kung-fu technique.
  • The Dragon, a Chinese magical healer from Once Upon a Time. Though he's implied to be an actual dragon, he mostly appears as an Asian human.

Film

Literature
  • The Destroyer series. Chiun is a Korean who is the Master of Sinanju, which is the sun source (original) martial art and the basis for all other martial arts. He teaches his knowledge to the protagonist, Remo Williams. The reason stated in the series for not simply employing Chiun to do the killing (instead of training Remo to do the killing) is to avoid invoking the related "Phantom Oriental" trope in passers-by.
  • Parodied in the Discworld series by Lu-Tze, the sweeper at the Temple of Oi-Dong, who is also a master of the martial art Deja-Fu (in which the hands move through both time and space):
    Rule One: "Do not act incautiously when confronting little bald wrinkly smiling men".
    • Also played straight, in that as a result of the Narrative Causality of the Disc, Lu-Tze does have power over the course of history.

Web Comics
  • He doesn't appear in Paradigm Shift in person, but Mike has made occasional references to his sifu, and his background was quite typical of this trope; he was a bit of a delinquent as a teenager, but studying martial arts under an Old Master taught him self-discipline and got him interested in Zen Buddhism. As of the most recent story arc before the comic went on hiatus, he's started paying it forward to his partner and definitely-not-love-interest-she-swears Kate.

Web Original
  • Cracked discusses this trope here, which it calls "The Wise, Old, Asian Asshole".

Western Animation
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, younger characters tend to have American accents while older, wiser mentor figures tend to have Asian accents regardless of what nation they are from. Iroh is the most prominent example. He was originally also played by Mako.
  • Uncle from Jackie Chan Adventures, voiced by Sab Shimono. A highly-skilled practitioner of qi magic, he could send spells through the phone, but didn't know how a fax machine worked.

Video Game
  • The Matrix Path Of Neo for a level has the old NPC Chinese herbalist who can sense auras/chi, who gives Neo a golden powder to make him permanently stronger.

Other


Hermit GuruTropes of WisdomMagical Negro
Kaiju Defense ForceAsian IndexMighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow
Lost TribeRace TropesMagical Native American

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