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Magical Asian

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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 (and it's almost always a he) will usually be a martial arts master, a practitioner of traditional Asian 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, growing bonsai trees or engaging in any other blatantly non-Western activity.


Their appearance almost always includes a beard, often long, as well as hairstyles and clothing typical of their respective culture, with bonus points added if the latter is in fact some kind of ancient, traditional attire. They will often talk in You No Take Candle fashion and quote Ice Cream Koans attributed to Confucius, Buddha, 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, with Mr. Miyagi's famous "Wax On, Wax Off" routine being 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, master, or master sifu. Your training will be complete When You Snatch the Pebble from his hand.

Often overlaps with Old Master. Also compare Magical Jew.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Inverted in My Hero Academia. All Might swears in English, has his named-moves named after American states, and is generally a caricature of an American. He serves as the mentor figure for the protagonist, even calling his training routine the "American Dream Plan". Despite this, it is shown that All Might is actually Japanese, having the name Yagi Toshinori.
  • Bongchim Na in The God of High School is Korean like the rest of the cast, but has the stereotypical Wizard Beard and a mastery of traditional Asian medicine that earned him the title of "Divine Doctor". He takes on Mori as an apprentice and teaches him how to use the body's pressure points to enhance his martial arts and heal injuries.

    Comic Books 
  • The Ancient One is the previous Sorceror Supreme and trained Marvel's Doctor Strange in magic. The Ancient One's colleague Kaluu counts as well, Kaluu has taught Doctor Strange black magic and was at one point the resident black magic expert for Luke Cage's branch of Avengers.
  • Yao Fei the Accomplished Perfect Physician from DC's Great Ten is a magical Chinese doctor. He gets transplanted on the Arrow TV show and becomes the archer mentor to Green Arrow, but still retains his healer roots by being the person who Oliver Queen learnt medicinal herbs from.
  • Yu Ti, as well as pretty much everyone else from K'un-Lun in Iron Fist.
  • I-Ching, Wonder Woman's mentor from the period at the beginning of the Bronze Age where she lost her powers for four years' worth of stories, is a texbook example. More recently, he's been acting as a mentor to Kenan Kong, China's "New Super-Man."
  • Ultimate X-Men: Subverted. Nick Fury finds a one at the Birla Temple, but it was just a facade to conceal an illegal genetics operation in a highly advanced lab inside the temple.
  • Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter: O-Sensei teaches the pasty white redhead Richard Dragon and African-American (or Canadian) Ben Turner martial arts abilities that include chi-manipulation that allows for healing and extended life. He's also the godfather of Lady Shiva, and while she studied under him she didn't stay with him at his dojo for years perfecting his style like the two aforementioned more heroic of his students.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kung Fu:
  • Longstreet: Bruce Lee's character Li Tsung was a mentor to Mike 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.
  • Yao Fei on Arrow uses magical herbs capable of accelerating healing on several characters.

  • 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 Déjà Fu (in which the hands move through both time and space). 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.
    Rule One: "Do not act incautiously when confronting little bald wrinkly smiling men."

     Tabletop Games 
  • In Mutant Chronicles, the greatest spellcaster for the Brotherhood (outside of the Durand Brothers is a wise old Magical Asian renowned for kindness and tolerance (the Brotherhood is an Inquisition that often resorts to torture or immediate executions).

    Video Games 
  • 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.

    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.
  • Widdershins: The stereotype is Exploited by "the Mystical Chung Soo", an elderly Stage Magician who performs in total silence and plays up the exoticism of China to his 19th-century English audience. Off-stage, he's the 20-something Tim Chiang from Surrey.

    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.
  • Earl in the final season of Regular Show is an affectionate parody of this trope, as he's an elderly Asian martial arts master who teaches Pops to use his powers through in-universe Wax On, Wax Off-style training montages.

    Real Life 


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