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Ike Nwala is breaking new ground in the culture of Japanese television entertainment. The 30-year-old Nigerian-American comedian originally visited the country to work for Goldman Sachs but eventually took his career path in a direction better suited to his considerable talents. In this piece from international news giant VICE, we hear his charming story and get a better understanding of just what it means for him to have landed the recent role of Commander Hilltop on the upcoming special-effects action drama Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patranger.

Who’s that Pokemon?!

The Super Sentai and greater tokusatsu world has featured a handful of non-Japanese faces in their long tenure entertaining children and children-at-heart, but while we’ve enjoyed many of their performances, it might not be untrue to say that these sparse appearances were often quite stereotypical or exaggerated. The same may be said of characters of the LGBT community or others with often-unseen cultural origins.

Of course, it may also be true that the new Commander Hilltop will fit right into this category of over-the-top portrayals. The franchise, after all, is designed to be larger than life whether you bring a culture clash into the mix or not. But hearing Nwala’s hopes for his role in kids TV frames his upcoming performance as something to be proud of beyond just watching a promising talent land another sweet gig. That, in some small way, his character will help to broaden minds and inspire people in ways which might have otherwise seemed impossible.

We may be a long way off from having a Ranger of non-Japanese descent as part of the primary hero cast of Super Sentai, but this represents another step toward reaching such commendable goals. For this and many other reasons, we look forward to the new LVP when it hits next month.

Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patranger premieres February 11, 2018.

 

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