Tokyo Disneyland and the success of Frozen prove that Japan is a key market for the House of Mouse, but there’s never been a Japanese hero in a Disney film. That will change with Big Hero 6, set in the futuristic city San Fransokyo. The animated adventure centers on teenage tech whiz Hiro Hamada, who builds a robot and leads a misfit team of crime fighters. Hiro is voiced by 18-year-old Ryan Potter, who was born in Oregon but spent his early childhood in Tokyo, where his mother was studying Japanese. Returning to the States, Potter picked up martial arts, which helped him land the lead on the Nickelodeon show Supah Ninjas. Despite a 60-year age difference, he bonded with co-star George Takei over a shared interest in all things Japanese. The older actor also instilled in Potter, who is half Japanese, a sense of responsibility in representing Asian Americans, which he took with him to his Disney role. Potter was a surprise guest at last month’s Comic-Con in San Diego but didn’t stick around for the clip he introduced, explaining he wants to wait until the whole film is finished. Big Hero 6 will have its worldwide premiere at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and if its young star attends, he can finally see it then.
The Tokyo International Film Festival will run October 23-31 at Roppongi Hills and other venues. http://2014.tiff-jp.net/en/