Media watchdog group Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) has praised CBS and the writers/producers of “NCIS: Los Angeles” for creating and airing an episode, “Fukushu” (Revenge), that highlights and educates viewers about race, diversity and hate crimes against the Asian American community.
In the Oct. 17 episode, 73-year old Lt. Craig Tanaka (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) is brutally attacked while in a beach parking lot. We learn that he is a highly respected American naval veteran who fought for the U.S. in the Vietnam War. While Tanaka was renovating a diner a few days before the attack, the establishment was spray-painted with racial slurs.
The hate crimes deeply affect Adm. Hollace Kilbride (Gerald McRaney), who reveals that his father’s best friend was Ralph Sakamoto. When Japanese Americans were put in concentration camps following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, for two years, Kilbride’s father guarded Sakamoto’s family home with a shotgun to ensure it wouldn’t be looted or defaced.
Regular NCIS members Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah), Fatima Namazi (Medalion Rahimi) and Devin Roundtree (Caleb Castille) also discuss the attacks on Tanaka, deeply disturbed by what it says about this country.
Tanaka’s son, Jack (Christopher Sean), a police officer, ties up and beats the two perpetrators and puts video of his interrogation of them on social media, causing it to go viral. When Admiral Kilbride asks Tanaka if it was worth it — throwing away his career for this act of vigilantism — the younger Tanaka says after seeing Asian Americans attacked for two years, he needed to make an example of those who hurt his father. He wanted to challenge people’s notions that his community is the “silent, docile, model minority.” If his video stopped one attack, it was worth it, and he’s willing to face the consequence for his actions.
In a brave move, the producers of the show let Jack Tanaka have the last word and even end the episode with footage of Tanaka beating the perpetrators, with one of them saying, “I’m sorry!”
It was followed by an on-screen message directing viewers to StopAAPIHate.org, an organization that encourages the reporting of hate crimes.
“It was satisfying to see so many of the regular cast members reflect upon how the hate crimes against Lt. Craig Tanaka impacted them emotionally,” says MANAA Founding President Guy Aoki.
“In light of the alarming increase in attacks on the basic human rights and livelihoods of Asian Americans during COVID-19,” says MANAA co-Vice President Lillian Yee, “MANAA is pleased to see such storylines that highlight the difficulties our community has experienced. This episode reminds viewers that hate crimes against Asian Americans have been going on throughout American history. As with most problems, recognizing the issue and discussing it is an important first step toward finding a solution.”
“Fukushu” was written by executive producer Kyle Harimoto. MANAA encourages television, streaming and movie creators to incorporate aspects of these troubling hate crimes — and more of the Asian Pacific American experience in general–into storylines. In the past, shows like ABC’s “A Million Little Things” have also addressed the way the pandemic has detrimentally affected Asian Americans.
MANAA commends “NCIS: Los Angeles” for this noteworthy episode and wishes the show continued success in its 13th season.
View the episode here (rated TV-14 for coarse language, violence): https://www.cbs.com/shows/ncis_los_angeles/video/h7EAwmxVewICEo1YNuCFpT0IfY93Gc9c/ncis-los-angeles-fukushu/