As with Robert Beltran's Commander Chakotay, this is a classic example of an actor of color in a not-so-rosy situation. Certain fans have talked about Takei's "attitude" over the decades, singing the "big chip on his shoulders" song
Let's have a history lesson, shall we? Star Trek first aired in 1966. So you have a gay Japanese actor trying to work in Hollywood, in the 1960s, on a TV show were staff are getting death threats for their attempt at diversity. Meanwhile, the dude playing the Captain threatens to wreck this highly innovative and promising show every time he's not the center of attention.
Keep in mind, this is all going down a mere twenty years after the last Japanese internment camp has finally shut down, and the victims who survived (which include Takei and his family) are callously being denied reparations by the [Dis]United States government. Meanwhile, for the average white American, being overtly racist towards is POC still considered polite, civilized conversation.
Let's just say if Takei hadn't come out of this sitch swinging, POC everywhere would've wondered what was wrong.
1) Lt. Hikaru Sulu is a character of good intent: his first name is a unisex Japanese name meaning "light" or "radiance", and his surname is derived from the Sulu Sea, which reportedly touches the shore of every country in Asia. Sulu is thus meant to represent peace and unity in Asia.
2) In addition to his meaningful characterization, Sulu is a muscular, good-looking Asian man who speaks English fluently and sits at the helm of Starfleet's flagship. *nods* I believe the word you're looking for right there "bad ass".
3) There were attempts to let audience get to know Sulu better on a personal level; we learned his hobbies included botany and fencing. Had Roddenberry been allowed a fourth season, we would've seen more of his personal life.
1) Sulu had a far less screen time than his white shipmates. Instead of increasing during the movies, by the way, it actually seemed to decrease.
2) Though Sulu reportedly had a crush on Lieutenant Uhura, we never saw it come to fruition. They wound up pairing her off with a white guy.
3) Come to think of it, we never saw Sulu in a relationship with anyone, even in the movies. We learn later that he had a daughter, but we don't know her mother's name, or what her parents' relationship was like.
4) We didn't learn Sulu's first name during the original run of the show. Meanwhile, everyone not only knew Kirk's first name from the get-go, but we also knew his middle name was friggin' "Tiberius."
5) Sulu didn't get to "do" much. Yes, he was the helmsman, which one would think entailed massive responsibility (and authority), and yet...it always seemed as though either Kirk or Spock (usually Kirk) was single-handedly running and saving the damn ship while the rest of the crew was just chillin'.
A decent opening effort considering the times. Sulu appeared quite comfortable on the bridge of the Enterprise, and Takei did the most he could with the little he was given. He originated an iconic role which sent a powerful message to an extremely backward society. So...*applause*.