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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Press conference of "Kanryoutachi no Natsu" - Summer 2009

The press conference for TBS summer drama, "Kanryoutachi no Natsu" (The Bureaucrats' Summer) was held on 29 June 09. Cast members including Sato Koichi, Sakai Masato, Kitaooji Kinya, Funakoshi Eiichiro, Takahashi Katsunori, Takahashi Katsumi, Murakawa Eri, Nishimura Masahiko, Sano Shiro, Sugimoto Tetta, Fukuishi Kazue and Tanaka Kei made appearances. The drama is due to be shown from 5 July 2009 at 9pm on Sundays. The story is based on a novel by Jouyama Saburo which depicts the work of bureaucrats working in the Ministry of International Trade and Industry during the Showa 30 era.

Tamaki Hiroshi admits to his relationship with Yoshitaka Yuriko

Tamaki Hiroshi has admitted that he is currently dating Yoshitaka Yuriko as reported earlier by Jousei Seven. He is currently away in Europe for the filming of "Nodame Cantabile" movies and was interviewed over the phone on 29 June. He revealed that they had become close through the filming of "Love Shuffle" in winter this year and they have been in contact all this while. Although he did not confirm specifically whether she is his girlfriend, he was smiling when the question was posed. As Tamaki is unable to return to Japan due to the hectic filming schedule, he will be absent from the first-day screening of his new movie, "MW".

Press conference of Ninkyou Helper - Summer 2009

The production press conference of "Ninkyou Helper" (Chivalrous Helper) was held on 29 June 09 at a studio in Tokyo which was attended by cast members including SMAP's Kusanagi Tsuyoshi and Kuroki Meisa. He plays a ruthless gangster who is ordered by his boss to be a helper at an old folks' home. The theme song of the drama, "Sotto Gyutto" will be sung by SMAP and is due for release on 26 August.

As Kusanagi has to play Tsubasa Genichi, a group leader in the yakuza organization Hayato-kai, he has to go through 5 hours of preparation every time just to get the tattoo of a sakura shower on his back all the way to his arm. In addition, he has to wear a thick gold necklace whenever he appears in the drama.

Filming started on 12 June. Although Kusanagi's punishment for being caught by the police in April due to indecent exposure wasn't decided at that time, the production crew of this drama decided to wait for him and did not look for another actor to replace him.

The Quiz Show OST

Title: The Quiz Show OST
Price: 2500 yen
Date of release: 27 May 2009
Produced by: VAP
Total running time: 72 minutes
Number of discs: 1

Track List:
1. ザ・クイズショウのテーマ
2. イニシアチブ、俺
3. ルール説明
4. ニュー案内人
5. ラブ・ホライズン
6. バリ島へ…
7. 理想郷
8. FEAR OF GOD
9. 土着
10. 邪鬼
11. パニ!パニ!
12. DREAM CHANCE
13. PRESSURE
14. 来賓
15. 忍者
16. TO BE CONTINUED...
17. さよなら ATG
18. END (ピアノ バージョン)
19. シグナル
20. BEAUTIFUL SNOW
21. END
22. ひまわり畑
23. イニシアチブ、俺

Monday, June 29, 2009

Review of "The Quiz Show 2" - Spring 2009

Title: The Quiz Show 2
Shown via: NTV
Official website: here
Average rating: 12.08%
Theme song: Ashita no Kioku by Arashi
Regular Cast Members: Sakurai Sho, Yokoyama Yu, Matsuura Aya, Sasai Eisuke, Tanaka Tetsuji, Wada Masato, Moriwaki Eriko, Imai Takafumi, Shiraishi Miki, Oohashi Nozomi, Mizusawa Elena, Totsugi Shigeyuki, Izumiya Shigeru, Enoki Takaaki & Maya Miki
Guest stars for each episode: Aikawa Sho, Minami, Narimiya Hiroki, Asano Yuuko, Ishiguro Ken, Horiuchi Ken (Neptune), Sugimoto Tetta, Maya Miki, Sakurai Sho & Yokoyama Yu

Review:

Technically speaking, this is a sequel to the first season of "The Quiz Show". Prior to this, I had absolutely no idea that there was a part 1 to this drama. Apparently, Part 1 was made last year and shown during the summer season. I was either clueless about this offering from NTV or they did not put a lot of attention in the promotion of Part 1. For Part 2 however, the difference in treatment is quite obvious. I guess the fact that having two Johnny's Jimusho artistes who are more well-known than the leads in Part 1 (Totsugi Shigeyuki and Katagiri Jin) warrants the need to spend more time and effort on the sequel. And the fact that Part 1 was shown in a midnight slot compared to Saturday primetime for Part 2 made the first season relatively unknown.
Although it is said that this is a sequel, the story is not linked entirely to its predecessor. Nonetheless, I was still confused at times when they kept referring to the first season of "The Quiz Show" from time to time because I had no idea what happened at that time. From now on, there will be some spoilers thus if you do not wish to know the story or ending, please stop reading this post.

I have to be frank about this. My sole intention of watching this drama was for Sakurai Sho. I wasn't that impressed with some of his past roles so I had my reservations on how he can handle this difficult role. I thought this would be an interesting role because he gets to switch between a flashy and sarcastic variety show host to a lost guy who knows nuts about his past. It would be great to see how he manages the gap between both facades of Kamiyama Satoru. Indeed, he was good at playing MC Kamiyama and felt very much at ease with himself, or so it seems. I guess all that practice in hosting or assuming a lead host role in Arashi's variety shows does help. It is especially evident in VS Arashi where he seems to be the presenter even though the whole of Arashi is supposed to be assuming the hosting role. Although MC Kamiyama can be a bit too flashy and flamboyant at times, it is not overdone because the nature of the show requires him to do that. When he switched to Kamiyama Satoru, I found it a bit painful to watch him. He tried too hard to show the anguish of Satoru at the beginning which made me cringe but as the drama progressed, he found a better way of expressing himself and toned down on the overacting. Finally, I can say that he can act well, provided his role suits him in the first place. He's not yet in the league of being able to handle any role but he is improving. Hopefully, with the gaining of experience in various areas e.g. singing, acting, hosting and being a newcaster, he will become a more well-rounded actor in future.

On the other hand, his co-star Yokoyama Yu also had a bit of teething problems in the beginning. His role, Honma really got on my nerves at first. It's not because of the way he treated Kamiyama but rather he tries to act cool, high and almighty especially when he talks to Takasugi (Matsuura Aya) at the end of the show. True, he may be looking like a maniac when he confronts and pushes Kamiyama to remember the past but seeing him act cool was a bigger turnoff. That was simply too fake. However, as he settled into the role (although a bit too late) in the last few episodes of the show, he managed to show the pain and tragic past Honma had to shoulder. That final climax scene with Kamiyama was good and very intense but I think they should save on that mucus and saliva thing. It does get a bit gross when I see people crying to that extent. Tears alone will do the trick for me.

With regards to the other main cast members, Matsuura Aya was OK. At least she didn't irritate me that much this time. However, it will take a lot for me to like her high-pitched voice and a bit childish mannerisms. Maya Miki was horrific this time. Usually she exudes so much charm and charisma but the problem this time was her role, Saejima being more like a frantic woman running around and screaming as if this will get things done. When it's time to put her foot down, she's not assertive enough and lets Honma lord it over her. That's when it gets really irritating. She should have been given a role which allows her to behave more like a mature woman.

As for the story itself, I've never been a fan of episodic dramas. The lack of continuity and development of the main characters have always been an issue for me. In this drama, that is not a problem. As the drama progresses, we see more information about the past and how the truth is really like. There were a lot of clues here and there but the problem is they are just decoys. The truth is far from what I expected in the beginning. Nonetheless, I guessed what was going on by the 9th episode. Although the format of the quiz show itself is very repetitive and kinda boring, I'm prepared to overlook that. To be honest, it doesn't take a genius to clear all those questions. It's more to do with being honest and daring enough to reveal the skeletons in the closet. Some of the guest stars are quite interesting and I like the 2nd episode's guest Minami a lot. The majority of the guests didn't end up too well after the truth was revealed but in the 2nd episode, Minami's character faced up to the music and ended up making things better for her in a way. As such, the positive feeling about that episode made it stand out from the rest.

And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 7.5 out of 10 (The simplicity of the quiz show itself made me deduct some marks)
Acting: 7 out of 10 (Luckily the leads managed to turn the tables in the end or the score would have been lower)
Theme song: 7 out of 10 (The mood of the song suited the atmosphere but the song could have come in at more appropriate times in some instances. It doesn't have to be at the ending all the time.)
Visual effects / Scenery: 5 out of 10 (Most of the scenes were in the studio itself so scenery of the made-up place, Shinai Lake was the only outdoor location I could remember)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 6 out of 10 (The final showdown got some points back for the drama.)

Total: 32.5 out of 50

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Review of "Voice" - Winter 2009

Title: Voice~Inochi Naki Mono no Koe
O.A. Start: 12 Jan 09
O.A. End: 23 Mar 09
Number of episodes: 11
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Theme song: Setsuna by GReeeeN
Average rating: 14.56%
Cast: Eita, Ikuta Toma, Ishihara Satomi, Endo Yuuya, Sato Tomohito, Hamada Mari, Yamazaki Shigenori, Nadaka Tatsuo, Izumiya Shigeru, Yada Akiko and Tokito Saburo

Review:

Before this drama started its run, I expected it to be a refreshing look at pathology. I do not remember seeing many dramas on this genre except for "Kira Kira Hikaru" in 1998 (2 more SPs in 1999 and 2000) which starred Fukatsu Eri, Matsuyuki Yasuko, Yanagiba Toshiro, Shinohara Ryoko, Kobayashi Satomi and Suzuki Kyoka. That drama featured lady pathologists at work and also focused on the conversations among the 4 female leads i.e. Fukatsu, Matsuyuki, Kobayashi and Suzuki about their work and private lives. That drama left a very deep impression on me so I was hoping that this drama will match up to "Kira Kira Hikaru".

However, I was very disappointed with this drama and here are the reasons (by the way, if you really like this drama, maybe you would like to give the following a miss because you are not going to like what I pointed out):

1) I do not remember which character said this (could be Yada Akiko's Natsuikawa or somebody else) but there was this line which mentioned that as pathology students, their responsibility is not to find out the truth but rather extract facts or observations from the victim which helps the police do their investigation. That is why I got really annoyed at these 5 youngsters who take it upon themselves to investigate the truth. What they should be doing is to use the facts they derive and deduce why this happened. Like what Natsuikawa says, they should be spending time on analyzing the data and forming observations. They do not have to do the footwork which police detectives are supposed to be doing. Why are they running around all the time instead of spending more time on scientific research? I really wanted to tell them to mind their own business at certain points in the drama.

2) A lot of these so-called deductions are based on circumstantial evidence. Sometimes, I'm not too convinced with the explanations and find them really far-fetched. There is too much guesswork. I don't know how others feel about this but since this is a drama on the scientific theme of pathology, they should make it more credible and easier for people to believe. I feel as if these facts are being shoved down my throat and they are difficult to swallow.

3) The story is very predictable. Barring the so-called scientific deductions, the flow of the story is simply too easy to guess. Most of the cases presented have nothing to do with murder so there is no need to guess the identity of the "murderer". Frankly speaking, this decreases the intensity index of this drama. Everything just falls into place nicely without a glitch. And that is boring. Maybe it would have been better for the pathologists to work together with a central police character and solve the cases hand-in-hand rather than letting these students run amok with their rash enthusiasm.

4) Much as I admire Eita and Ikuta Toma's acting in some of their past works, I think the performance of the cast on the whole is quite disappointing. Every character doesn't get much room for development so the cast cannot fledge their acting muscles at all. Especially for Ikuta, I felt that his character Ryousuke should be beefed up and his interaction with Eita's character Daiki can be extended beyond the daily bickering. It does get stale after a few attempts. Other than Endo Yuuya and Sato Tomohito's combination which is refreshing and relates the feeling that their characters are seemingly close, the rest of them seem detached from one another.

I was disappointed time after time but I continued watching this in the hope that things will change for the better. However, this was not meant to be. As such, for people who want to watch this drama, please do not set your expectations too high. If Kira Kira Hikaru is a professional piece of work featuring the pros at work, Voice is simply an amateur project which tries to emulate the success of past works. If the producers had the intention of making these students grow up and learn over the course of the drama, they should have focused more on the scientific aspect rather than letting them play detective. That was a big mistake from the start.

And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 2 out of 10 (All the problems stated above)
Acting: 4 out of 10 (Bland and not appealing at all. I can't even name a favourite character)
Theme song: 5 out of 10 (At first listening, the song was catchy but somehow it didn't grow on me after that)
Visual effects / Scenery: 4 out of 10 (Most of the scenes were in the university so there were limited outdoor shots when the 5 students went out to investigate)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 3 out of 10 (Like what I said, the characters felt too detached from one another. Interaction was superficial. I simply don't buy the story of the 5 of them being buddies. They never gave me that feeling.)

Total: 18 out of 50

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Top 10 Spring 09 dramas which viewers are most satisfied with (Yahoo! Japan)

1) BOSS (7820 votes)

2) Shiroi Haru (5772)

3) Aishiteru ~ Kaiyou (4133)

4) MR.BRAIN (1621)

5) Smile (1589)

6) THE QUIZ SHOW (1581)

7) Rinjou (1425)

8) Yukemuri Sniper (1409)

9) Atashinchi no Danshi (1211)

10) Yakou no Kaidan (813)

Friday, June 26, 2009

BOSS ends with a high rating of 20.7%

The last episode of "BOSS" shown on 25 June 09 ended with a high rating of 20.7%. The finale featured Amami Yuki's character Oosawa Eriko leading her team to fight against the terrorist played by Sorimachi Takashi. The drama has been leading the ratings race for the season and finally crossed the 20% barrier in its final episode. Excluding Mr.Brain which was shown late into the spring season, BOSS is now placed No.1 in terms of the average ratings ranking.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Top 10 male artistes with the best complexion as chosen by men (Oricon)

1) Koike Teppei

2) Fukuyama Masaharu

3) GACKT

4) Kimura Takuya

5) Mizushima Hiro

6) Wentz Eishi

7) Miura Haruma

8) Tamaki Hiroshi

9) Yamashita Tomohisa

10) Takizawa Hideaki

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Top 10 dramas which viewers want to watch again (Tsutaya)

1) Hana Yori Dango (Inoue Mao & Matsumoto Jun)

2) Maou (Ohno Satoshi & Ikuta Toma)

3) Long Vacation (Kimura Takuya & Yamaguchi Tomoko)

4) Kisarazu Cat's Eye (Okada Junichi & Sakurai Sho)

5) Ryuusei no Kizuna (Ninomiya Kazunari & Nishikido Ryo)

6) Orange Days (Tsumabuki Satoshi & Shibasaki Kou)

7) anego (Shinohara Ryoko & Akanishi Jin)

8) Ichi Littoru no Namida (Sawajiri Erika & Yakushimaru Hiroko)

9) Tokyo Love Story (Suzuki Honami & Oda Yuji)

10) Code Blue (Yamashita Tomohisa & Aragaki Yui)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (21 June 09)

1) ROOKIES Sotsugyou

2) Transformers: Revenge

3) Terminator 4

4) Tsurugidake Ten no Ki

5) The Reader

6) Angels and Demons

7) Manatsu no Orion

8) Yomei Ikka getsu no Hanayome

9) Hagetaka

10) 60-sai no Love Letter

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji 4 to start on 4 August 09?

Due to the injuries sustained by Eguchi Yosuke during the motorcycle accident, the O.A. date for Kyuumei Byouto 24 Ji 4 has been hanging in the balance as FujiTV struggles to make alternative arrangements. According to Nikkan Gendai, they have found out that the O.A. date is set to be postponed to 4 August and the number of episodes have been slashed from 12 to 8. In the meantime, the 4 weeks' worth of timeslots from 7 July will be filled up with a comedy SP and an edited best-scenes SP of the Kyuumei Byoutou series in the past. At the moment, Eguchi has been transferred to a private hospital for his treatment and is scheduled to return to filming from 13 July.

This is the first time in history that the leading actor in a drama got into an accident before the O.A. and caused the delay of the O.A. and the reduction of the number of episodes. To Eguchi, he must be feeling sorry about the inconveniences caused especially since his co-stars like Matsushima Nanako and Yusuke Santa Maria have to adjust their schedules again. For FujiTV, they can finally breathe a sigh of relief since they are assured of the continuity of this popular series which has garnered high ratings of 20.0%, 20.2% and 19.1% for the three installments respectively.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Review of 252 Seizonsha Ari 252 生存者あり+ Episode Zero

Title: 252 Seizonsha Ari (252 There are survivors) Episode Zero
O.A. Date: 5 December 2008
Timeslot: Friday, 9pm
Shown via: NTV
Cast: Ichihara Hayato, Uehara Takako (SPEED), Abe Tsuyoshi, Ihara Tsuyoshi, Konno Mahiru, Itou Hideaki, Kashii Yui, Yamamoto Tarou, Nukumizu Yoichi, Hakamada Yoshihiko and Uchino Masaaki



Title: 252 Seizonsha Ari
Roadshow date: 6 December 2008
Cast: Itou Hideaki, Uchino Masaaki, Yamada Takayuki, Kimura Yuichi, Kashii Yui, MINJI, Yamamoto Tarou, Sakurai Sachiko, Oomori Ayane, Matsuda Satoshi and Sugimoto Tetta

Review:

As this drama SP was made in conjunction with the release of the movie and shown on the eve of the movie's roadshow, I will be putting the reviews of both the drama SP and the movie together.

The drama SP's setting is 2 years before the movie and has little relation to the plot of the movie. As such, whether you watch the SP before the movie does not make much of a difference. The main cast members are not the same and the focus of the SP is different from the movie. The link between the two would be Itou Hideaki and Uchino Masaaki's roles who happen to be seniors and instructors to the newbies in the SP.

Basically, the SP goes through the training of the hyper rescue team members and the struggles they encounter during the process. Frankly speaking, this reminds me so much of Umizaru. Although the hyper rescue team members' work is not restricted to a certain area unlike Umizaru's focus on sea missions, the nature of the training seems quite similar. In one word, tough. To spice things up, they have a female i.e. Uehara Takako's role aiming to be the 1st female hyper rescue team member and survivors of other disasters coming together to overcome their trauma and fears i.e. Ichihara Hayato and Abe Tsuyoshi. However, I really think that the story is not interesting at all. Maybe it's because of the Umizaru series which have taken away all the novelty in such themes. Maybe it's because of the handling of the story. I just do not like having rash enthusiasm shoved in my face. Ichihara's character was a big eyesore. All that ranting and impetous ways of doing things just puts me off. In addition, I have no idea why they have to wear such tight T-shirts to show off their "well-developed" chest muscles. I am not keen on beefy guys so when I saw how Ichihara was getting agitated and his chest was making its presence felt, literally, it really was repulsive. No offence to him but it's just that this over-acting really gets on my nerves. I was worried that he might get a stroke or something due to this way of acting.

Due to the use of the old formula of youthful rashness causing hiccups and yet everything goes well in the end, the story is simply predictable. Sure, they have a minor earthquake causing some havoc but everything is set to end well. Nobody should die at this juncture as yet or so I assumed right from the start. If someone in the team died, the fellow members might not be able to continue with their work in future. I'm sure that wasn't the purpose the drama SP was supposed to serve, Rather, it was made to be an introductory piece to the foundation of the movie but I really find it hard to see the link.

Of late, there have been lots of movies having prequels or so-called episode zero before the launch of the movie. If the drama SP is going to be a last-minute slipshod piece of work, they might as well not produce it anyway. It's a waste of time and money. It will also backfire by creating negative publicity since people may not see the point of watching the movie if the drama SP turns out to be unsatisfactory.

And my ratings for this drama SP...
Story: 3 out of 10 (Boring, draggy and predictable)
Acting: 4 out of 10 (Bland and overdoing it most of the time)
Theme song: 4 out of 10 (Only the chorus made a small impression but it wasn't impactful at all)
Visual effects / Scenery: 4 out of 10 (Most of the scenes were in training camp and the disaster featured here is small-scale, compared to the movie)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 4 out of 10 (Not much to speak of. Everyone was probably doing their own thing)

Total: 19 out of 50


One little unknown fact is that the script of the movie was actually written by Komori Youichi, a manga artist who created Umizaru. Now you see why I said that these two films are so similar? Even before watching the movie, I was apprehensive about this being a rip-off from Umizaru. Sad to say, this feels like a poorer cousin of Umizaru. True, the scale of the disaster may be larger since it is nature wreaking havoc this time (in Umizaru, most if not all of the incidents were caused by man, rather than nature). However, even if the difficulties presented are seemingly tougher, the handling of the story cannot match Umizaru. And NTV taking this chance to flood FujiTV's HQ in Odaiba in the film just reeks of petty rivalry especially when this film is from NTV and Umizaru is from FujiTV. I was amused at first but after watching the movie, I felt that NTV should have spent more time on refining this film rather than poke fun at their rival with such a gesture.

Itou Hideaki's character quit from the rescue team due to his decision to save his brother first instead of his buddy thus resulting in the latter's death. And he gets caught up in the typhoon-cum-tsunami disaster and has to save the others with his past experience. Unlike Umizaru which focuses a lot on teamwork, this movie feels like a solo hero flick featuring Itou. I was shaking my head when I saw the final scenes. The hero is unscathed despite going through so much?! Somehow, it is not so believable. The supporting characters especially those who were underground with him, felt like passer-bys. They seemed too detached from the story. This whole story was all about Itou Hideaki. Even Uchino Masaaki didn't get a chance to show off his acting skills.

Yamada Takayuki gets on my nerves especially for looking so disinterested in the movie. I do not know why but ever since that scandal, he does not seem to have recovered from that blow to his career. That unkept image and lack of interest in his roles cannot be ignored. Mind you, this movie was made last year and in May this year, he was still sporting that same look in BOSS. Is he going to look like that for the rest of his life? If he doesn't buck up and so something about it, nobody would want to use him in their shows anymore. I certainly do not want to see an actor who is in a daze during a promotion video for his movie and doesn't seem enthusiastic about his work. The more I see him, the angrier I get. It only adds on to the dissatisfaction I feel about this film.

And my ratings for this movie...
Story: 4 out of 10 (Feels like a ripoff of Umizaru)
Acting: 4 out of 10 (While the SP suffers from over-acting, this movie suffers from under-acting i.e. the characters lacked flesh and the acting was superficial)
Theme song: 4 out of 10 (Only the chorus made a small impression but it wasn't impactful at all)
Visual effects / Scenery: 5 out of 10 (On a greater scale as compared to the SP but I've seen better ones)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 4 out of 10 (Not much to speak of. Everyone was probably doing their own thing. Same problem with the SP.)

Total: 21 out of 50

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Top 10 bestselling DVDs in the first half of 2009 (Oricon)

1) ARASHI AROUND ASIA 2008 in TOKYO - Arashi (355,253)

2) Hana Yori Dango Final (346,721)

3) EXILE LIVE TOUR "EXILE PERFECT LIVE 2008" - EXILE (313,504)

4) SMAP 2008 super.modern.artistic.performance tour - SMAP (269,021)

5) Okuribito (217,461)

6) KAT-TUN LIVE TOUR 2008 QUEEN OF PIRATES - KAT-TUN (209,604)

7) Red Cliff Part I (192,242)

8) B'z LIVE - GYM Pleasure 2008 GLORY DAYS - B'z (181,584)

9) B'z LIVE - GYM Hidden Pleasure ~ Typhoon No.20~ - B'z (179,020)

10) Dark Knight SP Edition - (152,853)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Nagai Masaru confesses his love for Hirosue Ryoko openly

Nagai Masaru attended the press conference for a new wrestling game and declared his love for Hirosue Ryoko openly. He revealed that although they have been rumoured to be dating, they are not an item yet.

In a recent issue of "FRIDAY", Nagai was caught spending his birthday at Hirosue's apartment. When asked about this, Nagai revealed that he wanted to spend his birthday with Hirosue. At first, she didn't seem too keen on it and even rejected his suggestion but they had a party for him at her place with 4 friends in the end.

Nagai and Hirosue had worked together in the 2007 drama "Long Wedding Road" and was said to be dating since Feb this year when pictures of them having meals together were published. Nagai kept repeating that Hirosue is a very nice lady and he is all prepared to confess his feelings for her. In addition, he revealed that Hirosue's 5-year-old son calls him "brother" and he will definitely tell the child if he really dates Hirosue.

On the other hand, Hirosue's agency commented that Hirosue and Nagai are merely good friends at the moment. Likewise, insiders around her also said that it was still early to say if anything will develop between them because Hirosue had just got divorced 1 year and 3 months ago. There is also the issue of Hirosue's son to consider before she enters into a new relationship so it looks like Nagai will have a difficult path ahead.

Top 10 bestselling albums in the first half of 2009 (Oricon)

1) SUPERMARKET FANTASY - Mr.Children (1,226,157)

2) EXILE BALLAD BEST - EXILE (807,684)

3) DO YOU DREAMS COME TRUE? - DREAMS COME TRUE (632,203)

4) Remio Best - Remioromen (421,797)

5) My song Your song - Ikimonogakari (404,614)

6) TRICK - Kouda Kumi (385,677)

7) NEXT LEVEL - Hamasaki Ayumi (264,514)

8) Aruto Colony no Teiri - RADWIMPS (314,215)

9) Shamble - Unicorn (250,771)

10) The Secret Code - Tohoshinki (248,208)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tamaki Hiroshi & Yoshitaka Yuriko dating

Tamaki Hiroshi and Yoshitaka Yuriko are said to be dating after a report of their trip to Aomori in June was published in the 18th June issue of "Jousei Seven". The two had got to know each other through the TBS drama, "Love Shuffle". After the filming ended, the main cast members got together regularly for meals. Subsequently, the two of them started dating in spring. Tamaki's agency commented that since he is approaching 30 and a responsible adult, they will leave it to Tamaki to handle this matter. As for Yoshitaka's agency, they have declined comment.

According to the report, Tamaki and Hiroshi have been seen going to each other's apartments and going on shopping and meal dates together. In June, they went to Aomori's Hachinohe for a trip and a photo of them was taken. As to why they went there, the reason is only known to them.

As Tamaki is now away in Europe for the filming of Nodame Cantabile's movies, he is expected to appear in public for the first day screening of his new movie, "MW" on 4 July 09 and will probably comment about this relationship at that time. At the moment, Yoshitaka's agency are not planning to release any comment until Tamaki does so.

Top 10 bestselling singles in the first half of 2009 (Oricon)

1) Believe / Kumorinochi, Kaisei - Arashi (645,913)

2) Ashita no Kioku / Crazy Moon ~ Kimi wa Muteki - Arashi (555,875)

3) Ai no mama de - Akimoto Junko (451,629)

4) RESCUE - KAT-TUN (377,097)

5) Himawari - Yuusuke (350,298)

6) ONE DROP - KAT-TUN (331,248)

7) Koi no AIBO - NEWS (276,341)

8) THE MONSTER ~ SOMEDAY ~ - EXILE (253,261)

9) Yowamushi Santa - Shuchishin (231,122)

10) Yakusoku - KinKi Kids (210,510)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Top 5 Ideal Fathers (an.an)

As voted by junior high girls

1) Sakurai Sho

2) Tsuruno Takeshi

3) Ichihara Hayato

4) Mizushima Hiro

5) Kamiji Yuusuke


As voted by senior high girls

1) Kimura Takuya

2) Fukuyama Masaharu

3) Sorimachi Takashi

4) Mizushima Hiro

5) Aikawa Sho

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (14 June 09)

1) Terminator 4

2) ROOKIES Sotsugyou

3) Angels & Demons

4) Manatsu no Orion

5) Yomei Ikkagetsu no Hanayome

6) Hagetaka

7) I Come With The Rain

8) Star Trek

9) 60-sai no Love Letter

10) Confessions of a Shopaholic

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sorimachi Takashi appears in last 2 episodes of "BOSS"

Sorimachi Takashi will be the guest star for the last 2 episodes of "BOSS" to be shown on 18th and 25th June 09. He will play an anti-government terrorist who kidnaps the police chief and comes face-to-face with Amami Yuki's character Oosawa Eriko and her team. Although Sorimachi and Amami are from the same agency and had worked together on the 2002 Taiga drama, "Toshie to Matsu", this is the first time their characters are facing each other directly in a drama.

Romaji lyrics of "Ashita no Kioku 明日の記憶" by Arashi (Theme song of "The Quiz Show")

Title: Ashita no Kioku
Artiste: Arashi
Lyrics: Hirayoshi Takashi
Melody: Hirayoshi Takashi
Total running time: 5 minutes and 15 seconds
Theme song of "The Quiz Show"

ano hi kimi to miteita
yuuyake eien ni shitakute
kioku no naka te wo nobashite
nando mo fureyou to suru keredo

onaji keishiki mo kimochi mo
nidotowa tori modosenai kara
kagayaiteta kako no yume wo
furi kaette shimaun darou

massara na mirai ni sae
kanashimi ga kobore dashite
kokoro wo nijimaseru kara
dare mo ga tachidomari miushinatte shimau yo

meguri meguru kisetsu no tochuu de
nani iro no ashita wo egaki masuka?
tsuyoku tsuyoku shinji aeta nara
nani iro no mirai ga matte imasuka?

taisetsu na omoide sae
itsuka wa iro aseteku kara
genjitsu kara me wo sorashite
yume to iu kotoba ni nigeta

kizutsuki kowareta kinou ga
ayamachi datta toshitemo
teokure dewa nai kara
nando mo hajime kara yari naoshite yukeba ii

meguri meguru jidai no tochuu de
nando hito wo suki ni nareru darou?
fukaku fukaku sasae aeta nara
kimi no tame ni naniga dekiru no darou?

kasane atta kokoro no oku ni
yorokobi to kanashimi
nukumori to nikushimi
bokura ga meguriai
wakachi atta hibi wa
tashika ni kono mune ni yakitsuite iru kara

meguri meguri kisetsu no tochuu de
nani iro no ashita wo egaki masuka?
tsuyoku tsuyoku shinji aeta nara
nani iro no mirai ga matte imasuka?

nani iro no ashita wo egaki masuka?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Top 10 most memorable marriage announcement press conferences (Oricon)

1) Mizushima Hiro & ayaka

2) Gekidan Hitori & Oosawa Akane

3) Sorimachi Takashi & Matsushima Nanako

4) Miura Tomokazu & Yamaguchi Momoe

5) Takashiro Tsuyoshi & Sawajiri Erika

6) Sugiura Taiyo & Tsuji Nozomi

7) Inohara Yoshihiko & Seto Asaka

8) Fujii Takashi & Otoha

9) Kimura Takuya & Kudo Shizuka

10) Nakamura Kantarou & Maeda Ai

Friday, June 12, 2009

How Eguchi Yosuke's accident is going to affect "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4"

As a result of Eguchi Yosuke's accident on 10 June, the O.A. date for "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4" is likely to be postponed. At present, the scripts for the first 2 episodes have been completed but a part of the content will be changed once the decision has been made about the O.A. date. Filming for the drama began on 7 June. On the day of the accident, Eguchi was not present at the filming because he was not involved in any of the scenes. On the 11th, there is a filming break. The filming for 12th to 14th June have also been cancelled so filming is likely to resume next week depending on discussions with Eguchi's agency and how well his recovery goes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More details on Eguchi Yosuke's accident

Eguchi Yosuke's agency has released the details of his accident yesterday. According to them, the accident happened at around 7.30pm on 10 June in Shibuya's Tomigaya. Eguchi had just finished refuelling his motorbike and was leaving the petrol kiosk. Just then, a cyclist approached him from the right side. In order to avoid a collision, Eguchi turned his bike and fell to the ground. He was conscious at the time of the accident and kept apologizing for the problems caused as a result of this accident. The cyclist was unhurt in this accident.

The doctor diagnosed that Eguchi needs 2 months to recover completely. However, the agency clarified that he needs to be hospitalised for 10 days and needs rest for about 3 weeks.

As Eguchi is due to star in the FujiTV drama, "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji" with Matsushima Nanako which begins its run on 7 July, the agency will discuss with the related parties as to what can be done about the situation.

Eguchi Yosuke injured due to traffic accident

Eguchi Yosuke suffered a fracture in his shoulder on 10 June at around 7.30pm when he was involved in a traffic accident. Eguchi was leaving the petrol station in Shibuya on his large motorbike when a cyclist came towards him on the right. In order to avoid that cyclist, Eguchi fell from his motorbike and was sent to the hospital by an ambulance. He is said to be hospitalised for the fracture in his shoulder.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Aruitemo Aruitemo 歩いても歩いても DVD

Title: Aruitemo Aruitemo DVD
Catalog number: BCBJ-3274
Produced by: Bandai
Number of discs: 1
Date of release: 23 Jan 2009
Price: 3,990 yen (inclusive of tax)
Total running time: 114 minutes

Monday, June 08, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (7 June 09)

1) ROOKIES Sotsugyou

2) Angels and Demons

3) Hagetaka

4) Yomei Ikkagetsu no Hanayome

5) I Come With The Rain

6) Star Trek

7) 60-sai no Love Letter

8) Confessions of a Shopaholic

9) Juuryoku Piero

10) Ultra Miracle Love Story

Saturday, June 06, 2009

20th Century Boys Part 2 ~ Saigo no Kibou DVD

Title: 20th Century Boys Part 2 ~ Saigo no Kibou DVD
Price: 5,775 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 28 Aug 09
Produced by: Vap
Number of discs: 2
Total run time: 140 minutes
Free gift: Original guitar pick
Special footage includes: summaries of Part 1 and 2, Part 2 analysis and previews for Part 3 ~ Bokura no Hata (Our Flag)

Friday, June 05, 2009

DOOR TO DOOR ~ Boku wa Nousei Mahi no Top Salesman (Drama SP) DVD

Title: DOOR TO DOOR Boku wa Nousei Mahi no Top Salesman
Price: 3,990 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 5 Aug 09
Number of discs: 1
Produced by: TBS
Distributed by: TC Entertainment
Total run time: 108 minutes
Cast: Ninomiya Kazunari, Kato Rosa, Watanabe Ikkei, Kaneda Akio, Asano Kazuyuki, Nakajima Hiroko, Higuchi Kanako

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Review of Mr.Brain Ep 1

This is the only drama this season which crossed the 20% mark for its debut episode. In fact, the 2nd episode also made it past the 20% mark. It is no wonder that there is a lot of anticipation for Kimura Takuya's annual drama to scale new heights and quash speculation that dramas cannot bring in high ratings anymore. The fact that his fellow member Nakai Masahiro's drama, "Konkatsu" is languishing in single-digit territory only serves to increase the pressure for "Mr.Brain" to perform well. The funny thing is, "Konkatsu" is doing exceptionally well in the video recording percentage charts and has a lot of good reviews. So does this mean that real-time ratings are no longer an accurate gauge of a drama's popularity and quality? I think when video recording figures of "Mr.Brain" are out, we will then see a clearer picture.

Frankly speaking, much as I do not like KimuTaku's style of acting, I've got to admit that the projects he get involved in usually have a certain degree of quality. It is evident that TBS spent a lot of money on this. Just look at the set where the Institute of Police Science is at. All these high-tech equipment coupled with a star-studded cast is enough to send the budget shooting sky high. And imagine using big names like Toda Keiko, Hirosue Ryoko, Ichikawa Ebizo, Takashima Masanobu, Yusuke Santa Maria and even GACKT in just 1 episode! Not many dramas can achieve such a scale. It's the KimuTaku brand name at work that's making TBS pour money into this production. That's why they have a high barrier to cross. If this drama goes below 20%, the investment may not be worth it at the end of the day. For other dramas, even a rating of more than 10% is enough to call for a celebration.

After spending all that money, my conclusion is: almost perfect. I like the story which requires lots of thinking as well as provides little nuggets of information about the brain and psychological manipulation. I won't go into the details on the case here but it's quite interesting, no doubt it stretched too long. Next episode should be even more fun to watch with Gackt playing a psycho serial killer who had been executed but comes back to life and kills more people.

Nonetheless, assembling a strong cast doesn't mean strong acting. It's a visual feast to see so many notable names in the cast but if everyone has a very small role, they will find it hard to show their best. Not everyone can be as eye-catching as Yusuke Santa Maria (he didn't appear for a long time but his cameo was very memorable) or Ichikawa Ebizo who exuded that bad guy charm pretty well. Even Gackt who appeared less than 1 minute managed to catch my eye. That is why I think Ayase Haruka or even Mizushima Hiro may find it an uphill task to make this a drama to remember on their resumes. Ayase's role is quite similar to her past attempts (whatever happened to her stellar performances in dramas like Byakuyakou?!) while Mizushima's clumsiness may not go well with his fans who prefer the suave and cool side of him exuded in dramas like HanaKimi or Mei-chan no Shitsuji. To prevent this being a KimuTaku drama, the supporting cast has got a lot to do if they want to stand out from the crowd.

The idea of making Tsukumo (KimuTaku) a host before he turned into a neurology specialist was probably to show the gap in his personality before and after the accident. Apparently, he was crushed by some fallen structures while walking along the street and this caused a serious brain injury. In this case, Tsukumo was not that bright in the first place but rather became a reformed genius because of the injury. The only thing which remains unchanged could be his inability to observe the atmosphere i.e. know what to do at the right time. That's why both versions of Tsukumo are both irritating. I think this setting is more interesting than if he had been a smart guy right from the start. Does this mean that our personalities will change if the way we use our brains are different? Apparently so. And this is the question constantly on Tsukumo's mind as he tries to solve the cases that come along and find out why he has changed to be the way he is now. Well, my only grouse is that I really dislike seeing KimuTaku with long hair. At least, the first hairstyle was more pleasing to the eye if only it was not blonde. I really think someone should tell KimuTaku not to leave his hair long again. I don't know about others but I find it such a big eyesore.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (31 May 2009)

1) ROOKIES Sotsugyou

2) Angels & Demons

3) Yomei Ikka Getsu no Hanayome

4) Star Trek

5) 60-sai no Love Letter

6) Confessions of a Shopaholic

7) BABY BABY BABY!

8) Red Cliff Part II

9) Meitantei Conan

10) Juuryoku Piero

Monday, June 01, 2009

Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4 back in Summer 2009!

Eguchi Yosuke and Matsushima Nanako will team up for the 4th time in the FujiTV medical drama, "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji" which will start from 7 July 09. This is the first drama that Matsushima will be appearing in ever since she gave birth to her 2nd child in Nov 2007 as she has been taking a break from work to take care of her children. The 3rd part made 4 years ago was also the first drama that Matsushima took part in after giving birth to her first child.

Matsushima commented that she has grown up over time with the role Kojima Kaede since she took part in the first series in 1999. From an intern to a full-fledged doctor, Kojima has become part of Matsushima. She also looks forward to working with a new cast other than her longtime partner Eguchi who plays Shindou Kazuo.

Part 4 of the series deals with the long-term problem facing emergency treatment and depicts the current situation where many hospitals are lacking in emergency staff who are leaving this field due to the long hours and unsatisfactory work conditions. It also talks about problems like passing on patients who need treatment. Kojima is also shown as one who left the emergency room but Shindo comes back to rally the new staff together after the hospital is left reeling from a mass resignation of the emergency room staff.

New cast members include Yusuke Santa Maria who plays Shindo's rival, Sawai and Kitano Kii who is a newbie nurse. Kimura Tae who made her appearance in the 2nd series, returns to play a nurse.

Top 10 Prince Charmings (Oricon)

1) Mizushima Hiro

2) Tanihara Shosuke

3) Tamaki Hiroshi

4) Miura Haruma

5) Hosokawa Shigeki

6) Fujiki Naohito

7) Oguri Shun

8) Sato Takeru

9) Shirota Yu

10) Tsumabuki Satoshi