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Friday, June 29, 2012

GACKT "admits" indirectly to dating ICONIQ

GACKT made an appearance with his fellow cast members Saotome Taichi and Yamato Yuuga during the production press conference of his play "MOON SAGA Yoshitsune Hiden" which he is in charge of its script, directing and plays the lead role. When asked about the recent rumour of him dating fellow singer ICONIQ, GACKT remarked that they had never discussed whether they are an item but jokingly said that he would ask her next time in bed.

The play is scheduled to be performed at Akasaka ACT Theatre between 15 July and 29 July and at Tokyo International Forum Hall C between 26 September and 2 October.

Source: Sports Hochi

Completion screening of "Beautiful Rain"

Toyokawa Etsushi and Ashida Mana attended the completion screening of their new summer drama "Beautiful Rain" on 28 June. The drama is due to begin its run on 1 July on Sundays at 9pm. Toyokawa plays a single father who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and how he copes with that while raising his only daughter (Ashida).

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oomasa Aya starring in FujiTV drama "Kekkon Dousoukai ~ SEASIDE LOVE ~"

Oomasa Aya will be starring in FujiTV drama "Kekkon Dousoukai ~ SEASIDE LOVE ~ " (Marriage Class Reunion) which begins its run on CS on 13 July at 11pm on Fridays. She plays a woman who returns to her hometown for the first time in ten years and falls in love with someone there. Co-stars include Fukushi Seiji, Kasuga Toshiaki, Ozawa Yuuta, Kiriyama Ren, Sato Arisa and Haru.
Source: Sponichi

Legal High finishes its run with 13.4%

"Legal High" finished its run on 26 June with a rating of 13.4% in the Kanto region. The drama began its run with 12.2% and soared to its season-high of 14.5% in its 8th episode before ending with an average of 12.5% which places it 5th among the Spring 2012 dramas.
Source: Sponichi

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kagi no Kakatta Heya scores 17.5% for its finale; secures No.1 spot in Spring 2012

"Kagi no Kakatta Heya" finished its run on 25 June with a high rating of 17.5% in the Kanto region thus cementing its position as top drama in the Spring 2012 season. The drama started promisingly with its debut episode rating at 18.3% and hovered around the 15% mark for most of the season except 2 episodes. In the end, the drama scored an average of 15.86% which was also higher than last season's "Lucky Seven". As for the title of the highest-rated single episode, that honour went to ATARU's first episode which got 19.9%.
Source: Sponichi

Preview of Summer Rescue ~ Tenkuu no Shinryoujo ~ - Summer 2012

Title: Summer Rescue ~ Tenkuu no Shinryoujo
Official website: here
Official Twitter: here
O.A. Start Date: 8 July 2012
Timeslot: Sundays 9pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Theme song: Kagayaku Tsuki no You ni by Superfly
Cast: Mukai Osamu, Ono Machiko, Koike Eiko, Miura Rieko, Yamazaki Shigenori, Ichikawa Yui, Kanda Masaki, Ozawa Ryota, Nounen Rena, Totsugi Shigeyuki, Nakata Yoshiko, Sasano Takashi, Sato Jiro, Matsushige Yutaka, Tokito Saburo

Monday, June 25, 2012

Update to the Spring 2012 ratings race - 25 Jun 12

Here are the ratings of dramas which aired during the weekend:

ATARU Ep 11 (final) - 17.4%
Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose Ep 10 (final) - 7.9%
Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri Ep 11 (final) - 13.8%
Mirai Nikki Ep 10 - 6.2%
Papadoru! Ep 9 - 7.6%
Kaeru no Oujosama Ep 11 (final) - 10.1%

Most of the Spring dramas have finished their run and the rest will complete theirs within this week. It probably doesn't matter too much at the top since ATARU's average is only 15.57% while Kagi has 15.77%. Even without tonight's last episode, Kagi has sealed its position as the top rating drama of this season. Thus, the key focus would be how high it can go for its finale. If it wants to have an average of at least 16%, it will have to score at least 18.3% tonight. Likewise for Mikeneko, although it did quite well for its finale, it was still a bit short of qualifying for No.3.

Shinohara Ryoko to make her comeback in "Higashino Keigo Mysteries"

Shinohara Ryoko will make her comeback to acting since the birth of her second child in February. She will be starring in the 10th episode of summer drama "Higashino Keigo Mysteries" which is titled "20nenme no Yakusoku" where she plays a woman whose live-in boyfriend declared to her from the start that he does not want kids. When her boyfriend returns to his hometown for a visit, Shinohara's character follows him secretly and finds out that he is involved in a brutal murder 20 years ago.

Filming for this episode will begin in early July.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of Beautiful Rain - Summer 2012

Title: Beautiful Rain
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 1 July 2012
Timeslot: Sundays 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Theme song: Ame ni negai wo by Ashida Mana
Cast: Toyokawa Etsushi, Ashida Mana, Miura Shohei, Denden, Yasuda Ken, Kokusho Sayuri, Takagi Serai, Kimijima Asaya, Yoshida Riko, Oka Mitsuko, Kanie Keizou, Nakatani Miki

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Koizumi Kyoko and Motoki Masahiro win awards at 38th Housou Bunka Kikin Sho

Koizumi Kyoko and Motoki Masahiro won awards at the 38th Housou Bunka Kikin Sho which held its award ceremony on 22 June. The two actors who both made their debuts in 1982, won the awards with their acting in "Saigo kara nibanme no koi" and "Sakanoue no Kumo". This is the second award Koizumi had won for her acting in "Saigo kara nibanme no koi" since the Galaxy Award while Motoki spent a total of three years filming this drama during which his 3rd child was born.

Source: Sanspo

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tamaki Hiroshi to star in NTV drama SP "Family Complex"

Tamaki Hiroshi will be starring in the NTV drama SP "Family Complex" due to be shown on 27 July in the new drama timeslot at 9pm on Fridays. This is the first time that Tamaki is acting in a NTV drama as the lead. He plays a Todai graduation who sets up a company which offers rental of "family members" for various occasions such as weddings and funerals. One day, he is approached by a man played by Takenaka Naoto who's dying of cancer and wants to hire fake family members to give the impression to others that he's a well-loved man. Filming began on 21 June.

Source: Sports Hochi

GACKT reported to be dating ICONIQ

GACKT and ICONIQ are reported to be dating according to the 22 June issue of FRIDAY. The magazine published a report about the rumoured couple having dinner together at a French restaurant for 3 hours and hugging each other before they parted ways. The two knew each other through last summer's outdoor music festival "a-nation" and were said to have begun dating recently. Their respective agencies did not deny or admit to the report.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of "Rich Man, Poor Woman"

The production press conference of summer drama "Rich Man, Poor Woman" was held on 21 June which was attended by cast members Oguri Shun, Ishihara Satomi, Aibu Saki and Iura Arata. The drama is scheduled to start its run on 8 July at 9pm on Mondays via FujiTV. Oguri plays the president of an IT company who meets an university student (Ishihara) having problems securing a job and the drama depicts how they fall for each other despite their differences in social and economic status.

Source: Sanspo

Nagasawa Masami's drama gets axed before filming; NHK suing Kodansha for damages

NHK filed a lawsuit against publisher Kodansha on 21 June at Tokyo District Court for the losses arising from the cancellation of a deal to dramatise a novel published by the latter. The novel in question is Tsujimura Mizuki's "Zero, Hachi, Zero, Nana" published in 2009 and was a nominee for the Naoki Award, depicts the clashes between a mother and a daughter set in Tsujimura's hometown in Yamanashi Prefecture. Nagasawa Masami was scheduled to play the role of the daughter in this drama. NHK and Kodansha already had a deal to produce a drama based on this novel and the TV station had incurred costs totaling JPY 59.8m prior to filming. The drama was originally scheduled to be shown via NHK BS Premium in May this year over 4 weeks.

However, Tsujimura did not approve of how the script treated two important developments in the novel i.e. the premature meeting between mother and daughter and the deletion of the part where the daughter finds out about a self-confession letter indicating that the mother was fully aware of her mental abuse towards her child. Despite numerous discussions, both sides failed to reach an agreement and Tsujimura instructed Kodansha to withdraw her verbal agreement to the deal on the same day when filming was to start in February. Although there is no written contract, NHK indicated in its legal papers that they had already incurred costs before the filming and the last-minute cancellation was a dent on its reputation.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review of Kagi no Kakatta Heya Ep 5

This episode is very different from the past four because there isn't a lock which caused the closed-room situation.The old Enomoto Kei wouldn't have been concerned with such a situation at all but he has become more "receptive" now to solving such "non-lock" mysteries. What also distinguishes this case from the rest is that instead of Aoto or Serizawa who serves as the "bridge" between Enomoto and the case, Koono, the police detective who appeared during episode 3 makes a comeback in this story as the person who asked Enomoto to take a look at the crime scene. Last but not least, there's a major revelation about Enomoto at the end of the episode which raises more questions about his mysterious background.

Enomoto is asked by Koono to visit a newly-constructed house which is also where a construction company employee Takemoto was found dead. The house belongs to a senior high school teacher Sugisaki and is meant to be his new residence with his fiancee once they get married. However, due to slipshod work done on the house, it suffered serious damages to its structure after a recent earthquake. In order to prevent the fact about substandard work done being leaked to the public, Takemoto offered to do the repairs to Sugisaki's house for free. However, he was later discovered to be dead by Sugisaki in the living room which has its exit sealed because the door was stuck in the distorted door frame. As such, despite without a lock, the room became a sealed space with no apparent way of escape for a murderer.

As Enomoto goes about his usual routine to inspect the house, viewers are treated to some constant bantering between Serizawa and Koono. Serizawa is surprised by the fact that Enomoto would take up this case at the request of Koono and seems to feel jealous about their seemingly "close" relationship. Serizawa tries to play up the fact that he's close to Enomoto but the latter snubs him in front of Koono, much to his embarrassment. Just when you think that relations between Serizawa and Enomoto are warming up, this sudden display of indifference makes Serizawa bewildered and even more eager to prove to Koono that Enomoto is on closer terms with him.

After inspecting the house, Enomoto concludes that at present, there seems to be no way of shutting that door in the living room without knocking on it several times with something like a hammer. As such, it looks likely that Takemoto could have slipped and fallen to his death by knocking his head onto the cracked floor. However, Enomoto still proceeds to the senior high school where Sugisaki works in along with Aoto and Serizawa to see if Sugisaki could have been responsible for Takemoto's case. Alas, they confirm that he was in school to train the baseball team at that time and could not have gone to his house to kill Takemoto. Just as they are about to leave the school, Enomoto notices cigarette butts in the storeroom and starts to think of something.

Enomoto and Aoto return to the scene again and he deduces that it is possible to "seal" the living room without a key or the murderer being actually in the room. In order to confirm his hypothesis, they return to Sugisaki's school and discover that there was a period of time where nobody could prove that Sugisaki was in school on the day Takemoto died. Then they discover from the students who had skipped running practice that the pitching machine was missing on that same day.

Enomoto, Aoto and Serizawa then confront Sugisaki with their findings and he finally reveals why he killed Takemoto. Apparently, Sugisaki's fiancee Iikura Kana was having second thoughts about getting married to him and she felt that the "crooked" house was a sign from Heaven that she shouldn't marry Sugisaki since she didn't love him. However, he still firmly believed that as long as the house was fixed, Kana would still marry him. When things didn't turn out that way and Takemoto mocked Sugisaki for not being able to get Kana to marry him, he got so angry that he killed Takemoto who he also saw as the "culprit" who caused Kana's change of mind with the substandard work done on his house. In order to create the illusion that Takemoto died due to an accident, Sugisaki made use of the aircon vents on his wall to fire tennis balls towards the distorted door which caused it to get caught in the door frame. To retrieve the balls strewn around the living room, Sugisaki made use of a giant plastic sheet and vacuum cleaner.

Just when you think the episode would end as per normal, it turns out that Koono has a hidden agenda to get close to Enomoto. Apparently, he sent Enomoto's fingerprints for analysis and got a report that his prints match that of a criminal in a yet-to-be revealed case! This seems to suggest that Enomoto might have been a criminal in the past!? Looks like things are looking to be more exciting as revelations about Enomoto's background are long overdue. It's high time we find out where this locks fanatic came from and what made him so fascinated by this. I have a feeling that he won't be a criminal or rather a baddie after all but this match in fingerprints with a criminal could mean that he might be treated like one by Koono who looks set to be a semi-permanent fixture in the story if he's going to dig into Enomoto's past.

Matsutoya Yumi writes theme song for "Beautiful Rain"

Matsutoya Yumi wrote the theme song for summer drama "Beautiful Rain" which will also be Ashida Mana's third solo single. The song which is titled "Ame ni Negai wo" (Wishing Upon The Rain), will be released on 1 August and Ashida is the youngest singer who Matsutoya has written a song for. However, this is not the first time Ashida has sung Matsutoya's song because she had done a cover version of the latter's "Yasashisa ni tsutsumareta nara" which was included in Ashida's first album in November last year. The recording of the new song was done in mid June and completed in 3 hours.

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oricon's Top 10 music DVDs ranking for the first 6 months of 2012

1) ARASHI LIVE TOUR Beautiful World - Arashi (642,597)

2) EXILE LIVE TOUR 2011 TOWER OF WISH ~ Negai no To ~ - EXILE (367,655)

3) KANJANI 8 Godai Dome TOUR EIGHT x EIGHTER  Omon nakattara dome suimasen - Kanjani 8 (181,777)

4) JAPAN FIRST TOUR GIRLS' GENERATION - Girls' Generation (148,718)

5) namie amuro LIVE STYLE 2011 - Amuro Namie (137,651)

6) Live at AIR JAM 2011 - Hi-STANDARD (111,913)

7) AKB48 Yossha ~ Ikuzo~! in Seibu Dome Special BOX - AKB48 (103,656)

8) KARA BEST CLIPS II & Shows - KARA (99,723)

9) AKB48 Kouhaku Taikou Utagassen - AKB48 (95,914)

10) Ketsu no Kyoku ~ MV Shuu~ - Ketsumeishi (94,757)

Source: Oricon

Oricon's Top 10 albums for the first six months of 2012

1) Mr.Children 2005 - 2010 - Mr.Children (1,056,404)

2) Mr.Children 2001 - 2005 - Mr. Children (1,014,597)

3) EXILE JAPAN / Solo - EXILE (751,273)

4) NEWTRAL - Ikimonogakari (397,821)

5) YUZU YOU [2006 - 2011] - Yuzu (332,332)

6) Kis-My-1st - Kis-My-Ft2 (304,936)

7) Super Girl - KARA (282,657)

8) Funky Monkey Babys 4 - FUNKY MONKEY BABYS (259,146)

9) BUTTERFLY - L'Arc en Ciel (237,424)

10) 1969 - Yuki Saori & Pink Martini (213,648)

Source: Oricon

Mitsushima Hikari starring in movie "Natsu no Owari" (End of Summer)

Mitsushima Hikari will be starring in the movie "Natsu no Owari" based on the same title novel by writer Setouchi Jakucho. The novel which won the 1963 Joryu Bungaku Award, was written under Setouchi's previous name Setouchi Harumi and depicts her life before she became a Buddhist priestess. Mitsushima will play the character Tomoko who is based on Setouchi's experiences.

Tomoko is a divorcee who gets involved with an older married man Shingo (Kobayashi Kaoru) for 8 years. She has never asked Shingo to leave his wife and is content to be his mistress. However, when she meets her former lover Ryota (Ayano Go) who was directly responsible for the breakdown of her marriage, Tomoko continues to be in a relationship with both Shingo and Ryota at the same time.

Filming began this month in Hyogo Prefecture and is expected to be wrapped up on 25 June.

Source: Sports Hochi

Completion screening of "BRAVE HEARTS Umizaru"

The completion screening of "BRAVE HEARTS Umizaru" was held at Tokyo Internation Forum on 19 June for 4,000 fans where cast members Ito Hideaki, Kato Ai, Sato Ryuta, Naka Riisa, Miura Shohei, Ihara Tsuyoshi, Tokito Saburo and Hirayama Hiroyuki made appearances. The new movie is the 4th film under the Umizaru series and is set to begin screening in cinemas from 13 July.

Source: Sanspo

Oricon's Top 10 singles for the first six months of 2012

1) Manatsu no Sounds good! - AKB48 (1,781,000)

2) GIVE ME FIVE! - AKB48 (1,434,000)

3) Wild At Heart - Arashi (645,000)

4) Face Down - Arashi (601,000)

5) Kataomoi Finally - SKE48 (593,000)

6) Aishiteraburu! - SKE48 (544,000)

7) Your Eyes - Arashi (478,000)

8) Nagiichi - NMB48 (433,000)

9) Junjo U-19 - NMB48 (376,000)

10) We never give up! - Kis-My-Ft2 (309,000)

Source: Nikkansports

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Update to the Spring 2012 ratings race - 19 Jun 12

Here are the ratings of dramas which aired over the weekend and yesterday:

Mirai Nikki Ep 9 - 5.6% (up by 0.4%)
Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri Ep 10 - 11.0% (dropped by 1.5%)
ATARU Ep 10 - 13.5% (dropped by 3.6%)
Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose Ep 9 - 10.0% (highest to date)
Hanchou 5 Ep 11 - 10.4% (down by 2%)
Kagi no kakatta heya Ep 10 - 13.8% (lowest to date - dropped by 2.2%)

And this is how the situation looks like:

1) Kagi no Kakatta Heya - 15.76%
2) ATARU - 15.39%
3) 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku - 12.96%
4) Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri - 12.68%
5) Legal High - 12.41%
6) Hanchou 5 - 11.15%

7) Toshi Densetsu no Onna - 9.73%
8) Answer - 9.42%
9) W no Higeki - 9.09%
10) Kaeru no Oujosama - 8.98%
11) Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose - 8.70%
12) Papadoru! - 8.26%
13) Cleopatra na Onnatachi - 7.77%
14) Mirai Nikki - 6.55%
15) Kazoku no Uta - 3.92%

Most of the dramas from No.7 onwards have wrapped up their OAs so barring any sudden spikes in the remaining ones, there shouldn't be any major changes in the positioning. The top 6 still has a week or so to fight it out and given the erratic figures of late, there might be a major surprise at the end. I'm just puzzled why Kagi fell by so much last night...was there any special programming going on? ATARU also suffered a big drop which makes it even harder to overcome the gap with Kagi.

Viewers to vote for preferred ending to "Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri"

Viewers will be allowed to vote for the preferred ending to spring drama "Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri" which airs its last episode on 23 June. Both endings have been filmed and it is now up to viewers to choose which they would like to see.

From the 9th episode on 9 June, Katayama Yoshitaro (Aiba Masaki) is on his own when investigating cases. As such, one of the endings will be "Okaeri Holmes" which marks the reunion of Yoshitaro and Holmes while the other will be "Sayonara Holmes" which means that Yoshitaro and Holmes will go their separate ways for good. Voting will commence from 3pm on the date of the last OA via data broadcasting, the Internet, mobile phones etc.
Source: Sports Hochi

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Kaseifu no Mita" wins silver award at Shanghai TV Festival

NTV drama "Kaseifu no Mita" won the Silver Magnolia Award at the Shanghai TV Festival on 15 June. The drama which starred Matsushima Nanako was a hit during the autumn 2011 drama with a high rating of 40% for its last episode in December.

Source: Sports Hochi

Abe Hiroshi starring in new movie "Tsuya no Yoru"

Abe Hiroshi will be starring in a new movie titled "Tsuya no Yoru" (Tsuya's Night) which is due to be shown in cinemas from January 2013. The movie which is directed by Yukisada Isao (Sekai no Chuushin de Ai wo Sakebu), is based on a novel by Inoue Arano published in 2010 that had won the Naoki Award.

Abe plays a husband by the name of Shunji who has a frivolous wife named Tsuya who's troubled by his wife's frequent affairs but can't do much about it. When Tsuya finds herself down with cancer and is on the verge of dying, Shunji decides to inform Tsuya's ex-lovers about her impending death which causes differing impacts on these men's lives and families. Further cast announcements will be made at a later date but Abe has already started filming his scenes.
Source: Sanspo

Friday, June 15, 2012

Update to the Spring 2012 ratings race - 15 June 12

Here are the figures for dramas shown during the weekdays:

Kagi no kakatta heya Ep 9 - 16.0%
Hanchou 5 Ep 10 - 12.4%
Legal High Ep 9 - 12.8%
37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku Ep 10 - 11.2%
Answer Ep 9 (final) - 8.4%
Kaeru no Oujosama Ep 10 - 8.8%
W no Higeki Ep 8 (final) - 9.4%
Papadoru! Ep 8 - 6.7%

Kagi rises again to reach the 16% mark which signifies that the upcoming episode of ATARU is going to see a fall in its rating? Coincidentally, whenever Kagi sees a rise, ATARU's numbers tumble and vice versa. Moreover, given that ATARU had a high of 17.1% last Sunday, it will be tough to exceed that figure unless there's a strong push factor.

Legal High falls from two consecutive episodes in the 14% region to the 12% which is still higher than any of its episodes in the first half of the season. 37-sai rises by 1% but it's still a distance away from its usual 13% range in the first half of the season. From the 7th episode onwards, 37-sai has seen a roller-coaster trend in its ratings from 12.5% -> 14% -> 10.2% -> 11.2%. This could probably mean that its core viewership base seems to be venturing elsewhere.

Answer finishes its run with an average of 9.42% which is still lower than Toshi Densetsu no Onna's 9.73%. Looks like the latter is more-or-less confirmed to be the leader of the pack when it comes to the below-10% dramas. W no Higeki has also bowed out with its 3rd highest rating this season and scores an average of 9.04%.

Papadoru! registers its worst rating so far this season for its 8th episode. I've watched the first episode and can't really say that I like it. Will talk more about this when I post my review.

Matsuyuki Yasuko involved in traffic accident

Actress Matsuyuki Yasuko was involved in a traffic accident on 14 June at 12.30pm when her car crashed into a 2-tonne truck at a junction in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. She had been attempting to cross the junction when the accident happened. Luckily, both the truck driver and her were unhurt. Police are investigating the accident which could have happened due to Matsuyuki's carelessness.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, June 14, 2012

More cast announcements for "Higashino Keigo Mysteries"

FujiTV announced 5 new cast members for its summer drama "Higashino Keigo Mysteries" due to be shown from 5 July at 10pm on Thursdays. Suzuki Kyoka will play the lead role in "Saisei Majutsu no Onna", Sakaguchi Kenji appearing in "Hannin no inai satsujin no yoru", Toda Erika in "Shiroi Kyoki", Miura Haruma in "Chiisana Koi no Monogatari" and Hirosue Ryoko in "Kekkon Houkoku". The 11 stories featured in this drama come from 3 short stories compilation works of Higashino i.e. "Hannin no inai satsujin no yoru", "Ayashii hitobito" and "Ano koro no dare ka".

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Umizaru movie trilogy to be shown on FujiTV before screening of "BRAVE HEARTS Umizaru"

In conjunction with the impending launch of "BRAVE HEARTS Umizaru", the latest movie in the Umizaru series, FujiTV will be showing the Umizaru movie trilogy on TV before the new movie is shown in cinemas from 13 July. The first movie "Umizaru" which described how Senzaki Daisuke (Ito Hideaki) became a diver and met his then-girlfriend Kanna (Kato Ai), will be shown on 7 July at 3pm. "LIMIT OF LOVE Umizaru", which featured Senzaki and his buddy (Yoshioka) saving passengers during a ferry accident and was the No.1 movie in 2006, will be shown at 9pm on the same day. Last but not least, "THE LAST MESSAGE Umizaru", the first 3D movie from a local distributor at that time which described Senzaki's married life with Kanna and the arrival of their baby as well as his struggle to save people at an offshore natural gas plant amid a typhoon, will start at 9pm on 14 July, one day after the new movie starts. The new movie in the Umizaru series will be featuring a major rescue operation when a jumbo jet makes an emergency landing at sea.

Source: Oricon

Ashida Mana to sing the theme song for "Beautiful Rain"

Ashida Mana will be singing the theme song for FujiTV summer drama "Beautiful Rain" which she is co-starring with Toyokawa Etsushi. This is the first time that she is singing a theme song on her own. The untitled song will be released as a single on 1 August.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kashii Yu makes her comeback in TBS drama "Soumatou Kabushikigaisha"

Kashii Yu will make her comeback in TBS drama "Soumatou Kabushikigaisha" (Kaleidoscope Co., Ltd.) which starts its run on 16 July at 12.20am on Mondays. This is her first leading role in a drama and also the first drama appearance since she went on maternity break after giving birth to her first son with Odagiri Jo early last year.

The drama is based on Sugahara Keita's manga which features Kashii as Kaminuma, an employee of Soumatou Kabushikigaisha, a company which specialises in providing the last images of someone's life before he/she dies in a 1-minute video clip on DVD. She will be the only regular cast member in this drama and every episode will feature different guests. The first episode's guest will be Kubota Masataka and Yokoyama Megumi.

Source: Sponichi Annex

Superfly to sing the theme song for "Summer Rescue ~ Tenkuu no Shinryoujo"

Superfly will be singing "Kagayaku Tsuki no You ni" (Like the shining moon), the theme song for TBS summer drama "Summer Rescue ~ Tenkuu no Shinryoujo". This is the second time that Superfly is singing the theme song for a TBS drama since 2008's "Edison no Haha" which saw 2.5 million downloads of its theme song "Ai wo Komete Hanataba wo".

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Ueto Aya starring in 2013 NHK drama "Itsuka Hi no Ataru Basho"

Ueto Aya will be starring in the NHK Winter 2013 drama "Itsuka Hi no Ataru Basho de" (Someday, where the sun shines) due to begin its run on 8 January 2013 at 10pm on Tuesdays. The 10-episode drama based on Nonami Asa's novel will feature Ueto in her first role as a criminal.

Ueto plays Komoriya Hako, an university student, who falls for a man working in a host club. In a bid to support his climb to be the top host, she uses up her money. She then resorts to tricking man into love hotels and drugging them before robbing them of their belongings. She is then sentenced for robbery and sent to prison for 7 years at a Kanto women's prison. Hako befriends a fellow inmate Eguchi Ayaka (Iijima Naoko) who was sentenced to five years in prison for killing her husband who physically abused their son. When Hako and Ayaka are finally released from prison, they begin living together and become a dog clothes designer and a bakery employee respectively.

Filming for the drama has already begun.

Source: Sanspo

Ikuta Toma starring in movie "Nou Otoko" (Brain Man)

Ikuta Toma will play his first bad guy role in the movie "Nou Otoko" (Brain Man" due to be shown in theatres from February 2013. The movie is based on Shudou Urio's same-titled novel which won the Edogawa Ranpo award after it was published in 2000. Ikuta Toma plays a good-looking, clever and athletic man named Suzuki Ichiro who kills people mercilessly and whose actions are analyzed by a police detective and a brain surgeon played by Eguchi Yosuke and Matsuyuki Yasuko respectively.

In preparation for the role's action scenes, Ikuta started learning various martial arts since six months ago at the request of the movie's director. In addition, the climax scene when Suzuki Ichiro faces off with a serial terror bomber will be filmed at a former hospital in Toyama Prefecture which was due to be demolished instead of relying on CG. Filming began in early June

Source: Nikkansports

Monday, June 11, 2012

Update to the Spring 2012 ratings race - 11 Jun 12

Ratings for the dramas shown from Friday to Sunday:

Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose Ep 8 - 8.8%
Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri Ep 9 - 12.5%
Mirai Nikki Ep 8 - 5.2%
Toshi Densetsu no Onna Ep 9 - 11.6%
ATARU Ep 9 - 17.1%

And this is how the ranking looks:

1) Kagi no Kakatta Heya - 15.98%
2) ATARU - 15.66%
3) 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku - 13.15%
4) Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri - 12.86%
5) Legal High - 12.37%
6) Hanchou - 11.09%

7) Toshi Densetsu no Onna - 9.73%
8) Answer - 9.55%
9) W no Higeki - 9.04%
10) Kaeru no Oujosama - 9.00%
11) Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose - 8.55%
12) Papadoru! - 8.47%
13) Cleopatra na Onnatachi - 7.77%
14) Mirai Nikki - 6.67%
15) Kazoku no Uta Ep 3.92%
 
*Dramas in blue have finished their run.
 
I notice an interesting trend in Kagi's and ATARU's figures where one goes up, the other goes down. It still remains to be seen who will the final winner because the margin separating these two dramas is fairly thin. Mikeneko bounces back to get closer to 3rd spot but it all depends on how 37-sai fares for the rest of the season. Last week's 10.2 for 37-sai can be considered as a freak result like what happened to Mikeneko's Ep 7. If there aren't any surprises in store and both dramas keep their over-12% ratings, it will be worth seeing who can grab that No.3 title. Legal High looks like another potential contender for No.3 or No.4 especially since it has been getting over 14% for the past two weeks.
 
Toshi Densetsu no Onna got its highest rating to date for its finale which makes it shoot to top position among the below-10% dramas. If Answer continues to stay below 10% for the rest of its run, Toshi might hold on to No.7. W no Higeki and Kaeru no Oujosama has a small margin separating them so any jump or dip in ratings may result in a swap in positions. As for the rest of the dramas, it doesn't look like any significant change is going to happen.

Top 10 leaders you would like to see at the workplace

1) Ichiro (baseball player)
 
2) Amami Yuki (actress)
 
3) Kitano Takeshi (comedian/ actor/ movie director) / Hashimoto Toru (Osaka City mayor)
 
5) Todokoro George (artiste/ singer/ songwriter)
 
6) Sato Koichi (actor)
 
7) Hoshino Senichi (baseball commentator/ former national baseball team coach)
 
8) Esumi Makiko (actress)
 
9) Hasebe Makoto (soccer player)
 
10) Ikegami Akira (journalist)  / Akashiya Sanma (comedian/ artiste)
 
Source: Oricon

Sunday, June 10, 2012

First-day screening of Hotaru no Hikari's movie version

The first-day screening of movie "Hotaru no Hikaru" was held on 9 June at Kawasaki City's Cine Chitta Kawasaki where lead actors Ayase Haruka and Fujiki Naohito walked down the red carpet in a wedding gown and suit. The movie which continues where the drama series ended, is scheduled to be shown in 8 Asian countries including South Korea and Taiwan. Straight after the event, Ayase flew to Taiwan for the premiere of the movie there on 10 June.

Source: Sanspo

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Review of Bunshin

After watching Shokuzai, I dived straight into Bunshin which promised to be as controversial as its predecessor in the same timeslot. Clearly, this wasn't going to be a simple tale of twins being separated at birth as most dramas would have you believe. Seriously, this concept is already over-used so whenever you have a story that has two people looking exactly the same, there needs to be a fresh idea to explain why instead of relying on that old trick. There was a hint that something scandalous was lurking in the truth surrounding the key characters' births so that got me interested in checking this out despite the fact that I've never been a big fan of Nagasawa Masami. Not that I dislike her though but I'm pretty neutral towards her these days. Before I continue further, if you haven't watched this drama and would prefer not to know the story beforehand, I would suggest that you skip this review.

We have two characters who may look the same but have vastly different characters and backgrounds. The story begins with Ujiie Mariko (Nagasawa) from Sapporo, Hokkaido, who has all along doubted that she isn't the child of her parents because people would always remark that she didn't look like her mother Shizue. On the surface, Shizue pretended that she wasn't bothered by these comments but Mariko could sense otherwise. Mariko was later sent to a boarding school which she attributed to the fact that Shizue wanted to send her away. As a result, Mariko has always been wary about showing her true self and puts on her best behaviour especially in front of her mother. During a vacation stay back home, Mariko and her father Ujiie Kiyoshi (Sano Shiro) were drugged by Shizue who set fire to the house in a bid to commit suicide. Fortunately, Mariko and her father were saved but Shizue perished as a result. Since then, Mariko lives with her uncle's family (mother's younger brother), while her father resides in Hakodate.

Far away in Tokyo, Kobayashi Futaba (Nagasawa), a repeat student in university, lives alone with her mother who works as a nurse on night shift. Unlike Mariko, she has not doubted anything about her background and leads a relatively carefree life compared to Mariko who seems to be stifled by the nagging thought of not being her parents' child. Futaba's mother Shiho (Tezuka Satomi) gives her a free hand to do anything quite literally although she's concerned about Futaba not wanting to find a job yet and being more interested in making her debut with her band. The only thing which Shiho makes Futaba promise not to do is appearing on TV. Shiho never explains the rationale behind this and Futaba, while puzzled by this demand, doesn't seem to question the need for Shiho to be so insistent on this.

While performing at an event on campus, Futaba's interview on TV unwittingly sets off a series of events which lead to the revelation of Mariko's and Futaba's birth secrets. Mariko has people coming up to her saying that she was on TV but she never did that. Later, she found out about Futaba's TV appearance and is amazed that someone could resemble her so much. Her curiousity is aroused as she also finds something among Shizue's belongings which indicate that she had been to Tokyo before her death. This makes Mariko determined to find out the truth and meet Futaba herself. However, as fate would have it, Mariko and Futaba always miss each other whenever they are about to meet and it is only until the last episode when they come face to face with each other.

Following Futaba's TV appearance, Shiho gets really upset at Futaba for breaking her promise while the latter doesn't see where the problem lies. On Mariko's end, her father gets so uptight and insists on sending her overseas immediately for further studies even though she is close to graduating from university. It makes Mariko suspect that something is amiss because Ujiie had strongly objected to the idea of going overseas to study years ago. When Shiho gets killed in an apparent hit-and-run, Futaba then starts her own investigation into Shiho's past and that's when her path would cross with Mariko.

As the girls investigate their births from different angles, they slowly come to the realisation that their arrivals to this world were not as simple as it seemed...

Back when Ujiie (Mariko's father) was an university student, he was in love with a female student Akiko (Nagasawa) but she ended up marrying someone else. However, Akiko was later found to be infertile and sought Ujiie's help in artifical insemination. Alas, this didn't work out as well so Akiko and her husband gave up on having their own children. Unknown to them, Ujiie actually made use of the remaining eggs from Akiko for a cloning experiment which led to one of the eggs being implanted in Shiho's womb as she was one of the members in the research team. The cloning experiment had been meant as a method to help a politician Ihara in saving his sick son.

The original plan was for Shiho to abort the baby after a few months of observation but after carrying the child for a period of time, she became reluctant to kill the child and ran away from the research team. After Futaba was born, Shiho kept a low profile in order to prevent anyone from knowing about Futaba's birth secret. And that is why she stopped Futaba from going on TV because the truth would be exposed once those involved in the cloning experiment saw Futaba's face.

On the other hand, Ujiie who was still very much besotted with Akiko despite being married, decided to implant her egg into his wife's body who happened to be going through artificial insemination as well. As a result, Mariko was born to the couple. All was fine until Ujiie's wife Shizue noticed that Mariko looked very different from her. At the same time, Ujiie was finding it extremely difficult to bear with his inner thoughts of viewing Mariko as someone other than his daughter especially as she grew to resemble Akiko. Fearing that he might not be able to restrain his feelings toward Mariko or rather Akiko, he had to send her away to boarding school despite Shizue's reluctance. Shizue then found out the truth and confronted Ujiie about it. Devastated by her husband's deed, Shizue tried to commit suicide by drugging her family members and setting fire to their house but saved Mariko at the last minute because she couldn't bear to kill her daughter.

Given the title of the drama/novel, it would have been too simplistic if the plot had been about twins separated at birth. Futaba was one year older than Mariko thus this would have been out of the question. However, having the same looks and similar interests/tastes e.g. the love for lemons was too much of a coincidence for two people who were living so far away from each other. Thankfully, with a great story from Higashino Keigo, all the loose ends were tied up properly. Nonetheless, I felt that there were certain points where the story could have gone a bit faster especially in episodes 2 and 3 but I guess it can't be helped since the scriptwriter had to pose all these questions which were essential plot developments. This was similar to the problem I found with Shokuzai. The first episode was brilliant, the second and third suffered a dip in consistency and intensiveness while the final episodes rounded up things nicely. It would have been ideal if every episode was equally engaging but the lucky thing is, WOWOW dramas are usually short and wouldn't "torture" people too much even if a couple of episodes fail to meet expectations.

Regarding this topic of cloning, people may have extremely different views which is probably why it's still pretty much taboo to be discussing this so openly. Considering that Higashino Keigo published this novel way back in 1993, it must have caused quite a stir then. The key players who had a part to play in the cloning experiment all had different agendas for being involved. The politician Ihara wanted to create a clone to save his terminally-ill son but failed to succeed. When it was his turn to be sick, he wanted to get Mariko and Futaba to be test subjects in order to save himself. For the research team which did the experiment, their aim was primarily for fame and benefits which would come along with the success of creating a clone. Ujiie failed to marry the woman he loved and resorted to creating a clone of her in order to satisfy his desire. As a result of these people, the clones i.e. Mariko, Futaba and even Mariko's mother Shizue had to suffer the consequences of their actions.

Knowing the truth about their births, it was initially difficult for Mariko and Futaba to accept that they were just copies of Akiko who didn't even know about their existence. When it was time to see Akiko, they must have been taken aback by Akiko showing her disgust at seeing her copies before her. Akiko may have been too straightforward towards the girls but it's also understandable because to her, clones are different from her own offspring and she didn't give permission to create them. Her anger towards being made use of just caused her to vent it on Mariko and Futaba. Luckily, it seems from the ending that the fates of Mariko and Futaba may not be as bleak as what Akiko imagined it to be. As Akiko was unable to get pregnant, she had said that it would be likely that the girls would not pass on their "clone" blood to their offspring since they won't be able to get pregnant. With Futaba's pregnancy, it does look like the "curse" has been broken and the girls can take comfort in the fact that they are living like any other human being with the power to love and be loved.

Having to play two roles with very different characters, I can see that Nagasawa Masami tried her best to make these two girls as distinct as possible. Futaba is lively, has a fiery temper and is not afraid to speak her mind. On the other hand, Mariko is gentle, quiet and restrained because she was deeply affected by her mother's seemingly lack of love towards her. In terms of appearance, Futaba dyed her hair while Mariko's hair was black. Dressing-wise, Mariko was the typical goody-two-shoes who projected a demure and refined image while Futaba was dressed like any other young girl these days, perhaps a bit sexier than what Mariko wore. It's just my personal feeling though but I find that Nagasawa was better in her potrayal of Futaba who showed a variety of emotions throughout the drama. Mariko was simply too subdued and in other words, boring at some points of the story. Futaba had an edge over Mariko because she had to go through the rollercoaster ride of having her mother die suddenly and faced with the truth while Mariko's mother already died years ago and the major thing she had to contend with was the truth only. Nonetheless, it was good that there was a contrast between these characters and they didn't always react in the same manner. For example, when Futaba was first told of the possibility that she was a clone, true to her character, she reacted in a rather agitated manner which showed her disbelief. She was probably expecting that she would have the same set of parents as Mariko and that they were sisters rather than they were copies of Akiko. On the other hand, Mariko was shocked as well but it wasn't obvious that she felt disturbed by the revelation which is in line with her restrained nature. Mariko keeps her emotions deep within so things were not obvious in her case.

As for the supporting cast, I have to say that they didn't get too many chances to shine because the focus of the story was essentially on the girls. Katsuji Ryo who played Yusuke (Futaba's boyfriend) did have a steamy bed scene with Nagasawa but other than that, I don't remember much of his role in this drama. Tezuka Satomi died too prematurely in the story so it limited her character involvement to a certain extent. Suzuki Sawa appeared in flashbacks only but the advantage she had over Tezuka was that these little bits and pieces slowly built up her character which made it easier for the viewers to identify with her anguish and torn mentality when faced with a daughter she gave birth to but was a copy of her husband's first love. Sano Shiro was great in showing the agony Ujiie faced with having his daughter who looked exactly like the woman he loved and how he made use of his wife to achieve that but it took too long before these were shown in the finale so it was a pity after all.

And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 8 out of 10 (Generally good but lacking consistency in quality for episodes 2 and 3)
Acting: 7 out of 10 (It would have been better if the supporting cast had more room to show their talents. Nagasawa fared reasonably well though)
Theme song: 6 out of 10 (I think Futaba's song can be considered as the theme? If so, it didn't leave too much of an impression on me)
Visual effects / Scenery: 7 out of 10 (The scenes in Hokkaido were especially attractive in my opinion)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 5 out of 10 (It might have been better if the story allowed the supporting cast to interact more with the girls to show whether there was chemistry or not)


Total: 33 out of 50

Friday, June 08, 2012

Update to the Spring 2012 ratings race - 8 Jun 12

Ratings of dramas shown from Monday to Thursday...

Kagi no Kakatta Heya Ep 8 - 15.4%
Hanchou Ep 9 - 10.5%
Legal High Ep 8 - 14.5%
37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku Ep 9 - 10.2%
Cleopatra na Onnatachi Ep 8 - 8.0%
Answer - 8.3%
Kaeru no Oujosama Ep  9 - 8.5%
Papadoru! Ep 7 - 8.1%
W no Higeki Ep 7 - 8.0%

Some observations about these figures:

- Legal High and 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku were both shown on Tuesdays but had very different figures. Legal High got its highest ratings so far this season while the latter had the lowest rating during its run. Wonder what happened to cause the dip because it's apparent that those watching Legal High didn't stay on to watch 37-sai.

- Wednesdays and Thursdays continue to show lacklustre ratings as seen from the string of below-10% dramas.

- Cleopatra na Onnatachi ends its run prematurely with an overall average of 7.77%. If Mirai Nikki continues to do badly, Cleopatra can hang on to No.3 from the bottom of the list.

- Kagi no Kakatta Heya suffers a drop of 0.7% which in turn narrows its lead over ATARU. Looks like it's still anybody's game to get the top spot.

Mr. Children to sing theme song for "Tokkan Tokubetsu Kokuzei Choushuukan"

Mr. Children who celebrates their 20th anniversary this year, will be singing the theme song for Inoue Mao's summer drama on NTV "Tokkan Tokubetsu Kokuzei Choushuukan" as announced on 7 June. The title of the song and the release date have not been confirmed yet. It has been six years since the band sang a theme song for a NTV drama in the same timeslot. Their last theme song was "Shirushi" for the 2006 drama "14-sai no Haha" starring Shida Mirai.
It was also announced that Kitamura Yukiya will play Inoue's direct boss in the drama while Suzuki Sawa will play the chief in the department.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Review of Kagi no Kakatta Heya Ep 4

This episode is memorable in terms of two aspects. First of all, instead of having a very clear-cut scenario where the viewer doesn't have to do much guessing about who the criminal is, this episode offers two suspects for the first time and gives a dash of uncertainty as to how things would turn out. I wouldn't say that this is difficult to guess but at least, that's something different from what we had seen in the first three episodes. Secondly, this episode marks a subtle yet significant change in how the key trio interacts with one another. From complete strangers who lead entirely different lives, the mystery-solving "business" has brought them closer together, whether they notice it or not.

As always, the trio are in some dimly-lit room again with Enomoto giving some "prep talk" on what to expect for the next 40 minutes or so. If you remember, the first two episodes in this series focus a lot on scientific stuff while last episode's theme was shogi. This time, Enomoto is faced with a problem that involves both entomology (study of insects) and toxicology. A man named Kuwashima was found dead in his apartment which he used to rear spiders and the police declares that he died because of a bite by a poisonous spider. Coincidentally, Kuwashima's apartment is just one floor above Aoto's. When Serizawa is called to Aoto's place to help her kill a cockroach, they bump into Furumizo, a reporter and an acquaintance of Kuwashima, who wants to gain entry into his friend's place in order to save the spiders left to die by Kuwashima's wife Mika. After knowing their identities, Furumizo asks them to represent him in getting Mika (Shiraishi Miho) to accede to his request.

When Serizawa and Aoto meet Mika at her in-law's place, they are surprised to find that Kuwashima is actually the owner of a Japanese traditional dessert shop and that his relationship with Furumizo seemed to be different from what Mika described. Mika gives the reason that she didn't feed the spiders because her mother-in-law was angry with her husband for rearing those creepy crawlies and hated them for killing her only son. Nonetheless, they manage to get Mika to give Furumizo two of the spiders which belong to him in the first place. When they visit Kuwashima's apartment, they find that all windows, the sink and ventilation outlets have been sealed up because he wanted to prevent his spiders from escaping and hurting others in the process. Mika's behaviour while at the apartment also arouses the suspicion of Serizawa and Aoto.

The two of them relate what happened to Enomoto who for the very first time, is sitting in his office without doing anything else while listening to them. He gives his take on the situation and feels that being an expert on spiders, Kuwashima should not have exposed himself to a situation where he would be bitten by a poisonous spider. Serizawa also points out that the position of the pincer used in feeding the spider was different from what Furumizo had used. Much as the circumstances point to the case being more than an accident, there is no concrete proof to show otherwise so Enomoto goes to Aoto's apartment and Kuwashima's door to see the layout and the type of lock used in his apartment. After his inspection, Enomoto concludes that Kuwashima's apartment was a closed-room at the time of his death.

While discussing the case at the law firm, Aoto shares the information she found out from neighbours living near the Kuwashima household. It seems that the relationships between Mika and her mother-in-law and husband are rocky and the couple was on the verge of a divorce. In addition, Furumizo suddenly tells Serizawa that Mika agreed to let him have all the spiders left behind by Kuwashima which arouses the suspicion of Aoto and Serizawa. When Aoto finds out that someone threatened Mika about exposing her late husband's spider-rearing habit and tells Enomoto about it, he adds nonchalantly that although Kuwashima's apartment was in a closed-room condition, there was a likelihood that he might have been murdered. Aoto realises that Enomoto lost interest in the case as soon as he found out that there was nothing suspicious about Kuwashima's apartment so that's why he didn't mention the fact that Kuwashima should have been killed by someone.

Aoto asks for Enomoto's help in finding evidence in Kuwashima's apartment to identify the killer and he agrees readily. After assessing the apartment and seeing how the key suspects behave, he comes to the conclusion that Mika is the real killer of Kuwashima.Mika had married her husband for money and was angry that he wanted to divorce her upon finding out the truth. Before he could have a chance to go through the divorce, she killed him so that she could inherit his fortune which she saw as a compensation for leaving a "blemish" on her marital history. Having heard her confession, Aoto later admits to Enomoto that she was shocked and wondered if she might have such a dark side within herself. Enomoto replies that she's not like Mika so Aoto has no need to worry at all.

 As I pointed out earlier in this review, there are some adjustments as to how the story is presented. That's good news for the viewer especially for someone like me who really has a problem sticking to episodic stories. A little bit of variety in the storytelling works wonders in keeping the concept fresh and appealing. However, it's not just this which has renewed my interest in the series but rather the group dynamics between our key trio that really spices up the viewing experience.

Enomoto, Serizawa and Aoto got together by a stroke of fate in the first episode when Enomoto helped Serizawa get out of a locked safe. It was by pure coincidence that Enomoto was roped in to help out with solving these closed-room mysteries. Serizawa himself didn't set out to take up such cases as well. In fact, the first case was accepted by an overly-earnest Aoto while the second case was brought to him by Enomoto. The third one had more to do with Serizawa because the victim was his client and Serizawa himself had been marked by the police as a possible suspect. As for Aoto, she's been someone who's forever eager to help others and doesn't think twice before she leaps. Enomoto looks cold and distant on the surface especially when the issue has nothing to do with locks or security systems.

In this episode, we can observe how they are slowly changing after going through these cases together. Enomoto used to be busy doing other things while listening to Aoto or Serizawa talk about the cases but for the very first time, he actually sat down to listen to them properly instead of focusing on his locks. He also displayed a higher willingness to interact with them rather than give one-liners when pressed for an opinion. When Serizawa was going on about his not-entirely-logical deduction, Enomoto didn't shoot him down immediately as per before. In fact, Serizawa himself was sort of preparing for Enomoto's sharp remarks about his deduction not being accurate but that didn't come as expected. Likewise when Enomoto used to hurt Aoto a little bit with his frankness, he has learnt to be a bit more tactful when interacting with these lawyers and even "consoles" or "encourages" her with little remarks which seem nonchalant at times.

Aoto used to get ahead of herself and was rather emotional at times without thinking about her responsibilities as a lawyer or what she should do as a logical adult but it's obvious that she's more careful about how she should behave. Since Serizawa was engaged by Furumizo to help in the case, she knew that she had to do things in a different way because of his responsibilities to the client. That's good to see because Aoto is showing signs of growing up. On the other hand, Serizawa who used to dread anything troublesome and unprofitable, is willing to allow Aoto to do some detective work on her own in order to find the truth. Given the old Serizawa, he would have stopped her from doing anything that doesn't bring in money for the law firm.

As the drama progresses, I'll be pretty much looking forward to how the trio gets along and it will be worth checking if a romantic relationship will indeed blossom between Enomoto and Aoto. They will be one cute couple to look out for if that really happens. ^__^

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Kagi no Kakatta Heya's fan event

FujiTV held a "Kagi no Kakatta Heya" fan event on 4 June which was attended by key cast members Ohno Satoshi, Toda Erika and Sato Koichi. The trio also held a talk show during the event where Ohno mentioned that in order to remember his lines, he read the lines of his co-stars aloud and recorded it while practising. When asked to demonstrate in front of the audience how this was done, Sato teased Ohno for imitating late actor Matsuda Yusaku on purpose when he read Toda's and his lines.

It was also announced during the event that in the final story to be shown over two episodes on 18th and 25th June will feature Tamaki Hiroshi as the guest.
Source: Sanspo

Monday, June 04, 2012

Update to the Spring 2012 ratings race - 4 Jun 12

Here are the ratings of dramas shown on last Friday and during the weekend:

Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose  Ep 7 - 8.4% (same as previous week)
Toshi Densetsu no Onna Ep 8 - 10.5% (up by 2.3%)
Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri Ep 8 - 12.2% (up by 2%)
Mirai Nikki Ep 7 - 6.1% (down by 0.5%)
ATARU Ep 8 - 14.7% (up by 1.2%)
Kazoku no Uta Ep 8 (final episode) - 3.4% (down by 0.7%)

And with that, here's the ranking so far:

1) Kagi no Kakatta Heya - 16.06%
2) ATARU - 15.41%
3) 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku - 13.50%
4) Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri - 12.90%
5) Legal High - 12.08%
6) Hanchou 5 - 11.16%

7) Answer - 9.73%
8) Toshi Densetsu no Onna - 9.50%
9) W no Higeki - 9.21%
10) Kaeru no Oujosama - 9.06%
11) Papadoru! - 8.53%
12) Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose - 8.51%
13) Cleopatra na Onnatachi - 7.74%
14) Mirai Nikki - 6.88%
15) Kazoku no Uta - 3.92%

With the conclusion of Kazoku no Uta, the last-place drama has already been decided. More than half of the dramas are in below-10% territory so the middle-placed positions may see some changes as we approach the end of the season.

Likewise, the top 4 are pretty much stable in a sense so what's left to guess is who will emerge tops at the end. Kagi has a good chance of securing that provided it doesn't suffer a huge dip in its last few episodes and ATARU doesn't surge high enough to level the score. Same goes for the rivalry for No.3 between 37-sai and Mikeneko. Consistency in ratings is in 37-sai's favour while Mikeneko's plunge last week did a lot of damage in spoiling its chances of getting No.3.

"Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de" to shoot its movie version in Singapore

The movie version of "Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de" which is due to be shown next year, will be filmed from late June to July on board a luxury cruise in Singapore. Regular cast members including Arashi's Sakurai Sho, Kitagawa Keiko and Shiina Kippei will continue to play their respective roles and guest stars include Miyazawa Rie, Kaga Takeshi, Sakuraba Nanami and Nakamura Masatoshi.

In the movie version, the story is set during Reiko's (Kitagawa) vacation on board their family cruise named "Princess Reiko" to Singapore. In actual fact, the cruise ship which will be used during the filming is called Super Star Virgo that is Asia's largest at 76,800 tonnes. The production crew is set to board the cruise ship twice between late June and July for four days and three nights each since 90 percent of the scenes are to be shot on the ship. There will also be scenes filmed around various spots in Singapore.

Source: Sanspo
 
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Now, should I start sourcing for a cruise ticket on board Super Star Virgo just to see Sakurai in person? ^__^ Too late for that? Oh well, it's still great news for all who are in Singapore especially those who are fans of the cast members!

Taira no Kiyomori slips to below 10% in Kansai region

The latest episode of Taiga drama "Taira no Kiyomori" shown on 3 June slipped to 9.2% in the Kansai region, as revealed by Video Research on 4 June. The same episode scored 11.0% in the Kanto region and 13.5% in Nagoya. This is the first time since January 1994 for a Taiga drama to get a single-digit rating in the Kansai region.
In the same timeslot when the drama was showing, TV Asahi was broadcasting the World Cup Asia qualifiers between Japan and Oman which was said to be a possible reason for the dip in ratings.
Source: Nikkansports

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Review of Kagi no Kakatta Heya Ep 3

As with the earlier episodes, it's very apparent that this drama has absolutely no intention of concealing who is the culprit behind the case. What matters most would be how the closed room situation was created and the reason behind the murder. However, I felt that something was seriously lacking even before I got to the end of the story. It just didn't provide the same intense feel experienced while trying to solve the closed room mystery nor the sleek packaging of the earlier two episodes. I can overlook the fact that the culprit didn't need to be guessed because I enjoyed the part about finding out how the closed room situation was created but I don't like it when the story is too simple and offers too little to challenge the viewer's mind.
It looks like each episode will have an unique theme/topic which Enomoto has to learn about before he can solve the closed room mystery. In the first episode, he had to learn about biology while in the 2nd, he needed to know about chemistry. In the 3rd episode, the theme was shogi. A professional shogi player named Takewaki was found dead in a hotel room and of course it has to be a closed room situation in order for Enomoto to come into the picture. Serizawa gave Takewaki legal advice before he passed away so he's being singled out as one of the suspects for his client's murder. As such, Serizawa wants Enomoto to help him by solving the closed room mystery.

Next, we have the arrival of Takewaki's girlfriend Kurusu Nahoko (Aibu Saki) who comes to the crime scene to identify the belongings left behind by Takewaki. Now, if you closely observe what she did in this scene, it is apparent that she has something to do with the case. No, it's not because she doesn't appear sad enough or anything but I think the scriptwriter did it on purpose and it was really too much and too obvious. It would have been better if the camera didn't show so much detail on what she did and could jolly well just go with a fleeting shot rather than a close-up. Her persistent questioning of Serizawa and wanting to find out from him what Takewaki had sought legal advice for just adds more credibility to the notion that we have the culprit staring right into our faces. The issue next is to find out what exactly caused her to do that.

By the time we get to the point where Enomoto has more or less done his research, it's quite clear why the murder took place. For people who still haven't watched this, I'll refrain from spilling too much details but would just like to say that I find it difficult to sympathise with why Kurusu did despite the fact that she was at the edge of crossroads and had to do what she did. Yes, she was made to do things she didn't like but in the first place, she had done wrong and still conveniently blamed it on the circumstances for causing her to go a step further. Now, that's something bordering on self-denial.

Another key reason why I wasn't that satisfied with this episode was that it offered too little insight into Enomoto's background. The first two episodes gave tiny titbits on his character traits or experience but this episode merely showed him flaring up a little at Aoto who wanted to ask about his romance history. Maybe he feels that her line of questioning is slightly intrusive or he feels uncomfortable about this topic? I wonder why though but frankly speaking, I wanted to see more revelations or suggestions on Enomoto because that itself is a mystery which I'm sure most viewers would want to know. The good thing is, he seems to be warming up to Aoto especially in the last scene when he sees her being slightly upset at how things have turned out in this case and wanted to say something "interesting". And his idea of interesting would be asking Aoto in turn about her romance history! It's obvious that he wasn't really interested in knowing but just wanted to liven the atmosphere and he remembered Aoto's words that finding about someone's romance history is of interest to her. He definitely isn't as cold and indifferent as he thinks but I can see that things between them might not be so smooth-sailing though because it looks more likely that Aoto might fall for him later and he may be dense enough not to realise it until Aoto shoves her confession right into his face. It will be very "interesting" if that really happens. ^__^

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Yamaguchi Tomoko to make her return in October 2012

Yamaguchi Tomoko will make her return to regular dramas since her last lead role in "Long Vacation" 16 years ago. She will be partnering Abe Hiroshi in FujiTV's Thursday 10pm autumn drama starting in October for which the title has yet to be decided. Abe will play a salaryman in his 40s who tries his very best for his family but always ends up with hillarious consequences while Yamaguchi plays his wife.

Source: Sanspo
 
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Although details are really sketchy at the moment (since the drama will only start in Oct), the thought of seeing Yamaguchi and Abe together as a couple does raise expectations of what's to come. I hope that the story does not let them down though.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Update to the Spring 2012 ratings race - 1 Jun 12

Dramas shown on Wednesday and Thursday...

Answer Ep 7 - 7.7%
Cleopatra na Onnatachi Ep 7 - 7.3%
W no Higeki Ep 6 - 8.5%
Papadoru Ep 6 - 7.6%
Kaeru no Oujosama Ep 8 - 8.4%

Takaoka Sousuke & Suzuki Ami dating?

Actor Takaoka Sousuke and singer Suzuki Ami are reported to be dating according to the 1 June issue of FRIDAY. Takaoka and his ex-wife Miyazaki Aoi divorced last Dec while Suzuki had been previously linked to an entrepreneur 12 years older than her last Nov.

According to the report, Takaoka drove Suzuki to a Roppongi club in late April and waited for her to finish her job as a club DJ before driving her back to his apartment 2 hours later. This took place over two consecutive days. In addition, the magazine also published photos of them walking near his apartment and Suzuki wrapping her arms around Takaoka at the entrance of his apartment block.

Both parties' agencies did not deny the report and said that they will let the couple handle this matter.

Source: Nikkansports

Review of ATARU Ep 1

Before the season started, this drama attracted a fair bit of attention due to a number of reasons. First of all, it would be Nakai Masahiro of SMAP who rarely acts in dramas so whenever he does, it's regarded as a hard-to-come-by opportunity to see him in action. I was very impressed with what I saw in "Suna no Utsuwa" years ago so it would be of no surprise that there are many others who feel the same way. Secondly, the setting of this drama is rather different. Among the various detective combinations offered this season, you have a very unlikely combination of a guy who doesn't communicate by speaking but is unusually intelligent and observant with a female detective who's eager to break the stereotype image of her being a mere decoration in the police force and her male superior who seems to have a hidden agenda in trying to keep her in the investigation unit. Last but not least, there is a background story about Ataru aka Chokozai which will be gradually unveiled as the drama progresses so this would be something that could pull in viewers for the long term.

At the beginning of this episode, we hear a man speaking in English to Ataru (Nakai) at the airport and repeating the same instructions to the latter before he can accept what's being said. When the man leaves Ataru for a brief moment, Ataru has actually wandered off somewhere. This is where my first doubt comes up. Did the man leave Ataru alone on purpose? If Ataru is important to him and he knows that there is a likelihood that Ataru might not stay in the same spot where the man told him to wait, would he even have dared to leave Ataru alone? Subsequently, when it's shown that the man even goes to the US military to broadcast over their radio channel that they are looking for Ataru, it lends more credit to this notion that Ataru has a significant importance to the man and whichever organisation he belongs to.

At the same time when Ataru is on his little exploration tour of Tokyo, an explosion happens in a factory which kills an employee there. Ebina Maiko (Kuriyama Chiaki) strongly thinks that there is something suspicious about this case but her superior Sawa Shunichi is dismissive of this. Ebina gets even more worked up when her male colleagues keep reminding her that she was asked to join their unit for the purpose of being a promotional tool and they do not expect her to be capable of doing any real detective work. This does remind me of what happened to Takeuchi Yuko in "Strawberry Night" but I think Takeuchi's character Himekawa had it worse than Ebina. Anyway, back to the story, Ebina is so angry over this type of treatment that she decides to check things out on her own. And that marks her first meeting with Ataru who had spent the night at the crime scene. Ataru gives her a string of letters and numbers which baffles Ebina. He also makes her notice a Taiwan-made nail there. These two are actually the leads to solving the case but Ebina only finds out about their importance later on in this episode.

There is no lack of humour in this episode, not just between Ebina and Sawa who keep fighting over the case and whether she will be allowed to quit her job. Ataru doesn't say anything properly throughout except for the "updated shimashita" which means that he accepts what is said to him and will follow the instruction but his interaction with Ebina is rather hillarious. Ataru displays his strong liking for certain things e.g. this fictitious detective series titled "Synchronised Swimming Detective" which he must watch at a certain time and insisting on drinking a particular brand of soup. Ebina's attempt to convince Ataru that curry udon soup is the same curry soup that he had asked for was a good example of how difficult it was for Ataru to accept something he doesn't want and that it had to be constantly drilled into Ataru's head before he can accept it as it is.

Frankly speaking, the case itself wasn't so interesting. It wasn't too difficult to see that the case wasn't an accident nor suicide but what was more infuriating was that the culprit had never been featured very prominently in the run-up to the finale. All of a sudden, the truth is shoved in the face of the viewer without a warning or clue to guess from in the first place. I certainly hope that this wouldn't happen for future episodes. To tell the truth, I'm not too keen on the episodic stories that Ataru has to offer. What I would like to find out will be how he was sent overseas, why did this happen, what exactly was he trained for and why did he come back to Japan. I guess that if I want to find out the answers to these questions, I'll have to stick with this drama for a while.

Another key story which needs to explored is why Ebina's mother. On the surface, it looks like her mother committed suicide but Sawa apparently knows something about that and it's suspicious that he's trying so hard to prevent Ebina from quitting. On the other hand, Ebina's father and younger brother seem to be hiding something as well but I may be wrong though. Looks like this case might not be a suicide after all.

First impressions after watching this episode:
- I expected this to be a tight story with developments at a lightning speed but I think they took too much time to solve the case.
- There are too many questions raised with just one episode about Ataru, Ebina and Sawa. The problem I foresee is, if the scriptwriter gets too carried away with throwing questions to the viewers, how to answer them convincingly before the drama ends will be a big challenge.
- Unless the drama tempts me with more significant and juicy revelations about Ataru at a regular pace, I am not too sure if I can really watch the entire drama. Like I always say, episodic dramas tend not to attract me to stay for the long term so it remains to be seen how my interest level will be after a few episodes.