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Monday, November 30, 2015

Endo Kenichi & Watabe Atsuro to be double leads in FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Otousan to yobasete"

Endo Kenichi and Watabe Atsuro will be double leads in the upcoming FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Otousan to yobasete" (Please allow me to call you father-in-law) which will begin its run from January in the Tuesdays 10pm timeslot. The drama is an original story written by scriptwriter Hayashi Koji who has worked on dramas such as "Iryu", "BOSS" and "Code Blue" in the past where a 51-year-old father is shocked when his daughter brings home her fiance who is of the same age as him.

Endo plays the role of Daidoji Tamotsu, a 51-year-old department manager in a mid-size trading company who is so immersed in work that he had no chance of getting married in the past. One day, he meets a 28-year-old woman and is so smitten by her that he finally makes up his mind to spend the rest of his life with her. On the other hand, Watabe plays Hanazawa Kiichiro, the 51-year-old father of Daidoji's girlfriend who works in a top-class trading company as the youngest director to date. He leads a happy life with his wife and 3 children and believes that he has the ideal family.  Tamotsu aspires to form a happy family with his girlfriend especially after witnessing how the Hanazawa family gets along well with one another but faces strong opposition from Kiichiro who cannot tolerate the notion of his son-in-law being the same age as him and bans Tamotsu from calling him "Otousan".

Endo commented that at his age, it is more likely that he would play a father role but he is very happy to be able to land this character who looks scary on the surface but is actually a kind and honest boyfriend. As the story's premise is very interesting, he is looking forward to playing Tamotsu in his first primetime drama as the lead. In addition, as he has worked with Watabe many times in the past, he is confident that they will be able to produce an entertaining comedy together with their co-stars and staff. On the other hand, Watabe commented that in this age where a lot of the dramas tend to be adaptations, he is happy to see an original story this time and hopes to make a good drama for viewers to enjoy.

Source: Oricon

Matsushita Nao to take on the role of Madonna in FujiTV drama SP "Botchan"

Matsushita Nao will be taking on the role of Madonna in the upcoming FujiTV drama SP "Botchan" starring Arashi's Ninomiya Kazunari which will be shown on 3 Jan 2016 at 9pm. Her character is nicknamed Madonna as she is is regarded as the most beautiful woman in the town. In the original novel by Natsume Soseki, Madonna is engaged to the English teacher Uranari played by Yamamoto Koji but in the drama SP, Aka Shatsu played by Oikawa Mitsuhiro will form a love triangle with them.

Matsushita worked together with Arashi in the 2010 NHK Kouhaku but this is the first time she is acting in a drama with Ninomiya.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Tamura Masakazu to star in TV Asahi drama SP "Chihoushi wo kau Onna ~ Sakka Sugimoto Ryuji no Suiri"

Tamura Masakazu will be starring in the new TV Asahi drama SP "Matsumoto Seicho Drama SP Chihoushi wo kau Onna ~ Sakka Sugimoto Ryuji no Suiri" (Matsumoto Seicho Drama SP The Woman who buys the local newspaper ~ Writer Sugimoto Ryuji's deduction) which will be shown next year. The drama SP which is based on the same-titled novel by Matsumoto and published in 1957, features Tamura as the writer Sugimoto Ryuji who tries to investigate a suspicious woman played by Hirosue Ryoko with the help of his assistant played by Mizukawa Asami. Both Hirosue and Mizukawa had played Tamura's daughters respectively in 2002's TBS drama "Otousan" and 2001's FujiTV drama "Sayonara Ozu-sensei" so he is extremely heartened to see their growth as actresses over the years while feeling his own "deterioration" and jokingly refers to himself as the old actor who is trying to see when he should quit. Co-stars include Katase Nana and Sano Shiro.

Sugimoto Ryuji (Tamura) moves from Tokyo to Kanazawa as his new novel is being serialised in a local newspaper published in Ishikawa Prefecture. Although his novel is enjoying a lot of popularity, Sugimoto's suspicion is aroused when Shiota Yoshiko (Hirosue), a mamasan working at a nightclub writes a letter to the newspaper publisher and asks to subscribe to the newspaper for the sake of reading the novel. However, in just a few days, Yoshiko sends another letter asking to terminate her subscription and complains that the novel is boring. While scouring the newspaper with his assistant Tasaka Fujiko (Mizukawa) on that day to find the reason for Yoshiko's change in attitude, Sugimoto becomes convinced that Yoshiko was actually not interested in his novel but just wanted to reach about the double suicide case involving a couple and decides to pay a visit to Yoshiko in Tokyo.

The filming of the drama SP started in the beginning of this month at Wajima on the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Source: Sanspo

Abe Hiroshi & Amami Yuki to play a married couple in new movie "Koisaika Miyamoto"

Abe Hiroshi and Amami Yuki will be teaming up in the new movie "Koisaika Miyamoto" (Miyamoto - the man who loves his wife) which will be directed and written by scriptwriter Yukawa Kazuhiko who is making his directorial debut through this movie. The movie which is based on writer Shigematsu Kiyoshi's novel "FamiResu" (Family Restaurant), features Abe and Amami as a married couple who is faced with the issue of how to live with each other after 25 years of marriage and the departure of their child from the family home after he gets married.

Abe plays the role of Miyamoto Yohei, a junior high school teacher who got to know his wife Miyoko through a go-kon and got married hastily soon after due to her pregnancy. After being married for 25 years, the couple find themselves having to contend with the notion of living with each other only on the day their son and his wife move to Fukushima for his work. On that very night, Miyoko gets herself drunk as she is filled with apprehension about the days ahead while Yohei is aghast to see a divorce application hidden by her which was already filled up. As she struggles to cope with the frustrations of living with her husband who is retiring, Miyoko suddenly leaves home which leaves Yohei scrambling to salvage his marriage.

Yukawa revealed that he got the offer to write the script for this movie in January last year despite the fact that he does not write scripts for adaptations and prefers to write his original stories. However, he found the theme of a couple's struggles to live with each other after retirement fascinating thus agreed to write the script on the condition that he could still inject his personal touch into the story. Initially, there were a few candidates for the director's post but the producer Fukuyama Ryo told Yukawa in April this year that he should be the best candidate for the job since he knows the story inside out. Thus, this was what led to Yukawa taking on the challenge of being a director for the first time.

Abe who is acting in a Yukawa work for the first time, commented that he is eagerly looking forward to how Yukawa will present Shigematsu's story in his own unique manner. As for Amami, she has prior experience working with Yukawa in dramas such as "Joou no Kyoushitsu" and "Gisou no Fuufu" so she anticipates that this will be another tough project for her but one which will make the audience laugh and cry at the same time.

Filming begins in January next year and the movie is due to be shown in cinemas in 2017.

Source: Nikkansports / Yomiuri Hochi

Production press conference of new movie "Kaizoku to yobareta otoko"

The production press conference of new movie "Kaizoku to yobareta otoko" starring V6's Okada Junichi was held on 28 November in Tokyo. The movie which is based on Hyakuta Naoki's bestselling novel and directed by Yamazaki Takashi, is set in the Meiji, Taisho and Showa eras and features an entrepreneur Kunioka Tetsuzo (Okada) who gives courage and hope to post-war Japan through his oil business.

During the press conference, it was also announced that Kunioka's wife Yuki will be played by Ayase Haruka who was the lead for 2013 Taiga "Yae no Sakura" while Okada was the lead for the following year's Taiga "Gunshi Kanbee". Other co-stars include Yoshioka Hidetaka, Sometani Shota and Suzuki Ryohei. Among them, Yoshioka had appeared in another Yamazaki film i.e. "ALWAYS Sanchome no Yuhi" which achieved box office sales of 11.64 billion yen while Sometani was the lead in "Kiseijuu" which was also directed by Yamazaki that got 3.52 billion yen. Okada's film "Eien no Zero" directed by Yamazaki was the No.1 movie in 2014 which got 8.7 billion yen in the box office.

Filming began in the middle of October and is expected to wrap up in January. Ayase who is appearing in a Yamazaki production for the first time started her filming only just one week ago. Even though she is the only actress on the set, her impression of the atmosphere on the set is that everyone gets along well and she hopes that this film will turn out well with a lot of masculine charm. As for Suzuki, he also pledged to work hard for this movie.

"Kaizoku to yobareta otoko" will be screened in cinemas in winter next year.

Source: Sanspo / Yomiuri Hochi

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Taiga drama handover ceremony for "Hana Moyu" and "Sanadamaru"

The Taiga drama handover ceremony from "Hana Moyu" to "Sanadamaru" was held on 25 November where the leads of both dramas i.e. Inoue Mao and Sakai Masato gathered at NHK's HQ at Shibuya. Inoue reflected on the 14 months she spent on the filming of "Hana Moyu" and commented that she felt satisfied by the time the filming was wrapped up as it felt like she had accomplished the biggest task in her life so far. Despite the difficulties experienced during the filming, she felt that she had also learnt about many things in the process and as a result, changed her views in many ways. When asked about what advice she would give to Sakai, Inoue remarked that due to the long filming period, the best thing would be to take good care of his health.

Sakai complimented Inoue for her hard work because in most editions of the Taiga dramas, if the lead character is a man, he would be expected to take on a leadership role. On the other hand, in Inoue's case, her character was more like a supporter to the people around her so it would have been more difficult for her to play the lead. Sakai also commented that he still doesn't know for sure what it means to be the lead of a Taiga drama and would find out from Inoue what kind of snacks to buy for the cast and crew since "Sanadamaru" would also be filmed in Gunma Prefecture where "Hana Moyu" was shot at.

The last episode of "Hana Moyu" will be shown on 13 December while "Sanadamaru" will begin its run from 10 January 2016.

Source: Oricon

New FujiTV 3-part drama SP "Josei Sakka Mysteries Utsukushiki Mitsu no Uso" to be shown in January 2016

FujiTV will be showing a 3-part drama SP titled "Josei Sakka Mysteries Utsukushiki Mitsu no Uso" (Mysteries of Female Writers - Three Beautiful Lies) on 4 Jan 2016 at 9pm.

The first part titled "Moonstone" is based on the novel by Minato Kanae and will be directed by Fukagawa Yoshihiro who was responsible for movies such as "Twilight Sasarasaya" and "Kamisama no Karte". The cast includes Nagasaku Hiromi, Dan Rei, Murakami Junichi, Takito Kenichi and Emoto Akira.

As for the second part titled "Honoo" (Flame), it is based on the novel by Miura Shion and will be directed by Hiroki Ryuichi who has works such as "Vibrator" and "Strobe Edge" under his belt. The cast will feature Tsuchiya Tao and Kadowaki Mugi who last worked together in the NHK morning drama "Mare" and acted as classmates. The actresses expressed excitement about reuniting in such a short time after the end of "Mare" and are happy about playing different characters this time. Tsuchiya plays the lead character Kagawa Arisa who is in love with Tachigi Shogo (Murakami Nijiro), her senior in the tennis club. However, when Tachigi is found at the tennis court in an apparent suicide by burning himself alive, Arisa tries to find out the truth behind his death with Tachigi's ex-girlfriend Narazaki Hatsune who is played by Kadowaki. Arisa's form teacher Kinoshita will be played by Emoto Tasuku.

As for the third story "Heibon" (Ordinary), it is based on Kakuta Mitsuyo's novel and is directed by Zeze Takahisa who is responsible for the upcoming movie versions of "64 - Rokuyon". Cast members include Suzuki Kyoka, Terajima Shinobu, Sometani Shota and Terawaki Yasufumi.

Last but not least, Miura Tomokazu will play a police detective who will appear in all three stories.

Source: Oricon

The 9th Most Desired Female Faces Ranking (Oricon)

A survey involving 500 female respondents from their teens to 50s was conducted in November to find out which celebrity's face they desire to have. Kitagawa won the No.1 spot for three years in a row:

1) Kitagawa Keiko

2) Ishihara Satomi

3) Aragaki Yui

4) Ayase Haruka

5) Shinohara Ryoko

6) Amami Yuki

7) Amuro Namie / Kichise Michiko

9) Horikita Maki / Arimura Kasumi

Source: Oricon

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Oguri Shun to star in the real-life movie adaptation movie of "Museum"

Oguri Shun will be starring in the real-life movie adaptation movie of popular psycho-thriller manga "Museum" by Tomoe Ryosuke which is to be directed by Otomo Keishi who is known for his "Rurouni Kenshin" series. The movie which will be shown in cinemas next year, is based on the same-titled manga serialised in "Young Magazine" from 2013. Oguri plays the lead character Sawamura Hisashi who is a police detective in the 1st division of the Metropolitan Police Department investigating a series of murders committed by a person who calls himself the Kaeru Otoko (Frog Man) and wears a frog mask whenever he kills people.

Oguri who has read the manga, revealed that he was filled with digust at the nature of the cases described in the story. However, in this time and era, there are more and more weird cases which are getting more difficult to understand thus the story described in the manga doesn't seem so far-fetched now. As such, he hopes to deliver a performance which will set viewers thinking about the motive behind the cases as he tries his best to work hard for this movie.

Filming began on 8 November.

Source: Oricon

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sato Ryuta, Yoshida Yo and Takahata Atsuko to act in FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Naomi to Kanako"

Sato Ryuta, Yoshida Yo and Takahata Atsuko will be acting in the upcoming FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Naomi to Kanako" which features Hirosue Ryoko and Uchida Yuki as its leads. The drama which is due to begin its run from January in the Thursdays 10pm timeslot, is a suspense drama where Hirosue's character Naomi works together with her best friend Kanako (Uchida) to hatch a plan to kill the latter's abusive husband Tatsuro (Sato) who works as a bank employee after Naomi happens to meet a Chinese illegal immigrant also played by Sato. After Tatsuro's disappearance, his elder sister Yoko (Yoshida) is suspicious of Naomi and Kanako being responsible thus sets out to investigate the case. Takahata plays the role of a Chinese woman who is the president of a company but steals a branded watch from the departmental store where Naomi works at. As a result of this theft, it leads to Naomi seeing the Chinese illegal immigrant who looks exactly like Tatsuro.

With regard to playing an abusive husband for the first time, Sato who has been known for his passionate and good-guy roles so far and is a father of two daughters in real liffe, commented that this will be a new challenge for him but he feels slightly apprehensive about having to "beat" Uchida on screen. Nonetheless, he will put in his best effort to put on a convincing performance and also relishes his first attempt in 8 years to play two characters in one drama. As for Yoshida, she said that her character has a strong sense of justice but is someone who may not be popular with the viewers so this will be a difficult role for her. However, she is excited about being in the psychological battle with Hirosue and Uchida's characters. Takahta commented that she thinks that the drama's premise is rather interesting and is secretly supportive of the lead characters even though they are attempting to commit a perfect crime.

Filming begins in the middle of next month.

Source: Sanspo 1 / Sanspo 2

Completion screening event of new movie "Haha to kuraseba"

The completion screening event of new movie "Haha to kuraseba" was held at Marunouchi Picadilly 1 on 22 November which was attended by the director Yamada Yoji and cast members including Yoshinaga Sayuri, Ninomiya Kazunari, Kuroki Haru, Asano Tadanobu, Kato Kenichi and Hondo Miyu. The fantasy movie which will be shown in cinemas from 12 December to mark Shochiku's 120th anniversary, is set in the post-war era at Nagasaki where a mother (Yoshinaga) finds her dead son's spirit (Ninomiya) appearing in front of her despite having died 3 years ago due to the nuclear bombing.

During the event, Yoshinaga praised Ninomiya for being a great actor who could do whatever the director wanted and said that he seemed like a fairy to her. In response, Ninomiya jokingly commented that he will become known as Fairy Kazunari from now on which led the audience to laugh.

Source: Sponichi

Kitamura Kazuki and Hamada Gaku team up again in BS Sky Perfect drama "Kera"

Kitamura Kazuki and Hamada Gaku will be working together again in the BS Sky Perfect drama "Kera" (Mole Cricket) which begins its run from 19 February 2016 on Fridays at 9pm. The drama which is based on Naoki Award-winning writer Kurokawa Hiroyuki, features Kitamura as Kuwahara, a former yakuza member expelled by his gang while Hamada plays Ninomiya, a construction consultant. The two of them work together to fight against the masterminds behind a scandal involving a religious organisation as they sense that this is a money opportunity for them. The drama which will be largely in the Osaka dialect, will also be full of violence scenes which can only be seen on dramas shown on satellite networks.

The actors last worked together in the drama "Hamon" which was also shown on BS Sky Perfect from January this year.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

KAT-TUN's Taguchi Junnosuke announces his departure from the group and resignation from Johnny's Jimusho

KAT_TUN's Taguchi Junnosuke made a surprise announcement during his group's appearance on NTV's music special programme "Best Artist 2015" shown on 24 November where he revealed that he will be leaving the group by spring next year and quit Johnny's Jimusho at the same time. Before the group was due to perform, Taguchi announced his decision to leave KAT-TUN which was met by gasps of disbelief from the audience. He explained that before he turns 30 this year, Taguchi thought about what he wants to do in future which led him to make this decision. However, as a result of this decision, he is very sorry about leaving his teammates behind and apologised for the inconvenience and worry he has brought to his fans and people working with them.

Following Taguchi's speech, Kamenashi Kazuya represented his fellow teammates to apologise for the sudden announcement especially since this is not the first time that KAT-TUN members left. He pledged that the four of them will continue to work hard and thanked NTV, the staff and fellow performers on the show for giving them the time to make the announcement.

Johnny's Jimusho also released a statement on the same night saying that Taguchi wanted to leave the agency for personal reasons and decided to do so next year as KAT-TUN is due to celebrate its 10th anniversary. As for the exact date when he will do so, it will be dependent on work schedules and the agency wishes to minimise the impact on the programmes which he's currently involved in. There are no plans to disband the group for now but going forward, there will be discussions held with the remaining members before a final decision is made.

Kamenashi, Ueda and Nakamaru also released their personal statements in response to the news of Taguchi's resignation. Kamenashi was regretful that this had to happen at this time and feels miserable about his decision. Ueda revealed that after repeated discussions, they had come to realise that Taguchi had different plans for his future thus making it impossible for them to stay together. Nakamaru commented that they had vastly different expectations about their careers in showbiz so despite their best efforts, it was not likely that they could reach a consensus after all.

KAT-TUN was formed in 2006 with six members Kamenashi, Akanishi Jin, Tanaka Koki, Taguchi, Ueda Tatsuya and Nakamaru Yuichi but Akanishi quit the group in July 2010 while Tanaka left in September 2013. Taguchi appeared in various dramas such as "Legal High" in 2012 and "Kyou wa kaisha yasumimasu" last year.

For those who wish to watch the announcement, please visit here.

Source: Oricon / Asahi Shimbun

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Winners of the 7th TAMA Movie Awards (2015)

*Movies released between October 2014 and September 2015 were eligible to take part in this year's movie awards:

Best Movie
Umimachi Diary
Kimi wa Iiko

Special Award
Director Tsukamoto Shinya and the staff & cast of "Nobi"

Best Leading Actor
Nagase Masatoshi (An / KANO)
Ayase Go (Shinjuku Swan / Piece of Cake / Tenku no Hachi / Soredake that's it / S - Saigo no Keisatsukan Dakkan RECOVERY OF OUR FUTURE)

Best Leading Actress
Kiki Kirin (An / Kakekomi Onna to kakedashi otoko / Umimachi Diary)
Ayase Haruka (Umimachi Diary)

Best New Director
Sode Yukiko (Good Stripes)
Matsui Daigo (Watashitachi no Haahaa / Wonderful World End)

Best Male Newcomer
Nakajima Ayumu (Good Stripes)
Nomura Shuhei (Ai wo tsumu hito / Hibi Rock / Biri Girl / Taifuu no Noruda)

Best Female Newcomer
Hirose Suzu (Umimachi Diary / Hakemono no Ko)
Sugisaki Hana (Toilet no Pieta / Ai wo tsumu hito / Tsukuroi Tatsu Hito)

Source: TAMA Movie Awards

Uchida Yuki to star in new NHK drama "Haburashi / Onnatomodachi"

Uchida Yuki will be taking the leading role in a NHK drama for the first time when she appears in the upcoming "Haburashi / Onnatomodachi" which begins its run from 5 January at 11.15pm on Tuesdays. The psychological drama which consists of 8 episodes, features Uchida as a single scriptwriter who is around 40 years old. One day, her ex-classmate from her senior high school days played by Ikewaki Chizuru comes to her place uninvited with her son and asks for Uchida's character's help as she has lost her job, money and house. In the process, Uchida's character finds herself under enormous psychological stress and her own life in a mess due to the unwelcome intrusion.

Source: Sponichi

Former Morning Musume member Yoshizawa Hitomi announces her marriage

Former Morning Musume member Yoshizawa Hitomi announced her marriage on 22 November 2015 which is also known as ii-fufu no hi in Japan. In her statement, Yoshizawa mentioned that they had gotten engaged in September this year and are beginning a new phase in their lives together today as a married couple. She commented that since she entered showbiz at the age of 15, she has spent many happy years with the people working with her and fans. During this time, she has come to dream of building a family of her own one day and is thankful that she finally met someone like her husband thus making her dream come true. Yoshizawa also expressed her wish for them to support each other going forward and build a happy family. Last but not least, she also asked for the support of everyone around them and pledged to continue working hard even after getting married.

Source: Natalie

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ayase Haruka, Miura Haruma & Mizukawa Asami to star in TBS Winter 2016 drama "Watashi wo hanasanai de"

Ayase Haruka will be the lead in the upcoming TBS Winter 2016 drama "Watashi wo hanasanai de" (Never Let Me Go) which will be shown in the Fridays 10pm timeslot from January 2016. The drama which is based on the novel by Japanese-British writer Ishiguro Kazuo who moved to the UK when he was 5 years old, will be made into a drama in Japan for the first time and the setting of the story will be shifted from the UK to Japan. The novel has sold more than 1 million copies in the UK and was made into a movie by the UK and US in 2010.

Ayase will play the role of Hoshina Kyoko, a 30-year-old woman who works in a hospital and feels despondent about her life. She has been in love with her childhood friend Doi Tomohiko to be played by Miura Haruma but will have to contend with competition for his affection from another childhood friend Sakai Miwa played by Mizukawa Asami. The trio all grew up in the same orphanage which was isolated from the outside world and had been told when they were 10 years old that due to some yet-to-be-disclosed reason, they will all die around the age of 30. While Kyoko and Tomohiko try hard to find hope in their lives, they are hit with the tough reality and their relationship is hampered by Miwa who has a tendency to control other people with her strong personality and is hungry for love. As such, they will all be striving to find meaning within their limited lifespans while trying to resolve their love triangle. Co-stars include Ito Ayumi who plays a teacher working in the orphanage and knows about the truth facing the children staying there, Matobu Sei who is a mysterious frequent visitor to the orphanage, Komoto Masahiro who is passionate about upholding the orphanage's values and Aso Yumi who is the principal there.

Ayase commented that in recent years, she has been playing a lot of comedic roles so she is looking forward to her first "serious" role in 10 years since 2006's TBS drama "Byakuyakou". She also revealed that she had read the novel and was very impressed and touched by the story which allowed her to do some self-reflection. Ishiguro and Ayase met up in June and she was praised by him for being a perfect match with the character. As for Miura, he recounted that after reading the book, he felt that living was an ongoing desire and that it was a cruel and beautiful thing to experience. Thus, he hoped that this drama will be able to convey the same message to the viewers. As for Mizukawa, she revealed that her heart was heavy after reading the script and the glimmer of hope amid the cruelty was described in a beautiful way. However, this story contains such an important theme about the meaning of living today for the sake of the future so she hopes that the drama can deliver this to the viewers and move them in the same way.

Filming will begin in the beginning of December.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi / Sponichi / Modelpress

Arimura Kasumi & Kora Kengo to star in FujiTV's Winter 2016 Gekku "Itsuka kono koi wo omoi dashite kitto naite shimau"

Arimura Kasumi and Kora Kengo will be starring in the upcoming FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Itsuka kono koi wo omoi dashite kitto naite shimau" (Someday, when I recall this love, I will surely cry) which will begin its run in January 2016 in the Mondays 9pm timeslot. The two actors will be working together for the first time and taking on the leading role in a private network for the first time through this drama. The scriptwriter will be Sakamoto Yuji who was responsible for previous Gekku hits such as his signature work "Tokyo Love Story" almost 25 years ago.

The drama features Arimura as Sugihara Oto who has been living with her adopted parents in Hokkaido after her mother passed away and is working at a laundry shop. Kora plays Soda Ren who was raised by his grandfather in Fukushima but lost his dream of being a farmer after his grandfather's land was acquired by other people and has been changing shops. The two of them happen to meet each other in Hokkaido while on their way to Tokyo so as to find a job which can help them realise their dreams. However, they end up being separated in the crowd and strive hard in their respective jobs while hoping that they can meet each other again.

As both Arimura and Kora had to move from their respective hometowns in Hyogo and Kumamoto when they became actors, they find it easy to identify with the feelings of their characters as they strive to make their mark in a big city like Tokyo. Kora who moved to Tokyo after graduating from senior high school, recounted that he didn't like Tokyo and blamed it for everything that didn't go well e.g. the poor air quality compared to back home. On the other hand, Arimura who moved when she was still in senior high school, said that it was a very lonely experience for her at first so she could understand how her character must have felt. As for the pressure of starring in a Gekku, Arimura admitted that she did feel the stress but she hoped to place less attention on this and work hard on the drama instead.

Source: Nikkansports / Sanspo

Kiritani Mirei to star in TV Asahi's Winter 2016 drama "Sumi ka Sumire"

Kiritani Mirei will be taking on the lead role in the upcoming TV Asahi's Winter 2016 drama "Sumi ka Sumire" (Sumi or Sumire" which will begin its run from January 2016 in the Fridays 11.15pm timeslot. The drama which is based on the same-titled manga by Takanashi Mitsuba currently published in the monthly manga magazine "Cocohana", features Kiritani in the role of a 65-year-old woman named Sumi who never had a boyfriend nor got married due to having to take care of the family business and her parents. After her mother passed away and Sumi is left alone, she tries to find a photo to be used at her mother's funeral and accidentally gets her finger cut by a folding screen which has the picture of a black cat and rabbitear iris. This causes her blood to stain the screen and makes the black cat take on the form of a human being. When the black cat offers a wish to Sumi, she asks for a chance to relive her life thus allowing her to transform into a 20-year-old pretty woman. With her newly regained youth, Sumi calls herself Sumire and aims to relive her life as an university student with her 65-year-old soul in a 20-year-old body.

Kiritani commented that she finds it difficult to imagine herself at the age of 65 so she tried to observe the people around her who are in their 60s in order to prepare for her role. Despite her apprehension, the producer said that this was a good thing because that is also what Sumi should be feeling due to her sudden transformation.

Source: Nikkansports

Koizumi Kyoko & Nikaido Fumi to co-star in new movie "Fukigen na Kako"

Koizumi Kyoko and Nikaido Fumi will be co-starring in the new movie "Fukigen na Kako" (A displeased past) which is due to be released in cinemas next summer. The movie which is directed by Maeda Shiro and set in Kita Shinagawa in Tokyo, features Nikaido as a senior high school student Kako who has always believed that her aunt Mikiko (Koizumi) had been dead all along since 18 years ago. However, Mikiko suddenly appears in front from Kako and claims to be her real mother. Despite not having raised Kako all this while, Mikiko is thick-skinned enough to force Kako to take her in and live with her even though Kako is already coping with the struggles as a teenager and has no wish to let Mikiko come into her life.

This movie marks Koizumi's first in 5 years since 2011's "Mainichi Kaasan" and her first collaboration with Nikaido. Koizumi praised her junior for being a professional at work and she was happy to see Nikaido being able to bring out the teenager traits in her character. Nikaido also commented that Koizumi is such a good and admired actress that she enjoyed being able to act with her in this movie.

Filming was recently completed.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi / Sponichi

Fukada Kyoko to star in TBS Winter 2016 drama "Dame na watashi ni koishite kudasai"

Fukada Kyoko will be starring in the upcoming TBS Winter 2016 drama "Dame na watashi ni koishite kudasai" (Please love someone as useless as me) which will begin its run from 12 January 2016 in the Tuesdays 10pm timeslot. The drama which is based on the same-titled manga currently serialised in female manga magazine "YOU", features Fukada as the lead character Michiko who gives her all to relationships thus resulting in her having no savings, being single without a boyfriend. When the company she is working goes bust, she tries to seek solace in eating her favourite food i.e. all kinds of meat. While on the journey to get out of the doldrums, she ends up falling for her ex-boss Kurosawa (Dean Fujioka) who is the master of a cafe and keeps scolding Michiko for the mess she has gotten herself into. Co-stars include Miura Shohei who plays Michiko's colleague at the cafe when she comes to work part-time and Nonami Maho who plays Kurosawa's former girlfriend and a confidante of Michiko. Mimura will be playing Kurosawa's childhood friend.

Fukada commented that as she does not eat that much meat usually, she is a bit worried about how to show the glutton side of Michiko despite her tough circumstances. However, the staff will help in preparing bentos which consist primarily of meat so as to get her into the role so Fukada vowed to show the totally useless side of Michiko as per how she appeared in the manga.

Filming begins in the middle of December.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Press conference of new NHK drama "Nigeru Onna"

The press conference of NHK drama "Nigeru Onna" (The Escaping Woman) was held at Yokohama on 17 November which was attended by cast members Mizuno Miki, Naka Riisa, Endo Kenichi and Kaku Kento. The drama which begins its run from 9 January 2016 in the Saturdays 10pm timeslot, features Mizuno as the lead character who served a prison sentence of 8 years for a crime she did not commit but ends up having her life messed up again when she meets a young female murderer played by Naka after her release from jail.

As part of preparations for her role, Naka dyed her hair silver and said that she didn't expect having to take pictures and be interviewed in this image. However, she relished the challenge of taking on this role and said that it was a thrilling experience. During the filming in her hometown Nagasaki between the end of October and early November, Naka recounted that it didn't seem like she was working then because she was happy about being able to meet up with her cousin and her aunt even came to visit her on the set. Naka also revealed that one of the more memorable scenes involving her and Mizuno was when she had to finish a bowl of chanpon and leave the restaurant immediately which had to be done in one take. However, due to the need to change the position of the camera, she had to do it two times. Coupled with the bowl of chanpon she had for lunch before the filming, Naka said that she ended up eating three bowls of the same thing that day.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Oda Yuji to star in new movie "Boku no tsuma to kekkon shite kudasai"

Oda Yuji will be starring in a new movie "Boku no tsuma to kekkon shite kudasai" which is his first movie in 4 years since 2012's "Odoru Daisousasen THE FINAL Aratanaru Kibou". The new movie which will be shown in autumn 2016, is based on the same-titled novel by Higuchi Takuji and features Oda as a TV programme writer who is diagnosed with a terminal illness and said to be dying in six months. For the sake of his wife and son, he tries to find a new marriage partner for his wife so that he can die without regrets. His wife will be played by Yoshida Yo while the "ideal" marriage partner will be played by Harada Taizo. As for the owner of the dating agency who is also a good friend of Oda's character, she will be played by Takashima Reiko. The director of the film will be Miyake Yoshishige who had worked in the movie " Kencho Omotenashika" while the script will be written by Kaneko Arisa who had been responsible for works such as "Densha Otoko" in the past.

"Boku no tsuma to kekkon shite kudasai" was made into a stage play starring Uchimura Teruyoshi last year and the actor also acted in the drama version shown from May this year via NHK.

Filming will begin from 20 November.

Source: Net Labo / Sanspo

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hirosue Ryoko & Uchida Yuki to work together in new FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Naomi to Kanako"

Hirosue Ryoko will be starring in the upcoming FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Naomi to Kanako" which begins its run from January 2016 in the Wednesdays 10pm timeslot. The drama which is based on the same-titled novel released last year by Naoki Award winner Okuda Hideo, features Hirosue as the lead character Oda Naomi who works in the institutional customers section of a departmental store and is a strongheaded career woman who had a dream instead of her current job. Naomi finds herself making no progress in her career and is unhappy over it. When she visits Hattori Kanako, her best friend from their university days, at the latter's home, she finds out that Kanako has bruises on her face and that Kanako had been physically abused by her husband. Even though Naomi suggests that Kanako should get a divorce, she is too scared to do so. Soon after, Naomi goes on a business trip to meet a Chinese customer and happens to see an illegal immigrant who looks exactly like Kanako's husband. An idea hatches in Naomi's mind and she makes a bold suggestion to Kanako that they should kill Kanako's husband so as to free the latter from the domestic violence and regain control of her life.

This drama will be Hirosue's first since she acted in NHK's "Seijo" 15 months ago and her first collaboration with Uchida who made her debut earlier. Hirosue who recently gave birth to her third child, commented that it has been a while since she acted in a drama but she is very excited about her character this time who plots murder and views that as a great challenge to herself. Although she has not worked with Uchida before, she has watched many of Uchida's dramas and is very happy that they are able to work together this time. As for Uchida, she remarked that Kanako will be a difficult role to play because she has to show how her character is pushed to the edge psychologically by the domestic abuse from her husband but pledges to do her best. She also complimented Hirosue for being an actress who she can rely on so she is looking forward to their collaboration.

Source: Nikkansports / Sanspo

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Katori Shingo & Ueno Juri to star in TBS Winter 2016 drama "Kazoku no Katachi"

SMAP's Katori Shingo will be starring in the new TBS Winter 2016 drama "Kazoku no Katachi" (The Form of a Family) which will begin its run from January 2016 in the Sundays 9pm timeslot. He plays the role of a 39-year-old man Nagasato Daisuke who  works in a stationery manufacturing company, is so used to living alone and hates being hurt by relationship issues. Despite being a popular guy among his friends, knows all the latest trends and has various hobbies, Daisuke is labeled as a man who cannot get married. However, his peaceful life is disrupted when his father Yozo (Nishida Toshiyuki) suddenly tells him that he had remarried another woman but she walked out on him without a word and dumped her own son who is a junior high student on Yozo. Having no choice, Yozo brings his stepson to live with Daisuke who finds his single lifestyle in a mess because of their never-ending arguments. At the same time, Daisuke finds himself embroiled in another feud with his neighbour Kumagai Hanako (Ueno Juri) who is a 32-year-old woman working in a big trading company, is demanding of others, likes to complain and was divorced in her early 20s. The two of them have similar characters which lead to them becoming arch enemies with each other. Hanako's mother Ritsuko (Fubuki Jun) also comes to live with her as she cannot stand her husband's wish to live a slow life in Karuizawa but irritates her daughter with her busybody personality.

Katori commented that his character is exactly the same as himself and joked that he has many real-life examples near him to help in playing this role i.e. his fellow SMAP members Nakai Masahiro, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi and Inagaki Goro. He said that all of them are men who can't get married but for different reasons so he wants to take elements from each of their situations to integrate into his role. As for his first collaboration with Ueno, he expressed his impression of her as someone who is unpredictable thus he is looking forward to the chemistry between them when they start filming. On the other hand, Ueno expressed her interest in playing someone who is not that keen on marriage and hopes that the interaction between her and Katori as well as the people around them will let the viewers see the importance of family relationships and what it means to get married and form a family.

Source: Eiga.com / Oricon

Aibu Saki & Nakagoshi Noriko to work together in NHK drama "Kari Kare"

Aibu Saki will star in the new NHK drama "Kari Kare" (Temporary Boyfriend) which begins its run from 3 November in the Tuesdays 11.15pm timeslot. The title of the drama refers to the temporary boyfriends who women have while still being on the search for the man of their dreams but with time and age not being on their side. The drama which consists of 8 episodes, features Aibu as Toyoshima An, a 29-year-old woman who works as a team leader in the e-commerce company "Horizon" that boasts of having more than 100 million types of merchandise on its portal. She is focused on building her career and doesn't mince her words when dealing with others. On the other hand, Nakagoshi Noriko plays Harada Miki who is 38 years old and has been restricted to admin work since she joined "Horizon" and is the silent supporter for her colleagues in the office. Although An has a boyfriend (Tsukamoto Takashi), she doesn't disclose their relationship to the people around them because she regards him as a temporary boyfriend who is there to fill in the gap when people ask about her dating status but she has no intention of marrying him. As for Miki, she had a boyfriend for 10 years but was dumped before getting married. An is then handed the impossible task of handling a new project and achieving the goal within 2 months with Miki and her boyfriend as her teammates who aren't very dependable as she tries to find true love while ensuring that her career doesn't get affected. Co-stars include Shirasu Jin, Furuhata Seika, Tanaka Naoki, Kinami Haruka, Mashima Hidekazu and Akiyama Natsuko.

Source: Oricon

Fukuyama Masaharu & Nikaido Fumi to work together in new movie "SCOOP!"

Fukuyama Masaharu will be starring in the new movie "SCOOP!" directed by One Hitoshi due to be screened in autumn 2016 which is based on the 1985 movie "Tosha 1/250 Byo" directed and written by Harada Masato. In this movie, Fukuyama plays a photographer who used to be known for this legendary scoop he got for the weekly tabloid "SCOOP!" but has now become a freelancer who is a hardcore gambler, knee deep in debt and doesn't take care of his appearance. Fukuyama will work with a newbie reporter from "SCOOP!" played by Nikaido Fumi while the vice editors will be played by Yoshida Yo and Takito Kenichi. Fukuyama's old friend who gives him leads on the entertainment scandals will be played by Lily Franky.

Source: Oricon

Mizuhara Kiko and Nomura Shuhei reportedly dating?

Mizuhara Kiko and Nomura Shuhei were caught on a date as reported in the 12 Nov issue of weekly magazine "Josei Seven". The two of them were seen having dinner at a high-class sushi restaurant on an evening in the beginning of November where they were seated at the counter seats. After they were done with the meal, they were caught holding hands as they walked to a nearby bar open to members only. It was believed that they had gone to a party attended by other friends which was held to celebrate Nomura's birthday that falls on 14 November. According to insiders, the two of them met through a fashion magazine shoot and became good friends after that.

Source: News Post Seven

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Yakushimaru Hiroko, Koizumi Kyoko & Mimura to play sisters in NHK drama SP "Fuji Family"

Yakushimaru Hiroko, Koizumi Kyoko and Mimura will be playing sisters in the NHK New Year drama SP "Fuji Family" which will be shown on 2 January 2016 at 9pm. The story features the three sisters who manage a convenience store by the name of Fuji Family at a town located at the foot of Mount Fuji which is behind the times. Yakushimaru plays the eldest daughter Takako who is mature and dependable and is dating Masao (Takahashi Katsumi), Koizumi plays the second daughter Nasumi a free spirit who is divorced from her husband Hideo (Yoshioka Hidetaka) while Mimura plays the youngest daughter Tsukimi who is good at dealing with things. The script of the drama will be written by Kizara Izumi who worked on NTV dramas such as "Q10" and "Nobuta wo Produce" while the director will be Yoshida Teruyuki who worked with Yakushimaru and Koizumi in the NHK morning drama "Ama-chan".

Source: Oricon

Abe Sadao, Takeuchi Yuko, Matsuda Ryuhei, Eita & Tsumabuki Satoshi to star in new movie "Dono, Risoku de gozaru!"

Abe Sadao will be leading a big-name cast in the new movie "Dono, Risoku de gozaru!" which is set in the middle of the Edo era 240 years ago and features how the commoners fight against the elites in a money battle. Abe takes on the role of a true figure Kokutaya Juzaburo who works together with another 8 commoners to lend money to the noble clan and distributes the interest income received to the residents of the Yoshioka relay station. Other cast members include Eita who plays a tea master Sugawaraya Tokuheiji, Tsumabuki Satoshi who plays Juzaburo's younger brother and is the owner of a brewery, Takeuchi Yuko who plays a widow named Toki and manages the eating house at the relay station and Matsuda Ryuhei who plays Kayaba Moku, a ruthless official in the clan who manages the finances. Takeuchi's character will be depicted as holding a torch for Juzaburo. Among them, Takeuchi is acting in a period movie for the first time while Matsuda is acting in his first period movie in 10 years. Co-stars also include Terawaki Yasufumi, Kitarou, Chiba Yudai, Hashimoto Ichiro, Nakamoto Ken, Nishimura Masahiko, Kusabue Mitsuko and Yamazaki Tsutomu.

With regard to the casting, the director Nakamura Yoshihiro commented that he had spent the longest time to date on this compared to his past projects because he needed to consider the ages, looks, images and impressions which the viewers have of them so as to achieve a balance among the 9 commoners and the woman who is a supporter of them. As Takeuchi's character is a fictitious character, Nakamura explained that he went to check on her profile on Wikipedia and noticed that she had never been in a period movie thus decided to offer her the role as one of the key reasons was that he wanted to see her with her hair bundled up as in the Edo era. The two had also recently worked on his horror movie "Zane" so Takeuchi was pleasantly surprised to be approached by Nakamura so soon after that. As for choosing Matsuda as a cold and ruthless official, Nakamura said that he had worked with Eita and Matsuda 9 years ago in his movie "Ahiru to kamo no coin locker" and noticed how Matsuda was so calm and collected on set that it sent shivers down his spine. As such, he felt that Matsuda would be suited to bring out the scary side of his character.

The movie will be shown in cinemas from 14 May 2016.

Source: Cinema Cafe

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tanabe Seiichi & Otsuka Nene win the 7th Platinum Married Couple Award

Actors Tanabe Seiichi and Otsuka Nene attended the prize giving ceremony during the 5th anniversary event of women's fashion magazine "GLOW" held on 8 Nov where they were presented with the title of "7th Plantinum Married Couple Award". The award is decided based on a survey conducted by GLOW every year to a couple who is admired for being in love with each other forever just as platinum does not lose its colour. When interviewed after receiving the award, Tanabe expressed surprise about being given this title but was really happy about it. When asked about how they maintain a good relationship, Otsuka said that they talk about various things with each other, be it happy or bad ones so this helps to strengthen the bond between them.

The Platinum Married Couple Award was first given out in 2008 where couples such as Nakayama Masashi and Ikuta Tomoko, Takada Nobuhiko and Mukai Aki as well as Ota Hikari and Ota Mitsuyo were given the awards in the past.

Source: Oricon

Top 5 ideal celebrity couples ranking 2015 (Wedding Park)

Wedding Park, a portal which specialises in information about wedding venues, released the results of their survey conducted this year on 129 women in their 20s and 30s as to which celebrity couple they felt were admirable and aspired to be like them and the newly-weds who they saw as likely to be happy in future. Numbers in brackets indicate the number of votes they received and multiple choices were allowed:

Top 5 most admired celebrity couples in 2015
1) Sasaki Kensuke & Hokuto Akira (62)
2) Tanaka Masahiro & Satoda Mai (36)
3) Karasawa Toshiaki & Yamaguchi Tomoko (32)
4) Hiromi & Matsumoto Iyo (31)
5) Suzuki Osamu & Oshima Miyuki / Sakai Masato & Kanno Miho / Nagura Jun & Watanabe Marina (21)

Compared to 2014's ranking, No.2's Sugiura Taiyo & Tsuji Nozomi and No.3's Fujimoto Toshifumi & Kinoshita Yukina dropped out of the Top 5 while Sasaki & Hokuto retained their No.1 spot. There was a shuffling of positions for No.2, No.3 and No.4 who were also in the Top 5 last year.

Top 5 new couples expected to be happy in future 
As for this category, the criteria is that the couple got married within 2015 and that the survey respondents feel confident that things will go well for these newly-weds. There was no such ranking last year as there wasn't a marriage rush among celebrities like in 2015 so there are no results to compare against.

1) Higashide Masahiro & An (68)
2) Fukuyama Masaharu & Fukiishi Kazue (45)
3) Tanaka Yuji & Yamaguchi Moe (41)
4) Nagai Masaru & Nakagoshi Noriko (11)
5) Yamamoto Koji & Horikita Maki (9)

Source: Wedding Park

Press conference and cast announcement for NHK morning drama "Toto Nee-chan"

The production press conference of new NHK morning drama "Toto Nee-chan" was held on 6 November which was attended by the lead Takahata Mitsuki, Sugisaki Hana, Sagara Itsuki, Daichi Mao, Kimura Tae, Kataoka Tsurutaro, Mukai Osamu, Ohno Takuro, Akino Yoko, Pierre Taki, Hiraiwa Kami, Kawaei Rina, Sakaguchi Kentaro, Abe Junko and Katagiri Hairi. The drama which is due to begin its run from April 2015, features Takahata as the heroine Kohashi Tsuneko who takes care of her mother and younger sisters on behalf of her father who had passed away and depicts her life through the pre-war days to the Showa era. Nishijima Hidetoshi plays Tsuneko's father while Mukai will be Tsuneko's uncle Tetsuro who doesn't have a fixed job but tries to help out his elder brother's family as there is no man in their household. Kimura will play Tsuneko's mother while Daichi who is acting in a morning drama for the first time, will be her grandmother. The landlords of Tsuneko's family will be played by Taki and Hiraiwa who already act as a married couple in the "Febreeze" CM. while their daughter will be played by former AKB48 member Kawaei who is also acting in a morning drama for the first time.

Source: Sponichi

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Okada Yoshinori & Tabata Tomoko admit to being an item; denies the suicide rumours again

Okada Yoshinori and Tabata Tomoko have admitted to being in a relationship following reports on her suffering an injury to her wrist 2 days ago. It was also revealed that Tabata got injured at Okada's apartment and not at her apartment as previously reported. The couple had been previously romantically linked back in 2011 but it was said that they broke up for a while before getting back together.

On the day when the accident happened in the early morning, Okada returned to his apartment after filming at the suburbs to find Tabata already injured. She had already called for an ambulance thus Okada accompanied her to the hospital for treatment. On the same afternoon, Okada returned to the filming set of his drama in the suburbs after confirming that her injury was not serious. Although the couple is not living together, their apartments are within walking distance from each other thus they were constantly seen near each other's place. However, things did not seem rosy between them of late as neighbours living on the same floor reportedly said that there were loud sounds along with raised voices coming from Okada's apartment about a month ago.

Both actors' agencies denied again that the injury was due to a failed suicide attempt and that Tabata had not consumed any sleeping pills that day. Tabata was understandably upset over the incident which was largely speculated to be a failed suicide attempt and apologised to the president of her agency for the trouble she had caused. Due to the intense media attention on this matter, Tabata has not returned home and is recuperating elsewhere. She is expected to be back at work on 14 Nov. In a bid to stop reporters from ringing Tabata's doorbell at the lobby of the apartment block, the building management staff had pasted pieces of paper to cover her surname on the doorbell panel and name tags and stood guard at the lobby for about two to three hours to control the crowd.

Source: Sanspo / Nikkansports

Top 10 single celebrities regarded as "the last fortress" (Oricon)

Oricon conducted a survey in October this year where they asked 1,200 people as to which big-name single celebrity they regarded as the "last fortress". In Japanese, there is this phrase "最後の砦" (read as saigo no toride and literally translated as the last fortress before all hope is lost in a battle) which has an alternative meaning nowdays to refer to single celebrities seen as unlikely to get married anytime soon thus allowing fans to continue feeling OK about their own single status or allow them to continue fantasizing about their idols since they are still available in the dating market (although it is unlikely that the fans will ever get to date or meet them). Fukuyama Masaharu used to be called one of the most unlikely "fortresses" to get married but with his recent marriage to Fukiishi Kazue, Oricon's survey aims to find out who is now considered as "the last fortress" in the eyes of the public i.e. whose marriage will cause the fans to react strongly like what happened in Fukuyama's case.

Top 10 male artistes (ages of the celebrities in brackets and comments from survey respondents in italics)
1) Sasaki Kuranosuke (47)
Sasaki can be seen everywhere from TV dramas to movies and stage plays. Being tall and slim with a bright personality that wins him fans from both genders. Due to his image of being absorbed in his work and having few romance scandals to date, he seems to be leading a very mysterious life.

2) Takenouchi Yutaka (44)
As he ages, his masculine charm seems to increase by the day thus attracting many female fans. There have been rumours of his impending marriage to current girlfriend Kurashina Kana but it would be a shock if it does happen.

3) Nakai Masahiro (43)
As the leader of a nation's symbolic idol group, Nakai keeps saying on TV that he is not suited for marriage but in actual fact, it might not be the case.

4) Shimura Ken (65)

5) Imada Koji (49)

6) Okamura Takashi (45)

7) Osawa Takao (47)

8) Akashiya Sanma (60)

9) Ariyoshi Hiroyuki (41)

10) Sakata Toshio (74)

Top 10 female artistes (ages of the celebrities in brackets and comments from survey respondents in italics)

1) Amami Yuki (48)
With her Takarazuka background and beautiful looks, she is very charming and is a fan of variety shows and comedy despite her cool image. Even from a woman's perspective, she is the perfect example of a good woman. However, due to her actress image, it's hard to picture her being married to someone.

2) Hisamoto Masami (57)
Keeps poking fun at her own single status on her TV shows. Although I hope for her to be happy, on the other hand I still wish that she will continue to be single.

3) Fukatsu Eri (42)
Has a lot of male fans so if she ever gets married, these guys will probably be quite depressed over it

4) Suzuki Kyoka (47)

5) Kuroyanagi Tetsuko (82)

6) Ishida Yuriko (46)

7) Shimazaki Wakako (42)

8) Sawaguchi Yasuko (50)

9) Imori Miyuki (47)

10) Nakamori Akina (50)

Source: Oricon

Ayase Haruka & Saito Takumi to play lovers in new movie "Kodaike no Hitobito"

Ayase Haruka will be starring in "Kodaike no Hitobito" (The people in the Kodai family), the real-life movie adaptation of the same-titled manga by Morimoto Kozueko serialised in "Gekkan YOU" at present. The movie which will be shown in cinemas next June, features Ayase as an introvert and ordinary OL named Hirano Kie who is poor with words and has a wild imagination that causes her to fantasize a bit too much. She is dating a successful and good-looking elite named Kodai Mitsumasa played by Saito Takumi who has telepathy powers and is able to see Kie's wild thoughts without her saying them explicitly. Unknown to Kie, almost everyone in Mitsumasa's family has the same power including his younger sister Shigeko played by Mizuhara Kiko, his younger brother Kazumasa played by Mamiya Shotaro and the siblings mother Yuko played by Daichi Mao who is so frank that she doesn't mince her words about thinking that Kie is not suitable for her son. The only family member who did not inherit this power and is poor at observing other people's emotions i.e. the father Shigemasa Junior (more commonly known as Masao) will be played by Ichimura Masachika.

Ayase commented that the biggest similarity between her and Kie is that they both have such a vivid imagination and always have a lot of wild thoughts in their month. As such, she hopes to be able to convey the uniqueness of this comedic love story between a imaginative woman and a man with special powers. On the other hand, Saito said that Mitsumasa is totally different from him and he is such a smart character and excels in many ways but he hopes to show the good and bad sides of a seemingly perfect man through his performance.

The director will be Hijikata Masato who was responsible for works such as "Yo ni mo kimyo na monogatari", "Shomuni", "Nazotoki wa dinner no ato de" and "Ghost Writer" when he was with FujitV while the scriptwriter will be Kaneko Arisa who had written "Nurse no Oshigoto", the movies "Densha Otoko", "Kage hinata ni saku" and "Helter Skelter". The manga's author Morimoto was very pleased to have Ayase and Saito play the leads in the adaptation movie and expressed her wish to see this movie soon.

Source: Oricon

Fukushi Sota to star in FujiTV drama SP "Montage Sanokuen Jiken Kitan"

Fukushi Sota will be starring in the FujiTV drama SP "Montage Sanokuen Jiken Kitan" (Montage The mystery of the 300 million yen case) which is due to be shown next year. The drama SP which is based on the manga series by Watanabe Jun serialised in "Shukan Young Magazine", is based on the famous "300 million yen robbery" which took place at Fuchu City in Tokyo on 10 December 1968 and remains unsolved to date. Fukushi plays the lead character Narumi Yamato, a Year 3 senior high school student living in Nagasaki who gets embroiled into this case that happened almost half a century again when a dying old man he meets on the way to school tells him that his father is the criminal behind the robbery and that he should not trust anyone. Soon after that, Yamato's father is found drowned in the sea far away in Tokyo. When Yamato turns 25, he accidentally finds an old 500-yen note from his late father's kendo outfit which has a serial number matching those missing from the robbery. At the same time, Yamato is accused of being the suspect in a murder case and ends up being on the run from the police from Nagasaki to Fukuoka and then Tokyo. While trying to find the truth behind his father's death and the robbery, Yamato interacts various people and realises that he is being drawn into a huge conspiracy.

As Yamato was born and raised on Gunkanjima (Hashima) in Nagasaki Prefecture, filming for the SP was done there for the scenes at the time when the robbery took place and the present. In order to capture the scenery of the Showa era, filming was also done in various locations such as Takahagi City in Ibaraki Prefecture, Tomioka-machi in Fukuoka Prefecture, Takasaki City in Gunma Prefecture and Saga City in Saga Prefecture. The scriptwriter Omori Sumio who worked on movies such as "Itamuhito" released in 2015, will be responsible for condensing 19 volumes of the manga into this drama SP.

Source: Oricon

Friday, November 06, 2015

Tabata Tomoko reportedly injured due to failed suicide attempt? - Updated

Tabata Tomoko suffered an injury to her wrist at her house in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, in the morning on 5 November. According to her agency, Tabata was cooking in the morning when she tried to cut a pumpkin which she had just washed but her hands accidentally slipped thus causing the knife to cut her left wrist. As the bleeding could not be stopped immediately, Tabata called for an ambulance on her own and was discharged from the hospital after receiving treatment. Tabata's agency said that she was originally scheduled to be on leave today and is spending time alone at home.

However, some news programs in the same evening reported that Tabata's injury was due to a failed suicide attempt and that she had consumed sleeping pills before cutting her wrist. In addition, the reports even claimed that police officers were at her apartment to investigate the case. Despite these reports, Tabata's agency denied that she had tried to take her life and stressed that she was indeed injured due to the accident.

Update from Sanspo:
- The accident was said to have taken place in her boyfriend i.e. actor Okada Yoshinori's apartment, not Tabata's. They were first romantically linked in 2011.

- According to residents near Okada's place, there was an ambulance at his apartment block during the time when the accident reportedly happened.

- Okada had been working in the suburbs and returned to Tokyo that morning when he reportedly found Tabata injured at his apartment. The couple live within walking distance from each other.

Source: Nikkansports / Sanspo

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Okada Junichi to star in the real-life movie adaptation of "Kaizoku to yobareta otoko"

V6's Okada Junichi will be starring in the real-life movie adaptation of "Kaizoku to yobareta otoko" (The man who was called the pirate) which will be shown in cinemas come winter 2016. The movie which is based on the bestselling novel by Hyakuta Naoki, will be directed by Yamazaki Takashi and the team who was responsible for the 2014 No.1 hit movie "Eien no Zero" which was based on another Hyakuta novel and featured Okada as its lead. Okada received the offer to act in this movie early this year and was pleasantly surprised by the fact that he will be working with the "Eien no Zero" team again although there was apprehension over being compared to his award-winning performance in the earlier movie if he took up the offer.

"Kaizoku to yobareta otoko" which was released in July 2012, is a history novel which has sold more than 3.64 million copies to date and had won the 2013 Honya Taisho. The story is set in the turbulent times from the Meiji, Taisho to the Showa eras. Okada plays the lead character Kunioka Tetsuzo who is a shrewd entrepreneur and tries to develop his oil business despite external and internal pressures. He is nicknamed "kaizoku" by the people around him and the movie will depict his life from his 20s to his 90s. Okada commented that he hopes to show the toughness of Kunioka as he tries to overcome various difficulties and open up new routes to success during the tough times he lived in. In preparation for his role, Okada also had to undergo training in the Hakata dialect. As the movie needs to present vastly different scenes in places such as Tokyo in ruins after the war air raids and a tanker ship heading towards Iran, there will be extensive use of VFX.

Filming is currently in progress.

Source: Nikkansports / Sanspo

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Top 15 dramas with the lowest average rating (AsaJo)

AsaJo recently released a list of the top 15 dramas with the lowest average rating:

1) Otto no Kanojo - 3.8% (TBS / Autumn 2013)
Starring Kawaguchi Haruna
HEAT - 3.8% (FujiTV / Summer 2015)
Starring AKIRA

3) Kazoku no Uta - 3.9% (FujiTV / Spring 2012)
Starring Odagiri Jo

4) Message - 4.4% (NTV / Winter 2003)
Starring Mannaka Hitomi

5) Kazoku no Urajijo - 4.5% (FujiTV / Autumn 2013)
Starring Zaizen Naomi

6) Lion Sensei - 4.7% (NTV / Autumn 2003)
Starring Takenaka Naoto
Tatakau! Shoten Girl - 4.7% (FujiTV / Spring 2015)
Starring Watanabe Mayu & Inamori Izumi

8) Risk no Kamisama - 5.1% (FujiTV / Summer 2015)
Starring Tsutsumi Shinichi
Asunaro Sansannanabyoshi - 5.1% (FujiTV / Summer 2014)
Starring Yanagiba Toshiro

10) Keiji Ichiro - 5.2% (TBS / Winter 2013)
Starring Kato Haruhiko

11) Regatta Kimi to ita eien - 5.5% (TV Asahi / Summer 2006)
Starring Hayami Mokomichi

12) Hito Natsu no Papa e - 5.6% (TBS / Summer 2003)
Starring Ueto Aya

13) Ranpo R - 5.7% (NTV / Winter 2004)
Starring Fujii Takashi

14) Masshiro - 5.8% (TBS / Winter 2015)
Starring Horikita Maki

15) Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu - 5.9% (TBS / Summer 2015)
Starring Yoshine Kyoko

Based on the results above, here are some trends I would like to highlight:

- 10 out the 15 dramas come from the last 5 years i.e. 2010 to 2015. This coincides with the general view that drama ratings have been really low in recent years.

- The number of dramas from each of the Big 4 private networks in ascending order: TV Asahi = 1 / NTV = 3 / TBS = 5 / FujiTV = 6 i.e. TBS and FujiTV are in the race for the most number of low-ratings dramas. Surprisingly, TV Asahi's only entry  was Regatta in 2006 which had hogged the No.1 title for a long time before "Kazoku no Uta" came along to be referred to as a textbook example of a lowly-rated flop in the drama world. Now, this undesirable title belongs to "Otto no Kanojo" and "HEAT". This also means that TV Asahi has been doing so well in the ratings game at least in the last 10 years or so even though it was lagging behind the other three for a long time.

- Big and small names alike are not spared the low ratings curse. Apparently, it was rumoured that Odagiri was so sick of being under the ratings pressure brought about by "Kazoku no Uta" that he has reportedly vowed to stick to late-night or WOWOW dramas from now on.

- In terms of the season which has the most worst performers -> Winter = 4 / Spring = 2 / Summer = 6 / Autumn = 3. This seems to coincide with the general observation that summer dramas tend to do badly because people are outside enjoying the summer holidays.

- Being bad at the ratings game doesn't necessarily mean that it is a critical flop too. The most recent example was "Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu" which did rather badly in ratings but its female lead who is a newbie Yoshine Kyoko actually won the Best Leading Actress award in the Drama Academy Award. Baffles me how it happened but she must have won over those who watched the drama and voted for her.

Just an ending note, out of these 15 dramas, I've only watched the first episode of "Risk no Kamisama" which really spooked me so much that I didn't want to continue. It's not that I consciously shy away from these dramas because of ratings but I guess there must be something about them which turns me away.

How many of these dramas have you watched? And do you think they are really as bad as the ratings reflect?

Narumi Riko to appear in Episode 5 of "Okashi no Ie" as guest star

Narumi Riko will be appearing in the 5th episode of TBS Autumn 2015 drama "Okashi no Ie" showing on 18 November at 11.53pm. The drama features Odagiri Jo as the lead character Taro who manages a snack shop with his grandmother in a suburb area of Tokyo and interacts with his buddy played by Katsuji Ryo and childhood friend Reiko played by Ono Machiko who moved back as a single mother after her divorce. Narumi plays the role of Yamamoto Marie, a colleague of Reiko who works at the same restaurant. By chance, Reiko spots Marie and Taro talking and wonders about what connection they may have.

Narumi commented that as her character is supposed to be a mysterious person, she was very excited about playing such an unique character and expressed her joy at being at ease on set even though it was her first time there. She also praised the quality of the production which is unlike what you would expect from a late-night drama.

Source: Sponichi

Ninomiya Kazunari to star in FujiTV's New Year drama SP "Botchan"

Arashi's Ninomiya Kazunari will be starring in FujiTV's New Year drama SP "Botchan" to be shown on 3 January at 9pm. The drama SP which is based on famous writer Natsume Soseki's signature novel, is made to coincide with Natsume's 100th death anniversary next year. This will also be the first time in 20 years since the last remake of "Botchan" which featured Go Hiromi in 1996.

"Botchan" was a mid-length novel released by Natsume in 1906 featuring a newbie Mathematics teacher nicknamed "Botchan" who graduated with a physics degree in Tokyo and goes to a junior high school in Shikoku to take up teaching. While at the school, he creates various issues with his colleagues and students.

Ninomiya plays the lead character Botchan who becomes a newbie Mathematics teacher. Co-stars include Furuta Arata who plays Yama Arashi and Oikawa Mitsuhiro who plays the head teacher that always wears a red shirt. Nodaiko who teaches art will be played by Yashima Norito while Yamamoto Koji will play the weak and pale-faced English teacher Uranari. Kishibe Ittoku will play the principal nicknamed Tanuki.

Filming started in October and includes location shooting at Jinjo Junior High School where Natsume used to teach at and was said to be the background of "Botchan" and other places connected to him such as the Dogo Onsen.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi / Sanspo / Sponichi

Monday, November 02, 2015

Romaji lyrics of "Hitoribocchi no Haburashi" by Sakuraba Yuichiro (Insert song of FujiTV Spring 2001 drama "Mukodono")

Title: Hitoribocchi no Haburashi
Artiste: Sakuraba Yuichiro
Melody & Lyrics: Tsunku
Insert song of FujiTV Spring 2001 drama "Mukodono"

nee kimi wa ai no tsuzuki wo
nee dare to shiteru?

tashika ni ore ga
ikenaitte koto wo ima ja mitometeru yo
ano hi no ore wa
sukoshi naze daga douka shitetanda

[aishiteru] sono kotoba shika
omoitsukanai Uh
yume no naka sae kimi wa
kitekurenai

haburashi wa itsumo no you ni
kagami no mae niko narande
Ah matsu yo ore wa matteru
shinjite matsu yo

tashikani ore wa
sonna kiyo nikonasu hou janai shi
ima demo ore wa
sonna jouzu ni jooku mo ienai

[aishiteru] kono kotoba ga
ano hi iezu ni Ah
mirai made todoku you na
ai tsutaetai [aishiteru yo]

haburashi wa ore no dake ga
itande yuku naze nanda
nee kimi wa ai no tsuzuki wo
nee dare to shiteru?

haburashi wa itsumo no you ni
kagami no mae niko narande
Ah matsu yo ore wa matteru
shinjite matsu yo

haburashi wa ore no dake ga
itande yuku naze nanda
nee kimi wa ai no tsuzuki wo
nee dare to shiteru?

The Nostalgia Series - Old drama theme songs: "Hitoribocchi no Haburashi" by Sakuraba Yuichiro

2001 must be an unforgettable year for fans of TOKIO and especially Nagase Tomoya. In that year alone, many memorable milestones were achieved. For TOKIO, they switched record companies from Sony Music to Universal Music and got the Oricon No.1 singles' ranking for the first time in 7 years since their CD debut. This was especially significant because they are the only band in Johnny's Jimusho and had long been labelled as "not as profitable" in the music arena as compared to their seniors like SMAP or juniors like V6, KinKi Kids or even Arashi which was still pretty new at that time. At least to me, I didn't think that their music was that bad compared to the other groups but I do think that they were not the usual type of Johnny's music and probably not so attractive in the commercial sense. In addition, it felt as if that Sony Music had pretty much given up on them because promotional efforts to promote the band seemed rather half-hearted as if they wanted to cut losses. I can understand that resources would be given to more profitable artistes but still as a fan, you would want to see more attention given to your idol. The turning point came when they signed on to Universal Music which I thought was a great move. The four singles released within 2001 turned out to do much better than the older releases and the quality of the CDs and premium items included obviously were designed with greater thought put into them. And of course, besides success in the music arena, Nagase's high-profile relationship with Hamasaki Ayumi was also exposed in the same year thus creating a lot of attention on him and TOKIO as a result. To be perfectly honest, I cannot say that the Oricon No.1 single title was entirely attributed to the song "Message" because the popularity of the coupling song "Hitoribocchi no Haburashi" by Sakura Yuichiro, the screen persona of Nagase in the drama "Mukodono" did help to boost sales to a large extent.

"Mukodono" wasn't really that novel in terms of its plot where a man marries into his wife's family but the twist of making this man a superstar with a totally different character from his screen persona was probably what made the drama and interesting popular in the end. To a certain extent, Sakuraba Yuichiro is somewhat similar to Nagase where there is a gap between their cool screen persona and how they behave off-camera. As such, it seemed like this role was specially tailored for Nagase and he was rather at ease with this character. His interaction with Takeuchi Yuko was so good that it made the sequel two years later with Sakai Noriko pale in comparison. Of course, the sequel was also weak in other ways so it's not entirely to do with who his female lead was. With a strong and eye-catching supporting cast made up of Arashi's Aiba Masaki, Shinohara Ryoko, Suzuki Anju, Nomura Hironobu, Tsunku, Danta Yasunori, Akiyoshi Kumiko, Usui Ken and the very young Kamiki Ryunosuke, the drama did relatively well with an average of 15.3% which would be an achievement by today's standards.

As Sakuraba Yuichiro was an orphan in the story and aspired to have a family, the song "Hitoribocchi no Haburashi" (A toothbrush on its own) resonates with his loneliness after he misses the chance to tell someone he loves about his feelings. It uses the analogy of a single toothbrush in the bathroom to illustrate his loneliness and depicts his wish to see two toothbrushes side by side again in time to come.

If you are interested to hear this song, please view the PV here.