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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year 2008 in Retrospective: Hits and Misses

On the last day of 2008, here is my recap of my favourites and misses as well as a ranking of the dramas in terms of ratings.

Winter 2008 (Jan to Mar)
In this season, I watched the following:
1) Hachimitsu to Clover
2) Ashita no, Kita Yoshio
3) Lost Time Life

And I can't choose any one of them as my favourite because...

1) I loved Hachimitsu to Clover a lot...I mean the anime and manga versions. However, the real-life adaptation movie has disappointed me greatly. I was hoping for the drama to do better but then the producers were simply too ambitious and changed too much of the original setting. If they had ended the story at the juncture when Takemoto came back from his self-searching journey and left the rest in a sequel, it would have been better. Due to the need to fit so much material into one season, everything was a mess. The story structure was the biggest problem. Acting-wise, some of the cast members couldn't bring out the essence of the characters. The theme song was a redeeming point for the drama but still, I would have preferred Spitz or Sugashikao to do it since the title of the manga was inspired by their songs.

2) It started in a promising manner but when Yoshio knew about the fact his buddy was merely feigning his death and his marriage was a sham, he still wanted to die. That just made it a bit ridiculous. However, I like Kohinata Fumio's chemistry with Matsuda Ryuhei and the theme song by Yamazaki Masayoshi.

3) It was a series of hits and misses. Some of the stories were very good e.g. the ones which had Maki Youko, Ueno Juri, Eita and Tomochika. As such, on the whole, this series cannot be counted as a favourite for me.

Spring 2008 (April to June)
I watched the following:
1) CHANGE
2) Last Friends
3) Around 40

Only Last Friends can be considered as a favourite in this season.

1) I simply don't get the hype over KimuTaku at times. Enough said about him. The theme song by Madonna was merely a promotional gimmick and just wasn't appealing to me. The good points are getting to know more about the political system structure as well as the strong supporting cast e.g. Abe Hiroshi.

2) Only the corny last line really riled me up. Other than that, this drama is quite good. Keep a lookout for Ueno Juri and Eita's performances. That scene when Ryuka and Takeru hugged was simply touching!

3) Reminded me too much of past similar women at middle-age dramas especially Love Revolution. Very predictable story line.

Summer 2008 (July to September)
1) Maou
2) Tomorrow

1) I liked this a lot. As for the reasons, click on the Maou tab on the left and you can read the reviews.

2) Similarly, another favourite. The ending was a bit too idealistic but still the story was pretty engaging.

Autumn 2008 (October to December)
I finished watching the following:
1) Kaze no Garden
2) Ryuusei no Kizuna
3) Team Batista no Eikou
4) Innocent Love

1) Among the four dramas this season, this is my No.1 favourite. The quality of the story and acting was consistent from the start to the end. In addition, it didn't go overboard on the sentimental factor as emotions flowed smoothly instead of being potrayed as mere playacting. And to make it more memorable, this was Ogata Ken's last drama. What a pity that a great actor like him has passed on!

2) I like the climax scene very much. Full of intensity and great acting from Nino and Miura Tomokazu. However, the quality of the drama was inconsistent. Some episodes felt more interesting while some were boring. And I did not like some of the Kudo Kankuro-style jokes so this wasn't a big hit with me. I expected more from this drama. Detailed review coming up soon.

3) If Kaze no Garden was like a gentle stream and Ryuusei no Kizuna was like a river with varying degrees of speed at different points, this has got to be a waterfall. Tension built up really quickly and it was really tough to spot clues from the beginning. Detailed review coming up soon.

4) Boring. Horikita Maki tried too hard and I found her effort to smile while showing her teeth really hard to stomach. It was so fake. Maybe she tried too hard to change her image from a teenager to a mature woman. Kitagawa Yuujin, being a greenhorn at acting just seemed quite awkward at times. He has a warm smile though. Narimiya Hiroki looked good (much better than he was playing Morita in Hachimitsu to Clover) but his role didn't allow much room for development. Detailed review coming up soon.

As such, here is my Top 6 for the year 2008:

1) Kaze no Garden
2) Maou
3) Team Batista no Eikou
4) Ryuusei no Kizuna
5) Last Friends
6) Tomorrow


(I couldn't rank the remaining 6 dramas I watched because I don't think they are not quite deserving of a "Top" ranking.)

And here's the Top 20 drama ratings ranking for 2008 (in terms of average ratings):

1) Gokusen 22.81% - Spring (NTV)
2) CHANGE 22.08% - Spring (FujiTV)
3) Bara no Nai Hanaya 18.76% - Winter (FujiTV)
4) Last Friends 17.73% - Spring (FujiTV)
5) Ryuusei no Kizuna 16.59% - Autumn (TBS)
6) Code Blue 15.87% - Summer (FujiTV)
7) Kaze no Garden 15.81% - Autumn (FujiTV)
8) Saitou-san 15.61% - Winter (NTV)
9) ROOKIES 14.96% - Summer (TBS)
10) Taiyo to Umi no Kyoushitsu 14.79% - Summer (FujiTV)

11) Around 40 14.72% - Spring (TBS)
12) Innocent Love 13.60% - Autumn (FujiTV)
13) Koushonin 13.52% - Winter (TV Asahi)
14) Team Batista no Eikou 13.24% - Autumn (FujiTV)
15) Celeb to Binbou Tarou 13.16% - Autumn (FujiTV)
16) Zettai Kareshi 13.15% - Spring (FujiTV)
17) SCANDAL 13.12% - Autumn (TBS)
18) Yasuko to Kenji 13.07% - Summer (NTV)
19) Tomorrow 12.73% - Summer (TBS)
20) Shibatora 12.52% - Summer (FujiTV)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter 2009 Drama Preview: Voice - Inochi Naki Mono no Koe

This is the first of a series of previews on the upcoming Winter 2009 dramas which I'm interested in. As such, this will not be an extensive coverage on the upcoming drama season. First up is the Gekku drama from FujiTV:

Title: Voice - Inochi Naki Mono no Koe (Voice - The Voice of Those Who Lost Their Lives)
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Timeslot: Mondays, 9pm
O.A. Start Date: 12 Jan 2009
Theme song: Title undecided by GReeeeN
Official website: here

Cast:

Kaji Daiki (Eita)
Ishimatsu Ryosuke (Ikuta Toma)
Kuboaki Kanako (Ishihara Satomi)
Kirihata Teppei (Endo Yuuya)
Hanei Akira (Sato Tomohito)
Hanei Takako (Hamada Mari)
Natsuikawa Reiko (Yada Akiko)
Sagawa Fumihiko (Tokito Saburo)

Reasons why I am interested in this:

1) Story premise is refreshing
This story is about 3 students in the pathology faculty and how they learn along the way. Well, I don't remember watching any drama which centres on this genre so this will be interesting. And the fact that this is an original story makes it stand out from a lot of adaptations in the Winter 09 lineup.

2) Eita & Ikuta Toma
This will be Eita's first leading role so I am waiting to see if he can do as well as he did in his supporting roles. His partnership with Ikuta is worth checking out. I don't really like Ishihara Satomi though.

3) Yada Akiko
Well, I've never been a fan of her but I'm curious to see if her long hiatus from the small screen has done her any good. Some actresses tend to improve their acting skills after going through marriage and childbirth. We'll see if Yada can do the same.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Top 10 movies ranking (28 Dec 08)

1) WALL.E

2) The Day The Earth Stood Still

3) K-20 Kaijin Nijuu Mensho. Den

4) Akai Ito

5) Gekijouban MAJOR Winning Shot

6) World Of Lies

7) 252 Seizonsha Ari

8) Eiga Tamagocchi Uchuu Ichi Happy Na Monogatari

9) Mirrors

10) Gekijouban BLEACH Fade to Black Kimi no na wo Yobu

Cat Street DVD Box

Title: Cat Street DVD Box
Price: 11,970 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 21 January 2009
Number of discs: 3
Produced by: VAP INC.
Total run time: 270 minutes
Number of episodes: 6

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The 21st Nikkansports Movie Award & Ishihara Yujiro Award

Best Movie: Okuribito

Best Director: Takida Youjirou (Okuribito)

Best Leading Actor: Nakai Masahiro (Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai)

Best Leading Actress: Ayase Haruka (ICHI / Boku no Kanojo wa Cyborg / Happy Flight)

Best Supporting Actor: Sakai Masato (Climber's High / After School)

Best Supporting Actress: Natsukawa Yui (Aruitemo Aruitemo)

Best Newcomer: Kaho (Utadamashi / Tokyo Shoujo)

Ishihara Yujiro Award (Movie): Climber's High

Ishihara Yujiro Award (Newcomer): Matsuda Shota (Ikigami / Hana Yori Dango Final)

Top 15 movies of 2008 with the highest box office receipts

As some of the following films are still shown in cinemas, some of the figures listed are estimates.

1) Kake no ue no Ponyo - 15.4 billion

2) Hana Yori Dango - 7.75 billion

3) Indiana Jones The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - 5.71 billion

4) Yogisha X no Kenshin - 5 billion

5) Red Cliff Part 1 - 4.8 to 5 billion

6) Pocket Monster Diamond Pearl Giradina to Koorizora no Hanabata Sheimi - 4.8 billion

7) Aibou Gekijouban - 4.44 billion

8) I am Legend - 4.31 billion

9) The Magic Hour - 3.92 billion

10) 20 Seiki Shounen - 3.9 billion

11) The Golden Compass - 3.75 billion

12) Doraemon Nobita to Midori no Kyoujin den - 3.37 billion

13) Mary to Koinu no Monogatari - 3.18 billion

14) L change the World / Hancock - 3.1 billion

Source: Variety Japan

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Top 10 most popular dramas on Yahoo! Japan 2008 Internet Ranking

1) ROOKIES (TBS)

2) Last Friends (FujiTV)

3) Atsuhime (NHK)

4) SP (FujiTV)

5) Maou (TBS)

6) Aibou (TV Asahi)

7) Gokusen (NTV)

8) Bara no nai Hanaya (FujiTV)

9) Chiritotechin (NHK)

10) Koizora (TBS)

Source: Yahoo! Japan

Friday, December 26, 2008

Autumn 2008 drama satisfaction ranking by Oricon (straight after the first O.A.)

This is a survey done by Oricon to find out the satisfaction level after watching the first episode of the drama.

1) Aibou season7 (TV Asahi) 79.9

2) Black Monday (TBS) 76.7

3) Ryuusei no Kizuna (TBS) 73.8

4) Kaze no Garden (FujiTV) 72.7

5) Room of King (FujiTV) 70.8

6) Team Batista no Eikou (FujiTV) 69.7

7) Shouni Kyuumei (TV Asahi) 69.6

8) Gira Gira (TV Asahi) 69.1%

9) Yume wo Kanaeru Zou (NTV) 69.0

10) SCANDAL (TBS) 67.4

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Autumn 2008 drama anticipation ranking (Oricon)

This is a survey done by Oricon to find out which dramas are highly anticipated by viewers prior to the start of the season.

1) Ryuusei no Kizuna (TBS) 59.6 points

2) Team Batista no Eikou (FujiTV) 58.8

3) Bloody Monday (TBS) 54.3

4) Aibou season7 (TV Asahi) 53.1

5) Innocent Love (FujiTV) 50.9

6) Celeb to Binbou Taro (FujiTV) 49.4

7) Yume wo Kanaeru Zou (NTV) 49.2

8) SCANDAL (TBS) 48.7

9) Room of King (FujiTV) 47.7

10) Shouni Kyuumei (TV Asahi) 47.3

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top 20 dramas / SPs ranking for 2008

Please note that the following ranking includes both regular season dramas and SPs shown within the year and that the figures are based on ratings for that particular episode, NOT on an average calculation. Dates in brackets indicate the day the particular episode or SP was shown.

I will be posting the ranking based on average ratings for regular season dramas only at a later date.

1) Atsuhime (30 Nov 08) - 29.2%

2) CHANGE ~ Final episode (14 July 08) - 27.4%

3) Gokusen (19 April 08) - 26.4%

4) 24 Jikan TV SP Myuu no Anyo Papa ni Ageru (30 Aug 08) - 25.6%

5) Last Friends ~ Final episode (19 June 08) - 22.8%

6) Ryuusei no Kizuna ~ Final episode (19 Dec 08) - 22.6%

7) Bara no nai Hanaya (14 Jan 08) - 22.4%

8) SP Special Encore (5 Apr 08) - 21.5%

9) Code Blue (3 July 08) - 21.2%

10) Nodame Cantabile SP Part 2 (5 Jan 08) - 21.0%

11) Galileo Zero (4 Oct 08) - 20.8%

12) Aibou (12 Nov 08) - 20.7%

13) Aibou SP (3 May 08) - 20.6%

14) Taiyou to umi no Kyoushitsu (21 July 08) - 20.5%

15) Tokumei Kakaricho Tadano Jin '08 SP (2 Feb 08) - 20.2%

16) Kaze no Garden (9 Oct 08) - 20.1%

17) Saitou-san ~ Final Episode (19 Mar 08) / Kokuchi sezu (15 Nov 08) - 19.6%

19) ROOKIES ~ Final Episode (26 July 08) - 19.5%

20) SP ~ Final Episode (26 Jan 08) - 18.9%

Top 10 bestselling artistes for 2008 (Oricon)

Units in terms of million yen.

1) EXILE (19,582)

2) Hamasaki Ayumi (7,188)

3) B'z (7,156)

4) Amuro Namie (6,802)

5) Kobukuro (6,691)

You may wish to note that albums are prized much higher than singles. As such, even though ARASHI sold more than 1.5 million copies of their 4 singles this year, they are not in the top 5.

EXILE released a number of albums this year which did very well in the albums charts. Likewise for Hamasaki, even though her singles didn't get into the Top 25 of the singles chart, her complete hits compilation did much to push her up to the bestselling ranking.

It is also worth noting that these artistes in the top 5 released best hits albums instead of a brand new original album. It seems like the trend these days is that past hit songs will sell but new works won't.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top 10 bestselling albums for 2008 (Oricon)

For the full list, please visit Oricon's website:

1) EXILE LOVE by EXILE (1,470,959)

2) BEST FICTION by Amuro Namie (1,447,149)

3) 5296 by Kobukuro (1,404,658)

4) EXILE CATCHY BEST by EXILE (1,222,339)

5) HEART STATION by Utada Hikaru (997,536)

6) EXILE BALLAD BEST by EXILE (943,901)

7) B'z The Best"ULTRA Pleasure" by B'z (940,333)

8) A COMPLETE ~ ALL SINGLES ~ by Hamasaki Ayumi (815,643)

9) AND I LOVE YOU by DREAMS COME TRUE (785,641)

10) Aah, Doomo Ohisashiburi desu by GReeeeN (778,578)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Top 10 movies ranking (21 Dec 08)

1) The Day The Earth Stood Still

2) WALL.E

3) K-20 Kaijin Nijuumensho.den

4) Akai Ito

5) World Of Lies

6) Gekijouban MAJOR Winning Shot

7) Gekijouban Gegege no Kitaro Nihon Bakuretsu

8) 252 Seizonsha Ari

9) Eiga! Tamagocchi Uchuu Ichi Happy Na Monogatari

10) Gekijouban BLEACH Fade to Black Kimi no Na wo Yobu

Top 25 bestselling singles of 2008 (Oricon)

Here are the results of the bestselling singles for the year 2008. Sales figures are indicated in brackets.

ARASHI has done very well this year with 3 singles in the top 10 and bagging the top 2 positions.

Among the top 25, only Jero is from the enka genre.

And Johnny's Jimusho groups snagged a total of 12 out of 25 positions but they are part of the newer generation. KinKi Kids who used to do very well is missing from the Top 25. SMAP is also nowhere to be seen.

Hamasaki Ayumi and Kouda Kumi are also missing from the Top 25 which seems to suggest that Avex cannot depend on them solely to make money.

For the full results of the Top 50, please visit Oricon's website.

1) truth / Kaze no Mukou e by ARASHI (618,229)

2) One Love by ARASHI (524,269)

3) I AM YOUR SINGER by Southern All Stars (520,289)

4) Kiseki by GReeeeN (493,259)

5) Shuuchishin by Shuuchishin (472,414)

6) HANABI by Mr.Children (468,971)

7) Soba ni iru ne by Aoyama Thelma feat. SoulJa (456,479)

8) DON'T U EVER STOP by KAT-TUN (447,229)

9) LIPS by KAT-TUN (421,902)

10) Beautiful days by ARASHI (421,876)

11) Musekinin Hero by Kanjani 8 (385,016)

12) Step and Go by ARASHI (374,449)

13) Goika by Sugimoto Masato (346,971)

14) Kake no ue no Ponyo by Fujioka Fujimaki & Oohashi Nozomi (346,217)

15) GIFT by Mr.Children (335,384)

16) Nakanaide by Shuuchishin (335,367)

17) The Birthday ~Ti Amo~ by EXILE (303,936)

18) 60s 70s 80s (NEW LOOK / ROCK STEADY / WHAT A FEELING) by Amuro Namie (293,097)

19) Taiyo no Namida by NEWS (291,447)

20) Hi wa Mata Noboru by Arajin (267,235)

21) Mayonaka no Shadow Boy by Hey!Say!JUMP (266,193)

22) Umiyuki by Jero (260,716)

23) SUMMER TIME by NEWS (258,820)

24) White X'mas by KAT-TUN (250,106)

25) Dreams come true by Hey!Say!JUMP (249,024)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The 33rd Hochi Film Awards

Best Film: Okuribito

Best Leading Actor: Tsutsumi Shinichi (Climber's High / Yogisha X no Kenshin)

Best Leading Actress: Koizumi Kyoko (Guu Guu Datte Neko de aru / Tokyo Sonata)

Best Supporting Actor: Sakai Masato (After School / Climber's High / Judge no Futari)

Best Supporting Actress: Kiki Kirin (Aruitemo aruitemo)

Best Newcomer: Nagabuchi Ayane (Mihongi Nougyou Koukou Bajutsubu)

Official website: here

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winners List for the 30th Yokohama Film Festival

The prize presentation ceremony for the year 2008 30th Yokohama Film Festival will be held on 1 February 2009 in Sekiuchi Hall.

Best Film: Okuribito

Best Director: Takida Yoji (Okuribito)

Best Script: Manda Tamami & Manda Kunitoshi (Seppun)

Best Leading Actor: Kobayashi Kaoru (Kyuuka / Kanki no Uta)

Best Leading Actress: Koike Eiko (Seppun)

Best Supporting Actor: Nishijima Hidetoshi (Kyuuka / Tounankaku Heiya Nikai no Onna / Oka wo koete)

Best Supporting Actress: Yo Kimiko (Okuribito / Maboroshi no Jamadai koku / Oka wo koete) & Hirosue Ryoko (Okuribito)

Best Newcomer: Tsukifuna Sarara & Nakazato Isa & Ishibashi Anna

Top 10 Japanese movies of the year:
1) Okuribito
2) Gururi no koto
3) Aruitemo aruitemo
4) Yami no kodomo tachi
5) Jitsuroku Rengo Akagun Asama Sansou e no Michidori
6) Seppun
7) Tokyo Sonata
8) Climber's High
9) Kimi no tomodachi
10) Kyuuka

Friday, December 19, 2008

Top 10 most wanted lovers (Oricon)

For the ladies...

1) Fukuyama Masaharu

2) Kimura Takuya

3) Tamaki Hiroshi

4) Sakurai Sho (Arashi)

5) Koike Teppei

6) Domoto Koichi (KinKi Kids)

7) Kamiji Yuusuke

8) Miura Haruma

9) Oguri Shun

10) Sato Ken
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For the guys...

1) Ueto Aya

2) Nagasawa Masami

3) Ayase Haruka

4) Aragaki Yui

5) Toda Erika

6) Aibu Saki

7) Horikita Maki

8) Miyazaki Aoi

9) Kitagawa Keiko

10) Ootsuka Ai

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The long wait to become the lead actress is getting shorter?

Here are a series of analysis reports on some of the trends in the Japanese entertainment world based on data from magazines. The first topic here is a discussion on whether it is becoming easier for actresses to land their first big role as compared to the past.

According to the report in Nikkei Entertainment's Nov 08 issue, they have made a list of actresses who landed their first big role at least 6 years after their debut. Here is the list they provided, in descending order, beginning with the actress who had waited longest for the lead role:

1) Takahata Atsuko
She waited 30 years from 1976 to 2006 for her first big role in "Tamashii Moe!".

2) Shinohara Ryoko
15 years, from 1989 to 2004 in "Hikaru to Tomo ni".

3) Terashima Shinobu
14 years, from 1991 to 2005 in "Otona no Natsu Yasumi".

4) Iijima Naoko
13 years, from 1991 to 2004 in "Nebaru Onna"

5) Mizuno Miki and Mizukawa Asami both tied at 11 years
Mizuno: 1990 to 2001 in "Joushiana"
Mizukawa: 1997 to 2008 in "Yume wo kanaeru zou"

7) Konishi Manami and Aoi Yu both tied at 9 years
Konishi: 1998 to 2007 in "Kira Kira Kenshuui"
Aoi: 1999 to 2008 in "Osen"

9) Nagasaku Hiromi
8 years, from 1991 to 1999 in "Shuumatsu-kon"

10) Karina
7 years, from 2001 to 2008 in "Daisuki"

11) Natsukawa Yui and Nakatani Miki both tied at 6 years
Natsukawa: 1992 to 1998 in "Kekkon Zenya"
Nakatani: 1993 to 1999 in "Keizoku"

And when you look at the ages of these actresses at the time they got the lead role, 8 of them only got it when they were older than 25 years old i.e. Natsukawa (30), Nagasaku (29), Mizuno (27), Iijima (36), Shinohara (31), Terashima (32), Takahata (52)and Konishi (29).

However, when you look at the current wave of under-23 years old category of actresses who are attracting lots of attention, you will notice that many of them are getting their first lead roles in a shorter time as compared to their predecessors. Does this mean that the young actresses don't have to wait too long to make a breakthrough in their career?

Here's a list of 22 of those who made it to the front line of the cast list in less than 5 years and mostly at before 20 years old (not in order). By the way, those highlighted in red are those whom I like and feel that they can do better in time to come (comments in purple):

Ayase Haruka: took 4 years, "Sekai no Chuushin de, Ai wo Sakebu" in 2004 at the age of 19 years old

Kato Rosa: took 2 years, "Simpsons" in 2006 at the age of 21 years old

Kato Natsuki: took 3 years, "Kamen Rider EPISODE FINAL" in 2002 at the age of 17 years old

Seki Megumi: took 1 year, "Koi wa Go Shichi Go" in 2005 at the age of 20 years old

Miyazaki Aoi: debut role in "EUREKA" at the age of 4 years old (now, this is a record which not many people can beat.)
Great acting and looks. However, if she does not get roles as prominent as what she did in NANA or Atsuhime, it may be a problem to sustain her growth since she's known to be very picky about the roles she takes. This restricts the types of roles she can take. And if anything goes wrong with her marriage which has not been viewed favourably, it may go against her.

Kanjiya Shihori: took 3 years, "Chiritotechin" in 2007 at the age of 22 years old

Sawajiri Erika: took 4 years, "Pacchigi" in 2005 at the age of 20 years old
She was good in Ichi Litoru no Namida BUT she killed her career prospects with the "betsu ni" furore. It will be difficult for her to regain the success she was riding on UNLESS someone actually dares to take the risk and use her in a movie or drama. The longer she takes to come back to the screen, the harder the climb upward will be.

Ueno Juri: took 3 years, "Swing Girls" in 2004 at the age of 18 years old
Versatile and looks which endear her to the viewers. She can do crazy roles like Nodame and yet be sensitive like Ruka in Last Friends. One of the best bets to do well barring unforseen circumstances.

Higa Manami: took 1 year, "Don Don Hare" in 2006 at the age of 20 years old

Motokariya Yuika: took 4 years, "Fight" in 2005 at the age of 18 years old

Murakawa Eri: took 2 years, "Road 88" in 2004 at the age of 17 years old

Tokunaga Eri: took 2 years, "Hougo Monogatari" in 2006 at the age of 18 years old

Toda Erika: took 3 years, "Death Note" in 2006 at the age of 18 years old
She's been very high-profile in recent years but I think she needs to work a bit harder on her acting or else she will be labelled as a mere pretty idol. I thought she made Misa more bearable in Death Note but she needs to work on her voice. It is too high-pitched at times. When she speaks during interviews, it doesn't sound that bad though.

Takabe Ai: took 2 years, "Mayonaka no Shoujo tachi" in 2006 at the age of 18 years old

Horikita Maki: took 1 year, "Keitai Keiji Zenigata Mai" in 2003 at the age of 15 years old
Her career is somewhat like a rollercoaster ride. Down when she acted in Teppan Shoujo Akane and up in Hanakimi. It depends on whether she can handle more mature roles now that she's already 20. I will probably come to a conclusion on that after I finish watching Innocent Love.

Tabe Mikako: debut movie "HINOKIO" in 2005 at the age of 16 years old

Kurokawa Tomoka: took 4 years, "Meitantei Conan" in 2006, at the age of 17 years old

Tanimura Mizuki: took 3 years, "Kanariya" in 2005, at the age of 15 years old
I started to like her more after Cat Street. She's got great acting skills but I fear that she may be stereotyped to play those dark roles all the time.

Kitano Kii: took 1 year, "LIFE" in 2007, at the age of 16 years old
She was good in LIFE but I've yet to watch her other recent works so I can't decide whether she will be one of my favourites.

Renbutsu Misako: took 2 years, "Battery" in 2007, at the age of 16 years old

Kaho: took 2 years, "Keitai Keiji Zenigata Rei" in 2004, at the age of 13 years old

Narumi Riko: took 5 years, "Ruri no Shima" in 2005, at the age of 13 years old
Good with lots of potential since she has youth on her side. However, the tendency for her to play more mature roles may restrict her chances of getting roles which focus on the vibrancy of teenagers.

Seeing all these instances, what do you think? Is it really easier to go to the top as a young actress now or is it because of the general trend in the industry where more productions are having the young actresses head the cast?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Review of Cat Street

Title: Cat Street
Number of episodes: 6
Original manga by: Kamio Yoko

Broadcasted by: NHK
Theme song: Planetarium by Ikimonogakari


The thing I like about NHK dramas are that the storylines are usually full of substance and that you will get very unique casting choices in the lineup. Regardless of whether the actors are popular, as long as they fit the roles, they will be chosen. I guess for NHK, being the national broadcaster means that they are not so concerned with achieving commercial success unlike the private broadcasters which need the ratings to pull in advertising revenue. Even if ratings for their dramas rarely reach the level to be called a hit, critical reviews of NHK productions are usually on the favourable side. And they do not have to stretch a drama too far so as to fulfil the timeslot for the 3-month regular season. When it's time to end the story, they will do it. As such, I find that NHK dramas are a refreshing change from the usual season dramas we get.

True to my expectation, Cat Street is yet another satisfying piece of work. On paper, the cast may not be that appealing or eye-catching. Tanimura Mizuki may be a good actress and has been featured in many big-name movies but she was untested yet in terms of being a lead actress in a drama. Likewise, Katsuji Ryo is also known for being a decent actor but always gets supporting roles. It was indeed daring for NHK to assemble a cast like this which I believe the private TV stations would think twice about.

Since the story is based on a manga by Kamio Yoko who is better known for her other hit manga, Hana Yori Dango, I did have hesitations as to whether this will be as cheesy as Hanadan. However, this story about Aoyama Keito, an ex-child actress who suffered great emotional damage at the age of 10 and has refused to go to school for at least 7 years, is different. There is a lot of description on her internal struggles as she tries to face life's challenges again.

Tanimura who is well-known for playing roles with emotional scars or has a mysterious past, manages to potray Keito very well. She didn't have to try too hard to look convincing. Likewise, her friends played by Katsuji, Kimura Ryo and Kurokawa Tomoka as well as the supporting cast like Namase Katsuhisa fit their roles perfectly. Katsuji was good as Mine Kouichi and I thought he and Tanimura looked pretty compatible together. I was particularly impressed with Kurokawa although her dresses didn't go down too well with me. In the past, I didn't really like her since she always played those hardworking student or goody-two-shoes roles and she struck me as nothing more than a sweet young thing. However, her performance as Momiji convinced me that she can handle emotional scenes quite well. I just hope that she can take on a variety of roles in future instead of being the good girl all the time.

Do give this drama a try if you like heartwarming stories and like the cast members. You will not be disappointed.

And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 8.5 out of 10 (Relatively well-constructed)
Acting: 8.5 out of 10 (Especially for Tanimura Mizuki
Theme song: 6 out of 10 (The song didn't leave a very strong impression on me.)
Visual effects / Scenery: 6 out of 10 (Mostly indoor shots but I liked the setting where Keito and Kouichi confessed their feelings for each other.)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 7 out of 10 (Generally good but I thought Takabe Ai's acting wasn't that strong to show the intensity of Nako's rivalry with Keito.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Top 10 bestselling Japanese movie DVDs on Amazon Japan for 2008

1) Hero (SP edition)

2) Megane

3) L change the World

4) Cross Zero

5) Aibou

6) ALWAYS 3 chome no Yuuhi (Sequel)

7) Sushi Ouji

8) Hito no Sex wo Warau na

9) After School

10) Koizora

Monday, December 15, 2008

Top 10 movies ranking (14 Dec 08)

1) WALL.E

2) Gekijouban MAJOR Winning Shot

3) Gekijouban BLEACH Fade to Black Kimi no na wo Yobu

4) 252 Seizonsha Ari

5) Red Cliff Part I

6) Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai

7) Tokumei Kakaricho Tadano Jin Saigo no Gekijouban

8) Happy Flight

9) Maboroshi no Jama Daikoku

10) Yes! Puri Kyua 5 GoGo! Okashi no kuni no Happy Birthday

Top 10 bestselling Japanese drama DVDs on Amazon Japan for 2008

1) Nodame Cantabile in Europe

2) Roookies (Normal press DVD box)

3) The Yukan Club (DVD box)

4) Chiritotechin (DVD box)

5) SP (DVD box)

6) 33pun Tantei (Part 1 DVD box)

7) Hanazakari no Kimi tachi e (DVD - Part 1)

8) Proposal Daisakusen SP

9) Galileo (DVD box)

10) Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi (DVD box - director's cut)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Top 10 most encouraging dramas (Nikkei Entertainment)

1) ROOKIES

2) 1 litre no namida

3) 3 nen B gumi Kinpachi sensei

4) CHANGE / Dr. Kotoo Shinryojou / Tomorrow / School Wars / Wataru Seiken Oni Bakari

9) Atsuhime

10) Hana Yori Dango

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Top 10 most encouraging artistes (Nikkei Entertainment)

1) Southern All Stars

2) Mr.Children

3) Kobukuro

4) ZARD

5) Oda Kazumasa

6) EXILE

7) GReeeeN / BUMP OF CHICKEN / Arashi

10) Hamasaki Ayumi

Friday, December 12, 2008

Top 10 movies' ranking (7 Dec 08)

1) WALL.E

2) 252 Seizonsha Ari

3) Red Cliff Part I

4) Watashi wa Kai ni Naritai

5) Tokumei Kakaricho Tadano Jin Saigo no Gekijouban

6) Happy Flight

7) Maboroshi no Jama Daikoku

8) Yes! Puri Kyua 5 GoGo! Okashi no Kuni no Happy Birthday

9) Yogisha X no Kenshin

10) Death Race

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top 10 most encouraging movies (Nikkei Entertainment)

Nikkei Entertainment conducted a survey with 2200 people where they chose the most encouraging movies, books, music or artistes and the results were published in the November 08 issue. First up are the results of the top 10 most encouraging movies:

1) Umizaru

2) Rocky

3) Gone With the Wind

4) Titanic

5) Koizora

6) The Shawshank Redemption

7) Always 3 chome no Yuuhi

8) Indiana Jones

9) Kake no ue no Ponyo

10) Armageddon

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nodame Cantabile to be made into a 2-part movie!

Following the success of its full-length drama and drama SP adaptations, Nodame Cantabile will be back as a 2-part movie in late 2009 and early 2010. Filming will stretch over five months in Europe. The first part titled "Nodame Cantabile THE MOVIE I" (title to be confirmed) will be shown in Dec 2009 during the winter holidays while the sequel will be shown just three months later in spring 2010 to coincide with the spring holidays. This makes Nodame Cantabile the first film to be shown consecutively in such a short time on Japanese film history.

As the content in the Paris arc cannot be contained within a 2-hour film, the producers decided to make it into a 2-part movie. They are confident that once viewers see Part I, they will be very much interested in the sequel as well.

Filming starts in May 2009 at various European countries. There are arrangements made with well-known orchestras over there and recording of performances will be done at famous concert halls.

The story will continue from where the SP ended.

Source: Sanspo

New Year 2009 Special: Akuma no Temari Uta 悪魔の手毬唄

Title: 悪魔の手毬唄 (The Devil's Cotton Ball Song)
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Timeslot: 5 January 2009, Friday 9pm to 11.33pm
Cast: Inagaki Goro, Yamada Yu, Hiraoka Yuuta, Katase Rino, Shibata Sachi and Tanihara Shosuke
Official website: here

The 5th instalment in the Kindaichi Kosuke series is back!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ohno Satoshi to star in "Uta no Oniisan" (Winter 09 drama)

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Ohno Satoshi from Arashi will star in TV Asahi's comedy drama for winter 09, "Uta no Oniisan" (The Brother of Songs) which will be broadcast from 16 Jan 09 on Fridays at 11.15pm. This is the 2nd time that he is starring in the lead role since "Maou" in summer 08.

Ohno plays the role of Kenta who will be quite different from the usual cheerful and children-loving uta no oniisan in a music programme for children. Kenta takes on the new job of being the singing brother in the programme after the band he belongs to is dismissed, his girlfriend dumps him and his family looks down on him as a good-for-nothing. He must now try to prove himself in his new role while interacting with children which is what he has not done before. Due to the nature of this role, Ohno will have to sing and dance in the drama.

Filming will begin on 18 Dec 08.

Top 10 most favourite TV police detectives (Oricon)

1) Oda Yuji as Aoshima Shunsaku (Odoru Daisousasen)

2) Mizutani Yutaka as Sugishita Ukyo (Aibou)

3) Tamura Masakazu as Furuhata Ninzaburo (Furuta Ninzaburo)

4) Shibata Kohei as Ooshita Yuji (Abunai Keiji)

5) Matsuda Yuusaku as Shibata Jun (Taiyo ni Hoero)

6) Shinohara Ryoko as Yukihara Natsumi (Unfair)

7) Fujita Makoto as Yasuura Kichinosuke (Hagure Keiji Junjou Ha)

8) Tachi Hiroshi as Takayama Toshiki (Abunai Keiji)

9) Odagiri Jo as Kiriyama Shuuichirou (Jikou Keisatsu)

10) Terawaki Yasufumi as Kameyama Kaoru (Aibou)

Source: Oricon

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Top 10 most memorable Japanese movies (Oricon)

Here's the top 10 most memorable Japanese movies as researched by Oricon:

*Figures in brackets indicate the year of release.

1) ALWAYS 3 chome no Yuuhi (2005)

2) Odoru Daisousasen THE MOVIE (1998)

3) Sekai no Chuushin de, Ai wo Sakebu (2004)

4) Yogisha X no Kenshin (2008)

5) Tonari no Totoro (1988)

6) Koizora (2007)

7) Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu (2004)

8) Yomigaeri (2003) / Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (2001)

10) Okuribito (2008) / Nankyoku Monogatari (1983)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Top 10 movies ranking (30 November 2008)

1) Red Cliff Part I

2) Watashi wa kai ni naritai

3) Happy Flight

4) Yes! Puri Kyua 5 GoGo! Okashi no kuni no Happy Birthday

5) Death Race

6) Yogisha X no Kenshin

7) Soul 5

8) Handsome Suit

9) Tropic Santa

10) Maboroshi no Jama Daikoku

Monday, December 01, 2008

20th Century Boys Part 1 DVD - Deluxe Version

Title: 20th Century Boys Part 1 DVD - Deluxe Version
Price: 5,775 yen (inclusive of tax)
Specifications: Dolby Digital Sound, Limited Edition & Subtitled
Region Code: 2
Number of discs: 1
Produced by: VAP, INC
Date of release: 30 January 2009
Total running time: 142 minutes

Special features:

1) Analog LP Double Jacket
2) Trailers for Part 1 and Part 2
3) Original Guitar Pick
4) A flag with the Tomodachi mark