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Friday, October 30, 2009

Review of Amalfi Megami no Houshuu アマルフィ 女神の報酬

Title: Amalfi Megami no Houshuu アマルフィ 女神の報酬 (Amalfi The Remuneration of the Goddess)
Original novel by: Shinpo Yuichi
Roadshow start date: 18 July 2008
Theme song: Time to say goodbye by Sarah Brightman
Cast: Oda Yuji, Amami Yuki, Oomori Ayane, Toda Erika, Sato Koichi, Sano Shiro, Onodera Akira, Ootsuka Nene, Ito Atsushi, Hirata Mitsuru, Fukuyama Masaharu, Sarah Brightman, Antonio Rocco Papaleo and Nakai Kiichi (voice acting only)

After watching this movie on Sunday, I felt really disappointed. Well, from the start, I wasn't expecting too much and yet this film did even worse than I thought. Before you continue reading what I have to say, please be reminded that these are my personal views only. Everyone may interpret the film differently so please do not be offended if you find my views varying from yours. And for those who do not wish to know the ending of this film, it's also advisable to skip this review as there will be plentiful of spoilers.

First of all, let me do a brief introduction about the storyline. And this is the biggest problem in the whole film.

Kuroda Kousaku (Oda Yuji) is a diplomat who has just been dispatched to the Japanese embassy in Rome, Italy. He keeps in contact with his superior Kataoka (Nakai Kiichi) over the phone as the embassy gears up to prepare for the Foreign Minister, Kawagoe Wataru's (Hirata Mitsuru) visit during the G8 meeting. Trainee interpreter Adachi Kanae (Toda Erika) fumbles along in work with her half-baked Italian and tries to keep up with Kuroda who maintains a straight face and seems to be hiding his true intentions from the rest.

At the same time, single mum Yagami Saeko is in Rome with her daughter Madoka for a holiday before the latter goes for an eye operation. However, she is aghast to find her daughter abducted when they are in a museum. Yagami then enlists the help of the embassy where Kuroda and Adachi are sent to assist. However, they soon find out that the abduction is more than meets the eye. Meanwhile, danger is looming as Kawagoe reaches Rome...

Here are the reasons why I simply disliked the story:

1) Ambiguous direction - a suspense thriller or travelogue?
Is this film trying to be a suspense thriller? Or is it trying to be a travelogue introducing the sights of Rome and Amalfi? Frankly speaking, I do not know what the answer is.

If it's the former, I think they've failed terribly. Notwithstanding the fact that the culprit was simply too easy to guess, the developments of the story seemed to be suggesting that the scriptwriter was being too cautious. There is always this problem with Japanese thrillers. If you see a well-known actor or one of significant status playing a small role, there is something fishy unless it's stated clearly that he/she is just appearing in a cameo role. It was simply too unnatural for Sato Koichi to appear for a few scenes and his identity concealed at the start when Saeko was talking to Sato's character. It was as if they want the viewer to know bits and pieces of information at various junctures and yet there was a sudden U-turn which suggested that the scriptwriter changed his mind and thought that it was safer to keep the hints under wraps. And the tension didn't really build up. The climax scene was so predictable that it doesn't take a genius to figure out what would happen. And what's with this title? If you look closely, most of the action takes place in Rome. Scenes in Amalfi turn out to be much lesser and of a lower significance. Other than mentioning the legend behind Amalfi, the place seems to be unimportant to the story. I was still none the wiser about the meaning of the title at the end of the movie.

And if it's the latter we are talking about, it was a passable attempt but there were still flaws. The colour balance of the film deviated towards the darker extreme so the whole backdrop looked too gloomy and pale. It was only till the scenes in Amalfi which made the screen brighten up a bit because of the contrast from the sea. And that lousy editing deserves to be picked up for criticism. How can they have blank scenes for at least 3 times throughout the film instead of doing a smooth transition between scenes? Even a line "1 week later" or "1 month later" would have been better at improving the flow of the movie. For a moment, I thought there was something wrong with the theatre's projector but apparently, the number of blank screens shown is an indicator that the problem lies with the movie itself. Last but not least, that repetition of the scene in the hotel room where Yagami and Kuroda were in after her daughter went missing was totally redundant. They should have started the movie from the part when both parties arrived in Rome instead of wasting time on repeating that scene which wasn't that significant after all.

One last thing I would like to point out is that some things should be left unsaid. Italy helped in the filming of this movie but it's mentioned point blank that they are famous for pickpocketing. Well, I'm sure a lot of us would have known that in certain European cities, pickpocketing is a notorious crime that we should watch out for when we travel there. I just find it really awkward that the movie had to mention this directly instead of leaving subtle hints. By being so frank, it kills the beauty of the place at the same time. It also feels as if you are repaying the home country with scorn. Just when people were enthralled with the sights in Rome and Amalfi, you dump a spoiler to dampen their rising spirits. Although Kuroda had meant well by reminding Yagami of the prospect of meeting pickpockets, the line could have been modified slightly though.

2) The ego of a big name?
In case you are unaware, this movie project was intended right from the start to centre around Oda Yuji. As such, it is very evident that he was given the best treatment and elevated to a class above the rest in this movie. When that happened, everyone seemed to be just mere accessories especially for those who had very minor roles or are still not in the league of holding their own despite the harsh circumstances. Oda's roles in movies and dramas for the past few years have been largely of the same sort. Most of the time, there is a comedic touch to his roles. Even though Kuroda is stern and looks emotionless most of the time, I simply don't think it is a radical change from the past. There is too little development of the character to show me that Oda had changed his approach of potraying a character. It didn't leave a deep impression on me, so as to speak. And he's got to put in some effort to show that he is versatile in playing various types of roles or else he will be stereotyped. Surely he doesn't want to be remembered for just 2 significant roles in his entire career i.e. Kanchi (Tokyo Love Story) and Aoshima Shunsaku (Odoru Daisousasen)? It's high time he gets another breakthrough.

Amami Yuki's role made her seem like a damsel in distress who couldn't think properly at all when her background was supposed to be a strong single mother. Luckily, that punch she threw at Oda was a saving grace, showing Yagami Saeko has emotions other than panicking. Nonetheless, I thought it was a big waste of talent for Amami to play this role. Likewise for Toda Erika, she was stifled by this hierarchy style of script writing which made her role very forgettable. I remember that she mentioned in an interview that she's open to playing lead and supporting roles so that it helps to build up her portfolio. Even so, I think she can afford to be a bit more selective. Exposure is good but if your role is forgettable or you do not really get a chance to prove yourself, it's as good as not taking up the role. Luckily for Sato Koichi, no doubt his role may not be that big, he made full use of his limited screen time to make an impact. And I must say, his English was less jarring to the ears as compared to Oda. ^__^ By the way, since they were in Italy, I simply don't understand the need for English lines popping out of nowhere.

And why do they need Fukuyama Masaharu to play such a small role? I do not think it is cheap for them to fly him over for so little scenes. They could have saved the money and spent it on someone else. It may look good to put Oda and Fukuyama on screen together BUT I think they should have spent the money on improving the story rather than assembling big names for the sake of attracting attention. A case of misplaced priorities. Then again, they could have mentioned that Nakai Kiichi was playing the role of Kuroda's colleague/friend because I only came to know about it after looking at the credits. They got such a big name to appear in the movie and yet didn't bother to promote his appearance? This is simply bewildering.

3) Atrocious subtitling
I do not know about other countries but the subtitles we have in the Singapore cinemas are simply atrocious. For someone who doesn't even know Japanese, looking at the English and Chinese subtitles is enough to tell you that something is not quite right because there were many points when each language conveyed a different meaning. If you know Japanese, I guess you would be shaking your head at each time the subs make mistakes. It's simply embarrassing. I do not know where the subs were done but to screen such a low-quality subbed version is an insult to those who paid to watch the movie. Surely we deserve an accurate translation of the lines in the movie?

And my ratings for this movie...
Story: 2 out of 10 (Reasons as stated above - in short, it feels like a last-minute production)
Acting: 5 out of 10 (Nobody really stood out. If I really have to name somebody, that would be Sato Koichi)
Theme song: 6 out of 10 (This is a very well-known song but hearing it repeatedly just wears me out)
Visual effects / Scenery: 6 out of 10 (The scenery deserves the thumbs up but I think the cameraman's skills are questionable. Colour balance, editing and arrangement of scenes are all lacking)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 3 out of 10 (Everyone seems to be too detached from one another. No chemistry to speak of.)

Total: 22 out of 50


In conclusion: A big money-spender with little to show for

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (25 Oct 09)

1) Boku no Hatsukoi wo Kimi ni Sasagu

2) Shizumanu Taiyo

3) Kaiji Jinsei Gyakuten Game

4) Buddha Saitan

5) Wild Speed MAX

6) My Sister's Keeper

7) The Proposal

8) Samayou Yaiba

9) The Time Traveler's Wife

10) Villon no Tsuma Sakuranbo to Tanpopo

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The 22nd Japan Spectacles Best Dresser Award

Showbiz Category: Inoue Mao (actress)

Politician Category: Nagazuma Akira (Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare)

Economic Category: Yanai Tadashi (UNIQLO's CEO)

Cultural Category: Ishizaka Koji (actor)

Sunglasses Category: Karasawa Toshiaki

Special Award: Suzanne (artiste)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Top 10 most popular actors among men (Oricon)

1) Tsumabuki Satoshi

2) Mizushima Hiro

3) Oguri Shun

4) Sato Ryuta

5) Matsuyama Kenichi

6) Wentz Eiji

7) Ichihara Hayato

8) Eita

9) Kamiji Yuusuke

10) Koike Teppei

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Summer 2009 Drama Ratings Ranking

The summer season has finally ended and the autumn season is already underway with most of the dramas having made their debut. Sorry about the late ratings report because of my tight schedule these days. I've been having so little time to watch the dramas and movies of late but I guess that I will be able to write more after my exams are over. By then, I would have another list of dramas to blog on from the current season. Nonetheless, I'm still enjoying the task of writing reviews even though I may have lots of backlog to clear. Can you believe that I have still not finished the review of Zenigeba (Winter 09) and Mr.Brain? Well, I have so many good things to say about the former and too many bad things to complain about the latter so that explains the delay. Bear with me if you are waiting for the reviews. They will come but probably at a later date.

Frankly speaking, this summer season has been rather disappointing. Pre-season, I selected only 5 dramas from the field of 15 so this goes to show how "interesting" the offering was, at least to me. This wasn't surprising because summer dramas have been seen as boring and long-regarded as "fillers" after the big-budget spring dramas and before the autumn offering comes up. As such, most TV stations seem to be pulling back when it comes to summer dramas. In recent years, there have been relatively good offerings in summer e.g. last year's "Tomorrow" and "Maou" but this label of boring dramas is almost like a unremovable stigma for the summer season and fails to stir up viewer interest.

You may be surprised to see that the top 3 for summer 2009 are ALL from FujiTV. However, there may be a good reason for this. It doesn't mean that all three dramas are of top-notch quality. Comparing them with the competition will probably give you an inkling as to why they won.

First of all, we have "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4" as the winner for this season with an average of 19.20%. If you want to take into consideration the 4-part SPs before the official O.A., the average is still well-above 2nd-placed "Ninkyou Helper" i.e. 17.13% vs. 15.02%. Frankly speaking, if not for the unfortunate accident involving Eguchi Yosuke before the O.A., viewer interest might not have been so high. The delayed telecast succeeded in boosting viewer interest which explains why it got an above-20% rating for its first episode. Mind you, no other drama had an episode above 20% throughout the whole season. However, if you have read my review, all I can say that it was a bit sloppy at times in terms of production. I am guessing that the accident caught the crew off-guard so there were a lot of changes which worked out not to be their advantage. To date, I still think that Part 3 was the best or should I say more well-rounded.

In 2nd place, we have "Ninkyou Helper" with an average of 15.02%. Again, this drama had an unexpected boost through Kusanagi Tsuyoshi's run-in with the law in April this year. For those who are unaware of what happened, just click the artiste news tag to see the archives. Right before the drama even began filming, it was said to be doomed because people thought that Kusanagi's image suffered such a big dent that people would not be interested to see this drama. Then, the unthinkable happened because Kusanagi got his role back and the drama did quite well. Seems like his potrayal of a nasty guy was timely since it would have been suicide if his role was another goody-two-shoes character. Although I have not finished watching this yet, the first 3 episodes were passable at the very least but not to the extent of being extremely satisfying. I can only pass my verdict after watching this.

As for No.3, we have Buzzer Beat starring Yamashita Tomohisa and Kitagawa Keiko with an average rating of 14.37%. Most of the time, love stories would do OK unless the plot is simply lousy. I didn't watch this drama so I have nothing to comment. Again, this drama also experienced a small scare when it was revealed that Yamashita had H1N1 and filming had to be delayed for a while. Luckily, the OA wasn't affected in the end.

Do you notice 2 similarities between the Top 3?

1) A sudden incident almost derailed the O.A. of the drama i.e. Eguchi's accident, Kusanagi's scandal and Yamashita's sickness.

2) They all have themes which are traditionally deemed to be ratings winners i.e. medical dramas, social themes and love stories.

This brings me to my point why the others fared not as well. The rest of the competition were too niche in their target audience. Most of the time, it's either you love it or hate it so the viewership base is naturally smaller, irrespective of the timeslot. Of course, the Top 3 had so-called golden timeslots but in this era, even midnight dramas can do well. As such, I think that the genre was probably the key factor in deciding this season's winner.

4) Karei Naru Spy (NTV) - 11.12%
This is yet another example of extremes. Frankly speaking, I didn't know how to comment on the first episode after watching it. I hated the lame jokes but I thought some parts were OK. I am still undecided about whether to proceed.

5) Tonari no Shibafu (TBS) - 9.73%
The traditional old story of mother-in-laws vs. daughter-in-laws. Well, there were so many similar themed dramas in the past so I'm very sick of this genre. It doesn't help that the cast wasn't appealing to me other than Seto Asaka.

6) Kochikame (TBS) - 9.27%
This is a drama which began with a bang literally (the CD release and event) but went out with a fizzle. The main grouse was the low quality of production and not staying true to the original. I haven't watched this, I don't know the story of the manga or anime so I really couldn't comment. However, just one glance at the trailer killed my interest.

7) Kanryoutachi no Natsu (TBS) - 9.05%
This is a serious drama and with a bunch of stern-looking men. I guess this is probably something housewives wouldn't want to watch unless they want to ogle at a particular actor. Frankly speaking, the premise of the story seems interesting but the atmosphere from the first 10 minutes of the debut episode makes me undecided again about whether to proceed.

8) Orthros no Inu (TBS) - 8.42%
The problem with this is the same as Kochikame. The TV station tried to heighten expectations but it disappointed me, at the very least. From the first 4 episodes, I can find so many irregularities or illogical points which is killing my interest. I still don't know whether I should proceed because Nishikido wasn't as outstanding as he was in Last Friends and Takizawa doesn't interest me.

9) Akahana no Sensei (NTV) - 8.33%
I didn't watch this. Despite Kobayashi Satomi's presence, I still wasn't keen to watch this. I don't know whether it was the story or Ooizumi Yo which failed to interest me.

10) Meido Deka (TV Asahi) - 8.22%
Another niche drama for those who like young girls in a detective role. I like Fukuda Saki but I hate this type of stories.

11) Koishite Akuma (FujiTV) 6.69%
This seemed to be riding on the successful wave of "Twilight" but it reeked of a last-minute patch-up production. Vampire and human love stories are not my cup of tea especially when it is presented in this manner. I don't like the lead actor as well.

12) Dandy Daddy (TV Asahi) - 6.59%
I didn't watch this.

13) Call Center no Koibito (TV Asahi) - 6.14%
Although Mimura impressed me with her performance in Zenigeba, I wasn't tempted to watch this at all. I think it's the story. As for Koizumi Kotaro, I'm pretty neutral towards him.

14) Saru Lock (NTV) - 4.65%
This is obviously targeted at guys. Although I didn't watch this, reading reviews about this drama seems to indicate that there are a lot of suggestive developments and many girls to ogle at.

* Otomen was not included in this season's ranking because it is still showing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The 2nd Tokyo Drama Award

Best Drama Grand Prix: Aishiteru ~ Kaiyou ~ (NTV)

Outstanding Drama Awards: ROOKIES (TBS) / Kaze no Garden (FujiTV) / Arifureta Kiseki (FujiTV) / Sora Tobu Tyre (WOWOW) / Okaimono (NHK) / Keiji Ichidai ~ Hiratsuka Hachibee no Showa Jikenshi (TV Asahi)

Outstanding Local Drama Awards (dramas produced by TV stations outside of Tokyo): Okome no Namida (NHK Sendai) / Momoyama Onigiri ten (Sapporo TV)

Best Leading Actor: Nakai Kiichi (Kaze no Garden)

Best Leading Actress: Amami Yuki (BOSS)

Best Supporting Actor: Endo Kenichi (Kiri no Hi)

Best Supporting Actress: Toda Erika (Ryusei no Kizuna)

Best Newcomer: Mizobata Junpei / Kawashima Umika

Best Scriptwriter: Kuramoto Sou (Kaze no Garden)

Best Producer: Tsugiya Hisashi (Aishiteru ~ Kaiyou)

Best Stage Direction: Miyamoto Rieko (Kaze no Garden)

Special Award: Ogata Ken / The Art Direction Team of "Kurobe no Taiyo" / Staff of TV Tokyo drama, "Choujikan Dorama Shinshun Wide Jidaigeki"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Orthros no Inu DVD Box

Title: Orthros no Inu DVD Box
Price: 21,945 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 27 Jan 09
Total number of discs: 6
Produced by: Warner Home Video

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4 DVD Box

Title: Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4 DVD Box
Price: 16,590 yen
Date of release: 20 Jan 2009
Total number of discs: 5
Produced by: Pony Canyon
Total running time: 410 minutes
Special footage includes: Production press conference, SPs before the actual O.A., End-of-filming, Promotional CMs

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First episode ratings of Tokyo Dogs, Samurai High School, Untouchable, Ohitori-sama and Shoukojo Seira

The first episode of "Tokyo DOGS" shown on 19 Oct achieved a high rating of 18.7% which makes it the highest rating for the debut episode of a Gekku drama this year. This beat the previous record of 17.7% of "Voice" starring Eita in the winter season.

Meanwhile, other dramas also made their debut during the weekends. "Samurai High School" achieved 14.0% which was the highest among weekend dramas. Nakama Yukie's "Untouchable" shown on 16 Oct got a rating of 11.6% while Mizuki Arisa and Koike Teppei's "Ohitori-sama" got 10.1%. As for Shida Mirai's "Shoukojo Seira", it managed to get 7.4% on its 17th Oct debut.

Tokiwa Takako and Nagatsuka Keishi get married

Tokiwa Takako and Nagatsuka Keishi have registered their marriage today after a 6-year courtship. Nagatsuka is 3 years younger than her and is a popular stage producer and actor. He is also the eldest son of veteran actor Nagatsuka Kyouzou. The two had met each other through working on the movie "Geroppa" in 2003.

Tokiwa released her statement through her official website as follows:

"To all related parties,

I am sorry for making a private announcement during this busy period.

We, Nagatsuka Keishi and Tokiwa Takako have registered our marriage today i.e. 20 October 2009.

It is a fine day and we are full of emotions at this moment.

From now on, the two of us will bind our souls together tightly and take slow and steady steps in future.

It would be good if everyone can watch over us warmly as we take a new step in life. Please continue to support us in future."

Kanryoutachi no Natsu DVD Box

Title: Kanryoutachi no Natsu DVD Box
Price: 19,950 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 20 Jan 09
Number of discs: 5
Produced by: TC Entertainment
Total running time: 472 minutes

Monday, October 19, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (18 Oct 09)

1) Kaiji Jinsei Gyakuten Game

2) Buddha Saitan

3) World Speed Max

4) My Sister's Keeper

5) The Proposal

6) Samayou Yaiba

7) Villon no Tsuma Sakuranbo to Tanpopo

8) Final Dead Circuit

9) 20 Seiki Shounen Saishusho Bokura no Hata

10) Kamui Gaiten

Amalfi ~ Megami no Houshuu Complete Edition DVD

Title: Amalfi ~ Megami no Houshuu Complete Edition DVD
Price: 9,975 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 1 Jan 2010
Number of discs: 3 (Disc 1: The movie / Disc 2: Pre-roadshow feature, "Amalfi Begins" / Disc 3: Special Footage)
Produced by: Pony Canyon
Total running time: 125 minutes
Special footage includes: Making-of scenes, introduction to location shoots in Italy, Production press conference, Completion Press Conference, Interviews with the crew at Italy's Tiberina Film Festival, First-day roadshow event and Thanksgiving event to mark the hit of the movie

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stardust announces the firing of Sawajiri Erika

Stardust Promotion made an official announcement on 17 Oct with regards to the termination of their contract with Sawajiri Erika. However, the agency did not go into details about the reason for their action and simply said that she had committed serious violations of the contract. According to Stardust, the termination took place at the end of September but they waited till now to make the announcement because they had to liaise with various parties on how to handle some issues. It is widely believed that Stardust made the decision because of Sawajiri's problematic behaviour since Sep 07 when she behaved rudely at the press conference of her movie.

Currently, Sawajiri is said to be residing in Europe with her husband. It is expected that she will not be seen on Japanese media for the time being until she finds a new agency and is able to get work assignments.

Karei Naru Spy DVD Box

Title: Karei Naru Spy DVD Box
Price: 18,060 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 23 Dec 2009
Number of discs: 6
Produced by: VAP
Total running time: 506 minutes
Special footage includes: Behind-the-scenes and interviews with the cast (1 disc)

Friday, October 16, 2009

FujiTV drama SP "Hanshin Awaji Daishinsai kara 15 nen Kobe Shinbun no Nanokakan"

Arashi member Sakurai Sho will be acting in the FujiTV documentary-drama SP "Hanshin Awaji Daishinsai kara 15 nen Kobe Shinbun no Nanokakan ~ Hisaichi ni ikita kisha tachi no tatakai" (temporary title) [15 years after the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake ~ The 7-day battle of Kobe News' reporters who lived in the disaster zone). This drama SP will be shown in Jan next year and is based on the true story of a reporter Mitsuyama Tomohiko who will also be making an appearance in the story.

Sakurai plays the role of Mitsuyama who is a reporter working in the photography department for the past 4 years when the earthquake struck in Jan 1995. As someone who was a victim of the natural disaster when their office building collapsed, Mitsuyama had to continue working on the news coverage of the earthquake for at least 7 days in a row without resting despite the tough circumstances.

The real-life Mitsuyama is now the chief of the photography department and the SP will include interviews with Mitsuyama and some of his fellow colleagues. All character names will also be taken from their real-life models.

First episode rating of "Fumou Chitai"

The first episode of "Fumou Chitai" starring Karasawa Toshiaki shown via FujiTV on 15 Oct 09 garnered a rating of 14.4%. The debut was a 2-hour-18-minute SP shown from 9pm onwards which marked the start of this drama which will span 2 seasons till March next year.

"Fumou Chitai" was previously adapted into a movie in 1976 and a drama by TBS in 1979. This current version is made to mark the 50th anniversary of FujiTV.

Preview of "Liar Game Season 2" - Autumn 2009

Title: Liar Game Season 2
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 10 November 09
Timeslot: Tuesdays, 9pm
Original manga by: Kaitani Shinobu
Cast: Toda Erika, Matsuda Shota, Suzuki Kousuke, Kichise Michiko, Watanabe Ikkei etc.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

First episode rating of "Gine ~ Sanfujinka no Onna tachi"

"Gine Sanfujinka no Onna tachi" aired its first episode on 14 Oct and achieved a rating of 14.8% for its debut. This was much higher than the previous offering in summer, "Akahana no Sensei" which debuted at 9.4% and had an average rating of 8.3%. As such, "Gine" is deemed to have crossed the passing mark since medical dramas do relatively well traditionally.

"Liar Game Season 2" spin-off drama to be shown via FujiTV On Demand

There will be a spin-off series in conjunction with the impending OA of "Liar Game Season 2" which will be shown exclusively via FujiTV On Demand. The series titled "Liar Game Episode Zero" will be set 7 years before the first season started thus the roles of Nao (Toda Erika) and Akiyama (Matsuda Shota) will be played by Fukuda Mayuko and Furukawa Yuuta respectively. To watch the spin-off series which spans 12 episodes, viewers will have to access the service through their PCs or mobile phones from 27 Oct. Note that this service is restricted to those residing in Japan.

V6 member Nagano Hiroshi involved in a traffic accident

V6 member Nagano Hiroshi was involved in a traffic accident on 12 Oct at around 6.20pm. At that time, he was driving on the Metropolitan Expressway near Saitama's Yashio City which was experiencing traffic jams. As he did not pay attention to the front, he bumped his car into a car owned by a lady who is 62 years old. Luckily, the lady did not suffer any injuries as a result of the impact.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of "Shoukojo Seira"

The production press conference of "Shoukojo Seira" was held on 14 Oct 09 at Berrick Hall where cast members including Shida Mirai, Hayashi Kento, Higuchi Kanako and Tanabe Seiichi made appearances. The drama is due to be shown from 17 Oct at 7.56pm on Thursdays and is based on a famous children's story. The first episode will be a 2-hour SP which begins at 7pm instead.

Preview of "Tokyo Dogs" - Autumn 2009

Title: Tokyo Dogs
Official website: here
O.A. Start: 19 Oct 09
Timeslot: Mondays, 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Theme song: Futatsu no Kuchibiru by EXILE
Cast: Oguri Shun, Mizushima Hiro, Yoshitaka Yuriko, Kaji Ryo, Azuma Mikihisa, Shiga Koutarou, Tomosaka Rie, Tanaka Yoshiko, Ootsuka Nene and Miura Tomokazu

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First episode ratings of "JIN" and "My Girl"

The first episode of TBS drama, "JIN" shown on 11 Oct achieved a rating of 16.5% which was higher than the previous drama in the same timeslot, "Kanryoutachi no Natsu" which registered a rating of 14.5%. The first episode was a 2-hour SP.

As for the TV Asahi drama "My Girl" starring Aiba Masaki, the first episode got a rating of 9.6%.

Production press conference of "Waga Ie no Rekishi"

The production press conference of FujiTV's 50th anniversary drama SP, "Waga Ie no Rekishi" was held on 13 Oct where cast members Shibasaki Kou, Matsumoto Jun, Horikita Maki, Nagasawa Masami, Amami Yuki, Sato Koichi, Sato Ryuuta, Eikura Nana, Ooizumi Yo, Tamayama Tetsuji, Suzuki Sawa, Fuji Sumiko and Nishida Toshiyuki made appearances. The story is set in the turbulent Showa era after WWII about a family who has to go through the trials during that period. The SP will be shown over 3 consecutive nights in spring next year and last for 8 hours in total.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (11 Oct 09)

1) Kaiji Jinsei Gyakuten Game

2) World Speed MAX

3) My Sister's Keeper

4) Samayou Yaiba

5) Villon no Tsuma Sakuranbo to Tanpopo

6) 20 Seiki Shounen Saishusho Bokura no Hata

7) Kamui Gaiten

8) BALLAD Na mo naki Koi no Uta

9) Hikidashi no naka no Love Letter

10) ATOM

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Top 10 most indispensable actors / actresses in major productions (Oricon)

1) Amami Yuki

2) Kimura Takuya

3) Eguchi Yosuke

4) Sasaki Kuranosuke

5) Sato Koichi

6) Abe Hiroshi

7) Karasawa Toshiaki

8) Kohinata Fumio

9) Tsutsumi Shinichi

10) Oda Yuji

Friday, October 09, 2009

Kimi tachi ni Ashita wa Nai - NHK Sat 9pm drama beginning in Jan 10

Sakaguchi Kenji will be starring in the NHK Saturday 9pm drama, "Kimi tachi ni Ashita wa Nai" (You do not have a future) which begins its run from 16 January. The story is based on a novel by Kakine Ryousuke which won the Yamamoto Shuugoro award. Sakaguchi plays an interview officer working for a retrenchment outsourcing company who conducts interviews with employees of companies which are on the verge of collapse. On the pretext of persuading employees to opt for voluntary resignation, he uses various methods to force them to quit on their own instead even though he feels their pain of losing their jobs at the same time. This is the first time that Sakaguchi is acting in a NHK drama since "Seirei Nagashi ~ Anata wo wasurenai" in 2002. Filming is due to begin in the middle of Oct till the end of the year. The NHK Saturday 9pm slot has been dishing out dramas focusing on social trends or sensitive topics since 2006 including Hyouheki which starred Tamaki Hiroshi as a mountain climber and "Hagetaka" which talked about the financial world.

Review of "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4" - Summer 2009

The "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji" series has enjoyed a strong following over the years with its strong ratings and critically-acclaimed stories. In addition, many notable actors in the Japanese entertainment circle have taken part in this series. I never realized that so many relatively well-known actors were in this series because at that time when it was shown, it could be partly due to the fact that they had not made it big or their appearance airtime was limited so I didn't really notice the lineup was considered star-studded. Coupled with the fact that there were so many characters involved, it was a bit difficult to remember who appeared in which series. Just to name some of the more notable ones in the past 3 instalments: Sudo Risa, Sawamura Ikki, Sugimoto Tetta, Kaneda Akio, Shimizu Shogo, Yashima Tomohito from Part 1, Matsuyuki Yasuko, Ito Hideaki, Tabata Tomoko, Kohinata Fumio, Miyasago Hiroyuki, Tanihara Shosuke, Watanabe Ikkei from Part 2 and from Part 3 we have Kagawa Teruyuki, Kyono Kotomi, Oguri Shun, Ooizumi Yo, MEGUMI, Koichi Mantarou, Washio Machiko, Nakamura Tooru and Inoue Mao who appeared as a patient who kept committing suicide.

Frankly speaking, I was a bit disappointed by the supporting lineup for Part 4 when I first read the cast list. Especially when you compare the lineup with what we had in Part 2 and 3, the supporting cast is relatively unknown or not that prominent except for Yusuke Santa Maria and Kimura Tae. Although Yusuke Santa Maria is usually humourous and cheeky on variety shows, I was convinced that he can pull off his role as Sawai ever since I saw his performance in Nemurenu Mori years ago. This guy can act in a serious role so I wasn't too worried. As for Kimura Tae, she is an alumni member of this series by default so it's not that much of a challenge for her to play Yamashiro. And I've seen enough of her shows to know that she can act well. Now the problem begins with the youngsters, the nurses and the doctors roped in from other departments. Kitano Kii never left a strong impression on me other than the time when she appeared in "LIFE". As for Ishida Takuya, I remember seeing him in a couple of movies but he didn't leave a deep impression on me as well. Thus, question marks formed in my mind as I wondered if the lineup was a bit lacking in terms of viewer appeal.

In a strange twist of fate, Eguchi got involved in a traffic incident thus leading to the delay of the series' OA. Since Shindo is such an important character in the series, there is no way the scriptwrters are going to leave him out of the action at the 11th hour. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise because of the pent-up demand and desire to watch the series. Although I already regarded this as a clear winner before the season started (in terms of ratings and critical reviews), I think the ratings could have gone higher on the virtue of a stronger storyline and more preparation time for the crew. Here are some of the issues which made the story low on my satisfaction index:

1) Eguchi Yosuke's inaction / limited airtime
I don't know how many of you have noticed this but Shindo has very little lines in this installment! In fact, you will find that he doesn't speak to convey his emotions. You literally have to guess your way through by looking at his facial expressions. Well, all along we know Shindo is a man of few words but then this is going too far. The scriptwriter may not need to let him speak or preach but at least make his presence felt. For most of the story, it felt as if he was a mere passer-by where all the action centered on the people around him as they were trying to come to terms with Shindo's character and way of doing things. I think Shindo was potrayed as a man with flesh and blood way better in Part 3. Here, he felt as an one-dimensional character. Then again, I'm guessing that this might have to do with his injury. It might be a move to ensure that Eguchi doesn't over-exert himself during the filming since he just recovered.

2) The "supposed" rivalry between Shindo and Sawai
Before the drama started, there was much talk about the battle between Shindo and Sawai. One holds the lofty ideal of saving everyone by putting in his best effort while the other holds a more pragmatic view that there is no way they can save everyone given the current situation. There must be some form of compromise so as to derive maximum benefit with limited resources. It should have been a very exciting exchange of views BUT it went downhill after 3 episodes. Hey, all we saw was Sawai trying to stop Shindo's ways so as not to tire the people working with him and having problems matching his standards. And then Sawai happily went M-I-A for most of the episodes on some seminars or meetings. Hello, I know he is the director of ER (he doesn't really get involved in the action most of the time) but then there is almost nil interaction between Shindo and Sawai. There is simply no avenue for them to iron out differences. Of course, it is unrealistic to think that there will be some sort of logical solution dished out by this drama because this is a headache for many countries and a very real problem. However, the drama could have been spiced up if there was some discussion between the two as they come to terms with each other's views rather some obstructions here and there by Sawai to prevent Shindo from getting his way. In the end, it only makes Sawai look really bad as a practical man but he does have a reason for his belief.

3) Cliches, preaching and unnecessary repetition
It is common to hear a lot of preaching in Japanese dramas and it does get on my nerves at times. I thought this installment was good in some episodes because there is minimal preaching. For example, when Kudo was irritated at Shindo and believed that he was good enough as a doctor, he found out the hard way instead of Shindo preaching to him and getting the idea across. Of course, Shindo did try to bring across his view to Kudo initially but he gave up soon. I guess he was resigned to the fact that newbies never listen to advice unless they get into trouble. I thought the handling of this development was good because we learn from our mistakes instead of lectures from our seniors.
However, there were also instances which also made me quite bored. For example, when Kojima was being bombarded with advice or events around her reminding her that being single may not be so good after all, the phone call she made to her mother reiterating her stand that she loves her work is simply too cliched. She can explain her stand but what's with all that explanation before she gets to the point. It only feels like preaching to the viewers. Actually, a lot of these messages which the drama is trying to convey can be done subtly. Things do not have to be spelt out all the time and interpretation should be left to the viewers.
Maybe it's for the benefit of viewers who have never seen past installments but sometimes, the repetition of some facts seem redundant to people who have been following the series all along. One particular instance was jarring to my ears. This was when Kojima's mother tried to convince her to get married and have kids instead of continuing to be affected by her late fiance's date. It feels very unnatural in Japanese speech for her mother to emphasize the word "fiance" when talking about someone who was engaged to her daughter. As such, I think that although there is a need to inform first-time viewers of some things in the past, you have to balance this need with the possibility of getting on the nerves of viewers who know what is going on.

4) Everyone has to be saved by Shindo at least once?!
This struck me again when I watched the last episode. I don't know why but it seems like a lot of the cast members must be saved at least once by Shindo. Kudo's accident coupled with the simply "unnatural" mishap happening to Sawai strengthened my belief. Especially for Sawai, being treated by Shindo seemed to have eliminated the animosity between the two. Was it a move to end everything on a positive note? I just find this development really predictable especially when I saw Sawai going to the accident scene where Shindo was at. Such a big explosion and Shindo ALWAYS ends up unscathed no matter what happens?

5) Illogical happening?
In the beginning of the series, you will see Shindo consuming medicine which leads you to guess what is wrong with him. By the third episode, you will know the answer so I won't spoil the fun for you now. However, the manner it was exposed left a bad taste in my mouth. I don't know how this will be handled in real life but I really think it is a bad thing to do especially if you are a doctor. One of the doctors transferred from another department, Tanbara was not happy with Shindo and happened to know that the latter went for a blood test. To think that he abused his authority and went to check the results without the patient's knowledge or permission. It is so unbecoming for a doctor to do this especially when Tanbara had the intention to bring Shindo down with his revelation. And nothing happened to Tanbara for flouting the rules and he suddenly becomes an admirer of Shindo because of his handling of this matter? Sawai was being too lenient with this guy! There were lots of question marks in my mind after watching that episode.

After talking about the less-than-satisfactory aspects of this drama, I would like to end this review on a more positive note by talking about the good points:

1) The chemistry between Shindo and Kaede gets better
This combination is great! Not just in terms of appearance but it shows in their acting too. I like that opening intro especially when the two of them are shown in the treatment room and then walking along the corridor. They look so good together on screen. Thank goodness that Matsushima is tall so the balance on screen is better than if you have two characters who are very different in terms of height. And do you notice that their hairstyles are pretty similar? ^__^
In terms of interaction between Shindo and Kaede, it gets better over time. Maybe it's because they have worked together on 3 out of the 4 installments so it's natural for them to be familiar with each other's styles. In Part 4, I like the part in the first episode where they talked about Kaede's lawsuit for malpractice. It feels as if old friends who know each other very well are having a heart-to-heart conversation. Later on, when they work together, a lot of things are not spelt out but from their expressions, the viewer can see that they understand what each other is thinking. I would think that the partnership between this two is something worth checking out especially when you have watched the previous installments. The improvement in their relationship is noticeable especially when you consider that both of them have been through equally tough times as people who lost their loved ones and have the same passion for emergency care. It feels as if they are not just good partners in work but also soulmates, although not in the romantic sense.

2) The BGM
Frankly speaking, I don't remember most of the medical scenes in this drama. Everything just went by in a flash and usually, we can see more than 2 of such scenes in each episode. Due to the fast pace of the drama when there is medical action, the BGM serves an important role in turning up the tension level. I like the background music especially in the opening intro.

3) Humour
You definitely have to check out this part in the drama. Shindo shows off a little unknown side of him. The other doctors realized that he doesn't eat green peppers so they played a trick on him and wanted to force him to eat it. However, Shindo gets away with it when an emergency call came and that cheeky grin he showed to Kaede was so funny. I think this type of tiny tidbits of information about these doctors in the cast would be very welcomed in future installments.

And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 6 out of 10 (I was disappointed with some of the major developments which didn't turn out as well as promised pre-OA. It would be best to fine-tune your expectations beforehand.)
Acting: 7 out of 10 (I like Matsushima Nanako's mellow style of acting but Eguchi's talent is severely under-utilized this time)
Theme song: 5.5 out of 10 (It felt OK for the first few times I heard but it didn't leave a lasting impression on me.)
Visual effects / Scenery: 6 out of 10 (Not much outdoor shoots to speak of and because the medical action was too fast paced for me to appreciate.)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 8.5 out of 10 (Kudos to Shindo and Kaede!)

Total: 33 out of 50

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Production press conference of "Tokyo Dogs"

The production press conference of "Tokyo Dogs" was held on 8 Oct where cast members Oguri Shun, Mizushima Hiro and Yoshitaka Yuriko made their appearances. Oguri and Mizushima play police detectives working in the NY and Japan police forces respectively who meet in New York to investigate a case involving a mysterious woman who lost her memory, played by Yoshitaka. The drama will be shown from 19 October at 9pm on Mondays via FujiTV.

Yoshitaka remarked jokingly that since her appearance in the story was limited compared to the two male leads, she had time to go shopping in New York while everyone was busy with filming. She wondered if it was "retribution" for what she did because she felt that an unknown being rode on her back thus leading her to rush to a church and pray to God. This made everyone laugh and Oguri to say that the media will label her as a weirdo again.

When asked if she felt nervous working with two handsome guys, Yoshitaka admitted that it was impossible to feel nothing. As for Oguri, he said that Mizushima looked so cute when he slept beside him on the plane while on the flight back from NY. In response, Mizushima said that when he felt nervous, he would calm down for no reason when he saw Oguri. As such, this led Oguri to joke that they should start "dating" since they had "feelings" for each other.

Top 20 female artistes with the highest popularity (Video Research)

This is a survey conducted by Video Research twice a year (Feb and Aug) to determine the popularity rankings for artistes. The results are commonly used as an indicator by TV stations and CM sponsors to choose who to appear in their programmes or CMs.

1) BECKY / Amami Yuki
3) Asada Mao (figure skater)
4) Nakama Yukie
5) Ueto Aya
6) DREAMS COME TRUE
7) Matsushima Nanako
8) Kuroki Hitomi / Yoshinaga Sayuri
10) Kanno Miho

11) Ayase Haruka
12) Fukatsu Eri
13) Maya Miki
14) Hisamoto Masami / Shibasaki Kou
16) Yuka
17) Amuro Namie / Shinohara Ryoko
19) Yamaguchi Tomoko
20) Shibata Rie 

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Production press conference of "JIN"

The production press conference of TBS autumn drama, "JIN" was held on 6 Oct at a studio in Aoba, Yokohama where cast members Oosawa Takao, Nakatani Miki, Ayase Haruka etc made their appearances. The drama is due to be shown from 11 Oct at 9pm on Sundays.

Oosawa plays a neuro-surgeon Minakata Jin who goes back to the Edo period accidentally and takes on the role of a physician without any modern medical equipment and medicine. Nakatani plays his girlfriend in the present era and a courtesan in the Edo period. Ayase is the daughter of a warrior who falls for Jin.

Yokoyama Yu from Kanjani 8 also down with influenza type A, Ookura Tadayoshi's case still unconfirmed

Kanjani 8 members Yokoyama Yu was confirmed to have contracted influenza type A on 6 Oct when he complained of a fever and went to the hospital for a checkup in the evening. As such, he had to cancel his discussion meeting for a new programme. Meanwhile, Ookura also complained of feeling feverish in the afternoon on the same day and had a fever of 38.2 degrees. However, he tested negative for the influenza type A test. Nonetheless, to play safe, Ookura will go for another round of the test on 7 Oct. The two of them were with fellow member Yasuda Shota on 4 Oct for a promotional campaign of Kanjani 8's DVD release in Nagoya.

Yasuda who had been earlier diagnosed with influenza A, was absent from the production conference of his drama "ROMES" on 6 Oct. Coupled with the fact that Ookura is also down with flu, the press conference went on with only Kuninaka Ryoko and Kusagari Masao present since the leads couldn't make an appearance. Yasuda is said to be returning to work on 9 Oct.

Top 20 male artistes with the highest popularity (Video Research)

This is a survey conducted by Video Research twice a year (Feb and Aug) to determine the popularity rankings for artistes. The results are commonly used as an indicator by TV stations and CM sponsors to choose who to appear in their programmes or CMs.

Top 20 male artistes

1) Ichiro (baseball player)
2) Abe Hiroshi
3) Ishizuka Hidehiko
4) Akashiya Sanma
5) Tadokoro George
6) Katori Shingo
7) Fukuyama Masaharu
8) Kuwata Keisuke (Southern All Stars)
9) Beat Takeshi (Kitano Takeshi)
10) Ishikawa Ryo (golfer)

11) Yamaguchi Tomomitsu
12) Mr.Children
13) Kinashi Noritake / Okamura Takashi
15) Taka And Toshi
16) Sekine Tsutomu
17) Shimura Ken
18) Takada Junji
19) Kimura Takuya
20) Eguchi Yosuke

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Shirota Yu, Koike Teppei and Yasuda Shota (Kanjani 8) all down with Influenza Type A

Shirota Yu, Koike Teppei and Yasuda Shota from Kanjani 8 are all down with Influenza A.

Shirota complained about feeling unwell on 4 Oct and went to the hospital for a checkup when he was diagnosed with Influenza Type A. His temperature went up to 37.4 degrees at one time but is now back to normal. As he has to stay at home for a few days before he recovers fully, filming for his drama "Samurai High School" will be delayed till he returns to work. He had also cancelled his appearance on his radio show at Nippon Broadcasting on 5 Oct.

Meanwhile, Koike Teppei was also diagnosed with the disease on 5 Oct and will not continue his filming for the TBS autumn drama "Ohitori-sama" until he recovers. As for Yasuda, he is currently recuperating at home and will skip the production press conference on 6 Oct for his drama on NHK, "ROMES" which is due to be shown from 15 Oct.

Top 10 movies ranking (4 Oct 09)

1) 20 Seiki Shounen Saishusho Bokura no Hata

2) Kamui Gaiten

3) BALLAD Na mo Naki no Uta

4) Gekijouban Duel Masters

5) Katen no Shiro

6) Coco before Chanel

7) Gekijouban Tales of Wisperia The First Strike

8) Wolverine: X-Men ZERO

9) TAJOMARU

10) The Ugly Truth

Monday, October 05, 2009

Production press conference of "Fumou Chitai"

The production press conference of "Fumou Chitai" was held on 4 October 09 where cast members Karasawa Toshiaki, Wakui Emi, Koyuki, Harada Yoshio, Yanagiba Toshiro, Abe Sadao, Endo Kenichi, Amami Yuki, Takenouchi Yutaka and Hashizume Isao made their appearances. The drama will begin on 15 Oct and stretch over 2 seasons in the Thursday 9pm slot.

The story is based on a novel by Yamazaki Toyoko about Iki Tadashi, a staff officer in the army who was detained in Siberia after WWII and later became a famous businessman. It is said that Iki was written to reflect the life of Itochu's late CEO Sejima Ryuzo. This is the 2nd time that Karasawa is acting in a story based on Yamazaki's novel and he remembered how she remarked that he had the guts to take on the challenge. As such, Karasawa mentioned that he was wondering how Yamazaki would react to this 2nd attempt to act in her story.

Filming began in the middle of August at New Zealand where Karasawa had to film scenes of Ichie being detained in Siberia. To look the role, he tried many ways to lose weight including drinking Chinese medicine and he lost 7 kg to reach the weight of 56kg. Now, his weight has rebounded by about 2 to 3 kg.

During the press conference, members of the cast also took turns to poke fun at Karasawa's small face where Abe Sadao started with mentioning that Karasawa's face was small. With response to that, Amami Yuki also commented jokingly that she didn't like to stand beside Karasawa because it made her face look bigger. Even Karasawa's longtime partner Wakui Emi who last acted with him 15 years ago in "Imouto Yo" remarked that Karasawa is very slim and has a small face thus she has to try very hard to make sure she doesn't look like an old woman beside him.

Sakai Miki pregnant with her first child

Sakai Miki is currently 5 months' pregnant and is due to give birth to her first child in March next year. Sakai got married to her husband who works as a doctor in an university-affiliated hospital in Oct last year.

According to insiders, Sakai felt unwell at the end of June thus was advised by her husband to see a gynae. After the initial checkup, she was told that she might be pregnant so she returned for a second checkup with her husband when they were told of the good news.

The couple had met each other at New York in 2004 where Sakai was there as a volunteer to provide mental care to patients who underwent organ transplant surgeries. The two of them dated for about one and a half year before getting married in Oct 08.

According to Sakai's agency, they confirmed the news and said that Sakai will go on maternity leave from Dec. She is due to appear in a stage play "Hangyakuji" from 6 Nov to 25 Nov with Nakamura Shido. Rehearsals for the play begin on 16 Oct. As for her radio show "YAMAZAKI SMILE DISH" on Bayfm where she appears as a personality on Sunday, Sakai will continue the recordings for this on a twice-monthly basis right until she is due to give birth.

Preview of "Untouchable" - Autumn 2009

Title: Untouchable
Official website: here
Produced by: TV Asahi
O.A. Start Date: 16 October 09
Timeslot: Fridays, 9pm
Theme song: ORION by GIRL NEXT DOOR
Cast: Nakama Yukie, Kaname Jun, Sato Tomohito, Ashina Sei, Urano Kazumi, Tanaka Youji, Sakai Toshiya, Oozawa Yukiyoshi, Tanaka Tetsuji and Terajima Susumu

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Preview of "My Girl" - Autumn 2009

Title: My Girl
Official website: here
Produced by: TV Asahi
O.A. Start Date: 9 October 09
Timeslot: Fridays, 11.15pm
Original manga by: Sahara Mizu
Theme song: My Girl by Arashi
Cast: Aiba Masaki, Yuuka, Murakami Shingo, Kitamura Yukiya, Yamazaki Shigenori, Ishii Momoka, Asaka Mayumi, Yamazaki Hajime, Himura Yuuki, Oomori Akemi, Muroi Shigeru

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Preview of Gine ~ Sanfujinka no Onna Tachi - Autumn 2009

Title: Gine ~ Sanfujinka no Onna Tachi
Official website: here
Produced by: NTV
O.A. Start Date: 14 October 2009
Timeslot: Wednesdays, 10pm
Original novel: No Fault by Okai Takashi
Cast: Fujiwara Norika, Kamiji Yuusuke, Itaya Yuka, Uchida Yuki, Nishida Naomi, Yajima Tomohito, Matsushita Yuki, Nakamura Hashinosuke, Motokariya Yuika, Kondou Yoshimasa, Yoshida Satoko, Kunimura Hayato

Friday, October 02, 2009

Press conference of "Real Clothes"

The press conference of "Real Clothes" was held on 1 October at a hotel in Tokyo where cast members including Karina, Kuroki Hitomi, Nishijima Hidetoshi, Kato Natsuki, IMALU, Takaoka Sousuke, Koizumi Koutarou, Mano Yuko, Nouse Anna and Erena made their appearances. The event was made to resemble a fashion show as the theme of the drama is set in the ladies' fashion department of a departmental store. The TV station is working with Hermes on this drama thus the cast members were dressed in various Hermes merchandise at the press conference.

Karina, who is also a fashion model, expressed great interest in potraying her character who works in the ladies' fashion department but has no idea of how to make herself look more fashionable as this is exactly different from her real-life persona. As for Kuroki, she is supposed to play Karina's boss with a great fashion sense but in real life, she admitted that she doesn't pay much attention to what she wears on a casual basis.

Preview of Real Clothes - Autumn 2009

Title: Real Clothes
Official website: here
Produced by: FujiTV / KTV
O.A. Start Date: 13 October 09
Timeslot: Tuesdays, 10.10pm
Original story by: Makimura Satoru
Theme song: Kitto Daijoubu by rhythmn zone
Cast: Karina, Kuroki Hitomi, Nishijima Hidetoshi, Takaoka Sousuke, Kato Natsuki, Mano Yuko, IMALU, Koizumi Koutaro, Nouse Anna, Erena

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Premiere screening of "My Girl" in 4 cities simultaneously

The premiere screening of "My Girl" was held on 1 October in 4 cities simulatenously. Cast members including Aiba Masaki, Yuuka, Murakami Shingo and Muroi Shigeru made their appearances at a cinema in Tokyo where they talked about acting in this drama.

The story is adapted from a manga by Sahara Mizu and talks about a guy Masamune (Aiba) who is still unable to forget his ex-lover Yoko (Yuuka) who left him suddenly six years ago. However, he discovers one day that Yoko had actually borne him a child Koharu (Ishii Momoka) and decides to bring up Koharu on his own. The theme song also titled "My Girl" will be sung by Arashi.

Aiba mentioned that he had to appear in a senior high school student's uniform at the beginning of the drama and said that he felt as if he was a taxi driver the moment he put on the uniform. He also changed his hairstyle for the sake of this drama. Although he feels rather apprehensive about letting his fellow Arashi members watch his acting, he said that he will still send recordings of the drama to their homes directly. When asked about the similarities between himself and the character in the drama, Aiba said that both of them are equally wishy-washy and cannot seem to make up their minds.

Yuuka commented that when she read the manga, she was already touched by the story until she cried. In addition, she said that Aiba didn't seem anxious at all although this is his first leading role and he had this healing aura which made everyone around him feel at ease.

The premiere was held at four cities including Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya anad Fukuoka. The footage from the Tokyo session was also shown live at the other 3 locations. A total of 210,000 entries were sent to the TV station and 1,100 lucky viewers were chosen for the event. The drama is due to be shown from 9 October at 11.15pm on Fridays.