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Friday, December 28, 2012

Fukuyama Masaharu to make his return to movies in "Soshite chichi ni naru"

Fukuyama Masaharu will make his return to movies for the first time in five years and play a father role for the first time in the movie "Soshite chichi ni naru" (And then I become a father) directed by Koreeda Hirokazu. The movie is scheduled to be shown in cinemas from 5 October 2013 and filming was done between 25 March and 6 May this year.

Fukuyama plays the role of an elite salaryman Nonomiya Ryota who is an egoistic man and believes strongly in his abilities. However, he encounters the biggest crisis of his life to date when he finds out that he had unwittingly raised someone else's son for the past 6 years because his own son was accidentally switched with someone else's at birth. His wife is played by Ono Machiko while the other couple whose child got swapped will be played by Lily Frankie and Maki Youko.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Talk event of WOWOW drama "Ten no Hakobune"

Mizuno Miki attended the talk event for her new WOWOW drama "Ten no Hakobune" held at the TV station in Akasaka on 27 December. The drama is currently airing via WOWOW at 10pm on Sundays. During the event, Mizuno talked about her filming experience in the Philippines and said that she was very excited to be working overseas. APF's CEO Yamaji Toru also attended the event as a guest.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 Top 10 actors/actresses with breakthrough performances (Oricon)

Actors Top 10

1) Matsuzaka Toori

2) Ayano Go

3) Miura Shohei

4) AKIRA

5) Saito Takumi

6) Fujigaya Taisuke

7) Hayashi Kento

8) Tamamori Yuuta

9) Yamamoto Yusuke

10) Seto Kouji

Actresses Top 10

1) Gouriki Ayame

2) Takei Emi

3) Kimura Fumino

4) Takimoto Miori

5) Natsuna

6) Honda Tsubasa

7) Kawaguchi Haruna

8) Oomasa Aya

9) Hashimoto Ai

10) Kinami Haruka

Source: Oricon

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Iijima Naoko remarries a company CEO on Christmas Day

Iijima Naoko announced her marriage to a company CEO who is one year her senior through a fax statement released by her agency on Christmas Day. There are no plans for Iijima to hold a press conference with regard to this. In the statement, Iijima revealed that she met her current husband three years ago and marriage was a natural progression of their relationship. She also praised her husband for being a wonderful guy who is supportive of her.

Iijima was previously married to TUBE's vocalist Maeda Nobuteru from 1997 to 2001 before they divorced.

Source: Sanspo

Friday, December 21, 2012

Top 5 bestselling artists (Oricon)

Note that the number indicate the amount of sales of its CDs, albums and music DVDs:

1) AKB48 - 19.098 billion yen

2) EXILE - 12.177 billion yen

3) Arashi - 10.454 billion yen

4) Mr.Children - 9.947 billion yen

5) Kanjani 8 - 4.916 billion yen

Source: Oricon

Top 10 albums of 2012 (Oricon)

For the Top 100 ranking, please go here / Note that the numbers in brackets indicate the number of copies sold.

1) Mr.Children 2005 - 2010 - Mr.Children (1,170,298)

2) Mr.Children 2001 - 2005 - Mr. Children (1,105,080)

3) 1830m - AKB48 (1,029,954)

4) Popcorn - Arashi (847,671)

5) EXILE JAPAN / Solo - EXILE / EXILE ATSUSHI (767,274)

6) I LOVE YOU ~ now & forever ~ (757,831)

7) ALL SINGLES BEST 2 - Kobukuro (693,650)

8) [(an imitation) blood orange] - Mr.Children (612,507)

9) Matsutoya Yumi 40th anniversary Best Album Nihon no Koi to, Yumin to - Matsutoya Yumi (549,541)

10) OPUS  ~ ALL TIME BEST 1975 - 2012 - Yamashita Tatsuro (518,906)

Top 10 singles of 2012 (Oricon)

For the full Top 100 ranking, please go here / Numbers in brackets indicate number of copies sold.

1) Manatsu no Sounds good! - AKB48 (1,820,056)

2) GIVE ME FIVE! - AKB48 (1,436,519)

3) Gingham Check - AKB48 (1,303,407)

4) UZA - AKB48 (1,215,079)

5) Eien Pressure - AKB48 (1,073,499)

6) Wild At Heart - Arashi (649,114)

7) Face Down - Arashi (619,940)

8) Kataomoi Finally - SKE48 (592,947)

9) Kiss datte Hidarikiki - SKE48 (587,993)

10) Aishite Love! - SKE48 (581,612)

Kase Ryo & Ichikawa Mikako reported to be living together?

Actor Kase Ryo and actress Ichikawa Mikako are reported to have lived together for the past five years, according to the latest issue of FRIDAY. According to the report, the tabloid had taken photos of them entering and leaving the same apartment building separately since June this year and found out from insiders that they have been living together for the past 5 years although they never appeared at the apartment building at the same time. The two of them were first reported to be dating back in spring 2008 after they worked on a Softbank CM in 2007 which featured Kase proposing to his girlfriend through a phone call.

Source: Narinari

The 37th Hochi Movie Awards

Best Movie: Kagidorobo no Mesoddo

Best Leading Actor: Takakura Ken (Anata e)

Best Leading Actress: Yoshinaga Sayuri (Kita no Kanariya tachi)

Best Supporting Actor: Moriyama Mirai (ALWAYS 3-chome no Yuuhi '64 / Kita no Kanariya tachi)

Best Supporting Actress: Ando Sakura (Sono Yoru no Samurai / Ai to Makoto)

Best Newcomer: Mitsushima Shinnosuke (11.25 Jiketsu no Hi  Mishima Yukio to Wakamonotachi / Anata e) / Nounen Rina (Karasu no Oyayubi)

Best Foreign Film: Argo

Taiga handing-over ceremony - from "Taira no Kiyomori" to "Yae no Sakura"

The annual Taiga handing-over ceremony was held on 20 December at NHK's HQ in Shibuya which was attended by Matsuyama Kenichi and Ayase Haruka. Matsuyama stars in this year's Taiga which will end its run on 23 December while Ayase will be the lead of 2013's Taiga "Yae no Sakura" which airs its first episode on 6 January. Both of them are from Horipro where Ayase joined in 2000 and Matsuyama followed suit a year later but Matsuyama is considered as Ayase's senior when it comes to Taiga dramas. Reflecting on his past year, Matsuyama said that being anxious about the fact that he was starring in a Taiga drama made it difficult at times for him to do what he could do or excel in. In response to that advice, Ayase commented that she'll try to relax in the year ahead so that she can put up her best performance. During the ceremony, the both of them also exchanged gifts from the region where their characters are closely linked to. Matsuyama gave Kobe beef to Ayase while she responded with traditional art works from Aizu, Fukushima, that she had designed.

Source: Sanspo

Completion screening of "Lucky Seven Special"

The completion screening of FujiTV drama SP "Lucky Seven Special" was held on 19 December at FujiTV's HQ in Odaiba which was attended by cast members such as Matsumoto Jun, Eita and Ishihara Satomi. The SP will be shown on 3 January at 9pm and is a continuation from the drama serial which ended in March this year. Matsumoto commented that there were quite a number of action scenes that he and his co-stars had to shoot and he jokingly said that he found it quite tough. When asked about how he thought of working with Ishihara after a gap of 9 years, Matsumoto said that she had become very feminine compared to when they last worked together.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Preview of Winter 2013 offerings: Yakou Kanransha (TBS)

Title: Yakou Kanransha
Official site: here
Main cast members: Suzuki Kyoka, Ishida Yuriko, Miyasago Hiroyuki, Yasuda Shota, Sugisaki Hana, Miyazaki Karen, Nakagawa Taishi, Tanaka Tetsushi, Natsuki Mari, Takahashi Katsunori
Details on storyline: here, here, here
Timeslot: Fridays 10pm

Comments: The grass is always greener on the other side is probably how Mayumi, the lead character played by Suzuki Kyoka feels as she envies her neighbouring family who has this "perfect" lifestyle. However, when this ideal comes crumbling down in the most unexpected way, how it will affect Mayumi and change how she deals with the warped dynamics in her own family is an interesting offering from TBS. Frankly speaking, I've not been so keen on TBS dramas in recent years for various reasons but this drama caught my eye from the time it was announced. Not only because its story is based on a Minato Kanae novel, it's more of how the theme captivates me. It's human nature to envy others for what they have and you don't but when your "goal" or "ideal" is gone, how you cope with the sense of loss and use this as a catalyst to changing your own circumstances is something worth exploring. The cast also looks rather appealing with capable supporting actors and the very different female leads at two opposite ends of the spectrum. The issue now is, will TBS be able to make full use of this cast and material to churn out a hit or fizzle out again with a half-hearted attempt?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Preview of Winter 2013 offerings: dinner (FujiTV)

Title: dinner
Official website: here
Main cast members: Eguchi Yosuke, Kurashina Kana, Matsushige Yutaka, Hakamada Yoshihiko, Seki Megumi, Shiga Kotaro, Shibamoto Yuki, Ikezu Shoko, Kazama Morio, Yashima Norito, Yusuke Santa Maria
Details on storyline: here
Timeslot: Sundays 9pm

Comments: Eguchi Yosuke was severely under-utilised in the summer drama "Iki mo dekinai natsu" which I felt was a great pity but this drama seems like a good chance for him to show what he's capable of. The story itself doesn't seem extremely exciting with a talented chef stepping in to work at a restaurant whose head chef has gone off for some reason and clashing with the existing staff there. Been there, done that. The key reason for wanting to give this at least a couple of episodes to prove itself lies primarily with Eguchi who's been known to be a good cook in real life and he can probably pull off those difficult cooking scenes with ease. Playing characters who are difficult to work with would also be something he could do easily and convincingly. I don't have a deep impression of Kurashina Kana though, can't remember at the moment if I've seen any of her dramas before. It probably looks unlikely for Eguchi and Kurashina to have a romantic link in the drama so things are probably going to be focused on what happens in the kitchen rather than what happens outside.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Juumanbun no Ichi no Guuzen" achieves rating of 18.2%

TV Asahi's 55th anniversary drama SP "Juumanbun no Ichi no Guuzen" achieved a high rating of 18.2% when it was shown on 15 December. This is the first drama appearance for Tamura Masakazu in 1 year and 9 months since his last leading role in another 2009 TV drama serial "Kokuhatsu ~ Kokusen Bengonin" in the Winter 2011 season. His daughter in the drama SP was played by Nakatani Miki.

Yonekura Ryoko's "Atsui Kuuki" will be shown this Saturday on 22 December.

Source: Sponichi

Preview of Winter 2013 offerings: Karamazov no Kyoudai (FujiTV)

Title: Karamazov no Kyoudai
Official site: here
Main cast members: Ichihara Hayato, Saito Takumi, Hayashi Kento
Details on storyline etc: here
Timeslot: Saturdays 11.10pm

Comments: This looks like a really emotionally-charged and controversial story based on what FujiTV wrote on the pre-site. "With a murder case in a suburb city set during chaotic times, the spotlight will be on harsh family problems and emotions like magma residing in young people while highlighting social problems like messy politics, social class gaps, educational problems, difficulty in securing employment and youngsters who can't see their futures." My only concern is, aren't they trying to squeeze too much into a drama? I am not expecting this to be as focused and intense as WOWOW's offerings like Shokuzai but it will be a waste of the original material if it turns out to be a mixture of everything without a proper central theme. And private networks tend to be restricted in many ways since funding is largely from advertising and sponsors unlike cable TV which has a bigger say in how they want to produce the dramas. Nonetheless, I haven't read the original before so there is no basis of comparison but this may help me in accepting this drama for whatever flaws it may have.

As for the cast, I have no particular strong liking nor dislike for them so I'm in this primarily for the story. This is probably a KIV case for me and I may drop it if it proves to be a half-baked attempt at what could potentially be a very engaging drama.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Preview of Winter 2013 offerings: Saikou no Rikon (FujiTV)

Title: Saikou no Rikon (The Best Divorce)
Official site: here
Main cast members: Eita, Ono Machiko, Maki Youko, Ayano Go, Yachigusa Kaoru
Details on storyline etc: here
Timeslot: Thursdays 10pm

Comments: The premise of this story sounds really interesting. A man caught between not two girlfriends but rather one ex-wife and one ex-girlfriend who happens to be unhappily married. It's a somewhat familiar yet different kinda situation where we see a lot of love triangles in dramas but this has an additional level of complexity because of their marital statuses. Eita's character may be a divorced man but it doesn't mean that he can go to the other woman with no qualms because Maki Youko's character is married but is in a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with her playboy husband (Ayano Go). Moreover, things between Eita and Ono Machiko might get more complicated as there's always been this school of thought that sometimes, when two people are too close to each other, they end up not seeing each other's good points and simply harp on the bad things. The separation could do some good to their strained relationship and thus complicate things as we go along. Sounds really messy but I'm looking forward to seeing this being a light-hearted type of love story instead of some angst-filled tale about people in unhappy marriages. Besides, the age group of these characters are around the same as mine so I guess it will be easier for me to identify with the emotions they may be feeling.

Eita with two heroines sounds like a good deal...in fact too good to be missed. Coupled with the script being written by Sakamoto Yuji who last worked on "Sore demo, ikite yuku" which also featured Eita, I'm hoping for a sound story structure to keep me engaged throughout the season. Coincidentally, the trio are involved in some divorce-related gossip of late which leads to articles such as the one I read today about the three of them being selected for this drama on purpose in order to boost the interest level in this drama. However, no matter what happens in their private lives, I still hope that the drama can do well enough (by that, I mean between 12% to 15%) to stay afloat in the over-10% group. Nowadays, being able to do that is enough cause for celebration so I won't set unrealistic targets anyway.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Preview of Winter 2013 offerings: Saki (FujiTV)

Title: Saki
Official site not up yet
Main cast members: Nakama Yukie, Miura Shohei, Uchida Yuki, Shonozaki Ken, Kurokawa Mei, Kamakari Ken, Hagiwara Masato, Ishiguro Hideo, Takashima Masanobu
Details on storyline etc: here
Timeslot: Tuesdays 10pm
Comments: Although it's been said that this drama has got nothing to do with Utsukushii Rinjin, I think the central theme is pretty much the same i.e. a beautiful woman causes the lives of men around her to go haywire. I've only watched one episode of Utsukushii Rinjin but it didn't impress me at all so I'm not too keen about this drama doing better than its "predecessor" if the concept is the same.

Another reason for my lack of interest is Nakama Yukie. I don't really dislike her as an actress and there were some roles she did which were very engaging and appealing e.g. Yamada Nao in TRICK and Yankumi in Gokusen. However, anything outside of the comedy world which featured her just didn't resonate with me so that's primarily why I'm usually quite reluctant to check out the dramas she's in.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Doctor X ends on a high note with 24.4%

"Doctor X" starring Yonekura Ryoko ended on a high note with an average rating of 24.4% for its final episode shown on 13 December and even hit 29.8% at 10.01pm. With this good result, it grabs the title of the highest rated single episode of a private network drama in 2012 and beat NTV's 24 Jikan Terebi drama SP "Kuruma Isu de Boku wa Sora wo Tobu" which got 23.8%. When results of the NHK dramas are included, "Doctor X" is still in the top 3 after "Carnation" which got 25.0% for its 28 Jan broadcast and "Ume-chan Sensei" which got 24.9% for its 11 Aug episode. Overall, "Doctor X" achieved an average rating of 19.1%.

Source: Sponichi

Fukuyama Masaharu to sing theme song for TBS Winter 2013 drama "Tonbi"

Fukuyama Masaharu will be singing the theme song for TBS Winter 2013 drama "Tonbi" which begins it run from January at 9pm on Sundays. The ballad titled "Tanjoubi niwa Masshiro na Yuri wo" (Pure white lillies on your birthday) is his first song that talks about love between parents and their children. Fukuyama remarked that he had never written any song with his own parents and elder brother in mind and it took him three months before he could think of the lyrics which is in line with his usual practice of sending flowers to his mother every year on his birthday and thanking her for giving birth to him. Fukuyama was in charge of the lyrics while Lily Frankie came up with the melody for the song. As Fukuyama's father passed away when he was 17, he also included in the song his thoughts about how things would be different if his father was still around.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference for "Juumanbun no ichi no guuzen" and "Atsui Kuuki"

The production press conferences for TV Asahi's Matsumoto Seicho 20th death anniversary drama SPs "Juumanbun no ichi no guuzen" and "Atsui Kuuki" was held on 13 December which was attended by the lead actors Tamura Masakazu and Yonekura Ryoko. Tamura's drama SP "Juumanbun no ichi no guuzen" is due to be shown on 15 December while Yonekura's "Atsui Kuuki" will be shown the following week on 22 December as the original broadcast date of 16 December coincides with the general elections. When asked about his return to the drama world after a break of 1 year and 9 months, Tamura jokingly said that he has been living such a relaxing life at home that filming was tough for him. When reporters asked about what he thought Yonekura's charm is, he said that she's talented and hopes to see her challenge more varied roles in future. As for Yonekura, she remarked that since she plays a housekeeper in the SP, she would like to peek into Tamura's closet to see what kind of nice clothes he may have.

Source: Sanspo

Sakurai Sho & Miyazaki Aoi back in "Kamisama no Karte 2"


Sakurai Sho and Miyazaki Aoi will reprise their roles in the movie "Kamisama no Karte 2" which follows on the heels of the first instalment released in August last year. The first movie had gross ticket sales of about JPY 1.9bn when it was released in cinemas. The sequel will be shown in 2014 and will feature new cast members including Fujiwara Tatsuya who plays a rival to Sakurai's character.

The story is based on a series of 3 novels published by doctor-cum-writer Natsukawa Sousuke which has sold 2.2 million copies to date and the third book was just published in August 2012. The movie sequel will be based on book 2.

Sakurai plays the role of Kurihara Ichito who works in a local hospital at Matsumoto, Nagano, and has to deal with the struggles of an inadequate medical system. His university classmate Shindo Tatsuya (Fujiwara) gets transferred from Tokyo to work at the same hospital as Ichito and the change in Shindo is unmistakable. When they used to be students, Shindo had this mindset that nothing comes before his duty as a doctor which is what Ichito is trying to do now. However, the Shindo now values his family more than anything and would knock off on time to spend time with his wife (Fukiishi Kazue) and young daughter. This causes the two of them to have differing views on what is the correct attitude towards medical work. Just then, their superior Nukita (Emoto Akira) falls ill all of a sudden... Meanwhile, Ichito's wife Haruna (Miyazaki) who discovered that she was pregnant at the end of the last movie, will undergo the pregnancy and childbirth stages in the sequel. Other co-stars include Harada Taizo who was also in the first movie and new additions like Ichige Yoshie who plays Nukita's wife and Hamada Gaku who is Ichito's new neighbour.

Source: Sanspo

Sakanaction to sing theme song for Winter 2013 drama "dinner"

Rock band Sakanaction will be singing the theme song for FujiTV Winter 2013 drama " dinner" which is scheduled to begin its run from 13 January at 9pm on Sundays. The new song "Music" will be released as a single on 23 January and is the second theme song sung by the band since "Boku to Hana" for Spring 2012 drama "37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku".

Source: Sanspo

Mukai Osamu & Kuninaka Ryoko reportedly dating?

Mukai Osamu and Kuninaka Ryoko are reportedly dating, according to an article in the 13th Dec issue of Josei Seven. The two of them last appeared in the winter 2012 drama "Hungry" where they acted as lovers. According to the report, Mukai and Kuninaka went on a lunch date at a restaurant in Shichirigahama, Kanagawa, in the middle of October which was well-known for its long waiting time of about 2 hours. They were then seen going to the furniture store IKEA in Yokohama. In addition, the two of them were caught going to another teppanyaki restaurant in Tokyo in early November. When asked about the report, both agencies declined comment.

Source: Sanspo

Nonami Maho & Mikami Kensei get married; Nonami's role in "Dinner" to go to Seki Megumi

Actress Nonami Maho and actor Mikami Kensei announced their marriage through their agencies on 12 December 2012. According to insiders, the couple filed a marriage application on 9 December which happened to be the day when both of them were not working. Nonami is currently 3 months' pregnant and is due to give birth in June or July. There are no plans yet for the wedding and they are still searching for a new house.

The couple got to know each other through a friend 2 years ago and was reported to be dating when an article appeared in a tabloid in October this year. Nonami who appears in this season's "TOKYO Airport" as a air traffic controller, was originally scheduled to act in the upcoming winter 2013 drama "dinner" but had to give up her role due to her condition. As a result, Seki Megumi will be taking over Nonami's role in the new drama.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of Winter 2013 offerings: Last Hope (FujiTV)

Title: Last Hope
Official blog: here
Main cast members: Aiba Masaki, Tabe Mikako, Tanabe Seiichi, Koike Eiko, Kitamura Yukiya, Sakuraba Nanami, Hirata Mitsuru, Takashima Masahiro, Kohinata Fumio
Details on storyline etc: here
Timeslot: Tuesdays, 9pm
Comments: I have a soft spot for Arashi and would be keen to check out the dramas they appear in although I may not watch it till the end. It also depends very much who is the member concerned and the genre of the drama. For example, no matter how much I like Sakurai Sho, I just couldn't get through the first episode of "Nazotoki wa Dinner no ato de" because I simply didn't like his co-star.

Aiba is the lead in this drama - check. Strong co-star support (other than Sakuraba Nanami who I am not familiar with, I like the rest of the cast) - check. Medical drama - check. There seems to be no reason for me to drop this, right? Well, Aiba's image is the happy-go-lucky guy who's a bit clumsy at times which can be a bit difficult to match that with a doctor's professional image. Then again, not all doctors are the serious and stern type and from the description of his role, he won't have to ditch that happy chap side for his character who seemingly has a more serious side hidden beneath the chirpiness. I wonder how he will pull it off though but if the story stays its course and doesn't bore me too much, I may stay with this longer than I expect.

Frankly speaking, his Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri earlier this year didn't impress me at all. I'm still stuck at Ep 5 and lacking in motivation to continue so I'm hoping Last Hope will live up to its name and give me something to look forward to. Maybe it won't be as hardcore and intense as those brand name medical dramas like Kyumei Byoto 24 Ji but at least, something credible and believable would be very much welcomed.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Top 10 favourite dramas of the Autumn 2012 season (Ori Star)

Note that the sample size of this survey is relatively small (only 1,000) and that the pool of respondents are all ladies so preferences may be skewed towards certain genres and results may differ from what the ratings ranking reflects. Number in brackets indicate number of people who voted for the drama:

1) Kekkon Shinai (91)
2) Ooku - Tanjou (84)
3) PRICELESS (67)
4) Yuusha Yoshihiko to Akurei no Kagi (60)
5) Aibou (57)
6) Koukou Nyuushi (52)
7) MONSTERS (47)
8) Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei, Renewal (46)
9) Akumu-chan (36)
10) TOKYO Airport (34)

Source: Ori Star

Preview of Winter 2013 offerings: Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou (FujiTV)

I will be doing a series of preview posts for the upcoming Winter 2013 dramas and share my thoughts on them. Of course, everyone's views would be different so please don't be offended if I happen to dislike what you are eagerly awaiting to see. Feel free to share your comments on these dramas as well!

Title: Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou
Official site: here
Main cast members: Gouriki Ayame, AKIRA, Takahashi Katsumi
Details on storyline etc: here
Timeslot: Mondays, 9pm
Comments: There's been talk going around that Gouriki is not a good fit for the role (she's more of the bubbly and youthful type while the character is a gentle and quiet girl) or that she got the role because of her agency's bargaining power in the industry. That's exactly the same type of controversy surrounding her colleague Takei Emi who kept getting lead roles despite her drama doing really badly in terms of ratings. I've only watched Gouriki in Mirai Nikki which I would say her acting is passable although there is still a lot of room for improvement. I'm not confident that she can take up a leading role in such a primetime slot so early in her career especially where the ratings pressure is definitely going to be much higher compared to other timeslots. For now, I may watch the first episode to see if it's worth staying on but the cast doesn't have the pulling power to make me stay for the long term as far as I can see now.

Nihon Monitor's 2012 Celebrities CM deals ranking

Note that the number in brackets indicate the number of CM deals the celebrity has.

Men's category
1) Ishikawa Ryo (15)
2) Sakurai Sho - Arashi / Suzuki Fuku (12)
4) Kimura Takuya - SMAP (11)
5) Aiba Masaki - Arashi / Nakai Masahiro - SMAP / Ninomiya Kazunari - Arashi / Matsumoto Jun - Arashi / Mukai Osamu (10)
10) Ohno Satoshi - Arashi / Katori Shingo - SMAP / Matsuoka Shuuzo (9)
13) Kusanagi Tsuyoshi - SMAP / Kokubun Taichi - TOKIO / Dandy Sakano / Jang Geun Seok / Nagase Tomoya - TOKIO / Miura Haruma (8)

Women's category
1) Itano Tomomi - AKB48 / Shinoda Mariko - AKB48 (20)
3) Takahashi Minami - AKB48 (18)
4) Maeda Atsuko (17)
5) Kojima Haruna - AKB48 / Sashihara Rino - HKT48 (16)
7) Ashida Mana / Ueto Aya / Oshima Yuko - AKB48 / Kashiwagi Yuki - AKB48 (15)
11) Takei Emi / Watanabe Mayu - AKB48 (14)
13) Yokoyama Yui - AKB48 (13)
14) Becky / Honda Yui / Rola (12)
17) Gouriki Ayame / Sawa Homare (11)

Source: Nihon Monitor

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Update to the Autumn 2012 ratings race - 12 Dec 12

Here is how the ranking looks like as of today:

1) Doctor X - 18.16%
2) PRICELESS - 17.55%
3) Aibou Season 11 - 16.28%
4) Kekkon Shinai - 11.72%
5) Akumu-chan - 11.70%
6) MONSTERS - 11.59%
7) Tokumei Tantei - 10.46%
8) TOKYO Airport 10.00%

Of those in the above-10% category, Doctor X continues its stellar run with a 20.1% rating last week. Not to be outdone, PRICELESS achieved the same figure for its broadcast on 10 Dec. However, PRICELESS will need to have figures close to the 20% mark for the rest of its run in order to have a chance at overtaking Doctor X which frankly speaking, wasn't a hot favourite pre-season but showed amazing power from the start and managed to keep its viewership base largely intact. Aibou looks like it might just keep the No.3 spot since Kekkon Shinai will need a huge boost in order to get close to Aibou's average. The good thing is, they got the No.4 spot back but Akumu-chan is right on its heels. MONSTERS and Tokumei Tantei ended their run and this means they get to stay in the above-10% group but ranking-wise, they are pretty much at the bottom of the pack. TOKYO Airport hangs precariously at the border of being a above-10% and under-10% so in order to make sure it does better than its predecessors i.e. Kazoku no Uta and Beautiful Rain, it needs above-10% ratings for the rest of the season.

And here are those in the below-10% group:

9) Osozaki no Himawari - 9.43%
10) Ooku - 8.52%
11) Perfect Blue - 8.07%
12) Going My Home - 7.74%
13) Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo - 7.71%
14) Koukou Nyuushi - 6.62%
15) Resident - 6.60%
16) Poison - 3.46%
17) Girls Talk - 2.28%
18) PIECE - 2.16%
19) Sugarless - 1.75%

If you look at positions, Osozaki and Ooku aren't doing so badly since they are technically still in the top 10. However, when the focus is on their figures, it is a painful sight considering that they are all single-digit averages. Osozaki and Going My Home both got their worst ratings to date last week and for Osozaki, there's been quite a number of promotional events going on to boost awareness but to little effect. Going My Home suffers from the huge anticipation it got prior to the start of the season so criticism seems to be harsher on it as compared to Osozaki which airs on the same night. Ooku is a concept used so many times in various dramas and movies but somehow, it doesn't work this time.

Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo can be said to be third-time unlucky by Takei Emi who has three leading roles in a drama for three consecutive seasons but all of them turned out to be single-digit disasters. I haven't watched W no Higeki and Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo but as far as I can see, at the very least Iki mo dekinai natsu's flop is not entirely her fault. However, the press seems to be harping on this so much that I really pity Takei for what she has to go through. I happened to see her on Himitsu no Arashi-chan and she revealed that she would have wanted more time to play and relax just like any teenager her age would do. I guess she really needs to take a breather in order to be an actress for the long term or else she's going to burn out sooner or later.

Contrary to what I had hoped for before this season started, the majority of the dramas turned out to do really badly in terms of ratings. And I thought summer was bad enough! The sole saving grace is, at least Doctor X and PRICELESS are still fighting each other to get the No.1 spot so there's still something to look out for when I check the ratings every week. Next season is just a couple of weeks away and my only hope is that, can we at least have half of the dramas in the above-10% group? I'm not even asking for an above-20% drama to be among the pack (a monster hit like Kaseifu no Mita is really not easy to come by) but seriously, more than half going below the 10% line? That's really a horrible results slip to look at every season.

First episode screening of "Yae no Sakura"

The first-episode-screening event of NHK's new Taiga drama "Yae no Sakura" was held on 11 December at NHK's HQ in Shibuya which was also attended by the lead actress Ayase Haruka who plays Yae, child actor Suzuki Rio who plays the younger version of Yae as well as Nishijima Hidetoshi who plays Yae's elder brother. The drama is scheduled to begin its run from 6 January onwards at 8pm on Sundays. In response to criticism that this year's Taiga "Taira no Kiyomori" had a very dark colour tone on screen, NHK said that "Yae no Sakura" will be shot with a new type of camera which features vivid colours on screen even in low light conditions.

Source: Sanspo

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Completion screening of "Strawberry Night"

The completion screening of "Strawberry Night" was held on 6 December which was attended by key cast members Takeuchi Yuko, Osawa Takao, Watanabe Ikkei, Maruyama Ryuhei, Takashima Masahiro, Ukaji Takashi, Tsugawa Masahiko and Endo Kenichi. The movie is scheduled to be shown in cinemas from 26 January 2013. During the event, the male cast teased Takeuchi for being so pretty and popular among them that Watanabe even said that he forgot his lines for the first time while looking at her.

Source: Nikkansports

The 25th Nikkansports Movie Awards & Ishihara Yujiro Awards

Best Movie: Tsuino Shintaku

Best Director: Uchida Kenji (Kagidorobo no Mesoddo)

Best Leading Actor: Takakura Ken (Anata e)

Best Leading Actress: Yoshinaga Sayuri (Kita no Kanariya tachi)

Best Supporting Actor: Moriyama Mirai (Kita no Kanariya tachi)

Best Supporting Actress: Kiki Kirin (Waga Haha no Ki / Tsunagu)

Best Newcomer: Takei Emi (Ai to Makoto / Rurouni Kenshin)

Best Foreign Film: Untouchable

Ishihara Yujiro Award: Anata e

Ishihara Yujiro Newcomer Award: Matsuzaka Tori (Tsunagu / Kirin no Tsubasa ~ Gekijouban Shinzanmono)

Special Award: Director Shindo Kaneto

Source: Nikkansports

Friday, December 07, 2012

Kabuki actor Nakamura Kanzaburo passes away at 57

Kabuki veteran actor Nakamura Kanzaburo (real name Namino Noriaki) passed away at the age of 57 on 5 Dec at 2.33am due to acute respiratory distress syndrome at a Tokyo hospital. Nakamura had announced in June this year that he was suffering from esophageal cancer and had a successful surgery in July. However, with the continued usage of anti-cancer medicine which caused his immunity level to go down, this led to pneumonia and then respiratory failure.

In the statement released by his wife Namino Yoshie and his sons Nakamura Kankuro and Shichinosuke, they mentioned that the late Kanzaburo had looked forward to returning to the kabuki stage in April next year but it was a pity that it was not meant to be. They also thanked everyone who had supported Kanzaburo throughout his lifetime.

Source: Sanspo

Miyasago Hiroyuki diagnosed with stomach cancer

Comedian-cum-actor Miyasago Hiroyuki who's also part of comedy duo Ameagari Kesshitai was diagnosed with stomach cancer according to a fax statement released by his agency on 6 December. The statement mentioned that Miyasago was examined in late Nov and found to have an early stage of stomach cancer. He will be undergoing surgery on 7 Dec and stop his work activities for the time being to concentrate on recuperating. In the statement, Miyasago apologised for making those around him worry about his condition and promised to return in a healthy state.

Source: Sanspo

Nagasaku Hiromi expecting second child

Nagasaku Hiromi is currently 4 months pregnant with her second child as announced by her agency through a fax statement on 6 Dec. In her statement, Nagasaku mentioned that she will continue to be a working mum after giving birth and expressed hope that she will be able to perform in front of everyone again if given an opportunity in future. Nagasaku had married visual author Naitou Maro in 2009 and their first son was born in 2010.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Promotional event of "Kekkon Shinai" at a florist

Amami Yuki and Tamaki Hiroshi attended a promotional event held at a florist on 5 December for their autumn drama "Kekkon Shinai".  In the drama, the both of them are working in a florist so they became the one-day manager for this event. The actors gave out handwritten flower meaning cards to about 100 customers who had patronised the florist and the cards read "wishing for your happiness". As there was no prior announcement about their appearances, the customers were delightfully surprised when they saw Amami and Tamaki. Footage of the event will be shown during the 6th Dec broadcast of FujiTV's morning program "Mezamashi Terebi". When asked if Amami has anyone to give flowers to in real life, she replied no immediately but later added that she might send some for the people who she had worked with and imposed on.

Source: Sponichi

Fujiwara Norika & Watabe Atsuro to star in WOWOW drama "Onna to Otoko no Nettai"

Fujiwara Norika and Watabe Atsuro will be starring in the new WOWOW drama "Onna to Otoko no Nettai" (Tropics of Woman and Man) due to be begin its run from 20 January at 10pm on Sundays. The drama consists of 6 episodes and is based on a script left  behind by the late Nozawa Hisashi. Fujiwara plays a capable reporter Sonoko who gets involved with a man she interviews i.e. Shindo who is played by Watabe. Shindo vows revenge against the culprit who killed his family and Sonoko can't bear to leave him even when she knows that he has committed murder. This is the first time in three years for Fujiwara to play a leading role since 2010's NHK drama "Chance" and also the first time she is working with Watabe.

Source: Sanspo, Sponichi

Abe Sadao to star in new Kudo Kankuro movie "Shazai no Ousama"

Abe Sadao, Kudo Kankuro and director Mizuta Nobuo will work together for the third time in the new Kudo Kankuro movie "Shazai no Ousama" (The King of Apologies) which is due to be shown from 28 September next year. The trio had previously worked on 2007's Haaaan!! and 2009's Nakumonka.

This time, Abe will still be the lead as Kuroshima who is a professional apology advisor who helps people apologise in the best way possible. Besides Abe, co-stars include Inoue Mao, Takenouchi Yutaka, Matsuyuki Yasuko, Okada Masaki, Ono Machiko, Takahashi Katsumi, Arakawa Yoshiyoshi, Hamada Gaku, Ono Takehiko and Hamada Mari.

Inoue plays the role of Noriko, a young lady who has just come back to Japan after spending most of her life overseas and is forced to compensate a gangster-like man with a huge sum of money when she causes a traffic accident. Okada plays an employee of a lingerie company who's sued for sexual harrassment by an OL played by Ono. Takahashi plays a big-name actor who has to apologise in public for a scandal involving his son while Matsuyuki plays another big-name actress who is his ex-wife. Takenouchi plays a lawyer who has to apologise for a misdeed in the past which caused his daughter anguish. Last but not least, Arakawa plays a movie producer who mistakenly gets the prince of some country to act as an extra in his film and ends up having to apologise for that.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of "Shotenin Michiru no Mi no ue no Hanashi

The production press conference of NHK drama "Shotenin Michiru no Mi no Ue no Hanashi" was held at NHK's HQ on 5 December which was attended by key cast members Toda Erika, Koura Kengo, Emoto Tasuku and Arai Hirofumi. The drama is scheduled to begin its run from 8 January at 10.55pm on Tuesdays. Toda plays an ordinary woman Michiru whose life starts to go haywire after she strikes lottery and gets the prize money of JPY 200m. When asked about what she would do with such a huge sum of prize money in real life, Toda said that she would save it up but commented that she would rather not get that sum of money because the thought of it frightened her. As for Koura, he commented that he would prefer to buy a bungalow at his hometown in Kyushu and a car with that money.

Source: Sanspo

Meet-the-audience event for "Karase no Oyayubi"

Abe Hiroshi, Kosaka Daimaou and Koyanagi Yu attended the meet-the-audience event held at TOHO Cinemas Roppongi Hills on 5 December along with the director Ito Tadafumi. Abe called upon everyone to support this film and jokingly said that he has to work harder from now on since his second daughter was born just last month. He also revealed that he was taken in by the tricks featured in the film when he was reading the script and stressed that the audience would be in for a thrilling adventure where they would most likely be tricked by the story.

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Screening of "Itsuka Hi no Ataru Basho de"

The screening of NHK drama "Itsuka Hi no Ataru Basho de" was held on 4 December at NHK's HQ in Shibuya which was attended by cast members Ueto Aya, Iijima Naoko and Asano Atsuko. The drama is scheduled to be screened from 8 January at 10pm on Tuesdays. Ueto plays a former university student who gets sentenced to 7 years in prison after being found guilty of drugging her victims and robbing them of money. As a result, she is estranged from her family and tries to rebuild her life together with former inmate Iijima Naoko who killed her husband after the both of them get released from prison.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Update to the Autumn 2012 drama ratings race

And here we are again for the weekly update:

1) Doctor X - 17.83%
2) PRICELESS - 17.18%
3) Aibou Season 11 - 16.60%
4) Akumu-chan - 11.86%
5) Kekkon Shinai - 11.60%
6) MONSTERS - 11.31%
7) Tokumei Tantei - 10.50%
8) TOKYO Airport - 10.05%

The positions are pretty much unchanged with a new addition this week because TOKYO Airport managed to crawl back into the top 10% group with a surge of 2.3% for its 8th episode. However, the average is just 0.05% above the 10% mark so anything going wrong this week will send this drama tumbling out of the top 10 again.

Just when you think that PRICELESS has a chance at the No.1 title because it got 18.1% in its 6th episode, Doctor X retalliates with an even better 18.6% for its broadcast within the same week. The problem with PRICELESS boils down to consistency and Doctor X has been doing so well that it will take a far bigger increase for PRICELESS to have a chance at overtaking Doctor X as we head to the end of the season. It also has to keep its eyes on No.3 Aibou which has been hovering between the 15% and 16% range but may just take over the No.2 spot if PRICELESS suffers a huge dip in its numbers even for a couple of weeks.

Akumu-chan, Kekkon Shinai and MONSTERS are still firmly in the 11% range but the order may change anytime if anything happens during the last few weeks of the Autumn 2012 season. Personally, I'm rooting for Kekkon Shinai to get the No.4 spot but Akumu-chan is doing quite OK that it will be an uphill climb for Kekkon Shinai.

And now for the below-10s...

9) Osozaki no Himawari - 9.70%
10) Ooku - 8.71%
11) Perfect Blue - 8.06%
12) Going My Home - 8.04%
13) Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo - 8.00%
14) Koukou Nyuushi - 6.78%
15) Resident - 6.74%
16) Poison - 3.57%
17) Girls Talk - 2.26%
18) PIECE - 2.22%
19) Sugarless - 1.73%

There's been quite a fair bit of publicity for Osozaki no Himawari recently which may have to do with its lacklustre ratings so far. Generally, reviews for this drama seem OK but I really wonder what could be the real reason behind its poor showing. Coincidentally or not, the other Tuesday drama on FujiTV is also doing rather badly which leads me to guess if there might be a strong competitor program on other channels.

Actually, if I remove the midnight slot dramas from this ranking, Resident would be the last drama in the ranking for primetime offerings. Is the story that bad or has it got to do with the fact that the main cast are still too raw and not very well-known to pull in the viewers week after week? And talking about coincidences, the only TBS drama in the top 10 group is MONSTERS while Resident, Perfect Blue and Ooku are all in the single-digit zone.

There's talk of TBS losing a lot of its ability to pull in viewers with its dramas in recent years but it may have a potential winner in the Minato Kanae novel turned into drama starring Suzuki Kyoka. I just wonder if it can live up to its expectation though because dramas have to be relatively toned down for the general TV-viewing audience and if it can't be as controversial or dramatic as Kokuhaku (starring Matsu Takako) or even Shokuzai (starring Koizumi Kyoko), it will turn out to be a half-baked attempt and definitely lacking in satisfaction. That would be a waste of the original material especially since Minato is one hot writer these days with so many of her works being dramatised or made into movies alongside with Higashino Keigo.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Matsumoto Jun & Ueno Juri in romance movie "Hidamari no Kanojo"

Arashi's Matsumoto Jun and Ueno Juri will be working together for the first time in the romance movie "Hidamari no Kanojo" due to be shown in cinemas next October. This will be Matsumoto's first movie in 5 years since 2008's "Hana Yori Dango Final" and Ueno's first in 3 years since "Nodama Cantabile Saishugakusho Kohen". The movie is based on the same-titled novel by Koshigaya Osamu which has sold about 350,000 copies to date and features Matsumoto as Kosuke, a newbie sales department employee at an advertising agency who specialises in advertisements placed in railway stations and trains. He reunites with his junior high school friend Mao (Ueno) when they meet again through work and they start dating. Just when they are about to get married, Kosuke finds out a sad secret about Mao which threatens to jeopardise their relationship. Filming will begin in mid January 2013.

Source: Sanspo

First episode screening of "Kaen Kita no Eiyuu Ateruiden"

The first episode screening of NHK's upcoming period drama "Kaen Kita no Eiyuu Ateruiden" was held on 2 December at the TV station's HQ and attended by key cast members Osawa Takao and Kitamura Kazuki. The drama which spans 4 episodes will be shown from 11 January at 8pm on Fridays. Osawa plays the lead Aterui who protected the people of Tohoku from the imperial troops during the Heian era and Kitamura plays his comrade in war.

Source: Sanspo

Osozaki no Himawari's cast at Shimanto City fan event

The main cast members of "Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei, Renewal" attended a fan event held on 1 December at Shimanto City in Kochi Prefecture where the drama is largely filmed at. About 2,000 residents gathered at the event near the Shimanto River where cast members spoke about their filming experiences and even performed songs as such as Mongol 800's "Anata ni" together. Ikuta Toma commented that it was rare for a drama to have a fan event outside of the metropolitan area and he felt honoured that they could hold such an event. Kiritani Kenta also revealed that when he was 21, he had actually cycled with his senior high school friends from Osaka all the way to Shimanto. Last but not least, Ikuta also said that the cast and crew felt a responsibility to work even harder on their drama especially when he heard that the locals were staying at home to watch the drama every Tuesday night at 9pm.

Source: Nikkansports

Mizukawa Asami's handshaking event for new photobook

Mizukawa Asami held a handshaking event on 2 December at Fukuya Bookstore's Shinjuku Subnade outlet in conjunction with the launch of her new photobook "29", which happens to be her first photobook in 10 years. Mizukawa said that this is meant to be a memorial item to mark the last year of her 20s thus the shooting was done entirely in Japan at her birthplace Kyoto, Osaka where she spent her childhood days and Tokyo where she lives now instead of overseas where most photobooks are shot at.

Filming for her upcoming Winter 2013 drama "Sharehouse no Koibito" is due to start in December. When asked about her Christmas plans, Mizukawa revealed that she will still be filming on that day so she can't make any plans but her manager has promised to treat her to something good that day. As for marriage plans, Mizukawa said that she prefers to let things take their course now as compared to her teenage years when she thought more about this topic.

Source: Nikkansports

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Guest lineup for Music Station Super Live 2012

Music Station Super Live 2012 will be held on 21 December at Makuhari Messe in Chiba and be shown via TV Asahi from 7pm to 11.10pm. Here is the list of performing guests in alphabetical order (numbers in brackets indicate the number of times they have appeared on MS Super Live up to 2012 inclusive):

aiko (13)
Arashi (13)
ayaka (5)
Ikimonogakari (6)
AKB48 (3)
EXILE (8)
KAT-TUN (7)
Kanjani 8 (5)
Kis-My-Ft2 (2)
KinKi Kids (12)
Kyari Pamyu Pamyu (1)
Kuwata Keisuke (4)
Kouda Kumi (9)
Kobukuro (7)
JUJU (4)
SMAP (17)
SEKAI NO OWARI (1)
Superfly (4)
Sonar Pocket (1)
TOKIO (19)
Nishino Kana (4)
Perfume (5)
B'z (12)
FUNKY MONKEY BABYS (3)
Fukuyama Masaharu (9)
Princess Princess (3)
Hey! Say! JUMP (6)
Porno Graffiti (13)
Mr. Children (7)
Momoiro Clover Z (1)
Yuzu (4)
L'arc en Ciel (13)
Rin Toshite Shigure (1)
YUI (5)
YUKI (1)

Source: Mantan Web

Tokiwa Takako to star in drama SP "Yurichika e Mama kara no dengon"

Tokiwa Takako will star in the TV Asahi drama SP "Yurichika e Mama kara no dengon" to be shown on 26 January next year at 9pm. The story is based on a book written by Terenin Akiko who died of spinal cord cancer at the age of 36 in 2008. Before she passed away, Terenin wrote the book for her only daughter Yuria who was just born at that time which contained words of advice about love, friendship, studying and fashion etc. that she would have liked to teach her daughter about personally if she was still alive. While bearing with pain and the horror of facing death, Terenin continued to keep a diary which was later published into a book in 2007 by a Fukuoka City publisher Shoshikankanbo that sold 70,000 copies. This was a feat considering that books from publishers outside of the metropolitan area rarely sold as many copies. In addition, the book also won the No.1 title in FujiTV's programme The Best House 123 in its most tear-jerking non-fiction book category. Singer Kawaguchi Kyogo also wrote a song about Terenin in 2009 titled "Kimi ni nokosu tegami" in a bid to remember what Terenin had done for her daughter.

Tokiwa will play the role fo Terenin in this drama SP meant to mark TV Asahi's Nagoya TV's 50th anniversary. During the filming in June and July this year, Tokiwa had also visited Terenin's mother to find out more about Terenin herself. As for the role of her Russian husband, it will be played by Tanabe Seiichi, Terenin's mother to be played by Toake Yukiyo and the editor in charge of Terenin's book will be played by Katahira Nagisa.

As for the theme song "Sousouka", it will be sung by rap unit Hilcrhyme.

Source: Sanspo

Nakama Yukie to star in Winter 2013 drama "Saki"

Nakama Yukie will play the lead role Saki in the upcoming FujiTV Winter 2013 drama "Saki" due to begin its run from 8 January at 10pm on Tuesdays. Her character first appeared in the January 2011 drama "Utsukushii Rinjin" but this time round, the character Amihama Saki will be a nurse in the paediatrics department of a general hospital who manages to lead a number of men into the path of destruction with her high-handed tactics. One of the men who will be involved with Saki is the hospital's director played by Takashima Masanobu. Besides Takashima, Miura Shohei will play the role of a magazine reporter who regards Saki as his elder sister and Hagiwara Masato will be a lawyer who gives advice to Saki when she complains of being harassed by a stalker. Uchida Yuki will round up the cast as Miura's superior who distrusts Saki.

The theme song of this drama will be Tohoshinki's "Catch Me - If you wanna -" due to be released in Japan on 16 January 2012. This is the second time that the Korean duo are singing a theme song for Nakama's drama as their song "Why? (Keep Your Head Down)" had been used for "Utsukushii Rinjin".

Source: Sanspo

Friday, November 30, 2012

The 41st Best Dresser Award

Gouriki Ayame and Fujiki Naohito received the 41st Best Dresser Award for the entertainment category and attended the prize-giving ceremony together on 28 November. The award is organised by the Japan Men's Fashion Association. Other winners in the various categories included Nestle Japan's president Takaoka Kozo (political and economic category), Ichikawa Ennosuke (arts and culture category), Nadeshiko Japan's coach Sasaki Norio (sports category), Kyari Pamyu Pamyu (international category), female pro baseball player Kawabata Yuki (special recommendation category) and Shouchi Saburo (special category).

Source: Oricon

Hamada Gaku to star in TBS midnight drama "Shuuden Bye Bye"

Hamada Gaku will star in TBS midnight drama "Shuuden Bye Bye" which will begin its run from 14 January at 12.20am on Mondays. The drama will consist of 10 episodes and features Hamada as a different character in each episode where he misses the last train home and has to wait for the first train in the morning since he has no money to take other modes of transport. Through the experience of trying to find various forms of entertainment to pass the time, the characters go through different adventures during the time period when most people are asleep.

Source: Sanspo

Top 10 faces which men aspire to have (Oricon)

Numbers in brackets indicate positions held last year and dashes indicate that the person did not hold a top 10 position last year:

1) Fukuyama Masaharu (1)

2) Mukai Osamu (2)

3) Kimura Takuya (3)

4) Tsumabuki Satoshi (5)

5) Inaba Koshi (9)

6) Okada Junichi (4)

7) Abe Hiroshi (10)

8) Ikuta Toma (-)

9) hyde (-)

10) Tamayama Tetsuji (-) / Sato Takeru (6)

Source: Oricon

Eita to star in "Saikou no Rikon"

Eita will star in the FujiTV Winter 2013 drama "Saikou no Rikon" (The best divorce) which will begin its run from January in the Thursdays 10pm timeslot along with Ono Machiko, Maki Youko and Ayano Go. The four of them will play two married couples in their 30s living in Naka Meguro whose lives are linked to one another.

Eita plays the role Mitsuo, a shy salaryman who's bad at interpersonal relationships and always quarrels with his wife Yuka played by Ono. Mitsuo feels that marriage life is like a long interrogation and keeps toying with the idea of divorce. Just then, he happens to meet his former girlfriend Akari (Maki), who's  married to a playboy husband Ryo (Ayano) and still loves him despite his philandering ways. Although Akari and Ryo look like a perfect couple, there is a secret behind that facade. While trying to keep his emotions in check when facing Akari, Yuka suddenly initiates a divorce but Mitsuo still ends up living with Yuka under the same roof due to some reason...

Source: Sanspo

Horikita Maki to star in ATARU SP

Horikita Maki will be appearing in the ATARU SP due to be shown on 6 January 2013 at 7pm via TBS. She plays the role of a mysterious woman who also suffers from the Savant Syndrome and used to be trained at the FBI with Ataru. The drama SP which is made up of two 2-hour parts, will feature Horikita in Part 2 which starts at 9pm on the same night. Filming is currently in progress.

Source: Sponichi

Kuroki Hitomi & Aibu Saki to face off in "Otome-san!"

Kuroki Hitomi and Aibu Saki will get involved in a mother-in-law vs. daughter-in-law battle in the TV Asahi Winter 2013 drama "Otome-san!" which begins its run from January via the Thursdays 9pm timeslot. Although the traditional setting of such stories is that the mother-in-law bullies the daughter-in-law, the tables are turned this time in the Inoue Yumiko script where Aibu plays a "scary" daughter-in-law who manages to make her mother-in-law's (Kuroki) life miserable after the latter finds out shocking truths about her daughter-in-law one by one. Kuroki's son played by Kaku Tomohiro and her husband played by Ishida Junichi do not take her side thus she has to fight her daughter-in-law alone in a bid to restore the peace in her family.

Source: Sponichi

Nagase Tomoya & Aibu Saki reported to have broken up

TOKIO's Nagase Tomoya and Aibu Saki are reported to have broken up after dating for the past four years. The couple had been romantically linked together ever since they worked on the 2008 TBS drama "Utahime" which was also months after Nagase had just broken up with Hamasaki Ayumi that summer. Since then, there had been numerous reports of them going their separate ways but this time round, they seemed to have broken up for real in autumn. According to insiders, the couple drifted apart due to their busy schedules and that they parted on amicable terms. They had tried to cool things off last year for a month or so and got back together before deciding to end it for good this time.

When asked about her relationship with Nagase in September, Aibu did not give a clear answer and said that she would leave it to the imagination of everyone. When the same topic cropped up again in late October, she said that marriage would be a long way in the future for her which hinted that she might have already broken up with Nagase at that time.


Source: Sanspo

ISSA breaks off engagement with Fukumoto Sachiko; reported to be dating AKB48's Masuda Yuka

DA PUMP's leader ISSA was reported to have broken off his engagement with model Fukumoto Sachiko and caught spending the night together with AKB48 member Masuda Yuka, according to the 29 November issue of "Shuukan Bunshun". The report mentioned that ISSA, who had announced his engagement to Fukumoto just last December, had ended his relationship with her quietly and started to date Masuda after the two worked together in the musical "Wiz ~ Oz no Mahou Tsukai" from August to September. Both ISSA and Masuda's agencies denied that they are dating but Masuda mentioned in her blog entry that although most of Shuukan Bunshun's report was untrue, she admitted that she did spend the night at ISSA's place for over 20 hours in early November. As a result of this scandal, Masuda indicated her intention to leave AKB48 which has a romance ban on its members but the date for this hasn't been confirmed.

Source: Sanspo, Sanspo

Thursday, November 29, 2012

FUNKY MONKEY BABYS to disband as of 31 March 2013

FUNKY MONKEY BABYS announced via their official website on 29 November that the group will disband as of 31 March next year. According to the statement, it was mentioned that the key reason for the move was due to DJ Chemical having to start preparations to take over the role of abbot at his family's Buddhist temple and it was impossible for him to continue his musical activites. Without DJ Chemical, FUNKY MONKEY BABYs would not be as it is so the decision to disband was made.

The group made its debut in 2006 and has been known for using the images of celebrities such as former comedian and Miyazaki Prefecture mayor Higashikokubaru Hideo and Kitano Kii on its CD jacket covers. They made their appearance on Kouhaku in 2009 and will perform there for the fourth consecutive year. Their last nationwide concert tour which ends at Saitama Super Arena on 31 March 2013, will be held at 11 places and consist of 21 performances.

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ichihara Hayato to star in Winter 2013 drama "Karamazov no Kyoudai"

Ichihara Hayato will be starring in the FujiTV Winter 2013 drama "Karamazov no Kyoudai" (The Karamazov Brothers) which will begin its run from 12 January in the Saturdays 11.10pm timeslot. The drama is based on the last long novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky which was published in 1880 and will be the first Japanese drama adaptation of this story. The story talks about 3 brothers who are suspected of killing their father and features Ichihara as the second son who is a lawyer. As for the eldest brother, Saito Takumi will take up the role while Hayashi Kento will be the youngest brother.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of "Made In Japan"

The production press conference of upcoming NHK Winter 2013 drama "Made in Japan" was held on 27 November which was attended by cast members Karasawa Toshiaki, Yoshioka Hidetaka, Kunimura Jun, Maiko, Saito Ayumu, Nakamura Yasuhi and Hirata Mitsuru. The drama is scheduled to begin its run on 26 January and will consist of three episodes. Karasawa plays the sales director of a major electronics manufacturer who helps his company escape from the brink of bankruptcy and assembles a team of 7 to work on the restructuring efforts. Takahashi will play a skilled specialist in lithium batteries technology who works for a Chinese company and goes head-on with Karasawa and his team.

Source: Sanspo

Abe Hiroshi welcomes the arrival of his 2nd child

Abe Hiroshi's second daughter was born on 1 November in a Tokyo hospital as reported on 27 November. Abe had married his wife who is 15 years younger than him back in February 2008 and their first daughter was born in June last year. According to the report, the newborn baby weighed 3,054 grams at birth. Abe had been filming his autumn 2012 drama "Going My Home" in Nagano just before the birth and rushed back to Tokyo to witness the arrival of his bundle of joy. When interviewed, Abe expressed his happiness at his family growing bigger and he will work even harder from now for the sake of his family.

Source: Sanspo

Nakazawa Yuko gives birth to first child

Former Morning Musume leader Nakazawa Yuko who got married in April this year, gave birth to her first child, a baby girl, on 25 November as announced through her blog on 27 November. Nakazawa's daughter weighed 2,980 grams at birth and it took Nakazawa about 30 hours before the baby was successfully delivered. Nakazawa said that this was the most touching experience so far in the 39 years she has lived and that she will never forget about it.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Update to the Autumn 2012 ratings race - 27 Nov 2012

Here are the results of the ranking as of 27 Nov 12:

1) Doctor X - 17.68%
2) PRICELESS - 17.00%
3) Aibou Season 11 - 16.75%
4) Akumu-chan - 11.91%
5) MONSTERS - 11.87%
6) Kekkon Shinai - 11.74%
7) Tokumei Tantei - 10.56%

8) Osozaki no Himawari - 9.92%
9) TOKYO Airport - 9.77%
10) Ooku - 8.96%
11) Going My Home - 8.40%
12) Perfect Blue - 7.96%
13) Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo - 7.87%
14) Resident - 6.93%
15) Koukou Nyuushi - 6.65%
16) Poison - 3.63%
17) PIECE / Girls Talk - 2.21%
19) Sugarless - 1.78%

The number of dramas in the above-10% group has gone down further with Osozaki no Himawari and TOKYO Airport slipping below the mark. However, there is still a chance that they might go back into the other group but that would mean a significant increase in its ratings before that can happen.

Doctor X is going very strongly with four consecutive episodes of above 17% ratings with a 18.6% debut episode. The consistency exhibited by this drama is in stark contrast to PRICELESS which is going through a rollercoaster ride. That's bad news for it especially if it wants to challenge Doctor X for the top spot. Aibou cannot be dismissed as well because it's quite close to PRICELESS and might even overtake it if the action heats up towards the end of the season.

Akumu-chan is also doing relatively well considering that it has overtaken MONSTERS. However, the margin is razor-thin so there is a likelihood for both dramas to keep switching spots until the final whistle. On the other hand, both dramas are simply too far from the Top 3 to pose any serious threats so it's probably going to be a fight for the 4th spot for them. Kekkon Shinai can't be written off as well since it's also in the 11% range but its last episode getting just 10.9% is slightly worrying.

Among the below-10% dramas, Osozaki, Ooku and Tokyo Airport seem like the potential candidates to fight for a Top 3 finish in this group. Going My Home is sinking too quickly with its Ep 6 getting just 5.9%. Likewise for Perfect Blue which is also singing the blues, its recent Ep 7 dropped 2.4% to 6.2% so it's going to be an uphill struggle for both to finish with decent results (especially for Going My Home which has a stellar cast and lots of promotion pre-season).

Eguchi Yosuke to star in Winter 2013 drama "dinner"

Eguchi Yosuke will play the role of a talented chef in the upcoming FujiTV Winter 2013 drama "dinner" which is due to be shown from January in the Sundays 9pm timeslot. The drama is set in a famous Italian restaurant where Eguchi plays a chef who clashes with the people around him in his pursuit for the perfect cuisine. The heroine will be played by Kurashina Kana, the stand-in owner cum manager of the restaurant when her father suddenly falls ill while Yusuke Santa Maria will also be part of the cast.

In preparation for the role, Eguchi who's already well-known for his liking for cooking and collecting kitchen utensils, will start taking cooking lessons from specialists in this field. The drama will also have a tie-up with FujiTV's variety show "Iron Chef" where Eguchi's character will appear after the restaurant's chief accepts the offer to take part in the programme.

Source: Sanspo

Lineup for the 63rd NHK Kouhaku Utagassen

NHK announced the lineup for their annual event, the NHK Kouhaku Utagassen for its 63rd edition on 26 November. The program will be shown on New Year's Eve from 7.15pm to 11.45pm and hosted by Arashi, Horikita Maki and NHK announcer Udo Yumiko. The Red Team won the event last year for the first time in 7 years.

The list of artists is as follows with the number of appearances on Kouhaku as of 2012 indicated in brackets. Those who are making their first appearances are in italics:

Red Team
aiko (11)
ayaka (6)
Ikimonogakari (5)
Ishikawa Sayuri (35)
AKB48 (5)
SKE48 (1st appearance)
Gyariiba Myubamyu (1st appearance)
Kouzai Kaori (16)
Kouda Kumi (8)
Godai Natsuko (19)
Sakamoto Fuyumi (24)
Tendou Yoshimi (17)
Nakashima Mika (9)
Nishino Kana (3)
Perfume (5)
Hamasaki Ayumi (14)
Fuji Ayako (18)
Princess Princess (1st appearance)
Mizuki Nana (4)
Mizumori Kaori (10)
Momoiro Clover Z (1st appearance)
YUI (1st appearance)
YUKI (1st appearance)
Yuki Saori (13)
Wada Akiko (36)

White Team
Arashi (4)
Itsuki Hiroshi (42)
HY (2)
EXILE (8)
NYC (4)
Kanjani 8 (1st appearance)
Kitajima Saburo (49)
Go Hiromi (25)
Golden Bomber (1st appearance)
Kobukuro (7)
Saito Kazuyoshi (1st appearance)
Sandaime J Soul Brothers (1st appearance)
SMAP (20)
Tachi Hiroshi (2)
TOKIO (19)
Tokunaga Hideaki (7)
AAA (3)
Naoto Inti Raymi (1st appearance)
Hikawa Kiyoshi (13)
FUNKY MONKEY BABYS (4)
Fukuyama Masaharu (5)
Hosokawa Takashi (36)
Porno Graffiti (11)
Miwa Akihiro (1st appearance)
Mori Shinichi (45)

Source: Nikkansports

Monday, November 26, 2012

Preview of "Hitori Shizuka"

Title: Hitori Shizuka
Official website: here
Broadcast by: WOWOW
Timeslot: Sundays 6pm
O.A. start date: 21 October 2012
Number of episodes: 6
Original novel by: Honda Tetsuya
Cast: Kaho, Takahashi Kazuo, Murakami Jun, Arai Hirofumi, Nagatsuka Keishi, Matsushige Yutaka, Nukumizu Yoichi, Kurosawa Asuka, Nikaido Satoshi, Kishibe Ittoku

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sakai Noriko returns to acting after the end of her suspended prison sentence

Sakai Noriko appeared at the production press conference of her new stage play "Aozora no Kyoushikyoku ~ Oichi no Kata Gaiden ~" on 24 November which also doubled up as her return press conference. She had been given a three-year suspended prison sentence back in 2009 for violating the Stimulants Control Act.

During the press conference, Sakai was swamped with questions from the media on her case, her drug habit and how she is going to deal with the harsh eyes on her now that she's back in the public eye. She commented that she was grateful for the chance to perform in front of everyone again and said that she didn't think this day would come when she was arrested and subsequently serving the suspended sentence. By being in the public eye again, she knows very well that she might be criticised and be viewed unfavourably but she is prepared for whatever may come. Sakai stressed that she had already kicked her drug habit and has no intention of going back to her old ways. Besides, she has been seeing a doctor and going through counselling which has helped to prevent withdrawal symptoms and hallucinations usually seen in people who try to kick the habit.

When asked about her son, Sakai said that he's old enough to know what happened in the past and she will do her best for the rest of her life to make it up to him for what he had suffered. As for her ex-husband, she said that ultimately, she was the one who made the mistake so she has no intention of blaming him for what happened. Her tattoos on her hand and leg were also erased.

When asked about her studies of welfare and care-giving, Sakai said that she is going to continue with her studies but while going through the process, she realised that she really wanted to be a performer and this was what prompted her to make her return to acting.

Source: Sanspo