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Friday, August 31, 2012

Fukada Kyoko to star in FujiTV autumn 2012 drama "Tokyo Airport ~ Tokyo Kuukou Kansei Hoanbu"

Fukada Kyoko will star in the FujiTV autumn 2012 drama " TOKYO Airport ~ Tokyo Kuukou Kansei Hoanbu" (Tokyo Airport Control Security Department) which will begin its run in October in the Sundays 9pm timeslot. Fukada plays Shinoda Kaori who had been a ground staff at the airport but suddenly decided to take the national exam to be a air traffic controller. She passed the exam and went through a tough internship at the air traffic security university and is now a newbie air traffic controller who's about to reach 30. In the first episode, a major accident almost happens due to Shinoda's careless mistake and the bad weather causes a state of emergency at the airport. The drama will be filmed primarily at Haneda Airport from mid September and Fukada is set to undergo training under the guidance of the professionals at the air traffic control tower. This drama will also be the first time Fukada has starred in a FujiTV drama since 2001's Fighting Girl. Co-stars include Sasaki Nozomi, Kaname Jun, Seto Yasufumi, Seto Asaka and Tokito Saburo.


Source: Sanspo

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nishikido Ryo & Horikita Maki in new movie "Kenchou Omotenashika"

Kanjani 8's Nishikido Ryo and Horikita Maki will be starring in the movie "Kenchou Omotenashika" (Hospitality division of the prefectural office) which is due to be shown in May next year. The story is based on the same-titled novel by Arikawa Hiro, the author better known for "Toshokan Sensou" which is set in the tourism hospitality division that really exists in Kochi Prefectural Office. The two of them will play employees in this division which strives hard to boost the tourism industry in the prefecture. Nishikido's character will be Kakemizu Fumitaka, a young employee who's kind but clumsy and unable to react accordingly to circumstances. On the other hand, Horikita plays Myojin Taki, a part-time worker in the same division.

Filming will begin in September and the Kochi Prefectural Office has given full support by helping to construct the set in their premises and featuring the key tourism spots in their locality.


Source: Sanspo

Filming of "Onna Nobunaga" underway in Shiga

Filming for the FujiTV drama SP "Onna Nobunaga" is underway at Hikone Castle in Shiga Prefecture. The cast members including Amami Yuki, Uchino Masaaki, Tamayama Tetsuji, Iseya Yuusuke, Nakamura Shido, Koyuki and Nagasawa Masami met the press in their costumes despite the sweltering heat and talked about their roles in the drama. Amami received a lot of praise from her co-stars about her impersonating as a male Oda Nobunaga and it has been years since she put on a moustache for her role in "Gone With The Wind" when she was still in the Takarazuka. Filming had begun since July.
The drama SP is based on the same titled novel by Naoki award winner Sato Kenichi where Oda Nobunaga is supposed to be a woman disguised as a man. Amami had read the novel when it was first published in 2006 and was very excited when she was offered the role. She will also be appearing in some intimate scenes with Uchino and Tamayama.

Source: Sanspo

Yoshitaka Yuriko to act in her first Korean drama "Vampire Prosecutor 2"

Yoshitaka Yuriko will be acting in a Korean drama for the first time in the OCN drama "Vampire Prosecutor 2" which begins its run on 9 September at 11pm on Sundays. Filming has already begun. The drama features Korean actor Yeon Jung Hoon as a prosecutor who suddenly becomes a vampire and makes use of his power to solve serious crimes.

Yoshitaka explained that she had been looking for an opportunity to expand her career thus she decided to take on the role despite having some difficulties adjusting to filming outside of Japan. She plays the role of a fortune counsellor who uses colours and tarot cards to analyse the fortunes of people. Yoshitaka's character first appears in episode 2 and will also be featured from episode 9 onwards to help in the solving of some cases.


Source: Oricon

Takimoto Miori starring in TBS autumn 2012 drama "Perfect Blue"

Takimoto Miori will be starring in her first drama leading role in the TBS autumn 2012 drama "Miyabe Miyuki Mystery Perfect Blue" which begins its run on 8 October at 8pm Mondays. She plays an investigator working in a private investigation agency who teams up with a former police dog to solve difficult cases.

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ikuta Toma starring in FujiTV autumn 2012 drama "Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei, Renewal ~

Ikuta Toma will be starring in the FujiTV autumn 2012 drama "Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei, Renewal ~ " (The late-blooming sunflower ~ renewal of my life) which is due to be shown at 9pm on Tuesdays. This will be Ikuta's first drama leading role in three and a half years.

The story will be set in Shimantogawa, Kochi Prefecture, where 7 young men and women lead ordinary lives and still harbour dreams about their futures while being uneasy about their current situation. Ikuta plays the role of Jotaro who is a contract worker about to be converted to a permanent employee but his contract gets terminated just before that. At the same time, Jotaro gets dumped by his girlfriend and he then decides to join the regional rejuvenation group in Shimantogawa where he meets six other young people played by Maki Youko, Kiritani Kenta, Kashii Yu, Emoto Tasuku, Kimura Fumino and Kuninaka Ryoko.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Update to the Summer 2012 ratings race - 28 Aug 12

As usual, here is the ranking based on average ratings:

1) GTO 13.35%
2) Iryu Sousa 12.38%
3) Rich Man Poor Woman 11.49%
4) Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Kakari 11.48%
5) Ghost Mama Sousasen 11.08% (no new episode due to 24 Jikan Terebi)
6) Tokkan 10.82%
7) Kyoto Chiken no Onna 10.82%
8) Summer Rescue 10.43%
9) Kuro no Onna Kyoushi 10.30%
10) Iki mo dekinai natsu 10.20%
11) Beautiful Rain 10.04%

12) Higashino Keigo Mysteries 8.80%
13) Beginners 7.83%
14) Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan 6.34%
15) Boys On The Run 5.79%
16) Omo ni naitemasu 5.03%
17) VISION 3.24%
18) Sprout 2.63% (no new episode due to 24 Jikan Terebi)
19) Soumatou Kabushikigaisha 2.23%

As usual, there isn't a lot of movement among the dramas with very slight differences between each position. Barring unforeseen circumstances, GTO looks set to be the victor this season. I'm quite surprised by this especially since I didn't think that sequels would usually go down well with viewers and the actors playing the leads are not as well-known as the 1998 couple. Then again, the competition this season is pretty much non-existent so it makes it easier for GTO to secure a rather firm viewership base from those who are either fans of the manga or the leads.

  On a side note, the drama SP starring Ninomiya Kazunari and Ueto Aya shown during the 24 Jikan Terebi scored a high of 23.8%. There has been talk about how the TV stations are always putting up half-hearted productions during summer or not expecting much from the ratings since most viewers would be out on holiday or summer events and wouldn't stay home to watch TV. Traditionally, that seems to be the case because ratings are usually quite badly affected during this period of the year. Then again, the true popularity of the show is no longer reflected by the ratings as per before because there are so many ways to watch a drama now (e.g. you can access the on-demand services on your phone or computer if you are in Japan). Moreover, when you compare what this SP got with what the summer dramas are struggling to get, it does make me wonder if the problem lies with whether the drama is attractive enough to make a viewer deliberately stay home to catch the first broadcast.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Odoru Daisousasen THE FINAL's completion screening

The completion screening of "Odoru Daisousasen THE FINAL" was held on 23 August at Tokyo International Forum where 4,000 fans gathered. Cast members including Oda Yuji, Fukatsu Eri, Yanagiba Toshiro, Yusuke Santa Maria, Koizumi Kotaro, Uchida Yuki, Oguri Shun, Ito Atsushi, Satoi Kenta, Ono Takehiko, Kitamura Soichiro and Saito Satoru also appeared at the event to greet the fans and were treated to a 5-minute standing ovation.

The movie which is due to be shown from 7 September, marks the final instalment in the Odoru Daisousan series which began as a TV drama in 1997. Since then, there have been 3 movies and the last movie in 2003 was the highest-grossing film that year.



Source: Sanspo

TENN & Uehara Takako announce their marriage

ET-KING's MC TENN and SPEED member Uehara Takako announced that they registered their marriage on 23 August via a joint fax statement. The couple held their engagement on 9 June and have been living in Osaka since the end of June.


Source: Sports Hochi

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"BRAVE HEARTS Umizaru" becomes top-grossing movie of 2012

Ito Hideaki, Kato Ai and Miura Shohei appeared at an event on 22 August to celebrate their movie "BRAVE HEARTS Umizaru" becoming the top-grossing movie of 2012 so far by beating previous No.1 "Terumae Romae" which starred Abe Hiroshi. "BRAVE HEARTS Umizaru" achieved 5 million visits and total takings of JPY 6.3bn in 40 days which was already higher than JPY 5.9bn accumulated by "Terumae Romae". The cast expressed their gratitude for fans who supported the movie during the event.


Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Nishijima Hidetoshi & Kagawa Teruyuki to star in joint drama remake of HK movie "Infernal Affairs"

TBS and WOWOW will work together for the drama remake of 2002 hit HK movie "Infernal Affairs" which featured Tony Leung and Andy Lau. TBS will handle the drama "Double Face Sennyuu Sousa Hen" (Double Face Infiltration Investigation Version) which stars Nishijima Hidetoshi as Moriya Jun, a police officer who infiltrates a gang in order to destroy it i.e. Tony Leung's role while WOWOW's version is "Double Face Gisou Keisatsu Hen" (Double Face Fake Police Version) which stars Kagawa Teruyuki as Takayama Ryosuke, a gangster who becomes a policeman and leaks information to his gang i.e. Andy Lau's role. When both men realise the real identities of the other party after a drug deal, they get embroiled in a struggle because of their conflicting stands. Both dramas are due to be shown in mid October and Nishijima and Kagawa will appear in both versions. Their co-stars in both dramas will be Ito Atsushi who plays a junior gang member Hiroshi while Aoi Yu will play the daughter of a powerful politician who associates with Takayama.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kanno Miho & Amami Yuki in autumn drama "Kekkon Shinai"

Kanno Miho and Amami Yuki will be the co-leads for FujiTV autumn drama "Kekkon Shinai" (Not getting married) due to begin its run in October in the Thursdays 10pm timeslot. The drama features them as women in their 30s and 40s who either can't get married or don't want to get married.

Kanno plays Chiharu who is about to be 35 but has no boyfriend for the past 5 years and is now living with her parents. Although she has the desire to get married, her relationships never last. On the other hand, Amami plays Haruko, a landscape planner in her 40s who is very successful in her career and has been having a long-time affair with her married superior. She has given up the idea of marriage and childbirth and decides to live on her own. Chiharu and Haruko happen to meet each other when Chiharu's younger sister gets married and Chiharu herself lives together with Haruko. Rounding up the cast is Tamaki Hiroshi, a 32-year-old part-time worker at a florist who has no confidence and means to get married, both emotionally and financially.

Source: Sanspo

Monday, August 20, 2012

Update to the Summer 2012 ratings race - 20 Aug 12

Not much change in the overall standing as we approach the two-third mark of the season:

1) GTO 13.10%
2) Iryu Sousa 12.32%
3) Keishicho Sousa Ikka 9 Kakari 11.49%
4) Rich Man, Poor Woman 11.37%
5) Kyoto Chiken no Onna 11.12%
6) Ghost Mama Sousasen 11.08%
7) Tokkan 11.06%
8) Summer Rescue 10.72%
9) Kuro no Onna Kyoushi 10.38%
10) Beautiful Rain 10.14%
11) Iki mo dekinai natsu 10.13%

12) Higashino Keigo Mysteries 8.95%
13) Beginners 7.88%
14) Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan 6.43%
15) Boys On The Run 5.68%
16) Omo ni naitemasu 5.28%
17) VISION 3.30%
18) Sprout 2.63%
19) Soumatou Kabushikigaisha 2.28%

If you look at the single episodes' figures, there are some interesting trends though. Even though the Olympics have already ended, Rich Man, Poor Woman slipped to below-10% for its episode 6 which seems to signal that it's losing viewers' interest. Iki mo dekinai natsu also scored its lowest rating along with Tokkan, Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Kakari and Ghost Mama Sousasen. On the other hand, you have dramas like GTO, Iryu Sousa, Kyoto Chiken no Onna, Beginners, Kuro no Onna Kyoushi, Boys On The Run, Omo ni naitemasu and Summer Rescue bouncing back by at least 1%.  '

Although I think these movements might not really adjust the average ranking order drastically, I do hope to see a re-shuffling of positions wherever possible because frankly speaking, it is not fun to see the same drama dominate from start to finish or one drama stuck to the bottom of the pack for three months. I can almost imagine how the headlines will read for Soumatou because the reporters are bound to make an issue about Kashii Yu and Odagiri Jo taking the last spot for two consecutive seasons. However, in Odagiri's case, it was a case of bad press which affected the interest level of viewers coupled with a lacklustre production that sank Kazoku no Uta. Soumatou seems to be faring OK in terms of reviews even though its ratings are low because of its midnight slot. Can't really see a way for Soumatou to get out of this last place unless something happens to Sprout or Soumatou itself suddenly increases its viewership base.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Press conference of drama SP "Kuruma Isu de Boku wa Sora wo Tobu"

The production press conference of NTV drama SP "Kuruma Isu de Boku wa Sora wo Tobu" was held on 19 August in Chiba Prefecture which was attended by main cast members including Arashi's Ninomiya Kazunari and Ueto Aya. The drama SP will be shown during NTV's 24-jikan Terebi charity event held next weekend. Ninomiya plays the lead character Hasebe Yasuyuki who has to move around in a wheelchair and later snaps out of wallowing in self-pity before becoming a counsellor. Besides Ninomiya and Ueto, other cast members include Yasushimaru Hiroko, Iseya Yuusuke and Suzuki Fuku.

Ninomiya and Ueto had last worked together 12 years ago and she openly expressed that she really admired his acting all these years. At the same time, Ueto also "complained" that Ninomiya kept treating her like an obasan (old woman) because she kept asking him questions regarding acting during their filming breaks. When asked about meeting Ueto again, Ninomiya said that they last met when she was still a junior high student so he remarked that she is now prettier than before and is better at being a leader at the filming scene. Having to dye his hair blond for the first time in 10 years, Ninomiya said that the hair colour doesn't suit his current age at all but it was a refreshing change for him after all. He also had to go through rigorous training in order to be able to use the wheelchair during filming.

Source: Oricon

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Odagiri Jo to appear in 2013 Taiga "Yae no Sakura"

Odagiri Jo will be appearing in 2013 Taiga drama "Yae no Sakura" as Niijima Jou, the husband of Niijima Yae played by Ayase Haruka and the founder of Doshisha University. This is the first time that the two of them are working togather in a drama although their collaboration in another movie "Real ~ Kanzen naru shuchoutaki no hi~ " is only due to be shown next summer. This will also be Odagiri's 2nd Taiga appearance in 9 years from his last role in 2004's "Shinsengumi".

Source: Yomiuiri Hochi

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kitagawa Keiko starring in autumn drama "Akumu-chan"

Kitagawa Keiko will be starring in the NTV autumn drama "Akumu-chan" which begins its run in October at 9pm on Saturdays. The story is based on the novel "Yumechigahi" by Onda Riku which has a central theme of prophecy dreams. Kitagawa plays a teacher who appears to be the ideal teaching model but actually has a deep distrust for people. When she meets a transfer student who can see prophecy dreams, Kitagawa's character becomes engaged in a series of events to save society from impending dangers and undergoes a change in her personality. Co-stars include GACKT who plays the prince who appears in the prophecy dreams and a dreams researcher who makes use of dreams to fulfil his ambitions as well as Yuka who plays Kitagawa's colleague in school.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Naka Riisa to star in first primetime drama lead role - "Resident ~ Gonin no Kenshuui"

Naka Riisa will be starring in her first lead role in a primetime drama "Resident ~ Gonin no Kenshuui" which will begin its run in October via TBS at 9pm on Fridays. Naka will play Miyama Shizuku, a first-year medical intern at the emergency department of an university hospital along with four other newbies played by Hayashi Kento, NEWS member Masuda Takahisa, Oomasa Aya and Ishibashi Anna while their mentors will be played by Ozawa Yukiyoshi, Furuta Arata and Sudo Risa.

Source: Sanspo  


Is it just me or is there anyone else who feels that this drama's setting is quite similar to VOICE's i.e. 5 students and 3 mentors? And the title is simply too literal...maybe some thought needs to be put in to make it less ordinary?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ookura Tadayoshi in his first leading role in a movie - "Hyakukai Naku Koto"

Kanjani 8's Ookura Tadayoshi will be taking on his first leading role in a movie titled "Hyakukai Naku Koto" (Crying a hundred times) due to be shown next year. The story is based on a novel by Nakamura Kou and features Ookura as Fujii, a guy who loses a part of his memory due to his motorbike accident four years ago and has a girlfriend Yoshimi played by Kiritani Mirei who is dying of cancer. Filming is due to begin at the end of August.

Source: Sanspo

Tanihara Shosuke's first leading role in a drama - NHK BS drama "Tsugunai"

Tanihara Shosuke takes on his first leading role in a drama since his acting debut 20 years ago in the NHK BS Premium drama "Tsugunai" (Atonement" which consists of 3 episodes and will be shown in November this year. The story is based on a mystery novel by Yano Keiko and features Tanihara as an elite neurosugeon Hidaka who loses his family due to his busy career after his son dies of an illness and his wife commits suicide. He then becomes a homeless man as a result. While roaming the streets, Hidaka meets a young man who he saved from sexual abuse 12 years ago and gets much-needed support from the latter to carry on with his life. However, the young man is later accused of being the culprit of a series of murders so Hidaka sets out to help him clear his name.

In order to look the part of a homeless man, Tanihara went on a diet to go from 77kg to 68 kg ever since the filming began in August. He had to put on a wig, allow his beard to grow and wear dirty clothes during the filming and was even eyed suspiciously by the employees at a convenience store when he went there looking very much like a homeless man during a filming break.
Co-stars include Kimura Tae who plays a psychologist Miwako who is the former girlfriend of Hidaka and supports him to get back on his feet again while Ashina Sei will play Hidaka's late wife Hiroe and another woman Yuko who looks exactly like Hiroe. The young man accused of murder is played by Imai Yuki while Komoto Masahiro and Nakahara Takeo will also appear in this drama.

Source: Sanspo  

This piece of news is probably bad for Kimura Takuya who just announced his new drama a few days ago. The setting of Tsugunai and PRICELESS is rather similar i.e. a successful man being reduced to nothing and trying to get back on his feet although the reason they became like this is different. Then again, the appearance of Tsugunai will no doubt cause critics to go comparing Tanihara Shosuke and KimuTaku because Tanihara went through so much to change his suave image but KimuTaku has always been known to maintain his image no matter what his role was. Will KimuTaku be able to sport a similar look or still look like some handsome dude as usual even if he is playing a homeless man? It will be interesting to see how viewers and critics react to these two dramas, come Nov.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kimura Takuya to make his return to Gekku in autumn drama "PRICELESS"

SMAP's Kimura Takuya will return to the Gekku timeslot with his autumn drama "PRICELESS" which is due to begin its run in October. Having played many characters with high-flying occupations, Kimura will play a middle-management employee in a big company where he suddenly becomes the scapegoat of a crime he didn't commit. This results in him losing his job, family and money and he has to learn how to survive in such difficult conditions after meeting various people along the way. Co-stars include Nakai Kiichi who plays Kimura's boss who cannot be counted on and Karina who plays an employee in the accounting department of the same company. Filming is due to begin soon.

Source: Sponichi Annex

Monday, August 13, 2012

Update to the Summer 2012 ratings race - 13 Aug 12

As some dramas didn't show any new episodes last week (most likely due to the Olympics) and that the average rating ranking has not changed much due to relatively stagnant figures for last week, I'm providing the average rating ranking only:

1) GTO 13.03%
2) Iryu Sousa 12.18%
3) Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Kakari 11.87%
4) Rich Man, Poor Woman 11.86%
5) Tokkan 11.45%
6) Ghost Mama Sousasen 11.40%
7) Kyoto Chiken no Onna 11.10%
8) Summer Rescue 10.80%
9) Iki mo dekinai natsu 10.54%
10) Kuro no Onna Kyoushi 10.38%
11) Beautiful Rain  10.34%

12) Higashino Keigo Mysteries 8.96%
13) Beginners 7.83%
14) Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan 6.40%
15) Boys On The Run 5.60%
16) Omo ni naitemasu 5.10%
17) VISION 3.36%
18) Sprout 2.57%
19) Soumatou Kabushikigaisha 2.33%

To be frank, this season is boring in terms of the ratings aspect. Just like the summer heat is making people feel lethargic, the figures are sluggish and there isn't any significant competition among the various offerings. Last season, at least we had Kagi no Kakatta Heya and ATARU switching places at the top almost every week. 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku also gave Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri a run for its money. Look at what's happening here. GTO is still at the top and Iryu Sousa looks rather far from toppling the current season leader. I'm not keen on watching GTO though but if anyone has watched it and can tell me why it is attracting a stable viewership base, I would love to hear your views.

Big names don't always work, as seen from Higashino Keigo Mysteries even though I enjoy it quite a bit. Rich Man, Poor Woman is making me rather sleepy and the only thing that keeps me still tuned in is how Asahina is going to take his revenge on Hyuga. Iki mo dekinai natsu looks quite good after just 2 episodes but the pacing is rather slow at times. Based on the summer dramas I've watched so far (some a bit more, while some just one episode into it), I just don't get the same level of excitement when I was watching Kagi. No wonder I'm returning to the older dramas instead these days e.g. I finished SPEC (the drama, SP) in a matter of 3 days just to make sure I could go and watch the movie. The current dramas just don't drive me in the same way, which is a pity. Or is it the weather that's wearing my patience low to the extent that I can't stand sitting through an episode which simply bores me?

Konno Mahiru gives birth to daughter

Konno Mahiru gave birth to her first baby (a daughter) in the beginning of August as announced by her agency on 13 August. She has since been discharged from the hospital and is now resting at home with her baby. Konno used to be part of the Takarazuka troupe and left it to become an actress in 2002. She married her former schoolmate, a pilot, in 2008.


Source: Daily Sports

Suzuki Honami to star in TBS drama SP "Reset ~ Hontou no Shiawase no Mitsukekata ~"

Suzuki Honami will be starring in the TBS drama SP "Reset ~ Hontou no Shiawase no Mitsukekata ~" (Reset ~ The real way to discover happiness) which will be shown on 30 September. This marks her return to a leading role in a drama for the first time in 14 years. The drama is based on a novel by Kakiya Miu and the script is written by famous scriptwriter Asano Taeko who wrote the script for Ooku, Last Friends and Yookame no Semi. Suzuki plays a housewife named Tomoko who used to dream of being an actress but has to settle for a boring life now.

Tomoko meets her buddies Kaoru (Takashima Reiko), a single career woman, and Harumi (Sakai Maki), a bar hostess, during a class gathering where she accidentally travels back in time to 28 years ago when she was still a senior high school student and attempts to reset her life. The actresses playing the trio during their high school days in the 80s will be Shida Mirai, Sakuraba Nanami and Yamaya Kasumi. Co-stars also include Terawaki Yasufumi, Takahashi Keiko, Ootomo Kohei, Okunuki Kaoru, Nukumizu Yoichi and Higashide Masahiro.
Source: Oricon

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The 6th small-faced beauty ranking (Oricon)

1) Amuro Namie (No.1 for 5 consecutive years)

2) Konishi Manami

3) Sasaki Nozomi

4) Aragaki Yui

5) Koizumi Kyoko

6) Ayase Haruka

7) An

8) Kimura Kaera

9) Eikura Nana

10) Miyazaki Aoi

Source: Oricon

Review of Higashino Keigo Mysteries Ep 2 - Hannin no inai satsujin no yoru

The episode opens with a scene in a room where a woman is lying dead on the floor with blood over her and a man, Sato Takuya (Sakaguchi Kenji) bends over to check whether she is indeed dead. He confirms it to two other men who are also in the room and they head to the living room to discuss what to do.

The murder was actually committed by Takao, the second son of the Kishida household which is headed by famous architect Kishida Sousuke, and the victim was his new home tutor Yagi Yukiko. According to Takao, Yukiko had ridiculed him for something and it made Takao go mad with anger and stab Yukiko with the knife she brought along to pare the apples. Takao is scared out of his wits while his father is eager to cover the crime up because it would damage the family's reputation. Sousuke pleads with Sato to help but the latter insists that he can't do that. Out of no choice, Sousuke offers a huge sum of money to Sato where he finally relents after giving some thought.

Sato offers to come up with a plan to conceal the crime and wants the Kishida family to do his bidding. He tells Masaki, the eldest son of Sousuke, to help him transport the body to the mountains for disposal. Strangely enough, Sato seems unusually calm while Masaki is shivering badly as they try to dig a hole to bury Yukiko's body. When Masaki asks about it, Sato claims that he's also scared by what he has to do but has to put up a brave front in order to make sure that things get done properly since he's being paid good money for this.

After disposing Yukiko's body, Sato and Masaki return to the Kishida residence. Masaki is especially angry to hear that Takao went to bed while he had to do the dirty task for his half-brother. Sato advises the family on how they can conceal the fact that Yukiko ever came to their place as a tutor and that they should deny knowing her. In case any of the neighbours happen to have seen Yukiko coming to their house, he will get his girlfriend Kawai Masami (Seki Megumi) to pose as her since Sato believes that nobody has seen Yukiko's face clearly enough to recognise her.

Sato returns home after a long night to find Masami waiting for him there. He doesn't mention in detail what happened at the Kishida household but gets Masami to agree to be Yukiko's imposter. Sato then breaks into Yukiko's apartment and takes away all evidence that could prove that she was a private tutor.
Things seem to be going according to Sato's plans but a man who claims to be Yukiko's elder brother comes to the Kishida household with her photo. Although the Kishida family sticks to their story that they have never seen Yukiko before, her brother's suspicions are aroused and he goes to the police to file a missing person report. At the same time, due to a heavy downpour in the mountains, Yukiko's body gets discovered which marks a downward spiral for Sato and the Kishida family...

Compared to the first story, the sub-title for this episode didn't have a clear meaning until it is revealed towards the end what exactly happened on that fateful night. To begin with, there wasn't even a murder and everything had been meticulously planned by a man who would stoop at nothing to get money through unscrupulous means. Morever, this plan could help him get rid of a clingy woman so it was really something which could kill two birds with one stone. At the beginning, Sato looked very much like an innocent party who had been involved in the mess because of his greed for money. However, as we got to know more about him, the only thing which remained constant was his greed and we got to see how cold and ruthless he could be. That smirk on his face and nonchalance when talking about Yukiko was simply too evil and he deserved to come to no good end but then, this drama doesn't show you the final "outcome" of what happened to the culprit so there is a lot of room for imagination because the viewer can "design" what kind of punishment would be suitable for such a criminal.

Frankly speaking, I do like this story quite a bit for its twists but Sakaguchi had a disadvantage compared to Karasawa Toshiaki in the first episode because the latter had Tanaka Rena to bring up the tension in the story. Somehow, Seki Megumi's limited airtime and the fact that the Kishida family members were not really key players in the whole scam made it a bit boring at times. Sakaguchi felt like he was doing a one-man's show most of the time until the police detective appeared and became a constant annoying factor to Sato who was bent on getting away scot-free from the mess. It felt like too late and too little though.

On a side note, Nakai Kiichi's case seems to be progressing so slowly that I've somewhat lost a bit of interest in just 2 episodes. Actually, the narration is fine on its own but adds little value to the drama in terms of connecting these individual stories. Well, we don't need them to be connected anyway since they are pretty much independent of one another but if there is a need for a narrator, then there should be a reason justifying his presence rather than go on and on about his own murder. It remains to be seen if there is some hidden story behind his death but really, if it's something as simple as killing him to prevent the exposure of a embezzlement scam, it's not going to be satisfying enough, at least for me.

BRAVE HEARTS Umizaru breaks JPY 5bn mark in box office takings

A blue carpet event for the hit summer movie "BRAVE HEARTS Umizaru" was held at Shinjuku on 11 August where cast members Ito Hideaki, Kato Ai, Sato Ryuta, Naka Riisa, Miura Shohei and the director Hasumi Eiichiro appeared in front of 3,000 fans lined up along the blue carpet area. The movie has attracted 4 million visits so far and has broken the JPY 5bn mark in terms of box office takings.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tamayama Tetsuji announces birth of his first son

Tamayama Tetsuji announced the birth of his frst son on 8 August through his agency the following day. According to the press release, his wife gave birth to the baby at 9.50pm on 8 August at a Tokyo hospital and he weighed 3,706 grams at birth. The original due date was supposed to be 7 August but Tamayama was away in Shiga Prefecture for the filming of FujiTV drama "Onna Nobunaga" due to be shown in this December. He was able to witness the birth of his son when he rushed back to Tokyo after filming ended in the evening of 7 August and had a day-off on 8 August.

Tamayama got married on Valentine's Day this year and had announced his wife's pregnancy then.

Source: Sanspo

Review of Kagi no Kakatta Heya Ep 7

The opening sequence starts with our Kagi trio in a traditional house at night and the surroundings looking rather eerie. Enomoto talks about how people tend to have two different types of views when it comes to things they can't explain i.e. one attributing it to supernatural forces and the other insisting that everything can be explained with science. This suggests that the case we have on hand looks like it's something which looks unexplainable by science but there is definitely more than meets the eye...

On their way to the law firm, Serizawa tells Aoto that he's going to take a short vacation to Monaco to watch the F1 race even though he can only spare four days (inclusive of the weekend). Aoto marvels at how he can squeeze in a holiday to such a far away place within such a short period. At the reception, they are surprised by the presence of Endo, a man from Nagano who had previously asked to meet Serizawa to solve a closed-room mystery case involving his buddy Nishino whose daughter Manami was found dead at home. As Nishino was the first person to discover the body and that the body had found no other suspects at the moment, Nishino is still in custody even though the murder took place a couple of days ago.

Serizawa is extremely reluctant to take on this case as he is going on holiday soon and that this case may not bring him any tangible benefits. However, Aoto tries to persuade him to listen to Endo at least, just to find out what the case is all about.

During the discussion, Endo describes how Manami was supposed to return home after school that afternoon but her father found that the door was still locked at the time she was supposed to be at home. He was aghast to find his daughter lying dead on the floor and was in a spaced-out state when Endo sent Nishino's younger daughter Asuka back to the Nishino residence. Although the police failed to find any other suspects, Endo strongly feels that the only person who was capable of killing Manami should have been Nishino's eldest son cum Manami's elder brother, Takeru who was missing since running away from the police when he was caught for assault.

After agreeing to take on the case and sending Endo off, Serizawa tells Aoto to work on this together with Enomoto. Aoto asks if Serizawa is really not joining them this time but the latter insists that he has to go on his vacation and would not give it up for this case. Moreover, he doesn't like to go to the countryside since he prefers city life. Despite Aoto trying hard to sell Nagano as a better vacation spot than Monaco, Serizawa is not convinced and even tries to scare Aoto that she might run into supernatural things there. This makes her feel rather uneasy but she tries to brush off these nagging thoughts and proceeds to contact Enomoto to go to Nagano with her.

However, Aoto fails to find Enomoto at his office and finds out that he's actually on leave to find an ancient lock somewhere. Aoto is disappointed to know this because this means that Enomoto won't be able to go to Nagano with her. When she asks out of curiousity where Enomoto is, she is pleasantly surprised to hear that he's already in Nagano and tells him to stay put there as she scrambles to meet up with him.

Endo brings Aoto and Enomoto to the Nishino residence which was built more than 100 years ago. Enomoto is curious about the sophisticated lock at the entrance which is quite unusual in the countryside where people tend not to lock their houses. Endo explains that Nishino installed the lock a few years back which coincided with the time when Takeru disappeared. Endo explains that the police concluded that Manami was killed in a closed room because only Nishino and Manami had the keys to the door and that the latter's keys were in the house. Moreover, it was impossible for anyone to lock the house without the keys. In addition, Endo said that a woman who was working in a nearby apple orchard had been facing Nishino's entrance that day and testified that she saw nobody else approaching that entrance other than Manami, Nishino, Endo and Asuka. Endo also mentions that a friend of Manami told the police that they were on the phone when the latter entered her house and the call was abruptly ended when she suddenly exclaimed "who is that?".

In the Nishino residence, the only escape route looks to be the open window on the first floor but Enomoto inspects the surroundings and concludes that it's impossible for the murderer to leave the house without leaving any footprints on the wet ground. That night, Aoto and Enomoto continue to inspect the Nishino residence to find more clues when Aoto happens to see a blue light at the toilet and this freaks her out. In addition, they hear from Endo that there were people who saw Takeru in the village the previous night before Manami died which seems to lend more credibility to the assumption that Takeru is the culprit.

While discussing the case with Serizawa over a videoconference, Enomoto and Aoto share their findings with him but somehow unwittingly forget about Serizawa's presence during the conversation. Serizawa feels left out and in order to conceal this, he pretends that he's enjoying life in Monaco but in actual fact, he's alone in his big and luxurious hotel room with just the TV as his companion.

The following day, Enomoto and Aoto continue their investigations which lead them to find out that someone had stolen a ladder from the apple orchard and broke into the Nishino residence's through a window on the second floor. Apparently, the lock at that window was faulty and Takeru looks like the only one who could have known abut it other than the Nishino family.

Serizawa returns from his vacation at the same time as Enomoto and Aoto who come back to Tokyo from Nagano. When they meet up at Enomoto's office, Serizawa finds out that Enomoto had no time to create a model and feels left out again when Aoto and Enomoto start imagining the layout based on what they've seen but he can't do it since he didn't go to Nagano.

Just then, they get a call from Endo saying that the police found where Takeru had been staying in Tokyo. Apparently, the alarm system at his apartment was activated and when Enomoto's company went to investigate with the police, they found Takeru missing and a gold bar from the Nishino residence there. Although this seems like Takeru is definitely involved in the theft of the gold bars and murder of Manami, Enomoto thinks that it is strange for Takeru to leave the alarm on like that and he deduces that someone who has no idea how security systems work should have broken into Takeru's apartment and planted the gold bar there. When Aoto mentions that nobody was seen at the entrance of the Nishino entrance on the day of the crime, this gives Enomoto an idea...

Everyone gathers at the Nishino residence where Enomoto explains what should have happened on the day of Manami's murder. On the previous night where Nishino and his daughters spent the night at Endo's place, Takeru broke into the Nishino residence through the window on the 2nd floor and stayed there for the night. When he was trying to search for valuables to steal, he bumped into Manami and got into an argument with her thus leading Takeru to kill her. Nishino came home and realised what happened where he was especially angry at Takeru for not repenting on what he had done. He tricked Takeru into believing that he was going to give up the gold bars to him but actually strangled him to death and buried him inside the toilet. That was why Aoto saw the blue flame there at night because that was a sign of gases released during the disintegration of the body. In order to push the blame to Takeru, Nishino opened the window to signal that Takeru escaped through there but failed to realise the absence of footprints to make his scheme more believable. In addition, he also planted the gold bar at Takeru's apartment in Tokyo so that police would believe that Takeru was responsible.

Back at Tokyo, Serizawa is annoyed that Aoto and Enomoto went ahead to solve the case without him but Aoto retorts that he was the one who said he hated going to the countryside so they didn't want to ask him along. He is slightly appeased when Aoto promises to give him the details of the resolution...

In this episode, I was actually suspecting Endo more than Nishino because he had been so actively involved in trying to prove Takeru's guilt but it turns out that Nishino who was out of sight for most of the episode turned out to be the culprit. That's a small surprise, considering that the culprits so far in this drama are very easy to identify. As for the tricks used, I think it wasn't exceptionally exciting though although I enjoyed Enomoto's explanations of the locks and security systems. Actually, this is rather dry information but somehow, Enomoto does it in such a way that even when he is putting on a straight face and talking about facts, it somehow feels rather interesting. One funny thing in this episode was to see how Serizawa tried hard to be included in the Kagi trio but kept getting left out. He appears to be a reluctant member of the Kagi trio but it is obvious that he enjoys teaming up with Aoto and Enomoto on these cases.

One grouse I have towards this drama is, they keep dropping little hints of Enomoto's background as and when they like but for the past two episodes, there isn't anything significant revealed. I would have liked to hear more about Enomoto but I guess this is likely reserved for the last few episodes and will be shown to the viewers at one go. I wouldn't mind more teasers at this stage though because there's still a number of episodes before I get to the finale but it looks like the scriptwriter is not going to make things go my way.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Top 20 celebrities with the highest CM exposure (Jan to Jun 2012)

Positions in brackets refer to the positions held last year.

Kanto Region Top 20
1) Ueto Aya (1)
2) Takei Emi (10)
3) Maeda Atsuko (4)
4) Gouriki Ayame (388)
5) Oshima Yuko (3)
6) Sasaki Nozomi (19)
7) Higuchi Kanako (16)
8) Ayase Haruka (14)
9) Takahashi Minami (12)
10) Dante Carver (6)
11) Shinoda Mariko (7)
12) Kojima Haruna (11)
13) Matsuki Rina (9)
14) Takada Junji (300)
15) Watanabe Mayu (21)
16) Kashiwagi Yuki (17)
17) Sato Ryuta (67)
18) Itano Tomomi (13)
19) Aoi Yu (71)
20) Kimura Takuya (38)

Kansai Region Top 20
1) Ueto Aya (1)
2) Oshima Yuko (2)
3) Maeda Atsuko (4)
4) Takahashi Minami (10)
5) Shinoda Mariko (6)
6) Takei Emi (12)
7) Kojima Haruna (13)
8) Ayase Haruka (8)
9) Watanabe Mayu (16)
10) Kashiwagi Yuki (18)
11) Sato Ryuta (50)
12) Gouriki Ayame (635)
13) Becky (7)
14) Yokoyama Yui (61)
15) Takada Junji (328)
16) Higuchi Kanako (24)
17) Karasawa Toshiaki (5)
18) Sashihara Rino (28)
19) Itano Yumi (19)
20) Dante Carver (9)

Nagoya Region Top 20
1) Ueto Aya (1)
2) Oshima Yuko (4)
3) Maeda Atsuko (2)
4) Takei Emi (8)
5) Kashiwagi Yuki (12)
6) Takahashi Minami (10)
7) Sato Ryuta (48)
8) Watanabe Mayu (19)
9) Shinoda Mariko (6)
10) Itano Yumi (13)
11) Gouriki Ayame (523)
12) Karina (3)
13) Sashihara Rino (28)
14) Ayase Haruka (11)
15) Kojima Haruna (18)
16) Higuchi Kanako (16)
17) Dante Carver (7)
18) Yokoyama Yui (71)
19) Takada Junji (338)
20) Aoi Yu (49)

Source: Video Research

Kaho to star in WOWOW autumn 2012 drama "Hitori Shizuka"

Kaho will be starring in the WOWOW autumn 2012 drama "Hitori Shizuka" to be shown from 21 October at 10pm on Sundays. The drama which consists of 6 episodes is based on a police detective story by popular mystery writer Honda Tetsuya and also marks the first baddie role for Kaho since her acting debut in 2004. Kaho plays the lead character Shizuka who is involved in 5 murders over a span of more than 10 years and the story describes her battle against the police from the time she's a teenager till she becomes a hostess after becoming an adult.

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Zaizen Naomi announces her divorce

Zaizen Naomi announced her divorce from a TV station employee on 7 August. She had married her ex-husband in July 2003 after they met on the set of TV drama "Stewardess Keiji" and their son was born in December 2006. However, Zaizen brought her son back to her hometown in Oita in January 2010 while her husband was posted to Sapporo, Hokkaido, in June 2011 thus the family had been living apart for some time. According to insiders, the couple had been talking about divorce for the past few years and filed their divorce application early this month. Zaizen commented on her website that it was difficult to bridge the physical and emotional distance between them as they lived far apart from each other thus it was impossible to continue living as a family.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Review of Rich Man, Poor Woman Ep 2

Hyuga and Chihiro get summoned to meet Fujikawa the next day after the meeting at the party despite a sour ending. Hyuga concludes that Fujikawa must have liked Chihiro a lot or else she wouldn't want to meet them so quickly. On the way home after the meeting, Hyuga throws a large amount of data to Chihiro and demands that she memorise everything by next week even though she protests slightly that she has other things to do. However, Chihiro has no way to say no to Hyuga and can only do his bidding.

Suddenly, Hyuga drops Chihiro off from the taxi they are sharing and states that he has somewhere else to go. Chihiro remembers the shoes she left in Hyuga's car and asks to retrieve them since she bought it with her brother's money. However, Hyuga finds it a hassle to return the shoes to Chihiro and tells her that he threw them away. He even hands her a 10,000-yen bill to buy a new pair which makes Chihiro cry and shout at him for his act of humiliating her with money.

Asahina is having a drink with Yamagami and complaining about Hyuga. In his drunken state, Yamagami says that they should raise a motion in the next shareholders' meeting to strip Hyuga of his CEO post. Just then, Yoko enters the pub to look for Hyuga but he is nowhere to be found.

At the same time, Hyuga is at his usual hideout, a temple where he confides in Fueki, a monk managing the temple, that someone who has the same name as his mother appeared before him. Hyuga knows very well that the woman merely has the same name as his mother but he's keeping her by his side using a lousy excuse.

The following day, Chihiro is in school trying to memorise the information Hyuga gave her and chatting with her friends when Fujikawa happens to see her when she's at Todai to give a talk and this arouses her suspicion. However, Fujikawa doesn't confront Chihiro right away and proceeds to the venue where the talk is to be held.

At this juncture, Chihiro gets a letter to attend the final interview of a small company she had applied to previously and she reveals this to Asahina. Chihiro is thrilled that she's finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel for her job search and she indicates that she will quit NEXT INNOVATION if she gets the job. However, on the day of her final interview, Asahina calls Chihiro and tries to suggest if she can come by that morning but stops short of saying so when he is reminded of her interview. Nonetheless, Chihiro still rushes to the meeting with Fujikawa who finds out that she had collaborated with Hyuga and Asahina to deceive her. Despite attempts to salvage the situation, NEXT INNOVATION is banned from meetings involving the ministry's future projects.

Feeling that she's responsible for the situation, Chihiro pays a visit to Fujikawa but is snubbed by the latter. Even so, Chihiro continues her daily visits to Fujikawa's office building and tries to explain that it was all her fault for lying to Fujikawa and Hyuga wasn't related to this. Fujikawa finally relates to Chihiro that she's angry not only about their lies but also the fact that Hyuga has always been prejudiced against her and fails to realise that Fujikawa is actually someone who also has the same aspirations as him in terms of their vision for the country's future. When Asahina tells Hyuga about what Chihiro did to apologise to Fujikawa, he merely dismisses her actions as that of what an useless person can do when things go wrong.

Surprisingly, Hyuga shows up at Chihiro's school one day amid the commotion among students who are surprised to see the celebrity CEO in person. He starts off by scolding Chihiro for being so stupid to skip her final interview for the sake of his company even though she isn't their employee. Moreover, he was the one who came up with the idea of lying to Fujikawa in order to get into her good books. However, Hyuga then tries to conceal his uneasiness as he attempts to apologise to Chihiro for causing the situation and even returns the pair of pumps which she left behind in his car. Although Hyuga appears to be scolding her, Chihiro realises that he is sorry about what happened and feels happy that he made the effort to come to campus personally. Days later, the ministry agrees to let NEXT INNOVATION continue to take part in its open meetings on the condition that Chihiro is hired as an intern in the company.
When Chihiro goes to visit Fujikawa for a meeting, the latter reveals that Hyuga followed her to where she was on a business trip and showed how he could process a large amount of data within 1 hour. This proved to Fujikawa that Hyuga has what it takes to make a success of the government projects which she has been trying so hard to make progress in.

The following day, Chihiro bumps into Hyuga in the lift as they head to the office. Hyuga notes that she's not dressed in a stiff black suit anymore and remarks that she's finally aware that it's summer i.e. insinuating that she didn't seem to feel hot in that stuffy suit when they first met. Chihiro smiles brightly as she basks in the indirect compliment...

It wasn't a surprise that the truth about Chihiro's identity would be known to Fujikawa so quickly and to be frank, there were too many things which felt predictable in this episode. For example, when Chihiro wept as Hyuga gave her money for the pumps she left in his car, the humiliation that she felt was something foreign to him. This has been widely used in Cinderella stories when the insensitive rich guy alwys insults the poorer heroine by giving money for everything. Next thing would be Chihiro standing in front of Fujikawa's office building just to meet her and braving the elements as a result. Now, that's really over-used and it was plain boring to see Chihiro do the same thing. I would have wanted to see a more ingenious way of solving the issue. Nonetheless, it's Chihiro we are talking about so it feels logical as well for her to resort to old-fashioned ways to handle a crisis.

Hyuga's attention on Chihiro was initially sparked by her fake name and it is only a matter of time that he finds out. If he realises the truth after he falls for her, that would be a huge blow for him. I think it would be more interesting if he finds out before realising how he feels for her because it will take a lot for him to love her especially after she has lied to him once. For now, it does feel like he already feels affected by her emotions and actions as seen from his heart-to-heart talk with the temple monk. I don't think Hyuga will ever come clean with Asahina about his true feelings like the way he does with the monk. In fact, both of them have never shown their true selves to each other so I get the impression that although they appear to trust each other wholeheartedly as business partners, their personal feelings are a different thing altogether. Till now, I am still not convinced that Asahina is truly content to remain as a supporter of Hyuga. He will definitely step into the limelight soon to give Hyuga a run for his money and possibly, his woman as well.

At the moment, Yoko feels very much like a irritating woman who keeps hovering around Hyuga. It's not clear what kind of connection she shared with Hyuga nine years ago but for her to know so much about him, their meeting must have meant a lot to both of them even though Hyuga can't remember it now. I don't think Hyuga will talk much about his personal matters to a total stranger but if he felt that Yoko was someone who understood him then, he might have opened up. Remains to be seen if Yoko is fighting a losing battle or she will be a serious competitor against Chihiro.

Update to the Summer 2012 ratings race - 7 Aug 12

Here are the ratings of episodes shown in the past week:

Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan Ep 5 - 5.5% (lowest to date)
Soumatou Kabushikigaisha Ep 3 - 2.3% (up 0.3%)
Rich Man, Poor Woman Ep 4 - 10.8% (lowest to date)
Iki mo dekinai natsu Ep 4 - 9.3% (lowest to date)
GTO Ep 5 - 11.5% (lowest to date)
Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Kakari Ep 5 - 10.4% (down 2.6%)
Iryu Sousa Ep 3 - 11.6% (lowest to date)
Kyoto Chiken no Onna Ep 3 - 9.9% (up 0.5%)
Higashino Keigo Mysteries Ep 5 - 9.1% (up 1.3%)
VISION Ep 4 - 3.9% (up 0.7%)
Kuro no Onna Kyoushi Ep 3 - 8.8% (lowest to date)
Boys On The Run Ep 4 - 3.9% (lowest to date)
Sprout Ep 5 - 2.1% (lowest to date)
Summer Rescue Ep 4 - 6.8% (lowest to date)
Beautiful Rain Ep 6 - 10.9% (up 1.4%)

Last week was a bad one for 9 dramas which went below the 10% line and/or scored its lowest figure to date. Looks like the Olympics did quite a lot of damage to their ratings and the after-effect may linger on for a little longer. If the live broadcast of any of the important games happens to clash with any of the dramas, it will probably make the ratings sink even lower.

In terms of the average rating ranking, this is how it looks now:

1) GTO 13.22%
2) Iryu Sousa 12.87%
3) Rich Man, Poor Woman 12.28%
4) Kyoto Chiken no Onna 11.77%
5) Keishichou Sousa Ikka 9 Kakari 11.74%
6) Ghost Mama Sousasen 11.68%
7) Tokkan 11.45%
8) Summer Rescue 10.80%
9) Beautiful Rain 10.73%
10) Kuro no Onna Kyoushi 10.70%
11) Iki mo dekinai natsu 10.65%

12) Higashi Keigo Mysteries 8.96%
13) Beginners 8.10%
14) Naniwa Shounen Tanteidan 6.40%
15) Boys On The Run 6.03%
16) Omo ni naitemasu 5.13%
17) VISION 3.55%
18) Sprout 2.50%
19) Soumatou Kabushikigaisha 2.37%

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Review of Mirai Nikki Ep 1

I am getting an overdose of Okada Masaki lately, literally. After finishing Seinaru Kaibutsutachi, here comes another drama of his: Mirai Nikki. Well, it's partly a coincidence because the storyline was what made me decide to give this a drama a shot. I was also interested to see how Gouriki Ayame acts especially after reading so much about her. Curiousity over whether she lives up to her fame and all the hype around her was a key factor. The supporting cast of Hongo Kanata, Fukuda Mayuko, Okada Yoshinori and Sano Shiro also made this drama seem more appealing. Well, there are hits and misses along the way but I'm willing to wait for a few more episodes to see if it can continue to hold my interest.

Hoshino Arata (Okada Masaki) is an Year 3 university student who is quick to give up, thinks that things will work out on its own future and doesn't want to do any thinking or planning with regard to his future. His buddy Moriguchi Rui (Hongo Kanata) knows Arata very well but still wants to give him a gentle push from time to time so that he can become more enthusiastic about doing something. One day, Rui accidentally damages Arata's mobile phone and in exchange, gives him a limited edition Chronus smartphone which the latter accepts gleefully since he's been dying to get one but to no avail. Apparently, the Chronus smartphone is a product made by the company where Arata's father works.

The next day, Arata is startled by the fact that he starts receiving entries on the application "Mirai Nikki" (Future Diary) which lists events that are going to happen e.g. news reports of a serial killer lurking around in Tokyo and how the TV station got the name wrong. However, when he gets the answers to a surprise test later that day, Arata forgets about how weird the Mirai Nikki is as he starts to enjoy the benefits of knowing things in advance. As he is trying to copy the answers to his test paper, he is stopped by Furusaki Yuno (Gouriki Ayame). After the test, Yuno pesters Arata and freaks him out by showing how much she knows about him. Arata just thinks that Yuno is a weirdo and tries to get away from her as soon as possible.


When Arata gets home, he bumps into his father Kuro at the gate and the latter is carrying a luggage bag. Arata automatically assumes that his father must be going back to the office to work overnight again and thinks nothing much of it. Kuro tells him to take some time to consider his future and make sure that it should not be given to anyone else to decide for him. Arata then fails to notice that anything is wrong with his mother until he sees the notification on Mirai Nikki that his parents are getting a divorce. Just as Arata thinks that this is the biggest shock of the day, he finds another surprise waiting for him from the Mirai Nikki that he's about to die the following day. As the events mentioned on Mirai Nikki have all come true so far, Arata wonders if he's really going to die and is on tenterhooks. He tries to contact Rui since the latter is the one who gave him the Chronus phone in the first place but to no avail.

As the countdown to Arata's impending death continues, Arata finds a message on the Mirai Nikki that Rui is at a observatory and rushes there to find him. However, he finds that it is a trap set by the serial killer who's been killing all those who have the Chronus smartphone and tries to run away from the killer. Yuno suddenly appears in front of Arata and helps him to ward off the attacks as she got updates on Arata's status on her Chronus smartphone as well so she was able to know that he was in danger.The two keep running away from the killer based on the notifications on Mirai Nikki but are soon cornered. Just as the killer charges towards Arata with his knife, Kuro rushes to stop the killer and ends up dying in place of his son. It is then when Arata notices that updates regarding him appear on his father's Chronus phone too and that he had seen that his son was in danger so rushed to the observatory to save up. In frustration, Arata smashes Kuro's Chronus phone screen and this results in Kuro's body disintegrating and disappearing into thin air.

Just then, Yuno notices Rui running off to somewhere else and that he doesn't stop even when Arata calls out to him. When Arata and Yuno follow Rui, they find that he rushed to the observatory to save his younger sister Haruna (Fukuda Mayuko) who had been abducted by someone a few days ago. Rui apologises for getting Arata and Yuno into this mess but explains that he had no choice since the kidnapper forced him to give four Chronus phones to the two of them and another two unidentified people (for now). Suddenly, the screen in the planetarium comes alive and the four of them see a video from someone who calls himself Deus. They find out that Deus got all of them involved in a survival game where the people who possess Chronus smartphones must kill one another in order to survive at the end and earn a chance to change his/her future...

First thoughts about this drama: Somehow, I don't look at Okada Masaki in the same way as when I first saw him in HanaKimi. He didn't have a leading role then but I think his acting was quite natural and he seemed to fit his role then. His recent works like Seinaru Kaibutsutachi and Mirai Nikki just don't provide the same amount of excitement for me. In Seinaru's case, he had his moments of brilliance but it's hard not to notice that he was overshadowed by his more-experienced seniors most of the time. In Mirai Nikki, he has to bear the responsibility of being the lead and frankly speaking, Arata's character isn't exactly likeable. It may be too soon to write him off in any way especially since he's still so young and I'm only into the first episode of Mirai Nikki but if Arata doesn't shape up soon, I might find it difficult to like him in any way.

As for Gouriki Ayame, I think she performed better than I expected. True, Yuno can be rather irritating especially since she hangs around Arata like a stalker and it's not clear why her Mirai Nikki contains updates about Arata since she isn't related to him in any way (unlike Arata's father). However, I think she earned some points with me with her spunky performance towards the end of the episode when Yuno stepped in to help Arata. At some angles, Gouriki looks very much like her senior from the same agency i.e. Ueto Aya so it's no wonder that people are calling her Ueto's successor. Her action scenes look rather decent too and I like the strength shown in her eyes when Yuno protected Arata. I just hope that the drama will show more of Yuno's character rather than project her as a one-dimensional stalker of Arata.

With regard to Rui's explanation as to why he had to "distribute" the Chronus phones to other people in order to save Haruna, I'm not entirely convinced that he has nothing to do with this. It feels weird that he doesn't have the phone himself and yet he has to implicate others by giving them the phones. And there's something not quite right about Haruna which I can't place my finger on right now but I guess I will find out soon enough. On a side note, it's great to see Fukuda Mayuko again in a drama and I must say, she looks absolutely gorgeous now! She seems to have matured a lot since the last time I saw her in the movie about promises to a dog (that one where she played the younger version of Tanaka Rena) but I'm not complaining. There's only one thing which I'm wondering about, Hongo Kanata looks rather young himself (he was born in 1990 while Fukuda is 4 years younger) so at first glance, I really thought that he and Fukuda look more compatible as lovers rather than siblings.

Coming back to the story, it looks like whoever Deus is, it isn't apparent yet if the holders of the Chronus phones were selected by random or picked specially for whatever reason that Deus wants them dead. If it really turns out that only one of them can survive, it would most certainly come down to Arata and Yuno at the end. As to how that will work out, I guess I can only find out by continuing to watch this drama.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Okada Junichi and Eikura Nana to star in movie adaptation of "Toshokan Sensou"

V6's Okada Junichi and actress Eikura Nana will be starring in the SF war movie "Toshokan Sensou" (Library Wars) due to be shown during next year's Golden Week. The movie is based on the hit novel by Arikawa Hiro which has sold 2.8m copies to date. The story is set in the year 2019 where Japan's government sets up tight censorship laws to control the content in books, news, movies, TV etc. A self-defense group called "Tosho Tokushuubutai" sets out to protect the books and preserve the right for citizens to know everything. Okada plays a section chief of this group named Doujou Atsushi while Eikura will be Kasahara Iku, the newbie member in his team who gradually develops a romantic relationship with Doujou. The leads were apparently chosen because they were the top choices selected by readers in a May 2011 poll as to who will be the best fit for the roles of Doujou and Kasahara.

Source: Sanspo  

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I've heard of this novel before but haven't read it before. At first glance, I was wondering why Okada and Eikura would be picked for the roles because they don't really look that compatible in terms of height as a couple. When I checked out the setting of characters, I realised why this could be so. Apparently, Kasahara is supposed to be 170cm while Doujou is only 160cm so I think it probably wouldn't seem weird to have Eikura towering over Okada. Not that Okada is extremely short but anyone standing beside Eikura would seem a bit shorter, given her height. Oh well, maybe I should check out the anime first to see whether it's as good as the critical reviews say.