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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hirosue Ryoko & Sato Takeru having an affair? - UPDATED


Adding more information from News Post Seven to this post:

Hirosue Ryoko and Sato Takeru are said to be having an affair according to the 27th February issue of "Josei Seven". The magazine reported that Hirosue was caught leaving her apartment at 8.30pm on 21st February while dressed in fishnet stockings and 12cm-high stiletto heels and was carrying a big paper bag in her right hand which the reporters speculated could be a late Valentine's Day present. After a 15-minute taxi ride, Hirosue arrived at Sato's apartment and used the intercom to inform him of her arrival. Soon after, the lobby was unlocked and she headed into the apartment building. 9 hours later at 5.20am, a taxi pulled up at the entrance of Sato's apartment building and 15 minutes later, Sato's agency car also arrived at the same venue. Sato was seen boarding his agency's car in a big hurry and believed to be heading to his work venue. Soon after, Hirosue also left the apartment block from the back door and boarded the taxi which had been waiting for more than 20 minutes. The article also mentioned how the two were previously seen at a volcanic lava spa in Tokyo at the end of January.

When asked about the nature of Hirosue and Sato's relationship, both agencies denied that they were having an affair and Sato's agency also commented that she was just a respected senior of his.

Hirosue was previously married to model Okazawa Takahiro before they divorced in 2008 and later married candle artist Candle June in 2010. She has two sons from her two marriages. Hirosue and Sato met on the set of 2010 NHK Taiga drama "Ryomaden".

According to the magazine, Hirosue's husband was not in Tokyo on the night she visited Sato because he has been away in disaster-struck areas like Fukushima and Niigata since mid February. In fact, Hirosue was said to have been unhappy about her husband's continued absence from home due to his charity work even though their relationship was believed to be on good terms. Due to the fact that Candle June was not at home most of the time, Hirosue was reported to have complained to her friends that she felt lonely and even suspected why her husband kept going to those areas and if he had someone there who he wanted to meet.

Hirosue and Sato did not have many scenes together in "Ryomaden" thus did not get close during the filming. However, things changed when they were seen chatting happily during the wrap-up party of the drama. Even after the drama ended, some of the cast members would gather for drinks from time to time and it was said that they met up again during one of these sessions.

Source: Sponichi / NEWS Post Seven

Nakama Yukie to play Mori Mitsuko in FujiTV drama SP "Mori Mitsuko wo Ikita Onna ~ Nipponichi Aisareta Okaasan wa Nipponichi Sabishii Onna datta ~"

Nakama Yukie will play the late Mori Mitsuko in FujiTV's 55th anniversary drama SP "Mori Mitsuko wo Ikita Onna ~ Nipponichi Aisareta Okaasan wa Nipponichi Sabishii Onna datta ~" (The woman who lived as Mori Mitsuko ~ the most loved mother in Japan was the loneliest woman in Japan) which is due to be shown this spring. The drama SP which will be narrated by Mori's close friend Kuroyanagi Tetsuko, will focus on Mori's life between the ages of 26 and 42 and how she gave up her marriage and later succeeded as a stage actress. Nakama commented that she is very honoured to be able to play Mori in this drama SP and will work hard to learn more about Mori's stellar career in order to show the best of her respected senior.

Co-stars include Fujiki Naohito who will play Mori's ex-husband Okamoto Yoshihiko and Ishizaka Koji who will play the producer Kikuta Kazuo that saw the talent Mori had as an actress.

Source: Sponichi

Completion press conference of new movie "Thermae Romae"

The completion press conference of new movie "Thermae Romae 2" starring Abe Hiroshi was held at Myojinyu on 26 February which was also attended by co-stars Ueto Aya, Ichimura Masachika, Kitamura Kazuki, Shishido Kai and the original manga's author Yamazaki Mari. The sequel features Abe as a bathroom designer from the Roman era who comes to the modern era unwittingly and gets embroiled in the internal power struggle in the Roman Empire.

Abe commented that he has faith that the sequel will be even more interesting than the original movie while his co-star Ueto commented that the jokes and content had been beefed up and will not disappoint the viewers. When asked about the selling point of this movie, Ueto said that it should be Abe's buttocks. As there will be a scene featuring Abe's and Ueto's characters taking a bath together, Abe also praised Ueto for having a nice back which looked really sexy.

"Thermae Romae 2" will be shown in cinemas from 26 April.

Source: Eiga.com

Premiere screening of new movie "Shirayuki Hime Satsujin Jiken"

The premiere screening of new movie "Shirayuki Hime Satsujin Jiken" was held on 26 February which was attended by the cast Inoue Mao, Ayano Go, Renbutsu Misako, Nanao, Kanjiya Shihori, Kaneko Nobuaki and the director Nakamura Yoshihiro. The movie which will be shown in cinemas from 29 March and is based on a novel by Minato Kanae, features Inoue as a plain-looking office lady Shirono Miki who unwittingly becomes the suspect in the murder case of her beautiful colleague Miki Noriko (Nanao) and Akaboshi Yuji (Ayano), the director of a variety show, sets out to find out what type of person Shirono is and if she is indeed the murderer of Miki. However, with each testimony he gets from the people around Shirono, things get more confusing as rumours and truth get entangled together.

Inoue commented that when she got the offer to star in the movie at first, she thought she was going to take on the role of Miki Noriko and apologised for being "shameless" to think this way (because Miki is supposed to be a beauty in the movie while Shirono is a plain Jane). Once she finished reading the novel, she found that it was less stressful to play the plain Jane rather than the beauty so she accepted the fact that she was not picked for the beauty role. On the other hand, Nanao who is in her first movie and yet had to be murdered from the start, said that she was really nervous about working with her co-stars.

Filming took place last summer in Nagano Prefecture and often lasted late into the nights. Inoue revealed that she was amazed that Nanao could still eat despite being covered in dirt due to the filming and she had such a huge appetite. In return, Nanao revealed that Inoue was on the verge of dozing off while they were filming a 4.5 hour variety show a few days ago and had to be woken up by Nanao before anyone noticed it.

Source: Eiga.com

In case you are interested to watch the trailer, here it goes. I just hope that I can get tickets to watch this when I'm in Japan.

Conclusion of filming for NHK morning drama "Gochisousan"

Filming for the NHK morning drama "Gochisousan" wrapped up on 25 February at the NHK Osaka studio and the cast including the lead An was at the wrap-up ceremony to meet the press. Filming had gone on for a long nine months and when asked to reflect on the filming period, An said that it was a very rare and enjoyable experience for her.

"Gochisousan" has an average rating of 22.3% in the Kanto region up to its 24th February broadcast which makes it higher than the previous morning drama "Ama-chan" which had an average of 20.6%. The last episode of "Gochisousan" will be shown on 29 March and the next offering starring Yoshitaka Yuriko will begin its run from 31 March.

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fukada Kyoko reportedly broke up with Igarashi Maasa and in a new relationship?

Fukada Kyoko is said to have broken up with her actor-boyfriend Igarashi Maasa and in a new relationship, according to the 25th February issue of "Josei Jishin". The article mentioned that Fukada is dating the owner of an Italian restaurant who is 3 years older than her and the couple reportedly spent two nights in a row at Fukada's apartment in mid February. It was said that Fukada and Igarashi broke up early this year while Fukada's agency commented that the supposed new boyfriend is one of Fukada's friends.

When Fukada appeared at the praying ceremony for her new movie "Idai naru, Shurarabon" on 25 February with her co-stars Okada Masaki and Hamada Gaku, she was asked about her dating rumour by the reporters but Fukada replied with a smile that work comes first for her now and she shook her head when asked if her Prince Charming had already appeared.

Source: Sanspo / Sanspo

"Naru you ni Naru sa" returns for a second season in spring 2014

TBS drama "Naru you ni Naru sa" returns for a second season in spring 2014 with Tachi Hiroshi and Asano Atsuko back as its leads. The drama which was first shown during the summer 2013 season, featured Tachi and Asano as a married couple who converts their house into a cafe-restaurant and takes in strangers with their own problems as their employees. The sequel will be the first offering in the newly-set up Tuesdays 10pm timeslot from April onwards.

Season 2 will feature original cast members such as Izumi Pinko, Shida Mirai, Kanjani 8's Yasuda Shota and Konno Mahiru as well as new additions Watanabe Misako, Minamisawa Nao and Hey! Say! JUMP's Inoo Kei. The first episode will be a 2-hour long SP.

Source: Sanspo

Miyazawa Rie & Ikematsu Sosuke to star in the new movie "Kami no Tsuki"

Miyazawa Rie and Ikematsu Sosuke will be starring in the new movie "Kami no Tsuki" (Paper Moon) which is due to be shown in cinemas next year. The movie which is based on Naoki Award winner Kakuta Mitsuyo's novel, will be Miyazawa's first leading role in a movie in 7 years and her first collaboration with Ikematsu.

Miyazawa will play the role of a bank employee who has marital problems and falls in love with a much younger university student (Ikematsu) which leads her to commit embezzlement. Co-stars include Kobayashi Satomi who plays Miyazawa's senior at work.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of NHK drama SP "Sono hi no mae ni"

The production press conference of NHK drama SP "Sono hi no mae ni" was held on 24 February which was attended by the lead actor Sasaki Kuranosuke. The two-part SP will be shown on 23rd and 30th March at 10pm via NHK and is based on the novel by Shigematsu Kiyoshi.

Sasaki plays the role of a former salaryman who becomes a freelance illustrator while his wife is played by Dan Rei. However, when his wife is diagnosed with terminal cancer and only has a year left to live, Sasaki's character reflects on his life so far with his wife and thinks about how he is going to live on with his two sons after his wife passes away. Sasaki related that when he was reading the script, he was crying once every five minutes and he hopes that he would have been able to convey the theme of the story to the viewers so that they can see the hope in living on despite the loss of someone precious in the family.

Source: Sanspo

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ueno Juri to star in TBS Spring 2014 drama "Arisu no Toge"

Ueno Juri will be making her return to dramas since 2011's Taiga "Gou" through the upcoming TBS Spring 2014 drama "Arisu no Toge" (Alice's Thorns) which will begin its run from April in the Fridays 10pm timeslot. Ueno will take on the role of a newbie doctor at an university-affiliated hospital whose father died due to a surgical mistake when she was 14 years old. As the mistake was kept under wraps by the hospital's personnel in order to evade responsibility, she vows to take revenge on all those involved by using her new identity.

Ueno has largely been known for her cheerful and bubbly roles in the past but this time, her character is so serious that there will be minimal scenes showing her smiling. The producer Takahashi Masanao said that Ueno was picked for the role to show the contrast between her image and the character and he feels quite excited to be able to see Ueno's cold expressions in the drama. Ueno also commented that she is thrilled to be able to try a new genre and promised to deliver her best.

Co-stars in this drama include Odagiri Jo, Kuriyama Chiaki and Nakamura Baijaku.

Source: Sponichi

Cast announcements for NTV Spring 2014 drama "Yowakutemo Katemasu ~ Aoshi-sensei to Heppoko Koukou Kyuuji no Yabou"

NTV announced the rest of the cast lineup for its Spring 2014 drama "Yowakutemo Katemasu ~ Aoshi-sensei to Heppoko Koukou Kyuuji no Yabou" on 24 February. The drama starring Arashi's Ninomiya Kazunari as a teacher and baseball team coach, will begin its run from April in the Saturdays 9pm timeslot.

Ninomiya plays the role of Tamo Aoshi who returns to his alma mater to teach for a year and is tasked with taking care of the school's baseball team. However, the school is focused more on sending its students to prestigious universities thus the baseball team consisting of 5 members only is weak due to lack of training and limited time and resources devoted to it. It also has the dubious reputation of not having won any matches since its establishment and registering 20 errors in just one match. Despite this, the team will aim to enter the national championships under Aoshi's coaching. His students who are also part of the baseball team will be played by Fukushi Souta, Hey! Say! JUMP's Nakajima Yuto, Yamazaki Kento, Hongo Kanata, Mamiya Shotaro, Sakurada Dori, Suzuki Katsuhiro, Yanagi Shuntaro and Hiraoka Takuma. Arimura Kasumi who will also play a student, will be the team's manager while Yakushimaru Hiroko will play the owner of a cafe frequented by the baseball team who is also Arimura's mother in the drama.

Source: Model Press

Iseya Yusuke & Nagasawa Masami going their separate ways?

Iseya Yusuke and Nagasawa Masami are said to have broken up, according to a report by Sports Hochi on 23 February. The couple who were first reported to have started dating from the autumn of 2012, are believed to have gone their separate ways recently after discussing it for a few months. Although there were reports previously speculating that they are about to get married, it was said that this topic never came up between them.

Iseya and Nagasawa started dating after working together on a drama SP back in the summer of 2012 but since then, they have been going overseas for work more frequently and were not able to spend much time together. It was said that over time, differences in their thinking led to the breakup.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Kutsuna Shiori to play a police detective in FujiTV Spring 2014 drama "Bitter Blood"

Kutsuna Shiori will play a police detective for the first time in the upcoming FujiTV Spring 2014 drama "Bitter Blood" starring Sato Takeru and Watabe Atsuro which will begin its run from April in the Tuesdays 9pm timeslot. This will be Kutsuna's first collaboration with Sato since they last worked together in "Mei-chan no Shitsuji" five years ago. Kutsuna plays the role of Maeda Hitomi, the only female detective in the Kagiyama team (team leader Kagiyama to be played by Takahashi Katsumi) and is a judo expert. As Hitomi's late father died due to a case and the murderer has not been found yet, she decided to join the police force in order to catch the criminal herself.

In the first episode, Hitomi happens to encounter a snatch-theft happening while she is on her way to work and takes action to catch the thief. Kutsuna commented that even though she had done fighting scenes in period dramas before, it felt different to be doing combat with someone at close distance and there is lots to learn about how to handle the action scenes.

Other co-stars in this drama include Fukikoshi Mitsuru, Tanaka Tetsushi, Minagawa Sarutoki and EXILE's KEIJI.

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review of Hidamari no Kanojo 陽だまりの彼女

For those who are in Singapore, "Hidamari no Kanojo" has started its run in GV from this week onwards. However, when I went to see it yesterday evening, the takings didn't seem particularly encouraging. Besides me who was there alone and another person who was also on her own, there were only two other couples seated in the rows behind and in front of me plus another three guys in the centre row. And we were seated in a mid-size hall so it certainly doesn't look like the box office results will be good to look at especially when more than 90% of the hall is empty. Anyway, if you can, try to catch it soon because Japanese films rarely last more than two weeks in the cinema so most likely, it will end its run by next weekend.

Actually, I can't really blame people for not being there in the cinemas to support this film. I didn't know that this film was coming to Singapore until about a week or so ago when there was a small banner ad saying that GV is the exclusive distributor of the movie. However, the listing of the movie only came up nearer to this Thursday which was the first day of the screening so there was a brief moment when I thought I got the wrong information. Besides, there are only two screenings per day (one at 11-plus in the morning and the only at 6-plus in the evening). I guess these timings aren't exactly the crowd-pullers so that also affected the willingness of people to head into the cinemas. Otherwise, I would have thought that based on Arashi's popularity and the fact that Ueno Juri is quite well-known for her role in Nodame Cantabile, there would be more people in the cinemas catching this.

To put things simply, this is a very straightforward love story with a not-so-obvious twist towards the end. The lead character Okuda Kosuke (Matsumoto Jun) is a 25-year-old guy working in an advertisement agency who dreams of being able to find someone he loves but cannot fathom why he's still alone at this age. One day, while meeting a new client for a presentation, Kosuke reunites with his junior high school classmate Watarai Mao (Ueno Juri) who has transformed into a beautiful and confident woman despite being an outcast and bullied by their fellow classmates when they were in school 10 years ago. Soon after, Kosuke and Mao start dating and even get married without informing their parents in advance. Although life seems blissful and full of happiness initially, Kosuke realises that there seems to be something wrong with Mao and later finds out their reunion wasn't a coincidence in the first place...

From this point onwards, there will be spoilers so if you don't want to know the story, please stop reading this review.

Frankly speaking, before watching this movie, seeing the slogan that "Mao has a secret to hide" sort of got me thinking if this so-called secret will be a predictable one e.g. she has an illness or she has an unspeakable past which is an overused ruse in many dramas and movies. I really thought that if the story followed a tried-and-tested format, it would flop badly. However, I think that although this drama doesn't really score high in terms of originality, it's the way that it's presented that makes it more palatable that I thought.

First of all, the reunion of Kosuke and Mao and their subsequent courtship was crafted in such a way that it's believable and something which can happen to anyone on the street. In addition, the romance between them was somewhat like water seeping through the rocks i.e. gradual rather than having the lovey-dovey scenes shoved into your face and forcing the viewers to accept that the couple is in love just by watching a couple of scenes where they go on dates. Of course, in Kosuke and Mao's case, they already had some feelings for each other back in junior high which might have continued blossoming if Kosuke's family didn't move away to Nagoya. As such, it was a natural progression rather than a fresh relationship built upon the reunion.

Secondly, I like that the "sweetness" index of the couple's relationship didn't go too overboard. The chemistry between Matsujun and Juri was just great and you can really feel as if they were fully immersed in their roles and truly in love with each other. They are such a cute couple who does ordinary things and really comes off as people you want to root for to be together for the rest of their lives. I think the endearing nature of this couple was what made me like them a lot. Sometimes, when I watch romance dramas or movies, I can't bring myself to like the main couple. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that the circumstances surrounding the couple and how they develop their relationship lack an air of reality and I don't like things which seem too far-fetched from reality.

Last but not least, although Mao's secret isn't that surprising (her being a cat who wanted to become human in order to be with Kosuke), I thought there was some great attention to the details which did offer clues to viewers to guess the answer. For example, when Kosuke suggested that they keep a dog as a pet, Mao was very insistent that she would not allow that. In addition, back in their school days, Mao was pretty much on her own and didn't really care how people bullied her which seemed like how cats would behave because they just do their thing and wouldn't care about the people around them. And when Mao met the old lady at the cat house, it was already quite obvious that they knew each other so it didn't take a long time to piece together all the clues together to get the correct answer. Well, I do remember seeing dramas and movies where animals such as dogs and foxes became human to repay the kindness shown by someone or to be with someone they love so honestly, Mao's secret does not rank high on originality. However, I am not really complaining because there was some effort put into making the secret gel with the story's developments so as long as the truth isn't a hard-sell with no supporting evidence along the way, I can still accept it despite the lack of originality.

Compared to the story, I thought the acting was more noteworthy. I must admit that even though I adore Arashi, there are some differences in how I view their acting and Matsujun isn't really my cup of tea. He's been getting quite a fair bit of those exaggerated roles e.g. Domyoji in "Hana Yori Dango" where either his actions are overboard or his image is too flashy for people to see how he really acts or if he can act. Besides, his image in Arashi is the fashionista so I was a bit concerned whether he could pull off the role of Kosuke, an ordinary guy who could do with some luck in the romance sector. On the other hand, Ueno Juri has been relatively low-profile after the Taiga "Gou" where she was slammed for the low ratings and rumours of her being difficult to work with or not behaving appropriately towards the senior actors. It did worry me too about whether Matsujun and Juri could work well together and I found it a bit hard to imagine them looking compatible on screen.

Thankfully, none of these worries came true. Matsujun and Juri looked so compatible as a couple so this was a huge relief. Matsujun managed to pull of the role of Kosuke and looked the part as an innocent young man which is a far cry from his flashy and exaggerated acting. Trying to act normal and ordinary can sometimes be more difficult so I think Matsujun succeeded in this movie by changing my perception of him. Now, if only he could try more varied roles from now on and show that he can handle more depth in his roles...I would have thought that Shitsuren Chocolatier would be a good way of getting out of his stereotype but the first episode alone got on my nerves quite a bit because I like the serious side of his role when he was reflecting on why he could not give up the girl of his dreams even though she got married but when his character was going overboard with the fantasizing, I didn't really find that it was funny.

Juri, on the other hand, was back at her best in handling the multi-faceted Mao who was cheerful, sensitive, shy, assertive and emotional all rolled into one. Although I wouldn't say that this is her best performance to date like what she did in "Last Friends", it was a challenge to be able to show all the different sides of Mao within a 2-hour movie and she was really such a joy to watch on screen. She didn't have to try too hard to look cute and her chemistry with Matsujun was as good as what she showed with Eita in "Last Friends" and "Sunao ni narenakute". It would be fun to have these two reunite in a full-length drama as a couple headed for a happier ending though.

Due to the fact that much of the attention was on the main couple, the supporting cast didn't really get a chance to shine. Nonetheless, I like the workplace scenes in Kosuke's office where Okura Koji who plays Kosuke's superior keeps asking him to go to a nightclub with him while Kosuke's junior at work Minegishi (Tanimura Mitsuki) behaves as if she's the senior instead as she looks on at what Kosuke is doing with a little disdain. It sort of adds a bit of light-hearted humour to the story but sad to say, it doesn't form a huge and significant part of the story. However, the young actors playing the main characters during their junior high days i.e. Kitamura Takumi and Aoi Wakana were quite eye-catching especially Aoi who looked so much like Ueno Juri and gave off the same vibe as her. I thought it was a better idea to have these younger actors play the junior high counterparts of the couple rather than have Matsujun and Juri act younger than their age. Not to say that they look old but junior high may be a bit stretching it for the both of them. Besides, it was nice to be able to identify which scenes happened in the past just by looking at the different faces of the actors concerned.

Last but not least, the music used in this movie was a great plus. With regard to the song "Wouldn't it be nice" by the Beach Boys, it was specifically chosen and used in happy scenes of Kosuke and Mao which I thought was a perfect fit. In addition, the lyrics seemed to be describing how much in love they are and how marriage was the best thing for them to continue living happily. On the other hand, "Hikari to Kimi no Requiem" by Yamashita Tatsuro was a mix of happiness and sadness because it talked about being together and having to part so it was used for the sad scenes towards the end of the movie. I thought it was clever to use two contrasting songs to piece together the change in mood rather than have one song throughout the movie.

And my ratings for this movie...

Story: 7 out of 10 (Generally, the story's presentation was good but I would have liked a bit more originality in the twist)

Acting: 8 out of 10 (Good acting from Matsujun and Juri.)

Theme song: 8.5 out of 10 (I prefer the Beach Boys' song simply because it brings a smile to my face. Very chirpy and uplifting.)

Visual effects / Scenery: 8.5 out 10 (This movie shows Enoshima at its best and I can't wait to visit there when I'm in Japan next month to see if it's as romantic as it looks. ^__^)

Teamwork / Chemistry: 7 out of 10 (I think Matsujun and Juri did well together but the rest of the cast felt disjointed from them as the story's focus was on the main couple only. Would have been better if there was more interaction between the couple and the other characters.)

Total: 39 out of 50

Ozawa Yukiyoshi to star in TV Asahi Spring 2014 drama "TEAM - Keishicho Tokubetsu Hanzai Sousa Honbu -"

Ozawa Yukiyoshi will be taking on his first leading role in a private network drama when he appears in TV Asahi's Spring 2014 drama "TEAM - Keishicho Tokubetsu Hanzai Sousa Honbu" which begins its run from April in the Wednesdays 9pm timeslot. He plays the role of Saku Shingo, a cold police commissioner who works with his team of detectives to solve various cases in this documentary-style drama. Despite being a relatively young commissioner in the police agency, Saku has no wish to climb up the ranks and prefers to keep his strong sense of justice under wraps beneath his cool appearance. Saku is nicknamed "Sakushin" by the people around him and would resort to drastic measures and doesn't mind being disliked in order to proceed with the investigation. In order to look the part of Sakushin who doesn't care too much about his appearance, Ozawa changed his hairstyle for a more natural look and shaved off his beard to get rid of his wild image.

Source: Sanspo

Kamikawa Takaya to appear in NTV Spring 2014 drama "Hanasaki Mai ga damattenai"


Kamikawa Takaya will be appearing in the NTV Spring 014 drama "Hanasaki Mai ga damattenai" featuring An which begins its run from April in the Wednesdays 10pm timeslot. He will be playing the role of a veteran bank employee Soma Ken who has given up on climbing the corporate ladder and simply goes with the flow which is in contrast with his subordinate Hanasaki Mai (An) who cannot keep quiet about unfair or wrong things. Despite their differences, the two of them combine forces to solve the problems cropping up at the branch they work at when the auditors come knocking.

Source: Sponichi

Katori Shingo, Suzuki Honami, Tanihara Shosuke & Nishiuchi Mariya in FujiTV Spring 2014 drama "SMOKING GUN ~ Ketteiteki Shoukou ~"

SMAP's Katori Shingo will be starring in the FujiTV Spring 2014 drama "SMOKING GUN ~ Ketteiteki Shoukou" (SMOKING GUN ~ Definitive Proof) which will begin its run from April in the Wednesdays 10pm timeslot. The drama is based on the manga serialised in Grand Jump since 2012 which features Katori as Nagareta Enishi who is a forensics expert that works on difficult cases. Nagareta's trademark is his messy hairstyle and he looks somewhat funny in a formal suit. With regard to this, Katori thinks that it is a refreshing change from his past roles and that there are many interesting facets to this character.

Co-stars include Suzuki Honami who plays the director of the forensics department, Tanihara Shosuke who plays a police detective of the Metropolitan Police Department's first section and Nishiuchi Mariya who tries to find out the truth behind her father's mysterious death.

Suzuki last worked with Katori in the 1997 drama "Boku ga boku de aru tame ni" and she commented that it's been a long 17 years since they worked together but she thinks that he has become someone who she can rely on now and thus she feels assured that they will be able to work well together this time too. As for Tanihara, he said that he has worked together with Katori many times and feels that Katori will be able to pull off this character as well.

Source: Sponichi

Yuzu's Kitagawa Yujin & announcer Takashima Aya become first-time parents

Yuzu's Kitagawa Yujin and his wife, freelance announcer Takashima Aya welcomed the arrival of their first daughter on 17th February which was just one day before Takashima's birthday. According to the announcement on Yuzu's Facebook page, Takashima gave birth to a baby girl weighing 3128 grams at 8.52pm on 17th February. Kitagawa expressed his gratitude about his daughter's arrival and promised to work even harder at his music and new role as a father.

Kitagawa and Takashima got married in October 2011 and it was announced in October last year that she was already 6 months pregnant.

Source: Sponichi

Tsumabuki Satoshi, Kamenashi Kazuya, Kamiji Yusuke, Katsuji Ryo, Ikematsu Sosuke co-star in new movie "Vancouver no Asahi"

Tsumabuki Satoshi will be starring in the new movie "Vancouver no Asahi" (Dawn of Vancouver" which is due to be shown in cinemas in December. The movie is a real story which talks about how some Japanese-Canadians tried to overcome discrimination and poverty before WWII through baseball and also features KAT-TUN's Kamenashi Kazuya, Kamiji Yusuke, Katsuji Ryo and Ikematsu Sosuke in the cast lineup.

There was a baseball team named Vancouver Asahigun which was made up of Japanese people who lived in Canada before WWII and they managed to beat many Canadian teams with their samurai-style baseball between 1914 and 1941. The team even took part in the local amateurs' league and earned the praise and popularity of the local community over time. However, with the start of WWII, the team disbanded but was later awarded with the highest honour in the Canadian baseball's hall of fame in 2003 for its contribution to Canada's immigrant society and the baseball culture there. This year happens to be the team's 100th anniversary since its establishment.

Tsumabuki's role Reggie Kasahara who was a second-generation Japanese-Canada and worked in a factory, was the shortstop of the baseball team. However, Tsumabuki is the only one in the cast who has never played baseball so he is undergoing intense training in preparation for the role. As for the rest of the cast, Kamenashi will play Roy Naganishi, the ace of the team who worked in his family's fishing business while Kamiji will play Tom Miyake, the catcher whose family owned a tofu shop. Katsuji will be taking on the role of Kay Kitamoto the second baseman and Ikematsu will be Frank Nojima who is the third baseman and a baseball fanatic since his days as a student.

Source: Sanspo

Nakai Kiichi & Koizumi Kyoko reunite in FujiTV Spring 2014 drama "Zoku Saigo kara nibanme no koi"

Nakai Kiichi and Koizumi Kyoko will be teaming up again in the FujiTV Spring 2014 drama "Zoku Saigo kara nibanme no Koi" (Continued The second last romance) which will be shown from April in the Thursdays 10pm timeslot. The drama which was first shown between January and March 2012, is set in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, which talks about the relationships of men and women in their 40s and 50s. Koizumi plays a drama producer while Nakai plays a civil servant at the Kamakura City Office who fall in love with each other. Koizumi commented that she is glad to be able to play her role in this drama a little longer and looks forward to working with Nakai again especially in the squabble scenes which she declared that she won't lose out to him. Co-stars in the new installment will include the original cast of Sakaguchi Kenji, Uchida Yuki and Iijima Naoko.

Source: Sponichi

Ihara Tsuyoshi to be the lead for the first time in NTV Spring 2014 drama "Tokubou Keisatsucho Tokushu Bouhanka"

Ihara Tsuyoshi will be taking on his first lead role in a drama through the NTV Spring 2014 production "Tokubou Keisatsucho Tokushu Bouhanka" which begins its run from 3 April at 11.59pm on Thursdays. Coincidentally, Ihara is 50 years old this year and commented that he will do his best and make full use of this opportunity which has taken a long time to come by.

The drama is based on the manga titled "Tokubou Asakura Souhei" by Takahashi Hidebu which describes how Asakura Souhei, the superintendent of the Tokubou section that appears to be a redundant unit and made up of just two people, metes out punishment to those who can't be punished by the law. Asakura's pet phrase is "aa ~ shinitai" (Ah, I want to die) which gives the impression that he has no energy or desire to do anything but unknown to everyone, he actually punishes those who can't be dealt with by the law through subjecting them to mental abuse and humiliation in order to put them on the right path again. As Asakura is a health freak, there will be scenes of him training in the gym and shower. On the other hand, Asakura's boss i.e. senior superintendent Kano Miyuki will be played by Adachi Yumi who is the one giving him orders while Matsushita Kohei will play the role of Tsuji Keiichi who gets embroiled into Asakura's missions unwittingly.

Filming will begin at the end of February.

Source: Mantan Web

2014 Top 10 ranking of most desired male celebrities who you want as a boyfriend (Oricon)

1) Sakurai Sho (Arashi)

2) Fukuyama Masaharu

3) Matsumoto Jun (Arashi)

4) Mukai Osamu

5) Ohno Satoshi (Arashi)

6) Nishijima Hidetoshi

7) Aiba Masaki (Arashi)

8) Miura Haruma

9) Ninomiya Kazunari (Arashi)

10) Saito Takumi

Source: Oricon

Osawa Takao to play Inoue Mao's husband in the 2015 NHK Taiga "Hana Moyu"

Osawa Takao will be taking on the role of Odamura Inosuke (later known as Katori Motohiko) in the 2015 NHK Taiga drama "Hana Moyu" starring Inoue Mao who plays his second wife Yoshida Fumi. Odamura had married Yoshida Shoin's younger sister Hisa first but she later passed away. On the other hand, Fumi who was also Yoshida's younger sister, had married Kusaka Genzui but he later committed suicide. Odamura then remarried Fumi later and became the first mayor of Gunma Prefecture who shifted the prefecture's office from Takasaki to Maebashi and contributed greatly to the thread manufacturing and rearing of silkworms industries as well as the education sector.

Osawa acknowledged that he had never heard of Odamura before he got the offer to play this role. However, the drama is more about the people around the hero who played great supporting roles in his success so he felt that this will be a rather different Taiga from the ones made so far.

Source: Mantan Web

Kuroki Haru wins "Best Actress" award at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival

Kuroki Haru won the Best Actress award in the 64th Berlin International Film Festival with her performance in the Yamada Yoji film "Chiisai Ouchi" which is currently showing in Japan. This makes Kuroki the youngest Japanese winner of this award and the first to get this in 4 years since Terajima Shinobu got the same in 2010 through the film "Caterpillar". Kuroki commented that she almost wanted to jump up in joy when her name was called and thanked the director, crew and co-stars for producing such a great movie which resulted in her win. Despite this being Kuroki's first participation in an international film festival, she still managed to get the top prize thus she promised that she will continue to work hard and let everyone see more of her acting.

Kuroki will be next seen in the NHK morning drama "Hanako to Anne" as the heroine Hanako's (Yoshitaka Yuriko) younger sister Kayo. The drama will begin its run from 31 March.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ayaka to sing the theme song for NHK's new morning drama "Hanako to Anne"

Ayaka will be singing the theme song "Nijiiro" (Rainbow colour) for the new NHK morning drama "Hanako to Anne" starring Yoshitaka Yuriko which begins its run from 31 March. The song was written by Ayaka with the theme of the drama in mind and she hopes that it will become popular enough that everyone can at least hum it.

"Hanako to Anne" features the heroine Muraoka Hanako (Yoshitaka) who was born in Kofu and attended a female's school in Tokyo before she went through the Great Kanto Earthquake and WWII and later completed the Japanese translation of famous English novel "Anne of Green Gables".

Source: Sanspo

Nikaido Fumi qualifies for entry into Keio University's Faculty of Policy Management

Nikaido Fumi has qualified for entry into prestigious private university Keio University's Faculty of Policy Management, as revealed on 21 Feb. Although Nikaido was supposed to have taken part in the university entrance exam in 2012 when she was in the third year of senior high school, her tight filming schedule made it difficult for her to concentrate on her studies thus she decided to wait for a year before attempting the exam. Initially, she wanted to enroll in the Faculty of Literature but later decided that the Faculty of Policy Management allowed her to learn various things and gain a wide range of experience along the way. The faculty is located in Keio's campus at Shonan Fujisawa and students will be allowed to take subjects outside of their faculty. It was reported that Nikaido had passed the admissions office's interview test after she was selected in the first round based on her school results and extra-curricular activities.

When interviewed about her success in the university entrance exam, Nikaido's agency commented that she hopes to be able to balance her work and studies and will put in her best for both areas.

Source: Asahi Digital

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ohno Satoshi to star in TV Asahi's Spring 2014 drama "Shinigami-kun"

Arashi's leader Ohno Satoshi will be starring in the new TV Asahi Spring 2014 drama "Shinigami-kun" (Mr. Reaper) which will begin its run from April in the Fridays 11.15pm timeslot. The drama is based on the manga by Endo Koichi which was serialised in Fresh Jump between 1983 and 1990 and features Ohno as the newbie reaper serial no. 413. He wears a black suit with a bow tie and will always greet those who are about to die with his signature line "Omedetou gozaimasu! Omukae ni agarimashita" (Congratulations! I have come to fetch you). Although Reaper no. 413 has to go by the book and take away those people who should die, he will also try to prevent wrongful deaths as he tries to emphasize the importance of living.

Ohno last appeared in the same timeslot for TV Asahi in the Winter 2009 drama "Uta no Oniisan" which got an average of 10.8% despite being in the midnight slot.

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Thoughts on the neverending "Ashita, Mama ga inai" saga

Each day passes with hearing a fresh complaint or repeated grouses about this drama in the press that frankly speaking, it's getting a bit too much to bear. The previous week saw NTV explaining its stand again in an official response statement and even promising to make changes to the drama so as to pacify the protesting parties. Amid all the bad press, I came across the following article mentioning a former politician cum celebrity Tachikawa Asuka who spoke of her days in an orphanage and the harsh treatment she underwent. She was especially critical of the protesting parties and said that if they had the time to complain against the drama, they should divert their time and energy to improving the situation in welfare homes instead of denying that there are no facilities which treat the children in an abusive manner and trying to shift the attention elsewhere.

Tachikawa was raised in an all-girls orphanage located in Suginami Ward, Tokyo, and stayed there when she was 3 to 18 years old. According to the interview in Sponichi, she said that she experienced even worse treatment at the orphanage than what was described in the drama so she feels that the drama is a good starting point for people to learn about the truth behind the doors of such welfare facilities. Tachikawa mentioned that when she was a child, she didn't get to wear nice clothes like what Ashida Mana wore in the drama and everyone had their hair forcibly cut short. In addition, she was made to wear a paper sign saying "I am a idiot" pasted on her stomach and stand for everyone to see. Last but not least, she was even punished to kneel inside a paper box overnight and slapped repeatedly until she heard ringing sounds in her ears.

I wouldn't say that the protesting parties have no valid reason to complain but seriously, how much will be enough to pacify them? Apologies to everyone? Apologies to the children who were affected by the drama? Amending the drama's content? Or cancelling the entire drama even though we are halfway through the season? All this to-and-fro interactions between both sides seem to be never-ending and it looks like the controversy may jolly well die down only when the drama finishes its run next month. There have been some celebrities who spoke on this issue and giving their support to NTV but surprisingly, they have not been featured prominently in the media as compared to the protesting parties which had been holding frequent press conferences to illustrate their points. It's as if we are getting a lopsided view of the controversy where NTV was painted as the villain in the first place for seeking such ways to boost the popularity of the drama through the negative press. However, the sponsors pulling out and constant social pressure proved too much for them in the end thus resulting in NTV having to make changes now. Frankly, I am most reluctant to see NTV making changes to the drama due to the pressure especially after it tried to hold on to its stand of protecting its production. I don't know how these changes will affect the drama but if it tries to become politically-correct just to please the protesting parties, I think the drama would have become an unfortunate sacrificial lamb in the whole controversy. Aiming to become the second "Ienakiko"? If the changes really do alter the course of the drama significantly, I certainly don't think it will ever achieve its initial ambition.

The 87th Kinema Junpo Best Ten Movie Awards (2013)

Top 10 Japanese movies
1) Pecoross no Haha ni ai ni iku

2) Fune wo Amu

3) Kyoaku

4) Kaguyahime no Monogatari

5) Tomogui

6) Soshite Chichi ni naru

7) Kaze tachinu

8) Sayonara Keikoku

9) Moratoriamu Tamako

10) Flashback Memories 3D

Top 10 Foreign movies
1) Amour

2) Zero Gravity

3) Hannah Arendt

4) Warriors of the Rainbow I: Sun Flag / Warriors of the Rainbow 2: Rainbow Bridge

5) Three sisters

6) Holy Motors

7) Life of Pi

8) The Master

9) Tabu

10) Le fils de l'autre

Individual Awards
Best Leading Actor: Matsuda Ryuhei (Fune wo Amu)

Best Leading Actress: Maki Youko (Sayonara Keikoku / Soshite Chichi ni naru / Suu-chan, Mai-chan Sawako-san)

Best Supporting Actor: Lily Frankie (Soshite Chichi ni naru / Kyoaku)

Best Supporting Actress: Tanaka Yuko (Hajimari no michi / Tomogui)

Best Male Newcomer: Yoshioka Tatsuki (Shonen H)

Best Female Newcomer: Kuroki Haru (Fune wo Amu / Shanidar no Hana / Sougen no Isu / Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi / Kujikenaide)

Best Japanese Director: Ishii Yuya (Fune wo Amu)

Best Scriptwriter: Arai Haruhiko (Tomogui)

Best Foreign Director: Alfonso Cuaraon (Zero Gravity)

Source: Kinema Junpo

Suzuki Kyoka & Koura Kengo to star in new WOWOW drama "Heisei Sarukani Gassenzu"

Suzuki Kyoka and Koura Kengo will be working together for the first time in the new WOWOW drama "Heisei Sarukani Gassenzu" which comprises of six episodes and is due to be shown this autumn. The drama is based on the novel by Yoshida Shuichi and Yukisada Isao, the director of hit movie "Sekai no Chuushin de, Ai wo Sakebu", will be making his debut as a drama director for this production.

The story is based on the folklore of a child crab who vows to take revenge on a monkey after its parent crab was deceived and killed by the letter. Suzuki plays the role of the manager of a cello player who hates politicians but accidentally ends up helping a naive bartender run for office in the House of Representatives in a bid to change the world and get over her psychological barrier of not trusting politicians. Koura plays the role of the bartender who comes from a countryside town and works at Kabuki-cho that undergoes a massive change in his life after meeting Suzuki's character.

Source: Sanspo

Saturday, February 08, 2014

First-day screening of movie "Nishino Yukihiko no Koi to Bouken"

The first-day screening of movie "Nishino Yukihiko no Koi to Bouken" was held at TOHO Cinemas in Roppongi Hills on 8 February which was attended by the cast members Takenouchi Yutaka, Ono Machiko, Narumi Riko, Kimura Fumino, Honda Tsubasa and Agawa Sawako as well as the director Igumi Nami. Despite the heavy snow hitting Tokyo, about 700 guests gathered for the screening.

Takenouchi expressed gratitude that he was glad to see the movie being finally completed and ready to be viewed by everyone and praised this movie for being worthy of a gold medal if there is an Olympics for movies. When the topic switched to the Winter Olympics, Ono and Narumi were full of praise for male figure skater Hanyu Yuzuru to which Takenouchi "bragged" that he can also do turns since he has flexible hip joints. Upon hearing this, the fans egged him on to do a turn on the spot which was met with loud applause from the audience.

As it is nearing Valentine's Day, the female cast and the director gave Takenouchi a surprise present which was a 70cm-wide heart-shaped chocolate with his face as Nishino Yukihiko printed on it.

Last but not least, Nanao Tavito, the singer for the movie's theme song "TELE POTION" also made a surprise appearance at the screening where he sang the acoustic version of the song. Takenouchi said that this was the first time he heard the song live and praised it for helping him getting into the mood when playing the character.

Source: Eiga.com

2014 Top 10 favourite TV hosts (Oricon)

1) Akashiya Sanma

2) Ueda Shinya (Cream Stew)

3) Nakai Masahiro (SMAP)

4) Tamori

5) Sakurai Sho (Arashi)

6) Imada Koji

7) Azumi Shinichiro

8) Ariyoshi Hiroiki

9) Downtown

10) Hattori Shinichi

Source: Oricon

Nakai Kiichi, Abe Hiroshi, Hirosue Ryoko & Nakamura Kichiemon in new movie "Zakurozaka no Adauchi"

Nakai Kiichi, Abe Hiroshi, Hirosue Ryoko and Nakamura Kichiemon will be working together in the new movie "Zakurozaka no Adauchi" which will be shown in cinemas from September this year. The film which is based on a story from "Goro Jidono Oshimatsu", a collection of short stories by Asada Jiro published in 2004, features Nakai as Shimura Kingo, a samurai whose lord Ii Naosuke was killed, but he was banned from committing suicide and had to search for his lord's killer for 13 years. However, as time passes, the era changes from Edo to Meiji and the government bans all forms of revenge killing by the samurais. This doesn't stop Shimura as he attempts to find his enemy and settle the score once and for all.

Abe plays Naokichi, the enemy of Shimura while Hirosue plays Shimura's wife Setsu. As for Lord Ii, he will be played by Nakamura who makes his return to the silver screen for the first time in 19 years.

Filming began on 5 January.

Source: Eiga.com

Winners of the 38th Elandor Newcomer Awards 2014

The prize presentation ceremony for the 38th Elandor Newcomer Awards 2014 organised by the All Nippon Producers Association was held on 6 February which was attended by the six winners namely Ayano Go, Kimura Fumino, Higashide Masahiro, Nounen Rena, Fukushi Souta and Hashimoto Ai. Coincidentally, the six of them had appeared or are currently starring in a NHK morning drama.

When the press asked Higashide about his romance rumour with his "Gochisousan" co-star An, he put a finger to his lips so as to indicate that he would not be answering the question but did admit that he and An are good friends.

Source: Sponichi / All Nippon Producers Association

Takeuchi Yuko makes her stage debut in Mitani Koki's "Kimi to Nara"

Takeuchi Yuko will be making her stage debut for the first time in her 18-year career when she takes on the leading role in the Mitani Koki production "Kimi to Nara" (If it's with you) which begins its run from August at the Parco Theatre in Tokyo. The play was first performed in 1995 with Saito Yuki as its lead and re-staged again in 1997. Takeuchi plays the heroine Koiso Ayumi who has a 70-year-old boyfriend that is even older than her own father. One day, when her boyfriend visits her family, this causes chaos as Ayumi's family struggles to come to terms with this shocking revelation.

Takeuchi commented that she is happy to be able to act in a play but she's also scared at the same time. However, since she's working with Mitani again (they last worked on the WOWOW drama SP "Daikukou 2013"), she feels that she will be able to overcome her stage fright. As for Mitani, he said that he was convinced that Takeuchi was suited for stage plays after working with her last year and has faith that she will do well this time too.

Cast announcements for the role of Ayumi's father, mother, younger sister and boyfriend will be made known at a later date.

Source: Sponichi

Suenaga Haruka announces her marriage to judo Olympic silver medalist Izumi Hiroshi

Suenaga Haruka announced through her blog on 5 February that she is going to marry Izumi Hiroshi, a martial artist who had won the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics' 90kg men's judo competition. The couple will be registering their marriage on the auspicious day of 22 February. Suenaga mentioned in her statement that she is very happy to be able to make this announcement and asked for everyone's support while they try to build a happy family from now on. Suenaga and Izumi had been first romantically linked in September 2010 but she only confirmed that they were dating on 1 January last year.

Source: Sponichi

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Oguri Shun to star in TV Asahi Spring 2014 drama "BORDER"

Oguri Shun will be taking on the lead role in TV Asahi's upcoming Spring 2014 drama "BORDER" due to start from April in the Thursdays 9pm timeslot. The drama's script is specially written with Oguri in mind by Naoki Award winner Kaneshiro Kazuki who is known for his works such as "GO". This will also be Oguri's first leading role in a TV Asahi drama.

Oguri plays the character Ishikawa, a police detective in the first division of the Metropolitan Police Department who has the unique power of communicating with the dead which helps him to solve difficult cases. Kaneshiro explained that he needed to find an actor who could show Ishikawa's multi-faceted character of being an ambitious hardworker who has a keen eye for observing things around him and a strong sense in picking up the things which did not seem right so he wrote this character with Oguri in mind. Oguri took on the role immediately when the offer came as he could identify with the character's desire to climb up the ranks and his change after experiencing death before was an interesting character setting. In addition, he hopes that this drama will become one of his signature works in his 30s.

Co-stars include Aoki Munetaka who plays Tachibana, the rival of Ishikawa, Mika, a coroner played by Haru, as well as Endo Kenichi, Furuta Arata and Takito Kenichi.

Source: Sanspo

Monday, February 03, 2014

Utada Hikaru announces her impending marriage to an Italian

Utada Hikaru announced through her blog on 3 Feb that she is about to get married to an Italian soon. She described her husband-to-be as a honest man who is well-loved by his friends and comes from a bright and cheerful family just like what you see in comics. Utada said that she was not getting any younger soon and hopes to have the quiet support of everyone around her as she embarks on the next stage of her life.

In addition, Utada revealed that she had been wondering if she should postpone her marriage plans after her mother committed suicide on 22 Aug last year. Although she is still in mourning, Utada decided against postponing her plans because during her last conversation with her mother, the latter was happy to hear about her daughter's impending marriage. As such, Utada feels that her mother would have supported her in her decision anyway to go ahead as planned.

Source: Sponichi Annex

Sakai Masato to star in WOWOW's new drama SP "Pandora ~ Eien no Inochi"

Sakai Masato will make his return to the drama scene with his leading role in WOWOW's new drama SP "Pandora ~ Eien no Inochi" which will be shown on 27 April at 10pm. This is the fourth installment in the Pandora series following the first drama in 2008 starring Mikami Hiroshi, the second in 2010 starring Sato Koichi and the third in 2011 starring Eguchi Yosuke. Sakai will be playing the role of a doctor who comes up with a revolutionary human cloning technique which leads to a series of happenings as if the forbidden Pandora box is opened. Co-stars include Ono Machiko, Ishiguro Ken, Suzuki Kosuke, Ito Ayumi, Ibu Masato and Takahashi Katsumi and the scriptwriter will be Inoue Yumiko as per past installments under the Pandora series.

Source: Cinema Today

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Esumi Makiko involved in a car accident on 31 January

Esumi Makiko was involved in a car accident at 8.50am on 31 January on a road at Nishi Azabu, Minato Ward, Tokyo. According to the police, Esumi was driving her car and attempting to make a right turn when she bumped into a taxi which was travelling straight. Both drivers were not hurt. However, the police are investigating this accident under the premise of Esumi not paying attention to the road when she was making the turn.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of stage play "Ao no Ran"

The production press conference of Gekidan Shinkansen's new play "Ao no Ran" was held on 30 January which was attended by the cast members Amami Yuki, Matsuyama Kenichi, Hira Mikijiro, Saotome Taichi etc. The play will begin its run in Tokyo from 27 March and in Osaka from 8 May. The play is set in a fictitious country based during the Heian era where Matsuyama plays the role of Taira no Masakado while Amami plays his wife Souma. As Gekidan Shinkansen's plays are known for their action scenes, there was concern if Amami could handle these especially after she had to step down from her play last May due to an acute heart condition. With response to this, Amami stressed that there was no side effects after that illness and she is able to take on the role without any problems. She commented that this is her third Gekidan Shinkansen play to date and there is a romance element this time so she will be taking good care of herself in order to do the best in this role. As for Matsuyama who plays Amami's husband in the play, he praised her for being so special that she doesn't seem like a normal human being so he will have to put in extra effort to match her stage presence.

Source: Sanspo

* I thought of watching this because I will be in Japan when the play starts but too bad, the first four days' tickets in Tokyo were all sold out yesterday! And to think that they only started ticket sales yesterday at 10am Japan time! Seems like I am not fated to catch Amami and Matsuyama live in action. :-(

Sato Takeru & Watabe Atsuro to play father-and-son in FujiTV Spring 2014 drama "Bitter Blood"

Sato Takeru and Watabe Atsuro will be playing father-and-son detectives in the upcoming FujiTV Spring 2014 drama "Bitter Blood" which begins its run from April in the Tuesdays 9pm timeslot. This will be Sato's first role as a police detective and his first leading role in a FujiTV drama.

The drama which is based on the novel by Shizukui Shusuke, describes how newbie police detective Sahara Natsuki (Sato) who was separated from his father Shimao Akimura (Watabe) when he was a child and the two of them haven't been on good terms since then. However, as fate would have it, Natsuki is sent to the first criminal investigation division of the Ginza Police Station where Akimura works at and they are even forced to become buddies at work. Natsuki is a warm-hearted guy who will try to help everyone in need and very serious about work but his father gives off the opposite vibe with his flashy appearance and playboy mannerisms who seems more concerned about looking fashionable than his detective work.

Sato revealed that when he first read the script, he was very excited at the setting of a set of opposites being father and son and yet having to work together. He said that he had always admired the police officers in "Odoru Daisousasen" when he watched it as a child so he is very excited about playing a police detective in this drama. As for working with Watabe, Sato said that Watabe appeared really fashionable and good-looking just like his character and their comical interactions as father-and-son are bound to be good entertainment for the viewers.

Source: Sponichi

Ozawa Maju to get married to a dentist 8 years younger than her; currently 2 months pregnant

Ozawa Maju announced through her agency on 31 January that she will be getting married to a dentist 8 years younger than her in mid February and that she is currently 2 months' pregnant and due to give birth in mid September. Ozawa and her future husband met through a mutual friend and dated for about 2 years before deciding to get married. There are no plans for a wedding at the moment.

Ozawa also wrote on her Facebook page and blog on 1 February saying that as her husband is not working in the entertainment circle, she feels that it's best to protect his privacy and not reveal too many details about him. However, she did mention that he resembles Tintin from "The Adventures of Tintin" in the sense that he has a young heart but has black hair instead. As for her work plans, Ozawa said that she hopes to continue with it as long as her condition allows it.

Source: Sanspo

Takito Kenichi to star in his first leading role through TV Tokyo Spring 2014 drama "Ore no Dandy-ism"

Takito Kenichi whose popularity was boosted by his character Kondo in last year's hit drama "Hanzawa Naoki", will be taking on his first leading role in the TV Tokyo Spring 2014 drama "Ore no Dandy-ism" due to be shown from April on Wednesdays. He will play the role of a section chief in a company who aspires to be a dandy man after hearing a newbie female employee declare that she likes such men. During his transformation process, the character will explore trends in fashion  like what clothes and watch to wear and what accessories to carry which will offer insight to viewers who also aspire to learn more about what makes a man dandy.

When asked about his thoughts about getting his first leading role, Takito said that he thought it was a prank and didn't really believe it. However, he is now eagerly awaiting the start of the filming from mid March and feels that he can also benefit personally by learning new things through acting in this drama.

Source: Sponichi

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Ayano Go, Narimiya Hiroki & Maeda Atsuko work together in the play "Taiyo 2068"

Ayano Go will be taking on his first leading role in a stage role through Ninagawa Yukio's production "Taiyo 2068" which begins its run at Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon in July. The play which is a science-fiction story set in the near future and is meant to mark Bunkamura's 25th anniversary, also features Narimiya Hiroki who last appeared in a Ninagawa production 7 years ago and former AKB48 member Maeda Atsuko in her first stage play. The script of the play written by Maekawa Tomohiro and titled "Taiyo" had won the 19th Yomiuri Engeki Taisho in 2012 will be rewritten for this adaptation.

The story talks about about a new species of human beings known as Nocks who possess young and strong bodies with high intelligence after being infected by a bioterror virus co-exist with ordinary people known as Curio in the near future. Ayano's role Tetsuhiko is a Curio who aspires to be a Nocks while Narimiya plays the role of Fujita, a Nocks who becomes good friends with Tetsuhiko despite their differences. As for Maeda, she plays the role of Ikuta Yui who is proud of her identity as a Curio. Ayano commented that he had been deeply affected by Ninagawa's production "Media" when he saw it nine years ago so he hopes to be able to do something of the same level and absorb as much as he can from Ninagawa. Meanwhile, Narimiya who last appeared in 2007's "Oki ni mesumama", said that he regards Ninagawa as the strongest person he has come across so far thus his appearance in this drama feels like a challenge to the latter emotionally. Despite this being her first stage appearance, Maeda commented that she is OK even if she gets treated harshly as a rookie since she's looking forward to working on this play and will leave everything up to Ninagawa.

Source: Sanspo