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Saturday, October 31, 2015

The 85th Drama Academy Awards (Spring 2015) - Best Drama Theme Song

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Aozora no shita, Kimi no tonari - Arashi (Youkoso, Wagaya e)
2) Rose - Bette Midler (Algernon ni Hanataba wo)
3) Yume miru hito - Sada Masashi (Tenno no Ryoriban)

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Rose - Bette Midler (Algernon ni Hanataba wo)
2) Aozora no shita, Kimi no tonari - Arashi (Youkoso, Wagaya e)
3) Sekai wa owaranai - Thinking Dogs (Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu ~)
4) Yume miru hito - Sada Masashi (Tenno no Ryoriban)
5) Beautiful - Superfly (Mother Game ~ Kanojotachi no Kaikyu ~)

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Aozora no shita, Kimi no tonari - Arashi (Youkoso, Wagaya e)
2) SUN by Hoshino Gen (Kokoro ga pokitto ne)
3) Beautiful - Superfly (Mother Game ~ Kanojotachi no Kaikyu ~)
4) Rose - Bette Midler (Algernon ni Hanataba wo)
5) Sekai wa owaranai - Thinking Dogs (Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu ~)

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Aozora no shita, Kimi no tonari - Arashi (Youkoso, Wagaya e)
2) Yume miru hito - Sada Masashi (Tenno no Ryoriban)
3) Don't Feel, Think!! - Kishidan (LOVE Riron)
4) Rose - Bette Midler (Algernon ni Hanataba wo)

5) Beautiful - Superfly (Mother Game ~ Kanojotachi no Kaikyu ~) / SUN by Hoshino Gen (Kokoro ga pokitto ne)

The 85th Drama Academy Awards (Spring 2015) - Best Supporting Actress

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Kuroki Haru - Tenno no Ryoriban
2) Aoi Yu - Dr. Rintaro
3) Ueto Aya - I'm Home

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Kuriyama Chiaki - Algernon ni Hanataba wo
2) Arimura Kasumi - Youkoso, Wagaya e
3) Sawajiri Erika - Youkoso, Wagaya e
4) Kuroki Haru - Tenno no Ryoriban
5) Yamaguchi Sayaka - Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Aoi Yu - Dr. Rintaro
2) Kuroki Haru - Tenno no Ryoriban
3) Ueto Aya - I'm Home
4) Sawajiri Erika - Youkoso, Wagaya e
5) Arimura Kasumi - Youkoso, Wagaya e

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Kuroki Haru - Tenno no Ryoriban
2) Aoi Yu - Dr. Rintaro
3) Takahata Atsuko - Dr. Rintaro
4) Ueto Aya - I'm Home

5) Yamaguchi Sayaka - Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu

The 85th Drama Academy Awards (Spring 2015) - Best Supporting Actor

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Suzuki Ryohei - Tenno no Ryoriban
2) Terao Akira - Youkoso, Wagaya e
3) Kubota Masataka - Algernon ni Hanataba wo

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Kitamura Kazuki - Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu ~
2) Kubota Masataka - Algernon ni Hanataba wo
3) Terao Akira - Youkoso, Wagaya e
4) Suzuki Ryohei - Tenno no Ryoriban
5) Sato Jiro - Youkoso, Wagaya e

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Suzuki Ryohei - Tenno no Ryoriban
2) Kubota Masataka - Algernon ni Hanataba wo
3) Takenaka Naoto - Youkoso, Wagaya e
4) Sato Jiro - Youkoso, Wagaya e
5) Terao Akira - Youkoso, Wagaya e

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Kobayashi Kaoru - Tenno no Ryoriban
2) Suzuki Ryohei - Tenno no Ryoriban
3) Terao Akira - Youkoso, Wagaya e
4) Kitamura Kazuki - Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu ~

5) Takenaka Naoto - Youkoso, Wagaya e

The 85th Drama Academy Awards (Spring 2015) - Best Leading Actress

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Oshima Yuko - Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu ~
2) Kimura Fumino - Mother Game ~ Kanojotachi no Kaikyu ~
3) Tabe Mikako - Do S Deka

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Oshima Yuko - Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu ~
2) Kimura Fumino - Mother Game ~ Kanojotachi no Kaikyu ~
3) Tabe Mikako - Do S Deka
4) Watanabe Mayu - Tatakau! Shoten Girl
5) Higa Manami - Renai Jidai

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Kimura Fumino - Mother Game ~ Kanojotachi no Kaikyu ~
2) Oshima Yuko - Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu ~
3) Tabe Mikako - Do S Deka
4) Matsuoka Mayu - She
5) Higa Manami - Renai Jidai

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Tabe Mikako - Do S Deka
2) Kimura Fumino - Mother Game ~ Kanojotachi no Kaikyu ~
3) Oshima Yuko - Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu ~
4) Matsuoka Mayu - She

5) Higa Manami - Renai Jidai

Source: The Televison

The 85th Drama Academy Awards (Spring 2015) - Best Leading Actor

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Sato Takeru - Tenno no Ryoriban
2) Aiba Masaki - Youkoso, Wagaya e
3) Kimura Takuya - I'm Home

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Yamashita Tomohisa - Algernon ni Hanataba wo
2) Aiba Masaki - Youkoso, Wagaya e
3) Sato Takeru - Tenno no Ryoriban
4) Kimura Takuya - I'm Home
5) Sakai Masato - Dr. Rintaro

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Aiba Masaki - Youkoso, Wagaya e
2) Sato Takeru - Tenno no Ryoriban
3) Kimura Takuya - I'm Home
4) Sakai Masato - Dr. Rintaro
5) Pierre Taki - 64 (Rokuyon)

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Sato Takeru - Tenno no Ryoriban
2) Kimura Takuya - I'm Home
3) Sakai Masato - Dr. Rintaro
4) Pierre Taki - 64 (Rokuyon)
5) Yamashita Tomohisa - Algernon ni Hanataba wo

The 85th Drama Academy Awards (Spring 2015) - Best Drama

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Tenno no Ryoriban (TBS)
2) Youkoso, Wagaya e (FujiTV)
3) I'm Home (TV Asahi)

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Algernon ni Hanataba wo
2) Youkoso, Wagaya e
3) Yamegoku ~ Yakuza yamete itadakimasu ~
4) Tenno no Ryoriban
5) Tatakau! Shoten Girl



TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Youkoso, Wagaya e
2) Tenno no Ryoriban
3) I'm Home
4) 64 (Rokuyon)
5) Mother Game ~ Kanojotachi no Kaikyu ~

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Tenno no Ryoriban
2) 64 (Rokuyon)
3) I'm Home
4) Youkoso, Wagaya e
5) Dr. Rintaro / Algernon ni Hanataba wo

Friday, October 30, 2015

The 86th Drama Academy Awards (Summer 2015) - Best Drama Theme Song

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Kimi ga kureta natsu - Ieiri Leo (Koinaka)
2) Stress Free - miwa (Tamiou)
3) Do Konjo Gaeru - Cast of Do Konjo Gaeru (Do Konjo Gaeru)

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Stress Free - miwa (Tamiou)
2) Marezora (Mare)
3) Kimi ga kureta natsu - Ieiri Leo (Koinaka)
4) Step by step - Hamasaki Ayumi (Bijo to Danshi)
5) Do Konjo Gaeru - Cast of Do Konjo Gaeru (Do Konjo Gaeru)

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Kimi ga kureta natsu - Ieiri Leo (Koinaka)
2) Stress Free - miwa (Tamiou)
3) Taiyo Knock - Nogizaka 46 (Dorama 24 Hatsumori Bemars)
4) Marezora (Mare)
5) Okaeri - Takahashi Yu (Ashita mo kitto oishii gohan ~ Gin no Spoon ~)

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Do Konjo Gaeru - Cast of Do Konjo Gaeru (Do Konjo Gaeru)
2) Kimi ga kureta natsu - Ieiri Leo (Koinaka)
3) Marezora (Mare)
4) Sukida - Little Glee Monster (Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu)
5) Gorilla Pan no Uta - Gorilla Imo (Do Konjo Gaeru)


Source: The Television

The 86th Drama Academy Awards (Summer 2015) - Best Supporting Actress

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Mitsushima Hikari - Do Konjo Gaeru
2) Honda Tsubasa - Koinaka
3) Aso Kumiko - Napoleon no Mura

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Mitsushima Hikari - Do Konjo Gaeru
2) Maeda Atsuko - Do Konjo Gaeru
3) Jiyoung - Tamiou
4) Toda Erika - Risk no Kamisama
5) Ohara Sakurako - Koinaka

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Mitsushima Hikari - Do Konjo Gaeru
2) Inamori Izumi - Age Harassment
3) Tanaka Yuko - Mare
4) Tokiwa Takako - Mare / Aso Yumi - Age Harassment

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Honda Tsubasa - Koinaka
2) Mitsushima Hikari - Do Konjo Gaeru
3) Aso Kumiko - Napoleon no Mura
4) Tanaka Yuko - Mare
5) Tokiwa Takako - Mare / Jiyoung - Tamiou / Toda Erika - Risk no Kamisama


Source: The Television

The 86th Drama Academy Awards (Summer 2015) - Best Supporting Actor

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Takahashi Issei - Tamiou
2) Oizumi Yo - Mare
3) Kohinata Fumio - Mare

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Takahashi Issei - Tamiou
2) Hongo Kanata - Chanpon tabeta ka
3) Machida Keita - Bijo to Danshi
4) Yamazaki Kento - Death Note
5) Matsushige Yutaka - Death Note

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Takahashi Issei - Tamiou
2) Oizumi Yo - Mare
3) Yamazaki Kento - Mare
4) Arai Hirofumi - Do Konjo Gaeru
5) Shirota Yu - Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Takahashi Issei - Tamiou
2) Kohinata Fumio - Mare
3) Oizumi Yo - Mare / Kamikawa Takaya - Hanasaki Mai ga damattenai
5) Arai Hirofumi - Do Konjo Gaeru

Source: The Television

The 86th Drama Academy Awards (Summer 2015) - Best Leading Actress

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Yoshine Kyoko - Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu
2) Tsuchiya Tao - Mare
3) Kitagawa Keiko - Tantei no Tantei

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Nakama Yukie - Bijo to Danshi
2) Kitagawa Keiko - Tantei no Tantei
3) An - Hanasaki Mai ga damattenai
4) Yoshine Kyoko - Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu
5) Tsuchiya Tao - Mare

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Yoshine Kyoko - Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu
2) Tsuchiya Tao - Mare
3) Takei Emi - Age Harassment
4) An - Hanasaki Mai ga damattenai
5) Kitagawa Keiko - Tantei no Tantei

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Yoshine Kyoko - Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu
2) Kitagawa Keiko - Tantei no Tantei
3) Takei Emi - Age Harassment
4) Tsuchiya Tao - Mare / An - Hanasaki Mai ga damattenai


Source: The Television

The 86th Drama Academy Awards (Summer 2015) - Best Leading Actor

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Kubota Masataka - Death Note 
2) Endo Kenichi - Tamiou
3) Suda Masaki - Tamiou

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Kubota Masataka - Death Note 
2) Matsuyama Kenichi - Do Konjo Gaeru
3) Endo Kenichi - Tamiou
4) Fukushi Sota - Koinaka
5) Fukushi Seiji - Manmakoto ~ Asanosuke no Saiteicho ~

TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Kubota Masataka - Death Note 
2) Endo Kenichi - Tamiou
3) Suda Masaki - Tamiou
4) Karasawa Toshiaki - Napoleon no Mura
5) Matsuyama Kenichi - Do Konjo Gaeru

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Suda Masaki - Tamiou
2) Endo Kenichi - Tamiou
3) Matsuyama Kenichi - Do Konjo Gaeru
4) Kubota Masataka - Death Note
5) Fukushi Sota - Koinaka


Source: The Television

The 86th Drama Academy Awards (Summer 2015) - Best Drama

Overall Ranking Top 3
1) Tamiou (TV Asahi)
2) Do Konjo Gaeru (NTV)
3) Mare (NHK)

Voters Ranking Top 5
1) Tamiou
2) Death Note
3) Chanpon tabeta ka
4) Do Konjo Gaeru
5) Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu



TV Reporters Ranking Top 5
1) Tamiou
2) Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu
3) Mare
4) Age Harassment
5) Do Konjo Gaeru

Judges Ranking Top 5
1) Tamiou
2) Mare
3) Do Konjo Gaeru
4) Age Harassment
5) Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu / Bijo to Danshi / Tonari no Seki-kun to Rumi-chan no Jijou

Source: The Television

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Top 20 music artistes ranking in 2015 (Ori Star)

1) Arashi

2) Mr.Children

3) Ikimonogakari

4) B'z

5) Utada Hikaru

6) Yuzu

7) aiko

8) DREAMS COME TRUE

9) BUMP OF CHICKEN

10) SMAP

11) Spitz

12) Southern All Stars

13) Fukuyama Masaharu

14) Nishino Kana

15) Amuro Namie

16) AKB48

17) miwa

18) Perfume

19) Kobukuro

20) Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Source: Oricon

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Kounodori" in tie-up with Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to boost awareness on rubella

TBS Autumn 2015 drama "Kounodori" which is set in the gynaecology department of a hospital, will be doing a tie-up with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to boost the public's awareness and understanding of rubella which is also known as German measles. In conjunction with the announcement, the lead of the drama Ayano Go met Shiozaki Yasuhisa, the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare on 28 October where Ayano handed over a leaflet designed for the campaign to the latter.

Ayano commented that as a result of acting in this drama, he went for a vaccine check recently even though he had received an immunization jab for rubella when he was a child. As such, he hopes to spread the message that just one injection can potentially save the lives of many and hopes that the public can be informed of this through the media and the drama. Shiozaki also praised the drama for conveying correct information about the illness to the public and hopes that young people will be more aware of this issue through the drama.

Episode 3 which talks about rubella, will be shown on 30 October.

Source: Nikkansports

Dorama World's Facebook fan page now up!

Hi everyone, in a bid to send more prompt notifications to existing and new readers of the blog (other than through Twitter), for people to share my posts more easily and provide another way of interacting with one another, I have set up a Facebook fan page so please show your support by "liking" it.

Going forward, all notifications on new posts will be posted on both Facebook and Twitter.

Hope to see you all on the new Facebook page!

Saito Takumi & Kubota Masataka to work together in NTV Winter 2016 drama "Rinshou Hanzai Gakusha Himura Hideo"

Saito Takumi and Kubota Masataka will be working together in the NTV Winter 2016 drama "Rinshou Hanzai Gakusha Himura Hideo" (Clinical criminologist Himura Hideo) which will begin its run from January 2016 in the Sundays 10.30pm timeslot. The drama is based on the "Himura Hideo" novel series by writer Arisugawa Arisu and is the first real-life adaptation from this series. Saito plays the role of Himura Hideo, a clinical criminologist who helps the police in their investigations as part of his research fieldwork and is assisted by his buddy Arisugawa Arisu played by Kubota who is also a mystery suspense writer.

Saito commented that he hopes to be able to show the essence and greatness of a Japanese detective through his acting in this drama and would try not to let the stress of playing such a classic character get to him. He will also try to put himself in the shoes of the viewers to see how he can project his character in a more appealing manner. As he has worked with Kubota several times in the past, Saito is full of praise for his co-star and is looking forward to their collaboration. On the other hand, Kubota expressed his intention to handle his role with great sincerity so as not to disappoint the fans of the original novel series.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Hoshino Gen & Nikaido Fumi reportedly dating?

Hoshino Gen and Nikaido Fumi are said to be dating according to reports on 27 October. They first worked together in the movie "Jigoku de naze warui" which was screened in September 2013 and had won them the best newcomer and best supporting actress awards in the Nippon Academy Awards and Blue Ribbon Awards respectively. They were reunited when they collaborated in a web movie released this summer. It is said that the two of them who are 13 years apart in age, began dating at the start of this year.

Hoshino is a popular singer-songwriter and his last single "SUN" released in May this year achieved a No.2 ranking on the Oricon charts. He suspended his work from December 2012 onwards due to a subarachnoid haemorrhage and made a comeback in June the following year while still undergoing treatment. He is currently acting in the TBS Autumn 2015 drama "Kounodori" where he plays the rival of the lead played by Ayano Go. On the other hand, Nikaido is known for her acting skills and has garnered many acting awards despite her young age. She is also a student of Keio University while juggling her acting work.

With regard to reports on their relationship, Hoshino's agency commented that this is his private matter so they have no idea as to whether this is true. On the other hand, Nikaido's agency claimed that Hoshino is a good friend of hers but did not confirm nor deny the news.

Source: Nikkansports / Oricon

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Romaji lyrics of "Kira Kira" by Oda Kazumasa (Theme song of FujiTV Winter 2002 drama "Koi no Chikara")

Title: Kira Kira
Artiste: Oda Kazumasa
Lyrics & Melody: Oda Kazumasa
Theme Song of FujiTV Winter 2002 drama "Koi no Chikara"

yura yura yura kokoro wa yureru
kira kira kira toki wa kagayaiteru
ima mou ichido yakusoku suru
keshite kimi no koto wo uragiranai

tooku ni mieru sono yume wa
mada akiramenaide
kanarazu soko made tsurete yuku kara

tamerau sono kimochi mo
subete kono te ni watashite
deaette  yokatta to ieru hi ga kitto kuru

yura yura yura kokoro wa yureru
kira kira kira toki wa kagayaiteru
itsu no hi ni ka mata modoreru nara
sono toki kaeritai kono basho e

setsunai omoide wa futari  kasanete  yukumono
mata kuru kanashimi wa koete yuku mono

ima wa tada me no mae no
kimi wo dakishimete itai
ashita no namida wa
ashita nagaseba ii

kono ai wa doko made mo
zutto tsuzuite iku kara
ashita no futari ni mada minu kaze ga fuku

Uh koushite ima ga sugite yuku nara
mou katarubeki mono wa nai
itsushika nemuri ni tsuita kimi wo mitsumereba
kirameku hoshi wa sora ni afureteru

ima wa tada me no mae no
kimi wo dakishimete itai
ashita no namida wa
ashita nagaseba ii

ima dakara dekiru koto sore wo keshite wasurenai de
kono toki kono futari koko e wa modorenai

kono ai wa doko made mo
zutto tsuzuite iku kara
ashita no futari ni mada minu kaze ga fuku

The Nostalgia Series - Old drama theme songs: "Kira Kira" by Oda Kazumasa

Coincidentally, this post is about the theme song from another Winter 2002 drama. Back then, I was a fan of Fukatsu Eri after watching her in "Odoru Daisousasen" (and still is, although she's hardly seen on TV these days) and had grown to like Tsutsumi Shinichi after watching "Yamato Nadeshiko". As such, when news of them being paired together in the drama "Koi no Chikara" was announced, I was looking forward to seeing sparks between them and hoping that the love story won't be a messy affair with wishy-washy people not knowing who they love or being so caught up in their love affairs that nothing else matters including work, life and family. Nonetheless, I also had my misgivings as Yada Akiko was in the relationship equation again and it was obvious then that she would get dumped onscreen by Tsutsumi again which was exactly what happened in "Yamato Nadeshiko". Sakaguchi Kenji was not really known for his acting skills then so it made me wonder if the supporting leads could make things more interesting in the drama. As it turned out, Fukatsu plus Tsutsumi alone was enough to keep me tuning in till the end. Not to say that Yada and Sakaguchi were bad but their characters didn't have much going to make them memorable, at least to me. The drama excelled in the fact that it wasn't all about love and that the parallel theme of how the strength which people get from one another in their pursuit of dreams plus Fukatsu's portrayal of her struggle in life and at the workplace once she hit 30 was easy to relate to even though I was still far from that age at that time. I think I would have felt the impact from her down-to-earth acting more if I rewatch this drama now.

Oda Kazumasa's theme song for this drama "Kira Kira" which literally translates into "Sparkling", has a rather uplifting melody and very encouraging words about someone who promises to bring his lover along in his journey to pursue a dream ahead and how thankful he is for the lover's presence all this while. That seems to coincide with the situation in the drama where Tsutsumi's character manages to achieve success in his career, thanks to the support of Fukatsu's character. What also makes this song special is the fact that it was Oda's first drama theme song in 11 years since 1991's "Tokyo Love Story". It was rare that big names like Oda would sing drama theme songs by the time we got to the 2000s so having a song of his to be the theme mattered a lot in terms of catching people's attention. At the same time, the success of this single also helped in Oda's music career because his albums released before "Kira Kira" all achieved rankings within the Top 10 but his singles except one in 1995 did not manage to do the same. After "Kira Kira", Oda achieved a consecutive run of 8 singles which made it into the Top 10 charts and also boosted his album sales to a great extent. Goes to show how a good theme song can be mutually beneficial for the singer and the TV station producing the drama.

If you are keen to hear this song, please view the PV here.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Romaji lyrics of "Loveland, Island" by Yamashita Tatsuro (Theme song of "Long Love Island ~ Hyoryuu Kyoushitsu")

Title: Loveland Island
Artiste: Yamashita Tatsuro
Lyrics & Melody: Yamashita Tatsuro
Theme song of FujiTV Winter 2002 drama "Long Love Letter ~ Hyoryuu Kyoushitsu"

Oh Loveland
mekuru meku natsu no gogo
dare mo ga kokage ni nigekondeta
yaketsuku ishitatami no kanata ni
yurameku nige mizu no naka kara
moeru you na suteppu ni
mi wo makase arawareta hito wa...

Oh Loveland
hoho ni koboreru ase ga
kawaita michi no ue ni ochiru to
totsuzen konna sabaku no machi ga
minami no oasis ni kawaru

Oh Island
kitto ano hito no sei
anata no hitomi wo mukete

Oh Loveland Oh Island
I love you I love you
Oh Loveland Oh Island
I love you

yume no ato tadoru you ni
ki ga tsuku to
mienaku natte ita Hmm,,,

Oh Loveland
fui ni araware kieta ano hito
kitto natsu no megami sa

hikari no ai wa koko ni mo aru to
Oh Loveland
oshie ni kitanda

Oh Loveland Oh Island
I love you I love you
Oh Loveland Oh Island
I love you...

Oh Loveland Oh Island
I love you I love you
Oh Loveland Oh Island
I love you...

The Nostalgia Series - Old drama theme songs: "Loveland, Island" by Yamashita Tatsuro

Back in 2002, there was this drama which I really enjoyed a lot. The cast lineup was filled with many current hot stars and upcoming ones that it would be almost impossible to see these people come together again now. Despite my reservations on how the drama would turn out because the source material was somewhat gory and controversial, I thought that the drama was one of the more successful adaptations of having deviated from the original.

"Long Love Letter ~ Hyoryuu Kyoushitsu" which was shown in the Winter 2002 season by FujiTV, featured a long list of big stars including Tokiwa Takako, Kubozuka Yosuke, Tsumabuki Satoshi, Yamashita Tomohisa, Yamada Takayuki, Karina, Mizukawa Asami and Fukushi Seiji. Ichihara Hayato who played one of the Year 1 students stranded in the future, appeared in the beginning though but left the drama halfway. Back then, Kubozuka was very sought-after following his success in dramas such as "GTO", "Ikebukuro West Gate Park" and "Strawberry on the shortcake". However, following his semi-retirement after getting married in 2003 and his "accidental" fall from his home on the 9th floor of an apartment building in 2004, Kubozuka has not been seen in a private network's full-length drama series so this drama happens to be his last as the lead. It is a pity though because I really liked him as an actor but the good thing is that Kubozuka is still active in the movie industry. Likewise, Tokiwa, Tsumabuki and Yamada are more involved in movies than dramas while Yamashita, Karina, Mizukawa, Fukushi and Ichihara have enjoyed varying degrees of success in dramas and movies.

Despite the fact that this drama was shown in the cold winter, the theme song from Yamashita Tatsuro is actually set in the summer on an island which I suppose is a reference to the fact that the people stranded in the future were in a situation as if they were stranded on an island. At that time, I didn't understand the lyrics fully but I really liked the retro and light-footed feel of the melody and thought that it was strangely fitting with a drama that had a pretty gloomy theme. No doubt Yamashita has been singing for a long time, his songs don't seem to go out of fashion no matter when you listen to it. Due to the fact that the drama was set largely in Yokohama, I always get reminded of the sights in the Minato Mirai area and the wonderful chemistry between Tokiwa and Kubozuka in the drama when I hear this song.

If you are interested to hear this song, please view here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Romaji lyrics of "Nemurenu yoru wa kimi no sei" by MISIA (Theme song of "Renai Hensachi")

Title: Nemurenu yoru wa kimi no sei
Artiste: MISIA
Lyrics: MISIA
Melody: Matsubara Ken
Theme song for FujiTV Summer 2002 drama "Renai Hensachi"

shizuka ni yoru no tobari ga futari wo tsutsunde
samayou ai no kotoba no senaka wo oshite kureru

basu ga yureru tabi ni fureru kata ni mada tomadou kara
mado no soto ni me wo muketa
tsuki ga hohoende ita

konya yume no naka douka aini kite
sono negai ga moshi kanau kara
shinjite mo ii yo mukashi no hanashi wo
anata no kata ni fureta kaze no naka
watashi no kokoro no oku ni wa
haru no hana ga saiteiru

shizuka na yoru wa anata wo omoi dashite shimau
sakki made tonari de warai hanashi kakete kureta no ni

nani mo shiranu uchi ni kokoro ga hanarete shimawanu you ni
mado no soto ni me wo muketa tsuki ga furuete ita

koi kogareta nara omou sono hito to
yume no naka de moshi aeru nara
samishii yoru nado kitto nai no ni ne
anata no kata ni fureta kaze no naka
watashi no kokoro ni saiteiru
haru no hana wo dakishimete

konya yume no naka douka aini kite
sono negai ga moshi kanau kara
shinjite mo ii yo mukashi no hanashi wo
sono omoi ga yume made todoku
konya yume no naka douka aini kite
anata no kata ni fureta kaze no naka
watashi no kokoro no oku ni wa
haru no hana ga saiteiru

The Nostalgia Series - Old drama theme songs: "Nemurenu yoru wa kimi no sei" by MISIA

Whenever people talk about drama theme songs from MISIA, I think the first song which comes to mind should be "Everything" which appeared in Matsushima Nanako's 2000 drama "Yamato Nadeshiko". That song was such a huge hit at that time partly due to the drama's high ratings of above 20% for every episode. However, the song which I'm introducing today is probably overlooked by most people unless you've watched the drama or you happen to be a MISIA fan. MISIA wrote the lyrics herself for this song which turned out to be her 2nd Oricon No.1 single after "Everything".

"Renai Hensachi", a FujiTV Summer 2002 drama, featured four female leads i.e. Nakatani Miki, Tokiwa Takako, Zaizen Naomi and Shibasaki Kou in three stories spanning the entire season. Nakatani and Tokiwa appear in the first two stories while Zaizen and Shibasaki were co-leads for the last story. Their stories were omewhat unrelated but one common point between these four ladies was that they all were regulars at a bar owned by Sharan Q's Tsunku (also widely known as Morning Musume's producer). The leading men in these ladies' lives were V6's Okada Junichi (paired with Nakatani), SMAP's Inagaki Goro (with Tokiwa), Kashiwabara Takashi and Yanagiba Toshiro (with Shibasaki and Zaizen). Ratings then were between the range of 9.4% and 14.1% which suggested that this drama had slipped under the radar for some reason. Among the three stories, I liked the first one a lot partly because of Nakatani and Okada's great chemistry. That's not to say that the rest of the drama was bad but rather, it didn't move me as much as the first story.

This song from MISIA titled "Nemurenu yoru wa kimi no sei" (It's your fault that I'm having a sleepless night) is rather different from the feel you get from "Everything" and it sounds as if the singer is expressing her feelings of love and pining to her lover in a rather subdued manner. Whenever I hear this song, the image of a person gazing into the moonlit sky while missing the lover comes to mind in a vivid manner and I remember fondly the interaction between the characters played by Nakatani and Okada.

If you are interested to hear this song, please view here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Review of "Hirugao ~ Heijitsu Gogo Sanji no Koibitotachi" (Summer 2014)

In the past, the summer season was usually the most neglected or should I say, the least interesting in terms of the drama offerings from the Big 4 i.e. FujiTV, TBS, NTV and TV Asahi. Traditionally, it's been said that TV stations tend to focus a lot on the spring offerings because that marks the beginning of the fiscal year for most companies in Japan so if they get off to a good start in spring, it should bring better things ahead. As for autumn and winter, the general feel is that since the weather is colder, people tend to stay indoors and that helps to boost the viewership to a certain extent. This theory doesn't seem so true these days because you can do a lot more things at home e.g. surf the Internet or watch DVDs or cable TV rather than stick to the usual offerings on TV. Besides, a lot of people actually record the shows to watch later or use on demand services these days to watch on the go. Summer is seen as a season when most TV stations tend to slack off a bit because there are the summer holidays where students, children and families go out on vacations and there are lots of summer festivals going on. People tend not to be at home during the warm summer months or so it was believed to be. However, I think this way of looking at the seasonal offerings is somewhat not so relevant in this era as there can be lousy and half-hearted type of dramas in any season now. And if this old theory still holds true, "Hanzawa Naoki" would have never made it as the ratings king in the summer of 2013. I think "Hirugao" probably can be considered another unexpected success because it too was shown during the hot summer season, saw its ratings go consistently over the 15% level in its last four episodes and got lots of people including celebrities talking about it as the plot heated up.

Perhaps FujiTV didn't expect this to be a big hit after all. Before the season started, I would say that this drama probably didn't get a lot of attention because FujiTV was more focused on promoting "Hero 2" rather than its other offerings. Besides, a drama about people having extramarital affairs isn't new at all because there had been countless dramas like this in the past. Even if it was not the central theme of the story, infidelity subplots were quite common too. No doubt there was some pre-season anticipation about Ueto Aya shedding her usual pure and innocent image to take on the role of a straying housewife, Kichise Michiko being sexy as usual and a temptress this time to lure Ueto into the dark and exciting world of adultery and the two male leads Saito Takumi and Kitamura Kazuki being very popular with the female viewers, there still was something quite lacking in the whole package which I couldn't really place my finger on. However, when you do get started, you will find that it's not really as simple as it seems on the surface.

Before beginning with my review, let me give a summary of the story. As usual, the disclaimers first - if you do not wish to know the story, please skip this review as there will be many spoilers ahead.

Sasamoto Sawa (Ueto Aya) has been married for 5 years to Shunsuke (Suzuki Kosuke) and works part-time at a supermarket near her house. Although marriage life has been generally smoothsailing for Sawa, she feels that there is something lacking and craves some excitement deep inside. Her husband is more concerned with caring for his looks and pet hamsters rather than focus on Sawa, In addition, the fact that the couple have not been intimate for some time suggests that there is something not quite right about their marriage and Sawa wonders if this is due to her lacking in feminine appeal.

One day, Sawa steals a bright red lipstick from her workplace out of impulse and happens to be seen by Takigawa Rikako (Kichise Michiko) who has just moved to Sawa's neighbourhood. That same afternoon. Rikako's car is vandalised by a senior high school student at the carpark near the supermarket thus resulting in both her and Sawa being called to the police for the investigation. This causes Rikako and Sawa to be bound by mutual secrets i.e. Rikako's affair with a younger man and Sawa's shoplifting. In addition, Sawa meets Kitano Yuichiro (Saito Takumi), the form teacher of the high school student involved in the case and the two of them strike up an unlikely friendship which gradually escalates into mutual attraction for each other. Despite Sawa's initial reluctance to go down the path of Rikako who tells her that having an affair can actually be beneficial to the marriage, she finds herself sinking further into the romance with Kitano who is also married to Noriko, an assistant professor older than him and is more concerned with her research rather than taking care of the household.

On the other hand, Rikako who is living an envious life of a housewife living in a big house with a successful husband and two daughters, is leading a double life. She sleeps around with strangers in a bid to regain confidence and seek affirmation of her womanly charm from other men as her husband keeps putting her down as a woman with no brains who he married for the sake of her looks. During a party which her husband hosts for his colleagues and working partners, Rikako meets an artist named Kato Osamu (Kitamura Kazuki) and becomes attracted to him because he seems to be able to see through her true self and the loneliness she is feeling while playing the perfect wife role. Even though she always claims to be emotionally detached from the men that she had slept with, Rikako becomes so absorbed with Kato to the point where she is willing to give up the good life and her daughters and even become a bar hostess so  to be with a poor artist like Kato.

Personally, I think what's very interesting about this story are the unexpected twists and turns. Unlike most stories about people having affairs where you can get the drift of the story very quickly, this story doesn't stick to a traditional formula or preach about what's right or wrong. For example, no doubt that Rikako had a reason of her own to seek "external excitement", the fact that she had to desert her own children for the sake of her happiness was relatively downplayed rather than being blamed entirely for her selfishness. At the same time, it seemed that Rikako was such a player that her relationship with Kato was probably going to be not much different. In fact, she even went out of the way to seduce him even though he did not take her seriously at first. However, the relationship between them became such an intense thing until he was willing to sacrifice his future just to make sure that there is no turning back for her when she went back to her family in the end. This was somewhat not in line with his seemingly aloof attitude towards her since he looked as if he was less besotted with her than vice versa.

On the other hand, in Sawa's case, I was sort of expecting that her relationship with Kitano might last a bit longer although a happy ending might be pretty impossible in Asian society since adultery is still pretty much frowned on. However, things went downwards really quickly for them after their mini "elope-adventure". In particular, I was expecting that Noriko would not tolerate her husband's pining for another woman and not take him back but it turned out that she was so bent on keeping Kitano that she went to extremes. Conversely, Sawa's husband Shunsuke seemed more like someone who would hold on to her for the sake of his pride but he unexpectedly gave in after seeing how Sawa reacted when she almost burnt down their apartment. As such, I think that this defying of expectations was what really kept the viewers hooked throughout the season because you've got to keep watching the drama in order to know what will happen to the lead characters.

Besides the engaging story, the acting by the cast was also something worth checking out. Ueto Aya showed a different side of her usual bubbly onscreen image where she had to play a plain housewife who was struggling with her boring life, a not-so-loving husband and a nosy mother-in-law. Sawa's emotional struggles to fight against her desire for an exciting romance and what's right morally was conveyed in such a compelling way that the viewers can see for themselves how she felt. On the other hand, Rikako's inner world was probably not described in such great detail because of the lack of monologues but inferences can be made from the actions she took throughout the course of the story. The male leads too were not described at great length so it was a bit difficult to judge how much they loved Sawa and Rikako.

Among the supporting characters, I felt that Noriko's role played by Ito Ayumi was the most compelling to watch. Noriko started off with being friends with Sawa and later found that she was seeing her own husband so the feeling of betrayal swept over her to the extent that she did drastic things to the people around her and herself. One of the best scenes was when she caught Sawa and her husband in a library and the tension during the face-off scene made such a huge impression. Even after realising that her husband's heart was already not with her, Noriko didn't want to let her husband have his way and even resorted to legal means to stop them from being together. Perhaps different people might have varying opinions on this but personally, I thought that it was pretty meaningless to cling on to a person who stopped loving you but I guess for Noriko, she probably doesn't see it this way because marriage to her is for life and she won't just settle for a divorce easily.

The theme song deserves some special mention here too because I thought that it was such a clever pick to coincide with the drama's genre. The song "Tanin no Kankei" was actually first released in 1973 by Kanai Katsuko and was the No.31 song in the Oricon annual ranking then. Hitoto Yo did a remake of this song in her 2012 cover album of hits in the Showa era but the version used for this drama was a new one specially made with SOIL& "PIMP" SESSIONS who were picked by Hitoto herself. The jazzy tune of the song with the really suggestive lyrics clicked with the "scandalous" theme of extramarital affairs and Hitoto's rendition of the song meant that it was easy to remember even after hearing it just for the first time during the ending credits which was another piece of work full of visual impact with its use of nudity or seemingly so with body paints of vibrant colours. I liked the fact that there was some thought in picking a suitable song for the drama and that efforts had been made to the ending credits section unlike most dramas which tend to be rather boring of late.

And my ratings for this drama...

Story: 9.5 out of 10 (The unpredictable nature of the story created much excitement for viewers so that they could stay tuned right to the end. And that's precisely what's lacking in many dramas in recent years. )

Acting: 9 out of 10 (The ladies i.e. Ueto, Kichise and Ito all did well in their roles but the guys seemed under-explored so there was hardly anything to like or dislike about them especially Saito Takumi whose character's fate ended in such a disappointing manner.)

Theme song/BGM: 9 out of 10 (Nice BGM during critical scenes plus the catchy theme song which is hard to forget)

Visual effects / Scenery: 8 out 10 (There was some slow motion shots used to highlight the intensity of the emotions felt by the characters e.g. when Sawa almost burnt down the house and when she was in the forest with Kitano. The tension in the air was hard to miss and made the scenes more memorable.)

Teamwork / Chemistry: 7 out of 10 (Although Ueto and Saito are a nice combination to watch, I felt that Saito's character was too one-dimensional so it always felt that we knew how Sawa felt about him but his level of involvement in the relationship seemed unknown. Similar problem between Kichise and Kitamura where his side of the story is relatively unexplored. As such, the chemistry seemed to have suffered a bit. Contrary to this, the ladies seemed to enjoy better chemistry among themselves.)

Total: 42.5 out of 50

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Romaji lyrics of "Sora mo toberu hazu" by Spitz (Theme song of "Hakusen Nagashi")

Title: Sora mo toberu hazu
Artiste: Spitz
Lyrics & Melody: Kusano Masamune
Theme song of FujiTV Winter 1996 drama "Hakusen Nagashi"

osanai binetsu wo sagerarenai mama
kamisama no kage wo osorete
kakushita naifu ga niawanai boku wo
odoketa uta de nagusameta
iro ase nagara hibi warenagara
kagayaku sube wo motomete

kimi to deatta kiseki ga kono mune ni afureteru
kitto ima wa jiyuu ni sora mo toberu hazu
yume wo nurashita namida ga
unabara e nagaretara
zutto soba de waratteite hoshii

kirifu ni shiteta miesuita uso wa
mangetsu no yoru ni yabuita
hakanaku yureru kami no nioi de
fukai nemuri kara samete

kimi to deatta kiseki ga kono mune ni afureteru
kitto ima wa jiyuu ni sora mo toberu hazu
gomi de kirameku sekai ga bokutachi wo kobandemo
zutto soba de waratte ite hoshii

kimi to deatta kiseki ga kono mune ni afureteru
kitto ima wa jiyuu ni sora mo toberu hazu
yume wo nurashita namida ga unabara e nagaretara
zutto soba de waratteite hoshii

The Nostalgia Series - Old drama theme songs: "Sora mo toberu hazu" by Spitz

"Hakusen Nagashi" was a drama which meant a lot to me in various ways. When the drama series was first shown in 1996, I wasn't able to watch it then since it was not so easy to watch Japanese dramas on local TV or online especially if the cast aren't big names. In fact, despite Nagase Tomoya being the lead of this drama, the attention was more on Sakai Miki and Kashiwabara Takashi who were known for their roles in the movie "Love Letter". It was not only until a few years later when I managed to find the VCDs of this drama. I still remember how happy I was at that time about this unexpected find.

What also made this drama memorable was the timing when I watched it. Just like the leads in the drama, I was about the same age as them and fresh out of secondary school without a clear indication of what I wanted to do in future. As such, it was easy to identify with the problems and troubles which the characters had and it felt as if I was seeing myself through their stories.

Over the years, there have been a number of SPs which follow the growing-up process of the lead characters. It hasn't been a smooth-sailing process in finding these SPs to watch but each time I managed to do so, it was very gratifying to catch up with the leads on the latest developments in their lives.. By the time the entire series ended, I did feel quite sad about it because I had been following the story for almost 10 years. Some of the saddest things I remembered from the story were Wataru (Nagase Tomoya) getting married to another woman as well as he and Sonoko (Sakai Miki) not being able to stay together at the end even though his wife had passed away. Despite it not being an all-ends-well outcome for every character, I felt that it was a realistic reflection of how life is.

After doing some research on the theme song "Sora mo toberu hazu" by Spitz, it was surprising to note that the song was originally meant to be the theme for another drama but the deal fell through somehow at the end. The song was then released as a single in 1994 but only achieved a Oricon ranking of No.28. However, when this song was used two years later for "Hakusen Nagashi", it was re-released and became Spitz's first Oricon No.1 single. Goes to show how powerful a tie-up with a popular drama can do for a song's CD sales. Nonetheless, if the song isn't good enough, the drama wouldn't have helped in any way. Come to think of it, if you look at the lyrics, it coincides with the theme of the drama in an uncanny way. Perhaps it was fated to be the theme song for "Hakusen Nagashi" after all. Coincidentally, this song was also the first I came like from Spitz which led me to discover more of their music.

If you are keen to hear this song, please visit here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Preview of "Aibou 14" 相棒14- Autumn 2015

Title: Aibou 14 相棒 14 (Partners)
Official website: here
Official Facebook: here
Official Twitter: here
Official blog: here
O.A. Start Date: 14 Oct 2015
Timeslot: Wednesdays 9pm
Cast: Mizutani Yutaka, Sorimachi Takashi, Suzuki Anju, Kawahara Kazuhisa, Yamanaka Takashi, Rokkaku Seiji, Yamanishi Atsushi, Jinbo Satoshi, Katagiri Ryuji, Ono Ryo, Ishizaka Koji

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Preview of "Angel Heart" エンジェル・ハート - Autumn 2015

Title: Angel Heart エンジェル・ハート
Official website: here
Official Twitter: here
Official Facebook: here
O.A. Date: 11 October 2015
Timeslot: Sundays 10.30pm
Broadcast by: NTV
Original manga by: Hojo Tsukasa
Theme Song: Save me by Nishiuchi Mariya
Cast: Kamikawa Takaya, Miyoshi Ayaka, Aibu Saki, Miura Shohei, Brother Tom, Takashima Reiko, Mickey Curtis, Izumi Soji, Yamadera Koichi, Takahashi Tsutomu, Saito Megumi, Ryu Raita

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

NHK to release book on the history of its morning dramas

NHK will be releasing a book titled "Asadora no 55nen" (The 55 years of morning dramas" on 17 Oct (JPY 2,484) which is a compilation of the TV station's 93 morning dramas produced from 1961 to present. From the first drama "Musume to Watashi" to the current offering of "Asa ga kita", the book talks about the famous scenes from each of the dramas and the storylines as well as unknown behind-the-scenes trivia. In addition, there are interviews of the actresses who had taken on the heroine roles including Kashiyama Fumie who starred in the 6th asadora "Ohanahan" which holds the record of highest viewership rating at 56.4% and Nounen Rena who starred in the 88th asadora "Ama-chan".

Source: Sanspo

Oguri Shun to appear in TBS Autumn 2015 drama "Kounodori"

Oguri Shun will be appearing in the TBS Autumn 2015 drama "Kounodori" which stars Ayano Go and will begin its run from 16 October at 10pm on Fridays. He plays the role of Nagai Hiroyuki whose pregnant wife got embroiled in a traffic accident and ends up in a coma and this causes him to be faced with a difficult decision of whether to save his wife or child. From the middle of the drama onwards, Oguri's character will become a key person affecting Ayano's character Kounodori.

Both Oguri and Ayano belong to the same agency and are very good friends too. Oguri commented that he is very happy to be able to take part in Ayano's drama regardless of the nature of the role and gladly accepted the offer from the producer. Ayano had taken part in Oguri's drama "Ouroboros" earlier this year from the middle of the season.

Source: Nikkansports

Shaku Yumiko announces her marriage through her blog

Shaku Yumiko announced through her blog on 13 October that she got married to her boyfriend on 10 October. In her statement, she commented that making her own marriage announcement at this time felt as if she was riding on the wave of consecutive marriage announcements of late. However, it was a natural progression for her and her husband because they already had marriage in mind when they started dating.

According to Shaku's agency, her husband is of the same age as her and owns restaurants in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kamakura. He is more than 1.8m tall and resembles actor Sawamura Ikki. The two of them were introduced to each other through mutual friends and started dating soon after. The reason why Shaku decided to get married was primarily due to her father and his love for mountain climbing. Although Shaku's husband had little experience in mountain climbing, he actually accompanied her on the mountain climbing trips while they were dating despite being busy with his business. As Shaku's father was a member of a mountain climbing club and had a deep love for the sport, she vowed to conquer the Kumonodaira mountain in Toyama Prefecture with her husband next year because that was the only mountain her father could not climb after being told that he had only six months to live.

Shaku mentioned that her father who passed away on 10 Jan this year due to pulmonary adenocarcinoma, was very concerned about her marriage rather than his own condition so she felt that he must be relieved now to see that she is married now. Shaku is not pregnant at the moment and the wedding will be held after her father's first death anniversary.

Source: Nikkansports / Sponichi

Preview of "Okashi no Ie" おかしの家 - Autumn 2015

Title: Okashi no Ie おかしの家 (The Snack House)
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 21 October 2015
Timeslot: Wednesdays 11.53pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Original novel by: Yamada Taro
Theme Song: Sora ga mata kuraku naru by RC Succession
Cast: Odagiri Jo, Ono Machiko, Katsuji Ryo, Shimada Kyusaku, Maeno Tomoya, Oyama Rento, Yachigusa Kaoru

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Preview of "Samurai Sensei" サムライせんせい - Autumn 2015

Title: Samurai Sensei サムライせんせい (Samurai Teacher)
Official website: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 23 October 2015
Timeslot: Fridays 11.15pm
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Original manga by: Kuroe Ssuke
Cast: Nishikido Ryo, Kamiki Ryunosuke, Higa Manami, Fujii Ryusei (Johnny's West), Kuroshima Yuina, Ishida Nicole, Kajihara Zen, Morimoto Leo

Monday, October 12, 2015

Chiba Yudai to play Suzuki Sawa's love interest in FujiTV Autumn 2015 drama "Otona Joshi"

Chiba Yudai will be playing a teacher for the first time in the upcoming FujiTV Autumn 2015 drama "Otona Joshi" starring Shinohara Ryoko which begins its run from 15 Oct at 10pm on Thursdays. Chiba takes on the role of a 28-year-old junior high school teacher named Sawada Kenta who is the form teacher of Sakata Midori's (Suzuki Sawa) youngest son. Despite his aspiration to become a pro dancer, he chose to become a teacher so as to fulfill his parents' expectations of him getting a secure job. While interacting with Midori, Kenta admires her for being able to raise her three sons single-handedly after her divorce and starts to woo her aggressively by using tactics such as asking her to support him during his dance practice sessions. Through their interaction, they become close friends who can speak their minds to each other and later develop a romantic relationship despite their 12-year age gap.

When interviewed about his character, Chiba expressed excitement about falling in love with the mother of his student and is eagerly anticipating how the story would develop over the course of the drama. As for Suzuki, she commented that she was nervous when looking into Chiba's eyes which are as pure as that of a deer's and she is also enthusiastic about working with a much younger actor this time.

Source: Sanspo / Sponichi

Review of "Watashi no Otoko 私の男" (My Man)

I would never have expected this film to make it to Singapore if not for the Japanese Film Festival. No doubt this movie might have been based on the Naoki Award-winning novel by Sakuraba Kazuki, featured Asano Tadanobu and Nikaido Fumi delivering compelling performances and won various awards in domestic and international film festivals, the content of the film and the incest theme would have subjected it to potential cuts by the censors even with a R21 rating. Luckily, it seemed like the film managed to be screened intact without any scenes being left in the censors' office.

This movie was screened as the mystery film for this year's Singapore Japanese Film Festival but got another screening towards the end of the festival. I'm not sure how the turnout for the mystery film session was as I attended the latter session. From what I observed, the attendance rate was about 70%.

Again, if you haven't watched this movie and would like to avoid knowing the spoilers, I suggest that you may wish to skip this review.

The movie takes a rather different direction as compared to the novel which starts in June 2008 on the eve of Kusarino Hana's wedding and goes back gradually in time to depict the story between her and her foster father Jungo. On the other hand, the film starts off with the first meeting of Hana and Jungo at the shelter after she survives the earthquake and tsunami that hit Hokkaido. There are also key differences between both versions as highlighted on Wikipedia such as Hana's age at the time of the disaster (10 in the movie vs. 9 in the novel), the sexual abuse on Hana by Jungo which was not obvious from the film, the change in Hana's marriage partner, the evidence pointing to Hana's involvement in a murder and the ending of the stories. However, as I have not read the novel, my views on this movie will be solely based on the adaptation so there will be no comparison with the original material.

The story begins with 10-year-old Hana trying to escape the earthquake and tsunami that strikes Okushiri Island in Hokkaido and ends up all alone in the temporary shelter as her family had perished. In the middle of the night, a man named Kusarino Jungo (Asano Tadanobu) comes searching for Hana at the shelter and decides to adopt her as his foster daughter. Jungo had stayed with Hana's parents for a period of time when he was much younger and got into much trouble thus he decides to take care of Hana in a bid to repay the favour. However, Oshio (Fujii Tatsuya), a respected elder who lives in the same neighbourhood as Jungo, doesn't think he is capable of being a father because Jungo has no idea what it means to form a family since his parents died a long time ago and he has been alone all this while. Nonetheless, Hana still leaves with Jungo despite meeting him for the first time.

6 years later, Hana (Nikaido Fumi) and Jungo are living in Monbetsu, Hokkaido, where Hana is already a senior high school student while Jungo has to be away from home occasionally as he works in the Self Defense Forces. To everyone around them, Hana and Jungo are no different from other fathers and daughters despite the fact that they are not related by blood. However, to Jungo's girlfriend Oshio Komachi (Kawai Aoba), she can't help that her relationship with Jungo is merely sexual and that his heart is somewhere else. In addition, she has this nagging feel that things between him and Hana are not that simple especially since Hana seems strangely confident that Jungo is not serious about his relationship with Komachi and that she also gives off the vibe that she sees Komachi as a rival for Jungo's attention. Jungo himself doesn't seem to see a need to address Komachi's nagging concerns though. When Komachi sees Jungo and Hana behaving intimately unlike what a father and daughter would do, this sets off warning signals in her mind.

Meanwhile, Oshio who is a respected senior in the local area, continues to shower love and concern for Jungo and Hana and looks upon them as his son and granddaughter. However, he happens to see Jungo and Hana having sex in their apartment and Hana also catches a glimpse of Oshio through the window but decides against telling Jungo about it. While fearing that Oshio will expose them, Hana decides to distance herself from Oshio in a bid to avoid dealing with this problem. At the same time, Oshio does some checking and discovers that Jungo and Hana are actually related by blood. Oshio guesses that Jungo is well aware of this fact when he adopted Hana and assumes that she isn't and is being sexually exploited by Jungo.

In a bid to stop the incest between father and daughter from continuing, Oshio tries to hint to Hana that she is doing the wrong thing by sleeping with Jungo but is aghast to find out that she already knows that Jungo is her birth father and she is a willing party. No matter how Oshio tries to persuade Hana to give up on Jungo, she is adamant about their love for each other and how they need each other so much to get over the loneliness of being left behind by their respective families. While getting too caught up in their confrontation, Oshio finds himself stranded on a block of drifting ice and calls out to Hana for help. However, she turns her back on him as she realises that a dead man would never expose her and Jungo thus causing Oshio to drift towards the sea and freeze to death. During the funeral of Oshio, Hana behaves as if nothing has happened. Soon after, Hana and Jungo move to Tokyo quickly where he becomes a taxi driver while she continues with her studies.

In a strange twist of fate, Taoka (Moro Morooka), a police officer who lives in the same Monbetsu neighbourhood with Jungo and Hana, comes looking for them in Tokyo. Jungo is surprised by the visit and wonders why Taoka came all the way when the latter brings out the proof of Hana's involvement in Oshio's murder. In order to protect Hana and stop Taoka from exposing her deed, Jungo kills Taoka.

As time goes by, Jungo seems heavily weighed down by the fact that he killed someone and sinks into the trap of alcoholism. On the other hand, Hana graduates from college and becomes a receptionist at a company where she later meets Ozaki Yoshiro (Koura Kengo) during a double date. However, when Ozaki sends a drunk Hana home one night, he bumps into Jungo who truly gives him a shock by behaving in an eccentric manner.

Towards the end of the film, Jungo heads into a high-class restaurant in Ginza dressed in a dirty suit and sandals to meet Hana and her fiance (Miura Takahiro) there. Despite trying to maintain a clear head during the conversation with the fiance, Jungo is distracted by Hana's foot moving up and down his leg as she gazes at him intently in a seductive manner. Unbelievably, the movie ends at this juncture. I remember that the audience including myself were stunned at the sudden ending and that there was no proper conclusion to the story or so it seems.

First of all, with regard to the story, we have to look at it separately as it is divided into three arcs i.e. the first in Okushiri Island which marks Hana's first meeting with Jungo, the second in Monbetsu which forms the bulk of the story and the last in Tokyo. In my opinion, I thought that the Monbetsu arc was simply the best and it's not because there were many gripping happenings during that period. It's the whole delivery of the story between Hana and Jungo and the beautiful scenery there which left such a deep impression on me. The first arc was understandably shorter but had its significance because it described the beginning of things between Hana and Jungo. The Tokyo arc was when the film started to go downhill especially after Taoka's murder. I thought the scenes between Jungo and Ozaki were totally senseless and rather unrealistic. More on that later. As for the ending, it left me baffled and I wondered what the director was trying to convey with that.

With regard to why Hana was willing to follow Jungo, I attribute that to the father-and-daughter blood relation between them. Hana might not have known at that point that Jungo was her birth father but perhaps it was her gut feel that she would be safe and happy with this man that she went ahead with him. Otherwise, for a child to believe in a stranger like that was simply unthinkable. On the other hand, Jungo's decision to adopt Hana should be due to the fact that he knew about her identity as his real daughter. That was why Oshio didn't believe that Jungo was capable of giving Hana a happy family to grow up in because Jungo himself hardly knew what a family was like. Of course, Oshio didn't know that Hana was Jungo's daughter or else things would have made more sense to him. As the movie did not go into details, it suggested that Jungo might have had an affair with Hana's mother thus leading to Hana's birth. Apparently, the novel seemed to have added another detail about Hana feeling alienated in her own family probably due to her birth secret but this was not specifically mentioned in the film.

In the Monbetsu arc, there are two main highlights i.e. the intimate scene between Hana and Jungo which was witnessed by Oshio by chance and the murder of Oshio or rather "leaving-him-to-die-on-the-drift-ice". The intimate scene was actually rather long compared to what you would usually see in other movies and I think that was a deliberate attempt by the director to show the raw passion and lust between Hana and Jungo even though a father and daughter shouldn't be behaving like this. What makes it more scandalous is that they both knew the true nature of their relationship even though I'm not sure that Jungo knows about Hana being aware of the truth at this point.

In any case, that scene started off pretty mildly with kissing and fondling but as the action heated up, the director chose to use the tactic of blood dripping from the ceiling as if it was a blood rain enveloping Hana and Jungo as they had sex. I took it to be a metaphor about the blood relations between them and as the two characters were drenched in the gory blood, it seemed to suggest the "dirtiness" of the relationship especially since it had stained Hana's white school uniform i.e. a violation of her innocence. When Hana spotted Oshio looking at them through the window because the curtains were not fully drawn, that's why the audience realised that the so-called blood rain did not actually happen and was a technique to present the director's take on the nature of the sexual relationship between Hana and Jungo. The absence of any mention of sexual abuse in the film seems to suggest that Hana was never forced into doing this. She saw it as a means to help Jungo overcome his loneliness and it probably worked the same way for her too.

The other highlight was the confrontation between Oshio and Hana on the drift ice. The scale and beauty of the background scenery accentuated the intensity of the scene as the two characters exchanged words on their different takes of the relationship of Jungo and Hana. Oshio wanted to bring Hana back to the "right path" but was surprised to know that she wasn't a victim as he thought. On the other hand, Hana saw Oshio as an enemy who tried to break the bond between her and Jungo and threatened the existence of their relationship. That was why Hana was willing to go to the extent of eliminating Oshio from their lives so that everything could remain the same. However, things were never going to be the same as seen from the fact that they left Monbetsu to go to Tokyo. It wasn't specifically explained why or who initiated the move but I assumed that Jungo and Hana might have made the decision after he became aware of what she did. Likewise, it wasn't entirely possible that Hana could have kept a straight face in front of everyone all the time especially since she was friends with Oshio's grandson.

In the case of the Tokyo arc, Jungo's action to kill Taoka was understandable especially since he knew that Hana killed Oshio for their sake and he needed to kill Taoka for the same reason. However, it appeared that Jungo was not as strong psychologically because Hana seemed to be able to lead a normal life in Tokyo while he wallowed in this deep despair as if he could see no future for himself. That was when the relationship dynamics seemed to have changed. Previously, it might have appeared as if Jungo was calling the shots because he was the one who adopted Hana and as the adult and a man, probably seemed to have more commanding powers in the relationship. However, by the time Hana becomes a working adult, the tables seemed to be overturned because Jungo looked like he was clinging onto Hana for survival. In the ending especially, Hana was making this point clear to Jungo by making him come to this high-class restaurant to meet her fiance and yet still seducing Jungo under the table. At least to me, it felt like she was sending this message to Jungo that she will  never be his after she gets married and yet there is no running away from her for Jungo because his existence would have been nullified if he couldn't stick to Hana. That seems to resonate with the title of "My Man" because Jungo ultimately will become Hana's man and not the other way round.

One particular scene which I thought was extremely senseless was the meeting between Ozaki and Jungo. I don't know if this scene did appear in the novel but can you imagine Ozaki doing pretty much everything that Jungo ordered him to do including stripping? They were perfect strangers up to the point they met and surely you wouldn't expect a daughter's boyfriend or potential suitor being ordered to take off his clothes by the father-in-law and him actually obeying the order? That was why I couldn't comprehend the logic of having Ozaki do that in front of Jungo and it is no wonder that he literally escaped when he couldn't stand Jungo anymore. I also wonder if the fiance role taken up by Miura Takahiro was a result of this development because it did seem from the novel that the fiance should be Ozaki instead. In any case, I thought it was a waste for Koura Kengo to come in and do a few scenes especially this very weird one. Likewise for Miura, the fiance role in the movie seemed to be of little importance.

Talking about the acting, Nikaido Fumi really impressed me this time. Not that I wasn't impressed in the past but this particular film really showed how good she could be. From a seemingly naive and innocent teenager to a manipulative woman by the end, the changes in Hana were handled so well by Nikaido and she seemed so fully immersed in the role. The two scenes which I highlighted in the Monbetsu arc above were solid proof of her versality. While dressed in a school uniform, she had to show the innocence of a teenager and the maturity of a woman in that intimate scene with Asano Tadanobu which was really intriguing to watch. Not many actresses of her age group can do something like this. I especially liked her interaction with Fujii Tatsuya and how her desperation to convince him to leave her alone and not try to correct a "wrong" when she saw nothing wrong was really sad to watch. Nikaido really showed how powerful her acting could be and matched up to more experienced veterans like Asano and Fujii with ease.

As for Asano, he did well as Jungo especially in the Tokyo arc where he showed the downward spiral in Jungo's life after killing Taoka. However, what the audience knows about Jungo is pretty fragmented e.g. his past, his motive for adopting Hana and what triggered the change in their relationship so I personally feel that Hana's development was more compelling to watch and displayed in a more complete and comprehensive manner while Jungo felt more distant from me and I hardly feel that I know him towards the end as to why he still pines for Hana despite knowing that she will never be his.

And my ratings for this movie...

Story: 8.5 out of 10 (Save for the scene between Jungo and Ozaki which didn't make sense and the abrupt ending, the story was pretty engaging especially in the Monbetsu arc. )

Acting: 9 out of 10 (Excellent acting from Nikaido and Asano. The supporting characters such as Koura were rather under-utilised which I thought was a pity.)

Theme song/BGM: 6 out of 10 (Music used was largely in sync with the feel of the scenes but there was nothing in particular which left a deep impression)

Visual effects / Scenery: 9 out 10 (The marks are for the Monbetsu arc for the breathtaking winter/snowy scenes especially at the drift ice area. The Tokyo arc was dirty and messy which seemed to reflect the state of Jungo's life so visually, it wasn't that nice to look at.)

Teamwork / Chemistry: 8 out of 10 (Asano and Nikaido really did well together although I personally felt that Nikaido was slightly more outstanding on virtue of her character development. Asano's character was rather weak from the Tokyo arc so the chemistry between the characters sort of waned by then. )

Total: 40.5 out of 50