Sunday, April 29, 2012

Review of 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku Ep 1

Given that the title of this drama is extremely long, I would just refer to this using the main title i.e. 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku.

If you've seen the Boku series from Kusanagi Tsuyoshi i.e. Boku no Ikiru Michi (co-star Yada Akiko where he played a teacher with a terminal illness), Boku to Kanojo to Kanojo no Ikiru Michi (co-stars Miyama Karen and Koyuki where he played a man who has to learn how to love and care for his daughter after his wife left the family) and Boku no Aruku Michi (co-star Karina where he played a man with autism) and you think that this drama is similar to these three just because there's the word "boku" in the title, you are only half-right. From the looks of it, this drama isn't going to be as tear-jerking as any of the Boku dramas because the lead character's not going to die or he doesn't have a disability or difficult situation to cope with. Even though this drama is pretty much a story about life lessons (similar to the Boku series), I was attracted to the premise of someone switching career paths at an age when people would consider too old for doing that. It is not easy to make such a decision and there must be a strong reason for doing that. It should be interesting to delve into the mindset of what made this person take the plunge into unknown territory.

The lead character in this drama is Konno Yuta (Kusanagi) who used to be a salaryman at a top foodstuff company. He made the decision to became a doctor when he was 30 and left his job without turning back even when his boss said that he would regret his decision. Well, when you are 30 and have been working in a company for a number of years, there would have been many things to consider before you decide to leave e.g. the salary you are getting, whether you are going to find a similar job elsewhere or when you will be content with your new job. There is too much at stake so a mid-career switch is really not as simple as it seems. However, as what Ep 1 has shown, Yuta has a very strong reason for doing what he does. He is obviously doing it for his girlfriend Suzu who's unable to speak for some reason and seems to be suffering from some kidney problems. It's quite clear that Yuta holds himself responsible for making sure Suzu can recover in future (maybe he was involved in what caused Suzu's condition) so that's why he could give up his career and go into unfamiliar territory. Becoming a doctor is not easy in Japan (actually, it should be difficult anywhere else in the world too) because not only you have to study for at least six years in university, there's also the internship and national exam to clear. From what we can see in this episode, Yuta has persevered for 7 long years before he finally reaches the internship stage.

Besides Yuta, there are three other interns Sawamura Mizuki (Mizukawa Asami), Shimoda Kentaro (Yaotome Hikaru) and Taniguchi Atsushi (Kiriyama Ren). Being the eldest in the pack, the three of them are wondering what made Yuta "lose his mind" and throw his well-paying job in a good company just to be a doctor. Sawamura in particular, thinks that Yuta is a nuisance because he keeps saying things which he isn't supposed to raise as an intern and it causes trouble for the rest of them in one way or another. She cannot comprehend why he wants to come to Toou University Hospital for his internship especially since Toou is known for its rigid ways and doesn't seem receptive to someone so different like Yuta. In actual fact, Yuta came to Toou in order to learn from Morishita Kazuaki (Tanabe Seiichi) who's an expert in kidney ailments so you can say that he's willing to bear with almost everything for Suzu's sake.
There are some moments of humour as well e.g. this scene where Sawamura finds that Yuta is her neighbour and she warns him not to poke his nose into her affairs. I think she means it to be that Yuta shouldn't tell people where she lives or what he knows about her lifestyle (since they are neighbours). However, Yuta takes it the wrong way and says that she shouldn't be worried since he has a girlfriend. Looks like Yuta is quite dense at times and can misinterpret what people are saying! He must have gotten the idea that Sawamura thought that he is interested in her! :-)

In medical dramas, you would usually have a central case in each episode where the lead character behaves differently from what others would expect him to do. It's no surprise that Yuta encounters problems with the old-fashioned ways in the hospital because he would point out faults which seem a given in the corporate world (printing presentation notes on paper instead of using digital files) and that shows in his way of treating patients as well. I won't go into details on what exactly the case is about but the gist of it is that Yuta feels that his superiors have not done enough analysis on the possible options and are jumping to conclusions just so it would make life easier for them. Yuta should have gone through the tough demands of his clients in his previous job so his mindset is that unless you've reviewed all the options, it's foolish to make a decision based on the limited information. What's more, you are dealing with someone's life here.

My first thoughts about this drama is that although it reeks of idealism i.e. Yuta gets away with what he does (as in the outcome turns out OK so he doesn't get punished), there is a balance with reality too. I think that's very refreshing to see in medical dramas these days because most dramas tend to make the lead character seem like a hero who can solve everything that is thrown at him. Yuta has his weaknesses (people thinking little of him and guessing that he's probably being a doctor for some frivolous reason) and he is clearly haunted by what Suzu has to go through regardless whether it is his fault or not (we'll probably find out later). That makes his character closer to reality and easier for viewers to identify with. Kusanagi does a good job in potraying Yuta and I really like that this character is flawed because that's what humans should be.

As Yuta "wreaks havoc" in the rigid university hospital with his corporate mindset, that should shake up the medical personnel there and I really look forward to how he's going to be a doctor just like how he was a salaryman. Just one thing of concern here, the professor in charge of the department Saeki (Matsudaira Ken) doesn't seem like he's going to be a supportor of Yuta's ways because he's known for transferring people out of the hospital if they go against him so I'm wondering if he will prove to be the biggest hurdle in Yuta's path to be a doctor.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spring 2012 first episode ratings ranking (final) and update to the ratings race (28 Apr 12)

True to what I expected, W no Higeki fits itself right in the middle of the ranking for its first OA. This is how the ranking looks like for the first episode OAs have been been completed.

1) Ataru 19.9%

2) Kagi no Kakatta Heya 18.3%

3) Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri 15.9%

4) 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku 13.2%

5) Legal High 12.2%

6) Papadoru! 11.6%

7) Answer 11.4%

8) W no Higeki 10.9%

9) Toshi Densetsu no Onna 10.3%

10) Hanchou 5 10.2%

11) Cleopatra na Onnatachi / Mirai Nikki 9.9%

12) Kaeru no Oujosama 9.0%

14) Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose 8.8%

15) Kazoku no Uta 6.1%
Some other updates to the other dramas which have gone through their 2nd or 3rd episodes:
- Cleopatra na Onnatachi drops to 6.7% for Ep 2. it because the story is really bad or is it because Sato Ryuta isn't appealing enough to pull in the viewers? He's a credible actor though but being the lead actor is a different story altogether...
- Kaeru no Oujosama goes below 10% with its 3rd episode getting 9.7%. That means last week's above 10% rating was merely an anomaly because people were briefly interested after seeing all the bad press? And they jumped off the bandwagon after deciding that it was as bad as what the media said? If it stays close to 10% throughout the season, that wouldn't be so bad after all.
- Papadoru also suffers a big drop to 8.1%. Seriously, what's with all these below-10% ratings so early in the season?
Looks like this season is going to produce a series of below-10% dramas even before we reach mid-season. ATARU and Kagi look set for a tight photo finish if one of these three scenarios happen: 1) ATARU doesn't see a significant spike in its ratings / 2) Kagi takes over the top spot in the later part of the season / 3) Kusangai's drama doesn't become a threat to these two (if its ratings don't go up further). With the Golden Week holidays next week, one can only wonder how many people would actually stay tuned to the dramas and how big the impact would be on the figures.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Funakoshi Eiichiro rumoured to have left home for Sawajiri Erika?

Actor Funakoshi Eiichiro's wife Matsui Kazuyo revealed on her blog on 26 April that her husband had left home since a heated argument on 23 March. According to Matsui, the couple were quarelling that morning and she beat him up until he fell down at the house's entrance. Soon after, Matsui left home for work and returned the next morning to find her husband's belongings missing from the house.

Matsui admitted that they had all along been in such heated arguments for the past 11 years since they got married but this is the first time Funakoshi has left home without a word. However, she mentioned in her blog post that she's wondering if Sawajiri Erika is the reason why her husband left.

Funakoshi and Sawajiri worked together on the TBS drama SP "Akujo ni tsuite" due to be shown on 30 April since mid March where he plays a man being manipulated by Sawajiri's character. As such, there were intimate scenes between them but Matsui was angry that Funakoshi did not tell her beforehand and it escalated into the heated argument on 23 March.
When contacted by the reporter on the status, Matsui admitted that she had managed to get in touch with her husband who is filming in Kyoto but he still hasn't returned home.
Source: Nikkansports
Somehow, this feels like a promotional gimmick for "Akujo ni tsuite". Funakoshi might have really left home after an argument but I think the way the story is crafted, it seems to be emphasizing on Sawajiri's image as a dangerous and evil woman in the drama SP. Moreover, I don't seem to see this story in other sources so it does seem rather suspicious.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ichihara Hayato dating model Mukoyama Shiho

Ichihara Hayato is reported to be dating model Mukoyama Shiho as reported in the 26th April issue of Josei Seven. According to the magazine, the couple first met last summer at a friend's birthday party and began dating at the beginning of this year. The article featured pictures of them holding hands and leaving Ichihara's apartment together as well as going shopping together. Ichihara's agency said that as he is already an adult, they would not interfere in this matter.
Source: Nikkansports

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Update - The ratings race as of 25 April 12

Some dramas have already gone through their second or even third OA and true to expectations, there's been a dip in the ratings generally although the extent of the drop differs.

Kagi no Kakatta Heya fell 1.8% to 16.5% but overall, it still has an average of 17.51% which is about 1% lower than ATARU's average. Looks like these two dramas are going to fight it out for the top rated drama title this season.

HOWEVER, if you think that this is the end of the story, the figures seem to be suggesting otherwise. There's a silent threat on the sidelines i.e. 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku which increased its 3rd episode OA by 1.4% to 14.5%. Most dramas rarely get a figure higher than their first OA during the season except for the finale (the most recent exception would be Kaseifu no Mita though) so the drama must have been interesting enough to draw so many viewers. I haven't watched the first episode yet but considering the lack of publicity for this drama as compared to the big shots this season, it's heartening to see this drama on an upward trend. Just hope that it's not an once-off thing though!

Legal High dropped just 0.1% to 12.1%. Looks like it's going to be one that fits int the middle of the ranking because there isn't any obvious spike factor at the moment that could push it further up. I like Sakai Masato but somehow, I'm not in a big hurry to catch this yet. Maybe it's because I'm not so keen on his leading lady.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Production press conference of "Hatsukoi"

The production press conference of NHK drama "Hatsukoi" was held on 23 April at NHK which cast members Kimura Yoshino, Ihara Tsuyoshi and Aoki Muneoka attended. This is Kimura's first drama since she gave birth to her first daughter last November and she plays a mother struck with liver cancer whose doctor happens to be her ex-lover.

Source: Sanspo

Dramas with above 30% ratings

Now that I've gone through a list of the underperformers in the dorama scene, here are the high fliers i.e. those which got above 30% for its average / last episode / single episode rating. Note that this list isn't exhaustive though because there should have been some older dramas before the 90s which I'm not familar with or never heard before. As per the previous post, those I watched before but did not complete are in red while those in blue are those I finished. Is it not so much of a surprise that I've seen more dramas here than in the list of below 10% dramas? ^__^ Ah, the golden age of the 90s and early 2000s dramas!

Do post your comments on which you've watched before and we can all have a discussion on how we feel about these hits:

Source: Naver

- Oshin / NHK (average was 52.6%)

- Mito Komon / TBS (last episode - 43.7%)

- Beautiful Life / TBS / average rating of 32.3% (Finale was a high of 41.3%) - Great chemistry between the leads and beautiful story!

- 3nen Bgumi Kinpachi Sensei / TBS (Highest rating was 39.9%)

- Karei Naru Ichizoku / TBS (last episode in Kanto region was 30.4% and 39.3% in the Kansai region) - I kept grumbling but yes, I still finished this.

- Wataru Seiken wa Oni Bakari / TBS (highest rating was 34.2%)

- Danjo 7nin Aki Monogatari / TBS (last episode was 36.6%)

- Double Kitchen / TBS (last episode was 30.7%) - I can't even recall why I didn't finish this.

- Long Vacation / FujiTV (last episode was 36.7%) - My all-time favourite!! Minami! Sena!

- 101-kaime no Propozu / FujiTV (last episode was 36.7%) - A long time ago, Japanese dramas always had these scenes where someone dashes in front of a truck/car to prove that he/she is serious about something. Nowadays, Korean dramas also have this but it's used somewhat differently i.e. as a tool to "kill" a key character in order to make the story more tragic or for the lead couple to get together after a close brush with death. The multi-purpose truck scene is all that I remember from this drama though.

- HERO / FujiTV (last episode was 36.8%) - I don't really like KimuTaku but I enjoyed this drama! KimuTaku's best onscreen partner is still Matsu Takako after all these years.

- Ienakiko / NTV (highest rating was 37.2%) - this was when I started to like Adachi Yumi. She was very very popular at that time! I liked the 2nd series better though because it featured Domoto Koichi of KinKi Kids and Kusanagi Tsuyoshi of SMAP. The ending was especially tragic!

- Nemureru Mori / FujiTV (highest rating was 30.8%) - Erm, I liked the story and BGM but I wasn't so thrilled about the ending or the combination of KimuTaku and Nakayama Miho. They just didn't look compatible unlike KimuTaku and Matsu Takako.

- GOOD LUCK!! / TBS (highest rating was 37.6%) - KimuTaku looked the best here among all the dramas I've seen him in but still, I didn't fancy his acting. The supporting cast of Tsutsumi Shinichi, Shibasaki Kou and Kuroki Hitomi were more appealing at that time.

- Hitotsu Yane no Shita / FujiTV (highest rating was 37.8%) - Eguchi Yosuke got on my nerves then for his passionate acting but I liked this family story and its characters on the whole.

- Yamato Nadeshiko / FujiTV (highest rating was 34.2%) - Tsutsumi Shinichi! Matsushima Nanako looked very pretty here too~

- GTO / FujiTV (highest rating was 35.7%) - The idea was very interesting at that time but a lot of similar stories after GTO killed this genre. I could never sit through another teacher-student drama like this unless it's of the serious type. I don't particularly fancy Sorimachi Takashi but the actors playing the students then e.g. Kubozuka Yosuke and Oguri Shun made me sit up and take notice. Matsushima Nanako also did fairly well here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

List of dramas with the dubious honour of below-10% ratings

Happened to chance upon this site which lists some dramas that have the dubious honour of an average rating below 10%. Among this list, there are some which I've watched halfway (highlighted in red), some which I even finished (blue) and of course those I didn't touch at all. How many from this list have you watched before? Do you agree that ratings reflect the quality of a drama accurately? It used to be a good litmus test for quality but now, I'm not so sure anymore. Surprisingly, in this list of dramas, there are some which I did finish and frankly speaking, enjoyed it to a certain extent despite my grouses.

List not in order of figures nor preference / figures in brackets refer to the average rating while the name mentioned is the lead actor/actress:

- Kochira Katsushikaku Kameari Kouen Haishutsujo - TBS (9.3% - Katori Shingo)
- Yonshimai Tanteidan - TV Asahi (7.0% - Kaho)
- Densetsu no Madam - NTV (6.59% - Momoi Kaori)
- Ranpo R - NTV (5.7% - Fujii Takashi)
- Lion Sensei - NTV (4.7% - Takenaka Naoto)
- Hito Natsu no Papa e - TBS (5.6% - Ueto Aya)
- Regatta ~ Kimi to Ita Eien - TV Asahi (5.4% - Hayami Mokomichi)
- Keiji Ichiro - TBS (5.1% - Kato Haruhiko)
- Meido Deka - TV Asahi (8.22% - Fukuda Saki)
- Otomen - NTV (6.26% - Okada Masaki)
- Akahana no Sensei - NTV (8.30% - Ooizumi Yo)
- Utahime - TBS (7.92% - Nagase Tomoya)
- Aijou Ippon - NTV (7.19% - Matsuura Aya)
- Kodoku no kake ~ Itoshiki Hito yo - TBS (7.0% - Ito Hideaki)
- Yanpapa - TBS (7.0% - Nagase Tomoya)
- Kanojo ga Shinjatta - NTV (7.0% - Nagase Tomoya)
- Shiritsu Tantei Hama Mike - NTV (6.54% - Nagase Masatoshi)
- Shouni Kyuumei - TV Asahi (6.97% - Konishi Manami)
- Koi wa Tatakai - TV Asahi (6.7% - Honjo Manami)
- Konya Hitori no Bed de - TBS (6.6% - Motoki Masahiro)
- Lotto 6 de 3oku 2senman yen ateta Otoko - TV Asahi (6.6% - Sorimachi Takashi)
- Gakkou ja oshierarenai! - NTV (6.4% - Fukada Kyoko)
- Koizora - TBS (6.4% - Mizusawa Erena)
- Teppan Shoujo Akane!! - TBS (8.8% - Horikita Maki)
- Hotelier - TV Asahi (8.6% - Ueto Aya)
- Honjitsu mo Hare. Ijou nashi - TBS (8.18% - Sakaguchi Kenji)
- Damenzu Walker - TV Asahi (8.1% - Fujiwara Norika)
- Usokoi - FujiTV (7.9% - Nakai Kiichi)
- Katagoshi no Koibito - TBS (7.4% - Yonekura Ryoko)
- Shimokita Sundays - TV Asahi (7.3% - Ueto Aya)
- Kougen e Irasshai - TBS (6.55% - Sato Koichi)
- Aisuru tame ni Aisaretai - TBS (4.1% - Sakaguchi Kenji)
- Kami no Shizuku - NTV (6.08% - Kamenashi Kazuyua)
- Message ~ Kotoba ga, Uragitteiku - NTV (6.2% - Mannaka Hitomi)
- Ginza no Koi - NTV (8% - Tootasu Matsumoto)
- Konkatsu! - FujiTV (8.8% - Nakai Masahiro)

Kazoku no Uta slips below 5% for its 2nd episode

This article attempts to give a reason why "Kazoku no Uta" did so badly for its 2nd OA but I still think the copycat claims before its run already dealt a big blow to what it could have achieved. It would take a very interesting story and great acting to save this and to be frank, I feel bad for the staff and cast who continue to make this drama despite all the bad press and criticism.

Source: Daily Sports

"Kazoku no Uta" scored a rating of 3.6% in the Kanto region for its 2nd episode shown on 22 April, as announced by Video Research on 23 April. The drama faced stiff competition in the same timeslot with TBS drama ATARU taking the largest share of viewers at 16.9% followed by NTV's popular variety show "Gyoretsu no dekiru Houritsu Soudanjo" at 16.2% and TV Asahi's screening of "Clash of the Titans" getting 12.6%. "Kazoku no Uta" started with a low rating of 6.1% for its first OA a week ago and dropped even lower than that for the 2nd episode.

Spring 2012 First Episode's Ratings Ranking

Here is the revised ranking after all dramas (except W no Higeki starring Takei Emi) went through their first OA:

1) Ataru 19.9%
2) Kagi no Kakatta Heya 18.3%
3) Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri 15.9%
4) 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku 13.2%
5) Legal High 12.2%
6) Papadoru! 11.6%
7) Answer 11.4%
8) Toshi Densetsu no Onna 10.3%
9) Hanchou 5 10.2%
10) Cleopatra na Onnatachi / Mirai Nikki 9.9%
12) Kaeru no Oujosama 9.0%
13) Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose 8.8%
14) Kazoku no Uta 6.1%

There aren't any changes in the top 4 since most of those which debuted last week were filling in the middle or bottom slots of the ranking. Personally, I was very surprised that Takenouchi Yutaka's drama got such a low rating (below 10%) so I'm guessing that people might have been turned off if they are assuming that this is going to be a drama meant to make people sob. Cleopatra and Mirai were just 0.1% away from the 10% mark so they shared the 10th spot despite being vastly different dramas and obviously attracting different sets of viewers on different days.

The 2nd episode ratings so far have seen a downward trend for most dramas i.e. Toshi Densetsu no Onna (9.2%), Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri (12.1%), ATARU (16.9%) and Kazoku no Uta (3.6%). It's perfectly normal for the 2nd episode ratings to suffer a dip since figures for the first OA are usually jacked up by people who just want to take a brief look but may not stay on for subsequent episodes. However, Kazoku no Uta looks set to be headed towards disaster because getting below 5% consistently will probably warrant a premature termination of its run which is supposed to last till June. I haven't watched this yet so I can't really tell if people are not watching this because of the copycat claims or the drama is indeed not appealing. ATARU is still doing well (any drama getting above 16% these days is a hit!) so we might see a clearer trend in where its ratings are going to hover around. Mikeneko Holmes lost 3.8% of its first episode ratings so it's rather alarming as well.

On the other hand, you have dramas bucking the trend, either suffering a slight dip or even increasing its rating in the 2nd OA. Kusanagi's drama dropped just 0.1% so its viewership base seems quite stable for now. Kaeru no Oujosama climbed close to 2% and got 10.7% which is good news considering the bad press recently over how it's not appealing or how it felt like this drama or that movie.

The full ranking for the 2nd episode will be posted once all dramas have done their rounds. As for W no Higeki, I don't foresee it going right to the top so it should fit in around the middle or even bottom of the ranking. I think this is Takei Emi's first leading role so it depends whether her personal popularity will be enough to attact people to catch at least the first episode. The story isn't that new (people looking alike who switch identities) thus it really hinges on the lead's acting to make it more interesting.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review of Seinaru Kaibutsutachi Ep 8 (Final)

At the end of eight episodes, my biggest question was this: why did everyone go through all this for everything to end as nothing more than a big joke? If you've read my reviews for the past seven episodes, you would have known how much I was expecting the finale to round up everything nicely in order not to waste the momentum that was built up over two months or so. The direction where the story was headed for just seemed too abrupt and silly even though I had been guessing that things would end somewhat "mildly" when certain developments came out e.g. Mie's baby not being related to Toshio and Keiko in any way. What a pity because it's been sometime since I got so keen on a drama and followed it closely enough to write reviews for each episode!

As Shiba operated on Itokawa without permission, he is brought away from Okubo Memorial Hospital by the police before he can question Kasugai further on Mie's death. Even though Shiba is expecting to be officially arrested or charged for what he did, he is surprised that Toshio got him out of the police station. However, this gesture comes with an obvious threat to Shiba who is told to stop meddling in this matter and not to appear in front of interested parties anymore. Although Shiba is obviously keen on pursuing the matter further, I think his near brush with the law made him consider for a brief second if he should give up his career and continue fighting those who are in the surrogate pregnancy scam. However, when he is asked by Honma to get the latter's son back, Shiba thinks of a way to help Honma.

On the other hand, Kasugai reveals to Keiko how she came to find out about Mie's lies and that she had killed Mie intentionally. Keiko is obviously shaken by this revelation but I think her obsession with having a child, securing her position in the Hyuga family with a heir and not wanting to lose what she's gained makes her lose her senses. Not only does she try to get Kasugai to stop associating with her (for fear of being implicated), she also hatches a plan to go overseas with the baby so that nobody can do anything to her or take the baby away from her. Kasugai is of course aghast to see how much Keiko has changed and blames herself for being part of the reason why this has happened.

Then comes the big "climax" scene when Shiba makes use of an uncanny coincidence to try to bring the baby to Honma. Well, it's very cliche in a sense because all of a sudden, the masterminds behind this whole scam come to their senses after what happened. I won't go into details on what exactly happened but frankly speaking, it's very predictable. At the ending, we have people going about their lives as if nothing really happened.

Well, this is where I think the story wasn't done too satisfactorily. I know surrogate pregnancies may be a taboo and sensational topic to do a drama on but since you've already started it, why not go all the way? True, Mie's betrayal may have spiced things up in the sense that everyone realises that they were taken on a ride to nowhere but this also works against the drama in the sense because it's extremly difficult to wrap up something which is a hoax after all. There wasn't any surrogate pregnancy to begin with, the child didn't belong to the couple who hatched the scheme, the murderer wasn't punished in any way and there were many questions waiting to be answered. What's up with Yoko and her brother? Did they suddenly decide to start blackmailing or cheating people one fine day? Why would she do his bidding anyway? How did she manage to get all that money? What did Shiba gain at the end after going through so much? He was treated to a rollercoaster ride of betrayal and lies and in actual fact, doing so much for nothing. That's why I think if the whole scam was built upon a non-existent crime, the ending really should have a stronger way of conveying the message of how the parties involved were affected rather than show them as if nothing has happened before.

Other than my grouses with the ending, I think the acting was generally of a high standard. Okada Masaki did feel overshadowed by most of his cast members but that's to be expected because he's lacking in experience comparatively and Shiba is not such an easy role to play after all. Moreover, it would take really strong acting skills in order for him to hold his own across Nakatani Miki who really shows how obsessed Kasugai can be and the two different faces she has. Talking about obsession, the key characters all have their own reasons to be obsessed e.g. Keiko over status, standing and the need to be a mother. In fact, obsession over what they desire or aim to achieve is the reason why the whole fiasco came about in the first place. Kato Ai was credible as the half-crazy Keiko who turned rather obnoxious later while Hasegawa Hiroki seemed a bit under-utilised in this drama. Kohinata Fumio was pretty much his usual self i.e. the reliable supporting actor while Oomasa Aya came across as a bit boring at times. Too bad her character wasn't developed further. Watanabe Ikkei was interesting as the inquisitive Itokawa but once he gave the information about how Kasugai was involved in Mie's death, he somehow slipped into oblivion after that. Suzuki An was actually quite good in showing the various faces of Mie e.g. pure and innocent as a kindergarten teacher, scheming when she tries to pass off her own child as Keiko and Toshio's, irritating when she tried to emphasize to Keiko how the child was hers because she was the one carrying it and of course, the flashback scenes of her and Honma where she showed the gentleness of a woman in love. Too bad her involvement in the drama was limited and ended right when Mie died.

As for the BGM and theme song, I think the BGM fitted nicely with the story's developments and helped a lot in making the whole atmosphere more tense when the important scenes took place. As for the theme song, the mood coincided with the drama's theme that we were looking at a bunch of "holy monsters" abusing their sacred positions to fulfill their personal desires. On its own, the music might not leave a strong impression on me but on the whole, I think the drama and music go hand in hand to complement each other.

And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 7.5 out of 10 (This would have been higher if not for the half-baked ending which was in a hurry to round things up)
Acting: 8.5 out of 10 (Like I said above, Nakatani Miki and Suzuki An are the ones to look out for. Okada Masaki just needs more practice and experience to do better in future)
Theme song: 8 out of 10 (Fr the reason that it's suitable for the drama and complements it well)
Visual effects / Scenery: 7 out of 10 (Much of the action was indoors but there were a few location shoots which looked quite nice)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 8 out of 10 (The intensity between Kasugai and Shiba was a bit lacking because Nakatani overpowered Okada in many ways but the rest of the cast had some interesting sparks e.g. Nakatani vs. Hasegawa Hiroki, Nakatani vs. Suzuki An and Nakatani vs. Kato Ai. Any wonder why Nakatani is included in all three pairs I mentioned? :-P)

Total: 39 out of 50

Saturday, April 21, 2012

SMAPxSMAP to release commemorative books for five months in a row

SMAPxSMAP, the signature variety show of SMAP which has been showing on FujiTV since 1996, will be releasing a series of 5 months from May onwards as a way to document the highlights in its history. The first book featuring Nakai Masahiro will be out on 29 May while other SMAP members will follow suit on a monthly basis in this order i.e. Kimura Takuya, Inagaki Goro, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi and Katori Shingo. In addition, memorable characters which the members have played in the past will be back in the May episodes of SMAPxSMAP in conjunction with the launch of the books. Source: Sanspo

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kaeru no Oujosama gets off to a shaky start has this article talking about how "Kaeru no Oujosama" getting a mere 9.1% for its first episode and talks about the possible reasons why it's not well-received.

"Kaeru no Oujosama" starring Amami Yuki got a lacklustre start at 9.1%. Considering that the Thursdays timeslot is one of the signature timeslots on FujiTV, "Kaeru" has earned itself the undesired title of being the 2nd drama since 2002's "Bara no Juujika" starring Mikami Hiroshi to get a below 10% rating on its debut.

What's puzzling is that the previous drama in the same timeslot i.e. "Saigo kara Nibanme no Koi" did pretty well and Amami's past hits like "BOSS" were also shown in the same timeslot. Moreover, one of the key selling points of "Kaeru" was that Amami was a former Takarazuka star who could sing and dance well so she is a perfect fit for her role.

According to Hiyama Tamami, a TV columnist, she highlighted the fact that although Amami is a talented performer, the fact that the stage performances featured in the drama don't feel the same on TV as when you see them live on stage makes it more difficult to draw viewers. Moreover, Amami's supporting cast members like Ishida Yuriko don't have the same stage presence as her. Tamayama Tetsuji is also seen to have lost quite a number of female fans following his marriage. The coincidental thing is, the trio were all involved in the 2002 flop "Bara no Juujika". For Amami, the fact that the title of her current drama is very similar to her previous flop on NTV "Enka no Joo" should be bringing back undesirable memories as well. There's also been talk about "Kaeru" being a mix-and-match of US movie "Dream Girls" and Matsuyuki Yasuko's movie "Hula Girls" so it makes it more difficult for the drama to distinguish itself.

Source: Gendai

First episode of Papadoru gets 11.6%

The first episode of "Papadoru" which aired on 19 April got a rating of 11.6%. In this episode, the story talked about Nishikido Ryo making the decision to marry a single mother with three kids (Yuka) and how his agency threatens to fire him unless he divorces her within three months. As part of TBS' plans for this drama to tie in with its other programmes, the first episode featured Arashi's Ohno Satoshi and Sakurai Sho in their variety show "Himitsu no Arashi-chan".

Source: Oricon

Video clip of Tsumi to Batsu's press conference + trailer

Here's a clip of Tsumi to Batsu's press conference + a trailer of the drama itself. Unfortunately, there aren't any subs for this video. All rights reserved by the respective copyright holders.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review of Kagi no Kakatta Heya Ep 1

The drama opens with a scene of the three main characters i.e. Enomoto Kei (Ohno Satoshi), Aoto Junko (Toda Erika) and Serizawa Go (Sato Koichi) in a dark room. Aoto and Serizawa stand at the side while listening to Enomoto describe the closed room setting in the first case. If you are thinking that the mood in this drama is going to be dead serious, you will be sorely mistaken. Somehow, I kept chuckling while watching Enomoto (or rather Ohno) talking with such a straight face and the others being somewhat in awe of him or rather looking sombre because it's a murder case they were talking about after all.

Aoto is a newbie intern at Serizawa's firm and she is in awe of her new boss understandably since it looks like his law firm is a big-name in the industry. Aoto could have thought that Serizawa will teach her lots of things from the start but she is thrown into the deep end by Serizawa who wants her to meet a client on his behalf. And he reminds her not to offend the client in any way which proves to be the key as to how their involvement in the murder case's investigations started.

Being new, Aoto bears in mind her boss' advice and unwittingly promises to help investigate the supposed suicide of a funeral services company's president. This earns her a lashing from Serizawa who tells her that they don't have the time to do that especially since the police had already classified the case as a suicide. While at the vault of a bank on business, Aoto (or should I say Miss Itchy Fingers) presses a button at the door and causes her boss to be locked inside the vault with the bank's president. Now, this is a serious matter since the door can only be unlocked on the following Monday so Aoto is panicky about the repercussions of having her boss locked up.

In comes our "hero" - Enomoto Kei, a guy with thick black rim glasses who walks in to the vault area nonchalantly as he gets to work on unlocking the code to the vault. He doesn't look that promising so Miss Itchy Fingers now also known as Miss Curious starts asking Enomoto what he is doing. This is when Enomoto starts to go on and on regarding how he's going to derive the code to unlocking the vault and Miss Curious tells him to stop because she cannot understand the difficult theory. Anyway, Enomoto manages to open the vault in less than 20 mins which earns him the instant admiration of Aoto (well, not in a fangirl fashion YET).

Once out of the bank, Serizawa lectures Aoto for taking on the investigation for the suicide but she insists that they should get an expert to assess the crime scene first. And almost conveniently, Aoto sees Enomoto packing up to leave and immediately invites him to help out with the investigation. Serizawa is not enthusiastic about wasting time on something which is not going to bring in any monetary benefits for him and has no choice but to tag along because Aoto agreed to take this up on his behalf. On the other hand, I don't think Enomoto is interested in solving the case too. He's probably intrigued by the presence of such a problem and wants to prove that there is no such thing as a closed room mystery. There you have two guys who are obviously in this for totally different reasons and the "culprit" for bringing them together stuck between them in the cramped back seat.

While visiting the crime scene, Enomoto seems to be walking around for no reason while Serizawa keeps hurrying them to finish soon so that he can get back to his "lucrative" work. Aoto is disappointed that nothing seems to have come out from their visit but is pleasantly surprised when Enomoto calls her days later saying that he has some findings to share with them. Apparently, Enomoto had been taking note of the crime scene's key features and dimensions while he visited the place so he was actually walking around the house with a purpose. He shows Aoto and Serizawa the 3D model he made to illustrate his theories and Aoto seems really amazed by Enomoto's attentiveness to details.

Nonetheless, after some brainstorming, the trio are still none the wiser about the case. I won't go into details on how Enomoto come to the conclusion on how the closed room was created but it's quite obvious that the bumps along the way seem to be the reason why the first episode was longer than usual. I thought this part of the episode was kinda draggy but it may have been essential in order to show that our hero is probably doing this for the first time and needs some difficulties along the way before he arrives at the truth. I've also come to notice that Enomoto has the habit of rubbing his right hand's fingers while trying to think so that would probably be his trademark pose just like how Yukawa scribbles on any surface he finds while solving his cases in Galileo.

As we get to the standard confrontation part of the story, Enomoto explains his rationale and reasoning for determining that the suicide was indeed a murder and how the closed room was created by the murderer. In most dramas, the identity of the murderer would have been kept under wraps but in this drama, it was made very clear who the main suspect was so the highlight of the story is how the closed room was created rather than who or how this person killed the victim. I'm not sure if this is going to be the direction going forward but it does look likely since the focus should be on Enomoto.

True to what he proclaims, Enomoto just sits aside with his earphones plugged in after explaining how the trick worked. Effectively, he's saying that "I solved the mystery but I don't care who is the murderer and if he/she is going to be arrested" which I think makes Aoto and Serizawa rather exasperated. However, Serizawa steps up to remind the murderer that they are still able to get him arrested due to a particular reason so it's good that the killer doesn't get off scot-free.

Serizawa may have been really dismissive of Enomoto's abilities from the start but I think he was impressed with the latter by the end of the case. He's probably too proud to admit it though. Meanwhile, Enomoto seems to be unconcerned about what's going on around him. On a side note, I'm very curious about what he's listening to all this while and I have a hunch that it's not music. It would be nice if the drama could provide the answer by the end of its run. Using earphones seem to have two meanings here. It helps Enomoto to concentrate when doing his work i.e. unlocking the vault but I think it also serves to help Enomoto block out things that he doesn't want to know or just to give the impression to others that he doesn't care about his surroundings.

First impressions of this drama: despite this being a longer episode than the usual 45 minutes, time flew by very quickly except when the trio were briefly hit with distracting information that almost threw them off the murderer's trails. There is a lot of humour and fast-paced exchanges and one particular scene I would like to mention is when Aoto and Serizawa were sort-of arguing after they left Enomoto's office. Serizawa was trying to convince Aoto that as lawyers, they don't need to do investigations into something which the police had already concluded and he got really "hysterical" when he complained about how suspense dramas were being illogical in many ways. For example, the star detective would always chance upon a case whenever he/she goes and even if they know the culprit, they would always say something like "I know who the guy is but I'm not telling until I finish explaining how he/she did it". Serizawa was saying this as a matter of fact but somehow it had the unexplainable effect of making me laugh.

I must say, Ohno is really great as Enomoto who is almost like his real-life persona in a sense. That spark in his eyes when he sees something he's interested in is unmistakable just like when he talks about fishing in his variety shows. What do you imagine he was doing when he had that expression in this screenshot? He was just being happy about unlocking an ancient lock but just look at how pleased he appeared to be! ^__^ He rattles off things about locks expecting people to understand but it's often too difficult for a layman to understand. And while keeping a straight face, Ohno is still able to make people laugh especially when Serizawa kept pestering Enomoto to say that he was busy so that they could wrap up the visit to the crime scene quickly but Enomoto simply said that he was really NOT busy. I really liked Ohno's performance in Maou some years back but his subsequent dramas like Uta no Onisan and Kaibutsu-kun didn't go down too well with me especially Kaibutsu-kun which I couldn't even finish the first episode. I'm glad that he's back at something which shows his acting skills again and with the great onscreen chemistry with Sato Koichi and Toda Erika, this drama should be worth staying with for the rest of the season. Toda has undergone an image change of some sort because I've always seen her glamourous pretty side in the dramas I've watched but this time round, Aoto is plain, has her hair not tied up perfectly and wears plain pants suits. There may be a bit of over-acting here and there as she reacts to words from Enomoto or Serizawa but I think that's still acceptable considering that she's a newbie law intern and is easily impressed by things she don't know. As for romantic links between Enomoto and Aoto, it looks likely to be a one-way traffic for Aoto because Enomoto really doesn't seem to be interested in anything else except his locks.

One thing I would like to point out is the heavy use of loud BGM to tune up the intense factor or to make certain developments appear stylish. However, it became a bit jarring to the ears towards the end due to the overuse of BGM so I hope that future episodes would not have this problem. Somehow, the music sequence or arrangement seems to be quite similar to what was in Liar Game as in the timing of when the music comes in is about the same and features strong sleek beats.

Next week's episode features Nakamura Shido and Fukuda Mayuko as guests but it's going to be another case about a supposed suicide. Episodic stories don't work for me most of the time but I hope that this drama will keep me interested with its acting and chemistry between the main trio.

Production press conference of "Mirai Nikki"

Okada Masaki and Gouriki Ayame appeared at the production press conference of spring drama "Mirai Nikki - ANOTHER: WORLD -" at FujiTV on 18 April. The drama is scheduled to be shown from 21 April and depicts the story about 7 youngsters who get embroiled in a survival game after laying their hands on a mobile phone diary that describes future events. Gouriki recounted that she was very anxious about her first kiss scene since her character was the one taking the initiative. On the other hand, Okada said that for that scene, he brushed his teeth for the first time in a park in order to make sure his breath wasn't overpowering.

The theme song of the drama "ANOTHER: WORLD" will be sung by Shibasaki Kou and due to be released on 13 June.

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TOKIO's Matsuoka Masahiro collapsed due to dehydration

TOKIO's Matsuoka Masahiro collapsed in a sauna on 17 April due to dehydration and was sent to a hospital via an ambulance. According to Johnny's Jimusho, Matsuoka, who has a strong liking for saunas as a way of stress relief, went to a Tokyo sauna at 9am that day but complained of feeling unwell later. His manager then called for an ambulance at 11.30am. Matsuoka was put on the drip after being diagnosed as suffering from dehydration and had to skip the production press conference of stage play "Haiiro no Kanariya" which stars NEWS member Masuda Takahisa. He was expected to be back on 18 April for the recording of TOKIO's variety programme "5LDK".

Source: Nikkansports

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

First episode of "Kagi no Kakatta Heya" scores 18.3%

The first episode of "Kagi no Kakatta Heya" starring Arashi leader Ohno Satoshi achieved a high rating of 18.3% for its debut OA on 16 April which makes it the 2nd highest premiere rating among the spring drama offerings so far. This is also higher than the previous season's drama in the same timeslot i.e. "Lucky Seven" starring Matsumoto Jun also from Arashi which got 16.3%.

Source: Oricon

Production press conference of "Papadoru!"

The production press conference of "Papadoru" was held at a chapel on 16 April where Nishikido Ryo and Yuka appeared in a white tuxedo and wedding dress respectively in a wedding setting. Other cast members including Kawashima Umika, Takahata Atsuko, Joshima Shigeru, Tani Kanon, Enari Kazuki and Zaizen Naomi also appeared during the event. When the cast were asked about getting married in secret, Joshima replied jokingly that they would have to inform their president Johnny-san at the very least if Nishikido or he is getting married secretly.

Source: Sponichi Annex

Review of Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri Ep 1

Katayama Yoshitaro (Aiba Masaki), the 2nd son of the Katayama family, feels deep down that he's not suited to be a police detective but has to do so because of his late father's wish that there must be at least one police officer in the Katayama household. His elder brother Hiroshi isn't keen on becoming one (despite being rather smart) and would rather stay at home to write novels with the dream of winning the Edogawa Ranpo award one day while living on the rental income from an apartment he inherited from the ancestors. On the other hand, the youngest sister in the family Harumi does part-time jobs and would joins forces with Hiroshi to make Yoshitaro stay in his job despite his strong reluctance.

Yoshitaro attempts to submit his resignation but somehow, his boss Kurihara doesn't seem to be taking this very seriously and has misplaced his resignation letter thrice. His colleague Nemoto regards Yoshitaro as an eyesore and hindrance to their work since the latter has a fear of heights, blood, ghosts and women. Yoshitaro's junior Ishizu likes to belittle Yoshitaro at times but would also help him out when the need arises. Ishizu loves to hang around with the Katayama siblings and would openly show his affection towards Harumi who rejects him point blank.

The first episode features a murder case at Keishin Female University where a professor was killed. At the orders of Kurihara, Yoshitaro is sent to investigate another case at the same university along with Ishizu. On the night when he's supposed to keep a lookout at the female hostel on campus from a cafe, Yoshitaro leaves his post halfway because of a fire alarm and goes home after helping to put out the fire. The next day, Yoshitaro gets a shock when he is informed that a murder took place at the place where he was supposed to be keeping a lookout from!

As the name of the drama suggests, the actual detective work isn't done by Yoshitaro himself. It doesn't mean that the cat Holmes tells him the answers directly but rather gives hints for him to arrive at the truth behind the case. It's quite interesting to see the interaction between Yoshitaro and Holmes (be it in the cat or human form) especially when Yoshitaro has a hard time trying to figure out what Holmes is trying to convey at times. It looks like Yoshitaro is the only one who can see Holmes in the human form so it could be that Holmes is deliberately showing its human form to him.

First impressions on this drama:

1) If not for Holmes, this would be an ordinary suspense/investigative drama about a guy who's not really suitable to be a police detective. It's good that Aiba is the one playing Yoshitaro because I really like his interaction with the cat and he's had this reputation for knowing about and being in contact with many types of animals through his animal-themed variety show. It does feel like he's enjoying the time spent with Holmes so as a viewer, I think this feeling makes the drama more appealing that it should have been.

2) After watching the first episode, you would get the impression that Yoshitaro really depends on others in order to solve the case. At least for Holmes, it was dropping hints to him and this made him think. However, in the earlier part of this episode, his brother played by Fujiki Naohito was practically solving a major part of the mystery for him based on his "expertise" gained from reading suspense novels. Yoshitaro might get more time in future episodes to try solving the cases but I have a hunch that the people around him are going to appear more like they are the detectives and will be feeding Yoshitaro with the answers rather than letting him do it. Hmm...hopefully, we will see a change in his attitude towards police work and that means taking more initiative to solve the case rather than wait for people to do it for you. Granted this is just the first episode, I guess it can't be helped since we needed to see how much Yoshitaro wanted to quit and was so reluctant in getting involved in the investigations which would be contrasted with how he evolves over time.

3) Episodic stories don't really work for me. I think the drama is emphasizing the fact that it's supposed to be an entertaining piece of work rather than a suspense-filled detective story. And I happen to like those tense storylines with lots of twists. However, if the storyline is going to be so easy to see through for the rest of the season, I don't think I would enjoy this drama very much since it just doesn't feel very gratifying at the end when I could guess much of it before they revealed the answers.

It looks likely that I'll stick around for a couple more episodes but I'm really not certain about seeing this to the end. Maybe I'll have a clearer idea by episode 3 or so.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A look at first episode ratings for the Spring 2012 dramas so far

Dates in brackets indicate the day when the first OA took place:

1) ATARU - 19.9% (15 April)
2) Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri - 15.9% (14 April)
3) 37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku - 13.2% (10 April)
4) Toshi Densetsu no Onna - 10.3% (13 April)
5) Hanchou 5 - 10.2% (9 April)
6) Kaeru no Oujosama - 9.0% (12 April)
7) Kazoku no Uta - 6.1% (15 April)

ATARU did so well in its first OA which not only raises the bar for its competition but also for itself. Nakai acts in dramas once in a blue moon (8 years since Suna no Utsuwa) so I think this lack of exposure does help in building up the anticipation factor. Morever, the story itself does seem quite appealing although I have no idea how he's going to fit into the case solving process. My only concern is, if its subsequent episodes don't do as well, this high debut rating will probably mean nothing at the end. I feel bad for Kazoku no Uta not only because it's up against ATARU in the same timeslot but also it's probably not doing well because of the plagiarism claims against it. Too bad for Odagiri Jo who's yet to get another hit since Jikou Keisatsu.

Surprisingly, Mikeneko Holmes no Suiri did quite well for its debut and even beat Kusanagi's drama. Will be checking out both and see how they compare. Tonight, Ohno's drama makes its debut as well so there should be a fair bit of comparison between Aiba's and Ohno's dramas throughout the season in terms of ratings and critical reviews.

Kaeru no Oujosama getting a rating of less than 10% seems to be an early sign of trouble. There's been talk about this drama being a hybrid of J-movie Hula Girls and the US drama Glee so I wonder if this is one of the reasons for its lacklustre debut. There seems to be a fair bit of singing involved in this drama so it will be interesting to see Amami Yuki sing especially for those who've never seen her in her Takarazuka days. Still, it remains to be seen if this can sustain my interest for 3 whole months though.

Nagasawa Masami's drama does seem interesting in terms of story and 10.3% is a decent figure for a midnight slot drama. Wonder if the viewers are in it for the story or her sexy legs (or so her fellow cast members put it)?

All the spring dramas should be finishing their first OA within this week so the ranking is likely to change. Will anyone do better than ATARU? Frankly speaking, first episode ratings aren't exactly the best measurement of a drama's popularity (think Kaseifu no Mita which picked up tremendously in the later part of the season) so it's anyone's guess who will win the first round and if that will be the true winner come June.

"Nazotoki wa dinner no ato de" to have its stage play version

The stage play version of "Nazotoki wa dinner no ato de" will feature DAIGO as the butler Kageyama while Nishiyama Maki will play the rich girl detective Reiko and Wentsu Eiji will be Reiko's boss Kazamatsuri. It was reported that the stage play was decided before the drama was shown from Oct to Dec last year and will be held at Ginga Gekijo in Tokyo from 31 August to 9 September.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Akanishi Jin loses his role in the GTO remake drama

Akanishi Jin has officially been taken off the cast list of FujiTV summer drama GTO as reported on 14 April. According to insiders, Johnny's Jimusho had made the request to Kansai TV which is in charge of producing this drama as part of the punishment given to Akanishi for getting married to Kuroki Meisa without informing the company.

The drama which is a remake of 1998's hit starring Sorimachi Takashi, is due to be shown from July on Tuesdays at 10pm. Akanishi's involvement in the role had been decided before his surprise marriage on 2 Feb. The decision to drop Akanishi had been made at the end of last month.

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ryou gives birth to her 2nd child

Actress Ryou gave birth to her 2nd son as announced on 14 April. In the handwritten fax to the media, Ryou said that her son weighed 2,506 grams at birth and mentioned that she will return to acting at an appropriate time depending on her condition. She got married to rock band BRAHMAN's vocalist TOSHI-LOW in 2003 and gave birth to her first son in 2005.

Source: Sanspo

Sato Koichi to be a visiting professor at Tohoku University of Art and Design

Sato Koichi will begin his 3-year term as a visiting professor at Tohoku University of Art and Design (TUAD) from 1 April onwards at the school's Faculty of Arts. He is scheduled to take part in the annual special lectures for students studying literary arts. According to insiders, Sato had been invited to take up the post by his longtime friend cum writer Yamakawa Kenichi and movie director Negishi Kichitaro who worked with Sato in the 2006 film Yuki ni Negau Koto. Negishi is also the dean of TUAD. Details on the class schedule and content haven't been decided yet.

Source: Sanspo

Kuroki Meisa confirms her pregnancy

Kuroki Meisa released a handwritten fax statement to the media on 14 April and confirmed that she is currently four months' pregnant. She apologised for not being able to make the announcement much earlier as she had been unwell since discovering her pregnancy. At the advice of her doctor and considering the fact that she had passed the first trimester, Kuroki said that she had to delay the public confirmation till now. She is due to give birth in mid October.

According to Kuroki's agency, she will be making an appearance at a reading event on 12th and 13th May in Tokyo and continue her activities depending on her condition. She is set to return to work full time after the childbirth.

Source: Sanspo

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hitting the first 1,000

This marks the 1,000th post on this blog and oh my, this blog has been around for close to 6 years! Although I have to admit that there were some periods when I had to stop blogging for a while due to various commitments, I'm glad to say that since a few months back, you would have seen that there have been more regular updates as compared to before. I've not heard anything from anyone about how they feel about the things posted here (be it reviews or information about new dramas) although from the web statistics, this blog is getting a steady stream of visitors. Please feel free to post your comments on the posts (if possible, with a name or nickname so that I can address you properly rather Anonymous) so that we can discuss with one another on various things. It would be more interesting for everyone if we can have a lively exchange of views here.

Thank you for reading this blog all this while! I'm very certain that my views can't speak for everyone so there are bound to be people who disagree with my reviews. Nonetheless, it is still good to hear different views and I hope we can have a cordial discussion (not an argument) here. Looking forward to hearing from everyone soon!

Production press conference of "Cleopatra na Onnatachi"

The production press conference of "Cleopatra na Onnatachi" was held on 12 April which was attended by cast members Sato Ryuta, Inamori Izumi, Kitano Kii, Miura Shohei, Ayano Go and Yo Kimiko. The drama which is due to start its run from 18 April at 10pm on Wednesdays, is set in a cosmetic surgery hospital where the main characters work in.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of Tsumi to Batsu A Falsified Romance - Spring 2012

Title: Tsumi to Batsu A Falsified Romance
Official website: here
Original manga by: Ochiai Naoyuki
Broadcast by: WOWOW
O.A. Start Date: 29 April 2012
Timeslot: Sundays 10pm
Theme song: Mabushii Asa by Merengue
Cast: Koura Kengo, Mizukawa Asami, Ito Ayumi, Horibe Keisuke, Nakao Akiyoshi, Uchida Asahi, Manda Hisako, Tanaka Tetsuji, Ibu Masato

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Production press conference of "Tsumi to Batsu A Falsified Romance"

The production press conference of WOWOW drama "Tsumi to Batsu A Falsified Romance" was held on 11 April where cast members Kora Kengo and Mizukawa Asami made appearances. The 6-episode drama is scheduled to be shown from 29 April at 10pm on Sundays. Kora revealed that Mizukawa is a close friend of his and they have gone drinking many times. Although he was nervous about this difficult role he had to play, Mizukawa's presence was a comforting factor for him.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of "Toshi Densetsu no Onna"

The production press conference of TV Asahi spring drama "Toshi Densetsu no Onna" was held on 11 April where cast members Nagasawa Masami, Mizobata Junpei, Takenaka Naoto, Hirayama Hiroyuki and Takuma Takayuki made appearances. The drama which starts its run on 13 April at 11.15pm on Fridays, features Nagasawa as a police detective who's obsessed with city legends and aims to solve these mysteries with her unique ways.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of Toshi Densetsu no Onna - Spring 2012

Title: Toshi Densetsu no Onna
Official website: here
Official Twitter page: here
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
O.A. Start Date: 13 April 2012
Timeslot: Fridays 11.15pm
Theme song by Kimura Kaera (title undecided yet)
Opening theme: Don't Stop Me Now by m-flo
Cast: Nagasawa Masami, Mizobata Junpei, Takenaka Naoto, Hirayama Hiroyuki, Ibu Masato, Utsui Ken

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Preview of Cleopatra no Onnatachi - Spring 2012

Title: Cleopatra no Onnatachi
Official website: here
Broadcast by: NTV
O.A. Start Date: 18 April 2012
Timeslot: Wednesdays 10pm
Theme song by Mochida Kaori of Every Little Thing (title undecided yet)
Cast: Sato Ryuta, Inamori Izumi, Kitano Kii, Ayano Go, Miura Shohei, Ashina Sei, Miyaji Masako, Ise Yumiko, Okuda Erika, Yamazaki Hajime, Iwamoto Tayo, Yo Kimiko

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Completion preview press conference of "Legal High"

The completion preview press conference of spring drama "Legal High" was held on 9 April where cast members such as Sakai Masato and Aragaki Yui made appearances. Sakai plays a lawyer who's known for his sharp tongue and has never lost a lawsuit while Aragaki plays a newbie intern who dislikes Sakai's character for his sly ways.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of Kagi no Kakatta Heya - Spring 2012

Title: Kagi no Kakatta Heya (A Locked Room)
Official website: here
Official blog: here
Broadcast by: FujiTV
O.A. Start Date: 16 April 2012
Timeslot: Mondays, 9pm
Main cast members: Ohno Satoshi, Toda Erika, Sato Koichi, Nounen Rena

Monday, April 09, 2012

CHEMISTRY to stop its group activities; both to concentrate on solo careers

CHEMISTRY announced on its official website on 8 April that it was going to stop its group activities for the time being and the members Kawabata Kaname and Doujin Yoshikuni will focus on their solo careers. The duo had timed the announcement to be made after their final performance at Naha City, Okinawa, on 7 April which was the last stop of their nationwide tour. CHEMISTRY made their debut in 2001 with the big hit "PIECES OF A DREAM" and had appeared on the Kouhaku for five years in a row between 2001 and 2005.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of ATARU - Spring 2012

Title: ATARU
Official website: here
Official Twitter page: here
Broadcast by: TBS
O.A. Start Date: 15 April 2012
Timeslot: Sundays 9pm
Cast: Nakai Masahiro, Kitamura Kazuki, Kuriyama Chiaki, Tamamori Yuuta, Rijuu Gou, Okunuki Kaoru, Ichimura Masachika, Murakami Hiroaki

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Shiina Ringo to sing theme song for "ATARU"

Shiina Ringo will be singing the theme song for TBS spring drama "ATARU" as announced on 6 April. The title of the song will be "Jiyuu e Michizure" but the release date has not been confirmed yet. This will be Shiina's first song since her band Tokyo Jihen disbanded in February this year and her first solo single since "Carnation" two and a half years ago. She had also sung the theme song for 2009 drama "Smile" back so this happens to be her 2nd theme song for a drama shown on a private network.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of Mirai Nikki - Spring 2012

Title: Mirai Nikki (Future Diary)
Official website: here
Official Facebook page: here
Broadcast by: FujiTV
O.A. Start Date: 21 April 2012
Timeslot: Saturdays 11.10pm
Cast: Okada Masaki, Gouriki Ayame

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Preview of Kazoku no Uta - Spring 2012

Title: Kazoku no Uta (The family's song)
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 15 April 2012
Timeslot: Sundays 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Theme Song: Gekkou by Saito Kazuyoshi
Cast: Odagiri Jo, Yusuke Santa Maria, Kanjiya Shihori, Muro Tsuyoshi, Nakajima Kento, Sugisaki Hana, Omori Ayane, Fuji Tatsuya, Maekawa Yasuyuki, Tootasu Matsumoto, Ootsuka Nene

Friday, April 06, 2012

Preview of Legal High - Spring 2012

Title: Legal High
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 17 April 2012
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Timeslot: Tuesdays 9pm
Theme song: Megami no KISS by PES from RIPSLYME
Opening theme: Erepyon by Ono Ereina
Cast: Sakai Masato, Arakaki Yui, Namase Katsuhisa, Koike Eiko, Taguchi Junnosuke, Yano Masato, Satomi Kotaro

Production press conference of "Kagi no Kakatta Heya"

The production press conference of FujiTV spring drama "Kagi no Kakatta Heya" was held on 5 April where cast members Ohno Satoshi, Toda Erika and Sato Koichi made appearances. The drama is scheduled to be screened on Mondays 9pm from 16 April. It was also announced that the theme song of the drama will be the new single of ARASHI titled "Face Down" which is due to be released on 9 May.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, April 05, 2012

JUJU to sing theme song for "Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose"

JUJU will be singing the theme song for spring drama "Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose" which stars Takenouchi Yutaka and Wakui Emi. The song titled "Tadaima" (Welcome back) will be released as JUJU's new single on 13 June.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Preview of Papadoru! - Spring 2012

Title: Papadoru! (Papa Idol!)
*Note that the name of this drama had been Papa wa Aidoru previously
Official website: here
Broadcast by: TBS
O.A. Start Date: 19 April 2012
Timeslot: Thursdays 9pm
Scriptwriter: Kaneko Arisa
Theme Song: Ai Deshita by Kanjani 8
Cast: Nishikido Ryo, Yuka, Kawashima Umika, Imai Yuki, Tani Kanon, Enari Kazuki, Sato Jiro, Takahata Atsuko, Yashima Norito, Joshima Shigeru, Zaizen Naomi

Production press conference of "37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku"

The production press conference of "37-sai de Isha ni Natta Boku" was held on 3 April where cast members Kusanagi Tsuyoshi, Mizukawa Asami and Mimura etc. made appearances. The drama is scheduled to begin its run from 10 April at 10pm on Tuesdays. Kusanagi plays a 37-year-old guy who becomes an intern at the age of 37 after quitting his job as a salaryman.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Narimiya Hiroki to be 3rd generation partner in "Aibou"

Narimiya Hiroki will be the 3rd partner of Mizutani Yutaka in the famous TV drama series "Aibou" which started in 2000. The first two partners of Mizutani were Terawaki Yasufumi and Oikawa Mitsuhiro who left the drama in 2008 and 2012 respectively. This is Narimiya's first police detective role since he last appeared as one in 2005's "Ai no Uta". According to TV Asahi, there are no confirmed plans yet as to when Narimiya will make his first appearance in the Aibou series which recently finished its latest run in Feb 2012.

Source: Sanspo

Motokariya Yuika to be the new female host of "Ousama no Brunch"

Motokariya Yuika will be the 4th female host for TBS informative variety show "Ousama no Brunch" alongside with Tanihara Shosuke who has been the main host since 1997. She takes over from Yuka who left the show in late March and her first appearance will be on 7 April. Previous female hosts included Tanaka Ritsuko and Sato Tamao.

Source: Sanspo

Monday, April 02, 2012

Kimura Yoshino to star in NHK drama "Hatsukoi"

Kimura Yoshino will make her comeback in her first drama since giving birth to her first child six months ago. She will be starring in NHK's Tuesday 10pm drama "Hatsukoi" (First Love) as a woman who gets caught between her first love and her husband.

Kimura's role is Murakami Midori who had a first love boyfriend played by Ihara Tsuyoshi but was betrayed by him in an unthinkable manner. Since then, she married a man younger than her (Aoki Munetaka) and has a son with him. However, she is struck by cancer and her ex appears in front of her again as a surgeon who operates on her. As she finds out the true reason behind her ex's betrayal, Midori has to contend with feelings for both men and decide how she wants to live from now on.

Source: Nikkansports

Sunday, April 01, 2012

PUFFY's Yoshimura Yumi pregnant with her first child

PUFFY's Yoshimura Yumi announced her first pregnancy through her blog on 1 April. She is due to give birth this summer. Yoshimura had been previously married to Nishikawa Takanori but they divorced in 2002. She then remarried a longtime friend in December 2009.

Source: Nikkansports

Former Morning Musume leader Nakazawa Yuko gets married

Former Morning Musume leader Nakazawa Yuko announced her marriage to the president of a IT company on 1 April after they submitted their marriage application on the same day. The couple had known each other last summer and starting dating in August. The relationship came to light when they were caught spending the night together by a tabloid in October 2011.

Source: Daily Sports

Preview of Genya

Title: Genya
Official website: here
Broadcast by: WOWOW
Original novel by: Higashino Keigo
Cast: Fukada Kyoko, Tsukamoto Takashi, Shibata Kyohei, Kikawada Masaya, Ichikawa Yui, Suzuki Kazuma, Okunuki Kaoru, Fubukoshi Mitsuru, Omi Toshinori, Suzuki Sawa, Kikuda Daisuke, Negishi Toshie