Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review of Higashino Keigo Mysteries Ep 4 - Reiko to Reiko

The episode opens with a rainy night where a woman is waiting at a dimly-lit street with minimal human and vehicle traffic while holding a red umbrella. When a man drives into the street and stops at the T-junction where the woman is waiting, the woman suddenly charges at the man with a knife and stabs him forcefully. The man crumbles in shock as he succumbs to the attack while the woman runs off.

At the same time, Asano Yoko (Mizuki Arisa) is holding a press conference for a case which she has recently won. Apparently, Yoko managed to get a favourable judgement for an underage boy who was charged for murder but the media attacks Yoko for defending a murderer just because he is underage.  Yoko is unfazed by the criticism and declares that she believes that people are kind by nature and she calls upon the public to be more receptive about the idea of giving people who repent a chance to change for the better.

When Yoko returns home, she hears strange noises at the bicycle parking lot and goes to check things out. She is surprised to see Yamashita Reiko (Ohno Ito) curled up at a corner, drenched from the downpour earlier and mumbling that she doesn't know who she is. Yoko wants to send Reiko to the police but the latter is adamant about not going there because she can't even remember who she is. Out of no choice, Yoko brings Reiko back to her apartment for the night.

Meanwhile, Inspector Imanishi appears at the crime scene where the murder took place and is rather grumpy as he hears the debrief from his colleague. However, he suddenly takes notice of the unique nature of this case when his colleague relates that there were people who saw a young woman waiting in the rain with a red umbrella before the murder took place.

The next day, Yoko finds a handphone strap among Reiko's possessions and finds out that this is her first name. However, Reiko seems to have no recollection of this. While out to buy something from a convenience store, Yoko hears about the murder last night and is startled to know that the eyewitness accounts seem to point to Reiko as the murderer. She calls her friend Fujikawa Shinichi (Yoshida Eisaku) to come to her house without telling him why. In order to find evidence, Yoko goes back to the bicycle parking lot and finds Reiko's red umbrella and the murder weapon.

When Yoko returns to her apartment, she is surprised to see Reiko reacting strongly against Shinichi's appearance and keeps telling him to go away. Yoko finally manages to calm Reiko down but the latter soon loses consciousness.

Shinichi tells Yoko that she should inform the police about Reiko but Yoko is adamant that this is not the right time yet. He realises that Yoko intends to help Reiko because there is a likelihood that Reiko could have suffered a trauma during her childhood and hates men for some reason and Yoko had a similar experience when she was abused by her own mother. Shinichi reluctantly agrees to Yoko's request but warns her against being too emotionally involved in Reiko's case.

Just then, Yoko and Shinichi realise that Reiko has woken up and to their surprise, she seems to have gone through an entire personality change and becomes extremely violent and rude. Reiko holds a knife to herself and threatens to commit suicide if Shinichi does not get her neighbour Ichihara Sanae to appear in front of her.

It turns out that Reiko had killed the man she thought was Sanae's boyfriend because she thought that Sanae was going to ignore her after she gets married. However, Sanae states that this can't be possible because she was with her fiance last night. This makes Reiko very agitated as she realises that she has killed the wrong person. Just when Reiko tries to charge at Sanae for attempting to betray her, Imanishi and his colleague charge into Yoko's apartment and stops Reiko.

Although Reiko claims ignorance as to why she committed the murder, it is slowly revealed that Sanae was wary of Reiko growing too reliant on her as the latter was trying to control her life with her sudden violence outbursts. This seemed to lend credibility to the theory that Reiko has multiple personalities within her. However, when Shinichi and Imanishi raise the likelihood of Reiko putting on a pretense to escape responsibility, this is immediately shot down by Yoko who believes Reiko wholeheartedly. At the same time, the police also found out that Reiko was made use of by Fukuzawa, Sanae's colleague who had been attacked by Reiko before, and his married lover Maemura Katsuko (Asami Reina) who wanted her husband out of the way as they were in the midst of divorce proceedings. Katsuko had apparently lied to Reiko that her husband was Sanae's  boyfriend in order to get her to kill him.

Just when the police are getting to the bottom of the case, Fukuzawa killed Katsuko in the spur of the moment because of disputes over her dead husband's inheritance. As a result, Reiko is unable to stand trial for the murder because she was instigated by Fukuzawa and Katsuko and that she had a psychological condition.

After the case is concluded, Yoko and Shinichi go to the hospital to meet Reiko who is about to be discharged. However, they get the shock of their lives as Reiko reveals her true colours and that she has been lying all the time in order to evade responsibility for the murder. Reiko knows very well that Yoko wouldn't expose her and laughs heartily about her "victory" as she leaves the hospital.

No doubt Yoko is stunned by the betrayal and her misplaced trust, she repeats her usual stand about giving repentant teenagers a chance to change during the press conference for Reiko's case. However, the same words now ring hollow because Yoko had just been betrayed and deceived by someone who she trusted wholeheartedly...

This episode wasn't very strong in the story aspect not really because we already knew the culprit beforehand but rather the way the sequence of events was presented. It seemed to be such a huge coincidence and good luck for Yoko that she managed to deduce the truth from the facts that popped up at convenient junctures. The suspense factor was seriously lacking and I felt as if facts were shoved into the viewer's face so that the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle can fit nicely. It would have been better if the presentation of the case was done with more thought.

As a result, the only thing left for the viewer to guess is, was Reiko really suffering from multiple personalities or was she putting on an act? I for one, didn't believe her at all but towards the climax, there was this hint that she might not be as evil as I thought because she got away scot-free. The sole redeeming factor which saved this episode from being a total failure was the fact that Reiko was indeed playing tricks on Yoko and I like how Yoko had to sit through the same press conference despite having her convictions shattered, her trust misplaced and being betrayed by someone who acted well in front of her. It felt like a tight slap to Yoko's ego and that made the story more memorable.

I've never been a fan of Mizuki Arisa but I don't dislike her as well. There wasn't anything particularly outstanding about her acting this episode and I found my attention drifting to Yoshida Eisaku and Ohno Ito instead. No doubt Yoshida had very little airtime this time, he was still a joy to watch on screen. Ohno did quite well to show the two sides of Reiko and to be frank, she was more eye-catching that Mizuki's portrayal of Yoko. That can't be helped in a sense because Reiko's character was supposed to be more engaging.

After watching four episodes of this drama, I can't say that there is any particular episode which was satisfying from beginning to end. They all had their own flaws (and good points too!) which I felt boiled down to the execution of the material. It can't be that Higashino Keigo's short stories would differ so much from his long novels in that the suspense factor is so much lower and there isn't a lot to reflect on after watching the drama. 45 minutes for one story may be too short but too long for a SP of 2 hours. I think FujiTV really set a huge challenge for themselves by taking this up because even with a good story, if the developments are not laid out properly with enough thought given to the presentation, it will still bore viewers no matter how many A-listers you feature in the cast.

I just hope episode 5 can offer something more interesting and hopefully, reflect a change in direction especially after the drama suffered from some bad press in the early part of the season for its poor execution.

Update to the Autumn 2012 ratings race - 31 Oct 2012

First of all, here's the ranking so far based on average ratings:

1) Doctor X - 18.10%
2) Aibou Series 11 - 17.90%
3) PRICELESS - 17.85%
4) MONSTERS - 13.60%
5) Osozaki no Himawari - 13.50%
6) Akumu-chan 12.40%
7) Kekkon Shinai 12.30%
8) Tokumei Tantei 11.03%
9) Going My Home - 10.95%
10) Tokyo Airport - 10.90%
11) Ooku - 10.03%

12) Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo - 8.37%
13) Perfect Blue - 8.25%
14) Resident - 7.30%
15) Koukou Nyuushu 6.48%
16) Poison 3.38%
17) PIECE 2.43%
18) Girls Talk - 2.28%
19) Sugarless - 1.60%

This season, it doesn't seem like weekday dramas are the clear winners because the weekend competition is also doing fairly OK, no doubt still quite a bit of distance from the leaders. I must admit that I didn't think Doctor X would do so well and since it only dropped 1% from its first OA, it looks like the viewers liked what they saw in the first episode and stayed on for the second or new curious viewers joined in to help prevent the second OA's figures from dropping too much. Meanwhile, Aibou fell another 0.8% in its 3rd episode but the figure of 16.5% is still extremely high compared to what other dramas are getting.

KimuTaku gets to redeem himself a little bit because the 2nd episode of PRICELESS climbed up to 18.8% which was 1.9% higher than its first episode. However, it needs to get high ratings consistently for the rest of the season to grab the top spot or hope that Doctor X and Aibou would falter later on. MONSTERS featuring Katori Shingo and Yamashita Tomohisa also suffered a dip but 0.4% is nothing to be worried about yet. It may be tough for it to get a high average rating like the Top 3 but it's still early to write them off. Osozaki no Himawari is only into its first episode so I can't judge now whether that figure is considered a success.

Akumu-chan and Kekkon Shinai are very close in terms of average figures but I'm quite worried for the latter which dropped 3.3% in its 3rd episode and it's precariously close to that horrific 10% mark. Akumu-chan saw an opposite trend when its 3rd episode increased by 2.2% to 12.9%. For those who've seen it, is it due to Kitagawa Keiko, Gackt or the story?

Tokumei Tantei, despite being a midnight slot drama, is doing rather well against the primetime competition but things look worrying for Going My Home which sunk to 8.9% in its 2nd episode. That's a huge drop of 4.1% and it's seriously looking like a potential disaster because the media will probably have a field day about Yamaguchi Tomoko who returns to dramaland but with such a lacklustre result. Of course, whether the drama flops or succeeds is not entirely her fault but as initial PR efforts focused on her comeback, she would likely attract more flak when the drama does not do well. TOKYO Airport seems to have done quite well in the first episode but suddenly goes into below-10% by the 2nd and 3rd OA. It's kinda worrying that they are following the footsteps of the "Kazoku no Uta" curse especially if MONSTERS take away a chunk of their potential viewers. Ooku is so close to the under-10% group especially after its 2.7% dip in the 3rd episode so it won't surprise me if it goes under after this week's OA.

As for the under-10s, I feel bad for Takei Emi because she's been working so hard (3 consecutive seasons as a drama lead) and they all happen to be in the under-10s category. I think her acting is OK for a newbie but she probably needs a break to reenergise herself and come up with new ways of playing her roles or else viewers will get sick of her and she will fall ill at the rate she's working. 

The media's having a field day talking about her low ratings and how it affects people around her but to be frank, I can point out many things I hated about "Iki mo dekinai natsu" and none of them are related to her. It's really not entirely her fault that ratings are low but everyone looks for the easiest target to blame. That's how the environment is because even KimuTaku is struggling to hit 20%. Being a lead is no longer as easy as in the past and making a hit drama is like striking lottery and even a strong cast with a great story can still do badly in ratings. "Kaseifu no Mita" probably wasn't expected to be a mega hit but it just sort of happened. Sad to say, the figures are still the only benchmark to measure a drama's success so as long as the actors and actresses are still in this industry, this becomes their sole KPI.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Iura Arata to hold his first photography exhibition

Iura Arata will be holding his first photography exhibition from 22 December 2012 to 3 March 2012 at The Hakone Open-Air Museum which makes him the third celebrity after Kataoka Tsurutaro and Fujii Fumiya to hold an exhibition there. Iura has been working as a designer of clothes for REVOLVER, a brand he set up with friends in 1998 and ELNEST CREATIVE ACTIVITY, a Japanese traditional art works production group he set up in 2007 while being an actor. He was asked to produce the museum's 2013 calendar after his photos of sights in Japan were seen in magazines and then decided to hold his exhibition about people and sights in Hakone at the museum. Iura spent about a year taking photos of Hakone in the four seasons and selected 60 for the exhibition.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of "Giwaku"

Tokiwa Takako and Ono Machiko appeared at the production press conference of their FujiTV drama SP "Giwaku" on 29 October 2012. The SP which is based on Matsumoto Seicho's novel, will be shown on TV at 9pm on 9 November. Ono plays an evil woman accused of killing her husband for an insurance payout and even seduces her stepson while Tokiwa plays a righteous lawyer who tries to get her off the hook.

Source: Sanspo

Saturday, October 27, 2012

End of filming for "Taira no Kiyomori"

Filming for the current Taiga drama "Taira no Kiyomori" wrapped up recently and a press conference to commemorate this was held at NHK's headquarters on 26 October which was attended by the drama's lead actor Matsuyama Kenichi. When asked about the low ratings of his drama and that it had even scored the lowest rating to date for all Taiga dramas in the Kansai region (7.5% on 21 October), Matsuyama said that ratings were never a concern for him right in the beginning. He expressed his view that although nobody had aimed to get that record, it was still something honourable for the drama to get this title. Matsuyama explained that if the drama had been put together in a slipshod manner, he would have felt ashamed if the drama did badly in terms of ratings. However, since everyone including the cast and crew had put in their best and he thinks that the drama is indeed of high quality, this is why he thinks nobody should feel bad about the lacklustre ratings.

Filming for this drama began in August last year and lasted for a long period of 14 months. When asked about his plans after the end of filming, Matsuyama said that he will start thinking about it soon. He also revealed that he had recommended himself for the role of Kiyomori which helped him to secure the role. There are still 10 episodes till the end of the drama thus Matsuyama called upon viewers to support it during the rest of its run especially since the climax will be presented in a different manner from before.

Source: Oricon

"Umizaru" manga artist declares end of working relationship with FujiTV

Sato Shuuhou, the manga artist behind famous works such as "Umizaru" and "Black Jack ni Yoroshiku", declared via Twitter that he would not work with FujiTV again. According to Sato's tweets, FujiTV had gone to his office without an appointment for a surprise interview and it offended him so much that a chief producer from the news reporting unit came to apologise and promised not to do it again. However, another incident proved to be the last straw which made Sato decide not to work with the TV station again. Apparently, FujiTV had sold books related to Umizaru's movie version without signing a contract with him. Sato said that there is no way he can work with FujiTV anymore and compared their actions to a thief who stole money but tried to deny the intention of stealing by saying that he only intended to borrow the money. Sato even declared that there is no likelihood of any Umizaru movie sequel being made in future.

Source: RBB Today

Friday, October 26, 2012

Review of Kagi no Kakatta Heya Ep 9

This episode focuses on the central theme of behavioural habits where Enomoto goes about his usual routine of explaining how behavioural habits can be manipulated by those who know it and that it is precisely what was being used by the culprit in this case. To a certain extent, most people wouldn't know their own habits until someone points it out to them. If one tries to change his or her habit consciously, it usually comes off as rather unnatural and becomes a conscious action rather than a habit.

Serizawa and Aoto are having lunch when she remarks that no matter how busy Serizawa is, he would always find time to sit down and have a proper meal. Serizawa states that this is the key to his ability to stay healthy and handle his heavy workload because irregular meals and a deviation from his routine would break his momentum. Just then, Enomoto calls Aoto and asks to speak to Serizawa who tries to call Enomoto affectionately by a nickname. Although Enomoto is stunned for a brief moment, he resumes his usual self and talks to Serizawa politely about a corporate deal he is about to introduce to him. Serizawa is worried that this might be another closed room case but Enomoto explains that it is a corporate case and asks them to meet his acquaintance today.

However, to Serizawa and Aoto's horror, they find that the trading company which Enomoto talked about doesn't seem to be like the usual offices they've been to. Amid the tight security features of multiple locks on the doors and iron bars as window grilles, it gives the impression that this company is involved in some shady business. Moreover, the employees in this company are all men who dress in men and speak loudly as if to intimidate those who are speaking to them on the phone so these signs make the two of them wonder if they are in a gang's office. Enomoto explains to them that this company is involved in the trading business and he had come to know the president of the company because it had hired Enomoto's company to set up a security system for the office. Serizawa tries to probe further whether this is a gang-related company but Enomoto is clueless about Serizawa's apprehension and doesn't provide the answer the latter is asking for.

One of the directors in this company Nonogaki arrives at the office and greets Enomoto in such a friendly manner that makes Serizawa wonder about Enomoto's relationship with the people in this company. Enomoto explains that he's been to this company a couple of times and this time, he's here to replace a temporary lock he fitted a few days ago. The truth is, the vice president of this company was found dead in his office but the murderer had not been found yet. As a result, the police are still suspecting one of the employees Hatta because he was the only one in the office with the vice president (although they were in different rooms and Hatta had been sleeping) at that time. However, as the police did not find anything incriminating yet, Hatta was released from police custody. When Hatta sees Serizawa and Enomoto, he tries to explain that he is innocent and describes what happened that night. However, he appears as if he has something important to say regarding what happened that night but is interrupted when Nonogaki calls him to enter his office.

Just then, Hatta's daughter Misa comes to the office in order to pass her father's wallet to him. She approaches Aoto and even asks for her namecard in case Hatta gets into trouble in future. Misa suddenly looks at Enomoto intently and remarks cheerfully that he looks very cute and is her ideal type. Aoto teases Enomoto for being popular with girls while he tries to hide how he feels by Misa's sudden confession.

At the same time, Togashi, the president of the company, asks Serizawa if he can assist in the legal affairs regarding a business tie-up with a foreign company. However, Serizawa is worried about being implicated in this shady company's affairs and tries to reject the deal. Unexpectedly, after asking a few questions about Serizawa's habits, Togashi remarks with a smiling face that he already has an idea about Serizawa's routine so he will be able to make the latter do his bidding. This makes Serizawa freak out and he hurriedly leaves the office with Enomoto and Aoto.

A few days later, it seems like any other day where Hatta is left alone in the office as a guard for the night while the rest knock off. Nonogaki is about to leave with his colleagues Sakaguchi and Inuyama when he asks them to head downstairs first and goes to tell Hatta something. When Nonogaki comes down to the car park, he asks for a cigarette from Inuyama even though he's supposed to be quitting smoking. Sakaguchi hurries Nonogaki to stop smoking since the latter has asked for a ride home as his car is under repair. While chatting, they hear a gunshot coming from above and immediately rush back to the office. However, Hatta does not respond despite their shouts and the key is inside the office. They have no choice but to ask Enomoto to come and break the lock. As soon as they get in, they see Hatta slumped on the sofa with a gun...

Misa goes to look for Aoto at the law firm and asks Serizawa to help with the investigation of her father's death. Although police had said that Hatta could have committed suicide after being implicated as a suspect in the vice president's death, Misa believes otherwise. Serizawa is reluctant to get involved with that trading company and asks Aoto to take over the case with Enomoto.

During the course of their investigation, Enomoto and Aoto start to realise that Nonogaki's actions and out-of-his-usual-routine actions on the night when Hatta died suggest that he is involved in both murders. At the same time, Serizawa is approached by Sakaguchi who also suspects something about Hatta's death and asks Serizawa to investigate something.

As the Kagi trio try to find out how Nonogaki could have succeeded in killing the vice president and Hatta despite not being at the crime scenes which were supposedly closed rooms, Nonogaki seems to have realised that they are getting closer to the truth and shows up at Enomoto's office nonchalantly with a thinly-veiled threat for them to stop probing around. Undeterred by his demands, Serizawa shows up and challenges Nonogaki to try stopping them if he can which makes the latter walk off in a huff. Although Serizawa appeared to be fearless in front of Nonogaki, he had been worried whether Nonogaki would resort to violence to make them do his bidding and his legs give way as soon as Nonogaki leaves.

When it's time to have a final showdown with Nonogaki, he is still adamant about his guilt and even pulls a gun to point at the Kagi trio and Sakaguchi. At this moment, Togashi appears and chides Nonogaki for doing all these just to save his skin and even killing Hatta who he had brought into the company. This makes Nonogaki come to his senses and he crumbles like a defeated man...

To be honest, this is one of those episodes where the culprit is too easy to guess and the only excitement left for the viewer is to guess how the culprit did it and not who did it. As such, I do feel a bit of disappointment because even before the 2nd murder took place, the telltale signs there were so obvious and hard to ignore. Luckily, there were still some funny moments e.g. when Serizawa and Aoto were trying to confirm with Enomoto if they were in a gang's office and how they tried to get the message across to the very dense Enomoto so it made this episode a bit more bearable. The final two episodes are actually linked and should reveal Enomoto's background at one go. I would have wanted things to get slowly heated up from the revelation where Enomoto was said to be a criminal in the police database but that fizzled out very quickly and the last few episodes did not capitalise on that subplot to build up anticipation for the final episode. I think that's a great pity though so I hope that the revelations in the last 2 episodes are worth the wait and that I won't feel like I'm taken on a ride to nowhere...again.

Tsutsumi Shinichi and Aoi Yu rumoured to be dating?

Tsutsumi Shinichi and Aoi Yu are reported to be "dating" according to the latest issue of "Josei Seven"  published on 25 October. The article mentioned that  the two were seen having a meal together without anyone else around during Aoi's birthday in August and had also been witnessed going on meal dates together frequently this month. When asked about this, Tsutsumi's agency stated that he has been a longtime friend of Aoi and would usually meet her and her current boyfriend Suzuki Kosuke for meals. As for why they were seen alone, the agency speculated that it could be due to the fact the Suzuki had not arrived at the restaurant at the time when reporters spotted them. On the other hand, Aoi's agency also confirmed that she is still dating Suzuki and denied that Aoi is an item with Tsutsumi.

Source: Sponichi

"ATARU" to be back as New Year SP

"ATARU" which ended its run in June this year, will be back as a drama SP during the New Year holidays next January. SMAP's Nakai Masahiro will reprise his role as Ataru along with the main cast members Kuriyama Chiaki and Kitamura Kazuki. In the SP, Ataru's younger brother Tasuku will appear for the first time as a murder case suspect. Ataru who went back to the United States at the end of the drama, then returns to Japan to help his brother.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Romaji lyrics of "For you ~ Kimi no tame ni dekiru koto ~"

Title: For you ~ Kimi no tame ni dekiru koto
Artist: 2AM
Lyrics: Kenn Kato
Melody: Katsuhiko Sugiyama
Theme song of TBS summer drama "Soumatou Kabushikigaisha"

kotoba ni....dekinai
kimi ga kiete shimai sou dakara

afuredasu sono namida ni
mune ga kurushikute nani mo ienai
naze ima sara kyuu ni
suki ni natte shimattan darou?

moshimo boku ga kare naraba
keshite nakasetari shinai kedo
hontou no kimochi ga ienai kuse ni
uso mo tsukitakunai kara

itsuka kimi no egao wo tori modosu tame
boku no kono subete wo sasageyou
kotoba ni...dekinai
sore ga kimi no tame ni dekiru koto

dou sureba ii no? nante
muhoubi na hitokoto de mata tooku naru
omoide wo sutereba
sugu aruki daseru no ni

moshimo kimi ga nozomu nara
sono subete wo uketomeru kara
kirei goto dato warawaretemo ii
soba de mamori tsuzuketai

kimi no naka de boku ga irareru  basho wa
ima wa kanashimi no kagami no naka
kotoba ni...dekinai
boku mo sono itami ga wakaru kara

itsuka kimi ga egao wo tori modoshitara
chanto, mune wo hatte tsutaeru yo

kotoba ni shita toki
kimi ga hohoende kureru you ni
kotoba ni...dekinai
sore ga kimi no tame ni dekiru koto

First episode of "Osozaki no Himawari" gets rating of 13.5%

The first episode of FujiTV autumn drama "Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei, Renewal" shown on 23 October achieved a rating of 13.5% which was higher than its predecessor in the same timeslot "Iki mo dekinai natsu" that got 12.1%. The first episode was extended by 15 minutes. Cast members include Ikuta Toma, Maki Youko, Kiritani Kenta, Kashii Yu, Emoto Tasuku, Kimura Fumino, Kuninaka Ryoko as well as TV announcer and Ikuta's real brother Ikuta Ryuusei who played the younger brother of Ikuta Toma's character.

Source: Sponichi  

PRICELESS scores rating of 16.9% for its first episode

The first episode of FujiTV Gekku drama "PRICELESS" shown on 22 October achieved a rating of 16.9% which makes it third so far in terms of the debut episode ratings, falling behind "Aibou season 11" (19.9%) and "Doctor X" (18.6%). This is the first time that a Kimura Takuya drama has gone below the 20% mark for its first episode but considering the fact that the pro-baseball league's League Climax Series Match 6 was being shown on NTV at the same time and that the baseball match scored a high of 20.1%, this could be a reason why the ratings did not fare as well as expected. "PRICELESS" is Kimura's first drama in two-and-a-half years following 2010's spring drama "Tsuki no Koibito ~ Moon Lovers ~".

Source: Sponichi  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Update to the Autumn 2012 ratings race - 22 Oct 12

With the exception of PRICELESS and Osozaki no Himawari which make their debut this week, the rest of the dramas have already gone through their first, second or even third OAs so here's how the ranking looks like in terms of the average rating:

1) Aibou Season 11 - 18.60% / Doctor X - 18.60%
3) MONSTERS - 13.80%
4) Kekkon Shinai - 13.30%
5) Going My Home - 13.00%
6) Akumu-chan - 12.15%
7) TOKYO Airport - 11.70%
8) Ooku - 11.10%
9) Tokumei Tantei - 10.80%

10) Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo - 8.60%
11) Resident - 8.40%
12) Perfect Blue - 8.05%
13) Koukou Nyuushi - 7.00%
14) POISON - 3.40%
15) PIECE - 2.63%
16) Girls Talk - 2.23%
17) Sugarless 1.67%

Doctor X starring Yonekura Ryoko made a very strong start last week which was just lower than Aibou's first episode. At the moment, it is tied for the first spot but the next episode will be crucial in determining if this drama stays in the top 5. MONSTERS' figure was frankly speaking, a bit too low for a first OA considering how much publicity has been put into it and how we've been seeing news about the drama being released bit by bit to boost interest but it may be too soon to write it off entirely.

Kekkon Shinai bucks the jinx of a lower 2nd-episode rating which I'm glad to see. Going My Home hasn't gone through the test of its second OA yet so we won't know if the viewers will still go back to it after one week's break. Akumu-chan slid 2.9% downwards but its average still looks safe enough to keep it above the 10% mark. Ooku only dropped 1% but is pretty close to going under 10 while Tokumei Tantei has already dipped its feet under. TOKYO Airport did rather well in its first episode but losing 4.6% in a span of a week seems like a bad sign. I haven't finished watching the first episode of this drama and surprisingly, what stuck in my mind wasn't the story nor acting but rather the English spoken in it. More on that when I get to the review.

Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo looks destined to be the champion of the under-10 ranking while Resident also scores a lacklustre debut at 8.4%. Perfect Blue joins them in this category while Koukou Nyuushi despite its low ratings, is actually doing OK when you consider its timeslot.

Now when the heavily-anticipated mega hit i.e. PRICELESS starts its run, how will the rankings change? I'm not a mega fan of KimuTaku and yet I've watched almost everything from him to date while being so critical about it. The trailer didn't really tempt me in checking this out for the long term but I'll probably still take a look at the first few episodes. I'm actually looking forward more to Osozaki no Himawari because of the nice scenery at Shimanto and the appealing story (I'm in the same age group too so I can identify with the issues facing the characters) but realistically speaking, it may be tough for it to get into the top 3. Maybe a top 5 placing will be nice.

Past-year winners of Tokyo Drama Award

In relation to the earlier post about the Tokyo Drama Award, here is the list of past-year winners since this started in 2008. The TV stations which made the dramas are mentioned in brackets:

2008 winners
Best Drama Serial: Pandora (WOWOW)
Best Drama SP: Ten to Sen (TV Asahi)
Drama Excellence Award (Kids & Youngsters category): Keitai Sousakan 7 (TV Tokyo)
Drama Excellence Award (Kids & Youngsters category): Last Friends (FujiTV)
Drama Excellence Award (Family category): Saitou-san (NTV)
Drama Excellence Award (Period drama category): Atsuhime (NHK)
Drama Excellence Award (Miscellaneous genre category): SP (FujiTV)
Best Leading Actor: Sato Koichi / Kaze no Hate (NHK), Tengoku to Jigoku (TV Asahi), Hontou to Uso to Tequilla (TV Tokyo)
Best Leading Actress: Ueno Juri / Last Friends (FujiTV), Nodame Cantabile (FujiTV)
Best Supporting Actor: Sakai Masato / Atsuhime (NHK)
Best Supporting Actress: Wakui Emi / Chiritotechin (NHK)
Best Scriptwriter: Inoue Yumiko / Pandora (WOWOW)
Best Directing: Ishibashi Kan / Ten to Sen (TV Asahi) & Kawake Shunsaku / Pandora (WOWOW)
Special Award: Takeda Tetsuya and staff of "3-nen B-gumi Kinpachi-sensei" (TBS) & Artistic staff of "Ten to Sen" (TV Asahi)

2009 winners
Best Drama: Aishiteru ~ Kaiyou (NTV)
Drama Excellence Awards (not in order of preference and mixture of drama serials and SPs):
2) Kaze no Garden (FujiTV)
3) Arifureta Kiseki (FujiTV)
4) Sora tobu Tyre (WOWOW)
5) Okaimono (NHK)
6) Keiji Ichidai ~ Hiratsuka Hachihee no Showa Jikenshi (TV Asahi)
Best Leading Actor: Nakai Kiichi - Kaze no Garden (FujiTV)
Best Leading Actress: Amami Yuki - BOSS (FujiTV)
Best Supporting Actor: Endo Kenichi - Kiri no Hi etc
Best Supporting Actress: Toda Erika - Ryuusei no Kizuna etc
Best Newcomer: Mizobata Junpei & Kawashima Umika
Best Scriptwriter: Kuramoto Sou - Kaze no Garden (FujiTV)
Best Producer: Tsugiya Hisashi - Aishiteru ~ Kaiyou (NTV)
Best Directing: Miyamoto Rieko - Kaze no Garden (FujiTV)
Special Award: Ogata Ken (posthumous award), Artistic theme of Kurobe no Taiyo and production staff of "Choujikan Dorama" at TV Tokyo

2010 winners
Best Drama Serial: JIN (TBS)
Drama Excellence Awards - Drama Serial (not in order of preference):
1) Mother (NTV)
2) Dousokai ~ Love Again Shokougun (TV Asahi)
3) Ninkyo Helper (FujiTV)
4) Ryomaden (NHK)
5) Okaimono (NHK)
Best Drama SP: Wagaya no Rekishi (FujiTV)
Drama Excellence Awards - Drama SPs (not in order of preference):
1) Toomawari no Ame (NTV)
2) Shoe Shine Boy (TV Tokyo)
Best Asian Drama Award: JIN (TBS)
Best Leading Actor: Osawa Takao - JIN (TBS)
Best Leading Actress: Matsuyuki Yasuko - Mother (NTV)
Best Supporting Actor: Kagawa Teruyuki - Ryomaden (NHK)
Best Supporting Actress: Ono Machiko - Hi no Sakana (NHK) / Mother (NTV)
Best Scriptwriter: Sakamoto Yuji - Mother (NTV)
Best Directing: Kurosaki Hiroshi - Hi no Sakana (NHK)
Best Producer: Ishimaru Akihiko - JIN (TBS)
Special Award: Production team of "Ryomaden" (NHK) & Ashida Mana - Mother (NTV)

2011 winners
Best Drama Serial: Freeter, Ie wo Kau (FujiTV)
Drama Excellence Awards - Drama Serial (not in order of preference):
1) Second Virgin (NHK)
2) Q10 (NTV)
3) JIN (TBS)
4) Moteki (TV Tokyo)
Best Drama SP: 99nen no Ai ~ JAPANESE AMERICANS ~ (TBS)
Drama Excellence Awards - Drama SPs (not in order of preference):
1) Sayonara Bokutachi no Youchien (NTV)
2) Ikon ari Meiji 13 nen Saigo no Adauchi (TV Asahi)
3) Naze Kimi wa Zetsubou to Tatakaeta no ka (WOWOW)
Best Asian Drama Award: JIN (TBS)
Best Leading Actor: Ninomiya Kazunari - Freeter, Ie wo Kau (FujiTV)
Best Leading Actress: Suzuki Kyoka - Second Virgin (NHK) / Ashida Mana - Marumo no Okite (FujiTV) & Sayonara Bokutachi no Youchien (NTV)
Best Supporting Actor: Uchino Masaaki - JIN (TBS)
Best Supporting Actress: Mitsushima Hikari - Moteki (TV Tokyo) & Sayonara Bokutachi no Youchien (NTV)
Best Scriptwriter: Ooishi Shizuka - Second Virgin (NHK)
Best Directing: Izumi Seiji - Aibou season 9 (TV Asahi)
Best Producer: Hashimoto Fumi - Freeter, Ie wo Kau (FujiTV)
Special Award: Production team of "JIN" (TBS)

Source: Tokyo Drama Award Archives

Tokyo Drama Award 2012 prize-giving ceremony

The prize-giving ceremony of the Tokyo Drama Award 2012 was held on 22 October which gives out awards to dramas and actors for their great performances. "Kaseifu no Mita" starring Matsushima Nanako won the best drama serial award among other excellence award winners "Carnation", "Yokai Ningen Bemu", "Legal High", "Soredemo, Ikiteyuku" and "Shokuzai" and also grabbed the best Asian drama award. On the other hand, "Ashita wo akiramenai...Gareki no naka no Shimbunsha ~ Kahoku Shinpo no Ichiban Nagaihi ~" starring Watabe Atsuro won the best drama SP award for its depiction of what happened to Kahoku Shinpo on the day when the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck the Tohoku region. Other drama SP excellence awards went to "Tonbi", "Suna no Utsuwa", "Blackboard ~ Jidai to tatakkate kyoushi tachi" and "SPEC ~ Sho".

The best leading actor went to Sakai Masato for his performance in "Legal High" and Ono Machiko got the best leading actress award for her role in "Carnation". As for the supporting actor award, it went to Hasegawa Hiroki (Kaseifu no Mita) while An won the supporting actress award for "Yokai Ningen Bemu". The best script award was given to Yukawa Kazuhiko for his work in "Kaseifu no Mita" and the same drama's producer Oohira Futoshi also won the best producer award. The best director award was shared between Kurosawa Kiyoshi (Shokuzai) and Tanaka Kenji (Carnation).

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Seto Asaka unhurt in car accident

Seto Asaka who met with a car accident on 16th October when a car rammed into hers from the back, updated her blog on 21 October to confirm that she was not hurt during the incident. She said that she only suffered a slight shock from the impact but is not hurt in any way. Seto was glad that she was the only one in the car and that her son was not with her at that time so she asked her fans not to worry about her.

Source: Sponichi

Opening event at "The 25th Tokyo International Film Festival"

The opening event of Japan's largest film festival, "The 25th Tokyo International Film Festival", was held on 20 October at Roppongi, Tokyo, which was attended by 440 actors, actresses and film industry insiders including Ueto Aya, Yamada Yu, Inoue Mao and Shibasaki Kou.

Here are some photos of those who attended the event (don't ask me why there aren't as many pictures of actors compared to these actresses though):

From top left, clockwise -> Yoshitaka Yuriko and Itou Ayumi, Shibasaki Kou, Maeda Atsuko, Inoue Mao, Ishihara Satomi, Asou Kumiko and Miyoshi Ayaka, Ueto Aya and Yamada Yu

Source: Sanspo

Asano Tadanobu and Naka Riisa said to have broken up

Asano Tadanobu and Naka Riisa are said to have broken up after they were revealed to be dating earlier in February this year. The couple who are 15 years apart in age, are said to have drifted apart in less than one year due to their busy schedules and decided to go their separate ways last month.

Asano was in London for the filming of a US movie since July to early October and Naka even revealed via Twitter that she was in London as well during early August which suggested that she was there to meet Asano. However, following that, Naka was busy with her filming for the NHK drama "Tsurugame Jousanin ~ Minami no shima kara" and is now working on the TBS autumn drama "Resident" so this led to them being unable to meet for a long time.

Source: Sanspo

Yamada Takayuki's wife pregnant with their first child

Yamada Takayuki announced through his official website on 19 October that his wife is currently pregnant with their first child and she will be giving birth next spring. He got married on New Year's Day this year to his wife who he had been dating for 2 years and is 7 years older than him. Yamada mentioned in his statement that having a child would spur him on to do even better in his acting career. He is expected to make a public appearance on 3 November for his movie "Nobou no Shiro".

Source: Sanspo

Friday, October 19, 2012

Completion press conference of "Tsugunai"

The completion press conference of NHK drama "Tsugunai" was held on 18 October which the lead cast members Tanihara Shosuke and Ashina Sei attended. Tanihara plays Hidaka Eisuke, an elite brain surgeon who focuses too much on his work and fails to pay attention to his family until his wife and child die suddenly. As a result, he loses his job and home thus has to live on the streets but is unexpectedly implicated in a serial murder case. The drama which is based on a best-selling novel by Yaguchi Atsuko, sold more than 600,000 copies to date.

In order to prepare for his role as a homeless man, Tanihara had to go on a strict diet of no carbohydrates for 3 months and lost 9kg as a result. However, as this isn't a healthy way to lose weight, Tanihara remarked that he would not recommend this method to anyone who wants to go on a diet.

As for Ashina, she plays Hiroe, the wife of Eisuke who commits suicide and another character Yuko who Eisuke meets when he wanders into the town she lives in. Other cast members include Kimura Tae who plays Eisuke's former girlfriend Miwako, a psychologist who wants to help him get back on his feet, as well as Imai Yuuki, Koumoto Masahiro and Nakahara Takeo. The first episode of this 3-part drama will be shown via NHK BS Premium on 17 November.


Tanaka Rena starring in NHK drama "Aruku, Aruku, Aruku ~ Shikoku Henromichi ~"

Tanaka Rena will be starring in the NHK Matsuyama drama "Aruku, Aruku, Aruku ~ Shikoku Henromichi" (Walk, Walk, Walk ~ Shikoku Pilgrimage Journey) which will be shown via NHK BS Premium on 20 January 2013. The drama features Tanaka as a 32-year-old woman who is facing problems in her work and love life thus set out on a pilgrimage journey to Shikoku and meets the female owner of an inn and a male customer there where they exchange stories about their lives. The filming will be entirely held in Ehime Prefecture so as to showcase the beauty and culture in the Shikoku region. Co-stars include Ishida Ayumi and Inoue Jun.

Source: Sanspo

First episode screening of "Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei Renewal ~"

The first episode screening of autumn drama "Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei Renewal ~" was held on 17 October at Odaiba Cinema Mediage where cast members including Ikuta Toma and Youko appeared to greet the audience. The drama which begins its run on 23 October at 9pm on Tuesdays is set in Kochi Prefecture's Shimanto City and talks about 7 young men and women facing the crossroads in their lives. The cast and crew spent about 2 weeks filming there and spoke fondly of their stay there and the beauty of Shimanto City.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Preview of "Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei Renewal ~ " - Autumn 2012

Title: Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei Renewal
Official site: here
O.A. Start Date: 23 October 2012
Timeslot: Tuesdays, 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Theme song: Joutouku by Mr.Children
Cast: Ikuta Toma, Maki Youko, Kiritani Kenta, Kashii Yu, Emoto Tasuku, Kimura Fumino, Kuninaka Ryoko, Matsushige Yutaka

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Lucky Seven" to be back as drama SP next spring

FujiTV drama "Lucky Seven" will be back as a drama SP next spring after it finished its run in March this year. The drama SP will still feature the original cast of Matsumoto Jun, Eita, Matsushima Nanako, Ooizumi Yo and Naka Riisa etc and have new additions including Ishihara Satomi and Oikawa Mitsuhiro. Filming for the SP began on 13 October.

This time, the Lucky Seven has to deal with the mastermind behind a financial crime who also happens to be a genius economist (Oikawa) and his charming secretary (Ishihara). Matsumoto's character is set to fall for Ishihara's character as he gets close to her in an attempt to solve the case. This drama SP also happens to be the first time in 10 years the two of them are acting alongside each other since Matsumoto and Ishihara last appeared together in the TBS drama "Kimi wa Petto" back in 2003.

Source: Sanspo

V6's Morita Go & misono rumoured to be dating?

V6's Morita Go and singer misono are reportedly dating, according to the 16th October issue of "Shuukan Jousei". The two were caught going to a golf course in Nagano Prefecture with two others in early October where Morita who has 5 years of experience playing golf, was seen teaching misono who hasn't played golf before. When asked about the rumour during an appearance at the 8th Talent Fishing Cup 2012, misono denied the rumour. Both of their agencies also said that there was no truth in the report.

Source: Sanspo

Arashi & Horikita Maki to be hosts for 63rd Kouhaku

NHK announced the hosts for the 63rd Kouhaku on 16 October  where it was revealed that Arashi will take on the role of the White Team's host for the third consecutive year and Horikita Maki will make her debut as the Red Team's host in the programme to be broadcast on 31 December. As for the main host, it will be NHK announcer Udou Yumiko.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Completion screening of WOWOW drama "Hitori Shizuka"

The completion screening of WOWOW drama "Hitori Shizuka" starring Kaho was held on 14 October. The 6-episode drama which is scheduled to begin its run on 21 October at 10pm on Sundays, is based on a novel by Honda Tetsuya and features Kaho as a mysterious woman Shizuka who gets embroiled in a number of murder cases from her teenage years to her 30s.

Source: Sponichi

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tamaki Hiroshi to be new host of "Iron Chef"

Tamaki Hiroshi will be the new host of FujiTV variety programme "Iron Chef" which begins its run from 26th October at 7.57pm on Fridays. He takes over the role from his predecessor Kaga Takeshi who was well-known for hosting the previous version of "Iron Chef" that used to be called "Ryoori no Tetsujin" and the first episode will be a 2-hour SP which begins earlier at 7pm. Other than Tamaki as the host, FujiTV announcers Sano Mizuki and Mita Yurika as well as comedian Miyagawa Daisuke will be appearing on the programme as reporters and live commentator.

Tamaki  was elated to take up the offer but was at the same time apprehensive because of Kaga's success in the successful cooking battle series which was shown from October 1993 to September 1999. When asked about his recent romance rumour in last week's FRIDAY, Tamaki avoided answering the questions but was smiling throughout the interview.

Source: Sanspo

Start of the Autumn 2012 ratings race - 15 Oct 2012

Here we are again at the beginning of the new drama season where some dramas have already begun their run, some are already into their 2nd episodes while some are still in preparations mode. This is how the ranking looks like based on average ratings so far.

*Note that dramas which have only aired one episode so far are in bold i.e. that figure is the rating of their first episode:

1) Aibou Season 11 - 19.90%
2) TOKYO Airport - 14.00%
3) Akumu-chan - 13.60%
4) Going My Home / Kekkon Shinai - 13.00%
6) Tokumei Tantei  - 11.70%
7) Ooku - 11.60%

And those below the 10% line...

8) Perfect Blue / Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo 9.00%
10) Koukou Nyuushi 7.00%
11) Poison 3.60%
12) PIECE 2.95%
13) Girls Talk 2.25%
14) Sugarless 1.70%

One interesting observation you can get from the figures so far is that those who had only shown one episode so far are high up in the rankings table so the true test to the extent of their popularity will be displayed in the 2nd OA which tend to take a hit after the initial curiosity wears off. Another thing is that, we can already see dramas which are headed for less-than-10% zone even in its first OA so these may be hovering above and below that line throughout the season. There is a pack of midnight dramas at the bottom of the ranking which tend to be below 3% in most cases so they might prove to be a buffer of some sort against yet another primetime drama falling to the bottom of the table.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Production press conference of "PRICELESS"

The production press conference of FujiTV autumn drama "PRICESS ~ Aruwake needaro, nnamon! ~" was held on 11 October at Tokyo Station Hotel which was attended by cast members Kimura Takuya, Nakai Kiichi, Karina, Fujiki Naohito and Fujigaya Taisuke. The drama is scheduled to begin its run on 22 October at 9pm on Mondays. This drama also marks Kimura's 9th drama in the Gekku timeslot and he plays a poor man who gets fired at work, loses his money and home, misplaces his handphone and ends up as a wanderer on the street. Kimura revealed that they have yet to finish the filming for the first episode and that although it was a tough filming process, he enjoyed working with everyone on the set. Nakai Kiichi also said that this is the first time in his 32-year acting career that he's playing a character with little screen presence and can be ignored easily by the people around him.

Source: Sanspo

Matsuzaka Toori to star in real-life adaptation of "Gacchaman"

Matsuzaka Toori will be starring as the lead in the real-life adaptation movie of 1970s science-fiction anime "Kagaku Ninjatai Gacchaman" which will be a memorial movie for Nikkatsu's 100th anniversary and Tatsunoko Pro's 50th anniversary. The movie talks about 5 young people coming together to form the Kagaku Ninjatai in order to fight a mysterious organisation wanting to take over the world. The anime garnered average ratings of 21% during its run had been made into anime movies twice in the past. Besides Matsuzaka, Gouriki Ayame, Ayano Go, Hamada Tatsuomi and Suzuki Ryohei will also play members of the Kagaku Ninjatai. The movie is scheduled to be released next summer and filming begins on 15th Oct.

Source: Sanspo

Tamaki Hiroshi reported to have a new girlfriend?

Tamaki Hiroshi is reported to have a new girlfriend as revealed in the 12th October issue of FRIDAY. According to the magazine, Tamaki's new girlfriend looks like actress Higa Manami and Tamaki was spotted to have brought her home on consecutive days. As Tamaki lives with his mother and younger sister, it was assumed that the new girlfriend has already been introduced to the family. When asked about Tamaki's new relationship, his agency said that he is already over 30 years old and they do not know everything about his private life. However, they denied the likelihood of Tamaki cohabiting with his girlfriend because his family is also living with him. Coincidentally, Tamaki plays a guy who can't get married because he doesn't have the means to do so in the FujiTV autumn drama "Kekkon Shinai" and had revealed in a Sanspo interview that he planned to get married in his early 30s.

Source: Sanspo

Cast announcement press conference of "Yae no Sakura"

The cast announcement press conference of 2013 Taiga drama "Yae no Sakura" was held on 11 October which was attended by key cast members including the lead Ayase Haruka, Odagiri Joe, Mizuhara Kiko, Tanimura Mitsuki, Takashima Masahiro, Matsukata Hiroki, Oikawa Mitsuhiro and Katsuji Ryo. The drama is scheduled to begin its run on 6 January 2013 and will be shown at 8pm on Sundays.

Odagiri Jo who plays Niijima Jo, the 2nd husband of Yae (Ayase) and founder of Doshisha University, revealed that he had met Ayase before when she paid a visit to their house about six months ago at the invitation of Odagiri's wife Kashii Yu who is a close friend of Ayase and belong to the same agency. In addition, since their hometowns (Odagiri comes from Okayama and Ayase comes from Hiroshima) are close, he said that this additional level of familiarity with each other will serve to help them work well together in the year ahead.

As for the other cast members, Mizuhara Kiko will play Japan's first female student who went overseas to study Ooyama Sutematsu which also marks her first appearance in a drama. Oguri Shun will play Yoshida Shouin while Oikawa will play Kido Takayoshi.

Source: Sanspo

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tokiwa Takako & Ono Machiko in Matsumoto Seicho drama SP "Giwaku"

Tokiwa Takako and Ono Machiko will be the double leads for FujiTV drama SP "Giwaku" (Suspicion) which is the third installment under the Matsumoto Seicho 20th Death Anniversary Project. This will also be the first time that the two actresses are working together.

Tokiwa plays a lawyer Sahara Chizuru who defends Shirakawa Kumako, a violent woman accused of killing her husband for insurance money in this SP based on Matsumoto's novel. In the original story, Sahara was a man but the producers decided to change it to a female so that they can show the contrast between Chizuru and Kumako who represent the extremes of good and evil.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Completion screening of "Aku no Kyoden"

The completion screening of movie "Aku no Kyoden" was held on 10 October which was attended by cast members Ito Hideaki, Takaoka Saki, Nikaidou Fumi, Mizuno Erina, Hayashi Kento, Sometani Shouta, KENTA and Asaka Kouta as well as the original novel's author Kishi Yuusuke and the movie's director Miike Takashi. The movie is scheduled to be shown in cinemas from 10 November and there will also be a drama "Aku no Kyoden - Joushou" which will be streamed via BeeTV from 15 October which is set a few months before the movie starts.

Fresh from his box office hit Umizaru in July where he played Senzaki who saved many lives, Ito goes through a total image change in this movie where he plays a teacher who kills his students in quick succession. He jokingly called upon fans not to hate him nor Umizaru because of his evil character in this movie.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Production press conference of "TOKYO Airport ~ Tokyo Kuukou Kansei Hoanbu"

The production press conference of FujiTV autumn drama "TOKYO Airport ~ Tokyo Hoan Kansei Hoanbu" was held on 9 October at Haneda Airport and was attended by cast members Fukada Kyoko, Sasaki Nozomi and Seto Kouji. Before the press conference started, the cast distributed badges to passengers at the airport in a bid to promote the drama. Fukada plays a newbie air traffic controller thus she mentioned during the event that she had a hard time trying to memorise English terms used in this field of work when communicating with the pilots which was a view echoed by her co-stars who also play air traffic controllers. Filming of this drama is done primarily at Haneda Airport and a studio set at FujiTV featuring the interior of the air traffic control tower.

Source: Sanspo

V6's Okada Junichi to star in 2014 Taiga drama "Gunshi Kanbee"

NHK announced during a press conference on 10 October 2012 that V6 member Okada Junichi will star in their 2014 Taiga drama "Gunshi Kanbee" (Kanbee The Strategist). He will play the role of Kuroda Kanbee in this Taiga written by Maekawa Yoichi which is also his first appearance in a Taiga drama. Kuroda Kanbee was a genius well-versed in the art of battle during the Warring States era and heavily depended on by Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu while guarded against him at the same time. Kanbee had a perfect track record of no losses for 50-over battles during that era. During the press conference, Okada revealed that he liked history especially the Warring States era and had aimed to be a history teacher before he entered showbiz. As such, he is extremely honoured and happy to be selected for this role.

Source: Nikkansports

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First episode of "Going My Home" scores rating of 13.0%

The first episode of FujiTV autumn drama "Going My Home" starring Abe Hiroshi and Yamaguchi Tomoko scored a rating of 13.0% in the Kanto region for its 2-hour-and-3-minute debut on 9 October. The drama features Abe Hiroshi as Tsuboi Ryota, a producer at a CM production company who despite his big build, is a "small" man who can never stand up for his own views in front of the people around him including his wife Sae (Yamaguchi). Miyazaki Aoi plays a mysterious woman Naho who is suspected to be the illegitimate daughter of Ryota's father who suddenly falls ill.

Source: Sponichi  

A guide to the ratings system in Japan - What are TV ratings?

To begin with, the question which most people, if not all would be asking is, "what exactly are ratings?" Generally, when we talk about ratings, it is with reference to the amount of households or individuals viewing a particular TV program or commercial. It does not fully reflect the value and quality of the program/commercial but is a means of judging how popular the program/commercial is.

There are two key categories of ratings here which needs to be explained i.e. the household and individual ratings. Household ratings refer to the percentage of households who turn on their TV to a particular channel at a specific time and is often the means of deriving the viewership ratings by most, if not all ratings monitoring companies like VR. On the other hand, we have the individual ratings which refer to the percentage of household members above the age of 4 watching a particular TV program. There is further segregation in terms of gender, age and occupation so it is useful in telling who has watched what program and for how long.

Another important fact to consider when you look at viewership ratings will be the fact that only viewership of programs shown via terrestrial broadcasting, broadcast satellite (BS), communication satellite (CS) and community antenna television and viewing of TV programs via computer TV services will be tracked. However, there are exclusions such as the recording and replaying of the program and viewing on mobile handsets thus it is often said in recent years that the ratings are slowly losing their relevance because they fail to take into consideration people who watch the program during the rerun slots, record it and watch at their convenience at a later time as well as people who watch programs on the go.

Next up, we'll take a look at how ratings are calculated in Japan. See you soon!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Ikuta Ryusei to act in "Osozaki no Himawari Boku no Jinsei Renewal"

Ikuta Toma's younger brother and FujiTV announcer Ikuta Ryusei will be making his acting debut in his elder brother's autumn drama "Osozaki no Himawari ~ Boku no Jinsei, Renewal ~" as the younger brother of Toma's character Kodaira Jotaro. Ryusei plays the role of Keitaro who in contrast with Jotaro, decided to stay in his hometown to work as a civil servant after graduating from a local university and already has a family with children as compared to his elder brother who went to Tokyo but is still single and has no permanent job.

Source: Sanspo

Kawahara Ayako marries FujiTV drama producer

Actress cum model Kawahara Ayako who announced her retirement from showbiz in September last year, has married FujiTV drama producer Sekiguchi Daisuke as reported on 6 October. According to insiders, the couple had met on the set of FujiTV drama "TOKYO Control" shown during January to May 2011 and became an item during the filming. They had tried to submit their marriage application this August but was rejected due to insufficient documents before they managed to file the application again successfully at the end of September.

Kawahara made her modeling debut in 1987 and became an actress in 1989. As for Sekiguchi, he was the producer for recently concluded summer drama "Rich Man, Poor Woman" and is in charge of Fukada Kyoko's new autumn drama "TOKYO Airport ~ Tokyo Kuukou Kansei Hoanbu". This is the first marriage for Kawahara and the second for Sekiguchi.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo - Autumn 2012

Title: Tokyo Zenryoku Shoujo
Official site: here
O.A. Start Date: 10 October 2012
Timeslot: Wednesdays 10pm
Broadcast by: NTV
Cast: Takei Emi, Miura Shohei, Higa Manami, Ichikawa Yui, Mori Kanna, Horiuchi Keiko, Nukumizu Yoichi, Tsukamoto Takashi, Watabe Atsuro etc.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Preview of "Akumu-chan" - Autumn 2012

Title: Akumu-chan
Official site: here
O.A. Start Date: 13 October 2012
Timeslot: Saturdays 9pm
Broadcast by: NTV
Theme song: Saraba, Itoshiki Kanashimi tachi yo by Momoiro Clover Z
Cast: Kitagawa Keiko, GACKT, Yuka, Hamada Mari, Kawamura Yosuke, Wada Masato, Anan Kenji, Kimura Midoriko, Kohinata Fumio

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Production press conference of "Ooku ~ Tanjou (Ariko Iemitsu Hen)"

The production press conference of TBS autumn drama "Ooku ~ Tanjou (Ariko Iemitsu Hen)" was held at Shinjuku Picadelly which was attended by cast members including Sakai Masato, Tabe Mikako and KAT-TUN's Tanaka Koki. The drama which begins its run on 12 October, is a continuation from the 2010 Ooku movie starring Arashi's Ninomiya Kazunari which depicts a reverse Ooku where the shogun is a female and is served by many men.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Kekkon Shinai" - Autumn 2012

Title: Kekkon Shinai
Official site: here
O.A. Start Date: 11 October 2012
Timeslot: Thursdays 11pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Theme song: Kami Hikouki by Kobukuro
Cast: Kanno Miho, Amami Yuki, Tamaki Hiroshi, Koichi Mantaro, Miyoshi Ayaka, Ito Ayumi, Fukuda Ayano, Ishibashi Ryo, Ichige Yoshie, Kaji Meiko

Friday, October 05, 2012

"Kekkon Shinai" cast members at special lecture in Rissho University

The cast of upcoming FujiTV autumn drama "Kekkon Shinai" i.e. Kanno Miho, Amami Yuki and Tamaki Hiroshi made a surprise appearance at Rissho University's Osaki Campus during a special lecture on love held by Waseda University professor Morikawa Tomonori who also helped to work on the drama's script. The audience of 400 students were pleasantly surprised by the actors and were given an opportunity to ask them questions as well. Kanno commented that it had always been her dream to meet someone who she could have a long-lasting relationship especially since her parents met as classmates when they were 14 and got married at 30 after a long-running courtship. However, she lamented that it doesn't look like it's going to be possible anymore since she's already 35 years old. Meanwhile, Amami said that she has stopped thinking about marriage a long time ago. Moreover, she doesn't want to be always together with her future husband and would prefer living as neighbours in the same building or is even OK with living apart so it probably doesn't make any sense for her to get married anyway.

Source: Sanspo

Aiba Masaki & Kuroki Meisa win Best Jeanist Award 2012

The award presentation ceremony for the 29th Best Jeanist Award 2012 was held on 4 October where Arashi's Aiba Masaki and Kuroki Meisa were crowned Best Jeanist for the second year in a row in the public voting category. Aiba commented that he was very happy to win this again and hoped to achieve a third award next year so that he could enter the list of legendary jeanists. As for Kuroki, she was unable to attend the event as she had just given birth to her daughter on 23 September but she expressed her happiness at receiving the award through the organisers. As for the judges choice, talent Rola, actress Natsuki Mari, actor Iura Arata and Olympic fencing gold medalist Murata Ryota were chosen to receive the award.

*The rule in the past was that someone would become a legendary jeanist only after winning the award for 5 years but it has been changed from this year onwards that one would qualify for this after winning it for 3 years. Maybe it's because the organisers want to have new faces on a more regular basis than to have people hog the top spot for 5 years?

Source: Sanspo

A guide to the ratings system in Japan - Who monitors the ratings?

In response to a comment by one of the blog readers who asked for a post to explain how the ratings system in Japan works, here it comes! As there is quite a bit of information, I will break this topic up into a number of posts so please keep a lookout for this on the blog if you are interested in this as well.

To begin, we should probably look at who monitors the ratings in Japan. Generally, when you talk about ratings, Video Research Ltd. ( is the only place to go to. Unlike other countries like Singapore (Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) vs. AC Nielsen) and South Korea (TNmS vs. AGB Nielson) where there are multiple ratings investigation companies, Video Research (VR for short) enjoys a monopoly in this sense. Since March 2000, ratings announced by VR have become the standard when it comes to household ratings figures.

Let's take a closer look at VR then. This company was set up back in September 1962 and started monitoring ratings in the Kanto region from December of the same year.Since then, they have expanded their business nationwide as well as overseas i.e. United States and Thailand. The company's HQ is in Tokyo and they have 6 branch offices in Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Sendai and Hiroshima. There are also three sales offices in Shizuoka, Okayama and Niigata. As of April 2012, they have 392 employees. In a nutshell, VR can be considered to be a homegrown veteran in the ratings business.

Before I even talk about how they track and calculate ratings in my next post, I would like to bring up something interesting I found out about VR. The company is supposed to track ratings of various TV programmes from different TV stations but in actual fact, the TV stations are shareholders of VR! The Big 5 private networks in the Kanto region i.e. FujiTV, TBS, NTV, TV Asahi and TV Tokyo all hold stakes in the company in addition to other smaller TV networks outside the Kanto region and various key publishers. Toshiba Solutions stands out as the sole technology company in the list of shareholders on VR's site so I'm guessing that the ratings monitoring equipment could have been procured from Toshiba. Surprisingly, NHK has nothing to do with this company. Anyway, it just comes across as weird that the investors are the ones having their ratings investigated by a company they jointly own and frankly speaking, it does seem to give rise to the appearance of conflict of interests. Not that I'm suggesting anything here but it's probably something not many people realise until they do some research on VR.

Next up, I will explain a bit more about the concept of ratings e.g. what it means by household and individual ratings and the methodology to monitor ratings on TV programmes. Please give your comments (if any) on this topic or if you would like me to do a special report similar to this for another Japanese entertainment-related topic!

Preview of "PRICELESS" - Autumn 2012

Official site: here
O.A. Start Date: 22 October 2012
Timeslot: Mondays 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Theme song: Jumping Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones
Cast: Kimura Takuya, Nakai Kiichi, Karina, Fujigaya Taisuke, Renbutsu Misako, Masu Takeshi, Maeda Oushiro, Tanaka Kanao, Nakamura Atsuo, Issei Ogata, Natsuki Mari, Fujiki Naohito

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Production press conference of "Double Face" drama SPs

The production press conference of TBS and WOWOW joint production "Double Face" was held on 3 October which was attended by Nishijima Hidetoshi and Kagawa Teruyuki. Nishijima stars in the TBS version to be shown on 15 October as a police officer who infiltrates a gang while Kagawa plays a gangster who joins the police force in the WOWOW version to be shown on 27 October.

Source: Sanspo

Oguri Shun & Yamada Yu's wedding in Okinawa

Oguri Shun and Yamada Yu who registered their marriage earlier this year on 14 March, were reported to have held their wedding ceremony in Okinawa on 2 October according to the 4th October issue of "Josei Seven". It was said that the wedding was held at Yamada's hometown in Okinawa so that her grandparents didn't need to travel too far and the event was attended by their family members including Yamada's mother Yamada Mikako and her younger brother Yamada Shintaro. The wedding was produced by Yamada's mother as she is in the bridal business.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Reset Hontou no Shiawase no Mitsukekata"

Title: Reset ~ Hontou no Shiawase no Mitsukekata
Official site: here
O.A. Date: 30 September 2012, 9pm
Broadcast by: TBS / MBS
Original novel by: Kakiya Miu
Cast: Suzuki Honami, Takashima Reiko, Sakai Maki, Shida Mirai, Sakuraba Nanami, Yamaya Kasumi, Higashide Masahiro, Nukumizu Yoichi, Ootomo Kohei, Okunuki Kaoru, Bengal, Terawaki Yasufumi, Takahashi Keiko