Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oshima Yuko announces her graduation from AKB48 during the 64th Kouhaku

Oshima Yuko announced her graduation from AKB48 when she was performing with the group during the 64th Kouhaku held on New Year's Eve. Right after the group sang their 2013 hit song "Koi suru Fortune Cookie", Oshima suddenly made the announcement that this will be her last Kouhaku performance as a AKB48 member and said that she had sung with gratitude towards everyone. After the performance, Arashi, who was the host, asked Oshima about this decision which she said that was not made known to her fellow members beforehand and she declared that she was going solo using her own name from 2014 onwards.

Source: Sanspo

PUFFY's Yoshimura Yumi announces her divorce

PUFFY's Yoshimura Yumi announced through her fanclub site on 31 December that she is divorced from her second husband who is 5 years younger than her. The couple had registered their marriage on New Year's Eve in 2009. According to the statement, they had submitted their divorce application a few days ago but she did not go into details why they split up. Yoshimura also apologised for the fact that this turn of events would have disappointed many people who had given their support and blessings when they got married.

Yoshimura was previously married to T.M. Revolution's Nishikawa Takanori between April 1999 and July 2002 and later dated actor Omori Nao but the relationship also ended. She then met her second husband in September 2009 and they got married in December the same year. At the time of the marriage announcement, Yoshimura explained that they had been friends for already 7 years before they started dating. The couple's son was born in August 2012 and his custody is said to be held by Yoshimura who vowed to work hard as a single mother and shower lots of love on her son.

Meanwhile, due to the fact that PUFFY was invited to perform at an outdoor concert organised by Nishikawa in September this year, there was talk that Yoshimura and Nishikawa had gotten back together but he had denied the rumours.

Source: Sanspo

Musician Otaki Eiichi passes away at the age of 65

Musician Otaki Eiichi passed away on 30 December at his home due to aortic dissection, as announced by his agency Sony Music Records on 31 December. Otaki was 65 years old. He was said to have been with his family in the evening of 30 December when he suddenly collapsed and was sent to the hospital. However, while on the way to the hospital, his heart was said to have stopped beating.

Otaki used to be part of a band "Happy End" with Hosono Haruomi and Matsumoto Takashi before they disbanded in 1973. He then set up his own label and released hits such as "Kimi wa Tenneniro" and "Koi suru karen" while writing songs for other artistes as well.

Source: Sanspo

*For most people, I think Otaki's most famous work associated with a drama should be his theme song "Shiawase na ketsumatsu" for "Love Generation". Here's the video of the song to refresh your memory.

All credits due to the parties who hold the copyright to this song.

Preview of "HAMU - Kouan Keisatsu no Otoko"

Title: HAMU Kouan Keisatsu no Otoko
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 10 January 2014, 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Cast: Takizawa Hideaki, Ozawa Yukiyoshi, Jinnai Takanori, Kashiwabara Shuji, Takagi Yuya (Hey! Say! JUMP), Harada Natsuki, Toda Naho

Monday, December 30, 2013

Preview of "Lost Days" - Winter 2014

Title: Lost Days
Official website: here
Official Facebook page: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 11 January 2014
Timeslot: Saturdays 11.10pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Cast: Seto Koji, Ishibashi Anna, Triendl Reina, Yoshizawa Ryo, Kojima Fujiko, Miyoshi Ayaka, Kiriyama Ren

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Review of "Koi" (Drama SP)

Title: Koi
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 16 Dec 2013, 9pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Original novel by: Koike Mariko
Cast: Ishihara Satomi, Iura Arata, Tanaka Rena, Saito Takumi, Kakizawa Hayato, Kazama Toru, Ishibashi Renji, Harada Mieko, Watabe Atsuro

Despite having a very simple title, the story of this SP is not exactly as straightforward as it suggests. Right from the start, when you have more than a man and a woman in the equation, things are likely to get complicated. At the centre of this story are Yano Fumiko (Ishihara Satomi), a 22-year-old university student, Katase Shintaro (Iura Arata), an university's assistant professor and his wife Hinako (Tanaka Rena). Back in 1972 on 28 February when the whole of Japan's attention was on the United Red Army's Asama Sanso case in Karuizawa, another murder-cum-assault case took place in the vicinity but was little talked about. Fumiko was sentenced to jail for fatally shooting Okubo Katsuya (Saito Takumi), an employee from an electrical shop, and injuring Shintaro and causing him to be paralysed from the waist down. Hinako was also at the crime scene but nobody revealed what exactly happened on that day which led to this outcome.

More than 40 years later, a report writer Torigai Mitsuhiko (Watabe Atsuro) comes to look for the now-elderly Fumiko (Harada Mieko) in a bid to find out what really happened in the 1972 case. Although Fumiko is initially resistant about opening up, she decides to talk after knowing that she is about to die due to terminal cancer...

Fumiko had come to know the Katase couple when she was engaged to work part-time and assist Shintaro in the translation of an English novel. However, she soon realised that the relationship between Shintaro and Hinako seemed twisted especially when she finds out that Hinako was sleeping around with others but Shintaro didn't seem bothered by his wife's behaviour. Fumiko also found herself being drawn to Shintaro and eventually had a one-night stand with him. She was expecting Hinako to get angry with her for sleeping with Shintaro but was shocked to know that she seemed nonchalant too. This deeply shook Fumiko as she found it very difficult to understand what was going on in the Katases' minds.

Soon after, Hinako began an intense relationship with Katsuya who had come to their Karuizawa bungalow to fix a broken light. Shintaro realised that this relationship was different from that of those physical ones which Hinako had in the past and was greatly disturbed by Katsuya's presence. Fumiko felt bewildered by Shintaro's sudden change in behaviour and only came to know the big secret Shintaro and Hinako had been hiding which explained why they behaved the way they did in the past. Upon knowing this, Fumiko wanted to help Shintaro and Hinako get back together but Hinako was reluctant to let go of Katsuya. At the end of the confrontation, Fumiko shot Katsuya to death and accidentally wounded Shintaro who had tried to protect Hinako who was shielding her lover.

Frankly speaking, until you get to the final revelation, the story might not have made much sense especially since it was unfathomable why Shintaro and Hinako were together despite her cheating ways. However, I thought that the reason was weaved nicely into the story so it didn't feel like it was shoved down your throat and forced the reader/viewer to accept it point blank. Although the likelihood of this happening may seem quite low in real life, I think that was probably the only way to explain why Shintaro and Hinako had such a relationship and could stay married.

On the other hand, Fumiko's obsession with the couple seemed a bit more difficult to understand, at least to me. I can understand that she was attracted to Shintaro and felt sorry that he was about to lose Hinako to Katsuya which led her to commit the shooting. At the same time, I think she also felt a lot of admiration for and adored Hinako which led me to wonder at times if she had loved Hinako in the same way as she did for Shintaro. However, to protect their secret and spend her prime years in jail was too big a price to pay. Then again, she probably gathered that telling the truth would not have helped her to receive a lighter sentence since she did kill Katsuya and hurt Shintaro after all. Maybe to most onlookers, it would be impossible to rationalise why Fumiko was so besotted with the couple and wanted them to stay together but I guess the writer of this story probably just wanted to show Fumiko's side of the story and leave it to viewers to decide if she was silly for sacrificing so much in the name of love. On the surface, the Katases did not really seem to be doing anything to "repay" Fumiko for her actions but I think the growing of that tree and Shintaro's message to Fumiko in the credits of the translated book suggested that they were indeed grateful to her, just that it couldn't be expressed openly in ways such as meeting Fumiko face-to-face. I think if they had to meet up, the anguish, pain and weight of the past might make it a very sorrowful reunion for the trio. I doubt that that the Katases would have even thought that their own decisions and actions would indirectly impact someone's life so drastically so the only way they could make amends to Fumiko was probably to stay together as what she would have wished for.

As for the cast's performance, Ishihara Satomi would definitely be more eye-catching, considering that she is the lead and her character goes through a subtle transformation from one who doesn't know love to one who gives her all for love. Fumiko was initially fumbling in front of the Katases, unsure of how to behave but gradually became more at ease around them. In this regard, I think Ishihara handled the change in Fumiko quite nicely and convincing.

On the other hand, I think Tanaka Rena attracted my attention more because she was simply so relaxed in her portrayal of Hinako that I thought she was Hinako herself. Having watched Tanaka since her debut days, I think she has finally come to the stage where she's totally at ease with herself and her acting is becoming more natural in the sense that she looks convincing in whatever character she plays. This can only come with more experience so I'm looking forward to seeing her in even more eye-catching roles in future. As for Iura Arata, he has this air of mystique that draws people which I think he displays it well during his interaction with Ishihara Satomi. Then again, his role was pretty bland throughout the first part of the story until he showed his vulnerability when Hinako became involved with Katsuya so in this sense, he is at a losing end compared to his female co-stars whose characters tend to be more intriguing.

And my ratings for this drama SP...

Story: 7 out of 10 (Whether you agree with the decisions and actions taken by the characters is one thing but I thought the story was crafted quite nicely, albeit pacing could be improved)
Acting: 8 out of 10 (More for Ishihara Satomi and Tanaka Rena)
Theme song: 5 out of 10 (There isn't a so-called theme song for this SP but the BGM was fine, just not that impressive)
Visual effects / Scenery: 7.5 out of 10 (The scenes at Karuizawa were especially nice to look at e.g. the lush greenery)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 7 out of 10 (I thought that the three leads worked well together)

Total: 34.5 out of 50

Preview of "Iryu 4" - Winter 2014

Title: Iryu 4
Official website: here
Official Facebook page: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 9 January 2014
Timeslot: Thursdays 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Original manga by: Nogisaka Taro
Theme song: Aoi Ryu by ATSUSHI (EXILE)
Cast: Sakaguchi Kenji, Inamori Izumi, Koike Teppei, Abe Sadao, Taira Mikijiro, Sasaki Kuranosuke, Natsuki Mari, Kishibe Ittoku, Takahashi Katsunori

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Sawajiri Erika announces her divorce from Takashiro Tsuyoshi

Sawajiri Erika announced during a press conference on 28 December that she and her husband Takashiro Tsuyoshi were officially divorced as of 26 December 2013. She apologised for the controversy and worry caused as a result of the speculations surrounding her divorce for the past 2 years or so and pledged to work harder from next year onwards. When asked about her feelings at the point of signing her divorce application, Sawajiri said that she was filled with positive thoughts about her future and it had been a tough journey getting to this day.

Sawajiri and Takashiro got married on 7 January 2009 and held their wedding at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and in Hawaii. However, just one year and three months into their marriage, it was revealed on 27 April 2010 that the couple had plans to get divorced but it did not happen as planned on 16 May 2011. For the past two and a half years, no significant development was reported in the media until it was revealed that Takashiro submitted the divorce application alone on 26 December. There is no alimony payment to Sawajiri who plans to continue her acting career.

During the 3-minute press conference, Sawajiri thanked the media for gathering during such a busy period and asked for everyone's support as she works hard in her career from 2014 onwards. However, when asked if she has plans to date again, Sawajiri stressed that she will concentrate on her career rather than think about this.

Source: Oricon

Harada Tomoyo announces her divorce

Harada Tomoyo announced through her official website on 27 December that she and her illustrator husband Ed Tsuwaki were divorced after being married for 8 years. According to the statement, Harada said that they had decided to go their separate ways but did not go into details on when the divorce was finalised. She also commented in her statement that they will continue to respect each other as friends and build a new type of relationship after the separation. Harada and Tsuwaki met in the autumn 2004 before getting married in May 2005 after a six-month courtship. He had been involved in the design of Harada's CD jackets and concerts in the past.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Boku no Ita Jikan" - Winter 2014

Title: Boku no Ita Jikan
Official website: here
Official blog: here
O.A. Start Date: 8 Jan 2014
Timeslot: Wednesdays 10pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Cast: Miura Haruma, Tabe Mikako, Saito Takumi, Kazama Shunsuke, Yamamoto Mitsuki, Nomura Shuhei, Hamabe Minami, Fubukoshi Mitsuru, Koichi Mantaro, Asada Miyoko, Harada Mieko

Friday, December 27, 2013

Mikami Hiroshi to play the sadistic director of a children welfare home in "Ashita, Mama ga inai"

Mikami Hiroshi will be taking on the key role of the sadistic director of a children welfare home in the upcoming NTV Winter 2014 drama "Ashita, Mama ga inai" which begins its run from 15 January 2014 and features child actor Ashida Mana as its lead. This is Mikami's first appearance in a private network since four years ago and he plays the role of Sasaki Tomonori, who is the director of "Kogamo no Ie" which takes in children who cannot stay with their mothers for reasons like sickness or economic hardship. Sasaki always wears a black coat and drags his feet while using a walking stick and would always use harsh words on the children staying in the welfare home. As such, he is nicknamed "Demon King" by the children but nobody really knows about the pain and troubles Sasaki hides underneath this facade. When asked about his impression of his young co-stars like Ashida and Suzuki Rio, he said that he was impressed by their ability to understand what they were doing and really thinks that they are able to act with their hearts which is quite unthinkable considering that they are only primary school students.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Rihwa to sing the theme song for FujiTV Winter 2014 drama "Boku no Ita Jikan"

Singer-songwriter Rihwa will be singing her first drama theme song for the FujiTV Winter 2014 drama "Boku no Ita Jikan" starring Miura Haruma which begins its run from 8 January 2014 in the Wednesdays 10pm timeslot. The song titled "Harukaze" (Spring wind) is a ballad specially written for the drama.

Rihwa had sung the insert song "Last Love" for the FujiTV spring 2013 drama "Last Cinderella" which achieved 300,000 downloads and is the No.7 song in the annual mobile ringtone download ranking. Following her success, this led to the producer of "Last Cinderella" and "Boku no Ita Jikan", Nakano Toshiyuki to approach Rihwa this time for the theme song of the new drama. The song will be released as a single on 26 February 2014.

Source: Sanspo

Yonekura Ryoko caught dating a freelance editor in his mid 30s?

Yonekura Ryoko is reportedly dating a freelance editor in his mid-30s, according to a report in he 26th December issue of FRIDAY. Earlier in August this year, Yonekura was already romantically-linked to this man in a woman's weekly magazine.

According to FRIDAY, the two of them had reportedly met up during an evening in early December where Yonekura drove to Aoyama to pick up her rumoured boyfriend and they spent the night at her place. The article mentioned that the couple meets up almost every week and are planning for marriage. However, when FRIDAY tried to contact Yonekura about this report, she declined to comment and said that she was not feeling well so couldn't take on the interview. When asked about the report, Yonekura's agency said that she is already an adult so they will leave her private affairs to herself.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Fukuie Keibuho no Aisatsu" - Winter 2014

Title: Fukuie Keibuho no Aisatsu
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 14 January 2014
Timeslot: Tuesdays 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Original novel by: Okura Takahiro
Cast: Dan Rei, Inagaki Goro and Emoto Tokio

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Preview of "Shitsuren Chocolatier" - Winter 2014

Title: Shitsuren Chocolatier
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 13 January 2014
Timeslot: Mondays 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Original comic by: Mizushiro Setona
Cast: Matsumoto Jun, Ishihara Satomi, Mizukawa Asami, Mizuhara Kiko, Mizobata Junpei, Arimura Kasumi, Kato Shigeaki (NEWS), Sato Ryuta, Takenaka Naoto

Kimura Takuya to star in TV Asahi drama SP "Miyamoto Musashi"

SMAP's Kimura Takuya will be starring in the TV Asahi drama SP "Miyamoto Musashi" which will be shown in March 2014 over two nights. This is his first period drama appearance in 7 years and 3 months (last appearance was a blind swordsman in the movie "Bushi no Ichibun" in December 2006) and he will be playing Miyamoto Musashi in this SP which is also a special programme to celebrate TV Asahi's 55th anniversary. Filming has already begun.

Source: Sanspo

MISIA to sing the theme song for TBS Winter 2014 drama "S - Saigo no Keisatsukan"

MISIA will be singing the theme song for TBS Winter 2014 drama "S - Saigo no Keisatsukan" starring Mukai Osamu which begins its run from 12 January 2014 in the Sundays 9pm timeslot. The song titled "Boku wa Pegasus Kimi wa Polaris" is due to be released as MISIA's 30th single on 5th February. MISIA commented that she wrote the lyrics after reading the script of the drama which tries to discuss what true strength is and how people's hopes and deep love can be conveyed to others.

Source: Sanspo

Aiba Masaki, Ikuta Toma, Eikura Nana & Han Hyo-joo star in new movie "MIRACLE Debikuro-kun no Koi to Mahou"

Arashi's Aiba Masaki will be taking on his first solo leading role in a movie as he appears in Inudo Isshin's new production "MIRACLE Debikuro-kun no Koi to Mahou" (MIRACLE The love and magic of Debikuro-kun) along with his agency mate Ikuta Toma, Eikura Nana and South Korean actress Han Hyo-joo. Aiba last worked with Inudo in Arashi's movie "Kiiroi Namida" back in 2007.

The new movie is based on the novel by Nakamura Kou which was inspired by Yamashita Tatsuro's famous Christmas hit song "Christmas Eve". Aiba plays the role of Hikaru, a gentle but somewhat incompetent employee of a bookstore who dreams of being a manga artist. At night, he would go around pasting sheets of a manga he draws which is named "Debikuro Tsuushin" at various places, hoping that his work can bring warmth to whoever sees it. Eikura plays Hikaru's childhood friend Anna who is the only one that knows about Hikaru's secret and is the No.1 fan of Debikuro Tsuushin. Han Hyo-joo will play the role of a lighting designer Soyeon who meets Hikaru by chance while Ikuta will play Hikaru's ex-classmate in university Kitayama who has become a bestselling manga artist now.

The movie will be shown in cinemas from autumn 2014.

Source: Eiga.com

Mizukawa Asami & Kimura Fumino to star in new movie "Taiyo no suwaru basho"

Mizukawa Asami and Kimura Fumino will be starring in the new movie "Taiyo no suwaru basho" which is based on the novel by Naoki Award winner Tsujimura Mizuki. Besides them, Miura Takahiro and Mori Kanna will also be part of the cast lineup in this movie which is the 60th anniversary production of Yamanashi Broadcast Station. Initially, Tsujimura was reluctant and worried about this novel being made into a movie but after knowing that the director is going to be Yazaki Hitoshi and reading the scenario, she was convinced that he would do a good job.

Mizukawa will play the role of Kyoko who used to be regarded as the queen in her class during her senior high school days but leads an ordinary life as a female announcer at a local TV station now. On the other hand, her ex-classmate also by the name of Kyoko (different Kanji characters) played by Kimura who used to be a plain student, has changed into a top-class actress leading a glamorous life. When they meet again for the first time in 10 years during a class reunion, the secret hidden between them comes out into the open as they grapple with jealousy, evil thoughts towards each other and the desire to take revenge against their past. Filming is nearing completion at the moment and the movie will be shown during autumn 2014.

Source: Eiga.com

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Preview of "Dr.DMAT" - Winter 2014

Title: Dr.DMAT
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 9 January 2014
Timeslot: Thursdays 9pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Original novel: Dr.DMAT ~ Gareki no shita no Hippocrates by Takano Hiroshi and Kikuchi Akio
Cast: Okura Tadayoshi, Kato Ai, Takimoto Miori, Aso Yumi, Ichikawa Mikako, Sato Jiro, Hosshan, Matsuo Satoru, Takizawa Saori, Takagi Yuya (Hey! Say! JUMP), Hidari Tonbei, Ishiguro Ken, Kunimura Jun

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Eita & Matsuda Ryuhei to appear in the new movie "Mahoro Ekimae Kyousoukyoku"

Eita and Matsuda Ryuhei will be the leads again in the new movie "Mahoro Ekimae Kyousoukyoku" which is the sequel to the previous installment "Mahoro Ekimae Tada Benriken" shown two years ago. This time, the movie will be shown in 200 cinemas which is twice than that of what the previous movie achieved.

The new movie is based on the same-titled novel by Miura Shion about a pair of friends who operate a convenience business and get drawn into various things as a result. This time, they find themselves having to take care of a baby girl which leads to a number of unexpected happenings along the way. Filming starts in February 2014 and is expected to include new cast additions.

Source: Sponichi

Preview of "Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo - Gokumonjuku Satsujin Jiken"

Title: Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo - Gokumonjuku Satsujin Jiken
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 4 January 2014, 9pm
Broadcast by: NTV
Original manga by: Amaki Seimaru / Sato Fumiya
Cast: Yamada Ryosuke (Hey! Say! JUMP), Kawaguchi Haruna, Arioka Daiki (Hey! Say! JUMP), Wu Zun, Nickhun (2PM), Haru, Maeda Gouki, Miyoshi Ayaka, Kurihara Rui, RYU, Kasahara Hideyuki, Hida Yasuhito, Narimiya Hiroki, Kitamura Kazuki

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hit commemoration event for movie "Bushi no Kondate"

To commemorate the movie "Bushi no Kondate" being a hit in the box office, a special event was held at a cinema in Tokyo where Ueto Aya and Koura Kengo appeared to greet the audience. As the New Year is approaching, Koura gave Ueto a box of flowers as a present.When asked about their favourite New Year dishes, Ueto cited the black beans in osechi cuisine while Koura chose ozoni. As for their plans over the upcoming holidays, Ueto said that she will spend it with her family while Koura has plans to go for a visit to the shrine with his friends.

During the filming of this movie, the leads spent a lot of time practising and learning about cooking. Ueto mentioned that when she had to clean and cut up a fish in one of the scenes, she was so nervous and tried her best to do it properly since she didn't want the fishes to go to waste. Luckily, she managed to do it after three to four practices.

Source: Eiga.com

EXILE's vocalist ATSUSHI to sing the theme song for Winter 2014 drama "Iryu 4 ~ Team Medical Dragon"

EXILE's vocalist ATSUSHI will be singing the theme song for FujiTV's Winter 2014 drama "Iryu 4 ~ Team Medical Dragon" which is due to be begin its run from 9 January at 10pm on Thursdays. The theme song "Aoi Ryu" (Blue Dragon" was written by ATSUSHI after he had discussions with the drama's staff and doctor advisors and will be released as his solo single on 19 February.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Nemuri no Mori"

Title: Nemuri no Mori
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 2 January 2014, 9pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Original novel by: Higashino Keigo
Cast: Abe Hiroshi, Ishihara Satomi, Otozuki Kei, Kinami Haruka, Otani Eiko, Miyao Shuntaro, Takezai Terunosuke, Kato Toranosuke, Uchida Asahi, Triendl Reina, Emi Kurara, Matsuo Takashi, Nadao Tatsuo, Hira Takehiro, Horiuchi Keiko, Kusamura Reiko, Emoto Akira, Yamazaki Tsutomu

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Preview of "TRICK - Shinsaku SP 3"

Title: TRICK - Shinsaku SP 3
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 12 January 2014, 9pm
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Directed by: Tsutsumi Yukihiko
Cast: Nakama Yukie, Abe Hiroshi, Namase Katsuhisa, Nogiwa Yoko, Ikeda Tetsuhiro, Oshima Yoko, Abedin Mohammed, Seto Yoichiro, Iijima Naoko, Fujita Tomoko, Kokusho Sayuri, Fukushi Souta, Asakura Aki, Kamijo Tsunehiko, Ishida Taro, Morioka Yutaka, Fuke Norimasa, Maruyama Tomomi

Preview of "Kinkyuu Torishirabeshitsu" - Winter 2014

Title: Kinkyuu Torishirabeshitsu (Emergency Interrogation Room)
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 9 January 2014
Timeslot: Thursdays 9pm
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Scriptwriter: Inoue Yumiko
Theme song: Door by JUJU
Cast: Amami Yuki, Tanaka Tetsushi, Hayami Mokomichi, Suzuki Kosuke, Sasai Eisuke, Kusakari Masao, Den Den, Osugi Ren, Kohinata Fumio

First-day-screening event of movie "Eien no Zero"

The first-day-screening of movie "Eien no Zero" was held on 21 December at TOHO Cinemas Nichigeki 1 which was attended by the cast members Okada Junichi, Miura Haruma, Inoue Mao, the director Yamazaki Takashi and the original novel's author Hyakuta Naoki. Okada commented during the event that it was a honour for him to be involved in this movie along with everyone else. Although it was a tough role to play, he was thankful for the support of the director especially when the latter seemed to be able to read his mind before he raised suggestions on how to improve on the acting.

Okada and Inoue who play a couple in this movie, will also be leads of Taiga dramas in consecutive years i.e. Okada's 2014 Taiga "Gunshi Kanbee" followed by Inoue's 2015 Taiga "Hana Moyu". As such, Okada hoped that he can do well in his drama and pass on the baton to Inoue come next year. In response, Inoue jokingly said that he actually shouldn't try too hard because it will only put more pressure on her.

Filming for the movie started in June 2012 and the director had spent a year prior to that writing the script. As such, it was a long journey for him too after all the time spent on this production. Especially since the novel wasn't selling as well as now when the announcement was made to make this movie, it was a bit intimidating for him because the movie had to live up to the popularity of the novel and expectations of the fans. With regard to this, Hyakuta said that he had lots of faith in the director and even praised him as the best in Japan.

Source: Eiga.com

First-day-screening event of movie "Mugiko-san to"

The first-day-screening of movie "Mugiko-san to" was held at Theatre Shinjuku on 21 December which was attended by the cast Horikita Maki, Matsuda Ryuhei and Yo Kimiko as well as the director Yoshida Keisuke. Horikita commented that they started the year 2013 filming this movie so it was great to be able to finish up the year with the film's release. When asked to reflect on her busy year, Horikita described that it felt really long but used the word "Raku" (happiness) to sum up her year in a single Kanji character since she had many opportunities to do various things. As for Matsuda who plays her elder brother in the movie, he used the word "En" (fate) to describe his year filled with awards for his performance in the movie "Fune wo Amu" and said that it was his fortune to meet and work with people who helped to bring in this success for him.

Although this was the first time that Horikita and Matsuda had worked together, she described him as a natural in acting and he felt just like her own brother in no time. Matsuda also said that Horikita did look quite scary at first because she didn't speak a lot but he started to warm up to her and treat her as his own sister once she started flashing her cute smiles at him. In defence, Horikita claimed that she did speak a lot on set but Matsuda said that she would be quite grumpy early in the morning when he greeted her so she explained that she needed time to "jump-start" her engine in the morning since they were filming during winter. Yo who plays their mother, said that the two leads resemble each other in terms of the feeling they give off and even commented that she would be one lucky mum if they are both her children.

Source: Eiga.com

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Preview of "Daikuukou 2013" - WOWOW

Title: Daikuukou 2013
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 29 December 2013, 10pm
Broadcast by: WOWOW
Scriptwriter & Director: Mitani Koki
Cast: Takeuchi Yuko, Kagawa Teruyuki, Toda Erika, Kajihara Zen, Ishibashi Anna, Ikematsu Sosuke, Jinno Misuzu, Ayata Toshiki, Komoto Masahiro, Aoki Sayaka, Odagiri Jo, Namase Katsuhisa

Friday, December 20, 2013

Completion screening of WOWOW drama SP "Daikuukou 2013"

The completion screening cum press conference of WOWOW's new drama SP "Daikuukou 2013" (Big Airport 2013) which was written and directed by Mitani Koki and starring Takeuchi Yuko was held on 20 December. The drama SP will be shown via WOWOW on 29 Dec at 10pm and is set in the Matsumoto Airport in Nagano Prefecture, where a family is forced to stay there as their flight makes an emergency landing due to bad weather and how they interact with the airport staff. What's special about this SP was that the 100-min story was done in a one-scene-one-cut non-stop format using a single camera and is the second such attempt by WOWOW since 2011's "short cut". Takeuchi plays the role of a a ground staff named Okouchi Chigusa.

When Takeuchi first got the offer to star in this drama, she thought it was a very interesting and fun way of making a drama. However, once she got involved in the filming, she started to doubt why she agreed to it in the first place and was shocked at how tough it was to do it. Filming was done in April this year over six days at Matsumoto Airport (the actual filming took 5 days). Even though the script should have been ready for the cast before the actual filming, Takeuchi "complained" that she would only get it while on the way from Tokyo to Matsumoto and she would be on the verge of tears while trying to memorise her lines during the journey. As such, she said that she was representing the cast to ask Mitani to come up with the script faster next time but he just brushed off the topic by saying that he still came up with the script after all so it wasn't really an issue. When asked if Takeuchi would still like to take part in another Mitani work in this format, she said that she might consider it for a while but would still agree to take it on in the end.

Source: Sponichi

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Preview of "Team Batista 4 - Raden Meikyuu" (Winter 2014)

Title: Team Batista 4 - Raden Meikyuu
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 7 January 2014
Timeslot: Tuesdays 10pm
Broadcast by: KTV / FujiTV
Original novel: Kaido Takeru
Theme song: Hide & Seek by Tohoshinki
Cast: Ito Atsushi, Nakamura Toru, Kuriyama Chiaki, Nishijima Hidetoshi, Mizuno Miki, Yanagiba Toshiro

Premiere event of movie "TRICK Gekijouban Last Stage"

The premiere event of movie "TRICK Gekijouban Last Stage" was held on 17 December in Tokyo which was attended by the cast members Nakama Yukie, Abe Hiroshi, Namase Katsuhisa, Nogiwa Yoko, Higashiyama Noriyuki. Kitamura Kazuki, Mizuhara Kiko, Ikeda Tetsuhiro and the director Tsutsumi Yukihiko. About 1,000 fans came to the event for the final movie in the TRICK series which started as a TV drama 14 years ago and will be shown in cinemas from 11 January 2014. The movie features Yamada Naoko (Nakama) and Ueda Jiro (Abe) fighting against a mysterious black magician from Malaysia played by Mizuhara as they try to solve a series of bizarre deaths.

Nakama commented that TRICK holds a very special place in her heart since this was the first private network drama in which she had a leading role and there were many things she learnt during the last 14 years. In fact, she never imagined that the series could last this long and thanked everyone for their support. Abe also revealed that when they shot the first drama, it was under such tough conditions that they could not sleep at all. During the past 14 years, everyone had grown up in their own ways and it was sad to end the series but he was thankful for the love shown towards them. On the other hand, Nogiwa who plays Naoko's mother, jokingly said that it was bewildering that she started the series as a 18-year-old (playing her younger self) and ended up as 77 years old by the time the series ended. She also "complained" to the director about being left out of the filming trip to Malaysia even though this was the final movie in the series.

Mizuhara who took part in the series for the first time, said that most of her lines were in Malay so it was a memorable experience for her. Similarly, Higashiyama who also appears in TRICK for the first time remarked in jest that he probably can't join the cast of "Terumae Romae" because his looks are not as outstanding as Abe's or Kitamura's but he was glad to be able to take part in the last installment of "TRICK:.

Source: Eiga.com

Kaname Jun announces the birth of his first son

Kaname Jun announced the arrival of his first son through Twitter on 17 December. According to his agency, Kaname's son was born on 14 December and he revealed that he was speechless due to the excitement and being touched at seeing his son. Kaname also promised to work hard at being a father and actor and hopes to do better in future with a wider range of roles.

Kaname got married in April this year with the president of a beauty products company and announced it the following month.

Source: Sponichi

E-girls to star in their first drama "Koibumi Biyori"

EXILE's sister group E-girls will be making their drama debut in a leading role through the NTV Winter 2014 drama "Koibumi Biyori" which begins its run from 6 January 2014 in the Mondays 1.29am timeslot. The drama which is based on the manga by George Asakura and won the 2005 Kodansha Mangasho Shoujo category, focuses on the love letters of senior high school students and will consist of 10 episodes with a different lead character in each episode.

Source: Sanspo

Matsushita Nao named as 2014 Goodwill Ambassador for four Eastern European countries

Matsushita Nao attended a ceremony held on 19 December where she was presented with a nomination certificate by Kishida Fumio, the Foreign Affairs Minister, which named her as the 2014 Goodwill Ambassador for four Eastern European countries including Poland. Matsushita will also be creating the theme song for this campaign and take part in various promotional events as part of her duties. Minister Kishida revealed that Matsushita was chosen due to her image and her career as a pianist which matches the rich musical history of these four Eastern European countries and she had already met the heads of states of these countries during an official visit to Poland in June with the Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. Matsushita commented after the ceremony that she hopes to visit these countries soon and introduce their charms to the Japanese people.

Source: Sanspo

Promotional event of movie "Kuroshitsuji"

A promotional event for new movie "Kuroshitsuji" starring Mizushima Hiro and Gouriki Ayame was held at TOHO Cinemas Roppongi Hills on 19 December which was attended by the leads. The movie will be screened in cinemas from 18 January and marks Mizushima's return to movies for the first time in three years. Having worked on this project and being also involved with the scriptwriting, Mizushima commented that he had given his all during the past two and a half years for this movie and was satisfied with the result. As for Gouriki, she admitted that Mizushima looked rather cool and intimidating before they started working together but they gradually became closer and she even said that Mizushima felt like a father looking after her even though his age is probably close enough to be her elder brother.

Source: Sanspo

Premiere screening event of movie "Judge!"

The premiere screening of new movie "Judge!" was held on 19 December at Marunouchi Picadilly which was attended by cast members Tsumabuki Satoshi, Kitagawa Keiko and Kimura Yuichi. The movie which will be shown in cinemas from 11 January 2014, is set in the advertising industry where Tsumabuki plays a struggling employee in an advertising firm and has to ask his colleague played by Kitagawa to pose as his wife in order to take part in a CM contest. Tsumabuki joked that he has been getting a lot of comedic roles lately while Kitagawa who had to beat and kick Tsumabuki multiple times in the movie, revealed that it was hard to do that at first but she slowly got the hang of it after repeated practice. As such, she was apologetic towards Tsumabuki who had to bear the brunt of her blows.

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tohoshinki to sing the theme song for FujiTV Winter 2014 drama "Team Batista 4 - Raden Meikyuu"

South Korean unit Tohoshinki will be singing the theme song for FujiTV's Winter 2014 drama "Team Batista 4 - Raden Meikyuu" which begins its run from 7 January 2014 in the Tuesdays 10pm timeslot. The duo will be singing a rock number titled "Hide & Seek" for the drama which is due to be released as a single on 5 February as their first CD in 2014 and was specially written for this drama.

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Talk show event of movie "Rikyu ni tazune yo"

The talk show event of movie "Rikyu ni tazune yo" was held at Shinjuku Wald 9 on 13 Dec which was attended by Nakatani Miki who plays Souen, the wife of the lead Rikyu played by Ichikawa Ebizo, and the director Tanaka Mitsutoshi. During the event, Nakatani commented that although the movie may seem to be focused more on describing the beauty of traditions, it is actually also a love story. The movie which is based on Naoki Award winner Yamamoto Kenichi's novel, describes how Sen no Rikyuu pours his heart and soul into the search for beauty and his long lost first love during his younger days.

It was also announced on the same day that ticket sales for the movie on 11 December which is Ladies' Day (women get discounted prices for tickets) actually exceeded the amount received on the first-day screening on 7 December by 101%. Usually, weekday ticket sales would be only 82.4% of weekend sales.

Source: Eiga.com

First-day screening of movie "Bushi no Kondate"

The first-day-screening of movie "Bushi no Kondate" was held at Marunouchi Picadilly on 14 Dec which was attended by the cast members Ueto Aya, Koura Kengo, Nishida Toshiyuki, Yo Kimiko and the director Asahara Yuzo. The movie is Ueto's first film since "Azumi 2 Death or Love" 8 years ago and she revealed during the event that it had been a conscious choice on her part not to take on movies during this period. Ueto said that her career was mainly built upon TV dramas and she was worried about whether she could attract people to pay money and watch her movies in the cinema. As such, it took 8 long years before she finally came to terms with the pressure and she commented that after a certain age, she no longer felt that figures were as important as her interest and desire to do things. Koura who plays Ueto's husband in the movie, said that since this is his first period movie and his first attempt at showing off his cutting skills on screen, everything was like brand new to him as he had to learn new stuff every day during the filming.

Source: Eiga.com

First-day screening of movie "Kanojo wa uso wo aishisugiteru"

The first-day screening of movie "Kanojo wa uso wo aishisugiteru" was held on 14 Dec at TOHO Cinemas Roppongi Hills which was attended by the cast Sato Takeru, Ohara Sakurako, Miura Shohei, Yoshizawa Ryo, Aibu Saki, Sorimachi Takashi, music producer Kameda Seiji and the director Koizumi Norihiro. During the event, Sato presented flowers to his co-star Ohara and praised her for the hard work she put in for this movie which led Ohara to cry due to the surprise gesture. Having won the audition 18 months ago from a field of more than 5,000 hopefuls, Ohara who is in her first leading role in a movie, expressed her thanks to everyone and feels like she is at the starting line again now that the movie is finally ready to be seen by the public.

Surprisingly, this movie is Sato's first romance movie and he said that it was great to be in the company of his female co-stars this time because he was always surrounded by men in his previous works. Aibu who plays the diva Mari and has a relationship with Sato's character, teased him for knowing how to film intimate scenes and taking the lead during the filming which made him look quite embarrassed. In response, he said that although the role of Mari was supposed to be a sexy woman, Aibu was quite shy in real life so he had to get her to be more relaxed in order for them to look more natural during those intimate scenes.

Miura who plays the vocalist of the band CRUDE PLAY in the movie, said that it was a short but fulfilling experience to be a singer since the band has already disbanded. However, if the movie becomes a hit, there is a likelihood that his band might be revived one day.

Source: Eiga.com

PR event of new movie "Boku wa tomodachi ga sukunai"

The PR event for new movie "Boku wa tomodachi ga sukunai" was at Harajuku on 15 Dec which was attended by the leads Seto Koji and Kitano Kii. The movie is due to be shown in cinemas from 1 February 2014 and features Seto and Kitano as Year 2 senior high students who form a club to make friends. When asked if they have many friends in real life compared to their characters, Seto said that his social life is close to non-existent while Kitano says that she only has two friends. As this is the first time that they are working together, Seto revealed that his first impression of Kitano wasn't that good because she wouldn't look at him in the eye and was so quiet that he thought she disliked him. At the same time, Kitano also thought that although Seto was friendly towards people he knew well, he was quiet in front of most people and didn't want to show his true self to others. However, the similarities in their characters made it easy for them to work together and they became much closer as the filming progressed.

Source: Eiga.com

The 10th Favourite Music Artiste Ranking 2013 (Oricon)

Numbers in brackets indicate the artiste's position held in last year's ranking.

Overall Top 20 Ranking
1) Arashi (1)
2) Ikimonogakari (2)
3) Mr.Children (3)
4) Fukuyama Masaharu (4)
5) Yuzu (5)
6) Utada Hikaru (8)
7) B'z (6)
8) Southern All Stars (7)
9) Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (outside of top 50)
10) Kobukuro (9)
11) Amuro Namie (16)
12) Spitz (11)
13) Porno Graffitti (10)
14) Momoiro Clover Z (outside of top 50)
15) Perfume (14)
16) YUI (15)
17) aiko (12)
18) Kuwata Keisuke (18)
19) EXILE (20)

Source: Oricon

And in case you wonder who were the previous years' winners, here it goes:

2004 - Utada Hikaru
2005 - aiko
2006 - aiko
2007 - Utada Hikaru
2008 - Utada Hikaru
2009 - Mr.Children
2010 - Arashi
2011 - Arashi
2012 - Arashi

Source: Oricon

And this is the top 10 for each age group (from teens to 40s):

Top 10 for teens
1) Arashi
2) Ikimonogakari
3) YUI
4) Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
5) Yuzu
7) Porno Graffitti
8) miwa
9) Momoiro Clover Z
10) B'z

Top 10 for people in their 20s
1) Arashi
2) Ikimonogakari
3) Mr.Children
4) Utada Hikaru
5) Yuzu
6) Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
7) Fukuyama Masaharu
8) B'z
9) Amuro Namie
10) Porno Graffitti

Top 10 for people in their 30s
1) Mr.Children
2) Ikimonogakari
3) Arashi
4) Fukuyama Masaharu
5) Amuro Namie
6) Utada Hikaru
7) B'z
8) Yuzu
9) Southern All Stars
10) Spitz

Top 10 for people in their 40s
1) Southern All Stars
2) Fukuyama Masaharu
3) Ikimonogakari
4) Kuwata Keisuke
5) Arashi
6) Mr.Children
7) Makihara Noriyuki
8) Utada Hikaru
9) Oda Kazumasa
10) Matsutoya Yumi

Top 5 artistes with the highest total sales figures in 2013 (Oricon)

Figures in brackets indicate the total revenue achieved by the artiste in 2013 through the sale of CDs and DVDs:

1) Arashi (14.192 billion yen)

2) AKB48 (13.254 billion yen)

3) B'z (5.379 billion yen)

4) Momoiro Clover Z (5.245 billion yen)

5) Kanjani 8 (4.738 billion yen)

Source: Oricon

Top 10 bestselling music DVDs of 2013 (Oricon)

Figures in brackets indicate the number of copies sold.

1) ARASHI Arafes - Arashi (805,858)

2) ARASHI LIVE TOUR Popcorn (718,382)

3) namie amuro 5 Major Domes Tour 2012 ~ 20th Anniversary Best ~ - Amuro Namie (233,650)

4) KANJANI 8 LIVE TOUR!! BEST ~ Minna no omoi wa dou nandai? Bokura no omoi wa mugendai!! - Kanjani 8 (220,626)


6) YOSHIO - new member - Kis-My-Ft2 (143,251)

7) Tohoshinki LIVE TOUR 2013 ~ TIME ~ - Tohoshinki (132,011)

8) Mr.Children TOUR POPSAURUS 2012 - Mr.Children (95,351)

9) NEWS LIVE TOUR 2012 ~ Utsukushii Koi ni suru yo - NEWS (90,346)


Source: Oricon

Top 10 bestselling albums of 2013 (Oricon)

For the top 100 albums listing, please go here. Figures in brackets indicate the number of copies sold.

1) LOVE - Arashi (796,525)

2) B'z The Best XXV 1988 - 1998 - B'z (583,230)

3) B'z The Best XXV 1999 - 2012 - B'z (573,050)

4) Funky Monkey Babys LAST BEST - FUNKY MONKEY BABYS (431,984)

5) Teppen tottande! - NMB48 (419,231)

6) FEEL - Amuro Namie (382,684)

7) JUKE BOX - Kanjani 8 (373,019)


9) Superfly BEST - Superfly (322,204)

10) TIME - Tohoshinki (298,389)