Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oizumi Yo releases new essay book "Oizumi Essay ~ Boku ga Tsuzutta 16nen"

Oizumi Yo held a publication event for his new book "Oizumi Essay ~ Boku ga Tsuzutta 16nen" on 29 April which is a compilation of his essays written over the past 16 years since 1997. The book has sold more than 70,000 copies in just 10 days since its release and even beat Murakami Haruki's new book at the Lipro Bookstore chain on the weekly sales ranking and cannot be bought from the bookstores at the moment due to lack of stock. As the book has already been printed up to its 4th edition, Oizumi commented that he may introduce some new content for the 5th and 6th editions so he jokingly "warned" the readers who had bought the earlier editions not to be too complacent about getting the book earlier than others.

The book contains the essays Oizumi published in three different magazines which talk about his life as a part-time worker, his university days, his family and how he got his first career breakthrough through the programme "Suiyou Doudeshou" between 1997 and 2005. As the book is now selling like hot cakes, the media was naturally concerned about how much he would earn but Oizumi pretended that he wasn't concerned about the money since he wrote the essays as a form of expression then did a turnaround by saying that he worked hard to write and should be duly compensated for that.

Source: Nikkansports

The 16th Nikkansports Grand Prix (Winter 2013)

This is a rather small-scale survey since there are less than 1,000 votes so the results tend to be heavily skewed and quite different from the general opinion or what you see in The Television Awards. Please don't be upset if your favourites or those who you think deserves an award doesn't appear here. ^__^

Numbers in brackets indicate number of votes.

Source: Nikkansports

Best Drama
1) Tonbi / TBS  (97)
2) Aibou season 11 / TV Asahi (96)
3) Yae no Sakura / NHK (93)
4) Jun to Ai / NHK (59)
5) Nobunaga no Chef / TV Asahi (57)

Best Leading Actor
1) Uchino Masaaki / Tonbi / TBS (175)
2) Mizutani Yutaka / Aibou season 11 / TV Asahi (163)
3) Kazama Shunsuke / Jun to Ai / NHK (75)
4) Eguchi Yosuke / dinner / FujiTV (70)
5) Eita / Saikou no Rikon / FujiTV (67)

Best Leading Actress
1) Ayase Haruka / Yae no Sakura / NHK (230)
2) Gouriki Ayame / Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Tecchou / FujiTV (101)
3) Sawaguchi Yasuko / Kasouken no Onna / TV Asahi (96)
4) Natsuna / Jun to Ai / NHK (94)
5) Nakama Yukie / Saki / FujiTV & Suzuki Kyoka / Yakou Kanransha / TBS (80)

Best Supporting Actor
1) Narimiya Hiroki / Aibou season 11 / TV Asahi (98)
2) Nishijima Hidetoshi / Yae no Sakura / NHK (92)
3) Sato Takeru / Tonbi / TBS (85)
4) Oikawa Mitsuhiro / Nobunaga Chef / TV Asahi (74)
5) Oizumi Yo / Sharehouse no Koibito / NTV (55)

Best Supporting Actress
1) Ono Machiko / Saikou no Rikon / FujiTV (89)
2) Iijima Naoko / Itsuka Hi no Ataru Basho de / NHK (77)
3) Shida Mirai / Nobunaga no Chef / TV Asahi (74)
4) Morishita Aiko / Jun to Ai / NHK (64)
5) Aibu Saki / Otome-san / TV Asahi (63)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

First-day-screening of movie "Toshokan Sensou"

The first-day-screening of movie "Toshokan Sensou" was held on 27 April at TOHO Cinemas Scala Za which was attended by cast members Okada Junichi, Eikura Nana, Fukushi Souta, Tanaka Kei, Kuriyama Chiaki, Nishida Naomi and Ishizaka Koji. The movie is a signature novel of Arikawa Hiro which has sold more than 4 million copies today and describes Japan in the near future where the freedom to read is obstructed by excessive censorship thus leading to the establishment of the library force which aims to maintain the public's freedom to read what they want. Okada plays a strict trainer Doujou Atsushi who is in-charge of newbie member Kasahara Iku where they can't stand each other initially but later become lovers.

Source: Sanspo

First-day-screening of movie "Wara no Tate"

The first-day-screening of movie "Wara no Tate" was held on 27 April at Marunouchi Picadilly 1 which was attended by cast members Osawa Takao, Matsushima Nanako, Fujiwara Tatsuya, Nagayama Kento and Ibu Masato along with the director Miike Takashi. Osawa greeted the audience by expressing his thanks to them for being there despite it being the first day of the Golden Week holidays. Matsushima commented that she had tried to go through extensive training to look like a SP officer alongside her male co-stars especially with regard to how to handle a gun. Fujiwara also praised his "bodyguards" Osawa and Matsushima for being focused on the intensive filming which lasted for quite some time. The movie was recently selected as one of the entries for the 66th Festival de Cannes in the competition category.

Source: Sanspo

Imai Tsubasa as one-day lecturer at Nihon University

Takki & Tsubasa's Imai Tsubasa took on the role of a one-day lecturer at Nihon University's Mishima campus in Shizuoka on 26 April where he talked about Spain to 400 students from the International Relations faculty while dressed in a new grey suit. Imai is the first Japanese individual selected as the Spanish Cultural Special Ambassador last year due to his extensive knowledge of the country and its country thus he was invited to be the lecturer by the university's professor Sumita Tetsuyasu. This is also the first time that a Johnny's Jimusho celebrity became an university lecturer.

Imai developed a deep interest for Spain ever since he went to learn the flamenco dance there in August 2007 for his stage play that year and even picked up Spanish. He was selected to be the navigator of NHK's Spanish learning programme in 2011 and had visited Spain 20 times within the last 7 years. Although Imai hoped to perform a flamenco dance during the lecture, he had to give up the thought at the last minute as he was down with appendicitis since last weekend.

Imai greeted the students with the Spanish greeting Hola and expressed his gratitude for being asked to speak at an university like Nihon University which has a long-running history. He began the lecture with his thoughts about Spain and showed a video of him performing the flamenco dance before teaching two verbs which he thought were very useful in Spain. Imai even prepared materials in advance to be given out to the students who were mainly from the first year. Professor Sumita praised Imai for being well-prepared, gave him 120 points for his performance and expressed his intention to get Imai to be a visiting lecturer in future. The students who attended his lecture would have to write a report about their thoughts so Imai said that he wished to go through every report and hopefully return them with his own messages to the students.

Source: Sanspo

Friday, April 26, 2013

Kiroro's Kinjo Ayano announces her divorce through official site

Kiroro's Kinjo Ayano announced her divorce on 26 April through a statement on the duo's official website. In the statement, Kinjo revealed that despite repeated discussions and lots of time spent on ironing out their differences, she and her husband decided to go their separate ways after realising that it was difficult for them to stay together. However, she expressed hope that things will become better for them in future and they will fulfill their responsibilities as parents to their three children (1 daughter and 2 sons). Kinjo also mentioned that once preparations are completed, Kiroro will make their return to the music scene.

Source: Sponichi Annex

Hirosue Ryoko to star in summer 2013 "Star Man ~ Kono Hoshi no Koi"

Hirosue Ryoko will take on her first drama leading role in 17 years through her appearance in the FujiTV summer 2013 drama "Star Man ~ Kono Hoshi no Koi" which begins its run in July in the Tuesdays 10pm timeslot. She plays the role of a 32-year-old  single mother by the name of Sawako who has to raise three sons and falls in love at first sight with a 25-year-old man played by Fukushi Souta, who Sawako finds lying on the roadside and on the verge of death. The drama will be directed by Tsutsumi Yukihiko who is known for his famous dramas such as "Keizoku" and "TRICK" while the script will be written by Okada Yoshikazu who is famous for his dramas such as "Saigo kara nibanme no koi" and "Nakuna, Hara-chan".

As Hirosue is also a mother of two boys who are 9 years old and 2 years old, she can identify with the struggles Sawako face especially when the latter try to get her kids ready for school in the morning. She also praised her co-star Fukushi for being good-looking enough for her to fall for at first sight. As for Fukushi, he commented that he saw Hirosue on TV when he was a kid so he feels amazed that he can actually work with her this time. Co-stars of this drama include Koike Eiko and Kansai Johnny Jrs Onishi Ryusei who plays Sawako's eldest son.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sakurai Sho to host 12-hour live music programme "THE MUSIC DAY Ongaku no Chikara"

Sakurai Sho will be hosting a 12-hour-long live music programme on NTV titled "THE MUSIC DAY Ongaku no Chikara" as announced on 24 April. The programme will feature 50 groups of artistes who will perform live at Makuhari Messe in Chiba on 6 July and is a special project with the theme of "songs which give the Japanese people strength" as part of NTV's 60th anniversary celebrations. There will be video footage of singers from the past 60 years in between the performances and is the first 12-hour-long live music programme in NTV's history. Viewers will be able to vote for their favourite songs through the programme's homepage. There are plans for this programme to be continued on an annual basis.

Sakurai has experience in hosting such major music shows thanks to his main host stints in "Best Artist:" since 2009 but he admitted that he was doubtful when told that he was selected to host this programme.

Source: Nikkansports

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Koshiba Fuuka to play the lead role Kiki in the movie "Majo no Takkyubin"

Koshiba Fuuka will take on the lead role of Kiki in the movie "Majo no Takkyubin" after winning the audition involving 500 people. The movie which is due to be shown next spring, is based on the children's classic by Kadono Eiko and will be the first real-life adaptation movie as well as the first movie where Koshiba takes on a leading role.

"Majo no Takkyubin" consists of 6 volumes and has sold about 1.8m copies since it was published from 1985. It has been translated into various languages such as English, Italian, Chinese, Swedish and Korean. The movie will focus on the first two volumes which describe how Kiki who is the child of a witch mother and an ordinary man, grows up to be a witch at a seaside town named Koriko and opens this shop named "Majo no Takkyubin". Filming will begin at an island in Seto Inland Sea from late May.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

MEGUMI to appear in NHK Taiga drama "Yae no Sakura"

MEGUMI will appear in her first NHK Taiga drama as she joins the cast of "Yae no Sakura" and takes on the role of Mizuno Tei who was the second wife of the Aizu clan's chief Kajiwara Heima and had actively promoted the education of women in Nemuro, Hokkaido Prefecture. In preparation for the role, MEGUMI also consulted her father-in-law Furuya Ikkou who is also an actor, for advice and did lots of research besides reading the script. Even though Furuya is also acting in "Yae no Sakura", there will be no scenes involving him and MEGUMI at the same time. MEGUMI will appear in the drama from the episode airing on 19 May.

Source: Sanspo

Asano Atsuko & Asano Yuuko wear wedding dresses in "Dakishimetai! Forever" SP

Asano Atsuko and Asano Yuuko wore wedding dresses in one of the scenes in their upcoming drama SP "Dakishimetai! Forever" which is due to be shown via FujiTV this autumn. This is the first time that the leads are wearing wedding dresses since the Dakishimetai drama series started in 1988 and the subsequent SPs in 1989, 1990 and 1999. Asano Yuuko plays the role of Natsuko who finds out that her husband had an affair and he has a child out of wedlock while Asano Atsuko plays a single stylist Asako in this SP. As to why the two of them are wearing wedding dresses despite Asako being single and Natsuko already married, the answer will be revealed in the SP.

Source: Sanspo

Completion press conference of movie "Real ~ Kanzen naru Kubinagaryu no Hi"

The completion press conference of movie "Real ~ Kanzen naru Kubinagaryu no Hi" was held at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Ueno Park, Tokyo, on 23 April which was attended by the cast members Sato Takeru, Ayase Haruka and Nakatani Miki as well as the director Kurosawa Kiyoshi. The movie which will be shown in cinemas from 1 June, features Sato as the lead whose girlfriend (Ayase) is in a coma and he tries to save her by using special techniques to enter the interior of the brain. As the Plesiosaur (kubinagaryu) will be featured in important scenes within the movie, the cast gathered at the museum where a 7m-high replica of the Plesiosaur was displayed.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Goen Hunter" - Spring 2013

Title: Goen Hunter
Official website: here
Official blog: here
Broadcast by: NHK
Timeslot: Saturdays 9pm
O.A. Start Date: 13 April 2013
Cast: Mizuki Arisa, Matsumoto Toshio, Ootsuka Nene, Imoto Ayako, Asaji Youko, Terawaki Yasufumi

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oguri Shun, Sasaki Nozomi & Tokui Yoshimi in "Yo ni mo Kimyou na Monogatari Spring 2013 SP"

"Yo ni mo Kimyou na Mongatari Spring 2013 SP" will be shown via FujiTV on 11 May at 9pm and features Oguri Shun, Dan Rei, Sasaki Nozomi and Tokui Yoshimi in its cast. Oguri's segment is "AIR Doctor" where a fellow passenger on his flight suffers a sudden medical condition and his character answers the call for doctors just for fun even though he isn't a doctor. Things go out of hand when the fake doctor has to conduct an emergency surgery for the sick passenger.

Sasaki will play a OL who turns to cursing her boss in the segment "Noroi web" while Tokui will play a primary school teacher with a secret in the story "Kaidan no Hanako".

Source: Sanspo

Dan Rei to appear in "Yo ni mo Kimyou na Monogatari" Spring 2013 SP

Dan Rei will appear in a segment of the upcoming "Yo ni mo Kimyou na Monogatari Spring 2013 SP" to be shown via FujiTV on 11 May at 9pm. This is the first time Dan is appearing in the series and taking on a leading role. In the story "Fujimi no Otto" (The husband who doesn't die), Dan plays Soejima Mie, a woman who is sick of her life with her husband of 10 years Keisuke played by Omi Toshinori and plots to kill him under the disguise of a botched robbery attempt. However, no matter how many times she tries to kill her husband, he keeps coming back to life.

Source: Sanspo

Press conference of stage play "Ooku ~ Dai Issho ~"

The press conference for stage play "Ooku ~ Dai Issho ~" was held on 22 April at Taiko-en in Osaka City which was attended by the leads Matsushita Yuki and Suzukaze Mayo. Matsushita who had acted as the shogun's nanny Kasuga no Tsubone in the 2004 drama version, will reprise her role and clash with the shogun's birth mother Oeyo in this stage play depicting the days before Ooku was was created. Matsushita commented that she is excited about the stage play and hopes to create lots of sparks through her interaction with Suzukaze on stage while the latter said that she is nervous about her first appearance in the Ooku series.

Source: Sanspo

V6's Sakamoto Masayuki in musical "Silver Spoon ni utsuru tsuki"

V6's leader Sakamoto Masayuki will be the lead in an upcoming musical "Silver Spoon ni utsuru tsuki" (The moon reflected in a silver spoon) which will be performed at Tokyo Globe Za between 14 June and 30 June. The press conference for the play was held on 23 April which was attended by cast members such as Sakamoto and Suzuki Souma. The play is a comedy with some horror and romance elements where Sakamoto plays a rich heir who goes drinking till morning every day. In preparation for the role, Sakamoto commented that he goes drinking after rehearsals every day. He also revealed that there was once when Suzuki saw him peeling oranges at the practice studio and made a remark that even idols peel their oranges themselves which made Sakamoto unsure how to react.

Source: Nikkansports

Official site of the play: here

Preview of "Mayonaka no Panya-san"

Title: Mayonaka no Panya-san (Midnight Bakery)
Official website: here
Broadcast by: NHK
Timeslot: Sundays 10pm
O.A. Start Date: 28 April 2013
Original novel by: Oonuma Noriko
Theme song: hug by Chara
Cast: Takizawa Hideaki, Kiriyama Akito (Kansai Johnny's Jrs), Tsuchiya Tao, Ito Ayumi, Rokkaku Seiji, Maeda Aki, Muro Tsuyoshi, Fujino Daiki, Tomosaka Rie

Monday, April 22, 2013

Completion press conference of movie "Kiseki no Ringo"

The completion press conference of movie "Kiseki no Ringo" was held on 22 April at Tokyo International Forum which was attended by the leads Abe Sadao and Kanno Miho. The movie which is scheduled to be shown in cinemas from 8 June and based on a true story, features Abe and Kanno as a married couple who give their best in growing apples without the use of pesticides even though they are told that it's impossible. As this was the first public appearance of Kanno since her marriage to Sakai Masato on 2 April, it was natural that all the attention was on Kanno. When the reporters asked if her marriage to Sakai had an impact on this movie in any way, Kanno said that the movie was shot between April and June last year which was way before the couple even started dating. She didn't even think that she would get married soon at that point in time. The director of the movie Nakamura Yoshihiro who had worked with Sakai in the past, revealed that he had sounded out Kanno about her views on Sakai during the filming period but her response was lukewarm at best. When asked about whether she hoped to be an invincible couple with her husband, Kanno replied with a smile that they will work towards such a goal.

Source: Sanspo

Premium screening of movie "Wara no Tate"

The premium screening of movie "Wara no Tate" was held at Shinjuku Picadilly on 22 April which was attended by the lead cast members Osawa Takao, Matsushima Nanako and Fujiwara Tatsuya. The movie is scheduled to be shown in Japan from 26 April.

"Wara no Tate" was recently announced as one of the competition films for the upcoming Festival de Cannes. With response to this, Osawa said that he was surprised while Matsushima said that she is happy about the movie going to be seen overseas. Osawa is scheduled to head to Cannes for the film festival and remarked that he is looking forward to see how foreign audiences will view their movie.

Source: Sanspo

Tokiwa Takako starring in stage play "Lemming ~ Sekai no Hate made tsuretette ~"

The first-day-performance of stage play "Lemming ~ Sekai no Hate made tsuretette" starring Tokiwa Takako was held at Shibuya Parco Gekijou on 21 April. The play which is a commemorative work to mark the 30th death anniversary of the scriptwriter Terayama Shuji and the 40th anniversary of Shibuya Parco Gekijou, also features Yashima Norito, Katagiri Jin and Matsushige Yutaka in its cast. The play will be performed until 16 May at the same venue. Tokiwa commented before the performance that as she is working with talented actors around her, she feels excited about the play every day. Yashima also commented that he would have loved to have more scenes with Tokiwa.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Iryu Sousa" - Spring 2013

Title: Iryu Sousa
Official website: here
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Timeslot: Wednesdays 9pm
O.A. Start Date: 17 April 2013
Theme song: Yasashii Kaze ga Fuitara by Oda Kazumasa
Cast: Kamikawa Takaya, Saitou Yuki, Yashima Norito, Okada Yoshinori, Masana Bokuzou, Mashima Hidekazu, Namioka Kazuki, Koumoto Masahiro, Nishimura Masahiko, Miyake Yuji

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Preview of "Kazoku Game" - Spring 2013

Title: Kazoku Game
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 17 April 2013
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Timeslot: Wednesdays 10pm
Original novel by: Honma Yohei
Theme song: Endless Game by Arashi
Cast: Sakurai Sho, Kamiki Ryuunosuke, Kutsuna Shiori, Uragami Seishu, Itao Itsuji, Suzuki Honami, Kutsuna Shiori and Kitahara Rie

Ayase Haruka & Nishijima Hidetoshi at tree-planting ceremony in Fukushima

Ayase Haruka who plays the role of Niijima Yae in the NHK Taiga drama "Yae no Sakura" and Nishijima Hidetoshi who plays Yae's brother Yamamoto Kakuma, attended the tree-planting ceremony held at a park in Fukushima Prefecture's Shirakawa City on 20 April. The tree which is a new species of the Yaezakura developed by Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute's Tama Forest Science Garden and named "Haruka" after Ayase, was planted with the hope of Fukushima's recovery from the nuclear, earthquake and tsunami crisis which hit the area in 2011. About 500 members of the public including tourists came to attend the ceremony where Ayase and Nishijima placed soil onto a 1.5m-tall sapling. Ayase commented that she hoped that the sakura tree would grow well and stand tall for a long time while Nishijima said that he wished that as the tree grows taller, restoration efforts in Fukushima would also progress smoothly at the same time.

Source: Sanspo

First-day-screening of movie "Petal Dance"

The first-day-screening of movie "Petal Dance" was held at Cine Quinto in Shibuya on 20 April which was attended by cast members Miyazaki Aoi, Kutsuna Shiori, Ando Sakura and Fukiishi Kazue. The road movie features female friends on a trip which helps them take the next step towards various goals in life. Since the movie's theme is about travelling, the actresses turned out in different outfits to match the theme. Miyazaki revealed that she was asked by Fukiishi if she had planned to the Andes with her thick vest so she replied jokingly that she can do that in her outfit and bring along a backpack. As for Kutsuna, she was dressed in a pink dress which she said should suit the theme of 70s disco if she can ride a time machine to that era.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Otenki Oneesan" - Spring 2013

Title: Otenki Onnesan
Official website: here
Official blog: here
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Timeslot: Fridays 11.15pm
O.A. Start Date: 12 April 2013
Theme song: Hesomagari by Kanjani 8
Cast: Takei Emi, Ookura Tadayoshi, Sasaki Kuranosuke, Sasaki Nozomi, Fueki Yuko, Dan Mitsu, Maruyama Tomomi etc

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Production press conference of NHK drama "Mayonaka no Panya-san"

The production press conference of NHK drama "Mayonaka no Panya-san" was held on 19 April at NHK's headquarters in Shibuya which was attended by lead cast members Takizawa Hideaki, Kansai Johnny's Jrs member Kiriyama Akito and actressTsuchiya Tao/ The drama which will begin its run from 28 April at 10pm on Sundays, features Takizawa as the owner of an unusual bakery which only operates from the middle of the night to early morning. This is the first time that Takizawa is taking on a lead role in a NHK drama set in modern times since his 2005 Taiga drama "Yoshitsune". Takizawa commented that he used to like rice only but started to change his mind to like bread after baking chocolate cornet on the set.

Source: Sanspo

CHEMISTRY's Douchin Yoshikuni wraps up nationwide solo concert tour

CHEMISTRY member Douchin Yoshikuni wrapped up his nationwide solo concert tour on 19 April at Zepp Diver City Tokyo. He performed a total of 21 songs including his first solo single "Shout" and "OUT THE BOX" from his album.

CHEMISTRY has suspended its group activities for the time being.

Source: Sanspo

Kusanagi Tsuyoshi to be guest star in TV Asahi drama SP "Aji Ichimonme"

SMAP member Kusanagi Tsuyoshi will be appearing as a guest in the TV Asahi drama SP "Aji Ichimonme" which features his fellow member Nakai Masahiro as the lead. The drama SP will be shown on 11 May at 9pm. Kusanagi follows up with his own drama SP "Specialist" in the following week at the same time where he plays a police detective in the Kyoto Prefectural Police. Kusanagi will appear as his "Specialist" character in the "Aji Ichimonme" SP to save Nakai's character from trouble when the latter visits Kyoto but their interaction is limited to one scene only.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi to sing theme song for NHK drama "Shima no Sensei"

Nagabuchi Tsuyoshi will be singing the theme song for NHK drama "Shima no Sensei" starring Nakama Yukie which begins its run from 25 May at 9pm on Saturdays. The song "Mirai" will be released as a single on 22 May and was written based on the interactions of teachers and students on a remote island. This is the first time in 15 years that Nagabuchi has sung a drama's theme song and he hopes that the song will encourage children to like one another more and be hopeful about the future.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Fujiwara Tatsuya & Mizobata Junpei to team up in Ninagawa Yukio's stage play "Musashi"

Fujiwara Tatsuya will be acting in the Ninagawa Yukio stage play "Musashi" for the third time as Miyamoto Musashi which will be performed from September this year to next year. He first participated in the play based on Inoue Hisashi's novel in 2009 and had even performed it in United Kingdown and United States in 2010. This time, his rival Sasaki Kojiro will be played by Mizobata Junpei. Previous editions of the play had featured Oguri Shun and Katsuji Ryo in the same role. "Musashi" will begin its run from 27 September to 20 October at Sai no Kuni Saitama Arts Theatre and move to Osaka in October before being staged in Singapore on 8 and 9 November and South Korea next year.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Coming to Singapore in November?! Wow, that's something really worth looking forward to, hope that it won't be too expensive though. ^__^

Screening event of movie "Petal Dance"

Miyazaki Aoi and Kutsuna Shiori attended the screening event of their new movie "Petal Dance" held on 18 April which was limited to female university students. The movie will be shown in cinemas from 20 April and talks about a woman who loses touch with her university friend for 6 years and goes to visit the place where her friend lived. When asked by the audience how they would make lifelong friends, Miyazaki said that she probably feels like making friends with someone out of her own initiative once every three years so if she comes across someone like this, she would tell the person directly about her intentions which would usually be enough for her to befriend someone.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Completion press conference of movie "Saint Oniisan"

The completion press conference of anime movie "Saint Oniisan" was held on 18 April which was attended by Moriyama Mirai and Hoshino Gen. The movie which will be screened in cinemas from 10 May, is based on the manga by Nakamura Hikaru which has sold more than 10 million copies. The story features Jesus and Buddha descending upon Tachikawa City, Tokyo, and living together in an apartment while enjoying a vacation. Moriyama is the voice actor for Jesus while Nakamura plays the role of Buddha in the movie.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

"Soshite Chichi ni Naru" takes part in the 66th Festival de Cannes as competition film

The movie "Soshite Chichi ni Naru" starring Fukuyama Masaharu, Lily Frankie, Ono Machiko and Maki Youko which is due to be shown in Japan from 5 October, will be taking part in the 66th Festival de Cannes as a competition film. This is Fukuyama's first movie which is taking part in an international movie festival and his first attempt at a father's role. As such, Fukuyama was thrilled when he heard the news but the reality has yet to sink in for him. However, Fukuyama is busy with the filming of his spring 2013 drama "Galileo" and has not confirmed if he will be walking on the red carpet in Cannes. Nonetheless, since this is a rare opportunity, he will try his best to make arrangements to attend the film festival.

Source: Sanspo

Hirayama Aya to play a single mother in "Hakui no Namida Part 2 Jimei"

Hirayama Aya will be playing a mother for the first time in the FujiTV afternoon drama "Hakui no Namida Part 2 Jimei" which will begin its run from 29 April at 1.30pm on Mondays to Fridays. This is also Hirayama's first leading role in an afternoon drama. The story is set in the 90s where Hirayama plays a single mother with a young daughter played by Endo Rina who falls in love with a doctor who lost his fiancee due to an accident (Wada Soukou). Hirayama commented that she was able to feel emotions of a mother through working with Endo in the drama and marveled at the speed of filming for afternoon dramas but stressed that she will work hard to keep up with the progress.

Source: Sanspo

"Wara no Tate" takes part in the 66th Festival de Cannes as a competition film

The movie "Wara no Tate" starring Osawa Takao, Matsushima Nanako and Fujiwara Tatsuya which will be shown in Japan from 26 April, will be taking part in the 66th Festival de Cannes as a competition film as announced on 18 April. The film festival will be held in Cannes, France, between 15th and 26th May. This is the first time that Osawa has a film selected for an overseas film festival so he is very excited about this. As for the director Miike Takashi, this is his second time taking part in this film festival since 2011's "Ichimei". Miike and Osawa will go to Cannes for the film's press conference but as for whether Matsushima will join them, that is undecided yet.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Doubles Futari no Keiji" - Spring 2013

Title: Doubles Futari no Keiji
Official website: here
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Timeslot: Thursdays 9pm
O.A. Start Date: 18 April 2013
Opening theme song: Kiken na Futari by Shishido Kafuka
Ending theme song: Tsuki to Taiyo by Ketsumeishi
Cast: Ito Hideaki, Sakaguchi Kenji, Natsuna, Uchida Yuki, Kondo Yoshimasa, Muroi Shigeru, Sugimoto Tetta, Hiraizumi Sei, Hashizume Isao, Yamaguchi Taichi, Lin Dandan etc.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Preview of "ST Keishichou Kagaku Tokusouhan" (Drama SP)

Title: ST Keishichou Kagaku Tokusouhan
Official website: here
Broadcast by: NTV
O.A. Date: 10 April 2013 at 9pm
Original novel by: Konno Bin
Cast: Fujiwara Tatsuya, Okada Masaki, Shida Mirai, Ashina Sei, Kubota Masataka, Miyake Hiroki, Hayashi Kento, Tanaka Tetsushi, Watabe Atsuro

Completion screening of movie "Shanidar no Hana"

The completion screening event of movie "Shanidar no Hana" was held on 18 April at Human Trust Cinema Shibuya which was attended by the co-leads Ayano Go and Kuroki Haru. The movie which is set to be screened in cinemas from 20 July, features Ayano as a botanist whose life is turned upside-down by a mysterious flower he is researching on and falls for his assistant played by Kuroki. When asked about Kuroki's charm, Ayano said that she is a charming lady with beauty and dangerous poison. On the other hand, Kuroki jokingly commented that Ayano is somewhat like a weirdo who you can get close very easily.

Source: Sanspo

Completion screening event of movie "Kuchizuke"

The completion screening event of movie "Kuchizuke" (Kiss) was held on 18 April which was attended by cast members such as Takenaka Naoto, Kanjiya Shihori and Hashimoto Ai. The movie which is directed by Tsutsumi Yukihiko and due to be screened from 25 May, features people at a home for intellectually-challenged people. As this is Kanjiya's first leading role since her debut 11 years ago, she recounted that it was great that she could work with Takenaka again since they last appeared together in 2004's "Swing Girls" and even gave him a kiss of gratitude.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of NHK drama "Tenshi wa Mop wo Motte"

Kitano Kii attended the production press conference of the new NHK drama "Tenshi wa Mop wo Motte" (The angel holds a mop) held on 18 April. The drama will begin its run on 4 May at 11.15pm on Saturdays. Kitano plays a professional cleaner who solves cases and "cleans" hearts at the office building she works in. In preparation for the role, Kitano underwent training from a professional cleaner and even said that she would be glad to clean the NHK building although it will be tough to do it all by herself.

Source: Sanspo

Sato Koichi hosts funeral of his late father Mikuni Rentaro

The funeral of actor Mikuni Rentaro was held on 17 April at his Numazu City home in Shizuoka Prefecture which was hosted by his son Sato Koichi who thanked those who came for his father's wake and funeral including 50 members of the press. He was with his wife and son and Mikuni's 4th wife at the ceremony where he tried to fight back his tears during the speech. The funeral was a private event attended by 30 people including family members and close friends such as Asada Miyoko who worked with Mikuni in the "Tsuri Baka Nisshi" series.

Source: Sanspo

Premium screening event of "Helter Skelter" in Seoul

Sawajiri Erika and director Ninagawa Mika attended the premium screening event of their movie "Helter Skelter" held at COEX Mega Box in Seoul, South Korea, on 17 April. The movie will be screened in South Korea from 2 May. Sawajiri last visit the country 7 years ago and was greeted by fans and the media at Gimpo Airport when she arrived on 16 April. About 180 members of the press came to cover the screening event and Sawajiri accepted interviews from about 50 media outlets over the past two days. After the screening, Sawajiri commented that she was surprised and happy to see so many fans and asked them to support the movie.

"Helter Skelter" was screened in Japan last July and Sawajiri won a Best Leading Actress award in the Nippon Academy Awards for her performance in the film.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Kumo no Kaidan" - Spring 2013

Title: Kumo no Kaidan
Official website: here
Broadcast by: NTV
Timeslot: Wednesdays 10pm
O.A. Start Date: 17 April 2013
Original novel by: Watanabe Junichi
Theme song: Kakushin by B'z
Cast: Hasegawa Hiroki, Inamori Izumi, Kimura Fumino, Hagiwara Masato, Aoyagi Sho, Yuuki Mio,  Kimura Midoriko, Hankai Kazuaki, Kaga Mariko, Takigawa Yumi, Ootomo Kouhei, Naitou Takashi

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Completion screening of movie "Kenchou Omotenashika"

The completion screening of movie "Kenchou Omotenashika" was held on 17 April which was attended by Nishikido Ryo and Horikita Maki. The movie will be screened in cinemas from 11 May 2013. Nishikido and Horikita stood at the lobby of the event menu to welcome the 1,100-strong audience and even took up the task of making venue announcements. As Horikita stumbled while making her announcement, she apologised for the slip-up.

Nishikido was asked by the press about his rumoured relationship with Aragaki Yui but he denied the report from FRIDAY and stressed that he and Aragaki are just good friends. He also clarified that he had not been to Aragaki's apartment as mentioned in the report and that he was at his friend's place which was in the same building.

Source: Sanspo

Iwaki Koichi to be first Japanese celebrity to embark on space travel

Actor Iwaki Koichi will be the first Japanese celebrity to travel to space as announced during a press conference on 18 April. He will be travelling in a space shuttle for 45 minutes and spend about 3 to 4 minutes in space through the civilian space travel programme organised by Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) in the Netherlands which will begin the first journey in 2014. Iwaki was invited to join the programme as he has been a longtime supporter of American watch brand Luminox which is a partner of the Luminox SXC SPACE ADVENTURE programme. Although he was offered the opportunity in 2011 and accepted it without thinking much, there was no further word on it until the company sent him a set of overalls and the contract this year to confirm his participation.

Iwaki will travel with the space shuttle pilot and another civilian passenger during the journey and has the opportunity to sit in the co-pilot seat. In preparation for the journey, Iwaki will take part in various training programmes such as moving in no-gravity surroundings and experiencing the speed and height as in a space shuttle.

During the press conference, Iwaki said that he initially thought that he wouldn't stand a chance to embark on this journey as a civilian so he is thrilled by the offer and would not give it up for anything. However, if anything happens during the journey, Iwaki revealed that he had already told his family about this and asked them not to worry since he will still become a star and look over them from the sky. Nonetheless, he has full faith in the programme and hopes to tell everyone about his experience when he returns successfully.

Source: Mantan Web

Review of "Helter Skelter" ヘルタースケルター

Title: Helter Skelter
Date of release: 14 July 2012
Director: Ninagawa Mika
Scriptwriter: Kaneko Arisa
Theme song: evolution by Hamasaki Ayumi

Lilico - Sawajiri Erika
Asada Makoto - Oomori Nao
Hada Michiko - Terajima Shinobu
Okumura Shinichi - Ayano Go
Yoshikawa Kozue - Mizuhara Kiko
Sawanabe Kinji - Arai Hirofumi
Hosuda Kumi - Suzuki An (Friendship appearance)
Tsukahara Keita - Terajima Susumu
Hamaguchi Mikio - Aikawa Sho
Hirukoma Chikako - Sumiyoshi Mariko
Nanbu Takao - Kubozuka Yosuke (Friendship appearance)
Wachi Hisako - Harada Mieko
Tada Hiroko - Momoi Kaori

To be honest, I didn't think this movie would make it here. Given the amount of nudity and very sexually-explicit scenes which offers a lot of room for imagination (sometimes a tad too much until it feels like a porn flick), I thought this film would not have passed the censors unless it was heavily edited. Surprisingly, it managed to pass the censors (although I'm not sure if anything was cut) so here I am writing a review about it.

I read some reviews and comments about this movie prior to watching it but they weren't exactly favourable. This being Ninagawa's first attempt at being a director, there were some problems pointed out in those reviews which I think were probably due to inexperience as a director. From this point onwards, there will be lots of spoilers so if you haven't watched this movie and do not wish to know the story and key developments, please skip this review.

Before I begin sharing my views on this movie, here is a brief summary of the storyline:

Lilico is a popular and famous fashion model who's seen on the covers of virtually every magazine and adored by both men and women. However, little does the public know that there is a dark secret which Lilico is hiding as she had undergone extensive plastic surgery to obtain her current looks and figure. Besides having to pay lots of money to the plastic surgeon in order to maintain this perfect image, Lilico has to bear with the stress brought about by her punishing schedule which further causes side effects from the plastic surgery to appear on her body. Just then, Lilico's dream to marry a rich man's son Nanbu is dashed when the tabloids publish reports of his impending marriage to another woman who comes from a similar family background. Nanbu makes it clear to Lilico that although he likes her, there is no way he can marry her given his status and he's not prepared to give up everything for her. To make things worse, she is targeted by the prosecutors (Asada and Hosuda) to be a witness against the beauty clinic she did her surgery at but she cannot agree to this since this will mean exposing her secret. When her agency's newcomer Kozue becomes the talk of the town, this makes Lilico break down and she resorts to digging out her left eye just before the press conference to explain the news about her plastic surgery before disappearing from the public eye. Some time later, Kozue is brought to a place by her staff where she meets Lilico again...

As I did not read the manga before, I'm not sure if the movie followed the storyline exactly or made some slight differences. Lilico's downward spiral in life can be attributed to the plastic surgery she went through but  there was too little mentioned as to why Lilico took the plunge to resort to such drastic measures. Was it for the fame? For money, the desire to be popular or was it something else? In addition, it was a pity that the movie failed to give some background about Lilico and Tada especially how they met and why Lilico trusted Tada so much. That I feel is a big piece of the puzzle which was sorely missing and that made the story incomplete. Perhaps it had been explained at great length in the manga but for someone who is watching the movie only, it might feel as if things happened suddenly for no apparent reason. In addition, there was a lot of airtime attributed to the sexual scenes e.g. when Lilico seduced Hada for the first time or when Lilico and Nanbu were getting intimate in the dressing room which I think could have been shortened a little to make way for the key parts of the story which were missing. I don't think the scenes should be cut away completely because they form a key part of Lilico's life and how she manages to control people around her with sex. As for the ending, it leaves a lot of room for imagination because you not only have to guess what happened after Kozue met Lilico again, there were also telltale clues that this was not a chance encounter after all and that there were people who were still "controlled"  by Lilico in one way or another and did her bidding to lure Kozue there.

Despite the flawed handling of the story, the cast were brilliant in their potrayal of the characters with special mention to Sawajiri Erika. Ever since that saga which made her look like an arrogant star with no work ethics, Sawajiri seems to be shunned by the industry in general so Ninagawa's decision to engage her for this movie was a very daring one. Of course, Sawajiri repays the favour with a very engaging performance where she literally transforms into Lilico and it doesn't feel as if she's acting as someone else. Lilico may be hated for her haughtiness and manipulative ways but you also can't help but empathize with her as she crumbles under work pressure and the side effects of the plastic surgery. The scene where she bawls like a child after Kozue starts to make her presence felt in the entertainment world just makes you want to console her. In addition, given that Sawajiri had made her big break through "Ichi Litre no Namida" which essentially presented her as this sweet, young thing, her willingness to take on such hardcore intimate scenes can go either way i.e. people view it as a career turnaround point and will be willing to give her a shot at other genres in future or she will be reduced to somewhat like a star who can only do such scenes to grab attention. Fortunately, Ninagawa packages the scenes in such a way that it's not downright crude porn so it may provide Sawajiri a much-needed push back into the limelight. If the movie had done much better in terms of reviews and box office takings, that may actually happen.

Besides Sawajiri, Oomori Nao, Terajima Shinobu, Ayano Go, Mizuhara Kiko, Kubozuka Yosuke and Momoi Kaori all did well in their respective ways and allowed their characters to stand out. Oomori's Asada seemed like an onlooker to observe what was happening to Lilico so it felt as if he was not involved in any way with regard to Lilico's downward spiral. However, that meeting he had with her at the aquarium appeared bland and ordinary on the surface but there were a lot of emotions flowing underneath where Lilico tried to keep her cool and insist that she couldn't work with Asada while he was trying all sorts of ways to get her to agree. That scene was one of the highlights in the movie as far as I'm concerned.

Terajima and Ayano may seem like a very unlikely but intriguing couple especially since she deliberately dressed in a way that made her look plain and rather unattractive while Ayano's image was that of a young man who could practically have any woman he wanted. In most stories, the scriptwriter would have probably have arranged for the young man to be less emotionally involved with the older woman while she should be smitten with her guy. However, Hada and Okumura seemed truly in love with each other (it didn't feel like Okumura was with Hada only for her money) but it was a bit hard to comprehend why Hada would not stop Lilico from laying hands on her love or help Okumura pull away from Lilico's influence. This is an odd couple but I think the two of them did pretty well to keep me interested in them.

Mizuhara only appeared in the second half of the film but put up a memorable performance as Kozue who represents naturalness as compared to Lilico who is built on a series of lies and pretenses. The best part from her would have to be when Hada tries to kill Kozue at Lilico's orders and she seems totally nonchalant about it. To Kozue, beauty is something she did not ask for. In fact, to maintain it, she had to resort to vomiting after meals so it didn't look like she was enjoying what her beauty had brought about. This was something much more jarring to Lilico's ears because if Kozue was obsessed with beauty just like she did, revenge would have meant more but Kozue couldn't care less so it meant nothing even if Lilico managed to hurt Kozue.

Since Kubozuka's literal fall from grace years ago, he hasn't been seen in that many dramas or movies but his short appearance in this movie was definitely eye-catching. The wildness demonstrated during Nanbu's scene with Lilico showed a great contrast against when he was telling her wistfully about his inability to give up his privileges in a well-to-do family. It's a pity that he doesn't get to do major roles these days because his talent definitely can be better utilised but given his controversial ways, I can't blame the TV stations and film companies for treading with caution.

Momoi's character was eye-catching from the start as she showed two distinct faces i.e. one who's like an angel to Lilico and the other as someone who has a lot to do with her downfall. Tada is one ruthless woman who can ditch Lilico once the latter is no longer as profitable and she can lie through her teeth to pacify her former cash cow. Momoi manages the transition between the two quite effortlessly as if these two contrasting faces aren't not that different after all. However, like what I mentioned above, Tada and Lilico's relationship really needs more in-depth exploration to give a much needed angle to why things happened but it was a pity that it did not materialise.

And my ratings for this movie...

Story: 5 out of 10 (Flawed but not beyond redemption)

Acting: 8 out of 10 (The cast did well in the respective ways especially Sawajiri who totally immersed herself into Lilico's world but the actors need a more in-depth story to bring out the hidden potential in their roles. Too bad that this was lacking.)

Theme song: 7 out of 10 (Although Hamasaki Ayumi's song "evolution" is a rather old number, I think the reason it was chosen had a lot to do with its lyrics which fitted Lilico's circumstances. It's a pity that they didn't make use of the song more and only left it till the ending credits.)

Visual effects / Scenery: 10 out 10 (Ninagawa's great with the visuals, what more can be said? A lot of attention and detail was paid to the visuals so the colours, sets and costumes were really one visual treat.)

Teamwork / Chemistry: 7 out of 10 (Generally good across the board)

Total: 37 out of 50

Top 10 ideal teachers ranking 2013 (Oricon)

1) Sakurai Sho

2) Takeda Tetsuya

3) Ogi Naoki

4) Ikegami Akira

5) Ichiro

6) Matsuoka Shuzo

7) Nakama Yukie

8) Akashiya Sanma

9) Amami Yuki

10) Ototake Hirotada

Source: Oricon

Osawa Takao & Fujiwara Tatsuya at "Wara no Tate" screening in Osaka

Osawa Takao and Fujiwara Tatsuya attended a screening event of their new movie "Wara no Tate" held at Umeda Burg 7 in Osaka's Kita Ward on 16 April. The movie which will be shown in cinemas from 26 April, features Osawa Takao and Matsushima Nanako as security police officers who have to escort a wanted criminal (Fujiwara) who has a JPY 1bn reward for his arrest after committing a heinous crime thus leading to lots of people being after the latter's life. During the event, both Osawa and Fujiwara commented that they wouldn't be able to protect a criminal like this if they had to do it in real life.

Although there was a need to film some action scenes on the Shinkansen, JR rejected the movie company's request due to safety reasons so the cast and crew had to go to Taiwan, for the filming since the Taiwan High Speed Rail company had started using the same type of train carriages like the Shinkansen since last summer. With regard to this, Osawa commented that the director Miike Takashi is someone who focuses a lot on details and even requested for the train to be driven backwards for the re-filming of some scenes.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Sakurai Sho attends prayer ceremony for spring 2013 drama "Kazoku Game"

Arashi's Sakurai Sho attended the prayer ceremony for his spring 2013 drama "Kazoku Game" held at Suiten Shrine on 16 April to wish for the success of the drama. "Kazoku Game" begins its run on FujiTV from 17 April at 10pm on Wednesdays. As the drama is the first to be shown in the newly set-up Wednesdays 10pm timeslot, Sakurai said that this drama feels like a newborn baby to him and hopes that everything can progress smoothly. Due to the fact that the ceremony was held at Suiten Shrine which is known for blessing women who want to have children and those who wish for a smooth delivery, Sakurai found himself surrounded by lots of female prayers and felt shy about being the only man around. While holding the Suiten Shrine ema with the drama's name and the words Sui 10 Good (Wednesdays 10pm Good), he called upon everyone to view "Kazoku Game" as it will be an unique and inspiring piece of work.

Source: Sanspo