Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shibasaki Kou to be back as Utsumi Kaoru in "Galileo" spinoff drama SP

Shibasaki Kou who played the heroine in the first "Galileo" drama series and movie, will be back to reprise her role in a spinoff drama SP of the series titled "Galileo XX" (read as double X) due to be shown via FujiTV on 22 June at 9pm. The story in this SP will be an original one and is said to the final case which Utsumi handled as a police detective. Although Shibasaki only appeared in the first episode of the second "Galileo" series, there were many viewers who sent in requests to the TV station asking for Utsumi to appear more so the decision was made for her to return in an once-off SP.

The story takes place before Utsumi is to set off to Oklahoma in the US for training where she arrests a murder suspect (Yusuke Santa Maria) who insists that he's innocent. Faced with the prospect of making a wrong arrest, Utsumi works together with her colleague Toma (Yagira Yuuya) to launch a re-investigation. Although this is a spinoff, the main cast members in the second series i.e. Fukuyama Masaharu, Yoshitaka Yuriko, Kitamura Kazuki and Shinagawa Hiroshi will all appear in the SP.

Source: Sanspo

Matsushita Nao to star in TV Asahi drama SP "Nijuuyon no Hitomi"

Matsushita Nao will be starring in the upcoming TV Asahi drama SP "Nijuuyon no Hitomi" which is based on the novel by Tsuboi Sakae. This is the first time in 8 years since the novel was made into a drama again (starring Kuroki Hitomi in 2005) and marks the 100th birthday of late director Kinoshita Keisuke who had been the first to make the story into a movie in 1954.

The story is set 28 years after WWII at Shodoshima in Kagawa Prefecture. Matsushita plays the role of Ooishi Hisako, also known as Onago-sensei, who teaches 12 Primary 1 students on the island as a 22-year-old newbie teacher at the beginning of the story until the end when she becomes a widow at the age of 40 after losing her husband and daughter due to the war and tries to resume her teaching career.

Filming will begin in June and feature famous tourist spots on Shodoshima.

Source: Sanspo

Yamashita Tomohisa, Karina and Toda Erika to be in love triangle in summer gekku "Summer Nude"

Yamashita Tomohisa, Karina and Toda Erika will be embroiled in a love triangle in the upcoming FujiTV gekku "Summer Nude" which is due to begin its run in July. This is the fourth gekku drama for Yamashita and he also has prior working experience with his leading ladies i.e. 3rd time working with Karina since 2002's "Long Love Letter ~ Hyoryu Kyoshitsu" and 4th time working with Toda since the "Code Blue" series.

Yamashita plays Mikuri Asahi, a cameraman struggling to make ends meet, who happens to take a photo of when chef Chiyohara Natsuki (Karina) is dumped by her boyfriend even though they are about to get married. Being still affected by the sudden departure of his girlfriend three years ago, Asahi and Natsuki start to get closer to each other due to their similar problems but the appearance of Taniyama Nanae (Toda), a junior of Asahi since senior high school who has been holding a torch for him, makes things become complicated between the three of them.

There will be an open set constructed at a beach in the Kanto region which serves as the seaside restaurant where Natsuki works in. At the same time, Yamashita is also going through training in order to look the part of a cameraman.

Source: Sanspo

"Soshite Chichi ni Naru" wins the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival

Japanese movie "Soshite Chichi ni Naru" won the Jury Prize at the 66th Cannes Film Festival where the director Koreeda Hirokazu collected the award on 25 May in Cannes. The movie features Fukuyama Masaharu and Ono Machiko as a couple who discover that the son they have been raising for the past 6 years is not theirs as their baby was unwittingly swapped with another couple's child (Lily Frankie and Maki Youko) and describes the complex emotions they feel as they struggle to come to terms with the situation. The film was first screened at Cannes on 19 May and earned a standing ovation of 10 minutes from the audience.

Source: Sanspo

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ishiguro Hideo to be lead of afternoon drama "Hakui no Namida Part 3 Shimei"

Ishiguro Hideo will be taking the lead role in the FujiTV afternoon drama "Hakui no Namida Part 3 Shimei" which begins its run from 3 June at 1.30pm from Mondays to Fridays. This is the first time he is starring in a leading role for an afternoon drama. Ishiguro plays Shunta, the son of Nagai Masaru and Mizuno Miki who were the leads in Part 1, and grows up to become an elite doctor who falls for his patient played by Koizumi Maya.

Source: Sanspo

Romaji lyrics of "Breathless" by Arashi (Theme song of "Platina Data")

Title: Breathless
Artist: Arashi
Melody: Takuya Harada / Christofer Erixon / Joakim Bjomberg

nani wo motome doko e yuku no ka

mioboe no aru sono sugata wo
madoromi no naka de oikakete miru
yume ga sametemo omodasenai
kake ochita toki no sukima wo tadayou dake

hakidashita kono omoi wa mou todokanai
kodoku sae sadame naraba furueru kokoro wo tsuyoku dakishimete

karada juu sakenderu marude mugen no meiro ni
kizu darake no kioku kanashimi no hate made samayotte
uso no nai sekai nado doko ni mo nai jidai demo
tashikametai jibun dake ni kizamareteru DNA
mogaiteiru sakendeiru ikiru jibun no sugata wo sagashi tsuzukete

itsushika namida mo karehateta nuri tsubusareteta itami sae uzukidashite

omae dake wa mou hanasanai keshite kienaide
yakusoku wa hakanaku tomo
kono te ni nukumori wo tada dakishimeru

owaranai fukai yami furerarenai jikan ni mo
futari dake no kioku kawarazu aru no nara oshiete
kanawanai negai demo kotae no nai sekai demo
aisuru koto sore dake wa kimatte ita DNA
furi kaeru toki sono hohoemi wo tsuyoku yakitsuketai kara maboroshi demo

jibun ni kakusareta mou hitotsu no sugata nani ka wo sasayaiteru
[motomeru mono wa hitotsu] kono te ga shinjitsu wo hanashiteru

karada juu sakenderu marude mugen no meiro ni
kizu darake no kioku kanashimi no hate made samayotte
uso no nai sekai nado doko ni mo nai jidai demo
tashikametai jibun dake ni kizamareteru DNA
mogaiteiru sakendeiru ikiru jibun no sugata wo sagashi tsuzukete

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kaho to star in her first horror drama "Akuryo Byoutou"

Kaho will be starring in her first horror drama "Akuryou Byoutou" (Evil Spirit Hospital) which will be shown via TBS from July (timeslot undecided yet). She plays the role of a nurse named Runa who is able to see spirits and works at a suburb hospital. Her colleagues start encountering spirits drenched in blood which leads them to wonder if Runa is the cause of the appearance of these spirits. In the midst of these accusations, Runa's ex-classmate Sakai Manami who used to help her when she was ostracised during their junior high days, comes to the hospital where Runa works at which causes a change to the situation.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Moriyama Mirai selected as 2013 Cultural Ambassador and to be sent overseas for 1 year

The Agency for Cultural Affairs announced on 22 May that Moriyama Mirai has been selected as one of the eight 2013 Cultural Ambassadors who will promote Japanese art and culture overseas. In conjunction with his appointment, Moriyama will suspend his acting career for 1 year from October this year and spend the time in Belgium and Israel with the local theatre groups  there and perform in their productions. He will be embarking on this trip alone thus his family will be remaining in Japan. With regard to this, Moriyama announced on his official website on 23 May that he is deeply honoured by this appointment and hopes to promote Japanese culture overseas, bring back the essence of other countries' culture to Japan as well as become a bridge between Japan and other countries.

Source: Sponichi / Nikkansports

Esumi Makiko to be back in Shomuni sequel with brand-new supporting cast

Esumi Makiko will be back in the FujiTV summer 2013 drama "Shomuni" which is the first sequel in 10 years and will be shown in the Wednesdays 10pm slot from July. The first "Shomuni" drama series was aired in 1998 with Esumi playing the leader of a group of 6 OLs who were regarded as useless or problematic and sent to do miscellaneous tasks in "Shomu-nika" (2nd section of general affairs). However, the ladies ended up solving various problems in the company with their unique skills thus leading the drama to a high of 28.5% for its final episode. The word "Shomuni" was also one of the top 10 popular words that year. Following that, two drama sequels were produced in 2000 and 2002 before the finale SP "Shomuni FOREVER" in 2003.

Esumi plays the role of Tsuboi Chinatsu who goes back to her company which is in the midst of a retrenchment exercise 10 years after she disappeared and ends up in the Shomu-nika with new buddies i.e. Becky who plays a cool girl and Internet expert, Honda Tsubasa who is a former high jump athlete and has to shoot everything with her digital camera, Ando Sakura, Mori Kanna and Horiuchi Keiko. Morimoto Leo who used to play the section chief of Shomu-nika, will be absent from this drama.

Source: Sponichi

EXILE's MAKIDAI & Kutsuna Shiori to co-star in NTV summer 2013 drama "Machi Isha Jumbo"

EXILE member MAKIDAI (Maki Daisuke) and Kutsuna Shiori will work together in the NTV summer 2013 drama "Machi Isha Jumbo" which begins its run from 4 July at 11.58pm on Thursdays. The drama is based on the original comic by Koshino Ryou which is being serialised in the magazine "Shuukan Gendai". Maki plays a doctor who returns to his hometown for the first time in 12 years and takes over the local hospital in order to collect debts from the former director who owes money. He becomes known as Doctor Jumbo and clashes head-on with Kutsuna's character who is the director's daughter and a newbie nurse. This is the first leading role in a drama for MAKIDAI while this is Kutsuna's first leading role in a terrestrial television network drama.

Source: Sponichi

Special lesson in conjunction with launch of movie "Real ~ Kanzen naru Kubinagaryu no Hi"

A special lesson featuring guest lecturers Ayase Haruka and Sato Takeru was held at Etoile Girls Senior High School in Shinagawa, Tokyo, on 22 May, in conjunction with the impending launch of the actors' new movie "Real ~ Kanzen naru Kubinagaryu no Hi" on 1 June. When Ayase and Sato appeared at the stadium where 240 students from Year 3 were gathered, they were greeted with loud cheers from the audience. Sato recounted that he had been an introvert during his senior high school days and said that he would love to go back to those days just to fall in love with someone. When a student asked Ayase how she can become an actress, she answered the student that the latter should go and enter a contest. However, Sato butted in jokingly with the comment that Ayase should provide an answer like "watching more movies to learn acting skills" rather than give a straightforward answer like that because the student should have meant that she wanted to know what it takes to be an actress rather than how to become an actress.

Source: Sanspo

Tanihara Shosuke as narrator in the documentary movie "Ramen yori Taisetsu na mono"

Tanihara Shosuke attended a PR event at famous ramen restaurant "Higashi Ikebukuro Taishoken" held on 22 May which was in conjunction with the impending launch of the documentary movie "Ramen yori Taisetsu na mono" in which Tanihara is the narrator. The movie is due to be shown in cinemas from 8 June. During the event, Yamagishi Kazuo, the founder of Taishoken, was also present with Tanihara who expressed great joy at taking up the role of narrator since he had been a fan of Taishoken's ramen.

Source: Sanspo

Sawamura Ikki to reprise his role in summer 2013 drama "DOCTORS 2 Saikyou no Meii"

Sawamura Ikki will be back in TV Asahi's medical drama "DOCTORS 2 Saikyou no Meii"  which is due to be shown as a SP on 1 June and begins its run as a series from July onwards at 9pm on Thursdays. The first series titled "DOCTORS Saikyou no Meii" was shown in autumn 2011 and had featured Sawamura as a doctor named Sagara Kousuke who changes the hospital he works in through his unconventional ways. In one moment, he can be full of smiles towards his patients but he is unafraid to change into a unfeeling person in order to realise his ideals as a doctor. The first drama had been shown in 80 countries in Asia, Europe and America so there have been calls for a sequel to be made.

In the SP, it features Sagara being caught in the middle of a struggle between the hospital he works in and an university hospital. As for the drama series, it shows Sagara clashing again with his longtime rival Moriyama played by Takashima Masanobu and exposing the dark side of the medical world.

Source: Sanspo

Official screening of "Wara no Tate" at Cannes Film Festival

The official screening of movie "Wara no Tate" at the 66th Cannes Film Festival was held on 20 May which was attended by its director Miike Takashi and leads Osawa Takao and Matsushima Nanako. The film is participating at the festival as a competition film and expected to be screened in 20 countries. After the screening, there was a standing ovation of 5 minutes where members of the audience commented with remarks such as "refreshing to see an action film in Cannes which is usually dominated by artistic films." The results of the competition category will be announced on 26 May in Cannes. (early morning on 27 May in Japan).

Source: Sanspo

Premium screening of movie "Kiseki no Ringo"

The premium screening of movie "Kiseki no Ringo" was held at the Warner Michael Cinemas Hirosaki in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture on 21 May which was attended by the lead cast members Abe Sadao and Kanno Miho. The movie features the true story of apple farmer Kimura Akinori and his wife Michiko who created the world's first apple grown via organic means. The premium screening which was attended by 300 people including the couple, was held in Hirosaki because that is where the Kimuras' apple orchard is located in. Although Mrs Kimura had been hospitalised, she still came for the screening in a wheelchair which made Kanno so touched that she cried since it's been a year since they last met the couple. The movie is due to be shown in cinemas from 8 June.

Abe revealed that he had attempted to walk stylishly like Osawa Takao did at the Cannes Film Festival but jokingly said that this was beyond him. As for Kanno, she was asked by the reporters if she can support her husband silently through a seemingly hopeless venture like what Mrs Kimura did for her husband and she commented in jest that although she would like to say she can, she thinks that her support would probably not go beyond a year.

Before the screening, Abe and Kanno planted an apple tree in the Kimuras' orchard and expressed anticipation at visiting Aomori again in 5 years when the tree is expected to bear fruit.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of Arashi's new variety programme "Atarashi Arashi"

The production press conference of Arashi's new variety programme on FujiTV titled "Atarashi Arashi" (New Arashi) was held on 21 May at the TV station's headquarters in Odaiba, Tokyo, which was attended by the members. The programme features the members doing something on their own for the first time while being filmed by young male directors who are about the same age as them and each of them will have an unique theme. Ohno Satoshi's theme will be graffiti while Sakurai Sho's is a face without makeup. As for Aiba Masaki, his theme is gourmet while Ninomiya Kazunari and Matsumoto Jun will have the themes of sketch comedy and challenge set for them. The programme will be broadcast at 11.30pm on 13 July and 11.40pm on 20 July.

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, May 19, 2013

First-day-screening of movie "Chuugakusei Maruyama"

The first-day-screening of movie "Chuugakusei Maruyama" was held on 18 May which was attended by cast members such as Kusanagi Tsuyoshi and Hiraoka Takuma as well as the director Kudo Kankuro. The film features Hiraoka as a junior high school student Maruyama who has a vivid imagination and meets a weird male neighbour Kusanagi who is full of mysteries. The movie has taken part in the Udine Far East Movie Festival from 19 April to 27 April and will also be a market film at the Cannes film festival. Kudo expressed confidence in his movie and hopes that many people will come to watch it which may give rise to other spin-offs or sequels for the Maruyama series in future.

Source: Sponichi

Public screening of "Soshite Chichi ni Naru" at Cannes Film Festival

The public screening of movie "Soshite Chichi ni Naru" at the Cannes Film Festival was held on 18 May which was attended by the director Koreeda Hirokazu and cast members Fukuyama Masaharu, Lily Frankie, Ono Machiko and Maki Youko as well as the child actors who play their children in the film. The movie which is due to be shown in Japan from 5 May, is the first time in 9 years that a Koreeda film took part in the competition category at Cannes since 2004's "Dare mo shiranai" which gave Yagira Yuya the title of the youngest Best Leading Actor at 14 years old.  150 members of the press from various countries attended the screening and interviewed the cast.

When asked about his first time playing a father, Fukuyama said that it felt as if he was doing a live performance where there are many ways to convey the same thing so he relished the feeling of being able to explore various ways of acting. As he is still in the midst of filming for his ongoing drama "Galileo", Fukuyama could only take 4 days and 2 nights off his filming schedule just to be in Cannes for the first time. He will return to Japan on 19 May. Fukuyama also commented that if he had to be surrounded by so many members of the press in Japan, he might have been a bit irritated but in Cannes, he found it an enjoyable experience.

This film also happens to be the last for late actor Natsuyagi Isao who passed away on 11 May due to pancreatic cancer. He played Fukuyama's father in this film where Fukuyama's character finds out after 6 years that his own son had been accidentally switched at birth with another couple's child and he had been raising a boy unrelated to him all this while. Results for the competition category will be announced on 26 May in Cannes.

Lily Frankie who was also in Cannes for the first time, commented that it was a very vibrant place and made him very excited. Ono who last came to Cannes in 2007 for her film "Mogari no Mori", said that it was difficult to come back to Cannes again because it took such a long time before she could have the second opportunity. Meanwhile, Maki who was a newbie at Cannes said that she hoped to come back again.

Source: Sanspo

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Top 10 Fashion Leaders 2013 chosen by women in their teens and 20s (Oricon)

1) Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

2) Karina

3) Shinoda Mariko

4) Amuro Namie

5) Becky

6) Nishino Kana

7) Sasaki Nozomi

8) Rola

9)Kiritani Mirei

10) Masuwaka Tsubasa

Source: Oricon

Sakai Masato & Ueto Aya to star in TBS summer 2013 drama "Hanzawa Naoki"

Sakai Masato and Ueto Aya will be teaming up as a married couple in the TBS summer 2013 drama "Hanzawa Naoki" which begins its run from 7 July at 9pm on Sundays. The drama which is based on the popular novel "Oretachi Bubble Nyuukougumi" by Naoki award winner Ikeido Jun, features Sakai in the role of a salaryman named Hanzawa Naoki who works in a bank and is not afraid to stand up for his rights especially when his boss tries to push the blame to him when things go wrong. He goes by the motto of "an eye for an eye" when it comes to dealing with people and doesn't bat an eyelid when getting back at people who do him wrong. However, under his aggressive facade, Hanzawa is a man who treats his subordinates and family with gentleness. Ueto Aya will play his wife who dares to stand up against her husband. Co-stars include Kagawa Teruyuki, a director at the bank who understands why Hanzawa is the way he is as well as Kitaoji Kinya, Oikawa Mitsuhiro, Hey! Say! Jump! member Nakajima Yuto and Dan Mitsu.

Source: Sponichi

Sorimachi Takashi & Matsushima Nanako ordered to pay damages of JPY 3.85m for accident involving their dog

Sorimachi Takashi and Matsushima Nanako were ordered to pay JPY 3.85m as damages to a real estate management company on 14 May at Tokyo District Court after the company filed a lawsuit against the couple for damages of JPY 52.2m. The case arose from an incident in May 2011 at the apartment block where the couple live in. The couple's dog which was with their daughter at the time of the incident, bit a female neighbour's leg and caused the latter to suffer injuries and move out of the estate before the end of the rental period as she was traumatised by the attack. As a result, the company sued the couple for the loss of rental income which would have been paid by the neighbour. The judge ruled that the couple only needed to pay JPY 3.85m which included legal fees for the company and two months' worth of rent that the company had chose to waive for the neighbour when she moved out prematurely even though she had been liable to pay that as a penalty for terminating the rental contract early.

Source: Sponichi

Fukuyama Masaharu & Lily Frankie to attend Cannes Film Festival for "Soshite Chichi ni naru"

Fukuyama Masaharu and Lily Frankie appeared at Narita Airport on 17 May to depart for France to attend the Cannes Film Festival as their new movie "Soshite Chichi ni naru" is one of the nominated films in the competition category. The film will be screened in Cannes on 18 May and there will be a red carpet event before that. Fukuyama who is currently busy with the filming of his drama "Galileo", took time off to attend the festival and was greeted with cheers from female passengers and was interviewed along with Lily Frankie by 50 members of the press. Fukuyama will return to Japan once the red carpet event is over.

Source: Sanspo

Friday, May 17, 2013

Eita & Kimura Kaela expecting second baby in November

Eita and Kimura Kaela are expecting their second child to be born in November this year after announcing on 14 May that Kimura is currently 5 months' pregnant. Kimura who is celebrating her 9th anniversary as a singer, is currently busy with preparations to set up her own record label by 23 June and only found out about the pregnancy two months ago through a body checkup after she finished her concert tour in early April. The couple have a son who's two years old and have been frequently seen going to their neighbourhood park together. Eita is scheduled to appear in the Noda Hideki play "MIWA" between 4 October and 24 November when Kimura is due to give birth but he is expected to take some time off to witness the birth of his child like what he did in October 2010 during the birth of his son.

Source: Sanspo

Amami Yuki discharged from the hospital and recuperating at home

Amami Yuki who was hospitalised for myocardial infarction on 6 May and had to quit her stage play "Onore no Napoleon", was discharged from the hospital on 13 May which was earlier than the initial diagnosis of a week to 10 days of hospitalisation. Amami released her first official statement since her hospitalisation on 14 May where she apologised for the inconvenience and worry she caused by not being able to complete her stage run right to the final day. She recounted that when she was first told that she was down with the ailment, she was concerned about her condition but still hoped to finish her performances. Being the first time she has been seriously ill, she said that it was a very painful decision for her to decide to quit the play. Amami also thanked the cast and staff for doing their best to accommodate her situation and make the play a success in the end. She ended the statement by saying that she will return to work again once she's fully recovered.

Amami's agency revealed that she has been recuperating at home and going to the hospital for regular checkups and treatment. At the moment, she is recovering well and has been able to carry out her daily activities at home without any problems.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Higashiyama Noriyuki to be co-leads with Vietnamese actor in TBS drama SP "Partner"

Higashiyama Noriyuki and Vietnamese actor Pham Huynh Dong will be co-leads in the upcoming TBS drama SP "Partner" due to be shown in September this year. The actors attended the production press conference held on 13 May for the drama which is meant to be the commemorative work to mark 40 years of diplomatic ties between Japan and Vietnam.This will be a joint production with Vietnam's national broadcaster VTN and features the friendship between Vietnamese independence activist Phan Boi Chau and Japanese doctor Asaba Sakitaro 100 years ago. Higashiyama who will be playing two roles i.e. Asaba in the Meiji era and a salaryman in the current era, admitted that he did not know about Phan and Asaba prior to taking on this drama but hopes to be able to convey the depth of their friendship through his acting. Co-stars also include Nguyen Lan Phuong, Takei Emi and Ashida Mana.

Source: Sanspo

Ishihara Satomi, Iura Arata & Tanaka Rena starring in TBS drama SP "Koi"

Ishihara Satomi, Iura Arata and Tanaka Rena will be starring in the TBS drama SP "Koi" which will be shown during this autumn and is based on the 1996 Naoki Award novel by Koike Mariko which has sold 900,000 copies to date. Straight after the novel won the award, there were many offers to make it into a drama or movie which Koike did not accept as it was felt that nobody could portray the lead character Fumiko. Scriptwriter Minamoto Takashi then started to prepare the script 5 years ago which finally made Koike decide to give the go-ahead.

The story is set in the 70s where Ishihara plays Fumiko, an university student, who gets involved romantically with her assistant professor Katase Shintaro (Iura) and his wife Hinako (Tanaka). However, on 28 February 1972, the police finds Shintaro seriously injured and a young man working in a electronics store (Saito Takumi) dead in a bungalow at Karuizawa while Fumiko and Hinako are also present at the scene. The truth behind the case is not known and the case is quickly classified as a crime of passion which leads to Fumiko being sent to prison. 40 years later, a report writer Torigai Mitsuhiko (Watabe Atsuro) comes to know about this case and goes to interview the elderly Fumiko (Harada Mieko) in prison which leads him to find out what really happened at the bungalow.

Filming has begun in the beginning of April primarily in Karuizawa and will also be shot at various places in Nagano, Tochigi and Chiba in order to show the passing of the seasons.

Source: Nikkansports

Production press conference of NHK drama "Gekiryuu ~ Watashi wo Oboete imasuka? ~"

The production press conference of NHK drama "Gekiryuu ~ Watashi wo Oboete imasuka? ~" was held on 13 May which was attended by Tanaka Rena, Kiritani Kenta, Kuninaka Ryoko and Tomosaka Rie. Yamamoto Koji who was originally scheduled to attend the press conference, did not show up at the event as he was unwell and needed time to recuperate especially since he had just finished his stage play "Onore Napoleon" on the previous day and had not slept for the past three days. The drama will begin its run from 25 June at 10pm on Tuesdays.

"Gekiryuu" features a group of 5 former classmates who are now 35 and reunite after a gap of 20 years. When they were students and went on a graduation trip together, one of their female friends disappeared. However, the bewildering thing is that, the 5 of them receive an email from the missing girl and then come together to find out what is going on.

As the cast members are close in age, they talked about how enjoyable the filming was since they had a great time chatting during breaks and learnt a lot from one another. Kiritani even commented that Tanaka is so frank that she speaks her mind freely and does not hide her thoughts.

Source: Sanspo / Nikkansports

PR event of movie "Kiseki no Ringo"

The PR event of new movie "Kiseki no Ringo" was held on 12 May which was attended by the lead cast members Abe Sadao, Kanno Miho and child actor Hatakeyama Tsumugi. The movie which is due to be shown in cinemas from 8 June, features Abe as a farmer who aims to grow his apples the organic way but is told that it's impossible. Kanno plays Abe's wife in the film. During the PR event, the three of them worked together to create an apple pie from the apples featured in the film which turned out burnt. When asked by the host about her signature dish, Kanno said that she had been praised by her mother for her gyozas which have more vegetables than meat.

Source: Sanspo

First-day-screening of movie "Tantei wa BAR ni iru 2 Susukino Daikousaten"

The first-day-screening of movie "Tantei wa BAR ni iru 2 Susukino Daikousaten" was held on 11 May 2013 at Marunouchi TOEI which was attended by cast members Ooizumi Yo, Matsuda Ryuhei, Ono Machiko, Watabe Atsuro and Gori. The movie is a sequel of the first part shown two years ago and features Ooizumi and Matsuda as a detective duo who solves a murder case while going places in the Susukino area at Sapporo City.

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Natsuyagi Isao passes away at the age of 73

Actor Natsuyagi Isao passed away at the age of 73 at his home in Kanagawa Prefecture in the afternoon of 11 May. According to insiders, Natsuyagi was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and kept working at his usual pace while undergoing treatment. Five of his movies are scheduled to be shown this year and he last appeared as a regular cast member in the autumn 2012 drama "Going My Home".

Natsuyagi was scheduled to have received an award at the Golden Glory Awards in February this year but was absent due to flu. As a result, his wife Mariko received the prize on his behalf and read out his statement that he was deeply humbled by the receipt of this award.

Throughout his career, Natsuyagi had appeared in more than 300 dramas and movies of various genres after he quit Keio University and entered acting school. His classmates in the same year included Harada Yoshio, Hayashi Ryuzo, Chii Takeo and Taichi Kiwako and they were collected known as the Hana no 15ki sei (The Flower 15th Batch). He made his acting debut in 1966 with the movie "Hone made Shaburu".

Source: Nikkansports

Review of Platina Data (novel)

Although I posted this in my other blog, I thought this should also be posted here now that Platina Data is scheduled to be shown in Singapore later this month. No, I didn't pay $25 for the premiere today (11 May) because I simply did not fancy paying this amount of money for the popcorn, drinks and a poster which I have nowhere to hang up. No doubt I'm absolutely dying to watch the movie and see how it differs from the novel, I'll have to hang on till the end of the month and find out for myself. If you've seen the movie today, not tell me what you saw. ^__^

Even though I bought this book in September last year, I only managed to complete it in late March because I read a few pages and stopped for a long time because I was tied up with other things. It doesn't mean that this novel is bad in any way though so I would like to make this clear. I have a bad habit of wanting to buy new books even though I still have a huge number of unread stuff to go through so I'm trying hard to resist the urge to get new books and aiming to finish my waiting list first. Since the movie version was just released in March, I thought that I should finish this first in case the movie does come to Singapore anytime soon. Last time I heard, it should be coming to our cinemas in May! (UPDATE: It's scheduled to be shown from 23 May!)

Anyway, if you haven't read this novel and wish to avoid knowing how the story develops, I would suggest that you skip this review. I certainly do not want to spoil the fun for you especially if you are in the midst of reading it or haven't even started.

Before I begin sharing my thoughts on this, let me give a summary of the key characters involved and their relationships with one another. Note that there are some minor characters I've left out since they did not appear for too long:

Kagura Ryuuhei - the chief analyst of National Police Agency's Special Analysis & Research Institute. Develops a second personality named Ryuu after the suicide of his father.
Asama Reiji - assistant police inspector of Metropolitan Police Department's 1st section
Tokura - Asama's junior and partner
Nasu - the chief of MPD's 1st section
Kiba - subsection chief of MPD's 1st section
Shiga Takashi - chief of National Police Agency's Special Analysis & Research Institute
Kagura Shogo - Ryuuhei's father, a ceramic artist
Tateshina Saki - the programmer who developed the DNA Investigation system
Tateshina Kousaku - Saki's elder brother
Minagami Youjirou - a professor in neurology at Shinseiki University Hospital and Ryuuhei's doctor
Shiratori Risa - a American-Japanese who is doing research on DNA profiling
Suzuran - Ryuu's girlfriend
Chikushi - a former architect who lives at a remote settlement in Borero City
Sasori - a former bartender who used to work at a bar operated by a gang and lives in the same settlement as Chikushi

Despite the fact that there are so many characters in this story, the movie version chooses to make some changes to the lineup and only showcases the characters I've put in bold as the main cast (based on what I see from the movie's official site). I am guessing some of the characters above may also appear in the movie. Besides this, Tateshina Kousaku's character is also missing from the lineup while Minagami is changed to become a female (Suzuki Honami) in the movie.

The novel can be largely broken up into three main arcs i.e. the events leading up to the development of the DNA Investigation System, the Tateshina siblings' double murders and the manhunt for Kagura. To begin with, the novel talks about how the police is developing this DNA Investigation System which uses DNA data to do matching in order to find criminals easily and accurately. Besides that, it can also help to project how the person may look like and even reveal specific physical characteristics about the criminal and his/her family members. However, Asama being the type of old-school police detective you see in most police dramas who believe in using his feet to find the criminals i.e. going around looking for clues or questioning people, he doesn't believe in the DNA Investigation System which is very strongly "promoted" by Kagura. Despite Asama's resistance and lack of faith in the system, it turns out to be a great thing after all as the police solve cases quickly and get their hands on the criminals easily. Kagura who strongly believes in the worth of his system and data then takes part in efforts in boosting awareness of the system and getting all Japanese citizens to provide their DNA to be included in the database despite concerns over privacy etc.

The second arc is set some time after the DNA system takes off and it is then revealed that the system is actually developed by the Tateshina siblings who stay in a VIP room at Shinseiki University Hospital. Kagura is also revealed to have a dual-personality by the name of Ryu so he has to seek treatment at the same hospital to allow Ryu to "appear" at designated times to do his thing. However, during one of the visits to the hospital, Kagura finds the Tateshina siblings dead in their room and starts to doubt whether Ryu could be behind it. In addition, he is horrified to see that his own DNA was found on Saki which will place him under suspicion as the culprit.

The final arc shows Kagura being aided by Shiratori as he goes on the run to find the truth. Asama who goes after Kagura, slowly realises that there is more to what it seems as they both arrive at the same conclusion...

I must say that the beauty of this novel lies in Higashino Keigo's ability to craft his characters in such a way that gets you fully emotionally invested in what happens to them and to surprise you with unexpected developments just when you least expect and that helps to keep the reader engaged instead of losing interest. Frankly speaking, I thought the first arc was a tad slow but given that it needed to show all the relationships between the characters, explain how the DNA Investigation System came about and why it was touted to be a lifesaver as well as show a contrast in Kagura and Asama's attitudes towards the system. One thinks that it is the solution to everything and can do no wrong while the other thinks that it is definitely not without its flaws. Of course, Kagura gets proven wrong at the end because the same system he believes in actually led to him being accused of something he did not do. No doubt he had suffered while being on the run, I think the experience helped to make him see things from different perspectives instead of being stubborn in everything. It was also good that Asama doubted the accuracy of the system or else he would have been tricked into believing that Kagura was responsible for the murders. Sometimes, a police detective's instinct works better than hard and cold data.

Things start to heat up in the second arc after the murders took place especially as Kagura also doubts himself or rather his other self about whether he is the murderer. Although Kagura and Ryu have been co-existing without much trouble, Kagura does not seem to think too favourably about his alter-ego while Ryu can't be bothered with Kagura either. The amount of faith that Kagura has in his DNA Investigation System can be seen from the fact that he chose to doubt Ryu first instead of the system. With Shiratori's assistance, he begins his journey of being on the run before the police can catch up. During this period, Kagura finds out more things about Ryu and that he even has a girlfriend Suzuran who seems to appear and disappear at will.

The third arc offers a lot of revelations and unexpected twists as Kagura is fighting with an invisible enemy i.e. the real culprit while Asama is investigating the case through his own ways. Although they appear to be going in different directions, they manage to arrive at the same conclusion somehow or so it seems. I won't give away the ending because it is really gripping and very interesting. As for how the main characters end up, I would say that it's a happy ending after all although I think there's a tinge of regret and it's not an ideal fairy tale conclusion. It's something more in tune with the circumstances described in the novel and really more believable as something which might happen in the real world.

On the whole, I think this is a great novel from Higashino which is truly a classic piece of work. I'm not sure if this has been translated into other languages yet but if you can read Japanese, do pick this up and have a go at it. I don't know if the movie follows the novel very closely but I'm guessing it might not, going by some telltale clues in the cast.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Miyazawa Rie stands in for Amami Yuki in stage play "Onore Napoleon"

Miyazawa Rie successfully completed her first performance as Amami Yuki's stand-in in the stage play "Onore Napoleon" on 10 May held at Tokyo Geijutsu Gekijou and was met with thunderous applause for her efforts. As Amami Yuki was ill due to myocardial infarction, Miyazawa was asked by the lead actor Noda Hideki to stand in for Amami who needs to rest for about 1 week to 10 days.

Given the fact that Miyazawa only had two days to practice before going on stage, it was extremely tough for her but she still accepted the offer because of her benefactor Noda. Back in late 2008 when Miyazawa was in the early stages of her pregnancy and had not married her then-husband yet, she was about to quit from one of Noda's plays then as it was supposed to run for 2 months and her condition would not allow her to act in it. After hearing that, Noda secretly changed parts of the script so that Miyazawa would have an easier time on stage and that her pregnancy would not be known until she made the announcement herself. According to insiders, Miyazawa only received the script for "Onore Napoleon" in the early hours of 8 May and started rehearsals that afternoon. On the following day, she had to attend the press conference for another play and only continued rehearsals after she was done with that event. Knowing how much Amami, Noda and the rest of the cast and crew wanted the play to finish its run and having watched the play as a member of the audience, Miyazawa then took on the difficult task of standing in for Amami as a way to repay the favour to Noda.

Source: Sponichi

Nagase Tomoya caught dating a woman in her early 20s by FRIDAY

TOKIO's Nagase Tomoya was caught on a yakiniku date with a beautiful woman in her early 20s as reported in the 9th May issue of FRIDAY. According to the magazine, the two of them met up for a meal at a yakiniku restaurant and spent the night together at Nagase's place. When asked about this, Johnny's Jimusho said that they had nothing to comment about. Nagase was last romantically linked to actress Aibu Saki before they reportedly broke up in November 2012.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

First-day-screening of movie "Kenchou Omotenashika"

The first-day-screening event of movie "Kenchou Omotenashika" was held on 11 May 2013 at TOHO Cinemas Nigeki 2 which was attended by cast members Nishikido Ryo, Horikita Maki, Funakoshi Eiichiro, Koura Kengo and Seki Megumi. Nishikido plays an employee of the Kochi Prefectural Government's newly set-up hospitality department where he has to work with Horikita & Co. to promote tourism to Kochi. As such, he also took on the role of being the first-day-screening event's host and even reminded the audience before the screening of important things such as switching off their phones and not taking any pictures during the screening. Since Nishikido was not used to hosting events on his own, he called upon his co-star Horikita for help since she had been the Kouhaku host last year. With response to his "plea" for help, Horikita jokingly said that she would help if Nishikido paid her for it which the latter responded in the affirmative.

Source: Sanspo

Winners of the 4th Nippon Theatre Staff Film Festival

Grand Shario Award: Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki
Best Leading Actor: Abe Hiroshi (Terumae Romae)
Best Leading Actress: Kiki Kirin (Waga Haha no Ki)
Best Supporting Actor: Kagawa Teruyuki (Kagidorobo no Mesoddo)
Best Supporting Actress: Hashimoto Ai (Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutte yo)
Grand Shario Newcomer Award: Higashide Masahiro (Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutte yo)
Best Director: Hosoda Mamoru (Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki)
Best Script: Uchida Kenji (Kagidorobo no Mesoddo)
Best Music: Ueno Koji (Nobou no Shiro)

Source: Nippon Theatre Staff Film Festival

Nakatani Miki to play Okada Junichi's wife in 2014 Taiga "Gunshi Kanbee"

Nakatani Miki will make her first appearance in a NHK Taiga drama when she takes on the role of Okada Junichi's wife in the 2014 Taiga "Gunshi Kanbee". In the upcoming Taiga, Okada plays the role of Kuroda Kanbee while Nakatani will play the only woman who Kanbee loved in his lifetime i.e. Teruhime who he married at the age of 22. Teruhime who was also the niece of Kodera Masamoto, was described in the Kuroda family books as a woman with looks and virtue. In the Sengoku era where many warriors had multiple wives, Kanbee was one of the few who had one wife only.

In addition, Tanihara Shosuke will take on the role of Takenaka Hanbee who was one of the advisors to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In contrast to Kanbee who was seen by Hideyoshi as an ambitious man with a desire to be the ruler of the world, Hanbee was regarded as a quiet man who had no interest for power but was known for his strong friendship with Kanbee. Tanihara had appeared in previous Taigas such as 2004's "Shinsengumi!", 2007's "Fuurin Kazan" and 2010's "Ryomaden".

Other cast additions announced on the same day include Kuroki Hitomi, Kataoka Tsurutaro and Shibata Kyohei.

Source: Sanspo

Higashiyama Noriyuki to star in new NHK drama "Nanatsu no Kaigi"

Shonentai's Higashiyama Noriyuki will be starring in the new HK drama "Nanatsu no Kaigi" (Seven Meetings) which will begin its run from 13 July at 9pm on Saturdays. The drama which will consist of four episodes, is based on the novel by Naoki Award winner Ikeido Jun and features Higashiyama as an ordinary section chief in a small-and-middle-enterprise which is a subcontractor of a   major electronics manufacturer. When he accidentally discovers that something is not quite right with a series of manpower changes, he ends up being caught in the middle of a fight against greater evil. Filming of the drama will begin on 20 May and this will be Higashiyama's first leading role in a NHK drama since 1993's Taiga "Ryukyu no Kaze".

Source: Sanspo

Kazama Shunsuke to join the cast of "Kyumei Byoutou 24 Ji" as an intern

Kazama Shunsuke will play a doctor for the first time in the fifth installment of the "Kyumei Byoutou 24 Ji" series due to begin its run this July. The latest series will feature Matsushima Nanako as the sole lead and the director of the emergency department who has to build a new emergency treatment team. Kazama's character is an intern who opts to be posted to the emergency room. Other co-stars also announced include Ashina Sei and Haru.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Oguri Shun & Miura Haruma to be voice actors in anime movie of "Captain Herlock"

Oguri Shun and Miura Haruma will be starring in the anime movie of "Captain Herlock" as voice actors and the film will be shown in cinemas this autumn. The movie which is the first adaptation in 30 years and is based on the manga by Matsumoto Reiji, will feature Oguri as the lead character Captain Herlock while Miura will play his rival Yama who tries to assassinate Herlock. The film will be based on a newly-created side story which does not exist in the original. Other co-stars include Aoi Yui, Furuta Arata and Fukuda Ayano.

The story talks about Herlock being a rebel against the government and becoming a space pirate. Yama is sent by the government to kill Herlock thus he infiltrates into Herlock's organisation and aims to kill the latter after gaining his trust.

The original manga was serialised in Play Comic between 1977 and 1979 and had been made into an anime series in 1978 followed by 3 movies. It had achieved ratings of up to 70% when it was shown in France in 1978.

Source: Sponichi

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Oda Yuji to play a single father in FujiTV's summer 2013 drama

Oda Yuji will be taking the role of a hopeless single father in FujiTV's yet-untitled summer 2013 drama which will be shown from July in the Thursdays 10pm timeslot. This will be his first time playing the role of a father in his 26-year career. Oda plays the character Genichi, a 42-year-old man who used to enjoy success as a budding scientist during his school days but gets too caught up with his past and keeps chasing his dream unsuccessfully for the past 18 years. As a result, his wife walks out of him, he loses his apartment due to unpaid rent and struggles to make a living while supporting his only son Kouta who is 5 years old and played by child actor Tanaka Kanau.

Source: Sanspo

Completion screening event of WOWOW drama "Haitatsu saretai Watashitachi"

The completion screening event of WOWOW's new drama "Haitatsu saretai Watashitachi" was held at Ebisu Garden Hall on 7 May which was attended by cast members Tsukamoto Takashi and Kuriyama Chiaki. The drama begins its run from 12 May at 10pm on Sundays. This is the first leading role for Tsukamoto since his appearance in NHK's 2008 drama "Kansa Houjin" and he plays a man named Sawano suffering from depression which makes him unable to work and causes his family relationships to suffer. Tsukamoto remarked that Sawano's character is totally different from his so he finds it challenging to portray the latter's emotions. Kuriyama plays a hairdresser in the drama who constantly gets angry at Sawano but she commented that she's not good at scenes where she has to flare up at people so she was nervous whenever she had to film such scenes.

Source: Sanspo

Completion screening of movie "Taishiboukei Tanita no Shain Shokudou"

The completion screening event of movie "Taishiboukei Tanita no Shain Shokudou" was held on 7 May at Warner Michael Cinemas Itabashi which was attended by cast members Yuka, Hamano Kenta, Miyazaki Tomu, Kusano Ini, Tanita's staff canteen nutritionist Hagino Nanako and the director Lee Toshio. The movie which is due to be shown from 25 May, is based on the recipe book which has sold more than 5.2 million copies to date and features recipes of food offered at Tanita's staff canteen. Yuka who takes on a leading role in a movie for the first time in 7 years, plays a nutritionist who used to be overweight in the movie.

Source: Sanspo

Sakai Noriko makes her return to dramas for the first time in 5 years and 4 months

Sakai Noriko and Ishiguro Ken attended the production press conference of BS Japan's drama SP "Kuroi Houkokusho Onna to Otoko no Jiken File III Gokai" on 7 May in Tokyo. The drama features Ishiguro as a magazine editor while Sakai plays a former editor who aims to become a writer and the two of them work together to investigate a murder case arising from relationship problems. This is the first time Sakai is appearing in a drama since she was found guilty of violating the stimulants control act in 2009 and returned to showbiz in December last year. Her last drama appearance was in FujiTV's "Maru Maru Chibi Maruko-chan" in February 2008.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of NHK drama "Meoto Zenzai"

The production press conference of NHK drama "Meoto Zenzai" was held on 6 May at NHK Osaka which was attended by cast members Moriyama Mirai, Ono Machiko, Sato Eriko, Tabata Tomoko and Daito Shunsuke. The drama will be shown from 24 August at 9pm and is based on the novel of the late Oda Sakunosuke. During the press conference, the cast which is made up of actors from the Kansai region, revealed that they went for regular drinking sessions to boost their team spirit. Daito was teased by Tabata for being a gym nerd when he went to the gym once at night which Sato jokingly said that exercising is something which a handsome actor like Daito must do in order to maintain his image.

Source: Sanspo

Amami Yuki hospitalised due to minor myocardial infarction

Amami Yuki has been hospitalised since 6th May due to a minor myocardial infarction, as announced by her agency through a fax statement. She had complained of feeling unwell after performing in her stage play "Onore Napoleon" on Monday and went through a checkup at a Tokyo hospital where she was diagnosed with the illness. Although Amami wanted to continue working on her stage play, the doctor advised her to rest for 1 week to 10 days so that she can make a full recovery. As a result, Miyazawa Rie will take over Amami's role in the play for its 8th May (7pm) and 9th May (2pm) sessions. Future performances of the play are now being adjusted to accommodate this sudden development.

Source: Oricon

Monday, May 06, 2013

CHEMISTRY's Kawabata Kaname announces his divorce

CHEMISTRY's Kawabata Kaname announced his divorce through his official website on 5 May 2013. In his statement, he revealed that the decision was made after discussions with his ex-wife over a long period of time and they had decided to separate for the sake of their futures. Despite the fact that they are no longer husband and wife, they will continue to be parents to their only child and fulfill their responsibilities. Kawabata married model Takahashi Miki in March 2008 and their first daughter was born in September the same year.

Source: Sanspo

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Nakama Yukie to star in drama adaptation of "Jinsei ga tokimeku Katazuke no Mahou"

Nakama Yukie will be starring in the drama SP adaptation of bestseller book "Jinsei ga tokimeku Katazuke no Mahou" (The magic of tidying up which makes your life prosper) which is due to be shown this autumn via NTV. The book written by Kondo Marie and shows the how-tos of tidying up in various aspects of life, has sold 1.35m copies to date and was the No.2 bestseller book in the first half of 2012. The second installment which was released in October last year has also sold 250,000 copies so far.

Nakama will play the role of Norita Makiko who is a lecturer on how to tidy up and has the signature line of "anata no jinsei ni kata wo tsukemashou" (let's clean up your life). Although Norita always has a nice smile on her face, she's actually someone who doesn't mince her words and would always provide ways to help her clients tidy up their lives. Co-stars include Natsuna who plays a OL facing problems with work and her love life and this is the second time they are working together.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Production press conference of drama SP "Specialist"

The production press conference of drama SP "Specialist" was held on 2 May at TV Asahi's HQ in Roppongi which was attended by cast members Kusanagi Tsuyoshi, Minami Kaho, Ashina Sei, Hiraoka Yuta and Saito Takumi. The drama SP will be shown on 18 May at 9pm.

Kusanagi plays his first role as a police detective who gets framed for a crime he didn't commit and had to spend the last 10 years in prison. However, he regains his job as a police officer and makes use of his specialised knowledge on criminal psychology to solve difficult cases. Kusanagi remarked that it was tough for him to memorise his lines which contained lots of jargon and he admitted that he didn't know who was the criminal while reading the script.

Minami plays Kusanagi's partner in the drama SP and is nicknamed as the "Obasan Keiji" who praised her partner for being someone who has a high level of concentration when filming. In addition, as the filming was done in Kyoto during February when it was freezing, Kusanagi would always help to burn the charcoal used to keep everyone warm.

Source: Sanspo

Former Morning Musume member Yasuda Kei to get married this month

Former Morning Musume member Yasuda Kei will get married to Italian cuisine expert Kozaki Yoichi at the end of May as reported on 2 May. According to Yasuda's agency, the two of them had known each other since two years ago but only started dating at the end of last year. Kozaki proposed in March and they had completed their engagement ceremony in April. As for the marriage registration, the couple plan to do it at the end of this month. Kozaki is currently the owner of two restaurants in Minato Ward, Tokyo, and also conducts cooking classes which is just next door to Yasuda's agency office. Yasuda is not pregnant and the couple have not confirmed when they are holding the wedding.

Source: Sanspo

Kaname Jun announces his marriage to Matsufuji Atsuko

Kaname Jun announced his marriage to former celebrity Matsufuji Atsuko through his agency on 2 May via a fax statement. Matsufuji is now the owner of a cosmetics company and is not pregnant at the moment. In his statement, Kaname revealed that he and his wife registered their marriage on 28 April and pledged to work even harder from now on especially since he has a family now which will provide a bigger push for him to excel. Kaname can now be seen in the TBS spring 2013 drama "Sora tobu Kouhoushitsu".

Source: Sanspo