Monday, September 29, 2014

Top 30 most memorable NHK morning drama heroines - Nikkan Taishu

This is a poll conducted by Nikkan Taishu on 300 of its readers on the memorable NHK morning drama heroines over the years. Somehow, the source does not mention who are in the 15th, 18th, 25th, 27th and 28th positions so if you happen to know or see an alternative source which has the information, please let me know so that I can update this list:

1) Matsushima Nanako - Himawari (1996)

2) Yamaguchi Tomoko - Jun-chan no Ouenka (1989)

3) Tanaka Yuko - Oshin (1983)

4) Ishihara Satomi - Teru Teru Kazoku (2003)

5) Suzuki Kyoka - Kimi no Na wa (1991)

6) Yoshitaka Yuriko - Hanako to Anne (2014)

7) Matsushita Nao - Gegege no Nyobo (2010)

8) Kuninaka Ryoko - Chura-san (2001)

9) Sawaguchi Yasuko - Mio Tsukushi (1985)

10) Horikita Maki - Ume-chan Sensei (2012) / Nounen Rena - Ama-chan (2013)

11) Takeuchi Yuko - Asuka (1999)

12) Higuchi Kanako - Romance (1984)

13) Ono Machiko - Carnation (2011)

14) Ishida Hikari - Hirari (1992)

16) An - Gochisousan (2014)

17) Otake Shinobu - Mizuiro no Toki (1975)

19) Junjou Kirari - Miyazaki Aoi (2006)

21) Yasuda Narumi - Haru yo, Koi (1994)

22) Natsuna - Jun to Ai (2012)

23) Kurashina Kana - Welkame (2009)

24) Inoue Mao - Ohisama (2011)

26) Kanjiya Shihori - Chiritotechin (2007)

29) Miyaji Mao - Manten (2002)

30) Tabata Tomoko - Watashi no Aozora (2000)

Source: Nikkan Taishu

Sunday, September 28, 2014

aiko to sing the theme song for FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Suteki na Sentakushi"

aiko will be singing the theme song for upcoming FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Suteki na Sentakushi" starring Takenouchi Yutaka which begins its run from 14 October at 10pm on Tuesdays. The theme song titled "Ashita no Mukou" (release date undecided) marks the first drama theme song from aiko since "Zutto" for the Autumn 2011 drama "Mitsu no Aji ~ A Taste of Honey ~".

The drama is written by comedian Baka Rhythm and features Takenouchi as a nosy taxi driver who has the ability to drive his passengers back to the past to correct their wrong decisions or choose differently in order to change their current fates.

Source: Sanspo

Uehara Takako's husband TENN's wake and funeral held in Osaka

The wake of ET-KING's member TENN who was also the husband of SPEED member Uehara Takako and died suddenly at the age of 35 due to suspected suicide, was held at a funeral hall in Osaka where his wife was the host. Uehara also appeared in public for the first time since her husband's demise where she did not say anything but greeted the press with a bow when they asked about her condition.

Uehara was the first person who discovered TENN's body in his car on 25th Sep and was so shaken by his sudden departure that she could not bring herself to attend the autopsy conducted by the police. Fellow SPEED members Imai Eriko and Shimabukuro Hiroko rushed to Osaka to see Uehara on the same day of TENN's death but Shimabukuro had to return to Tokyo for work thus Imai kept Uehara company through the past few days. Arakaki Hitoe also kept in touch with Uehara over the phone.

The wake is held on 27 Sep while the funeral will be on the following day. Initially, it was said that the funeral was to be a private one but due to the wishes of TENN's family, they decided to make it a grand event thus holding the wake and funeral at a big funeral hall.

Source: Daily Sports

Kanjani 8's Okura Tadayoshi & Serina dating?

Kanjani 8 member Okura Tadayoshi and Serina are said to be dating, according to the 26th Sep issue of FRIDAY. The report claimed that Serina had been to Okura's apartment in Tokyo several times in August and September, they were seen on a date at Daikanyama in June and even went on a trip to Hokkaido in August last year. However, when asked to verify the authenticity of the report, Okura's agency denied that they are dating while Serina's agency said that they are merely good friends.

Source: Sanspo

Sakai Masato & Aragaki Yui to be back in new "Legal High" SP

Sakai Masato and Aragaki Yui will be back in the new "Legal High" SP which is due to be shown at 9pm on 22 November. This time, Komikado (Sakai) and Mayuzumi (Aragaki) will be taking a case involving medical errors allegedly committed at a major general hospital where the wife of a male patient who died there is suing the hospital for compensation and Komikado is representing the hospital. His rival will be a lawyer called Kujo Kazuma who is out to seek a huge compensation from the hospital. Co-stars in the new SP include regulars such as Namase Katsuhisa, Koike Keiko and Taguchi Junnosuke while new members in the cast lineup will be announced at a later date.

Source: Sanspo

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Horikita Maki to star in NTV drama SP "Higanbana ~ Onnatachi no Hanzai File ~"

Horikita Maki will be playing a police detective for the first time as she takes on the lead role in the NTV drama SP "Higanbana ~ Onnatachi no Hanzai File ~" which will be shown on 24 October at 9pm. She plays the character Kinomiya Nagisa who works in the 7th investigation division of the Metropolitan Police Department which is well-known for its beautiful female detectives with unique traits and nicknamed as "Higanbana" (flowers with poison in their roots). As a murder case took place at a wedding hall, the 7th division is then deployed to work on this case. Kinomiya is known to be a weirdo with a venomous tongue which is in contrast to Horikita's usual gentle and pure image.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of TBS drama SP "Tsuki ni Iku Fune"

The production press conference of new TBS drama SP "Tsuki ni Iku Fune" (The boat that goes to the moon) was held on 26 Sep which was attended by the leads Wakui Emi and Tanihara Shosuke and the scriptwriter Kitagawa Eriko. The SP will be shown on 4 October at 2pm and is an original work of Kitagawa. Wakui plays the role of a blind woman who accidentally meets a magazine editor (Tanihara) at a small train station located in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture and romance blossoms between them. Wakui who has never acted in a Kitagawa drama before, admitted that she felt that someone younger than her might be more suitable for the role but she decided to take the risk by accepting this role. As for Tanihara, he commented that through his role, he felt that it was an important thing to treasure the feeling of being in love and caring for the person you love.

Source: Sanspo

Friday, September 26, 2014

Amuro Namie to sing the theme song for "First Class 2"

Amuro Namie will be singing the theme song for new FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "First Class 2" which will begin its run from 15 October in the Wednesdays 10pm timeslot. The mid-tempo song titled "BRIGHTER DAY" which is due to be released as a single in November, has lyrics which describe how the lead character played by Sawajiri Erika battle in a female-dominated fashion industry and how she continues to press on in the path she has chosen.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Uehara Takako's husband TENN found dead; believed to have committed suicide

Uehara Takako's husband i.e. TENN of the the hip-hop group ET-KING (real name Moriwaki Takahiro) was found dead in his own car around 7am on 25 Sep and police believe that there was no foul play involved. According to the police, Uehara who had not found her husband at home at 6.25am today, went to search for him and later saw him in their wagon car's back seat with a rope-like object circled around his neck. The wagon was parked at the carpark of the apartment where the couple was staying at. Due to the shock, Uehara could only manage to call a female relative to come to the scene and the latter then called the police at 7.25am. It is said that TENN had left behind his suicide note at home thus police believe that he took his own life.

TENN and Uehara got married on 23 August 2012 and she moved to Osaka to stay with him as his career activities were mainly based there. Before TENN died, he appeared as a member of unit "Hiroumonzu" on an open fan meeting hosted on smartphone application "755" between 9pm and 10pm the previous night thus it is believed that he took his life after returning home.

Source: Daily Sports

Oda Yuji announces his wife's pregnancy, due in November this year

Oda Yuji announced his wife's pregnancy on 25 Sep and revealed that she will be due in early November. The couple got married in August 2010 and finally have some good news to share after four years of waiting. As Oda had kept his private life after wraps all along so, not much is known about his private and marriage life.

The couple was said to have informed a small number of people only about the pregnancy. Oda first played a father's role in the summer 2013 drama 'Oh My Dad!!"

Source: Sankei Sports

Tabe Mikako & Ayano Go star in new movie "Piece of Cake"

Tabe Mikako and Ayano Go will be working together for the first time in the new movie "Piece of Cake" which is due to be shown in cinemas during autumn 2015. The movie which is based on a manga by George Asakura and had accumulated sales of 430,000 copies to date, will be directed by Taguchi Tomorowo who last directed a film 5 years ago.

Tabe plays the role of Shino, a woman who sleeps around with men easily as she needs to feel loved but ends up sleeping with and falling in love with the manager of her workplace Kyoshiro (Ayano) who suddenly becomes her neighbour. However, Kyoshiro already has a girlfriend thus the three of them are caught in a painful love triangle.

Filming begun in the middle of this month.

Source: Sanspo

Matsuura Aya expecting her first child; due to give birth within this year

Matsuura Aya who married w-inds' vocalist Tachibana Keita in August 2013, announced that she is currently 7 months' pregnant with their first child. The couple released a joint statement to the media to share the good news and revealed that she will be due within this year. In the statement, they commented that they are preparing for the delivery both physically and mentally and asked for the warm support from everyone around them. When the baby is born, they will make another announcement with regard to that.

Tachibana and Matsuura made their debuts in the same year i.e. 2001 and dated for 12 years before getting married on 4 August 2013. Matsuura was diagnosed with endometriosis in summer 2011 and has been taking a break off work since then for the sake of treatment.

Source: Sponichi

Maki Yoko & Nishijima Hidetoshi team up again in new movie "Nounai Poison Berry"

Maki Yoko and Nishijima Hidetoshi will be working together again in the new movie "Nounai Poison Berry" (The Poison Berry in My Brain) whihc will be shown in cinemas next year. The original manga is by Mizushiro Setona whose most recent work adapted into a drama was "Shitsuren Chocolatier" earlier this year.

Maki plays the role of Ichiko who is in her 30s and gets involved in a love triangle with a man younger than her and another man older than her. However, being unable to make decisions for herself on how to handle this situation, 5 different personalities residing inside her brain have meetings to decide on the course of action whenever it's needed. The five characters are played by Nishijima who's somewhat like the chairman of the meetings but disliked by Ichiko, Kamiki Ryunosuke who plays a positive character and always looks on the bright side of things, Yoshida Yo who plays the negative thinking personality, child actor Sakurada Hiyori who take charge of impulse feelings (last seen in "Ashita, Mama ga inai" and Asano Kazuyuki who is responsible for bringing up past memories.

Maki who is mostly known for her cool image roles, commented that the character of Ichiko is too far from her own but she sees it as a challenge and is raring to go.

Source: Sanspo

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

"First Class" original cast members to make their return in "First Class 2"

The cast members in the original series of "First Class" are scheduled to make a comeback in the sequel which will start from 15 October in the Wednesdays 10pm timeslot. Besides the lead character Sawajiri Erika who will be working in a new environment this time, her old rivals including Osawa Rumi (Itaya Yuka), MIINA (Sasaki Nozomi), Yamaki Konatsu (Miura Rieko), Kawashima Remie (Nanao) and Kimura Shirayuki (Tabata Tomoko) as well as the narrator LiLiCo will all be featured in "First Class 2" in addition to 10 other new additions to the cast including Kimura Yoshino, Natsuki Mari and Yo Kimiko. Of these actresses, one of the highlights will be Remie and her interaction with her elder sister Namie played by Shishido Kavka who she cannot stand up against.

Before the drama begins its run, there will be a "fake" documentary about Remie's busy life as an editor shown on 1 October in the midnight timeslot. As for the first series, it will also be broadcast again between 1 Oct and 4 Oct for the benefit of viewers who haven't watched it and wish to catch up with the story before the new drama begins its run.

Source: Sanspo

Ichihara Hayato & Mukoyama Shiho announce their marriage

Ichihara Hayato and Mukoyama Shiho announced their marriage on 23 Sep through a joint fax statement to the media. They commented that they hoped to build a bright and cheerful family and not forget to care for each other in future.

The couple got to know each other in the summer of 2011 before they started dating. Mukoyama is currently 7 months pregnant and due to give birth either at the end of this year or early next year.

Source: Sanspo

Hoshino Mari to be the lead in FujiTV's afternoon drama "Cinderella Date"

Hoshino Mari will make her debut in a morning drama when she takes on the leading role in FujiTV's new offering "Cinderella Date" which begins its run from 3 November at 1.30pm on weekdays. She plays the role of Makoto, a married senior high school teacher who goes on a vacation with her husband to Jakarta, Indonesia, where she accidentally meets and falls for journalist Ryota played by Mashima Hidekazu. 3 years later when Ryota returns to Japan, he and Makoto reunites and rekindles their romance. Jinnai Tomonori plays Makoto's husband. Co-stars include Kurokawa Tomoka and Okae Kumiko.

Although the theme of the drama is extramarital affairs, Tokai TV which is producing the drama, said that it will be different from the usual love-and-hate plots in afternoon dramas where there will be no intimate scenes and the focus will be on the platonic relationship between the leads.

The ending theme of the drama titled "Hikari" will be sung by female singer Sharo who makes her debut on 3 December.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "N no tame ni" - Autumn 2014

Title: N no tame ni Nのために(For the sake of N)
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: October 2014
Timeslot: Fridays 10pm
Broadcast: TBS
Original novel by: Minato Kanae
Cast: Eikura Nana, Kubota Masataka, Kaku Kento, Koide Keisuke, Hara Hideko, Shibamoto Yuki, Moro Morooka, Miho Jun, Hayama Shono, Mitsuishi Ken, Yamamoto Mirai, Orimoto Shunkichi, Tokui Yoshimi, Konishi Manami, Miura Tomokazu

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Preview of "Suteki na Sentakushi" - Autumn 2014

Title: Suteki na Sentakushi 素敵な選TAXI
Official website: here
Official Twitter: here
O.A. Start Date: 14 October 2014
Timeslot: Tuesdays 10pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV / Kansai TV
Scriptwriter: Baka Rhythm
Cast: Takenouchi Yutaka, Baka Rhythm, Minamisawa Nao, Seino Nana, Masu Takeshi

Monday, September 22, 2014

Shooting of "N no tame ni" at Shodo Island

The crew and cast of upcoming TBS Autumn 2014 drama "N no tame ni" went to Shodo Island in the Seto Inland Sea for shooting lasting two weeks since the beginning of September. The drama which is based on the same titled novel by Minato Kanae, features a group of people with the initial N in their names whose lives were affected for the last 15 years due to the murders of a celebrity couple. The shooting done at Shodo featured the lives of Nozomi (Eikura Nana) and Shinji (Kubota Masataka) when they were still high school students and living on the island.

The open filming at the Ikeda no Saijiki, an open-air theatre, featured 200 of the island's residents as extras. Minato was also there to pay a visit to the cast and crew where she also praised Eikura for being suitable to show the strengths and weakness of her character Nozomi. On the other hand, Eikura also expressed joy at meeting Minato and vowed to work hard in this drama.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Tatakau Onna" - Autumn 2014

Title: Tatakau Onna 戦う女 (The Fighting Woman)
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 17 October 2014
Timeslot: Fridays 11pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV CS
Original essay by: Koizumi Kyoko
Theme song: Tatakau Onna by Charan Porantan
Regular Cast: Kadowaki Mugi, YOU, Tomochika, Eri

Episode 1 - Mama no inai aida ni: Kadowaki Mugi, Yamanaka Takashi, Kosuge Shiori, Shinohara Yukiko

Episode 2 - Onaka no Maguma: Hara Maika, Komatsu Moka

Episode 3 - Arifureta Koi no Hanashi: Kishii Yukino, Owada Kensuke, Fukikoshi Mitsuru

Episode 4 - Oshiawase ni: Ito Ayumi, Takeko Aya

Episode 5 - T-back Blues: Takaoka Saki, Nekoze Tsubaki, Nishida Naomi

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Preview of "Tokyo ni Olympic wo Yonda Otoko" (Drama SP)

Title: Tokyo ni Olympic wo Yonda Otoko (The Man of the Tokyo Olympics)
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 11 Oct, Saturday 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Original novel by: Takasugi Ryo
Cast: Osawa Takao, Tokiwa Takako, Hagiwara Masato, Katsuji Ryo, Nakao Akiyoshi, Ozawa Yukiyoshi, Mitsuishi Ken, Kaneda Akio, Izumiya Shigeru, Honda Tsubasa, Horibe Keisuke, Ishii Masanori, Watanabe Ikkei, Hotaru Yukijiro, Izumi Pinko, Hashizume Isao, Nishida Toshiyuki

"Nurse no Oshigoto" to return as a drama SP for first time in 12 years

FujiTV will be showing a 2-part drama SP of "Nurse no Oshigoto" for the first time in 12 years on 31 Oct and 1 Nov. Original cast members Mizuki Arisa who played the newbie nurse Asakura Izumi and Matsushita Yuki who played her senior Ozaki Shoko will be back to reprise their roles in the SPs. The first part titled "Ritou-hen" will feature Izumi operating the Takasugi clinic on an island called Shikine with her husband Kentaro (Fujiki Naohito) where Shoko happens to go there for a holiday. The second part titled "Saikai-hen" will show Izumi being roped in as a nurse to work at Wakabakai General Hospital where Shoko is the matron.

Source: Sponichi

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sakaguchi Kenji announces the birth of his first son

Sakaguchi Kenji announced the birth of his first son through a fax statement issued by his agency on 20 Sep. The statement revealed that the baby boy weighed 2,940grams at birth and both mother and son are doing well. He expressed joy at the arrival of a new member in his family and was especially pleased to see that the shape of his son's feet looked like his.

Sakaguchi got married in March this year and had been on a break from work due to hip joint pain. He recently returned to work as a narrator in the TBS programme "Yume no Tobira +".

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

V6's Sakamoto Masayuki & Otsuka Chihiro break up after 3 years

V6's Sakamoto Masayuki and Otsuka Chihiro are reported to have gone their separate ways this summer after dating for the past three years, as reported on 16 Sep. According to Sankei Sports, Sakamoto's agency declined to comment about the breakup news while Otsuka's agency merely said that this is her private matter so they will not interfere in it.

Sakamoto and Otsuka first met through a stage play in January 2011 in which they played lovers and subsequently started dating. When interviewed by the media in April this year during the production press conference of his play, Sakamoto was asked about his marriage plans and he said that although he was going to be 42 years old in July and it was high time that he gave marriage a serious thought, there were no concrete plans yet.

On the other hand, Otsuka was rumoured to be dating actor Shimizu Ryotaro but she denied it through her blog on 20 Sep and said that they are merely close friends. Otsuka apologised for the worry and inconveniences caused by the incorrect reports.

Source: Sankei Sports / Sanspo

Mukai Osamu to play Ikeda Tsuneoki in FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Nobunaga Concerto"

Mukai Osamu will be playing the role of Ikeda Tsuneoki, the no.1 retainer under Oda Nobunaga, in the upcoming FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Nobunaga Concerto" which begins its run from 13 October in the Mondays 9pm timeslot (Gekku). Mukai last appeared in a Gekku back in 2006 when he acted in "Nodame Cantabile" and had wondered then why a comedy like this was being shown in this timeslot which was traditionally known for its romance stories. This time, "Nobunaga Concerto" is the first period drama shown in the Gekku timeslot which had also interested Mukai for being different from the norm and he promised to work hard in supporting Oguri just like how Ikeda had done for Nobunaga. Mukai and Oguri last worked together in the TBS drama SP "Kikoku" in 2010 so this marks their first collaboration in a full-length drama series.

Source: Sanspo / Yomiuri Hochi

Supporting cast and guest star announcements for "Suteki na Sentakushi"

The cast and guest star announcements were made on 19 Sep for FujiTV's new autumn 2014 drama "Suteki na Sentakushi" which will begin its run from 14 October in the Tuesdays 10pm timeslot. Besides the lead actor Takenouchi Yutaka who plays a busybody and talkative taxi driver Edawakare, he will be joined by Baka Rhythm who wrote the script and will take on the role of Manager Sakota in the cafe "choice" frequented by Edawakare. Regular customers at the cafe will include Minamisaawa Nao, Seino Nana and Masu Takeshi.

The guest stars of the first episode will be Yasuda Ken and Konishi Manami while Nakamura Toru will be the guest star in the following episode.

Source: Sanspo

Okada Masaki to star in new movie "Strayer's Chronicle"

Okada Masaki will be starring in the new movie "Strayer's Chronicle" which is due to be shown in cinemas next year. This movie which is based on the suspense action novel by Honda Takayoshi, is also Okada's first action film. The story focuses on a group of young people who were born with special powers and have to battle it out with a rival group. Okada plays the role of Subaru, a young man who has great eyesight and can read his opponent's movements 3 seconds before the action is taken. Narumi Riko plays a cello player Saya who is in love with Subaru and helps her buddies with her extraordinary hearing. Co-stars also include Sometani Shota who plays the leader of the rival group and Ihara Tsuyoshi, Ishibashi Renji and Toyohara Kosuke.

Source: Sanspo 1 / Sanspo 2

Friday, September 19, 2014

Main visuals of 11-member female cast in FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "First Class 2"

The main visuals of the 11-member female cast in the FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "First Class 2" produced by Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee, flower arrangement artists from JARDINS des FLEURS and art director Kira Shintaro were unveiled on 19 Sep. The drama features Sawajiri Erika as its lead who has become a designer at a fashion brand and is due to begin its run from 15 October at 10pm on Wednesdays. Standing in her way towards success are 10 "evil" female characters played by Natsuki Mari, Yo Kimiko, Kimura Yoshino, Kurashina Kana, Shishido Kavka, Shinohara Tomoe, Suzuki Chinami, Ichikawa Miwako, Kojima Hijiri and Tomosaka Rie. As the theme of the visuals was "flowers and thorns, the actresses were featured holding various flowers during the photoshoot for the poster and the video of the production process can be viewed here.

Source: Sanspo

Press conference of NHK drama "Yube no Curry, Ashita no Pan"

The press conference of new NHK drama "Yube no Curry, Ashita no Pan" was held on 19 Sep which was attended by the lead cast members Naka Riisa and Kaga Takeshi. The drama which will begin its run from 5 October at 10pm on Sundays, features Naka as a young widow who lost her husband due to illness and describes her life with her father-in-law.

This drama also marks Naka's first leading role in a drama since she got married to Nakao Akiyoshi and gave birth to their son in October last year. As such, Naka commented that this drama came at the right time in her life since she had gone through various new experiences i.e. becoming a wife and mother although she felt the pressure in taking on the lead role after taking a break for some time. In addition, Naka revealed that there were many eating scenes but she is poor at using chopsticks so she had to check constantly how she was holding them during the filming.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nakama Yukie & Tanaka Tetsushi get married after a six-year courtship

Although this piece of news first appeared on Nikkansports this morning, I was a bit skeptical over how true it was because no other newspapers were reporting this and there was no confirmation from either party. Anyway, the confirmation has finally come tonight so here I am, reporting this belatedly at this time.

Nakama Yukie and Tanaka Tetsushi got married on 18 September as announced through a fax statement from their agencies. The couple first got to know each other through working on the 2003 FujiTV drama "Kao" and reunited on the set of 2007 TBS drama "Joshideka!" when they reportedly started dating the following year. They were first romantically linked in a 2009 Nikkansports report but had denied being an item in consideration of their fans and sponsors. Instead, they continued dating in secret for the past 6 years before finally tying the knot. At present, there are no plans for a wedding or press conference.

Nakama also released her statement where she confirmed that she and Tanaka had registered their marriage today. They started off as friends back in 2007 and later began dating and things progressed naturally thus leading to their marriage. She also expressed her wish to continue working and hopes that the synergy between the two of them will lead to even greater success for them in terms of work and their private lives.

As Tanaka was starring in the stage play "Haishin" which had its first performance today, the press were gathered at Tokyo Geijutsu Gekijo after the performance ended so that they could interview him. Tanaka thanked the press for their congratulations and revealed that he had submitted the marriage application alone around 9am today. He also apologised to his stage play co-stars for the inconveniences caused to them as a result of his marriage announcement. When asked about how he proposed to Nakama, Tanaka said that there was no formal proposal but since a year ago, marriage was part of their plans and he gave her a ring around the same time. He didn't really select a special day to give her the ring which he had gone to buy on his own but he remarked that she seemed happy when she received it.

When asked about what he likes about Nakama, Tanaka complimented her by saying she's too good for him. Although it is often said that people in the same occupation find it difficult to be together, he is glad that she is a very supportive person and the fact that she's also an actress makes it easy for her to understand things which those outside the entertainment circle would not know. Last but not least, he cited her simple character as the most appealing point to him.

Despite having dated for six years, Tanaka revealed that they have never had a serious argument before. He also said that he had met his parents-in-law who were very nice to him. Tanaka and Nakama recently started staying together but do not have any plans yet with regard to parenthood.

Source: Nikkansports 1 / Nikkansports 2 / Nikkansports 3 / Nikkansports 4

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sato Takeru & Miyazaki Aoi to work together in new movie "Sekai kara Neko ga kieta nara"

Sato Takeru will be starring in the new movie "Sekai kara Neko ga kieta nara" (What if cats disappear from the world) which is due to be shown in cinemas after the end of next year. The movie which is based on the same-titled mobile phone novel by Kawamura Genki via LINE two years ago, sold more than 700,000 copies and was made into a radio drama starring Tsumabuki Satoshi in July last year.

The movie version this time features Sato in two roles i.e. the lead character and the devil. In order to keep himself alive, the lead character who works as a courier, must enter into a deal with the devil where something in the world must disappear completely in exchange for his survival. His first love will be played by Miyazaki Aoi who is working with Sato for the first time and his best friend will be played by Hamada Gaku. As the lead character chooses various things to delete from the world in order to keep living, he has to make a choice in the end whether to remove his existence from the world or that of his family and friends.

Filming will begin in Hokkaido from October and in Argentina at a later date. The theme song of the movie will be produced by Kobayashi Takeshi.

Source: Sanspo

Yamada Takayuki to play Toyotomi Hideyoshi in FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama " Nobunaga Concerto"

Yamada Takayuki will be playing the role of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the upcoming FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Nobunaga Concerto" starring Oguri Shun and beginning its run from 13 October. This is the first time in 12 years since Yamada appeared in a Gekku drama and his last appearance was in 2002's "Lunch no Joou". Apparently, it was his buddy Oguri who made the offer to Yamada directly over the phone and the latter quickly accepted it after reading the original. However, the relationship setting between Nobunaga and Hideyoshi will be different from history where Hideyoshi's lord was Nobunaga as he will be a spy planted by Imagawa Yoshimoto at Nobunaga's side in this drama.

Source: Sanspo

Ono Machiko, Emoto Akira & Ozawa Yukiyoshi to star in Matsumoto Seicho drama SP "Sakamichi no Ie"

Ono Machiko, Emoto Akira and Ozawa Yukiyoshi will be starring in the new TV Asahi drama SP "Matsumoto Seicho ~ Sakamichi no Ie" which is due to be shown this winter. The drama SP which is based on the same-titled novel published in 1959, features Ono as Rieko, a young and beautiful hairdresser who happens to visit a bedding shop owned by Yoshitaro (Emoto) and the latter becomes so besotted with her that they begin an affair without his wife's knowledge. On the other hand, Rieko hates her late mother (Fueki Yuko) for sleeping around with other men but is actually following in her footsteps by sleeping with men for money. One day, she reunites with her first love Naoki (Ozawa) who has become an assistant professor and shares a dark secret with her. Soon, the romance between them is rekindled. However, Yoshitaro who has lost his fortune and is about to lose Rieko, becomes consumed by jealousy which brings Rieko, Naoki and him to the point of no return.

Source: Sanspo

Koizumi Kyoko's essay to be adapted into a drama series "Tatakau Onna"

Koizumi Kyoko's essay "Tatakau Onna Pants-hen" (The Fighting Woman - the underwear part) will be made into a 5-episode drama by FujiTV and shown via CS FujiTV NEXT from 17 October at 11pm on Fridays. The essay written by Koizumi was published on culture magazine "Mayonaka" in January 2009 and talks about how Koizumi's life has changed over the years through the description of the underwear choices she has made since she was a child up to being in her 40s. The 5 episodes will feature her life when she was a primary school student, junior high student, in her 20s, 30s and reaching 42 years old. Kadowaki Mugi will play the role of an lingerie shop owner while different actresses will play the leads in each episode. Half of the airtime will be taken up by the drama while the other 30 mins will be a girls-talk section featuring Kadowaki, YOU, Tomochika and Eri about underwear.

Koizumi commented that it was surprising to know that the producers were interested in her essay which she considered too short to be worthy material to be made into a drama. As such, she will be looking forward to see how her essay will be presented on screen.

The theme song "Tatakau Onna" will be sung by singing unit Charan Porantan made up of two sisters who just made their major debut in July this year.

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Production press conference of new FujiTV drama SP "Orient Kyuukou Satsujin Jiken"

The production press conference of new FujiTV drama SP "Orient Kyuukou Satsujin Jiken" (Orient Express Murder Case) was held on 14 September which was attended by cast members Nomura Mansai, Matsushima Nanako, Ninomiya Kazunari, An, Tamaki Hiroshi, Ikematsu Sosuke, Tamaki Hiroshi, Sawamura Ikki, Yagi Akiko, Aoki Sayaka, Fujimoto Takahiro, Fuji Sumiko, Takahashi Katsumi, Sasano Takashi, Kobayashi Takashi, Kusabue Mitsuko, Nishida Toshiyuki as well as the scriptwriter Mitani Koki and director Kawano Keita.

The drama SP which is based on Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express" and is the first drama adaptation of this novel in Japan, is a special production to mark FujiTV's 55th anniversary and will be shown early next year over two nights. In this drama SP set during the early days of the Showa era, Nomura will play the role of famous detective Suguro Takeru who investigates the murder case taking place on the Tokubetsu Kyuukou Toyo departing from Shimonoseki. The first part of the SP will be largely in line with the original novel while the 2nd part will look at the case from the culprit's point of view thus offering a different perspective for the viewers. Mitani revealed that he is a great fan of the original novel and was very thrilled to be given a free hand to write an original story for part 2 of the SP and work with a star-studded cast. As for Nomura, he commented that he took up the offer for this leading role back in 2011 without knowing what he was in for or what the story was about. He commented that he felt honoured to be able to be the lead actor in this cast.

Filming is said to have been 25 percent completed to date.

Source: Cinema Cafe

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sato Koichi and Honda Tsubasa to work together in new movie "Terminal"

Sato Koichi and Honda Tsubasa will be working together in the new movie "Terminal" directed by Shinohara Tetsuo and based on the same-titled novel by Naoki Award writer Sakuragi Shino. The movie which will be shown in autumn next year, features Sato as a 55-year-old lawyer who is living alone in Kushiro and he becomes the defence lawyer for Honda's character, a 25-year-old woman arrested for consumption of stimulants. Sato's character had dumped his wife and children 30 years ago for his lover played by Ono Machiko and his past painful memories are revived as he helps Honda's character through her trial. Over time, the two of them who are 30 years apart begin a platonic romance where they will not even hold hands nor kiss.

Filming began at the end of August at Kushiro, Hokkaido.

Source: Sponichi

Friday, September 12, 2014

Shibasaki Kou to play Nohime in FujiTV autumn 2014 drama "Nobunaga Concerto"

Shibasaki Kou will be playing the role of Nohime, Oda Nobunaga's wife in the upcoming FujiTV autumn drama "Nobunaga Concerto" which begins its run from 13 October in the Mondays 9pm timeslot. The drama will feature Oguri Shun in two roles as Oda and Saburo, a senior high school student in the modern era who goes back into time and gets mistaken for the real Oda. This will mark Shibasaki's first heroine role in a Gekku drama since 2007's "Galileo". Although Shibasaki and Oguri had appeared in the 2010 drama SP "Wagaie no Rekishi - First Night", their characters had no interaction with each other so this drama will be considered their first collaboration.

Source: Sanspo

Esumi Makiko finally responds to vandalism scandal via her blog

Esumi Makiko finally updated her blog on 9 September in response to the recent vandalism scandal plaguing her. According to the 28 August issue of "Shukan Bunshun", Esumi was reportedly exposed by her former manager for instigating him to write graffitti on the walls and garage shutter of Nagashima Kazushige's house back in December 2012 due to a bullying dispute involving their children.

Esumi began by apologising to the public for the controversy surrounding this scandal and the worry and inconvenience caused to all parties involved. However, she denied knowledge of her former manager's actions until the article was published and even revealed that he had contacted her to apologise for the matter being blown out of proportion. Nonetheless, she would still offer her apologies to Nagashima for what happened due to her position (as an artiste whose former manager had done wrong). Esumi then ended her statement that in consideration for Nagashima, her former manager who is undergoing psychiatric treatment and her children, she would refrain from giving too many details on the situation and also apologised for the 12-day delay in releasing her statement.

Source: Sponichi

Screening event of new NHK drama "Borderline"

The screening event of new NHK drama "Borderline" was held on 10 Sep at the TV station's headquarters which was attended by the lead cast members Koike Teppei and Fujiwara Norika. The drama which will begin its run from 4 October in the Saturdays 9pm timeslot, features Koike as a newbie firefighter who has no passion for his job initially but gradually discovers the meaning and importance of his job in life-and-death situations under the tutelage of his divorced team leader played by Fujiwara.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Production press conference of NHK morning drama "Mare"

The production press conference of NHK morning drama "Mare" was held on 8 Sep which was attended by the cast members Tsuchiya Tao, Oizumi Yo, Tokiwa Takako Tanaka Yuko, Hayama Shono, Tanaka Min, Kadowaki Mugi, Yamazaki Kento, Nakamura Atsuo, Suzuki Sawa, Sasai Eisuke and Shimizu Fumika. Nakagawa Shoko and Tsukaji Muga were absent from the press conference. Of the 18 cast members announced during the press conference, 11 are making their first appearances in a morning drama as they were picked from auditions.

The drama which will begin its run from 30 March, features Tsuchiya as a 19-year-old girl named Mare who comes from a fishing village in the Noto region of Ishikawa Prefecture and aspires to be a patissier. As part of the preparations for this role, Tsuchiya cut her long hair by 40cm and commented that this is the shortest hairstyle she has sported since making her debut in showbiz at the age of 12 years old. Oizumi plays Mare's father while Tokiwa plays her mother in their first appearances in a morning drama.

As a result of her father's constant pursuits of his dreams, Tsumura Mare had to flee to a fishing village in Noto, Ishikawa with her family to hide from creditors. She firmly believes in her motto of hard work, step by step, and becomes a civil servant at the city office after graduating from senior high school. However, she later realises that she wants to become a patissier and heads to Yokohama to be a disciple in a famous confectionery shop in order to achieve her goal of opening her own shop back in Noto.

Source: Sanspo

Konishi Manami & Tokui Yoshimi to play a married couple in TBS Autumn 2014 drama "N no tame ni"

Konishi Manami and comedian Tokui Yoshimi will be playing a married couple in the upcoming TBS Autumn 2014 drama "N no tame ni" which begins its run from October in the Fridays 10pm timeslot. The drama which is based on Minato Kanae's novel and features Eikura Nana as the lead, talks about how a group of people with N as the initials of their names are affected by the murders of a married couple with the surname Noguchi over a span of 15 years. Konishi plays the role of the wife who appears as a happy housewife but has an affair with Nishizaki (Koide Keisuke) while Tokui plays the husband who is deeply affected by his wife's betrayal. Later, the couple are found murdered which leads to the beginning of the hunt for which N had committed a crime for the sake of which N.

Konishi commented that she never imagined playing a married couple with Tokui before and was pleasantly surprised that the filming went well and it was an enjoyable experience. As for Tokui who has not been seen in a drama for the past three years, he commented that it was great that he could do a different style of acting this time and he enjoyed the experience very much.

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Review of "Ashita, Mama ga inai" - Winter 2014

Amid the bad press surrounding this drama when it was airing, I didn't have time to finish watching it so I was not too sure if it was really as controversial as the critics made it out to be. However, after watching the entire drama, the feeling I got was, "what was all that hoo-ha about anyway?". I'm not trying to belittle the concerns highlighted by the parties concerned about children living in and staff working in welfare facilities but honestly, this drama had nothing really drastically different from past dramas about children in less-privileged circumstances that warranted all that negative publicity. Certainly not to the extent of having the drama shortened or the sponsors pulling out their CM deals too.

Before I begin with my review, here's the usual disclaimer. If you haven't watched this drama and do not wish for me to spoil the fun for you, please skip this.

The story begins in this welfare facility called Kogamo no Ie (Little Duck's Home) which was established and is managed by Sasaki Tomonori (Mikami Hiroshi). As he's always dressed in dark colours, walks around menacingly with his walking stick and speaks harshly to the children under his charge, he is nicknamed "Maou" (Devil King) by them. The children who come to Kogamo are those who can't be with their parents for various reasons such as death, domestic violence or child abandon. Despite his cold demeanour, Sasaki always thinks of the welfare of his charges and tries to help them find suitable foster parents so that they may begin a new life. He even goes to the extent of partnering up with child welfare officer Mizusawa Kanai (Kimura Fumino) who brings the particulars of potential foster parents to Sasaki who then passes it on to the children to choose who they are interested in to be their foster parents. This is actually not allowed but apparently, Sasaki and Mizusawa believe firmly that children should have the right to choose who they want to be with rather than be selected by foster parents. Other than Sasaki, the only employee at Kogamo is a young man nicknamed Locker (Miura Shohei) who doesn't speak at all and goes about his daily chores of cleaning and cooking for the children.

At the centre of the story are four girls who will be known by their nicknames rather than first names throughout most of this drama i.e. Post (Ashida Mana), Donki (Suzuki Rio), Piami (Sakurada Hiyori) and Bonbi (Watanabe Konomi). Their nicknames have a lot to do with their circumstances e.g. Post was nicknamed as such because she had been abandoned by her parents and left in the child post box at a hospital. Donki didn't want to accept her nickname at first because she was called as such due to her mother using a blunt object to hit her lover and was arrested by the police for assault. In Japanese, a blunt object is called donki. As for Piami, her real name is Naomi and she plays the piano well (she used to be a rich man's daughter and learned to play from young) thus she is nicknamed as such. Last but not least, Bonbi got her nickname because the people around her thought that she was admitted to the facility due to her parents being in poverty. However, the real reason was that they died due to a natural disaster and their bodies were never found but Bonbi still refused to believe that they were dead so she would rather believe that her parents would come back for her once they had money.

To put it simply, the story focuses on how the children in Kogamo gradually get adopted one by one or return to their original families for one reason or another. No matter the outcome, Sasaki would strive to achieve the best for these kids. Throughout the process, there were times when he would reprimand the kids for being too wilful or not pandering to the foster parents. Actually, he meant well although the words he used could have been more carefully selected. Then again, if he chose to go soft on the kids, they might not listen to him. I guess it also has to do with the fact that Sasaki used to be a police detective and had limited exposure to children thus he might not have been able to talk nicely to them even though he may have wanted to.

If the kids insisted on throwing tantrums and not accepting the circumstances that they were in, chances are there won't be any foster parents who might be willing to take them in. Sasaki believed firmly that securing the best match between child and foster parent was the No.1 way of ensuring that both parties would be happy. As such, he would rather take on the role of a devil to force the children to understand the circumstances they were already in and make an effort to change their destinies. We cannot deny the fact that there is already discrimination towards children in such under-privileged conditions such as name-calling or parents telling their kids not to mix around with such children i.e. automatically assuming that the children would be bad people just because they didn't have parents or a complete family. To Sasaki and perhaps to Mizusawa too, they were probably of the opinion that by sending these children off to families which can truly care for them, that was going to be the best way out.

Of course, in Sasaki's case, the reason why he set up Kogamo was partly due to the fact that he wanted to atone for his sin of killing his own child. He didn't actually mean to do that but as his wife Kaori (Suzuki Sawa) was in critical condition while pregnant, he had to give up his child in order to save her. This led to the breakdown of their marriage thus Sasaki could only watch Kaori from afar now and did not dare to meet her for fear that she would run away again. In the end, the relationship between them is revealed and Kaori goes off again as she feels guilty towards Sasaki for being with another man to seek relief for the loss of their child.

As the children go off one by one, the only people left are Otsubone (Ogo Suzuka) who is planning to leave Kogamo as she's nearing 18 and will live at a boarding school to learn nursing and of course, Post. In fact, Post has been the longest-staying child in Kogamo since she was brought back as an infant by Sasaki. Although Post had a chance of being adopted by her teacher's family, it caused a lot of emotional pain for her. Seeing this, Sasaki decides to adopt Post as his own daughter which she gladly accepts in the end. In a way, she has also accepted her past because she's now willing to use her real name i.e. Kirara rather than be called Post.

Frankly speaking, if you have not watched this drama and simply heard about the controversy surrounding it, you might have assumed that this was some dark drama about children being bullied because they had no parents and how abusive welfare facility workers can be. This is absolutely rubbish! Especially towards the end, you can see how positive the theme has become with everyone seeking their own form of happiness. No doubt it may have to do with the fact that the direction of the story changed due to the bad press. However, even from the first few episodes, I still didn't see anything that was so controversial to warrant all those negative remarks. Sasaki may have been a bit harsh towards the children by calling them names but this is way too mild compared to some of the more controversial social-themed dramas in the 90s especially those from Nojima Shinji. And the bullying is nothing new, nothing that radically different from what I've seen in many other older dramas. As for the nicknames, they are not given out of malice (definitely not name-calling) but there is a valid reason for each of these names given. Especially in Post's case, she detested her real name Kirara given by her birth parents because it was not only very girly (unlike her strong character) and that she didn't want anything given by them. That is why she was perfectly fine with being called Post although some people may view it negatively.

Talking about Nojima's role in this drama, he was merely listed as script director while the real scriptwriter was Matsuda Saya. I think there could be a certain degree of influence from Nojima but this drama is comparatively more heartwarming and positive than many of his older works such as Koukou Kyoushi, Ningen Shikaku, Miseinen, Seija no Koshin, Sekimatsu no Uta or Lipstick. It is unfair to say that just because Nojima was involved in this project that this is definitely a dark drama. If you look at Love Shuffle, you can hardly associate the current Nojima with his style in the 90s. I don't know if there was any deviation from the original storyline as compared to the final product we saw but if there had indeed been changes made to react to the negative press surrounding the drama, I think that would have been a real pity because this drama had the potential to be great, not just average as how I feel about it. Before the season started, this drama looked too promising but I think the pressure on it somehow caused the drama to fizzle out in the end.

As for the acting, Ashida Mana felt like an adult trapped in a child's body. She was way too mature for her age which speaks volumes of her acting skills but it can be a bit too uncomfortable to see her being so much like an adult. On the other hand, Suzuki Rio reminded me a lot of the old Ashida Mana who was great in acting and yet retained that child-like charm. I wouldn't say that who is better than who because their characters are very different. It would be nice to see Ashida go back to looking and behaving more like her age in her next work rather than become a half-adult who gives a rather awkward vibe. I also like Watanabe Konomi's performance as Bonbi who really could strike a balance between providing comedic relief and being all serious when the truth about her parents were revealed.

As for the adults, Mikami Hiroshi's character was fleshed out only when his link to Kaori was exposed so for the first part of the drama, you would probably see him as a stern man who cannot bring himself to be nicer to the kids under his charge. When his vulnerabilities and his sad past were revealed, it makes him look more like a complete character and I like his subtle way of acting as well as his interaction with Ashida Mana. With regard to Kimura Fumino and Miura Shohei, they were both pretty "emotionless" throughout most of the drama so it's a bit more difficult for me to warm up to their characters or find them endearing. Nonetheless, having to maintain that cool face is already a challenge and I think they did reasonably well in that sense.

And my ratings for this drama...

Story: 7 out of 10 (I liked this drama for its positiveness that you had to take the initiative to change your circumstances rather than wallow in pity but there is this nagging thought that this drama might have done better if there was no controversy surrounding it in the first place)

Acting: 8 out of 10 (Great acting from the child actors especially but not all characters were evenly developed so some of them were less memorable)

Theme song/BGM: 5 out of 10 (The theme song did not leave much of an impression on me.)

Visual effects / Scenery: 6 out 10 (There were some nice outdoor scenes like the sunset on the bridge but other than that, there wasn't a lot to impress me visually.)

Teamwork / Chemistry: 8 out of 10 (The girls had pretty good chemistry together and I also like how Ashida Mana and Mikami Hiroshi interacted with each other.)

Total: 34 out of 50