Saturday, October 25, 2014

Official press conference of new movie "Kami no Tsuki"

The official press conference of new movie "Kami no Tsuki" which is participating at the 27th Tokyo International Film Festival, was held on 25 October which was attended by the leads Miyazawa Rie and Ikematsu Sosuke and the director Yoshida Daihachi. The movie will be shown in cinemas from 15 November and is the first movie in 7 years for Miyazawa where she takes on a leading role. Miyazawa commented that she is proud of what she had done for this movie and very happy to let people in Japan and overseas see it. When asked if she is open to accepting acting offers in foreign productions, Miyazawa said that as long as there is a good director and script, she is willing to go anywhere to accept such an offer.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Arashi appears as special ambassadors for "The 27th Tokyo International Film Festival"

Arashi appeared at the opening ceremony of "The 27th Tokyo International Film Festival" held at Roppongi Hills Arena on 23 October as the special ambassadors and were dressed in black suits and neckties. As it was not announced in advance that the group would be there, the audience was pleasantly surprised by their appearance.

Member Aiba Masaki stars in his first leading role in a movie i.e. "MIRACLE Debikuro-kun no Koi to Mahou" which is due to be shown in cinemas from 22 November and is one of the special feature films during the festival. When asked to recommend his film, Aiba commented that this is a romance movie suited for the winter season. He also said that he would be back for the film's world premiere at TOHO Cinemas Roppongi Hills on 26 October and looks forward to meeting the fans there.

Source: Nikkansports

Ito Hideaki announces his upcoming marriage

Ito Hideaki announced through a written statement on 22 October that he will be registering his marriage to his OL girlfriend who is 8 years younger than him on 24 October. He did not give any details on how they met or how long they have dated but the decision to get married was said to have been made early this year and they selected the marriage registration date to coincide with her parents' wedding anniversary. There are no plans yet for a wedding. In his statement, Ito praised his wife-to-be as someone he respects and is very considerate towards others.

Although there were rumours in August that Ito was going to marry a divorcee who has a child, his agency denied that and said that his wife-to-be has never been married and has no children. She is also not pregnant now.

Ito had been romantically linked to various actresses such as Kato Ai, Yonekura Ryoko and announcer Nakano Minako over the years and was said to have finally given marriage a thought after seeing his buddy Sakaguchi Kenji get married and becoming a father this year.

Source: Sanspo / Nikkansports / Sponichi

Yamashita Tomohisa apologies for criminal damage of property case amid the emergence of a fresh scandal

Yamashita Tomohisa who was recently named in a criminal damage of property case and had the case forwarded to the public prosecutors' office on 21 October, apologised for the worry and inconvenience caused to all related parties when he made a public appearance for his new movie "Kinkyori Renai" which is currently showing in cinemas. Originally, the cast of the movie was to appear for the event but in view of the controversy over Yamashita's case, he appeared alone in a black suit and apologised to the 400-strong audience. The movie's Halloween costume event which Yamashita and Johnny's WEST member Kotaki Nozomu were supposed to appear at, was also cancelled.

However, as the controversy is still hot in the press, a fresh scandal involving Yamashita has emerged. According to the 23rd October issue of "Shukan Bunshun", Yamashita was reported to have gone on a date at three restaurants and bars with model Omori Michi who is also his former senior high schoolmate on 15 October from 9pm onwards and the two were caught checking into the upscale Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel at Shibuya in a drunken state. Yamashita was seen with the hotel room key in his hand and left the hotel alone in the afternoon of the following day. When asked about this matter, Omori's agency confirmed that Yamashita and Omori did meet up but they were not dating. Yamashita's agency claimed that they were at the hotel to join a party with other friends and there was nothing romantic going on between them. However, as Yamashita's both scandals had to do with drinking i.e. he was reportedly drunk when he snatched the handphone from the lady in the June case and was also said to be drunk when he headed to the hotel with Omori, his agency had already issued a severe warning to him against his over-drinking but maintained that there are no changes to his work schedule at the moment.

Source: Sanspo / Business Journal / Shukan Bunshun


Frankly speaking, an adult should know how to behave without having people to remind him or her. Drinking is not necessarily bad as people can gather together over drinks and chat etc but if it becomes something that you have no control over, it reflects very badly on you. What's more, we are talking about a celebrity here. Yamashita is not underage so technically, there is no rule saying that you can't drink or get drunk. However, when this drinking causes you to be a nuisance to others, cause trouble for others or affects your career adversely, it's time to think whether you should change. Think of Kusanagi Tsuyoshi's embarrassing scandal some years ago, he apologised, stopped drinking for a long time and was sincere about not repeating his mistake so people could forgive him and look back on that incident as a joke. Then again, the nature of Kusanagi's case and Yamashita's case are rather different.

Regarding the criminal case, I think something's really not quite right about it. If you look at the action in question, he snatched the handphone away from that woman who was filming the argument between her friends and Yamashita's group. This is theft, no matter how you look at it. I just cannot fathom how this is criminal damage of property as the handphone wasn't even damaged. No doubt I am not trained in law, I think it has to do with the fact that Yamashita's side reached a settlement with the other party thus allowing the charge to be "downgraded". Besides, if a settlement is reached, chances are, the prosecutors would not go ahead with pressing charges. Which is effectively what many reports these two days are saying, "Yamashita is pretty much off the hook for this case".

Now, I'm not trying to be vicious and out to get him just because he's probably not going to be punished in any way but the way this case is reported in the press also raises many questions. Back in the summer when news of this case first broke in the tabloids, we already knew that there were three celebrities involved i.e. Yamashita, Akanishi Jin and Nishikido Ryo. In fact, Akanishi was fingered as the reason why the argument took place between both parties and Yamashita and Nishikido were more of like "onlookers" according to initial reports. It was extremely laughable to see reports saying things like "Yamashita and his two singer friends" just to mask the connection with Akanishi and Nishikido as if they had nothing to do with this case even though the whole world knows otherwise. Was Yamashita made the sole scapegoat for this entire saga? Granted he might have been provoked by the other group into doing this, I think he might not have done what he did if he was sober.

As for his latest scoop with going to a hotel with a woman, let's just say that this is essentially his private matter and even if they are really dating or just having a fling, it wouldn't have hurt his image as much as it was exposed at any time other than now. The issue at hand is, his earlier case in June wasn't even resolved at the time he went on this date and there he was, drinking freeely again and being not so discreet about his tryst. It's as if he was sending this message that he wasn't bothered at all by what happened in June. Shukan Bunshun also probably timed the release of this story in one way or another to have the maximum impact now. Which brings me to another unrelated question though, if Bunshun was so eager to share the news about Yamapi in a week's time (they caught him on 15th Oct and published the story on 23rd Oct), why did FRIDAY sit on the Takenouchi scoop for one year???

I'm sure there will be more conspiracy theories we'll hear about as the story develops...

Winners of the Tokyo Drama Award 2014

*In order to qualify for entry into the Tokyo Drama Award 2014 contenders list, the drama must have been shown between July 2013 and June 2014.

Best Drama Series Grand Prix Award: Hanzawa Naoki (TBS)

Excellence Awards for Drama Series:
- Gochisousan (NHK)
- Woman (NTV)
- BORDER (TV Asahi)
- MOZU Season 1 (TBS) and Season 2 (WOWOW)
- First Class (FujiTV)

Best Drama SP Grand Prix Award: Yamada Taichi Drama SP "Toki wa Tachidomaranai" (TV Asahi)

Excellence Awards for Drama SPs:
- Ashio kara kita Onna (NHK)
- 24 Jikan TV Drama SP "Kyou no Hi wa Sayonara" (NTV)
- Saikou no Rikon Special 2014 (FujiTV)
- Drama W "Chicken Race" (WOWOW)

Local Drama Award
- Daruma-san ga waratta (NHK Kochi)
- Lady Lady ~ Toilet de naita koto, arimasuka? (Chukyo TV)

Best Leading Actor: Sakai Masato (Hanzawa Naoki)
Best Leading Actress: Mitsushima Hikari (Woman)
Best Supporting Actor: Yoshida Kotaro (Hanako to Anne & MOZU Season 1)
Best Supporting Actress: Ishihara Satomi (Shitsuren Chocolatier)
Best Scriptwriter: Okada Yoshikazu (Zoku Saigo kara Nibanme no Koi)
Best Directing: Fukuzawa Katsuo (Hanzawa Naoki)

Special Awards:
The three leads of "Sanbiki no Ossaan" - Kitaoji Kinya, Izumiya Shigeru, Shiga Kotaro
Kitakyushu Film Commission for assisting in the filming of "MOZU"

Overseas Dramas Awards:
You Who Came From The Stars (South Korea)
Tukang Bubur Naik Haji The Series (Indonesia)
Thong Neua Kao (Thailand)

Source: Model Press

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yamashita Tomohisa suspected of criminal damage of property; case forwarded to prosecutors

Yamashita Tomohisa who is suspected of having committed criminal damage of property, had his case forwarded by the Metropolitan Police Department to the public prosecutors' office on 21 October. The case took place at 3-chome, Roppongi, Minato Ward, Tokyo on 25 June around 1am where Yamashita was suspected to have snatched the handphone belonging to a woman in her 20s after an argument with her and her male companion. Apparently, the woman had tried to record the exchange of words between them and Yamashita so the latter tried to stop it by taking the handphone away. Days later, the handphone was delivered to a police station by a staff member of Yamashita's agency.

Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital


Actually, this case has been reported very extensively in many tabloids but the mainstream newspapers have not mentioned it so it was somewhat not proven that the case did take place and if the facts reported were indeed true. Moreover, it's not just Yamashita who was involved since Akanishi Jin and Nishikido Ryo were said to be there too and the confrontation was said to be between Akanishi and that couple. Initial reports also fingered Akanishi for being the cause of the problem and how Johnny's Jimusho didn't like Yamashita and Nishikido hanging around with him etc. There was also speculation before the Autumn 2014 drama season that Nishikido might be taken off from his current drama if he was proved to have done anything wrong. It was also said that private negotiations with the couple who were involved in this case failed and they didn't want to let this matter rest.

Anyway, I'm surprised that Yamashita was the only one who seemed to be held responsible for the whole saga while the other two seemed to have gotten off the hook. It looks likely that he did take the phone away but if there were circumstances in his favour e.g. he was provoked, he might not be prosecuted after all. It depends on the prosecutors now on how they view this case but criminal damage of property seems a less serious charge compared to theft which he was originally going to be charged for so the situation may not be as dire as it seems, for now.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review of "Kazokugari 家族狩り" - Summer 2014

Before the summer dramas began their run, "Kazokugari" attracted my attention for its suspense thriller element of a serial killer on the loose to eliminate dysfunctional families, the discussion on families and the various types of problems facing them as well as its cast lineup with Matsuyuki Yasuko at its helm. Everything looked pretty promising on paper. However, I have to admit that it took me a long while to warm up to this story because the pacing and action only picked up considerably after the half-way mark so I did toy with the idea of dropping this at one point or another. I'm glad that I did not give up on this drama but honestly speaking, it could have been better and more engaging to keep people in for the long haul. There could have been people who just gave up because it was getting tough to wait for the answers to the numerous questions being thrown at the viewers' faces.

To begin with, I'll start with a summary of the story. As usual, there will be spoilers so please refrain from reading this if you do not wish to spoil the fun before watching this drama. You might wish to skip to the final paragraph instead where I'll indicate whether this drama is recommended. In addition, I wish to make it clear that I've not read the original novel by Tendo Arata so I'm not comparing the novel and drama in any way.

There are three main characters in this drama namely Hizaki Yuko (Matsuyuki Yasuko), Sudo Shunsuke (Ito Atsushi) and Mamihara Koki (Endo Kenichi) where they have a bunch of other characters linked to them to form the underlying "family" stories which run parallel with the investigation of the serial family suicides or rather murders as Mamihara believes them to be. The three of them are also interwined due to the cases with Hizaki being assumed to be the killer by Mamihara based on his past interaction and impression of her, Hizaki and Sudo knowing each other due to a misunderstanding and later becoming soulmates as well as Sudo trying to convince Mamihara that his thinking about Hizaki is wrong.

Hizaki Yuko is an employee at the Tokyo Children Welfare Centre where she helps children who are abused physically and mentally. In her eagerness to help these children, she would often file complaints at the local police authorities for being lax and unable to spot the abuse earlier. Unknown to most people, Hizaki was severely affected emotionally 7 years ago due to the suicide of a family and she blamed herself for not being assertive enough to bring the children out of that abusive household thus indirectly causing their deaths at the hands of their father. As a result, she had to quit her job and was hospitalised for her psychological problem before returning to work 5 years ago. Due to that experience, Hizaki decides to go all out to save the children despite being cursed at by abusive parents who didn't think they were wrong and regarded as a troublemaker by the police for going overboard with her actions. At home, things aren't rosy for her as well because she is the sole breadwinner with her father Seitaro suffering from dementia and her mother Tamiko on the brink of breaking down due to having to care for Seitaro all the time. The frustration at work and home take its toll on Hizaki but luckily, she still has a confidante Yamaga Yoko (Zaizen Naomi) who she met through volunteering work for families with parenting problems and can share her problems with the latter.

Sudo is an arts teacher at Domei Senior High who is a great fan of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Easily swayed by others, Sudo finds himself being romantically involved with his elder colleague Miho who sort of forced herself on him. Sudo is known for being a gentle and friendly guy but holds very strong views against marriage and family thus resulting in his reluctance to marry Miho even though she tells him that she is pregnant with his child. At the same time, he tries to care for his students despite them thinking little of him and even Miho is not supportive of his actions too. She even goes to the extent of distancing herself from a supposedly abusive student who had stopped coming to school just to stay out of trouble but Sudo tries to reach out to that student even though he's not obligated to. Unknown to those around him, Sudo had been a teenager who shut himself in his room and even harboured the thoughts of killing his parents. However, before Sudo did anything drastic, he decided to leave his hometown and broke off all contact with his family which explains why he has little faith in marriage and family.

Mamihara is an inspector at the Metropolitan Police Department's First Division who is involved in the investigation of the deaths of several families. Even though everyone thinks that there is nothing suspicious about these deaths and that the murders were committed by the errant children of these families, Mamihara believes that there is someone out there who is targeting these dysfunctional families and becomes convinced that Hizaki is very suspicious due to her overzealous attitude in setting things right in dysfunctional families. On the domestic front, his own family is also on the verge of breaking up with his elder son Isao dead due to an accident 9 years ago which looked more like a suicide, his wife Sawako (Akiyama Natsuko) suffering from a mental disorder due to the son's death and was institutionalised for a while before being discharged recently and his younger daughter Mayumi (Shinoda Mariko) being estranged from him. What happened to Isao also affected Mamihara's career progression and caused him to lose his passion for work other than being focused entirely on the family suicide cases. Through work, he also befriended a single mother Fuyushima Ayame (Mizuno Miki) who is trying to rebuild a life after escaping from her gangster husband. Although there is nothing fishy going on between Mamihara and Ayame (she seems to be reliant on him for a sense of security), Sawako thinks otherwise and even goes to confront Ayame about it. At the same time, Ayame's husband comes looking for her after his release from prison which results in Mamihara having to juggle his family problems and attempting to protect Ayame and her son.

Through these three characters and the relationships they have with other people, we get a main story of solving the mystery of the serial deaths of entire families and side stories of how each of these main characters struggle to find the meaning of family despite their less-than-ideal circumstances. Hizaki is so overloaded with work and family problems that she herself is on the verge of breaking down even though she should be well enough to take care of the abused children. Sudo brushes his family issues under the carpet and pretends that nothing is wrong by running away, even despite Miho's attempts at trying to force him to get married for the sake of their baby. Mamihara knows that his family is no longer the way it was but you see him making half-hearted efforts at trying to set things right as if he knew that there was no point making an effort. As the truth unravels over what led to these serial deaths, it serves as a wake-up call for these characters and towards the end of the story, you see them making small efforts to make changes although it's still premature to assess if there is anything positive to come out of it.

Without revealing the identity of the culprit behind the murders nor the motive, I'll still like to share my thoughts on the rationale behind the killings. Self-righteousness is a really delicate thing. If you go overboard with your sense of justice, it drives you to do the most unimaginable things. In this drama, the culprit actually has no moral basis to conduct such self-righteous killings. Right in the beginning, the culprit had already learnt the hard way of what it meant by neglecting what's more important in life and in turn causing the disintegration of the family unit. However, I do not really think that the culprit learnt a lesson from the episode. Instead of looking into oneself to see where things had gone wrong, the culprit chose to end the suffering of family members who were traumatised by another abusive or wayward family member by killing everyone at one go. Of course, given anyone with a logical state of mind, we wouldn't reach that kind of conclusion. However, the culprit in this story is not normal. And that is what makes the motive behind the murders sickening. The culprit had no valid reason to kill. The manipulative and violent manner in which the victim families were selected and "executed" just sends shivers down my spine so for those who probably can't stomach such a controversial theme may want to reconsider whether to start watching this drama.

Despite the highly engaging final two episodes, this drama suffered from a draggy beginning when it took a lot of time to lay down the relationships between the characters. It got to the point that I was ready to give up by episode 3 because there was so little progress made in the main storyline. Moreover, it got really miserable and painful especially to see Hizaki suffering so much emotional stress from her work and family problems that I couldn't bear to go on further. Things picked up a little bit after that especially with some minor twists along the way created through sudden stoppages of critical scenes but the progression after it sort of defied the usual conventions. In a way, that was an ingenious way of making the story less predictable and yet believable as the story would go back to the earlier scene to explain what happened after that. All I can say is, patience is of the essence here. You've got to sit through a lot of the foundation material before you get to the climax so this is definitely not going to be a high-speed rollercoaster ride from the start.

Speaking of the acting from the cast, Matsuyuki definitely shines with her portrayal of Hizaki by showing her vulnerabilities and strength very convincingly. Especially when Hizaki was about to buckle under the pressure and contemplating killing her own family and committing suicide, that sense of hopelessness and despair really came through to the viewers. I liked the fact that she did not have to be hysterical all the time to show how much she was hurting inside due to the lack of understanding from those around her and how Hizaki could actually be a pillar of strength to others while coping with her own problems. It was as if Matsuyuki could switch between the negative Hizaki and positive Hizaki with great ease. In this sense, I think Matsuyuki really nailed the role down so well and it's one of the more memorable performances I've seen from her.

On the other hand, I was expecting a bit more from Ito Atsushi because I was misled by the pre-OA trailer. In that trailer, Sudo was shown as speaking to his class and talking in such an animated and radical manner that I assumed Sudo was going to be some anti-social or pretty negative type of character. As Ito had been playing quite a lot of those meek and weak characters who get pushed around a lot, I was hoping that he might be somewhat of a force against Hizaki rather than go with the flow. However, when the drama started, it turned out that Sudo did have a negative side to him i.e. his broken ties with his family and his pessimistic view of marriage and family but he wasn't really as radical nor arrogant as the trailer made him out to be. That's why I was a bit disappointed to see Sudo being somewhat powerless to take the lead in his relationship with Miho and was going along with her wishes. However, towards the end, Ito managed to show some amazing traits in Sudo e.g. how he manages to win over people with sincerity which makes the character less bland than he should have been. In that sense, I think Ito also managed to show the different layers in Sudo's character quite well although it wasn't really as drastic as the changes in Hizaki's character. On a side note, the hint of a romantic link between Hizaki and Sudo does seem a bit off but they might just make a cute couple after all although the drama did not mention anything conclusive about this.

Last but not least, Endo Kenichi who has played police officers so many times in the past, gets to show a different side of him this time. Besides being stubbornly obsessed with the investigation of the family murders and being fixated on the theory that Hizaki might be the killer, Mamihara is also weighed down by his family problems. He knows that there are issues but he only makes half-hearted efforts to attempt to solve them. For a person in such a situation, he still goes to care for another woman and her son despite not being able to render effective or wholesome care and protection. In a way, that's somewhat similar to the culprit who was too carried away with solving problems for other people and neglecting the breakdown of the family unit. By the end of the story, it doesn't look as if much has changed for Mamihara although he's finally trying to take bigger steps to solve the problems. The thing is, is it too late and too little for his wife and daughter? Endo is great in the sense that he can use his straight face to convey a variety of emotions but I think the character was too caught up with the case so I would have wished that there was more time showing Endo in a different light which would have made his performance more memorable.

And my ratings for this drama...

Story: 7.5 out of 10 (It takes a lot of patience to get through the first half of the drama which is rather emotionally heavy too. The last two episodes were quite good so it made up for the long wait for things to heat up.)

Acting: 8.5 out of 10 (Great acting from the three main characters especially Matsuyuki Yasuko)

Theme song/BGM: 7 out of 10 (The theme song did not leave much of an impression on me but I'm giving higher marks in this category for the insert song i.e. "I Love You" by Ozaki Yutaka which was hauntingly beautiful and matched the mood of the drama at certain important junctures of the story)

Visual effects / Scenery: 6 out 10 (Some of the visual effects e.g. slow-motion shots and detail to attention for the graphics was a pleasure to look at but the scenery aspect was slightly lacking.)

Teamwork / Chemistry: 7 out of 10 (Much as I don't really think that Matsuyuki and Ito matched each other in terms of appearance, I like the chemistry between their characters)

Total: 36 out of 50

Friday, October 17, 2014

Takenouchi Yutaka & Kurashina Kana confirmed to be dating

Takenouchi Yutaka and Kurashina Kana are currently dating, according to the 17th Oct issue of FRIDAY. The couple who is 17 years apart in age, were first sighted by the tabloid in autumn last year when Takenouchi was found to have visited Kurashina's home regularly and even spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with her. Takenouchi were also caught driving Kurashina home on several occasions.

As a result of this report, Takenouchi was asked by the press about his relationship status when he appeared in Kyoto on 16 October for the opening ceremony of the 1st Kyoto International Film Festival. Although he wanted to say something in response to the media's questions, he was quickly whisked off by the staff and left the red carpet area. Subsequently, both Takenouchi's and Kurashina's agencies released statements confirming that they are indeed dating and asked for the support of everyone around them.

Takenouchi and Kurashina worked together for the first time in the TBS Spring 2012 drama "Mou ichido Kimi ni, Propose" which was said to be what led to the beginning of their relationship.

Source: Sponichi / Daily Sports

Production press conference of FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Subete ga F ni naru"

The production press conference of FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Subete ga F ni naru" was held on 17 October which was attended by cast members Takei Emi, Ayano Go, Ozawa Yukiyoshi, Totsugi Shigeyuki, Mizusawa Erena and Hayami Akari. The drama which will begin its run from 21 October at 9pm on Tuesdays, is based on a mystery novel by Mori Hiroshi and marks the second time which Takei and Ayano are working together since 2010's "GOLD".

Takei plays the role of an university student studying in the department of engineering who comes from a rich family while Ayano plays an assistant professor. The two of them work together to solve various mysteries. Although the atmosphere of the story is on the thrilling and tense side, the mood on the set is joyous. Ayano revealed that they recently had a fun fair where there was a Ayano shop set up to sell all sorts of things including snacks, shampoo and underwear. Takei complained jokingly that Ayano even took her photos to the shop to sell without telling her.

Source: Sponichi

Sorimachi Takashi to be the lead in new NHK drama "Genkai Shuraku Kabushikigaisha"

Sorimachi Takashi will take on his first leading role in a NHK drama when he appears in "Genkai Shuraku Kabushikigaisha" which begins its run from 31 January 2015 in the Saturdays 9pm timeslot. The drama which consists of 5 episodes, is based on the same titled novel by Kurono Shinichi set in a fictitious village named Tomarimura which is increasingly becoming more isolated due to the closure of shops and termination of bus routes as well as its 50-strong dwindling to become mostly comprised of the elderly.

Sorimachi plays the role of 42-year-old Ouchi Masato who tried to grow organic vegetables in his hometown Tomarimura 13 years ago but ended up chalking up huge debts when the plan did not succeed. He then placed his only daughter (Matsuoka Mayu) in the care of his parents as his wife had passed away and moved to Tokyo to become a taxi driver. With the death of his father, Masato returns to Tomarimura to begin farming again and to take care of his mother and daughter. However, he becomes embroiled in daily arguments with his daughter due to her inability to secure a job and having to help out with the farming. Just then, a mysterious management consultant played by Tanihara Shosuke appears at Tomarimura which eventually leads to the villagers banding together to rejuvenate their hometown again.

Filming began in Yamanashi Prefecture last month.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of TBS Autumn 2014 drama "Onna wa sore wo yurusanai"

The production press conference of TBS Autumn 2014 drama "Onna wa sore wo yurusanai" was held on 16 October which was attended by cast members Fukada Kyoko, Terajima Shinobu, Mizobata Junpei, Yoshizawa Hisashi, Kato Masaya, Takenaka Naoto, Matsushige Yutaka and Kamikawa Takaya. This is Fukada's first role as a lawyer and Terajima's first appearance in a private network drama in 6 years. The drama which will be shown from 21 October at 10pm on Tuesdays, features Fukada as a "paper lawyer" who hasn't been able to stand in court due to a past traumatic experience and Terajima as a celebrity lawyer who loses her licence due to her overly-aggressive ways to win cases. The two of them then form an unlikely alliance to help women in vulnerable positions facing problems such as maternity harassment and marriage fraud.

In line with the theme of the drama, the female leads were asked about what they can't stand lately. Fukada commented that she has been eating too much of the snacks brought by the crew and cast. As for Terajima, she took offence with a recent report in a weekly magazine that said she was on bad terms with Fukada which was totally baseless and even declared that she would make it known if she was really at loggerheads with her co-star. In response to this, Fukada expressed surprise because she didn't even know about this article.

Source: Sponichi / Chunichi

Completion press conference of movie "Vancouver no Asahi"

The completion press conference of new movie "Vancouver no Asahi" was held on 15 October which was attended by cast members Tsumabuki Satoshi, KAT-TUN's Kamenashi Kazuya, Kamiji Yusuke, Ikematsu Sosuke and Katsuji Ryo. The movie which is directed by Ishii Yuya and due to be shown in cinemas from 20 December, is about the Vancouver Asahi baseball team made up of second-generation Japanese immigrants in Canada which was active before WWII. Among the lead actors, Tsumabuki who plays the captain of the team, had no experience in playing baseball so he had to go to a park at night to practise throwing the baseball at a wall. However, he got hit by the ball and ended up with a nosebleed thus leading him to comment that his 33-year-old body couldn't meet the physical demands of his character during the filming process.

Source: Sponichi

Press conference and special screening of TBS Autumn 2014 drama "Sakura ~ Jiken wo Kiku Onna ~"

The press conference and special screening of TBS Autumn 2014 drama "Sakura ~ Jiken wo Kiku Onna ~" was held on 14 October which was attended by cast members Nakama Yukie, Sato Ryuta, Ono Takuro, Morioka Yutaka and Ayane. The drama which begins its run from 20 October in the Mondays 8pm timeslot, is the first drama series Nakama is appearing in since she got married to actor Tanaka Tetsushi last month. As this was also Nakama's first public appearance since her marriage announcement, she was greeted by congratulatory cheers from the media to which she expressed her gratitude for the well-wishes.

Nakama plays a police officer named Mizusawa Sakura who has to go undercover and pick up leads while taking on various identities. As a result, she has to put on various costumes and uniforms during the filming. Sato Ryuta plays Sakura's buddy and this is the first time in a long while since Nakama and Sato are working together. However, the chemistry between them is still very much present which Ono said was like a couple's bantering.

Source: Sponichi / TBS

Preview of "Akka" - Autumn 2014

Tittle: Akka 悪貨 (Evil Currency)
Official website: here
Broadcast by: WOWOW
O.A. Start Date: 23 November 2014
Timeslot: Sundays 10pm
Total number of episodes: 5
Original novel by: Shimada Masahiko
Cast: Oikawa Mitsuhiro, Kuroki Meisa, Hayashi Kento, Abe Tsuyoshi, Sasano Takashi, Ishibashi Renji, Toyohara Kosuke, Takahashi Katsumi

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Preview of "Heisei Sarukani Gassenzu" - Autumn 2014

Title: Heisei Sarukani Gassenzu 平成猿蟹合戦図
Official website: here
Broadcast by: WOWOW
O.A. Start Date: 15 November 2014
Timeslot: Saturdays 10pm
Number of episodes: 6
Original novel by: Yoshida Shuichi
Theme Song: Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii by Shioya Sayaka
Insert Song: Bokura no Ibasho by Shibata Takahiro
Cast: Suzuki Kyoka, Koura Kengo, Hagiwara Masato, Takaoka Saki, Asaka Kota, Fukuda Ayano, Mine Azusa, Makita Sports, Ikeda Narushi, Chiba Tetsuya, Nakahara Takeo, Ishibashi Renji

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Preview of "Doctor X 3 - Gekai Daimon Michiko" - Autumn 2014

Title: Doctor X 3 - Gekai Daimon Michiko
Official website: here
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
O.A. Start Date: 9 October 2014
Timeslot: Thursdays 9pm
Theme Song: Ai wo karada ni fukikonde by Superfly
Cast: Yonekura Ryoko, Endo Kenichi, Uchida Yuki, Katsumura Masanobu, Watanabe Ikkei, Makita Sports, Takahashi Kazuya, Kinoshita Takayuki, Naito Risa, Shonozaki Ken, Matsushima Hana, Furuya Kazuyuki, Nishida Toshiyuki, Nakao Akira, Ibu Masato, Takahata Atsuko, Kishibe Ittoku, Kitaoji Kinya

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Preview of "Kyouwa Kaisha Yasumimasu" - Autumn 2014

Title: Kyouwa Kaisha Yasumimasu きょうは会社休みます (Taking today off work)
Official website: here
Broadcast by: NTV
O.A. Start Date: 15 October 2014
Timeslot: Wednesdays 10pm
Original manga by: Fujimura Mari
Theme Song: Fall by Makihara Noriyuki
Cast: Ayase Haruka, Fukushi Sota, Naka Riisa, Taguchi Junnosuke (KAT-TUN), Chiba Yudai, Hiraiwa Kami, Taguchi Hiromasa, Asano Kazuyuki, Fukikoshi Mitsuru, Takahata Atsuko, Tamaki Hiroshi

Monday, October 13, 2014

Preview of "Jigoku Sensei Nube" - Autumn 2014

Title: Jigoku Sensei Nube 地獄先生ぬーべー
Official website: here
Official Twitter: here
Official Facebook page: here
Broadcast by: NTV
O.A. Start Date: 11 October 2014
Timeslot: Saturdays 9pm
Original manga by: Makura Sho & Okano Takeshi
Theme Song: Gamushara Shinkokyoku by Kanjani 8
Cast: Maruyama Ryuhei (Kanjani 8), Kiritani Mirei, Hayami Mokomichi, Jiyoung, Yamamoto Mizuki, Chinen Yuri, Toyama Toshiya, Yamada Shintaro, Shibata Misaki, Yuka, Makita Sports, Sakagami Shinobu, Takahashi Hideki etc

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Production press conference of TBS Autumn 2014 drama "N no tame ni"

The production press conference of TBS Autumn 2014 drama "N no tame ni" was held on 11 November in Tokyo which was attended by the cast members Eikura Nana, Kubota Masataka, Miura Tomokazu, Koide Eisuke, Kaku Kento, Konishi Manami and Tokui Yoshimi. The drama which begins its run from 17 October in the Fridays 10pm timeslot, is based on Minato Kanae's novel and is set in an island in the Seto Inland Sea and Tokyo where a group of people with the initial N in their names get embroiled into a murder case involving a celebrity couple.

The cast had been to Shodo Island in September for 2 weeks of filming. Eikura commented that the island is so beautiful that she went to buy a 65-inch TV recently so that she can enjoy the scenery when the drama begins its run. However, the filming schedule in Okinawa from 13th Oct has been disrupted due to the impending arrival of a typhoon.

Source: Sanspo

Kimura Fumino to be guest star in Episode 3 of "Suteki na Sentakushi"

Kimura Fumino will be the guest star in the 3rd episode of upcoming FujiTV / Kansai TV Autumn 2014 drama "Suteki na Sentakushi" which will be shown at 10pm on 28 October. The drama begins its run from 14 October and stars Takenouchi Yutaka as its lead.

Kimura will play the role of a secretary who has an extramarital affair with her boss who is the company president and tries to force him to marry her. The company president will be Nakamura Shunsuke while his wife will be played by Fueki Yuko.

Source: Sanspo

Arashi & Yoshitaka Yuriko as hosts for the 65th NHK Kouhaku Utagassen

NHK announced on 10 October that Arashi and Yoshitaka Yuriko will be the hosts for the White Team and Red Team respectively in the 65th Kouhaku Utagassen while the main host will be its own announcer Udo Yumiko. This will be Arashi's 5th consecutive as the White Team's host while Yoshitaka is making her first appearance as the Red Team's host, following the success of the morning drama "Hanako to Anne" in which she was the heroine. The programme will be shown on New Year's Eve from 7.15pm to 11.45pm.

With regard to their 5th consecutive year as being hosts, Arashi's Aiba Masaki commented that it was something they never imagined but it will be a good way to end their 15th anniversary celebration this year. When asked if Arashi will be singing the final song for the night, Sakurai Sho said that it doesn't matter which order they appear in the programme as long as they put up a memorable performance. As for Yoshitaka, she commented that it was brave of NHK to choose her as the host and said that she was very shocked when she was told about the decision and wondered if they are taking too much of a risk. Nonetheless, she called upon the viewers not to switch the channel even if they find that she is making mistakes and hopes to show everyone a different and more mature side of her.

Source: Sanspo 1 / Sanspo 2 / Sanspo 3

Hirosue Ryoko and Kiritani Kenta to play siblings in the TV Tokyo drama SP "Eien no Zero"

Hirosue Ryoko and Kiritani Kenta will be acting as siblings in the upcoming TV Tokyo 50th anniversary drama SP "Eien no Zero" starring Mukai Osamu.  The exact airing dates for the three-part SP has yet to be decided although it has been scheduled to be shown next year.

Hirosue and Kiritani play the grandchildren of Zero pilot Miyabe Kyuzo where Hirosue is the elder sister who's a freelance journalist while Kiritani is a repeat student taking the bar exam. As this is Hirosue's first drama that has a war-related theme, she commented that acting in this SP was a learning experience for her both as a human being and an actress. On the other hand, Kiritani who is of the same age of Hirosue but one academic year ahead and worked together for the first time, said that it was rather difficult for people in the modern era to realise or understand the pain of the war but he hopes that this drama SP will be able to transmit the message of how scary and painful war can be.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Suteki na Sentakushi"

The production press conference of FujITV Autumn 2014 drama "Suteki na Sentakushi" was held on 7 October 2014 which was attended by the cast members Takenouchi Yutaka, Baka Rhythm, Minamisawa Nao, Masu Takeshi and Seino Nana. The drama which is due to begin on 14 October in the Tuesdays 10pm timeslot, is written by Baka Rhythm and features Takenouchi as a taxi driver who is able to drive his passengers to the past where they can make a different choice in their lives. Takenouchi commented that although this drama sounds far-fetched and is somewhat a science-fiction story, he stressed that it is also a human drama which will appeal to viewers.

Takenouchi also revealed that it is a wonderful and enjoyable experience to be working with Baka Rhythm and his other co-stars. As for Baka Rhythm, he expressed worry over not being able to finish the script for the drama's 5th episode and felt nervous as the deadline approaches. Nonetheless, he expressed faith that this drama will be quite unlike others but will still be entertaining.

Baka Rhythm plays the manager of a cafe which Takenouchi's character Edawakare frequents while Minamisawa and Seino play his staff at the cafe. Masu plays a regular customer at the cafe.

Source: Sponichi / My Navi

Production press conference of FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "First Class 2"

The production press conference of FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "First Class 2" was held on 10 October at the Wangan Studio in Aomi, Tokyo, which was attended by the 11-member female cast of Sawajiri Erika, Kimura Yoshino, Natsuki Mari, Yo Kimiko, Kurashina Kana, Shinohara Tomoe, Ichikawa Miwako, Tomosaka Rie, Shishido Kavfa, Kojima Hijiri and Suzuki Chinami. The drama which will begin its run from 15 October at 10pm on Wednesdays, is the sequel of the original drama which was shown during the Spring 2014 season and features the lead played by Sawajiri as a new designer in the fashion industry. Although Natsuki and Yo jokingly said that they are all on bad terms due to the competing characters they play, Sawajiri commented that she is very happy to work with these actresses.

Source: Sanspo

Production press conference of FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Nobunaga Concerto"

The production press conference of FujiTV Autumn 2014 drama "Nobunaga Concerto" was held on 6 October which was attended by main cast members Oguri Shun, Shibasaki Ko, Yamada Takayuki and Mukai Osamu. The drama which will be shown from 13 October in the Mondays 9pm timeslot, features Oguri as a high school student who goes back into the Warring Era and poses as Oda Nobunaga in a bid to unite Japan.

As Oguri is actually 31 years old, he expressed his worry that he would not look like a high school student and hopes that it will not be a pain for viewers to see him as such. In addition, due to his wife Yamada Yu having given birth to their first child recently, Oguri was asked by the media about his child who he said is very cute and he's happy about the arrival of their baby.

With regard to the observation that Oguri has been seen in many manga adaptations of late including Lupin Sansei, Oguri said that it was not a conscious choice or preference but rather the offers to act in such productions kept coming so that's why he had a string of such works one after another. He also commented that it was comparatively easier to play Nobunaga because nobody in present times would have known the real him but Lupin was more difficult for him to portray.

Source: Oricon / Sponichi

Preview of "Onna wa sore wo yurusanai" - Autumn 2014

Title: Onna wa sore wo yurusanai 女はそれを許さない (Women won't allow it)
Official website: here
Broadcast by: TBS
O.A. Start Date: 21 October 2014
Timeslot: Tuesdays 10pm
Theme Song: GOLDEN GIRL by Ikimonogakari
Cast: Fukada Kyoko, Terajima Shinobu, Mizobata Junpei, Yoshizawa Hisashi, Yamano Umi, Haruki, Kato Masaya, Takenaka Naoto, Matsushige Yutaka, Kamikawa Takaya

Filming starts for NHK morning drama "Mare"

The filming for new NHK morning drama "Mare" which is due to be shown from 30 March 2015, started at Wajima City in Ishikawa Prefecture on 7 October and the main cast members including Tsuchiya Tao, Oizumi Yo, Tokiwa Takako, Tanaka Yuko and Tanaka Min gathered to meet the press on 9 October. The drama which features Tsuchiya as the heroine named Mare, is about her journey to becoming a world-class patissier. Tsuchiya commented that they were blessed to have good weather so far and said that the Noto area is such a beautiful place and wishes to convey that nationwide through this drama. Oizumi who plays Mare's father, joked that he's well-known in the industry for "bringing bad weather" but has faith that they can proceed with the filming smoothly because of Tsuchiya's cheerfulness like the sun. Tokiwa plays Mare's mother in this drama.

Source: Sanspo

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Preview of "Gomen ne Seishun!" - Autumn 2014

Title: Gomen ne Seishun! ごめんね青春! (Sorry to my youth!)
Official website: here
Official Twitter page: here
Official Facebook page: here
Broadcast by: TBS
O.A. Start Date: 12 October 2014
Timeslot: Sundays 9pm
Scriptwriter: Kudo Kankuro
Theme Song: Itta Janai ka by Kanjani 8
Cast: Nishikido Ryo, Mitsushima Hikari, Nagayama Kento, Shigeoka Daiki (Johnny's WEST), Haru, Triendl Reina, Kawaei Rina, Saito Yuki, Morishita Aiko, Enari Kazuki, Nakamura Shizuka, Hida Yasuhito, Shishido Miwako, Ueki Natto, Tsuda Kanji, Sakai Maki, Namase Katsushisa, Kazama Morio

Friday, October 10, 2014

Preview of "SAKURA ~ Jiken wo Kiku Onna" - Autumn 2014

Title: SAKURA ~ Jiken wo Kiku Onna 事件を聞く女 (SAKURA ~ The woman who hears about cases)
Official website: here 
Broadcast by: TBS
O.A. Start Date: 20 October 2014
Timeslot: Mondays 7pm
Theme song: Ikite by Aqua Timez
Cast: Nakama Yukie, Sato Ryuta, Aijima Kazuyuki, Kino Hana, Ono Takuro, Morioka Yutaka, Suruga Taro, Ayane, Kayashima Narumi, Fuwa Mansaku, Yamano Fubito, Iinuma Chieko, Uema Mio, Kusabue Mitsuko, Takashima Reiko

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Preview of "Dear Sister" - Autumn 2014

Title: Dear Sister ディアシスター
Official website: here
Broadcast by: FujiTV
O.A. Start Date: 16 October 2014
Timeslot: Thursdays 10pm
Cast: Ishihara Satomi, Matsushita Nao, Iwata Takanori, Hirayama Hiroyuki, Mori Kanna, Tanabe Seiichi, Horiuchi Keiko, MEGUMI, Hiraoka Yuta, Katahira Nagisa

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Preview of "First Class 2" - Autumn 2014

Title: First Class 2
Official website: here
Broadcast by: FujiTV
O.A. Start Date: 15 October 2014
Timeslot: Wednesdays 10pm
Theme Song: BRIGHTER DAY by Amuro Namie
Cast: Sawajiri Erika, Kimura Yoshino, Kurashina Kana, Aoyanagi Sho, Shishido Kavka, Fuchikami Yasushi, Shinohara Tomoe, Suzuki Chinami, Nakamura Tomoya, Okamoto Keito, Yamaya Kasumi, Sasaki Nozomi, Nanao, Tabata Tomoko, Miura Rieko, Itaya Yuka, Yo Kimiko, Ichikawa Miwako, Kojima Hijiri, Tomosaka Rie, Natsuki Mari, LiLiCo (Narrator)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Preview of "Subete ga F ni Naru" - Autumn 2014

Title: Subete ga F ni Naru すべてがFになる (Everything becomes F)
Official website: here
Broadcast by: FujiTV
O.A. Start Date: 21 October 2014
Timeslot: Tuesdays 9pm
Original novel by: Mori Hiroshi
Theme song: Digital Mogura by Gesu no Kiwami Otome
Cast: Takei Emi, Ayano Go, Ozawa Yukiyoshi, Hayami Akari, Totsugi Shigeyuki, Mizusawa Erena, Yoshida Kotaro

Monday, October 06, 2014

Horikita Maki to star in TV Asahi drama SP "Matsumoto Seicho ~ Kiri no Hata"

Horikita Maki will be playing an evil woman in the TV Asahi SP "Matsumoto Seicho ~ Kiri no Hata" which will be shown this winter. She plays the character Yanagida Kiriko which had been taken on by famous actresses Baisho Chieko, Otake Shinobu and Yamaguchi Momoe in previous adaptations of the novel.

In this latest adaptation shot on location in Kitakyushu, Horikita's character Kiriko will take revenge on a famous lawyer Otsuka who caused the death of her younger brother (in the novel, the setting is her elder brother) after the lawyer refused to defend the brother in court due to their inability to pay the litigation costs, his tight schedule and his eagerness to go on a holiday with his lover. As a result, the brother who was intellectually-disabled, had to die as a convicted murderer. The time setting of the drama will also be changed from the 60s to the present day.

Source: Nikkansports

Preview of "Nobunaga Concerto" - Autumn 2014

Title: Nobunaga Concerto 信長協奏曲
Official website: here
Broadcast by: FujiTV
O.A. Start Date: 13 October 2014
Timeslot: Mondays 9pm
Original manga by: Ishii Ayumi
Theme song: Ashiato ~ Be Strong by Mr.Children
Cast: Oguri Shun, Shibasaki Ko, Mukai Osamu, Fujigaya Taisuke, Kaho, Fujiki Naohito, Hamada Gaku, Takashima Masahiro, Yamada Takayuki

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Top 10 most memorable NHK morning dramas (Oricon)

This survey was conducted via the Internet where 1,000 respondents chose their most memorable morning drama of all time. Numbers in brackets indicate the year when they were aired in.

1) Ama-chan (2013)

2) Gochisousan (2013 to 2014)

3) Chura-san (2001)

4) Oshin (1983 to 1984)

5) Ume-chan Sensei (2012)

6) Gegege no Nyobo (2010)

7) Chiritotechin (2007 to 2008)

8) Carnation (2011 to 2012)

9) Hanako to Anne (2014) / Jun to Ai (2012 to 2013)

Source: Oricon

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Oguri Shun & Yamada Yu welcome the arrival of their first daughter

Oguri Shun and Yamada Yu welcomed the arrival of their first daughter recently, according to a statement issued on 1 October. Both mother and child are doing fine but the statement did not mention the date of birth nor the gender of the child. It was only till the following day when Yamada's younger brother Shintaro updated his Twitter with a congratulatory message for his sister and unwittingly revealed that the baby is a girl and she was born at the end of September.

In Oguri and Yamada's statement, they revealed that they are very touched by the arrival of their child and hopes to grow along with her as parents while treasuring the happiness they are experiencing now. The couple got married in March 2012 and Yamada announced her pregnancy in May this year.

Source: Sponichi 1 / Sponichi 2

Yazawa Shin gives birth to her 2nd baby

Yazawa Shin announced through her blog on 30 September that she had given birth to her second daughter on 27 September. In her blog entry, she revealed that her baby weighed 2,640 grams at birth and that both the baby and her are doing well despite the delivery date being earlier than expected. Yazawa who got married to former K-1 MAX champion Masato in February 2007, gave birth to their first daughter in June 2012. After she announced her second pregnancy on 9 June this year, Yazawa was later diagnosed with placenta previa which made her prone to swelling of her tummy and bleeding. She thanked her husband for supporting her through this tough period despite having to juggle work and taking care of the family and also expressed her gratitude towards her fans and friends who were worried for her until she gave birth to the baby.

Source: Sponichi

Nakama Yukie to be the guest star in the first episode of "Aibou season 13"

Nakama Yukie will be the guest star in the first episode of TV Asahi's new Autumn 2014 drama "Aibou season 13" which will begin its run from 15 October in the Wednesdays 9pm timeslot. This will be her first appearance in a drama since she got married to Tanaka Tetsushi on 18 September and she plays the role of Yashiro Miyako,a government official working in the Cabinet Information Investigation Department who knows a lot of confidential information and meets Sugishita Ukyo (Mizutani Yutaka) and Kai Toru (Narimiya Hiroki) while they are investigating a serial murder case.

Nakama commented that she is honoured to be participating in such a long-running series and hopes that viewers will enjoy the drama. On the other hand, despite working with Mizutani for the first time, he was full of praise for Nakama and expressed joy at working with her.

Nakama will also be starring in the TBS Autumn 2014 drama "SAKURA ~ Jiken wo Kiku Onna ~" which begins its run from 20 October in the Mondays 8pm timeslot.

Source: Sponichi