Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year! Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!

As 2015 comes to an end and the new year approaches, it is time to reflect on the past and make fresh resolutions. It has been an eventful year for me, in both good and bad ways but with the passing of the year, being able to begin on a fresh slate is something worth looking forward to.

Over the past year, there have been a number of milestones on the blog such as the 9th anniversary, being nominated for the Liebster award, introducing a new blog layout and the set-up of the Facebook fan page so as to reach out to more readers and share information/updates through another medium. I say this every year though but I always resolve to write more reviews but sad to say, I've not been as diligent as I want to. I need to put in a lot more effort to do more than just 2 drama and 2 movie reviews for 2015 so I hope that by this day next year, I'll be able to declare proudly that I did what I aimed to do.

Thank you very much for your support all this while and I look forward to interacting more with you in 2016 and the years to come. Hope that everyone has a great holiday ahead and may you get what you wish for in the new year!


Top 30 highest-rated dramas based on single-episode ratings in 2015

Note that this ranking includes full drama series and once-off drama SPs shown between 29 December 2014 and 27 December 2015. The figures in brackets indicate the ratings for that particular episode or once-off SP broadcast:

1) Asa ga Kita - NHK - 4 December 2015 (27.2%)
2) Massan - NHK - 30 March 2015 (25.0%)
3) Mare - NHK - 7 April 2015 (22.7%)
4) Shitamachi Rocket (last episode) - TBS - 20 December 2015 (22.3%)
5) Aibou season 13 (last episode) - TV Asahi - 18 March 2015 (20.3%)
6) 24 Jikan Terebi SP Okasan Ore wa Daijoubu - NTV - 22 August 2015 (20.2%)
7) I'm Home (last episode) - TV Asahi - 18 June 2015 (19.0%)
8) Aibou season 14 (first episode) - TV Asahi - 14 October 2015 (18.4%)
9) Tenno no Ryoriban (last episode) - TBS - 12 July 2015 (17.7%)
10) DOCTORS 3 (Ep 5) - TV Asahi - 5 February 2015 / Death Note (first episode) - NTV - 5 July 2015 (16.9%)

12) Hana Moyu (first episode) - NHK - 4 January 2015 (16.7%)
13) Oriental Kyuukou Satsujin Jiken Part 1 - FujiTV - 11 January 2015 (16.1%)
14) Oriental Kyuukou Satsujin Jiken Part 2 - FujiTV - 12 January 2015 (15.9%)
15) Hanasaki Mai ga damattenai (Ep 7) - NTV - 19 August 2015 (15.6%)
16) Zeni no Sensou (last episode) - FujiTV - 17 March 2015 (15.4%)
17) Marumaru Tsuma (Ep 2 & Ep 4) - NTV - 21 January 2015 (15.2%)
18) Youkoso, Wagaya e (last episode) - FujiTV - 15 June 2015 (15.0%)
19) Date ~ Koi to wa donna mono kashira ~ (first episode) - FujiTV - 19 January 2015 / Specialist 3 - TV Asahi - 28 February 2015 (14.8%)

21) Gisou no Fuufu (first episode) - NTV - 7 October 2015 (14.7%)
22) Kinkyuu Torishirabeshitsu - TV Asahi - 27 September 2015 (14.6%)
23) Isan Sozoku - TV Asahi - 22 October 2015 (14.2%)
24) Keishicho Sousa Ikka 5 Hira kara nariagatta Saikyo no Keiji! - TV Asahi - 17 October 2015 (14.1%)
25) Dr.Rintaro (first episode) - NTV - 15 April 2015 / Keishicho Sousa Ikka 9 Kakari season 10 (episode 3) - TV Asahi - 6 May 2015 (13.9%)
27) Shin Naniwa Kinyuudo - FujiTV - 24 January 2015 (13.8%)
28) Houigaku Kyoshitsu no Jiken File 40-kai Kinen - TV Asahi - 14 February 2015 / Morimura Seiichi Sakka 50nen Kinen Shuchakueki Series Zeni no Kasa - TV Asahi - 26 September 2015 (13.6%)
30) Kasoken no Onna (first episode) - TV Asahi - 15 October 2015 / Shikaku Tantei Higure Tabibito - NTV - 20 November 2015 (13.5%)

Source: Sponichi

2015 Drama Ratings Ranking among the Big 4 TV stations based on average ratings

The following is the ranking of dramas shown in 2015 by the Big 4 (FujiTV, TBS, NTV and TV Asahi) based on their average ratings. Numbers in brackets indicate the average rating of each drama.

Note that TV Tokyo tends to produce a lesser number of dramas per season compared to the Big 4, NHK dramas are generally shorter and do not last the entire three months' season while cable networks like WOWOW do not release ratings, their dramas would not appear in this ranking.

Much as I don't think that ratings do reflect a drama's quality especially in this time and age when you don't have to tune in to a drama realtime, this will be a guide for those who are looking for dramas to watch and are interested to see how the J-drama scene performed in the year soon to end. Do share your views on the results so that we can discuss.

For those who are wondering about the colour coding, dramas which I've watched are in red, blue ones are those which I haven't finished watching or have started but not sure about whether to continue while purple ones are those which I'm planning to check out. Looks like my backlog for reviews is growing again!

Average rating above 15% (3 dramas)
1) Shitamachi Rocket - TBS - Autumn 2015 (18.54%)
2) Aibou 13 - TV Asahi - Winter 2015 (17.9%)
3) Aibou 14 - TV Asahi - Autumn 2015 (15.4%)

Average rating between 10% and 14.99% (19 dramas)
4) Tenno no Ryoriban - TBS - Spring 2015 (14.94%)
5) I'm Home - TV Asahi - Spring 2015 (14.82%)
6) Hanasaki Mai ga damattenai - NTV - Summer 2015 (14.47%)
7) DOCTORS 3 - TV Asahi - Winter 2015 (14.38%)
8) Marumaru Tsuma - NTV - Winter 2015 (14.26%)
9) Zeni no Sensou - FujiTV - Winter 2015 (13.41%)
10) Dr. Rintaro - NTV - Spring 2015 (12.73%)
11) Youkoso, Wagaya e - FujiTV - Spring 2015 (12.55%)
12) Date ~ Koi to wa donna mono kashira ~ - FujiTV - Winter 2015 (12.54%)
13) Gisou no Fuufu - NTV - Autumn 2015 (12.17%)
14) Keishicho Ikka 9 Kakari - TV Asahi - Spring 2015 (11.8%)
15) 5-ji kara 9-ji made: Watashi ni koi shita obosan - FujiTV - Autumn 2015 (11.73%)
16) Death Note - NTV - Summer 2015 (11.55%)
17) Kounodori - TBS - Autumn 2015 (11.46%)
18) Kasoken no Onna - TV Asahi - Autumn 2015 (11.0%)
19) Isan Souzoku - TV Asahi - Autumn 2015 (10.77%)
20) Koinaka - FujiTV - Summer 2015 (10.74%)
21) Ouroboros - TBS - Winter 2015 (10.42%)
22) Ryusei Wagon - TBS - Winter 2015 (10.31%)

Average rating between 5% and 9.99% (32 dramas)
23) Okitegami Kyoko  no Biboroku - NTV - Autumn 2015 (9.78%)
24) Mondai no Aru Resutoran - FujiTV - Winter 2015 (9.34%)
25) Do S Deka - NTV - Spring 2015 (9.33%)
26) Angel Heart - NTV - Autumn 2015 (9.29%)
27) Gakkou no Kaidan - NTV - Winter 2015 (9.27%)
28) Siren - FujiTV - Autumn 2015 (9.22%)
29) Napoleon no Mura - TBS - Summer 2015 (9.08%)
30) Age Harassment - TV Asahi - Summer 2015 (8.86%)
31) Mother Game - TBS - Spring 2015 (8.82%)
32) Wild Heroes - NTV - Spring 2015 (8.78%)
33) Otona Joshi - FujiTV - Autumn 2015 (8.74%)
34) Ghost Writer - FujiTV - Winter 2015 (8.68%)
35) Algernon ni Hanataba wo - TBS - Spring 2015 (8.61%)
36) Ishitachi no Renai Jijo - FujiTV - Spring 2015 (8.49%)
37) Tantei no Tantei - FujiTV - Summer 2015 (8.11%)
38) Do Konjo Gaeru - NTV - Summer 2015 (7.98%)
39) Hotel Concierge - TBS - Summer 2015 (7.95%)
40) Mutsuu - FujiTV - Autumn 2015 (7.92%)
41) Zannen na Otto - FujiTV - Winter 2015 (7.68%)
42) Keibuho Sugiyama Shintaro - TBS - Winter 2015 (7.33%)
43) Tamiou - TV Asahi - Summer 2015 (7.14%)
44) Second Love - TV Asahi - Winter 2015 (7.14%)
45) Kokoro ga Pokitto ne - FujiTV - Spring 2015 / Samurai Sensei - TV Asahi - Autumn 2015 (6.71%)
46) Utsukushiki Wana - TBS - Winter 2015 (6.63%)
47) Yamegoku - TBS - Spring 2015 (6.48%)
48) 37.5C no Namida - TBS - Summer 2015 (6.17%)
49) Tenshi to Akuma - TV Asahi - Spring 2015 (6.08%)
50) Omotesando Koukou Gasshobu - TBS - Summer 2015 (5.92%)
51) Masshiro - TBS - Winter 2015 (5.85%)
52) Kekkon Shiki no Zenjitsu ni - TBS - Autumn 2015 (5.63%)
53) Risk no Kamisama - FujiTV - Summer 2015 (5.09%)

Average rating below 5% (6 dramas)
54) Tatau! Shoten Girl - FujiTV - Spring 2015 (4.78%)
55) Itsutsuboshi Tourist - NTV - Winter 2015 (4.42%)
56) Seishun Tantei Haruya - NTV - Autumn 2015 (4.32%)
57) HEAT - FujiTV - Summer 2015 (4.12%)
58) Renai Jidai - NTV - Spring 2015 (4.02%)
59) Konkatsu Deka - NTV - Summer 2015 (3.95%)

Key trends in 2015
- Out of the 59 dramas listed here, less than half made it pass the 10% mark in terms of their average ratings. This coincides with the general observation that dramas these days tend to register lower ratings due to various reasons.

- Out of the top 22 dramas which were above 10%, 5 were from TBS, 7 were from TV Asahi, 5 were from NTV and 5 were from FujiTV which seems to suggest that they are pretty on par with one ano. However, if you look at the average rating per drama from each TV station in the top 22 category, TBS got 13.13%, TV Asahi got 13.72%, NTV got 13.04% while FujiTV got 12.19%. TV Asahi is leading the pack while TBS and NTV have a small difference between them and FujiTV is lagging behind.

- The No.1 dramas from each of the TV stations are "Shitamachi Rocket" (TBS), "Aibou 13" (TV Asahi), Hanasaki Mai ga damattenai (NTV) and "Zeni no Sensou" (FujiTV).

- 4 out of the Top 10 are sequels i.e. Aibou (13 and 14), Hanasaki Mai and DOCTORS.

- Looking at the season distribution in the top 22, 7 were from the Winter season (Jan to Mar), 5 from Spring (Apr to June), 3 from Summer (Jul to Sep) and 7 from Autumn (Oct to Dec). This seems to suggest that in the colder seasons, the ratings tend to be higher while in summer, due to the summer holidays, festivals and Obon, lesser people seem to be tuning in to dramas realtime.

- In the category of dramas between 5% and 9.99%, there were 6 from NTV, 10 from FujiTV, 11 from TBS and 5 from TV Asahi. This suggests that 1) TBS dramas tend to fall into two extremes, they either do really well or really badly 2) FujiTV's dramas are falling behind and 3) TV Asahi is doing pretty well in recent years with a high number of dramas in the top category and a comparatively smaller number of below-10s.

- Almost one-third i.e. 9 of the dramas below 10% but above 5% were shown in summer. However, when you look at the breakdown across other seasons i.e. 7 from Autumn, 8 from Winter, 8 from Spring, it doesn't seem like the seasons were not major contributing factors as to why dramas do not fare well in ratings.

- In the category of the below 5% dramas, NTV may have the most number of 4 dramas out of 6 but the two entries from FujiTV stand out for the fact that they supposedly should have done better since they were shown during primetime while the four from NTV were all in the late-night slots which are expected to do less well.

So what do you think of the results in 2015?

Preview of "Itooshikute" - Winter 2016

Title: Itooshikute 愛おしくて (ma cherie...)
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 12 January 2016
Timeslot: Tuesdays 10pm
Broadcast by: NHK
Total number of episodes: 8
Theme Song: Kokoro no mama ni by Shimatani Hitomi
Cast: Tanaka Rena, Yoshida Eisaku, Akiyoshi Kumiko, Ogata Kanta, Hirata Mitsuru, Honjo Manami, Mizuhashi Kenji, Oka Mitsuko, Ishikura Saburo, Minami Kaho and Kobayashi Nenji

Preview of "Kamogawa Shokudo" - Winter 2016

Title: Kamogawa Shokudo 鴨川食堂 (Kamogawa Canteen)
Official website: here
O.A. 10 January 2016
Timeslot: Sundays 10pm
Broadcast by: NHK
Total number of episodes: 8
Cast: Kutsuna Shiori, Iwashita Shima, Hagiwara Kenichi, Yoshizawa Hisashi, Zaizen Naomi

Preview of "Yoshiwara Uradoushin" (Drama SP)

Title: Yoshiwara Uradoushin 吉原裏同心
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 3 January 2016 at 7.30pm
Broadcast by: NHK
Original novel by: Saeki Yasuhide
Cast: Koide Keisuke, Kanjiya Shihori, Nono Sumika, Yamauchi Takaya, Miyake Hiroki, Ishii Kenichi, Kondo Masaomi, Adachi Yumi, Aso Yumi, Honda Hirotaro, Moro Morooka, Nomaguchi Toru, Yamada Jundai, Asakura Aki, Komatsu Ayaka

Preview of "Ooku" (Drama SP - 2016)

Title: Ooku 大奥
Official website: here
O.A. Dates: 22 January 2016, 29 January 2016 at 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Part 1 - Saikyou no Onna 最凶の女
Sawajiri Erika, Narimiya Hiroki, Itao Itsuji, Mitsura Yasuko, Washio Machiko, Yamaguchi Kaori, Kubota Maki, Tanaka Yoji, Hamada Manabu, Asai Erina, Kaneko Noboru, Asano Yuko
Part 2 - Higeki no Shimai 悲劇の姉妹
Sawajiri Erika, Renbutsu Misako, Itao Itsuji, Nukumizu Yoichi, Mitsura Yasuko, Washio Machiko, Yamaguchi Kaori, Kubota Maki, Watabe Shu, Kubota Hidetoshi, Narimiya Hiroki, Asano Yuko

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Preview of "Fuji Family" (Drama SP)

Title: Fuji Family 富士ファミリー
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 2 January 2016 at 9pm
Broadcast by: NHK
Cast: Yakushimaru Hiroko, Koizumi Kyoko, Mimura, Takahashi Katsumi, Yoshioka Hidetaka, Fukami Motoki, Katagiri Hairi, Nakamura Yurika, Ogura Ichiro, Makita Sports, Naka Riisa, Hosoda Yoshihiko

Preview of "Haburashi / Onnatomodachi" - Winter 2016

Title: Haburashi / Onnatomodachi はぶらし / 女友だち (Toothbrush / Girlfriends)
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 5 January 2016
Timeslot: Tuesdays 11.15pm
Broadcast by: NHK
Total number of episodes: 8
Original novel by: Kondo Fumie
Theme song: "crying" by Shishido Kafka
Cast: Uchida Yuki, Kaneko Nobuaki, Ichikawa Miwako, Okada Yoshinori, Dankan, Oka Mayumi, Omi Toshinori, Ikewaki Chizuru

Preview of "Josei Sakka Mysteries - Utsukushiki Mitsu no Uso" (Drama SP)

Title: Josei Sakka Mysteries - Utsukushiki Mitsu no Uso 女性作家ミステリーズ美しき三つの嘘 (The Female Writers Mysteries - Three Beautiful Lies)
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 4 January 2016 at 9pm
Original novels by: Minato Kanae (Moonstone), Miura Shion (Honou), Kakuta Mitsuyo (Heibon)
Cast: Miura Tomokazu (appears in all three stories), Nagasaku Hiromi, Dan Rei, Murakami Jun, Takito Kenichi and Emoto Akira (Moonstone), Tsuchiya Tao, Kadowaki Mugi, Murakami Nijiro, Emoto Tasuku (Honou), Suzuki Kyoka, Terajima Shinobu, Sometani Shota, Terawaki Yasufumi (Heibon)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Award ceremony of the 28th Nikkansports Movie Award / Ishihara Yujiro Award held on 28 December

Best Movie: Solomon no Gishou

Best Director: Harada Masato (Nihon no Ichiban Nagai Hi)

Best Leading Actor: Koura Kengo (Itamu Hito / Kimi wa Iiko)

Best Leading Actress: Ayase Haruka (Umimachi Diary)

Best Supporting Actor: Motoki Masahiro (Tenkuu no Hachi / Nihon no Ichiban Nagai Hi)

Best Supporting Actress: Nagasawa Masami (Umimachi Diary)

Best Newcomer: Hirose Suzu (Umimachi Diary)

Best Foreign Movie: Whiplash

Ishihara Yujiro Award: Nihon no Ichiban Nagai Hi

Special Award: Shinada Yukichi

Fan Award: Joker Game (Director: Irie Yu / Cast: Kamenashi Kazuya, Fukada Kyoko & Iseya Yusuke)

Source: Nikkansports

Yamazaki Ikuzaburo & Abe Natsumi announce their marriage on 29 Dec

Yamazaki Ikuzaburo and Abe Natsumi announced through their respective agencies that they have registered their marriage on 29 December. They revealed that they had been dating for the past four years during which they overcame difficulties and enjoyed happy moments together. There are no plans for a wedding yet. They also happen to be the second celebrity couple who got married after working together in the stage play "Arashigaoka" 4 years ago, following Yamamoto Koji and Horikita Maki who acted in the same play in May this year and got married 3 months later.

In Yamazaki's statement, he praised Abe for having worked hard in her career since she made her debut in her teens and respected her for her thinking and lifestyle. He commented that they would support one another through the rest of their lives and hopes to do even better in future before ending the statement asking for everyone's support from now on.

On the other hand, Abe mentioned that she had been in showbiz for 18 years since she became a Morning Musume member at the age of 16 and thanked everyone for their support so far. She expressed joy at being able to form a family with her husband. From now on, she will continue with her career at a slower pace with her family life taking priority and hopes for the continuous support of everyone going forward.

Source: Oricon

Trailers and news reports of dramas and movies and the overboard protectionism from Japanese media companies

As you may have noticed recently, I started sharing links to trailers and news reports of upcoming dramas and movies through the blog's official Facebook and Twitter pages. Instead of embedding them on the blog which may pose copyright issues or face the problem of videos being blocked or taken down after some time, this seems to be a better way of directing those who are interested in such content to go to the sites of those which host the videos, often the TV stations themselves. As such, do "like" the Facebook page or follow the blog on Twitter to get such updates promptly.

Just in case you wonder why I've only shared videos from certain dramas, that's not because I want to promote them over the rest. Some TV stations actually impose geographical restrictions on who gets to watch their video content on their websites or YouTube pages. That effectively means that if your IP address is not in Japan, you can't even watch it. In particular, FujiTV, NTV and WOWOW are doing this so that's why you will notice that I've not been able to share trailers of their dramas unless someone uploads the videos on external sites like YouTube or Dailymotion. I will continue searching for the trailers but there is a high chance that I might not be able to find any so I seek your understanding in this regard.

Due to this restriction issue, I get really annoyed at how the Japanese media companies are using protectionism in the wrong way and excessively. Much as I understand copyright concerns they may have over content being readily available on the Internet, in this time and age, if you don't use the Internet to your benefit, that's going to hurt you in the long run. In this regard, some companies like TBS is actively using all sorts of SNS portals such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even LINE to promote their TV programmes. It's better to let people know what you offer rather than keep it all to yourself. Who knows if someone might be a content purchaser overseas and your programmes may just be sold to an overseas audience because of this awareness campaign? Not having the content available to the world doesn't mean that you can protect your content from abuse. Moreover, I am talking about the promotional trailers which should be seen by as many people as possible. I can understand about not uploading the entire programme online for people to watch but these are trailers meant for promotional use we are talking about. There is no meaning to it if people can't watch them in the first place. It frustrates me a lot because here I am, trying to boost awareness and share news but the official mediums try to stop you with such measures. It's as if telling me that they don't need people outside of Japan to know about what they offer.

In this regard, the South Korean media seems to be better at manipulating the Internet to boost awareness and influence of their pop culture. I don't necessarily think that they churn out better content than the Japanese counterparts in all areas or that K-culture is more influential than J-culture but the South Koreans are really good at using the Internet to garner fans and expand their reach outside the domestic market. Not only do they have promotional music videos available online by respective agencies, TV stations do not shy away from providing whole programmes on their YouTube pages e.g. KBS and even provide subs for overseas audiences. You don't hear about Japanese music videos having millions of views on YouTube because they usually get taken down very quickly if someone uploads them. This is really ridiculous considering that PVs are meant to be seen by fans and yet people outside of Japan can't see them. How about those within Japan? Do they all have access to music programmes or channels like MTV to watch these? So who ultimately gets to watch such PVs? Or can they only watch snippets of them on variety/news shows? If you don't want people to see those videos, don't make them in the first place. If you don't want people to know about your content, don't even promote them. On the other hand, movie companies are more open to sharing their content and I guess that has to do with the nature of their business where films can go overseas more easily compared to TV programmes.

Much as I understand that the Japanese market is actually big enough to sustain the domestic artistes to a certain extent, there is a need to branch out in case the market shrinks or gets hit by some uncontrollable factors. Don't they want their works to be seen and appreciated outside of Japan? I simply cannot fathom the rationale of keeping everything to yourself especially the TV stations which use the geographical blocking method to stop people from watching your videos. Seriously, for FujiTV in particular, you are already at the bottom of the ratings race and yet you still don't want to do something about expanding your reach and marketability of your works. You can only wonder what goes on in the minds of the people who decide to impose such restrictions.

If you have any thoughts on this issue, please feel free to share them via the comments section.

Preview of "Botchan" (Drama SP)

Title: Botchan 坊っちゃん (Young Master)
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 3 January 2016 at 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Original novel by: Natsume Souseki
Cast: Ninomiya Kazunari, Matsushita Nao, Furuta Arata, Yashima Norito, Yamamoto Koji, Oikawa Mitsuhiro, Kishibe Ittoku, Miyamoto Nobuko, Matayoshi Naoki

Monday, December 28, 2015

Preview of "Kuro no Shamen" (Drama SP)

Title: Kuro no Shamen 黒の斜面 (The Black Slope)
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 24 January 2016 at 9pm
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Cast: Dan Rei, Uchiyama Rina, Harada Taizo, Watanabe Ikkei, Endo Kumiko, Sano Shiro

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Akanishi Jin ranked highest among Japanese male celebrities in TC Candler's The 100 Most Handsome Faces 2015

Akanishi Jin was named as the highest-ranking Japanese male celebrity in TC Candler's The 100 Most Handsome Faces 2015 at No.34. Upon receiving the news, Akanishi thanked everyone for their support via his Twitter account. This is his highest position to date as he got No.83 and No.52 in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Other Japanese male celebrities in this ranking include Takenouchi Yutaka at No.63 and Kaneshiro Takeshi at No.73. Kaneshiro was placed No.81 and No.29 in 2013 and 2014 while soccer player Honda Keisuke who was ranked No.58 in 2013 and No.24 in 2014 is out of the ranking this year.

The No.1 celebrity in the ranking is Mexican singer Diego Boneta.

The full ranking can be viewed here.

Source: Sponichi Annex

Ishihara Satomi ranked highest among Japanese female celebrities in TC Candler's The 100 Most Beautiful Faces 2015

American movie information website TC Candler revealed The 100 Most Beautiful Faces 2015 ranking on 27 December where Ishihara Satomi was the highest-ranked Japanese female celebrity at No.19. This is the third year she has been named in this ranking and her highest position to date as she rose from No.25 last year. She was No.32 in 2013 which was also the highest position among the Japanese celebrities that year.

Also included in the ranking are Kiritani Mirei who was No.1 among the Japanese celebrities last year at No.8 and got No.31 this year. She has been named in the top 100 four times to date. AKB48's Shimazaki Haruka got No.74 this year, down from No.50 last year which was her highest position to date. Sasaki Nozomi got No.84 this year, also down from No.43 last year and her highest position was No.24. Shimazaki entered the ranking thrice to date while Sasaki was in the Top 100 for six years. There are no new names from Japan in the ranking.

The No.1 position went to South Korean girl group AFTERSCHOOL's Nana. As for the number of celebrities from each country, the US had 22 celebrities in the top 100, followed by 13 from the UK, 11 from South Korea, 7 from Australia, 4 from France, Canada, China and Mexico each.

For the full ranking, please visit here.

Source: Sponichi

Preview of "Kenji no Shimei" (Drama SP)

Title: Kenji no Shimei 検事の死命 (A prosecutor's fate)
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 17 January 2016 at 9pm
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Cast: Kamikawa Takaya, Matsushita Yuki, Shida Mirai, Masuoka Toru, Taketomi Seika, Tsuda Kanji, Tayama Ryosei, Arai Moe, Arimori Narimi, Iida Kisuke, Yamanaka Takashi, Terada Minori, Enami Kyoko, Ibu Masato

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Filming starts for NTV Winter 2016 drama "Rinshou Hanzai Gakusha Himura Hideo no Suiri"

The filming for NTV Winter 2016 drama "Rinshou Hanzai Gakusha Himura Hideo no Suiri" began recently in Kyoto, as reported on 21 December. The drama which is due to begin its run from 17 January 2016, will be set in Kyoto. On the first day of the filming, the leads Saito Takumi and Kubota Masataka were at the shooting location in Shirakawa, Kyoto, More than 200 people including students from a nearby university gathered around to watch the filming in progress.

Saito commented that he was very happy about shooting in beautiful Kyoto and eagerly anticipated how the traditional feel of Kyoto would be presented in the drama. As for Kubota, he revealed that it has been a few years since he last came to Kyoto for filming and was glad to be filming with Saito at such a nice place.

Source: The Television

AKB48's Watanabe Mayu to appear in FujiTV drama SP "Ooku"

AKB48's Watanabe Mayu will be appearing in the upcoming FujiTV drama SP "Ooku" which features Sawajiri Erika as the lead. She will act in Part 1 of the SP which is to be shown on 22 January where she will play Oshima, a servant in the Ooku who looks on at the battles within Ooku as a bystander. Due to her cold personality, she gets the attention of Omiyo played by Sawajiri and a secret affair develops between the two even though Omiyo is the shogun's concubine. As such, there will be intimate scenes involving Watanabe and Sawajiri such as lying in bed naked and kissing. Nonetheless, this will not be the first time that Watanabe is kissing a female onscreen as she had done that with Miyazawa Sae in the 2011 NTV drama "Sakura kara no tegami ~ AKB48 Sorezore no Sotsugyo Monogatari ~".

This will be Watanabe's first appearance in a period drama thus she has to learn how to play the zither and Japanese dance. Despite only learning the zither for 2 hours, she managed to play it during the filming which surprised the production staff. Watanabe commented that although she was apprehensive about appearing in a period drama, she was also thrilled at being given the chance. She also thanked Sawajiri for helping her to get over her nervousness as the latter took the initiative to talk to her.

Source: Sankei Sports

Abe Hiroshi & Maki Youko to star in new Koreeda Hirokazu movie "Umi yori mo mada fukaku"

Abe Hiroshi and Maki Youko will star in the new Koreeda Hirokazu movie "Umi yori mo mada fukaku" (It's way deeper than the sea) which is due to be shown in cinemas from 21 May 2016. The movie's story started off with a sentence written by Koreeda i.e. "not everyone can become the adult they aspire to be" and focuses on the theme of people who can't give up on their dreams that seem impossible to realise. Koreeda commented that this film is most reflective of his current situation among his productions so far and will be one he is proud to show off in front of the gods when he dies.

Abe plays the role of Ryota, an unpopular writer who won a literature award 15 years ago but has not be able to capitalise on this all this while. Since then, he has been working in a detective agency with the excuse of finding inspiration for his novels so as to fend off concerns from the people around him and lie to himself for the sake of holding on to his dream. In addition, he is very obsessed with gambling and cannot pay the maintenance fees for his son. Maki will play his ex-wife while Kiki Kirin will play his mother who still loves her son whole-heartedly despite him being unable to live as what a man of his age should do. His 11-year-old Shingo will be played by child actor Yoshizawa Taiyo.

Abe commented that he could identify with the problems faced by his character because he had the same experience in his teens when he could not achieve his dream and was unsure of what to do every day after that. As such, he was particularly impressed by how the script managed to describe Ryota's situation so aptly. Kiki also commented that Abe had a hard time in the early days of his career as he was too tall. Nonetheless, she joked that through this film, he could finally have another signature role other than in the Rome bathroom (referring to the hit Thermae Romae movies) and that they were able to become mother and son in the movie naturally by chatting about various things during the filming breaks.

Maki who worked in another Koreeda film previously i.e. "Soshite Chichi ni naru", said that she was able to be at ease on set and that her character Kyoko is a woman who has a clear view of her and her child's future but finds herself drawn naturally to an "useless" man like Ryota who keeps chasing his dream.

The filming was largely done at the Asahigaoka housing estate in Kiyose City, Tokyo, which was where Kiki's character Yoshiko lives at and also happens to be where Koreeda lived from the age of 9 to 28. Kiki commented that it was tough for her to film at a place like this where there are no elevators given that she is already over 70 years old but the warm atmosphere and reception from the residents who know Koreeda since he was young, left a deep impression on the cast.

Co-stars also include Ikematsu Sosuke, Ryota's partner at the detective agency, Lily Frankie, the president of the detective agency, Kobayashi Satomi who plays Ryota's elder sister and Hashizume Isao who plays the guy which Yoshiko admires.


Preview of "Kodoku no Gurume ~ Oshogatsu SP! Mafuyu no Hokkaido Asahikawa Shuccho Hen"

Title: Kodoku no Gurume ~ Oshogatsu SP! Mafuyu no Hokkaido Asahikawa Shuccho Hen 孤独のグルメ お正月スペシャル!真冬の北海道・旭川出張編 (The Solitary Gourmet ~ New Year SP! Business Trip to Mid-Winter's Asahikawa in Hokkaido)
Official website: here
Official Facebook page: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Date: 1 January 2016 at 11.15pm
Broadcast by: TV Tokyo
Cast: Matsushige Yutaka

Friday, December 25, 2015

Kimura Yoshino & Kitamura Kazuki to play a married couple in NTV drama SP "Boku no Inochi"

Kimura Yoshino and Kitamura Kazuki will be playing a married couple in the upcoming NTV drama SP "Boku no Inochi" (My Life) which is expected to be shown in spring next year. The drama SP is based on a true story about a family who fights against a serious illness affecting one of their children. Kimura plays the role of the mother named Michiyo while Kitamura plays her husband. In the drama SP, they have three sons but their happiness is shattered by the news of their second son Yuhei diagnosed with hepatoblastoma at the age of 4 years old. The role of Yuhei will be played by child actor Yokoyama Ayumu.

Kimura who is a mother of 2 girls, said that while reading the script, it always made her cry. The situation was quite serious in that the rehearsals were kept short and simple or else her makeup would be gone due to the crying even before the filming.  In particular, the thought of what the family had to go through in real life was very upsetting to her especially since her elder daughter also happens to be 4 years old now which was when the child in the story was first diagnosed with the illness. As this is a true story after all, she had put in extra effort and sincerity so as to show due respect to the family who was affected by this. Kimura also thanked her co-star for encouraging her before the start of the filming and said that they should aim to be like a real family so as to make the story more convincing. Kitamura commented that different viewers would have their interpretations of this drama SP but he hopes that by showing how the family rallies together to fight against fate might give some inspiration or send some form of a message to the viewers about family ties.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Preview of "Rinshou Hanzai Gakusha Himura Hideo no Suiri" - Winter 2016

Title: Rinshou Hanzai Gakusha Himura Hideo no Suiri 臨床犯罪学者火村英生の推理
Official website: here
Official Facebook page: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 17 January 2016
Timeslot: Sundays 10.30pm
Broadcast by: NTV
Original novel by: Arisugawa Arisu
Theme Song: Selfy Trick by EDGE of LIFE
Cast: Saito Takumi, Kubota Masataka, Yuka, Yamamoto Mizuki, Makita Sports, Shimizu Kazuki, Horiguchi Hikaru, Matsunaga Nagisa, Onodera Akiyoshi, Hasegawa Kyoko, Matsuzawa Kazuyuki, Namase Katsuhisa, Natsuki Mari

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Preview of "Watashi wo hanasanai de" - Winter 2016

Title: Watashi wo hanasanai de わたしを離さないで (Never Let Me Go)
Official website: here
Official Facebook page: here
Official Twitter page: here
Official blog: here
Filming report: here
O.A. Start Date: 15 January 2016
Timeslot: Fridays 10pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Original novel by: Kazuo Ishiguro
Cast: Ayase Haruka, Miura Haruma, Mizukawa Asami, Suzuki Rio, Nakagawa Tsubasa, Mizuki Sakura, Matobu Sei, Ito Ayumi, Komoto Masahiro, Aso Yumi

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Top 10 karaoke songs in 2015 (JOYSOUND)

For the full list up to No.30, please visit the JOYSOUND's site below:

1) Himawari no Yakusoku - Hata Motohiro

2) Dragon Night - Sekai no Owari

3) Ito - Nakajima Miyuki

4) R.Y.U.S.E.I. - Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE

5) Let It Go ~ Ari no mama de ~ - Matsu Takako

6) Hanamizuki - Hitoto Yo

7) Darling - Nishino Kana

8) Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis - Takahashi Yoko

9) Senbonzakura - WhiteFlame feat. Hatsune Miki

10) Chiisana Koi no Uta - MONGOL800


Top 10 bestselling music DVDs of 2015 (Oricon)

Numbers in brackets indicate the estimated accumulated number of copies sold. For the full ranking, please visit the Oricon site below:

1) ARASHI BLAST in Hawaii - Arashi (659,676)

2) ARASHI LIVE TOUR 2014 THE DIGITALIAN - Arashi (641,765)

3) Jussai - Kanjani 8 (270,461)

4) Kanjanism LIVE TOUR 2014 >> 2015 - Kanjani 8 (257,543)

5) 2014 Concert Tour Kis-My-Journey - Kis-My-Ft2 (253,074)


7) Mr.S' saikou de saikou no CONCERT TOUR - SMAP (184,777)

8) namie amuro LIVE STYLE 2014 - Amuro Namie (177,139)

9) Tohoshinki LIVE TOUR 2015 WITH - Tohoshinki (150,838)

10) Koro Sensee Shonzu - Sensee Shonzu (136,692)

Source: Oricon

Top 10 bestselling albums of 2015 (Oricon)

Numbers in brackets indicate the estimated accumulated number of copies sold. For the full ranking, please visit the Oricon link below:

1) Japonism - Arashi (981,639)

2) PLANET SEVEN - Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE (868,247)

3) DREAMS COME TRUE THE BEST! Watashi no Dorikamu - DREAMS COME TRUE (828,505)

4) Koko ga Rhodes da, Koko de Tobe! - AKB48 (780,591)

5) 0 to 1 no aida - AKB48 (687,688)

6) REFLECTION - Mr.Children (576,867)

7) Budou - Southern All Stars (534,482)

8) Tree - Sekai no Owari (484,588)

9) Kanjani 8 no Genki ga deru CD!! - Kanjani 8 (348,197)

10) KIS-MY-WORLD by Kis-My-Ft2 (336,069)

Source: Oricon

Top 10 bestselling singles of 2015 (Oricon)

Numbers in brackets indicate the estimated accumulated number of copies sold. For the rest of the ranking, please visit the Oricon site below:

1) Bokutachi wa tatakawanai - AKB48 (1,782,707)

2) Halloween Night  - AKB48 (1,328,411)

3) Green Flash - AKB48 (1,045,492)

4) Kuchibiru ni Be My Baby - AKB48 (905,490)

5) Coquettish Juutaichuu - SKE48 (702,299)

6) Ima, Hanashitai dare ka ga iru - Nogizaka 46 (686,539)

7) Taiyou Knock - Nogizaka 46 (678,481)

8) Inochi wa Utsukushii - Nogizaka 46 (620,555)

9) Aozora no shita, Kimi no tonari - Arashi (571,597)

10) Don't look back! - NMB48 (530,830)

Source: Oricon

Top 5 bestselling music artistes of 2015 (Oricon)

Numbers in brackets indicate total sales in terms of yen:

1) Arashi (14,328,000,000)

2) AKB48 (11,291,000,000)

3) Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE (6,856,000,000)

4) Kis-My-Ft2 (5,777,000,000)

5) Kanjani 8 (5,471,000,000)

Source: Oricon

Ayase Haruka meets Kazuo Ishiguro in UK for Winter 2016 drama "Watashi wo hanasanai de"

Ayase Haruka who is starring in the upcoming TBS Winter 2016 drama "Watashi wo hanasani de", met Kazuo Ishiguro, the author of the original novel "Never Let Me Go" in UK earlier this month where they spent about 4 hours talking about the novel and drama adaptation. The drama which is due to be shown from 15 January in the Fridays 10pm timeslot, also features Miura Haruma and Mizukawa Asami as the main cast members.

In a bid to understand more about the novel ahead of the filming, Ayase went on a short trip for 4 days and 2 nights in order to meet Ishiguro who is based in London. During their discussion, Ishiguro explained that he wanted to explore the theme of life being very short and everyone will face death one day. However, how people deal with death in their faces and what they feel is most important to them was a key motivating factor which spurred him to write the novel. He also explained the relationships between the key characters and how he felt about the lead Kyoko (Kathy H. in the novel in response to questions from Ayase.

Ishiguro who moved to the UK at the age of 5, is a bestselling author who had won the Man Booker Prize which is the highest ranking literature award in the UK. As he didn't know about Ayase prior to their meeting, Ishiguro watched her 2009 drama "JIN" in order to know her better. After watching it, he praised Ayase for using her facial expressions and body language to convey the love which couldn't be put into words and commented that she is a great actress. In response, Ayase thanked him in English. As Ishiguro advised Ayase to play Kyoko in her own way rather than be restricted by the novel, she pledged to do her best to convey the essence of her character to the best of her ability.

Source: Sponichi Annex

Preview of "Dame na watashi ni koishite kudasai" - Winter 2016

Title: Dame na watashi ni koishite kudasai ダメな私に恋してください
Official website: here
Official Facebook page: here
Official Twitter: here
Official Instagram: here
O.A Start Date: 12 January 2016
Timeslot: Tuesdays 10pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Original manga by: Nakahara Aya
Cast: Fukada Kyoko, Dean Fujioka, Miura Shohei, Nonami Maho, Mimura, Suzuki Takayuki, Ishiguro Hideo, Kuro-chan

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top 10 actresses who made a breakthrough in 2015 (Oricon)

Overall Top 10
1) Arimura Kasumi
2) Tsuchiya Tao
3) Hirose Suzu
4) Yoshida Yo
5) Matsuoka Mayu
6) Haru
7) Ishihara Satomi
8) Shimizu Fumika
9) Kimura Fumino
10) Takahata Mitsuki

Top 10 as selected by women
1) Tsuchiya Tao
2) Arimura Kasumi
3) Yoshida Yo
4) Hirose Suzu
5) Matsuoka Mayu
6) Haru
7) Ishihara Satomi
8) Shimizu Fumika
9) Kimura Fumino
10) Takahata Mitsuki

Top 10 as selected by men
1) Arimura Kasumi
2) Hirose Suzu
3) Tsuchiya Tao
4) Haru
5) Yoshida Yo
6) Matsuoka Mayu
7) Kimura Fumino
8) Shimizu Fumika
9) Takahata Mitsuki
10) An

Source: Oricon

Yoshida Eisaku & Hirako Risa announce their divorce

Yoshida Eisaku and Hirako Risa have gone their separate ways after they submitted their divorce application to a ward office on 21 December. Yoshida's agency announced the news on the following day along with his statement which revealed that the couple started to talk about this topic since the end of last year. Yoshida cited the reason of differences in their lifestyles due to their work and living environments as the key reason for the breakdown of their marriage. Nonetheless, they both hope that they will be able to move on from this, remain as friends and head towards their personal goals in life in time to come. He ended the statement by asking for everyone's continued support for them from now on.

Yoshida was said to be filming for a drama in Nagoya and returned to Tokyo on 19 December when the couple discussed the topic of divorce again and decided to call it quits. He has since returned to Nagoya to continue with the filming.

Yoshida and Hirako got married in 1997 but they were living apart soon after that as Yoshida went to the United States for acting training.

Source: Oricon

TOKIO to sing the theme song for FujITV Winter 2016 drama "Fragile"

TOKIO will be singing the theme song for the FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Fragile" which stars the band's vocalist Nagase Tomoya. The drama will begin its run from 13 January in the Wednesdays 10pm timeslot while the single also titled "fragile" will be released in February next year. Nagase will play the lead character Kishi Kyoichiro who is a stubborn pathologist and doesn't think twice about talking harshly to others. After reading the original manga and script, Nagase wrote the song and used the image of the falling sakura to describe life. Usually when people hear the word "fragile", it refers to breakable stuff but he wants to use it to represent the vulnerability of people's hearts. This is the third song written by him which has been selected to be a drama theme song.

Source: Sanspo

Matsuyama Kenichi & Kitagawa Keiko appear at PR event for their new movie "No You na Mono No You na Mono"

Matsuyama Kenichi and Kitagawa Keiko appeared in traditional Japanese clothing at the PR event with their co-star Ito Katsunobu and the director Sugiyama Taichi for their new movie "No You na Mono No You na Mono" at Shinjuku Suehirotei on 20 December. The movie which is the sequel to the late Morita Yoshimitsu's debut movie "No You na Mono", will be shown in cinemas from 16 January 2016 and is set in Yanaka, Tokyo. Matsuyama plays a rakugo performer Dearu Shinda who tries to get his senior Shingyo to get back on stage with him and starts living with him.

Matsuyama commented that the movie is like an espresso where the characters pour their youth into rakugo and there is a bitter aftertaste. Ito described that life depicted in the movie is somewhat like bowling where you have to go straight at times and go around bends at times. Kitagawa who is the only actress in the film, revealed that she has finally realised that rakugo is a fashionable art and you need to have the talent in order to excel in this. She was also full of praise for Matsuyama who was chatting to her one minute and immediately rattled off lines for 10 minutes during the filming so she thought that he had practiced so much that he seemed possessed.

As the day was also Morita's death anniversary, the cast and director also held a premium screening at Shinjuku Picadilly on the same day which was attended by Nomura Hironobu as well as Ono Takayasu and Kobayashi Masahiro who acted in the original movie in 1981. Matsuyama then changed into a suit while Kitagawa changed into a black and green dress for the screening event. Kitagawa recounted her interaction with Morita in the past that she was assigned a different role in "Mamiya Kyoudai" which was Morita's film in 2006 despite preparing for another role during the audition and was a bit upset about it. To make things worse, when she asked Morita then if he knew her, he said no thus making Kitagawa feel that she had no chance of landing a role in his movie. On the contrary, she was selected to be part of the cast and was treated very warmly by Morita during the filming.


Thanksgiving event of movie "Haha to Kuraseba"

The thanksgiving event of movie "Haha to Kuraseba" was held at Shinjuku Picadilly on 21 December which was attended by the leads Yoshinaga Sayuri and Ninomiya Kazunari as well as the director Yamada Koji. The movie accumulated total audience visits of 600,000 up to 21st December and total box office receipts have broken the 700 million yen mark. The movie has also achieved the No.1 spot on the Pia satisfaction ranking. During the event, rugby player Goromaru Ayumu who was also from Waseda University like Yoshinaga, sent a congratulatory video message for his senior.


Takeuchi Yuko & Hashimoto Ai appear at special talk event for new movie "Zane ~ Sundewa Ikenai Heya ~"

The special talk event for new movie "Zane ~ Sundewa Ikenai Heya ~ " (Zane ~ The Place which you should not stay at ~) was held at Namba Parks in Osaka on 17 December which was attended by the leads Takeuchi Yuko and Hashimoto Ai as well as the director Nakamura Yoshihiro. Despite the weather being a freezing 2 degrees Celsius, 700 people came for the talk show.

As it is nearing Christmas, the actresses were asked about their memories of Christmas. However, Takeuchi said that ever since she and her siblings fought over the presents, there were no more coming from Santa in subsequent years. For Hashimoto too, she has no fond memories of Christmas because her birthday is 12 January which is rather close to Christmas so she usually gets a 2-in-1 present (for Christmas and her birthday).

The movie which is based on the novel by Ono Fuyumi, features Takeuchi as a novelist and the narrator of the movie addressed as "Watashi" while Hashimoto plays Kubo who is an university student and reader of the former's novels. When the novelist receives a letter from Kubo about the apartment she is staying at now having strange sounds, the two of them start investigating out of curiosity and uncover a frightening story which happened more than 10 years ago.

Takeuchi admitted that she gets scared by the Japanese horror stories even though she is OK with watching zombie movies. As such, it took her a month just to finish the script as it was too scary to read. During the movie's screening at the Tokyo International Film Festival in October this year, Takeuchi sneaked out before the movie was over because she was too scared to watch it. However, she made sure that she stayed till the end of the movie for this round's screening. Hashimoto also stressed that for people who don't like horror movies, they can watch this as a human tragedy as it depicts the lengths that people can go to in their moment of madness.

The movie will be shown in cinemas from 30 January 2016.


Abe Natsumi & Yamazaki Ikusaburo to get married this year

Former Morning Musume member Abe Natsumi and actor Yamazaki Ikusaburo are said to be getting married within this year as reported in the media on 21 December. When asked about the news, their agencies both commented that this is their private matter and will leave things to them but did not deny the rumours. The couple met through the set of stage play "Arashigaoka" in July 2011 where they played a married couple and were romantically linked since August the same year after being said to have kissed multiple times during the celebration party to mark the end of their stage play. They were also caught going on a date in September 2012 with two of their friends. Despite their agencies never having admitted to them being an item, the couple had been dating for the past four years.

Abe left Morning Musume in January 2004 after she joined the group as its first generation members in 1997 and became a solo singer and actress after that. With her impending marriage, all 5 members from the first generation of MM are attached. As for Yamazaki, he is a regular in many musicals and stage plays and was recently seen in the TBS Autumn 2015 drama "Shitamachi Rocket".

Coincidentally, Yamamoto Koji and Horikita Maki who got married this year also acted in the same play during May 2015 although Yamamoto played the lover of the married heroine, not the husband.

Source: Oricon / Nikkansports

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Kamiki Ryunosuke & Kadowaki Mugi team up in new movie "Taiyo"

Kamiki Ryunosuke and Kadowaki Mugi will be the leads in the new movie "Taiyo" which is due to be shown from 23 April. The movie which is based on the stage play by "Gekidan Ikiume" led by Maekawa Tomohiro, is directed by Irie Yu whose previous works included "Joker Game".

The story is set in the early days of the 21st century where the human population has greatly decreased due to bio-terror. As a result, there are two types of human beings i.e.  the new breed called Nokusu and the old breed named Kyurio. The Nokusu cannot withstand sunlight and lives at night only but they are in control of the resources, lord it over the Kyurio, have young bodies and high intelligence. On the other hand, the Kyurio are suffering due to the fight against the Nokusu and live in poverty. One day, when a Kyurio man kills a Nokusu person, this leads to economic sanctions against the Kyurio thus making the conditions tougher for them. In the midst of this, Okudera Tetsuhiko (Kamiki) aspires to join the Nokusu society despite being a Kyurio while his childhood friend Ikuta Yui (Kadowaki) hates the Nokusu and wants to resurrect her ailing hometown. Co-stars also include Furukawa Yuki, Ayata Toshiki, Mizuta Koki, Takahashi Kazuya, Moriguchi Yoko and Murakami Jun.

Before the release of the movie, the novel version of Taiyo will be published in February 2016 by KADOKAWA.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Special screening event of new WOWOW drama "Arechi no Koi"

The special screening event of new WOWOW drama "Arechi no Koi" was held at Tokyo International Forum on 17 December which was attended by the leads Toyokawa Etsushi and Suzuki Kyoka and the director Watanabe Takayoshi. The drama which is based on Naoki Award winner Nejime Shoichi's long novel, features Toyokawa as Kitazawa Taro, a poet who works at a news agency and gets into a forbidden relationship with his best friend's wife Akiko (Suzuki).

Toyokawa and Suzuki last worked together about 10 years ago so when asked to comment about their collaboration this time, he said that he was very honoured to work with her since she has become such a famous actress who everyone knows of. In addition, he also praised her for being charming as her character. In response to his praises, Suzuki said that it was a pleasant experience to work with Toyokawa and that he was able to bring out the essence of his character in the drama. Director Watanabe revealed that he had brought up the proposal to adapt the novel into a drama to the author Nejime 7 years ago so he was happy to see this project finally materialise and that Nejime also attended the event to support them.

The drama which consists of 5 episodes, will be showed on WOWOW Prime from 9 January at 10pm on Saturdays.


Completion press conference of new movie "Everest Kamigami no Itadaki"

The completion press conference of new movie "Everest Kamigami no Itadaki" was held at Meiji Kinenkan on 14 December which was attended by the main cast members Okada Junichi, Abe Hiroshi and Ono Macihiko and the director Hirayama Hideyuki. The movie which is based on the bestseller novel by Yumemakura Baku which had won the 11th Shibata Renzaburo Award, is the first Japanese movie to be shot on Mount Everest.

Recalling the filming, Okada commented that the experience has changed his values as an actor as he aims for overcoming his limits more so than before and tries to think about what kind of acting would make the audience feel touched. Having to film at the height of 5,200m above sea level was very difficult as Abe revealed that there was no way to bathe and there were no toilets at that height. At night, it was difficult and scary to sleep because of the low oxygen levels so that place was a somewhat abnormal world to him but they managed to persevere and overcome the odds. As for Ono, she recounted that she was told that a person would lose about 3kg in weight at that height due to the atmospheric pressure but she found herself to have gained 3kg instead. Okada then complimented Ono for being tougher than any of the cast and crew which made her very pleased with herself. The director Hirayama commented that there was no way for them to resort to camera tricks so whatever viewers see in the movie is like a documentary of the three actors presented in the most realistic way as possible.

When asked about what they would like to do in the new year so as to cross their limits, Okada said that he wishes to go back to Everest again to see the beautiful sights there. As for Ono, she wants to go back to Everest but it doesn't have to be necessarily done next year. Abe then revealed that he actually finished his part first and wanted to wait for Okada to finish before they descended the mountain. However, he was so tired that he took the helicopter down first. In view of this experience, he hoped that he won't have to go through something as tough as this again next year which led to the media laughing at his joke.

The movie will be shown in cinemas from 12 March 2016.


Abe Hiroshi wraps up filming for TBS Autumn 2015 drama "Shitamachi Rocket"

Abe Hiroshi made a live appearance on TBS morning variety programme "Ousama no Brunch" on 19 Dec, hours after he wrapped up filming for the ongoing drama "Shitamachi Rocket" which is about to air its final episode the following night. He revealed that he had been filming at Chigasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture right up to 4.30am and reached the TBS HQ in Akasaka, Tokyo, at 8.20am in order to make it for the morning broadcast. During the journey, although he had taken a brief nap, it was still tough on him to go without sleep and stay alert for the live show.

Abe revealed that the scene shot at Chigasaki featured him and Koizumi Kotaro who played Shiina Naoyuki. That scene spanned 25 pages in the script thus there were so many lines that the two of them had to say. In addition, the director wanted to take shots from different angles thus the same scene was repeated as many as more than 10 times.

Looking back at the 3-month filming period, Abe commented that he had never got angry, cried, lamented and pleaded so much in such a short time. As for the final episode, he said that the central theme of good prevailing over evil will be wrapped up in such a way that the tension built up so far can be released in a satisfactory manner. He also expressed his happiness at getting this role even as he has hit 50 and thinks that this drama has re-ignited the passion within him so he sees this production as something very special to him.

Source: Sponichi

Top 10 movies with the highest box-office takings in 2015 (Oricon)

Numbers in brackets indicate the total box-office takings in Japanese yen:

1) Jurassic World (9.5 billion)

2) Baymax / Big Hero 6 (9.18 billion)

3) Youkai Watch (7.8 billion)

4) Bakemono no Ko (5.85 billion)

5) Cinderella (5.73 billion)

6) Minions (5.23 billion)

7) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (5.11 billion)

8) HERO (4.67 billion)

9) Meitantei Conan Gouka no Himawari (4.48 billion)

10) Inside Out (4.03 billion)

Source: Oricon

Friday, December 18, 2015

Top 10 actors who made a breakthrough in 2015 (Oricon)

Results derived from survey conducted by Oricon on 1,000 respondents in their teens to 50s:

Overall Top 10
1) Kubota Masataka
2) Fukushi Sota
3) Suzuki Ryohei
4) Yamazaki Kento
5) Ayano Go
6) Nishijima Hidetoshi
7) Suda Masaki
8) Sakaguchi Kentaro
9) Saito Takumi
10) Matsuzaka Tori

Top 10 selected by women
1) Kubota Masataka
2) Yamazaki Kento
3) Fukushi Sota
4) Suzuki Ryohei
5) Suda Masaki
6) Ayano Go
7) Sakaguchi Kentaro
8) Nomura Shuhei
9) Matsusaka Tori
10) Saito Takumi

Top 10 selected by men
1) Fukushi Sota
2) Kubota Masataka
3) Nishijima Hidetoshi
4) Suzuki Ryohei
5) Yamazaki Kento
6) Ayano Go
7) Saito Takumi
8) Suda Masaki
9) Matsuzaka Tori
10) Sometani Shota

Source: Oricon

Arimura Kasumi to take on the lead role in new movie "Natsumi no Hotaru"

Arimura Kasumi will be taking on the lead role in the new movie "Natsumi no Hotaru" (Natsumi's firefly) which is due to be shown in early summer next year. The movie which is based on the same-titled novel published by Morisawa Akio in 2010, is directed by Hiroki Ryuichi who was also responsible for "Strobe Edge" which Arimura also starred in. Co-stars include Kudo Asuka.

Arimura plays the lead character Natsumi who aspires to be a photographer but is troubled about her career and her relationship with her boyfriend. While on a trip to a place where she saw fireflies with her late father, she meets an elderly parent and the child. Together with her boyfriend who comes in search of her, Natsumi discovers the beauty of nature and the importance of family relationships, friendships and love.

Source: Nikkansports

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ninomiya Kazunari, Kiritani Mirei & Narimiya Hiroki to join the cast of movie "Ansatsu Kyoshitsu ~ Sotsugyo Hen ~"

Arashi's Ninomiya Kazunari, Kiritani Mirei and Narimiya Hiroki will be joining the cast of new movie "Ansatsu Kyoshitsu ~ Sotsugyo Hen" which is due to be shown in cinemas from 25 March 2016. The movie featuring Hey! Say! JUMP's Yamada Ryosuke, is set in a junior high school's Class 3E who has a new form teacher named Koro Sensei that looks like an octopus and the students are ordered to kill the teacher using various ways. The three actors will be appearing in flashback scenes. Ninomiya will play the Death God before he was turned into Koro Sensei while Kiritani plays the former form teacher of Class 3E named Yukimura Aguri. Narimiya will play the scientist Yanagisawa Kotaro who was responsible for transforming the Death God into Koro Sensei.

Ninomiya who had appeared in the previous "Ansatsu Kyoshitsu" as the voice actor for Koro Sensei, commented that he had not taken on any action scenes since the movie "GANTZ" five years ago so he thinks that this will be a selling point for fans this time. As for Kiritani, she was excited about wearing the strange clothes that Aguri wore in the manga while Narimiya expressed anticipation at seeing the final version of the movie when it is completed.

Source: Sponichi

Asari Yosuke announces his marriage through his blog

Actor Asari Yosuke announced his marriage through his blog on 17 December. In the statement, he revealed that he has married his girlfriend who he knew while in university and they started dating a few years ago. They then decided that it was time to get married this year.

Asari made his debut as a child actor and appeared in dramas such as "Kids War". He is due to be seen in next year's Taiga "Sanadamaru" as Kobayakawa Hideaki.

In the ending remarks, Asari pledged to work even harder as an actor and hopes to improve on his craft in time to come.

Source: Sponichi

Oguri Shun to appear in TV Tokyo Winter 2016 drama "Tokyo Sentimental"

Oguri Shun will be appearing in the upcoming TV Tokyo Winter 2016 drama "Tokyo Sentimental" starring Ysohida Kotaro in his first leading role in a drama. The drama which begins its run from 15 January 2016 in the Fridays 12.12am timeslot, features Yoshida as the owner of a traditional wagashi maker who has been divorced thrice and describes how he comes to fall in love with the women he meets one after another. Oguri plays the role of a soba restaurant owner who is the romance adviser of Yoshida's character.

With regard to his appearance in this drama, Oguri joked that Yoshida "forced" him to act in the drama and said that the lead character seems to be specially tailored for the latter as they are both exactly the same. Oguri and Yoshida became close friends after they worked on a stage play in 2004. Ever since then, whenever Yoshida has a new romantic interest, he would introduce the lady to Oguri who would then assess whether she would be suitable for Yoshida. As such, Yoshida said that the exchanges between them in the drama are reflective of what they talk about in real life.

The first lady of interest in the drama will be played by Kusakari Tamiyo who used to be a ballerina.

Source: Sanspo

Wakui Emi to join the cast of FujiTV TV Winter 2016 drama "Otousan to yobasete"

Wakui Emi will be joining the cast of FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Otousan to yobasete" which will begin its run from 19 January 2016 in the Tuesdays 10pm timeslot. This will be her first time in 12 years to work with Watabe Atsuro when they last appeared in the Autumn 2003 drama "Koibumi ~ Watashitachi ga aishita Otoko ~". Wakui will be taking on the role of Shizuka, Hanasawa Kiichiro's (Watabe) wife and Miran's (Renbutsu Misako) mother who is supportive of her husband's career and takes good care of her three children. However, she has a secret which is unknown to her family and it slowly gets revealed after Miran introduces her boyfriend Tamotsu (Endo Kenichi) to the family.

Wakui commented that she is eagerly looking forward to working with Watabe again in this drama but feels a bit nervous about doing comedy. Nonetheless, she will try her best to meet up to expectations.

Source: Sponichi

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2 new features on the blog

As you may have noticed, I have added two new features on the right side of the blog i.e. the Featured Post and Popular Posts sections.

The Featured Post is used to highlight important announcements made through the blog so you don't have to go through the archives to search for it. For now, I've put the post which mentions how to contact me via PM on the blog's Facebook fanpage so please refer to that if need be.

The other section "Popular Posts" features the top 10 most popular posts in the last 30 days (rather than top 10 most popular all time as set earlier since the ranking hardly changes due to the older posts having accumulated a huge headstart over the newer posts) and will automatically be changed when there are posts which have become more or less popular among the readers here. It might be a good starting point for new followers of this blog who are keen to read what were popular in the past. Even for existing followers, you can see what topics were popular with the audience here.

If you have any comments about these features, please feel free to leave them here or through the Facebook page!

First episode screening event of NHK Taiga "Sanadamaru"

The first episode screening event of NHK's 2016 Taiga "Sanadamaru" was held at its HQ on 14 Dec which was attended by its lead Sakai Masato. The drama which will begin its run from 10 January 2016 in the Sundays 8pm timeslot, will be written by Mitani Koki and narrated by NHK announcer Udo Yumiko who is the first in 25 years to do this.

Sakai commented during the event that with this screening event, he finally felt as if he is embarking on a journey out to sea and looks forward to bringing everyone along. When asked about the poor ratings of the recent Taiga dramas such as "Hana Moyu" and "Taira no Kiyomori" which are tied at the last place for the lowest average rating of 12.0% over their entire run, Sakai quoted a phrase which was said by his character Sanada Yukimura that "people who don't think about winning and losing are the scariest" and said that he is confident about the ratings going up. Although he, his co-stars and staff are determined to make something which will please the viewers, he also said that if they are too caught up with the ratings, they will just end up making something which will be boring. As such, they will focus their efforts on making something that they themselves also find interesting rather than worry about the numbers.

Source: Nikkansports / Sanspo