Saturday, January 31, 2015

First-day-event of new movie "Tsukuroi Tatsu Hito"

The first-day-event of new movie "Tsukuroi Tatsu Hito" was held on 31 Jan which was attended by cast members such as Nakatani Miki, Miura Takahiro and Kuroki Haru and the director Mishima Yukiko. The movie which is based on the manga by Ikebe Aoi, features Nakatani as Ichie, the second-generation owner of a tailor shop in Kobe started by her grandmother who is able to bring about changes in her customers through the clothes she makes. Although she knew nothing much about tailoring prior to acting in this movie, Nakatani took a month to practise using the sewing machine and learn tailoring techniques to prepare for her role. Nakatani was able to perfect her skills to the extent that she even managed to make a poncho for the director by the time the filming was over. Mishima commented that she was very pleased with the gift and will treasure it while Nakatani jokingly said that she chose to make a poncho because it was the easiest to sew.

During the event, Nakatani and Kuroki also teased Miura for being a "rain-man" (i.e. a person who appears whenever it's raining as if he/she is the one who "brought" the rain there) where Nakatani remarked that she was thinking that Miura shouldn't come to the first-day-event in case the weather turned out to be as bad as the previous day when it snowed in the Kanto region. Miura replied with a smile that he was glad that the snowy weather ended yesterday and the movie could start its run on a good note with the fine weather today.

Source: Sponichi

FujiTV's most popular Gekku dramas ranking (Facebook)

FujiTV conducted a survey through its Facebook page asking Internet users to select their No.1 Gekku drama over the past 20 years i.e. from 1995 to the current season's offering "Date" and the results were concluded this morning at 8am (Japan time). A total of 628 votes were received and it seems like they did accept multiple titles selected by a single user because that's what I did (I chose 5 titles). Is your favourite in this ranking too?

The dramas which I voted for are in bold, numbers in brackets indicate the number of votes while the year when the drama was shown is displayed after the title. Unfortunately, Love Revolution and Beginner did not make the top 20 list. Note that for dramas with multiple installments such as HERO and Galileo, the votes were counted together rather than attributed to the specific parts. For such "combined" titles, I put down the multiple years when the series were shown in:

1) Long Vacation - 1996 (87)
2) HERO - 2001 & 2014 (56)
3) Yamato Nadeshiko - 2000 (34)
4) Nodame Cantabile - 2006 (33)
5) Galileo - 2007 & 2013 (22) / Tokyo Love Story - 1991 / Love Generation - 1997
8) Hitotsu Yane no Shita - 1993 & 1997 (20)
9) Pride - 2004 (18) / Buzzer Beat - 2009
11) Beach Boys - 1997 (16)
12) Nagareboshi - 2010 (15)
13) Proposal Daisakusen - 2007 (14) / Hito ni Yasashiku - 2002
15) Code Blue - 2010 (12)
16) Lunch no Joou - 2002 (12)
17) Shitsuren Chocolatier - 2014 (10) / Sora kara furu Ichioku no Hoshi - 2002
19) Watashi ga renai dekinai riyuu - 2011 (9)
20) Rich Man, Poor Woman - 2012 (8) / 101-kaime no Proposal - 1991 / Asunaro Hakusho - 1992

There were some "outliers" where dramas before 1995 were also selected such as Asunaro Hakusho, 101-kaime no Proposal and Tokyo Love Story. Of the 22 titles in the top 20, 7 were in the pre-2000 era, 6 were from 2000 to 2005 while the remaining 9 were after 2005. Does this show that the newer dramas were better and more popular? Not necessarily so because you have to "Like" the FujiTV Facebook page before you get to see this poll so for those who have not done so, they wouldn't have been able to vote. Moreover, some past polls I've seen about FujiTV's Gekku show a stronger representation from the pre-2005 dramas which suggests that the titles from recent years didn't make such a great impact. If this survey was done through other mediums, the results might have turned out differently.

Source: FujiTV's Facebook Page

Friday, January 30, 2015

Press conference of NHK drama SP "Kouhaku ga umareta hi"

The press conference of NHK drama SP "Kouhaku ga umareta hi" (The day when the Kouhaku was born) was held on 29 Jan which was attended by the cast members Matsuyama Kenichi, Honda Tsubasa, miwa, Takahashi Katsumi, Kobayashi Takashi, Ozora Yuhi, Hoshino Gen and Rokkaku Seiji. The drama SP set in the post-WWII era which will be shown on 21 March at 9pm, features Matsuyama as a director who strived to set up the radio show "Kouhaku Ongaku Shiai", the predecessor of the TV version of Kouhaku. Although filming started this month, the cast had to wear summer clothing as the story was set in the summer from 15 August 1945 which was the day following the end of WWII. Despite having to bear the shivering cold, Matsuyama commented that he couldn't complain since the child actors even had to wear shorts so he wasn't in such a bad situation after all. As preparation for this SP, Matsuyama volunteered to attend the Kouhaku rehearsal last year to get a feel of what was involved in producing the programme and hoped that the hour spent there would be useful in helping him convey the passion put into the making of Kouhaku.

Source: Sanspo

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sakai Masato to take the leading role in NTV Spring 2015 drama "Dr. Rintaro"

Sakai Masato will be returning to dramaland with his leading role in the NTV Spring 2015 drama "Dr. Rintaro" where he plays a sought-after psychiatrist named Hino Rintaro who uses his observation powers and instinct to help his patients overcome their psychiatric issues. The drama will be written by Nakazono Miho who had produced recent hits like "Doctor X" and "Hanako to Anne". Besides helping his patients, there will also be a main story about the relationship between Rintaro and a woman who he cannot understand and interact well with. As this is Nakazono's first collaboration with Sakai, she hoped that the character Rintaro will help bring some much-needed mental consolation and relief to modern Japan and looks forward to working with Sakai as she is a big fan of his.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Suzuki Ami & Takaoka Sosuke go their separate ways

Suzuki Ami and Takaoka Sosuke have broken up, as revealed by the latter himself during a press conference for his play "Aku" on 28 Jan where he plays the leading role. Takaoka was asked by the reporters about the status of his relationship with Suzuki when he stated that they are no longer dating.

Suzuki and Takaoka were first romantically linked in a tabloid report published in 2012 after his divorce from Miyazaki Aoi. The two of them were rumoured to have broken up previously but were seen again on a date to watch a baseball game in September last year. Takaoka stated that they are still good friends even after the breakup.

Source: Nikkansports

Tanaka Rena to star in FujiTV drama SP "Sanmen Kiji no Onntachi - Ai no Su -"

Tanaka Rena will be starring in the FujiTV drama SP "Sanmen Kiji no Onnatachi - Ai no Su -" (The Women on Page 3 - The Nest of Love) which will be shown on 20 February at 9pm. This is the first time Tanaka is acting in a FujiTV 2-hour drama SP.

The drama SP is based on a novel by Kakuta Mitsuyo about a real-life case reported in Page 3 of the newspaper (this is the section where police news or news of criminal cases are reported). Tanaka plays a workaholic news reporter Hasebe Shoko who had witnessed her mother, a housewife, killing her husband i.e. Shoko's father right in front of her 18 years ago. As a result, Shoko was very much traumatised and always wonders if she might kill someone one day.

Source: Sanspo

Preview of "Tenshi no Knife" - WOWOW

Title: Tenshi no Knife 天使のナイフ (The Angel's Knife)
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 22 February 2015
Timeslot: Sundays 10pm
Total number of episodes: 5
Broadcast by: WOWOW
Original novel by: Yakumaru Gaku
Cast: Koide Keisuke, Kurashina Kana, Fujimoto Izumi, Chiba Yudai, Machida Keita, Shimizu Hiroya, Kitamura Takumi, Wada Masato, Tezuka Toru, Wakamura Mayumi, Lasar Ishii, Sakurai Reika, Nishino Nanase, Matsumura Sayuri

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Preview of "Garasu no Ashi" - WOWOW

Title: Garasu no Ashi 硝子の葦
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 21 February 2015
Timeslot: Saturdays 10pm
Total number of episodes: 4
Broadcast by: WOWOW
Original novel by: Sakuragi Shino
Cast: Aibu Saki, Ozawa Yukiyoshi, Okuda Eiji, Nakamura Yuri, Morikawa Aoi, Watanabe Konomi, Chiba Tetsuya, Kino Hana, Takigawa Yumi

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Preview of "Totsuki Tooka no Shinkaron" - WOWOW

Title: Totsuki Tooka no Shinkaron 十月十日の進化論 (The Evolution Theory of 10 months and 10 days)
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 28 March 2015, 10pm
Broadcast by: WOWOW
Scriptwriter: Sakae Yayoi (Winner of the 7th WOWOW Scenario Award)
Cast: Ono Machiko, Tanaka Kei, Denden, Lily, Sasaki Sumie, Saiki Shigeru, Sato Hitomi, Shimada Kyusaku, Shiga Kotaro

Completion press conference of movie "Itamu Hito"

The completion press conference of new movie "Itamu Hito" was held on 26 Jan which was attended by the cast members Ishida Yuriko, Koura Kengo, Shiina Kippei, Ootake Shinobu and Kanjiya Shihori as well as the director Tsutsumi Yukihiko. The movie which will be shown in cinemas from 14 Feb, is based on the Naoki Award-winning novel by Tendou Arata which features Koura as Shizuto who embarks on a journey to mourn the dead and Ishida as Yukiyo, a former inmate who had killed her husband and the two happen to meet at the place where the murder had taken place. Yukiyo then follows Shizuto on his journey to discover the meaning of life, death and mourning. When asked about their intimate scene in the movie, Koura said that to sum it up, he only had the word "passion" to describe it while Ishida commented that Koura spoke what she wanted to say so she couldn't find an alternative word for her answer.

Source: Sponichi

Shinohara Ryoko to play Yukihara Natsumi again in final movie of "Unfair"

Shinohara Ryoko will be back as the police detective Yukihara Natsumi in the last movie of the "Unfair" series which is due to be shown in September. The movie which is titled "Unfair the end" continues from the last installment "Unfair the answer" in 2011, will also bring back regulars such as Sato Koichi, Abe Sadao, Kato Masaya, Terajima Susumu and AKB48's Mukaichi Mion who had played Yukihara's daughter 8 years ago when she was only 7 years old. Mukaichi who was a child actor and made her debut in the "Unfair" series, stopped her career due to her junior high entrance exams and entered showbiz again by joining AKB48 in 2013.

The "Unfair" series began as a drama series shown on FujiTV back in January 2006 and had one SP in October the same year and two movies in 2007 and 2011. However, the last movie in 2011 which achieved ticket sales of JPY 2.34 billion, did not answer questions such as who had killed Yukihara's father so the final movie is expected to tie up all the loose ends.

Filming began from 20 Jan.

Source: Sanspo 1 / Sanspo 2

Mitsushima Shinnosuke gets married to elder sister Hikari's manager

Mitsushima Shinnosuke married his elder sister Hikari's manager at the end of last year, as reported on 26 Jan. Shinnosuke who joined the same agency as Hikari in December 2009, came to know his wife who is 7 years older than him then but they only started dating about one and a half years ago. According to the article, the couple have already started living together and his wife will continue working as Hikari's manager as per before.

Source: Sanspo

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Preview of "Second Love" - Winter 2015

Title: Second Love セカンド・ラブ
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 6 Feb 2015
Timeslot: Fridays 11.15pm
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Scriptwriter: Oishi Shizuka
Cast: Kamenashi Kazuya, Fukada Kyoko, Hayami Akari, Koshiba Fuka, Onuki Yusuke, Akiyama Natsuko, Terajima Susumu, Aso Yumi, Namase Katsuhisa

Winners of the 57th Blue Ribbon Awards (2015)

Best Movie: Chou Kousoku! Sankin Koutai

Best Director: Oh Mibo (Soko nomi nite hikari kagayaku)

Best Leading Actor: Asano Tadanobu (Watashi no Otoko)

Best Leading Actress: Ando Sakura (0.5mm / Hyakuen no Koi)

Best Supporting Actor: Ikematsu Sosuke (Kami no Tsuki / Umi wo Kanjiru Toki / Bokutachi no Kazoku)

Best Supporting Actress: Kobayashi Satomi (Kami no Tsuki)

Best Newcomer: Koshiba Fuka (Majo no Takkyubin)

Best Foreign Film: Jersey Boys

Source: Cinema Today

Screening event of TV Tokyo drama SP "Eien no Zero"

The screening event of TV Tokyo drama SP "Eien no Zero" was held on 23 Jan which was attended by the cast members Mukai Osamu, Tabe Mikako, Kiritani Kenta, Hirosue Ryoko, Ito Shiro, Nakao Akiyoshi, Mitsushima Shinnosuke, Kaku Kento, Kanai Yuta, Watanabe Dai and Nakamura Aoi. The drama SP which is based on the same-titled novel by Hyakuta Naoki and had a movie adaptation starring Okada Junichi released in December 2013, will be shown on 11th, 14th and 15th February.

As this was Mukai's first public appearance after he got married to Kuninaka Ryoko on 28 December, the media offered their congratulations to him which he acknowledged but did not comment further on it. With regard to his character's short marriage life due to being enlisted for the war, Mukai said that even though his character did not spend a lot of time with his family, it was something which couldn't be helped as he had to go to war to protect them in another way. Hirosue commented during the event that hopefully through this drama SP, it will make the public see that TV Tokyo has more to offer than just the hit anime "Youkai Watch" and that Mukai is as good as Okada in the lead role.

Source: Sanspo

Tamaki Hiroshi & Domoto Koichi to star in FujiTV drama SP "Tensai Tantei Mitarai ~ Nankai Jiken File [Kasa wo oru onna]"

Tamaki Hiroshi and KinKi Kids' Domoto Koichi will be starring in the FujiTV drama SP "Tensai Tantei Mitarai ~ Nankai Jiken File [Kasa wo oru onna]" which will be shown on 7 March at 9pm. The drama SP which is based on the mystery novel series "Mitarai Kiyoshi Series" by Shimada Soji, features Tamaki Hiroshi as a neurology scholar and genius detective Mitarai Kiyoshi who works with his writer friend Ishioka played by Domoto to solve difficuly cases. This will be the first time in 8 years that Domoto is appearing in a drama since his last appearance in 2007's "Sushi Oji". Although both Tamaki and Domoto appeared in the 2002 drama "Remote", they did not have any scenes together thus this will be their first official collaboration.

The story starts with Ishioka hearing about a strange tale through a radio programme where a woman in a white dress was said to have had her umbrella bent by a car while she was walking in the rain. However, instead of dumping the spoilt umbrella, the woman still carried the umbrella with her. Upon hearing about this strange incident, Mitarai realises that it has to do with a case and tries to solve it with the help of his buddy and two police detectives played by Katsumura Masanobu and Sakai Maki.

Source: Sanspo

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Preview of "Genkai Shuraku Kabushikigaisha" - Winter 2015

Title: Genkai Shuraku Kabushikigaisha 限界集落株式会社
Official website: here
Official blog: here
O.A. Start Date: 31 January 2015
Timeslot: Saturdays 9pm
Broadcast by: NHK
Original novel by: Kurono Shinichi
Cast: Sorimachi Takashi, Tanihara Shosuke, Matsuoka Mayu, Kato Toranosuke, Suzuki Kosuke, Shibamoto Ko, Inoue Waka, Furuta Shinta, Dankan, Hiraizumi Sei, Nagayama Aiko

Monday, January 12, 2015

Production press conference and special screening event of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Ouroboros"

The production press conference and special screening event of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Ouroboros" was held on 11 Jan which was attended by cast members such as Ikuta Toma, Oguri Shun, Ueno Juri and Hirosue Ryoko. The drama which begins its run from 16 Jan in the Fridays 10pm timeslot, is based on a popular manga which features Ikuta as Ryuzaki Ikuo and Oguri as Danno Tatsuya who were buddies at a child welfare facility and later grow up to be a police officer and gangster respectively. However, despite their seemingly opposite positions, they work together to find the killer of Hirosue's character Kashiwaba Yuiko who was a mother figure to them when they were living at the welfare facility. Ueno plays Ikuta's partner in the police force.

Ikuta revealed that when he first read the manga five years ago, he had been dying to do this with Oguri and was glad that his wish finally came true. Likewise, Oguri commented that he had been hearing about this from Ikuta for a long time so he was pleased that they achieved this goal. The two of them last worked together in the 2007 FujiTV drama "Hanazakari no Kimitachi e" and became close friends since then. Although it has been 8 years since they worked together, they had grown up quite a lot over the years so they can now rely on each other and perform well together.

In preparation for the action scenes, Ikuta went to South Korea where he received training for four days and also went for regular training sessions with Oguri at night.

During the event, it was also announced that the theme song of the drama will be sung by Arashi and released as their 45th single on 25 February. This is the first time that Arashi is singing the theme song for a drama where their members are not the leading actors. The song titled "Sakura" will be their first single of 2015 and is a up-tempo dance tune. Ikuta expressed his thanks for Arashi singing the theme song for his drama while Oguri commented that this is the 5th drama he is acting in which has a Arashi theme song and joked that he felt like he was also a Arashi member.

Hirosue commented during the event that she had been getting a lot of dead people roles recently but it was OK this time since she had Ikuta and Oguri trying to take revenge for her which led the audience to laugh at her remarks,

Source: Sponichi 1 / Sponichi 2 / Yomiuri Hochi

Production press conference and screening event of FujiTV Winter 2015 drama "Ghost Writer"

The production press conference and ladies-only screening event of FujiTV Winter 2015 drama "Ghost Writer" was held on 10 Jan which was attended by the cast members Nakatani Miki, Mizukawa Asami, Kimura Midoriko, Nanao, Miura Shohei, Tanaka Tetsushi, Ishibashi Ryo and Enami Kyoko. The drama which begins its run from 13 Jan in the Tuesdays 9pm timeslot, features Nakatani as a novelist who gets her assistant played by Mizukawa to be her ghost writer.

As preparation for her role, Nakatani watched the apology press conference held by Samurakochi Mamoru who had been found to use the music compositions of another person as his and came to the conclusion that although he seemed to be justifying his wrong actions, there was probably a side of him who really loved music. As such, Nakatani wants to project that side of her character who loves literature despite hiring someone to write under her name, In addition, as Nakatani herself is also a writer and has a regular essay column, she commented that she can understand the toughness of having writers' block as she would sometimes submit her work only when the deadline for her essay submission is almost due when she doesn't know what she should write.

With regard to the scene at the beginning of episode 1 where Nakatani and Mizukawa were fighting each other in the freezing rain where the temperature was below 5 degrees, there were actually stand-ins prepared for them but both actresses decided to do the scene themselves for reality's sake. However, as they got too serious about fighting each other in the rain, the tough experience was enough to make Mizukawa comment that she wouldn't want to do such a scene again because it was too cold and painful. Nonetheless, both of them were very pleased with the result and glad that they decided to do it themselves.

Source: Sanspo 1 / Sponichi / Sanspo 2

Preview of "Dakara Kouya" - Winter 2015

Title: Dakara Kouya だから荒野
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 11 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Sundays 10pm
Broadcast by: NHK
Original novel by: Kirino Natsuo
Cast: Suzuki Kyoka, Sugimoto Tetta, Hamada Tatsuomi, Maeda Koki, Shinagawa Toru, Takahashi Issei, Denden, Ono Yuriko, Izumiya Shigeru, Nakahara Hitomi, YOU, Tsutsui Mariko, Toyohara Kosuke, Sasano Takashi

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Completion press conference and screening event of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Ryusei Wagon"

The completion press conference and screening event of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Ryusei Wagon" was held on 10 Jan which was attended by the cast members Nishijima Hidetoshi, Kagawa Teruyuki, Yoshioka Hidetaka and Igawa Haruka. The drama which begins its run from 18 Jan in the Sundays 9pm timeslot, is based on the novel by Naoki Award winner Shigematsu Kiyoshi which features Nishijima as Nagata Kazuo who is faced with the double whammy of retrenchment and the breakdown of his family, At this juncture, Kazuo happens to ride a wagon with his father played by Kagawa which brings them back into the past. Igawa plays Nishijima's wife while Yoshioka plays the driver of the wagon. More than 6,000 applications for the screening event were received but only 200 people were selected in the end.

As the first episode alone took close to two months to produce and filming was only completed last week, it was also the first time that the cast saw the results of their hard work during the screening event. Nishijima said that he was so touched by the first episode that he cried. Kagawa also said that he was satisfied with the  end product and that having worked with Nishijima consecutively for three years (Double Face, MOZU) and knowing each other for 20 years were beneficial to helping them play father and son this time. In response, Nishijima joked that they have been together so much in the last three years and always ate the same things that they are looking more and more like each other especially from the side view.

Source: Sponichi

Theme song of "Zannen na Otto" to be sung by Unicorn

Unicorn will be singing the theme song for FujiTV Winter 2015 drama "Zannen na Otto" starring Tamaki Hiroshi which begins its run from 14 Jan in the Wednesdays 10pm timeslot. The song titled "Hai YES!" is Unicorn's first drama theme song and was released in a limited edition of their album "E ga Jagejoro" sold at 7-Eleven stores in March last year.

Tamaki Hiroshi plays a man who gets on the nerves of his wife as he still behaves childishly without sharing the responsibility of parenthood with his wife Kurashina Kana even after their child is born. As a result, his wife's attitude changes to one of harshness and coldness as he struggles to understand what brought about the change and tries to improve and shed his tag as an useless husband.

Source: Sponichi

Production press conference of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Masshiro"

The production press conference of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Masshiro" was held on 8 Jan which was attended by cast members such as Horikita Maki, Yagira Yuya, Kimura Tae, Shida Mirai and Takanashi Rin. The drama which begins its run from 13 Jan in the Tuesdays 10pm timeslot, is set in a high-class hospital where a group of young nurses try to survive in this tough environment nicknamed as the nurse version of "Ooku". Horikita plays a new nurse who is aiming to meet a rich man through her work and gets caught in the battle between nurses who try to get ahead of one another.

Source: Sanspo / Sponichi

Completion screening event of new movie "Joker Game"

The completion screening event of new movie "Joker Game" was held on 8 Jan which was attended by the cast members KAT-TUN's Kamenashi Kazuya, Fukada Kyoko, Iseya Yusuke and the director Irie Yu. The movie which will be shown in cinemas from 31 Jan, is based on a spy suspense novel which has sold more than 1 million copies to date and is set in a fictitious international city within Asia just before WWII where spies from various countries try to outsmart one another in the chaotic situation.

Kamenashi commented that it had been a tough filming experience especially as it took two full days before he and Fukada could finish filming an intimate scene where they were lying on hay and a cow was watching them. It was as if the cow could understand what was going on as it started to get really excited when they started filming and they had to wait for the cow to calm down before continuing with the scene.

Source: Model Press

Kobukuro to sing the theme song for TV Asahi Winter 2015 drama "DOCTORS 3"

Kobukuro will be singing the theme song for TV Asahi's Winter 2015 drama "DOCTORS 3" which began its run from 8 Jan in the Thursdays 9pm timeslot. The song "Kiseki" was written after the duo watched Part 1 and Part 2 several times. Kobukuro commented that even though they had written theme songs for dramas in the past, they usually relied on the script rather than watch the drama to find ideas so it was a refreshing experience for them and they even came up with 5 songs as a result. The leading cast members Sawamura Ikki and Takashima Masanobu also paid a surprise visit to the recording studio where Kobukuro was recording the theme song.

Source: Sponichi

Production press conference & screening of TV Tokyo Winter 2015 "Kaiki Renai Sakusen"

The production press conference and screening of TV Tokyo's Winter 2015 drama "Kaiki Renai Sakusen" was held on 8 Jan which was attended by Aso Kumiko, Nakamura Toru, Sakai Maki, Ogawa Tamaki and Keralino Sandrovich. The drama which begins its run from 9 Jan in the Fridays 12.12am timeslot, is written by Sandrovich who spent 2.5 years working on it and he also makes a return to acting in dramas for the first time in 8 years. Aso plays the lead character who can see supernatural phenomena and said that this drama is very different but hopes that viewers would be receptive of it. As for the ratings, Aso said that she is aiming for 3%.

Nakamura who plays Aso's childhood friend and provides much comical relief in the drama, commented that while filming this drama, it's a constant battle with his sense of embarrassment . In response to Aso's target of 3% for the ratings, he consoled himself by saying that it's OK if 97% of the viewers don't watch this drama so that they won't see what he had to put himself through. He even mentioned that he doesn't wish to promote this drama too much for fear that it would "affect" the type of roles he gets in future. In response, Sakai commented that Nakamura is a perfect match for his role but he told her not to say such things anymore because he doesn't want more people sharing her view.

Source: Sponichi

Press conference of NHK drama SP "Hatachi to Ippiki"

The press conference of NHK drama SP "Hatachi to Ippiki" was held on 7 Jan which was attended by the lead Suda Masaki. The drama will be shown on 17 Jan at 7.30pm and features Suda as the lead character who becomes a disaster rescue dog trainer after losing his parents due to the Hanshin Earthquake. Suda who comes from Osaka, was only 1 year old when the earthquake struck thus he went to ask his grandfather about what happened then in order to prepare for his role. When asked to comment about his co-star Haro which is a 7-year-old male labrador retriever, Suda said that Haro is usually quite smart but when he sees a ball, he puts on a blank face which was rather amusing to him.

Source: Sponichi

Production press conference of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Keibuho Sugiyama Shintaro"

The production press conference of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Keibuho Sugiyama Shintaro" was held on 7 Jan which was attended by cast members Tanihara Shosuke, Kaname Jun, Katase Nana, Sano Shiro, Takahashi Keiko and Honda Miyu. The drama which is scheduled to begin its run from 12 Jan, features Tanihara as the police detective Sugiyama Shintaro who has to juggle work and family as he has to take care of his three children alone due to his wife being sick. At the beginning of the press conference, the host specifically mentioned that the media should not ask anything unrelated to the drama (most likely in a bid to stop questions about Tanihara's 6th child being on the way) but Kaname remarked that it would be difficult for the media and encouraged them to ask questions freely.

Tanihara commented that he is very grateful and happy about his 6th child going to be born soon but said that it would be tougher, going forward. He is especially thankful to his wife who still has to take care of the household in her current state while he is busy with work. For him who has 6 children, he finds it especially meaningful to take on this father role, more so in his 20th anniversary year as an actor.

Source: Sponichi1 / Sponichi 2

Production press conference of FujiTV Winter 2015 drama "Mondai no aru Resutoran"

The production press conference of FujiTV Winter 2015 drama "Mondai no aru Resutoran" was held on 7 Jan at Omotesando Hills which was attended by cast members Maki Yoko, Higashide Masahiro, Takahata Mitsuki, Matsuoka Mayu, YOU, Sugimoto Tetta, Usuda Asami, Yasuda Ken, Fukikoshi Mitsuru and Tayama Ryosei. The drama which begins its run from 15 Jan in the Thursdays 10pm timeslot, is written by Sakamoto Yuji who last worked with Maki in the 2013 hit drama "Saikou no Rikon" and is set in Ura Harajuku. A group of women led by Maki's OL character face various issues in life and come together to open a restaurant there but are faced with competition from an all-men's restaurant. They try to keep their business alive while dealing with their own problems.

Maki who usually plays roles of cool women, will be a comedic character this time. As such, she tries to discuss with the director on the direction of her acting so as to get the feeling which the scriptwriter hopes to convey. She also expressed her "jealousy" towards Yasuda who gets to play a prettier character than hers who is not concerned with looking good.

As one of the major themes of this drama is the battle between men and women, the actresses were asked about which male character they dislike and everyone named Sugimoto's role in unison. In response, Sugimoto said that him being detestable is in the name of acting so he smilingly accepted their "criticism". As for the question on what kind of traits they dislike in men, Maki answered that men who would ask women for money without qualms were the worst and said that she had met someone like this before in the past.

As this was also the first public appearance of Higashide who got married on New Year's Day to An, there was a lot of media attention on him but he didn't comment about his marriage. When explaining how his character is like, Higashide said that he's a pretty cold person who believes firmly that he is right all the time and says bad things to people even though he doesn't do it on purpose. However, this is merely a facade to hide his insecurities and lack of confidence so Higashide said that he could identify with his character's "bad points".

Source: Sponichi 1 /  Sponichi 2

Completion press conference of FujiTV 55th anniversary drama SP "Orient Kyuukou Satsujin Jiken"

The completion press conference of FujiTV 55th anniversary drama SP "Orient Kyuukou Satsujin Jiken" was held on 5 Jan which was attended by Nomura Mansai, Matsushima Nanako, Ninomiya Kazunari, An, Tamaki Hiroshi, Sawamura Ikki, Sato Koichi and the scriptwriter Mitani Koki. The two-part SP will be shown on 11th and 12th Jan at 9pm and is based on the famous novel by Agatha Christie but has its setting changed to Japan in the Showa era. Mitani commented that he read the novel and saw the movie during his junior high days and kept wondering if there was anything hidden behind the story. As such, he was glad to be given a chance to use six full hours to explore the possibilities behind this well-known mystery.

Nomura who is in his first leading role in a private network drama, takes on the role of a detective Paulo Suguro Takeru and had a challenging scene lasting 15 minutes where he had to say very long lines. The filming took as long as from the morning till past midnight and his co-stars had to hear him speak most of the time during that period. Nomura remarked that it was such a test of their patience and he was so nervous about getting it done nicely and quickly. In response, Ninomiya revealed that he stumbled on his lines three times because of the pressure of speaking right after Nomura's lines as he had to get the timing correct. An also mentioned that after Nomura was done with his lines, the cast were clapping in unison to celebrate.

Mitani also made special mention of Sato who had to play the role of a victim and expressed his admiration for Sato's convincing acting. With response to that, Sato said that it was tough to play a dead person for 12 hours and he had to catch his breath whenever the camera wasn't filming him.

Source: Oricon

Tanihara Shosuke's 6th child to be born in April this year

Tanihara Shosuke's wife is currently pregnant with their 6th child, as reported on 6 Jan. She is said to be about 6 months into her pregnancy and will give birth in April this year. Tanihara, who got married in 2007, already has 3 sons and 2 daughters and is well-known as a hands-on father who is often seen at his children's school events or neighbourhood activities.

Tanihara is also on a roll in his career as this year is his 20th anniversary as an actor and he is in the leading role of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Keibuho Sugiyama Shintaro" as a police detective who has to raise three children on his own after his wife passed away. He will also be seen in the NHK drama series "Genkai Shuraku Kabushikigaisha" as part of the leading cast members.

Source: Sponichi

Production press conference of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Utsukushiki Wana ~ Zanka Ryoran ~"

The production press conference of TBS Winter 2015 drama "Utsukushiki Wana ~ Zanka Ryoran ~" was held on 6 January which was attended by the leading cast members Tanaka Rena, Wakamura Mayumi, Murakami Hiroaki and Aoyagi Sho. The drama which begins its run from 8 Jan and is based on the novel by Okabe Etsu, features Tanaka in her first leading role in a private network drama series in 7 years.

In this drama, Tanaka plays the role of an OL named Nishida Rika who is involved in an affair with her married superior Kashiwagi Sota (Murakami). She is faced with the threat of Kashiwagi's wife Mitsuko who tries to get back at her repeatedly and also faces a dilemma after knowing a young entrepreneur Ochiai Keiichi (Aoyagi) through an arranged meeting.

Source: Oricon

Preview of "Zenryoku Rikon Soudan" - Winter 2015

Title: Zenryoku Rikon Soudan 全力離婚相談
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 6 January 2015
Timeslot: Tuesdays 10pm
Broadcast by: NHK
Theme song: Ningyohime by Ando Yuko
Cast: Maya Miki, Kamiji Yusuke, Tachi Hiroshi, Taketomi Seika, Riju Go, Nakao Mie, Konoe Hana, Seki Megumi, Watanabe Tetsu

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Preview of "Gakkou no Kaidan" - Winter 2015

Title: Gakkou no Kaidan (学校のカイダン)
Official website: here
Official blog: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 10 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Saturdays 9pm
Broadcast by: NTV
Theme Song: Yuchouten by B'z
Cast: Hirose Suzu, Kamiki Ryunosuke, Ishibashi Anna, Sugisaka Hana, Suga Kenta, Mamiya Shotaro, Shirasu Jin, Shimizu Kurumi, Yoshikura Aoi, Iitoyo Marie, Kaneko Nobuaki, Nonami Maho, Kaneyama Kazuhiko, Izumiya Shigeru, Namase Katsuhisa, Asano Atsuko

Friday, January 09, 2015

Preview of "Ryusei Wagon" - Winter 2015

Title: Ryusei Wagon (流星ワゴン)
Official website: here
Official Facebook page: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 18 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Sundays 9pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Original novel by: Shigematsu Kiyoshi
Theme Song: Iya na koto darake no yo no naka de by Southern All Stars
Cast: Nishijima Hidetoshi, Kagawa Teruyuki, Igawa Haruka, Ichikawa Miwako, Takahashi Yo, Irie Jingi, Machida Keita, Takagi Serai, Yokoyama Kota, Sato Shion, Umegaki Hinako, Watanabe Makiko, Baisho Mitsuko, Yoshioka Hidetaka

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Preview of "Utsukushiki Wana ~ Zanka Ryoran ~" - Winter 2015

Title: Utsukushiki Wana ~ Zanka Ryoran 美しき罠 ~ 残花繚乱 ~
Official website: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 8 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Thursdays 9pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Original novel by: Okabe Etsu
Theme Song: Koiuta by Yasuda Rei
Cast: Tanaka Rena, Wakamura Mayumi, Aoyagi Sho, Miura Rieko, Takahashi Kaori, Yoshida Riko, Hiraizumi Sei, Ikehata Shinnosuke, Murakami Hiroaki

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Preview of "Keibuho Sugiyama Shintaro" - Winter 2015

Title: Keibuho Sugiyama Shintaro 警部補杉山真太郎
Official website: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 12 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Mondays 8pm
Broadcast by: TBS
Theme song: Sing It Loud by Generations from EXILE TRIBE
Cast: Tanihara Shosuke, Kaname Jun, Honda Miyu, Ishiguro Hideo, Kubota Yuki, Nagaike Natsuko, Enoki Takaaki, Suda Eito, Sakai Miki, Katase Nana, Sano Shiro, Takahashi Keiko

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Preview of "Mondai no aru Resutoran" - Winter 2015

Title: Mondai no aru Resutoran 問題のあるレストラン
Official website: here
Official blog: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 15 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Thursdays 10pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Theme Song: Mondai Girl by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Cast: Maki Yoko, Higashide Masahiro, Nikaido Fumi, Takahata Mitsuki, Suda Masaki, Tayama Ryosei, Matsuoka Mayu, Usuda Asami, You, Yasuda Ken, Fukikoshi Mitsuru, Sugimoto Tetta

Monday, January 05, 2015

SMAP to sing theme song for Winter 2015 drama "Zeni no Sensou"

SMAP will be releasing its first single of 2015 titled "Karei Naru Gyakushu" (The Magnificent Counterattack) which was written by Shiina Ringo and will be the theme song of FujiTV Winter 2015 drama "Zeni no Sensou" starring SMAP member Kusanagi Tsuyoshi.  This is the second SMAP song written by Shiina since "Manatsu no Datsugokusha" (The Midsummer Jailbreaker) released in SMAP's 2012 album "GIFT of SMAP".

"Zeni no Sensou" is based on a 2007 South Korean drama which features Kusanagi as an elite securities trader who falls from grace to be a debt-ridden homeless man and has his engagement broken off due to his father chalking up huge debts and committing suicide. He then enters a consumer finance company which is actually in the illegal loansharking business and tries to get out of his financial problems while being tempted by the power of money. At the same time, he is caught in a love triangle with his ex-fiancee played by Kimura Fumino and his mentor's daughter played by Oshima Yuko. Watabe Atsuro plays the owner of the consumer finance company while Kis-My-Ft2's Tamamori Yuta plays Kusanagi's younger brother.

Source: Yomiuri Hochi

Preview of "Zannen na Otto" - Winter 2015

Title: Zannen na Otto 残念な夫
Official website: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 14 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Wednesdays 10pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Cast: Tamaki Hiroshi, Kurashina Kana, Kuroki Keiji (EXILE), Ikuta Erika (Nogizaka 46), Hayashi Kento, Takahashi Maryjun, Fueki Yuko, Asada Miyoko, Otsuka Nene, Kishitani Goro

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Preview of "Ghost Writer" - Winter 2015

Title: Ghost Writer ゴーストライター
Official website: here
O.A. Start Date: 13 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Tuesdays 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Opening theme: Unlock by Miura Daichi
Theme song: Title undecided by androp
Cast: Nakatani Miki, Mizukawa Asami, Miura Shohei, Nanao, Haba Yuichi, Mizuhashi Kenji, Koyanagi Yu, Takasugi Mahiro, Kimura Midoriko, Enami Kyoko, Ishibashi Ryo, Tanaka Tetsushi

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Special Feature - TV Stations' Merchandise Shops ~ Part 1 FujiTV

If you have been to Tokyo, in particular Tokyo Station, you would probably have seen this row of shops from the major TV stations i.e. FujiTV, TBS, NTV, TV Asahi and TV Tokyo which sells official merchandise of their TV programmes. NHK also has its own shop in the same underground mall although it is not located within this cluster. As the shops are lined up side-by-side in the same row at the Yaesu side of the station, it will be hard for anyone to miss them. What's good about having these shops here is that you don't have to travel all the way to the various TV stations to purchase these official merchandise because their headquarters are located at different areas of Tokyo i.e. FujiTV in Odaiba, TBS in Akasaka, NTV in Shiodome, TV Asahi in Roppongi. Most people would be at Tokyo Station to make transfers or take the Shinkansen etc so the location is very convenient and customer traffic is definitely a boost factor as to why these shops are located here. In fact, there are usually too many people that it can get difficult just trying to enter these shops at times.

For fans of anime, you will be thrilled to note that in the majority of these shops, they carry a higher proportion of goods related to anime programmes. However, that doesn't mean that you won't get to see drama-related goods in these shops. The range of products though is subject to availability, the promotional strategy of the TV stations and the timing of your visit.

As I was there during December, I saw merchandise of "Nobunaga Concerto" and "First Class" (which were still on-air at that time) and "Orient Kyuukou Satsujin Jiken" (which is due to be shown during the Seijinshiki holidays). Then again, the range of products for each title tends to vary too. "Orient Kyuukou" only had its notepad being displayed while there were notebooks and folders displayed for the Autumn 2014 dramas. In addition, I noticed the absence of goods from other dramas from the Autumn 2014 season  i.e. "Subete ga F ni naru", "Suteki na Sentakushi" and "Dear Sister" which may or may not be related to their performance in terms of critical reviews or ratings. Given the limited space in the shop, I wouldn't be surprised if the TV stations choose to stock its shops with the merchandise from the titles they deem more popular. It would also be natural for a full-length drama series to have a wider range of goods as compared to a drama SP.

On the other hand, you have HERO 2's goods being displayed prominently in the store i.e. stationery such as notepads, folders, badges and snacks such as manju even though it had ended more than 3 months ago. Seems like after the success of the Hanzawa Naoki manju when it had long snaking queues of people waiting to lay their hands on it at the peak of its popularity, many TV stations are making their versions of confectionery snacks such as manju for their dramas. Perhaps the success of HERO 2 in terms of its ratings was the key reason why it took up so much space on the shelves but I would have wanted to see a wider range of goods from various drama titles rather than have one title dominate the shelves. Comparatively, the shop at FujiTV's HQ had a wider range of goods which included stuff from older dramas so I'll talk more about that when I come to my review of my tour there. If you are keen to check out the TV stations' shops in Tokyo Station, be prepared to see that there might not be goods from your favourite dramas especially if it's not doing very well in terms of ratings or is an old title.

I will be introducing the other TV stations' shops progressively so do stay tuned for those posts coming your way soon!

Preview of "Date ~ Koi to wa donna mono kashira ~ " - Winter 2015

Title: Date ~ Koi to wa donna mono kashira ~ デート ~ 恋とはどんなものかしら ~
Official website: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 19 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Mondays 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Theme song: Anata ni koi wo shite mimashita by chay
Cast: An, Hasegawa Hiroki, Kuninaka Ryoko, Nakajima Yuto (Hey! Say! Jump!), Matsuo Satoru, Wakui Emi, Fubuki Jun, Matsushige Yutaka

Friday, January 02, 2015

Top 10 bestselling novels of 2014 (Oricon)

Note that figures in brackets indicate the number of copies sold between 2 December 2013 and 24 November 2014. Titles in bold indicate those which were made into movies or dramas thus reflecting the positive impact on book sales brought about by such adaptations:

1) Eien no Zero - Hyakuta Naoki (1,463,702)

2) Shirayuki Hime Satsujin Jiken - Minato Kanae (856,332)

3) Koufuku na Seikatsu - Hyakuta Naoki (800,847)

4) Masquerade Hotel - Higashino Keigo (796,346)

5) Shitamachi Rocket - Ikeido Jun (772,114)

6) Kaizoku to Yobareta Otoko Part 1 - Hyakuta Naoki (718,870)

7) Masquerade Eve - Higashino Keigo (716,928)

8) Shippu Rondo - Higashino Keigo (664,640)

9) N no tame ni - Minato Kanae (634,737)

10) Kaizoku to Yobareta Otoko Part 2 - Hyakuta Naoki (631,732)

Source: Oricon

2014 Top 10 movies in Japan with the highest ticket sales (Oricon)

Figures in brackets indicate the total amount of ticket sales in yen:

1) Frozen (JPY 25.47 billion)

2) Eien no Zero (JPY 8.76 billion)

3) STAND BY ME Doraemon (JPY 8.38 billion)

4) Maleficient (JPY 6.53 billion)

5) Rurouni Kenshin - Kyoto Inferno (JPY 5.21 billion)

6) Thermae Romae II (JPY 4.42 billion)

7) Rurouni Kenshin - The Legend Ends (JPY 4.33 billion)

8) Lupin Sansei vs. Meitantei Conan The Movie (JPY 4.26 billion)

9) Meitantei Conan Ijigen no Sniper (JPY 4.11 billion)

10) Doraemon Shin Nobita no Daimakyo ~ Peko to Gonin no Tankentai ~ (JPY 3.58 billion)

Source: Oricon

Most Anticipated Movies Ranking during the 2015 New Year holidays (Oricon)

1) Kiseijuu

2) Vancouver no Asahi

3) Kurage Hime

4) Baymax

5) Ao Ha Ride

6) Fury

7) The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies

8) Interstellar

9) Eiga Youkai Watch Tanjou no Himitsu da nyan!

10) Gone Girl

Source: Oricon

Preview of "Hana Moyu" - 2015 NHK Taiga

Title: Hana Moyu 花燃ゆ
Official website: here
Official Facebook page: here
Official Twitter page: here
O.A. Start Date: 4 Jan 2015
Timeslot: Sundays 8pm
Cast (note that as the story progresses, more characters will be added): Inoue Mao, Osawa Takao, Iseya Yusuke, Higashide Masahiro, Nagatsuka Kyozo, Dan Fumi, Okuda Eiji, Harada Taizo, Yuka, Kitaoji Kinya, Matsuzaka Keiko, Higashiyama Noriyuki, Ishimaru Kanji, Naito Takashi, Wakamura Mayumi, Yamashita Shinji, Kora Kengo, Seto Koji, Gekidan Hitori, Sato Ryuta, Kaname Jun, Igawa Haruka, Tanaka Yoji, Katase Rino, Aso Yumi, Takuma Takayuki, Takahashi Hideki etc 

Preview of "Jyoryu Kaikyu ~ Fukumaru Hyakkaten Gaishobu ~ " (drama SP)

Title: Jyoryu Kaikyu ~ Fukumaru Hyakkaten Gaishobu 上流階級 ~ 富久丸百貨店外商部 ~
Official website: here
O.A. Date: 16 Jan 2015, 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Original novel by: Takadono Madoka
Cast: Takeuchi Yuko, Saito Takumi, Takenaka Naoto, Kusakari Masao, Asano Yuko, Takahata Atsuko, Moriguchi Yoko, Watanabe Ikkei, Tanaka Tetsushi, Baisho Mitsuko, Katsura Bunshi