Monday, March 20, 2017

Aoi Wakana announced to be the lead of new NHK morning drama "Warotenka"

Aoi Wakana was announced to be the lead of the upcoming 97th NHK morning drama "Warotenka" which will consist of 151 episodes and be shown from 2 October 2017 to 31 March 2018 on Mondays to Saturdays at 8am. Filming is expected to begin from the middle of May and end by March next year.

"Warotenka" is set during the late Meiji era to post-World War II period at Osaka featuring the lead character Fujioka Ten who is modelled on Yoshimoto Sei, the founder of Yoshimoto Kogyo and a female show promoter. Fujioka was born into a family managing a drug wholesale business in Kyoto and meets Kitamura Fujiyoshi who is the son of a family in the rice dealing business at Osaka. When they fall in love, Fujioka goes against her parents' wishes to marry Kitamura who is a big lover of comedy. Subsequently, after her husband's family goes bust, she unwittingly becomes the owner of a vaudeville theater with her husband. This then leads to her becoming the first person in Japan to make comedy into a business and transforming Osaka into a capital of comedy.

During the press conference held at NHK's Osaka HQ in the morning and Tokyo HQ in the afternoon, Aoi commented that it felt like a dream for her when she was told that she got the heroine's role. Although she is still very new and inexperienced, she hopes to be able to grow together with the heroine and bring joy to everyone through this drama as the story progresses. The chief producer revealed that out of the young actresses who had remained in the final audition's camera test, any one of them could be the heroine. However, Aoi was picked in the end because they felt that she had contrasting traits such as youth vs. maturity, cuteness vs. strength, smiling face vs. frightening traits which coincided with what the heroine Fujioka represents. In addition, the actresses had to show a one-act comedy skit but nobody laughed at Aoi's impersonation of ETV character Nyanchuu so she thought that she had flopped. When she was told that she was chosen, Aoi was so shocked that she opened her mouth widely and forgot to cover it with her hand. A total of 2,378 people took part in the audition and this was Aoi's third attempt at a NHK morning drama audition.

Aoi made her debut through a CM in 2009 and gained attention after playing the junior high version of Ueno Juri in the movie "Hidamari no Kanojo". Her latest movie was "Survival Family" which is currently showing in cinemas. She will be entering Keio University's Faculty of Policy Management from April this year where she is supposed to attend lessons at its Shonan Fujisawa campus for the next four years but she has to be in Osaka and Kyoto on every weekday for the next ten months so she hasn't decided what to do about her studies and will go ahead to attend the entrance ceremony first. She is already undergoing training in dialect and how to move around in a kimono. Although Aoi was born in Kanagawa Prefecture, she has relatives from Shiga and is exposed to the Kansai dialect at home so she feels that she should have no problems in this area.

Sources: Mantan Web / Nikkansports 1 / Nikkansports 2 / Sanspo / Sponichi / Oricon 1 / Oricon 2

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