Sunday, April 30, 2017

First-day-screening event of new movie "Teiichi no Kuni"

The first-day-screening event of new movie "Teiichi no Kuni" was held at TOHO Cinemas Roppongi Hills on 29 April which was attended by the director Nagai Akira and cast members Suda Masaki, Nomura Shuhei, Takeuchi Ryoma, Mamiya Shotaro, Shison Jun, Chiba Yuudai, Nagano Mei and Yoshida Kotaro. The movie which is based on the same-titled manga by Furuya Usamaru that has been serialised in "JUMP SQ" from 2010, is set at Kaitei Senior High School which is the No.1 high school in Japan. Suda plays the role of Akaba Teiichi who dreams of becoming the Prime Minister and wants to create his own country. As such, when he enters Kaitei, he aims to become the student council chairman and takes part in an intense election in order to achieve his goal. Yoshida plays Teiichi's father Akaba Jousuke who is a government official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry while Nagano plays Teiichi's girlfriend Shiratori Mimiko. Nomura, Takeuchi and Shison all play Year 1 students i.e. Tougou Kikuma, Ootaka Dan and Sakakibara Koumei respectively while Mamiya and Chiba play Year 2 students Himuro Roland and Morizono Okuto who are all vying for the coveted chairman position.

Suda commented that although he was very happy for the movie which they worked very hard on to be released, he was also filled with a tinge of sadness. Nomura who plays Suda's arch rival in the movie, revealed jokingly that they have been working hard in their respective careers since their teens so their relationship in real life is somewhat similar because they will be mindful of each other's career achievements for at least the next 20 or 30 years. Although it has been a while since they last acted together, Nomura said that he realised how easy it is to work with his buddy through this movie and hopes that they can collaborate again in future.

Yoshida had nothing for praise for Suda especially his great acting skills despite being only 24.but also expressed his worry if there might be a day when he stops growing and encounters a slump. In response to this, Suda expressed his joy and embarrassment at being praised by Yoshida.

When asked if anyone had something to say to Suda, Mamiya volunteered to share this episode on the last day of filming for everyone except Suda. While everyone was waiting for Suda to show up, he then went on to kiss everyone on their lips one by one so Mamiya wanted to ask why he did that. Suda explained that the first person he saw when he entered the room was Nomura who he kissed so it became natural that he would want to do the same to the others as a gesture of thanks. Nomura then chipped in to say that he was the only one who got a deep kiss while Chiba praised Suda for having very soft lips.

Sources: / Oricon

First-day-screening event of new movie "Mugen no Juunin"

The first-day-screening event of new movie "Mugen no Juunin" was held at Marunouchi Picadilly on 29 April which was attended by the director Miike Takashi and cast members Kimura Takuya, Sugisaki Hana, Fukushi Souta, Ichihara Hayato, Toda Erika, Mitsushima Shinnosuke and Ichikawa Ebizo. The movie is based on the manga by Samura Hiroaki and features Kimura in the leading role of a samurai Manji who is renowned for having killed 100 people and becomes immortal when a mysterious old lady gives him eternal life.  One day, he is engaged by a young girl named Asano Rin (Sugisaki) to be her bodyguard and take revenge against Itto-Ryu which is a group of skilled swordsmen. He accepts the job reluctantly because Rin looks similar to his late younger sister. Fukushi plays Anotsu Kagehisa who is the leader of Itto-Ryu and Manji's rival while Ichihara plays the role of Shira who is a killer belonging to Mugai-Ryu that is a rival of Itto-Ryu so he joins forces with Manji to fight against Anotsu. Toda Erika appears as Otonotachibana Makie who is a female swordsman in Itto-Ryu very much trusted by Anotsu while Ichikawa plays a top-grade swordsman named Shizuma Eikuu.

Ichikawa revealed that he bumped into Kimura at Tokyo Station a few days ago and was surprised by the encounter since he was shocked to hear someone shouting his first name and thought that some weirdo must be out to find trouble with him. In response, Kimura jokingly said that as this was the first time when Ichikawa joined the promotional campaign, the latter must be very eager to please the audience with these "revelations".

When asked who they felt was like a person with eternal life, Kimura cited Ichikawa as being always prepared and carefree to do the things he wants. On the other hand, Ichikawa chose the director for being able to walk even after suffering a fracture in his leg and teased him for the injury even though he was just standing at that time and wasn't involved in the action scenes which the cast did. Miike then related that he was too absorbed in watching an action scene which Kimura was doing and suffered such a big injury just because he slipped.

As for the question about getting an indefinite break which was in line with the Golden Week holidays currently going on, Kimura replied with a wryly smile that being on indefinite break would be the same as being out of a job but to put a positive spin on this, he thought that there are many places he has never been to before even within Japan so it will be nice to visit them during a long break.

Sources: / Oricon 1 / Oricon 2

Supporting cast line-up of new WOWOW drama "Plage" announced

The supporting cast line-up of new WOWOW drama "Plage" starring Hoshino Gen has been announced.  The drama which consists of 5 episodes, is the first drama in 10 years featuring Hoshino in the leading role and based on the same-titled novel by Honda Tetsuya. Hoshino will be playing the 32-year-old lead character Yoshimura Takao, a sales department salaryman at a travel agency who dabbles in stimulants out of fun which then leads to his arrest and dismissal by his company. To make things worse, the apartment where he lives at goes up in flames by accident. Having lost his job and place to live, Takao goes to live in the sharehouse Plage which takes in people with various backgrounds who are striving to regain their former lives or content to stay in a corner of society. Although Takao resolves to restart his life, he gets embroiled into the controversies and troubles involving the tenants there.

Singer-songwriter Sugashikao who is celebrating his 20th anniversary since his debut, will be appearing in a drama for the first time as he takes on a role in this drama. He explained that he had rejected all acting offers to date but decided to take this on since he wants to surprise everyone in this commemorative year and he is on close terms with Hoshino and Ishida Yuriko who also appears in this drama as the owner of the sharehouse so he can work with them in a relaxing manner. Sugashikao will be playing Tomoki who served time for a murder conviction but is still asking for a retrial to prove his innocence He has burn scars from a fire which extend from his face to his neck and doesn't talk much at the sharehouse where he also lives at.

Co-stars also include Naka Riisa, Mashima Hidekazu, Nakamura Yuri and Shibukawa Kiyohiko.


Yusuke Santa-Maria, Kadowaki Mugi & Ishida Nicole to star in new NHK drama "Ecchan"

Yusuke Santa-Maria will be starring in the new NHK drama "Ecchan" which will begin its run from 15 July in the Saturdays 6.05pm timeslot. The story which is based on the same-titled novel by Shishi Bunroku, will be set in Ginza, Tokyo in the 10th year of the Showa era.

Yanagi Etsuko (Hirao Nanaka) is a 10-year-old girl who loves to sing while her father Rokutaro (Santa-Maria) is a struggling lyricist who is still pining for his late wife. Seeing this and deciding that her father can't live like this anymore, Etsuko tries to help Rokutaro find his new life partner and her new stepmother. Etsuko's first target is her form teacher Muraoka but things do not progress as she expects. As such, she changes her target to Ikebe Kyoko (Kadowaki Mugi), a salesgirl who she happens to meet at a departmental store and grows to like. However, Rokutaro's elder sister Tsuruyo also introduces another woman Kaoru (Ishida Nicole) to her brother. Kaoru is the daughter of a director in the bank which is a shareholder of Tsuruyo's husband's company and it seems like she and Rokutaro are on course to get married even though Etsuko would rather have Kyoko become her stepmother.

The drama consists of 8 episodes and will be filmed between May 2017 and August 2017.

Sources: Oricon / NHK

Chinen Yuri, Nakagawa Taishi & Komatsu Nana to star in new movie "Sakamichi no Aporon"

Hey! Say! JUMP's Chinen Yuri will be starring in the new real-life adaptation movie "Sakamichi no Aporon" (The slope's Apollo) which is based on the same-titled manga by Kodama Yuki that won the 57th Shogakukan Manga Award and the No.1 title in the 2009 Kono Manga ga Sugoi's best-loved by females category. Co-stars include Nakagawa Taishi and Komatsu Nana.

The story features Chinen as the lead character Nishimi Kaoru who is a shy 1st-year senior high school student and has to move to Sasebo, Nagasaki to live with his relatives after his father passed away. He meets his classmates Kawabuchi Sentaro (Nakagawa) who is feared by others for appearing to be a scary delinquent and Mukae Ritsuko (Komatsu) who is Sentaro's childhood friend and comes into contact with jazz piano which he grows to love. On the other hand, Kaoru finds himself caught in a love triangle as Ritsuko is love with Sentaro who is in turn in love with Fukahori Yurika, a 2nd-year student in the same school.

In order to prepare for the filming, Chinen began lessons in jazz piano since September last year and even bought an electronic piano to practise at home. Likewise, Nakagawa whose character is a skilled jazz drummer in the movie, started his practice last July even though he had learnt how to play the drums for one year when he was a primary student. As for Komatsu, her biggest difficulty is with the Sasebo dialect but she is looking forward to acting with both Chinen and Nakagawa who she is working with for the first time.

Filming which will be done entirely in Kyushu, will take place from the end of April to mid June and the movie will be shown in cinemas next year.

Sources: Yomiuri Hochi / Sanspo /

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Kikukawa Rei announces her marriage

Kikukawa Rei announced her marriage to her husband who is in his 40s during the broadcast of FujiTV morning programme "Tokudane!" on 28 April. She is not pregnant at the moment and will continue working after marriage.

At the start of the programme, Kikukawa broke the news with teary eyes after a video recap of her career to date and described her husband as a gentle man. She also revealed that their dates included going on walks together as she hardly exercises. Although she didn't imagine getting married to her husband when they first met, they began dating under the premise of marriage later on. Her co-host Ogura Tomoaki was the first to know about her marriage as she informed him about one month ago and introduced her husband to Ogura during a lunch meeting. Ogura praised Kikukawa's husband for being a wonderful person who is learned and speaks well.

Kikukawa released a fax statement through her agency and said that there are no plans for a wedding nor press conference at the moment. She revealed that her husband is a non-celebrity and they got married one day earlier i.e. 27 April. Kikukawa expressed her thanks to everyone around her and pledged to continue working hard as usual.

Sources: Nikkansports 1 / Nikkansports 2 / Sponichi

WOWOW announces measures to prevent overworking by child actors

WOWOW announced via its corporate website on 28 April that it has come up with measures to deal with the issue of overworking by child actors. The issue first came to light through a report by "Bunshun Online" on 1 March about alleged violations of labour laws involving children on the set of the drama "Tokyo Sumikko Gohan" during the filming in January this year. According to the article, the incident happened at the Toei Tokyo Filming Studio in Nerima Ward, Tokyo on 21 January and involved child actor Inagaki Kurumi who is 6 years old. On this day, Inagaki started work at 12 noon and the filming extended all the way to 5am the following day which meant that she was working for 17 hours. It was reported that the director Mishima Yukiko was dissatisfied with Inagaki's acting and made her redo the scene more than 10 times since 3am. Despite the fact that the producer Morii Akira was around as well, he did not stop the filming. Inagaki's mother who was with her that day, had to console her daughter who was crying. It was also alleged that Inagaki went through a similarly long day of filming on the previous day which lasted for 14 hours and ended at 2am. However, according to Japan's labour laws, children below the age of 13 are not allowed to work between 8pm and 5am. The revelation of the violation led to the drama being taken off the broadcast schedule indefinitely even though it was supposed to have been shown from May.

In WOWOW's statement, they apologised for the concern caused and damage to the trust placed in them by their viewers and related parties and admitted that the situation arose due to a lack of awareness and priority placed on safety and compliance issues. To prevent a repeat of the situation, they have specified clear conditions while producing their programmes i.e. ensure safety of the cast and staff, prevent excessive work hours, restrict child actors to work only between 5am and 8pm and not subject them to mental stress or uneasiness. On the side of ensuring compliance, the company also created guidelines and a training system for their staff so as to increase awareness and ensure that these measures are implemented going forward.

Source: Oricon

Friday, April 28, 2017

Press conference and screening event of new WOWOW drama "Shachoushitsu no Fuyu - Kyodai Shinbunsha wo toru otoko -"

The press conference and screening event of new WOWOW drama "Shachoushitsu no Fuyu - Kyodai Shinbunsha wo toru otoko -" was held on 28 April which was attended by cast members Mikami Hiroshi, Kitano Kii and Fukuzawa Akira. The drama which consists of 5 episodes, will begin its run from 30 April in the Sundays 10pm timeslot.

The drama which is based on the novel "Shachoushitsu no Fuyu" by Douba Shunichi, describes how a prominent news company with a long history plots to sell itself to a foreign company. Aoi Souta (Mikami) who is the president of the Japanese entity of United States' large-scale shopping company AMC, will be the person aiming to take over his former employer Nihon Shinpo for his current employer AMC and behaves like a tyrant towards the people who work with him. Kitano plays the role of Takatori Atsuko who is the secretary of Aoi and hides her other identity as Aoi's daughter.

Mikami commented that he personally has no association with newspaper companies nor foreign companies and he stopped reading newspapers since some years ago because of information overload. When asked what they would like to take over or buy in real life, Mikami joked that he would like to buy over WOWOW's subscribers for the sake of his future. On the other hand, Fukuzawa who plays the prime minister in the drama, revealed that he would like to buy a Japanese wine brewery because he loves that and wants to make wine which fit his preferences.

Kitano whose character is someone who doesn't hesitate to use her femininity to get ahead in life, said that it was tough for her because she had to wear revealing clothes and practise how to walk in a sexy manner but it was a very meaningful challenge for her. As for her views about newspapers, she revealed that she has no newspaper subscription but doesn't want them to disappear since she thinks that physical newspapers are especially important during times when there are natural disasters to convey information to the masses.With regard to playing Mikami's daughter in the drama, Kitano revealed that the atmosphere on the set was very homely and full of laughter although his character behaves like a tyrant in the drama.

Sources: Sanspo / Oricon / Nikkansports

Winners of the 7th Confidence Award Drama Prize (Winter 2017)

Here are the winners of the 7th Confidence Award Drama Prize for the Winter 2017 season:

Best Drama: Quartet

Best Leading Actor: Kusanagi Tsuyoshi (Uso no Sensou)

Best Leading Actress: Matsu Takako (Quartet)

Best Supporting Actor: Takahashi Issei (Quartet)

Best Supporting Actress: Saitou Yuki (Okaasan, Musume wo yamete ii desuka?)

Best Script: Sakamoto Yuji (Quartet)

Best Newcomer: Yoshioka Riho (Quartet)

Source: Confidence Award Drama Prize

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Hirugao" holds world premiere at the 19th Il Far East Film Festival in Italy

The movie "Hirugao" starring Ueto Aya and Saito Takumi held its world premiere at the 19th Il Far East Film Festival at Udine, Italy on 24 April as it is taking part in the film festival's competition category. Besides the leads, the director Nishitani Hiroshi also attended the screening to meet the 1200-strong audience. Before the screening, more than 600 people gathered outside the theatre.

Ueto greeted the audience in Italian and said that she was very happy to be at the screening and hoped that the forbidden love depicted in the movie will make a deep impression in the audience's hearts. Due to the differences in Italian and Japanese culture, she was especially eager to find out how the audience would react to the movie's theme. Saito who was attending this film festival for the second time (the previous time was in 2016 for the movie Koudaike no Hitobito), spoke in Italian as well and expressed his joy to be able to return to this film festival and thanked everyone for coming. After the screening, there was a standing ovation of more than 5 minutes and the actors were swarmed by fans who wanted to take photos with them and get their signatures. The following day after the screening, the cast travelled to Venice for the PR shooting of the movie where they rode a water taxi and explored the colourful streets of the city.

The movie will be shown in Japan from 10 June and continues three years after the end of the drama series. The winner of the Grand Prix will be announced on 30 April.

Sources: Sanspo /

"Chihayafuru" to have new sequel movie showing in 2018

"Chihayafuru" will be having a sequel movie which is due to be shown in 2018. The new movie titled "Chihayafuru Musubi" set two years after the end of the last movie "Chihayafuru Shimo no Ku" will feature new cast members on top of existing cast members such as the lead Hirose Suzu, Nomura Shuhei, Mackenyu, Kamishiraishi Mone, Yamoto Yuma, Morinaga Yuuki, Shimizu Hiroya and Matsuoka Mayu.

Yuuki Mio will play a first-year student at Mizusawa Senior High School's karuta club named Hanano Sumire who falls in love at first sight with Mashima Taichi (Nomura). Kiyohara Kaya will play an original character Wagatsuma Iori while Sano Hayato will play a first-year-student Tsukuba Akihiro. Kaku Kento will play Suo Hisashi who is the reigning Meijin of karuta and has defended his title 5 times to date.

Filming will be done between early May and end June.


Kitagawa Keiko to be back in NTV drama SP "Kaettekita Ie uru onna"

Kitagawa Keiko will be back to reprise her role in the NTV drama SP "Kaettekita Ie uru onna" which is the sequel of the drama series shown last summer. The drama SP set two years after the end of the drama series will be shown at 9pm on 26 May and features the original cast of Nakamura Tooru, Kudo Asuka, Imoto Ayako and Chiba Yuudai.

Two years after Sangenya Machi (Kitagawa) and Yashiro Dai (Nakamura) left the Shinjuku branch of Teekoo Fudousan, business is no longer brisk and on the verge of collapse. Niwano Seiji (Kudo) decides to seek help from Machi who is the president of Sanchii Fudousan now and gets a shock when he sees Machi and Yashiro with a baby.
Kitagawa commented that although she was excited about playing Machi again, she was worried about whether she could fit into the role immediately. However, once she put on Machi's clothes and met her co-stars, she could ease into the role without much effort. She also said that the SP will be very entertaining for everyone with the existing cast's developments and addition of new "customers" and hopes that it will be even better than the drama series. As for acting with a 6-month-old baby this time, Kitagawa said that the baby was so active and heavy that she developed muscle pains after carrying the baby during the filming.

Sources: Sanspo / Yomiuri Hochi / Oricon

Kanda Sayaka & Murata Mitsu announce their impending marriage

Kanda Sayaka and Murata Mitsu are about to get married as revealed by Kanda via her Twitter account and Murata via his blog on 26 April. Their wedding party will be held in Tokyo on 13 May. The couple who are 9 years apart in age, pledged to work hard in their careers going forward and asked for the support of everyone around them. Later that day, Kanda also updated her Instagram account with a photo of herself with her father and husband-to-be.

Kanda is the only daughter of actor Kanda Masaki and singer Matsuda Seiko who divorced in 1997. She made her debut in 2001 and achieved a breakthrough in her career when she was the Japanese voice actor of Anna in the 2014 hit Disney anime movie "Frozen". Murata used to be a model and is working as a stage actor and DJ. The couple met while working on the stage play "Dangan Ronpa THE STAGE" last summer and dated for about 8 months before they decided to get hitched.

Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo / Sponichi

Supporting cast lineup for new movie "Principal Koi suru watashi wa heroine desuka?" announced

The supporting cast lineup for new movie "Principal Koi suru watashi wa heroine desuka?" starring Kuroshima Yuina and Johnny's West member Kotaki Nozomu has been announced. The movie which is based on the same-titled manga by Ikuemi Ryo, features Kuroshima as Sumitomo Shima, a senior high school student whose parents are divorced and having issues with her stepfather and at the all-girls senior high school which she has just entered. As such, she decides to go to her father and move to Sapporo, Hokkaido instead. However, what awaits her at her new school are two entirely different guys Tatebayashi Gen (Kotaki) and Sakurai Wao (Takasugi Mahiro) who are so popular at school that they are regarded as the "common property" of all the girls in the school. Although Shima has little interest in romance due to her problems with her parents and school, she finds herself getting closer to the two guys gradually.

Here is the supporting cast lineup:

Kunishige Haruka (Kawaei Rina) - Shima's classmate who likes Gen
Tatebayashi Yumi (Tanimura Mizuki) - Gen's elder sister
Kanezawa Yudai (Ichikawa Tomohiro) - Haruka's classmate during junior high
Kudo Riri (Ayano Mashiro) - Haruka's close friend
Sugahara Reo (Ishikawa Shiori)
Machi (Suzuki Sawa) - Shima's mother
Yukari (Shiraishi Miho) - Wao's mother
Koto (Nakamura Kumi) - Gen's mother
Sumitomo Yasuhiro (Morisaki Hiroyuki) - Shima's father

The movie will be shown in cinemas next year.


Koide Keisuke to star in new NHK drama "Kamisama kara hitogoto ~ Naniwa okyakusama soudanshitsu monogatari ~"

Koide Keisuke will be starring in the new NHK drama "Kamisama kara hitogoto ~ Naniwa okyakusama soudanshitsu monogatari ~" (A word from God ~ the story of Naniwa customer counselling room ~) which will begin its run from 10 June in the Saturdays 8.15pm timeslot. The drama which consists of 6 episodes, is based on the same-titled novel by Ogiwara Hiroshi who won the 155th Naoki Award.

Koide plays the lead character Sakura Ryohei who is a straightforward guy and hates to go around the bush. His overly strong sense of justice causes Ryohei to clash with his superior so often that he is transferred from a major advertising agency to a food manufacturer Tamayama Shokuhin's customer service department. On the first day of his work, Ryohei ends up quarelling with his boss again and gets sent to the customer counselling room which deals with "monster complainers". In this department, he has to work with colleagues with very colourful characters but they are all experts in dealing with complaints. Although Ryohei feels that he does not fit in within the organisation, he starts to pick up skills in complaint handling and grows to become an even better person. Co-stars include Kishii Yukino, Miyake Hiroki, Yoshizawa Hisashi, Koizumi Kotaro, Ichige Yoshie, Kusabue Mitsuko and Danta Yasunori.

Source: Oricon

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Completion screening event of new movie "Utsukushii Hoshi"

The completion screening event of new movie "Utsukushii Hoshi" was held at Yurakucho Asahi Hall on 24 April which was attended by the director Yoshida Daihachi and cast members Lily Frankie, Kamenashi Kazuya, Hashimoto Ai, Nakajima Tomoko and Sasaki Kuranosuke. The movie which will be shown in cinemas from 26 May, is based on a science-fiction story published by Mishima Yukio in 1962 and adapted by the director for this movie which features the Osugi family that awakens to their true selves of being aliens from other planets. The father (Lily) becomes an alien from Mars while the son (Kamenashi) becomes an alien from Mercury and the daughter (Hashimoto) becomes an alien from Venus. However, the mother (Nakajima) remains as an earthling and doesn't understand why. Sasaki plays a mysterious alien who gets close to the Osugi family.

During the phototaking session, Lily suggested that everyone do the Mars alien pose but they were quite embarrassed to do it except for Kamenashi. Once they struck the pose, the audience burst into laughter. Kamenashi revealed that as his character was constantly not at home, he did not have any scenes with the rest of "his family members" and only met them for three or four days which he felt was a pity. Lily then teased him about this and said that his "son" hardly comes home so the Osugi family is fine with just three members. Kamanashi replied to apologise for his absence as his character is a "playboy" which made everyone laugh.

Sources: Nikkansports / Oricon /

Mr.Children to sing the theme song for new movie "Kimi no suizou wo tabetai"

Mr.Children will be singing the theme song for new movie "Kimi no suizou wo tabetai" starring Hamabe Minami and Kitamura Takumi which will be shown in cinemas from 28 July. The movie is based on the same-titled bestseller novel by Sumino Yoru which was ranked No.2 in the 2016 Honya Taisho. Hamabe and Kitamura will be playing the past of the leads while Oguri Shun and Kitagawa Keiko will be featured in the current era. The story features the heroine Yamauchi Sakura (Hamabe) who is suffering from a serious illness in her pancreas and the only person who knows about her illness is the lead character "Boku" (Kitamura) who is Sakura's classmate. 12 years later, Boku (Oguri) returns to his alma mater to become a teacher while Sakura's best friend Kyoko (Kitagawa) is about to get married. As the story shuttles between the past and present spanning 12 years, it talks about the death of people dear to you and how feelings are conveyed through something more than words.

The theme song titled "himawari" was written by the band as it approaches its 25th anniversary this year. Vocalist Sakurai Kazutoshi commented that the story is full of beauty, strength, gentleness and cruelness which is heart-wrenching so they tried to incorporate all these elements into this song. The original novel's author Sumino expressed surprise at having Mr.Children sing the theme song and that it was interesting and unexpected to have the song's title featuring the sunflower, a flower typically associated with summer, even though the heroine's name is Sakura which is associated with spring.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Sakurai Sho, Aoi Yu & Tabe Mikako to star in NTV Autumn 2017 drama "Saki ni umaretadake no boku"

Sakurai Sho will be starring in the new NTV Autumn 2017 drama "Saki ni umaretadake no boku" (I was only born earlier than you) which will begin its run from October in the Saturdays 10pm timeslot. The drama is based on an original script by Fukuda Yasushi who is known for works such as "HERO" and "Galileo" and will be directed by Mizuta Nobuo who has dramas like "Mother" and "Woman" under his belt.

Sakurai plays the role of Narumi Ryosuke, a 35-year-old former elite businessman who is transferred by his company Kashimatsu Bussan to become the principal of a private senior high school named Kyoumeikan Koukou and turn its fortune around. The struggling school's results are on the lower end of the spectrum, its sports teams aren't doing well in competitions and its enrollment numbers are about to slide below the minimum level required to keep it afloat. Narumi knows nothing about education nor managing a school so he has to rely on his knowledge as a businessman to deal with the situation and introduce reforms in Kyoumeikan with the aim of boosting enrollment numbers, improve the quality of the teachers and students and make the school profitable again. He is met with strong resistance from the students who have never savoured success and the teachers who have no motivation to improve but tries to show them the reality and harsh truths of society through his first-hand experience. The heroine Mashiba Chihiro who is at loggerheads at first with Narumi but later gets inspired by him will be played by Aoi Yu while Narumi's girlfriend cum former colleague Matsubara Satoko will be played by Tabe Mikako.

Sakurai who played a senior high school student in 2007 TBS drama "Yamada Taro Monogatari" when he was 25, expressed his surprise at being offered a role of a young 35-year-old school principal. It has been 4 years since he starred as the lead in a drama series since 2013's FujiTV drama "Kazoku Game" so he hopes to be able to grow with his character who transforms from a businessman to a school principal. Aoi who had experience working with Sakurai in the movie "Hachimitsu to Clover", praised him for being a respectable leading actor who is calm, clever and can be relied on. Tabe who last worked with Sakurai 10 years ago in "Yamada Taro Monogatari", expressed anticipation at how they will interact this time since the nature of their characters' relationship is different from 10 years ago.

Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo / Oricon

Top 10 movies box office ranking for the weekend of 22nd & 23rd April 2017

Numbers in brackets indicate the number of cinemas showing the movie:

1) Beauty and the Beast (372)

2) Meitantei Conan Karakurenai no Love Letter (354)

3) Eiga Crayon Shin-chan Shuurai!! Uchujin Shiriri (349)

4) Sangatsu no Lion Kouhen (295)

5) SING (359)

6) Moana (359)

7) Deepwater Horizon (245)

8) Ghost In The Shell (327)

9) Eiga Doraemon Nobita no Nankyoku Kachi Kochi Daibouken (362)

10) Gekijouban Free! Timeless Medley Kizuna (31)


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tamaki Hiroshi to star in new movie "Aku to kamen no ruuru"

Tamaki Hiroshi will be starring in the real-life movie adaptation of novel "Aku to kamen no ruuru" (The rules of evil and the mask / English title: Evil and the Mask) by Akutagawa Award-winning writer Nakamura Fuminori which was listed as one of the top 10 mystery novels of 2013 by Wall Street Journal. The movie will be directed by Nakamura Teppei and is scheduled to be shown in cinemas next year.

Tamaki plays the lead character Kuki Fumihiro who was born into a rich family. The story begins at the time when Fumihiro was only 10 years old and came to know about the secret behind his birth and upbringing. His birth father who was the head of the household told him how he had raised his son with the aim of turning the latter into a personification of evil and "promised" to show him hell on his 14th birthday. However, one year before that, he was made to see hell first hand when Kaori, his father's adopted daughter and whom he liked, was raped in front of him. In order to protect his beloved, Fumihiro killed his father which meant that he was one step closer to the evil which his father wanted him to become. He then disappeared from Kaori's side and took on a new identity as Shintani Koichi who protects Kaori from the shadows over more than ten years. While doing so, he comes into contact again with the evil in the Kuki family...

Tamaki commented that his character is a very delicate person and it is difficult to play him. Although Fumihiro went through plastic surgery to change his looks, it can't change his interior which consists of his rational side to fight against evil and his weakness deep within. He hopes that this movie will help viewers relook at their ideas of what kindness, evilness, true love, family and friends mean to them.

Sources: / Oricon

First-day-screening event of new movie "Sangatsu no Lion Kouhen"

The first-day-screening event of new movie "Sangatsu no Lion Kouhen" was held at TOHO Cinemas Roppongi Hills on 22 April which was attended by the director Ootomo Keishi and cast members Kamiki Ryuunosuke, Arimura Kasumi, Kurashina Kana, Kiyohara Kaya, Maeda Gin, Kase Ryo and Iseya Yuusuke. It was also announced during the event that the two "Sangatsu no Lion" movies will be featured in the Panorama Category of the 20th Shanghai International Film Festival and be screened on two consecutive nights. The film festival is the largest in Asia which will start from 17 June and it is the first time in the festival's history that a two-part movie is screened over two consecutive nights. Kamiki revealed his joy and said that this is great news and he feels really happy about it. Director Ootomo also said that there is a limited number of foreign films which can be screened in China so he hopes that Kamiki who is very popular there, can also attend the screenings in Shanghai to meet the fans.

As for the movie nearing its finale due to the release of Part 2, Kamiki said that he's thankful for the support for both movies while the director praised the staff for paying great attention to details and the cast for showing their wonderful acting. Iseya who joins the cast only in Part 2, praised Kamiki for being a perfect fit to play the lead character Rei. Kase who plays the top shogi player, said that the scenes where his character had a match with Rei was really tough and more tiring than he expected.

Arimura who was greeting the audience, suddenly stopped talking as if she was stumped for words. She later admitted that she was feeling unwell so her mind wasn't working well. Iseya then teased her for being like that all the time so it wasn't something that happens once in a blue moon.

To wish for the movie's box office success, there was a kagami biraki ceremony (breaking the sake cask) but Kamiki didn't know how much force he should apply when hitting the cask. Iseya then joked that he should do it with full force since it wouldn't be an issue if his clothes get wet and the media will get to take nice pictures. Upon hearing this, Kamiki asked Iseya to do that instead which made the rest of the cast and audience laugh.

Sources: Oricon 1 / Sponichi /

First-day-screening event of new movie "PARKS"

The first-day-screening event of new movie "PARKS" was held at Theatre Shinjuku on 22 April which was attended by the director Seta Natsuki, music director Tokumaru Shugo, planner Honda Takuo as well as cast members Hashimoto Ai, Nagano Mei and Sometani Shota. The movie which is the 100th anniversary commemorative work to mark the opening of Inokashira Park, is set at Kichijoji in the 1960s and 2017 where Hashimoto plays Jun, an university student staying at Kichijoji who happens to meet Haru (Nagano), a senior high school student who wants to find her late father's ex-girlfriend Sachiko (Ishibashi Shizuka). During the process, they meet Sachiko's grandson Tokio (Sometani) and go through Sachiko's relics to find a open-reel tape. Co-stars also include Morioka Ryu and Sano Shiro.

Hashimoto commented that she visited Inokashira Park quite often and said that through this film, she started to develop sad feelings as she wondered if her past would become an illusion as time went by and the park remains as it is. As such, she hopes that the movie will bring a sense of nostalgia to all who watch it and give them the energy to look forward to the future in a positive manner.

As for Nagano, Kichijoji holds a special place in her heart as she was scouted there when she was in primary three. Before she filmed this movie, her previous film was also set in the same place so it has added meaning to the place for her. Meanwhile, Sometani revealed that the filming had was done some time ago so he was filled with emotions about the film being finally ready to be seen and said that it will be a story that will let viewers see the charm in how time passes by.

Sources: / Oricon

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Supporting cast lineup of new WOWOW drama "Akira to Akira" announced

The supporting cast lineup of new WOWOW drama "Akira to Akira" starring Mukai Osamu and Saito Takumi has been announced. The drama is based on the same-titled novel by Ikeido Jun which was first serialised between 2006 and 2009 in the monthly novel magazine "Mondai Shosetsu" before Ikeido gave it an overhaul and will be releasing it in the novel book format for the first time on 17 May which was brought forward from the earlier date of 31 May. As such, this marks the "fastest" real-life adaptation for WOWOW since the original material's release. This will be WOWOW's 4th adaptation of a Ikeido work since 2011's "Shitamachi Rocket" and the longest drama to date i.e. 9 episodes.

The story which is set during the days of the bubble economy, begins in April 1986 where Kaidou Akira (Mukai) who is an elite born as the heir of a large company Tokai Yuusen. On the other hand, his genius classmate from University of Tokyo, Yamazaki Akira (Saito) had a tough life due the bankruptcy of his father's company and having to run away from creditors but overcomes the odds to graduate from the top-notch school. The two of them enter the same bank Sangyo Chuo Bank and gets caught in a battle lasting over 10 years which causes upheavals in their lives.

Koizumi Kotaro will be playing Andou Shoji who works in the HR department of Sangyo Chuo Bank and is the superior of both Akiras while Tanaka Rena plays Yamazaki Akira's classmate Kitamura Ai. Matsushige will play Yamazaki Akira's father Kouzou. Ishimaru Kanji will play Kaidou Kazuma, the president of Tokai Yuusen and Kaku Kento will be Kaidou Akira's younger brother Ryoma. Kinoshita Houka plays Kaidou Susumu, the president of Tokai Asahi Shohai and Takimoto Miori plays Kaidou Akira's colleague Mizushima Kanna. Horibe Keisuke plays Susumu's younger brother Takashi while Nagashima Toshiyuki plays Haneda Kazuo, the director of the bank's financing department. Last but not least, Omi Toshinori plays Ai's father Toshio.

The drama will begin its run from 9 July at 10pm.

Sources: Oricon /

Completion screening event of new movie "Peach Girl"

The completion screening event of new movie "Peach Girl" was held at Iino Hall on 20 April which was attended by the director Shintoku Koji and cast members Yamamoto Mizuki, Inoo Kei, Mackenyu, Nagano Mei, Motokariya Yuika, Mikami Kensei, Masu Takeshi and Kikuchi Momoko. The film is based on the same-titled manga by Ueda Miwa that was serialised between 1997 and 2004 in the manga magazine "Bessatsu Friend" and has sold more than 13 million copies to date. Yamamoto plays Momo, a senior high school student with her hair dyed in red and a dark complexion which leads her to be misunderstood by the people around her while Inoo plays the charismatic prince of their school Kairi. When rumours run wild about Momo and Kairi having kissed each other, they get embroiled in a love triangle with Touji (Mackenyu) who she has been in love with since she was in junior high. Nagano Mei plays Kashiwagi Sae who tries to snatch the things which other people like and sees Momo as an eyesore.

When the audience cheered the actors as they made their appearance on stage, Inoo thanked them for their cheers with a wide smile. During the talk segment, the cast were asked about scenes which made their hearts race. Yamamoto cited the scene when Momo and Touji were on the way home from school with Kairi trying to cause some trouble and Touji actually told Kairi off by declaring that Momo was his. Upon hearing this, Inoo said that this scene was shot on the last day of filming so he felt sad because it felt as if something was taken away from him. He cited his favourite scene as the one where Kaiji lifted Momo's skirt which he was sure that many guys can identify with. As for Nagano, she said that the scene didn't make her heart race but she had fun during a scene where Sae was giving Kairi a dressing down and it made her feel really good after that.

During the event, there was a psychological test conducted by counselor Odaka Chie which aimed to revealed the surprising and unknown sides of the cast. Yamamoto was diagnosed as someone who is a perfectionist, has a clear view of what she wants in life, stubborn, behaves like an artisan and poor at pandering to the opposite sex so upon hearing this, she was shocked by how accurate the results were. As for Inoo, he was diagnosed to be someone who craves security, safety and stability and has a strong self-defense mechanism within himself. Upon hearing this, Inoo commented these traits seem to make him a boring person but Odaka added on that he has motherly instincts and can behave like a spoiled child at times which led to Yamamoto and Nagano laughing and teasing him. Inoo also "complained" that having his true character traits exposed like this is a form of business obstruction because this goes against his usual image as an idol singer.

"Peach Girl" will be shown in cinemas from 20 May.

Sources: Sponichi / Oricon /

Cast announcement press conference of new NHK morning drama "Warotenka"

The cast announcement press conference of new NHK morning drama "Warotenka" starring Aoi Wakana was held at NHK Osaka's HQ on 20 April which was attended by Aoi, Matsuzaka Toori, Endo Kenichi, Suzuki Honami, Takeshita Keiko, Takahashi Issei, Chiba Yuudai, Hamada Gaku, Tokunaga Eri and Hotta Mayu. The drama will begin its run from 2 October in the Mondays to Saturdays 8am timeslot.

"Warotenka" is set during the late Meiji era to post-World War II period at Osaka featuring the lead character Fujioka Ten (Aoi) 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.

Matsuzaka plays Ten's husband Kitamura Fujiyoshi while Hamada plays Takei Fuuta who is Ten's cousin and is in love with her. Matsuzaka who last appeared in a NHK morning drama 5 years ago, remarked that he wants to use his experience accumulated from then to be used in the filming of "Warotenka" and support Aoi during the 10-month filming period. Matsuzaka also revealed that when he first heard about Hamada and Takahashi appearing in this drama, he was thinking "again?!" because the three of them have worked together many times and are good friends.

On the other hand, Hamada who is appearing in a morning drama for the first time, said that he's very nervous about this and feels a sense of responsibility in delivering pleasant and wonderful mornings to the viewers through this drama. Takahashi plays a young entrepreneur Inou Shiori who is supposed to be Ten's marriage partner but later becomes a supportive figure to Ten and Fujiyoshi who get involved in show business when he realises that Ten is in love with Fujiyoshi.

Endo who plays Ten's father Gihee, revealed that he was told straight in the face that his face was not suitable to be seen in the morning when he was rejected during a morning drama audition back then in his early 20s. It has been 7 years since his last appearance in a morning drama and he wondered if it is fine for him to be appearing in the morning especially since his character is described as a guy who has fierce and big eyes and looks very fierce. Endo also joked that even though he has never appeared in a TV programme with comedy duo Tunnels, he has played the husbands of their wives in real life. Back in 2010, he played a married couple with Yasuda Narumi who is Kinashi Noritake's wife and this time, he will be the husband of Suzuki who is Ishibashi Takaaki's wife.

Suzuki will play Ten's mother Shizu while Takeshita will play Ten's grandmother Hatsu. Chiba plays Ten's elder brother Shinichi and Hotta plays her younger sister Rin. Tokunaga plays Ten's maid Toki in the Fujioka household.

The producer Goto Takahisa commented that for the sake of the female viewers, they decided to have three types of men around the heroine to cater to different tastes i.e. Takahashi to play Prince Charming, Matsuzaka to be the romanticist while Hamada will be a passionate man. In response to this, Takeshita joked that Takahashi gets her vote for being the No.1 favourite as her character is someone who likes handsome men.

Sources: Nikkansports 1 / Nikkansports 2  / Sponichi 1 / Sponichi 2 / Oricon

Arai Hirofumi to sing in NTV Spring 2017 drama "Frankenstein no Koi"

Arai Hirofumi will be singing in the NTV Spring 2017 drama "Frankenstein no Koi" starring Ayano Go which will begin its run from 23 April in the Sundays 10.30pm timeslot. The first episode will be shown from 10pm.

In the drama, Arai plays the role of Amakusa Junpei who is a radio DJ and hosts a radio show where he tries to give solutions to his listeners who have problems. The monster (Ayano) who has been living in a forest for 120 years learns the rules and practices of the human world through this radio show. Arai will be singing the theme song of his radio show titled "Amakusa Song" which will be featured in the drama. The lyrics were written by Oomori Sumio who is the scriptwriter of the drama and the melody was composed by Sakita Hajime. This is not Arai's first attempt at singing an insert song in a drama as his "debut single" was "Gorilla Pan no Uta" in the 2015 NTV drama "Do Konjo Gaeru". With regard to his new song, Arai said that it will be as good, if not better than his previous song.

Source: Oricon

Friday, April 21, 2017

Nagasaku Hiromi to appear in FujiTV drama SP "Yo ni mo Kimyou na Monogatari"

Nagasaku Hiromi will be appearing in the FujiTV drama SP "Yo ni mo Kimyou na Monogatari" which will be shown at 9pm on 29 April. This will be the first time in six years that she is appearing in a story of the series since her last appearance in May 2011's "Kankeri".

In the psycho-horror story titled "Ippon tarinai" (There is one missing), Nagasaku plays a housewife named Kazami Ayako whose husband works as a salaryman and has a daughter who is in university and a son in senior high school. In order to be a perfect housewife, Ayako is constantly in fear of her perfectness crumbling into pieces. One morning, while preparing breakfast as usual for her family, Ayako finds that one of her knives stored under her kitchen sink is missing when she sees a news report on TV that a young man has stabbed a company employee with a knife...

Nagasaku commented that having participated in this series four times to date, she is amazed by how long (27 years) it had done on. With regard to the story she is appearing in this time, Nagasaku said that it contains both realistic and fictitious elements so viewers may find it difficult to differentiate what is real and imagined just as how her character is experiencing fear and confusion. While acting, she also had to make sure that she herself was not confused between reality and imagination.

Source: Oricon

TV Asahi Spring 2017 drama starring Watanabe Mayu finally sets its title as "Sayonara, Enari-kun"

TV Asahi's Spring 2017 drama starring AKB48 member Watanabe Mayu finally have a new title following the controversy over its original title. The new title will be "Sayonara, Enari-kun" (Goodbye Enari-kun) and the content will be slightly modified as well.

The original title "Sayonara, Kiritanpo" received strong objection from Akita Prefecture as the word kiritanpo in the title brings to mind the pubic region of men due to the theme of the drama. However, the same word also stands for the signature pounded rice skewer from Akita Prefecture. The original story features Watanabe as the Heisei-era version of Abe Sada, a Japanese woman who is remembered for erotically asphyxiating her lover, Kichizo Ishida on 18 May 1936 before cutting off his penis and testicles and carrying them around with her in her kimono. The drama's story was conceptualised by AKB48's producer Akimoto Yasushi and written by Kiyasu Kohei. Watanabe plays the lead character Kiriyama Saori who desires true love but keeps meeting bad men who defy her expectations in various ways e.g. a married man treating her as his mistress, behaving badly after getting drunk or has the habit of inflicting domestic violence. In order to get back at them, she subjects them to physical torture just like what Abe Sada did.

In the revamped drama which will begin its run from 30 April in the Sundays 12.40am timeslot, Watanabe will play 25-year-old Kiriyama Saori who had many relationships in the past and is now on the search for pure love. As such, she embarks on a journey to find a marriage partner and encounters a variety of men such as a womaniser, mummy's boy and stingy guy. Saori then gets back at these men for their betrayals of her ideals for pure love. As for the title, it refers to actor Enari Kazuki whose role in the drama will only be known as the story progresses but the only thing known at this stage is that he will play a bad guy. However, there will be no references at all to Abe Sada nor kiritanpo in the drama.

Despite the controversy over the title, Watanabe expressed her excitement at playing a character which is totally different from her image as an idol and hopes that this will be a turning point in her career. With regard to her character Saori, Watanabe described her as someone with an unique character with a pure heart looking for pure love with strong determination.

On the other hand, Enari commented that this is a drama which has exceeded his expectations and that he will be taking on this challenge without knowing exactly how the story will turn out. As for working with Watanabe, he described his co-star as someone with a cute image but revealed that everyone will be shocked by the character she will play in this drama and is looking forward to working with her.

Co-stars in this drama include Ikeda Narushi who plays Mura-chan, the manager of a bar and Saori's friend.

Sources: Sanspo / Yomiuri Hochi / Oricon

Japan premiere event of new movie "Mugen no Juunin"

The Japan premiere event of new movie "Mugen no Juunin" was held at Tokyo International Forum on 19 April which was attended by the director Miike Takashi and cast members Kimura Takuya, Sugisaki Hana, Fukushi Souta, Ichihara Hayato, Toda Erika and Mitsushima Shinnosuke. The movie will be shown in cinemas from 29 April.

During the event, it was announced that the movie has been selected to take part in the 70th Cannes International Film Festival's Out of Competition department so Miike, Kimura and Sugisaki will be attending the screening at the film festival together. Kimura commented that he is very happy that the film has been selected to take part in this film festival with such a long history and revealed that Miike called him personally to tell him the good news. As for Sugisaki who will be going to Cannes for the first time, she also expressed her joy at being able to participate in this movie and hopes that many people can watch it. For Miike, this will be his sixth film taking part in this film festival but this is the first time his movie is chosen as a special screening work.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Keyakizaka46 to star in new NTV drama "Zankoku na Kankyakutachi"

Keyakizaka46 will be starring in the new NTV drama "Zankoku na Kankyakutachi" (The cruel audience) which will begin its run from 17 May in the Wednesdays 12.59am timeslot. This will be the idol group's first leading role in a NTV drama. The concept and original material is from Akimoto Yasushi while the scriptwriter and director is Yajima Kouichi.

The story is set in the near future where in a bid to protect one's privacy, the names of the teachers and students are not revealed to one another in schools. Under such conditions, 21 female senior high school students suddenly find themselves being confined within their classroom and the only way out is to earn as many "likes" as possible from the "audience" tuning in to the live feed from their classroom which shows what they are doing. This causes confusion within the confined space and the classmates start to doubt one another while striving to get out of the classroom safely by resorting to various things to earn the favour of the audience.

Member Hirate Yurina said that one of the biggest selling points of this drama would be seeing Keyakizaka46's members in a different light as they usually have a cool image. Although they had difficulties with acting, they tried their best to overcome the challenges together and deal with the apprehension they felt. With regard to her character Hayama Yuzuki, Hirate said that the similarity between herself and Yuzuki is that they are both quite particular about food so she felt a sense of familiarity while playing this character.

The theme song of the drama will be Keyakizaka46's song "Eccentric" which was included in the normal edition of their latest single "Fukyouwaon" released on 5 April. The drama will also be shown via Hulu once it finishes its run on NTV.

Sources: / Oricon

UVERworld to sing the theme song for new movie "Gintama"

Rock band UVERworld will be singing the theme song for new movie "Gintama" starring Oguri Shun. The song titled "DECIDED" was specially written by the vocalist TAKUYA for this movie and he commented that they are very honoured to be able to sing the theme song for the film which boasts of a star-studded cast and is based on a popular manga well-known internationally.

"Gintama" is based on the same-titled manga by Sorachi Hideaki which has been serialised since 2004 and has sold more than 51 million copies to date and had an anime series and 2 anime movies released in 2010 and 2013 to date. The story is set in a parallel world at Edo where aliens from space called Amanto have conquered Earth. Oguri's character Sakata Gintoki works as a freelancer who still believes in honouring the samurai spirit despite the waning influence of the samurais and the story talks about his adventures with his friends. Co-stars include Suda Masaki, Hashimoto Kanna, Nagasawa Masami, Yagira Yuuya, Nakamura Kankuro and Domoto Tsuyoshi. The movie will be shown in cinemas from 14 July.


TV Tokyo drama SP "Pensees" starring Perfume to be shown via Netflix

TV Tokyo drama SP "Pensees" starring Perfume will be streamed exclusively within Japan via Netflix from 19 April. The drama SP was first shown via TV Tokyo on 31 March and 1 April and featured the three members Nishiwaki Ayaka (Acchan), Kashino Yuka (Kashiyuka) and Omoto Ayano (Nocchi) as the leads. The story is based on an original script written by Kizara Izumi with the themes of what it means to have a dream, work and die. Nishiwaki plays a company employee nicknamed Don-chan while Kashino plays Okamido who works as in her family business and Omoto plays Noribuu who is a freeter. The three of them became close friends since primary school as they went home together. When the three of them decide to buy a European-style bungalow which they have been eyeing for a long time, the real estate company offers to sell it to them at a very low price on the condition that they look after someone named Rikimaru. Upon agreeing to this, the trio move into the bungalow where they start to ponder over their dreams, work and death through their chats with one another.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Completion screening event of new movie "Itsumata, kimi to ~ Herijunzailai~"

The completion screening event of new movie "Itsumata, kimi to ~ Herijunzailai ~" was held on 18 April which was attended by the director Fukagawa Yoshihiro, scriptwriter Yamamoto Mutsumi and cast members Mukai Osamu, Ono Machiko, Kishimoto Kayoko and Narita Ishin. The movie which will be shown in cinemas from 24 June, is based on the life of Mukai's grandmother Ashimura Tomoko. When Mukai was in university, he compiled the diary entries of his grandmother into a book which was published with the pool of funds from the family and presented to Tomoko on her 90th birthday. The book contains stories of Tomoko and her husband Goro during the tough post-war days when resources were scarce and how they tried to survive while supporting each other. Ono plays the role of Tomoko while Mukai plays the role of Goro in the movie. 7 years ago, Mukai came up with the idea of making the book into a real-life movie and participated actively in the production along with Fukagawa and Yamamoto.

Mukai said that he felt responsible in various ways to ensure that the film could be completed as if he was sending his child to see the world. He also revealed that on the last day of the filming of NHK morning drama "Gegege no Nyobo" in 2009, he passed a copy of his grandmother's diary to Yamamoto who was the scriptwriter but it probably turned out for the better that the movie was only completed at this time thanks to the cast and staff members he managed to assemble later. In this era where family ties tend to be weaker than before, he also hoped that the movie will serve as a catalyst to get family members talking to one another. Meanwhile, Ono revealed that she initially thought that Mukai was the one who chose her to play his grandmother but it turned out that he had given up the right to choose the cast lineup right from the start so she was rather disappointed to know about this. Mukai explained that he found it difficult to think of someone to play his grandmother so he had to leave it to others to make the decision.

Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo / Sponichi / Oricon /

Shiono Akihisa & Miyama Karen rumoured to be dating?

Shiono Akihisa and Miyama Karen are rumoured to be dating as reported in the media on 19 April. According to reports, the two of them played lovers in the stage play "Chiisana kekkon shiki ~ Itsuka, ii kaze wa fuku ~" last year and spent a lot of time together which led to the start of their relationship. On the first day of their stage play's run on 6 April, Shiono was asked about his impression of Miyama where he praised her for being very cute and playful. When asked if he saw her as a possible marriage partner, Shiono gave an affirmative answer. Meanwhile, Miyama also uploaded photos of them together on her blog which showed how close they were. With regard to these reports, their agencies both denied the rumour and said that they are just friends.

Shiono won the 2011 Junon Super Boy Contest's Judges Special Award and AOKI award and made his debut in the drama "GTO" the following year. As for Miyama, she made her debut as a child actor in 2003 and gained a lot of attention for her performance in the 2004 drama "Boku to kanojo to kanojo no ikiru michi" starring Kusanagi Tsuyoshi when she was 7 years old.

Sources: Yomiuri Hochi / Oricon

Ishibashi Anna to appear in new WOWOW drama "Miyazawa Kenji no Shokutaku"

Ishibashi Anna will be appearing in the new WOWOW drama "Miyazawa Kenji no Shokutaku" starring Suzuki Ryohei which begins its run from June in the Saturdays 10pm timeslot. The drama which is based on the same-titled manga by Uonome Santa, features Suzuki as young Miyazawa, a poet and author of children's literature, known for his famous works such as "Ginga Tetsudo no Yoru" and "Ame nimo makezu" who had the image of being simple and eccentric but will be painted as a humourous, curious and innocent person. Through his love for food and classical music, the drama will be a touching tale about Miyazawa and the people around him. After leaving his home in Hanamaki, Iwate in the 10th year of the Taisho era (1921), Miyazawa returns home for the first time in 8  months when he makes the croquette he tasted in Tokyo for his family and realises the importance of sharing your happiness with others.

Ishibashi who has worked with Suzuki several times previously such as in TBS drama "Tennou no Ryouriban and NHK programme "LIFE! ~ Jinsei ni sasageru conto ~", will be playing Miyazawa's beloved younger sister Toshi who died at the young age of 24 and inspired him to write the poem "Eiketsu no Asa". As Toshi loved to play the violin, Ishibashi also had to learn how to play it from scratch and was glad that the character setting wasn't that she was an expert in this. She expressed joy at being able to work closely with Suzuki this time and hopes to be able to show the cheerfulness, considerate, gentle and strong sides of Toshi who loved, respected and trusted her elder brother.

Source: Oricon

Nakajo Ayami to appear in FujiTV drama SP "Yo ni mo kimyou na monogatari Spring 2017 SP"

Nakajo Ayami will be appearing in FujiTV drama SP "Yo ni mo kimyou na monogatari Spring 2017 SP" which will be shown at 9pm on 29 April. She will be taking on the leading role in one of the segments titled "Yume Otoko" (Man in the dream) which is based on an urban legend named This Man which originated from New York in 2006 where a woman visited a psychiatric hospital and claimed that she had been seeing a mysterious man in her dreams even though she had never met him before. During her visit, she drew a portrait of the man. A few days later, another male patient came to the hospital and said the same thing. Coincidentally, the portrait of the man in his dreams as drawn by this patient was identical to the one drawn by the female patient. This led to the establishment of a website by several doctors who wanted to investigate whether this man does exist. To date, about 2,000 people have claimed to see this man in their dreams even though they have not met him before.

Nakajo plays the role of Midori, an university student who has nightmares every night but cannot recall the content by the time she wakes up. During a lecture, she learns that there are messages hidden in dreams and later draws the face of the man she sees in her dreams on a illustration software. After she uploads the picture to Twitter and asks for help to resolve the situation of seeing this man in her dreams, she gets an overwhelming response from netizens and the friends around her start to report seeing this man in their dreams as well.

Nakajo commented that as the theme of this story includes fear and mass panic, this is especially fitting in this era. Before she acted in this drama, she had heard about the urban legend as well and thinks that it could happen to anyone. Nowadays, news and rumours spread very easily through the Internet and social media so she hopes to be able to show how fear can spread in the same way through her acting.

Source: Oricon

Monday, April 17, 2017

Top 10 movies box office ranking for the weekend of 15th & 16th April 2017

Numbers in brackets indicate the number of cinemas showing the movie:

1) Meitantei Conan Karakurenai no Love Letter (352)

2) Eiga Crayon Shin-chan Shuurai!! Uchujin Shiriri (347)

3) SING (359)

4) Moana (359)

5) Ghost In The Shell (327)

6) Eiga Doraemon Nobita no Nankyoku Kachi Kochi Daibouken (362)

7) Kong: Skull Island (336)

8) ReLIFE (203)

9) The Great Wall (188)

10) Hirunaka no Ryuusei (272)


Production press conference of TV Asahi Spring 2017 drama "Joshuu Seven"

The production press conference of TV Asahi Spring 2017 drama "Joshuu Seven" was held on 17 April which was attended by cast members Gouriki Ayame, Yamaguchi Sayaka, Triendl Reina, Hiraiwa Kami, Kino Hana, Hashimoto Manami and Adachi Yumi who were all dressed in pink and walked on a runway as to parade their outfits as if they were doing a fashion show. The drama which begins its run from 21 April in the Fridays 11.15pm timeslot, is written by Nishiogi Yumie and features seven female prisoners who had committed various crimes and describes their interaction and interpersonal relationships while behind bars. Gouriki plays the lead character Kamiwatari Kotone who was a geigi in Kyoto sentenced to five years in prison (the lowest sentence for this crime) for the murder of her fellow geigi while in a drunken stupor. Although all the evidence pointed to Kotone as the murderer, she insisted that she did not do it but to no avail. During her imprisonment, Kotone is bullied by other inmates but doesn't think much of it because she had been used to the tough disciplinary actions by her seniors in the geigi world. Unknown to the others, Kotone has a lot of strength, can easily fight anyone with aikido, pretends to be stupid but is actually very smart, fluent in English and French and has very good hearing. At the end of the drama, the reason why Kotone was framed for the murder will also be revealed.

Gouriki revealed that like her character Kotone, she has a lot of strength since she was a child and fought with boys when she was in primary school. There was also a time when she got into constant arguments with her mother but they are very close now so she wondered why she had been that rebellious then. Hashimoto chipped in to say that she had seen Gouriki's action scenes up close so she wanted to get a stand-in for her clashes with Gouriki because she didn't think that she would stand a chance against the latter.

Adachi who plays a prisoner caught for repeated dine-and-dash crimes, joked that people may think that she is still poor after all these years to resort to such crimes because she was known for playing a poor girl in her signature work "Ienakiko" when she was a child actor. On the other hand, Triendl who had to learn how to speak crudely like a gangster, bought the manga "Bukkomi no Taku" as preparation for the filming. Meanwhile, Hashimoto who usually played sexy characters in dramas, said that she would conceal her sexiness in this drama but her co-stars protested that she was still sexy even in the prisoner's uniform which covered most of her body.

Sources: Oricon 1 / Oricon 2

"Teiichi no Kuni" spin-off drama to be shown via FujiTV from 24 April

In conjunction with the impending release of new movie "Teiichi no Kuni" starring Suda Masaki from 29 April, FujiTV will be showing a 5-part spin-off drama featuring the 5 main actors who play characters fighting for the post of student council chairman with Teiichi (Suda) i.e. Nomura Shuhei, Takeuchi Ryoma, Mamiya Shotaro, Shison Jun and Chiba Yuudai. Each episode will feature one actor as the lead and the 5 episodes will be shown consecutively from 24 April up to the movie's release date. The last episode featuring Takeuchi will also see Suda making a guest appearance.

Source: Sanspo

Supporting cast lineup for new WOWOW drama "Haru ga kita" announced

The supporting cast lineup for new WOWOW drama "Haru ga kita" starring EXO's Kai has been announced. The drama is based on the same-titled short story in the last book "Tonari no Onna" written by Mukoda Kuniko who passed away in 1981 and features on human nature, love and the subtleties of the heart. The theme of the drama will focus on the regeneration of the family and deviate from the original story with newly-added developments. Kai will be playing the role of Lee Ji-won, a cameraman from South Korea who meets Kishigawa Naoko, a 31-year-old single lady who works as a saleswoman at the lingerie department of a departmental store. Due to Ji-won's presence, Naoko's family slowly goes through a change which leads to the exposure of secrets which the family members are hiding from one another. This ultimately leads to the breakdown of the family and a sad romance between Naoko and Ji-won.

The heroine Naoko will be played by Kurashina Kana while her father Shuji and mother Sue will be played by Sano Shiro and Takahata Atsuko. Naoko's younger sister Junko will be played by Furuhata Seika. With regard to working with Kai for the first time, Kurashina said that even though he is younger, than her, he can be relied on and would react to their reactions in a detailed manner. As their characters in the drama aren't the flashy type, they will take their own time and pace to show the relationship between Naoko and Ji-won to the best of their abilities.

Source: Oricon

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Preview of "Joshuu Seven" - Spring 2017

Title: Joshuu Seven 女囚セブン (Seven female prisoners)
Official website: here
Official Twitter: here
O.A. Start Date: 21 April 2017
Timeslot: Fridays 11.15pm
Broadcast by: TV Asahi
Theme song: "Dokubana" by Atarashii gakkou no leaders
Cast: Gouriki Ayame, Yamaguchi Sayaka, Triendl Reina, Hiraiwa Kami, Hashimoto Manami, Kino Hana, Adachi Yumi, Kaji Meiko, Takashima Masanobu, Naitou Risa, Kusumi Koharu, Judai Satoshi, Oohata Shieri, Ikeuchi Mansaku, Shishido Miwako, Nagano Munenori, Tamura Kentaro, Terakawa Rina

Preview of "Frankenstein no Koi" - Spring 2017

Title: Frankenstein no Koi フランケンシュタインの恋 (Frankenstein's Love)
Official website: here
Official Instagram: here
Official Twitter: here
O.A. Start Date: 23 April 2017
Timeslot: Sundays 10.30pm (first episode at 10pm)
Broadcast by: NTV
Theme song: "Bouningen" by RADWIMPS
Insert song: "Shiawase no Uta" by Uru
Cast: Ayano Go, Nikaidou Fumi, Yagira Yuuya, Kawaei Rina, Shinohara Atsushi, Hayama Shono, Kino Hana, Kuroda Daisuke, Morioka Ryu, Mizusawa Erena, Ohnishi Ayaka, Tajima Yumika, Nakamura Mukau, Nagaoka Tasuku, Arai Hirofumi, Yamauchi Takaya, Mitsuishi Ken & Emoto Tasuku

Preview of "Sakurako-san no ashimoto ni wa shitai ga umatteiru" - Spring 2017

Title: Sakurako-san no ashimoto ni wa shitai ga umatteiru 櫻子さんの足下には死体が埋まっている (There is a corpse buried under Sakurako-san's feet)
Official website: here
Official Twitter: here
O.A. Start Date: 23 April 2017
Timeslot: Sundays 9pm
Broadcast by: FujiTV
Original manga by: Ota Shiori
Theme song: "PICK IT UP" by Kis-My-Ft2
Ending theme: "LEAN ON ME" by BuZZ
Cast: Mizuki Arisa, Fujigaya Taisuke, Takashima Masahiro, Shinkawa Yua, Hosoda Yoshihiko, Kondou Kouen, Watanabe Kenkichi, Tanaka Sougen, Washio Machiko, Kamikawa Takaya

First-day-screening event of new movie "ReLIFE"

The first-day-screening event of new movie "ReLIFE" was held at Shinjuku Picadilly on 15 April which was attended by the director Furusawa Takeshi and cast members Nakagawa Taishi, Taira Yuna, Chiba Yuudai, Takasugi Mahiro, Ikeda Elaiza and Okazaki Sae. The movie which is based on the manga by Yayoiso published on comico, features Nakagawa as the lead character Kaizaki Arata who is a 27-year-old NEET approached by a mysterious man Yoake Ryo (Chiba) from the ReLife Research Institute who offers him the opportunity to go back to his high school days 10 years ago for a limited period of one year as their test subject. During the period, he gradually falls in love with his classmate Hishiro Chizuru (Taira).

Before the event, the official Twitter page asked for questions from the fans to the cast so that they could answer them today. When asked who they would like to swap characters with, Nakagawa said that he would be keen to play Chiba's role Yoake which received a lot of praise from the director. In response, Chiba teased Nakagawa that he could take up the role since he is a national treasure-level handsome guy which made the latter embarrassed. On the other hand, Taira was keen to take on Nakagawa's role because she wanted to experience how it is like to be a national-treasure-level handsome guy.

At the end of the event, director Furusawa read aloud a letter addressed to Nakagawa which thanked him for supporting his co-stars, helping the staff in their work and taking on the leading role. Upon hearing this, Nakagawa's eyes were brimming with tears and said that he was slightly embarrassed by the director's gesture before thanking him with a deep bow.