Thursday, February 01, 2018

Ando Sakura announced to be the lead of NHK's 99th morning drama "Manpuku"

Ando Sakura was announced to be the lead of NHK's 99th morning drama "Manpuku" during a press conference held at its HQ in Tokyo on 31 January. The drama which consists of 151 episodes, will begin its run from 1 October 2018 to 30 March 2019. Filming is expected to begin in the middle of May 2018. This will make Ando as the first "mother-heroine" in NHK's morning drama history to date. She had appeared in a supporting role in 2011's morning drama "Ohisama" before.

The story will be written by Fukuda Yasushi who is known for his works such as "HERO", "Galileo" and "Ryomaden" and this will be his attempt at writing a morning drama. The story set from the days before WWII to the period of high economic growth in Osaka will feature a heroine modelled after Ando Masako and her husband Ando Momofuku who created the instant ramen. "Manpuku" will be the 99th morning drama in the history of NHK's morning dramas and the 42nd production by NHK Osaka. Usually, the morning dramas produced by NHK Osaka will choose their heroines during an audition. However, Ando was selected without an audition thus making her the second to be picked in this way since 2013's "Gochisousan" when An also became the heroine in this manner.

Ando will play the heroine named Tachibana Fukuko from the age of 18 to her 60s who tries to survive the tough times in Osaka with her husband from before WWII to the rapid economic development era as they overcome various setbacks before they succeed in creating instant noodles. The chief producer Manabe itsuki commented that Ando is one of the best actresses in Japan and they felt that her fantastic acting skills will make this drama very interesting. Besides, as the heroine's life of over 40 years is going to be featured in this drama, they needed to get someone who could act well enough to take on this challenge. However, they also had their reservations at first since she had only given birth last year and needed to be in Osaka for a long time. As such, the staff will do their best to support her as she tries to juggle the filming and taking care of her child while in Osaka.

During the press conference, Ando was visibly very nervous and kept saying that she felt embarrassed to appear in front of the media today. Although Ando has always been keen to appear in a morning drama, she didn't think that she would still stand a chance since she had failed multiple auditions for the heroine in the past. She felt that there was no more hope especially now that she's a mother (the leads of the morning dramas tend to be young and single). When news of the offer came to her in early October last year, it was a strange coincidence that she was watching "Warotenka" with her child in her arms at that time. Her first instinct was to turn down the offer because of her young daughter and she already had plans to cut down on work for the time being. Ando then gave it a lot of thought before she could finally accept the offer in November and prepare herself to face the media.

Ando revealed that she wasn't keen on the idea at first but the words from her husband Emoto Tasuku and family members nudged her to give it a shot. Emoto told her that she might be able to do it and suggested that she explore various possibilities rather than think of it in a too realistic manner. Her parents Okuda Eiji and Ando Kazu and her in-laws Emoto Akira and Tsunogae Kazue all questioned why she was having reservations with Tsunogae even "taunting" her to quit being an actress if she were to give up this role. Her father suggested that she shouldn't give up on this adventure. In addition, the staff of "Manpuku" were very considerate and welcoming of her bringing her daughter along for the filming in Osaka so this made her decide to take on the heroine's role especially since the working conditions have been improved due to NHK's reforms.

Ando made her debut as the heroine in the movie "Kaze no Sotogawa" in 2007 and won many awards for her performance in the 2009 movie "Ai no Mukidashi". She got married to Emoto Tasuku in 2012 and gave birth to their first child in June last year.

Sources: Oricon / Nikkansports 1 / Nikkansports 2 /


Anonymous said...

It kind of... a waste of talent (?) i'd never saw asadora as something that great, no offense though. With her talent and popularity, she could star in taiga drama instead, right?

Anonymous said...


Chiaki said...

Well, I don't think the asadora is inferior to the Taiga in any way and that they are quite different in nature in the first place so it's difficult to compare and say which is more prestigious or more demanding to do. Asadora lasts for a good six months, the filming period can be close to a year but they have a pretty tight schedule since it's 15 mins for 6 days a week. On the other hand, the Taiga lasts for a year, has full length episodes and with a very long filming period of more than a year. Both are equally demanding on the staff and cast. Actually, some may even argue that the asadora actually is better in terms of branding and popularity given the higher ratings and constant exposure in the media while the Taiga is languishing in terms of ratings and sometimes badly bashed by the critics and viewers.

I see the significance of Ando being selected as the heroine in two ways: her acting is already at a certain level as compared to untested new names and the fact that she's already a mother despite most if not all asadora heroines so far being comparatively younger and single. She herself already said that she had failed to make it past the paper screening stage for past auditions and didn't think that she would ever get the chance especially after her marriage and childbirth. It's a daring choice by NHK but I think it's a good one because it shows their willingness to break out of tradition and that their new reforms at improving the working environment can allow a mother of a young baby to juggle work and family at the same time.

I was actually kinda worried about who they might pick for Manpuku especially since they made such a hoo-ha over the 100th asadora and announced Hirose Suzu first before Ando even though the latter's drama airs first. I'm actually quite glad to see that Ando got the role. It takes a lot of commitment to watch the asadora every day but if it's Ando, I think I can give it a shot at making Manpuku the first asadora I will watch.

alfred reyes said...

I agree with Chiaki. Nuff said. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I think Taiga drama should be more action packed than dialogue and more dark. I know they show it at 6pm Sundays but if they can move it to later time and more graphic, their ratings will rise.

For Asadora, as I watched a lot by now.. I'm looking forward this because for the first time, a best actress leading an Asadora. I watched almost all her films and definitely she can deliver. Please that audition stuff, I don't believe since maybe after Mare. They now cast famous actresses just to fit the young and innocent brand of Asadora. This one though changed it at least.

junny said...

I also agree with Chiaki and I like this choice for Manpuku. After all that fuss about Hirose Suzu, NHK had to show they didn't mean any slight to Manpuku by casting a strong (if not stronger) actress and they did right by picking Ando Sakura. And yes, it's really nice that they chose an actress who is not a "sweet young thing" (who usually can't act), but is an established actress in her own right and also a mother. That goes a long way in Japan.

Anyway, the asadora has been gaining prestige in recent years, and it's only right that they pick actresses who can at least carry a drama for six months. A good leading actress can make people watch a drama no matter how long it is, so I think NHK has managed to salvage it this time by picking Ando.