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 / Eiga.com