Friday, October 28, 2016

Ikuta Toma & Hirose Suzu in forbidden romance for new movie "Sensei!"

Ikuta Toma and Hirose Suzu will be involved in a forbidden romance between a teacher and his student for the new movie "Sensei!" (Teacher) which will be shown during autumn 2017. The movie which is based on the same-titled manga by Kawahara Kazune that was serialised in Bessatsu Margaret between 1996 and 2003 and had sold more than 5.7 million copies to date, features Ikuta as a world history teacher Ito Kousaku who seems aloof on the surface but treats his students very well and thinks a lot for them. Upon interacting with Ito, his student Shimada Hibiki (Hirose) falls in love with him and confesses her feelings for him. However, Ito is hardly moved by this as he had grown to distrust women due to his last breakup. Nonetheless, Hibiki's love finally moves him and the two of them begin a forbidden romance as they grapple with the tough circumstances they are in.

As Ikuta had worked with the director Miki Takahiro before in the 2012 movies "Bokura ga ita", this is the first time in 5 years that he is appearing in another romance movie. The script will be written by Okada Mari who was responsible for the anime, novel and movie versions of "Ano hi mita hana no namae wo bokutachi wa mada shiranai" and "Kokoro ga sakebitagatterunda". In preparation for the filming, Hirose had to undergo more than 1.5 months of training in archery as Hibiki is a member of the archery club.

Ikuta commented that he is looking forward to working with Hirose for the first time and hopes to be able to play his role well. As for Hirose, she feels a bit shy about acting in such a love story but will try hard to convey her character's love for Ito-sensei.

Filming begins next month.

Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo / Yomiuri Hochi / Sponichi / Oricon

Fujiwara Tatsuya & Ito Hideaki's new movie "22 Nenme no Kokuhaku - Watashi ga satsujinhan desu -" to be shown from 10 June 2017

Fujiwara Tatsuya and Ito Hideaki's new movie "22 Nenme no Kokuhaku - Watashi ga satsujinhan desu -" will be shown in cinemas from 10 June 2017. The poster and latest trailer was also released on 27 October where Fujiwara who plays Sonezaki Masato, a handsome man who appears with his book "Watashi ga satsujinhan desu" (I am a murderer) that contains a confession of him being the culprit for a case which took place 22 years ago. Back in 1995, five people were killed through brutal means but the criminal i.e. Sonezaki only surfaced 22 years later when the statute of limitations had expired and even holds a press conference to promote his confession book. Ito plays the role of Makimura Kou who is a police detective investigating the case all these years but to no avail.

Sources: Oricon /

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Showbiz insiders gather for the wake of Hira Mikijirou

About 500 showbiz insiders gathered at Aoyama Sougisho for the wake of Hira Mikijirou who passed away suddenly at the age of 82 years old. Hira was found dead in his house's bathroom by his son Takehiro on 23rd October but as the cause of death was unknown, the family members decided to choose the 22nd as his date of demise. Among the attendees were Hira's ex-wife Sakuma Yoshiko, Takehiro who was also the host of the funeral, director Asari Keita, Kitaoji Kinya, Mita Yoshiko, Watanabe Ken, Minami Kaho, Uchino Seiyo, Sato Ryuta, Honda Hirotaro, Enoki Takaaki, Hayashi Kento, Yamazaki Hirona, Maeda Bibari and Takahashi Keiko. Hira's funeral will be held on the following day from 11am. As Hira's family wants to hold a simple funeral, they will not getting a posthumous Buddhist name for him.

At the altar decorated by 3,000 flowers including 1,200 white roses, Texas bluebells, moth orchids and 500 green carnations, Hira's photo taken three years ago was used as his potrait. A letter written by Takehiro was placed in his father's coffin.

After paying their respects, the attendees were interviewed by the media. Sakuma commented that Hira will be able to depart without a care after being sent off by so many people and expressed her thanks to him. Takahashi who worked with Hira on a Ninagawa Yukio stage play with Hira, expressed her gratitude to be able to work with him and said that it could be that Ninagawa was feeling lonely and summoned Hira to be with him. Mita who had lost yet another precious fellow acting, commented that she felt renewed resolve to work hard as she looked at Hira's photo although she was shocked by his sudden departure. Uchino expressed how Hira's passion for acting had influenced his juniors and he hoped that the latter could continue to look at their acting while drinking delicious wine in heaven.

Sources: Sanspo / Yomiuri Hochi  / Sponichi / Oricon

Matsuzaka Toori revealed to be the voice actor for new Death God Bepo in "Death Note Light up the NEW world"

It was announced on 25 October that Matsuzaka Toori is the voice actor for the new Death God Bepo appearing in the new movie "Death Note Light up the NEW world" which will be shown in cinemas from 29 October. Bepo is a 189cm-tall gold Death God with six fingers who was the original owner of the Death Note in Ryuuzaki's possession (Ikematsu Sousuke). Matsuzaka who is a fan of the Death Note manga, commented that he was very happy when he got the offer to be a part of the Death Note series.

As this is the first time that he is acting as a Death God, Matsuzaka said that the viewers might not recognise his voice if they don't know who Bepo's voice actor is which he thinks is a good thing since this will allow them to enjoy his performance without any preset impressions. Besides Bepo, the two other Death Gods in the new movie i.e. Ryuuk and Aama will be played by Nakamura Shido and Sawashiro Miyuki respectively.

Sources: Oricon /

Press conference of new NHK drama "Yamaonna Nikki ~ Onnatachi wa itadaki wo mezashite ~"

The press conference for new NHK drama "Yamaonna Nikki ~ Onnatachi wa itadaki wo mezashite ~" was held on 26 October which was attended by cast members Kudo Yuki, Natsuna and Hagiwara Masato. The drama which is based on Minato Kanae's novel and consists of 7 episodes, will begin its run from 6 November in the Sundays 10pm timeslot and features Kudo in her first drama appearance since 1994's NHK drama "Aozora ni chindon". She plays a newbie mountain climbing guide interacting with various female climbers who have different issues in their lives.

The filming was done at various mountains such as Mount Myoko in Niigata and the Kita Alps before the mountain climbing season ended this year. Kudo appeared at the event by dragging her right leg where she then revealed that her leg got injured during the filming on the mountains. As there was a scene shot on 15 October where she had to drink a lot of water at one go, she felt like going to the toilet after the filming and slipped while going down the mountain in a hurry. As a result, she suffered a serious sprain in her right ankle which is expected to take two weeks to recover. Looking back, Kudo said that she would have preferred wetting her pants than to suffer this injury which led Hagiwara to remind her that the mountains pose a degree of danger to those who aren't careful.

In order to proceed with the rest of the filming, Kudo had to rely on ice packs to apply on her leg and appeared without her crutches for the phototaking session. Despite the injury, Kudo who is an avid mountain climber and is the navigator for NHK's "Jissen! Nippon Hyakumeisan", said that she might become the owner of a mountain cottage by the time she is more than 60 years old. If there is a day when she can no longer make a living in showbiz, she will go and become a mountain guide since this is something she enjoys doing.

Due to the filming being done outdoors, it was largely dependent on weather conditions so the cast and crew had huge difficulties moving around and finding accomodation. However, this also meant that their teamwork was largely boosted due to the tough conditions. Kudo even took photos of their production process with her iPhone and uploaded them to Facebook since she thought that it would be a pity not to share these interesting moments.

Sources: Yomiuri Hochi / Oricon /

Premiere screening event of new movie "Oke Roujin"

The premiere screening event of new movie "Oke Roujin" was held at Hamarikyu Asahi Hall on 26 October which was attended by the director Hosokawa Toru, the original novel's author Araki Gen and cast members An, Sakaguchi Kentaro, Kuroshima Yuina, Kayashima Narumi, Ishikura Saburo, Komatsu Masao, Sasano Takashi, Hidari Tonpei and Fujita Yumiko. The movie will be shown in cinemas from 11 November.

An plays the role of Chizuru who is a senior high school teacher assigned to become the conductor of an amateur orchestra Umegaoka Orchestra which is made up of the elderly. During the filming, the veteran actors were talking so much and so quickly that the younger actors were trying to hold back their laughter. As the veterans were so good in their acting, Sakaguchi admitted that there were times he felt that he was overpowered by them on the filming set.

As the veteran actors were still chatting when the cast was supposed to line up for the phototaking session, An called for their attention and even guided Komatsu to the correct position. When asked for their views on such a young lead actress, the veterans praised her for being able to control the situation and lead them comfortably. An who had spent six months learning how to play the violin and conduct an orchestra, commented that both were difficult for her but her co-stars all chipped in to say that she had done a fine job and they were able to follow her lead without a worry. An also commented to say that this is a movie which is suitable to be watched by families and even hoped that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology would give a recommendation for this movie which led everyone to laugh.

The director Hosokawa said that he was very happy and honoured to be able to get such a fine lineup of veteran actors who he had seen when he was a child so he felt like they were like the Avengers of the Showa era. In response, Sasano joked that when they gathered for the filming in September last year, he was quite worried if any of them might not make it to the completion screening this year (meaning if anyone might pass away) so he was glad that everyone was around this time. Upon hearing this, Hidari retorted by asking who Sasano was referring to when he made that remark.

During the screening, the amateur orchestra and An who was the conductor performed "Pomp and Circumstance No.1" which she commented with a smile that she was grateful to be able to perform this for the first time in front of an audience.

Sources: Sponichi / Oricon 1 / Oricon 2 /

Completion screening event of new movie "Kofuku no Alibi"

The completion screening event of new movie "Kofuku no Alibi Picture" was held on 26 October which was attended by the director Jinnai Takanori and cast members Yanagiba Toshiro, Asari Yousuke, Yamazaki Shigenori, Sato Jiro, Kinami Haruka, Masaki Reiya, Watanabe Dai and Iriyama Noriko. This is the third movie directed by Jinnai and it will be shown in cinemas from 18 November. Nakai Kiichi who is filming in Kyoto, was absent from the event.

The film is an omnibus-style comedy talking about the key events in people's lives such as childbirth, becoming an adult, matchmaking meeting, marriage and funerals. Yanagiba revealed that Jinnai had called him personally to offer him a role in the movie and said that it was fine for him to reject it. However, as Jinnai repeated the same words thrice, Yanagiba found it difficult to say no. Upon hearing this, Jinnai praised Yanagiba for having an even deeper understanding of his role than him so he was always surprised by him during the filming. He also thanked Yanagiba for taking on the movie even though he was supposedly on vacation and handled the long lines very well.

Jinnai thanked the audience for coming to support the movie and said that although he's an accomplished actor (upon hearing this, Sato burst out laughing), he still has a long way to go as a director. However, with such a wonderful cast, he is very thankful for their presence in the movie. Nakai commented jokingly in his video message that if the movie is interesting to the audience, that means that this is due to the hard work of the cast who put in their best for Jinnai but if it is boring, then that is Jinnai's fault as the director. In response to this, Jinnai agreed with Nakai's words but clarified that he has never appeared in a movie so far where he thought that the director was really bad. Nonetheless, Jinnai said that he doesn't expect everyone to be satisfied with the movie but hopes that those who do will spread the word to the people around them. However, if they feel otherwise, they can just tell their friends and families that his movie is somewhat similar to "Kimi no na wa" (the No.1 movie in Japan for the last 9 weeks) which led the audience to burst out laughing.

Sources: Sanspo / Sponichi /

Sakuraba Nanami, Asano Tadanobu & Yukisada Isao win APN Awards

Sakuraba Nanami, Asano Tadanobu and director Yukisada Isao were given the APN Awards on 26 October for their contributions to Asia's film industry for the year. APN stands for the Asia Pacific Producers Network which is made up of producers from 7 Asian countries including Japan and China.

Sakuraba who will be appearing in the Hong Kong & China joint product "MANHUNT" directed by John Woo that will be shown in cinemas next year and had acted in the Taiwanese drama "Love of Sandstorm" which began in September, had been going on homestays in Taiwan and Shangai since last year and going for classes to learn Mandarin and Korean. As such, she has become fluent in Mandarin and is able to conduct daily conversations in Korean. When she was making her speech, Sakuraba spoke in Japanese, Mandarin and Korean and expressed her wish to appear in more Asian movies which was met with cheers and claps from the audience.

Upon hearing Sakuraba's speech, Asano revealed that he had received a script consisting of 2 volumes of Mongolian lines so he's prepared to go anywhere in the world as long as there is an offer to him. When asked if there's any country in the Asia Pacific which he's particularly interested in, Asano joked that he would like to act in Japan since he's been overseas most of the time that he feels like he's a tourist whenever he comes home.

Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo / Sponichi

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ozawa Maju announces the arrival of her second daughter

Ozawa Maju announced the arrival of her second daughter on 26 October through her Facebook page. In her post, she revealed that although this was the second time she had gone through childbirth, she had experienced a new type of pain and felt touched in a different way. As she looks at her child's adorable sleeping face, she is basking in a lot of joy. Although it's going to be tough to raise two kids at the same time, she will work harder than before while relying on the power which her elder daughter has been giving her for the past two years.

Ozawa got married to a dentist in February 2014 and gave birth to their first daughter in August the same year.

Sources: Sanspo / Yomiuri Hochi

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Takagi Saya arrested for possession of marijuana; rerun of "Aibou" re-scheduled as a result

Takagi Saya (real name Masudo Ikue) was arrested for possession of marijuana at her residence in Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, as reported on 25 October. She has denied the allegation and said that the drugs were not hers.

Takagi had taken part in the Upper House elections during May this year under the banner of New Renaissance Party but did not get elected. During her campaigning, she had asked for the legalisation of marijuana for medical use. Takagi started to use her real name from 2008 to engage in environmental projects and quit her agency in 2012 before moving from Minami Fuso in Chiba to Ishigaki.

In view of her arrest, the rerun schedule of TV Asahi's "Aibou" at 3.55pm today was affected. The episode to be shown was no.13 from the 7th season but an announcement was made before the broadcast that episode 12 from season 14 was shown instead. Takagi had appeared in the "Aibou" series up to the first episode of season 10 and played the ex-wife of Sugishita Ukyo (Mizutani Yutaka).

Sources: Sponichi Annex 1 /  Sponichi Annex 2

Fujiwara Tatsuya & Matsuyama Kenichi reunite for surprise appearance at marathon screening of original "Death Note" movies

Fujiwara Tatsuya and Matsuyama Kenichi reunited for a surprise appearance at the marathon screening of the original 2006 "Death Note" movies held on 20 October which was met with cheers of excitement from the audience. Fujiwara commented that the two movies shown 10 years ago were a big part of their acting careers which can be said to have contributed to who they are today. After so many years, they were glad to be able to let the public see these movies again and called upon them to support the latest installment in the "Death Note" series i.e. "Death Note Light up the NEW world" which will be shown from this Saturday i.e. 29 October.

The two of them joked at the beginning of their talk session that they didn't know that there is a new movie and laughed at the thought of the number of Death Notes increasing to 6 this time. Matsuyama then commented that if they have another sequel again, they might see 32 Death Notes next time which led the audience to laugh.

When asked about their collaboration back then, Matsuyama commented that Fujiwara was very experienced by then and he was merely starting out. As such, he felt the pressure since they were supposed to be rivals in the story. However, he recounted fondly that Fujiwara's acting made such a deep impression on him that he hopes to improve his own acting so as to match up to him one day. As for the likelihood of them working together again, Matsuyama said that it will be nice if they can be partners next time and he would love to feel the pressure of working with Fujiwara once more.

Source: Oricon

Toyokawa Etsushi & Miyazawa Rie to star in new NHK drama SP "Souseki Monmon"

Toyokawa Etsushi and Miyazawa Rie will be starring in the new NHK drama SP "Souseki Monmon" (Souseki in distress) which will be shown on 10 December at 7.30pm. The drama features Toyokawa in the role of writer Nasume Souseki who had written many classics such as "Wagahai wa neko de aru", "Bocchan", "Sanshirou", "Sorekara", "Kokoro" and "Meian" and describes the 29 days of distress he spent in Kyoto during 1915 at the recommendation of his artist friend Tsuda Seifuu who suggested that Natsume recuperate there when he was suffering from nervous prostration and gastric ulcer. During his stay at the ryokan Kita no Daiga, he met Taga (Miyazawa), the talented and beautiful young mistress of the teahouse Daitomo in Gion, Kyoto. That year, Natsume was 48 and Taga was 36. However, Taga was a very sought-after woman by many men who wanted to fight for her affection. Natsume asked Taga out for a date to see the plum blossoms but she did not show up. Angered by this rejection, Natsume rode a rickshaw to Kyoto and stuffed himself at a western restaurant which aggravated his gastric ulcer condition. Upon seeing this, Seifuu then contacted Natsume's wife Kyoko (Akiyama Natsuko) to come to Kyoto. One year later, Natsume died at the age of 49 and a haiku hinting about a woman i.e. Taga was found in his diary and letters.

As this year is Natsume Souseki's 100th death anniversary, there have been many dramas and movies about the writer this year. In this drama SP, the theme is about Natsume's last romance (possibly). The drama SP will be written by Fujimoto Yuki while the director will be Minamoto Takashi who had won the ATP Award Grand Prix.

Source: Oricon

Tsutsumi Shinichi & Koizumi Kyoko to star in new NTV Winter 2017 drama "Super Salaryman Saenai-shi"

Tsutsumi Shinichi and Koizumi Kyoko will be appearing in the new NTV Winter 2017 drama "Super Salaryman Saenai-shi" (Super Salaryman Mr. Saenai) which will begin its run from January 2017 in the Saturdays 9pm timeslot. This is the first time that Tsutsumi is acting in a NTV drama which is written and directed by Fukuda Yuichi who is known for his works such as the "Yuusha Yoshihiko" series.

The drama which is based on the manga "Chuunen Superman Saenai-shi" by the late Fujiko F Fujio, features Tsutsumi in the role of Saenai, a 52-year-old ordinary salaryman who holds a middle management role in his company and has a fierce wife Enko (Koizumi). One day, a strange old man gives Saenai a super suit which will enable him to transform into a super hero who can maintain peace. Although Saenai keeps rejecting the old man's offer, he has no choice but to accept it when Enko forces him to deliver their daughter's bento to school before her lunch break. Due to the powers of this suit, Saenai goes to solve various cases even during office hours whenever he senses something happening.

When Tsutsumi tried wearing the super hero suit he is to don in the drama, he was quite amused by how he looked. Koizumi revealed that it was Fukuda who offered the role to her and she is looking forward to working with Tsutsumi again since it's been a while since their last collaboration. As for having to play a fierce wife, Koizumi joked that this must be a casting mistake as she doesn't think that she is someone like that.

Details of the supporting cast will be announced at a later date,

Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo

Hira Takehiro releases statement with regard to his father's demise

Hira Takehiro released a statement via his official website on 24 October with regard to the sudden demise of his father Hira Mikijirou. In the statement, Hira apologised for the sudden worry and concern caused by his father's passing and explained that he was told about his father being uncontactable from 22nd October so decided to visit him on the following day where he found the elder Hira lying peacefully in the bathtub. Hira apologised for the inconveniences and trouble caused to the people who are working with his father on dramas and stage plays and expressed his gratitude to everyone for making his father's life as an actor very fulfilling.

Hira recounted that when he was a child, there was a long period of time when he couldn't meet his father. However, when he himself became an actor, they were able to make up for lost time as he saw his father also as an acting senior and master. With regard to the funeral and wake arrangements, they will make the announcement when the details are finalised. There will be no press conference held with regard to this so he called for the understanding of everyone for his announcement made in written form.

Source: Oricon

Iura Arata, Eita, Hasegawa Kyoko & Hashimoto Manami to star in new movie "Hikari"

Iura Arata, Eita, Hasegawa Kyoko and Hashimoto Manami will be appearing in the new movie "Hikari" based on Miura Shion's same-titled novel which will be directed by Omori Tatsushi. The movie is based on the theme of violence in daily life and describes how Nobuyuki, a junior high school student who lives on Mihamajima, a remote island in Tokyo, commits a crime when he tries to protect his classmate and girlfriend Mika. On the following day, the island is struck by a huge disaster thus leaving a few survivors including Nobuyuki, Mika, their childhood friend Tasuke and a few others. 25 years on, Tasuke appears again in front of Nobuyuki who is already married and reveals that he has a secret about the latter. Iura will play the 39-year-old Nobuyuki while Eita plays the role of Tasuke. Hasegawa will play Mika who tries to bury her past and survive in showbiz and Hashimoto will play Namiko who is Nobuyuki's wife.

During the filming, Iura recounted that he had to come face to face with violence in various forms so it was an emotionally taxing time for him. This is the third time that he is working with Omori and he's always thankful for the latter being able to bring out an unknown side of him each time so he's more than happy to give his all in the director's movies. As for Eita, he regards this collaboration with Iura very stimulating because he has always liked the latter as an actor and learnt new interesting things about acting from him this time. He too has worked with the director thrice to date but finds it a refreshing experience this time to work in this movie.

Hasegawa commented that it was like a journey of self-discovery for her this time and she had thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Hashimoto revealed that this is the first time she had acted in something like this so she hopes that the audience will be looking forward to watching the movie.

Co-stars also include Minami Kaho and Hirata Mitsuru. Filming was done between 20 August and 27 September at Izu Islands and Kawasaki. It will be shown in cinemas from autumn 2017.


First-day-screening event of new movie "Yamikin Ushijima-kun The Final"

The first-day-screening event of new movie "Yamikin Ushijima-kun The Final" was held at Cinema Mediage on 22nd October which was attended by the director Yamaguchi Masatoshi and cast members Yamada Takayuki, Ayano Go, Nagayama Kento, Mogami Moga, Takahashi Maryjun, Yabe Kyousuke, Tamashiro Tina, Ando Masanobu, Mamiya Shotaro, Taiga, YOUNG DAIS and Sakimoto Hiromi.

During the event, Yamada denied that there was a likelihood of another sequel being made for the "Yamikin Ushijima-kun" series which was met with cries from the audience asking him to reconsider the decision. However, Yamada said that since this final movie already depicts the past of Ushijima, he thinks that those who watch it will not think of wanting a sequel. He thanked the fans for their support all this while as without it, they would never have managed to come this far.

Sakimoto and Yabe who play Ushijima's subordinates for the past six years, commented that this is a work which they will never forget. Yabe joked that although he is already 43 and been in showbiz for 25 years, he has been playing a 26-year-old for the past 6 years so for him, this final movie is probably the limit for him too. As for Sakimoto, he looked upon the last six years as a very precious period of his life.

Takahashi who plays a rival moneylender of Ushijima, said that now that the filming had concluded, the rivalry between her and Yamada has also ended and she praised him for having done very well in the last six years. She also asked Yamada to bring them out for dinner which he agreed to immediately.

Ayano who plays Ushijima's buddy, expressed his respect for the crew and cast for their hard work over this long period of time. Although he only joined this team four years ago, he was glad to be able to participate in the series and thanked Yamada for taking the lead all this while.

Sources: Oricon 1 / Oricon 2 /

Monday, October 24, 2016

Couples-only screening event of new movie "Boku no tsuma to kekkon shite kudasai"

The couples-only screening event of new movie "Boku no tsuma to kekkon shite kudasai" was held on 23 October which was attended by the director Miyage Yoshishige and Oda Yuji. Nakashima Mika who sings the theme song "Forget Me Not" for the movie, made a surprise appearance at the event. The film which is due to be shown in cinemas from 5 November, features Oda in the role of a capable broadcasting writer who is diagnosed with a terminal illness and has only six months to live. In order to find a suitable remarriage partner for his wife (Yoshida Yo), he goes to great lengths to make it happen.

During the event, the audience asked Oda questions such as what advice he had to give so as to maintain a married couple's relationship. Oda said that he wants to know the answer to that as well but still commented that a couple should spend quality time having meals together without their children around so that they can sustain the feeling of romance between them. As for the question about anniversaries, Oda said that given his line of work, he tends to be unable to control his schedule when he has to work on some important days so he will try to do something to make up for it when he is free, Nakashima also chipped in to say that she doesn't mind not celebrating on the actual days so it's fine to do it all at one go like what Oda suggested. When asked about what words would make his heart flutter, Oda commented shyly that he thinks "I love you" is the best thing to say to someone of the opposite gender. However, saying this at the right timing matters a lot or else the other party will probably not think much about it. There was also a psychological test conducted during the event where Oda was assessed to be someone who likes stability in a relationship. In response to this, Oda said that he used to be called a romanticist when he was younger but now that he's older, he must have changed.

Oda also revealed that when he acted in this movie, he felt that the moment when his character was told that he was dying was already too late for him since he had to do everything he wanted to in just six months. As such, he has come to realise that he should be putting in his all for everything now. He was thankful for being able to act in this film which is like a detox session for everyone's hearts.

Sources: Nikkansports / Sponichi / Oricon /

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

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

1) Kimi no na wa (296)

2) Yamikin Ushijima-kun The Final (183)

3) Nanimono (296)

4) Star Trek BEYOND (276)

5) Kin Medal Otoko (209)

6) Jason Bourne (332)


8) Eiga Koe no Katachi (121)

9) Sully (333)

10) GANTZ:0 (153)


First-day-screening event of new movie "Birthday Card"

The first-day-screening event of new movie "Birthday Card" was held at Shinjuku Wald 9 on 22 October which was attended by the director Yoshida Yasuhiro and cast members Hashimoto Ai, Miyazaki Aoi, Yusuke Santa Maria, Suga Kenta, Nakamura Aoi, Shinokawa Momone and Seiru. The movie features Hashimoto as Noriko who receives a letter from her late mother Yoshie (Miyazaki) on her birthday every year from the time she was 10 until she turns 20 which gives her the courage to live life to the fullest.

In line with the theme of the movie, Hashimoto, Suga and Nakamura prepared letters which they read aloud to the audience. Hashimoto wrote a letter to Miyazaki where she expressed regret for being unable to act together with her in this movie except for one scene despite the fact they played mother and daughter. As such, she was especially thankful for that one scene and felt that Miyazaki is a very loving person especially after they had been on the promotional tour together. Hashimoto expressed her wish to be able to work together with Miyazaki again which the latter responded with a smile.

As for Suga, he wrote a letter to Yusuke Santa Maria who played his father and expressed his gratitude towards the latter for keeping his stage play schedule in mind during the filming and supporting him during the process. Suga said that he had the idea of changing his stage name to Kenta Santa Maria which led Yusuke to say that he should drop the idea since there are many other people who use katakana surnames. Upon seeing the exchange between them, Miyazaki burst out laughing.

At the end of the event, Miyazaki commented that in these days, there are very few movies like this based on an original script and that she's very satisfied with how the movie has turned out. As such, she hopes that the movie can be seen by everyone nationwide and called upon the audience to spread the word about the film.

Sources: Oricon /

Hira Mikijirou passes away; found dead at home by family members (UPDATED)

Hira Mikijirou was found dead in the bathtub of his house at Setagaya Ward, Tokyo by his family members who had come to visit him around 6.30pm on 23rd October who then called for an ambulance. Hira had lived alone and was 82 years old. According to the police, there was nothing suspicious about Hira's death. Details of his funeral and the host have not been decided yet.

Hira was born in Hiroshima City in November 1933 and joined the 5th batch of the Gekidan Haiyuza in 1953 after graduating from senior high school. Three years later, he became a member of the theatre group and had participated in many dramas, movies and stage plays over the years. Hira was awarded the Purple Ribbon Medal in 1998 and the Order of the Rising Sun in 2005. His most recent appearance was in the FujiTV Autumn 2016 drama "Cain to Abel" as the grandfather of the characters played by Yamada Ryosuke and Kiritani Kenta.

Hira got married to actress Sakuma Yoshiko in 1970 and had a son and daughter but the couple divorced in 1984. Their son Hira Takehiro is also an actor. Hira underwent surgery for lung cancer before and had made a full recovery.

UPDATE: Adding some new information from news reports today ~

- It was his son Hira Takehiro who discovered his father's body. Apparently, Hira Mikijirou's agency tried to contact him on 22nd Oct but to no avail so Takehiro went to his father's place on the following day's evening to check on him. His reason of death is unknown at the moment.

- Hira Takehiro has a twin sister. At the time of Hira Mikijirou's divorce, his reason given at that time was that he could not juggle work and family commitments at the same time.

- Hira had filmed up to Ep 2 for the FujiTV Autumn 2016 drama "Cain to Abel". The last time he participated in the filming was on 29 September but he didn't display any signs of illness or discomfort. His character is set to appear again in Ep 4 but there is no announcement yet on who might take over his role.
Hira's appearance in Ep 2 showing on 24 October will not be edited and there will be a telop run during the broadcast to mourn his passing.

- Hira was due to appear in a new stage play "Shi no Budou" from March next year at Theatre Cocoon. He had recently wrapped up the performances for the stage play "Cressida" which ran from September to 9th October and took on the lead role.

- Hira used to be good friends with the late Ninagawa Yukio who passed away in May this year. However, they fell out when Hira hid the fact that he underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1987 and quit a stage play without explaining the true reason. He even returned to work in just 40 days after the surgery. Nonetheless, the friends of 40 years reconciled much later and Hira even made a speech at Ninagawa's farewell ceremony where he said that they will meet again soon. His son Takehiro had just gotten married back in July this year.

Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo 1 / Yomiuri Hochi 1 / Sponichi 1 / Sanspo 2 / Yomiuri Hochi 2 / Sponichi 2

Friday, October 21, 2016

Kusanagi Tsuyoshi to star in new FujiTV / Kansai TV Winter 2017 drama "Uso no Sensou"

Kusanagi Tsuyoshi will be starring in the new FujiTV / Kansai TV Winter 2017 drama "Uso no Sensou" (The war of lies) which will be shown in January next year in the Tuesdays 9pm timeslot. Filming is set to begin from the middle of next month to March 2017 and this is Kusanagi's first solo project since the disbanding of SMAP on 31 Dec.

"Uso no Sensou" is the second installment in the revenge series following the first part "Zeni no Sensou" also featuring Kusanagi which was shown in winter this year and achieved an average rating of 13.4%. It was said that the offer for this drama was made before SMAP's disband announcement in August this year. The same crew will be responsible for the new drama which is an original story featuring Kusanagi in the lead role of Ichinose Koichi who is a fraudster out for revenge as his father killed his mother and younger brother before committing suicide when he was 9 years old. However, the truth was that this was an engineered murder and Koichi had seen the culprit. Despite so, the police did not believe his words and let the real murderer get off scott free. 30 years later, he meets the murderer overseas and pledges to take revenge for all those who were responsible for his family's death. He will also be caught in a love triangle with his female fraudster partner and a doctor who is the daughter of a large company's president who happens to be one of the people he wants to take revenge on.

With regard to playing a fraudster, Kusanagi commented that he is the type not good at lying as it will show on his face so he thinks that this is a chance for him to get better at lying. Of course, not all lies are bad as some are made with good intentions. As this is a story about taking revenge, he hopes that viewers will be able to get some stress relief through this fast-paced drama where the evil gets punished.

Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo / Yomiuri Hochi

Winners of the 5th Confidence Award Drama Prize (Summer 2016)

Best Drama: Ie uru onna (NTV)

Best Leading Actor: Mikami Hiroshi (Isan Sozoku Bengoshi Kakizaki Shinichi)

Best Leading Actress: Haru (ON Ijou Hanzai Sousakan Toudou Hinako)

Best Supporting Actor: Yamauchi Takaya (HOPE ~ Kitai Zero no Shinnyu Shain ~)

Best Supporting Actress: Kinami Haruka (Seiseisuru hodo, Aishiteru)

Best Script: Yukawa Kazuhiko (Hajimemashite, Aishiteimasu)

Best Newcomer: Ishii Anna (Aogeba Totoshi)

Source: Confidence Award Drama Prize

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Japan premiere event of new movie "Death Note Light up the NEW world"

The Japan premiere event of new movie "Death Note Light up the NEW world" was hed at Tokyo Dome City Hall on 20 October which was attended by the director Sato Shinsuke and cast members Higashide Masahiro, Ikematsu Sousuke, Suda Masaki, Toda Erika, Kawaei Rina and Funakoshi Eiichiro. The movie which will be shown in cinemas from 29 October, is set 10 years after the end of the previous Death Note movies where Yagami Light (Fujiwara Tatsuya) and L (Matsuyama Kenichi) battled to the end of their lives. In this new movie, Higashide plays Mishima who belongs to the special department handling Death Note-related cases while Ikematsu plays Ryuuzaki who is the successor of L and Suda plays Shion, a cyber terrorist who adores Kira i.e. Light. When 6 Death Notes are dropped into the human world, another series of intense battles over their ownership arise as a result.

When asked who among them would be most likely to use the Death Note, Ikematsu and Suda both chose Higashide who also chose himself. Suda said that Higashide is an eccentric guy while Ikematsu explained in detail that Higashide is a cute person who is easily influenced by others and has a strong sense of justice so he's most likely to use the Death Note. Upon hearing this, Higashide couldn't help but say that Ikematsu had done a good job describing him. When asked if they would like to become Death Note owners, Higashide was not keen on the idea but Kawaei wanted to own one even though she won't actually kill anyone with it.

However, when asked about what's appealing about their characters, the trio were visibly stumped for words. Higashide said that Mishima is a passionate police detective with special feelings for the Death Note while Ikematsu said that Ryuuzaki had inherited many things from L and wanted to exceed his predecessor. As for Suda, he said that the reality of acting in this movie scared him. Upon hearing their answers, Toda who is their senior in the Death Note series "scolded" them for just describing their characters and not even answering the question properly. In response, Ikematsu suggested jokingly that they should redo the event from the time they entered the venue.

In this movie, news of the previous movies' cast i.e. Fujiwara, Matsuyama and Toda's appearances were very much welcomed. The director Sato said that when he saw Fujiwara's acting, it was as if he had met Light again and God had reappeared. As for his meeting with Toda, he was very excited about it although she commented that he didn't seem that emotional to her. Suda also chipped in to say that he was very thrilled to meet Misa Misa (Toda's character) but Toda didn't seem to believe his response.

As news of Toda's breakup with Kase Ryo had appeared on the same day of the event, the media tried to ask about this but was stopped by the movie company's staff. Toda herself also did not react to the question.

Reflecting on her reprisal of the role Amane Misa, Toda recounted that when she acted in the original movies 10 years ago, she was a newbie actress who had made her debut less than one year ago. However, upon seeing her name on the cinema's screen when the ending credits were rolling, she realised what kind of work she was doing so the movies mean a lot to her. In the new movie, Misa had changed from an idol to an actress but she still felt the pressure since what she did 10 years ago did not really come in useful this time. Nonetheless, she was still very happy to be able to play this character again.

Kawaei who was 11 when the original movies were screened 10 years ago, revealed that she was so affected that she looked for notebooks at home and even tried to buy a black notebook from a stationery store then. This led Suda to tease her and ask if she had wanted to kill someone back then. With regard to Kawaei's performance, the director commented that her expressionless face was rather frightening to look at.

Sources: Oricon 1 /   Oricon 2 / Oricon 3 / Oricon 4 /

Kase Ryo & Toda Erika reportedly to have broken up in August this year

Kase Ryo and Toda Erika are said to have broken up in August this year. The couple who worked together as fellow police officers in the TBS "SPEC" series between 2010 and 2013, only started dating after reuniting for the WOWOW drama SP "Kono machi no inochi ni" which was shown in April this year. However, due to irreconcilable differences in values, they decided to revert back to friends rather than continue dating. According to insiders, they did not quarrel nor grow apart due to their busy schedules and still continue to maintain a healthy friendship where they respect each other as actors. When asked about the news, Kase's agency commented that this is his private matter and did not deny the reports.

Sources: Yomiuri Hochi / Sports Hochi

Hongo Kanata to star in new FujiTV drama "Rabuho no Ueno-san"

Hongo Kanata will be starring in the new FujiTV drama "Rabuho no Ueno-san" (The love hotel's Ueno-san) which will be shown via FujiTV On Demand. The drama which is based on the same-titled manga that is currently serialised in "Gekkan Comic Flapper", features Hongo as the lead character Ueno who works in a love hotel and gives advice to people who are troubled by love and having issues in their relationships. The character Ueno-san is said to be based on the author Ueno's own experience who also worked at a love hotel. The author Ueno gives advice on love through his Twitter account as well.

Hongo who is starring in his first leading role in a FujiTV drama series, commented that just by looking at the title, people might get surprised and wonder what the story is about. However, this is actually a comedy which is suitable for everyone to watch and he hopes to do his best to show how charming Ueno-san is.

"Rabuho no Ueno-san" will be shown via FujiTV On Demand from 1 December where new episodes will be released every Thursday. It will be shown on TV from January 2017 on every Wednesday.


Watabe Atsuro gets involved in traffic accident; case sent to prosecutors' office

Watabe Atsuro got into a traffic accident at Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, on 18th October and his case had been sent to the prosecutors' office as reported on 19th October. According to the police, Watabe was driving his car around 2pm on the 18th at a junction where he tried to make a right turn and bumped into a motorcycle coming from the back. The motorcyclist suffered a slight injury to his left leg as a result but Watabe was unhurt. The place where the accident happened is a two-lane road and Watabe's car was in the left lane when he suddenly wanted to make a turn to the right and switched lanes without checking the right and back properly.

When asked about the accident, Watabe's agency confirmed the report and pledged to handle this situation with the utmost sincerity going forward. They also apologised for any inconvenience and worry caused by this accident.

Sources: Nikkansports / Sanspo / Oricon

Preview of "Beppin-san" (NHK morning drama)

Title: Beppin-san べっぴんさん
Official website: here
Official Instagram: here
O.A. Period: 3 October 2016 to 1 April 2017
Timeslot: Mondays to Saturdays 8am to 8.15am
Broadcast by: NHK
Total number of episodes: 151
Theme Song: Hikari no Atorie by Mr.Children
Cast: Yoshine Kyoko, Namase Katsuhisa, Kanno Miho, Renbutsu Misako, Soganoya Bundou, Miyata Keiko, Koura Kengo, Nagura Jun, Ichimura Masachika, Tanimura Mitsuki, Momota Kanako, Tsuchimura Kaho, Nakamura Tamao, Honda Hirotaro, Yamamura Momiji, Mikura Mana, Nagayama Kento, Tanaka Youji, Hiraoka Yuta, Ishino Youko, Matsushita Yuya, Horiuchi Masami, Taki Yukari

Seto Asaka to star in new NHK Winter 2017 drama "Onna no naka ni iru tanin"

Seto Asaka will be starring in a drama for the first time in 8 years when she appears in the new NHK Winter 2017 drama "Onna no naka ni iru tanin" (The other person inside the woman) which will begin its run from 8 January in the Sundays 10pm timeslot and consists of 7 episodes. The drama is based on the same-titled 1966 suspense movie directed by the late Naruse Mikio and will be re-arranged to fit the current era's time setting.

Seto plays the role of an ordinary housewife Yuriko who lives with his husband, two children and mother-in-law. One day, her peaceful life is shattered when her husband Kazuo (Omi Toshinori) confesses to her that he had an affair and killed his lover Saori (Nishiyama Mayuko) who was the wife of his friend Kusumoto Masafumi (Ishiguro Ken). In order to protect her family, Yuriko decides to help her husband conceal his crime and stops him from surrendering to the police. Yuriko's mother-in-law will be played by Kino Hana while Itaya Yuka will play Michiko who had a grudge against Yuriko in the past and pesters her. Kazuo's subordinate Kuroki will be played by Komoto Masahiro and Morioka Yutaka will play the police detective who wants to solve the murder case.

As it had been 8 years since Seto last appeared in a drama, she revealed that although she feels happy, she is also nervous about being the lead this time. Ever since Seto got married to V6's Inohara Yoshihiko in 2007 and gave birth to her son and daughter respectively in March 2010 and November 2013, she had been busy with taking care of her family. When asked about her thoughts about her character, Seto stressed that Yuriko is doing all these for the sake of protecting her family especially her children and that she didn't really forgive her husband for what he did. As such, she hopes to be able to show this emotional state in the drama. As for how she would react in real life, Seto admitted that she probably can't keep any secret and that she won't be able to forgive and forget. She hopes that married couples can watch this together and have a discussion about the story in the process.

Source: Sanspo 1 / Sanspo 2 / Oricon

Cast lineup announcement for new WOWOW drama "Rakuen"

The supporting cast lineup for new WOWOW drama 'Rakuen" starring Nakama Yukie which will begin its run from January next year in the Sundays 10pm timeslot was announced recently. The drama which consists of 6 episodes and describes what happens 9 years after the "Mohouhan" case, features Nakama as report writer Maehata Shigeko who tries to get to the bottom of a new case involving the Doizakis, a couple who killed their 15-year-old body and hid her body under their house for 16 years. When she meets a housewife Hagiya Toshiko who claims that her 10-year-old son Hitoshi can see other people's memories, she is shocked to see one of Hitoshi's drawings resembling what happened in the Doizakis' case. Just when she wants to find out more about Hitoshi, the boy dies in a traffic accident. At the same time, the Doizakis engage lawyer Takahashi Harumi (Kuroki Hitomi) to carry out the legal procedure of disowning their second daughter Seiko (Kaho) who is bewildered by their actions. Meanwhile, another case about a senior high school girl being illegally confined and dismembered after her death comes to light.

Co-stars also include Kaneko Nobuaki, Matsuda Miyuki, Ishizaka Koji, Kobayashi Kaoru, Nishida Naomi, Komoto Masahiro, Oshinari Shugo, Riju Go, Okayama Hajime, Ikeda Narushi, Hosoda Yoshihiko, Kanai Yuta, Togashi Makoto, Miwa Hitomi, Kurosaka Mami, Maeno Tomoya and Ito Sairi.

Source: Oricon

Kurashina Kana, Kanjiya Shihori, Kawaei Rina etc. to star in new FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Kanjou 8-go sen"

Kurashina Kana, Kanjiya Shihori, Kawaei Rina, Matobu Sei, Ono Yuriko and Hotta Akane will be appearing in the new FujiTV Winter 2016 drama "Kanjou 8-go Sen" (Feelings Line No.8) which will be shown via FujiTV TWO Drama Anime and TWOsmart at 11.30pm on Sundays from 15 January. The drama is based on a novel by Hatano Tomomi and features the various love situations of women staying along the Circle Line No.8 such as one-sided love, domestic violence and extramarital affairs.

In the first episode, Kawaei who plays the role of Maki living at Ogikubo, left her hometown in Shizuoka to come to Tokyo three years ago in the hope of becoming an actress. She is currently working part-time at a gyoza restaurant and secretly in love with a fellow member of her theatre group but doesn't know how to make her feelings known. Kurashina appears in the second episode as Eri who lives at Hachimanyama and is about to get married but cannot tell anyone about her fiance inflicting violence on her. Kanjiya plays Ami in the third episode who lives at Chitose-Funabashi and works at the interior shop as Eri but has an unspeakable issue even though she is newly-married and should be basking in bliss.

The fourth episode features Fumi (Matobu) who is a housewife living at Futako-Tamagawa and Maki's cousin. Although it looks on the surface that she is having a good life and has two children, she finds out that her husband is having an affair with his subordinate. Ono appears in the fifth episode as Rina who lives at Kaminoge and has an affair with Fumi's husband. In the final episode, Hotta plays Mayu who lives at Denen-Chofu and is a rich girl. She falls in love at first sight with a guy from a theatre group and goes to work part-time at the gyoza restaurant where he works at even though she doesn't need the money.

Source: Oricon