I have been reading Don Brown’s column at the Asahi Shimbun for as long as I can remember. His articles on Japanese cinema are not only insightful but filled with unique and amazing information you cannot find elsewhere. While he provides English translations to a lot of Japanese films, his insights into the production process itself, the filmmakers and actors offer more than a glimpse into the Japanese movie scene.

- - -

Don Brown interpreting for Hara Keiichi at The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in 2015, for the film Miss Hokusai. Photo courtesy of Mr. Brown

- - -

A lot has transpired in the past few years  – the domination of manga/anime into live action adaptations, the influence of the powerful production committees on what sort of movies will be released and the casting (in cooperation with the equally influential talent management agencies, which are also part of such committees).

In this interview, PsychoDrama asks Mr. Brown on the process of providing quality English subtitles and his opinions and views about the ins and outs of the Japanese entertainment scene…

It's a delight to know that Japanese actor Yuya Yagira has a twitter account! Suffice to say, we @PsychoDrama are inspired to launch a special feature on the actor celebrating his most amazing films!- - -

Yuya Yagira photo courtesy of the actor from his Twitter account

After winning the Best Actor for Nobody Knows at the 57th Cannes Film Festival at the age of 15, Yuya Yagira initially struggled with fame and the glare of the spotlight, plus the nasty attitude of the press who constantly hunted him down for gossip and news. After finishing All to the Sea (Subete wa umi ni naru) back in 2010, he took a sort of hiatus and came back to making movies three years later.

Since he's used to be under the direction of an award-winning filmmaker (Koreeda), it took another critically acclaimed director to cast him - Sang-il Lee for the remake of Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (Yurusarezaru Mono). In an interview by Cinema Cafe, Yagira was reported to have expressed some doubts if he can do the role some justice. He was to play Goro - a sort of a vagabond who became Ken Watanabe's ally.

Updates: And so we have the winners! [ in bold red text ] Funny that the locals have finally recognized Hirokazu Koreeda after so many years and his film Umimachi Diary took home the Best Picture of the Year. The internationally respected filmmaker also won Director of the Year. We were just talking about Ninomiya Kazunari and his apparent lack of good acting roles, and alas! He won Best Actor, congratulations! Kudos also goes to Sakura Ando for finally winning Best Actress [ and so happy that Kasumi Arimura did not win! ]

- - -

Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho and Suzu Hirose in Umimachi Diary, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, 2015 Toho, Gaga Corporation, All Rights Reserved

- - -

I have no idea if politics or anything else plays in the drafting of nominees for the 2016 Japan Academy Prize, but it seems Kengo Kora - is once again - ignored for his superb performance in Being Good. It happened before when Kora was not nominated for his role in The Story of Yonosuke a few years ago. 

The good news (for me) is to see Hikari Mitsushima nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Kakekomi) and Shota Sometani (Best Supporting Actor) for Bakuman. Also, well deserved Rookies for Tao Tsuchiya and Kento Yamazaki.

The Eternal Zero wins Best Picture, while lead star - Junichi Okada - took home two awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor (for A Samurai Chronicle). Rie Miyazawa is Best Actress (beating out Sakura Ando, Mao Inoue, and Chizuru Ikewaki), while Haru Kuroki grabbed Best Supporting Actress!

The 38th Japan Academy Prize (第38回日本アカデミー賞) is the 38th edition of the Japan Academy Prize, an award presented by the Nippon Academy-Sho Association to award excellence in filmmaking. It awarded the best films of 2014, and it took place on February 27, 2015, at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in TokyoJapan

- - -

Junichi Okada and Mao Inoue in The Eternal Zero, directed by Takashi Yamazaki, Toho, Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved.

- - -

Shota Sometani, Takahiro Miura, and supporting cast in The Eternal Zero, directed by Takashi Yamazaki, Toho, Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved.

- - -

Some actors are known for studying their characters and looking for ways to understand them up close and personal. Satoshi Tsumabuki says of his role in Villain:

I don't want to have any fixed limitations or expectations regarding my selection of work, and I want to try any roles offered to me that arouse my interest. The role of the hero, or antihero, in "Akunin" ("Villain") directed by Lee Sang-Il, was one of the most important jobs in my career. As I got deeply involved in playing Yuichi, a lonely outcast who murdered a woman and was on the run with a social misfit named Mitsuyo (Eri Fukatsu) who he'd met through an online dating site, I thought about the character every moment of the day and I was totally burned out when the filming finished. [ read more ]

Masanobu Ando made similar remarks:

No matter what role I play, I try to devote myself to it completely, and it's that focus that is the reason for those side effects. I am attracted to more difficult roles, parts that are quite heavy psychologically. Probably I enjoy the experience of devoting myself to the character entirely. That's how I feel that I'm truly playing that character, it's where I find the satisfaction in my job. Also, I want to return all the love that the director gave me when he chose me for the part. [ source ]

Quotes above bring us to the last part in this series. While it's almost academic that Shota Sometani and Yuya Yagira will play major, vital movie roles in future Japanese films, the same can be said of the actors we have in this final part - let's start with Sosuke Ikematsu.

- - -

Sosuke Ikematsu started his movie career via Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai where he plays Higen, that young boy who is also the nephew of samurai leader Katsumoto played by Ken Watanabe. More movies and dramas followed but his role as the ambitious diver co-starring Junpei Mizobata and Kento Hayashi in Dive!! is most probably the next movie he is best known.

Since 2013, Ikematsu's casting buzz remains consistent -Our Family, Love's Whirpool, When I Sense the Sea, The Vancouver Asahi, Pale Moon, SetoUtsumi, and Death Note represent a big chunk of his acting resume, where he play major, significant roles. He is also known for his dual characters in the drama-thriller Mozu.