Last year we reported that there were 135 Japanese dramas produced and broadcasted all over Japan. That figure has since been adjusted to reflect all shows for 2014 and the final figure is up by 9, which means there were actually 144 shows. This year, pending adjustments from various TV networks, there are already 145 shows, including the trendy WOWOW series featuring 4-5 episodes that include Angel's Knife and Ishi no Mayu (featuring the alluring Fumino Kimura) and Fuji TV's She (led by the versatile Mayu Matsuoka) . Those figures, however, are less than half of Japanese movies shown in the same year.

While I'm not particularly impressed with J-movies of 2015, there are a lot of outstanding drama series for the same year, so let's have a review by pictures and by season, starting with Winter 2015 shows...

I adore Yoko Maki. She never overacts and most of the roles she played were quite intense, yet compared to the likes of Erika Sawajiri or Ryoko Hirosue, she doesn't figure too prominently in the Japanese press...

The 37-year old member of TOKIO, Tomoya Nagase started out (to me) as one of Johnny and Associate's most extraordinary talents - perhaps in the same vein as the iconic Takuya Kimura, but Nagase has a more "rugged", in-your-face appeal, so I'm not surprised if he digs Guns N' Roses as his favorite rock band. 

In Too Young to Die!, Nagase must be in casting heaven because the character he's going to play is no other than the leader of a rock band. Unless you're living under a rock, you must have heard him say "motherfucker!!!" so many times already - just watch the movie's teaser trailer and you'll know what I mean!

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Now, this could be just another movie, but then writer-director Kankuro Kudo cast Ryunosuke Kamiki - a younger actor, with the growing reputation as a scene stealer. Just like Nagase, Kamiki is a product of numerous TV productions and have been acting since the age of six.

According to IMDb, there were 373 Japanese movies released in 2015, while some of the biggest box office winners include Attack on Titan (Part 1) which grossed $5.1 million on its opening weekend, Hero (2015 version with Takuya Kimura) grossing $21.8 million, Heroine Shikkaku (Mirei Kiritani, Kento Yamazaki) with $19.2 million and Bakuman (Takeru Satoh, Ryu Kamiki) with $13.5 million. Other films with impressive numbers include Umimachi Diary (Our Little Sister) with $12,9 million, Library Wars (The Final Mission) - $13.6 million, and Shinjuku Swan - $10.6 million. Still being shown in theaters is the movie version of the WOWOW thriller Mozu, which already grabbed $7 million.

While we have yet to see the complete box office record for Attack on Titan (Parts 1 and 2), last year the two Rurouni Kenshin movies grabbed close to $90 million aggregate total and Part 1 of Parasyte registered admissions of $2.9 million (which is half of what AoT Part 1 did this year).

On the awards and international film festival circuit, a few Japanese movies made headlines, including Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Journey to the Shore, which won the Cannes Un Certain Regard prize for Best Director. Hirokazu Koreeda's Umimachi Diary also participated in "competition" at the 68th Cannes Film Festival. Naomi Kawase's An (starring Kirin Kiki) was also part of Cannes Un Certain Regard together with Kurosawa's Journey to the Shore. Shinya Tsukamoto's war movie, Fires in the Plain, was finally released July 2015 in Japan theaters after participating in prestigious film festivals around the world last year.

Here are some details about the movies [ from above ] 

I don't see the relevance when you say Yu Aoi's last lead character in a film "One Million Yen and the Nigamushi Woman.” was seven years ago.

I mean, she has been stealing scenes and captivating audiences year in, year out - Shining Boy and Little Randy (2005), Mushishi (2006), Hula Girls (2006), The Lightning Tree (2010), About Her Brother (2010), Rurouni Kenshin (2012), Penance (2012), Tokyo Family (2013) and the two more recent Rurouni Kenshin sequels.

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Even in TV series Mozu and Wakamono Tachi, Aoi has consistently maintained her screen presence that it's almost as if we know her personally.

Hidetoshi Nishijima and Teruyuki Kagawa hold one of the most enduring and fruitful on-screen partnership in Japanese movies and dramas. Their recent team up as detectives in the WOWOW drama thriller MOZU has spawned a film version of the same name, but note that before Mozu, the actors were the reason for the critical acclaim bestowed on Double Face, the Japanese version/remake of the highly successful Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs."

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The intensity of their on-screen rivalry is eclipsed by their friendship in real life. Both are also accomplished actors - with Kagawa one of the lead stars in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's highly-praised Tokyo Sonata. So definitely, the on-screen collaboration between the players and Kurosawa has already begun way back then.

The actors reunite in the latest Kurosawa film, Creepy.


Psycho Drama list of 100 favorite Japanese films through the years.