Welcome to PsychoDrama! This site contains movie and drama reviews, casting news, trailers, movie posters and information about the latest Japanese productions, including profiles of established and aspiring young actors and actresses. We also feature the hitlist - rankings of the hottest Japanese talents and actors' bias articles - where we discuss prominent talents including Satoshi Tsumabuki, Ryuhei Matsuda, Eita, Hikari Mitsushima, Mao Inoue, Yu Aoi, Shota Sometani, Yuya Yagira, Fumi Nikaido, Sosuke Ikematsu, Masaki Suda, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Ai Hashimoto, Mayu Matsuoka and many others. Join in our discussion and let us know what you think! Started in March 2012, you can find out more about us here. By the way, we don't do gossip - we don't know who is dating who nor feature anyone who went to this or that motel. We could not care less. While we may appear to be movies fans, we feature more than news, but also opinion. We are also not a database since we feature selectively.
When Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata created their Death Note manga, they introduced the Shinigami as important characters in the story. These so-called "death gods" extend their qualified immortality by killing humans. While they have no power to stop death, they can end human lives sooner than originally intended. To explain further how the death note works, it should be pointed out that all Shinigami possess their personal death notes which they used to extend their lives. Another death note must be in their possession to offer to humans if they can have the same power to kill.
4 out of 5 stars
As to Ryuk and Rem, the two Shinigami who introduced themselves into the lives of Light and Misa, they made it known to Light that they can assist him in any way he wants.
In Episode 6, the cat and mouse game between Light Yagami and L takes on a more serious nature as initiated from the previous episode. Misa Amane was captured by L and was made to confess as to her actual participation on the death of humans (criminals or not). Whether she is actually Kira or an accomplice remains to be fully determined by our young investigator.
There's a lot of progress in this episode that has to do with Light and L in so far as the investigation to Kira's human identity is concerned, but a substantial portion of the episode also deals with the Shinigami and the exploration of the paternal bond between Light and his detective father. This is by far the most complicated of all the episodes as it dealt with multiple storyline. I should also mention a mysterious group of individuals who may affect the loyalty of the death gods...
Masataka Kubota's Light has become more conniving and tricky yet emotional and revealing at the same time. The scene featuring Kubota with the two death gods as he buries Misa's death note is a sight to behold - it sends shivers down my spine. His close encounter with death from the hands of his own father is equally intense, yet emotionally draining for both the casual and observant viewers of the drama. No one can possibly match Kubota as tears fell from his eyes. It is here where Kubota - once again - extends his winning streak in the acting department. While we have to contend with the direction and the quality of the script, it is by no means an easy task to portray a character where it can extract sympathy from the viewers and then suddenly require the viewers to hate him.
The scene where L made Light underwent a lie detector test is a good example of sustaining suspense, but it says a lot about how Kento Yamazaki fare in his acting showdown with Kubota...
By now, I am really complaining that Kubota gets all the opportunities to dominate his acting showdown with Yamazaki. Die-hard fans who continue to be critical of Yamazaki's L characterization has no business complaining since the playing field was never fair in the first place. In this drama version, L appears like a die-hard vigilante himself in his pursuit to identify Kira. He is one-sided, goal hungry yet devoid of authentic feelings.
In the grand scheme of things, the Death Note saga is about the struggle between good and evil, of humans' failings and their ability (or lack thereof) to change once they possess powers beyond imaginings.
Masataka Kubota has been giving everyone the satisfaction as he portray a character who has changed in a radical way and his efforts have been generously rewarded since the writer was able to give him enough to chew his acting teeth into. The same cannot be said about the character portrayal required from Kento Yamazaki. That is not his fault, but the writer's.
If you've not decided yet to start watching the drama, then I suggest you start from Episode 1 until this episode. You can already get a good sample of the show whether it is to your liking or not.
Crucify me if you want or torture me, but it's not very easy to get away from an addiction! I mean, I thought Prison School is not my cup of tea, but then again - I really enjoy watching the anime version that it spills over to the live action adaptation with one nagging question- who can play these characters? Some argued that legitimate actors may find it hard to accept such roles since they will be required to do "compromising" positions (literally and otherwise), so it might harm their career and that perhaps we'll get gravure models to do the roles since they can show off their sexiness on a larger scale. But how about the boys? I'm sure there are two schools of thought - Japanese actors are uninhibited and will show their bodies or they are very conservative and will most likely say no!
Anyway, for the sake of imagination and anything in between, let's see if these actors can fit the roles...
Nanao can really act like an evil princess with a nasty attitude - remember how good she is in The Snow White Murder Case? She really made Mao Inoue looked inferior. The same intensity can be said about her when she played one of the characters in Erika Sawajiri's First Class drama. Nanao can effectively portray Mari, whose personality:
... is a calm and controlled character who displays intelligence and cunning throughout the series, as shown by her plan to exclude the boys (Operation Boy's Expulsion) and her later secret engineering to prevent the official Student Council from destroying the USC with their subterfuge. [ read more ]
Ryo Yoshizawa is the first actor who comes to my mind to play Kiyoshi. I think he was overshadowed by Sota Fukushi during their Kamen Rider days, but Yoshizawa can do both drama and comedy. If you're not yet convinced, just watch him in Kingyo Club. Reina Triendl has a certain charisma since she looks very foreign yet she exudes a delicate Japanese appeal.
Shuntaro Yanagi, just look at the photo collage above - the long hair and those soulful eyes!
Finally, Mugi Kadowaki, has shown she can be fearless when it comes to movie roles. If I have my way, I'd love to see her in any role in this live action adaptation.
[ You can read more about the Prison School characters @wikia ]
You may wonder why Mitsuki Takahata has surpassed Mayu Matsuoka in our Top 15 Most Promising Japanese Actresses hitlist. But then again, you may have seen Mayu on her big portrayals and yet has failed to notice that Takahata has a wider range of roles already - from an annoying restaurant staff in Mondai no Aru Restaurant to a young migrant cum tutor in The Vancouver Asahi to a sophisticated singer-artist in Anke: Gold Rush, not to mention an upcoming movie with the versatile Takanori Iwata, who maybe a Jpop member but has shown he has what it takes acting-wise.
Here's the juice...
Anke: Gold Rush stars Mirai Moriyama as an art instructor while Takahata serves as his music counterpart. They are both employed as teachers in a private female high school run by a modern-day despot, President Sakai (Bunchin Katsura) and while things are not exactly 'normal' in the premises, both Toru (Moriyama) and Naoko (Takahata) got involved in a scheme involving gold bars, supposedly owned by the school's President. The on-screen chemistry between the bohemian-inspired Toru and the sophisticated Naoko is nearly palpable, bordering on something 'more than friends, less than lovers' sort of vibe. Of course, we have yet to witness how their characters will evolve, but one thing is sure - if Moriyama is one of Japan's most critically acclaimed actors, then Takahata is not far behind when it comes to acting...
The controversy surrounding the current Death Note drama may have nothing to do with Kenichi Matsuyama, but then again, it's hard not to involve him when his portrayal of L is being regarded as the "gold standard". Of course, the drama is an entirely new adaptation of the popular manga and one has to be reminded that it's an entirely different animal (so to speak). Matsuyama, who plays Hiroshi in NTV's Dokonjo Gaeru is not as lucky as Moriyama since he has Atsuko Maeda (definitely a lesser actress compared to Mitsuki Takahata). But that sorry circumstances is compensated by the amazing voice acting of Hikari Mitsushima, who plays Pyonkichi, the frog who got stuck in Hiroshi's t-shirt early on. This adaptation of Yasumi Yoshizawa manga series about a young man who cannot turn his childlike attitude into maturity and adulthood while having a frog imprinted into his shirt (and acts as his go-getter) is an experiment in hilarity and all-around fun. If you want something light, with excellent acting and not much 'controversy' from the outside, then watch Dokonjo Gaeru!
Aside from Masataka Kubota's amazing performance in Death Note, much are to be desired in the performances of the younger generation and Matsuyama and Moriyama are proof of the difference of acting quality.
While Koinaka's Fukushi, Honda and Nomura can relax a bit due to some signs of ratings 'resurrection', the same cannot be said of all the other current dramas on air. We don't really care much about ratings because everyone has the freedom to choose what they want to watch, but in order for our personal-biased actors to remain on the limelight, they have to deliver certain ratings potential.
It seems many Japanese movie and dorama fans wanted to get an idea of the list of actors who made names for themselves in Japanese cinema. Of course, it is not easy to classify them according to generations - since many of our favorite actors may be of the same age but started early (or more recent) in doing movies (or doramas for that matter).
Toshiro Mifune, who recently became part of the Hollywood walk of fame started his movie career in 1947 with Snow Trail. For those who have been familiar with classic Japanese films, his famous collaboration with iconic Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa produced some of the most famous movies from Japan to be recognized around the world. These movies include Rashomon (1950) and Seven Samurai (1958). Mifune was born in 1920 and died in 1997, but still made a movie two years earlier entitled Deep River, Japan's official entry to the Oscar's Best Foreign Film. [ Mifune in the subject of our Japan Best Actor series, Part 1 ]
Ken Takakura, generally regarded as Mifune's successor, was born in 1931 and made his first movie in 1965 entitled A Fugitive from the Past. Said movie is regarded by Kinema Junpo as one of the greatest Japanese films ever made. Takakura is also the holder of 4 Best Actor trophies from the Japanese Academy, the most for any actors. He gained international recognition after starring in the 1970 war film Too Late the Hero as the cunning Imperial Japanese Major Yamaguchi, the 1974 Sydney Pollack sleeper hit The Yakuza with Robert Mitchum, and is probably best known in the West for his role in Ridley Scott's Black Rain (1989). [ Takakura is the subject of Japan Best Actor series, Part 2 ]
The prestigious Kinema Junpo has made their Top 10 list, shown below:
1. Toshiro Mifune (1920-1997)
2. Yujiro Ishihara (1934-1987)
3. Masayuki Mori (1911-1973)
4. Ken Takakura (1931-2014)
5. Chishū Ryū (1904-1993)
6. Ichikawa Raizō VIII (1931-1969)
7. Tsumasaburō Bandō (1901-1953)
7. (tie) Shintaro Katsu (1931-1997)
9. (tie) Kiyoshi Atsumi (1928-1996)
9. (tie) Hisaya Morishige (1913-2009)
9. (tie) Yorozuya Kinnosuke (1932-1997)
My introduction to Japanese cinema, and perhaps many of this blog's readers, started much more recent, so let me start with the ones some of us are more familiar with...
Hmm, yes you're probably not familiar with Sony Chiba, but his contribution to Japanese cinema cannot be discounted - the fact that his son Mackenyu is making waves right now is a testament to his legacy. Yakusho, Watanabe and Sanada will be best remembered not only for some "iconic" performances in Japanese movies, but also for certain international projects as well - most particularly for Ken Watanabe and Hiroyuki Sanada. Both of them were cast in very prestigious productions.
Well, we're into more familiar territory don't you think so? Just look at the names above. From Tadanobu Asano to Yosuke Kobozuka, you will certainly recognize them - even if they play supporting roles to the younger generation of actors including Satoshi Tsumabuki, Shun Oguri, Eita and Ryuhei Matsuda. [ Tsumabuki, et al will be the subject of Part 3 of this series. ]
Joe Odagiri, Japan's Johnny Depp - as some may want to describe him so - is already such an iconic figure that you cannot discount his influence as an actor and fashion trendsetter. From playing an anime artist cum radio commentator in Tokyo Tower, to playing a young gay man in Le Maison do Himiko, to portraying an abusive, yet brave Japanese officer in My Way. Odagiri will remain a fixture in Japanese movies and doramas - having been a director himself and involved in various international productions as well.
Surpassing Odagiri in terms of prestige (most definitely) is Tadanobu Asano, who is also becoming quite popular among indie filmmakers - he recently finished a movie from a German-Filipino co-production. Of course, Asano replaced Watanabe in a new movie project by Martin Scorsese entitled Silence, which also stars Ryo Kase, Yusuke Kobozuka, Nana Komatsu and Japanese filmmaker Shinya Tsukamoto.
I cannot end this article without mentioning Koji Yakusho, who maybe left behind by Watanabe and Sanada in international movie collaborations, but his exemplary filmography will prove he is one of Japan's greatest actors.
Next stop - Satoshi Tsumabuki and his generation, plus of course - the current [ up and coming ] including Nijiro Murakami, Hiroya Shimizu and many more!
How about you? Are you familiar with the movies of the above actors? Let us know what you think!
I know we can't take everything seriously in J-dorama land, but live action Prison School? This latest adaptation may be going too far... but then again, I was reminded by fellow movie-anime blogger who wrote some amazing reviews himself, maybe it's not bad after all...
Here's Genkinahito's take on the anime Prison School:
I could not stay away from this one. After writing about the summer 2015 season for an anime website and scouting a few chapters of the manga I had a feeling it would be the most controversial and debated shows airing. At the very least, people easily offended (seemingly most of the internet) would kick up a fuss and so I had to see what the anime was before other people drowned it out in a sea of moralising voices.
In the end I found that it wasn’t offensive. It was fun if you lowered your threshold of decency.
Two episodes in and I am tempted to see this as essentially a show about a bunch of sex-starved guys who get shoved into a stockade on the school playground by a bunch of S&M queens and they discover that, in the absence of any normal relationships with females their own age, they love the violent attention of the girls since this is the closest they get to female “contact,” essentially revealing their masochistic sides. [ read more ]
Prison school pic.twitter.com/24FNEtpumA— Waifu Depot (@WaifuDepot) July 29, 2015
I saw the first two episodes and while it's definitely not my cup of tea, I had several moments of sheer fun and laughter... There are some moments when it could go either way - offensive or tolerable and amusing, so my biggest questions would have to be:
Who would dare play the boys in the live action?
How would they depict the sensitive (extremely censorable) scenes?
Who can you imagine have the boobs to boast and play the girls?
More details from ANN follows:
Iguchi said with a laugh that when he heard about the live-action television plans, he initially asked, "Is this for real?" He felt that if he squandered this chance to adapt this amusing manga, he would regret it for the rest of his life. He asked fans to wait a little bit longer for the cast announcements for Kiyoshi, Gakuto, the Vice-President, Hana, and the President.
Hiramoto launched the manga in Kodansha's Young Magazine in February 2011, and it has 6 million copies in print. (The 18th volume will ship on August 6.) The manga won the Best General Manga award alongside Yūji Moritaka and Keiji Adachi's Gurazeni manga at Kodansha's 37th Annual Manga Awards last year. [ read more ]
I'd love to see Reina Triendl being one of the cast (most definitely as Hana Midorikawa who has a crush on Kiyoshi) and perhaps Ryo Yoshizawa playing Kiyoshi...
How about you? Anyone you have in mind to play the cast for the live action Prison School? Let us know what you think!
This blog can't keep on promoting and talking about certain 'personal-biased' actors all the time, of course! So, aside from the usual names, are there potential actors who can steal the thunder from the likes of Kento Yamazaki, Sota Fukushi, Shuhei Nomura and their peers? Absolutely! Some may have been on semi-hiatus perhaps, but some - we are under the impression that their agencies are not really taking good care of them.
Be warned of pretty boy - eye-candy overload, though...
Jun Shison [ 志尊淳 (しそん じゅん) ] (b. 1995) was a co-star in the extremely vague and weird yet interesting drama series entitled Aozora no Tamago in 2012, which stars Shintaro Akutsu and Masahiro Inoue. Shison plays a young man who wore women's dresses. It was not really a convincing performance, but he has this 'androgenous' quality in him that he appears to look awesome dressed as a girl. Shison also plays ToQ 1gou, Right Suzuki, in Ressha Sentai ToQger.
Fast forward to the current J-dorama scene and he is the lead in Omotesando Koukou Gasshoubu! A lot of things can happen in a couple of years, and in the case of Shison, he has improved a lot - though the tentativeness in his acting remains. An upcoming rom-com movie with Kyoko Yoshine entitled Senpai to Kanojo, may change all that.
Acting and personal updates are also available from his official Amoeba blog.
Masahiro Usui (b. 1991) has shown a lot of potentials when he played one of the student gang leaders in Mysterious Transfer Student (Nazo no Tenkosei), the TV Tokyo school drama-thriller about an alien race who were on the verge of settling on Earth. He was also reported to have enrolled in an acting school in Holywood to hone his craft. [ Generation NEXT profiler ]
As a final note, you may want to see how 'deep' this young guy is! He's blogging his way into movie critique by expressing his views on the latest Studio Ghibli release 'The Story of Princess Kaguya' and yes, he can say a lot of smart, funny, thoughtful things! His column also revealed his analysis of such movies as Lincoln (starring Daniel Day-Lewis), Elysium, Good Will Hunting and ends his movie critique with Gravity. He also revealed his thoughts on Kiyosu Conference (starring the great Koji Yakusho).Read more...
Yeah right, some people may probably be asking, ...but I only knew of Shun Oguri, Eita, Kenichi Matsuyama and Satoshi Tsumabuki? To think that Yuya Yagira and Shota Sometani have to reach their acting 'peaks' yet (and become household names themselves)... But the thing is, the current drama trends are geared towards the next generation already and there is no stopping this 'roller coaster ride'. But are they doing a damn good job? Most probably not...
Here's what we have so far...
Getsu9 'Koinaka' starring Sota Fukushi, Tsubasa Honda, and Shuhei Nomura registered one of the lowest ratings for a primetime drama;
Popular manga Death Note drama version suffers from similar downward rating trend, with Kento Yamazaki's L portrayal receiving a disproportionate share of criticisms;
Says jadefrost @JDrama:
One TV magazine writer observed that Koinaka would appeal to teens and might have been better in the late night slot than golden hour. While Fukushi and scriptwriter Kuwamura Sayaka had a hit movie with Strobe Edge which premiered in March this year, Strobe Edge is based on a very popular manga. Koinaka is an original production and Kuwamura does not have solid credentials yet. Noting that last season’s Yokoso, Wagaya e which was adapted from Ikeido Jun’s novel of the same name and starred Arashi’s Aiba Masaki in the lead had barely kept its two digit viewership rating, the writer believes there is a high likelihood that the combination of two the young leads will pull in a one digit viewership rating for the first episode. According to a source close to the network, if the leading actor is young, the actor or actress who plays opposite him will usually be someone who can act well and be the backbone of the drama. But this line-up is completely dependent upon Fukushi. So what is Fuji TV thinking? Someone familiar with dramas disclosed that Fuji TV has commenced not-so-secret discussions on scrapping its Monday 9 pm drama slot [ source ]
A more recent article on Yamazaki's L noted that:
At the very least, writer Wakako Takō has her own complaints about the characters. She recently stated that she was not impressed with Yamazaki's work as L.
"Ken'ichi Matsuyama's portrayal of L in the movies was one of intense impact," she stated. "But Yamazaki's acting, so far as I've seen, is thin at best. Not even today's visual effects can justify that cheap makeup on him, either."
On the other hand, Takō had nothing but good things to say about Kubota as Light. [ read more ]
Just like me, I have to remind Wakako Tako that an actor's job is limited to the material he is required to portray, coupled with the fact that it takes a good director to bring out the best in an actor. But since were talking about actors, is Kento Yamazaki a good (or promising) actor in the first place? Definitely yes! I think his previous movie roles are proof of that (Control Tower, The Wings of the Kirin). Even when he was obviously bored with his recent rom-com roles, Yamazaki still registered decent, tolerable acting.
But Sota Fukushi and Tsubasa Honda? That's an entirely different case. While many of Sota's fans will argue that he's been given too much too soon, the fact remains he's a #deadfisheyes and Honda has failed to show the potential she was supposed to elevate to actual decent dramatic acting...
The only actor in this current generation that shows awesomeness, versatility and dynamism is no other than Masaki Suda. [ Ah, but are you saying Ryunosuke Kamiki is a bad actor? How about others like Kanata Hongo, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kento Nagayama, Kento Hayashi? ] Yeah, but they are from another batch, who we'll be discussing in Part 2 later...
Masaki Suda, as his fans and even ordinary dorama and moviegoers are already aware of, is such a versatile actor that playing a man who wears women's dresses, strutting his stuff on a fashion runway and then play the son of a sex maniac, and be a Kamen rider hero and play a school bully with equal intensity and power? That's something else... Even Yuya Yagira who is both talented in drama and comedy (as well as Shota Sometani) may as well find their match in Suda.
I have my hopes high for Shuhei Nomura since he's really grabbing roles left and right - Hibi Rock, Puzzle, Summer of Whales, Wakamonotachi.. but to be relegated as the 'villain' in Koinaka?
It just doesn't seem right...
How about you? Do you think these younger actors are too 'inexperienced' to handle high-profile drama as this early in their careers? Let us know what you think!
Young as they maybe, Sakura Ando, Hikari Mitsushima, Yu Aoi, Chizuru Ikewaki, Mao Inoue, even Aya Ueto, Haruka Ayase and Masami Nagasawa cannot be expected to play highschool girls any longer. The fact that there are younger batches of Japanese actresses hugging the limelight is a testament to the continued success of the Japanese movie and drama industries - even though there are growing criticisms regarding how actors are cast, the prevalence of manga and anime adaptations and the seemingly "infinite" reach and power of talent agencies...
This is our second update for 2015, representing major changes! Tsubasa Honda, Ryoko Fujino, Miki Honaka, Erina Mizuno, Nanami Sakuraba were dropped from the list and were replaced by more awesome new talents...
In a related article we mentioned:
While some may require 3-5 (or even more) drama shows and movies to reach top-level status, others need just one big, important role to become one of Japan's most celebrated talents. [ read more ]
... and another:
Leading young actresses (relatively popular and/or critically acclaimed) such as Fumi Nikaido, Ai Hashimoto, Mirai Shida, Rena Nounen, Kaho and Shiori Kutsuna are all in "fighting chances" of getting elusive, difficult roles. Many of them have been cast in high-profile films and in the case of Nikaido and Haru Kuroki, they have proven themselves already and in a different league compared to the rest of the field. [ read Part 4 of Are we doomed to watch mediocre actresses? ]
So, who are they? Let us give you 15 names...
Celebrate with PsychoDrama as we discuss the best actors Japanese cinema has produced for the past 50 decades or so... Our latest series takes us to Toshiro Mifune and Ken Takakura - Part 1 | Part 2. Our actor's bias series continues with Kanata Hongo, Yuya Yagira, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Sosuke Ikematsu, Shuhei Nomura, Masaki Suda and Shota Sometani
Actors and Acting style series is a must-read! Part 1 [ Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eita, Ryuhei Matsuda & Kenichi Matsuyama ] Part 2 [ Shun Oguri, Takayuki Yamada, Kengo Kora, Gou Ayano ] Part 3 [ Mirai Moriyama, Yuya Yagira, Shota Sometani,Ryunosuke Kamiki, Masaki Suda ] Part 4 [ Tatsuya Fujiwara, Haruma Miura, Takeru Sato, Hoshi Ishida, Yosuke Kubozuka ] Part 5 [ Kento Nagayama, Masataka Kubota, Kento Hayashi, Sosuke Ikemtsu ]
13oys and Men - Promoting the awesome and talented young Japanese actors, with lots of screenshots and insights into the careers of top and upcoming young talents.
Asian Addicts Anonymous - Comprehensive reviews and recaps of exciting Japanese drama, including interesting post on Asian music and movie news.
Drama Max - Japanese movie and drama reviews from a different perspective. Connected with Resonance Media, a management company handling Japanese musical talents.
Genkinahito's Blog - Reviews, news, box office results & some amazing insights into Japanese films, including manga and anime.
My Drama Tea - Honest and insightful reviews of Japanese drama, also reviews of Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese dramas, with music news and movie reviews.
Ritsu No Dorama Land - J-dorama reviews with a difference, complete with recaps that really complements the review.
OtherWhere - Excellent and varied trailer showcase, insightful reviews of Japanese movies (both indies and mainstream), and a great resource for news on Studio Ghibli too!
The Corner of the Mind - Drama reviews (with detailed analysis of up and coming dramas via first impressions) and anime spotlights.