Japanese drama addicts are probably looking forward to the July 2014 broadcast of Young People (Wakamono Tachi) starring Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eita, Hikari Mitsushima, Masami Nagasawa and Yu Aoi among its star-studded cast. The fact that the cast is not only "stars" but talented and critically acclaimed actors make all the difference. Can it duplicate the success of the 1966 original drama? Will there be deviations to the original story? Will the characters be altered to suit the modern times?
These questions will have answers soon, but let's focus on one issue here: How was the on-screen chemistry between our talented cast? Have they been together before in a drama or a movie perhaps? What sort of roles did they play together?
Satoshi Tsumabuki and Eita play long-lost brothers in the movie Dororo (2007), but their interaction is very limited, if you are expecting to watch an acting showdown between the two. It's also Tsumabuki's movie with Kou Shibasaki as his love interest. They have some uncanny similarities and can pass as real brothers. They also play good buddies in Orange Days, which coincidentally has Shibasaki as Tsumabuki's love interest (again).
Eita and Hikari Mitsushima were the leading stars in Soredemo, Ikite Yuku (Still, Life Goes On) from acclaimed scriptwriter Yuji Sakamoto. Tsumabuki, on the other hand, was the spurned lover of Mitsushima in the award-winning movie, Villain (where Tsumabuki won his Best Actor trophy from the Japan Academy). He also gets to kill Mitsushima's character here! In Smuggler, Hikari plays the sister of a mob boss where Tsumabuki's character gets tortured by the goons employed by Mitsushima and her family.
Yu Aoi and Tsumabuki play a sweet young couple in Tokyo Family, Yamada's homage to the Ozu film Tokyo Story way back in 1953. It was an endearing movie, with plenty of interaction between the two. They look good together, and there is fantastic on-screen chemistry. In the new drama, there are supposed to play a young couple too.
Masami Nagasawa, who is also part of the cast, plays little sister to Tsumabuki in Tears for You (Nada So So), though they were not birth related. There are some hints of romance between their characters.
This drama is also Tsumabuki's return to the small screen after the NHK taiga drama Tenchijin (2009). Also in the movie are Shuhei Nomura, Ai Hashimoto, and Tasuku Emoto.
Hashimoto and Nomura are relatively new to the Japanese movie and drama scenes, but Hashimoto is already making a lot of headways - playing title roles in such films as The Kirishima Thing, Control Tower, Another and the upcoming Little Forrest. Shuhei Nomura is a potential dramatic actor. Another big break is in the works as he plays the lead in new movie Hibi Rock.
There are many firsts in this drama, and also reunion among the cast. It could also turn out to be one of the year's worst show - is the scriptwriter competent enough to come up with a modern version of the 1966 original series? Can the three assigned directors synchronize their work and come up with a cohesive series of episodes?
July 6 is not that far!