Being recognized (finally!) as one of Japan's best dramatic actors, Masataka Kubota headlines 2015 with an acting win for the TV series Death Note and a double whammy in the movies and drama fronts as well. - 64 Rokuyon and Hero Mania: Life (movies) and Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa and Mars (drama shows). 

Recently, he created a splash by teaming up with Masato Yano and did a quasi-BL part in April Fools (starring Tori Matsuzaka, Erika Toda in the lead). Among his new projects, it's Mars that caught my attention, and his venture into something fresh and challenging is not a surprise, but what a casting scoop!

Kira Aso (Marie Iitoyo) and Rei Kashino (Taisuke Fujigaya) meet when Rei asks Kira for directions to a local hospital one day in the park, but instead of telling him the directions she draws him a map and hands it to him without saying a word. On the back of the directions is a picture Kira drew of a mother and child. On the first day of school, they are both surprised to find that they are in the same class. Later, Rei walks in on their teacher sexually harassing Kira. Rei promises to protect Kira in exchange for a painted version of the sketch that was on the back of the map. He also offers to "lend Kira his body," and she asks him to model for her. Thus began a relationship that is opposed by the world in general. They draw on their love for each other to heal the wounds the world has left on them; Rei, the scars from his twin's suicide over something Rei told him, and Kira, her hatred of men due to her stepfather taking advantage of her.

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And Kubota's character:

Masao Kirishima (桐島 牧生 Kirishima Masao?) is an effeminate sociopath who was often bullied by his only friend, Yuji Aoki. Rei had saved Masao from being beaten to death at one point in time, but he barely remembers this event as the action was impulsive because Rei was still in shock over Sei's death. Soon after this incident, Masao kills Aoki. Masao admits to having a crush on Rei, but he also claims to have a crush on Kira.

Note the description 'effeminate sociopath'... can anyone else do justice to such a role than Kubota? Maybe Masaki Suda or Yuya Yagira, but I think they made a perfect choice casting Kubota on this one. 

Even in Flowers for Algernon, I can't help but rave about Kubota as he obliterates Yamapi on the acting department. Though it's fair to say there is also quite an improvement in Yamapi's acting in that series.

[ Watch a teaser video here of Mars ]

Lastly, here are some photos from another of Kubota's films - Hero Mania (he's the second lead here, with Masahiro Higashide grabbing the main role).

Storyline follows:

Nakatsu (Masahiro Higashide) was laid off at his company and now works part-time at a convenience store. One day, Nakatsu forms a vigilante group to protect his town with Toshida (Masataka Kubota), who has a difficult physical ability, Kanari (Nana Komatsu), who is a female high school student with excellent information gathering abilities, and Kusaki (Tsurutaro Kataoka), who wields hammers under his sleeves.

As they punish evil-doers, the group gains widespread support and flourish. [AsianWiki]

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Yuta Koseki and Aoi Morikawa are the main cast in the latest Eisuke Naito film, 'Gluttonous Goby' - where we have yet to confirm the exact title of the new horror-thriller. Speaking of Naito, there is nothing but great news and raves on his favorite actor (as evidenced by his preferential casting!) - Shuhei Nomura. 

Aside from wowing Busan Fest audience and the few select critics who had the chance to watch Litchi Hikari Club, Nomura made waves on TV via Koinaka.

He's also one of the leads in Chihayafuru [ see above photo from his Twitter account where the cast appear to be having a blast! ] The karuta sports-romantic-drama is a 2-part movie to be shown March 2016, and aside from Nomura, it also features Suzu Hirose, Mackenyu, Mayu Matsuoka and Hiroya Shimizu, among others.

Lastly, I don't understand the push for Kasumi Arimura. She is way-way below the acting talents of most of her co-stars (Mitsuki Takahata is brilliant, while Aoi Morikawa is intense) in the upcoming drama "Itsuka Kono Koi wo Omoidashite Kitto Naite Shimau" with Kengo Kora. Her acting is bland, and she's a definite #deadfisheye. I think after the torture of watching (if you did at all) Ayame Gouriki, Arimura comes next.

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