The 2016 Netflix original Japanese drama entitled Hibana (Sparks) is one of the best drama series I've seen in a long time. Aside from the quality production values, the series features excellent performances from Hayashi Kento and Namioka Kazuki who play comedians, locally known as manzai artists.

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Before the end of 2017, it was previously announced that a movie version of Hibana will be released. The movie stars Suda Masaki (who will play Hayashi's Tokunaga), while Kiritani Kento takes on the role of Namioka's Kamiya. Not an easy feat, especially Kamiya's character requires one hell of a performance!

From author Sato Yashushi who gave us The Light Shines Only There, Over the Fence, and Sketches of Kaitan City comes the latest live-action adaptation of another of his work entitled "And Your Bird Can Sing". Described as the author's "true debut into the literary world, (which) was nominated for the 86th Akutagawa Prize", it is about the "triangular relationship between three 21-year-olds".

And Your Bird Can Sing - Casting

Playing the three major characters are Sometani Shota, Emoto Tasuku, and Ishibashi Shizuka. Miyake Sho will direct the new film.

Double Mints, the latest directorial project of Uchida Eiji (Low Life Love, Greatful Dead) is a tale of two Japanese men named 'Mitsuo Ichikawa'. The movie tackles both men's intense gay relationship and one's domination over the other. It also deals with their equally intense and difficult relationship with the Yakuza. 

Double Mints

The live-action movie was crowdfunded and is based on the manga by popular Yaoi author Nakamura Asimiko. Asimiko is famously known for her work in Doukyusei (同級生- "Classmates") which was made into an anime last year and earned significantly at the box office. 

"I've killed a woman." The domineering voice on the phone was that of a high school classmate, Mitsuo Ichikawa. Buried memories from the past resurface in the heart of a man with the same name, Mitsuo Ichikawa. It drags him right back into the passions of the past. They reunite as accomplices, yet their relationship as master and servant slowly changes into something new... [source]

The latest casting news for Kubota Masataka's Boku-tachi ga Yarimashita, Kentaro's Demekin, and Yoshizawa Ryo's Tomodachi Game is up! From One Litre of Tears, Hana Yori Dango and Gokusen to the more recent Suzuki Sensei, 35-Year-Old Highschool Student and Aogeba Toutoshi, Japanese school dramatic saga (not to mention the horror-thriller genre) continues! 

Kubota Masataka, Nagano Mei, Mackenyu

Aside from such a tradition, we have come to expect actors in their early thirties to don the high school uniform and play teens notwithstanding their bulkier physique and matured facial features. But then again, who can argue against the likes of Oguri Shun, Ando Sakura, Tsumabuki Satoshi, Saitoh Takumi, Takei Emi, and Matsuyama Kenichi playing high school students? Is it even fair to ask producers if they could possibly cast younger actors instead? 

We'll be having a special report on Death Note, including some history lessons of a sort, plus this week there are plenty of casting news! Okada Junichi is on a roll - aside from the historical drama/thriller Sekigahara (関ヶ原), the actor is set to join another film entitled Chiri Tsubaki (散り椿 - which literally translates to "Falling Camellia"). 

Chiri Tsumaki cast led by Junichi Okada and Haru Kuroki

The new film is under the helm of award-winning cinematographer and writer Kimura Daisaku. The ensemble cast includes Nishijima Hidetoshi, Kuroki Haru, Ikematsu Sosuke, and Yagira Yuya. [ More details about the movie to follow soon ]