Mackenyu belongs to Japanese acting royalty, while Mei Nagano's 'plain-looking but sympathetic' appeal may be her ticket to stardom! You may disagree with me, but Mei Nagano is not as 'kawaii' as Tao Tsuchiya or Suzu Hirose and that makes her a fantastic candidate to epitomize the regular Japanese school girl - the one many can quickly identify with and not necessarily look up to but feel a real connection.

She did exactly that type of character in My Love Story!! with Ryohei Suzuki and Mackenyu's ultimate rival, Kentaro Sakaguchi. The same applies to her role in TV Tokyo's Koe Koi (こえ恋) which is getting a lot of buzz among Japanese dorama lovers. At seventeen, she is currently represented by Stardust - the same agency that handles the careers of Takako Tokiwa, Kou Shibasaki, Kaho, Nana Komatsu and Keiko Kitagawa, among others. 

A lot of buzz in this year's Tokyo International Film Festival. Aside from the appearance of Meryl Streep and major stars from Asia, the festival is celebrating its 29th edition this year.

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We previously posted a few excellent Japanese movies that deal with youth, a slice of life drama.

This time we join the film festival community in celebrating the winners of the Arigato award (its second edition only).

Our casting news begins with a closer look at Yu Aoi's latest film - Haruko Azumi Is Missing -  アズミ・ハルコは行方不明 - now also known as "Japanese Girls Never Die." While it would be a fantastic news to hear that Yu Aoi gets nominated for Best Actress for the upcoming Japan Academy Prize, her recent win at TAMA (for the movie Over the Fence) is more than enough as a celebration of her talent. 

Don Brown described Aoi's performance in his regular post at The Asahi Shimbun:

(Yu) Aoi totally owns her difficult role, which at times hews very close to manic pixie dream girl and hysterical bipolar stereotypes. The actress excels at making Satoshi believable and sympathetic through the sheer force of her commitment and charisma. Less detail is offered regarding her traumatic background than Shiraiwa’s, but Odagiri is just as comfortable in his character’s skin, puncturing his smirking inscrutability with sudden flashes of jaded and wounded intensity. [ source ]

There was never any doubt about Aoi's charisma when it comes to an analysis (or simply an observation) of her on-screen persona. Take the case of her performances in Hula Girls, Shining Boy and Little Randy, The Lightning Tree,  or her more recent works in Tokyo Family, Penance, and Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends.

I want to start this casting update by quoting Gretchen Rubin about Loneliness:

Keep in mind that to avoid loneliness, many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment. Having just one of two may still leave you feeling lonely.

I think it applies to the anime March Comes in Like a Lion and the soon to be released 2-part live action movies starring Ryunosuke Kamiki. 

The thing is, I have always wanted to see how Kamiki will level up his acting by playing a role with a complex personality. Of course, you may rave about his characterization of Soujiro Seta in Rurouni Kenshin or the special way he treated his Bakuman character Akito Takagi, but both are supporting parts that rely quite heavily on the main characters. If you've watched him play previous roles like Little DJ and Into the Far Away Sky, you may notice a certain "loneliness" in his portrayals. 

In Nanimono (Somebody) - 何者, Daisuke Miura directs some of Japan's most exciting young talents as University students on the verge of finding a job, in a time of Tweets and Facebook likes.

Takuto Ninomiya (Takeru Satoh) observes those around him. His roommate Kotaro Kamiya (Masaki Suda) has a bright personality and communicates well with others. Mizuki Tanabe (Kasumi Arimura) is Kotaro Kamiya’s ex-girlfriend. Takuto Ninomiya has feelings for his roommate's ex-girlfriend. Rika Kobayakawa (Fumi Nikaido) is determined to land a job. Takayoshi Miyamoto (Masaki Okada) is critical of job-seeking activities, but he later tries to get a job. [ AsianWiki ]

The movie is a live-action adaptation of Ryo Asai novel of the same title. Asai was only 23 years old when his novel Nanimono won the prestigious Naoki Prize:

... is about the job-hunting ordeals of university students. The story advances with students’ Twitter posts as they go about the job-hunting process and depicts their frustration at being unable to become a “nanimono” (somebody). [ source ]

There was a previous ensemble cast for Parade, directed by Isao Yukisada, where the main characters live in a shared apartment, but the comparison ends there. While Parade has both dramatic-thriller sexually explicit content, Somebody is more dramatic in nature.