This week's casting news roundup features the up and coming Kentaro, the super-talented Taiga, and one of Japan's best actors, Kubozuka Yosuke and their latest projects, plus updates on the latest Japanese BL entitled I Hear the Sunspot with Stardust's Onadera Akira and Tawada Hideya.

First off, a new movie starring Odagiri Joe, Usuda Asami and Taiga is the latest in Japan's slice of life genre.

Pumpkin and Mayonnaise - casting  

Based on the manga Kabocha to Mayonezu (Pumpkin and Mayonnaise) by Nananan Kiriko, the movie tells the story of an aspiring musician, Seiichi (Taiga), and his relationship with his girlfriend Tsuchida (Usuda Asami) who unbeknownst to him is working in a bar and maybe engaged in prostitution. Their relationship is complicated by his lack of a job and the entrance of Tsuchida's former boyfriend, Hagio (played by Odagiri Joe). 

The romantic team up of Suda Masaki and Tsuchiya Tao is a surprising casting choice for Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (My Little Monster - となりの怪物くん).

Though I'm not surprised that the film partners for this LA chose Tsuchiya Tao, we often watch Sudacchi play weird, dark, even disturbing characters. And while a role reversal for Tsuchiya appeals to me, - I want Tao to play dark, even seductive types in the tradition of her Suzuki Sensei character - I also welcome Suda in Yamazaki Kento's playing field anytime. 

My Little Monster - Masaki Suda, Tao Tsuchiya

When it comes to compelling, haunting, sensual, and hypnotic performances, I have come to rely on Aoi Yu, Mitsushima Hikari, and Kadowaki Mugi. These actresses are known for their on-screen collaboration with some of Japan's best filmmakers, and their latest projects have generated a lot of buzzes - some may be potential award winners!

Kanojo ga Sono Mei wo Shiranai Toritachi 

Yamada Ryosuke's drive into dramatic roles continues with The Miracles of the Namiya General Store (Namiya Zakkaten no Kiseki), where he plays one of the three youth who gives advice to a young girl from another time. 

I'm glad that Japanese producers are not only looking for a manga to turn into movies but best-selling novels as well. Miracles is written by Higashino Keigo, described as Japan's mega-bestselling author of crime thrillers and mysteries.

 Yamada Ryosuke in Miracles of the Namiya General Store

Ryuichi Hiroki will direct the film. The director is pretty much an credible filmmaker who previously helmed The Egoists, The Lightning Tree, Yellow Elephant and Wolf Girl and Black Prince. Saito Hiroshi was tasked with the script. He previously wrote for the films Kiseki: Sobito of the Day, April Bride, and The Glorious Team Batista, among others.

Fans of Chihayafuru must rejoice as a third installment was announced! Perhaps with an impressive box office showing, there could even be a 4th movie? 

New cast includes Yuuki Mio who will play a romantic interest, M!lk's Sano Hayato as a new member of the karuta team, and Kiyohara Kaya is a rival from a competing team perhaps? The consistent and often underrated Kaku Kento will star as a mentor. The new film is set for release in 2018.

Chihayafuru live action 3rd movie casting

The first two installments of the Chihayafuru LA represent one of the finest examples of how manga should be adapted to the silver screen. For me, the movies were successful because of many factors - (1) Director Koizumi Norihiro was able to condense the story and managed to include relevant scenes that provide smooth character development and story progression; (2) Acting from the leads, especially Mackenyu, Nomura Shuhei, and Matsuoka Mayu, was excellent; (3) The card game battles were both revealing and exciting, and (4) There are no side stories that would have complicated the movie and confuse the audience.