I can still remember the first time I saw Tao Tsuchiya, and nope it's not in Mare, the asadora that she headlined. It was a supporting role but with huge impact - on all the senses! She was an alluring, mysterious, charming young student with a sparkle in her eyes, and an attitude that borders from girlish to a grown up lady who is about to discover the world. As Somi Ogawa in TV Tokyo's Suzuki Sensei, Tao Tsuchiya was a sight to behold!

A few years later, and she is stepping it up - climbing the Japanese movie casting ladder like a veteran and amassing a list of memorable and beloved characters to her acting resume. Is she the next Yui Aragaki? Aoi Miyazaki? Masami Nagasawa? Or perhaps someone who will follow the career path of Hikari Mitsushima? Sakura Ando? I think her casting situation is still liquid - but one thing is sure - moviegoers and the Japanese general public love her. 

Since I'm given this chance to start working as an actress, I encounter many different works. I, too, also have things that are becoming (un)clear as I face those challenges. There were times when I thought, "How did I say this line before?" and would become confused as things get mixed up. However, by valuing those works one by one, I think it is important to jive in with the directors and co-stars at that time from the main parts of those works. Therefore, I personally want to do more things such as reading more newspapers and books, or climbing a mountain. Aahh, I suddenly want to go to the beach. (LOL) [ source ]

I watched her in a lot of TV appearances and one thing that always come across - her honest, unassuming demeanor. I wish she would do a hundred more movies with Kento Yamazaki, but reality bites - she is cast with other actors now and in the future. What I do hope is that there will be a magical movie that will put them back together, and I hope it will be sooner rather than later.

Whew, that was a long intro! So what sort of movies she's doing currently?

Another milestone appears on the Japanese casting horizon! With the likes of Masaki Suda, Yuya Yagira and Sosuke Ikematsu taking on the more challenging, complex roles previously awarded to such actors as Satoshi Tsumabuki, Masanobu Ando, and even Joe Odagiri, there is now a sort of "void" being filled up by younger, fresh players. This time, we have Takumi Kitamura and Nijiro Murakami hugging the headlines. Remember, they are not the only ones getting the prized roles - Taishi Nakagawa (it seems he's about to challenge Kento Yamazaki and Sota Fukushi?), and before him Hiroya Shimizu (remember The World of Kanako and Solomon's Perjury?).

And what a movie title it is! I Want to Eat Your Pancreas ( Kimi no Suizo wo Tabetai - 君の膵臓をたべたい) stars Kitamura with new actress Minami Hamabe (yes, the girl who played Menma in Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day). If you think about it, Kitamura and fellow actor Nijiro Murakami switch places! Murakami was cast in Anohana with Hamabe, and this time, Kitamura was the main character who will narrate and bring back the memories of Hamabe's character. Keiko Kitagawa and Shun Oguri are playing present-day characters to fill up the story.

Toei's Kiseki: Sobito of the Day and Metamorphosis (Transformation) from TV Tokyo offer the latest casting buzz that features our favorite stars.

Junki Tozuka teams up with favorite Arata Horii and Airi Matsui for TV Tokyo's "Transformation" about the lives of high school students. A previous show featuring Shono Hayama and Yuina Kuroshima was a precursor of this new TV film. This latest production is the third, after selecting the winner of a story as told by a real student. 

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Kiseki (キセキ あの日のソビト) is the reunion of Masaki Suda and Tori Matsuzaka on the big screen, after The Boy Inside and Piece of Cake. This time, they play brothers, with Matsuzaka as the manager of a boy band called "GreeeeN" while Suda is the lead member of the group. I dunno if fans may resent the use of the term "boy band" compared to Japanese "pop group". The title is from the name of their song "Kiseki" which became a big hit upon release. The other members of the band are Ryusei Yokohama, Ryo Narita, and Yosuke Sugino.

It's not difficult to understand why many Japanese filmmakers - both making full-length films and drama shows - single out Fumi Nikaido. Aside from her proven capacity to deliver worthy performances, she is known to speak her mind and participate in the way she'll play her part. While we are not privy to actual situations during shooting, a collaborative effort between artists seems to be the way to go.

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Winning a major international acting award (with Shota Sometani) in Himizu, paved the way for roles in My Man, Brain Man, Au revoir l' ete, Misono Universe and many others. 

Now it seems is the time for her to "graduate" from playing school girls to a teacher! In NTV's movie specially made for television, Gappa Sensei, Nikaido is an elementary school teacher who comes from the countryside. Her rural background makes her different from other teachers, and in her initial encounter with the pupils and co-teachers alike, she nervously spoke her local dialect, thus her title Gappa sensei. 

I find FUNimation's synopsis of Donten ni Warau to be just exactly right, for both fans and the uninitiated.

When swords were outlawed in the eleventh year of the Meiji Era, the mighty samurai population began to dwindle. Those who rejected the ban on blades rebelled, causing violent unrest to erupt throughout the countryside. To combat the rise in criminal activity, an inescapable lake prison was constructed. Three young men, born of the Kumoh line, were given the duty of delivering criminals to their place of confinement—but could there be more to their mission than meets the eye?

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You see, I watched this anime when I was very much into the supernatural genre and I really had a great time watching the episodes. I'm not much of a manga reader, so my timeline is quite different from those who became loyal to Donten via the original source. What I like most about it is the interaction between the Kumoh brothers - they have such distinct personalities. Even the supporting characters can be quite fascinating - the Yamainu Squad and of course, Shirasu Kinjo.

When the casting of Sota Fukushi as Tenka Kumoh was announced, it was such a disappointment! [ Read Kaye casting news here

I dunno really why they could cast such an incompetent actor to play such an intriguing lead, but hey, it's a done deal. Johnny's Yuma Nakayama & Kirato Wakayama are to play the two other brothers. Nakayama is just Ok for me, have seen him in a few shows (Pin to Kona, being one of them). The casting of Yuki Furukawa is great news, though his role may be quite limited...