The latest casting news and buzz from Japan reveal the massive shift that continues with the extended exposure of Masaki Suda and Kento Yamazaki and the rise of Kentaro Sakaguchi. But Shota Sometani steals the thunder with 'Kukai' - how about that! On the girl's side, Mayu Matsuoka's acting award at TAMA New Wave serves notice of her ascent to the top - even without an asadora to her credit. Alice Hirose who was almost on 'semi-hiatus' has two projects up her sleeve, eclipsing her younger sister Suzu. 

Here are the top buzzes right this minute!

Kento Yamazaki and Alice Hirose will play Hotaro Oreki and Eru Chitanda respectively in the live-action adaptation of  Honobu Yonezawa novel, Hyoka (氷菓). The said manga was turned into anime in the Spring of 2012 by Kyoto Animation, the same animator who made Beyond the Boundaries (Kyōkai no Kanata) one of my favorites. 

 Taishi Nakagawa is soon emerging as Japan's shoujo prince with the main lead in Today's Kira-kun (きょうのキラ君) after playing second fiddle to Kento Yamazaki in Your Lie in April. A lot can happen in a day, and in the case of Japanese movie casting news, there's plenty to talk about right this minute! I just posted casting news previously!

A teaser trailer showing students reacting to Taishi and co-star Marie Iitoyo romantic overtures in the movie says it all.

Scarlett Johansson figured prominently in the latest trailer for the upcoming Ghost in the Shell, enhanced to a certain degree by the music inspired by Depeche Mode 'Enjoy the Silence'. Beat Takeshi, as to be expected, is shown to maximum impact. 

Ghost in the Shell is an upcoming American science fiction film directed by Rupert Sanders and written by Jonathan Herman and Jamie Moss, based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, and Michael Pitt. Cyborg counter-cyberterrorist field commander The Major (Scarlett Johansson), and her task force Section 9 thwart cyber criminals and hackers. Now, they must face a new enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage Hanka Robotic's artificial intelligence technology [ Wiki ]

I would have appreciated seeing Rinko Kikuchi in the title role (or even Fumi Nikaido, or any newly discovered aspiring Japanese actress for that matter), but this is a Hollywood produced movie after all. [ First trailer after the jump! ]

Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name) is shortlisted for the Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards (Oscars) in the US. FUNimation officially confirms the news:

“We’re thrilled to have ‘Your Name.’ on the list of contenders for a Best Animated Feature nomination,” said Gen Fukunaga, CEO and founder of Funimation. “It is a masterpiece of animation from director Makoto Shinkai and is definitely worthy of Oscar consideration. We look forward to releasing it in theaters in 2017.” [ read more ]

More of the process and the complete list of contenders after the jump!

So Death Note: Light Up the New World failed to maintain #1 after a week. I guess, there is less light than darkness perhaps? Or is it because Makoto Shinkai's Your Name (Kimi no na Wa) is just too good for second place? 

I have not read any reactions yet from Japanese film critics, but a review @Yahoo by Marcus Goh gave the film 3.5 out of 5:

“Death Note: Light Up the New World” is probably one of the most anticipated live-action manga adaptations this year, especially since it’s the continuation of an insanely popular series ten years ago. It leverages on the nostalgia of the original “Death Note” but adds a few new twists and updates, mainly to the level of technology, to account for how it interacts with the titular Death Notes. It’s more of the same but lacks the spark that made the original so fascinating. [ source ]

Mr. Goh added that there is a strange relationship (a bromance) between Sosuke Ikematsu and Masahiro Higashide characters.