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Japan Academy Prize 2013: The Kirishima Thing wins Best Picture; Shota Sometani, Kengo Kora, Masahiro Higashide among nominees for acting awards!

Updates! The Kirishima Thing is the big winner of the recently concluded Japan Academy Prize grabbing two major awards – Best Picture and Best Director. Wolf Children won Animation of the Year while Hiroshi Abe is Best Actor for Thermae Romae and Kirin Kiki is Best Actress for Chronicle of my Mother.

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Ryunosuke Kamiki as Ryoya Maeda in The Kirishima Thing, directed by Daihachi Yoshida. Copyright NTV, Showgate, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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Favorites Erika Sawajiri and Aoi Miyazaki failed to grab the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards respectively, while Kengo Kora (nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Drudgery Train) and Mirai Moriyama (with dual nomination for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for The Drudgery Train and Chorus of Angels) suffered the same fate.

There was 7 Rookie of the year winners:

Emi Takei
Fumi Nikaido
Ai Hashimoto
Shota Sometani
Shim Chang-Min
Masahiro Higashide
Tori Matsuzaka

Emi Takei was last seen in Takashi Miike’s “For Love’s Sake” opposite Satoshi Tsumabuki and Takumi Saito, while Fumi Nikaido is the lead star in Himizu together with fellow Rookie winner Shota Sometani. Masahiro Higashide is part of The Kirishima Thing, and has a significant role in the currently Wowow TV drama xxxHolic, together with Sometani.

Shim Changmin, is, of course, the fab South Korean celebrity who played a North Korean spy in Fly with the Gold, while Tori Matsuzaka did some amazing performances in Tsunagu and Wings of the Kirin.

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Five excellent films vie for Best Picture at the upcoming Japanese Academy Prize – the film award-giving body of Japan similar to the Oscars in the US and Cesars in France. The films up for the top award are Dearest, The Kirishima Thing, Chronicle of my Mother, Floating Castle and A Chorus of Angels.

Wolf Children is also up for Best Animation of the year.

Favorites Shota Sometani, Kengo Kora (The Drudgery Train), Aoi Miyazaki (Chronicle), Erika Sawajiri (Helter Skelter), Ai Hashimoto, Tori Matsuzaka, Masahiro Higashide and Mirai Moriyama (The Drudgery Train, for Best Actor and Chorus of Angels for Supporting Actor) are up for acting awards. 

One notable snub is Kamiki Ryunosuke who played one of the leads in The Kirishima Thing. The famous movie and voice actor was not nominated for the Best Actor award, dominated by his elder colleagues including Hiroshi Abe (Thermae Romae) and Koji Yakusho (nominated twice for Chronicles and Admiral Yamamoto).

Spotlight on The Kirishima Thing: It comes as a pleasant surprise that a youth-oriented film is up for the plum prize in the Japanese Academy. I remember Confessions and Villain getting the same acclaim a few years ago.

“Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo,” tells the story of two high school students who crosses social boundaries between the elite and lower class at their school. Ryoya Maeda (played by Kamiki Ryunosuke), from the lower class, is a member of the film club, while Hiroki Kikuchi (played by Masahiro Higashide), from the elite class, is a non-participating member of the high school baseball team. [ AsianWiki ]

Mark Schilling @Tokyo Times commented about the film saying:

“Kirishima” might be called a morality play in the guise of a coming-of-age drama, though what Yoshida admires is less conventional film-hero goodness than qualities such as open-mindedness and stubborn persistence in the face of indifference, ridicule and the random interruptions that are a daily fact of high school (and, indeed, modern) life. In short, qualities that make for a good film director. [ read more ]

FilmBizAsia praised the young cast:

The film is beautifully cast with a large number of young talents — some making big-screen debuts, none yet major stars — that Japan’s entertainment machine produces in such bottomless abundance. As the mystery member of the girl group, HASHIMOTO Ai shows the same unworldly charisma as in recent psycho horror Another 2011) and supernatural drama Until the Break of Dawn SHIMIZU Kurumi (Kanashii Boyfriend (2008)) is equally good as her quietly ambitious badminton pal; while model-TV actress YAMAMOTO Mizuki evinces a natural sexiness as Kirishima’s disappointed girlfriend. Also cast in contrasted roles, anime voice actor KAMIKI Ryunosuke (who also played the young boy in MIIKE Takashi The Great Yokai War (2005) is utterly believable as the film nerd who just wants to make trashy genre movies and TV actor HIGASHIDE Masahiro shows considerable screen appeal as the good-looking but unclubby Hiroki who’s entirely unaware of his effect on his female classmates. [ source ]

Masahiro Higashide – An actor to watch: We echo the sentiments of the film reviewer @FilmBizAsia who said that Higashide has considerable screen appeal. He already won the Sponichi Grand Prix Newcomer Award for his role in the said movie.

Higashide will next be seen in Wowow’s xxxholic, together with fellow Rookie of the Year nominee Shota Sometani. The young actor who figured prominently in a few modeling gigs shows the promises of a leading man. Kirishima is his first movie and already he is getting raves from critics and moviegoers alike.

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Mirai Moriyama as Kitamichi in The Drudgery Train, directed by Nobuhiro Yamashita. Copyright Toei, 2012 – All Rights Reserved.

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Acclaim continues for Mirai Moriyama: He is probably one of the most underrated young actors, but that is a different term in itself since critics have already praised him for his past performances.

Moriyama is nominated in two categories, as Best Actor for The Drudgery Train and as supporting actor for A Chorus of Angels.

Says the Hollywood Reporter:

An out-of-the-ordinary coming of age story set in 1988 Tokyo, The Drudgery Train reprises the tongue-in-cheek coarseness and cruelty of Nobuhiro Yamashita’s 1999 indie directing debut Hazy Life, once again featuring an irresistible anti-social hero who refuses to become a productive member of Japanese society. Though well directed, this often exhilarating screen adaptation of Kenta Nishimura’s novel feels way too long and under-edited; still, the hypnotic brashness of the young lead Mirai Moriyama should go a long way towards holding teen viewers in their seats until a final, unrevealable clincher rewards one’s faith in him. [ source ]

Two of the four leading actresses currently dominating the scenes in Japanese cinema, Erika Sawajiri, and Aoi Miyazaki are both being recognized by the Academy for their latest performances.

Sawajiri is up for a Best Actress trophy for her tour-de-force performance as the ambitious yet insecure model in Helter Skelter. Aoi Miyazaki gets the nod for her supporting yet memorable role in Chronicle of my Mother, who she shared top billings with perennial performer Kirin Kiki and award-winning actor Koji Yakusho.

Rookies of the Year: Getting the coveted Rookies, Shota Sometani and Himizu co-star Fumi Nikaido. They share the acclaim with Ai Hashimoto, Tori Matsuzaka, and Masahiro Higashide. Also on the list is a South Korean celebrity/idol Chang-Min, who played a North Korean spy in Fly with the Gold.

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