In Part 2 of our Live-action spotlight, we featured some near-future box office potential winners. In Part 3, we're into the sentimental, romantic, mysterious, and coming-of-age genre and we'll talk about Yamazaki Kento, Fukushi Sota, Kitamura Takumi, and Johnny's Yamada Ryosuke and Chinen Yuri.

Casting Scoop - Yamada Ryosuke, Sota Fukushi, Takumi kitamura, Kento Yamazaki

Here are six upcoming LA with the above actors playing main roles:

Hyouka (氷菓) - from a light novel, then turned anime - A youth drama with a touch of mystery and philosophical discussions on life, student politics, and rivalries. Stars Yamazaki Kento and Hirose Alice;

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas (Kimi no Suizo wo Tabetai - 君の膵臓をたべたい) - based on a manga - A young boy discovered the diary of a distant classmate who suffers from a pancreatic disease and decides to make her remaining days delightful and worthwhile. Playing main roles are DISH//'s Kitamura Takumi and Hamabe Minami;

Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon - 坂道のアポロン) - manga, then anime series - Tales of friendship and romance, where two young boys with opposite personalities strike a friendship, soon to be tested by love, peer pressure, and their own personal circumstances. Chinen Yuri and Nakagawa Taishi play best friends;

Laughing Under the Clouds (Donten ni Warau - 曇天に笑う) - manga and anime series + multiple spin-offs - The adventures, struggles and coming of age of three brothers who succeed their father in protecting the Kumo shrine and blocking the power of Orochi, a giant snake. Stars Fukushi Sota, Nakayama Yuma, and Wakayama Kirato as the brothers.

Miracles of Namiya General Store (Namiya Zakkaten no Kiseki - ナミヤ雑貨店の奇蹟 ) - based on a best-selling novel by Higashino Keigo - Three young boys give advice on love and life to a young girl from another time. Yamada Ryosuke, Murakami Nijiro, and Hayashi Kento play the three young boys;

The Travelling Cat Chronicles (Tabineko Report - 旅猫リポート) - based on a novel by Arikawa Hiro - A young man, a cat named Nana, and their travels and the relationships they develop with people during his journey. Fukushi Sota headlines the film as Satoru.


The Domination of Yamazaki Kento

 Hyouka - Kento Yamazaki, Alice Hirose

What I like the most in Japanese movies and drama is seeing my favorite actors get cast over and over again. That's the thing with personal bias, one is delighted with the latest movie news. However, some would prefer a more balanced casting battleground where "everyone else" gets a chance to play the major (read: preferred) roles. I have some strong opinions on that. While some have voiced their dissent over the casting of Yamazaki Kento in Hyouka, I would like to ask - who else would be the perfect casting then?

Who's the alternative choice? Would you prefer someone like Yoshizawa Ryo, Narita Ryo, Nomura Shuhei, or Takasugi Mahiro to be Oreki? Maybe yes, maybe no. But, I don't think anyone of them can play Oreki. If only people knew Yamazaki's sense of humor and ability to create yes-laugh-at-my-own-expense type of situations. I think those not in the know need to watch Japanese variety shows to discover Yamazaki's real personality and how he suits Oreki perfectly. 

Video showing scenes between Kento and Alice's characters and how especially hilarious yet subtle it is. I mean, how does anyone deal with hormones at such an age?

Now, watch the next video and observe Kento's reactions...

 

Hyouka (氷菓) is a novel written by Honobu Yonezawa and serialized in Kadokawa Shoten. It constitutes the first instalment in the Classic Literature Club Series (〈古典部〉シリーズ), which currently has 6 volumes. The anime by Kyoto Animation aired from April 22, 2012, to September 16, 2012, with 22 episodes in total. There is also an ongoing manga written by the original author and illustrated by Task Ohna.

Oreki Houtarou is a self-proclaimed "energy-saver"—that is, he refuses to actively waste energy doing things that aren't necessary. Though he had no interest whatsoever in participating in any clubs upon entering Kamiyama High School, he was commanded by his older sister, Tomoe, to join the club she was once a part of, the Classics Club, as it was in danger of being abolished due to its non-existent member count.

Together with his old friends Fukube Satoshi and Ibara Mayaka, as well as the elegantly ladylike and curiously inquisitive Chitanda Eru, the newly reformed Classics Club ends up finding themselves involved in all sorts of mystery-solving escapades. Houtarou quickly learns that life in the Classics Club, just as Tomoe had promised, would be an interesting one indeed.

And so begins the "Classics Club Series".

Source: Baka Tsugi Project 

 

With nine full-length films (2016 and beyond), Yamazaki dominates the Japanese movie scene. Aside from Hyouka, he is set for Jojo's Bizarre Adventures and The Disastrous Life of Saiki K later this year. 


The Curious Case of Fukushi Sota 

Donten ni Warau - Sota Fukushi 

Fukushi Sota is KEN-On's standard bearer. With seven full-length films (2016 and beyond), he closely follows Yamazaki in terms of most number of projects. However, while Yamazaki consistently grew as an actor, Fukushi remains stagnant. Why does that happen when he has plenty of opportunities? As an example, even before Yamazaki had been under the tutelage of Miike Takashi, Fukushi had already done a movie with the popular director (As the God's Will) as well as being a part of Miike's latest, Blade of the Immortal.

Following represent a collective sentiment of Fukushi's acting:

the50person: He has approx 6 - 6 1/2 years in this industry. I wonder if the sudden submersion into lead roles in 2013 resulted in his current stunted growth? Like he hasn't got the chance to actually develop decent foundations and got thrown into the acting equivalent of advanced math?

Hanabi: If he really has a foresight regarding his career 10 years down the line... He should improve himself.

Kaye: Definitely. But at the moment the question is more "can he do it?" Than anything. He's had so many chances.

the50person: Or maybe, opposed to my math analogy, acting also requires some amount of talent? (like how I can't ever do Physics, perhaps same for him?) Not for the lack of trying, maybe just that that's his limit? Idk.

Kaye: There's definitely talent in it yeah. If you don't have a bud, it can't be cultivated no matter what you do. There are ways for everyone to get the basics down. But it takes time. And well... maybe he got overwhelmed.

the50person: So I guess: got thrown before the foundation was firm, grappled with swimming, but given too much before his ability caught up with the requirements of his projects. Then probably also reached an invisible ceiling for his acting talent, aggravated the situation. Because I look at his projects and his foundation is all Kamen Rider.

Kaye: Something like that?

Hanabi: Maybe getting so much popularity with so little talent got him in complacency mode.

Kaye: Yeah, it's happened before. We can only hope he will grow at some point but I can't see him do so anymore.

the50person: Not to say it's bad, but Kamen Rider doesn’t work for everyone. He could barely handle Kamen Rider properly already, then was thrown into various big roles before he was ready. The quality of his projects wasn't /that/ bad mostly were poor due to acting. (Kamisama had awful plot tho)

The Twitter conversation above is an intro to a long-winding discussion of Mr. Fukushi's acting, which we'll post later.

You can also join the discussion on the casting of Donten ni Warau (Laughing Under the Clouds) here.


Yamada and Chinen: Idols first, Actors second.

Johnny's talents Yamada Ryosuke, Chinen Yuri, and their handlers have shown a certain pride when it comes to movie roles: they usually get the lead. But is that a sensible career move?

I'm not discounting the fact that both work hard to get to where they are now. But if anyone takes a careful look at the acting careers of Satoh Takeru or Ryunosuke Kamiki one thing is obvious - they started by playing supporting bit parts and gradually began to get lead roles after so much exposure. I'd rather compliment Nakajima Yuto and his agent for the consistent growth of Nakajima as a dramatic actor. 

Yamada, however, may have an ace up his sleeves - his lead role in Miracles of Namiya General Store may be his ticket to acting acclaim. Provided his co-stars Murakami Nijiro and Hayashi Kento will not outshine him. Of course, one cannot discount Full Metal Alchemist, which is his follow-up LA-casting to the hugely successful Assassination Classroom movies.

(You can read more about Yamada's new movie, Miracles of Namiya General Store here)

Chinen as well is given a spotlight role to prove himself. As one of the two leads in Kids on the Slope, the idol group member will pit talents with Nakagawa Taishi, one of Japan's rising stars. 

Kids on the Slope (Sakamichi no Apollon) is - in my opinion - one of the best depictions of young male friendship, with multi-dimensional plots that include an older youth who became embroiled in campus politics during one of Japan's turbulent times. The fact that it mixes music (jazz in particular) with the drama, romance, and pains of youth make it even more entertaining and sublime. 

Kaoru is a brainy young man who moves during the summer of his first year in high school from Yokosuka to his uncle's house in Kyushu. In fact, Kaoru has been moving from place to place ever since he was a little kid due to his father's constant departure to work on a ship. That, combined with his expanded family's expectations for him, causes him to become an extreme introvert. But after Kaoru encounters Sentarō, he starts to change, all while learning the joys of jazz. Kaoru is a skilled pianist, familiar with classical music until he meets Sentarō and he starts practicing jazz music with him. Kaoru has unrequited feelings for Ritsuko who initially loves Sentarō instead until Ritsuko starts reciprocating his feelings. In the last chapter of the manga, he and Ritsuko are revealed to have gotten married, and Ritsuko is pregnant with their child. 

Just read the above character description and you'll know any aspiring actor would die to play the part!

Above video shows the kind of friendship that Yuri and Taishi's characters enjoy. I would be extremely disappointed if this scene is left out. I think it covers the basic ingredients of the story - coming-of-age and how music can influence friendships making it deeper, more committed, more meaningful.


The Future is Now for Kitamura Takumi

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas - cast Takumi Kitamura

Perhaps not as highly regarded by fans as the Johnny's above, Kitamura Takumi nonetheless is also a celebrated young talent. I've pretty much been a fan from when I saw him in Suzuki Sensei, one of the best school dramas ever released in Japan. There is also a movie of the same title that further celebrates the joys and pains of the kids under their beloved homeroom teacher played by Hasegawa Hiroki. Kitamura manages to shine in his recent roles including Destruction Babies and Aogeba Toutoshi.

 

Book - I Want to Eat Your Pancreas

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas, Excerpts - Translation by Pajama Days

“I want to eat your pancreas.”

We were in the archive of the school library. While arranging the books on those dusty shelves - our duty as library committee members - Sakura Yamauchi made an odd confession.

Though I was thinking of simply ignoring it, the only ones in the vicinity were myself and her. Since talking to oneself would be a little bizarre, it must have been directed at me.

It couldn’t be helped - I responded to her, who was facing another bookshelf, her back to mine.

“Have you suddenly been awakened to cannibalism?”

She took a large breath and promptly choked on some dust, coughing a few times to clear her throat. Only then did she start to explain, her voice tinged with a sense of triumph. I didn’t turn to look at her.

“I saw it on TV yesterday - If someone in the past had a part of their body that wasn’t well, they would eat the corresponding part of another animal.”

“What about it?”

“Eat liver if your liver is unwell, eat stomach if your stomach is unwell - it seems they believed that doing so would cure their illness. That’s why I want to eat your pancreas.”

“Could it be that the ‘your’ you mentioned is referring to me?”

“Who else could it be?”

She giggled without looking my way, seemingly engaged in her work. I could hear the slam and rustle of hardcover books being arranged.

“My little organ could never bear the burden of something like saving you.”

“Seems like the pressure’s starting to make your stomach hurt, huh.”

“That’s why you should find someone else.”

“Then who should I find? Even someone like me doesn’t really feel like eating my family.”

She giggled again. As for me, since I was calmly and diligently carrying out my task, I would’ve liked for her to take her work seriously too.

“In conclusion, there’s no one else I can depend on but Secret-Knowing-Classmate-kun.”

Read more here.

 

A detailed look at the live-action adaptation I Want to Eat Your Pancreas is here.

Without any prejudice, I have to say Oreki's character is the most fascinating for me and I look forward to Yamazaki's interpretation of the character. I'm also looking forward to watch the chemistry between Chinen Yuri and Nakagawa Taishi in Kids on the Slope.

How about you? Which of the characters above interest you the most?

 

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