The 2016 Netflix original Japanese drama entitled Hibana (Sparks) is one of the best drama series I’ve seen in a long time. Aside from the quality production values, the series features excellent performances from Hayashi Kento and Namioka Kazuki who play comedians, locally known as manzai artists.
Before the end of 2017, it was previously announced that a movie version of Hibana will be released. The movie stars Suda Masaki (who will play Hayashi’s Tokunaga), while Kiritani Kento takes on the role of Namioka’s Kamiya. Not an easy feat, especially Kamiya’s character requires one hell of a performance!
Netflix in their press statement has this to say about the TV show:
“HIBANA” (Spark) is the first novella by the comedian, Haiku Poet, and scriptwriter, Naoki Matayoshi. The novella has attracted attention since it was first published in the Japanese magazine, “The Literary World” (February 2015) as a piece of serious literature produced by a popular comedian, and it has garnered high praise for the depth of the tale and the surprising story development. It is the biggest blockbuster of the year and was a candidate for the 28th Mishima Prize and the winner of the 153rd Akutagawa Prize. [source]
Maggie Lee’s review at Variety speaks volume of the series:
Sparks (pronounced “Su-paa-kuzu”) is the fictional manzai duo formed by childhood buddies Tokunaga (Kento Hayashi, “Lesson of the Evil”) and Yamashita (Masao Yoshii). In the premiere episode of “Hibana,” as Tokunaga and Yamashita wait their turn at a summer festival in Atami, Kamiya (Kazuki Namioka), a comedian from the duo Ahonandra, grabs the mic and curses spectators with jaw-dropping bile. Dazzled and awed, Tokunaga begs Kamiya to be his mentor. Kamiya agrees, on the condition that Tokunaga writes his biography, which becomes the story’s framing device for the younger artist to thrash out his own ideas about comedy and life. [source]
There is universal agreement that the Japanese have produced some of the best ‘slice of life’ movies and dramas through the years. Hibana continues that tradition.
While I’m completely aware of how good Suda and Kiritani can be, I am wondering if they can outplay the excellent performances of Hayashi and Namioka.
Actor and screenwriter Itao Itsuji will direct the movie slated for a Japan release this November 2017.