The Deputy Chief of Mission of the US in Japan, Jason Hyland has something to say about Toto Nee-Chan:
I am fascinated by the latest NHK Morning Drama, “Toto-ne-chan.” I am especially intrigued by the saga of three of the women leaders in the story, the owner of “Aoyagi Shoten” trading, the imposing Takiko Aoyagi, the unique teacher Chiyo Todo, and our heroine, Tsuneko Kohashi. As women rightfully assume more and more leadership positions in business, in government, in academia, in all sectors, I see the question raised again and again – What is the most effective leadership style for women? I think the answer, based on the many, many role models out there, is that there is no single answer. Toto-ne-chan has her own unique way of engaging people. The often stern Takiko-san (but with a heart of gold) on the other hand runs her business in a more traditional style, and definitely gets results. And then there is the eccentric Chiyo Todo, the teacher who told her never to give up. Just in this one drama we have three different leadership styles by three different women. As I watch this drama, I am reminded of some of the extraordinary female leaders I have encountered in my own life, all with their own distinct ways of achieving their goals. [ source ]
Mitsuki Takahata was that annoying restaurant staff in one of the year’s best doramas – Mondai no Aru Restaurant. Her character is as complex as that of Fumi Nikaido and Mayu Matsuoka, but she has the additional challenge to convince dorama audience that she can be villainy and then become the object of everyone’s sympathy. In Yuya Ishii’s The Vancouver Asahi, Takahata proved she has what it takes to shine in spite of the star-studded cast led by Satoshi Tsumabuki, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kame and many others. As the private tutor of one of the richest Canadian families in the period drama, Takahata’s character – Emmy Kasahara – symbolizes the aspirations and dreams of young Japanese girls living abroad. Her short but effective speech to rally support for her brother and friends in their final baseball tournament is both inspiring and endearing.
Rewind to Blue Spring Ride and go to that scene where Tsubasa Honda confronts (or begs) Takahata’s character to let go of Kou (Masahiro Higashide) and you know who is the better actress. If you are not yet convinced then try to catch up with Mitsuki opposite Mirai Moriyama in Enka: Gold Rush and you’ll understand just how good she really is!
If Mayu Matsuoka can convince you of her ability to play different characters thru her commanding voice and of Tao Tsuchiya changing her hairstyle, then observe how Takahata can do wonders to her characters by simple appearance – from an innocent girl in The Vancouver Asahi, to a bitch in Mondai no Aru Restaurant to a sophisticated young lady in Enka: Gold Rush – this ‘chameleon’-like ability to dive into different characters is something special.
When Mitsuki Takahata and Mayu Matsuoka were cast together with Fumi Nikaido in Mondai no Aru Restaurant, a lot of J-drama fans have predicted the start of something big – many are convinced they represent the future of Japanese entertainment, especially when it comes to playing strong, independent female characters. Now the “potentials” displayed by Matsuoka and Takahata were further realized via their latest projects. Of course, there is no need for Fumi Nikaido to prove herself – she has done that many times, but Mayu and Mitsuki are coming up very strong – perhaps still not ready to rival Nikaido, but to provide more color (and casting options) to the drama scene.
This year, Takahata is part of two exciting projects, among others.
Jadefrost over at JDrama has the story for one of Takahat’s Totone-Chan:
The eldest daughter of the Kohashis, Tsuneko was 11 years old when her father Takezo (Nishijima Hidetoshi) died of tuberculosis. Taking her father’s teachings about the importance of ordinary life to heart, she became ‘Toto One-chan’, a paternal figure to her mother Kimiko (Kimura Tae) and two younger sisters Mariko (Sagara Itsuki) and Yoshiko (Sugisaki Hana). She struggles to sustain the family as the head of the household. Right after the war, she launches a lifestyle magazine created for the sake of females together with Mariko and Yoshiko in a devastated Tokyo. It is called ‘Your Life’ and was full of practical articles for readers. With the help of the genius editor Hanayama Isaji (Karasawa Toshiaki), the magazine grew to become essential to females living in the period of high economic growth. [ source ]
I remember when Hikari Mitsushima played the role of an independent young woman in Mao Inoue’s asadora, Ohisama. While her role is certainly very different from Takahata’s, I can’t help but remember how fiesty Hikari was! In Totone-Chan, Takahata’s role as the breadwinner and ultimately the savior of her family maybe one of her most important roles to date. Hana Sugisaki plays one of her younger sisters and that is another good reason to watch this show.
Also making some casting buzz is Tokyo Sentimental, where Takahata plays an important role. The 2016 TV Tokyo show is the second installment of the story first aired in 2014. More about this special drama here.
At this time, I both consider Matsuoka and Takahata as frontrunners in the upcoming Top 30 Hottest Japanese actresses!