Casting News + Scoop! [Sept 9-13] Eating Pancreas, Second Summers, Destruction Babies & Yuya Yagira’s acting!

Another milestone appears on the Japanese casting horizon! With the likes of Masaki Suda, Yuya Yagira and Sosuke Ikematsu taking on the more challenging, complex roles previously awarded to such actors as Satoshi Tsumabuki, Masanobu Ando, and even Joe Odagiri, there is now a sort of “void” being filled up by younger, fresh players. This time, we have Takumi Kitamura and Nijiro Murakami hugging the headlines. Remember, they are not the only ones getting the prized roles – Taishi Nakagawa (it seems he’s about to challenge Kento Yamazaki and Sota Fukushi?), and before him Hiroya Shimizu (remember The World of Kanako and Solomon’s Perjury?).

And what a movie title it is! I Want to Eat Your Pancreas ( Kimi no Suizo wo Tabetai – 君の膵臓をたべたい) stars Kitamura with new actress Minami Hamabe (yes, the girl who played Menma in Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day). If you think about it, Kitamura and fellow actor Nijiro Murakami switch places! Murakami was cast in Anohana with Hamabe, and this time, Kitamura was the main character who will narrate and bring back the memories of Hamabe’s character. Keiko Kitagawa and Shun Oguri are playing present-day characters to fill up the story.

Based on the novel “Kimi no Suizo wo Tabetai” by Yoru Sumino, the movie tells the tale of a boy (Kitamura) who discovered the diary of a girl named Sakura (Minami Hamabe). The diary tells of the girl’s apparent tragedy for having suffered from a pancreatic disease. Thus she died early. But the boy was able to spend some time with her and in the process inspired him to become a teacher. Fast forward 12 years later, the teacher (now played by Oguri) remembers the dead girl and also became involved with her friend (played by Kitagawa).

This is going to be another tearjerker, but the big difference maybe the cast. I can understand the change from cancer to something different like the pancreas, but – I know, only in Japan – will you find such titles! I am not complaining, in fact, I am looking forward since both young stars have proven to be talents worth watching. Kitamura, in particular, has impressed me already – Suzuki Sensei, Angel’s Knife and even his TV commercials, the guy has talent! 

Speaking of Murakami, he headlines the live action “Nidome no Natsu, Nidoto Aenai Kimi”, based on the light novel by Hirotaka Akagi. Kitamura’s movie above missed one particular common theme – time travel and this novelty is immediately snatched by Murakami’s new movie. As usual, with time travel comes tragedy – illness still undefined, and a music band! 

Satoshi (Nijiro Murakami) is in the 3rd year of high school. He and transfer student Rin (Madoka Yoshida) are busy forming a band to perform at the school cultural festival even though there is a ban on forming bands at school. They perform live at the school cultural festival, but Rin later collapses. Tragedy ensues for Rin and Satoshi becomes devastated. Satoshi then goes back in time to when he met Rin for the first time. [AsianWiki]

Madoka Yoshida is reported to be a member of the band called Tancobuchin. She is 20 years old but looks older. I dunno why she was cast in the movie, probably due to her ability to play music. I have no idea but I hope she can act. Japanese productions have the tendency to just pluck anyone who plays in a band and expect him (or her for that matter) to know acting. There are reports of how thousands of aspirants audition to play major roles in movies, but aside from that, I’m not surprised to hear casting news of new “talents” who were singled out for “looks” or maybe “connection”. Anyway, who really cares? We – those outside Japan – can only speculate!

Speaking of acting, it was reported that Takayuki Yamada and Gou Ayano were impressed with Yuya Yagira’s acting in Destruction Babies. Is that even surprising? I mean, the guy won Best Actor at Cannes!

It can be infuriating to read casting news that puts Yagira in supporting bit roles. What exactly were they thinking? But like Suda and Sometani (I highly recommend that you watch Someya in Sparks, the Netflix Japan drama), Yagira can move people to tears or annoy them with his characters (think of Yagira as Goro in Unforgiven).

I last saw him in Pink and Gray and his role was so short, I can’t help but feel irritated. I expected something more – though I was fascinated and entertained – Yuto Nakajima was sublime! Masaki Suda was amazing! It could have been perfect if they added a few scenes here and there, but Yagira managed to be noteworthy even with such short screen time.


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