Little Forest: Winter & Spring is the final installment of Igarashi Daisuke’s manga about a young woman named Ichiko, who left the big city to settle down in her small hometown up in the mountains.

Written and directed by Mori Junichi, it stars Hashimoto Ai in the title role, with Matsuoka Mayu, Miura Takahiro, and Kirishima Karen portraying supporting characters.  Continue reading “Little Forest: Winter & Spring – ‘Ritoru Foresuto Fuyu Hen ・ Haru Hen’ [Movie Review]”

Based on the popular manga series “Little Forest” written & illustrated by Igarashi Daisuke, Little Forest: Summer and Autumn is the first installment of the 2-part live-action adaptation written and directed by Mori Junichi. Starring Hashimoto Ai in the title role of Ichiko.

It tells the tale of a young woman who left the big city to settle back in her small hometown Komori, located on a mountain in the Tohoku region. It may be a temporary transfer for Ichiko, as she lives with nature while trying to reflect on certain life events that led to her hometown journey. Continue reading “Little Forest: Summer & Autumn – ‘Ritoru Foresuto Natsu Hen ・ Aki Hen’ [Movie Review]”

Casting News + Scoop! [Oct 10-12] Of Love, Birthday Cards, Death Notes, and Late-night diners!

Alice Hirose takes the spotlight in the fairy tale/romantic mystery mashup L-エル- (from filmmaker Ten Shimoyama who previously helmed Shinobi starring Joe Odagiri and Yukie Nakama).

As we previously reported, the cast includes Yuki Furukawa and Ryo Narita. 

Continue reading “Casting News + Scoop! [Oct 10-12] Of Love, Birthday Cards, Death Notes, and Late-night diners!”

Casting News + Scoop! [May 18-June 18] Ai Hashimoto, Yasuko Matsuyuki headline Koto + Ushijima, the Loan Shark takes 3, with Takayuki Yamada and the gang! + Masataka Kubota in MARS showing today in Japan theaters!

Long time without a casting news! But I promise to get on with the Top 30 hottest list for the actresses in a few days, and also to finish the series on live action adaptation. Things are a bit rough with work, thus, the lack of regular updates…

In this casting news – we’re into Yamada’s Ushijima and the family drama featuring Yasuko Matsuyuki and Ai Hashimoto.

The black market, the different tales of desperate people who are willing to take out money from the loan sharks and the loan shark himself – Kaoru Ushijima – are back in the third installment of the highly successful Ushijima the Loan shark live action. Based on the manga series “Yamikin Ushijima-kun” by Shohei Manabe (first published 2004 by Weekly Magazine Big Comic Spirits), this is one of the most engaging and enjoyable series I’ve watched. The previous movies cast the likes of Yuya Yagira, Masaki Suda, and Masataka Kubota altogether, and you can imagine how crazy it was! Of course, all three young actors have different and separate stories – Yagira plays a sexual predator, while Suda gets himself all tied up and beaten while Kubota is involved in some ‘failed’ relationship, being a male host.

In the third installment of Ushijima, the gang returns – Gou Ayano continues to blow bubbles with Ushijima (Yamada), and the duo of Hiromi Sakimoto (he needs more roles!) and Kyosuke Yabe are back as Yamada’s sidekicks.

Continue reading “Casting News + Scoop! [May 18-June 18] Ai Hashimoto, Yasuko Matsuyuki headline Koto + Ushijima, the Loan Shark takes 3, with Takayuki Yamada and the gang! + Masataka Kubota in MARS showing today in Japan theaters!”

Wakamonotachi 2014: Ep 7-11 Review + Afterthoughts

Update: The final episode of Wakamonotachi is a bit of an anti-climax with most of the scenes in Episodes 9-10 already summing up the drama. 

With one final episode to be released soon, the Japanese drama Wakamonotachi continues to reveal new twists and turns as the stellar cast put on a show that is not perfect, yet can be quite a thrilling ride with dramatic and comedic scenes out to impress (or depress) the viewers.

The Story so far: Asahi (Satoshi Tsumabuki) raised his younger brothers and sister due to the deaths of their parents. Satoru (Eita), the second son, was incarcerated for swindling an old lady of her millions. Hikari (Hikari Mitsushima) is the only girl among the five – is having an affair with a married man, who happens to be the Doctor she works with at the ICU for pediatric patients.

The other members of the family Haru (Tasuku Emoto) and Tadashi (Shuhei Nomura) are both students, with Haru still clinging to his theater club instead of looking for a job while Tadashi is on the verge of manhood, discovering his first love.

Continue reading “Wakamonotachi 2014: Ep 7-11 Review + Afterthoughts”

Wakamonotachi 2014: First Impressions + Episode 1-6 Review

I recently asked the question: Can Wakamonotachi compete with the best Asian drama during its broadcast? After watching the first six episodes, I have to say the 2014 version of the 1966 original FujiTV drama has a lot of good things to offer – particularly in the acting department – Hikari Mitsushima, Yu Aoi, Eita and Shuhei Nomura were standouts. There are also some dramatic scenes that tug at the heart and an equal measure of fun and comedy to keep the drama interesting.

But some scenes may appear incredulous – particularly those involving Satoshi Tsumabuki’s character as it seems to be someone drawn from yesteryears. Nobody wants to watch a moral, idealistic, highly-strung character in the majority of the episodes.It’s the first time I felt disappointed with Tsumabuki as an actor.

While I may seem critical of the drama, I highly recommend it. Our reviews have been performance oriented since the beginning, and there are a lot of acting highlights here.

Continue reading “Wakamonotachi 2014: First Impressions + Episode 1-6 Review”

Can Young People (Wakamono Tachi) compete with the best in Asian drama? Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eita, Hikari Mitsushima reunite as one family!

Japanese drama addicts are probably looking forward to the July 2014 broadcast of Young People (Wakamono Tachi) starring Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eita, Hikari Mitsushima, Masami Nagasawa and Yu Aoi among its star-studded cast. The fact that the cast is not only “stars” but talented and critically acclaimed actors make all the difference. Can it duplicate the success of the 1966 original drama? Will there be deviations to the original story? Will the characters be altered to suit the modern times?

These questions will have answers soon, but let’s focus on one issue here: How was the on-screen chemistry between our talented cast? Have they been together before in a drama or a movie perhaps? What sort of roles did they play together?

Continue reading “Can Young People (Wakamono Tachi) compete with the best in Asian drama? Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eita, Hikari Mitsushima reunite as one family!”

Satoshi Tsumabuki leads powerhouse cast for Wakamonotachi (The Youngsters); Hikari Mitsushima, Eita & Shuhei Nomura co-star!

Award-winning dramatic actor Satoshi Tsumabuki will join forces with Hikari Mitsushima, Eita, Tasuku Emoto and Shuhei Nomura in the upcoming drama “Wakamonotachi” (The Youngsters). The five stars will play siblings who lost their parents early in their childhood, and together they struggle to live – with several emotional clashes due to their different dreams and aspirations. These emotional confrontations and their various relationships will be the focus of the drama first aired in 1966.

 

Tsumabuki and Mitsushima were in the award-winning movie Villain (Akunin), which won for Tsumabuki, the Best Actor trophy at the Japan Academy Prize back in 2011. Mitsushima was also in the award-winning drama Soredemo, Ikite Yuku, this time with Eita as the leading man. In essence, we have three of the best dramatic actors working in Japan together in this drama which will also commemorate FujiTV’s 55th anniversary.

The show is reported to be ready for broadcast this coming July. Also in the show are Yu Aoi and Ai Hashimoto, Yu Aoi also figured prominently with Tsumabuki in Tokyo Family.

Continue reading “Satoshi Tsumabuki leads powerhouse cast for Wakamonotachi (The Youngsters); Hikari Mitsushima, Eita & Shuhei Nomura co-star!”

Sosuke Ikematsu takes two! Vortex of Love and Adult Drop to elevate actor into new heights!

For most western moviegoers, Sosuke Ikematsu remains that young kid from The Last Samurai, featuring Tom Cruise in the title role. But if you’re already in the Japanese movie scene, you will certainly remember him in Dive!! as one of the aspiring Japanese divers who competed for sports glory and honor. He also made good impressions in The Story of Yonosuke as Kengo Kora’s best buddy.

Two upcoming movies will further put the spotlight on Ikematsu as he graduates from playing second leads into the leading man territory.

First on the list is Vortex of Love – as one of the participants in a secret club that involves wild sex. The movie is controversial already for the nude scenes featuring different Japanese actors, with Ikematsu playing one of the main characters – and getting involved in a “whirlpool” of ecstasy. [ Watch video clip here ]

Second in line is a starring role opposite Ai Hashimoto entitled Adult Drop. Hashimoto is often cast with Kento Yamazaki, so this new pairing is both interesting and intriguing, to say the least. Both are capable actors, and we’ll see if they have good on-screen chemistry. Hashimoto is such an alluring young actress; it may require the equally talented Ikematsu to level up his acting and create fireworks together!

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Watch the teaser trailer for more of Hashimoto and Ikematsu together.

Adult Drop photos are below:

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Ikematsu’s character in Vortex of Love seems to be the more difficult to play, but I also love to see Ikematsu romancing Hashimoto in Adult Drop.

 

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