Casting News + Scoop! [Aug 5-11] Suga Kenta’s Chotto Mate Yakyubu! + Murakami Nijiro”s time travels + Setoutsumi re-casting of Hayama Shono & Takasugi Mahiro + Energizing Matsuzaka Tori’s acting career!

Massive updates courtesy of Suga Kenta, Murakami Nijiro and the pair of Hayama Shono and Takasugi Mahiro, plus how effective is Matsuzaka Tori’s agency in re-energizing his acting career? Let’s take a closer look at Matsuzaka Tori first!

His short but memorable role in Her Love Boils Bathwater seems to signal the return of Matsuzaka Tori as one of Japan’s enigmatic actors with still plenty of talent to show. Even his reunion with Suda Masaki in Kiseki: Sobito of That Day brightens up Japanese movie lovers who may be adventurous enough to watch the movie even without subs! And add four (4) more projects which stretch to 2018 including Birds Without Names (as Aoi Yu’s love interest) and Yurigokoro, (co-starring Yoshitaka Yuriko) among others. [Those two movies we’ve featured already, so let’s focus on Impossibility Defense for now]

Continue reading “Casting News + Scoop! [Aug 5-11] Suga Kenta’s Chotto Mate Yakyubu! + Murakami Nijiro”s time travels + Setoutsumi re-casting of Hayama Shono & Takasugi Mahiro + Energizing Matsuzaka Tori’s acting career!”

Murakami Nijiro: When you debut in Cannes, you’ll get compared to the great Yagira Yuya!

Murakami Nijiro won the Best New Actor award (for Distraction Babies) from the prestigious Kinema Junpo, on their 90th award season, just as Yagira Yuya won Best Actor for the same movie. In retrospect, Yagira was 14 when he won Best Actor (for Koreeda’s Nobody Knows) at Cannes and exactly 10 years later Murakami – at 16 – debuts via Naomi Kawase’s Still The Water.

Why the comparison? They play brothers in Mariko Tetsuya’s Distraction Babies and there is already some indication that the younger Nijiro may follow in Yagira’s footsteps as one of Japan’s top dramatic actors. 

Continue reading “Murakami Nijiro: When you debut in Cannes, you’ll get compared to the great Yagira Yuya!”

Mukoku, Kumakiri Kazuyoshi’s latest film centers on two disconnected individuals – Kengo (Ayano Go) and Tooru (Murakami Nijiro) who find solace in the martial arts of kendo. 

The older Kengo recently lost his mom while his dad is confined in a nearby hospital. He is an accomplished kendōka (剣道家) who has won numerous medals under the tutelage of his dad. However, he has stopped competing and now works as a security guard. He’s also a heavy drinker who fools around with a girl and seems to have little regard for his well-being. Continue reading “Mukoku – ‘MUKOKU’ [Movie Review]”

Murakami Nijiro: Of Kendo and Rap music; Young actor performs in latest movie Mukoku with aplomb!

Murakami Nijiro co-stars with Ayano Gou in Kumakiri Kazuyoshi’s latest movie Mukoku about two disconnected individuals who find inner peace through the sport of kendo. Gou’s character – Yatabe Kengo – is a disillusioned individual who is gifted in the martial arts, but a recent tragedy involving his domineering father put his sport on hold. Murakami, who made waves in Aogeba Toutoshi and Destruction Babies, plays a high school student (Haneda Tooru) who loves to rap but turns to kendo when a monk discovered his talent in the sport. 

I had the privilege to screen the movie a few days ago and what really struck me is how Mr. Murakami has grown as an actor. Certainly, people think very highly of Ayano Gou, but Mukoku is as much Ayano’s movie as Murakami’s. 

Continue reading “Murakami Nijiro: Of Kendo and Rap music; Young actor performs in latest movie Mukoku with aplomb!”

Casting News + Scoop! [May 16-24] Notes on Death Note; Tokyo Vampire Hotel; Murakami Nijiro’s upcoming time travel saga; Hongo Kanata’s Kaiju Club + Chiri Tsubaki casting!

We’ll be having a special report on Death Note, including some history lessons of a sort, plus this week there are plenty of casting news! Okada Junichi is on a roll – aside from the historical drama/thriller Sekigahara (関ヶ原), the actor is set to join another film entitled Chiri Tsubaki (散り椿 – which literally translates to “Falling Camellia”). 

The new film is under the helm of award-winning cinematographer and writer Kimura Daisaku. The ensemble cast includes Nishijima Hidetoshi, Kuroki Haru, Ikematsu Sosuke, and Yagira Yuya. [ More details about the movie to follow soon ]

Continue reading “Casting News + Scoop! [May 16-24] Notes on Death Note; Tokyo Vampire Hotel; Murakami Nijiro’s upcoming time travel saga; Hongo Kanata’s Kaiju Club + Chiri Tsubaki casting!”

Casting News + Scoop! [Sept 20-22] Sakurada Reset pairs Shuhei Nomura with Yuina Kuroshima; School gang actors through the years: Nijiro Murakami + Takumi Kitamura + Mackenyu!

It seemed just yesterday when Satoshi Tsumabuki and Masanobu Ando taunted US servicemen in the coming of age Sang-il Lee movie 69 (2004). The same with Shun Oguri and Takayuki Yamada in the Crows Zero (2007-2009) movies as they fight it out for gang leader supremacy in said Takashi Miike films. Yes, more recent when Masaki Suda, Shuhei Nomura, and Mahiro Takasugi bullied their way into their high school class targeting with delight and amusement the “old lady” – the great Daimon Michiko of DR. X fame, Ryoko Yonekura in 35 Year Old High School Student (2013) drama. 

While Japanese movies (of the so-called ‘golden era’) are all about the Samurai (Kurosawa) and family (Ozu), today’s drama are all about youth, romance, bullies, time travel, and superpowers. What a drastic change, right?

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The just concluded Aogeba Toutoshi ( 仰げば尊し) continues the tradition of school life-adventures, bullying, angst and more (band music, familial dramatics, anyone?). I failed to mention that this tradition follows such favorite high-rating shows as Great Teacher Onizuka – GTO (1998-2004) and Gokusen (2002-2009), among others. The young cast is now Nijiro Murakami, Mackenyu, Anna Ishii, Taiga, Gaku Sano, Kentaro and Takumi Kitamura. Here’s the story:

Hikuma Koichi was a saxophone player, but he suffers from the after-effects of an accident. Due to that, he turned his back on music. Hikuma Koichi finds hope in the high school brass band. The band consists of problem students. Koichi struggles to instruct the brass band and to give them hope.

I’m tempted to write a review (not episodic review) and will post if I decided to. 

Continue reading “Casting News + Scoop! [Sept 20-22] Sakurada Reset pairs Shuhei Nomura with Yuina Kuroshima; School gang actors through the years: Nijiro Murakami + Takumi Kitamura + Mackenyu!”

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.

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

Japan’s Best Actors – The Promising List [Top 15 – 2016 Edition]

The 2016 Edition of Japan’s Best Actors – Promising List has evolved from a mere listing of actors – both known and unknown to movie fans outside Japan, to become quite ‘inclusive’ of what the locals also consider as their best, most sought-after newcomers. The list is very exclusive in the sense that only those who are below the age of 30 are considered, thus we are putting the spotlight on talents who are really grabbing the most challenging and fresh roles in both movies and doramas right this minute.

[ Note that this is the Promising list, there are 15 more names for the hottest ranking coming up next ]

As we have noted in the first edition of the Most Promising Young Japanese actors hitlist: Every successful actor in Japan started somewhere – a supporting role in a prime time TV series or portraying one of the country’s beloved Kamen riders or starring in a dramatic movie by a well-known filmmaker or simply working his way up from bit roles until getting that much-coveted leading part…[ 2013 Edition ]

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Continue reading “Japan’s Best Actors – The Promising List [Top 15 – 2016 Edition]”

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