Casting News + Scoop! [July 27-Aug 3] The latest on Kamiki, Hongo, Nomura, Fukushi + Spotlight on Sugino Yosuke!

Kamiki Ryunosuke teams up with Nomura Shuhei for the first time in a docudrama, Fukushi Sota’s Laughing Under the Clouds has a first teaser trailer, while Hongo Kanata’s Akagi gets a second season. Also this week, spotlight on ‘up and coming’ Sugino Yusuke from Top Coat.

Japanese filmmaker Kumasaka Izuru who did the TV drama Kogure Photo Studio reunites with Kamiki Ryunosuke in a documentary-drama entitled Tales of Chigasaki: My Little Hometown (茅ヶ崎物語~MY LITTLE HOMETOWN~).

Continue reading “Casting News + Scoop! [July 27-Aug 3] The latest on Kamiki, Hongo, Nomura, Fukushi + Spotlight on Sugino Yosuke!”

Casting News + Scoop! [Nov 8-14] Ghost in the Shell; The “Museum” trio of Shun Oguri, Satoshi Tsumabuki & Shuhei Nomura + Amane Okayama’s Poetry Angel

Scarlett Johansson figured prominently in the latest trailer for the upcoming Ghost in the Shell, enhanced to a certain degree by the music inspired by Depeche Mode ‘Enjoy the Silence’. Beat Takeshi, as to be expected, is shown to maximum impact. 

Ghost in the Shell is an upcoming American science fiction film directed by Rupert Sanders and written by Jonathan Herman and Jamie Moss, based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, and Michael Pitt. Cyborg counter-cyberterrorist field commander The Major (Scarlett Johansson), and her task force Section 9 thwart cyber criminals and hackers. Now, they must face a new enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage Hanka Robotic’s artificial intelligence technology [ Wiki ]

I would have appreciated seeing Rinko Kikuchi in the title role (or even Fumi Nikaido, or any newly discovered aspiring Japanese actress for that matter), but this is a Hollywood produced movie after all. [ First trailer after the jump! ]

Continue reading “Casting News + Scoop! [Nov 8-14] Ghost in the Shell; The “Museum” trio of Shun Oguri, Satoshi Tsumabuki & Shuhei Nomura + Amane Okayama’s Poetry Angel”

Live Action Buzz on Chihayafuru – Review & Reactions to Chihayafuru Kami no Ku + Chihayafuru Shimo no Ku [Part 4 of 4 Parts]

If you’ve watched both live-action Chihayafuru movies, then you know there is another film (or two) coming up. I mean, there’s so much still to be told! But before I get ahead of myself, let’s have a review.

Chihayafuru Kami no Ku (Part 1) – is the First installment of the live action based on the manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Suetsugu. It is about a school girl, Chihaya Ayase, who is inspired by a new classmate – Arata – to take up Hyakunin Isshu karuta competitively. Joining Chihaya is her long-time friend Taishi, and together with Arata, they formed a bond of deep friendship strengthened by the passion for the sport.

Chihayafuru Shimo no Ku (Part 2) – is the Second installment of the live action featuring the struggles of Chihaya and her friends to play competitive karuta. It also involves their personal issues about love, friendship, family, death and loss, loyalty and rivalry. The movie also introduced another major character – the current karuta queen and Chihaya’s thrilling encounter with the queen as they play karuta rivals.

Continue reading “Live Action Buzz on Chihayafuru – Review & Reactions to Chihayafuru Kami no Ku + Chihayafuru Shimo no Ku [Part 4 of 4 Parts]”

The Battle for the next top Japanese Dramatic Actor! Can Anyone beat Shota or Yuya? + The Cast of High&Low [Part 1 of 5 Parts]

Yeah right, some people may be asking,

…but I only knew of Hidetoshi Nishijima, Shun Oguri, Eita, Kenichi Matsuyama and Satoshi Tsumabuki?” I don’t know these new actors you’re talking about!

To think that Yuya Yagira and Shota Sometani have to reach their acting ‘peaks’ yet (and become household names themselves)… But the thing is, the current drama trends are geared towards the next generation already, and there is no stopping this ‘roller coaster ride.’ But are they doing a damn good job? I’m hoping, but I’m not too sure.

 

The current IT boys of Japanese drama/movie scenes + the buzz on High&Low after the jump!

Continue reading “The Battle for the next top Japanese Dramatic Actor! Can Anyone beat Shota or Yuya? + The Cast of High&Low [Part 1 of 5 Parts]”

Live Action Buzz on Chihayafuru – Chihaya and Arata v Taishi: Who are you rooting for? [Part 3 of 4 Parts]

The release of the first Chihayafuru movie offers viewers a glimpse of the complicated relationship between Chihaya with Taishi and Arata. While the first film puts the spotlight on Taishi’s side, with love that seems to overflow and can sometimes be heartbreaking, Arata’s story is yet to unfold.

I’m pleasantly surprised with the changes (alterations) the live action movie has made. Of course, watching the anime episodes, you begin with the premise that this is more than just a love story, it’s also about friendship and connection, of camaraderie and teamwork, of competition and rivalry. Most important, it promotes the sport of karuta – a contest that has a long history and is uniquely Japanese. But we’ll get into that later. I just want to say, the karuta tournament scenes are thrilling to watch. [ special mention to Yuki Morinaga who plays Komano and yes! Hiroya Shimizu as Akihito Sudo for excellent acting! ]

If you’ve read Part One (about our main characters, Chihaya, Taishi and Arata), then you are aware that there is a rivalry between Taishi and Arata – a battle for Chihaya’s love and affection. Though you can hardly tell if there is any competition at all – you can just feel the tension and that there is something bubbling – just underneath the surface.

Which gives me the chance to ask you – our viewers – one of the most universal of questions:

Will you choose the one who loves you or wait for the one you love?

When Chihaya called Arata after many months of separation, it was with Taishi’s ‘blessings.’ Chihaya is eternally grateful to Arata for introducing her to karuta and with that – the chance to find something worthwhile to pursue. It shaped her world in ways she could not imagine. Arata, at a young age, is already a legend amongst karuta players. With such a reputation, Chihaya is in awe, looking up to Arata as if he’s an idol or a young god.

Continue reading “Live Action Buzz on Chihayafuru – Chihaya and Arata v Taishi: Who are you rooting for? [Part 3 of 4 Parts]”

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!”

PsychoDrama [Talkback]: Kinema Junpou No 1722. Issue features 50 actors under 30 to look out for + Did they get everyone right? [Part 3 of 4 Parts]

What I like about the 50 young Japanese actors list from Kinema Junpou is the variety of the talents. Many have taken significant roles in movies and drama series. Some have won acting awards – both local and abroad and some also made box office records. Some started as male models and were given supporting, bit parts only to become the lead after a few tries. 

As expected, there will be idols, a majority of whom came from Johnny’s and finally there are some newcomers. It’s a bit of an issue to consider someone as a newcomer. For instance, is Hiroya Shimizu and Nijiro Murakami and Takumi Kitamura newcomers? Maybe, but Kitamura is also part of a J-pop band, so that makes him more than just a “pure” actor in a sense. Murakami and Shimizu, therefore, are the newcomers in the strict meaning of the term. That’s not a big issue – I think they deserve to be on the list, in as much as, Yuto Nakajima or Kento Nakajima or Ryosuke Yamada – who all belong to Johnny’s.

Continue reading “PsychoDrama [Talkback]: Kinema Junpou No 1722. Issue features 50 actors under 30 to look out for + Did they get everyone right? [Part 3 of 4 Parts]”

Kento Yamazaki ‘squares off’ with Shohei Miura + Shuhei Nomura for Mirei Kiritani! Getsu9 drama Sukina Hito ga Iru Koto [ 好きな人がいること] starts this July!

In what appears to be a most anticipated drama coming up, Shohei Miura did a crossover to the younger batch of actors led by Kento Yamazaki and Shuhei Nomura for a squaring off [ as opposed to love ‘triangle’ ] with Mirei Kiritani.

Incidentally, Kiritani was Yamazaki’s love interest in the box office hit Heroine Disqualified. Miura is the eldest among three siblings, with Nomura and Yamazaki playing the other two. Mirei Kiritani is an aspiring chef while Miura is her first love in high school. Their lives crossed path a few years later as Miura is now embarking on a career as a restauranteur with his brothers Nomura and Yamazaki. As the drama unfolds, Kiritani’s character will have romantic episodes with the brothers.

As the more senior J-drama watchers are aware, Shohei Miura belongs to Haruma Miura’s batch of actors and has been known to play both leading and supporting parts, with some surprising (and disappointing) results. Shuhei Nomura, on the other hand, is steadily gaining a lot of momentum as he gets to play diverse roles (Litchi Hikari Club, Chihayafuru, and Moriyamachu Driving School, among others).

Continue reading “Kento Yamazaki ‘squares off’ with Shohei Miura + Shuhei Nomura for Mirei Kiritani! Getsu9 drama Sukina Hito ga Iru Koto [ 好きな人がいること] starts this July!”

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

During our first rankings, it was Satoshi Tsumabuki who ruled! Aside from winning Best Actor at the Japan Academy for Villain, Tsumabuki dominated the casting buzz – with back to back roles, including lead roles for My Back Page (with Kenichi Matsuyama), Smuggler and Fly With the Gold. A year later, it was Ryuhei Matsuda’s turn  – he also won Best Actor and had a string of amazing films. On our third year, it was Shota Sometani who dominated the rankings.

Sometani went on to top the rankings 2 years in a row, with Yuya Yagira closing in at 2nd place… This year is very different!

 

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

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