Japan Academy Prize 2016: Umimachi Diary grabs Best Picture, Koreeda takes Best Director + Nino is Best Actor, Sakura Ando is Best Actress!

Updates: And so we have the winners! [ in bold red text ] Funny that the locals have finally recognized Hirokazu Koreeda after so many years and his film Umimachi Diary took home the Best Picture of the Year. The internationally respected filmmaker also won Director of the Year. We were just talking about Ninomiya Kazunari and his apparent lack of good acting roles, and alas! He won Best Actor, congratulations! Kudos also goes to Sakura Ando for finally winning Best Actress [ and so happy that Kasumi Arimura did not win! ]

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Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho and Suzu Hirose in Umimachi Diary, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, 2015 Toho, Gaga Corporation, All Rights Reserved

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I have no idea if politics or anything else plays in the drafting of nominees for the 2016 Japan Academy Prize, but it seems Kengo Kora – is once again – ignored for his superb performance in Being Good. It happened before when Kora was not nominated for his role in The Story of Yonosuke a few years ago. 

The good news (for me) is to see Hikari Mitsushima nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Kakekomi) and Shota Sometani (Best Supporting Actor) for Bakuman. Also, well deserved Rookies for Tao Tsuchiya and Kento Yamazaki.

Continue reading “Japan Academy Prize 2016: Umimachi Diary grabs Best Picture, Koreeda takes Best Director + Nino is Best Actor, Sakura Ando is Best Actress!”

The Year in Review: Who Made the Biggest Headlines in 2015 Among Leading Japanese Actresses?

2015 is a big year for women in Japanese movies. Aside from Koreeda’s Umimachi Diary (starring Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho and Suzu Hirose), there’s Hikari Mitsushima and Erika Toda in Kakekomi, a historical movie dealing with divorce and the Tokeiji which is a Buddhist temple where women seek comfort from their husbands and undertake the process of separation. 

There were also a good number of TV dramas were the spotlight centered on strong (yet challenged) and authentic female characters – Yoko Maki, Miki Nakatani, Mayu Matsuoka, Anne, Tao Tsuchiya, Mitsuki Takahata and Mao Inoue, played such parts in these shows. 

The overlapping broadcast of the two asadoras – Tao Tsuchiya’s Mare [まれ] and Haru’s Asa ga Kita [あさが来た] – also paved the way for more opportunities to discuss young women regarding their relationships with their families, lovers, and friends as they seek to fulfill personal ambitions and goals. NHK’s taiga drama, Hana Moyu is all about Mao Inoue’s Fumi.

Just like our list of leading Japanese actors, we have an equalizer for the actresses.

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The Year in Review – 2015: Japanese Dramas that made waves during the year + Favorite dramatic scenes & performances! [ Winter Shows – Part 1/4]

Last year we reported that there were 135 Japanese dramas produced and broadcasted all over Japan. That figure has since been adjusted to reflect all shows for 2014 and the final figure is up by 9, which means there were actually 144 shows. This year, pending adjustments from various TV networks, there are already 145 shows, including the trendy WOWOW series featuring 4-5 episodes that include Angel’s Knife and Ishi no Mayu (featuring the alluring Fumino Kimura) and Fuji TV’s She (led by the versatile Mayu Matsuoka) . Those figures, however, are less than half of Japanese movies shown in the same year.

While I’m not particularly impressed with J-movies of 2015, there are a lot of outstanding drama series for the same year, so let’s have a review by pictures and by season, starting with Winter 2015 shows…

I adore Yoko Maki. She never overacts and most of the roles she played were quite intense, yet compared to the likes of Erika Sawajiri or Ryoko Hirosue, she doesn’t figure too prominently in the Japanese press…

Continue reading “The Year in Review – 2015: Japanese Dramas that made waves during the year + Favorite dramatic scenes & performances! [ Winter Shows – Part 1/4]”

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