Risa Honma Stars in New Calligraphy Club Dorama!
Risa Honma, best known for playing CereCere in 2001 and Sailor Mars from 2004-2005, has a supporting role in a new dorama called Tomehane! Suzuri Koko Shodobu. This show is about a girl from Canada who returns to Japan after many years, and finds that she likes Japanese calligraphy. She joins her new high school’s calligraphy club, but the tiny club is in danger of being abolished without enough students. This is a slice of life drama, and Risa plays Arisa Hatakeyama, a member of a prestigious calligraphy school’s staff. The dorama is a live-action adaptation of a popular manga in Japan which ended last year by veteran mangaka Katsuoshi Kawai. Calligraphy is not just about learning the different characters and making them, but also “performance calligraphy” which involves dancing and drawing them. This series began January 7th on NHK. It was only meant to be a 6 episode special, and just ended on February 11th. Since Sera Myu ended, you may be surprised to know that Risa is a budding Sailor Pluto! She lists astrophysics as a hobby, and studied physics at Nihon University, Japan’s largest university!
Kousei Amano Plays a Host and is in a Special Boy Band!
Kousei Amano (Tuxedo Kamen in 1999) is now starring in a dorama that is adapted from a popular novel by Miaki Kato. Indigo no Yoru (or Tough Times at Club Indigo) began on Fuji TV in January, and tells the story of Akira Takahara, a woman who once was a successful editor at a major Japanese publisher. One day, her fiance suddenly disappeared, and an unfortunate embezzlement incident later caused her to lose her job. She ends up as the manager of Club Indigo, a strange host club in Shibuya. With various shenanigans happening every night around the club, she and her hosts become amateur detectives to try to solve the cases. Kousei plays a host named “Inu Man” (or Dog Man in English). But what’s even more interesting is that he is ten years older than the youngest host, and the two of them along with the famed Takagi twins have formed a pop unit! They are called INDIGO 4 and sing the theme song to the show “Kokoro -Dear my friends-“. The single is set to be released today! This show also has a connection to PGSM, as Masu Takeshi (Rei’s Dad) also appears in this show playing a supporting role as Mama Nagisa. And if the name of this author sounds familiar, it is! Miaki also wrote the Mop Girl novels, which were later turned into a dorama starring none other than PGSM Sailor Mars, Keiko Kitagawa! The story has also been adapted for the stage, and is set to debut on April 30th at the New National Theatre in Tokyo.
Yuu Shirota in New Movie Based on Popular Dorama!
Yuu Shirota (Tuxedo Kamen from 2003-2004) reprises his role as the condemned criminal Mariya Kyousuke in the just released Koshonin: Time Limit at 10 000 m Above the Ground. This movie is a spinoff from the popular Koshonin: The Negotiator dorama in Japan which lasted for two seasons. The show’s premise seems very familiar to that of Flashpoint, but with detectives involved with the Special Investigations Team (SIT). An airplane is hijacked in this movie, but the team’s lead negotiator Usagi Reiko is on the flight, and races against time to save the day.
We also came across this very special interview that was conducted by Cinema Today to celebrate his 24th birthday. Yuu Shirota is half-Japanese, half-Spanish, and was largely raised by his Spanish mother. He was asked about cultural differences with Spanish people, and he noted that he lived in Spain when he was a child. He said something interesting that Japanese people are shier than Spanish people. For example if you bump into someone and they drop their handkerchief, in Japan they very hurriedly say “Sorry!” and keep going. In Spain though, people are a lot friendlier and the conversation would go something like “Hey, I dropped my handkerchief!” “Oh, I’m sorry! Can I help you?” He thinks people feel closer in Spain to each other. He has immense respect for his mother since she raised him and his 4 siblings alone in Spain, and had a hard time raising them in Japan where she didn’t understand a word of Japanese. She had been through so many hard times, but she raised them all “splendidly”. He has immense respect for her, and how she helped them all to grow. On his birthday each year, he says that he thanks his mother for giving birth to him. He thinks that the day when children get presents should be a day when they thank their mothers for giving birth to them, since they are the reasons that they are alive and living happily! And, he especially notes that mother hurt her belly giving birth to him, and that the father’s genes are important too.
Mikako Tabe is Everywhere!
Mikako Tabe (Yaten Kou/Sailor Star Healer from 2003-2004) is starring in a new adaptation of a critically acclaimed Japanese novel by Toyoko Yamasaki. Fumo Chitai (The Waste Land) began last October on Fuji TV and continues to run. This series follows Iki Tadashi, a former military leader who was captured by the Soviets during World War II. Treated as a war criminal, he was sentenced to many years of labor in a harsh Siberian detention camp. After 11 years of imprisonment, he is released. He returns to Japan and begins readjusting to life as a civilian, rejecting an offer from his former colleague to work on a defense project. Tadashi has decided to never involve himself in war again, much to the joy of his family. Instead, he attempts to set off on a new path working at a major trading company. Mikako plays his daughter, Naoko in teh series. The series was not only shot in Japan, but also in New Zealand to re-create the Siberian detention camp, and is loosely based on the life of Ryuzo Sejima. This drama is doing very well in the ratings and is one of the more popular shows in Japan.
A brand new recording was released of famed Japanese poet Noriko Ibaragi‘s greatest works. When I was Most Beautiful ~ Words to Live By ~ was released on January 30th, and Mikako can be heard reading her most famous poem “When I was Most Beautiful” about the unfairness of war among the poems included. Fans can read an English translation of the powerful poem here (and wander around and read her other poems too – they are great!). The poem, since its publication in 1957, has been translated into many different languages, and was even put to music by Pete Seeger in the late 60s.
And, last December 4th, Japan’s prestigious Elandor Awards were handed out. These awards recognize excellence in Japanese cinema and TV dramas. Mikako won a “Rookie Award” for her acting in the Japanese fantasy film, Fish Story. Fans can learn more about the time-traveling adventure in a review from Variety (yes, this is in English). She played the schoolgirl Asami in this punk-rock themed movie about fate through the ages. There may be an international release of this film, but as of this writing no one has picked it up internationally (hey FUNImation, here’s a Japanese film actually worth licensing). Congratulations!
Only one more day to go – guess who’s modeling, and guess who won an award for his performance in a Japanese production of a Shakespearean play?