News From The Other Side of The Pond #9

Keiko Kitagawa’s Movie Career is Booming!

Keiko Kitagawa (PGSM Sailor Mars) seems to be everywhere these days. Aside from her new success with the dramedy Mop Girl, she has two movies out this month, Southbound and Heat Island. Both films have gotten rave reviews, and have hailed Keiko’s performances as superb.

Southbound was released on October 6th and failed to do well in the theaters, but received glowing reviews from the press. This is based on an award winning novel by Hideo Okuda and is a heartwarming coming of age story. Junichiro Uehara, an activist, decides to relocate his family to rural Okinawa from the high-paced city life of Tokyo. The children have a hard time adjusting to their new life, and especially adjusting to personal changes in their father’s life. These include a mistress on the side. The mother plays a key role in bringing the family back together. Keiko Kitagawa plays Yoko Uehara, the oldest daughter in this family who is a graphics designer. Mika Nakashima sings the theme song, Eternal Poem.

Heat Island is about Shibuya’s underground fight clubs. Some fight as a way to support their families during tough times, or for their own survival. The underground is also responsible for running the casinos much like the Yakuza, after a robbery from a Latin American Mafia. Keiko plays Nao,the model girlfriend of gang leader Aki. Aki is the main character in this movie and definitely someone you do not want to mess with. Keiko enjoyed playing this underground “ghetto” character. We have heard rumors that this film is currently seeking worldwide distribution and we will keep you posted as soon as we hear more about it. The movie just came out last week and though the few reviews that have started to trickle in have been great, we are hoping that this movie will be a hit in Japan.

Keiko Han and Toru Furuya Appear at Namco Wonderpark Hero’s Base!

In Kanagawa Perfecture, just south of Tokyo, there is a giant arcade that Namco has opened known as the Wonderpark. Two weeks ago, there was a tournament for arcade players (coinciding with the first anniversary of their Hero’s Base part of the park), and three stars of various Gundam series came to the championship. Keiko Han (Luna in both anime and PGSM, Queen Beryl in the anime) and Toru Furuya (Tuxedo Kamen) were among them! Keiko played Lalah Sune in many of the series’ incarnations, and Toru is best known for playing Ray Amuro. Toru actually helped some of the players and played along, and from the pictures we have seen, it looked like he had fun! Afterwards they held a Q&A session with the players and talked about their experiences recording the series. They all agreed that it was fun, and they had very fond memories of it. They also said they would play these characters again if they were given the opportunity, as well as humoring the fans by asking them to keep them as their favorite Seiyuu because their work relies on it :).

Masaya Kikawada Continues to Ride On!

Masaya Kikawada (PGSM Motoki Furuhata) is currently on a Japan road tour in support of the new Kamen Rider Movie, Kamen Rider The Next which was just released on October 27th. We also got our paws on an interview he did a little over a week ago. He reveals that while the suit is tight and hard to move in, it makes him want to look his best just like the people who played the character before him – almost like straightening his tie and setting his hair. He feels hot when he puts on the suit! During his wire stunts, he admits that he was a bit of a baby, afraid and a little wimpy when he was first learning them, but after a lot of practice they became a second nature to him. He also agreed with the PG-12 rating because he thought some of the violence in the movie was too intense for television. He thinks that a true hero must not only be strong but also be humble and gentle. When he was younger he aspired to be just like Goku from DragonBall because he was not only good-looking but a hero that everyone could look up to – but he also wanted to be a responsible adult. The movie that precluded this, Kamen Rider the First, was released by Media Blasters’ Tokyo Shock division earlier this year, and we anticipate hearing news of this being released here in the future.

And Finally, For All You Hunter X Hunter Fans:

We came across yet another article that brings in a new theory for why Yoshihiro Togashi took his hiatus. This one cites discord with the editing department at Shonen Jump, and Togashi wanting to redo everything by himself. The editors might have put too much pressure on him in the beginning, and though Yoshihiro says he is ready to start drawing again, the writer of this article has his doubts. He finds this sudden need for perfectionism unusual. The writer also thinks that Yoshihiro didn’t want to write because his son is seven years old now and that he wanted to be a part of his happy childhood. *shrugs* We may never know all of the reasons why the hiatus happened, but it seems that while some writers in Japan have harsh words for Yoshihiro, they seem to forget that the manga is back now and that it will be finished. Isn’t that the most important thing of all?

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