Happy birthday, Tamaki Hiroshi!

The cast of Aku to kamen no ruuru celebrating Tamaki’s birthday with a “肉ケーキ” (niku keki) during a press conference. From left: director Nakamura Teppei, Araki Yuuko, Tamaki Hiroshi, Yoshizawa Ryo and Nakamura Tatsuya.

Happy birthday, Tamaki Hiroshi! 💕💕

Tamaki turns 38 this year and here’s wishing him many happy returns and all the best for the year! 2017 was a pretty decent year for Tamaki – even though he didn’t feature much on TV except for a few SPs, he made a successful return to the stage. One SP, Kichiku, aired really late in December last year and was about Tamaki’s character Takenaka Soukichi having to deal with the consequences of his affair when his lover dumps their three children on him and his family before disappearing. The SP was based on the novel of the same name by Matsumoto Seicho, and I think this is Tamaki’s second time doing an SP based on Matsumoto’s work (the other being 2011’s Suna no Utsuwa).

This year, he will have three films (and counting?) coming out. The first is Aku to kamen no ruuru (Evil and the Mask), where he plays the lead character of Kuki Fumihiro. There is also Love x Doc, where he plays a gym trainer called Nomura Shunsuke, who is in a relationship with Goda Asuka, played by Yoshida Yo. Tamaki will also feature in Laplace’s Witch, playing Nakaoka Yuji, a police detective. It doesn’t seem like a big role, but at least it’s something to look forward to.

I read Aku to kamen no ruuru and found it quite interesting, in the sense that it isn’t your traditional crime thriller, but is quite philosophical and psychological in a way as the characters talk about evil, criminal intents and various other ideas and their impact on society. I hope this has translated well to screen, as novels like that can sometimes be washed down to one main idea to make it more palatable. Aku to kamen no ruuru is already out in the cinemas, so go watch it! 🙂 Here’s the trailer to whet your appetite:



BORDER: Shoudou & Shokuzai

I wasn’t particularly thrilled when news came out that BORDER was getting a sequel of sorts, in the form of an SP that would expand on the cliffhanger that was the ending of the drama. Great dramas have been slayed by crap sequels or prequels, and I was happy to let sleeping dogs lie. There was also news of one of the characters, the coroner Higa Mika, getting a spin-off about her first case. By the time the SPs finally aired, I had more or less come to terms with the extra stuff and decided I’d give them a go. Continue reading

Tenno no Ryoriban

Food + Sato Takeru = watch. Voila!

Akiyama Tokuzo (Sato Takeru) is a good-for-nothing young man who loses interest in things quickly and creates trouble for his family. He is married off to a merchant household in Sabae to teach him discipline, and he and his wife Toshiko (Kuroki Haru) get along well. However, Tokuzo soon realises cooking is his passion and leaves the family to master the craft in Tokyo. Despite the hardship and humiliation he suffers, Tokuzo is determined to become the best cook in Japan… Continue reading


Lady Joker

When even WOWOW outdoes itself, you know you’ve got a real gem on your hands.

Shiroyama Kyosuke (Shibata Kyohei), the company president of Hinode Beer, is kidnapped by a mysterious group that calls itself Lady Joker. Shiroyama is soon released in exchange for a secret payoff of ¥2 billion and the warning that 3.5 kilolitres of Hinode beer would be tampered with if he doesn’t do as the group demands. Elite detective Goda Yuichiro (Kamikawa Takaya) is put on the case and realises there is more to it than a simple kidnapping… Continue reading



Life as a purist is hard.

A pawnshop owner is killed in 1973 in Osaka. Detective Sasagaki Junzo, who has been assigned to the case, begins to piece together the connection of two young people who are seemingly involved in the crime – the son of the victim, and the suspect’s daughter. Over the years, Sasagaki tracks the whereabouts of these two people as he tries to bring the case to a close… Continue reading



Going to the cinema is a luxury these days because ticket prices rise quicker than I can watch dramas, but the opportunity to watch Sato Takeru on the big screen again was hard to resist. Oddly enough, the last film I caught in the cinema was also another live-action film starring Sato – the final act in the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy. This must be a sign, so I splashed out the cash and had an enjoyable couple of hours.

Nagai Kei (Sato Takeru) is a hospital intern who discovers he is an “Ajin” when he is hit by a truck. Ajin are immortal beings with the ability to regenerate when they die and can summon IBM (invisible black matter). They are regarded as dangerous by the Japanese government and subjected to experiments when caught. Kei is rescued by Sato (Ayano Go), another Ajin who is hell-bent on exacting revenge against the government for its treatment of the Ajin. As Sato’s actions become more extreme, Kei finds himself having to choose sides… Continue reading


Little Forest

Life has been a bit topsy turvy for me lately, so I wanted to watch something more sedate and soothing. I didn’t feel like a 10-episode drama, so I settled for Little Forest, a charming two-parter film that seemed to have garnered some positive reviews.

Ichiko (Hashimoto Ai) returns to her hometown Komori in the Tohoku region after a series of setbacks in the big city. She lives in her mother’s old house and farms the land, living in harmony with nature and the changing four seasons. With help from her friends, she comes to terms with what she really needs in life… Continue reading


Asa ga Kita: Weeks 7-12

I’m back on the asadora trail! I am determined to finish Asa ga Kita, if only to do justice to Tamaki Hiroshi’s first asadora outing in years – and a successful one, I might add, as the drama did well in the ratings game. It wasn’t difficult getting back into the groove as each episode and week ended on a mini cliffhanger that just whetted the appetite. Also, it was nice hearing the upbeat theme song again. Continue reading


Hot men in action: CRISIS & Bitter Blood

Hot men + guns + action = watch the drama.

What can I say, I’m easy like that. Continue reading


Murder she solved: Rakuen & Cold Case

I’m back in business! Well, on the drama-watching front that is, since I’ve finally got a new computer and can watch stuff properly again. Recently cleared two dramas featuring ladies whose characters flexed some crime-solving muscles, so it was nice to see women take charge when usually this is a male-dominated genre. Coincidentally, both are WOWOW dramas, so quality was definitely assured. Continue reading


Kanojo wa uso wo aishisugiteru

Tortured musician? Check. Hot male lead? Check. That was my mindset when searching for lighter fare to watch after BORDER and deciding to give Kanojo wa uso wo aishisugiteru a try. I am not generally a fan of shoujo manga or stories with high-school characters, but it surely couldn’t hurt to spend a couple of hours with two winsome leads.

Ogasawara Aki (Sato Takeru) is a genius musician who composes songs for the popular band Crude Play. Aki is moody and depressed despite his success, and desires an escape from the music that has dominated his life. One day, he meets high school student Koeda Riko (Ohara Sakurako) and starts a relationship with her on a whim, lying about his identity. When Riko is scouted by Takagi Soichiro (Sorimachi Takashi), the same producer who propelled Crude Play to success, Aki’s lies start to unravel… Continue reading



Where do people go when they die?

Ishikawa Ango (Oguri Shun) is an intelligent, ambitious detective with keen powers of observation. One day, a former police officer is killed and when Ishikawa goes to the scene of the crime, he unwittingly runs into the killer and is shot in the head. He survives with the bullet lodged in his brain, but realises that as a result, he can now communicate with dead people… Continue reading


Lure of the dark side

At least this seems to be the case for Tamaki Hiroshi, whose latest roles all seem to be rather nasty. That’s actually not a bad thing, since he can’t be playing goody-two-shoes characters forever, and antagonist roles do help stretch one’s acting range, so kudos to him for being willing to experiment and not caring too much about building up a nice but bland onscreen image.

First up was his role as a ladies’ man called Yashiro Ginshiro in the spring drama SP Onna no Kunshou, opposite Matsushima Nanako, who played the heroine Oba Shikiko. Ginshiro initially helped Shikiko build up her dressmaking business but later made use of her, hurting her badly. Tamaki got to speak in Kansai-ben again for this SP as the drama was set in Kansai, and he wore glasses – presumably to complete the manipulative cad look, haha. I didn’t see any subs for this (sadly), but did skim the SP and it seemed interesting. At the very least, it featured some beautiful clothes since it was about the fashion industry in post-war Japan.

Next is the film adaptation of Aku to Kamen no Rūru (The rules of evil and the mask; published English title being Evil and the Mask), which is a novel by award-winning writer Nakamura Fuminori. Tamaki plays Kuki Fumihiro, who was raised by his father to create as much destruction and unhappiness as he possibly can. However, in order to protect the woman he loves, Fumihiro begins to question his father’s mandate and starts to resist. This sounds like a complex, layered character and Tamaki said as much, commenting that the character is a delicate person and it is very difficult to play him. It sounds like a challenging role and that’s great for Tamaki because he deserves to be doing roles that will test his range. I bought the source novel as soon as I could and can’t wait to start on it, looks like it’ll be a riveting read. The film is scheduled to be shown next year.

And for the biggie: Tamaki takes to the stage in October and November for the play Kiken no Kankei (Dangerous Liaisons). This is Tamaki’s second stage appearance – his first was in Hotel Majestic in March 2013 – and the play by Christopher Hampton is based on the famous French epistolary novel Les Liaisons dangereuses. The poster for the play has Tamaki and co-star Suzuki Kyoka in modern wear, so this is presumably a modern take on the 1782 novel (although I could be wrong). No prizes for guessing which role Tamaki will play – he is such an apt choice for the Vicomte de Valmont. Really happy for Tamaki that he’s tackling the stage again as it’s a great way to hone his acting skills, and getting to star with Suzuki is wonderful as she is a solid actress in her own right. The play’s run will be in Tokyo from Oct 8 to 31st, and Nov 9-14 in Osaka.



Seirei no Moribito season 2

It’s hard enough waiting for weekly episodes of a currently airing drama, but it’s sheer torture having to go months without the sequel of a drama you liked. That was the case of Seirei no Moribito, whose first season was a solid and enjoyable watch, and it took almost a year for season 2 to air. So it was with pleasure that I sank my teeth into the drama as soon as I could get my grabby hands on it.

Balsa (Ayase Haruka) and her herbalist/shaman friend Tanda (Higashide Masahiro) rescue a brother and sister who are about to be sold off by human traffickers. They discover that the girl Asla (Suzuki Rio) possesses a strange power that can cause great destruction when unleashed. Balsa decides to become Asla’s bodyguard upon realising that a number of people are after Asla. Meanwhile, Chagum (Itagaki Mizuki) is on a mission to save New Yogo Country from the conquering ambitions of the Talsh Empire… Continue reading