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

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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.

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Happy birthday, Tamaki Hiroshi!

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💕 玉木宏さん、お誕生日おめでとう!💕

Tamaki Hiroshi turns 37 today! Happy birthday to this awesome guy and may all his wishes come true! So happy to able to write this post again on my blog, and it’s always a pleasure to post something about him. Here’s hoping 2017 will be a good year for him professionally and personally. He will always be my favourite conductor, pianist, teacher, florist, artist, and of course, usagi! Cookie for you if you know which scene the above photo comes from 😉

If you’ve enjoyed any of Tamaki’s dramas, please do share in the comments which role was memorable and what you liked about it. And if you haven’t seen anything of his, today is a good day to start!

junny@1.14am

Career: Episodes 5-10

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The old saying that you should be careful what you wish for came true, but thankfully with a positive spin because the rest of the episodes of Career did become more engaging and I actually started liking a lot of the characters. The drama still pretty much followed the same formula of Kinshiro saving the day, but did manage to offer up a nice twist that gave the storyline a bit more meat and helped elevate the drama a notch. Continue reading

Career: Episodes 1-4

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It’s always a pleasure having Tamaki Hiroshi back on primetime dramas, no matter the quality (or lack of), so barring a catastrophe, I was always going to tune in to Career. I just wish the drama had been smarter about naming it thus, but when Tamaki is only doing maybe one or two dramas a year, beggars can’t be choosers.

Toyama Kinshiro (Tamaki Hiroshi) is the new police chief of Kitamachi Police Station who doesn’t behave like the stereotypical, bureaucratic chief most expect. Instead, he likes to do the actual legwork when it comes to investigating crimes and listen to the voices of innocent citizens. His hands-on approach, however, incurs the wrath of lead detective Minami Yozo (Takashima Masahiro)… Continue reading

Crime-busting with Tamaki Hiroshi

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It be rainin’ lawyers and policemen in October, as Tamaki Hiroshi takes on not one, but two law enforcement roles. First up is the drama SP Kyoaku wa nemurasenai Tokusou Kenji no gyakushuu (Great evil does not go to sleep – The counterattack of the special investigation unit prosecutor), which is an adaptation of the novel Baikoku (Treason) by Mayama Jin. Tamaki portrays public prosecutor Tominaga Shinichi, a newcomer at the special investigation unit, who investigates a case of illegal donations involving a big-name politician (Tachibana Yohei, played by Nakadai Tatsuya). Tominaga also gets embroiled in a scandal involving a space exploration project due to the disappearance of a childhood friend and realises the two cases are linked. The teaser looks awesome already and has that sort of intriguing battle of wits/strategy vibe that I’m generally a sucker for.

I’m so happy to see Tamaki once again lining up against a really solid veteran actor, and Nakadai-san is as big as they come – I still remember his imposing performance in Kurosawa’s Ran (highly recommended), and he also has a string of other illustrious works under his belt, so it’s fantastic for Tamaki to be able to learn from one of the greats in the industry. Tamaki commented that it is a very challenging drama as it’ll get viewers to reflect on what justice really means, and he’d been thinking of how to portray the confrontation scene between Tominaga and Tachibana, which is surely one to look out for. Nakadai-san was very modest and said he felt he couldn’t compete with the younger actors in terms of freshness and thus was nervous standing beside Tamaki, but I’m sure Tamaki himself felt nervous as well acting opposite Nakadai-san!

Hot on the heels of the SP is a new drama, titled Career ~ Okiteyaburi no Keisatsu Shochou ~. Tamaki will star as Toyama Kinshiro, the eccentric but compassionate chief of a police precinct who helps citizens without a voice, regardless of the type of case. He would investigate cases in plainclothes, but his methods aren’t always conventional and drive his colleagues up the wall. The teaser is more light-hearted as the genre is investigative comedy, and it reminds me of Tamaki’s offbeat detective role in Watashi no Kirai na Tantei, which was completely silly. I don’t expect Career (what a title) will be as screwball, but it sounds like a fun drama for the autumn season. Co-stars include Takashima Masahiro, who plays a detective at loggerheads with Toyama, and Takimoto Miori, whose character wants to be an independent detective but keeps making mistakes.

Kyoaku airs on Oct 5 at 9pm, while Career starts on Oct 9 at 9pm.

Away from dramas, Tamaki will be one of the guest stars in a new variety programme hosted by Amami Yuki and Ishida Yuriko, titled Amami Yuki Ishida Yuriko no Snack Akebono Hashi, which will air on Sept 29. The ladies will play the bosses of a fictitious snack bar and chat with guests on a variety of topics while also making food and drinks for them. It’s nice of Amami to invite Tamaki, I figure they must have gotten along well while filming Top Caster back in 2006 and Kekkon Shinai in 2012.

And finally, Tamaki won the Best Supporting Actor prize at the 88th Drama Academy Awards (Winter 2016) for his role in Asa ga Kita! おめでとう! I’m delighted for him since it’s been a while that he’s won something, even though he totally deserves more acting awards. Now that there’s additional motivation (haha), I promise to get to the rest of Asa ga Kita as soon as possible!

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Bakumatsu Kokosei

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Today’s my birthday? Really?

Happy birthday, Tamaki Hiroshi!

Our Chiaki senpai turns 36 today! Here’s wishing him many happy returns, and may all his dreams come true! Even though Tamaki wasn’t in a lot of dramas or films last year, I’m glad he ended 2015 strongly with Asa ga Kita, which is doing well in ratings so far. I’ve missed seeing Tamaki in solid roles and I really hope a super meaty one will land on his lap soon – the asadora is a wonderful opportunity for him, but I’d still like to see him in more primetime dramas.

Anyway, to celebrate his birthday, here’s a quick post on one of his recent films, 2014’s Bakumatsu Kokosei, otherwise known as Time Trip App. Basically, high school teacher Kawabe Mikako (Ishihara Satomi) and her students have somehow time-travelled back to 1868 Edo, where they meet imperial statesman Katsu Kaishu (Tamaki Hiroshi). These are troubled times for Edo, where a battle is about to break out between shogunate forces and those of the new government. Eager to prevent bloodshed, Katsu sends a peace envoy to the highly influential samurai Saigo Takamori (Sato Koichi). But as time ticks by, there is no response from Saigo and Mikako despairs that Katsu does not seem like he’s doing anything to rescue the situation… Continue reading

Asa ga Kita: Weeks 4-6

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Here’s another round of Asa ga Kita to end off the year. Although I’ve been very slow with this asadora, it’s really quite enjoyable and easy to watch. The theme song is also fun to sing along to, since it’s so upbeat and very apt for Asa’s character. So far things are progressing well and both Asa and Hatsu are learning how to protect their respective families in their own ways. Dad’s words have a profound effect on them and it’s this principle that guides the sisters as they navigate the changing times and family fortunes. Continue reading

Asa ga Kita: Weeks 1-3

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I’ve been meaning to write about Asa ga Kita for a while, but real life got in the way and my computer has gone wonky, so this is terribly delayed and I don’t know if I’ll keep writing on it. However, the experience of watching my first asadora has been pretty good so far, and at 15 minutes (on the dot!) for each episode, it’s very easy to breeze through a week of episodes (six in total).

Imai Asa (Haru) is the second daughter of a wealthy Kyoto merchant. A tomboy with a love of sumo wrestling and accounting, and penchant for asking questions, Asa is very different from her elder sister Hatsu (Miyazaki Aoi), who is the epitome of feminine grace. Asa and Hatsu have been betrothed from young to sons of two distinguished moneylending families in Osaka. Despite initial resistance from Asa, she soon falls in love with her fiancé Shirooka Shinjiro (Tamaki Hiroshi). After their marriage, Shinjiro has no interest in the family business and only devotes his time to the shamisen and other pleasurable activities. As difficult times beckon at the cusp of the Meji era and as the Shirooka family finds itself in financial straits, Asa steps up to take charge… Continue reading

Suna no Utsuwa

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Sometimes when I like what I see on screen, I make a beeline for the source material on which it was based. This was the case for Suna no Utsuwa, the 2011 tanpatsu starring Tamaki Hiroshi and Kobayashi Kaoru. The novel of the same name by Matsumoto Seicho has had a few adaptations, including a 2004 J-drama with Watanabe Ken and Nakai Masahiro, and a 1974 film by Nomura Yoshitaro, a testament to the enduring popularity of this story and the crime genre in general.

Given the difference in formats, I suppose it is mission impossible for screen adaptations not to add stuff that was not in the print source material. Still, I can generally accept it better if the adaptation more or less stays faithful to the essence of the source, even if certain changes have been made to improve story flow or tighten plot and characterisation. However, where the adaptation makes up a character or changes the perspective from which the story was originally told, it kind of annoys me. Yes, I’m Chiaki-like that way. Continue reading

Tamaki Hiroshi and voice-acting

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Tamaki Hiroshi and Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow

I’m a bit late to the news, but it’s a happy one, so better late than never. Tamaki Hiroshi is part of the Japanese voice-over cast for the American film Jurassic World, and provides the voice-over for the protagonist Owen Grady (played by Chris Pratt), who is a Velociraptor expert and trainer. Other notable folk in this project include actresses Kimura Yoshino (voicing Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard) and Matsuoka Mayu (voicing Gray Mitchell, played by Ty Simpkins), and comedy duo Oriental Radio (Nakata Atsuhiko and Fujimori Shingo). I’m very pleased for Tamaki and so glad he’s getting some recognition for his foray into voice-acting. His voice is so sexy it is instantly recognisable. And since Chris Pratt is kinda good-looking, it tickles me that one hottie is doing the voice-over for another hottie. Ha!

It’s not Tamaki’s first time doing voice-acting – he was narrator for the Japanese version of the popular BBC TV science documentary series Africa, which aired in the UK in 2013 and focused on wildlife, habitats, desert, savannah etc. In an interview last year, Tamaki said he took inspiration from famed British naturalist David Attenborough who narrates the original series, and Ishimaru Kenjiro, best known as the roving narrator in the TV Asahi miniseries Sekai no Shasokara (See the World by Train), on his approach to narrating Africa. Informally, he’d also done a lot of narration for Nodame Cantabile, as quite a number of scenes would feature Chiaki’s thoughts, and other dramas requiring such scenes. But doing it for non-drama purposes takes on a different flavour and has its own quirks and styles, so I’m happy he’s game for trying new things.

Below is the video of the press-con for the Japanese voice-actors, which Tamaki attended with Kimura and Matsuoka (part 1 with the Jurassic World cast is here). Briefly, Tamaki said he first watched Jurassic Park when he was 13. He didn’t expect he’d now be doing the voice-over for Jurassic World and he’s delighted about it. I totally approve of his suit and think he looks gorgeous and confident. The blue was wonderful on him and I love his hairstyle. I’ve always thought keeping it simple suited Tamaki best, which was why the entire Chiaki wardrobe fitted him like a glove.

Kimura Yoshino is a solid actress and I do like what little I’ve seen of Matsuoka Mayu, so I’m pleased that Tamaki is joined by two lovely actresses in this project. I do hope Tamaki takes on more of such voice-acting projects, and if they include English-language ones, he can brush up his English while at it. Kinda kills two birds with one stone, doesn’t it?

More pics of the cast can be found here.

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Orient Kyuukou Satsujin Jiken

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I tend to be a purist when it comes to film adaptations of books that I’ve read and liked, but if it is the reverse, I’m not as picky. I’m wary of having adaptations destroy what I’d already imagined and liked during reading, which has happened before due to the choice of cast and how actors/directors interpret the novel in question. This could happen regardless of whether the adaptation is in the same language/culture as the source material. Fortunately, that was not the case with Orient Kyuukou Satsujin Jiken.

During the early days of the Showa era, famous detective Suguro Takeru (Nomura Mansai) boards the Tokubetsu Kyuukou Toyo departing from Shimonoseki to Tokyo. Despite the train being fully booked at an unlikely time of the year, he manages to avail himself of a first-class private compartment. Halfway through the journey, the train is stranded due to a snowdrift and a murder has also occurred. Suguro is asked to investigate… Continue reading

Tensai Tantei Mitarai ~ Nankai Jiken File ‘Kasa wo Oru Onna’

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Detective dramas are a staple of the J-drama landscape these days, and half the time it comes with the “genius (insert profession) + sidekick” solving cases, which has probably been done to death everywhere. After all, how many genius sleuths can there be running around? Still, it’s always interesting to check out the sort of cases these dramas come up with, and I never refuse the opportunity to watch a hot detective in action.

Mitarai Kiyoshi (Tamaki Hiroshi) is a brilliant eccentric neuroscientist who is also a famous sleuth. He is good friends with the author Ishioka Kazumi (Domoto Koichi). One day, Ishioka tells Mitarai about a mystery he heard on the radio – a listener had called in about a mysterious woman in white who was walking around in the pouring rain with a small plastic bag and a red umbrella. She then allowed the umbrella to be crushed by a passing car before going on her way with the broken umbrella. Mitarai puts the pieces together and deduces that a murder must have occurred in the vicinity where the woman was spotted… Continue reading

Zannen na Otto episodes 3-10

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It’s a pity that I wasn’t able to write more consistent posts for Zannen na Otto during its run, so here’s a wrap-up post on the rest of the episodes. It was a fun and zany ride, and I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that it ended well for all concerned. It won’t go down as a classic, but for Tamaki Hiroshi fans who enjoy watching him flex his comedic chops, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Yoichi’s growth was nicely charted throughout the rest of the episodes. I thought it was done fairly realistically and in logical, reasonable steps that viewers would be able to relate to. The bulk of the episodes dealt with how Yoichi and Chisato clash over issues such as parenting methods, work vs home, friends’ problems etc. I like that although Yoichi does most of the maturing and learns to appreciate his family more, Chisato also learns to see things from her husband’s point of view.

Continue reading