This Week in Tokyo Pop Culture | Nov 8: Comebacks & Heart Attacks

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Many TV careers/series are defined by moments of triumphant returns after disappearing from the public eye for a few years. And for a lot of them, those pop-culture comebacks happened this past week:

Eiichiro Funakoshi – Red-Bearded but Red-Faced No More

Akahige (~ “Red Beard”) is the NHK show released in 2017 on the 50th anniversary of the death of Shugoto Yamamoto, the author whose short story collection served as the inspiration for the series as well as the 1965 Akira Kurosawa movie of the same name. The show’s plot revolves around Jo Niidekyo, nicknamed “Red Beard,” who seeks the true meaning of being a doctor by healing people and getting involved in their lives. Akahige 2 is the 2019 follow-up to the original series, released on November 1. It probably would’ve been out sooner if not for a slight problem with the lead character.

On Akahige, Niidekyo is played by veteran actor Eiichiro Funakoshi who, prior to the show’s 2017 premiere, was very publicly accused of adultery by his then-wife Kazuyo Matsui. Not only that, the scorned spouse also revealed a lot of personal details about Funakoshi, including the identity of his lover (Matsui’s best friend) and parts of his medical history. After that, Funakoshi wasn’t exactly jobless, but his release schedule definitely slowed down, making Akahige 2 something of a testing of the waters to see if he’s ready to return to the spotlight. Let’s wait and see.

Ossan’s Love: Back with More of the Same

Ossan’s Love: In the Sky (which premiered on November 2 on TV Asahi) is the follow-up to the original Ossan’s Love show from 2018. In the original, Kei Tanaka’s Soichi Haruta is a young office worker who suddenly finds himself the object of desire of his older male supervisor as well as his coworker, causing him to question the very idea of love. Ossan’s Love: In the Sky, on the other hand, is about… the exact same thing, only with a real estate office being swapped for an airline.

Seeing as the original series was a rare example of a live-action yaoi (“boy’s love”) comedy done mostly tastefully. It’s probably not the worst idea to have something like that on TV all over again.

Yuki Amami: Not Letting a Little Thing Like a Heart Attack Stop Her

In 2013, prolific Japanese actress Yuki Amami suffered a mild heart attack at the age of 45 during a performance at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre. Then, after giving herself a few minutes or so to rest up, she jumped back into work and landed the leading roles in Emergency Interrogation Room (2014 – 2019), Oie san (2014), Fake Marriage (2015), Chef: Three Star School Lunch (2016) and A de wa nai Kimi to (2018). And recently, almost as if to prove that it’ll take more to slow her down than a small cardiovascular episode, Amami also landed another lead role in an upcoming TV show.

From January 2020, she will be starring in the NTV series Top Knife, playing the role of a top-level brain surgeon. She probably won’t actually learn neurosurgery for the role, but given how much she has accomplished till now, it wouldn’t be too surprising if she did.

The Faces of Japanese Cuisine

The old saying goes that the Japanese eat with their eyes, because when it comes to the country’s cuisine, looks are almost as important as taste. Over time, this has given rise to the popularity of kyaraben: character lunches where various foods are arranged into the shape of popular pop-culture heroes. This can even apply to normal house dinners, which can be decorated this way to make them more fun and appealing. This is what happened in the household of Twitter user @beppumataji, whose wife prepared curry with rice and pieces of ham shaped just like the popular character Anpanman for their child.

In a November 3 tweet, which currently has been liked more than 240,000 times, @beppumataji showed off what he and his kid received. While his child dined on their beloved cartoon character, @beppumataji’s curry decorations more resembled the mask that Jason Voorhees would wear if Friday the 13th ever crossed over with Anpanman.

https://twitter.com/beppumataji/status/1190931044742000640

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