TW Pop Culture Weekly: Tsubasa Imai’s Dramatic Return

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A singer, dancer and actor at the height of his career, suddenly being forced to give it all up because of a draining illness, only to make a sudden return a few years later? It’s like Tsubasa Imai had one of the screenwriters he’d worked with before write his comeback for him. Hopefully, this is the part of the story where he gets his happy ending.

The Song of Tsubasa Imai

Imai debuted in 2002 as part of the Tackey & Tsubasa idol duo together with Hideaki Takizawa. They were an instant hit, with their singles and albums (To Be, to Be, Ten Made to Be, Venus etc.) eventually being certified Gold and Platinum. As his music career flourished, Imai started to split his time between music and acting, starring in such TV shows as Yoshitsune or The Last Lawyer. And then his hearing problems and vertigo started. In 2014, Tsubasa Imai was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease, an inner ear disorder.

Though not fatal, Meniere’s Disease can negatively affect a person’s quality of life, so Imai started taking longer and longer breaks from work until Tackey & Tsubasa disbanded in 2018. Now he is back, though. After apparently finding treatment that worked for him, Tsubasa Imai has officially signed up with Shochiku Entertainment, which mainly specializes in stage productions, so Imai movie fans might not actually get to see that more of him, but they’ll be happy that he’s working once again.

‘Fukushima 50’ Premieres

With the World Health Organization elevating the coronavirus to the status of a global pandemic, not many people outside Japan had the energy to worry about disasters from the past. That’s why this year’s remembrance of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami (often referred to as 3/11) was a small, quiet event. But it did coincide with the premiere of a new movie about the heroes of that day.

Fukushima 50 (Ken Watanabe, Koichi Sato), which came out on March 6, tells the story of the 50 workers who stayed behind at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after most of the staff was evacuated due to the reactor cores melting. They worked tirelessly to stabilize the plant and saved countless lives in the process… most likely at the cost of their own.

While some perished in accidents, nearly all of the Fukushima 50 (and many more volunteers who joined them later) were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, and their long-term health prospects right now are uncertain. Fukushima 50 is the first Japanese movie about their sacrifice.

New Super Sentai Series Not Likely to Reanimate Power Rangers

The idea for Power Rangers was genius. They took dubbed-over scenes from the Japanese superhero team franchise Super Sentai and spliced it with footage of American actors, creating a hybrid show that kids didn’t realize was a Frankenstein production. It proved to be a giant hit, and with so many different Super Sentai shows out there (45 and counting) featuring new characters, villains, and, most importantly, giant robots fighting giant monsters, Power Rangers had enough material to continue the series indefinitely. But it’s doubtful that the new Mashin Sentai Kiramager show will one day get the Power Rangers treatment.

Like previous Sentai series, Kiramager focuses on otherworldly beings gathering warriors to fight against an army of evil, but then it doesn’t do much with the premise. One of its main themes is vehicles, something that we’ve seen in other shows like Engine Sentai Go-onger. Same for its use of gemstones and magic in the storyline. The series only premiered on March 8 so hopefully it will try harder going forward, but the first episode doesn’t fill one with confidence.

Akira: A Story About Psychics by Psychics

With the Tokyo Olympics being just 147 days away and unrest gripping the city, a lot of people have been raising voices that maybe the sport event should be canceled. That may sound like just real news but is actually part of the plot from the 1988 post-apocalyptic cyberpunk movie Akira.

As pointed out by Twitter user @zombie0928 and a few others, February 28 this year was exactly 147 days before the planned start of the Olympic Games, coinciding perfectly with a scene in the supposedly fictional story, right down to graffiti saying “Just cancel it already!” That’s one impressively accurate prediction.

But when Akira can’t predict its future, it makes its own, as evidenced by the very specific impact it had on modern pop culture (posted by Twitter user @jmaieh):

 

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