Arrests, moving into uncharted waters, remakes and sad passings, it has been another turbulent month for Japan’s entertainment industry. Here’s our monthly round-up of the latest and most significant entertainment news from Japan.
Kentaro Ito’s Hit-and-Run Arrest Spells Trouble for His Upcoming Movies
Around 5:45 p.m., on October 29, popular actor Kentaro Ito reportedly drove his car into a couple riding a motorcycle in Sendagaya (Shibuya, Tokyo) while attempting to make a U-turn. One of the motorists was only lightly hurt, although the other appears to have suffered a broken leg. Not that Ito found that out firsthand, though, because, by his own admission, he fled the scene and only came back later after being chased by a witness who convinced him to go back. He’s since been arrested.
— MyAnimemenu (@animemenu) October 29, 2020
At just 23, Kentaro Ito has been one of the rising stars of the Japanese movie world. His career kicked off around 2014 and now includes appearances on Scarlet (NHK) and roles in popular movies like The Flowers of Evil, Yowamushi Pedal: Up The Road, and From Today, It’s My Turn!! Two of his latest movies, Junihitoe wo Kita Akuma and Tonkatsu DJ Age-Taro were slated to be released on November 6 and October 30, respectively, and while the latter will most likely hit the theaters as planned, the fate of Junihitoe remains uncertain. Even with so close to the premiere date, the Ito vehicle might be postponed to protect the studio’s reputation. Ito’s future as an actor is similarly up in the air at this point.
No Need to Rehearse for Daigo’s New Diaper Commercial
Even at 42, the popular singer/actor Daigo Naito (widely known as just Daigo) has a very youthful energy about him. Part of it might be because of his ties to popular culture. Besides lending his voice to popular anime like Detective Conan, he also played the superhero Ultraman Zero in Ultraman Saga and is married to Keiko Kitagawa, who starred in the live-action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (2003) show as Sailor Mars. But lately, Daigo has been tweaking his image to something more adult, which started around September this year when his daughter was born. In light of that, his most recent TV appearance makes a lot more sense.
On October 20, Daigo attended a special presentation of a commercial for GOO.N Plus diapers, announcing that he has become their new brand ambassador. Much like the product itself, which is meant for children with sensitive skin, the commercial also focuses on Daigo’s softer side. Here, the flashy performer who, for a long time, styled himself after David Bowie, has been toned down and dressed in some sensible clothing, with extended camera shots focusing on his serene expression as he holds a baby in his arms. It’s not like anyone was expecting Daigo to start yelling out songs directly into the baby’s face but, still, this seems to mark a new career direction for an entertainer who for the longest time had avoided growing up.
Japanese Keanu Reeves Sounds as Familiar as Ever
We are less than a month away from the release of the long-awaited game Cyberpunk 2077, which will feature Keanu Reeves as one of the central characters. Scenes and trailers featuring the actor have been hyping the game up for a long time but Japanese fans only got a taste of what’s to come on October 21 when the Japanese trailer for the game finally dropped.
Eagle-eared fans have instantly recognized that Keanu Reeves is once again speaking through Toshiyuki Morikawa, a 53-year-old voice actor who has dubbed almost all Keanu Reeves roles in Japan (not to mention those of Ewan McGregor, Tom Cruise, Adam Sandler, and many, many more.) Cyberpunk 2077 is expected to come out on November 19.
24 Japan and The Way of the Househusband Are Lessons in the Dos and Don’ts of Adaptations
The Japanese remake of 24, which premiered on TV Asahi on October 9, is less of a remake and more like a deep-fake video with Japanese faces imposed on the original 24 actors. The show not only follows the American story exactly, it directly lifts lines and specific angle shots from it.
The main difference so far was that instead of an assassination plot against a politician who may become America’s first black president, here it’s a politician who may become Japan’s first female Prime Minister. It’s just too bad the show didn’t allow itself to make more changes. Not just because it would allow it to become its own thing, but because certain scenes in 24 were written specifically for an American setting and when they are transplanted exactly as they were to Japan, it sometimes feels a little… off.
The Way of the Househusband, on the other hand, gets it right. Based on the popular manga by Kousuke Oono and premiering on NTV on October 11, it tells the story of an ex-yakuza boss who gives up the life to become a househusband. Hiroshi Tamaki stars in Tatsu’s main role, and he brings the show to life by doing things a bit differently than in the comic. Originally, Tatsu had two primary expressions: cold-and-imposing and hilariously-explosive. Here, his expressions are much more diverse. Tamaki spends his entire time maniacally mugging for the camera and capturing the comic’s energy and subtle dynamism through his exaggerated expressions. So far, it’s been a laugh riot.
Maisa Tsuno Dies in an Apparent Suicide
May she rest in peace. https://t.co/w5dq06dgya
— Anime News Network (@Anime) October 21, 2020
Maisa Tsuno was always destined to be in the music business. Her father and grandfather were songwriters. Her mother plays the piano. Her grandmother was in the Takarazuka musical theater troupe. So it was no surprise when in 2010 she formed her own band, an all-female rock group called Akai Koen (~” Red Park”), which eventually became quite popular. Sadly, her career was cut short on October 18 when Tsuno was found dead in what police say was a suicide. She was only 29.
If you or anyone you know in Japan are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please consider contacting TELL Japan.
“TW Pop Culture Update” is a Tokyo Weekender monthly series covering the latest and most significant entertainment news from Japan.