Tokyo Pop Culture

Who’s your favorite Japanese celebrity? Not to jinx it or anything but chances are that they were recently diagnosed with Covid. With Tokyo reporting hundreds of new cases every day, more and more musicians and actors are being counted among the infected. The whole of July has been particularly bad, with at least 14 high-profile performers testing positive for the coronavirus. Don’t worry, though, because help is coming their way. Just not the kind you’re probably thinking of.

Atsushi Exiles Artists’ Loss of Income

Japanese musicians and actors are getting sick. In the last month, Japan’s confirmed Covid cases included the ONE OK ROCK’s guitarist Toru, former AKB48 member Karen Iwata, current AKB48 member Kayoko Takita, actor Yuta Yamazaki (Code Blue, Atsuhime Number 1), all five members of the visual kei band Jack Caper, comedian-musician Hanawa and actor Yusuke Yamamoto (Kamen Rider Kabuto). One of the most shocking news was the hospitalization of Ryusei Yokohama, a 23-year-old actor known for his roles in the Kamen Rider and Super Sentai shows.

While loss of income is now probably very low on the list of worries for these people, many of whom are pretty big-name celebrities, not every Japanese artist is so lucky. The Musician Aid Japan Project is meant to address that. Started by EXILE’s Atsushi and the R&B singer Ai, the project involves the artists helping other performers get their work out to the public who can no longer attend concerts. EXILE is one of the biggest Japanese bands ever, so even just one of their members has the kind of reach unavailable to most artists. Hopefully he will be able to use that fame to do some good. The project has already produced one video featuring guitarist Tsuyoshi Kon. It has currently been watched over 100,000 times.

Perhaps one day too soon, the rock band RADWIMPS will have to take advantage of the Musician Aid Japan Project after their frontman Yojiro Noda upset a lot of people by tweeting that exceptional Japanese people like Shohei Ohtani should have their spouses chosen by specialists as part of some national eugenic project. Noda later claimed that he was joking but no one really bought it.

The World of Japanese Entertainment Still in Shock over Haruma Miura’s Suicide

On July 18, Haruma Miura, known for roles in Gokusen, Attack on Titan and The Confidence Man, was found hung in his closet next to a note indicating that his death was a suicide. He was only 30 years old. A lot of people are still trying to figure out why this happened, with some pointing to a message posted hours before the actor’s death by his Gokusen costar Kento Kaku, asking everyone to be kinder to each other online. The message has quickly drawn comparisons between Haruma Miura and Kimura Hana, the 22-year-old performer who tragically committed suicide back in May over cyberbullying. But no matter the reason why Miura took his life, it’s those closest to him that now have to live with it.

Shortly after news of Miura’s death broke, his close friend Yu Shirota was spotted on the ONGAKU NO HI 2020 (Music Day) program with red eyes as if he’d been crying heavily.

Other actors close to Miura such as Shohei Miura (no relation) and Masato Wada are reportedly still in a state of disbelief. In light of the tragic death, Haruma Miura’s second single “Night Diver” will be released posthumously on August 26 but you can watch the music video for it right now on YouTube. The video has currently been watched more than 10 million times.

Casting News Roundup

Nothing better to do right now than to look forward to better days so let’s talk about some cool upcoming shows.

  • Hiroshi Tamaki (Nodame Cantabile, Iron Chef and also the dub actor for Chris Pratt’s character in Jurassic World), has been cast in the main role of the live-action adaptation of The Way of the Househusband (Gokushufudo). He will portray an ex-yakuza boss who becomes a househusband to support his wife. The show will premiere in October on Nippon TV.
  • Ko Shibasaki (Battle Royale, One Missed Call, 47 Ronin) will star in another Nippon TV show premiering in October: 35-Year-Old Girl about a woman who returns after being missing for 25 years but having the mind of a 10-year-old. Shibasaki has made a career out of playing troubled and mentally-scarred characters so this show is definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
  • Ryoma Takeuchi (Kamen Rider Drive) will star in Ryoma Takeuchi’s Filming Break. Based on Kasumi Arimura’s Filming Break (2019), the show will be about fictional mini vacations that Takeuchi takes between filming, because even stakes as low as these count for wish-fulfillment in today’s world.
  • Gaku Hamada (Nobunaga Concerto) will star in TV Tokyo’s People Who Don’t Work, a slice-of-life comedy about the meaning of life and working in Japan. Hamada is a well-known character actor so it’s impossible to tell how he’ll approach this role but it will be fun finding out.