Idol group AKB48 reached half a million units sold with their best album “Kamikyokutachi” this week, after almost an entire year. Originally released on April 7, 2010, the album sold approximately 2,000 copies this week, pushing its total to 501,000. Although the group has had two million-selling singles in recent months (“Beginner” and “Sakura no Ki ni Narou”), “Kamikyokutachi” is their first album to hit the half-million mark.
In fact, the last female group to sell 500,000 copies of an album was Destiny’s Child, who did it with “#1′s” in 2006 (592,000 in current total sales). Not counting overseas artists, the last female group was Morning Musume with “4th Ikimasshoi!” in 2002 (515,000 in current total sales).
AKB48 is expected to outdo “Kamikyokutachi” with their first original album, “Koko ni Ita Koto,” which was previously scheduled for release on April 6 but is being delayed due to the effects of the March 11 earthquake. No new release date has been decided yet.
Meanwhile, AKB48, their related subgroups, and member Itano Tomomi (as a solo artist) experienced a small boost with their singles this week. Currently, there 12 AKB48-related singles in the Top 100.
Rock band L'Arc~en~Ciel announced that they will donate all of the revenue from their two 20th anniversary concerts to the Tohoku earthquake relief efforts.
L’Arc~en~Ciel has two scheduled concerts at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo on May 28 and 29. In an announcement on their official website on Tuesday, the members and staff revealed that they will direct all of the concert revenue towards rebuilding in the earthquake-stricken areas.
The staff will also be taking extra measures to address safety and power usage concerns during the concerts.
Kanjani8 will release three new singles in the next three months, it has been learned. The first will be the single “T.W.L / Yellow Pansy Street,” scheduled for April 20.
“T.W.L” are “Yellow Pansy Street” are theme songs for the “Crayon Shin-chan” anime series and the upcoming “Crayon Shin-chan” movie, respectively. The single will have two limited editions, each with a bonus DVD that contains the music video for one of the songs and making-of footage. A regular edition will also be released.
Then on May 11, Kanjani8 will release “My Home,” the theme song to Nishikido Ryo’s drama series “Inu wo Kau to Iu Koto ~Sky to Wagaya no 180 Nichi~” (starting in April). On June 8, they will follow up with “365 Nichi Kazoku,” the theme song to Horikita Maki’s drama series “Umareru” that also features Okura Tadayoshi (starting on April 22).
It was also announced that the delayed “KANJANI∞ LIVE TOUR 2010→2011 8UPPERS” live DVD has a new release date. It was originally planned for March 30, but it will now go on sale on April 13.
Koyama Chuya’s award-winning manga “Uchuu Kyoudai” is getting a live-action movie adaptation, it has been announced. Oguri Shun (28) and Okada Masaki (21) will co-star as brothers.
The story revolves around two brothers named Mutta (Oguri) and Hibito (Okada) who made a promise as kids to become astronauts and travel to outer space. The older brother Mutta ignores the promise and grows up to become an engineer, while the younger brother Hibito actually becomes an astronaut. One day, after Mutta loses his job, a message from Hibito reignites his motivation to keep their promise.
Details such as the film’s release date have not yet been announced.
Matsuura Aya (24) is starring in a drama special called “Sakura to Satsuki,” scheduled to air late at night on April 1 on the local Kansai station ABC TV.
The drama was shot in the Kansai area and features an all-Kansai cast. Matsuura – who is originally from Himeji, Hyogo – will play a truck driver and former yankee named Sakura, speaking in Banshu-ben (a regional dialect of Kansai-ben). Trouble arises when she finds out that her good friend and former co-worker Satsuki (Hamaguchi Junko) is engaged to her ex-boyfriend Yuji (Hashimoto Jun).
The cast is rounded out by comedian Kobayashi Kotaro (of Choplin), Ina Kenji, Tokuda Naomi, and Oura Ai.
Matsuura will also sing in Banshu-ben for the theme song, titled “Futari Osaka,” which she wrote specifically for the show.
The official website has a trailer and will be updated with 5 “spin-off drama” episodes. Viewers can put together the Japanese characters shown at the end of each episode to form a keyword, qualifying them to enter in a lottery to win one of five 10,000 yen gift certificates. Those episodes are planned to start on the morning of March 25.
Singer-songwriter Kawashima Ai (25) is currently touring around western Japan, raising funds for the earthquake relief efforts with a series of street performances. Counting her latest performance in Kobe on Sunday, she has so far raised close to 885,000 yen.
Kawashima started in Hiroshima on March 17 and has done a total of six street performances so far. For the Kobe performance, she sang three songs in front of a crowd of 350 people, including the song “Daijoubu da yo.” Because Kobe was hit the hardest by the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995, she appealed to the crowd by asking them to empathize with the pain of the current earthquake victims in the Tohoku region.
After her performance, she asked for donations, even as little as 1 yen. She also raised funds by selling her CDs, letting buyers set their own price, as long as it was at least 300 yen. In Kobe, she collected almost 150,000 yen. She performed again the same day in Kawanishi, Hyogo, and raised another 220,000 yen.
An audition announcement has revealed that Morning Musume member Niigaki Risa (22) is set to appear in a movie tentatively titled “Bad Days Reason,” part of the omnibus “Twilight File IX.” Specific details about the film are not yet known, but shooting is scheduled to start in fall 2011, presumably for a 2012 release.
The “Twilight File” series has been produced by Mirai Actors Promotion since 2006. Each omnibus so far has consisted of three films, historically tending towards a combination of mystery, horror, and romance. “Twilight File VII” opened in theaters last November. The eighth installment, which includes the film “Fighting Okan” with former Morning Musume member Nakazawa Yuko, should be released later this year.
For “Twilight File IX,” the only film revealed so far is “Bad Days Reason.” Director Yamaguchi Tatsuya is also writing the screenplay. Currently, Mirai Actors Promotion is accepting audition applications. The company is also holding auditions for the singer of the theme song, which will be produced by the well-known music production group HAL.
Singer-songwriter YUI (23) is handling both the opening and ending themes for the movie “Paradise Kiss,” it has been revealed.
This is the 6th movie that she has provided music for. The two songs, titled “HELLO ~Paradise Kiss~” and “YOU,” were written by YUI specifically for the film.
YUI is said to be a fan of the original manga, written by Yazawa Ai. This adaptation of the fashion-themed comic stars Kitagawa Keiko (24) and Mukai Osamu (29).
Directed by Shinjo Takehiko, the “Paradise Kiss” movie is scheduled to open on June 4, 2011.
On the day after a devastating earthquake struck eastern Japan, countless celebrities have been offering their condolences and prayers for the victims of the disaster via Twitter.
Singer Hamasaki Ayumi offered her words of support on her Twitter account. "On this day, let's do everything we can do with all our might!" was the emotional call she sent out. Shortly after the earthquake itself, she tweeted this: "Me and my team have stopped everything today. Human life is so precious, so firstly and foremost, I am wishing and praying for the safety of each and every one of you.
Utada Hikaru, who is currently taking a break from her singing career, expressed her concern about the Fukishima Daiichi power plant radiation leak. "Everyone who is being evacuated, everyone who can't get in touch with their loved ones, please stay strong!"
Meanwhile, LA based rock singer Himuro Kyousuke also tweeted an urgent message. "The scale of the damage is shocking. Somehow, please keep on persevering". He also sent out his heartfelt wishes for the safety of everyone affected by the natural disaster.
X Japan's lead singer YOSHIKI tweeted in english "Is everyone alright? I'm praying for all the people who are missing members of family".
Actress Tanabe Seiichi, TERU from GLAY, Suzuki An, and many other famous figures posted encouraging messages on Twitter. It's certain that for people who are struggling to get information about friends, family, and the state of affairs, these celebrities have become an invaluable help to their many followers, giving them a little more courage.
Maria Ozawa aka Miyabi – 8.9 magnitude Richter Scale earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, on Friday (11/03/2011). Until now the number of victims continues to grow. Coverage in the media and social networking trending topic at all about the events in Japan. Starting from the greeting grief, questioning the amount of the victim until someone asked sexy Japanese actress Maria Ozawa aka Miyabi is still a live or dead in 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. No one can answer this question becasue no one can reach her.
Producer Maxima Pictures, Ody Mulya who has twice worked with Miyabi in Indonesia was deeply concerned about the condition of this sexy artist.
“Frankly I lost contact with her (Miyabi), my last contact with him about 1-2 hours before the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami, then I sms and the phone she is not accept and also do not reply my sms,”said Ody Mulya.
Ody also said this condition makes it extremely worried and anxious, considering that Miyabi was regarded as friends and business associates. Ody said between himself and management Miyabi is still under contract to make two more films.
“I want to ask the situation, but it is difficult to call her, hopefully Maria Ozawa aka Miyabi is alright and still a live after this terrible earthquake and tsunami, cause I’m really worried,” said ody. Look for Miyabi latest condition here
Singer GACKT is using his influence to help earthquake relief efforts, establishing a new emergency donation fund called “SHOW YOUR HEART.” The fund was organized with cooperation from popular online gaming portal Hangame, and a special webpage has been launched for the fund.
A large number of other celebrities have added messages of support on the webpage, including LUNA SEA’s Shinya, h.NAOTO, Fujiwara Norika, Izumiya Shigeru, Nightmare’s Ni~ya, BREAKERZ’s DAIGO, Jinnai Tomonori, Haruna Ai, Koike Eiko, Tamaki Nami, Ohguro Maki, and many more.
The donations, which are being accepted through a Sumitomo Mitsui bank account, will be given to the Japanese Red Cross and prefectural welfare organizations.
SHOW YOUR HEART
In the wake of Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, various organizations and individuals are working towards relief efforts. Among them is musician Nishikawa Takanori, also known by the name T.M.Revolution. Earlier today, he sent out a proposal on Twitter for a charity event at the end of this month, and plans are quickly progressing with the help of his followers.
Nishikawa was already planning to hold a release event at Zepp Tokyo on March 30, the day that his new album “CLOUD NINE” goes on sale. Naturally, there were talks of postponing it, like many other artists are doing with their upcoming events. However, Nishikawa said that since he has already reserved the venue, he would like to hold a charity event instead, and he asked for help from his more than 200,000 Twitter followers.
Nishikawa’s plans include donating all ticket proceeds to the relief efforts, making the event available online for free, holding a charity auction, and doing more fundraising at the event venue. He is hoping to gather other artists and creators to participate as well.
On Twitter, Nishikawa has been exchanging messages with many people who are offering to help. He admitted that he is not sure how far the plans will go, but things seem to be moving quickly. In a recent tweet, he revealed that a major company has contacted him, offering extensive support for the video streaming and online auction plans.
Nishikawa Takanori on Twitter
Starring actress Inoue Mao (24), the promotional poster for NHK's spring asadora, Ohisama was revealed on March 1st. In the poster, Inoue appears basking in the sunlight with her hair softly swept by the wind. Wearing a sleeveless white top with her chin resting on her hand, the letters in the title are entwined with flowers above her. The entire composition gives off a simple, yet gentle feeling.
The poster was shot in studio back in January. When asked to describe the reasoning behind the poster, the chief producer says that "her expression is one that preserves through time." Posters featuring the remaining cast members will be revealed shortly afterwards.
Ohisama will start March 28, airing weekday mornings from 8:00 to 8:15. It will run for a total of 156 episodes.
Ohisama Poster Revealed
Translated by: sparkles_n15 @ asianfanatics.net
Actor Shirota Yu (25) will be starring in a new drama series this spring, titled “Shitsuren Hoken ~Kokuraseya~.” This will be his first lead role in a television series.
“Shitsuren Hoken” will air in NTV’s Thursday 11:58 time slot, which is being re-branded from “Thursday Night Drama” to “Thursday Mystery Theater.”
In “Shitsuren Hoken,” Furuta Arata (45) plays a gay Shinto priest nicknamed Torako, whose side business is selling “heartbreak insurance.” Approved customers can pay 100 million yen for insurance against their love lives, receiving 10 times that amount in the event that they get rejected by the person they confess their love to. He and his team work to make the customers’ love lives succeed, as long as they confess at the specified time.
Shirota plays a young man named Ayumu, also nicknamed Luke. By day, he works as an associate ecology professor, but by night he works as one of the “insurance investigators,” using psychological techniques to uncover the customers’ feelings. Fukuda Saki (20) plays the college student Maruyama (nicknamed Maru), who works part-time as a shrine maiden at Torako’s shrine, and also as an “insurance investigator” with Luke.
“Shitsuren Hoken” premieres on April 7.
Fashion model and actress Kiritani Mirei (21) will be in charge of the theme songs for the double feature film “Ranhansha / Snowflake,” it has been learned. This will be her singing debut, and she will perform the songs live for the first time on February 27 at the Girls Festival 2011 event at Shibuya C.C. Lemon Hall.
Directed by Taniguchi Masaaki, the two films star Kiritani in separate roles. In “Ranhansha,” she plays a talented young poet in high school who has never known true love. In “Snowflake,” she plays a junior college student who encounters a young man resembling her dead childhood friend.
“Ranhansha / Snowflake” is scheduled to open in theaters this summer. The titles of the two theme songs and their CD release date have not yet been announced.
Actress Horikita Maki (22) is confirmed to star in a new TBS drama series titled “Umareru” this spring. Her supporting cast will include Tanaka Misako (51), Kanjani8 member Okura Tadayoshi (25), and Johnny's Jr. member Nakajima Kento (16).
Horikita plays the eldest daughter out of four siblings. One day, their 51-year-old mother informs them that she is pregnant, upsetting the balance of their home and threatening to expose a long-hidden family secret. The expecting mother will be played by Tanaka, who previously had an opposite role in the teen pregnancy drama “14 Sai no Haha.”
Okura will play the oldest son of the family, and Nakajima will play the second son. Miyake Yuji (59) has been cast as the father.
Screenwriter Suzuki Osamu, who is better known for variety shows like “SMAP x SMAP,” is in charge of the script. Kaneko Fuminori (“SPEC,” “Unubore Deka”) will direct, while Suzuki Sanae (“GM: Odore Doctor”) will produce.
TBS has scheduled the show for Fridays at 10:00pm, beginning in April.
Model and actress Anne (24) has landed her first starring role in a television series, leading the cast of Fuji TV’s “Namae wo Nakushita Onnatachi” (tentative title). The show will also be the first time that Anne plays a mother.
The story focuses on a group of mothers who all have children around the same age. These women form a bond through sharing their anxieties about raising their children, each coming from a different background. However, the friendship between the five women also turns to jealousy and betrayal, due to the fact that their children are all taking similar entrance exams for elementary school.
Anne plays the protagonist Yuko, whose set of values as a woman, wife, and mother have been overturned, and she struggles to climb back from her fallen state.
Meanwhile, her four fellow mothers are hiding serious problems at home, despite their appearances. Ono Machiko (29) plays a woman receiving verbal abuse from her husband on a daily basis, Kurashina Kana (23) plays a “yankee mama” who got pregnant as a teenager by a truck driver, Ryo (33) plays a capable woman running her own online shop, and Kimura Yoshino (34) plays a popular reader model for a women’s magazine.
Fuji TV will broadcast the show on Tuesdays at 9:00pm, starting in April.