entertainment

SMAP's Kusanagi, Nakama, Ichiro to appear in drama

30 Comments

SMAP singer Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, 36, and actress Yukie Nakama, 30, will debut in a TBS drama set in the 1960s, called “99-year love: Japanese-Americans." Seattle Mariners player Ichiro will also make a cameo appearance as a baseball player in the drama, appearing in real-life footage of a player at bat.

The drama tells the story of a Japanese family that immigrated to the United States 99 years prior to the story. Kusanagi will play a second-generation Japanese-American as well as, with the help of prosthetics, that character's father. Nakama appears as Kusanagi's wife in the drama.

The story deals with issues of racism. According to producers, they decided to add footage of Ichiro "because he is an example of a man that transcends racial stereotypes, to contrast the content of the show.”

The drama will begin on Nov 3, at 9 p.m., and will air in five 2-hour segments.

Kusanagi said: “I really hope this drama strikes a chord with not only Japanese viewers, but American viewers as well.”

“I feel like I've really accomplished something landing this part,” Nakama added. The mini-series co-stars Kiichi Nakai, Pinko Oizumi and Keiko Kishi.

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Geez. I can't believe Japanese viewers do not get sick and tired of seeing the same 20-30 people appear in all of their dramas and variety shows. Give the public a break already!

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Kusanagi said: “I really hope this drama strikes a chord with not only Japanese viewers, but American viewers as well.” It will be a C flat suspended when they hear their English accents.

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seems like Japanese T.V. viewers dont want change. They seem to like the same old dry T.V. shows. Maybe that is because they dont have any good ideas for a really good T.V. show. They rather watch boring old stale T.V. shows than change to more interesting things.

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Great, Kusanagi starring in a love drama. I hope there will be lots of naked scenes of him. This is his chance of becoming a major Hollywood star. Good luck with that. I can't wait to hear him speaking in English...

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This story should be in the "crime" section, because it is criminal that these three un-talented folks are going to tackle a topic as sensitive as racism in America. Typical Japanese eye-candy TV.

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I've seen Kusanagi and Nakama on TV before, both in shows that I thought were pretty good.

Back home, it's one excessively violent crime show after another. Or Big Brother. Or some show or movie that Hollywood has copied from Japan or somewhere else. Total yawn. Give me Japanese TV and movies anytime.

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Sounds like another Victim role for the poor, down-trodden Japanese. Ignore the blatant racism here and shine a light on what Japanese immigrants faced in the States 100 years ago.

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Geez. I can't believe Japanese viewers do not get sick and tired of seeing the same 20-30 people appear in all of their dramas and variety shows. Give the public a break already!

American Bengoshi, I've been saying the same thing for years. The Japanese TV and movie viewers are being held hostage by the entertainment industry inability to get pass nepotism. SMAP members have truly overstayed their welcome, and I am quite sure there are better actors out there not given the chance to excel due to the grip these jokers have on the industry as tenure members.

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Keiko Kishi is in this?! She must be getting up there in years by now, she was in The Yakuza back in the 70's.

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Kusanagi said: “I really hope this drama strikes a chord with not only Japanese viewers, but American viewers as well.”

I highly doubt many Americans watch Japanese TV, especially TBS. Perhaps he is referring to a few JET teachers who might be interested.

Since this will be shown on Japanese TV, I highly doubt there will be any English spoken, except by Ichiro, since he "is an example of a man that transcends racial stereotypes". WHAT does that mean? Just because he is a popular baseball player in America, and occasionally speaks a few words of very broken English does not make him transcender!

The show is set in the 1960's USA, so will they have a few "negro" people in the story to accurately portray that time period?

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The entertainment industry would do their country a favor is they were to make dramas that deal with issues of racism and sexism in Japan.

Moderator: Readers, please focus your comments on the TBS mini-series referred to in the story.

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Why are the people who bash Japanese TV the ones who are most knowledgeable about it? I never watch "variety shows" or dramas because I'm still at the office. All I ever watch is the 11 o'clock news programs. My wife tells me Kusanagi is not a bad actor, though.

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This sounds really interesting and I'm looking forward to it. I've watched tons of Japanese dramas, and seeing the same actors again - the good ones anyway - makes watching them more enjoyable rather than stale. As the character then already has some life even before they start acting. I enjoy seeing actors again and again.

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american_bengoshi: they did such a drama last year called "Smile".

The negativity here is astonishing. What a sad site.

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@ReformedBasher: amen, completely agree, I take Japanese tvshows over any other cr*p show back in Holland. That being said, I am not a big fan of Dramas here nor the SMAP fellas. Give me Arashi and their awesome gameshows.

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@ Papigiulio

Not everyone will like the same shows. I don't like SMAP much either but I remember Kusanagi in a series called Ii Hito. It was rather good.

I agree some of the dramas are dull. But I find myself becoming a chambara fan recently. Most times the plot does not chamge much but I like to see the good guys win :-)

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I think the drama will be nothing special, but I would love to be proved wrong. Racism is awful, no matter what country we find such behavior.

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I don't watch TV here, make that I don't HAVE a TV, but I've seen enough over the years, and its total garbage ad infinitum. So now we have the stripper Kusanagi coming together with Ichiro. Hunky Dory. Let's call Shinsuke Shimada and see if he can't make the gala too!

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My TV schedule is already full with variety programs. You know the ones where very unfunny "talents" spend an hour or so talking about other unfunny "talents". I don't think I can fit another drama in, as fascinating and unique as this one does seem...

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lights, camera, action - cue facial expressions like a plank of wood Kusanagi!!

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I for one think this drama might be mildly interesting. I wonder if they will really speak english, and how they will portray America of that time. I wonder if they are going to film in America or Japan. If Japan, they will need a lot of gaijin extras, I imagine. Might be lucrative for some of us!

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Stop your whining. Japanese Television = Sports, Music, Assemble, People. It might be boring but at least it's not as greasy as some of the stuff in the US.

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Very much looking forward to this drama, I'm a long-time fan of both Kusanagi and Nakama Yukie. I have yet to see Kusanagi Tsuyoshi in a drama I didn't thoroughly enjoy. I don't see any of the SMAP guys as less talented than many who win awards in the western side of the world. Westerner men in particular seem to really hate SMAP and other JE artists.

I never understand why people who only want to criticise feel the need to post on these types of subjects, but it's interesting to see different points of view. Personally, I never understood the stranglehold long-running shows had on American or British audiences either, or why the same old hackneyed storylines or jokes appeared to sell so well. But if British people enjoy watching 'Coronation Street' or 'EastEnders' or were thrilled watching years of 'Benny Hill' and Americans were willing to sit through the same repeated jokes for years on 'MASH', 'Cheers' or 'Friends' then who am I to begrudge them their...er, happiness? Rather than trying to change a country to suit your desires, it might be more enjoyable to accept others as they are.

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I am an American who would love to see this drama, but most of us don't speak Japanese. (well, not very well). I hope the producers will pay to have sub-titles in English.

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mhclaw: I reside in the US and watched "Tsuki no koibito" on http://www.dramacrazy.net/japanese-drama/tsuki-no-koibito-episode-list/. They are pretty good, 1st episode aired on 10 May and they uploaded it on 12 May w/ English sub-titles. I think they will do the same thing. Thank you "www.dramacrazy.net" :)

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It will be interesting to see how this type of story is told from a Japanese perspective as it appears that the entire focus of the movie will be upon the racism encountered by Japanese and Japanese-Americans in the US. Like many other non-Japanese, whenever I see a Japanese project similar to this the first thing that comes to mind is that there are plenty of racial topics within Japan that have been left almost entirely unexplored. That being said, people from many different nationalities had it rough in America - even Irish and Italians were treated very badly in America well into the 1900's. Given the rightful focus on the plight of black Americans it's not much of a surprise to note that people of other nationalities have had a lot less of a spotlight on them. With that in mind even though this is from a foreign perspective, I an interested in seeing this drama.

Racism is very much a univeral topic as just about anyone who has lived in a foreign country/culture can tell you. I hope that TBS uses this as an opportunity to show how Japanese people have succeeded in a different country/culture (like Ichiro) rather than a whoa-is-me study of victimhood.

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SuperNezumi -- Please tell me you are joking? Anyone who would even put "MASH" "Cheers" and "Friends" in the same paragraph as Japanese TV has either lived here way too long, or never had much taste to start with. Are you trying to compare Kusanagi-san to Alan Alda, Ted Danson or any of the Friends cast? Again, please tell me you're not. Kusanagi is nothing more than a J pop-artist/celeb, who became an actor here simply by having his talent agency say he is. The cast of the shows you mentioned won numerous acting awards in many disciplines besides TV, over long careers. And, by the way, the scripts were also witty, intelligent, and often-times dealt with serious social issues in a thoughtful manner. Not quite the same as J-TV. Here saying "EHHH" at the top of your lungs is considered witty, or rubbing your chin while looking perplexed is considered acting.

Moderator: Back on topic please. Posts that do not refer to the TBS mini-series will be removed.

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TBS drama mini-series contains a trio of superstars, two of which are either gay or leaning heavily towards it. I leave to your imagination who the non-gay is, but its not the baseball player. This type of omission from whats going on in the real world makes this a half-story.

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J-Doramas rule. And Yukie Nakama is DA BOMB!

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I would like to know what is the source material for the series. Is it based on someone's fictional account of life in 1960's Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (since these are the primary places where Japanese were living at that time) or is it based on a memoir? or what?

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