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From Cutie Honey to sexy nurse

19 Comments
By Chris Betros

In 1995, 14-year-old Eriko Sato lost some friends in the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Her friends had dreamed of going into showbiz one day. “When they died, I realized how important it is to have my own dream like that,” says Sato who was born in Tokyo but raised in Kobe and Osaka. “Originally, I wanted to be a massage practitioner when I was a kid. I used to practice on my family and friends and they praised me for it,” she recalls.

But showbiz beckoned her. Sato took part in a radio program in which listeners vote for the voice they like. “At that time, I found it very difficult to make an impression only through my voice. Later, my mother told me that my father frequently called in to vote for me. I didn’t know he had done that, but it really motivated me,” she says.

Since then, Sato has gone to become one of Japan’s most versatile celebrities, having modeled for magazines, appeared in TV commercials (currently for Unicharm’s “SOFY,” Warner Music Japan’s “Lovely” and Asahi Breweries’ “SOKAN”), TV dramas, variety shows, movies and theater. Sato says she finds movies most appealing among all her endeavors. “Stories are very important for movies and scripts can take up to a year to create. That’s why I like movies.”

Indeed, Sato gained an international following after making “Cutie Honey” in 2004. The film version of a popular manga franchise, it made Sato a star as the outwardly ordinary girl who transforms into a pink-haired warrior to fight assorted villains. It was especially popular in France. “Last year, when I went to Cannes with my film ‘Funuke’ (Show Some Love, You Losers!), fans were asking me why ‘Cutie Honey’ was playing serious roles,” she recalls.

However, Sato says she has changed as an actor since then. “In the past, I often played young girls. So at that time, I tried to change dialogue to suit myself, but now I try to respect the original meaning of stories and the dialogue.” Her next project (from April 20-May 5) will be the stage production “Kuchu Buranko” (Flying Trapeze), in which she plays sexy nurse working with a psychiatrist trying to help a trapeze artist get out of a slump.

On her days off, Sato likes to shop at Daikanyama, Omotesando and Shibuya. She prefers a casual fashion style, but says her dad, who is a businessman, is always encouraging her to buy good quality formal suits. “Being interested in environmental issues, I often wonder if I should buy second-hand clothes, for example,” she says, adding she is an avid news reader and takes an interest in social issues.

If there are no early assignments, Sato usually gets up around 11 a.m. “I might go for a walk or jog. When I am at home, I like cooking, listening to music and reading books,” she says, nominating Yasunari Kawabata, Keigo Higashino and Haruki Murakami as her favorite authors. Sato says she would like to work overseas and hopes to improve her English. “I used to study at an English conversation school and I still have the textbooks. I don’t have much time to study now, so I try to listen to English radio programs and watch English-language TV programs. I think that in future, I will have more work opportunities if I have a better command of English,” she says.

© Japan Today

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19 Comments
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She rocks, good for her!

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She's a real hottie.

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rjd_jr and smartacus ...are those your standard lines whenever a picture of an attractive Japanese woman appears on JT? "She rocks"..."She's a real hottie". How original. Makes me believe neither of you have been closer to this kind of woman than these pictures. No question, she is very attractive, but bangs have never turned me on.

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She's never been one of my favorite actresses. She always seems to be pouting.

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Why is it that these bikini magazine models always end up as film stars ? She used to pose in skimpy bikinis when she started out. I guess there is no such thing as Equity membership here. I always prefer to see real actors who have trained hard for years earning no money, act in films and on television and the theatre. But I guess that's why Japanese films have no substance and are so artificial.

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Nice play northlondon. You have to go deep to find a decent Japanese movie for the exact reason stated. talentless acting Robots are just robots of a different brand but same system design.

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Northlondon, there seems to be nothing at all like the system in the UK, where typically young actors might do a few school plays and amateur drama before going to drama school for three or four years. It just seems that talent scouts find these people somehow and propel them to stardom. As nothing much appears to be required here except lots of tedious scenery chewing and nauseating sentimentality in mediocre dramas that are indistinguishable from each other, presumably it's no problem.

Still, I quite like Eriko Sato.

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Is it me or does she look really good from some angles and really terrible from others??

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I thought I saw her in a McDonalds in Saitama the other day.....

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It seems to me that pretty girls on here get a lot of negativity thrown their way by you people. I say "Good for them!!" There is enough success and recognition to go around, so instead of sitting on your computers dissing why don't you go get a slice for yourselves?

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alittlerayosun,

No, you don't get the point. There isn't enough success and recognition to go around. It's quite a rare thing. And in Japan it seems that if you are a pretty girl who doesn't mind starting life by taking her clothes off, then you can end up becoming a famous actor. It's not dissing. You see there are thousands of hardworking young graduate actors who study hard to master their art and most of them don't make it at all. But here it seems that if you are a bikini girl then you can take the shortcut route. In the UK and the US if you do not hold an Equity Card then you would not be allowed to take someone else's job vacancy.

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Cupidstunt: LOL.....

I must agree with the "tarento" overall here. I mean, they find these people that do a silly little 30 second or 1 minute act that makes some people laugh, and they are instant celebrities. Talent be damned, just make some people laugh once and they are talent.

Acting school? Hell no. Just wear a thong bikini and pump your fist up and down.

I think for women, the easy road is to be a "Junior Idol" (10-17 year old in a swimsuit/schoolgirl/gym clothes magazine. Nothing like having a mother force their child into this. Similar to all those Texas mothers that put 6 year olds in beauty contests. I digress), then keep modeling until someone wants to put their face on TV, whether its to be the stupid girl or a nice looking smart one. Thre real talent shows up, occasionally, in some dramas. And that is rare.

Addiu

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It just seems to me that there is a feeding frenzy on these girls. I know what hard work is and I know it is hard to watch someone succeed on what seems to be nothing. I also know that unless you have walked in their shoes you just don't know how they got where they are. It is easy to write a little story in your head to make yourself feel better, but that will get you nowhere. If you are truly talented you will make it. So get busy!! :)

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She also made an appearance in an adult movie.

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I think it comes back to having real passion, which I think is absent from Japanese women. This is why most of what appears as drama seems so lacking ,childish and consistently predictable. It is a true representation of what Japanese society is all about, all froth and very little substance. Their art is in every sense a true reflecting of their lives, artificial with real feelings never arriving and there is no sense it has ever been there. They tend to make love in the same way, mirroring how they think it should feel and sound, still mourning long after you have withdrawn. There is a sense that you never know if they are real, what is the true agenda? Will it be the same, next week, tomorrow or even the next hour?

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I think Yukie Nakama is a pretty good actress and attractive to boot, but such actresses are rare. I don't care if what the Japanese want is just eye candy and lots of it - hey, it's their country - but it is funny when a Japanese person asks me quite seriously why it is that popular young Japanese actresses don't seem to draw interest from in Hollywood. Uhh . . . because they can't speak English, don't draw flies outside their home country, can't do action OR act? Are those some reasons?

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Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! I wonder? Do I have to logged on to NHK? I'd love to hear her voice.

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Is it me or does she look really good from some angles and really terrible from others??

Looks good from behind.

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“Originally, I wanted to be a massage practitioner when I was a kid. I used to practice on my family and friends and they praised me for it,”

Ha,ha! I bet they did.

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