News Nibbly: KimuTaku, TBS Gear Up for Big-Budget Antarctica Drama

MUSH!!! (South Pole or Bust!)

by Ender’s Girl

No question about it: with his active, fun-loving, outdoorsy lifestyle, Kimura Takuya is Dog’s best friend. (Unlike sedentary, cat-owning little me…eow.) Word is he keeps two canines, a Labrador and a guide dog of unspecified breed. And the above photo of him with a Golden Retriever (one of my all-time fave Kimura snapshots) says it all: the Dorama King digs dawgs… Dawg. I mean, just look at that Gatsby-Waxed animatronic canine plushie ensconced in his lap (see video below), and tell me they weren’t made for each other, lol. (How something can look like creepy sh*t and be beyond adorable and cool at the same time is lost on me.)

Now picture Kimura with not one, but fifteen dogs — Sakhalin Huskies to be precise, and all of them stranded in the harshest imaginable place on earth. (Clue: it starts with an “A” and ends with an “A” — but it sure as heck ain’t Australia, lol.) It’s Man plus Dog… vs. Wild! Human and canine, battling the elements together! Oh the blizzards! The whiteout! The frostbite and hypothermia! The deadly leopard seals! The Abominable Snowman! (Wrong hemisphere I know! lol) And what could possibly be worse than getting stuck in Planet Earth’s butthole? Why, it’s having to ditch your loyal sled dogs in Planet Earth’s butthole while you get rescued with your fellow humans!!! (Tsk tsk) Would you risk life and (frostbitten) limb to go back for your furry friends, even with no guarantee that they’d still be alive? Would you?

If this scenario sounds like the stuff of Disney movies, it IS in fact the stuff of a Disney movie – specifically the 2006 film Eight Below (starring Paul Walker). But what audiences then probably didn’t know was that Eight Below was inspired by the 1983 Japanese blockbuster Nankyoku Monogatari (South Pole Story). The film was based on the dramatic events of the 1957-58 Japanese Antarctic Expedition, when extreme weather conditions forced the Showa Base research team to evacuate via chopper and leave behind an entire pack of Sakhalin Huskies (or “Karafuto-Ken”) still chained to the base. It was almost a year before Antarctic weather conditions permitted the team to make their way back to Showa Base in the hopes of burying the dogs. But what they didn’t expect to find was that two of the Huskies, Taro and Jiro, had miraculously survived and were awaiting the team’s return. (Cue: *giant sniffle*)

Network giant TBS has unveiled plans to cap its year-long 60th anniversary celebration with a re-imagining of the Nankyoku Monogatari story for the Fall 2011 lineup, retitling the drama Nankyoku Tairiku (Antarctica)… aaand with none other than KimuTaku on the marquee, natch! TBS is all but emptying its coffers for this mega-production of icebergian proportions, proclaiming Nankyoku Tairiku to be their most expensive drama like, evar — that will outcost even the flashy, high-tech 2009 police procedural Mr. Brain that was Kimura’s last collaboration with the network. Suffice it to say that Nankyoku Tairiku will be the mother of all massively ambitious undertakings, and arguably the riskiest one, too — for it’s now been proven that — ALL TOGETHER NOW! — big-budget KimuTaku vehicles with high-profile ensemble casts and hot, sexy co-stars do not always a good (or even passable) drama make (i.e. Tsuki no Koibito).

Still, TBS seems bullish on the prospects of Nankyoku Tairiku achieving television immortality in the years to come – and corollarily, network immortality as well. After all, this incredible account of the 1957-58 South Pole Expedition and of the Karafuto Huskies left behind is well-woven into the fabric of contemporary Japanese lore… kind of like the story of the little Dutch boy who jammed his fist in a leaking dike and saved his village but froze to death — but only factual. Plus, human interest (and animal interest!) stories inevitably push that one button in all of us: there’s something universally appealing about these tales of courage, brotherhood, survivorship, heroism and endurance in the face of extreme adversity – regardless of time or setting. And these factors, I suppose, are what the network execs are banking on to haul the TBS sled all the way to the top of the ratings slope. (Plus the fact that Kimura’s recent critical duds notwithstanding, the Dorama King is still the most consistently profitable TV actor in Nihon, bar none.)

This final scene from the 1983 movie, though a slow edit by 21st century cinematic standards, nevertheless made my heart leap, my insides twist and my tear ducts zing at the sight of the two surviving Huskies loping down the icy landscape while their two rescuers waited from a distance, holding back tears. (I guess this cat person has some canine sympathies after all.)

It’s reported that Nankyoku Tairiku won’t be a frame-by-frame remake of Nankyoku Monogatari, but we can probably expect the 2011 drama to retain the bleak sense of realism that’s so characteristically Japanese (Snow Dogs this ain’t!), and which the 2006 Disneyfied version apparently chucked in favor of a more feel-good ending. (In the factual account — faithfully depicted in Nankyoku Monogatari — all but two of the 15 dogs were found to be either dead or missing, while in Eight Below, all but two of the eight dogs survived their delayed rescue attempt. Well, that’s Hollywood for you.)

As a Kimura fan, this news nibbly certainly took me by surprise. You’d think that after last year’s debacle that was TsukiKoi, he’d be one to hedge his bets in 2011, and maybe take the time to regroup and re-test the waters by starring in a drama of far less epic proportions – i.e. anything NOT so potentially Waterworldian (lol) in scale, budget and and risk factor. But it turns out the Dorama King is going ALL IN. Like, hardcore, ice-core ALL IN. And we know this can only end as either an epic WIN or an epic FAIL; with a production like Nankyoku Tairiku, there’s just no middle ground.

What I’m most interested in is how the writing will flesh out what appears to be a very thin storyline: humans bond with dogs, weather goes to shite, humans abandon dogs, humans wait a year and try not to kill each other with guilt, dogs meanwhile fend for themselves and try not to eat each other (or do they?), weather clears up, humans return for surviving dogs, credits roll. I just hope the creative brains behind Nankyoku Tairiku will avoid the pitfalls of manufacturing dramatic fillers and sub-plots that don’t feel realistic and organic to the characters and setting (just like in the 2003 TBS drama Good Luck!, where the airline passengers were made to act up just so they’d have something to do on a 10-hour flight, lol). But I’m not sure that the story of Nankyoku Tairiku can be stretchd to 12 episodes without sacrificing audience interest. Perhaps this is one of those times when a tighter 7 or 8-part series (as Kimura’s last two dramas have been) will be a better fit for the material…?

But I actually don’t mind the apparent absence of a romantic angle from the plot. Besides, I’m done clamoring for love stuff in a Kimura renzoku; the last time we fangirls did that, we were royally screwed over to the moon and back (hatesss!!!). Instead, I’d like the writing to fully explore the interactions among the expedition researchers – and how their leaving the dogs behind at the base will change them and the dynamics of their team. For this reason, I’m quite happy that a very able supporting cast has been announced.

Masato Sakai will be playing the meteorologist and team leader, and – if their role dynamics in the 2005 drama Engine were any indication – the emotional counterpoint to Kimura’s geologist character. I can already imagine Masato Sakai turning his squinty-eyed disapproval on Kimura full-blast while curtly ordering Kimura to – gasp! – abandon the dogs that is a direct order abandon dogs!!! Lol. (So if Masato Sakai reprises his fastidious, party-pooping role, does this mean KimuTaku’s character will be another permutation of one of his most famous stock characters, The Maverick? Don’t hold your breath, hahaha.) Rounding off the cast are the likes of Kagawa Teruyuki (last seen screaming his head off at Kimura in Mr. Brain, lol) and Yamamoto Yusuke (who for all his admirable supporting work in other dramas will always be known as the Tumbling Boy). I dunno ‘bout you, but I’m actually kind of stoked, lol.

The last time Kimura played someone who had to contend with anything frozen, he did it with a pair of skates and a 2-meter hockey stick. And he had a girl to (shyly) cheer him on. That was back in 2004. (Sorry, I’m NOT counting that scene in the snow in his 2007 drama Karei Naru Ichizoku… Happy thoughts, E.G. Happy thoughts…) It’s now 2011, and the arena from Pride has gotten a little bit bigger – like, the-whole-freakin’-continent-of-Antarctica bigger. That’s a whole lotta ice, and TBS will need a whole lotta money to make it all happen. Perhaps the recent box-office success of Space Battleship Yamato has emboldened Kimura – and the networks whose fortunes seem inextricably bound to his – to blaze a trail and literally go where no other Japanese TV network has gone before? To Antarcticaaaa and beyooond!!! South Pole or bust, baby!

So let’s hope the reception among drama viewers will be anything BUT… um, glacial. And with that I wish Kimura and TBS all the best on this production, which hits the road – er, ice – in February. It may not be the kind of project I would’ve wanted for him this year, but no biggie, no biggie. I’ve realized that at the end of the day, what I’m really really looking for in a drama are just the bare essentials done RIGHT, regardless of genre or scope: coherence in storytelling, and credibility in acting. Doesn’t matter whether the drama is a ren’ai or a procedural, a comedy or heavy melo; or whether the production is a grand spectacle or something more modest in scale. And if Nankyoku Tairiku is done well, if it’s done right, then Kimura and TBS’ little baby might just go down in history as Japan’s greatest show on ice.

Sources: Sanspo via Tokyohive; Wikipedia
Photo credits:,,,
Video uploaders: 40530b @, thenomad1986 @

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56 Comments on “News Nibbly: KimuTaku, TBS Gear Up for Big-Budget Antarctica Drama”

  1. Ellen Says:

    Hey E.G.

    And you said you were still in vacation mode! Well! Now I know what you think anyway. But FYI (and not to prove that it is I who am the most obsessed) – I read an interview recently where Kimura talked about getting a new puppy at their house. He seemed really excited about it. I think the Lab is probably no more as I read it was a gift when he finished filming, ahem, Gift.

    But this, this is the cutest Kim-doggie duo ever –

    You can get the subbed version from Smappiesubs but what he’s saying is – Let’s take attendance. I keep this on my desk top as it always makes me smile!



    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol, it’s because I was in vacation mode that I only got to blog about Kimura’s South Pole drama just now, 4 whole days after it hit the news sites. Did a buttload of backreading over at my LJ and just learned the news yesterday. 🙂

      Ahahahahaha I LUFF that psychedelic hippie doggie CM!!! Thanks for sharing the link (and the translation) here! That does it, Kimura is at his cutest with puppies and toy dogs, fo’ shizzles!!! 😀

  2. Jenny Says:

    Oh, noez. I know how I will look after watching this when it airs. I’ll be don’t leave the doggies behind(loud sniffing and sobbing and lot’s of wailing)and after they return and find the surviving does I’ll have the same reaction but this time because I’m so relieved and happy.
    I’m the biggest crybaby and especially after watching something sad, I’ll be sobbing and wailing and my nose is running= not good if you have friends over that are looking at you like are you insane!
    I’m just happy this projects sounds a lot better then the disaster that was tsukikoi.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “I’ll be don’t leave the doggies behind(loud sniffing and sobbing and lot’s of wailing)and after they return and find the surviving does I’ll have the same reaction but this time because I’m so relieved and happy.” << Hee hee! 😀 Then we'll be sniffing/sobbing/wailing our hearts out together when this drama comes out! 😉

      • Jenny Says:

        Yes, let’s sob and wail together. I’ll have to be prepared with several boxes of tissues and chocolate.

        One day I want Ryoko Hirosue and Kimutaku to have a drama together, the few minutes in ep 1 of Mr. Brain was sizzling. To bad she got knocked up again and went for shotgun marriage no 2.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Yeah, Ryoko Hirosue has grown up to be a very alluring woman, and she and Kimura would look gorgeous together. Still, something tells me I’d have a hard time shaking off the Sena+Frikkin’ Little Piano Girl connexn… Maybe I never will X__O

          Shotgun Marriage # 2??? Wooo. Does she have a one-hubby-one-child policy or something? 😛

          • Jenny Says:

            Hehe, well I just think it would be a interesting combo.
            Yeah, her first marriage to a model was a shotgun and now she married a candle artist(is there even a profession like that!!!???)called Candle June.

            It reminds me, I watched a recent ep a bistro smap that had Matsushima Nanako as a guest. It seems she’s never acted opposite a Smap member!(lord and behold a living breathing japanese female actresse who’s never acted opposite a Smap member)
            So they asked who would she like to act opposite, so all they guys lined up, closed their eyes and Nanako was suppose to pat the one she would choose on the shoulder. Guess who she chose…….Tsyoshi! Kimutaku looked so annoyed it was hilarious, all like I’m the alpha male and she chooses him!

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            LMAO!!! *slaps thigh* Good for Tsu! (Bwahahha oh KimuTaku. Based on looks I’d choose him, but maybe Nanako was basing her decision on… acting talent? lol) I’ve always wondered why the Dorama King and Queen have never done a project together. Is it an ego thing? Who gets top billing? Or is it scheduling conflicts? Or are the combined talent fees of Kimura and Nanako simply way too high for any network to afford? Or maybe they did a secret screen test before but realized they didn’t have any chemistry? Anyway, should that drama of Nanako and Tsuyoshi ever materialize, I want in!!! 😉

            Btw, “Candle June”??? Seriously? ROFLLLL 😀

  3. doozy Says:

    Quick question: What’s consider “big-budget” for a jdorama production?

    E.G. and her artwork strike again! lulz
    That thing on Kimura’s lap is creeping me out, a mini-me of sorts, canine-style.

    I didn’t know that you’re a cat person. Hmm… we can still be friends, I guess. ahahhaha

    p.s. My reaction to your new avatar = ahahahahhaa

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      I don’t have the exact figures, but I’d say “big-budget for a jdorama production” means anything that can’t air beyond 7 or 8 episodes even with good-to-respectable ratings (i.e. 15-25 maybe) because advertising revenues would not be enough to cover the production costs. The only way for the network to recoup expenses would be if the series reached a whopping 25-30 in ratings — but that just doesn’t happen anymore. I’ve always been of the opinion that this was the reason Mr Brain and Tsuki no Koibito could not extend to 11 or 12 episodes, because given the so-so ratings both shows netted, this just wasn’t a financially viable option. (The producers may claim that limiting both dramas to 7 or 8 episodes was the original intent — with or without high ratings — but if that were the case, then why did both story lines feel so truncated? X__O)

      “That thing on Kimura’s lap is creeping me out, a mini-me of sorts, canine-style.” << LMAO!!! Does it not grow on you, even just a widdle bit? 😀

      I'm only a cat person 'coz I'm not the nurturing kind, hahaha. I'm actually not much of an animal lover period. Too much work, hahaha

      “I didn’t know that you’re a cat person. Hmm… we can still be friends, I guess. ahahhaha” << So you're a dog person? That's cool! Even if I'm a cat person (well, sort of) I tend to gravitate towards dog lovers more than cat fellers. We'd get along perfectly, fo' shiz! 😉

      p.s. Ahahahahaha I didn't think anyone would notice. Obviously I didn't choose the shot where I'm doing the slutty pose beside said sand heart. 😛

  4. mil. Says:

    hahaha, whatevs! love your tweaking, as always. btw, that CM? I’m half “WTF?” and half “me wants KimInu! me wants it bad!”

    I don’t know if I should watch this dorama, whenever I see films set in any pole (or any extremely cold place anyway) the whole frostbite/hypothermia/losing limbs or part opens up the crazy in my head and I hafta hide under 3 blankies and count my toes. Plus abandoned doggies? boo! total waterworks, and what’s worse is that it’s a dorama, I don’t even have the consolation “two hours and then it’s over and all those dogs are actually safe and snug and being fed more expensively than I am”. because everyone knows that if a film lasts two hours, that’s just how long it took to make it, right? 😛

    oh! wait! …and Yamamoto Yusuke (wh… Ok, I’m in.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hahaha! 😀 We-ell, I’m a creature of the tropics, so all that snowy icy frostbitey stuff seems comfortably faraway from home and doesn’t sound all that scary to me.

      But the sustained 12-hour bawlfest of abandoned doggies and guilt-wracked humans trying to find their way back to each other — I don’t know how I can take that, either!

      “because everyone knows that if a film lasts two hours, that’s just how long it took to make it, right?” << Bwahahaha. 🙂 I'm doing the math already: if production starts February and the drama airs in October… that's… that's… a LONG time for doggies to be made to labor in sub-zero conditions. Yikes.

      • mil. Says:

        News reports of a wild-eyed, savage-haired woman storming into the set of Nankyoku Tairiku continue. Apparently after stealing a slobbering kiss from actor Kimura Takuya (aged 38), the woman started shouting “free doggies” and proceeded to harass the 15 Huskies on set. As the police dragged her away she reportedly carried on shouting at the Dorama King to please visit her in prison and play Close to you to her. Aside from her being English-speaking and of apparent Southeast Asian descent, no information is available on the woman…

        It wasn’t me.

        all that snowy icy frostbitey stuff seems comfortably faraway from home
        to be fair, seeing as I never go out of the city, it is extremely unlikely should experience it either. But have you ever seen the film Alive, where the football team’s plane crashed in the middle of the mountains and they started a particularly disturbing diet and two of them crossed the mountains to look for help? Well, it was August when I was watching it. I could still have sworn my little toe had turned blue and numb. that’s what I call the crazy 😛

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Hahaha! I’m sure that stolen kiss (no matter how slobbery, lol) was totally worth whatever jail time you ended up serving. *is jealous* 😀

          Yep, I saw Alive as a teenager, and even back then my 1st reaction was, “Ethan Hawke is like, the cutest cannibal evar!” lulz . 2nd reaction: “At least the cold killed the bacteria and preserved the meat.” (I mean, survival is everything, yo. So I’d prolly do what they did too. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t throw up afterwards =P) Funny, that film also came to mind when I first read the news tidbit about Nankyoku Tairiku. 😉 I just hope Kimura doesn’t have to do that funky stuff as well. Or worse — eat one of the dead Huskies? hehe

  5. jicks Says:

    Somehow I missed this piece of news but reading your report now, I’m definitely ALL IN! Had no idea Eight Below was based on a Japanese flim, that’s so cool.

    I actually think this is the best way to erase TnK from our minds. EPIC COVERS EPIC, right? Show ’em Kimmy you ain’t afraid! Show them you are still The King O_x!

    And 9 times out of 10, anything to do with animals (&/or children) tends to suck people’s emotions in (that Gatsy CM for instance. Animals do sell! Btw, Kimura’s icy-white face already looks like he’s spent half a life in Antarctica…) So, yeah, I’m all for it… Although like you, I’m not an animal person myself either. Or children. lol

    I like the sounds of the supporting cast thus far, too. Although everytime I see Yamamoto Yusuke, I think of his Taiki Ghost Boy in Hana Kimi & the “Is this spiritual?” theme just starts creeping in my head xDD

    Oh & that final snow scene in Karei Naru Ichizoku… I’m pretty sure I’d rather go thru the heartache of that scene 100million times over than sit thru the distraught of Tsuki no Koibito again (…I think ><.)

    • mil. Says:

      Although everytime I see Yamamoto Yusuke, I think of his Taiki Ghost Boy in Hana Kimi & the “Is this spiritual?” theme just starts creeping in my head xDD
      very (VERY) few things in HanaKimi were worth the bother, but that was one that kept me going cause I couldn’t help saying everytime “so cuuuute! channel me!” 😛

      • Ender's Girl Says:

        LOL! I’m not a fan, but I agree that Yamamoto was one of the few things in HanaKimi that didn’t annoy the hell outta me. But I guess I liked him much better in Ninkyo Helper. 🙂

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “EPIC COVERS EPIC, right? Show ‘em Kimmy you ain’t afraid! Show them you are still The King O_x!” << Hear hear!!!! *headbangs* (And can I just say I love it everytime you call him "Kimmy", LOLZZZ :D)

      LMAO @ Kimura's icy-white face!!! Come to think of it, I know his skin ain't exactly his best asset (damn you tar and nicotine!!! arrrrr!!!!), but Kimmy's (lol) skinny looked THE BEST in Puraido — fairer and smoother than usual. Prolly had summat to do with how exposure to the cold increases the levels of blood circulation, giving your face a pinkish glow and all that. (Or mebbe he had just come from getting his annual diamond peel at the derma’s clinic? lulz) So here’s hoping that Antarctica will do wonders (nay — MOAR!!!) for KimuTaku’s skin, woohoo! =D

      “Although like you, I’m not an animal person myself either. Or children. lol” << ROFL! (Has your mum given up on getting you to settle down and procreate? I think mine already has, hahahaha) I don't see myself as a propagator of the human gene pool, but I can def. see myself as an obaasan sitting in my rocker watching doramas and surrounded by cats. Ahh, the life! 🙂

      Re Karei — wow, tough choice. :O Not sure if I’d go with the final snow scene over TnK as it was v. emotionally draining, to say the least. At least with TnK, I figger I could just pop the DVD in my player and snore my way through most of it. I know it’s cheating, but what the heck, lol 😀

  6. Laica Says:

    Hey there 🙂

    I actually have a good feeling about this. And I agree with you about the lack of a romance angle. I didn’t watch TnK because I was well-warned by many to steer clear, but I think KimuTaku could do with a change after that embarrassment. Plus I think he could do really well in this kind of role. It’s interesting that you brought up Puraido, because it’s his portrayal of Halu that makes me think he will be good in this. Something about his never-give-up attitude, or the way he was able to inspire confidence in others. Or his ability to be a jerk and a hero at the same time, and be hot as hell while doing it… Can’t quite put my finger on it.

    I read your epic review of TnK, by the way, and I almost died laughing, and alternatively cringing at your descriptions of how bad it was. (I’ve been really sick, but I will go back and leave comments once I’m feeling better.) It was a brilliant read.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hi there! Hope you’re feeling much better now! 🙂

      Heh, glad you enjoyed the TsukiKoi review even though you were lucky enough not to have watched the suck-a-thon that was the drama. Hope you didn’t get confused by all the character names and plot developments, though. 😛

      “Something about his never-give-up attitude, or the way he was able to inspire confidence in others. Or his ability to be a jerk and a hero at the same time, and be hot as hell while doing it… Can’t quite put my finger on it.” << Aaaarrrgh I know right?!?!??! *munches on coffee mug* Could not have summed it up more succinctly. Now you've made me more stoked than ever for Nankyoku Tairiku! 😀 (But then it wouldn’t be any fun if he didn’t have a ladylove to be a jerk and a hero to. No counterpoint, just him and them doggies. Maybe TBS oughtta seriously consider a side story involving KimuTaku’s character and the ice-queen oceanographer from the neighboring Russian base. But — oh, never mind. We all know what happened the last time they got a international cast member to play Kimura’s love interest… @______@ hahahahaha)

  7. zooey Says:

    Tumbling boy is in it? Ohohoho, I’m in! I hope he gets to do more than just pet dogs and be Kimutaku’s lackey but I guess that’s just wishful thinking on my part. Chances are, they’d have him shovel snow or something.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      You like Tumbring Boy? Oh that’s right, you like Anti-Johnnies nga pala. Hehe 😛 But yeah… or the writer could give him a nice little sub-arc all his own — say he falls into an icy crevasse while climbing a glacier or something, and his arm gets trapped in the fissure so he has to wait till it’s completely frostbitten before he can, um, break it off. Ooops, I guess that story line’s already taken 😛

  8. Ariel Says:

    I’m all set to watch Long Vacation, finally a Kimura series, but I still need to get out of the office OT day-off how cruel is that. Anyway I just finished Lunch Queen and enjoyed it for the hotness of the guys, deliciousness of the food and the heartwarming all male household (the man playing the father is sooooooo clint eastwood (rawr)). I totally understand why Natsumi would like to stay there forever, I like to stay too, could I pretty please, I’m begging drama gods!!! (silence)
    Oh well I could dream.
    The only thing that pissed me off was the romance arc totally screwed me over, I mean it builds and builds but in the end it went nowhere yaaaah frustrating!!! Its like in the end even the writers could not pick between Jun and Yuji… Junzaburo, Junzaburo (mine, I will totally pick him!!!)
    Anyway the funny thing is everytime I look at Natsumi I’m reminded of Nino (Arashi Nino), she’s the girl version of Nino, their expression (especially when they smile), down to the mole on their chin and I kept thinking if Yamapi has seen the similarities he he he. Anyway I had some delightfully funny moments when I did think that its Nino being swooned over by 3 gorgeous brothers. Oh creepy, creepy, creepy I should really start watching Kimura, just to counteract my Nino obssession.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol, I never quite saw the resemblance between Takeuchi Yuko and Nino, but now that you mentioned it… 😀

      Hahaha, I felt frustrated by the ending too, like, “will you quit waffling Natsumi and just PICK someone already!!!” But to be honest I was a bit torn myself. I felt that on paper Yuji was a better fit for Natsumi, but had she chosen him this would’ve broken Jun-ni’s heart irreparably — and I could bear seeing that! Lol.

      “I just finished Lunch Queen and enjoyed it for the hotness of the guys, deliciousness of the food and the heartwarming all male household (the man playing the father is sooooooo clint eastwood (rawr))” << LOL! Yeah the dad was cute, ne? 🙂 And I loved that his life work and passion for cooking had a genuine impact on the lives of his sons. maybe except Tsutsumi Shinichi, lol) Loved the soundtrack too. And the end credits (with all the food porn!) was simply rockin'! 😀

  9. Ariel Says:

    Id like to ask, the guy playing Junzaburo, Tsumabuki Satoshi, I have a mild interest on him (liar!!!). Could you recommend any of his series where he displays all that gorgeousness, inside the kitchen, outside the kitchen, in bed, in the living room, bathroom….

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Woohoo, a newly converted Buki fan!!! 😀 I suppose the campus ren’ai Orange Days would be a good place to start (although I haven’t seen it myself, but it comes highly recommended by my dorama-lover friends). Slow Dance I didn’t quite like as a romantic drama (thanks to the zero chemistry between Buki and Fukatsu Eri, and the slow, sloooow pacing), but Buki was v. good in this. The 2001 movie Waterboys (his breakout role) is practically a classic — it’s funny and heartfelt and v. inspiring and all that. Also, the first and last episodes of Long Love Letter — but NOT the episodes in between; Buki isn’t even in them. @_@

  10. Peggy Says:

    I am on the right page I hope…this is about the new Kimura drama? I am hoping for a serious effort to give my ichiban a role he can truly emjoy and show his acting chops again. He is capable of doing anything they give him but the script has to be something we can accept. It sounds a heartbreaker and I can’t imagine what it will be like to watch those men leaving without their dogs. It’s almost a
    given that Kimura will show tears of anger and sadness as the chopper leaves. Oh the dogs will be barking but I can’t quite understand leaving them tied up??? Now that really is cruelty. They must have had another reason for going back later because if they left the animals they would not make a special trip fr that surely. Takes a lot of money for Polar journeys. I hope they won’t have an unneccessary love story added. Ig’s time for Kimura to move on from love scenes even tho he does them better than anyone..ANYONE I SAY… I want to see him do another taiga as the older and even more interesting Oda Nobunaga. He can have a love scene there with someone. Anyone. Ranmaru.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Peggy! 😀 Yup, you’re definitely on the right page, girl!

      I think the expeditionary team left the animals tied up because they intended to return the following day with a bigger craft — but the weather took a turn for the worse that the team had to evacuate Antarctica. Poor doggies! 😦

      Oh I still want Kimura doing ren’ai, but only if it’s done WELL. If it’ll be something like Tsuki no Koibito Redux, then never mind. Sleigh dogs and blizzards will do just nicely, lol.

      An Oda Nobunaga taiga? Why ever not. So long as he doesn’t get to wear that horrid one-shoulder pinafore-kirtle-sack-sari hybrid he wore in 1998! Hahahaha. 😀

      “He can have a love scene there with someone. Anyone. Ranmaru.” << LOLLLL!!!!!! Brokeback Samurai, eh? hehehe 😛

  11. Peggy Says:

    Well Nobunaga and Ranmaru were lovers and friends for several years. It must have been a real love of the heart because it was unusual for a warrior samurai to continue with the younger page/assistant after they were given their own adult station. Ranmaru was devoted and loyal of course.
    The role Kimura played was when Nobunaga was still a boy feeling his wild oats, and he was clever to let people know he was a ragamuffin with no brains. Changed their world once he became the head of the Oda clan. Shocked the other daimyos with his maturity and changed appearance to a fine daimyo with all the necessary attributes and social graces. Put them all to shame.
    I would love to see Kimura play the older man and especially I would like to see how he would approach the bromance. I think it would be rivetting.
    Must say I am looking forward to seeing Kimura playing stronger and more serious roles with some depth of character. He did it rather well in’Grand Family’ I thought. Also in awe of the blind samurai in ‘Love and Honour’. that could have become such a soppy drama but he and the director kept it all high and dry and powerful.Great director…
    Just must add that in my opinion the only great scenes in ‘Mr. Brain’ were the first ones with Kimura and Ryoko. It was so perfectly done with a delicate feeling but giving a hint of what might have been if she had not walked away. They were were both definitely on the same page together I thought. After that is was weekly magazine story with some flashes but disorganised. What is it with that Ichikawa guy?? He should stay with Kabuki because he is so OTT with the facial expressions.
    O.K that is my morning wakeup …:-)

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Wow, did not know that bit about Nobunaga and Ranmaru. *whistles* Yeah, Kimura hasn’t done a period role since Bushi, and before that his last one had been in Chuushingura. He was such a frisky little thing in Oda Nobunaga, hahaha. I didn’t take much to the character (or his portrayal, sorry), but at least I’ll never forget that bright red printed shoulder-baring kimono (?) he’d wear everywhere, hahaha. But I second all that you said about wanting to see him in a mature period role. I’m sure that would be awesome. 🙂

      Re Ichikawa Ebizo, I think the effectiveness of his villain role (or lack thereof) was also a function of the writing. His character barely had a few scenes with Mr Brain, and then in the end he’s revealed to be the Ultimate Baddie? Didn’t create any impact because the buildup was inadequate. Maybe if the series had been longer…

  12. Peggy Says:

    Mori Ranmaru was supposedly a very beautiful youth and was always within sight or call of Nobunaga. He was not just a pretty face because he was also a samurai and a warrior and held high rank. The actor who is playing him in the present taiga looks delicious I must say, and he is also a presence when ever Nobunaga is on scene. The story of his devotion at the temple when Akechi did the traitor action and attacked, is very hard to take. He watched his master commit seppuku and then, as ordered, he burned the body and then killed himself. Honnoji temple was burned to the ground. This is the history.

    I could not explain just what the Ebizo character was in ‘Mr.Brain’. I didn’t get it at all and saw no reason for him to wander around with his candy…although I realised it was a clue to instruct for a killer to act ..or the case may be. Very wild eyed a la Kabuki style. Quite wild in real life also.
    Currently watching two black and white taigas from 1997 and 1998. Really splendid. also seeing a few B.white films made around 1923 to the 1930’s. Mostly samurai stuff and considering they are silent they are very well done. English subs added. I have samurais all over the place….

  13. Peggy Says:

    Don’t know if you are carrying on with the Antarctia parade. Obviously they did not go that far south. The northern island of Hokkaido was the place where they filmed all the snow scenes. The dogs were lovely and of course there are gorgeous photos of Kimura getting to know the dogs. One in particular with a white dog is delicious. Talk about love. That was a man and a dog falling in love with one another.
    His own two new dogs are a small French bulldog..and a really lovely white labrador. They obviously adore Kimura. Names are Honey and Bebe(for Bear)
    I don’t know why,
    They but there is a late addition to the cast and it is the actress who was in Mr.Brain as his assistant. Ayase.??? I think it will not be a romance but a more background thing. She will be the sister of his now dead wife.
    All the male cast were up in Hokkaido when the earthquake happened.
    Must stop. too longwinded. I am looking forward to this drama.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Yes, I knew they were filming in Hokkaido. But thanks for the added info — I’ll have to go a-hunting over at LJ for those “gorgeous photos” you mentioned! 😉 I took a rather long vacation from this blog (and J/Kdramas) so I haven’t been that up-to-date on the Antarctica renzoku BTS.

      I hope they don’t blow the Ayase angle into a full-scale romance. For once I won’t mind a romance-less Kimura drama. Let’s just have him, a sleigh and those adorable snow dogs!!! Nothing against Ayase — I love her to bits, she’s probably my fave J-actress next to Matsu — but we all saw how the chemistry between her and Kimura in Mr Brain swung from weak to nonexistent. Why repeat a formula that clearly isn’t working? x__O

  14. Peggy Says:

    In the back of my mind I still think that Kimura wants to avoid hot love scenes which would occur inevitably if there had to be any romance in his dramas at this time. I think he has a very oldfashioned Japanese mindset in many things and this is one of them. He is married with children and I think he wants to avoid any media speculations which would inevitably be bursting out all over the place.
    The idea of an Oda and Mori bromance would however, please me no end. It is history and it happened and they were two fascinating people. Such devotion by Ranmaru to Nobunaga is so powerful that it is still respected in Japan today.
    Re Ayase..She is quite an interesting woman. aparently they look upon her as scatterbrained and a little unexpected in her talk and actions. A clever ploy or not, it seems to work well. On one of his WUS radio shows Kimura talked about being in the same studio one day and he was changing his clothes. He has no false modesty and dropped his pants in order to change and Ayase appeared. She chatted and then as she moved off she slapped him on the butt and said ‘Nice butt’, all quite acceptiable because of who she is and how she treats people. Obviously did not phase Kimura…..

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Oh my goodness Peggy, that really happened???? Hahahaha all I can say to Ayase is, YOU GO GIRRRRLLLL!!!!! 😀

      (And speaking of Oda… was the Ranmaru character in Kimura’s Oda Nobunaga SP? I can’t recall him being there. But then I can’t recall having ever finished that tanpatsu hahaha :-P)

      • Peggy Says:

        I quite believe it happened because when he is on his Friday night radio show Kimura tends to blab about what is happening in daily life. He has no problem discussing any item about himself but never gets into any private family stuff. Otherwise he is VERY outspoken. and funny.
        re Oda and Mori. Well Oda was already the head of his clan and he was visiting the head of the Mori clan. He saw the three sons who were then very young boys around eight up to eleven maybe. He especially was taken by the beautiful Ranmaru who was the oldest. He wanted him to be a page and of course it was a big compliment and step up for the Mori clan. He went with Nobunaga and they were very well suited. Ranmaru was a special kind of person who could instinctively know just what Oda was going to do and say it seems. He hardly had to be given an order and would anticipate what Oda wanted. He became a general and was a splendid samurai. He was always right there, very quiet and ready for any task. His two brothers also came to join him and they all were intensely loyal and eventually they all perished in the Honnoji temple assassination by Akechi in his betrayal of Oda. Mori would then be about twenty or thereabouts. Unusual for this kind of samurai/page union to last past the time of the page becoming an adult (age about 14 and name change etc etc) Their devotion and love was a lasting bond.
        Well I guess I have told you more than you needed ,but this story has always touched me and I always admired Nobunaga despite his many cruelties and battle actions. Akechi, one of his vassals and general was caught within a couple of days by Hideyoshi by the way. Killed or seppuku.

        • Peggy Says:

          This week has been full of coincidences here for me. This was one that fits in with this Oda subject. I turned on TV and watched the end of an interview with Koji Seto. He is the most beautiful creature you can imagine. Perfect for Mori Ranmaru, the role he played in the drama ‘GOU’. Scenes much too short and only about three episodes. However, I have always said that he should play the role of Ranmaru to Kimura’s Oda. They would be perfect together and I know that Kimura would have no difficulty in being openly affectionate in the role. I long to see this happen before either of them gets any older. Koji has the perfect innocence in his face and is utterly seductive. As for his body…well do a search on Youtube and you will be blown away with the radiance. I went bonkers when I first watched him and ready to change my gender.
          Actually I think Kimura would like to play Oda again as an older man. In the drama he played the role when Oda was still young and not yet responsible. I would say he was about seventeen there..just a guess. However when he first saw Mori he would have been about mid twenties I think. When they died they would have been forty three and twenty three maybe.I am guessing because I don’t know exactly.
          This is one big wish on my bucket list.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Lol and here I was saying that the networks ought to do a fresh re-imagining of the Oda bio but with a new cast of characters. 🙂 But yeah, Kimura would now be the right age to play an adult Oda… but hopefully this time, without the bright red off-shoulder kimono (happi?) he wore in the 1998 tanpatsu heh heh xD

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Intriguing backstory, it’s very “David and Jonathan” from the Old Testament… I think a Nobunaga/Ranmaru biopic/drama is long overdue, huh?. 😉 In fact they should probably do one every generation.

          (By the way, are you particularly psyched for the Keanu Reeves adaptation of 47 Ronin? Or will you avoid it like the plague? :D)

  15. Peggy Says:

    Just found one site and spent half an hour drooling. Please tell me I am not into idiocy.

    Sorry about the link explicit but the photos are lovely

    • gaijin mark Says:

      I guess I’m a flaming heterosexual. I went thru 2 or 3 pages and it doesn’t do a thing for me.

      • Peggy Says:

        Ah Gage you are so funny and I am glad to hear your reply. I don’t know what happens to me when I see this lad. I saw a different video on youtube some tme ago and I went a little over the edge. I really think he is so sweet and yet I know he is all male and has girl friend if not friends. His voice is so low and masculine and it does not suit his appearance at all.
        Don’t worry my dear. If there is anything wrong it’s with me not you and if you knew me you would die laughing.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hahaha well the boy is a looker. 🙂 And you’re not into idiocy. You’re just another fangirl fanning the flames of a newfound crush — no shame in that! Drool all you want — loud and proud! 😀

  16. Peggy Says:

    Even I think it’s totally weird but I get the nicest emotions when I just look at that lad. He is just exquisite. I really want to see him as Ranmaru to Kimura’s Nobunaga. Oh someone tell them please….make that drama.

  17. Peggy Says:

    Recently saw Seto Koji on an intervew . Programme is Studio Park. think it is NHK. Koji is just perfection . So normal to look so appetising.
    re Kimura. I do think seriously that he wants to get away from the roaring love scenes with any girl who comes along and falls for him. It has become old hat and he should now be going for the more interesting strong character roles such as the Antarctic Expedition one right now. I’d like to see him try Hannibal (the cannibal) role even if the drama failed. He could do ‘Captains Courageous’ in his sleep don’t you think. another Spencer Tracy death scene/ I wept over that film. Well I was young then.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      I think Kimura would do great with the Spencer Tracy role! And I want Kato Seishiro to play the Harvey kid! lol 😀

      A large part of me would still love to see Kimura in a mature love story with a mature leading lady (and, uh, mature love scenes? *wink wink*). If ONLY to erase the ghastly memories of the last one, gahaha. 😛

      Meanwhile, this Antarctica thing will do quite nicely for me, oh yes it will! =D

  18. Peggy Says:

    ?? Keanu Reeves?? 47 Ronin?? Horrors.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      LOL what are you talking about Peggy? 😀 I can’t wait to see this one! Bet it’ll be so much fun to watch >D Actually, Jin doing a movie with Keanu makes perfect sense given that Keanu built his early career playing spaced-out teenagers hahaha. Apparently he plays a vagabond who falls in with the 47 and most probably fights alongside them as well (revisionism much?). Jinny boy plays the son of the ronin leader while Asano Tadanobu plays the baddie. Too bad we have to wait another year before this gets released in theaters… xP

  19. Peggy Says:

    Well I’m sorry but I have a strong aversion to seeing Hollywood actors trying to get a little fame by taking a lead role, (Usually ) in a Japanese saga. I think it all started with that Cruise thing which I refused to see in it’s entirely. I like my vodka straight and my Japanese taigas pure.

  20. gaijin mark Says:

    Okay, so I have started watching this. Up to episode 4 right now.

    They’re calling it a 10 episode drama, but be advised, episode one clocks in at a mind-numbing 1 hour and 45 minutes and it looks like the final episode is going to be 90 minutes. So timewise it’s more like a 12 episode drama!

    The first two episodes are chock full of “OH NOOOOSSSS!!!” but somehow our plucky heroes eventually get to the great white south.

    You’re right on the money about Masato Sakai. All squinty eyed making sure nobody gets out of line. (A quick rec, Sakai was in a movie called “Nankyoku Ryorinin” or “Chef of the South Pole” where he plays a cook that gets roped into going on an Antarctic expedition. Good movie. Sakai even won an award for best actor.)

    I should also mention Susumu Terajima who plays the obligatory a**hole who hates everything and everybody. They always seem to have one in these type of dramas. Personally, I was hoping they would throw him overboard somewhere in the South China Sea, but it was not to be.

    My favorite character so far is probably Teruyuki Kagawa playing this nerdy scientist that always has this goofy smile on his face.

    So, after four episodes in spite of all the “OH NOOOOSS!!” it seems to have settled down once they actually reached the Antarctic. And the great thing about Kimtaku dramas you never have to wait too long for subs, episode 9 aired Sunday and subs were up yesterday!!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey g-mark! Yeah I know the subbing teams have been working extra hard to release the episodes with as little lagtime as possible. I always meant to wait till everything is subbed before I watch this series in one go. But in the meantime, I have your loltastic descriptions to keep me up to speed (AND entertained)! I can’t wait to meet all the characters you’ve been dissing and praising, hehe 😀

      (Ooooh Kagawa Teruyuki — I like him! I like him a lot! :-))

      Btw, how’s Ayase faring? Is that chemistry with KimuTaku beginning to manifest itself, or is it still no more than wishful thinking? :-/

      • gaijin mark Says:

        I guess there was supposed to be some sort of romance between those two, but it was kind of hard to see it since they never even touched each other. Kind of like those sitcoms of the ’50s (I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke) where the couple is married but sleep in separate beds.

        But that’s a minor point. The stars of this drama were the dogs. I’m kind of curious how many dogs in Japan are getting named “Riki”, “Taro”, or “Jiro”.

  21. rambutan Says:

    I watched the first two eps after they aired, then left for real life so I could come back and do a marathon when the drama ended. The first two eps were definitely a winner. If they can keep the tone, mood and pace up, it will be a winner. I’m looking forward to your recap!? Wonder how you’re going to make me laugh with such serious material? 🙂

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      A marathon! Imma do a marathon too! 😀 (but then I always do a marathon, lol)

      Heehee the review for this won’t be out for at least another month or so (I’m still working on Karei naru Ichizoku), but thanks for the encouragement! 😉 I will def. try my best to make you laugh — er, to review this drama to the best of my abilities, is what I meant. =P

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