Actors & Actresses

Oda Yuji

(Kanagawa Prefecture, 1967- )

Oda YujiWith a promising future in sports ahead of him, the teenage Oda Yuji was forced to reconsider his ambitions following a knee injury. Drama school followed and he made his movie debut as a school dropout in 1987's Boom Boom Boom. He was typecast until the lead role in the 1991 smash TV romantic comedy hit Tokyo Love Story broke the mold and he became an overnight star.

During the 1990s Oda starred in a string of renzoku dorama (drama series) such as Okane ga nai (Got no Money) and Mahiru no Tsuki (Midday Moon). But his career was pretty much in neutral until 1997's Odoru Daisosasen (Bayside Shakedown), a TV cop comedy-drama that was a surprise smash hit. A spinoff movie by the same name was one of the biggest box-office hits of the following year. Oda played the unorthodox detective Aoshima in pursuit of a female serial killer played by fellow former idol Koizumi Kyoko. There were big expectations for White Out, a big-budget Hollywood style action movie released in 2000. Even co-starring popular actress Matsushima Nanako, the film did not live up to the hype.

Odoru Daisosasen was revived in 2003 and the movie sequel did even better at the box office than the original, becoming one of japan's all-time box-office smashes, largely due to the star-studded cast and the huge hype that it was given. Some of its success must also be attributed to the location in Tokyo's reclaimed waterfront area of Daiba, home to the Fuji TV station and a hugely popular spot for Tokyo's trendy youth.

Oda is one of the tarento (TV personalities) most in demand for TV commercials. He also became the pitchman for the DoCoMo mobile phone company before famously defecting to rivals Ido in 1999. He has also been a singer for most of his career, though he's managed this without really being able to carry a tune very well.

In September 2004, Fuji TV announced that Oda would star in the Monday 9pm drama series slot for the first time since Tokyo Love Story. To add to the marketing coup, he also recorded the title and theme tunes for the show, both covers of Wham! hits. "Last Christmas" -the tile of the series - and "Wake Me Up Before You Go-go."