With NHK’s “Kohaku Uta Gassen” battling for ratings with comedy and ring sports every New Year’s Eve, it was appropriate that one of the most anticipated appearances on the show was described as “Sengoku Rock”. Referring to the medieval “warring states” period was rock star Gackt, who last year appeared as warlord Uesugi Kenshin in NHK’s annual historical drama series “Fuurinkazan”. He reprised the role for his Kohaku performance, the details of which had been kept under wraps until the show went live. With Gackt and his band all dressed in full battle armor, he was supported by a studio full of about 300 warriors.
• Many viewers, myself included, were expecting some kind of acknowledgment of the rumored romance between emcee and SMAP leader Nakai Masahiro (35) and pop diva Koda Kumi (25), but it never came. Fellow emcee Shoufukutei Tsurube (57) teased Nakai gently after he had introduced Koda on stage but he didn’t take the bait. Indeed, when questioned by reporters after the show, Nakai said there was no truth to the rumors at all. Meanwhile, one real “power couple”, talento Fujiwara Norika (36) and comedian Jinnai Tomonori (34), were guests on the show in what they said was their first and last appearance together.
• Over at the Tokyo Dome, some 55,000 fans were gathered for a day and night of Johnny’s Jimusho entertainment. Kinki Kids performed on a huge stage for their more than three-hour show. The duo have played the venue on New Year’s Eve for ten years in a row and 29 times in all, the most by any artist. The revolving stage, a 50m circle and 100m long in the shape of their latest album title “ϕ”, was reported to be the first of its kind in the world. That show was followed by a countdown concert that featured 150 Johnny’s artists, including Kinki Kids and Tokio. The show was televised live on Fuji TV from 11:45pm.
• Two of the networks went with the recent tradition of featuring combat sports. Takada Nobuhiko’s “Hustle Matsuri 2007” was a mix of wrestling and slapstick entertainment on the TV Tokyo network, while TBS had the more straightforward “K-1 Premium 2007 Dynamite”, whose highlight bout was between veteran fighters Sakuraba Kazushi and Funaki Masakatsu (Sakuraba won by a “chicken wing armlock”!).