J-pop diva Koda Kumi (26) has taken her first bash at classical music, kind of. She recently recorded a new song that is based on an aria from Handel’s Italian opera “Rinaldo.” With original Japanese lyrics by Koda, “Alive” is the theme for “Kamui Gaiden,” Sai Yoichi’s big screen adaptation of the 1960s anime “Ninpu Kamui Gaiden” (Kamui the Ninja). It stars the currently red-hot Matsuyama Kenichi (24, photo) in the title role of a ninja who becomes a fugitive from his former clan. While filming last summer, Sai was listening to a favorite aria, “Lascia ch’io pianga” (Let me Weep), and felt that it captured the theme and atmosphere of the movie. With a melody by Iwashiro Taro (44), who wrote the movie’s score, Koda recorded the song over three days at the end of May. It will be released as a single in the autumn. The movie provides yet another high-profile role for Matsuyama, who has made a name for himself in such films as “Death Note,” “Detroit Metal City” and the upcoming “Norwegian Wood.” The all-star cast of “Kamui…” also includes Koyuki, Ito Hideaki, Sato Koji, and Tsuchiya Anna. The movie is scheduled for theatrical release on September 19.
• Pop group Arashi are to be the first ever artists to play three consecutive shows at the National Stadium. Yesterday’s announcement came together with news of the August 19 release of the hits album “All the Best! 1999-2009.” The Johnny’s Jimusho group are celebrating their 10th anniversary and the album will contain all 26 of their singles (plus 5 double-A sides). Shortly after the album goes on sale, they will play three nights at the National Stadium on August 28-30. Last year Arashi became only the third musical act to perform a solo show there (the others were SMAP in 2005-06 and Dreams Come True in 2007). From the autumn they will embark on a concert tour of Japan’s five major domes.