Monthly Archives: February 2012

Jail Time for Oshio

Oshio Manabu

Oshio Manabu’s time in the court room is over and now he’s off to jail. Described these days in the J-media as a “former actor,” Oshio was at the No.1 petty bench of the Supreme Court yesterday to hear the decision on his appeal to the Supreme Court. Oshio was arrested in 2009 for his involvement in the drug-related death of Ginza bar hostess Tanaka Kaori at a luxury apartment in central Tokyo. He was originally arrested and tried for violations of the Narcotics Control Law and abandoning a person he was responsible for protecting, resulting in death. In the first ever trial of a celebrity under the recently introduced lay judge system at the Tokyo District Court, the most serious aspect of the charges – that Oshio’s failure to immediately call an ambulance when the woman lost consciousness led to her death – was dropped and a sentence of two and a half years was handed down. That sentence was upheld by the Tokyo High Court in April 2011.

Although he was caught bang to rights and his use of the synthetic drug MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, is not in doubt, Oshio has tried from the beginning to wriggle out of taking any responsibility in the case. Yesterday in a statement released through his defense lawyer he continued his defiance, saying, “The decision is extremely regrettable and unacceptable.” Apart from everything else, his arrest and trial led to divorce from actress Yada Akiko, who cited “incompatible values.”

Taihei Shiro Dies at 55

Taihei Saburo & Shiro

The turbulent life of impersonator and comedian Taihei Shiro (photo left), one of the pioneers of the so-called “manzai boom,” came to a sad end yesterday at the Osaka Medical Center. He was 55. A spokesperson for the Yoshimoto Creative Agency said he was hospitalized in a coma on February 4 after collapsing at his office in his native Osaka. He was put on life support but never recovered consciousness.

Real name Itoh Hiroshi, he was a child actor and entered the world of comedy apprenticeship with Shochiku Geino while in his second year of high school. He made his debut in 1976 as one half of the duo of Taihei Saburo & Shiro. Shiro changed comedy partners time and time again but found his partnership with Saburo was the most stable, and the pair managed to break with tradition and left Shochiku to join Yoshimoto. And it was there in the 1980s that they helped create a nationwide boom in Osaka-style manzai comedy that has since become a staple of TV entertainment. In 1992 the pair split up again and Shiro ran unsuccessfully in an election for national government. He also talked about giving up showbiz altogether and becoming the most successful ramen (Chinese noodles) restaurateur in Japan. In 1999 he was back with Yoshimoto and formed a new manzai duo but that was also short-lived and Shiro went solo. He helped develop the careers of several Yoshimoto acts as well as running restuarants and bars.

Speaking to reporters yesterday about the death of his friend, Taihei Saburo (55, photo right) said that Shiro approached him about four years ago suggesting that they get back together as an act, but he refused. “Maybe one day we’ll enjoy being Taihei Saburo & Shiro again in heaven.”

Jin and Meisa Married…and Expecting?

Akanishi Jin, Kuroki Meisa

Management for singer Akanishi Jin (27) and actress Kuroki Meisa (23) announced this evening that the two tied the knot on February 2. The statement said that they registered their marriage together at a Tokyo municipal office. Japan Zone revealed back in January that the pair were a romantic item but this was later denied by their management. At the time it was said that the two, seen together at Tokyo Disney Sea resort on January 22 and other venues during the month, were hanging out together as part of a group of friends and were not romantically involved. Not a surprise, as Johnny’s Jimusho in particular are very protective of their stable of male stars.

In separate English language media reports, quoting “tabloid media,” it was claimed that Kuroki is two months pregnant. This might explain the erratic nature of the news releases but it doesn’t seem to have been mentioned in the mainstream Japanese media. Japan Today said that Sports Nippon reported that Kuroki will continue working after giving birth and getting married.

Akanishi is scheduled to release the album “Japonicana” in Japan and the U.S. on March 7, and back it up with a 5-city U.S. concert tour. He is also among the local cast in the Keanu Reeves Hollywood vehicle “47 Ronin,” due for release at the end of the year. Meanwhile Kuroki’s second album, the possibly appropriately titled “Unlocked,” is due out on Feb 15.
Related stories:
The Beautiful Ones (Jan. 25, 2012)

Ichihara Drops Out of Yamada Movie

Ichihara Etsuko

Actress Ichihara Etsuko (76) has dropped out of the movie “Tokyo Kazoku” (Tokyo Family) to undergo surgery, it was revealed on Saturday as the cast was formally named. Director Yamada Yoji (80) was originally scheduled to name his cast for the movie last year and start shooting last April, but the Great East Japan Earthquake in March meant those plans were put on hold. The project is loosely based on the Ozu Yasujiro classic “Tokyo Monogatari” (Tokyo Story), widely regarded as one of the best movies of all time, about an old couple who visit their children and grandchildren in the city. Ichihara’s key role as the matron of the family will be taken on by Yoshiyuki Kazuko (76). The film is now scheduled to open in January 2013.

According to producer Fukazawa Hiroshi, Ichihara underwent a routine health check at the end of January and doctors discovered a tumor in her colon. She was hospitalized on February 1 and is currently preparing for surgery. Though there was a possibility that she would be fit again before filming is due to start on March1, Ichihara decided not to take a chance that her condition might worsen during the shoot.

Ichihara started as a stage actress in 1957 and made her movie debut the same year in “Yukiguni” (Snow Country). She has more than two dozen movie credits to her name and has played a wide variety of roles in TV dramas.

New Arrivals
Happier news for actor Tanihara Shousuke (39) and comedienne Yamada Hanako (36). Tanihara became a father again on Friday when his wife, former talento Miyake Emi (34), gave birth to a baby boy. She has four children from a previous marriage, and the couple have been married since 2007. Yamada, married to trumpeter Fukushima Masanori (40) since May 2010, revealed that she is expecting their first child in July. A regular “fall guy” in the Yoshimoto Kogyo comedy troupe, Hamada’s career for years was based on her awkwardness, plain-Jane looks and the likelihood that she would never be able to marry.

4th Time Lucky for Kimuni?

Kimura Yuichi, Nishikata Ryo

Popular talento Kimura Yuichi (48, photo left) has announced the date of his upcoming fourth wedding. He and actress Nishikata Ryo (31, photo right) revealed that they will tie the knot on May 8 during a recording of tonight’s TV Asahi variety show “Oh! Doya Kao Summit” featuring couples with a wide age difference. The pair have been an item for some time and we reported on media speculation about their marriage as far back as April 2009. They appeared on TV together for the first time last November and Nishikata spoke of how she had proposed marriage several times to no avail, but then said they were thinking of getting hitched this spring. Kimuni, as he popularly known, has been down the aisle three times before, most recently with actress Henmi Emiri (35) in 2006, a marriage that lasted just two years.

Kimura gave Nishikata her first movie acting role in his own directorial debut “Nisesatsu” in 2009 and she also had a role in his second feature, “What a Wonderful Life!!” in 2011. But Kimura’s movie career so far has failed to make as much impact as that of his Yoshimoto Kogyo comedy stablemate and close friend Matsumoto Hitoshi (48).
Related stories:
A Fresh Start for Kimura Yuichi (Apr. 16, 2009)

Zun, Yoshino Sayaka
Police Investigate Comedy Stunt Gone Wrong
Police are investigating whether to initiate criminal proceedings following a serious injury suffered by a comedian during filming of a variety show. Yasu (42, left photo, right), of the comedy duo Zun, broke a bone in his back while filming an episode of the Tunnels-hosted show “Tunnels no Minasama no Okage Deshita” yesterday evening at the Joetsu International Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture. He was on the ski slope in an inflatable rubber boat and lost control, crashing into a building. Police were on the scene this morning to look into what safety precautions were in place and decide if it should be dealt with as a case of professional negligence resulting in injury.

Actress Reveals Marriage to American
Actress and pinup model Yoshino Sayaka (29, right photo) posted to her blog yesterday that she has been married for almost a year and a half. She described her husband as a 30-year-old American ippanjin. She said they have known each other for about ten years and tied the knot on September 19, 2010. She explained the late wedding announcement by saying the marriage was closely followed by the death of her dog(!) and then the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Takajin to be Treated for Cancer

Yashiki Takajin, Miyane Seiji

Outspoken singer and talento Yashiki Takajin (62, photo left) is taking an extended leave of absence to undergo treatment for esophageal cancer. Yesterday in a message to broadcaster Miyane Seiji (48, photo right) – someone who might be expected to fill his shoes – Yashiki said the disease had been diagnosed at an early stage and denied media speculation that he was considering retirement. He said that, as he did for his 60th, he still planned to perform a concert to commemorate his 65th birthday and is writing songs for the occasion.

Yashiki has several regular weekly slots on TV and radio. Yomiuri TV said he has already recorded this Sunday’s edition of “Soko Made Itte Iinkai” and the show will continue with a yet to be named replacement. Kansai TV and TV Osaka made similar statements about this Saturday’s editions of “Takajin Mune Ippai” and “Takajin No Money” and shows for the next week or two, though the schedule beyond that is undecided.

Pink Lady Lose Supreme Court Appeal

Pink Lady

Though they are well past their prime, J-pop aidoru aidoru pioneers Pink Lady still have an image to protect…and cash in on. And so when publisher Kobunsha ran a feature on dieting through dance and used photos of the middle-aged duo – Mii (53) and Masuda Keiko (54) – performing their famous moves, but did so without their permission, a lawsuit was the result. That lawsuit, filed way back in October 2007, claimed that the magazine had infringed on their publicity rights and requested ¥3.7 million in compensation. But it was rejected by the Tokyo District Court and so the duo made a final appeal to a higher court.

Well, this morning the No.1 petty bench of the Supreme Court, ruling on a case of its kind for the first time, rejected the appeal and bringing the case to a close. It’s unlikely that either of the singers are stuck for money as they have been cashing in on the nostalgia boom for decades.

Pink Lady were a music sensation in their heyday between 1971 and 1981, when they split for the first time. The following 30 years would see them reform five times, releasing the occasional single and half a dozen compilation albums. But they have never reached anywhere near the level of their original success. Read more about Pink Lady here.