Thursday, 17 May 2012

Up Close and personal - Matsumoto Jun

Jun Matsumoto (松本  Matsumoto Jun) (born August 30, 1983), often called Matsujun (松潤), is a Japanese singer, actor, and radio host. He is a member of Japanese boy band Arashi and is best known for his portrayal as Tsukasa Domyoji in the Hana Yori Dango series, in which he won GQ Japan's Man Of The Year Award under the singer/actor category for his work in the drama.
Matsumoto began his career in the entertainment industry when he joined the Japanese talent agency Johny & Associates in 1996 at the age of 12. Prior to his debut as a singer with Arashi in 1999, Matsumoto started an acting career when he was cast as Teddy Duchamp for the stage play Stand by Me, which was based on the film of the same. Since then, he has gone on to appear in numerous dramas and movies, receiving a number of awards and nominations for his roles.




Early life
Matsumoto was born in Toshima, Tokyo, as the youngest child in his family. He has an older sister whose support of KinKi Kids influenced his decision to join Johnny & Associates in 1996. Thinking it might bode good luck, he sent his application to the agency on his elementary school graduation day and received a phone call weeks later from president Johny Kitagawa himself, inviting him to attend a rehearsal instead of being auditioned. Due to this, Matsumoto is frequently referred to as one of the elite within the agency.
Matsumoto graduated from Horikoshi Gakuen, a renowned high school known for its many performing arts alumnae such as Kyoko Fukada and Ai Kato, in March 2002 at the age of 18.
Music career
Although the majority of Matsumoto's solos for albums and concerts are written by Arashi's staff, he has contributed lyrics for two of his solos: "La Familia" and "Naked" in 2008 for the album Dream “A” Live under the penname "Jun".



Acting career
Stage
In 1997, Matsumoto was cast in his first stage play, which was based on the American coming of age film Stand by Me  with future band mates Masaki Aiba and Kazunari Ninomiya. He did not return to do any major stage productions for nearly seven years after Stand by Me, instead focusing on dramas and movies. However, in 2004, Matsumoto appeared in the stage play West Side Story with band mates Satoshi Ohno and Sho Sakurai. In 2005 and 2006, Matsumoto was given his first lead stage play roles in Eden no Higashi (エデンの東 East of Eden) and Byakuya no Onna Kishi (白夜の女騎士 Valkyrie of the White Night) respectively.
It was announced on July 21, 2011 that Matsumoto will star in Yukio Ninagawa’s production play, Aa, Kōya (あゝ荒野 Ah, Wilderness). This will be his first stage play in five years.
Drama
Like bandmate Sakurai, Matsumoto made his acting debut as a television actor in April 1997 in the drama special Hoken Chousain (保険調査員 Insurance Investigator). A few months later, he co-starred with the members of KinKi Kids and future bandmate Masaki Aiba in the mystery-thriller series Bokura no Yūki: Miman Toshi (ぼくらの勇気 Our Courage: Miman City).
Matsumoto gained further popularity as an actor in 2002 when he starred in the first season of Gokusen with Yukie Nakama, Shun Oguri, Tomohiro Waki, and Yuma Ishigaki. His portrayal of the troubled but highly intelligent student, Shin Sawada, drew acclaim and won him Best Supporting Actor at the 33rd Television Drama Academy Awards. Soon after, his character also made a cameo in Sakurai's comedy seriesYoiko no Mikata (よい子の味方 Ally of Good Children). In the same year, Matsumoto took another high-profile role in the live-action adaptation of manga series Kimi wa Petto as Takeshi "Momo" Goda, starring opposite Koyuki. 
In 2005, Matsumoto took the most prominent role of his career to date when he was cast as Tsukasa Domyōji in the live-action adaptation of manga Hana Yori Dango. Co-starring opposite Mao Inoue, Shun Oguri, Shota Matsuda, and Tsuyoshi Abe, the series was a success with an average viewership rating of 19.6%. Matsumoto's portrayal as the air-headed and arrogant leader of four rich heirs won him Best Supporting Actor again at the 47th Television Drama Academy Awards.


In 2007, due to the success of Hana Yori Dango, it spawned a second season, which was an even bigger hit with television audiences as it had a peak rating of 27.6% on the final episode and an overall rating of 21.57%.Matsumoto won Best Supporting Actor at the 10th Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix for his role. The same year, Matsumoto starred in Bambino! which won him his first Best Actor award at the 53rd Television Drama Academy Awards.
In 2008, he re-united with Bambino! co-star Karina for the drama special Myū no Anyo Papa ni Ageru (みゅうの足パパにあげる Myū will Give Daddy Her Legs). He portrayed a man diagnosed with CIDP struggling to recuperate and return to normal life with his wife and young daughter. The drama special received a viewership rating of 25.6%.
In 2009, Matsumoto starred in his first drama series in nearly two years. He portrayed Vito Hayakawa (早川ビト Hayakawa Vito), a half-Japanese, half-Filipino young man who always faces life with a smile in the drama Smile. Matsumoto subsequently won Best Actor for his role in the 13th Nikkan Sports Drama Grand Prix.  Fuji TV announced on September 10, 2009 that Matsumoto would star in a three-part drama special called Wagaya no Rekishi (わが家の歴史 History of our Family) scheduled to air for three consecutive days in the spring of 2010.




In January 2010, Matsumoto co-starred with the other members of Arashi in their first drama in nearly ten years in the human suspense drama special Saigo no Yakusoku (最後の約束 Last Promise). Matsumoto portrayed Nozomu Gotō (後藤  Gotō Nozomu), a 27-year-old motorcycle courier rider who is caught up in a building hijack. Matsumoto co-starred with Yuko Takeuchi in his first Getsuku drama titled Natsu no Koi wa Nijiiro ni Kagayaku (夏の恋は虹色に輝く Summer Love Shines in Rainbow Colors). He also made a guest appearance on the final episode of bandmate Ohno's drama Kaibutsu-kun (怪物くん Little Monster).






Film
Matsumoto appeared on the silver screen for the first time a year later in Shinjuku Tanteidan Shōnen (新宿少年探偵団 Shinjuku Boy Detectives) but his breakthrough did not come until 2001 when he was cast as Hajime Kinda'ichi in the third season of Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo.
In 2002, Arashi co-starred in their first movie together called Pikanchi Life is Hard Dakedo Happy (ピカ☆ンチ Life is HardだけどHappy Pikanchi Life is Hard But Happy). They came together again for its sequel Pikanchi Life is Hard Dakara Happy (ピカ☆☆ンチ Life is HardだからHappy Pikanchi Life is Hard Therefore Happy) in 2004. He also starred in the film Tokyo Tower as a womanizer with a preference for older women the same year.
In 2007, Arashi starred in their third movie together Kiiroi Namida.

Other ventures
Radio
Matsumoto has his own radio show, Jun Style, on Nack5 since October 5, 2002.






Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Up Close and Personal - Nino





Kazunari Ninomiya (二宮 和也 Ninomiya Kazunari, born June 17, 1983), often called Nino (ニノ), is a Japanese idol, singer, songwriter, actor, voice actor, and radio host. He is a member of Japanese boy band Arashi and is best known to movie audiences for his portrayal as Private Saigo in the 2006 Clint Eastwood war film Letters from Iwo Jima.
Ninomiya began his career in the entertainment industry when he joined the Japanese talent agency Johny & Associates in 1996 at the age of 13. Prior to his debut as a singer with Arashi in 1999, Ninomiya started an acting career when he was cast as Chris for the stage play Stand by Me. Since then, he has went on to appear in numerous drama, movie and stage productions, making him known as the actor of Arashi. 
Early life
Ninomiya was born in Katsushika, Tokyo as the youngest child of his family. His father and mother were both working as chefs when they met and his sister is two years older than he is. His parents divorced early in his life and his father left the family soon after. When Ninomiya was born, his grandfather immediately came home and named him the heir to the family's windshield factory since he was his grandfather's only grandson. However, when Ninomiya was twelve years old, his cousin sent in an application to Johnny & Associates without his knowledge. After attending and passing the auditions due to his mother's prodding, he joined the talent agency. Ninomiya graduated from high school in March 2002 at the age of 18.
Music career
In 2004, Ninomiya penned and composed "Kako" (痕跡) for his solo performance during Arashi's Iza, Now!! tour. Although Arashi's fifth studio album One was the first of their albums to feature solo songs of each member, Ninomiya did not provide lyrics or music for official release until the Time album almost two years later.
In 2007, the group's eighteenth single :Love So Sweet” was released with the limited edition containing the bonus song "Fight Song" (ファイトソング, "Faito Songu"), which was written by Arashi and composed by Ninomiya in 2006 for their variety show G no Arashi. On July 11, 2007, the Time album was released with the limited edition containing solo song of each member. Ninomiya wrote the lyrics to his solo song, "Niji" (, "Rainbow"), and played the piano portion of the song throughout Arashi's summer tour. He later reprised the performance throughout Arashi's second Asia Tour in 2008.




Acting career
Stage
Ninomiya began his acting career in a 1997 stage play based on the American coming of age film Stand by Me with future bandmates Aiba Masaki and Matsumoto Jun. He did not return to do any major stage productions for nearly seven years after Stand by Me, instead focusing on dramas. However, in 2004, Ninomiya appeared in his first lead role in the stage play Shibuya Kara Tooku Hanarete (シブヤから遠く離れて) directed by Yukio Ninagawa. From April 3, 2005 to May 4, 2005, he took up Rebel Without a Cause, playing the James Dean character Jim Stark.
From July 18, 2009 to August 11, 2009, Ninomiya appeared in his first stage play in four years. He starred as the psychopathic murderer Bruno in Mishiranu Jōkyaku (見知らぬ乗客 Strangers on a Train), which was based on the novel of the same name. 
Drama
In 1998, he made his television debut as a fifteen-year-old runaway in the movie Amagi Goe (天城越え Crossing Mt. Amagi). Just a few months before his debut with Arashi, he was given his first lead role in the drama Abunai Hōkago (あぶない放課後 Dangerous After School). His schedule became packed, causing him to lose 7 kg in a month as a result.  From October 11, 1999 to October 29, 1999, because Arashi were the main supporters for the 8th World Cup of Volleyball Championships, all five members co-starred together for the first time in the volleyball-centered short drama V no Arashi (Vの嵐).
From 2003 to 2005, Ninomiya continued to appear in a wide range of dramas. He played a student who found himself to be one of the last four virgins left at school in the comedy series Stand Up!!, a boyfriend of a girl who mysteriously shrunk into a size of merely sixteen centimeters tall in the romance series Minami-kun no Koibito (南くんの恋人 Minami's Girlfriend) and a young man who accidentally killed his mother and developed an estranged relationship with his father as a result in the human drama series Yasashii Jikan (優しい時間 Affectionate Time)
In 2006, Ninomiya starred in the drama special Sukoshi wa, Ongaeshi ga Dekitakana (少しは、恩返しができたかな Have I Returned a Bit of My Gratitude), which was based on the true story of young man named diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. He went on to appear in two different films for the rest of 2006 before taking up Haikei, Chichiue-sama (拝啓、父上様 Dear Father) on January 11, 2007.
During the summer of 2007, he and fellow Arashi bandmate Sho Sakurai co-starred together in the manga-based comedy drama Yamada Taro Monogatari. Ninomiya played the title character Tarō Yamada (山田 太郎 Yamada Tarō), an extremely poor student attending a school for the rich. Soon after—whilst juggling rehearsals for Arashi's upcoming concerts—he acted as the lead in the drama special Marathon (マラソン Marason), which was based on the true story of an autistic young man training to become a marathon runner.
After a year without any acting roles, other than a small guest appearance in bandmate Satoshi Ohno’s first lead drama Mao. Ninomiya finally took up the main role in the drama Ryusei no Kizuna with Ryo Nishikido and Erika Toda acting as his younger siblings. The three played the children of parents who were murdered long ago by a nameless man. Readers, reporters and critics of the 59th Television Drama Academy Awards panel recognized his role as the oldest vengeful sibling and awarded him Best Actor. HisRyūsei no Kizuna role also earned him an Outstanding Actor nomination in the drama category in the 49th Monte-Carlo Televison Festival. 
In spring 2009, Ninomiya starred as the lead in the third and final of the TBS kandō (感動, "moving") drama special trilogy Door to Door, with the first and second being Sukoshi wa, Ongaeshi ga Dekitakana and Marathon respectively. The drama special was based on the true story of Bill Porter, an American door-to-door salesman who achieved the highest sales for his company despite suffering from cerebral palsy. His roles in Door to Door and Ryūsei no Kizuna won him the Individual Award in the television category of the 46th Galaxy Awards, a first for a Johnny's talent and the first by an actor in his twenties. Ninomiya began filming for the drama special Tengoku de Kimi ni Aetara (天国で君に逢えたらIf I Can Meet You in Heaven) in April 2009. However, the special, which saw Ninomiya's first time playing a psychiarist, did not air on television until September 24, 2009.
In January 2010, Ninomiya co-starred with the other members of Arashi in their first drama in nearly ten years in the human suspense drama special Saigo no Yakusoku  "最後の約束”. Ninomiya portrayed Shūji Yamagiwa (山際 修司 Yamagiwa Shūji), a 27-year-old temporary security center employee who is caught up in a building hijack. On September 20, 2010, he made a guest appearance on the last episode of bandmate Matsumoto’s drama Natsu no Koi wa Nijiiro ni Kagayaku (夏の恋は虹色に輝くSummer Love Shines in Rainbow Colors).
Ninomiya starred in the drama Freeter, Ie o Kau (フリーター、家を買う。 Part-time Worker, Buys a House), his first serial drama since Ryūsei no Kizuna (2008). With Karina as his co-star, Ninomiya portrayed a freeter named Seiji Take ( 誠治 Take Seiji). The drama maintained steady viewership ratings throughout its airing, having an average rating of 17.14% overall.




Film
In 2002, he made his motion picture debut in Arashi's first movie together, Pikanchi Life Is Hard Dakedo Happy (ピカ☆ンチ Life is HardだけどHappy Pikanchi Life is Hard But Happy). Ninomiya next took to the screen as Shuichi, a high school student trying to get rid of his abusive stepfather, in the 2003 film Ao no Hono. In 2004, Arashi came together again to reprise their respective roles for the sequel of Pikanchi Life Is Hard Dakedo HappyPikanchi Life Is Hard Dakara Happy (ピカ☆☆ンチ Life is HardだからHappy Pikanchi Life is Hard Therefore Happy).
2006 proved to be a productive year for Ninomiya as he became the first artist from Johnny's & Associates to debut in Hollywood. He played a reluctant soldier called Saigo in Clint Eastwood’s film. His performance was praised by many film critics, some of which include RogerEbert.com editor Jim Emerson ("thoroughly winning"), Claudia Puig of USA Today, and many more. 
In 2007, all the members of Arashi co-starred in their third movie together, Kiiroi Namida (黄色い涙 Yellow Tears), with Ninomiya playing the main role of an aspiring manga artist.
On October 1, 2010, the live-action adaptation of Fumi Yoshinaga’s award-winning Ooku: The Inner Chambers manga, which starred Ninomiya and Kou Shibasaki, was released into theaters in Japan. Ninomiya played Hiroyuki Mizuno (水野祐之進 Mizuno Hiroyuki), a young man living in a matriarchal society due to a disease that killed most of the male population.
Part one of the live-action adaptation of the manga Gantz, which starred Ninomiya and Kenichi Matsuyama was released on January 20, 2011 in the United States and on January 29, 2011 in Japan.
Other ventures
Radio
Ninomiya has his own radio show, Bay Storm, since October 4, 2002. The show is currently airing every Sunday on Japan's BayFM, in which he often plays his own renditions of Arashi's songs as well as songs by other artists.













Monday, 14 May 2012

Up Close and Personal - Ohno Satoshi



Satoshi Ohno (大野  Ōno Satoshi) (born November 26, 1980) is a Japanese idol, singer, actor, artist, and radio host. He is the lead vocalist and leader of Japanese boy band Arashi, hence his nickname Leader (リーダー Rīdā).
Ohno began his career in the entertainment industry when he joined the Japanese talent agency Johny & Associates in 1994 at the age of 13. He started an acting career in 1997 when he was cast to be part of the stage play Kyo to Kyo. In 2008, Ohno became the first and the only artist from Johnny's to hold and open his own art exhibit titled "Freestyle" and received his first starring role in a Japanese television drama, for which he earned a handful of Best Actor awards. For his work as an artist, a singer, and an actor in Kaibutsu-kun the MOVIE, Ohno became one of the recipients of GQ Japan's Men of the Year Award in 2011.



Early life
Ohno was born in Mitaka, Tokyo as the youngest child of his family. He has one older sister. During middle school, his mother sent in his application to Johnny & Associates without his knowledge. An invitation to audition was sent back to Ohno, and he subsequently became a trainee in October 1994. In order to focus on the stage play Kyo to Kyo, which ran from 1997 to 1998 during his trainee days, he withdrew from high school and moved to Kyoto. 
Music career
Before his music debut with Arashi, Ohno wanted to resign from Johnny & Associates. However, then-president Johny Kitagawa asked him to help out with a song recording and to pack up for a trip to Hawaii, which turned out to be the place where the press conference announcing the formation of Arashi was held. With Ohno at the age of 18 at the time, Arashi was officially formed on September 15, 1999 and made their CD debut on November 3, 1999. Since much of his trainee days was spent in Kyoto, he was the least known member during Arashi's early days.
Ohno is the lead vocalist of Arashi. Although his music career is primarily with Arashi, he had solo concert called 3104 (which can be read as his name Satoshi in Japanese) in 2006 and became the first member in Arashi to release a solo single in 2009. He also choreographs some dances for Arashi's concerts, such as the dance for the song “Carnival Night Party 2”, as well as most of his solo performances.
Ohno also is the only member in the group that has released his own solo single for his previous drama soundtrack Uta no Onii-san title Kumorinochi, Kaisei by Yano Kenta starring Satoshi Ohno. 
Ohno provided the vocals to the insert song "Yukai Tsukai Kaibutsu-kun" (ユカイツーカイ怪物くん), which was released on July 7, 2010 as a single, for the drama Kaibutsu-kun. On the Oricon daily singles chart, the single debuted at number-two behind Arashi's "To Be Free" and sold around 59,000 copies on the first day.




Acting career
Stage
In 1997, Ohno was a cast member of Kyo to Kyo with Musical Academy (MA) leader Shingo Machida (町田 慎吾 Machida Shingo) and continued to act in other stage productions such as Koichi Domoto’s Mask and Shōnentai's Playzone after Kyo to Kyo was over. Since then, he has done a number of stage plays such as the Pū (プーシリーズWind) series, West Side Story with bandmates Sho Sakurai and Jun Matsumoto, and Amatsukaze (アマツカゼ).
In 2006, Ohno starred in Tensei Kunpū, another play that was part of the Pū series. He portrayed Kaoru Kazamine (風峰  Kazamine Kaoru), a man who was accidentally sent back to the Edo period of Japan through a system malfunction. 







Drama
In 1999, Ohno made his drama debut in the volleyball-centred short drama V no Arashi (Vの嵐), which was Arashi's first drama together.
Ohno was given his first starring role in the 2008 suspense drama Mao. He co-starred with Toma Ikuta and portrayed a two-faced lawyer who sought for revenge against the person who murdered his brother years ago. Soon after in 2009, he was given another starring role in his first comedy drama Uta no Oniisan (歌のおにいさん Brother of Songs). On September 4, 2009, it was announced that a select number of different artists from Johnny's would take turns participating in a television mini-drama project on Fuji Televison from October 23, 2009 to April 2010.
In January 2010, Ohno co-starred with the other members of Arashi in the human suspense drama special Saigo no Yakusoku (最後の約束 Last Promise). Ohno portrayed Satoru Mashiko (益子  Mashiko Satoru), a 28-year-old employee of a cleaning company who is caught up in a building hijack. On February 11, 2010, it was announced that Ohno is set to star in the live-action adaptation of the manga and anime Kaibutsu-kun.
Ohno made a guest appearance on the last episode of bandmate Sakurai's drama Tokujo Kabachi!! (特上カバチ!! lit. Extraordinary Quibbling) playing a corrupted lawyer. He also reprised his role of Kaibutsu-kun for the Kaibutsu-kun special which aired on June 26, 2010. Ohno starred in the second story, Hajime no Ippo (はじめの一歩 First Step), of the Fall 2010 Yonimo Kimyōna Monogatari (世にも奇妙な物語) special that aired on October 4, 2010.
In October 2011, Ohno once again reprised his role of Kaibutsu-kun for another Kaibutsu-kun special, leading up to the story of the 3D movie version. On January 3, 2012, Ohno starred in Mou Yuukai Nante Shinai (もう誘拐なんてしない I Won't Kidnap Anymore). He played the role of Tarui Shotaro, a freeter who can't forget his childhood dream of being a hero. However, he finds himself planning a fake kidnapping after he receives a request from the daughter of a boss of racketeers, played by co-star Yui Aragaki.
In February 2012, it was announced that Ohno will co-star with Erika Toda in the drama, Kagi No Kakatta Heya ( 鍵のかかった部屋 Locked Room) starting in April.


Film
In 2002, Ohno made his motion picture debut in Arashi's first movie together, Pikanchi Life Is Hard Dakedo Happy (ピカ☆ンチ Life is HardだけどHappy Pikanchi Life is Hard But Happy). Two years later in 2004, Ohno reprised his role for the sequel Pikanchi Life Is Hard Dakara Happy (ピカ☆☆ンチ Life is HardだからHappy Pikanchi Life is Hard Therefore Happy).
In 2007, the group came together once again to act in their third movie together, Kiiroi Namida (黄色い涙 Yellow Tears?), with Ohno acting as an oil painter.
In 2011, Ohno returned to the big screen starring as the lead actor in the film Kaibutsu-kun the MOVIE. His character, Kaibutsu Tarou, is about to be crowned king, but is met with unexpected booing. Trying to escape to the human world, Tarou and his three henchmen accidentally find themselves in a place known as the Curry Kingdom where he is mistaken as a legendary hero. The cast went overseas to India to shoot parts of the film. He became the first member in Arashi to star in a 3D film.
Other ventures
Radio
Ohno has his own radio show called Arashi Discovery, which is currently airing every weekday from Monday to Friday since October 1, 2002.
Art
When Ohno was in the third grade, he was inspired by his classmate's Dragon Ball  illustration to start drawing. Since then, he has been drawing his own artwork and making original figurines. In 2008, he held an art exhibition called Freestyle, making him the first artist in Johnny's to hold one.