I’ve been impressed lately by the amount of cross-media productions Japan’s entertainment industry has been putting out over the past few years. Last year GACKT fans flipped when he set out across the nation on-stage as sleepy-eyed samurai Nemuri Kyoshiro, hell-bent on raising heart-rates, box-office takings, and samurai-spirit in young and old alike. The production also involved the musical prowess of Visual Kei veteran SUGIZO, who composed pieces for the show.
On the 8th, in honor of the 12th anniversary of hide’s (X-Japan) death, a rock-musical began showing across Japan, featuring hide’s music as performed by defspiral, and the cameo appearance of J (Luna Sea).
Today, March 12th, a movie about a fictional Visual Kei band was released, entitled Maebashi Visual Kei. The movie, a heretical movement on the film-industry’s part to ensure some vibrantly-dyed shackles were raised, stars Johnny’s Ent crony Kazama Shunsuke in the role of a backwater boy in Maebashi, Gunma, who wishes to start a professional Visual Kei band. Legitimate Visual Kei (not a Johnny’s attempt) band heidi. composed the theme song, and appear in the film.
The later half of this month will feature some on-screen time for 2 of Japan’s greatest idols of all time, one being the remake of drama Okusama wa 18-Sai with idol-from-the-future Nishikawa Takanori, and second, a biographical drama series following the life of ’80s tearjerker genius Ozaki Yutaka, idol from the past.
Ozaki’s music producer Sudo Akira provided a screenplay for the drama entitled Ozaki Yutaka Oboegaki, “Ozaki Yutaka Memorial”, and the series will document the short, but powerful, lifetime of the musician, who passed away suddenly in April, 1992. For the first time, Ozaki’s life will be portrayed via this medium, beginning with 16 year old Ozaki meeting Sudo for the first time, and depicting his struggles and suffering throughout his debut and off-stage life. The screenplay is cited to be as accurate an accumulation of “facts” as possible, being based on testimonies and various “other sources”.
Ozaki will be played by prolific charisma-actor and risque gravure prince Narimiya Hiroki, who already has some experience as a young, struggling musician from his role as “Nobu” in the live-action takes of popular shoujo manga and anime Nana. Not that I have any business watching that. Narimiya described how he will portray the role as, “It is not about imitating Ozaki, but rather portraying his charisma and his generation in that form.”
On February 12th, unseen video footage was shown during the “Hounetsu no Achira – Ozaki Yutaka Shirarezaru Densetsu” in a documentary. The video footage used was intended to unveil various aspects of Ozaki’s life, and was apparently an important addition to the production. The series will begin airing later this month on TV Tokyo as part of the BS Japan 10th Anniversary series “Ozaki’s 20th Memorial Year – Kaze no Shonen – Ozaki Yutaka Towa no Densetu (“Eternal Legend”).
Personally I think that Narimiya was well cast as Ozaki; although I honestly don’t know much about Ozaki’s actual personality and character outside the music that he created and his performances, I think the likeness is strong, and have always enjoyed Narimiya in his past roles. I’m curious to see, too, whether Narimiya actually does the music for the show, or whether they just use recordings. In any case, this is another drama I’m anticipating, even more so than Okusama wa 18-Sai, simply because Ozaki Yutaka was a brilliant artist who left behind a legacy of emotion-packed, powerful music that has influenced many of the artists of today, and his life is worth understanding better.
I also think it’s a great move, marketing-wise, for Visual Kei and Jrock to be mixing with television and other media branches, as a way to expose Visual Kei and Jrock to potential fans who, after Googling half-naked images of Narimiya Hiroki, might even venture to sample some of Ozaki’s music.