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50th Golden Bell Awards Nominations

  August 28, 2015  
Nominations for the 2015 Golden Bell Awards, Taiwan's top television awards, were announced on August 26. Frontrunner The Way We Were netted seven nominations including Best Leading Actress (Ruby Lin), Best Leading Actor (Leroy Young), Best Supporting Actor (Melvin Sia), Best Supporting Actress (Tiffany Hsu), Best Television Series, Best Directing and Best Writing.

IHero, Apple in Your Eye, and Hakka TV's Long Day's Journey Into Light and Brave Forward were nominated for both Best Television Series and Best Writing. The dramas' leads Kurt Chou (IHero), Blue Lan (Apple), Janel Tsai (IHero), Huang Pei Chia (Long) and Chu Chih Ying Long), as well as late actress Yang Ko Han (The New World), were nominated in the Best Actor and Actress categories.

In the Mini-Series/TV Movie section, PTS's "Life Story" series garnered four nominations with "The Kids," "Angel's Radio," "The Road Home" and "Drifter's Solo Flight." For Best Leading Actor and Actress, Kaiser Chuang and Yen Yi Wen scored double nominations; Tung Ming Hsiang, Michael Huang, Mei Fang, Jenny Wen and Megan Lai are also shortlisted. Medical drama Wake Up was nominated for Best Mini-Series/TV Movie and Best Directing, and received acting nominations for leading actor Huang Jian Wei and supporting cast Michael Huang, Chris Wu and Hsieh Ying Hsuan.

In the Variety section, only three programs were nominated for Best Variety Program: Super Star, Music Viva Viva 3 and Global Chinese Music. Music Viva Viva's Kay Huang and Sean Lin and Global Chinese Music's Mickey Huang will also compete for Best Variety Program hosts with 100% Entertainment's Show Luo and Alien Huang and Zong Yi Da Re Men's Jacky Wu, Ou Han Sheng, Chen Han Dian and LuLu.

The 50th Golden Bell Awards will be held at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei on September 26.

Text / Garden
Translation / Sanwei

Lee Sang Il helms film adaptation of Yoshida Shuichi's Ikari

  August 25, 2015  
Following 2010's Villain, director Lee Sang Il is once again adapting one of Yoshida Shuichi's best-selling novels for the silver screen in Ikari. The film features an all-star cast including Watanabe Ken (Unforgiven), Moriyama Mirai (Human Trust), Matsuyama Kenichi (Climbing to Spring), Ayano Go (The Light Shines Only There), Tsumabuki Satoshi (Villain), Miyazaki Aoi (The Great Passage) and Hirose Suzu (Our Little Sister).

Similar to Villain, Ikari delves into the subject of human nature, illustrating the way trust and suspicion shape relationships. The story begins with the murder of a married couple in Tokyo's Hachioji district. Puzzlingly, the killer left the word "Ikari" ("anger") scrawled in blood at the scene of the crime. A year later, three mysterious men emerge as persons of interest in the case, and one of them may be the suspected killer Yamagami Kazuya, who has undergone plastic surgery.

In Chiba, we follow Maki Yohei (Watanabe Ken), who finds himself distrusting his daughter Aiko's (Miyazaki Aoi) new boyfriend Tetsuya (Matsuyama Kenichi). Meanwhile in Tokyo, ad agency employee Fujita Yuma (Tsumabuki Satoshi) harbors suspicions about Onishi Naoto (Ayano Go), a drifter he recently took into his home. And in Okinawa, a high schooler (Hirose Suzu) and her friend encounter a lone backpacker (Morita Mirai) while on a trip to an outlying island.

Ikari began filming in the beginning of August, and is expected to be completed in October and released in Japan in fall 2016.

Text / tabo
Translation / Frood

Chinese remake of Blind starring Mini Yang and Lu Han to open in fall

  August 25, 2015  
Korean suspense thriller Blind is being remade into a Chinese film which is set to hit cinemas this fall. Titled The Witness, the remake is helmed by the director of the original Korean film, Ahn Sang Hoon, with a script specially adapted for the Chinese market by Gu Xiaobai (Under the Hawthorn Tree). The film's production company recently released a new set of promotional stills featuring stars Mini Yang (Tiny Times) and Lu Han.

Blind/The Witness follows a blind woman and a rebellious youth who are witnesses to the same hit-and-run crime but offer conflicting testimonies. Their lives are thrown into danger when they turn into the targets of the perpetrator. The original Korean film starring Kim Ha Neul and Yoo Seung Ho was a critical and commercial hit, and won Kim Best Actress accolades at the 2011 Blue Dragon and Daejong Film Awards.

The Witness looks to repeat the blockbuster success of other recent Chinese remakes of Korean films like Let's Get Married and 20, Once Again, which also co-starred Lu Han. The Witness marks the former EXO member's first starring role.

The Witness opens in China on October 30.

Text / Sanwei

Leading cast announced for Itazura na Kiss The Movie

  August 24, 2015  
EXILE member Sato Kanta and actress Bisa Reina (Corpse Party), both newcomers in acting, have been announced as the leads for Japan's upcoming film adaptation of Tada Kaoru's immensely popular shojo manga Itazura Na Kiss.

First serialized in 1990, Tada's original manga revolves around bumbling high school girl Aihara Kotoko who is head over heels in love with her school's top student, handsome and arrogant genius Irie Naoki. After an earthquake destroys Kotoko's house, she and her family end up living with Naoki's family, paving the way for a mishap-filled romance.

Itazura na Kiss has previously been adapted numerous times in multiple regions. The story was first adapted by TV Asahi in 1996 with Sato Aiko and Kashiwabara Takashi in the leading roles. Joe Cheng and Ariel Lin starred in the popular 2005 Taiwan television adaptation It Started with a Kiss and its 2007 sequel They Kiss Again, while Kim Hyun Joong and Jung So Min starred in the 2010 Korean drama adaptation Playful Kiss. Most recently in 2013 and 2014, Japan's Fuji TV produced two seasons of Itazura na Kiss - Love in Tokyo starring Furukawa Yuki and Miki Honoka. Itazura was also adapted into an anime series in 2008.

Besides Sato Kant and Bisa Reina, other announced cast members include Jinnai Takanori (as Kotoko's father), Ishizuka Hidehiko (as Naoki's father), Ishida Hikari (as Naoki's mother), Ohkura Shimon and E-Girls' Yamaguchi Nonoka. The film will be directed by Mizoguchi Minoru.

Itazura na Kiss The Movie is planned for release in fall 2016.

Text / Sanwei

Assassination becomes first Korean film of year to pass ten million admissions

  August 18, 2015  
Director Choi Dong Hoon's big-budget period espionage thriller Assassination is the first Korean film of 2015 to pass the ten million ticket sales benchmark. Released on July 22, the film, which features the all-star cast of Jeon Ji Hyun, Lee Jung Jae, Ha Jung Woo, Jo Jin Woong, Oh Dal Soo and Lee Kyoung Young, reached ten million admissions on August 15, its 25th day of release.

Set in the 1930s during the Japanese occupation period, Assassination stars Lee Jung Jae as a double-dealing government agent tasked to assemble a group to assassinate a Japanese commander and a Korean collaborator. He extricates three exiled freedom fighters, including Jeon Ji Hyun's sniper, from Shanghai for the mission. However, the Japanese are tipped off about the plans, and a hired gun, played by Ha Jung Woo, is sent on the heels to take out the assassins.

With Assassination, director Choi Dong Hoon, whose last film The Thieves collected nearly 13 million admissions, joins Yoon Je Kyu as the only Korean filmmakers to have two ten-million-admission films.

Text / Sanwei

Miike Takashi to make live-action film adaptation of Terra Formars

  July 30, 2015  
Miike Takashi is set to take the helm of a live-action film adaptation of Sasuga Yu's sci-fi manga series Terra Formars. The title made its debut in Weekly Young Jump in 2011, and its standalone volumes have sold a combined ten million copies so far. The commercially successful series, which was adapted into anime in 2014, has also proven to be a hit with critics, having come in second on the Zenkoku Shotenin ga Eranda Osusume Comic 2013 list and been nominated for the 6th Manga Taisho.

The story begins in the 21st century, with a group of scientists initiating a terraforming process on Mars by seeding it with genetically modified algae and populating it with cockroaches. Five centuries later, a crew of astronauts is sent to inspect the progress. The crew soon finds itself under attack from humanoid mutant cockroaches with super strength, and manages to send a warning back to Earth just before being killed. To combat the mutant cockroaches (now dubbed "Terraformars"), scientists begin to experiment with genetically modifying humans, which eventually leads to a select group of powered individuals being sent to Mars to exterminate the Terraformar threat.

The film features an all-star cast that includes Ito Hideaki (Umizaru series), Yamada Takayuki (Monsterz), Takei Emi (Rurouni Kenshin series), Yamashita Tomohisa (Tomorrow's Joe), Oguri Shun (Lupin The Third), Kikuchi Rinko (Pacific Rim), Koike Eiko (Penance series) and former AKB48 member Shinoda Mariko.

Filming is set to begin in August in Iceland, and the movie is slated to be released during Golden Week 2016 (April 29-May 5).

Text / Frood

Park Hae Jin and Kim Go Eun to star in Cheese in the Trap K-Drama adaptation

  July 30, 2015  
After a long round of casting speculation, Kim Go Eun has been confirmed for the leading role of the Korean television adaptation of the immensely popular webtoon Cheese in the Trap. Known for her performances in the films Muse and Coin Locker Girl, the up-and-coming actress will make her television debut opposite Park Hae Jin (You Who Came From the Stars) who was announced as the male lead in May.

Written and illustrated by Soonkki, Cheese in the Trap is a slice-of-life campus romance revolving around Hong Seol, an ordinary young woman who is struggling to put herself through university. Returning to school after taking some time off, she is thrown off balance by the presence of popular classmate Yoo Jeong who seems to take an interest in her. Yoo Jeong is seemingly nice and perfect in every way but Hong Seol finds there's something unsettling about him. Besides the romantic storyline, the webtoon is hailed for its realistic depiction of the academic, financial and relationship challenges faced by young people.

Cheese in the Trap will be directed by Lee Yoon Jung, whose past work include the 2007 hit Coffee Prince. The drama is slated to air on tvN in October.

Text / Sanwei

Guan Hu's Mr. Six selected to close 2015 Venice Film Festival

  July 30, 2015  
Chinese director Guan Hu's action comedy Mr. Six (previously titled Fading Wave) has been selected as the closing film for the 72nd Venice Film Festival. Guan, whose 2009 film Cow premiered to acclaim at that year's Venice Film Festival, returns to the fest with his biggest production to date.

In a change of pace, blockbuster director Feng Xiaogang takes a rare leading actor role as an aged gangster who once ruled the streets of Beijing. He realizes his name no longer holds sway amongst the current generation when he tries to help his son settle a dispute with a young street racer, the new king of the streets. Mr. Six has especially attracted notice for casting two of China's hottest stars of the moment, Li Yifeng (Forever Young) and Kris Wu (Somewhere Only We Know), as the son and the young street racer, respectively. Zhang Hanyu, who starred in Guan's last film The Chef, The Actor, The Scoundrel, Xu Jing and Liu Hua also co-star in the film.

Besides Mr. Six, the Asian cinema presence at this year's Venice Film Festival is relatively low. Chinese documentarian Zhao Liang's Behemoth about minorities in Inner Mongolia is the sole Asian film in competition for the Golden Lion. Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar's A Copy of My Mind, a contemporary love story set in Jakarta, and Indian filmmaker Vetrimaaran's Interrogation, a Tamil-language thriller inspired by true events concerning police interrogation and brutality, were selected for the Horizons section. Taiwan auteur Tsai Ming Liang's Afternoon will screen out of competition.

The 2015 Venice Film Festival will run from September 2 to 12.

Text / Sanwei

Wen Zhang makes his film directorial debut with Lu Yao Zhi Ma Li

  July 27, 2015  
Popular actor Wen Zhang (Journey To The West: Conquering the Demons) gets into the director's chair for the first time in Lu Yao Zhi Ma Li ("Lu Yao Knows Ma Li"), currently filming in Shanghai. Produced by Peter Chan (Dearest) and written by Ha Zhi Chao (Mr. & Mrs. Single), the film follows Lu Yao, who falls in love with his kindergarten classmate Ma Li after running into her again in university. Unfortunately, every time he tries to confess his love, someone else beats him to the chase. The question has to be asked: Will Lu Yao get his day in the sun, or is he doomed to forever being a victim of bad timing?

Playing the role of Lu Yao is character actor Bao Beier (So Young). Much loved for his terrific performances in supporting roles, Bao tackles a lead role for the first time in the film. He is joined by Song Jia (Passion Island) and Zhu Yawen (The Golden Era).

Text / Frood

Tsuchiya Tao and Yamazaki Kento to star in orange film adaptation

  July 24, 2015  
Tsuchiya Tao and Yamazaki Kento have been cast as the leads in the film adaptation of Takano Ichigo's slice-of-life/romance manga series orange. This will be the young actors' third time working together, following Kuro no Onna Kyoushi and the currently airing NHK morning drama Mare.

orange began serialization in Bessatsu Margaret in 2012, and tells the story of Takamiya Naho, a high school student who one day receives a letter from her future self. In it, the 26-year-old Naho tells her 16-year-old self of one of the biggest regrets of her life: not doing enough to prevent the death of Naruse Kakeru, a transfer student from Tokyo whom the older Naho says her younger self will soon fall for. After learning that in 26-year-old Naho's world, Naruse dies at the age of 17, the younger Naho races to change the future.

The film will be directed by Hashimoto Mitsujiro (Suzuki Sensei) and written by Kaneko Arisa (Densha Otoko). Filming is set to begin at the end of August, and the film is slated for release in Japan on December 12, 2015.

Text / Frood

Aragaki Yui cast as lead for drama adaptation of Okitegami Kyoko no Biboroku

  July 23, 2015  
Aragaki Yui is set to return to the small screen in a starring role for the first time in two and a half years in the drama adaptation of Okitegami Kyoko no Biboroku. Written by prolific author Nisio Isin, Okitegami Kyoko no Biboroku is the first of a series of light novels based around the character of Okitegami Kyoko, a brilliant detective with a condition that causes her memory to "reset" every time she goes to sleep, leaving her without any recollection of what happened the day before. Because of this, she must fully utilize her powerful deductive skills to solve cases within a single day.

Nisio is no stranger to having his works adapted for other media, as many titles in his Monogatari series of novels have been adapted into anime. However, Okitegami Kyoko no Biboroku, which, incidentally, has also previously been adapted into manga and anime, will be the first live-action adaptation of one of the author's works. The drama's script will be written by Nogi Akiko, who also wrote the script for 2013's Aragaki Yui-starring Sora Tobu Kohoshitsu, and the series will be helmed by Sato Toya, the director of hit dramas like Kaseifu no Mita and Gokusen.

Okitegami Kyoko no Biboroku is set to air on NTV in October.

Text / Frood

Thanatos, Drunk wins big in Taipei

  July 20, 2015  
Chang Tso Chi's latest film was the top winner at last weekend's Taipei Film Awards, the closing event of the Taipei Film Festival.

Tracing the lives of several people in Taipei's underbelly, the drama won a total of six prizes: Grand Prize, Best Narrative Feature, Best Actor (Lee Hong Chi), Best Supporting Actor (Chen Jen Shuo), Best Supporting Actress (Lu Hsueh Feng) and the Press Award.

The Grand Prize is chosen from all 40 films from the competition's four categories: Narrative Feature, Documentary, Short Film and Animation. The Grand Prize has gone to films from the documentary section for the past five consecutive years. Director Chang Tso Chi will receive a NT$1 million cash prize for his win.

The Best Documentary award went to A Life That Sings, about poet Ya Hsien. The film won two additional prizes: Best Cinematography and Best Editing.

The Best Short Film prize went to The Death of a Security Guard, and the Best Animation prize went to The Vending Machine.

Japanese actress Nagasaku Hiromi won the Best Actress prize for Chiang Hsiu Chiung's Japanese-language drama The Furthest End Awaits. Doze Niu's Paradise in Service won Best Screenplay and Best Art Design. Tsai Ming Liang won Best Director for his short film No No Sleep.

Wawa no Cidal won the Audience Award, and actor-director Ko I Cheng received the Outstanding Contribution Award.

The competition jury was led by Hong Kong director Fruit Chan. Other jury members are actress Yao Chen, film critic Chris Fujiwara and Cannes Critics' Week Artistic Director Charles Tasson.

The three-week festival opened with police drama Maverick and closed with competition film Zinnia Flower, the latest film from Starry Starry Night director Tom Lin.

Text / Rockman

Nagase Tomoya and Kamiki Ryunosuke star in Kudo Kankuro's Too Young to Die

  July 13, 2015  
Tokio's Nagase Tomoya returns to film acting for the first time in six years with Too Young to Die, the latest directorial effort from writer Kudo Kankuro.

Based on an original story by Kudo, the fantasy comedy stars Kamiki Ryunosuke as a high school student who dies during a school trip and ends up in hell. At his high school in hell, the new arrival meets a rocker (Nagase) who is also a consultant for the school's music club. The film also co-stars Ono Machiko, Morikawa Aoi, Seino Nana and Kiritani Kenta.

The film is Nagase's fourth collaboration with Kudo. The Johnny's Entertainment rock star previously starred in Tiger & Dragon, Unubore Keiji and Yaji and Kita: The Midnight Pilgrims.

Too Young to Die recently wrapped up production. It is set for a theatrical release in February 2016.

Text / Rockman

Wonder Girls to return in August as four-member group

  June 30, 2015  
After a three-year hiatus, the Wonder Girls are returning as a four-member act later this summer. The popular K-pop girl group has been inactive since 2013 when member Sun Ye got married. Sun Ye and So Hee, who left JYP Entertainment in December 2013 to pursue acting, will not be participating in the upcoming release. Instead, original member Sun Mi, who withdrew from the Wonder Girls in 2010 and has since launched a solo career, will rejoin the group.

In another surprising twist, the Wonder Girls will be promoting as a band rather than a dance group, with Ye Eun on keyboard, Hye Lim on guitar, Sun Mi on bass and Yu Bin on drums. The comeback single is produced by none other than Park Jin Young (JYP).

The Wonder Girls' comeback is set for August 3.

Text / Sanwei

Sheena Ringo to hold first overseas concert in Taiwan

  June 30, 2015  
One of the most popular Japanese rock stars in Asia, Sheena Ringo is finally holding her first overseas concert this year, and she has chosen Taipei as the venue.

As part of her 2015 concert tour, Sheena will play only one show at the Taipei World Trade Center's Nangang Exhibition Hall on August 16. According to local organizers, tickets to the show were sold out within hours of going on sale.

To commemorate the concert, the Taiwan branch of Universal Music is releasing a special compilation album exclusively for the Taiwan market. Featuring tracks chosen by her Taiwan fans, the special album features a cover designed by her usual designer Central67.

Sheena's 2015 Japan hall tour kicks off on October 14 in Tokyo.

Text / Rockman

Eason Chan and A-Mei Chang win at 26th Golden Melody Awards

  June 29, 2015  
Taiwan's 26th Golden Melody Awards were held on June 27 in Taipei. Triumphing over tough competition, Eason Chan and A-Mei Chang were crowned Best Mandarin Male Singer and Best Mandarin Female Singer. For Chan, who beat out Jacky Cheung and Khalil Fong, this is his second win after 12 years, while Chang has now won the top honor three times.

Though Jolin Tsai wasn't nominated for Best Mandarin Female Singer, she came out as one of the biggest winners of the night, with her Play taking Best Mandarin Album, Best Vocal Recording Album, as well as Best Single Producer for "Lip Reading." Song of the Year went to Fire Ex.'s "Island's Sunrise." William Wei ("Wolves"), Francis Lee (Karen Mok's "Departures") and Buddha Jump (Gei Ni Kan) won for Best Composer, Lyricist and Arrangement, respectively. Arai Soichiro picked up Best Album Producer for his work on Departures, and Waa Wei's "In an Unsure World" was selected as the Best Music Video. Buddha Jump also won Best Band while MURMURSHOW was named Best Group. As for Boxing, the Payuan rap band discovered by A-Mei Chang, the band was nominated in four categories and won Best Newcomer.

In the Taiwanese-language categories, Ricky Hsiao won Best Taiwanese Male Singer for the third time, as well as Best Taiwanese Album for The Most Beautiful Flower. Li Ai Qi won the first Best Taiwanese Female Singer award of her twenty-odd year career. This year's Golden Melody Awards also honored diva Jody Chiang and lyricist Chen Yang with Special Contribution Awards.

Text / Garden
Translation / Sanwei

Film adaptation of Chihayafuru to star Hirose Suzu

  June 26, 2015  
Rising star Hirose Suzu has been tapped to star in a two-part film adaptation of Suetsugu Yuki's popular manga series Chihayafuru, which has won both the Manga Taisho Award and the Kodansha Manga Award and has sold over 4.5 million copies to date. Having impressed critics and audiences alike with eye-catching supporting roles in films like Crows Explode and Umimachi Diary, the 17-year-old actress is now tackling the first big-screen starring role of her young career.

Hirose will play Ayase Chihaya who becomes interested in karuta, a card game that originated in 19th century Japan, thanks to her childhood friend Wataya Arata (Mackenyu, Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future). Chihaya soon decides to make it her life's goal to become the best karuta player in the world, but she and Arata are unable to continue spurring each other on in their shared passion due to his moving away. Years later, Chihaya establishes the Mizusawa Karuta Club in high school with her friend Mashima Taichi (Nomura Shuhei, Daily Lives of High School Boys). As time passes and she climbs the ranks in competitive karuta, Chihaya maintains hope that she'll have the chance to be with Arata once again.

To be directed by Koizumi Norihiro (The Liar and His Lover), parts one and two of the film will be released successively in Japan in March and April 2016.

Text / Frood

Hashimoto Kanna to lead new Sailor Suit and Machine Gun film

  June 26, 2015  
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Kadokawa Pictures has greenlighted a new film based on Akagawa Jiro's 1978 pulp classic Sailor Suit and Machine Gun. The popular novel has been adapted for the screen thrice before, becoming a career springboard of sorts for each of the three starlets who previously held the lead role: Yakushimaru Horoko, Harada Tomoyo and Nagasawa Masami. Now, Hashimoto Kanna, a member of the idol group Rev. from DVL, has been chosen to take over the iconic role in a new film adaptation, which will be a continuation of the main character's story as told in the 1981 film rather than a remake. This will be the 16-year-old singer-actress's first lead role after appearing in supporting roles in Assassination Classroom and I Wish.

Sailor Suit and Machine Gun tells the story of Hoshi Izumi, a regular high school student whose life is turned upside down when her father suddenly passes away. She's then approached by a distant relative, who happens to be the leader of a small mafia branch, to take the reins of the organization. Thus, the teenager begins her journey into an unfamiliar world of politics and violence.

The film is set to be released in Japan in spring 2016.

Text / Frood

AKB48, Johnny's and J Soul Brothers top Oricon in first half of 2015

  June 24, 2015  
AKB48 and Arashi continued their dominance of the Oricon single chart in the first half of 2015. However, Sandaime J Soul Brothers also managed to pull off a major upset on the album chart.

Selling 820,470 copies, the EXILE spin-off group's latest album Planet Seven was the top album for the first half of 2015, defeating AKB48's Koko ga Rhodes da, Kokode Tobe!'s sale of 780,591 copies over the same period. Butou, Southern All Star's first album in nearly a decade, was in third place with 500,776 copies sold.

Nevertheless, the idol girl group maintained its victory on the single chart, with AKB-related groups taking six spots in the top ten. AKB48's Bokutachi wa Tatakawanai and Green Flash were the two top singles, selling 1.77 million and 1.04 million copies, respectively.

Arashi also showed off its supremacy as Japan's top male group with two singles in the top ten, as television drama theme songs Aozora no Shita, Kimi no Tonari and Sakura landed in fifth and seventh place, respectively. Sales of both singles were in the 500,000 range. Fellow Johnny's group Kis-My-Ft2 also appeared in eighth place with Thank You Jan!

All of the top 25 singles on the half-year chart are by groups. In comparison, the album chart has three solo artists.

Arashi remains the top-grossing artist overall, with their music-related products earning a total of 5.94 billion yen. Their Arashi Blast in Hawaii is also the best-selling video release on the half-year chart.

Text / Rockman

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