Readers who have followed Japanese drama series may know that Japan’s premier national broadcaster NHK (Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai) regularly airs ‘asadora‘ (朝ドラ, or morning drama series) on television.
For the uninitiated, NHK‘s national stature in Japan is unparalleled: only the best entertainment figures are featured on its programmes, and anyone who has attempted to pick up the Japanese language before will remember practising their reading skills with nihon-go on NHK news articles. The asadora, which has been noted to feature the life of a female heroine who overcomes significant challenges in order to attain her aspirations, is in fact often a major milestone for actresses holding the role, with stringent selection processes to shortlist the final cast. Actresses who have played the lead protagonist role in asadora before will become spokespersons for the broadcasting agency, appearing on prominent events such as the annual Kōhaku Uta Gassen (Year-End Song Festival) as well.
It is thus a great honour for two prominent entertainment figures to be featured in the upcoming morning drama series, titled とと姉ちゃん (“Toto Nee-chan“). The series will depict the story of protagonist Kohashi Tsuneko, played by Takahata Mitsuki, whose father’s death from tuberculosis catapults her to support her family as the ‘paternal’ figure instead and eventually witnesses her achieving great success in launching a magazine. It will be set during the post-WWII era.
Utada Hikaru is no stranger to success. At only the age of 33 this year, she has already attained a long list of record achievements in entertainment as one of Japan’s best-selling music artistes and, as The Japan Times put it just seven years back, “the most influential artist of the decade“. Her comeback after a hiatus was very well-received, with a project “New-Turn” started to rally her fans to purchase her music releases with a “#おかえりHIKKI” (“Welcome back Hikki“) Twitter hashtag with the returns to be directed to the growing of sakura trees in parts of Japan damaged by the tsunami during the Tōhoku earthquake five years back.
It is perhaps only fitting that she will be singing the theme song “Hanataba wo Kimi ni” (“Bouquet for You“) for NHK‘s “Toto Nee-chan” drama, in addition to other theme songs. The series will be aired from the 4th of April onwards, in the morning for a duration of 8.15am to 8.40am. The series will mark Hikaru‘s return to the music scene after a long time. However, no news with regards to whether the song would be released as part of a single has been released yet.
Another prominent seiyuu-singer will also be involved in the feature programme.
Readers would be no stranger to the talented and well-liked Suzumura Kenichi, whose appearance in the Lantis Festival 2015 last year was very well-received by fans and audiences worldwide. Suzumura (affectionately nicknamed “Suzuken” by fans) performed for multiple events last year such as the Manten Live 2015 coinciding with his release of the “Tsuki to Taiyou no Uta” single, as well as having hosted the AD-LIVE programme last year. His successes will see him continue the Manten Live legacy later this year with a 2016 concert in the works as well, to be held a month after he releases his 12th and latest single.
The 10th Seiyuu Awards ceremony recently saw Suzumura obtain yet another two new awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Personality, alongside similarly impressive singers such as Hayami Saori and Hosoya Yoshimasa, cementing his position in the entertainment scene as a more-than-qualified popular voice actor and musician alike. On top of that, he will be providing the narration to the special programme to precede the Toto Nee-chan morning drama. This programme will be broadcast from tomorrow (21st March) at 8.15a.m. and will feature the synopsis of the asadora to prepare viewers for what to expect on 4 April.
We at J-Network congratulate Utada Hikaru for being given the honour to sing the theme song of the drama and Suzumura Kenichi to provide the narration for its special programme respectively, and look forward to the broadcast of the Toto Nee-chan morning drama on NHK next month.
Translations by Astrid
Featured image taken from Toto Nee-chan’s official website on NHK
Author’s note: INTENTION is Suzumura Kenichi‘s talent agency.