Broadcaster TBS has announced that SMAP’s Takuya Kimura (38) will star in a new drama series next fall, tentatively titled "Nankyoku Tairiku ~Kami no Ryouiki ni Idonda Otoko to Inu no Monogatari~." The show is being produced in commemoration of TBS’s 60th anniversary, and it is said that it will have the biggest budget of any TBS drama series in history.
The series will focus on Japan’s first Antarctic research expedition team, which consisted of 11 members and 19 Sakhalin Huskies. The team stayed at the Showa Base in Antarctica for over a year until 1958 when a second team came to take over, but extreme weather conditions forced the teams to completely retreat from the base, unfortunately leaving behind 15 of the Huskies. When one of the dog handlers returned in 1959 with a third team, it was discovered that two of the dogs, Taro and Jiro, had somehow managed to survive.
That expedition team was also the subject of the 1983 film "Nankyoku Monogatari," starring Ken Takakura (79). That movie earned approximately 11 billion yen, making it the second highest grossing live-action Japanese film in history after "Odoru Daisousasen: The Movie 2."
The drama will not be a remake of the film. Instead, it will be an original script inspired by the book "Nankyoku Ettoutai Taro Jiro no Shinjitsu" by Taiichi Kitamura.
Kimura plays the researcher Takeshi Kuramochi, the vice-leader of the team. His rival, the head weather observer Himuro, will be played by Masato Sakai (37). Teruyuki Kagawa (45) is playing the team leader, while Kyohei Shibata (59) is playing the overall person in charge of the expedition. Other team members will be played by Yusuke Yamamoto (23), Susumu Terajima (47), and Naoto Ogata (43).
Filming will start in February and last more than half a year. Scenes will be shot in Hokkaido, though TBS is also considering doing some filming in Antarctica. The series will begin airing in October in the Sunday 9:00pm time slot.