Masaki Aiba to star in “Bartender” drama

Arashi’s Masaki Aiba (27) is confirmed to be starring in a drama adaptation of Araki Joh and Kenji Nagatomo’s popular manga "Bartender," airing this winter. This will be Aiba’s first lead drama role since last year’s "My Girl."

"Bartender" has been serialized in Shueisha’s Super Jump magazine since 2004, and its collected volumes have so far sold over 2.5 million copies. The protagonist is Ryu Sasakura (Aiba), a genius bartender who has won a European cocktail contest. Now back in Japan, he listens to his customers talk about their problems of work, love, and family, then helps them settle those problems through his cocktails. Other plot points include a potential romance with the story’s heroine and showdowns against rival bartenders.

Aiba has been training since September with a professional bartender to learn actual cocktail-making techniques.

TV Asahi will broadcast "Bartender" in the Friday 11:15 time slot, starting in January. Supporting cast details are expected to be revealed soon.

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