Takuya Kimura starring in TBS’s “Nankyoku Tairiku”

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.

“Space Battleship Yamato” rakes in nearly 1 billion in first 5 days

Film distributor Toho has announced the box office results for the live-action "Space Battleship Yamato" movie, which opened on 440 screens in Japan last week. Over the 5-day period between its opening on December 1 (Wednesday) and December 5 (Sunday), the film earned a total of 943,995,550 yen from 791,012 viewers.

Based on a survey administered by computer and mobile phone, Toho also announced some statistics about the viewing demographic. The audience was approximately 52% male and 48% female. The bulk of the viewers (44.4%) were in their 40s, with the next largest age groups being the 30s (19.0%), 50s (15.1%), and 20s (12.9%). As for occupation, 54.5% said they were company employees, while 16.3% were housewives.

The survey also asked viewers about their reasons for watching the movie. At 31.9%, the most common response was that they wanted to see a live-action version of "Yamato." 21.7% said they watched it because they liked the original "Yamato" anime series, and 15.8% said they went because it starred SMAP’s Takuya Kimura. 5.3% replied that they watched it because the special effects seemed amazing.

Official movie site