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An idol's new game

Poster for the drama

Publication Date : 16-04-2014


Ninomiya Kazunari, a member of Japan's top idol group Arashi, is also known for his acting chops


In addition to being a member of the popular idol group Arashi, Kazunari Ninomiya is acclaimed for his superb acting skills.

Ninomiya is expected to bring his inherent passion to a new role as a teacher in a serial TV drama that started airing over the weekend.

Ninomiya stars in Yowakutemo Katemasu: Aoshi Sensei to Heppoko Koko Kyuji no Yabo (Even the weak can win: Ambition of Aoshi Sensei and his clumsy high school baseball players) alongside a number of younger actors. “People born in the Heisei era [beginning in 1989] are all so huge,” said Ninomiya, who was born in 1983.

On the day of the interview, Ninomiya was in a TV studio, performing in a scene where he introduces himself to his class.

Ninomiya’s film acting credits include Platinum Data” and Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima. Highlights of his small-screen work include the TV drama Freeter ie o kau (A house for my family).

This time around, Ninomiya plays researcher-turned-teacher Aoshi Tamo. After returning as a teacher to the prestigious high school from which he had graduated, he is asked to become skipper of the baseball club, where he once had been a member. It’s a role Tamo had no intention of filling. The school’s club has only six members, including student assistant Yuzuko, played by Kasumi Arimura.

Even in the role of a teacher, the boyish Ninomiya is not an intimidating figure, making it all the more a surprise that he looks every bit the teacher once he takes the podium.

“If I act without being fully convinced of the director’s instructions, my performance ends up being miserable. It’s possible I avoid thinking about unnecessary things, so that I can immediately sort out what’s demanded from me,” Ninomiya said. This may be the secret that makes him such a skilled actor.

This is the first time Ninomiya has played a teacher.

Though the actor says his mental image of a teacher was the legendary “Kimpachi Sensei”, an enthusiastic teacher portrayed by Tetsuya Takeda, Aoshi seems the polar opposite of such a passionate character.

Aoshi avoids contact with his students, coolly treating them as the objects of a clinical observation.

“I guess I’d better not behave like a teacher” in playing this character, he said.

Ninomiya is playing a real-life leadership role, however, by bringing the younger actors together, even away from the set. Before shooting started, he invited the junior actors to dinner.

“What is important is to bring them close to one another. My role is to step forward only when something happens,” he said. His approach toward the younger actors is like that of a real teacher.

Asked about which teachers he remembers particularly well, Ninomiya said all of his teachers supported him greatly, providing positive support for his show business activities.

“When I was at middle and high school, we were not necessarily doing things covered by TV shows or magazines. So, I guess they probably didn’t really know what I was doing,” he said.


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