You can catch actress Higa Manami on the Netflix (in collaboration with TBS) drama “Japan Sinks: People of Hope” currently streaming with new episodes every week (started on 10/10). Manami plays the role of Amami Kaori who starts the series separated from her husband Amami Keishi (played by Oguri Shun who happens to be the husband of Uchinanchu and popular model/actress Yamada Yu). When searching Netflix for the show, be sure not to confuse it with the anime of the similar name (both are based off of the novel “Japan Sinks“).
We’re really excited to see how Luchu and its people are portrayed in this upcoming drama from NHK called “Chimudondon” based on the life of Higa Nobuko. The heroine (pictured above) of the drama is played by Kuroshima Yuina and is set to air in the Spring 2022 TV season. And in case you’re wondering about the theme song, it hasn’t been announced yet so we still have hope that it’ll be an artist from Luchu.
Although the 6-episode web drama “Ghosts Can’t Dance (Yūrei wa Odorenai)” was uploaded to YouTube back in March, I finally finished watching it recently and it’s so good (lots of feels)! Anyone with an interest in Ryukyu culture (both pop and traditional) shouldn’t miss this. The web drama is produced by the Kariyushi Geinou Kouen (Traditional Okinawan Performing Arts) and features the original theme song “Don’t forget” by upcoming singer-songwriter Kina Kanon.
YouTube link to the first episode of “Ghosts Can’t Dance”.
Okay, so it wasn’t the news of who will be singing the drama’s theme song that we’re waiting for but the announcement of the logo designed by Kosugi Koichi. At this rate, we’ll probably see a new Twitter account for the drama before the theme song is announced. 😂
And, yes! We have two additional Uchinanchu that were announced as cast members for the upcoming NHK asadora “Chimudondon”. You probably noticed that we mention Gori a lot and now we get to mention his Garage Sale partner Kawata Hiroki! You may recall him from “Churasan” so it’s great to see him on this new asadora too (it would be funny if the characters are somehow related but I don’t think that’ll be happening 😂). In “Chimudondon”, Kawata will be playing the role of the master at Sunset Burger so it sounds more of a supporting role.
The other Uchinanchu cast member is radio personality and free-announcer Kyan Hitomi who will be playing the obaa role for the Aragaki family.
So all that remains is the theme song and artist. We’re hoping that it’ll be Anly (from Iejima).
So a funny thing happened. While we were excited to hear about an upcoming NHK Asadora that takes place in Okinawa called “Chimumdondon“, we were also holding our breath to see how the rest of the cast would play out. NHK is slowly rolling out the names of the drama’s cast and when they started off with Nakama Yukie (playing the role of the heroine’s mother Higa Youko) we all breathed a sigh of relief — until the rest of the names (only Yukie is Uchinanchu) was announced 😂. As the cast announced is only of the Higa (heroine’s) family and the theme song’s singer hasn’t been determined yet, we can only hope that we’ll see more Uchinanchu represented in a drama that’s. Set. In. Okinawa.
But, yeah, we know. Ryukyu no Kaze. Churasan. Should we just be happy that there’s a large production (from NHK) that’s filmed in Okinawa and features a few Uchinanchu in its cast and crew?
In the category of “I really want to watch this!” comes the RBC Ryukyu historical drama Shō En Ou (the king of the second Shō dynasty) which aired in February 2020 and is being streamed on Japan’s Paravi service and sold as a DVD (sadly, no English subtitles for both editions).
The cast is led by ParanaiSaranai’s Chinen Shingo (he’s also the first Kanai/Ryujin Mabuyer!) as King Shō En and features actors and actresses from Okinawa. I found the DVD for sale on Amazon Japan but it’s region code 2 (not playable on US players) so I may have to go the Paravi route which is at least offering 2 weeks for free.
To commemorate the 65th anniversary of the All-Island Eisaa Festival (canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic), a drama special was shown on OTV on February 13th of this year. It looks like a must-watch drama and I love the part in the above trailer when it shows one of the drama’s themes: “We will protect our (eisaa) tradition” (伝統は俺たちが守ります). So the bad news is that the drama isn’t available to be streamed nor is there a physical copy on sale (a few of the YouTube comments are pleading for a DVD). OTV and Zentou Eisaa, please release the drama on YouTube!