Saturday, 30 September 2017

Suggested projects for Okada Masaki

Masaki-kun is so cute with glasses...

That’s what happens when you leave a love for several years (or decades). When you return, he (or they) demand a lot of attention. Michael Miu and Barbara Yung demanded my attention for two years… Candy and Terry demanded my attention and brain cells for two months or so… and now Okada Masaki-kun demanded I spend time with him a lot since I last wrote about him in 2013. I’ve been cramming on Masaki series for the last two weeks that I feel my Japanese has improved slightly… and my sleep reduced significantly. Happy, Masaki-kun?

Anyway. After rambling about his latest projects here, I think a post on suggested future projects for Masaki-kun is needed. I have three suggested projects for Masaki based on my favourite manga, anime and novel. So anyway, the projects I suggested are: Yokohama Monogatari (manga by Waki Yamato), Prince Heinel in Voltes V (Toei), and the Cloud of Sparrow (Matsuoka Takashi). Beforehand, though, I just want to share a trivia about his name. Well, not really trivia, cos it’s beautiful and meaningful, actually.

Okada Masaki’s name in Kanji is 岡田将生. When I broke it down into individual Kanji, the meaning is beautiful.

岡 = oka = hill
田 = ta = rice field
将 = masa = leader, future
生 = ki  = life = pure

“Rice field” and “hills” denote abundance in the traditional Japanese (and many Asian) societies. Thus, I think his name can be translated as “one who leads a sincere/pure and prosperous life”. When I look at the 28 years old man Masaki has grown into, I can see how the name fits him.

Back to the suggested projects:

Ryusuke in Yokohama Monogatari

The main characters of "Yokohama Monogatari" (Waki Yamato).
Mariko is central, Ryusuke is the dark-short-haired guy on her left

This manga was published by Waki Yamato in the late 1970s. The story is focused on Uno and Mariko, two girls who grew up together in the Japan’s equivalent of Edwardian Era (pre WW 1) in Yokohama Japan. Uno’s parents died when she was young (about 7-8 years old I think have to check the manga). Uno’s parents used to work for one Mr Kanō, a kind and rich businessman in Yokohama. Mr Kanō decided that Uno should be brought to Yokohama to study there and to accompany his daughter Mariko. Now this is not a Candy Candy story where Uno was abused by the Kanō the way Candy was abused by the Lagans. Instead, Uno was well-loved and taken care of by the Kanō to the point that Kanō Mariko treated her like her own friend/sister.

Mariko (standing) and Uno (sitting)

Now, Ryusuke entered the story when Mariko was about 12 years old or so (have to check the manga again). Ryusuke was a handsome yet poor boy when he rescued Mariko from Mr Kanō’s ship (I remember Mariko was climbing up the mast for some reasons). Ryusuke fell in love immediately with Mariko, but since she was just a little (yet proud) girl, and Ryusuke himself had nothing to offer, Ryusuke left Japan, sailing to several countries to build his own life.

The young Ryusuke (by Waki Yamato)

A few years later, Ryusuke returned to Yokohama. By then, Mariko was engaged with Shintaro, her childhood neighbour (whom Uno loved) and the Kanō shop was in a financial trouble. Then there was an accident in the harbour where the kind Mr Kanō died rescuing his ship (I think there was a storm). Ryusuke tried to rescue Mr Kanō, but he failed. Mariko had to rescue her father’s business, thus she reluctantly married Ryusuke because at that point Ryu was already very rich.

I remember that I hated Ryusuke at this point of the story, for he forced Mariko to marry him to rescue the Kanō company. However, Ryusuke only married Mariko on paper. He never had sex with her, and he even slept at a geisha’s place (no-sex involved) when Mariko threw her tantrum (I love Mariko! She’s certainly not someone to be ordered around!).  Anyway, Ryusuke also allowed Mariko to run the Kanō shop on her own (remember, this was pre WW 1). When another storm battered Yokohama, Ryusuke also later rescued Mariko when she drowned while trying to protect her father’s ships.

Ryusuke rescued Mariko (manga vol 21 p 22)

Mariko slowly fell in love with Ryusuke, and after some twist and turns (including Mariko having a trip to London to see Ryusuke, and Mariko getting attacked by Ryusuke’s enemies), the two finally truly fell in love with each other. Ryusuke eventually also made peace with Shintaro, for he did steal Mariko from Shintaro. Shintaro himself eventually married Uno (who left for the US in search for Shintaro).

Anyway, I know that Masaki can play the pacifier plus general doctor Shintaro very well. However, Ryusuke has more nuances. He has his dark moments and his glorious moments, and he totally loved Mariko since he first met her. I think Okada Masaki can well-develop those nuances in Ryusuke. Plus, Masaki is tall, and Ryusuke is also tall. And handsome, particularly when wearing late 19th century clothing.

Just combine this 19th CE look of Masaki in stage play "Brava!" 2014 (minus the blond curls)...

With Masaki's scowl as Yamada Haruhiko (Chiisana Kyojin 2017), and you got Ryusuke!

And if Mariko is played by Inōe Mao… well that would be very sweet. Mao has that natural stubbornness in her (just see her with Masaki in “I Give My First Love to You”), thus she would be perfect for Mariko.

So here’s hoping…

Prince Heinel in Chōdenji Machine Voltes V

Heinel is the main antagonist in Voltes V (directed by the late Tagahama Nadao). As the leader of the Earth Invasion team from the planet Boazan, the horned Heinel is very ambitious, ruthless and a highly skilled military tactician. His missions against Voltes V always ended in failure, IMO mostly because he didn’t possess the Voltes V super magnetic technology. Below is the opening theme of Voltes V, sang beautifully by Horie Mitsuko (who also sang the Candy Candy OT and ET).

As the series progressed, we learned that Heinel was actually the first born of Prince La Gour of Boazan and Rosalia. La Gour was born without horns, hence by the Boazan draconian law, he should have been a slave. However, his parents made him synthetic horns, hence he could enjoy a good life and good education. Despite his luxurious life, La Gour hated the discrimination against the hornless Boazan, hence he aimed to be the next emperor and liberate the slaves. His plan went busted when his enemy found out that his horns were fake. La Gour was arrested, charged for treason and enslaved. Zambaji, his cousin who disclosed his secret, became the new emperor. Zambaji immediately set off to rule other planets in his dictatorship. La Gour was separated from Rosalia who later died in grief after delivering Heinel. Later, La Gour escaped Boazan and came to Earth. He lived as Gō Kenichi, married Gō Mitsuyo and had three children with her: Kenichi, Daijirō and Hiyoshi.

Heinel-sama of Boazan

Heinel never knew who his father was and what his treason was, for his grandparents always kept it a secret. The constant abuse that Heinel received from general public sine he was but a child made him determined to be the best military leader in Boazan.

Poor little Heinel...

Although Heinel was cruel (slavery and invasion are cruel, senseless actions, Heinel, no matter how cute you are!), he still had some sense of honour and he never ran away from a fight. His two generals (Katherine Rii and Janggar) were very loyal to him till their deaths.

Katherine Rii. She and Janggar were the only people
 who truly believed in Heinel

Heinel only learned about his real heritage after he was defeated by Kenichi in a duel during the Boazan liberation. Heinel retrieved a dagger to kill Kenichi, and La Gour/Gō Kentaro realised that the dagger was his that he gave to Rosalia before he became a slave. Heinel was shocked to learn that he had been fighting against his family all along. Disgusted, he killed Zambaji who was about to leave the palace with his remaining gold. Heinel also rescued Kenichi from a grenade and died on his brother’s behalf, redeeming himself.

Heinel never had a lover per se, but Katharine always loved Heinel. Yet, he never really acknowledged her feelings, nor his own feelings to him. It was only when Katharine died as a human shield to protect Heinel, he realised that he had always loved her.

With this level of complexity, I think Masaki can play Heinel well. Masaki has played the antihero Black Jack (2011), the evil yet (turned out to be) protective Nijimura Keichō (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Diamond is Unbreakable 2017), and the secretive Yamada Haruhiko (Chiisana Kyojin 2017), hence playing Heinel should be easy for him.

I’m not sure who should play Katharine, but Kitagawa Keiko comes to mind.

Okamichi Genji, the Lord of Akaoka in 'Cloud of Sparrows'

“Cloud of Sparrows” is a beautiful novel written beautifully by Matsuoka Takashi. Here’s what Amazon said about this novel:

 Following in the substantial footsteps of filmmaker Akiro Kurosawa and Shogun author James Clavell is Takashi Matsuoka, whose action-packed debut novel, Cloud of Sparrows, unfolds as the age of the samurai warrior starts to wane. The year is 1861, and Lord Genji of Akaoka, last in line of the Okamichi clan, welcomes missionaries Emily, Matthew, and Zephaniah to Japan. Cut off from the West for more than 2,000 years, Japan is as completely unprepared for these outsiders as the missionaries are for geishas and honor killings. Genji, his geisha love Heiko, and the missionaries suddenly find themselves in the middle of several nefarious plots to overthrow the Okamichi leader from as far away as the shogun's palace and as close as Genji's own henchmen. Genji and his visitors journey together across treacherous terrain to seek refuge at the faraway Cloud of Sparrows palace. Although it's a rip-roaring yarn full of ambushes, swordfights, cross-cultural friction, love, and prophetic visions, the book does read a bit like a screenplay, cutting quickly from one scene to another. But the frequent shifts in the story's tempo succeed in making the novel all the more vivid, allowing simultaneous action and contemplation to deepen the story and its inhabitants. --Emily Russin

Genji was originally paired with Heiko, a smart, most-celebrated geisha in Edo. Then came Emily Gibson, a missionary from the United States who arrived in Japan in the New Year of 1861 to preach Christianity.  Genji also possessed the power of premonition. He couldn’t predict all events, though. He could only predict some events, which included his own death.

This fan art perfectly describes the first meeting between Genji and Emily (Source)

Genji and Emily originally were not interested in each other. Genji thought Emily as very weird, for she was wearing a very large 19th CE clothing with a large crinoline (he thought she was so grotesquely fat). Emily couldn't understand a word that Genji spoke, for although Genji had learned English, he never had a native teacher. However, through some very intense episodes, involving e.g. Genji getting shot and Emily had to protect him, Genji and Emily slowly fell in love with each other. They were eventually married. Yet, Emily died young after giving birth to their daughter. The story is resumed in the 'Autumn Bridge', which tells what happens with Genji’s and Emily’s daughter, what happened with Heiko, and also the secret of the Okamichi clan dating back to 1311.

Since the first page of the novel, Genji was shown to be an avid lover in bed. Akin to the real Hikaru Genji I suppose.

Hikaru Genji and Oborozukiyo, art by Waki Yamato

Masaki-kun has played an Edo-period drama (Raiō) before, with Aoi Yu. He looked the part in the shaved-head style of Edo period.

Okada Masaki as Narimichi and Aoi Yu as Yu in Raiō (2010)

And, despite Masaki’s image as a cute boy (and he indeed is a decent man), I’ve seen enough snippets of him in bed scenes that I think Masaki can play Okamichi Genji well. Below is a scene where Narimichi (Raiō) started to make love with Yû. Masaki was 20 or 21 years old by then. For a 28 years old Masaki, playing Okamichi Genji in bed should be delectable to watch...

There is also a scene where Emily had to lay on top of the unconscious Genji to prevent the man from freezing to death. After Genji regained consciousness, he playfully referred to that episode where Emily saved him with her body (heat), causing Emily some distress and thus Genji had to apologise and pacify her. Having seen Masaki’s latest performances, I think Masaki can play those quirky sides of Okamichi Genji very well. Emily should be played by someone with the beauty of Emma Stone, while Heiko should be played by someone in the elegance of Aoi Yû (she played as a doctress in Rurouni Kenshin live action, and she was gorgeous there!).

Now… whom should I submit this proposal of mine, then?

Universe, onegaishimasu?

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