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Press conference for Horikita Maki's morning drama, "Umechan Sensei"

June 29, 2011 @ 6:23 pm
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After the not-so-official announcement earlier this month, NHK held a press conference with actress Horikita Maki to make it official that she will star in next year's morning drama.

The drama also has a title, "Umechan Sensei", and Horikita is already trembling with excitement. She said, "I've never been so nervous and felt this much pressure before."

As expected by various insiders, the drama will be set in the past as well, the time of the post-war reconstruction to be exact. Horikita will play a female doctor called Umeko, better known to the people as 'Umechan-sensei', treating all kind of patients in Kamata, Tokyo.

NHK once again decided to send the offer directly to the actress instead of holding auditions for their next morning drama. It was the same case with this year's "Ohisama" starring Inoue Mao. Horikita's most recent appearance on NHK was for the taiga drama "Atsuhime".

Chief producer Iwatani Kanako didn't hold back with the praises for the actress. She commented, "Last year I experienced her stage play and I could feel all this powerful energy coming from her slender body. Somehow she is an actress who embodies the atmosphere of the Showa era (1926~1989), so I think she is the perfect choice for this drama."

Horikita's character, Umeko, also bears the burden of being the youngest of three siblings. Her older sister and brother are called Matsuko and Takeo, so she often refers to herself as the plum (ume) of the auspicious group of pine (matsu), bamboo (take) and plum. This auspicious group of plans and trio of kanji is also called the 'shochikubai'.

Her thoughts about this kind of character, "I haven't yet put myself into the shoes of this character, but with her initial inferiority complex, I'm personally looking forward to what kind of path she will take."

About playing the lead in a morning drama, she commented, "I haven't told anybody about it yet (laughs). I expect everyone around me will know it after this announcement. Personally I'm a little frightened. The filming will take place for a very long time and I still can't image what it will be like every day."

It's also said that she was a big fan of the 2001 morning drama "Churasan", so she knows about the meaning of such a drama. She added, "A morning drama is a drama you're watching every morning, so it eventually could end up becoming a part of your daily life. I would like to put all my effort into this project, so that everyone who will be watching the drama will start each day with a smile. I can't wait for people to start calling me Umechan-sensei."

Horikita also is aware that she tends to play characters during the Showa era quite often, most memorably her role in the movie "Always: Sunset on Third Street", but she doesn't really dislike this era. She stated, "I'm learning a lot of new things when playing such characters and one thing I noticed is that the Japanese people of the postwar period had an amazing power. I can be proud that I was born in the Showa era."

Scriptwriter Ozaki Masaya is responsible for the screenplay. He already wrote the great scripts for dramas such as "Natsuko no Sake", "Kekkon Dekinai Otoko", "Shiroi Haru", and "Oniyome Nikki".

"Umechan Sensei" will begin airing next year on April 2nd, 2012 and air for a total of 156 episodes. The filming is scheduled to begin this November.

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Source + Photos: eiga.com

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