Mei Nagano Struggles, Alice Hirose’s Fate? Is Monday 9 PM’s Debut Lead Route at its Limit? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Mei Nagano Struggles, Alice Hirose’s Fate? Is Monday 9 PM’s Debut Lead Route at its Limit?

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January term and April term, both with two people starring as the lead in nine episodes each.

Actress Mei Nagano (24) starring in the Fuji TV Monday 9 PM drama “Because You Gave Me Your Heart” is struggling.

The drama is an original work by the master of romantic stories known for movies like “Tonight, at the Romance Theater” (2018), Yasuyuki Uyama. It’s a fantasy love story set in Nagasaki, depicting the harsh miracle it brings. The average household viewer rating started at 7.2% for the first episode (according to Video Research, Kanto region, and the following are the same), but has been declining since then. In the 7th episode aired on the 19th, it dropped to its lowest at 5.1%.

“In the first episode, the protagonist, Ame played by Nagano, rushes to the hospital where Taiyo, played by Yuki Yamada (33), whom she reunites with after ten years, is brought in after a traffic accident. Suddenly, there appears an usher from the afterlife played by Koichi Sato (42) and Wakana Matsumoto (39), presenting a harsh miracle. They offer to save Taiyo’s life in exchange for Ame offering her five senses. Indeed, the setup was too far-fetched even from the first episode, and many viewers likely dropped out at this point.” (Entertainment reporter)


The worst viewer ratings for Monday 9 PM dramas so far were in the October term of last year, with “One Day: Wonderful Christmas Ado” starring Arashi’s Kazunari Ninomiya (40), Takao Osawa (55), and Miki Nakatani (48), averaging 5.3% for all episodes. The lowest per-episode rating was 4.6% for the final episode of “Enemy of the People, Isn’t the World Weird!?” in October 2017, starring Ryoko Shinohara (50).

While Nagano’s drama still surpasses “ONE DAY” in average ratings, there is a significant possibility that it may fall below the numbers of “Enemy of the People.”

While Nagano’s drama is still above “One Day” in average, it is quite possible that it will fall below “Enemy of the People” numbers.

“In recent years, not only in the Monday 9 PM slot but also in consecutive dramas, Fuji TV has actively employed actors in their debut lead roles. Regarding the Monday 9 PM slot, the last lead actor who wasn’t in a sequel series before the 2021 April term ‘Ichikei no Karasu’ was Takeshi Kaneshiro (53). (In the 2022 July term, ‘Guardians of the Competition,’ Ken Takakura (32) and Kyo, who have experienced Monday 9 PM lead roles, co-starred.)

Among the works since 2020, the highest average viewer ratings for all episodes with the first lead cast on Fuji TV’s Monday 9 PM slot was in the January term of 2022 with ‘Do Not Say Mystery’ starring Masaki Suda (31), which adapted a popular comic, recording 11.1%. The film adaptation was released in September last year and recorded a box office revenue of 4.8 billion yen, becoming a hit.

While that drama was successful, reaching double digits on average for all episodes was only achieved until that work. Since the 2021 April term ‘My Ex-Boyfriend’s Will,’ starring Haruka Ayase (38), up to ‘ONE DAY,’ there have been seven consecutive works with an average rating of less than 10% for all episodes.” (Same source)

It might be their selling point to feature fresh dramas starring trendy actors in their debut lead roles, but it’s not necessarily yielding results. Nevertheless, despite this situation, Fuji TV has announced the broadcast of “366 Days” for the April term of Monday 9 PM. This drama marks the debut lead role for actress Alice Hirose (29) in both the Monday 9 PM slot and Fuji TV consecutive dramas.

The drama is inspired by the world of the representative song “366 Days” by the Okinawan male-female quartet group HY. It tells an original story about a man and a woman who, twelve years after their high school days, set out to fulfill a love that didn’t blossom during their school years.


“Even Suzu Hirose (25), who is the younger sister, has yet to lead in a Monday 9 PM drama. It’s notable that Alice, the elder sister, is being cast. Due to the recent decline in the Monday 9 PM slot, many actors decline lead roles as they see no benefits. However, actors who were relatively well-received in the past as leads from the previous ‘brand’ of the slot still accept Monday 9 PM debut lead roles… It’s possible that the upper management at Fuji TV hasn’t realized that the strategy of casting debut leads for Monday 9 PM dramas has reached its limit.” (Broadcast reporter)

Furthermore, considering that even Kimura Takuya, who once consistently achieved ratings of over 20% with his Monday 9 PM dramas, couldn’t reach double digits with last year’s April term drama “Kazama Kimichika- Kyojo Zero,” which garnered only 9.8%, it suggests that the Monday 9 PM time slot itself may have become increasingly challenging to attract viewers.


“For example, in recent years, there have been sequels to popular past dramas such as ‘Ichikei no Karasu,’ which even had a theatrical release, ‘Inspector Asagao’ starring Juri Ueno (37), and earlier hits like ‘HERO’ starring Kimura Takuya and ‘Code Blue -Doctor Heli Kinkyu Kyumei-‘ starring Tomohisa Yamashita (38). Alternatively, there’s the option of tackling big-budget productions like ‘VIVANT,’ which aired in the Sunday drama slot last July and was a massive hit with ample funding. Perhaps these are the only two choices available to defend the Monday 9 PM brand effectively.” (Same source)

If “366 Days” were to fail, perhaps even Fuji’s executives would finally wake up. In any case, it seems that the Monday 9 PM slot is facing a significant turning point.

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Alice Hirose carrying a large number of paper bags during a commercial shoot in Tokyo (April 22, 2022 issue).
Mei Nagano filming on location for “The Mitarai Family Goes Up in Flames” (Netflix) near Yokohama Stadium (March 25, 2022 issue).
Haruka Ayase on location for “The Testament of My Ex.” (Netflix). Surprisingly, this is her first starring role in a Gekkan 9 movie (April 1 and 8, 2012 issue).
  • PHOTO Yusuke Kondo

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