Star-Studded Cast Including Mei Nagano, Nao, and Fumino Kimura Shines in the Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Star-Studded Cast Including Mei Nagano, Nao, and Fumino Kimura Shines in the Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow”

Why TV Asahi is so excited about "Osan Zurabu" and why they support the new TV drama "Kimi ga Kokoro wo Kudara Kara" (Because You Gave Me Your Heart). and Marketing What "New Airport Occupation" has and Sunday Theater's "Goodbye Maestro" doesn't: ......

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Sundays’ Drama “Sayonara Maestro” Continues to Lead Household and Core Viewership Ratings. Attention Also on Nishijima Conducting the Orchestra.
Hidetoshi Nishijima, Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow”

“Winter dramas often have varying broadcast start dates, making it difficult for viewers to develop habits, and they tend to have lackluster ratings. This season, every drama seems to have started off with low ratings,” said drama watcher Mr. Mihiro Kawada.

Amidst that, the only one to achieve double-digit ratings and win both household and core viewer ratings (ages 13-49) was TBS’s flagship Sunday drama slot, “Sayonara Maestro: My Father and My Passionate Journey.”

“Academy Award-winning actor Hidetoshi Nishijima (52) stars in the lead role. As he has cherished the character of Shiro-san in the ‘What Did You Eat Yesterday?’ series, it can be observed that he also values the expression of ‘ordinary men’s emotions’ in this work. Despite being a genius maestro, he charmingly portrays the flaws of a man, lively and vivid. Nishijima’s rapidly changing expressions are a significant charm,” said Mr. Kawada.


In addition, it’s unique to the Sunday drama slot to have a stellar supporting cast including Mana Ashida (19), Toshiyuki Nishida (76), and Yuriko Ishida (54).

“What can be generally said about this season’s works is that the casting is subdued. Apart from ‘Sayonara Maestro,’ the punch of the cast, including the main characters and heroines, is weak,” said drama watcher Mr. Masahiro Kitagawa.

“New Airport Occupation ” (NTV) which ranked first in TVer’s favorite subscribers, also features a relatively subdued cast apart from the lead actor Sho Sakurai (42).

“It’s becoming increasingly noticeable that there’s a growing gap between content available on the internet and content available on television. ‘New Airport Occupation’ is simultaneously streamed on the internet alongside television broadcasts, and the number of favorite subscribers is almost double that of ‘Sayonara Maestro.’ Who the content is delivered to, whether it’s tailored to sponsors or commissioners like Netflix, influences how dramas are made,” said a key network producer.


“In New Airport Occupation, there’s something that’s lacking in Sayonara Maestro, and that is the variety element, according to writer Kumao Oyama,” said.

“Similar to the previous series Big Hospital Occupation, the element of mystery-solving variety covers for Sakurai’s lack of action. The unraveling of the crimes of the characters and the identity of the criminal group calling themselves ‘Beasts’ in each episode is what grabs the attention of the youth. This is also reflected in the high core viewer ratings, ranking second overall,” explained.

In the sequel to “Big Hospital Occupation,” titled “New Airport Occupation,” Sakurai’s popular catchphrase among elementary school students, “Is that a lie?” is still going strong.
Sho Sakurai, Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow”
A heartbreaking story reminiscent of the Korean drama masterpiece “Goblin”, “Because You Gave Me Your Heart” has viewers crying non-stop.Despite struggling in terms of viewership ratings, “Because You Gave Me Your Heart,” Fuji TV’s flagship Monday 9 p.m. drama slot, ranked second in TVer’s favorite subscribers.“It’s just too dark. Watching a continuous drama about a heroine, Mei Nagano (24), who grew up being abused and lacks any sense of self-esteem and success, giving up on her dreams due to a disability, and losing her senses one by one in order to save her deceased lover, Yuki Yamada (33), who died in a traffic accident, feels quite harsh,” said Oyama.

While the evaluations from watchers are harsh, TV insiders generally view the drama favorably.


“It’s clear that Monday 9 p.m. is committed to sticking to the romance genre. With the expansion of the drama slot, Fuji TV aims to increase its viewership among young audiences, positioning it as the flagship drama,” said a commercial broadcasting programming staff member.

TV Asahi is rallying behind “Ossan’s Love -Across the Sky-,” which ranked third in TVer’s favorite subscribers despite its late-night time slot.

“In the fourth episode, guest star Dean Fujioka (43) jokingly said, ‘I still feel like this is all a prank,’ but the excitement within the station about who the next guest will be is palpable. With trends like X becoming number one in the world, and off-shot photos of the cast being printed and distributed as ‘Let’s all do our best until the end bento,’ this excitement is something we haven’t seen in a while,” said a TV Asahi staff member.

The sequel to “Ossan’s Love” depicts the “married life” of Tanaka Kei (39, right) and Kento Hayashi (33). Expectations for additional revenue from merchandise targeting dedicated fans are high!

The resentment towards the former Johnny’s

TV insiders also hold respect for TV Asahi’s strategy.

“As a result of casting only young actors to cut costs and attract younger viewers, many of the shows produced have failed to resonate with the largest television-watching demographic. In contrast, TV Asahi has strategically created shows like the medical mystery ‘Great Gift,’ aimed at older viewers with household ratings, ‘Ossan’s Love,’ which generates additional revenue through exhibitions, collaboration cafes, and merchandise sales, and ‘Mars – Zero Revolution,’ targeting teenagers with Shunsuke Michieda (21) from ‘Naniwa Danshi.’ They’ve covered every corner with these measures. Indeed, they are the reigning champions of ratings,” remarked a television writer.

The winter dramas have been a topic of discussion due to casting choices, but what cannot be overlooked is the decline of former Johnny’s talents, who once enjoyed great popularity.

It’s customary for lead roles to be decided a year in advance, so until this season, former Johnny’s talents had remained in prominent roles. However, apart from Sakurai’s “New Airport Occupation,” they have not achieved notable ratings

“It’s also important to note the disappearance of bartering deals. This is evidence that each network is becoming more reluctant to employ former Johnny’s talents. It’s becoming clear that, aside from the core fanbase, there is strong aversion towards them,” remarked a key network producer.

In response to concerns about sponsor disengagement, each network has strategically cast Korean wave stars, LDH artists, and comedians as highlights of their productions. 

“‘Eye Love You’ (TBS) starring Fumi Nikaido (29) and Chae Jong Hyeop (30) is a carefully crafted romantic comedy. Both of them are capable of versatile acting, so it’s intriguing to see whether they will continue with comedy or steer towards a more serious direction,” noted Oyama.

“The realism of Maki Fukuda (35), the lead in ‘1000 Knocks for Marriage’ (Fuji TV), is exquisite. His co-star Yusei Yagi (26) from ‘FANTASTICS’ explodes with cuteness, akin to the next AkaSoeiji (29). He seems poised for a breakthrough. Perhaps because the cast and time slot didn’t elicit high expectations for ratings, the sense of staff making the show as they please adds to its charm,” added a television writer.

Indeed, the reception isn’t bad at all.

Abé stirs up the values of the Reiwa era with “Inappropriateness!” The analysis of Showa-era references sprinkled by Kudokan is also enjoyable.

This season, “Inappropriateness!” (TBS) has earned high praise from watchers as undoubtedly entertaining, and Mr. Kawada sees it as a triumph of marketing.

“The success of ‘From Today, It’s My Turn!!’ (NTV) also proves that things that are nostalgic for the Showa generation and fresh for younger viewers resonate. I’ve heard that people in their 20s watch it to learn about ‘the incomprehensible values of their bosses,’ and having common topics to discuss in the workplace is significant.”

Mr. Kitagawa notes that due to the inability to invest heavily in the cast, the creators are working hard. For example, the script for “Too Inappropriate!” is written by Kankuro Kudo.

The actions and words of the Showa-era middle-aged man played by Sadao Abe (53),

“This drama contains inappropriate expressions and smoking scenes. We will intentionally broadcast it as it was in 1986.”

The method of dealing with it by displaying a caption stating “This drama contains inappropriate expressions and smoking scenes. We will intentionally broadcast it as it was in 1986.” is being well received by the creators as refreshing. Amidst budget cuts, it’s the writers and other creators who are supporting the drama.

“‘Loveless People’ (TV Asahi) is meticulously crafted by the screenwriter Kozueko Yukawa, who is known for either hitting a home run or striking out. ‘The Man Who Doesn’t Get Divorced – The Deceptive Love of the Deserted Husband and the Evil Wife’ (TV Asahi) is enjoying great success in streaming platforms with Mariya Shinoda’s (37) intense love scenes. It’s the last terrestrial broadcast script work by Osamu Suzuki, who declared to retire from scriptwriting,” said Mr. Kitagawa.

“Ooku” (Fuji TV) may not be pulling in the numbers, but Mr. Kawada says it’s a production that serves as motivation for the creators.


“Due to its grand scale period drama, it’s likely running at a loss when considering the balance sheet. However, without an environment where staff can think, ‘Someday I’ll be part of this too,’ it becomes impossible to create with a broader perspective. Working on large-scale projects with determination, even in terms of passing down expertise, should be an asset for the network. Moreover, if considering worldwide distribution, this budget scale should be considered a must.”

Now, more than ever, with the increase in drama slots and cost-cutting measures reducing resources for production, on-the-ground capability is in high demand.

After airing, “Eye Love You” starring Fumino Kimura experiences a surge in TVer’s favorite subscribers and household & core viewer ratings, indicating its strong performance.
Unpublished Photo: Fumino Kimura, Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow”
Fukuda, who achieved his first starring role in a serial drama with “1000 Knocks for Marriage.” The pace is good, and it’s been well received as fun, like a romantic variety show.
Unpublished Photo: Maki Fukuda, Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow”
“Inappropriateness!” shakes up the values of the Reiwa era with Sadao Abe. Kudo Kan’s analysis of Showa-era references is also enjoyable.
Yō Yoshida (left) is juggling roles in both the Taiga drama “To You, Shining in the Glow” and “Inappropriateness!” and is displaying outstanding presence in both works.
Unpublished Photo: Yō Yoshida, Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow”
Sota Fukushi (30, left) and Nozomi Sasaki (36) in “Ai no nai Koibito-tachi,” a drama by popular screenwriter Yuukawa about a man and woman who have trouble finding love.
Unpublished Photo: Nozomi Sasaki, Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow”
Noritake Kinashi (61) and Nao (29) look like a real father and son in “When Spring Comes”. The theme of how to meet death is earnest.
Unpublished Photo: Nao, Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow”
Unpublished Photo: Nao, Winter 2024 Drama “Behind the Scenes of Joy and Sorrow”

From the March 1 and 8, 2024 issues of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Kazuhiko Nakamura (Nishijima, Abe, Fukuda, Sakurai) Yoshihito Murata (Nikaido, Nao, Sasaki, Yoshida)

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