Reina Tanaka’s Stellar Performance in Boogie Woogie Sends Shockwaves Through TV Land! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Reina Tanaka’s Stellar Performance in Boogie Woogie Sends Shockwaves Through TV Land!

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Actress Reina Tanaka (43) appeared in the serial TV drama “Boogie Woogie” (NHK General and others). She played the role of the leader of women working as so-called street prostitutes in post-war Yurakucho. While watching her performance, I felt a slight sense of incongruity. However, it was not in a negative sense but rather in a positive sense of topicality, like “Reina Tanaka is appearing in a morning drama!”

A precious shot in 2005 when she started her career as a movie actor.

It seems I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, as on social media, there was also a burst of joy with comments like “Oh, it’s Miné-san! (Tanaka’s character name)” and “It’s Reina Tanaka~!” Seeing her in the morning drama made me realize once again what a charming actress she is, and I found myself wanting to ponder why the public is drawn to her charm.

The “Nacchan” commercial that left a vivid memory

When I trace back the first memory associated with Reina Tanaka’s name, what comes to mind is the Suntory commercial “Nacchan” that aired in 1998. The juice is still being sold today, 26 years later. The package, with its vibrant orange color and black smiley face, remains recognizable.


At that time, she portrayed a rookie actress named “Nacchan” in the commercial, overcoming various difficulties and growing throughout the story. It was an era when information broadcast on terrestrial television was highly valued, and there was considerable attention on commercials. Reina Tanaka’s beauty became widely known with remarks like, “Who is that girl?”


She has aimed to be an actress since childhood, and she chose movies as her main stage for acting. Looking back from her appearance in the 1995 film “Super High School Gang,” she has appeared in around 50 films to date, although this is just an estimate. Including satellite broadcasts and online streaming, she has been in about 40 television dramas.


Indeed, Reina Tanaka is an actress in movies. Movies are considered special by the general public. One must have interest in a particular film, go out to buy tickets, and then finally watch it. Although movies are now easily accessible through streaming services, there is still a difference in convenience compared to terrestrial broadcasts, as subscription fees are involved.


What is the favorite book of Reiwa’s silver screen star?

If we follow Tanaka’s career to this point, there is a divergence from the audience of terrestrial TV dramas. Yet, why is it that her name and beauty are still remembered?

Last year she appeared at an event in Busan.

One reason that can be cited is that her entire life seems to be like a performance on stage. Additionally, there is a resolute determination towards acting. In the course of researching for this article, I came across an interview in the magazine BIST [beauty ST] where she mentioned the book “Takamine Hideko: Kakukatariki” (published by Bungeishunju).


This thick volume of 576 pages is a collection of conversations between Takamine, a renowned cultural figure also known as a writer, and various distinguished cultural figures, including Naoya Shiga, Junichiro Tanizaki, Yukiji Asaoka, Tanaka Kinuyo, Donald Keene, and Hisashi Inoue. Since most of them are deceased, it could now be considered a historical document.


What’s interesting is how Takamine, who was dignified on stage, freely speaks her mind in the book. For example, in a conversation with actress Tanaka Kinuyo, she casually dismisses the hardships of being an actress like this:


“The pain is forgotten as soon as it’s over, right? Like how you forget the pain after having your appendix removed. It’s nothing serious. It’s natural to find the job tough, and no one thinks it’s fun.”


In conversations with Nobuhira Ikeshima and Seizaburo Ogimachi, she candidly talks about the behind-the-scenes reality of glamorous acting. Let me quote:


“Because you have to expose yourself in front of everyone, you have to be kissed by about sixty people, you have to do anything. When it’s your turn to come out, you can’t refuse anything.”


At 43, Tanaka might not have been connected to the era when the stars of the silver screen in the Showa era were active. Yet she still dares to set them as her goal. It felt like I got a step closer to understanding why she considers movies her main stage for acting.


Acting venues that have begun to show changes

Since last year, there have been signs of change in Tanaka’s activities.


She gained popularity among Generation Z for her portrayal in the poignant human drama “Ichiban Sukina Hana” (Fuji TV, 2023), where she played the key character, Michiru-chan, who is involved with all four main characters. Even then, social media was abuzz with “Is it Reina Tanaka?” Until then, appearing on terrestrial dramas, which she hadn’t been much involved in, might have been as Takamine Hideko said, “You have to do anything.”


And now, this leads to her appearance in the morning drama at the beginning.


Approaches to acting vary for each individual in the acting profession. Some see marriage and childbirth as part of their actor business. There are also those who engage in writing and broadcasting alongside acting. Amidst all this, Tanaka continues to captivate us with her serene portrayal of “herself as an actress.” And that’s perfectly fine.

  • Interview and text by Hisano Kobayashi

    Hisano Kobayashi writes essays and columns, and works as an editor, writer, and promoter. She is the author of "Kekkon to nakonoshikanai Uruwashikana Jinsei" (KK Bestsellers), "45 cm no Distance: About Human Relations in a World with More Functions to Connect" (WAVE Publishing), and "Best of Heisei Drama! (Seishun Shuppansha). Born in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. x (former Twitter): @hisano_k

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