Rise of NHK’s Kuwako, TV Asahi’s Morikawa, and Fuji’s Mikami in the Mid-Level Female Announcer Battle | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Rise of NHK’s Kuwako, TV Asahi’s Morikawa, and Fuji’s Mikami in the Mid-Level Female Announcer Battle

Entertainment Special Report: The 12 most talented female TV announcers are all stable and adept at ad-libbing without fear of accidents! Thorough investigation of the true faces and abilities of 12 talented people!

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Maho Kuwako (36), NHK [One of NHK’s two tops] Announcing skill: 4 Glamour: 4 Potential: 4 Intelligence: 3 Charm: 4. She graduated from Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. In elementary school, she admired the caster of “Close-up Gendai” that she now handles.

A mid-level female announcer who smoothly progresses programs with outstanding skills not typically seen in younger colleagues. Surviving in the fiercely competitive announcer industry, their strength lies in their unwavering composure even when accidents occur. Amidst many gloomy topics, they are the ones steadfastly supporting each television station.

FRIDAY magazine conducted interviews with TV industry personnel and experts, evaluating talented announcers based on five criteria: announcing skill, glamour, potential, intelligence, and charm. From a group of 12 individuals in their 30s to 40s, the strongest mid-level announcer was determined.

Maho Kuwako (36), who is highly regarded as the ace at NHK, stands out. Upon joining NHK in 2010, she gained experience as a caster on “News 7” and “News Watch 9.”

“She’s already NHK’s top ace. Her announcing skills are more than sufficient, and her interactions with Tamori on ‘Bura Tamori’ were well-received, showing no hesitation. In news programs, her emotionally charged delivery, which doesn’t feel like she’s just reading a script, has also earned high praise. Looking at her past programs, she’s undoubtedly on the fast track for success within NHK.” (Female announcer critic, Daijiro Maruyama)

Another NHK standout, alongside Kuwako, is Mayuko Wakuda (35).

“Wakuda, who is in charge of ‘News 7’ at NHK, was responsible for the live coverage of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony in the past. It was a significant role, but she flawlessly handled her duties without any mistakes, solidifying her reputation for announcing skills. With no scandals in her past and considerable popularity among women, there are rumors that when Yumiko Udo (54) retired from NHK, she was offered a position as a future executive as a condition to stay. If Wakuda continues to advance her career, she might become a similar figure.” (Entertainment critic, Takeshi Misugi)

While NHK boasts two aces, Kuwako, who has hosted the “Kohaku Uta Gassen” four times and currently hosts the flagship program “Close-up Gendai,” is leading the fierce competition for the top spot.

Meanwhile, mid-level announcers are also making their presence felt at commercial stations. Yutaka Morikawa (30) is gaining recognition at TV Asahi while Ayaka Hiroaka (33) is on maternity leave.

“Although she isn’t widely recognized, Morikawa has steadily built her career in news reporting since joining the company, supporting TV Asahi’s current lineup. In addition to her announcing skills, her on-screen presence is reminiscent of the former ace, Ayaka Ogawa (39). TV Asahi finds it challenging to retain in-house announcers, and they seek announcers with longevity. Morikawa, who has been in charge of ‘News Station’ and ‘Sunday Station,’ is at the forefront of their expectations.” (TV Asahi insider)

As a new generation of announcers enters their thirties at TV Asahi, TV Tokyo’s flagship announcers are not to be outdone.

“Mariko Ooe (45) is a candidate for future executives. She has a friendly character yet can deliver sharp, composed comments. She’s a versatile type who can handle both economic programs and variety shows. Her popularity among women is high because she doesn’t come across as too calculated on screen. Although there are yearly rumors about her going freelance, the station undoubtedly wants to retain such exceptional talent.” (Previously mentioned, Daijiro Maruyama)

While Fuji Television has produced numerous star announcers, there are still shining talents.


“Mana Mikami (34) has a soothing presence without a pushy demeanor. Her role on the morning show ‘Nonstop!’ is well-received by the main audience, mainly elderly women, due to her likability. She’s skilled at time management, but honestly, her improvisation skills are weak. Ideal would be if she could handle spontaneous situations like disaster coverage or breaking news.” (Fuji TV insider)


On one hand, there’s an announcer beloved by viewers for her unique charm, while on the other, there’s a traditional successor dubbed “Kato Pan’s successor,” Aimi Miyashi (32).


“Since taking over as the main caster of ‘Live News It!’ from Ayako Kato (38), there are naturally high expectations from the network. Umaji enunciates clearly, making the content easy to understand, and she quickly grasps the script. After Tokyo, she might also be the caster for the Paris Olympics.” (Same source)


Compared to other networks, TBS has been criticized for having a thin layer of announcers, but they’re taking a different approach with talents that deviate from the conventional image of announcers.


“Hibi Maonko (30) capitalizes on her heavy drinker persona, hosting the regular segment ‘Onna Sakaba Hourouki’ (Wandering Women’s Drinking Parties), appealing to the middle-aged male demographic. With experience across variety, news, and sports programs, she has a high level of expertise. Since she hasn’t specialized in a particular genre yet, she has the potential to excel in any direction.” (Same source)


Entering the mid-level, Ai Eto (38) already entrusted with managerial responsibilities, is considered a candidate for an executive position like Shinichiro Azumi (50).

“While not overly assertive, she has an excellent sense of balance, often teasing Shinichiro Azumi’s statements with remarks like ‘That’s a bit outdated, isn’t it?’ and garnering laughs. She’s also trusted by heavyweight MCs like Masahiro Nakai (51).” (Same source)


Nana Suzue (43), who stands on par with the absolute ace of NTV, Asami Mizutoki (36), in terms of capability, used to be flashy and attention-grabbing in her youth, but after Mizutoki’s breakout, she transitioned to a behind-the-scenes powerhouse position. Previously handling variety shows, she’s been acclaimed as a news expert since proving herself on ‘News Every.’ Suzue in news and Mizutoki in variety form NTV’s dual pillars.” (NTV insider)

Mayuko Wakuda (35), NHK [Ace who maintains a scandal-free image]. Announcing skill: 4, Glamour: 4, Potential: 3, Intelligence: 4, Charm: 4. Graduated from the University of Tokyo. After being assigned to the Okayama Broadcasting Station, she was selected for high school baseball commentary after just four months, indicating high expectations for her future from the time of joining the company.
Yuki Morikawa (30), TV Asahi [Highly anticipated in-house talent]. Announcing skill: 5, Glamour: 4, Potential: 5, Intelligence: 4, Charm: 3. Graduated from Sophia University. Morikawa is a rare in-house talent with exceptional skills and popularity at TV Asahi. Her confident stride through Roppongi Hills exudes an aura of a heavyweight.
Mariko Ooe (45), TV Tokyo [One of the industry’s top announcing talents]. Announcing skill: 5, Glamour: 4, Potential: 4, Intelligence: 4, Charm: 2. Graduated from Ferris Women’s College. When TV Tokyo celebrated its 50th anniversary, Oe became the first female announcer from the network to have her own solo calendar.
Manna Mikami (34), Fuji Television [A ladylike announcer loved by homemakers]. Announcing skill: 3, Glamour: 3, Potential: 3, Intelligence: 3, Charm: 4. Graduated from Waseda University. Mikami was absent from “Nonstop!” due to health issues in November last year but returned to work approximately one month later.
Aimi Miyashi (32), Fuji Television [Key figure in the revival of the female announcer empire]. Announcing skill: 4, Glamour: 4, Potential: 3, Intelligence: 3, Charm: 5. Graduated from Waseda University. In addition to her main job as an announcer, Ujimori has published a photo book in 2020, showcasing her talent as an all-round entertainer.
Hibi Maonko (30), TBS [Captivating the hearts of older men with her heavy drinker persona]. Announcing skill: 3, Glamour: 2, Potential: 3, Intelligence: 3, Charm: 5. Graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University. Possessing versatility to handle a wide range of programs from informational shows to variety and radio, she also demonstrates a deep understanding of theater and music.
Ai Eto (38), TBS [A rising star among mid-level announcers who competes with heavyweight MCs]. Announcing skill: 5, Glamour: 2, Potential: 5, Intelligence: 4, Charm: 3. Graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University. Eto boasts remarkable stability and is considered TBS’s de facto ace. Currently promoted to the position of section chief, she is steadily advancing along the career ladder within the network.
Nana Suzue (43), Nippon Television [Alongside Mizutoki-chan, supports both wings of NTV]. Announcing skill: 4, Glamour: 4, Potential: 3, Intelligence: 4, Charm: 3. Graduated from Keio University. Serving as a caster on “NEWS ZERO” and “news every.,” Suzue, a mother of two, has gained immense popularity from the living rooms, sharing the responsibility of leading NTV alongside Mizutoki-chan.

Freelance Announcers who are all fierce

Freelance female announcers live in a world even more unforgiving than that of network announcers. Among them, the ones who thrive often have personalities that stand out, for better or worse.

“Ayaka Ogawa, who anchors ‘news23,’ has an overwhelming presence. However, because of this, viewers’ opinions of her are divided. Her strength lies in being able to express her opinions on Johnny’s scandals or political controversies, but there are moments where she comes off as too stiff. The key going forward is how much she can dilute this excessive journalist vibe.” (Same source as before, Mr. Misugi)

Yumi Tokunaga (48), who left TV Asahi due to a scandal involving an affair with Hikari Nenomura (59), has made a remarkable comeback.

“Returning as the main caster of ‘Hodo Station’ after leaving the company is a clear sign of being treated as a heavyweight internally. She has the skills, and her workload is stable. However, like Ayaka Ogawa, she sometimes gives viewers a sense of suffocation by expressing her opinions too strongly.” (TV Asahi insider)

Takako Zenba (49), who handles “Hodo Tokushu” as a TBS exclusive, has a softness that is uncharacteristic of an elite graduate from the University of Tokyo.

“She’s a classic caster. Not the type to show excessive emotions, she’s highly suited as a studio anchor. Even when dealing with tricky commentators, she smoothly guides the program forward, showcasing her career expertise.” (Same source as before, Mr. Maruyama)

Ayaka Ogawa (39), Freelance [Journalist-type announcer who doesn’t mince words]. Announcing skill: 5, Glamour: 4, Potential: 3, Intelligence: 3, Charm: 2. Graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University. Joined TV Asahi in 2007 and mainly excelled on programs like “Hodo Station.” Proficient in English, her special skill is Japanese traditional dance.
Yumi Tokunaga (48), Freelance [Resurgence from scandal]. Announcing skill: 4, Glamour: 4, Potential: 4, Intelligence: 3, Charm: 3. Graduated from Ootsuma Women’s University. Despite leaving due to a scandal involving her current husband, Naoki Uchimura, she made a comeback on “Hodo Station.” She has also expanded her presence to programs like “AbemaPrime.”
Takako Zenba (49), Freelance [The strongest normal type]. Announcing skill: 4, Glamour: 4, Potential: 3, Intelligence: 5, Charm: 2. Graduated from the University of Tokyo. She attended the same middle and high school as former Nippon TV announcer Noriko Baba. Since the fiscal year 2021, she has also been appointed as a visiting professor at the University of Commerce.

The prestigious Strongest Female Announcer is…

FRIDAY’s investigation has determined that the most fitting candidate for the “Strongest Mid-Level Female Announcer” title is TV Asahi’s Morikawa. Columnist Takehiko Kamewada summarizes:

“Types like Ogawa or Tokunaga, who assert their own opinions too strongly, may tire viewers. What is sought after in today’s news programs are announcers who allow viewers to comfortably watch the news. In that regard, Morikawa, who delivers the news naturally without force, embodies the announcer image needed in this era. Of course, her glamorous looks and abilities are impeccable. If she continues on the path of news reporting, she will likely become a figure akin to Yoko Oshita (53) in due time.”

In the world of female announcers aged 30 and above, where competence is naturally expected, a fierce battle for survival continues behind the scenes of glamorous television programs.

  • PHOTO Ichiro Takatsuka (Ogawa)

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