Manami Honjou’s Stellar Performance Leads Tora ni Tsubasa to Masterpiece Status | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Manami Honjou’s Stellar Performance Leads Tora ni Tsubasa to Masterpiece Status

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Ito Sairi (right), who was chosen as the heroine of the NHK morning drama, and Manami Honjou, who is in charge of narration.

The NHK morning drama series “Tora ni Tsubasa,” starring Ito Sairi, began airing on April 1st and is now entering its third week. The household average viewership ratings for the second week have increased even further compared to the first week. Expectations are rising, and among morning drama enthusiasts, it’s already being hailed as a masterpiece.

This morning drama is an original story based on the life of Yasuko Mibuchi, Japan’s first female lawyer who later became a judge. It’s a legal entertainment drama depicting Yasuko (Ito) and her companions carving out a path in a challenging era.

But why is there so much anticipation for this series?

One reason may be the narration provided by Manami Honjou, which voices Yasuko’s inner thoughts.

“What caught my eye first was the scene where Yasuko, who has been admitted to the prestigious Seirei University Women’s Law Department, introduces her classmates with captions. Starting from ‘the aristocratic Ryoko Sakuragawa (Yuki Sakurai),’ and then transitioning to ‘Umeko Oba (Kami Hirai),’ the oldest student who is married to a lawyer,’ and ‘Harusuku Choi (Ha Yongs),’ a student who came to Japan from Korea to rely on her brother.’ Just when you think the narration is getting lengthy, it concludes with ‘Yasuko, who falls on her rear.’ Moreover, even when introducing ‘Yone Yamada (Shiori Doi),’ who cross-dresses, the narration adds a playful touch, mentioning that ‘even from somewhat difficult groups, she’s considered somewhat difficult to handle.’

On the other hand, in the fourth episode, at her brother’s (Shusaku Kamigawa) and best friend’s (Mochi Morita) wedding, Yasuko showcases her impressive singing voice to liven up the event. However, her inner thoughts reveal her discomfort with marriage, as she questions, ‘Why do women have to live their lives always smiling and worrying about everyone else’s reactions?’ Honjou’s narration skillfully expresses the duality of human nature, which is quite astonishing.” (Production Company Director)

Watching this unfold, it reminded me of the drama “Daen-Da, Watashi, and Three Ex-Husbands” (Fuji TV), for which Yuji Sakamoto wrote the original screenplay, and indeed, Sairi Ito served as the narrator.

“The narrative follows the ‘new-sensational romantic comedy’ where corporate president Towa (Takako Matsu), a three-time divorcee and mother, is being tossed around by her three ex-husbands (Ryuhei Matsuda, Kojiro Okada, and Masaki Okada). The narrative is exquisite, as it empathizes with the characters, adds witty remarks at times, and skillfully conveys emotions, consistently trending on Twitter with each episode.

Writing the script for ‘Tiger and Wings’ is Erika Yoshida. She has mentioned Yuji Sakamoto’s name as one of the scriptwriters she admires. This work can be seen as a homage to Sakamoto’s works, delivering a deeply engaging narrative.” (Previously mentioned Director)

Manami Honjou, who played the heroine in “Carnation,” considered one of the best works in the history of morning dramas, is once again delivering outstanding narration in this production.

However, in “Tora ni Tsubasa,” there is a secret to the highly synchronized exchanges between Ito Sairi and Manami Honjou.

“The two have previously co-starred in movies like ‘Blue Hearts ga Kikoeru.’ They have been close since Ito was 20 years old, enjoying karaoke and takoyaki parties together. When Honjou was chosen for the narration role this time, Ito commented, ‘I am extremely delighted to hear the name of my beloved senior,’ and ‘The narration and inner thoughts are now even closer, providing great support in my performance.'” (Production company producer)

In episode 12 aired on April 16th, a courtroom drama featuring the female department members unfolds. When male students hurl insults like

“No one can become a lawyer anyway,”

the female members fiercely protest. In a scene where Yone (Doi) steps off the stage to confront them, whether it’s Yasuko’s inner voice or the voice of the narrator, Manami Honjou, exclaims

“Yone-san? No, no, no!”

The surreal development leaves viewers stunned.

Furthermore, in the last scene, when Yasuko’s face is shown with a fierce expression and raised voice, Honjou desperately shouts,

“Don’t step off the stage!!”

The interplay between the heroine and the narrator adds a new dimension to morning dramas.

“Yutaka Ozaki, who oversees production, says, ‘Tora ni Tsubasa’ is a drama of voices. The solemn voice of judgment echoing in the courtroom, the cheerful laughter of comrades, and the silent voices of the weak.

To have Manami Honjou in the center of these voices as the narrator is truly an honor. After hearing Honjou’s voice in the first recording, I became convinced of the success of this production.'” (Previously mentioned producer)

The unparalleled narration by the versatile and unique Manami Honjou, coupled with the intense performance by Ito Sairi that draws out this narration, is undeniably one of the reasons why “Tora ni Tsubasa” is considered a masterpiece.


  • Text Ukon Shima (Broadcaster, Video Producer)

    He is involved in program production in a wide range of genres, including variety, news, and sports programs. He has also planned and published many books on female TV announcers, idols, and the TV industry. While working on documentary programs, he became interested in history and recently published "Ieyasu was dead in Sekigahara" (Takeshobo Shinsho). She has also published the e-book series "Ibun chakurezuregusa" (Different Stories about Craftsmen).

  • PHOTO Yuka Kikuchi (Ono), Takahiro Kagawa (Ito)

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