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Pictures of thousand words

- Let’s start with those Oricon rankings today. On the singles side, Kobukuro scored their first number 1 single with Tsubomi, the theme song for Tokyo Tower the drama (it’s a good song worth checking out, just don’t tell anyone I sent you), which jumped up from last week’s second place debut. Meanwhile, new singles from Shibasaki Kou and Bonnie Pink debuted only at 8th and 9th place, respectively. Next week, it looks like Glay’s latest single will come up and dethrone the pop duo, but let’s worry about that next week.

As for the monthly singles chart (for the month of March), the pesky Flower boys continue their invasion of the consuming public with its two theme songs taking over the charts. As expected, Utada Hikaru’s Flavor of Life is number one with nearly 500,000 copies sold, while Arashi’s Love So Sweet is at second place.

On the albums side, Ai Otsuka’s compilation album “Ai Am Best” (ha ha, I get it) knocked Mr. Children of its high horse by selling 350,000 copies, while Mr. Children gets knocked down to second place. Compilation albums don’t have a history of staying strong, so expect it Ai’s to slide down the rankings fairly quickly. Meanwhile, M-Flo’s latest album “Cosmicolor” debuts with an OK 76,000 copies for its first week. Next week, expect young rockster YUI’s album to hit number one.

For the month of March, Mr. Children was obviously the winner, selling 693,000 copies of its latest album. The rest of the top 10 were no slouches, either - Ayumi’s double CD compilation managed to sell a combined 1.3 million copies (roughly 620,000 each), Exile’s latest sold 389,000 copies, and even Shiina Ringo’s latest sold 155,000 copies, about 2000 more than Mika Nakashima’s latest.

- What else do we have from Oricon on this fine day? Those drama satisfaction ratings! The Flower boys are number one with 81.8 points, the long-running 5th series Aibou is in 2nd place with 80.2 points, the family epic/ratings winner Karei Naru Ichizoku is at a close 3rd with 79.5 points, sleeper hit Haken no Hinkaku is in 4th with 77.5 points, and the rest of the ranking is here.

- Korea Pop War returns with the Korean box office from this past weekend, where the 300 ruled again.

- I meant it when I said we have a lot of pictures to look at today. For one, we have three posters/promo materials from Twitch. First, we have the poster for Feng Xiaogang’s The Assembly, which looks…..kinda cheap. Then we have the sales flyer for the Benny Chan-helmed Nicholas Tse-starrer Invisible Target, which looks extremely cool. Lastly, we have Joe Ma (Is this “Love Undercover” Joe Ma Wai-ho?) and his Japaense/Hong Kong co-production of Sasori.

- Speaking of pictures, we also have a picture of Taiwanese pop star Rainie Yang apologizing again for remarks she made about the Sino-Japanese war on a Taiwan TV show, which angered those pesky Chinese netizens. Of course, then she takes it too far and starts reading the history book that was given to her at the press conference. Er…..

- Hong Kong is not only passing out awards at its International Film Festival, where the Malaysian film “Love Conquers All” got the big prize, but also the RTHK award for the best films in light of the 10th anniversary of the handover. Infernal Affairs got best film and best screenplay, while Johnnie To won best director for The Mission (!!!!!). More details over at Variety Asia.

- Hoga News has a report on two new films, one of which is Yuko Takeuchi’s first film after her divorce with kabuki bad boy Shido Nakamura.

- The NHK special I mentioned on Miyazaki showed here in the US on TV Japan last week. It was an episode of the “The Professonials” series where NHK cameras follow a professional something for a while, and this episode happened to be on Mr. Miyazaki. The last 15 minutes I watched featured him watching son Goro’s Tales from Earthsea (which he opposed to Goro directing), complimenting that it was “well-directed in a straightforward manner,” walking out of the screening for a smoke, go to the country to brainstorm his latest (while smoking some more, of course), then as of the beginning of March, drawing Ponyo on the Cliff (his latest film).

Why am I mentioning this? Because Goro’s much-hated (though it made about $80 million in Japan alone) Tales From Earthsea is coming to DVD in Japan in July. What about the US, you say? It’s stuck because the Sci-Fi Channel (the schlockmasters that bring us cheap sci-fi flicks and Stargate episodes) holds the right to the story until 2009, so it won’t be until after 2009 that Studio Ghibli’s Tales From Earthsea can be seen.

- I like Media Asia because they released Isabella and Exiled, two of my favorite films from 2006 that both sadly flopped. But then they also released 2 Become 1 and Confession of Pain, which makes them not one of my favorite film studios in HK. Sadly, because of their wish to be makes of huge blockbuster, they are now losing money and now being bought out by another firm that’s owned by the same guy. Now they’ll become a private company, and maybe make better movies?

- Jason Gray has a tidbit on a part of Japanese cinema that I know nothing about (the films of Tanaka Noboru) and the recently-revived Yubari Film Festival.

- I couldn’t resist a movie with a name like this: Self-Defense Force Zombies.

- Meanwhile, the Korean Film Council seems determined to continue cultivating new talents. Way to go, South Korea! Oh, they want them overseas? Maybe not so good…

- Professor Bordwell is back with another entry from Hong Kong, where he praises Wo Hu as better than Protege and Dog Bite Dog…..whhaaaaa? It’s OK, he’s still awesome.

- China is seeing its first series about homosexuals, good for them! But it might not make it past the censors, although it will broadcast online. I honestly don’t know who would expect them to get past the mainland censors when even Hong Kong people couldn’t accept public broadcaster RTHK’s 30-minute documentary on homosexuals. Good try, though.

- There are two reviews out there for Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, which opens this week in some countries including Hong Kong. One calls it terrific and extraordinary, the other calls it an atmospheric thriller that’s gripping for two-thirds of the voyage.

- Variety also has reviews of the Death Note saga (which I generally agree since he’s watching it at a non-fan perspective like I did) and Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust, which played at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

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