I guess I saw Koyuki for the 1st of many times in The Last Samurai (2003). She had a key-role in the film as Taka, the widow of a warrior slain by Captain Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise). In her role she spoke only Japanese, but it was her ethereal beauty, and her soulful eyes that captured my attention.
I’ve since watched this film again and again. The reality is that Koyuki was so mesmerizing, that I’ve wanted to see her in other roles. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to see Koyuki in a good number of Japanese television drama series.
In this article, we will take a look at a number of those series as well as a look at her brand new film, Watashi Dasu Wa or in English – It’s On Me, which opens in theaters in Japan tomorrow, October 31st. Or maybe it already tomorrow where you are.
We’ll do this chronologically rather than in the order that I saw them. In 2002, Fuji TV broadcast Antique. The big picture is that this series was a tale about 4 men who worked in a confectionary – a restaurant made up entirely of antiques, where people went to buy and or eat the most delicious cakes. One of these men was a former professional boxer. Koyuki had the role of Izuka Momoko, a writer, who was on the trail of a story about this boxer. Koyuki’s role was written for her to be mousey, timid and shy, but she did sparkle nonetheless.
From 2003, Kimi Wa Petto (You are My Pet): Koyuki plays Sumire Iwaya, a smart career woman whose personal life is the exact opposite of what you might expect. She’s hated at work because she is so good at what she does. In fact, she’s just been demoted for punching out her boss who complained and asked that she be less perfect.
She’s lonely, depressed, and cannot express her true feelings to any man. Except one – Jun Matsumoto as Goda. After finding him asleep in a cardboard box outside her apartment house on a rainy night, she takes him in for what is supposed to be just one night. They reach an agreement that he can stay on if he lives in the apartment as her ‘pet’ Momo with all the rights and privileges that any other canine would have. He agrees to the terms of the deal and begins living there as a dog. As such, he becomes Sumire’s confidant.
Boku to Kanojo to Kanajo no ikuru michi aka The Way We Live was broadcast in 2004. One day a salary-man is told by his wife that she’s divorcing him. She leaves both her husband and her little daughter.
Koyuki plays Yura Kitajima, a teacher who is hired to be a tutor for the little girl. It is a heartwarming family drama about what Life and Love are about.
Engine was broadcast in 2005. It starred Takuya Kimura as a race car driver who was fired from his job, and he had to return home and work in an orphanage run by his father.
Koyuki plays a teacher at the orphanage. She’s well-meant, and has the right intentions, but she’s somewhat inept. Koyuki was cast to be the love interest for Kimura, but the romantic element seemed to sputter and misfire.
Always – Sunset on Third Street II (Always zoku san-chome no yuhi) (November 2007)- this film was a sequel to the original from 2005 that was set at the end of the 1950’s. There was only a small amount of time between the original and the seuel in the story. Maybe a year.
The story line was about life in a small neighborhood that was virtually in the shadow of the Tokyo Tower as it was being built in 1958. Koyuki plays Hiromi Ishizaki, an exotic dancer in a small burlesque theater who wants to change her life.
In 2008, TBS broadcast the series called The Sasaki Couple’s Merciless Battle (Sasaki Fusai no Jingi Naki Tataki). Inagaki Goro and Koyuki play a husband and wife (Norimichi and Ritsuko Sasaki) who are not only married but are partners in a law firm.
Their fights reach such proportions that they take on each other in a fierce courtroom battle contesting the terms of the divorce. It’s funny, its wild, and often over-the-top. Koyuki looks great and we never see her in the same outfit twice.
In the spring of 2009, Koyuki did a guest appearance on the detective series, Mr. Brain. She’s in Episode 2 as Kumiko Miyase, who might be a murderer.
Opening on screens all over Japan tomorrow is It’s On Me or I Will Give (Watashi Dasu Wa). Koyuki plays Maya Yamabuki, a woman who wants help people fulfil their dreams and hopes.
She returns to her hometown, in Hokkaido, now a very rich woman, to find that not much has changed at all since the day she left. She looks up her friends from her high school days. Yes, that is Eiko Koike (to the left) with Koyuki (above).
To help them, she will offer each of them a huge sum of money, Many doubt her sincerity, and are suspicious of the offer But they each take the money. Where did the money come from, and why is she giving it away are the questions we hope are answered in this film.
This film is brand new, so at this time I don’t even have a movie poster, but I do have some production stills. Enjoy.
Yes, thank you Koyuki – your beauty and grace continue to be wondrous. We will see you again I’m sure.