Sakai Masato Headlines 2016 NHK Taiga and Abe Hiroshi in Talks to Take Over Hanzawa Naoki Sequel

Big news is brewing in J-dorama land but I have a feeling it’ll all work out. The highest rated dorama of 2013 (and of the last decade) was the phenomenal maybe once-in-a-lifetime tour de force that was Hanzawa Naoki. Pundits get happy when a KimuTaku dorama breaks 20% nowadays when before he would hit 30% or even 40% regularly. Hanzawa Naoki started at a successful 19% ratings and it just kept going up and up and up one a straight climb to the top to end at 42.2.%. Bravo to Sakai Masato for reinvigorating J-doramas even but for a few exhilarating months. It was nail biting fun to follow along each week to see how much the ratings were leaping per episode. Hanzawa Naoki was a TBS show and from the moment the last episode aired there has been talk of a sequel. More financial injustices for Hanzawa to fight, the public demanded! The network didn’t rush any sequel through and Sakai Masato hit another success with Legal High and its sequel so isn’t terribly desperate to reprise his most famous role to date.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like the sequel to Hanzawa Naoki will star the titular man himself as Sakai Masato has reportedly turned down the sequel since he’s already been signed on to headline the 2016 NHK Taiga called Sanada Nobushige about the famed Sengoku warrior. Taiga filming takes the entire year and usually starts very early so Sakai Masato will be fully committed starting the middle of next year which is when TBS is looking to drop the Hanzawa Naoki sequel during summertime. To wait for Sakai means letting the sequel linger until 2017 which will probably erase the freshness of the story in viewer minds. Luckily there are a handful of leading men who have the acting chops and charisma to take over and TBS is currently in talks with Abe Hiroshi to do the sequel. Does Hanazawa get plastic surgery and grow 6 inches to morph into Abe Hiroshi? LOL I have no idea how TBS will pull off a Hanzawa Naoki sequel that doesn’t star Sakai Masato and have the audience buy it, but Abe Hiroshi is about as good a replacement as it gets.

I’m going to die laughing if Abe overacts the way Sakai did. Screencapping Hanzawa Naoki is a barrel of intense expressions bordering on having a hernia.

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Sakai Masato Headlines 2016 NHK Taiga and Abe Hiroshi in Talks to Take Over Hanzawa Naoki Sequel — 13 Comments

  1. Not super happy about this but I understand why SM preferred something new & ambitious (taigas dramas are epic).
    IMO, you can’t replace him to play Hanzawa (Fujiki Naohito maybe, in a different way). They should have just done a spin-off with one of the fantastic secondary characters like Evil Tax Man or the Mistress Who Ruled Them All.

    • Agree, how can you replace main lead who still plays main lead?
      I only see switch off like we had in Phantom.
      Not sure why they didn’t wait with drama.

  2. I think the screen caps – at least the 2nd one is for sure (I recognize the haircut and crazy face) – are from Legal High. Sakai’s character in that is the epitome of overacting, but it’s just the way the character is. When he plays a character with a more subdued personality he knows to keep it in check.

    Anyway I’m not interested in a sequel, especially with another actor. I wouldn’t mind more Legal High though but I think Sakai said he was done with that because the character was too exhausting which I can totally see.

    • Yea. I think the screencaps are from Legal High too. That whole drama was unforgettable because of his character, since the stories themselves were so bland.

      If you want to see Sakai restrained, Joker is a good drama, and Tsure ga Utsu ni Narimashite, where he plays a depression patient. He is consistently fantastic, and my favorite j-actor,

      I’m excited to see Sakai in a taiga again, since I first fell in love with him in Atsuhime.

      • He was pretty good in the drama “Ooku ~Arikoto Iemitsu Hen~”. And he looked great in those period clothes.

  3. Even though I’m going to miss Sakai Masato terribly for sure,I’m still excited for the sequel.Because I for one won’t be able to rest until I get know how this story ends. Abe Hiroshi is an excellent actor but I wish they would cast someone….not so tall! Hehe just so that it’s easier to imagine him as the new Hanzawa you know ^^

  4. Hanzawa Naoki without Sakai Masato?! I just can’t see it working! The original series owed 90% of its success to Sakai’s performance! Not to mention, the series finale left us in a sort of cliffhanger for the main character’s journey.

    Sakai Masato has been doing back-to-back projects for the last few years and he even managed to get married in the meantime. I was wondering how he was going to fit the Hanzawa sequel into such a packed schedule.

    I wish he’d done the Hanzawa Naoki sequel instead of the Legal High one. 🙁

    And now he’s doing a Taiga! Now there’s a drama length I can’t commit to.

  5. what the !!!!!! no no no please Japan don’t ruin this legendary series ! no one can replace sakai as hanzawa, and taigas haven’t been doing so well in the past years, most of them are so boring ! this is terrible new :'(

  6. seriously how could he turn down the role ! I feel betrayed as a fan, I like abe hiroshi and he’s great but we got used to a particular hanzawa, someone tell sakai to come down his high horse this taiga isn’t gonna do any better than the last ones. The only wat I could be ok with this is if oguri shun got the role I could see him channel hanzawa’s type of rage so well but he’s too young for the role

  7. It sucks that he turns down the sequel but at least with abe hiroshi he’s a great actor, and he’s already worked with ueto aya twice in Thelmae Romae movies so they would be pretty comfortable together. Maybe he’s going to be direct relative to the family.. who knows?? I guess time will tell to see who’s going to get the part! 🙂

  8. This may be fake news…while Sakai Masato did agree to do the taiga drama, i cannot find any news in japanese saying that Abe Hiroshi is doing Hanzawa Naoki or that Hanzawa Naoki is even in production. There was a drama with Fuji TV that resembles Hanzawa Naoki a lot so TBS decided to hold off.

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