It has been announced that Yamashita Tomohisa will be starring in a drama this upcoming winter drama season. In the drama his character will work in a "funeral service shop" and it will deal with his character maturing as he learns about the lives and deaths of those brought in. The title of the drama is titled Saikou no Jinsei no Owarikata and will air on TBS beginning in January.
Tokyo Graph article. (English)
Honestly I will admit there was some disgruntled feelings from me at first when the announcement came out. Nothing really personally against Yamapi, I've well moved on from that, but rather that we still don't have much in the way for an announcement for something for new NEWS. But upon reflection I realize that it's pointless to allow myself to keep feeling that way and remember that there are probably Yamapi fans that have been waiting just as anxiously for new news for him as I have been for NEWS.
Recently NEWS was given new profile images, which included a new group photo for the current line up, and Yamapi has his own section in the solo artist section of Johnny's net. One thing that surprised me was that Yamapi's biography begins in 2011 and not when he first began releasing solo CDs. And I think that gives the message that Yamapi was still very much seen as a member of NEWS by the agency up until probably the talks about him and Nishikido Ryo leaving began. So those solo releases were done by Yamapi the member of NEWS and from now on it really is going to be just Yamapi the solo artist.
Looking at it that way I can't let my lingering negative feeling take hold as while I think it's important for the new NEWS to start their group activities it's just as important for Yamapi to start his new solo activities. He now must work to separate himself from the group, no matter what his personal feelings are, so he can be truly seen as a solo artist. His path is now something separate that he has to take alone, which is why I don't think we'll be seeing him connected with NEWS, or even around the remaining group members, for sometime in the hopes that people will see him as a soloist just like people will hopefully be able to see NEWS as the current four.
I feel in a way NEWS is very much like a phoenix, they seem to be constantly on a cycle of having to remake themselves as members leave but each time they come back with a new strength. So it is fitting that the members they lose also get the chance to be reborn into something new, for Moriuchi Takahiro he got to become a front man for rock band that has been hitting their stride recently, Uchi Hiroki and Kusano Hironori both had the chance to restart as Juniors with Johnny's, now Ryo gets to be solely Kanjani8's and Yamapi will strike out on his own as a solo artist. So both those who remain and those who left keep being able to remake themselves to forge the future they are dreaming of, which to me is a big part of this group that I love called NEWS.