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Naomi Watanabe’s positive vibe: The comedian plays a charming fashion designer in TV drama ‘Kanna-saan!’

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Naomi Watanabe poses during a recent interview.

By Eriko Fuchigami / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterDo you get frustrated because you’re always thinking about how people around you feel? Do you force yourself to conceal anger or unhappiness with a smile?

If so, Kanna’s here to speak on your behalf.

Viewers will feel refreshed after watching this charming, plump and positive protagonist of the TV drama “Kanna-saan!” as she candidly speaks out to get things off her chest.

The lead character strikes a strong presence thanks to the talent of comedian-actress Naomi Watanabe, who made a name for herself in 2008 with impersonations of pop star Beyonce. Watanabe is also dubbed the “reigning queen of Instagram” because of her millions of followers.

The show, broadcast Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on the TBS network, is adapted from a popular manga by Kahoru Fukaya and follows the professional and private lives of Kanna, a fashion designer.

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  • Courtesy of TBS

    A scene from the TV drama “Kanna-saan!”

  • Courtesy of TBS

    A scene from the TV drama “Kanna-saan!”

On the birthday of her young son, Reon (played by Eito Kawahara), Kanna discovers that her husband Rei (Jun Kaname) has been unfaithful. His infidelity depresses her, and she gets annoyed by his mother (Yuki Saito), who tries to settle the couple’s problems but only makes irrelevant remarks.

Kanna eventually divorces Rei and starts a new and challenging life with her son.

Watanabe is a perfect fit for the role.

A recent interview with the 29-year-old actress turned into a boisterous, laugh-filled affair thanks to her delightful personality and witty comments — not to mention the fact she constantly changed her facial expressions and moved around nimbly.

“I like entertaining people and seeing their happiness,” Watanabe said. “During shoots, I feel really good when I make [the other actors and staff] laugh by doing something funny.”

Watanabe responds humorously to demanding shoots and minor mistakes by the crew because she’s aware, as the show’s protagonist, that it improves the morale and chemistry of her coworkers.

Her character, Kanna, is similarly capable of putting colleagues and loved ones at ease. Even though she gets divorced and struggles to balance her career with parental responsibilities, the heroine undauntedly carries on.

Kanna exudes strength as she rides like the wind on her mama-chari mom bike and playfully dances with children.

“Kanna-san’s the type of person who sings loudly while riding a bike. She’s so energetic and affectionate,” said Watanabe. “It mightn’t sound so special, but I can feel my spirits rise by playing this role.”

For this interview, Watanabe dressed in a manner befitting of her character.

“I chose this orange dress and makeup to match Kanna-san’s cheerful image,” Watanabe said, speaking like the fashion designer she plays in the show. “I worry about exposing my entire arms in a shoulderless dress, but this open-shoulder type [that I’m wearing now] helps capture a summer feeling, even if you’re big, like me.”

“Kanna-saan!” occupies the former time slot on TBS of “Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu” (We married under contract), which was a smash hit last year.

Asked if this adds pressure, Watanabe joked she doesn’t care about her drama’s ratings.

“I think it’s okay if they’re not that high. I’m not really concerned about the numbers,” she said. “I never ... Forget that, I’m just joking. I know good results are everything in our business. I hope our drama can be encouraging for many people.”

Watanabe shares the same positive outlook as Kanna. She always adopts a forward-facing approach to both acting and comedy, her main profession.

When asked about her next goal, she replies, “I want to enrich my vocabulary, like having more drawers for storing words and phrases so I can more accurately express my feelings. I also want to host a comedy talk show overseas sometime in the future.”Speech

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