Original From : NewPaper
By Chang May Choon
HERS is a sweet and sunny smile that has melted thousands of hearts in Japan.
Whenever she tops a poll - as ideal lover or 'most desired face' - fans cite her cuteness as their reason for choosing her.
Meet Japanese actress-singer Yui Aragaki, star of the hit romantic film Sky Of Love.
She is also known as the Pocky girl.
And the It girl whom Japanese guys most want to give their Valentine's chocolates to, according to a survey last month.
Also, she has been hailed by the media as one of the most promising 20-year-old female stars to look out for in Japan this year.
But fame didn't come easy for the Okinawa-born sweetie-pie, who started out as a magazine model before appearing on TV in 2005.
Last year, Yui was so overworked from juggling four acting projects and recording her debut album that she nearly had an emotional breakdown, reported Sina.com.
Her health reportedly suffered due to immense pressure and lack of sleep.
After drawing flak once for missing a gala premiere last August due to her busy schedule, she insisted on turning up at the next one in October despite developing abdominal pains.
Nikkan Gendai reported that doctors advised her to rest but she stubbornly refused to listen.
Yui also confessed that she was unable to cope with the emotional trauma faced by her character in the movie Sky Of Love, and she once cried three hours for just one scene.
She plays a high school student whose life turns turbulent when she falls in love with the punk student (Haruma Miura), who finds her misplaced handphone and starts calling her.
We shall not give the story away, but the most horrifying things that could happen to a teenage girl happen to her.
WENT DOWN ON HER KNEES
As if paying tribute to her, Yui's screen lover Haruma read out this letter during the gala premiere of their movie in Japan last November: 'If anyone asks me how I feel about her, I'd say she's always full of spirit. I can sense there is sometimes loneliness and anxiety in her expressions, but her smile is still very infectious.'
Hearing that, Yui reportedly felt so overwhelmed that she got down on her knees in front of the crowd of 400 people and thanked everyone for their support.
She even screamed 'I like you all so much!' in an Okinawan dialect and burst into tears when another co-star gave her a bouquet.
She has since assured fans that she is not going on a long break as rumoured.
She wrote on her blog in November that she was healthy and getting enough rest, so her fans didn't have to worry about her.
Sky Of Love, which is now showing in theatres here, grossed a remarkable 3.9 billion yen ($52million) at the box office in Japan.
Critics raved over Yui's natural and yet convincing acting, and she also became the darling of Japan's major film awards.
She has won five Best Newcomer trophies, but strangely, she still lacks confidence on stage.
She once said: 'No matter how hard I try, I still don't have confidence in myself and I feel panicky.'
At her last win at the Blue Ribbon Awards, the first thing she said on stage after receiving her trophy is: 'Can I really (get this)?'
With a shy laugh, she added that she was 'really happy' to communicate with the audience with her acting.
Her insecurity also showed when she released her debut album Sky last December and stood on the coveted stage at the Budokan stadium in Tokyo for the first time.
It is where every singer dreams of holding her first ticketed concert, but Yui was lucky to have her record label Warner Music Japan organise a free concert for her there.
Her opening address to the 10,000-strong crowd began with 'hazukashii...', which is Japanese for 'embarrassing'.
She then explained that she was feeling extremely nervous as it was the first time she was performing in front of such a big crowd, reported Takungpao.com.
Luckily, it didn't take long for her to warm up.
When someone screamed that he liked her, she said no one had ever confessed to her like that, other than during filming.
MARRY YOU? WAIT TILL I'M 28
When another fan asked her to marry him, she laughed and told him to wait until she was 28.
With her debut album selling a respectable 500,000 copies in Japan, Yui is poised to give the new generation of J-pop chart-toppers like Ayaka and Yuna Ito a run for their yen.
Yui's first single, Heaven Days, which is also the theme song for Sky Of Love, has been downloaded more than 600,000 times on authorised pay-per-song websites in Japan.
And her popularity is not confined to Japan.
In Taiwan, she has scored five No1's with Heavenly Days, including KK Box's singles chart and Taiwan Mobile's ringtone download chart.
Her album is also ranked third on the G-Music J-pop chart last week - losing to Kumi Koda and Super Junior but beating Ayumi Hamasaki.
It was released here earlier this month by Warner Music Singapore, and its marketing director James Kang said an advertising campaign is in place to 'make Yui the next Takako Matsu'.
He added that Yui is now Warner's priority artiste, and 'it is rare to have an actress with a big hit album, so we will definitely promote it'.
Meanwhile, Yui was asked by the media in Tokyo if she would try a sexy image.
But she laughed and said she is more suitable for the sweet and innocent look. After all, that's exactly why her fans adore her so much.