Live action adaptations have always been a thing Japan has been known for. That’s just a fact. Whether or not people would complain about a “sudden” surge in adaptations, in-between the original content and novel adaptations alike, there’d always been at least some projects based around manga/anime. Some clearly turned out better than others, but that’s besides the point.

Nakagawa Taishi and Takasugi Mahiro in "ReLIFE"Japan wouldn’t be Japan, I guess, without them. The first few movies I saw as a kid were based on novels (Battle Royale, Ring), and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to come up with more than five standalone movie projects in the span of five minutes. I guess there’s Love Exposure? SPEC?  Lately though there hasn’t been a week that’s gone without news of a new project, or at least a cast reveal. It can’t just be me who’s been wondering when the rush of LAs – which clearly started a few years ago – will end, or at least slow down. But I guess when you have a near bottomless pit of base material, you won’t ever really run out of ideas.

 

50,000 Japanese picked their choices for "Best Actor" and the most "Beautiful Actress" in a recent survey by TV Asahi. The list was then featured in Nakai Masahiro's TV show.

Topping the survey is Takakura Ken, followed by Yamada Takayuki, and Fujiwara Tatsuya. On the ladies side, the most beautiful are Kitagawa Keiko, followed by Yoshinaga Sayuri, and Sasaki Nozomi.

 Japan's Best Actors - 2017

The final results were tabulated based on votes coming from age-level respondents (20s, up to 50s and 60s). No idea if there are certain criteria to follow, but Takakura Ken is universally loved and admired in Japan. The acclaimed actor also cultivated a strong but modest presence in Hollywood, with castings in high-profile movies, including Black Rain (with Michael Douglas). Mr. Takakura died on November 2014 but left behind an impressive list of movies covering more than 4 decades. 

When an actor successfully transforms himself into a character - not only showing different physical attributes but also displaying a distinct personality, moviegoers are in awe. Of course, credit goes to the makeup and special effects artists who helped in the transformation. But still, the actor gets a round of applause for pulling it off. 

Shota Sometani - Movie role transformation

Most movie bloggers mention Christian Bale (The Machinist), Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers' Club) and Charlize Theron (Monster) among the most notable, but there are a great number of Asian actors who have made impressive transformation themselves. There was even a Chinese actress who pulled off her teeth to make a performance as realistic as possible.

Tadanobu Asano, one of Japan's best actors, play some high-profile roles that require equally difficult transformation - as Kakihara in the ultra-violent Ichi, the Killer, as Temudjin (Genghis Kahn) in Mongol and as Samurai Hyozo Tashiro in Gohatto, among others.  

It seems someone was quite "prophetic" when she predicted that Hiroya Shimizu [清水尋也] will one day make it big in Japanese movies! That was 2012 when the young actor was given a supporting role in the drama (youth-thriller) Koko Nyushi (High School Entrance Exam) top billed by Masami Nagasawa and stars fellow young actors Reiya Masaki and Mahiro Takasugi (who also stars in Hiroya's career defining movie The World of Kanako).

 Hiroya Shimizu - Japanese actor, photo by KENTA SAWADA PHOTOGRAPHY

While Masaki and Takasugi grabbed the spotlight earlier than Shimizu, it was the 15-year old aspirant who trailblazed his way into the spotlight by the visually arresting movie from Tetsuya Nakashima. Nakashima also paved the way for Yukito Nishii, Ai Hashimoto and Kai Inowaki in the director's previous movie Confessions.

Welcome to our first Talkback! In here we talk about up and coming Japanese talents - from the ones 'on the verge' to those already making waves in the J-Ent scene! In Part 1, we're putting the spotlight on Mackenyu. Is he the next big Japanese star?

Jayi: I have heard about Mackenyu for quite a while. Seeing his performance in Chihayafuru, I have a strong feeling he will be huge someday.

Jed: I can't agree with you more. I have seen him in both Chihayafuru movies, and while some may say Shuhei Nomura is excellent in Part 1, I think Mackenyu made a tremendous impact in Part 2. It's the kind of performance that gets noticed soon enough.

Jayi: I am moved when he cries or sulks - I also notice how the usual tendency of many of his actor peers to overact is something he (thankfully) didn't have. He has an acting style, and he manages to transform, I have since tried to see snippets of his acting in his other projects...the boy CAN act.