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.

Nakashima certainly has the magic to cast the right actors  - Eita got one of his big breaks in Nakashima's Memories of Matsuko (top billed by Miki Nakatani) while Satoshi Tsumabuki headlines another Nakashima movie - Paco and the Magical Picture Book.

But while the young stars of Confessions get to play nasty and evil and (eventually ended up dead), Hiroya has to face a more challenging role in the character of Boku. Not only was he bullied and made a punching bag by his tormentors, he also gets drugged and sodomized and humiliated all at the same time. Of course, his character has a certain redeeming value, but I will get ahead of the story if I say more. 

The World of Kanako which stars newcomer Nana Komatsu complemented the perfect mix of innocence and mischief exhibited by Shimizu, who outshines his fellow young stars. 

 

Hiroya Shimizu: Up Close and Personal

  • Plays soccer since three years old. Plays basketball and do dance classes;
  • Enjoys freestyle rap and hip hop tracks;
  • Recruited by the agency that also manages his brother Naoya (senior by 4 years). Refused when first offered to become an actor but later admitted he loves acting (when forced in school to perform);
  • Admires Fumi Nikaido and Shota Sometani, finds Himizu (Sion Sono) as an inspiration;
  • Underwent training for his role in Solomon's Perjury by attending kickboxing classes;
  • Appears with his brother Naoya in the coming of age film 'Summer at 15';
  • Has an entertainment talent 'DNA' like his Mom and Dad (guitarist);

 

Born June 9, 1999, which makes him just barely 17 years old, Hiroya has shown so much potential as a dramatic actor. He has a brother, Naoya who is 4 years older and was also part of the cast of Nakashima's Confessions.

In an interview, the actor was described as being carefree and even outspoken. He reads all sorts of books - from manga to books about Philosophy. Goes to sing at karaoke bars and shop for clothes seem to be a regular habit for the young actor when accompanied by his friends.

While he never planned to become an actor like his older brother, he has a change of heart when he saw Himizu and thought:

I can do something like that! Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido portrayed young characters who are suffering from lack of identity, until they became close and eventually find meaning to life.

Being part of Kanako (a.k.a. Thirst) was difficult but fulfilling.


Videos are from Ego films by Nobuhiko Kubota, and a clip from The World of Kanako (Thirst) film (with Nana Komatsu).


While discussions that center on Shimizu tends to focus on his role in The World of Kanako, he is also playing a major role in  Solomon's Perjury (consisting of two parts). Then there is also another full-length feature up his sleeves, this time he'll pit talents with the likes of Masaki Okada and Shota Sometani in Strayer's Chronicle.

At this point in time when Satoshi Tsumabuki is no longer "young" and his peers including Ryuhei Matsuda, Eita, Shun Oguri, Kenichi Matsuyama and Takayuki Yamada can also be considered beyond "high school" age, the struggle for "acting supremacy" seems to rest on the shoulders of Shota Sometani, Yuya Yagira, Kanata Hongo and Sosuke Ikematsu to a certain degree.

 

Shimizu's Top picks - If you're not so familiar with Hiroya Shimizu's work, these movies and drama are highly recommended:

  • The World of Kanako | Kawaki (2014) - Boku
  • Solomon's Perjury 2: Judgment | Solomon no Gisho Kohen Saiban (2015) - Shunji Ooide (troubled student)
  • Solomon's Perjury 1: Suspicion | Solomon no Gisho Zenpen Jiken (2015) - Shunji Ooide (troubled student)
  • High School Entrance Exam | Koko Nyushi (Fuji TV / 2012) - Shota Sawamura
  • Angel's Knife | Tenshi no Naifu (WOWOW / 2015) - Masahiko Yagi (boy A)

His performance in 'Thirst' (The World of Kanako) catapults Hiroya into the scene, but his short yet effective role in High School Entrance Exam makes him one of Japan's potential dramatic actors.

As Shunji Ooide, (in Solomon's Perjury) Hiroya was able to play a convincing troubled student, the exact opposite of his role in Thirst - from being a bullied, humiliated young kid to being a rude and violent bully himself.

 


 


What makes him special? He certainly has the sparks previously exhibited by Yagira and Sometani among others, but his quality tends to be more of the reserved acting style exhibited by a younger Eita.  

It's that fire from within that might ignite any second kinda acting. 

With Masaki Suda, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Kento Nagayama, and Masahiro Higashide leveling up their efforts to take on Sometani, et al, there are certain spaces reserved for breakthrough actors - at the top of the list is Hiroya Shimizu and don't tell us we did not mention him sooner!

 

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