Yeah right, some people may be asking,

...but I only knew of Hidetoshi Nishijima, Shun Oguri, Eita, Kenichi Matsuyama and Satoshi Tsumabuki?" I don't know these new actors you're talking about!

To think that Yuya Yagira and Shota Sometani have to reach their acting 'peaks' yet (and become household names themselves)... But the thing is, the current drama trends are geared towards the next generation already, and there is no stopping this 'roller coaster ride.' But are they doing a damn good job? I'm hoping, but I'm not too sure.


The current IT boys of Japanese drama/movie scenes + the buzz on High&Low after the jump!

Some people would prefer the likes of Juri Ueno, Kou Shibasaki, Yukie Nakama, Maki Horikita or maybe Ryoko Yonekura and Ryoko Hirosue since they have played some of the most memorable (and favorite) TV characters to date. Some would have a different list that may include Miki Nakatani, Takako Matsu, Haru Kuroki, Yuriko Yoshitaka and Yoko Maki. Another set may find Hikari Mitsushima, Mao Inoue, Sakura Ando, Yu Aoi, Masami Nagasawa to be their favorites.

Whatever set of Japanese actresses you prefer, the next generation is starting to gain popularity and even acclaims. 

So, who are they - these rookies? Let's see: Part 1 [ Tao Tsuchiya, Mayu Matsuoka, Suzu Hirose ] Part 2 [ Hana Sugisaki ] Part 3 [Mitsuki Takahata ] Part 4 [ Fumika Shimizu, Yuina Kuroshima, Mizuki Yamamoto ] and Part 5 [ Mugi Kadowaki, Aoi Morikawa, Jun Yoshinaga, Mone Kamishiraishi ]

I have to say Fumi Nikaido (22) and Haru Kuroki (26) are already at a different (higher) level than anyone on this list. So, it's moot and academic that we think of them as the frontrunners.

Aside from the lead star of Bon Lin, Ema Sakura, some of the biggest high-impact performances I have seen in recent movies were that of Mone Kamishiraishi in Lady Maiko, Jun Yoshinaga in Still the Water, Mugi Kadowaki in Love's Whirpool and Aoi Morikawa in The World of Kanako.

These young actresses may not be as famous as Emi Takei, Ayame Gouriki or Tsubasa Honda, but they certainly can act and act very well. Mone is yet to give us her all; the same is the case with Yoshinaga who some believe is Yuya Yagira's counterpart. Kadowaki is, of course, Sosuke Ikematsu's counterpart - being cast in matured, bold, daring roles, while Morikawa serves as a favorite Ryunosuke Kamiki and Masaki Suda acting collaborator.

In Part 5 of this series, we put the spotlight on Japan's amazing young talents - the ones who are standouts - not the most attractive, perhaps even controversial since unlike many others, they tend to get the hardest roles.

I just hope the powers that be will give Jun Yoshinaga another project. In Kawase's Still the Water, she made such a huge impact.

It's not only the men who suffer from "second lead syndrome." In fact, this 'acting phenomenon' is also prevalent among the females. A good example is the Rurouni Kenshin casting where #deadfisheyes Emi Takei takes top billing over the more talented and more appealing Yu Aoi. The current industry practice of mixing idols with pure acting talents is also one major factor why looks take over talent in many movie productions.

Before our final part (where the remaining top contenders are discussed), we take a look at some outstanding young actresses who suffered from this casting syndrome.

I saw Yuina Kuroshima in a CM for telephone giant DocoMo, and she has all the attributes of a star. Her supporting role in Aoi Honoo (headlined by Yuya Yagira) has explored her comedic talents as well. Co-star Mizuki Yamamoto also made some lasting impressions in that series. If you have seen Black Butler (featuring the comeback of Hiro Mizushima ) then you may remember Yamamoto as the maid turned gun-totting sidekick. In Tokyo Refugees, Yamamoto proved she can also play dark, sinister characters. I'm also anticipating good performance from Kuroshima via Ashita ni Nareba.

The Deputy Chief of Mission of the US in Japan, Jason Hyland has something to say about Toto Nee-Chan:

I am fascinated by the latest NHK Morning Drama, “Toto-ne-chan.” I am especially intrigued by the saga of three of the women leaders in the story, the owner of “Aoyagi Shoten” trading, the imposing Takiko Aoyagi, the unique teacher Chiyo Todo, and our heroine, Tsuneko Kohashi. As women rightfully assume more and more leadership positions in business, in government, in academia, in all sectors, I see the question raised again and again – What is the most effective leadership style for women? I think the answer, based on the many, many role models out there, is that there is no single answer. Toto-ne-chan has her own unique way of engaging people. The often stern Takiko-san (but with a heart of gold) on the other hand runs her business in a more traditional style, and definitely gets results. And then there is the eccentric Chiyo Todo, the teacher who told her never to give up. Just in this one drama we have three different leadership styles by three different women.   As I watch this drama, I am reminded of some of the extraordinary female leaders I have encountered in my own life, all with their own distinct ways of achieving their goals. [ source ]

Mitsuki Takahata was that annoying restaurant staff in one of the year's best doramas - Mondai no Aru Restaurant. Her character is as complex as that of Fumi Nikaido and Mayu Matsuoka, but she has the additional challenge to convince dorama audience that she can be villainy and then become the object of everyone's sympathy. In Yuya Ishii's The Vancouver Asahi, Takahata proved she has what it takes to shine in spite of the star-studded cast led by Satoshi Tsumabuki, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kame and many others. As the private tutor of one of the richest Canadian families in the period drama, Takahata's character - Emmy Kasahara - symbolizes the aspirations and dreams of young Japanese girls living abroad. Her short but effective speech to rally support for her brother and friends in their final baseball tournament is both inspiring and endearing.