To discuss the merits (or demerits) of 50 Japanese actors requires more than a singular post, hence Part 2 continues our discussion previously from Part 1 of Kinema Junpou 50 actors (under 30) worth watching out.

Yuki Furukawa at 28 almost did not make the cut, but the Litchi Hikari Club lead actor has been in the limelight from the time he took on the role of Naoki in Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo. If you recall, he made headlines when he remarked on the way Japanese shows are casting idols just for the heck of it. Let's hear it from Furukawa directly:

 “Nobody in Japan cares if you’re successful overseas unless you’re already established here”

The article, written by The Hollywood Reporter's Gavin J. Blair, explained further:

When Kinema Junpou announced their 50 names of actors (under 30) to watch out for, the whole PD community was not surprised. I mean, most of the names have been featured on the site - one way or another. Just take a look at the top 30 hit list [ promising | hottest ] and you'll notice that most of them are included in the Kinema list.

I'd love to open up the discussion on both those who are already part of our list and those who may be considered "under the radar" since I think we have some exciting names in the Kinema Junpou list that need some research. Here's the rub: If you're an editor exposed to all the buzz inside the Japanese entertainment industry, you obviously have the advantage (and disadvantage) since - I really believe - we on the outside has a more 'objective" look. Then again, that's debatable of course!

Let's see.... so we have 50 names!

When it comes to choosing the first Japanese actress as "Spotlight of the month," I had a hard time because I like a lot of them - Fumi Nikaido, Mao Inoue, Haru Kuroki, Tao Tsuchiya, Mitsuki Takahata, Hikari Mitsushima, Chizuru Ikewaki, Hana Sugisaki... But I settled for Yu Aoi because I think her acting career also needs to be celebrated in as much as the other names on my list. 

I first saw her in Honokaa Boy (featuring Masaki Okada), and I did not like her, probably because she plays the role of a spoiled brat, and that she was extremely effective playing the role. Then it's time to see her dance the hula in Hula Girls and what an awesome performance it was! She's a natural dancer, and she is always intense. Her role in the  Sang-il Lee award-winning film features a lot of dramatic scenes with Sumiko Fuji (who plays her strict Mom) and Yasuko Matsuyuki (who plays the dance trainer), and she was never left out when it comes to the performance. In fact, she was nominated and won some awards for her role.

Last May 2016 is the start of our 'Spotlight of the Month' and we featured Ryunosuke Kamiki. This month - June 2016 - we're featuring Kento Yamazaki, and that is not much of a surprise because he's been on the news most of the time - with new movies Your Lie in April, Wolf Girl and Black Prince, plus the recent buzz on Orange and the short vid for Kingdom, and of course, topping our Hottest Japanese Actors list.

Lately, I have come to note a trickle of hits coming from OneHallyu - it's an amazing forum that talks about Asian talents, but more focused on the South Korean scene. Some people mentioned why Kento Yamazaki ranked higher than the likes of Shota Sometani, Yuya Yagira, Sosuke Ikematsu, and some others in the hitlist. I think they missed the point of the use of "hottest". The person who posted the thread, apparently, likes PD and I am so grateful for the post. But of course people have different opinions and taste in movies and actors... still this is a personal blog after all...

Anyway, I guess the opinions just further made me more inspired to promote Kento Yamazaki...

So, is Kento the new Satoshi Tsumabuki? At this point, I don't think so. A little bit, perhaps but Kento still has a long way to go... but here's the thing: when Tsumabuki first started getting noticed outside Japan, everyone else are already into Shun Oguri, Jun Matsumoto, and Tatsuya Fujiwara. With a Best Actor win from the Japan Academy Prize and numerous raves for his performances, Tsumabuki remains one of the most prominent Japanese actors around.

Last April 2015, we launched a 3-part series on the Kentos - Hayashi, Yamazaki, Nagayama, and Kaku - and examined their past projects and future prospects. A lot of things can happen in a year and while Kento Yamazaki proved his 'most promising' prediction last year, Kento Nagayama remains the most consistent with notable roles in a number of TV drama series (Ichiro and Juhan Shuttai!). Not to me outdone, Kento Hayashi bounce back with a major role in Netflix Japan's Spark (Hibana) and a title role in the movie Bittersweet [にがくてあまい]. Kento Kaku headlines the coming of age/drama Moriyamachu Driving School [森山中教習所] with Shuhei Nomura and we expect some awesome showdown between them.

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To make a visually appealing comparison of their careers, we made use of infographics to show their movie and drama projects from the time they started acting to future projects slated for 2016-2017. Between the four of them, about 125 movies and drama series has been released (and about to be released) where the Kentos play both major and supporting roles. A poll [ see above ] is also available for you to participate and determine the community's collective preferences...

[ see the Infographics after the jump! ]