During our first rankings, it was Satoshi Tsumabuki who ruled! Aside from winning Best Actor at the Japan Academy for Villain, Tsumabuki dominated the casting buzz - with back to back roles, including lead roles for My Back Page (with Kenichi Matsuyama), Smuggler and Fly With the Gold. A year later, it was Ryuhei Matsuda's turn  - he also won Best Actor and had a string of amazing films. On our third year, it was Shota Sometani who dominated the rankings.

Sometani went on to top the rankings 2 years in a row, with Yuya Yagira closing in at 2nd place... This year is very different!

 

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The 2016 Edition of Japan's Best Actors - Promising List has evolved from a mere listing of actors - both known and unknown to movie fans outside Japan, to become quite 'inclusive' of what the locals also consider as their best, most sought-after newcomers. The list is very exclusive in the sense that only those who are below the age of 30 are considered, thus we are putting the spotlight on talents who are really grabbing the most challenging and fresh roles in both movies and doramas right this minute.

[ Note that this is the Promising list, there are 15 more names for the hottest ranking coming up next ]

As we have noted in the first edition of the Most Promising Young Japanese actors hitlist: Every successful actor in Japan started somewhere - a supporting role in a prime time TV series or portraying one of the country's beloved Kamen riders or starring in a dramatic movie by a well-known filmmaker or simply working his way up from bit roles until getting that much-coveted leading part...[ 2013 Edition ]

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Veteran filmmaker Ryuichi Hiroki's films include some of the most endearing (and intense) love stories in Japanese movies, including April Bride (Eita + Nana Eikura), The Lightning Tree (Masaki Okada + Yu Aoi), The Egoist (Kengo Kora + Anne Suzuki) and the more recent Sayonara Kabukicho (Sometani + Atsuko Maeda). For 2016, he's doing Wolf Girl and Black Prince with Kento Yamazaki and Fumi Nikaido.

I would consider the pairing to be quite unexpected (even odd) since I always think of Nikaido as more of a dramatic actress in the same vein as Sakura Ando, Hikari Mitsushima, and Aoi Miyazaki. Many also considered Miyazaki as her doppelgänger or vice versa. AND that she would venture on playing quirky and dark characters rather than rom-com. But on second thought, playing Erika Shinohara may provide her fans with a new side of her. On the other hand, Kento Yamazaki has been grabbing these rom-com roles of late, but there was a time when he was playing characters completely different - especially his two movies with Ai Hashimoto (Control Tower and Another). This is not the first time they are paired together - in 2010; they were cast in Satoshi Miki's TV mystery thriller Atami no Sousakan as school mates, so this new movie is like doing a full circle. What sort of on-screen chemistry will they have? Now, that's the reason for much of the anticipation for this movie!

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Based on the manga series "Okami Shojo to Kuro Oji" by Ayuko Hatta, the story centers around Erika Shinohara, a 16-year-old girl who tells her friends' tall tales about her romantic exploits, but she has no boyfriend. She says that a handsome boy in a candid photo is her boyfriend, but it turns out that boy is a schoolmate named Kyōya Sata. She has no choice but to make him her fake boyfriend. However, Sata may look like a sweet person, but he is an ultra-black-hearted sadist. Sata takes advantage of Erika's weakness and treats her like his dog.

I watched the anime in a marathon because it's the kind of show where you get hooked by the story and become curious about the characters as the episodes roll. For me, Erika appears to be a naive girl at first, but then she showed flashes of intensity and assertiveness that make her more endearing in the end. She may seem to be "weak", but she can be a bulldog sometimes, especially when she wants something. 

It's funny how I keep on telling myself not to take on a lot of drama to review since one series is more than enough - given time for the subs to arrive and real-life issues to manage. But then again, it seems I will never listen (even to myself). So now after weeks of posting 2015 Drama Review, we're into Summer Season - finally!

For me, I have to say Summer J-drama 2015 season is one of my most anticipated and most enjoyable ever.

First of all, the live-action drama series Death Note aired during this time, and many of you regulars know how much this blog is biased towards Kento Yamazaki.

Second, Akagi and Kanata Hongo (another favorite) was expected to dazzle and intrigue and the show really did rock!

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Third, the return of Mirai Moriyama and Kenichi Matsuyama in Japanese TV via Enka Gold Rush and Futagashira, respectively. Though until now, I have yet to finish both of the shows. The problem is always the same- the lack of English subs.

Not that winning Best Actress in Berlin Film Fest for Our Little House is Haru Kuroki's only accolade. In fact, she has won a few already in Japan, including Best Supporting Actress at the Japan Academy for the same movie. 

She is not your typical actress or celebrity. She will never be on the same list as the AKB48 performers or even Emi Takei and some other glam girls. She's in a different league - an actress who loves to portray different, offbeat characters.

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In The Bride of Rip Van Winkle, she got another role to add to her already impressive acting resume:

Subcategories

Psycho Drama list of 100 favorite Japanese films through the years.