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:

While some consider the work of Takashi Yamazaki as being the voice of Japan's conservative right wing politicians, no one can deny the quality and innovation of his films. He has introduced spectacular special effects in most of his projects - from Returner (starring Takeshi Kaneshiro) to the more recent The Eternal Zero (which won Best Picture at the Japan Academy and also stars Junichi Okada) and Parasyte (Part 1 and 2, with Shota Sometani).

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There's a new project at hand - and Yamazaki cast some of Japan's biggest names, including Junichi Okada, Haruka Ayase, Kaoru Kobayashi and Shota Sometani.

A Man Called Pirate (Japanese: kaizoku to yobareta otoko) is a best-selling Japanese historical novel by Naoki Hyakuta. As of January 2014, it had sold over 1,700,000 copies. In April 2013, it won the Japan Booksellers Award.

It is loosely based on the story of Sazō Idemitsu, the founder of Idemitsu Kosan, a Japanese oil company. The story begins on August 15, 1945, the day Japan loses World War II. Set in 1945-47, the protagonist, Tetsuzo Kunioka, is an owner of a company that sells oil. Most of his company is either missing, in the army, or otherwise not available. The fate of the company's network of overseas offices is also unknown. Not fazed by the defeat of Japan, he is determined that Japan will rise again, and is driven to create a large oil company.

The book has patriotic themes that would more commonly be associated with the Japanese right-wing but has been popular with the mass market. 

Funny (really) how time flew when we were just raving about Satoshi Tsumabuki, Mao Inoue, Hikari Mitsushima and Masanobu Ando way back in 2012, and now three years later, we are celebrating the young acting careers of boys and girls who are so much younger than Tsumabuki, et al.

2015 saw a lot of breakthrough actors in the Japanese movie and drama scenes that it's hard to narrow it down to 10, but then again, we'll be seeing them very soon as they all seem to be grabbing upcoming projects sooner than later. Hoping that their talent agencies are as committed as these young guys and gals!

2015 is a big year for women in Japanese movies. Aside from Koreeda's Umimachi Diary (starring Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho and Suzu Hirose), there's Hikari Mitsushima and Erika Toda in Kakekomi, a historical movie dealing with divorce and the Tokei-ji which is a Buddhist temple where women seek comfort from their husbands and undertake the process of separation. 

There were also a good number of TV dramas were the spotlight centered on strong (yet challenged) and authentic female characters - Yoko Maki, Miki Nakatani, Mayu Matsuoka, Anne, Tao Tsuchiya, Mitsuki Takahata and Mao Inoue, played such parts in these shows. 

The overlapping broadcast of the two asadoras - Tao Tsuchiya's Mare [まれ] and Haru's Asa ga Kita [あさが来た] - also paved the way for more opportunities to discuss young women regarding their relationships with their families, lovers, and friends as they seek to fulfill personal ambitions and goals. NHK's taiga drama, Hana Moyu is all about Mao Inoue's Fumi.

Just like our list of leading Japanese actors, we have an equalizer for the actresses.

I find it funny that Oricon would consider Masataka Kubota as having a breakthrough year, since, in all aspects, Mr. Kubota is already an accomplished actor who have been playing in movies and dramas since 2006. That means he's in the industry for more than nine years already. You consider someone was having a breakthrough year if he is only 'involved' in the biz for two years or less. The term "breakthrough" may apply to the likes of Kentaro Sakaguchi or Mackenyu Chiba, or even to the more established Taishi Nakagawa - all three had a breakthrough year in 2015. [ that's a separate post here, with an equalizer for the girls as well ]

There is always this 'loss in translation' issue when it comes to Japanese to English. Take the case of AoT (Attack on Titan, which should be Attack of the Titans) or the Takashi Miike movie Lesson of the Evil (with the totally inappropriate use of 'the'). 

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Let's have a short recap. Last year, it was Sosuke Ikematsu who topped our list, followed by Shota Sometani, Masaki Suda, Masataka Kubota and Yuya Yagira. This year, it's all about grabbing those high profile roles in cinema, as well as, the biggest TV dramas! 


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