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! 

Compared to last year, 2015 appears to be lackluster when it comes to Japanese movies. While I have not seen Bakuman and Haha to Kuraseba yet, I can certainly say that Himizu (2012), Tomogui (2013) and The Light Shines Only There (2014) have more substance than some of the movies on the 2015 hitlist.

Of course, you may not agree with me since there are also a few gems on the list below, and I'm fairly certain you have other movies in mind aside from the 10 you'll see here...

You may listen to what I have to say about April Fools, or you may ignore my raves and listen to the bashing from more prominent film critics. But the thing is, while the stories are generic and even predictable, the characters can be quite endearing and memorable. It's all about love and self-identity and family matters - 7 stories, among which the gay couple (Masato Yano-Masataka Kubota), the old (royal) couple (Kotaro Satomi-Sumiko Fuji) and the sex addict - janitress (Erika Toda-Tori Matzusaka) stand out for me. The Japanese royal pretenders are particularly sentimental because my parents who I remember so fondly, with my Mom particularly fashion savvy in the same vein as Sumiko Fuji's character.

Unpredictable, concise, exciting - these are some of the adjectives most often used to describe Japanese dramas.  I often smile when I read that someone who has left the J-dorama scene and went over to Korean dramas would exclaim that they have been "far removed" from such shows that they felt elated and happy to be back. On the other hand, those who left the scene (for good) would often complain about the lack of originality and the over-acting of most Japanese drama performers. I guess we have to follow what we like and never settle for anything less. 

Spring 2015 Japanese drama list is one filled with many notable (and otherwise) titles and the case of loving (or hating) as describe above continues.

Last year we reported that there were 135 Japanese dramas produced and broadcasted all over Japan. That figure has since been adjusted to reflect all shows for 2014 and the final figure is up by 9, which means there were actually 144 shows. This year, pending adjustments from various TV networks, there are already 145 shows, including the trendy WOWOW series featuring 4-5 episodes that include Angel's Knife and Ishi no Mayu (featuring the alluring Fumino Kimura) and Fuji TV's She (led by the versatile Mayu Matsuoka) . Those figures, however, are less than half of Japanese movies shown in the same year.

While I'm not particularly impressed with J-movies of 2015, there are a lot of outstanding drama series for the same year, so let's have a review by pictures and by season, starting with Winter 2015 shows...

I adore Yoko Maki. She never overacts and most of the roles she played were quite intense, yet compared to the likes of Erika Sawajiri or Ryoko Hirosue, she doesn't figure too prominently in the Japanese press...

The 37-year old member of TOKIO, Tomoya Nagase started out (to me) as one of Johnny and Associate's most extraordinary talents - perhaps in the same vein as the iconic Takuya Kimura, but Nagase has a more "rugged", in-your-face appeal, so I'm not surprised if he digs Guns N' Roses as his favorite rock band. 

In Too Young to Die!, Nagase must be in casting heaven because the character he's going to play is no other than the leader of a rock band. Unless you're living under a rock, you must have heard him say "motherfucker!!!" so many times already - just watch the movie's teaser trailer and you'll know what I mean!

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Now, this could be just another movie, but then writer-director Kankuro Kudo cast Ryunosuke Kamiki - a younger actor, with the growing reputation as a scene stealer. Just like Nagase, Kamiki is a product of numerous TV productions and have been acting since the age of six.


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