A precursor to our upcoming Top 30 Hottest Japanese actors list, the 2016 newsmakers reflect the current state of 'acting' in Japan and the names of those who are given opportunities to follow in the footsteps of the greats - Mifune, Takakura, Yakusho, Watanabe. While senior actors like Tadanobu Asano, Joe Odagiri, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eita, Mirai Moriyama, Shun Oguri continue to pay major roles, our contenders have captured a sizeable portion of the casting pie among themselves.

Are they the best actors Japan could offer? Apparently, the answer is yes! 

Before that, let's see who are the frontrunners for acting awards this year:

Tomokazu Miura (Katsuragi Case);

Joe Odagiri (Over the Fence);

A few more names will soon appear as the Japan Academy Prize nominees are announced later. Kinema Junpo's list is still being considered, with readers participating in the annual survey.

While the likes of Sayuri Yoshinaga, Kirin Kiki, and Rie Miyazawa vie for more acting awards and Takako Matsu, Sakura Ando, Hikari Mitsushima, Chizuru Ikewaki, Mao Inoue, and Yu Aoi following their leads, the younger batch of Japanese actresses are as promising. 

Nana Komatsu - 2016 Best Actress (under 25)

2016 is a particularly strong year for young Japanese stars like Mayu Matsuoka, Mugi Kadowaki, Hana Sugisaki, Nana Komatsu, Fumi Nikaido and Mitsuki Takahata. 

Breakout, as differentiated from a breakthrough, sounds more appropriate to describe talents on the verge:

suddenly and extremely popular or successful; an instance of surpassing any previous achievement

Marie Iitoyo - Breakout Japanese talent 2016

Kentaro - Breakout Japanese actor 2016

Last year, we feature a lot of 'new' faces (perhaps to some who are new to the Japanese entertainment scene), but then again, these very same actors are now playing a lot of the major roles in movies and dramas. Take for instance Yuina Kuroshima who co-stars with Shuhei Nomura in Sakurada Reset or Fumika Shimizu who plays one of the main roles in Tokyo Ghoul (opposite Masataka Kubota). 

Loneliness and human connection - two 'slice of life' features that Japanese movies are known for - make up most of our ten favorite Japanese productions for the year. Just to give you a rundown of previous numero uno lists - Himizu (2012), Tomogui (2013), The Light Shines Only There (2014), La La La at Rock Bottom (2015). However, I have to say Bakuman, which I was not able to watch in time, should have taken the top spot for last year. 

Setoutsumi - 2016 best Japanese movies

Wolf Girl and Black Prince - 2016 Best Japanese movies

2016 serves as a banner year for a number of personal biased actors - Ryunosuke Kamiki, Kento Yamazaki, Yuya Yagira, Mugi Kadowaki, Mayu Matsuoka, Fumi Nikaido, Masaki Suda, and yes, Takeru Satoh. They came up with some of their best projects to date. 

Forty-six million dollars (more or less) separate Miyazaki's 'Spirited Away' from Makoto Shinkai's 'Your Name' in terms of box office receipts, and it's just a matter of time the position may change. Of course, that remains to be seen.

Your Name (Kimi No Na Wa) 2016 Year in Review

The latest results from China is impressive - $4.4 million in pre-sales tickets and a grand opening in 7,000 theaters to boot! While Shinkai insisted that Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are his inspiration, there is no denying that we have a new animation hero in 'his name.' 


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