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Ranking is very popular in Japan, you only need to visit Oricon website to see the latest in terms of actors' popularity, music charts and the usual idolworship. In our introduction, we mentioned a couple of names we find awesome actresses - in fact they are some of the most acclaimed - if we're to base it on the recognition they got from the Japan Academy Prize.

How about the younger generation? Finally our list of the hottest Japanese young actresses. The first 10 names after the jump!

More often cast in supporting roles, Eiko Koike (33) takes the last spot on the list. With more than 30 feature films on her resume and an equal number of drama shows, Koike has proven herself as one of Japan's most versatile supporting actresses. In The Kiss, she showed that she has what it takes to play dramatic. Remarked Midnight Eye:

The normally bland Eiko Koike delivers a career-best performance as the devoted fan of a convicted murderer in Manda's fascinating fusion of Dead Man Walking and Bright Future. [ source ]

After watching the movie, I have to agree with the assessment, except for the word "bland" because any hot-blooded man would never consider Eiko as "bland".

Spotlight Movies: Penance, A Chorus of Angels, The Kiss, Unforgiven

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Born in the USA, Kiko Mizuhara (23) or Noriko Daniel has starred in Tran Anh Hung's Norwegian Wood and pitted talents with her more senior peers Kenichi Matsuyama and the awesome Rinko Kikuchi and held her own. That's her first film and she's already one of the leads. But her good acting is not a fluke, as she proved in a supporting role opposite Erika Sawajiri in Helter Skelter and I'm Flash! with Tatsuya Fijiwara and Ryuhei Matsuda.

Spotlight Movies:  I'm Flash!, Norwegian Wood, Helter Skelter, Platina Data

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24-year old Mirei Kiritani's only irritating performance was in I Have to Buy New Shoes as Osamu Mukai's younger sister. But then you need to watch her in Ace Attorney - a supporting role perhaps, but she was delightful as Maya Fei in assisting our hero attorney Phoenix Wright (Hiroki Narimiya).

A lead in Arakawa Under the Bridge and a notable performance in Until the Break of Dawn (Tsunagu) warrant a place in the top 30 for Kiritani.

Spotlight Movies: Scattered Reflections, Ace Attorney, Tsunagu, Arakawa Under the Bridge, Snow Flake

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We don't know exactly what her full name is, but Kaho (22) is definitely one of Japan's hottest actresses - take a flashback at the young girl who fell in love with Masaki Okada in A Gentle Breeze in the Village then fast forwad to her role in Sing, Salmon, Sing! as the young singer who was teased that she looks like a fish! You may also remember her in Minna! Esupa Dayo! kicking Shota Sometani's ass!

Spotlight Movies: Gentle Breeze in the Village, Blindly in Love, Sing, Salmon, Sing! (Rookie of the Year).

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Another perenial favorite supporting actress is Saki Aibu. I was captivated by her in the Tv drama Buzzer Beat, playing the disloyal fiancee of Yamapi. She definitely played her role to perfection while lead star Keiko Kitagawa appeared lost. An awesome opportunity to play the lead occured in Rebound.

"Rebound" is a drama about a girl who goes through elementary, middle, and high schools being obese, and revolves around her fight to shed her excess flab while dealing with work and love. Aibu plays the main character in three different weights, with a maximum of 78 kg, and reflected on her trying experience, saying, "It was harder to move my body than I had imagined. I was a little worried. There was also considerable stress on my skin. It was like I was on land in a wet suit and my skin could not breath". [ read more ]

Spotlight Movies: Neck, Eternal First Love, with big list of drama shows (Rich Man, Poor Woman, Miss Pilot).

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One of the most enduring Japanese movies of the past 5 years is Nobody to Watch Over Me and one of the reasons why it's such a great movie is the perfomance of the young Mirai Shida (20). In the movie, Shida plays the younger sister of a school boy who was suspected to have murdered two schoolgirls. Upon the arrest of her brother, the media frenzy forced the police to protect her. What follows is a difficult situation for a young girl who have lost her family and has to endure it all by herself.

Says JFilmPowWow

Mirai Shida is even better here than she was in Yoji Yamada's "Kabei (Our Mother)". In a year which introduced the world to Sakura Ando, I can't believe there's another young Japanese actress with the ability to do so little, yet convey so much. She's a major talent.[ read more ]

Nobody to watch Over Me was Japan's entry to the Oscars, a year after Departure won the trophy for Best Foreign Film.

Spotlight Movies: Nobody to watch over me (Rookie of the Year), Kabei: Our Mother

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There is actually little difference between Toda and Shida's ranking. The only reason why Erika Toda (25) is ahead is the variety of her roles. Her dedication to acting is also commendable, as you can read from below:

Erika revealed to the press her realization that she doesn't need her pride as a girl, only as an actress. So when the director of the drama asked her to pick her nose, she did it. "I will do anything nasty or cruel if I'm requested to do that", said Erika. Co-star Kase Ryo said about Erika, "Erika is being wild recently, as she does ridiculous things which aren't even on the script, but I enjoy it." [ source ]

Spotlight Movies: SPEC series, Liars' Game series, Chasing My Girl, Days with You

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There is a certain sense of bliss when Kie Kitano (22) appears on the big screen. That's the kind of effect she has on moviegoers - and she did it first in Bandage. Although her almost chaotic relationship with the members of the band called LANDS created the tension in the movie, one of its most memorable moments is when she listens to the songs while sitting on a swing (see photo above).

The usually acerbic Mark Schilling at the Japan Times was surprisingly appreciative of Kitano in one of her latest movie, Jokyo Monogatari:

As she did in the 2009 teen romance “Halfway” and the 2010 pop-band drama “Bandage,” Kitano projects a combination of sweetness and grit, as well as an air of apartness, that make her a standout in a sea of cutesy, smiley idols. As Natsumi, she can screw her face up into a chipmunk-like rictus of frustration, but she never mugs away into an approximation of comedy. Instead Kitano creates a character with an inner consistency, even as her behavior swings from fearless highs to craven lows. [ read more ]

Spotlight Movies: Bondage, Love Fight, Joukyou Monogatari, Halfway

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I think of Masami Nagasawa as the young, impressionable girl who fell in love with Mirai Moriyama's character in Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World. Again in another movie with Moriyama, Moteki (Love Strikes!), that she once again shine and gets a Best Supportting Actress trophy at the 54th Blue Ribbon Awards (an award giving body of lesser stature compared to the Japan Acdemy Prize).

One more thing: She has one of the most beautiful legs of any Japanese actress.

Spotlight Movies: Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World, Love Strikes!, Tears for You, From Up on Poppy Hill (voice acting), Robot Contest

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Says Chris Haigh about Kyoko Fukada (31) whom he thinks should be the next Bond girl:

A J-pop icon in her native Japan, Fukada is a seasoned professional in the continually expressive roles that being an idol in the notoriously fan-obsessive culture demands – everything from movies, TV, magazines and single releases are encouraged, so a role in a Bond film would be a large boon for international appeal. However, Fukada is best known for her role in Kamikaze Girls, a Japanese cult film that plays like a young adult-friendly Tarantino flick and showcases Fukada’s acting abilities in the role of Momoko who is equally sweet, sarcastic, dark and fragile. [ source ]

In her new movie called Roommates, co-star Keiko Kitagawa needs to muster all her efforts to come up even half of Fukada's magic and charm.

Spotlight Movies: Yatterman, Kamikaze Girls,Roommate

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Essential Sites & Blogs

13oys and Men  - Promoting awesome and talented young Japanese actors, with lots of screenshots and insights into the careers of top and upcoming Japanese talents. 

Asian Addicts Anonymous - Comprehensive reviews and recaps of exciting Japanese drama, including interesting post on Asian music and movie news.

Clover Blossoms - Korean and Japanese movie and drama reviews, with recaps, recommendations, and trivia!

Drama Max - Japanese movie and drama reviews from a different perspective. Connected with Resonance Media, a management company handling Japanese musical talents.

Film Beats (From the East) - Asian American / East Asian Film Reviews and Announcements in Montreal

Genkinahito's Blog - Reviews, news, box office results & some amazing insights into Japanese films, including manga and anime.

My Drama Tea - Honest and insightful reviews of Japanese drama, also reviews of Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese series, with music news and movie reviews.

The Corner of the Mind - Drama reviews (with detailed analysis of up and coming dramas via first impressions) and anime spotlights.

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