Kento Yamazaki's appearance as a supporting player in 2010 TV sci-fi drama Clone Baby (Kuron Beibi) is a far cry from the Kento of today. As Jotaro, Yamazaki dons curly hair with a hair band, is a computer geek, and looks nerdy (and not so cool). The show stars Ken-On's Tomohiro Ichikawa, Tori Matsuzaka, and Yukari Taki (a rather plain actress with a forgettable performance). Also in the cast are Honoka Miki, Yu Inaba, and Dori Sakurada (who will eventually co-star with Yamazaki in Orange, and is reported to be a close friend).

Hyoka - Casting of Kento Yamazaki, Alice Hirose

Fast forward, Ichikawa is now relegated to playing supporting bit parts (especially when fellow Ken-On talent Sota Fukushi is cast as the main actor). Matsuzaka continues to grab high-profile roles but is not the rom-com prince wannabe anymore. 

Tori and Kento reunite in Love for Beginners, with Yamazaki donning the same curly hair and the same boring supporting character. Which begs the question: Can Yamazaki level up his casting and get those elusive leading roles? Well, a sudden change in appearance seems to do the trick. With a new hairstyle, a "darker" complexion and more intense eyes, Yamazaki makes a double take with Ai Hashimoto in Control Tower and Another.

I want to say the rest is history but, Yamazaki is just warming up. 

Let's see:

  • Hyoka (2017) - Hotaro Oreki
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (2017) - Josuke Higashikata
  • The Disastrous Life of Saiki K | Saiki Kusuo no Sainan (2017) - Kusuo Saiki
  • One Week Friends | Isshukan Friends (2017) - Yuki Hase
  • Yo-Kai Watch the Movie: Sora Tobu Kujira to Daburu Sekai no Daiboken da Nyan | Eiga Yokai Wotchi Sora Tobu Kujira to Daburu Sekai no Daiboken da Nyan! (2016) - King Enma (live action)
  • Wolf Girl and Black Prince | Okami Shojo to Kuro Oji (2016) - Kyouya Sata
  • Your Lie in April | Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (2016) - Kosei Arima
  • Orange | Orange -Orenji- (2015) - Kakeru Naruse
  • No Longer Heroine | Heroine Shikkaku (2015) - Rita Terasaka
  • L-DK (2014) - Shuusei Kugayama
  • Jinx!!! | Jinkusu!!! (2013) - Yusuke Nomura

 

The 'key' to his surprise casting success is - most definitely - Jinx!!! with a potential as a shoujo prince which he is currently being tagged at. 

While there is a 'perceived' Kento hater squad - most probably propagated by a desperate English language J-ent website out for traffic, there is a pro-active Kento fan community that promotes the actor across Asia and beyond. 

The thing is, while Haruma Miura, Yamapi, and Tori Matsuzaka have been cast in romcom roles before, Yamazaki's supposedly following in their footsteps is as inaccurate as saying Ryunosuke Kamiki is only good at playing high school roles.

If you look at the movie projects above (2016-2017) you will notice the diversity of Kento's roles:

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.

Kasuo Saiki (The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.) is not a romcom prince wannabe but a rather sullen self-deprecating individual with lots of superpowers. If you've watched a couple of the anime's episode, you'll get the sense of in-your-face comedy out for really lots of LOLs.


The more high-profile Jojo's Bizarre Adventures, with Takashi Miike on the helm, boasts a superb cast - aside from Yamazaki, the live-action stars Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mackenyu, Nana Komatsu, Masaki Okada, Takayuki Yamada and Yusuke Iseya.

Yamazaki plays Josuke Higashikata:

Josuke is a tall, handsome young man of average build. He wears a small stud in each ear. The feature most important to him are his well-maintained pompadour, styled after that of an unknown man who saved his life as a child. His pompadour has a tendency to become spiky with his mood, such as when he is irritated or angry. Josuke wears a dark, modified Japanese school uniform. His jacket conforms to his body, extending to the middle of his thigh, accompanied by a pair of wide-legged pants. He keeps his jacket unbuttoned and pinned aside, revealing a light undershirt with a short zipper on each side of his chest. [ read more ]


 

While both characters possess superpowers, it is as distinct as black and white. Don't let me pick between the two because I'm more excited with Kento's take as Hotaro Oreki in Hyouka.

Hyōka (氷菓?, literally "frozen dessert") is a 2001 Japanese mystery novel by Honobu Yonezawa. It is the first volume of the Classic Literature Club (古典部 Koten-bu?) series. 

At the request of his older sister, student Hōtarō Oreki joins Kamiyama High School's Classic Literature Club to stop it from being abolished, joined by fellow members Eru Chitanda, Satoshi Fukube and Mayaka Ibara. The story is set in Kamiyama City, a fictional city in Gifu Prefecture that the author based on his real hometown of Takayama, also in Gifu. The fictional Kamiyama High School is based upon the real life Hida High School.

Oreki has a lot of substance, not just 'form'. Yamazaki is the perfect casting choice precisely because he can do the lazy eyes, romancing of the lead girl, and take on the challenge of a young investigator/detective in the tradition of the Hardy Boys and the other young detectives before him (Detective Conan, Death Note's L come to mind).


Going back to his previous roles - Wolf Girl and Black Prince  - one of 2016's best Japanese movies. There is a 'complaint' regarding the lack of connection between the characters. I think many people are clueless about that apparent 'disconnection'. It is supposedly the interplay of two young people who know nothing about each other, except the convenience of each other's company. There is no 'connection to begin with and both Fumi Nikaido and Yamazaki succeed in portraying the lack of warmth and sympathy. What follows next as they both realize how much they hunger for each other and that there is actual affection between them made the acting relatable and authentic.

That kind of acting will keep Yamazaki ahead of the game and that's why he'll be getting more casting buzz than ever before.

 

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