2017 and beyond appear to be promising years for Kento Yamazaki, Shota Sometani, Takeru Satoh, Taishi Nakagawa, Ryosuke Yamada, Masataka Kubota, and Ryunosuke Kamiki. The same applies to Tao Tsuchiya, Fumika Shimizu, and Hana Sugisaki. 

Why is that? Well, the biggest casting buzz in 2016 represents projects with them -  either as the main role or playing major characters of movies set for 2017, 2018 releases. For me, a major buzz in Japanese TV dramas are not as prestigious as being part of, say, the latest Sion Sono Nobuhiro Yamashita, or Hirokazu Koreeda movies, but these TV dramas may serve as 'launching pads' for new actors. However, being the new lead in an asadora or major roles in NHK's taiga drama are essential for a young actor's resume. 

Here is the biggest casting news in 2016! 

Donten ni Warau (Laughing Under the Clouds);

Fullmetal Alchemist;

Teiichi's Country;

RE: Life;

P and JK;

I Want To Eat Your Pancreas;

Tokyo Ghoul;

Jojo's Bizarre Adventures;

Ajin: Demi-Human;

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.;

March Comes In Like a Lion;

Ku-Kai;

Hyouka.

I was waiting for Oricon to announce the 'breakthrough' boys after being surprised by the girls' list. [ See our reaction on the girls' list here ]

Masaki Suda - Death Note: Light Up the New World

How could I still be surprised you might ask? Quite simple. Seeing 'established' names on the list - can make me or even others who are quite familiar with the real J-entertainment scene - react adversely. 

Once again Oricon confused me with the use of the term "breakthrough" as if they don't even know what it means. For 2016, they declare that Mitsuki Takahata tops the ranking as 'breakthrough' actress. So what exactly does 'breakthrough' means?

a sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development; an instance of achieving success in a particular sphere or activity.

Mitsuki Takahata Oricon Ranking

How can you include Fumi Nikaido as a breakthrough actress when she already made more than 25 movies and about a dozen dramas since 2009? The fact that she has won a major acting award in a prestigious film festival counts more than getting a local acting trophy from one of Japan's redundant award-giving bodies! Ridiculous!

Rie Miyazawa wins her third Best Actress trophy at the 41st Hochi Film Awards for Yu wo wakasu hodo no atsui ai (translated into English as "Her Love Boils Bathwater" which will, most probably, be retitled to something either silly or inappropriate later, I hope not!). 

Rie Miyazawa and Hana Sugisaki in Yu o Wakasu Hodo no Atsui Ai

Hana Sugisaki beats Mayu Matsuoka, Haru Kuroki, and Fumi Nikaido, among others, to grab the Best Supporting Actress.

Sang Il-Lee (Anger - Ikari) wins Best Director. 

The latest casting news and buzz from Japan reveal the massive shift that continues with the extended exposure of Masaki Suda and Kento Yamazaki and the rise of Kentaro Sakaguchi. But Shota Sometani steals the thunder with 'Kukai' - how about that! On the girl's side, Mayu Matsuoka's acting award at TAMA New Wave serves notice of her ascent to the top - even without an asadora to her credit. Alice Hirose who was almost on 'semi-hiatus' has two projects up her sleeve, eclipsing her younger sister Suzu. 

Here are the top buzzes right this minute!

Kento Yamazaki and Alice Hirose will play Hotaro Oreki and Eru Chitanda respectively in the live-action adaptation of  Honobu Yonezawa novel, Hyoka (氷菓). The said manga was turned into anime in the Spring of 2012 by Kyoto Animation, the same animator who made Beyond the Boundaries (Kyōkai no Kanata) one of my favorites.