If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that we’ve published a few of these new generation articles – there’s three so far after all (1/2/3). But after having all of them focused on the male side of actingland, it’s time to have some actresses join in. And where else to start than with some of the biggest names of the ’96-’00 age bracket.
Hirose Suzu (’98 – FOSTER)
People who know Suzu, know Alice. People who know Alice, know Suzu. But since Alice falls out of our focus age-bracket, it’s the younger one we’re going to talk about for now.
The now 22-year-old had her big screen debut through the release of Shazai no Ousama back in 2013, but it was probably Kore-eda’s Umimachi Diary which first gave her a part of the spotlight. The movie was released in 2015, a year before Suzu would go on to lead her own LA adaptation based on popular series Chihayafuru. She was joined by Arata Mackenyu and Nomura Shuhei for all three movies. The same year also saw her team up with Yamazaki Kento – at the time a little prince of romance adaptations – for the live action of fan favorite Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, also known as Your Lie in April.
In comparison, Suzu has been a lot less active in dramaland, mainly having done support roles till she was able to star next to Kamiki Ryunosuke in Gakkou no Kaidan in 2015, and eventually had her own solo lead in 2018’s Anone. Following the success of the latter as well as the actress’ growing popularity, she landed the role of Natsu in the 100th Asadora Natsuzora in 2019.
For 2021, so far, Suzu has been fully booked. She took the lead in two-episode drama An no Ririkku: Sakuragi An Haiku Hajimetemimashita as well as drama special Air Girl, played Nobunaga’s wife in Okehazama: Nobunaga Oda Hao no Tanjo, and will soon be acting alongside Sakurai Sho in Nemesis. Her next movie, Inochi no Teishajo, is set for a May 21st release.
Sugisaki Hana (’97 – KEN ON)
Being the daughter of a guitarist – Kogure Takehiko – and a singer – Chie Kajiura – it’s probably pretty much a given that Hana would end up in the entertainment business at some point. The 23-year-old actress took her first steps in the industry through the music video for FAKE?’s JUST LIKE BILLY when she was barely 7, and eventually ended up on the small screen in 2007 when she got a role in the Maru Maru Chibi Maruko-chan drama series. Hana made her movie debut the same year with the release of Kissho Tennyo, though – aside from a special project in 2008 – didn’t return to the big screen till 2012’s Ouran High School Host Club LA for which she reprised her role from the drama series.
In 2015, Hana got her first leading role in drama special Kaseki no Hohoemi. Her first drama lead came a few years later when fan favorite Hana Yori Dango received a sequel series in 2018, Hana Nochi Hare, in which she starred alongside Nakagawa Taishi and King & Prince’s Hirano Sho. From then on, Hana’s popularity only continued to grow. Whether it was her first leading role in the movie version of Perfect World, or the fact she became Kikuchi Rukia in Bleach‘s live action movie – or even her own radio show! – 2018 was clearly a big success.
Fast forward till 2021, and you’ll find Hana leading the 103rd Asadora Ochoyan. She is also set to appear in The Great Yokai War: Guardians movie, which will see its release sometime later this year.
Hashimoto Ai (’96 – SMA)
Confessions! Kanseitou! Another! The Kirishima Thing! I’m sure at least some of those rang a bell upon reading and, even though early 2010s was without a doubt Ai’s time to shine, there’s much more to discover where that came from.
Though a lot of people assume Nakashima Tetsuya’s critically acclaimed Confessions to be the actress’ debut, Ai had already been gathering experience through commercials as well as indie movie Give and Go, where she starred as a hearing impaired girl with a love for basketball. Confessions, however, put her into the spotlight, resulting in a multitude of darker and more moody castings such as leading roles in indie favorite Kanseitou and LA movie Another – both alongside Yamazaki Kento – but also The Kirishima Thing and a take on beloved horror poster girl Sadako in Sadako 3D. If you’re an animanga fan, you might also recognize her as the female lead of the Parasyte live action movies, or from short anime Natsunagu! or BLOOD-C The Last Dark, both of which she voiced characters for.
Since her debut in 2010, Ai has been a part of 34 movies, and 21 drama productions. Three of those drama appearances were roles in different Taiga series, including a guesting in 2018’s Segodon, a recurring role in 2019’s Idaten, and – currently – Seiten wo Tsuke. She is part of the main cast of the latter.
Komatsu Nana (’96 – Stardust)
Komatsu Nana is another actress who’s very much known for her looks and aura. She rose to fame in part because of her modeling – She was a part of girls fashion magazine Nico☆Puchi when she was barely 12 – and eventually got the attention of director Nakashima Tetsuya at the audition of his 2014 movie Kawaki, better known under its English name The World of Kanako. The 25-year-old also joined Nakashima’s next project, Kuru, or It Comes, which was released in 2018.
In comparison with other industry peers, Nana rarely joins drama casts, only having been in six different series since her debut. Instead, she has appeared in a whole series of commercials, advertisements, fashion magazines, and about 18 music videos through the years. In 2016, as well, she stepped out of the regular by securing a role in Martin Scorsese’s Silence. The movie is based on Chinmoku, a novel by Endo Shusaku, and was led by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver. Since it was set in Japan, a few known local actors and actresses – think Kubozuka Yosuke, Kase Ryo, and more – made the casting cut.
While her latest two works, Ito and Sakura, put her together with some of today’s most popular young actors – Suda Masaki and the Yoshizawa Ryo/Kitamura Takumi combi, respectively – in 2021 Nana is set to appear alongside Hayashi Kento for the Koisuru Kiseichuu movie adaptation.
Ikeda Elaiza (’96 – Evergreen Entertainment)
Half Japanese, half Filipino Ikeda Elaiza started modeling after winning the Grand Prix at the 13th Nikola Model Audition back in 2009. Despite having started off as a model, her goal had always been acting.
Elaiza finally got her shot at her dream career in 2011, as she was cast in a supporting role for Koukou Debut. She followed it up with many other projects in the next few years, and had plenty of castings alongside her peers as well as more established names of the current generation. It took till 2017 before the young actress grabbed her first movie lead – alongside Nakao Masaki – in live action adaptation Ichirei Shite, Kiss.
Meanwhile on the drama front, Elaiza joined up with Taira Yuna, Yokohama Ryusei, and Tamashiro Tina, among others, for her first ever drama appearance in a special called JK wa Yukionna in 2015. Her most recent effort was an episode of Ano ko no Yume wo Mitan Desu, late last year.
In 2020, the 24-year old also challenged herself to yet another side of the industry: directing. Her first production, Natsu, Itaru Koro, was released in December the same year. It stars Kura Yuki, Ishiuchi Roi, and Saito Nari, and was the second installment of youth film project series Bokura no Recipe Zukan. It was selected for multiple film festivals and also got the new-found director a New Director award!
Hamabe Minami (’00 – Toho Entertainment)
It’s a given to be everywhere when you’re on a list of some of the most known names of your age bracket but Hamabe Minami truly is everywhere.
The 20-year-old actress started her career after winning the New Generation Award at the 7th Toho Cinderella Audition. She subsequently joined the affiliated agency, and made her acting debut through movie Ari to Koibumi in 2011. Though she has been acting since she the year she turned 11, it was the release of Kimi no Suizou wo Tabetai – also known as I Want to Eat Your Pancreas – which opened up doors for future works. Pretty much half of her resume came out after.
Hamabe went on to join the casts of plenty of live action adaptations and played supporting characters in a variety of stories including Ajin and Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. Since 2019, she has been mostly on a leading lady track, pulling in some bigshot productions to the likes of Yakusoku no Neverland, Kakegurui and romance Omoi, Omoware, Furi, Furare. The latter also received an anime version in which the actress appeared as extras together with the other female live action lead, Fukumoto Riko. This voice acting role, however, was not Hamabe’s first try at the job. A year before the release of Omoi, Omoware, she had already teamed up with Kitamura Takumi and Matsuzaka Tori for anime movie HELLO WORLD.
If you’re interested in catching her in any of her new works, you can find her leading the drama Uchi no Musume wa, Kareshi ga Dekinai!!, which ends its season in March 2021. Meanwhile, the Kakegurui series will release its second movie a month later!
Kamishiraishi Mone (’98 – Toho Entertainment)
After her leading role in drama Koi wa Tsuzuku yo Dokomademo – alongside Sato Takeru – early last year, most people have likely heard of Kamishiraishi Mone by now, but the young actress has been around for a decade. Just as Hamabe Minami, Mone took part in the 7th Toho Cinderella Audition, receiving the Judges Special Prize (her younger sister, Moka, received the Grand Prix the same year).
The 23-year-old started acting together with her sister through different parts of the same project back in 2011. She had her first drama appearance the same month – 2011 Taiga Go – and even caught a small voice acting role in anime movie Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki a year later.
While her recent surge in popularity is without a doubt mostly the blame of the team-up with actor Sato Takeru, Mone has been cast in a variety of well-known productions such as the Chihayafuru LA trilogy, as well as Oboreru Knife, and the most recent L-DK adaptation L-DK Hitotsu Yane no Shita. Back in 2016, however, Mone was also in the middle of attention after she and Kamiki Ryunosuke voiced the leading characters of Shinkai Makoto’s Kimi no Na wa. The work got so popular both of them even managed to receive the top voice actor awards at the Seiyu Awards in 2017, despite it not being their main profession.
Mone’s latest project is drama series Oh! My Boss! Koi wa Bessatsu de which aired throughout winter season 2021. She will soon take the lead alongside Fukatsu Eri and Kawaei Rina in the 105th Asadora Come Come Everybody.