It’s April 10th! Well, depending on where in the world you are right now. But apparently that means it’s sibling day for at least a few countries (May 31st for Europe!). While I’m not entirely sure it’s actually really celebrated anywhere – it isn’t over here – it felt like the right time to dive into the entertainment world to find some of Japan’s acting siblings.
Years ago I would have instantly gone “Ah, the Takagi twins!” but as they jointly decided to retire in April 2017, I had to go and find some others to talk about. It isn’t entirely hard these days though. Tsuchiya Tao mentions her younger brother from time to time. The Matsuda and Emoto brothers are a fixed standard by now, and with his fairly recent debut, Gordon joins big bro Mackenyu in the acting ranks. But what’s a better point to start than with two of the most known younger sibling combis of the moment: Hirose Suzu and Alice, and Kamishiraishi Mone, and Moka.
Winter season 2020 brought another boost to Mone’s popularity, as the actress’ drama Koi wa Tsuzuku yo Dokomademo received loads of attention. Her character’s relationship with the cold lead doctor – played by Sato Takeru – certainly had something to do with that. Meanwhile, little sister Moka is preparing for the release of her upcoming movie Kodomo wa Wakatte Agenai, in which she stars alongside rookie actor Hosoda Kanata.
Both sisters also have music careers. Mone’s most recent single From the Seeds was released last February while Moka, on the other hand, released a mini album called adieu 1 in November 2019.
Amusingly, Hirose Alice seems to be a big fan of voice actor Hanae Natsuki, and has been gushing about him and his voice – especially as Kaneki Ken from Tokyo Ghoul – on various occasions. Imagine her surprise and shock when a variety show actually got the guy to come over and join them for a talk, effectively knocking out Alice with some of his Kaneki Ken character lines which he performed near whispering in her ear. Well, wouldn’t we all have a moment then? Apparently her twitter likes also mainly consist of Hanae’s cat tweets. I feel you though, Alice, his cats ARE cute.
But they are obviously not the only ones in the industry as big shots Matsuda Ryuhei and Shota, as well as Emoto Tasuku and Tokio, did it way before them. Though, I guess in their cases even the parents are involved. When you grow up in it, it’s hard not to get influenced by it.
I personally learned about Kento first. He was a total rookie back then, and the two drama series I saw him in are his second and third ever – Puzzle and Koizora, respectively. Since his 2007 debut, the actor has accumulated about 44 drama appearances as well as 23 movies, but his biggest role in the past years is probably as one of the lead characters in Japan’s Cold Case adaptation. A third season for that is set to release later this year.
Though Kento has gathered quite a number of projects through the years, it’s middle brother Eita who is without a doubt the most known one out of the three. Coincidentally he’s also the one who had his debut first in 1999. It took another few years after that for Tatsuya, the eldest, to join Eita in the acting field, but apart from a few roles spread across the past decades, he was rather quiet. More recently, however, it was revealed that throughout 2020 he will be making his proper return to the entertainment industry with roles in movie Shibuya Shadow as well as the drama Byoshitsu de Nembutsu wo Tonaenaide Kudasai confirmed so far.
That wasn’t the only change for 2020 though, as Eita – who had been going mononymously since early in his career, making it so that a lot of people never linked him to his younger brother – went back to being known under his full name. With this change, all three brothers are fully in action to continue spreading the Nagayama name through the industry.
Meanwhile big brother Ryuhei got his fame from the get-go as well, starring in critically acclaimed movies such as Taboo and Aoi Haru – which also has Eita among its cast. The mainstream crowd, however, might mainly know him from his appearances in LA adaptations Cutie Honey and Nana, the latter of which had him appear as ex-band-member-turned-rival Honjo Ren. Earlier this year saw the release of Ryuhei’s most recent starring movie, Eiri.
Ryuhei and Shota are sons of actor Matsuda Yusaku, who sadly passed away of cancer when both boys were still kids. As a way to commemorate his life and career, Office Saku was established 10 years after their father’s death. The agency not only manages the brothers, but also their mother, younger sister – Matsuda Yuki, an electronic music artist – as well as a variety of other actors such as Fujiwara Kisetsu, and Shimizu Hiroya.
The eldest brother, Tasuku, debuted way back in 2003, after passing an audition for the movie Utsukushii Natsu Kirishima. It is said his decision to audition came forth from his love for Zatoichi, and his mother’s manager recommending him to apply for the project. His leading role was awarded with both Best Newcomer and Movie Critics Rookie Award the year after, and clearly showed a promising start of his now decades long career. Tasuku continues being cast in both leading and supporting roles, resulting in a great variety and a very long filmography going well over a 120 projects so far.
The same year as his older brother, Tokio had his first role in the Suberidai part of Jam Films S. Apparently this was an audition his brother had also attempted, but failed. Just like Tasuku, Tokio has built up a resume of over a 120 projects since his debut. His two most recent movies being 2019’s Shijinso no Satsujin and Ichido Shinde Mita, which was released last month. The longtime actor is also known to have kept a part-time job since his second year high school, and has kept up with it despite having a solid acting career. An interview at the end of 2017 revealed he was still doing part-time jobs, at the time washing dishes.
Tasuku and Tokio also have an older sister. She works behind the scenes in the film business.
Next to acting, Manase is also known for her skill in tate, Japanese stage combat. It eventually led to her being invited to teach the art to the leads of Kill Bill, an American production her father was starring in. While on set she ended up a stunt double for Lucy Liu in various scenes, and was also cast as one of the Crazy 88.
When it comes to the guys, I’m sure most are at least familiar with Mackenyu by now. Whether it’s from his role in the Chihayafuru LA movie series – where he also got his stage name from – or from more recent projects such as 12 nin no Shinitai Kodomotachi, he’s been pretty hard to miss. Gordon, however, only really started his acting career last year. His debut came through Chiisana Koi no Uta, which was led by Sano Hayato. Later the same year he was a second lead boy next to Katayose Ryota in Gozen 0 ji, Kiss Shi ni Kite yo. Drama Watashi no Kaseifu Nagisa-san started airing earlier this month.
The siblings are probably more known for their modeling careers, though, as they’ve spanned more than a few years for each of them. SUMIRE started off by posing for some of the covers of her mother’s albums, gathering attention not only for her looks and style, but also her unique eye color. She went on to become a So-en magazine exclusive model in 2014, eventually starring in a film series project produced by the magazine itself. The model-turned-actress had her proper acting debut through Saraba Seijaku which was followed up by a role in River’s Edge, alongside Yoshizawa Ryo and Nikaido Fumi. Together with Furukawa Yuki, she was able to star in Ishi no Mayu prequel series Aku no Hado. It aired late last year. With Mellow and Ura Ka, SUMIRE already has another two projects planned for the year, with more likely to be announced as time goes.
Her younger brother, on the other hand, has only taken small steps into the acting world. His first project was a short movie in 2018, after which he was cast in movie WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES in 2019. The same year, Himi also guested in an episode of drama The Good Wife. #Hand Zenryoku is his only project for 2020 so far.
They aren’t considered your regular actors, though, those two Saotome brothers. Taichi and Yuki are the sons of the Gekidan Sujaku head, basically having been thrown into the stage acting world from when they were born. It goes without saying that they have joined loads of the troupe’s light theater plays while growing up. Taichi, specifically, is widely known for his onnagata, the practice in which a male actor takes on a female role.
While Yuki seems to be focusing on theater, Taichi branches out from time to time. The actor had his movie debut in Kitano Takeshi’s Zatoichi back in 2003, but I’m sure most people mainly know him from the HIGH & LOW series, the more recent Bleach live action movie in which he played Abarai Renji, or from his voice acting debut as Lio Fotia in Promare.
The brothers also have a younger sister who goes by the name Suzuka Ayumi. She seems to only be involved in theater so far.
While both of them clearly have a penchant for more indie and alternative projects, it’s likely the younger one’s variety in roles and productions which has probably resulted in him being the more known Shimizu brother. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean Naoya’s not as experienced. The elder brother’s acting debut goes way back to 2007 drama Yamada Taro Monogatari, for instance, with Hiroya first showing his skills in about five years later in Koukou Nyushi. The biggest difference might be nothing but Hiroya’s career being managed by Office Saku, the agency led by the Matsuda brothers and their mother, likely giving him a further reach in casting decisions and projects as a whole.
After an appearance in this year’s season of Zettai Reido, Hiroya’s next movie, Amai Osake de Ugai, was planned for a 2020 release. Because of the Novel Coronavirus, however, it has been postponed with a new date yet to be announced. Naoya, on the other hand, is a part of the newest GARO project, GARO -VERSUS ROAD-. It started airing earlier this month.
Also, fun fact: while Hiroya never intended to become an actor, he somehow rolled into it after having been forced into a school play and realizing he did love it.
By the time of publishing, the young all-rounder has had a few guestings in drama series here and there, as well as a role in the Touken Ranbu LA movie, though has yet to really land a proper role for him to garner widespread attention. As for voice acting and theater, he seems to be moving along well enough.
Talking about theater, I was lucky enough to be able to witness Tao in her 2018 theater show, Pluto. The play also starred Emoto Akira and Moriyama Mirai, and took the cast around the world, performing in four different countries. For 2020, Tao and Yamazaki Kento are once again joining forces, this time appearing in the LA drama adaptation of Imawa no Kuni no Alice. The actress will also be reprising her role in the upcoming Rurouni Kenshin movies.
Tao and Shinba also have an older sister, Honoka, who works as a model. She also won the Miss Japan Tokyo contest last year.
November 30, 1985
May 30, 1989
2008, however, threw the young actress into the spotlight after her participation in Sion Sono’s Love Exposure, which was led by AAA member Nishijima Takahiro/Nissy and also featured Ando Sakura, among others. Hikari received multiple nominations for her role, and took various awards home with her in the end, including Best Female Performance, Best New Talent, Best Supporting Actress, as well as the Sponichi Grand Prize: New Talent Award.
Dramas and movies aren’t the only things Hikari adds to her resume every single year though, as she’s been consistently doing theater since the end of 2006 as well. Her most recent play, Oki ni Mesu mama – based on As You Like It by William Shakespeare – ran in July 2019.
During a seven month long bike trip around the country, Hikari’s younger brother Shinnosuke was confronted with a lot of published media of his sister. Impressed by her presence no matter where he went, the guy felt like he also had to do his best. Barely a month after his return, Shinnosuke joined the same agency Hikari was at the time, and about a year after that he made his theater acting debut. The actor’s first drama role in 2011 will likely continue to be imprinted on my mind for eternity, as I can immediately recall scenes including the Karate Club leader from Hanazakari no Kimitachi he without all too much trouble. His most recent movie role was as Heki in last year’s Kingdom LA adaptation.
Hikari and Shinnosuke have another two younger siblings, Kotaro and Minami. While Kotaro is a pro-basketball player, Minami works as a model.