Japan’s Best Actors – The Promising List [Top 15 – 2016 Edition]

The 2016 Edition of Japan’s Best Actors – Promising List has evolved from a mere listing of actors – both known and unknown to movie fans outside Japan, to become quite ‘inclusive’ of what the locals also consider as their best, most sought-after newcomers. The list is very exclusive in the sense that only those who are below the age of 30 are considered, thus we are putting the spotlight on talents who are really grabbing the most challenging and fresh roles in both movies and doramas right this minute.

[ Note that this is the Promising list, there are 15 more names for the hottest ranking coming up next ]

As we have noted in the first edition of the Most Promising Young Japanese actors hitlist: Every successful actor in Japan started somewhere – a supporting role in a prime time TV series or portraying one of the country’s beloved Kamen riders or starring in a dramatic movie by a well-known filmmaker or simply working his way up from bit roles until getting that much-coveted leading part…[ 2013 Edition ]

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Through the years I have been asked to make recommendations on a “verified, authentic list” of Japanese films that one may want to see, as a way of introduction. Many times, I failed to come up with such a list because I don’t think I have seen enough. I’m celebrating five years of blogging Japanese movies this coming March 2017 and I thought it would be nice to restart my ambitious 100 contemporary Japanese movie list.
100 Japanese Movies Hitlist

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I’m aware that there are a lot of Japanese actors who did not make the list and that fans and regular visitors of this site may find surprising – Shotaro Mamiya, Kento Yamazaki, Shuhei Nomura, Masaki Suda. All of them, however, are part of the other, more high-profile list. Other actors considered for this list include Ryusei Yokohama, Ryo Ryusei, Ryo Matsuda, Ryo Narita, Jun Shison, but they all lack the qualities I am looking for in an actor.

James Takeshi Yamada rounds up the list because he rocks in Seven Days, that intriguing and entertaining 2-part movie about two high school students who dare to go dating. Of course, this is Yaoi and to think that Kyuosuke Hamao has retired already, Takeshi Yamada is a much capable heir to the Yaoi throne.

Both Kentaro Sakaguchi and Mackenyu may be considered ‘high profile’ in so far as their buzz are concerned but I think they are less capable actors than Taishi Nakagawa or Mahiro Takasugi, who are both younger. Nakagawa, in particular, has a very exciting 2015-2016 due to projects including Prison School and the upcoming My Nickname is Butatchi. Takasugi, who made waves in an afternoon soap opera, has The World of Kanako and Bon Lin to be proud about – just the range of his acting is nowhere near what Sakaguchi could muster for years!

Junya Ikeda, another newcomer to the list, has demonstrated his acting range when he played Niko in the live action Litchi Hikari Club. While he is known for playing a superhero, the guy needs to join more movies as he can be mesmerizing.

Our top 2 guys – Hiroya Shimizu and Nijiro Murakami (plus Takumi Kitamura) continue to hug the headlines with their role choices. The three young actors were together in Angel’s Knife – as young murderers, reminiscent of Andrew Garfield in Boy A. Murakami and Kitamura will have a reunion of sorts as they are both cast in Yuya Yagira’s Distraction Babies. Shimizu, who takes the top spot for the first time, wowed both Japanese and international audiences via The World of Kanako, Solomon’s Perjury and will be seen next in Chihayafuru. 

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