The Battle for the next Top Japanese Dramatic Actress: Jun Yoshinaga, Mugi Kadowaki, Aoi Morikawa, Mone Kamishiraishi [ Part 5 of 6 Parts ]

Aside from the lead star of Bon Lin, Ema Sakura, some of the biggest high-impact performances I have seen in recent movies were that of Mone Kamishiraishi in Lady Maiko, Jun Yoshinaga in Still the Water, Mugi Kadowaki in Love’s Whirpool and Aoi Morikawa in The World of Kanako.

These young actresses may not be as famous as Emi Takei, Ayame Gouriki or Tsubasa Honda, but they certainly can act and act very well. Mone is yet to give us her all; the same is the case with Yoshinaga who some believe is Yuya Yagira’s counterpart. Kadowaki is, of course, Sosuke Ikematsu’s counterpart – being cast in matured, bold, daring roles, while Morikawa serves as a favorite Ryunosuke Kamiki and Masaki Suda acting collaborator.

In Part 5 of this series, we put the spotlight on Japan’s amazing young talents – the ones who are standouts – not the most attractive, perhaps even controversial since unlike many others, they tend to get the hardest roles.

I just hope the powers that be will give Jun Yoshinaga another project. In Kawase’s Still the Water, she made such a huge impact.

Recent discussion elsewhere: The previous and current incursions of idols into the drama and movie scenes are not welcome developments – in particular for the discerning movie and drama lovers. There is an ongoing discussion about AKB48 stars and one particular actress who has beaten these aspiring actresses… A must-read!

Back to our series, I would say, Aoi Morikawa and Mugi Kadowaki are getting some amazing roles of late. Kadowaki, in particular, is having a grand time – she’s part of Gassoh (Yuya Yagira’s historical coming of age) and headlines two movies – Sun (with Kamiki) and Double Life (with Hiroki Hasegawa and Masaki Suda). 

I’m quoting extensively on what Don Brown is saying about Kadowaki:

Kadowaki’s breakthrough arrived in the form of “Love’s Whirlpool” (2014), a brilliant comedy of manners set in an orgy club that was written and directed by playwright Daisuke Miura. Although essentially an ensemble piece, Kadowaki, in particular, drew attention for her willingness to embrace the bold nudity and sex scenes that her role required. In an entertainment industry where vigilantly groomed celebrities prop up their agencies’ finances as commercial spokespeople, it’s no surprise that nakedness is generally a no-no for those to whom acting is just a sideline, rather than a calling. Different expectations are made of aging glamor models, former child stars, and other female celebrities who lose their clothes out of a desire to shed their established image and declare themselves as serious thespians, but as these films are primarily delivery vehicles for famous nudity, this often marks the end of their shelf life as marketable assets. Appearing nude on screen didn’t harm the careers of genuine actresses Yoko Maki and Yuriko Yoshitaka, but the films in question came prior to their popularity in advertising campaigns. Kadowaki’s future looks to follow a similar trajectory to the aforementioned pair. After “Love’s Whirlpool,” last year she took the most surefire route to stardom in Japan, that being a regular part in a Japan Broadcasting Corp. (NHK) morning drama serial, titled “Mare.” Apart from her bravery and beauty, she has a knack for playing characters who appear vulnerable on the outside, but possess an all-consuming determination. [ read more ]

Morikawa’s Chokolietta got some raves during its international premiere, and I’m looking forward to watching it. Her short but memorable performance in The World of Kanako (she’s the young druggie) blew me away, and I think being part of ‘Too Young to Die’ with Ryunosuke Kamiki is another big step for her.

Among the actresses on this list, who are your favorites? Let us know what you think!