PsychoDrama [Talkback]: Kinema Junpou No 1722. Issue features 50 actors under 30 to look out for + Did they get everyone right? [Part 2 of 4 Parts]

To discuss the merits (or demerits) of 50 Japanese actors requires more than a singular post, hence Part 2 continues our discussion previously from Part 1 of Kinema Junpou 50 actors (under 30) worth watching out.

Yuki Furukawa at 28 almost did not make the cut, but the Litchi Hikari Club lead actor has been in the limelight from the time he took on the role of Naoki in Itazura na Kiss: Love in Tokyo. If you recall, he made headlines when he remarked on the way Japanese shows are casting idols just for the heck of it. Let’s hear it from Furukawa directly:

 “Nobody in Japan cares if you’re successful overseas unless you’re already established here”

The article, written by The Hollywood Reporter’s Gavin J. Blair, explained further:

“Japanese audiences watch dramas because they want to see the people in it, and because they like the manga or anime they’re often based on, not because of the quality of the story,” said Furukawa, talking to The Hollywood Reporter after making a presentation in English on the opening day of the TIFFCOM content market at Tokyo International Film Festival. “It’s fun for audiences to get to see musicians they like, even though many of them can’t act.” 

“It’s different to dramas in the America, where people actually train to be an actor,” added Furukawa, who studied method acting in the U.S., having been to high school in New York after his family moved to Canada when he was a child.   [ source ]

The remarks were not taken lightly by some fans, especially by those who follow the careers of Johnny’s idols. 

Speaking of actors who can’t act, I often wonder why Sota Fukushi keeps on getting those high-profile roles to the detriment of the audience. Of course, with the exception of his fans, anyone else thinks Fukushi has been struggling with his acting. He started quite well, but the thing is, playing a Kamen Rider hero is quite easy compared to doing a role that requires the actor to convey complex, oftentimes, conflicting emotions. Take, for instance, Shota Sometani in Himizu, or Masaki Suda in Pink and Gray or Sosuke Ikematsu in Undulant Fever. These roles require the actor to be more than good looking. These roles require talent, and Fukushi, unfortunately, has little acting talent to speak of.

Fukushi’s peer – Ryo Ryusei – who is also managed by Ken-On can be regarded as having the same issue with talent. He lacks the oomph, he lacks credibility, he lacks the appeal. Although there may be “room for improvement”, the issue is that we have no time for improvements when there are more capable actors who deserve the roles given to them.

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Yuto Nakajima, one of the most promising talents from Johnny’s Entertainment, impressed a lot of people playing the lead role in Pink and Gray. The Japan Times’ Mark Schilling praised his performance:

Kudos to the three leads, especially real-life idol Yuto Nakajima of the boy band Hey! Say! Jump!, who is making his screen debut. Without going into details, they perform a 180-degree turn from their previous screen incarnations with aplomb. It’s as if Al Pacino were to play Michael in the first 30 minutes of “The Godfather” and then, without missing a beat, become Fredo. [ source ]

Among the current crop of young “character actors” – those who are cast to play second leads, or supporting parts, it was Taiga who shines the most. After playing Fumi Nikaido’s romantic interest in Au revoir l’ ete, Taiga turned heads in various drama shows including Koinaka, Yutori Desu ga Nani ka and Aogeba Toutoshi. 

Gaku Hamada and Tori Matsuzaka are already “veterans” so no surprise seeing their names on the list.

Mackenyu, who is from a showbiz family, is fast becoming a competent actor. His father is the famous Sonny Chiba but don’t take my word for it. Watch him in the current Aogeba Toutoshi  or better yet, see him with Nana Komatsu and Rinko Kikuchi in Yume wo Ataeru. He’s also one of the leads in the live action movies Chihayafuru.

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Now the spotlight in, once again, on Kento Yamazaki! The young actor (who happens to grabbed the #1 ranking in our Top 30 hottest young actors) can’t be considered ‘perfect’ or truly ‘accomplished’ in the sense that some actors like Sometani, Yagira, and Ikematsu. But with a string of box office hits, he’s the best casting news there is. If you’re a fan, then you’ll agree with me that he made his best performance in Control Tower (opposite Ai Hashimoto) and his foray into romcom is – hopefully – only a temporary sideline. 
Part 3 continues with the list and we’ll remark why they missed so many talented actors including Shotaro Mamiya, Tatsuomi Hamada, Arata Horii, and many more.

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