PsychoDrama [Talkback]: Kinema Junpou No 1722. Issue features 50 actors under 30 to look out for + Did they get everyone right? [Part 1 of 4 Parts]

When Kinema Junpou announced their 50 names of actors (under 30) to watch out for, the whole PD community was not surprised. I mean, most of the names have been featured on the site – one way or another. Just take a look at the top 30 hit list [ promising | hottest ] and you’ll notice that most of them are included in the Kinema list.

I’d love to open up the discussion on both those who are already part of our list and those who may be considered “under the radar” since I think we have some exciting names in the Kinema Junpou list that need some research. Here’s the rub: If you’re an editor exposed to all the buzz inside the Japanese entertainment industry, you obviously have the advantage (and disadvantage) since – I really believe – we on the outside has a more ‘objective” look. Then again, that’s debatable of course!

Let’s see…. so we have 50 names!

I don’t know exactly how they went about selecting the names, but for obvious reasons, casting buzz must be part of the criteria. Having said that, there are a few names who should not be part of the list anymore – for the simple reason that they have already established themselves beyond doubt that they have what it takes.

However, for the sake of argument, let’s have them as is – and go about each of the names on the list.

Child actor turned dramatic performer Sosuke Ikematsu is definitely one of the most talented of the batch. From his initial appearance in The Last Samurai to recent movies like Pale Moon, Undulant Fever, and Love’s Whirpool, Ikematsu has turned in top notch performances. [ Ikematsu is currently #5 on PsychoDrama’s Top 30 hottest list ]

Amane Okayama’s performances in Gassoh and Litchi Hikari Club are enough credentials to merit inclusion to the list.

There was a time when Masaki Okada was nominated twice (“Villain” & “Confessions”) for “Best Supporting Actor” at the 2011 (34th) Japan Academy Prize, and considering his “seniority”, his inclusion to the list is a bit laughable. He has already the accolades and the raves, unlike others who are not as qualified on the list. [ We’ll have that later ].

Takanori Iwata is – first and foremost – a performer, and there are many other actors (full pledge, that is) who could have taken his slot. 

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Takumi Kitamura’s casting in the Yuya Yagira led ensemble Distraction Babies, which also features Masaki Suda and Nijiro Murakami, is but a clear indication of his acting credentials. While he’s part of a boyband (DISH// and the lead vocalist at that), the young entertainer was quite good in Suzuki Sensei, the same TV series, and movie that saw Tao Tsuchiya as the sexy-charming-alluring student whom her teachers lust for. Even in Angel’s Knife (where he pitted talents with Hiroya Shimizu and Nijiro Murakami), Kitamura managed to leave some lasting impressions. Watch out for Kitamura in Aogeba Toutoshi, where he joins Nijiro Murakami (again), Taiga and Mackenyu. [ Kitamura is currently #7 in PsychoDrama’s Top 30 Most Promising hitlist ]

On the other hand, the senior and more established Kaku Kento, cannot be relegated to any supporting status, since he’s a good actor himself. 

Motoki Ochiai is a new name to me, hence it would be impossible to make a judgment. 

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Kengo Kora, like Masaki Okada, is a senior among the names on the list, and would even be considered more talented and accomplished than Okada. While Kora could have garnered Best Actor awards for The Story of Yonosuke and Being Good, the versatile actor remains as enigmatic as ever. Hopefully, there would be another challenging role for him to do and get nominated soon enough.

Tasuku Emoto is like one of the best character actors ever.

Masataka Kubota, definitely one of the names in any top 10 list (or even top 5 for some), is an actor to be reckoned with. If you feel that his recent casting buzz are tremendously exciting, you have to watch some of his older movies to really appreciate the range of this amazing actor. Try The Cowards Who looked up to the Sky to understand what the hype is all about. [ Kubota is currently #8 in PsychoDrama’s top 30 Hottest hitlist ]

Yuta Koseki TV movie with Hanna Sugisaki is a strong indication of the actor’s potentials. [ Koseki is currently #9 in PsychoDrama’s Most Promising hitlist ]

Jun Shison, I have a lot of doubts, he never impressed me even just a bit.

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What can I say? Yuya Yagira and Shota Sometani represent the future of Japanese cinema! While Yagira has yet to follow up his Best Actor win at Cannes, his recent performances from Unforgiven to Again, Crows Explode, Gassoh and his first TV lead role in the comedy Aoi Honoo has demonstrated his acting range that can only be rivaled by Shota Sometani (and Masaki Suda). Furthermore, his reported excellent performance in Distraction Babies may further propel him into the status enjoyed by the like of Satoshi Tsumabuki, Ryuhei Matsuda, and Joe Odagiri.

Sometani, who (almost) equaled Yagira’s acclaim in the international film arena, also has what it takes when it comes to making both notable dramatic and comedic performances. From his acclaimed role in Himizu to Wood Job!, Soredake, Minna ESPer Dayo, Parasyte, Sayonara Kabukicho, and Bakuman, Sometani has the range and the versatility to do difficult roles.

Both have yet to appear together on the silver screen and what a movie that would be! [ Sometani is ranked #6 while Yagira is currently #2 in PsychoDrama’s hottest hitlist ]

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Ryunosuke Kamiki can be regarded as the dark horse in any hit list featuring the best young actors from Japan. While he has yet to fully explore bold, matured roles (in the way Ikematsu or Suda or Yagira have done) Yet the universal appeal of this charming (yet serious) actor is beyond reproach. [ Kamiki is currently ranked #4 in PsychoDrama’s Hottest hitlist ]

Kentaro Sakaguchi needs a lot of improvement yet I have to acknowledge how good he is in the recent drama Juhan Shuttai! He also got a lot of sympathy in the recent movie starring Mirei Kiritani and Kento Yamazaki as the second leading man (Heroine Shikkaku). [ Sakaguchi is currently #14 in PsychoDrama’s Most Promising hitlist ]

I have a lot of reservations for Daiki Shigeoka since there are so many actors who could have been on the list – foremost of which are Shotaro Mamiya, Junya Ikeda, Arata Horii (definitely this guy should be on the list!) and Tatsuomi Hamada.

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Hiroya Shimizu, together with Nijiro Murakami, represent the next batch of potentially great Japanese actors. Following in the footsteps of Sometani, Yagira, Suda and Kamiki. While there are a lot more that both actors are supposed to explore acting wise, both Shimizu and Murakami have demonstrated sensitive, intense acting like no others in their generation. Oh, yes, there’s Mahiro Takasugi who can rival both in drama! [ Shimizu is ranked #1 in PsychoDrama’s Most Promising hit list, while Takasugi is not far behind at #4 ]

Chiba Yudai is typical of a good looking actor who can be an eye candy in any glossy magazine or movie for that matter. However, I have yet to watch him do something extraordinary except to play cute. My remarks on Yudai is the exact opposite of my impressions of Kenta Suga. Definitely one of the most underrated young actors around, Suga has what it takes to play the roles usually reserved for the likes of Kamiki, Suda, and even Sometani. [ Suga is currently ranked #6 in PsychoDrama’s Most Promising hitlist ]

Kento Nagayama, Eita’s younger brother, just made some amazing dramatics in Juhan Shuttai, and will most probably be remembered in The Cowards Who Looked up to the Sky, Shields of Straw, I’m Flash and Crows Explode. We have yet to witness Nagayama’s full potential.

More on the list in Part 2, including personal biases Kanata Hongo, Kento Yamazaki, Taishi Nakagawa, Yuki Furukawa, Shuhei Nomura, Masaki Suda and many more!

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