Casting News + Scoop! [Jan 18-Feb 28] The current Youth Drama trend in Japanese movies and TV shows and how it compares to the rest of the world!

The splash by the hugely different and quite erotic Scum’s Wish may finally put a small crack in the ‘glass ceiling’ of conservative Japanese television. It’s about time that provocative and modern TV series are shown. It’s about time Japanese TV producers and casting managers realize the lethargic effects of their own mediocrity. It’s about time they show something with oomph!

Case in Point: Korean and Thai coming of age, youth drama are fast becoming de rigueur – with interesting plotlines, excellent production values, but not necessarily breakthrough and acclaimed acting. After Solomon’s Perjury, Korea is adopting Little Forrest, and the Thai’s are now the gold standard when it comes to BL.

Case in point: Real life situations are not limited to being kawaii. Shows need to be more than about being ‘cute’. There is more to young lives than bullying and romantic issues because there are also sex, identity crisis (read: gay), and intrigue. 

I have yet to see excellent performances from Asian actors who can match that of the French and some British, Dutch, and Hollywood young talents when it comes to romance and beyond (torrid kissing, sex, and more). Imagine anyone from Asia who would do a Dimitri Durdaine (Gael Morel’s Notre Paradis), Kacey Mottet Klein, Corentin Fila (in Andre Techine’s Quand on a 17 ans) and do full-frontal nudity in movies.  

Wow, and such wishful thinking!

Even the previously shown Prison School was so ‘harang!’ (ridiculously bland and censored). But then again, let’s see some of the ‘usual stuff’ here… 

Speaking of Prison School, the current frontrunner in the youth rom-com scene is no other than Taishi Nakagawa. I think it’s safe to say that he is also a competent dramatic actor. We have yet to see his full potential, though, but a quick look at his movie line-up for 2016-2017 is quite impressive:

The cast of Today's Kira-kun (Kyo no Kira-kun)

  • ReLIFE (2017) – as lead character, Arata Kaizaki who participates in an experiment to return to high school, where he looks 10 years younger and tackles the problems of relationships and school;
  • Kyo no Kira-kun (2017) – as the terminally ill Yuiji Kira who falls in love with Ninon Okamura (Marie Iitoyo);
  • Zenin, Kataomoi (2016) – as the impressionable Satake (segment “My Nickname is Butatchi”) in another dramatic turn; 
  • Your Lie in April | Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (2016) – as one of the supporting character, Ryota Watari who is best friends with the lead (played by Kento Yamazaki).

I am looking forward to ReLIFE the most – having seen the anime recently. I think Taishi’s character is quite interesting and colorful. Given the right director, Nakagawa can make this role his most memorable. There are plenty of ‘going back to school’ movies over the years – utilizing time travel and medical experiments as the ‘excuse’ and it’s a matter of taking the story to another level while also offering enough twists and turns to make it different from previously released films.

Close on the heels of Nakagawa is the more intense but perhaps less popular Mahiro Takasugi. After an impressive performance in Bon Lin, Takasugi is set to impress as Nakagawa’s co-star in ReLIFE. He also joins Tao Tsuchiya and Shotaro Mamiya in Tori Girl. 

Mahiro Takasugi in Principal

A casting buzz for Takasugi was announced a few hours ago. He is set to join Yuina Kuroshima in Principal.

After her parents divorced, Shima Sumitomo (Yuina Kuroshima) lived with her mother. She felt uncomfortable living with her stepfather and she was unable to hang out with people at her high school. Shima Sumitomo decides to move to Hokkaido where her father lives. At her new high school in Hokkaido, she meets classmate Gen Tatebayashi (Nozomu Kotaki) and Wao Sakurai. They are the two most popular boys at her school. A principle of her school is that “Gen and Wao are for everyone.” If anyone breaks the rule, that person will be ostracized. Shima Sumitomo gets closer to Gen and Wao. [ Asian Wiki ]

Both Nakagawa and Takasugi have shown excellent dramatic skills and they have enough movie and TV drama roles to prove it. While it may take them a few more years to dominate the scene, we’re looking at the future of Japanese acting here. 

Speaking of the future, there is no doubt in my mind that Ryunosuke Kamiki holds the key. As Takeru Satoh drives his acting career to new heights and more matured roles, it’s Kamiki who is now on the driver’s seat as far as youth dramatic roles are concerned.

Yuya Yagira and Shota Sometani are following in the footsteps of Kenichi Matsuyama, Satoshi Tsumabuki, Shun Oguri and Takayuki Yamada – though some may say, they have been doing a lot of supporting roles lately. Note that Yagira just won Best Actor for Destruction Babies in the annual Kinema Junpo awards.

Kento Yamazaki, Masaki Suda, and Shuhei Nomura are also next in line. We have plenty to say about them in our upcoming 100 Japanese actors everyone needs to know hitlist. 

What makes Kamiki’s acting career at this very minute is his upcoming movies – in particular, March Comes In Like A Lion. His movie line-up is as follows:

  • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (2017) – Koichi Hirose
  • March Comes in Like a Lion 2 | San gatsu no Lion Kohen (2017) – Rei Kiriyama
  • March Comes in Like a Lion | San gatsu no Lion Zenpen (2017) – Rei Kiriyama
  • Your Name. | Kimi no na wa. (2016) – Tachibana Taki (voice)
  • The Sun | Taiyo (2016) – Tetsuhiko Okudera
  • Too Young To Die! | Too Young To Die! Wakakushite Shinu (2016) – Daisuke

Why is Kamiki holding the key? Well, he is as competent as anyone when it comes to live-action movies, but then again who has the edge when it comes to voice acting? You tell me.


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