PD-RADAR: Our followers’ “NEXT BREAK” stars for 2024 have been decided

A new year means an updated list of “NEXT BREAK” stars. Just as we did before, we asked our readers/followers for their opinion and expectations for 2024. And now – I admit, a little belated – the results are here!

Yearly – and even seasonal – “Next Break” and “Hit” lists are a given these days and generally filled with young new stars. While PD obviously has its favorites and loves to latch onto promising rookies, we’re always curious to see what our followers like, and – who knows – find some new faces to pay attention to for 2024!

We received close to 600 individual votes this time around! Thank you!

Please have a look and leave your thoughts in the comments!

The Winners: Female Version

5. Yamada Anna (’01 – Amuse Inc.) Last year’s #5

Yamada Anna started her career after winning the Ciao Girl 2011 Audition Grand Prix, and subsequently got signed on by Amuse Inc. After a voice acting role in a Conan movie in 2011, and participation in drama Keiji no Manazashi as well as taiga Hana Moyu, Yamada made her movie debut through – at the time fellow Amuse – Kamiki Ryunosuke’s Too Young to Die! in 2016.

Her first main role was alongside a few of her peers, including Shimizu Hiroya and Endo Kenshin, for 2018’s Misumisou, also known as Liverleaf. She went on to guest in multiple big name series such as Strawberry Night Saga and MIU 404, to ultimately star in a few of her own. Socho Shihatsu no Sappukei and Zeicho being her filmography’s most recent additions.

Yamada’s future seems bright, however, as she’s been recently been involved in the LA movie project Golden Kamuy, alongside Yamazaki Kento. With its many positive reviews and great box-office, there’s is pretty much no doubt that a sequel might already be in the works. (This latter comment is already outdated as a sequel series was only just announced to be planned for fall 2024)

Fun fact: the only reason she ever participated in the audition was because she wanted to win the main prize: a Nintendo DS.

4. Riko (’02 – N.D.Promotion)

Back in 2014, when Riko was just a little sixth grader, she started applying for model jobs and accessible fashion shows, eventually becoming a web model for her favorite fashion brand, ANAP GIRL. She continued grabbing the fashion spotlight in the years after, getting spreads and collaborations with a variety of brands including Zipper and Popteen. Her personal TikTok account gained lots of followers through these years and made her establish herself as a teen fashion influencer.

While Riko didn’t start her career as an actress, she has been going strong ever since putting her focus on the craft. With no less than 4 movie and 10 drama appearances in 2022 alone, Riko has grabbed her part of the spotlight as a new generation rookie. She followed up in 2023 with roles in movies ScrollLove Will Tear Us Apart and the Nanoni, Chigira-kun ga Amasugiru LA adaptation, as well as multiple drama including Saiko no Seito and it’s parallel drama Saiko no Kyoshi.

Past January already had her appear in the second season of Ao Haru Ride aka Blue Spring Ride as a friend of the two lead characters. She’s also set to play the lead in Fukuoka Renai Hakusho 19. It’ll be out in March. Chigau Wakusei no Henna Koibito which had its festival release end 2023, will see its full release in 2024. Riko plays one of the lead characters together with Tsuna Keito, Kakei Miwako, and Nakajima Ayumu.

3. Yabuki Nako (’01 – Twin Planet)

Out of all names in our lists, Yabuki’s career might be one of the most impressive ones yet. Perhaps not (yet) because of being an actress, but her past as an idol in not only Japan but also South Korea.

Yabuki first debuted in the entertainment industry when she was barely a few years old, playing the child version of Nagasawa Masami in Touch. Aside from a few appearances in smaller projects, it was mostly quiet for a while after that. It was only when she attended auditions for idol group HKT48, and officially joined the group in 2013, that her career got a full boost.

The then idol took her career to a next level when she participated in auditions for a Japan/South Korea idol group collaboration, Produce48. Placing 6th in the final voting round, she joined Iz*One till her contract expired in April 2021 and she returned to HKT48 through a theater performance. She announced her graduation from the group early 2022.

With a new agency backing her, Yabuki continued her acting career full force in 2023. Several support roles in series such as Numaru. Minato-ku Joshikosei, Iyashi no Otonari-san ni wa Himitsu ga Aru and Renai no Susume have followed each other up in rapid succession, including a female lead role alongside WEST. Fujii Ryusei in 18-Sai, Niizuma, Furin Shimasu.

No plans have been announced yet for 2024.

2. Deguchi Natsuki (’01 – INCENT) Last year’s #6

Deguchi Natsuki is on a rise, and not only in our own Next Break list – She went 4 spots up from last year!

After declining a few scouting offers, Deguchi finally gave in to INCENT’s call upon realizing that Yamamoto Mizuki, whom she highly respected, was part of their roster. She had her entertainment debut in 2018, joining a fashion brand photo shoot, and was later selected by magazine Seventeen as one of its six Miss Seventeen 2018.

The half Japanese/Chinese rookie actress made her screen debut early 2019 through Cocoa, a drama special in which she starred alongside Nagase Riko and Minami Sara. She quickly followed up with a series of other support and guest drama appearances – such as in YouTube series Shujinko and Unsung Cinderella – before snatching another lead role in Bakayarou no Kiss alongside Itagaki Mizuki, among others.

2023 is probably the year so far, as she didn’t only appear as a main lead for Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san aka The Makanai (NF), but was also cast as Futaba in WOWOW’s drama adaptation of Ao Haru Ride aka Blue Spring Ride. Season two of the latter aired earlier this year.

In the current year, Deguchi is set to star alongside King & Prince’s Nagase Ren in movie Yomei Ichi Nen no Boku ga, Yomei Hantoshi no Kimi to Deatta Hanashi aka Drawing Closer, and will be taking up the main female role in Yamashita Tomohisa’s upcoming Blue Moment LA drama series.

1. Hata Mei (’02 – KEN ON) Last year’s #9

After Iinuma Ai in 2023, Hata Mei takes the lead in 2024.

After Yabuki, Hata Mei is our second ex-idol on the list this year. In Hata’s case, though, she used to be a member of elementary school aged trio PocchimoThey disbanded early 2015, after not even a year of having started activities.

Hata, however, has been active in the entertainment scene since even before that. The actress started her career barely a year into her life, and has mentioned before she basically doesn’t remember not working. By the age of 10, she didn’t feel like she had an idea of what was going on, but gradually learned and realized that she took joy in acting. 

Her career properly relaunched in 2018 and after as she continued getting roles in a variety of series, with her first few leading roles through Saiko no Seito, Joshikosei, So ni Naru and Patisserie MON, in the last year.

Hata will be appearing as the youngest sister in the upcoming drama 9 Border, and is also set to take part in the GTO Revival special in April.

Fun fact: she is close friends with Yamada Anna and Tamashiro Tina.

The Winners: Male Version

5. Higuchi Kouhei (’00 – Horipro)

When Higuchi Kouhei was freshly graduated from high school, he moved to Tokyo to participate in the J-League as a professional soccer player, though eventually gave up his dream due to an injury. It was during the time he was thinking of quitting that he was scouted by an acting agency and he rolled into a different industry as a whole.

After a variety of support roles in (web) drama series, Higuchi eventually ended up getting cast as the lead character in 2022 Sentai series Avataro Sentai Donbrothers. He was joined by Beppu Yuki, Shida Kohaku, Ishikawa Raizou, and others, throughout the year.

For non-Tokusatsu fans, Higuchi is likely more familiar as one of the two main leads of BL drama series Taikan Yoho. He co-starred with GENIC member Mashiko Atsuki.

For 2024, the rookie actor is set to join the cast of movie Tsuisou Journey‘s sequel. It’ll be out in summer.

4. Okudaira Daiken (’03 – Stardust Promotion 2部) Last year’s #2

In 2020, Okudaira Daiken showed a promising debut through Mother alongside Nagasawa Masami. With no other roles or entertainment jobs to his name at that point, the rookie actor quickly caught the attention of the industry for his performance in the rough, somewhat indie, release. He received multiple awards for this feat.

Fast forward a couple of years and Daiken is still very much a part of his generation’s top with various high profile roles and projects such as the recent Saiko no Kyoshi and Dragons of Wonderhatch (D+), as well as movie The Village where he was part of the main cast alongside dear senpai and agencymate Yokohama Ryusei. His first big step into the live-action subset of the acting industry had him bring Nakami Ganta alive through the adaptation of Kimi wa Houkago Insomnia aka Insomniacs After School.

In 2024 he joined Ryusei again with a role in recently released The Parades (NF). Esports focused Play! – where he’s part of an esports school club together with Suzuka Oji – will see its release this month.

Fun fact: the actor he admires most is none other than agencymate Yamada Takayuki.

3. Maeda Kentaro (’99 – Gekidan EXILE/LDH)

Maeda Kentaro’s dream of becoming a Kamen Rider actor was set since he was in kindergarten, so it was no surprise that he tried to find his way into it by joining the 31st JUNON Super Boy Contest after he got into university. Sadly for Maeda, he didn’t get past the best 30, and his dream of becoming a (KR) actor seemed to have come to an end.

It wasn’t till Covid19 messed up his ballroom dance club schedules and competitions that he thought of looking for an acting agency on his own. He started taking classes at EXPG in summer 2020, and subsequently ended up joining its affiliated agency, LDH Japan, in 2021. Only a little later, he was revealed as the lead character in 2021’s Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Revice, fullfilling a lifelong dream!

After Kamen Rider Revice came to an end, Maeda – alongside Sakurai Yuki and Shiono Akihisa – was officially added to the Gekidan EXILE roster. He’s been a part of multiple series such as Themis no Kyoshitsu and Watashi no Oyome-kun since. More recently he also joined forces with CTQ member Kashiwagi Haru to star in BL show Kimi ni wa Todokanai.

He started off 2024 with a support role in Matsumoto Seicho drama special “Kau”. Later this year, he will be rejoining fellow Kamen Rider Revice actor Oku Tomoya, as they were cast in drama Kimi to Yukite Saku. It’ll start airing in April.

Fun fact #1: BEYOOOOONDS member Maeda Kokoro is his younger sister. Seeing his younger sister succeed in her idol dreams gave him resolve to push through on his own!
Fun fact #2: He looks up to/respects Yokohama Ryusei as a fellow actor!

2. Tsuna Keito (’98 – Watanabe Entertainment)

Tsuna joined Watanabe Entertainment in 2018. The agency came on top of 20 different companies which tried to grab ahold of Tsuna after he’d won the 30th JUNON Super Boy Contest the year before. Tsuna said that he felt the most connected with Watanabe as the the person who’d given advice through the final screening during the contest appeared to be from the same agency.

Watanabe quickly lined up some work for him, having the rookie actor join the cast of the Bungaku Shoujo LA drama adaptation before sending him off to – like a lot of other JUNON winners and finalists – Tokusatsu. Tsuna played Ryusoul Blue through 2019’s Sentai series Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger, where he could be seen alongside Ichinose Hayate, Hyodo Katsumi, Osaka Ichika, and many more.

Since the end of his Sentai, Tsuna has been collecting a series of different drama support roles, leading up to his inclusion in Kimi no Hana ni Narus fictional boy group 8LOOM. Afterwards, his career only bloomed even more.

For 2024, Tsuna joined the lead cast of indie release Chigau Wakusei no Henna Koibito alongside Nakajima Ayumu, Riko, and Kakei Miwako. He also guested in an episode of Suppin Hero last month. The LA movie adaptation of Koi Wazurai no Ellie, aka Lovesick Ellie, starring Miyase Ryubi and Hara Nanoka, will be out in March. Tsuna will be appearing as Takagi Leo.

1. Yamashita Coki (’01 – YK Agent)

Another new year, another new lead boy. While Takahashi Fumiya took the throne for 2023, Yamashita Coki is taking his own in 2024.

Coki quickly took part of the rookie spotlight for himself after appearing in the Kimi no Hana ni Naru drama series where he was part of a fictional boy group, 8LOOM. Amusingly, this was alongside the likes of Takahashi Fumiya, Miyase Ryubi, and the earlier listed, Tsuna Keito. While most people know him from this role – it was his first regular drama role after all – it wasn’t Coki’s first experience with the entertainment industry.

After graduating high school, the dancing skill he’d been honing since he was a kid was recognized, and he got the opportunity to start training at a South-Korean entertainment agency. Sadly, the language barrier was a little hard to bear, and, after getting injured and feeling upset not being able to convey his thoughts and problems well, he decided to return to Japan, burying his dream of finding a place in the entertainment industry.

It was not long after that a friend of his made him aware of the JUNON Super Boy Contest. He eventually decided to sign up, and with the unwavering support of his mother, he eventually became a finalist for the 2020’s 33rd JUNON Super Boy Contest. He was among the top 15 out of 17,158 contestants. 

Currently Coki is a part of the Fufu no Himitsu support cast alongside Toyoda Yudai, Super Dragon’s Furukawa Tsuyoshi, Beppu Yuki, and more. He will also be appearing in the Mangaka, Hori Mamoru movie project, as well as TV special Kougaku Tousen Shichaimashita.

The Rankings

Top 10 FemaleTop 10 Male
  1. Hata Mei (’02 – KEN ON) Instagram // Twitter // Profile (Last year’s #9)
  2. Deguchi Natsuki (’01 – INCENT)Instagram // Twitter // Profile (Last year’s #6)
  3. Yabuki Nako (’01 – Twin Planet)Instagram // Twitter // TikTok // Threads // Profile // Website
  4. Riko (’02 – N.D.Promotion)Instagram // Twitter // TikTok // Profile
  5. Yamada Anna (’01 – Amuse Inc.)Instagram // Twitter // Profile (Last year’s #5)
  6. Shida Kohaku (’04 – A-Plus)Instagram // Twitter // TikTok // Profile
  7. Yagi Rikaco (’01 – Asia Cross)Instagram // Twitter // Profile
  8. Minami Sara (’02 – LesPros Entertainment)Instagram // Twitter // Profile (Last year’s #8)
  9. Kumada Rinka (’01 – LesPros Entertainment)Instagram // Twitter // TikTok // Profile
  10. Fujisaki Yumia (’08 – METEORA)Instagram // Twitter // Profile

  1. Yamashita Coki (’01 – YK Agent) – Instagram // Twitter // TikTok // Website
  2. Tsuna Keito (’98 – Watanabe Entertainment) Instagram // Twitter // Profile // Website
  3. Maeda Kentaro (’99 – Gekidan EXILE/LDH) Instagram // Profile
  4. Okudaira Daiken (’03 – Stardust Promotion 2部) Instagram // Profile (Last year’s #2)
  5. Higuchi Kouhei (’00 – Horipro)Instagram // Twitter // TikTok // Profile // Website
  6. Honda Kyoya (’99 – A-Plus) Instagram // Twitter // TikTok // Profile // Website (Last year’s #4)
  7. Kido Taisei (’96 – Tristone Entertainment)Instagram // Profile
  8. Mokudai Kazuto (’04, Genjibu – Stardust Promotion 3部)Instagram // Twitter // Profile // Profile (Group)
  9. Aoki Yuzu (’01 – Humanité) – Instagram // Profile (Last year’s #10)
  10. Komiya Rio (’02 – Palum Promotion)Instagram // Twitter // Profile

PD’s Personal Radar

And just as last time, of course we wouldn’t be PD if we didn’t add our own two cents.

For 2024, I can definitely say a few of our choices of previous years continue to be on the list of pls-give-these-people-more-attention. At the same time it’s also really nice to see some of them consistently get their name out. Furukawa Kotone has been on a rise, while Tsunematsu Yuri and Hotta Mayu have been getting roles here and there as well. On the male side, it’s about the same. Bando Ryota and Itagaki Mizuki have had no issues securing roles, and the likes of Aoki Yuzu and Kisetsu Fujiwara are branching out into slightly more mainstream projects. 

With the addition of Matsuoka KoudaiNakao Masaki, and perhaps, Hyodo Katsumi, everyone else has been named before, and we patiently wait till more projects appear on their filmographies. Rather sooner than later though, you know.

Source: (Female: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5; Male: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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