“Which young Japanese movie/drama stars do you think will get their ‘break’ in the next year?” That was the question we’ve been asking our readers since early November 2021, and now 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 has a few we keep track of every year and season, we never actually asked what our readers/followers think. 2021 will be the year that changes that, and with 265 votes and 81 up-and-coming names mentioned, it was interesting to see who’d take the crowns in PD’s first ever “NEXT BREAK” ranking.
Since the amount of votes was limited, a single vote might have changed your fave’s spot on the ranking. Despite that, the crowns – and runner-ups – for both lists, were set in stone very early on.
Please have a look and leave your thoughts in the comments!
PD’s Personal Radar
Of course, we also have our own faves at PD and it would be silly not to mention them at all when we’ve just gone through 10 (really 20) of our readers’ voted faves.
First one I can think of for the female side is probably Kiyohara Kaya (’03). Despite her age, she’s already been going strong for quite a few years now, and even has her first leading drama coming up this season. It’s probably time for her to properly break through and grab her fixed spot in the limelight.
Furukawa Kotone (’96), on the other hand, has been on our radar since she first appeared in 12nin no Shinitai Kodomotachi. Her portrayal of the troubled VK-fangirl left its mark, and with every new show or movie that appears and has her on the cast, she polishes her skill a little more. Curious to see where her career will take her.
The same probably goes for Ishikawa Ruka (’97). While I haven’t seen much of her yet, her “If it’s not now, there’s no meaning to it!” still haunts me today – Sarugakucho de Aimashou was rough, but good. Some of her project choices so far have been interesting enough for me to keep an eye on her, and hopefully it’ll be worth it in the end.
While most viewers are out there having their fun watching Kamishirashi Mone, I sometimes feel like we can even expect more from her younger sister somehow. Perhaps it’s the roles or projects she gets cast in, or perhaps it’s something about her acting, I haven’t quite figured it out yet. What I do know is that I am anticipating more of Kamishiraishi Moka (’00) for sure.
Aside from the aforementioned, there’s also Mikami Ai (’00), Tsunematsu Yuri (’98), or Hotta Mayu (’98), the latter two of which I feel should have had more exposure by now.
For our male #1 “NEXT BREAK” of the year, we’re in full agreement with the PD-readers, as Bando Ryota (’97) has been a fixed name on our radar since his appearance in 12nin no Shinitai Kodomotachi early 2019 – I guess we’ve got to thank that casting director by now. My personal note on that same movie review even mentioned to keep an eye on him, and three years later I can gladly say my thoughts were right.
Aside from Bando, there’s also Fujiwara Kisetsu (’93). Perhaps a bit older as everyone else on this page, and without any flashy roles at the moment to really catch attention from the mainstream crowd, but his acting’s definitely the real thing. Have a look at Sasaki in My Mind if you haven’t yet!
The one I’m somehow expecting most of, though, might be Aoki Yuzu (’01). A young one who’s mainly been hanging around more indie-ish releases, and – despite only being 20 – has managed to get Japanese reviewers to go “He’s so good it pisses me off” after watching him do his thing. If that isn’t an inkling of a promising future ahead, I’m not sure what is.
For the new year I also hope for plenty more works and recognition for Kaneko Daichi (’96) and Shimizu Hiroya (’99) as well as Stardust boys Itagaki Mizuki (’00) and Onodera Akira (’99), the latter of which desperately needs roles so I can decide whether or not he’s got the skill and growth to stay on that radar of ours.