The Battle for the next Top Japanese Dramatic Actress: Jun Yoshinaga, Mugi Kadowaki, Aoi Morikawa, Mone Kamishiraishi [ Part 5 of 6 Parts ]

Aside from the lead star of Bon Lin, Ema Sakura, some of the biggest high-impact performances I have seen in recent movies were that of Mone Kamishiraishi in Lady Maiko, Jun Yoshinaga in Still the Water, Mugi Kadowaki in Love’s Whirpool and Aoi Morikawa in The World of Kanako.

These young actresses may not be as famous as Emi Takei, Ayame Gouriki or Tsubasa Honda, but they certainly can act and act very well. Mone is yet to give us her all; the same is the case with Yoshinaga who some believe is Yuya Yagira’s counterpart. Kadowaki is, of course, Sosuke Ikematsu’s counterpart – being cast in matured, bold, daring roles, while Morikawa serves as a favorite Ryunosuke Kamiki and Masaki Suda acting collaborator.

In Part 5 of this series, we put the spotlight on Japan’s amazing young talents – the ones who are standouts – not the most attractive, perhaps even controversial since unlike many others, they tend to get the hardest roles.

I just hope the powers that be will give Jun Yoshinaga another project. In Kawase’s Still the Water, she made such a huge impact.

Continue reading “The Battle for the next Top Japanese Dramatic Actress: Jun Yoshinaga, Mugi Kadowaki, Aoi Morikawa, Mone Kamishiraishi [ Part 5 of 6 Parts ]”

The Battle for the next Top Japanese Dramatic Actress: Mitsuki Takahata [ Part 3 of 6 Parts ]

The Deputy Chief of Mission of the US in Japan, Jason Hyland has something to say about Toto Nee-Chan:

I am fascinated by the latest NHK Morning Drama, “Toto-ne-chan.” I am especially intrigued by the saga of three of the women leaders in the story, the owner of “Aoyagi Shoten” trading, the imposing Takiko Aoyagi, the unique teacher Chiyo Todo, and our heroine, Tsuneko Kohashi. As women rightfully assume more and more leadership positions in business, in government, in academia, in all sectors, I see the question raised again and again – What is the most effective leadership style for women? I think the answer, based on the many, many role models out there, is that there is no single answer. Toto-ne-chan has her own unique way of engaging people. The often stern Takiko-san (but with a heart of gold) on the other hand runs her business in a more traditional style, and definitely gets results. And then there is the eccentric Chiyo Todo, the teacher who told her never to give up. Just in this one drama we have three different leadership styles by three different women.   As I watch this drama, I am reminded of some of the extraordinary female leaders I have encountered in my own life, all with their own distinct ways of achieving their goals. [ source ]

Mitsuki Takahata was that annoying restaurant staff in one of the year’s best doramas – Mondai no Aru Restaurant. Her character is as complex as that of Fumi Nikaido and Mayu Matsuoka, but she has the additional challenge to convince dorama audience that she can be villainy and then become the object of everyone’s sympathy. In Yuya Ishii’s The Vancouver Asahi, Takahata proved she has what it takes to shine in spite of the star-studded cast led by Satoshi Tsumabuki, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kame and many others. As the private tutor of one of the richest Canadian families in the period drama, Takahata’s character – Emmy Kasahara – symbolizes the aspirations and dreams of young Japanese girls living abroad. Her short but effective speech to rally support for her brother and friends in their final baseball tournament is both inspiring and endearing.

Continue reading “The Battle for the next Top Japanese Dramatic Actress: Mitsuki Takahata [ Part 3 of 6 Parts ]”

The Battle for the next Top Japanese Dramatic Actress: Hana Sugisaki [ Part 2 of 6 Parts ]

Don’t be fooled by the fragile, sweet young girl look because Hana Sugisaki can play rough, sensual roles filled with angst and desperation. I first saw Sugisaki in Mysterious Transfer Student (Nazo no Tenkosei) followed closely by a smaller yet high-impact role in MOZU and then in Gakko no Kaidan, but it was in Kaseki no Hohoemi and Pieta in the Toilet that Sugisaki soars in yet undetermined but amazing acting heights. 

Perhaps fans of the 17-year old young talent may only worry about her current agency, Ken-On – known for heavily promoting Sota Fukushi to desperate heights, while the likes of Mirai Shida and perhaps Sugisaki herself are subjected to casting waiting games. 

Continue reading “The Battle for the next Top Japanese Dramatic Actress: Hana Sugisaki [ Part 2 of 6 Parts ]”

The Battle for the next Top Japanese Dramatic Actress: Tao Tsuchiya, Mayu Matsuoka, Suzu Hirose [ Part 1 of 6 Parts ]

Let’s see. There was a time when Hikari Mitsushima and Sakura Ando were just starting to make a name for themselves in the Japanese movie industry (watch Sion Sono’s Love Exposure to get an idea.). Then there was Chizuru Ikewaki wowing audiences in Josee, The Tiger and The Fish and of course who can forget Mao Inoue in Hana Yori Dango, one of the ultimate J-drama ever! Other big names include Takako Matsu who made waves on the international scene via the school-thriller Confessions and Erika Toda capturing a different set of audience as a top female detective/agent in SPEC. Previously there was Ryoko Hirosue in the Luc Besson-produced Wasabi and the Academy Award-winning Japanese film Departures. 

But more than anyone, it will always be Sayuri Yoshinaga who will best exemplify the Japanese actress ideal.

Yoshinaga Sayuri was born in March 1945, five months before World War II came to an end. She is a movie star whose career can be said to have followed the footsteps of postwar Japan. Although she will soon reach the age of 68, she still projects a youthful image and has an active career as an actress, performing the lead role in a film every two years or so.

Thus far Yoshinaga has acted in more than 100 movies and has fans of all ages. She has won four Japan Academy Prizes for the best actress in a leading role, more than any other actress, and in 2010 she was designated a Person of Cultural Merit, one of Japan’s highest cultural honors. Both in name and in reality, she is one of the foremost stars in the postwar world of film.

[ read more: Last of the Silver Screen’s National Heroines ]

Finally, this list will not be complete if we fail to mention Fumi Nikaido, who at the age of 20, has been nominated for Best Actress already. (She won a major acting award in Venice at the age of 16)

There were many others, but in today’s popular drama and J-movie scenes, we have a completely different set of names competing for high-profile roles. In Part 1 of this 5-part series, we’re putting the spotlight on three who have the greatest potentials.

Continue reading “The Battle for the next Top Japanese Dramatic Actress: Tao Tsuchiya, Mayu Matsuoka, Suzu Hirose [ Part 1 of 6 Parts ]”

Psycho Drama Report: On Actors and Acting Styles [Part 1 of 4 Parts]

One of the primary goals of our site is to feature and celebrate young Japanese actors. Personal preferences aside – we all have our things – we believe that these are the most promising talents that will represent the future of Japanese cinema. On many occasions, some of our readers will disagree with us on who stand out with potentials and who do not. Of course, good acting or not will remain personal and subjective. However, we want to take this chance to review some of the current thinking about acting. The purpose is not to make you all agree with us, but to offer our justifications based on current aesthetic values.

First, let’s try to answer “what is great acting?” Rinko Kikuchi has some say in it:

What is a great actor? What is a real actor? What are the criteria for a great actor? Nobody knows. Nobody can decide those criteria.

Well, not very helpful. Or according to William Esper, an ‘authentic protégé’ of Sanford Meisner which was one of the most influential pioneers of current American acting

Good acting – real acting – is impossible to spot. Great talents make the art look simple. When master actors act, their craft becomes invisible. Their art becomes artless. Real acting can never be pegged because it cannot be differentiated from real life.

To be honest, I don’t completely buy what he said so we can’t look there either. Successful acting must reflect society’s current beliefs and aesthetic values. What is considered as great acting today might not be the same as that a hundred years ago. To have a better perspective, let’s revisit some historical context.

Much of the theater in the 19th century was concerned with imitations of French plays and theatrically unreal depiction of life and character. Actors followed a director’s dictate, declaimed in artificial voices, didn’t communicate with each other and employed ham acting, cliché, easy-to-learn tricks, and indicated feelings.

Continue reading “Psycho Drama Report: On Actors and Acting Styles [Part 1 of 4 Parts]”

Spotlight of the Month: Yu Aoi: Celebrating one of Japan’s most exciting young actresses!

When it comes to choosing the first Japanese actress as “Spotlight of the month,” I had a hard time because I like a lot of them – Fumi Nikaido, Mao Inoue, Haru Kuroki, Tao Tsuchiya, Mitsuki Takahata, Hikari Mitsushima, Chizuru Ikewaki, Hana Sugisaki… But I settled for Yu Aoi because I think her acting career also needs to be celebrated in as much as the other names on my list. 

I first saw her in Honokaa Boy (featuring Masaki Okada), and I did not like her, probably because she plays the role of a spoiled brat, and that she was extremely effective playing the role. Then it’s time to see her dance the hula in Hula Girls and what an awesome performance it was! She’s a natural dancer, and she is always intense. Her role in the  Sang-il Lee award-winning film features a lot of dramatic scenes with Sumiko Fuji (who plays her strict Mom) and Yasuko Matsuyuki (who plays the dance trainer), and she was never left out when it comes to the performance. In fact, she was nominated and won some awards for her role.

Continue reading “Spotlight of the Month: Yu Aoi: Celebrating one of Japan’s most exciting young actresses!”

What’s up with the Kentos? Kento Yamazaki rules the box office; Kento Hayashi + Kento Nagayama battle it out on the drama scene; Kento Kaku aims for comedy! [2016 Edition]

Last April 2015, we launched a 3-part series on the Kentos – Hayashi, Yamazaki, Nagayama, and Kaku – and examined their past projects and future prospects. A lot of things can happen in a year and while Kento Yamazaki proved his ‘most promising’ prediction last year, Kento Nagayama remains the most consistent with notable roles in a number of TV drama series (Ichiro and Juhan Shuttai!). Not to me outdone, Kento Hayashi bounce back with a major role in Netflix Japan’s Spark (Hibana) and a title role in the movie Bittersweet [にがくてあまい]. Kento Kaku headlines the coming of age/drama Moriyamachu Driving School [森山中教習所] with Shuhei Nomura and we expect some awesome showdown between them.

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To make a visually appealing comparison of their careers, we made use of infographics to show their movie and drama projects from the time they started acting to future projects slated for 2016-2017. Between the four of them, about 125 movies and drama series has been released (and about to be released) where the Kentos play both major and supporting roles. A poll [ see above ] is also available for you to participate and determine the community’s collective preferences…

[ see the Infographics after the jump! ]

Continue reading “What’s up with the Kentos? Kento Yamazaki rules the box office; Kento Hayashi + Kento Nagayama battle it out on the drama scene; Kento Kaku aims for comedy! [2016 Edition]”

Spotlight of the Month: Ryunosuke Kamiki – Celebrating the Acting Career of one of Japan’s Most Talented Young Actors! [ Vol 1, Part 2]

The spotlight on Ryunosuke Kamiki has begun several years ago, but today – May 19, 2016 – is the culmination of all the efforts we put into the many articles about the young actor. As we celebrate his 23rd year, let us remember some of the quotes from his many interviews. It would have been a major milestone for the community if there was an actual interview, but that is not the case right now…

I tweeted 6 quotes already and wanted to also interpret our recent survey/poll on Ryu, with the following findings and results:

[1] Soujiro Seta, a major character in the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy movies, remains his most favorite character among those who participated in the poll. I can certainly agree to that because the role is high-profile and well-known to those who followed the adventures in manga and in the anime version. Junichi Ninomae in SPEC is a distant second and also can be attributed to the popularity of the movies and the nature of Kamiki’s character. I was hoping more people would appreciate him in The Kirishima Thing because while it’s one of his many student roles, there is more challenge to playing the character – he has to play someone who almost appears like a ‘ghost’ with many of the student body simply looking for fun and never really connecting with the nerds, like him.

Continue reading “Spotlight of the Month: Ryunosuke Kamiki – Celebrating the Acting Career of one of Japan’s Most Talented Young Actors! [ Vol 1, Part 2]”

Spotlight of the Month: Ryunosuke Kamiki – Celebrating the Acting Career of one of Japan’s most talented young actors! [ Vol 1, Part 1]

On May 19, Ryunosuke Kamiki [ 神木隆之介 (かみき りゅうのすけ) ] will be celebrating his 23rd birthday. Being one of Psychodrama’s favorite young actors, we are planning to launch a series of articles celebrating his acting career – presenting some serious (and hopefully funny, even hilarious) articles centered on his movie and drama characters.

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To initiate the celebration [ we have 12 days to go ] please join in the poll {our second for the week) about the young actor’s movies and drama series, with some surprise questions on the side!

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