Third lead syndrome? Supporting character syndrome? I never knew this was even remotely a thing until I laid eyes on Issei, the adorable pan-wielding ramen prince in Good Morning Call. Kentaro, (who simply prefers his mononymous name), is one of Japan’s latest young breakout stars who is finally landing lead roles after years of being the underdog.
I always get a lot of questions whenever I mention this guy in particular, mainly because he usually only goes by his stage name (which can make searching for information rather tricky!) and because he’s still very much a new kid on the block, despite being in several works already.
At the young age of just twenty years old, Kentaro may still be seen as the baby of the Japanese entertainment industry, but in just three years since his acting debut, he’s managed to land not only 13 roles in some very popular J-dramas, but has also starred in 11 movies, three of which are set to release within this year. He’s also gaining recognition with the wider audience for his participation as a panellist in Japanese reality show Terrace House.
Kentaro was born in Tokyo, Japan, on June 30, 1997 as Kentaro Matsuo. He started modelling at the young age of 14, before making his acting debut in 2014 with TV drama Hirugao: Love Affairs. His cheerful, carefree demeanour and eye-catching style is definitely what makes him stand out so much from other similar young actors.
He’s a fairly big sports fan, his hobbies including snowboarding and basketball. He’s also a huge fan of watching movies, and loves shopping for western style fashion.
Native Name: Kentaro Ito
Japanese: 健太郎 / けんたろう
Preferred name: Kentaro
Date of birth: 30th June 1997
Birth place: Tokyo, Japan
Height: 1.79m (179cm)
Profession: Actor, Model
Talent agency: AOAO Inc (formerly Image Entertainment)
Official Website: http://aoao-tt.co.jp/prof_kentaro.html
I'll admit I have yet to see all of his works so far, but what I have seen are definitely dramas I would highly recommend checking out.
Some of his most popular drama roles include:
As a member of the platinum 8 in Gakkou no Kaidan: A drama revolving around the power of speech and one girl's determination to change things in her high school. Because the school is run as a hierarchy, the platinum 8 run the school as though they are royalty, and make life hard for everyone. Honestly, Kentaro's role isn't huge in this, but it was worth seeing him act in a different kind of role for a change.
As the younger version of character Yousuke Sakurai in It's Not That I Can't Marry, I Don't Want To: I've yet to see this drama, but have heard some good things about his character in this, though his part is quite small. The drama follows a beauty dermatologist, who at 39 years old is having trouble with her love life. She meets the owner of a restaurant at a school reunion who tries to coach her to win over the heart of her high school crush.
As a troubled brass band club member in Aogeba Toutoshi: Kentaro's role is quite a significant one here, as his character becomes rather important as the drama progresses. I didn't expect him to play such an impactful part, but it's nice his role had some influence on the story. Acting alongside stars such as the up and coming Mackenyu, and renowned actor Terao Akira, this drama is one you shouldn't miss.
As the adorable ramen shop owner's son in Good Morning Call: Quite possibly one of my favourite roles in his career so far, this is the drama where I almost succumbed to rooting for the supporting actor rather than the main male lead haha. Issei Sata was the most adorable fluffy-haired cinnamon roll that I've encountered throughout my drama watching history. In this drama, high school girl Nao ends up having to live with the most popular guy in school and obviously, chaos ensues. I would highly recommend this drama, especially if you like cute light-hearted romantic comedies!
As the young, handsome Wakagimi from Ashi Girl: This drama follows 16 year old Hawakawi Yui who accidentally goes back in time to the Sengoku era, where she uses her strength as a fast runner to become a foot soldier and protect her beloved young lord. Kentaro is absolutely outstanding in this drama, and the light comedy keeps the drama entertaining throughout. Sadly, it's only been subbed up to episode 8 so far, with no news of the fansubber coming back to complete the series, so if you want to start it, it's something to be aware of.
Guest roles: Cold Case: Shinjitsu no Tobira (episode 5), and BG: Personal Bodyguard final episode (ep 9) as a rookie bodyguard.
Future roles: He’s recently accepted a role alongside Kaku Kento for the upcoming manga adaptation Kyou Kara Ore Wa, a story following a couple of guys who decide to reinvent themselves as the biggest delinquents in Japan after transferring to a new high school. Because it is being made into a series rather than a movie I have a lot of hope for it!
The production of a drama special that will follow up as a sequel to Ashi Girl has also recently been given the go ahead.
His movie credits are not extensive, and for the most part he’s only really had small supporting roles, until Demekin. For that reason, I've actually not seen all too many of them, and honestly, the movies I've seen so far haven't really impressed me (minus Let's Go Jet's, which I've heard some good things about).
MY LOVE STORY
His debut on the big screen, and although it's nothing new from the usual live action manga adaptations, this movie was still cute for what it was; a story of a not so attractive guy who, usually overshadowed by his popular friends, ends up liking a girl he rescues from a molester. Unbeknownst to her feelings, he assumes she likes his best friend Sakagawa, but things aren't always as they seem. Kentaro's character doesn't really have a significantly huge part here, so unless you're a huge fan of the anime or Sakaguchi Kentaro, you're not missing much.
LET'S GO JETS
I've not even seen this, but already I'm here for this. Kentaro, not only wearing glasses, but actually strutting his cheerleading moves? Count me in. Based on a true story, this follows a group of female students from a high school cheerleading club who compete at the national Cheerdance championships in the USA. I'm not sure how much of a significant part Kentaro has, and this movie certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it looks entertaining nonetheless.
SAKURADA RESET PARTS 1 & 2
Based on the popular manga series, this is one live action movie I wouldn't necessarily recommend. I haven't read the manga or seen the anime so I can't really vouch for how much it sticks to the source material, but honestly, the live action made me less likely to check them out. It follows a group of students who have special powers, Asai Kei ,who can remember everything, and Haruki Misora who can turn back time to 3 days prior. The story itself is very slow-paced, and if you're thinking of watching this for Kentaro, it's not really worth the investment, as he has very little screen time (in the first part, at least).
Other movies he has recently starred in includes My Teacher, and Demekin (his first lead role in a movie), and he's in a few upcoming movies this year; You I Love, Kohi ga Samenai Uchi ni and Room Laundering. I'm still waiting for Demekin to be available somehow online, but as of yet I haven't seen any whisper of a raw or subbed video.
He also has a role in The Bastard and The Beautiful World, a movie not currently listed on MDL. The said film will be consisting of 4 different eps/stories. Kentaro will be in ep 3 titled 'Hikari e, Wataru' together with Machiko Ono, Hirofumi Arai and Kusanagi Tsuyoshi!
BEHIND THE SCENES
Photos from the filming of the drama and movie productions or just hanging out with celebrity friends.
- Zoku, Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo Stage Play (debuted in Tokyo, February 7th, 2018 for 10 consecutive days)
- Bump of Chicken's Niji wo Matsu Hito (虹を待つ人) PV
- Shota Shimizu's Snow Smile PV
- 7!!'s Centimeter (センチメートル) PV
- All Night Nippon R [20 Questions for the 20 Year Old Kentaro] (02/2018)
- All Night Nippon 0 [Zero] Regular Personality, Once every month (04/2018)