Mackenyu is actually considered a Japanese-American actor because he was born in Los Angeles to the legendary actor Sonny Chiba. Even though everyone might think that is a huge stepping stone that allowed him to climb up the career ladder in Japan... that is not actually true. Believe it or not, the Japanese do not really regard having the Hollywood career as important as they do in South Korea and China, for example. Which means that he had to start from the beginning in his father's homeland.
I also must admit that he is a charismatic and talented actor, so it is not only the looks when it comes to him. He is also very young (21) and has time to become the next huge star.
I want to avoid mentioning scandals and boring facts in this article. I'd rather focus on his acting roles and perhaps even get you, the readers, interested in picking up some of the films and dramas he starred in. If you were to ask me why I like him so much, well, besides the looks, he's got a really charismatic aura. His presence is very alluring and I think he will make his mark in Japanese entertainment industry in the next ten years, especially if he improves his acting and gets the right roles.
Let's take a look at his supporting and main roles. He debuted in Japan in 2015 so he hasn't starred in many roles. There are also a few guest & supporting roles that he had starred in before 2015 alongside his father I believe, but I don't find them really important so I excluded them; plus I couldn't find any important information about them.
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As a child care worker in Hoiku Tantei 25-ji (2015)
This was his debut role in Japan. He starred as a naive and easygoing childcare student hungry for love who often falls into trouble and becomes sort of a son/apprentice to the main character.
You can definitely see the difference between then and now even if it is only three years. He has matured a lot. His voice sounded younger then and his eyebrows were... thinner lol. As for acting, it wasn't bad but it was just a supporting role. The drama as a whole is actually quite interesting because it follows child care workers who fight for children from poor families.
As a dancer in Yume wo Ataeru (2015)
His second role was a mysterious and free-spirited dancer with curly hair who is also Nana Komatsu's love interest in the drama. I also must add - he ends up being a jerk.
However, it is a completely different role from the previous one. Here he is a bad boy with a tattoo and some really weird inclinations. Watch and you'll see!
As a hot senpai in Hatsumori Bemars (2015)
This drama is more like a Nogizaka46 fan-service and Mackenyu's role is a really minor one. Don't watch it for him unless you are really curious and would like to check out everything from his filmography.
He appears in ep 6 and does play a love interest but that's all there is to it.
As a Dark Rider in Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future (2015)
To be honest I have no idea what is going on in this film. All I know is that this is his first Japanese film role and he stars as a Dark Rider even though he wears a white suit. (obviously not a fan :D)
It seems to me that most of younger promising actors have to go through the Kamen Rider series. I guess they have to jump through hoops in order to get better roles.
As a shy high school student in Sakurasaku (2016)
In this short school drama, he plays a shy student who falls for an antisocial girl reading at the school library.
This is far from a groundbreaking role and we will soon see him in other school roles as well, but I guess I still have to mention it.
His facial expressions are not bad at all. He can show a wide range of emotions with his eyes only, I guess he's getting there!
As a guy in Tomorrow, I'll Surely Love You Again (2016)
He plays a random hot dude in this short supernatural drama. The kissing and sex scene caught me off guard because I didn't expect it in such a short romance drama. From what I understood, the main girl unwillingly travels back in time and meets our boy Mackenyu all over and over again. Which is, you must agree, not a bad thing per se, but she travels back in time each morning after they sleep together. Not a good opportunity to develop a love relationship, is it?
As a problematic high school student in Aogeba Toutoushi (2016)
In this drama, a teacher tries to help his new students by forming a music band at their school. Mackenyu plays one of the problematic students whose lives get changed by the school's band.
I must say that blonde hair suits him (and I generally dislike blond hair on Asian guys, it's kinda unnatural). I think he would look great as Hiroki in Koizora remake (hopefully without a tragic end!)
So if you're into persistent teachers who change the students for the better, check out this drama. It is heartwarming.
As a funny coworker in Bittersweet (2016)
This is another minor role, he appears in perhaps only two or three scenes. Mackenyu plays a funny guy working for the main lead who is gay. There are a few suggestive cliche jokes related to vegetables, as you can guess from the pic on the right :D
As a creepy classmate in Night's Tightrope (2016)
Mackenyu stars as a creepy high school student who becomes obsessed with suicide. This is another supporting and minor role but he proves that he can play a freak too.
It is quite a weird and psychedelic film about two girls becoming attracted to death and trying to find the meaning of life.
As Wataya Arata in Chihayafuru (2016)
Finally a main groundbreaking role! Based on a very popular manga, Mackenyu landed a role of a shy and introverted genius player of Karuta (a Japanese poem card game). There is also an anime adaptation and the film was very successful too.
As a classmate in Let's Go, JETS! (2017)
Another minor supporting lead and a possible love interest. He already seems he has matured in this film, both physically and as an actor. But this is far from a serious role that should show his true potential. It is a sports film about a group of cheerleaders. If you're into inspiration films, then check it out!
As Kazuya Toji in Peach Girl (2017)
This is his second shoujo adaptation, and I don't mind at all. Here he plays Kazuya, a guy that the main female lead falls in love with, but he is a supporting character only. If you have read the manga or watched the anime then you're probably familiar with the story.
I personally think he should have been the lead, but oh well.
As Okuyasu Nijimura in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure - Diamond is Unbreakable (2017)
He definitely looks bizarre in this adaptation of the famous shounen manga and he actually resembles the original character Okuyasu who is known as extremely violent and impulsive.
His character is considered a bit dimwitted xD But has the moments of pure ingenuity. I just can't get over the fact how ugly they made him! T.T
As an arrogant billionaire in Detective Yugami (2017)
Mackenyu plays the main "antagonist" in ep 6, but to say anything more would be spoilers so if you like detective dramas check it out.
I don't know why but he is very suited for antagonist roles, maybe it's his face :D
As a soft-hearted gangster in Bokutachi ga Yarimashita (2017)
I really loved him in this drama. At first, he is portrayed as a cold and disturbed gangster but then his character undergoes a change and he changes for the better.
It's really touching, it almost deserves a drama of its own.
His character definitely should have had more screen time.
As a scheming onii-san in Todome no Kiss (2018)
This is currently an ongoing drama and it's really enjoyable so far. Mackenyu plays a scheming brother Takauji of a second female lead and his character is very manipulative.
We still don't know what will happen to the powerful Takauji, but hopefully something interesting and not cliched. This is the fourth (?) antagonist role though?
His first role ever was in Take A Chance, in which he plays a disillusioned teenager who is forced to go to the USA, practice the full-contact karate, and fight. In Tadaima, he plays George, a Japanese man whose family tries to rebuild their lives in the USA after WW2. ZAPS and Pacific Rim Uprising are his upcoming films.
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And that would be it, folks! Share your thoughts below. Have you watched any of his dramas or films?
Thanks for reading and have a nice day! xxx