I had the pleasure of discovering Matsuzaka Tori when I first picked up Yutori Desu ga Nani ka on a whim, which introduced me to three wonderfully talented actors who thereafter became firm favourites of mine. Though I can’t say I’m the most seasoned Tori fan, I have seen a fair amount of his works, and I can honestly say that for the most part I have immensely enjoyed what I have watched.
Though he’s quite an established and well-loved actor at the age of 29, Matsuzaka Tori comes across as someone who’s quite a private person. Having not shared much information about himself or his private life online, there’s not a whole lot you can google when it comes to his background. But what we do know is that he’s quite the handsome, seemingly polite and somewhat reserved character with a radiant charm that you just can’t help but fall in love with.
One thing that’s certain when it comes to Tori; he’s not afraid to tackle versatile or mature roles, and looking back to his earlier roles, he’s done some fantastic movies and portrayed some interesting characters. He’s definitely not against showing his kinky side, hahaha (see: Birds Without Names - and let's not forget that Anan photoshoot).
Name: Matsuzaka Tori
Native Name (Japanese): 松坂桃李 (まつざか とおり)
Date of birth: 17 October 1988
Birth place: Chigasaki, Kanagawa
Blood Type: A
Profession: Actor & model
Born in 1988 in Kanagawa, Matsuzaka Tori has 2 sisters, one of them two years older, the other one three years younger. Prior to his successful acting career, Matsuzaka Tori debuted as a model appearing in spreads for men's fashion magazine Fineboys.
Osaka Cinema Festival – Best Supporting Actor
44th Best Dresser Award – Best Dresser
21st Hashida Award – Best New Actor
22nd Japan Film Critics Award – Best Lead Actor
36th Japan Film Academy Award – Newcomer of the Year
37th Élan d’or Award – Best Newcomer
25th Nikkan Sports Film Award – Ishihara Yuujirou Newcomer
85th The Movie Times Best 10 – Best New Actor
33rd Yokohama Film Festival – Best Newcomer
Matsuzaka Tori rose to fame after his debut as Takeru Shiba on Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. Though he's often remembered for his role in Shinkenger, he's since been in a wide variety of dramas (and movies) in which he's hugely expanded his acting credentials and portrayed his fine talent in a whole host of roles.
As Tori has been in quite a lot of series (some of which remain unsubbed) I'll mainly focus on the series I can either recommend (as someone who watched and loved it) or those that were popular with the wider audience.
Samurai Sentai Shinkenger; It's his debut into the entertainment world and one he's still well remembered for to this date. In this popular Sentai series he takes on the role of Takeru Shiba, perhaps best known as Shinken Red, a strict young man who is descended from feudal lords. I won't go into this series to a huge degree, as, not having seen it, I can't comment too much on it, but I hear it's a great addition to the Super Sentai metaseries.
Clone Baby; I've yet to see this one, mainly because sci-fi is not my go-to genre, but also because I hear that the drama itself can be quite confusing? That's not to say it's not worth checking out, as not only does it boast an amazing cast with Yamazaki Kento and Sakurada Dori but it also has a very intriguing plot that revolves around human cloning. Being a huge fan of the show 'Orphan Black', maybe this will be next on my backlog of "things Cat should watch before the year 2050."
Asuko March; I went into this series not expecting much out of it - assuming it was just your typical run-of-the-mill high school series with a couple of handsome boys fighting for the lead female's attention. However, though that is one element of the drama, it's actually a very interesting series following a young high school student who enters a technical college with a bad 'rep' that focuses on engineering. The actual romance is quite subtle, so if you're looking for some sweep-you-off-your-feet love story, it's probably not gonna fit your needs, but for a story about learning to accept yourself and others around you, it's worth checking out.
Kaito Royale; This drama sounds cool in context. Tori portrays a lone phantom thief who has been recruited to steal one of the most valuable treasures, the Alexandrite ring, but it turns out he's not the only 'thief' who's aiming for the prized jewel. From what I'm aware, Kaito Royale is actually a very popular social mobile game in Japan, and this series was designed as a spin-off with an original story (there's also a manga and a novel adapted from the game itself). It has mixed reviews so don't expect something outstandingly mind-blowing, but it sounds like an entertaining romp of a mini-series (and who said phantom thieves aren't cool?!)
Take Five ~ Oretachi wa Ai wo Nusumeru ka; Heists are always a cool subject and I'm sure this series is no exception to that. Matsuzaka Tori must have portrayed a thief so well in Kaito Royale that someone decided he should be cast in a similar themed drama, except this time the thieves are the ones stealing from bad people who've done immoral things (such as managing illegal funds for example). I feel like it could be slightly formulaic in style, but I'm willing to check it out, as I love a good action/mystery drama.
Dandarin Rodo Kijun Kantokukan; This drama is quite different in that it revolves around labour standards inspectors whose job it is to ensure the safety and welfare of millions of people in their workplaces. If you love a drama that feels socially relevant, with real issues, then this drama may catch your interest. Recommended if you're someone who likes true-to-life, heartbreaking stories about serious issues within the working field.
Siren; This is probably one of the roles Matsuzaka Tori is most known for (aside from Shinkenger). A mystery thriller, it follows Tori as detective Satomi Shinobu, who is trying to keep his relationship with his work partner and girlfriend Inokuma Yuki as a secret from the Police Department he works for. Upon meeting a beautiful woman named Tachibana Kara, things start to seem fishy, especially when she is always present at the crime scene of some rather grotesque murders. Now, I know this is going to probably shock everyone, but I struggled with this one, mainly because I didn't really like the female villain in this series. I'm not a huge fan of the actress Nanao (which is a largely unpopular opinion) and it was hard for me to feel attached to the characters. I may try again with this series some day in the future, though, as I do love a good mystery thriller and it's rated highly by a lot of viewers.
Yutori Desu ga Nani ka; I loved this series! An entertaining dry comedy written by Kudo Kankuro who focuses on three young men of the 'Yutori' generation, who could not be more different from one another, as they tackle their day-to-day struggles with their work life and relationships. As diverse in character as they are, through some weird coincidence, they become friends, and the drama focuses on their adventures and mishaps in their turbulent lives. Though many might argue that not much happened, the drama is largely character driven, and I really enjoyed that about this series.
Shikaku Tantei Higurashi Tabito; Very different from the typical detective genre, this series follows Higurashi Tabito, a detective who has lost the sense to hear, smell, taste and touch. Although he can’t see very well, he has the special ability to see emotions and uses his eyes to solve mysteries and find missing things, all while looking after his young (technically adopted) daughter Tei. I thought this series was cute, amusing and thoroughly entertaining and I loved Tabito and his colorful crew. It follows a special of the same name so it's advised to watch that before you check out this series in order to learn about Tabito's backstory.
In This Corner of the World; This series was probably my most anticipated of the summer season of recently aired dramas. It's an adaptation of the manga series/anime following a young girl who marries a young man she barely knows all amidst the background of war in Japan and the aftermath of the atomic bomb. Although this is still in the process of being subbed, the first two episodes were cute, emotional and wonderful to watch and I’m highly anticipating the rest of the series!
Other series and specials that Matsuzaka Tori has starred in include: Team Batista 2: General Rouge no Gaisen, GOLD, Umechan Sensei, Gunshi Kanbei, Warotenka and Funouhan, the mini-series prologue to the movie. He's also had guest roles in Kamen Rider Decade, Meitantei Conan and the mini spin-off series Yamagishi Desu ga Nani ka.
Since Matsuzaka Tori has been in a lot of movies, I'll pretty much just be highlighting the ones I recommend or that were popular with other fans and viewers of his works. Tori's first venture into the movie industry was actually in the movie spin-off of the Shinkenger series, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger the Movie: The Fateful War, but I won't be covering the rest of the movies in the series (though fans may want to check them out!)
Admittedly, the title of this is "We Can't Change The World, But We Wanna Build a School in Cambodia." but I felt that was a bit of a stretch to put for the title, haha. This movie follows Kota Tanaka (Mukai Osamu), a young Japanese man who works, along with his friends, to raise some money to (surprise surprise!) build a school in Cambodia. The movie is an interesting window into the lives of Cambodian people and viewers have described it as touching, heartfelt and inspiring. I definitely wanna check this one out when I have the time.
I think I've covered this one previously, potentially in my Masaki Suda stalker's guide, but although I liked the concept of this movie, I actually found the plot a little slow-paced and the action lacking. The casting was definitely the draw-in for me on this one, a murder mystery which has a detective trying to investigate a murder and the cause of a suspect's accident that rendered him unconscious. Tori plays the troubled son of the murder victim, and though the movie isn't particularly anything groundbreaking, its cast may just be enough to win your favour.
Not subbed anywhere that I can find yet and I think I also covered this in my Masaki Suda stalker's guide, but I'm so desperate to be able to watch this movie. The story follows a boy named Morio who has an IQ of a six year old, and his friend, who attempts to help him get accustomed with society. One of my favourite actresses, Fumi Nikaido, also stars in the movie so you can imagine how much I'm anticipating being able to see this one.
Tori reunites with Asuko March co-star Takei Emi in this high school romance that follows a teenage girl with low self-esteem who has a talent in hair styling. She's constantly teased because of her old-school style fashion and when she's targeted by high school playboy Tsubaki Kyota, the last thing she expected was for them both to fall in love. I'm in the process of checking this one out, as it also stars Yamazaki Kento, and despite it sounding like your typical high school romance movie it's probably a sweet, light-hearted and easy watch.
This one is probably the most surprising of the entries here, as it's definitely one of those underrated gems that you go into with low expectations and end up raving about. It's a comedy that follows the lives of a variety of characters over April 1st. Ayumi Nitta, a janitor at a hospital who suffers from anthropophobia, suddenly discovers she's pregnant after a one night stand with sex addict surgeon Wataru Makino (Matsuzaka). If you like light-hearted movies with a mix of intertwining and interesting stories, you'll definitely enjoy this one.
Although on the surface, this seems like a super emotionally driven movie (and for the most part it is), surprisingly, this movie manages to turn the usual melodrama genre upside down and instead tell an uplifting tale of a dying mother who wants to bring her family back together and help her daughter gain independence. The light-hearted comical moments will stop things from getting too heavy and the performances by Sugisaki Hana and the rest of the cast are outstanding. You'll definitely want to put this one on your watchlist.
Masaki Suda and Matsuzaka Tori reunite to play brothers in this movie that chronicles the story of how the music group Greeeen discovered their fame. Tori plays Jin, a struggling musician who becomes estranged from his family after wanting to focus on his music, and Suda plays his brother, a confused student who decides to study for dentistry while exploring his love for music. If you love stories about musicians, and wanna see Tori in his hottest looking role yet, then you should check this one out.
Ryosuke (Tori) visits his father after finding out he's been diagnosed with late stage cancer, but while he's there he comes across a strange diary written by a murderer who led a troubled life. This is a fascinating, dark (and unsettling) story about the mind of a killer and the psychological aspect of this movie is really gripping, even if the movie itself is quite slow at the beginning. Based on a book, the movie has had some great feedback and boasts a great cast including Yoshitaka Yuriko. Be warned, the movie can be quite graphic at times.
Based on a novel by Mahokaru Numata, this movie follows female protagonist Towako, who struggles to get over her ex Kurosaki. She meets married man Mizushima, and starts to have an affair with him but a detective contacts her and tells her that Kurosaki is missing. Filled with stellar performances from a fantastic cast, this movie starts slow and builds up into an engaging second half. Definitely a movie for those who love dark, intense stories, especially ones that focus on dysfunctional relationships.
Though this movie has yet to be subbed, I'm still holding out hope for this one as it looks great! Otherwise known as Funohan, this thriller stars Matsuzaka Tori as a mysterious man in a black suit who seems to easily grant people's requests for murders without fail. He uses all methods of death, including illness, suicide and accidents to cover up the fact that it was murder, thus causing confusion between the detectives investigating the cases. If you're impatient to check this one out, the manga is already subbed and gives answers that you might not grasp from the movie. I highly recommend keeping your eyes peeled for this one.
Other recommended movies he has also starred in, that I didn't cover in this article include: Death Game Park, Until the Break of Dawn, Team Batista Final Kerberos's Portrait, Maestro!, The Emperor in August, Piece of Cake and MOZU.
- Matsuzaka Tori dropped out of university in order to concentrate on his acting career. Initially, he wasn't even serious about pursuing it as he'd applied on a whim, but got through and made the decision as he started acting in Shinkenger. His parents initially were very unhappy with his decision to focus on acting instead of university, but now it seems they're very proud of his achievements.
- Tori did the video game voice-overs for .hack//versus (Gondo) and Dragon Quest Heroes (Luceus) as well as the Japanese voice-over for Paddington in the movie.
- He's a firm fan of the Dragon Quest series since the sixth title and was honoured to have the opportunity to be the first ever voiced male protagonist.
- He lent his voice to portray Shinigami Beppo in Death Note: Light Up The New World
- He's good friends with Hiroki Aiba and gets along well with actor Mitsushima Shinnosuke.
- He was previously rumoured to be in a relationship with Ayase Haruka, but denied the claims, saying they’re just good friends.
2016 - Call Boy
2014 - History Boys
2014 - Sanada Ten Braves
2013 - Henry IV
2012 - Miyazawa Kenji’s Readings
2011 - Legend of the Galactic Heroes Chapter 1 Galactic Empire
BEHIND THE SCENES
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I hope you enjoyed reading my article! Which roles of Matsuzaka Tori have you enjoyed?