Japanese agency Amuse Inc has certainly produced a whole wealth of talent, with its roster comprising of the likes of actors Takeru Sato, Kamiki Ryunosuke, Miura Haruma, and groups such as Perfume, Babymetal, and One OK Rock. Following hot on the heels of his Amuse senpais, Yoshizawa Ryo is fast becoming one of Japan’s most well-sought after young actors after already starring in two dramas and seven movies so far this year (and it’s only September!).
At first, I debated whether it was maybe a little too early to write a stalkers guide for this guy, but with the likes of recent releases Bleach and the second Gintama movie, Yoshizawa Ryo is certainly getting the attention he finally deserves.
His acting credentials may not be very extensive at the moment, nor does it reach the heights of success of fellow co-stars Masaki Suda or the globally adored Yamazaki Kento, but at only 24, Ryo still has a lot of time to build on his ever-growing body of devoted fans as well as work on his developing career as a budding young talented star.
I can’t honestly say I enjoyed every single one of Ryo’s roles, but then there aren’t many actors of which that has truly happened for me. In fact, the first role I came across Ryo was as Shinsuke Kato (one-third of the famed Baka Trio!) in Suikyuu Yankees, and despite not having the slightest interest in sports, he still managed to capture my attention (and quite possibly my heart!)
Ryo’s acting career started taking off after he landed the role of Sakuta Ryusei in some of the Kamen Rider movies (and of course the highly popular tv series), but the height of his popularity has definitely been in recent years where he starred in both Gintama movies, and even more recently, in the live-action adaptation of fan-favourite anime series Bleach.
Though he’s more widely known for the aforementioned roles, Ryo has certainly showcased he’s more than just a pretty face. His performances in Tomodachi Game and Suikyuu Yankees remain my firm favourites right behind his role as Okita Sougo in Gintama, and Prince Kashiwagi in Survival Wedding.
Known for his natural acting style and emotive eyes that have the ability to soundlessly break hearts, Yoshizawa Ryo will most certainly be an actor who will be talked about years from now. As eyes are sometimes defined as the window to the soul, knowing how to emote the feelings behind a character can have a powerful effect on the audience, and one asset Ryo certainly excels in is knowing how to express feelings within a single look or expression.
I still hold out hope for him to star as a lead in some real crowd-puller of a drama series, but so far he’s managed to win many hearts over as the soft puppy-eyed prince in currently airing drama Survival Wedding. Ryo’s specialty, though, is certainly the roles where he can be his fun-loving adorable self. I feel like Ryo has yet to have the opportunity to really showcase his talents, having only had leading roles in a handful of dramas and movies, but from what I’ve seen of him so far, I really believe he has great potential and when he finally gets that ~breakout~ role, he’ll definitely have a lot to show for it.
Name: Yoshizawa Ryo
Native Name (Japanese): 吉沢亮 (よしざわ りょう)
Nickname: Oryo, Ryo
Date of birth: February 1, 1994
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
Blood Type: B
Height: 1.7m / 170cm
Interests: Basketball, dance
So I have a confession. I’ve not actually seen very many of Ryo’s dramas, for a number of reasons (movies, on the other hand, are a whole other story haha). The first is that some of them are soooo freaking hard to track down (Kingyo Club, I’m looking at you!), and the second being that I actually dropped a few of them as they really weren’t my thing. Despite that, everyone’s tastes are subjective, and what I may not enjoy, others are certainly bound to, considering there are a great many dramas he’s starred in that are very popular with his fans.
Let’s have a rundown of his most popular works.
Kingyo Club - This drama seems to have a nice message, and though I’m tired of themes of bullying (mainly because school life gave me enough of that experience!) I really wanted to see it because it’s series like this that are able to give a viewer hope. A short series, it tells the story of a girl who is bullied and the guy who saves her, after which they form a ‘goldfish club’ for themselves. Sadly, I couldn’t track this one down and have been looking for a good quality version of it since, so if anybody knows where I might be able to watch this one, do let me know!
Kamen Rider Fourze - Cue me explaining for the fiftieth time that I’ve never seen
Kamen Rider, haha. It may be the new Star Wars for me! In this series, he portrays Ryusei Sakuta, a transfer student who transforms into Kamen Rider Meteor. His character makes his entrance from the seventeenth episode onwards. Trivia: It was the first Kamen Rider series to be set entirely within the backdrop of a high school. (See, I'm learning!)
Lost Days - I struggled to get into this, and there’s a whole array of mixed reviews out there of people who either liked or it hated the series. It’s very short though, so this murder mystery series about a group of university students on a graduation trip is easy to fly through, but don’t expect anything spectacular. Yoshizawa Ryo plays the free-spirited Natsu, who, along with his friends, discover more than they bargained for when hidden feelings and secrets start to surface, and all the while there's a murderer in the midst..
Suikyuu Yankees - Gotta love the baka trio! I’m not a sports fan whatsoever, but this had it’s charm and the strong cast is worth tuning in for. Suikyuu Yankees follow a student who transfers to a run-down school full of delinquents and decides to reform a water polo club. The Baka Trio are definitely one of the highlights of this series, and if anything, it absolutely makes for a fun summer drama.
Tomodachi Game - A four part short mini-series that was aired as a prelude to the movies. It follows a group of friends who find themselves caught in a wicked game of wits that involves a large sum of money. Yoshizawa Ryo plays lead Yuichi, a genuinely caring guy, who puts his friends before money, but after being roped into the game, starts to doubt those he trusted. The psychological aspect of this drama is interesting, and I enjoyed this as it really gave us some background to each of the characters, but the main movies are yet to be subbed which is a shame.
Boku wa Mari no Naka - Based on the seinen manga of the same name, I've yet to really check this short series out, and I'm not sure it's really my cup of tea. It tells the story of a reclusive shut-in who one day suddenly wakes up in the body of his female crush. It sounds intriguing and an interesting take on the body swap genre, so maybe if I can find it subbed one day I'll look into picking it up.
Gintama Mitsuba-hen - A spin-off short series of the movie that covers the Mitsuba arc from the manga. There’s only 3 episodes and they’re not particularly long, but fans of the series (and the movie) will certainly be entertained. I've just managed to download the raws of these after months of looking, so I'm super hyped to be able to finish watching it! Ryo's character is without a doubt my favourite from the Gintama movie, so this mini-series will be a delight!
Love in Hong Kong - Perhaps one that fell under the radar, this mini series follows Yoshizawa Ryo as Kenta, a new movie director who travels to Hong Kong with his assistant director to film a documentary on a Japanese actress called Eri who is returning to her hometown. While in the midst of filming, Eri gets kidnapped by a local named Daniel and Kenta also encounters a strange Japanese woman. A creatively shot series set from different perspectives, it got mixed reviews, but overall was an interesting mystery that could be worth checking out if you're a hardcore Ryo fan.
Giver, Revenge's Giver - A short drama, this follows a group of people who run a revenge agency, and carry out requests on behalf of bereaved clients. I wanted to like this, I really did. It’s a short drama, and one that doesn’t take a lot of concentration, but for some reason, I struggled to get into it. Yoshizawa Ryo really looked the part, and I can tell he would have played it well, but the execution fell flat. Perhaps it was the subs, or the fact that the episodes are quite formulaic, but this won’t be one I pick up anytime soon.
Survival Wedding - Hello, second lead syndrome?! I knew I was asking for trouble when I tuned into this one. This drama is about what happens after 29 year old Kuroki Sayaka is dumped by her boyfriend right after she resigns to marry him. As a result, she lands a job at a fashion magazine, but the catch for employment is she has to find someone to marry within six months. Haru is great here and Yoshizawa Ryo plays the swoon-worthy perfect kind gentleman. I just finished this drama after it just wrapped up and I'm happy to say it tickled all the right boxes for a light-hearted, breezy and entertaining watch.
OTHER DRAMAS & GUEST APPEARANCES
Other series Ryo has appeared in, that either haven't crossed my radar enough for me to check them out or just were not my kind of thing, include Sign, Bussen, Jigoku Sensei Nube, Heat, and Otona Joshi. He's also made numerous guest appearances in a whole host of series over the years, including parts in Soko wo Nantoka, Share House no Kobito, Dame no Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai (sadly not a full supporting role as I had hoped), Rinsho Hanzai Gakusha Himura Hideo no Suiri, Hayako Sensei, Cold Case: Shinjitsu no Tobira, and Shimokitazawa Die Hard. He is also scheduled to appear in asadora Natsuzora next year in 2019 (I am legit so excited for this one!)
I feel like movies are most definitely Ryo’s forte, mainly because he’s been in a variety of interesting and entertaining roles that scale a number of different genres. Aside from the Kamen Rider movie that was Ryo’s first venture onto the big screen, his main role debut was actually in the movie Daily Lives of High School Boys alongside a fantastic cast consisting of fellow actors Shuhei Nomura and Masaki Suda. Unfortunately, the movie was disappointing, failing to live up to its anime origin, instead offering a lacking story with next to no development. So as an avid fan of Ryo and the two aforementioned actors, I like to pretend the movie doesn’t exist and instead will be recommending movies that you should absolutely check out. ;)
As a Yoshizawa Ryo fan, I feel ashamed to admit I didn’t actually remember him being in this until I went back and checked out the role he had been in. One third of Mush & Co, Ryo plays guitarist and high school friend Yuichi who is in Riko’s band. If I remember rightly, he was in the background for a fair part of the movie, and my memory of his character in the Korean drama remake is a lot more distinctive, but that could be more to do with character development and the fact this is a movie as opposed to a series. Still, this movie is a wonderful love story that focuses on the relationship between a female musician and a musician who produces music for one of her favourite groups, but hides his true identity from her. Definitely worth watching if you love romantic dramas, and Sato Takeru is also incredibly stunning as the broody and withdrawn Aki.
As someone who can kind of relate to the theme of this movie, I watched this with a heavy heart, but honestly, the male protagonist in this is somewhat frustrating haha. Yoshioka Futaba was a middle school student when she fell in love with Tanaka Kou. After a broken promise to meet with her, he moved away and years later, she’s reunited with him at her first year in high school, but is taken aback when she discovers his personality has changed. Although I feel Higashide Masahiro was too old for his role, I still liked the movie for the most part, and Yoshizawa Ryo’s role as his loud extroverted classmate is cute to watch. It’s a nice enough movie for fans of the manga, but it’s not one I’d recommend putting too high on your priority list.
As someone who enjoyed the manga for the most part, I have my reservations about the live action itself, and yes, coming from a Yamaken fan, that is probably a huge deal, haha. But it wasn't really anything to do with the acting and more to do with the movie cutting out a whole bunch of sub-plots that I really came to love the manga for. There was also less emphasis on characters like Takeru, Kyouya's middle-school friend, and Sanda, one of Erika's true friends. For the most part, though, it's a really enjoyable film, but don't expect much fluff or character development.
I've obviously not seen this due to it not being subbed as of yet, but I wanted to add it in here because I really enjoyed the four episode mini-series leading up to it. I feel like the movie will have a lot more to offer by way of twisted psychological mind-games so I'm hoping that one day someone will be kind enough to sub this in its entirety. There's always the manga though, for those who are really impatient.
Fans of popular anime series Gintama will be no stranger to the live movie adaptation that comprises a myriad of famous and well-loved actors. A jidaigeki action-comedy film, it follows samurai Gintoki (Oguri Shun) and his two assistant team up to hunt down a killer who might have in his possession a high-tech deadly weapon. The movie is a complete sugar-rush, one which you'll either love for its zany humour and wacky in-jokes, or dislike for its oversaturated plot and not so convincing CG. I have my reservations about this movie, as I feel perhaps the humour doesn't translate across to live action so well, but I'll admit it has its charms and the second half of the movie is exhilarating. For die-hard fans, it's undoubtedly faithful to its source material, which is great, but may or may not alienate its larger audience. Despite my personal grievances about the first movie, I'm still super excited to see the recently released sequel and Ryo's role as Sougo Akita still firmly remains of my absolute favourites of all his roles. (And apparently, yes, that bazooka is seriously heavy to carry around with him, haha).
I have a love-hate relationship with this movie. On the one hand, it's really entertaining, and on the other, I really felt like there was something missing. Maybe it was the fact it didn't translate across to a live-action very well, or perhaps the acting itself was a bit of a let-down, but either way, it's enjoyable if you're in the mood for something farcical. Based on the hugely popular anime series, it follows Yamazaki Kento as a pink-haired psychic high school student whose attempts to live an ordinary life at school never go as planned thanks to the people surrounding him. As a main role, and one of my favourite characters in the anime, I wished for Ryo's character to have a bit more depth (and screentime) in this, but regardless, I still enjoyed it for what it was, mindless senseless fun.
Good news for Ryo fans, as this one is currently in the process of being subbed (or may even be subbed by the time this article is published!) The movie follows Kuki Fumihiro, a son of a wealthy conglomerate family who, after killing his father disappears and undergoes plastic surgery to take on the identity of Koichi Shintani, and protect his sister from the evils of the Kuki family. I'm actually quite excited to finally be able to check out this one as it sounds like a rather interesting psychological movie.
A movie directed by Yukisada Isao, River's Edge for me is a bit of a strange one. I'll admit I'm not truly a major fan of the artistic direction of some of his movies (he also directed Crying Out Love in the Center of the World and Pink & Gray) so maybe I'm just not the right audience for this, but for the most part I sort of liked it for what it was. The casting was the main reason I was drawn to this movie, not only for Ryo's role as gay outsider Yamada, but also for actress Nikaido Fumi, who I absolutely adore. Here, the movie follows Haruna (Nikaido Fumi) as she becomes close with Yamada after repeatedly protecting him from her aggressive boyfriend. The two of them and their acquaintance Yoshikawa harbour a secret after they discover a dead body by the riverside... honestly, that's all I can say without giving too much of the movie's secrets away, but I'll also take this chance to warn viewers of the graphic violence and sexual scenes that litter the movie throughout.
Another of Ryo's recently released movies, this movie based on the popular 90's manga is yet another that is supposedly in the line-up to be subbed. It follows, Miki, a high school girl whose parents decide to swap partners with a couple they met on a trip to Hawaii. The Matsuura couple has a son (Yoshizawa Ryo) and while both families end up living together, Miki discovers she starts to develop feelings for him. I know it sounds cliche in all manner of ways, but it also sounds like it'll be a cute adaptation, and I'm all for more roles with Ryo as the male lead.
Another one of Ryo's breakthrough roles, and a surprisingly great movie to boot. A live adaptation of the anime and manga series, this movie is one that, although not perfect, managed to keep me hooked from beginning to end. Despite the small obvious changes, the acting in this one is really stellar, and if anything, it's completely changed my perspective on Fukushi Sota in this role. Although I was kind of sad some of the characters were barely fleshed out, I still loved this take on the first eight volumes of the manga. I'm extremely hopeful for a second movie, and for those of you who have yet to check this one out, the movie is available right now on Netflix.
Ryo's upcoming movies include the live adaptation of romance manga Anoko no Toriko and Ichido Shinde Mita, also starring Hirose Suzu.
He's also landed a main role in movie Neko wa Daku Mono, in which he stars as a Russian Blue cat that believes he is Saori Oishi's human boyfriend.
- According to a survey conducted by Japanese magazine Modelpress, he was ranked in second place as one of the best Japanese actors with a real ‘boyfriend look.’ It’s no lie that Ryo would make great boyfriend material!
- He’s been friends with Yudai Chiba since the beginning of their careers. Even though Chiba is much older than Ryo, he’s mentioned that he finds it easy to talk to Chiba about anything. The two of them starred together in Suikyuu Yankees.
- Yoshizawa Ryo also did the voice for Kamen Rider Meteor in the video game Kamen Rider: Battride War. Unfortunately, it’s not released in the west, so remains unplayable to those who don’t understand Japanese.
- His favorite manga series is Aku no Hana (The Flowers of Evil).
- Ryo’s specialty skills include second-dan in kendo that he’s been practicing for nine years.
- He has also been a regular part of the Super Handsome Live shows that Amuse hold yearly. Check out the trailer for the DVD, which also displays the moments leading up to *that* rather famous kiss.
THEATER/PVs & OTHER APPEARANCES
- Inferi Opera ‘Rashomon’ (2017) – Akutagawa Ryunosuke
- Rai Ou no Terasu (2016)
- TOKYOHEAD (2015)
- Bussen (2013)
- Jewelry Hotel (2012)
- Mystic Topaz (2011)
- Bouken Ehon Pinocchio (2011)
- BLACK PEARL (2010)
- LEGO BIG MORL – あなたがいればいいのに (2017)
- MUSH&Co. – 明日も (2013)
- GReeeeN – 桜color (2013)
- FLOW – 旅立ちグラフィティ (2010)
Here is a video that highlights a selection of his CMs from previous years.
BEHIND THE SCENES
As always, thanks for reading my article! Which roles of Ryo's are your favourite?
Keep on the lookout for my upcoming stalkers guide for Matsuzaka Tori!