First and foremost, my apologies for the exceptionally long break between this article and the previous one; I've been completely swamped with health issues and dealing with stuff IRL so obviously, priorities must come first! However, I finally had the chance recently to sit down and hash out the second part to my duology series based on today's best young Japanese actors and actresses!
While Part One focused on the fantastic top talented males of this new generation, this time I’ll be highlighting the wonderful young ladies who are taking the scene by storm, both in Japan and worldwide.
So without further ado, let’s get stuck in!
n.b: Please keep in mind that while I don’t list every actor or actress I do try to mention those who are newer to the scene, up-and-coming or gaining attention due to a new lead role. This means that although I leave out some very well-known and largely popular actors and actresses, it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel they are talented or don’t deserve recognition, just that they weren’t the focus for this article :)
She’s been hailed as the ‘cutest idol’ by both male and female netizens, and Hashimoto Kanna has come a long way since her debut as a member in all-female group Rev. from DVL. Though she started her career in entertainment while she was just in third grade, she has progressed to become one of the most talked about teenagers in recent months.
At only nineteen years old, Hashimoto Kanna is probably one out of a few of the youngest actresses to grace this list. I first encountered this lovely lady when I saw the first Gintama movie, and I’m gonna be upfront and say I wasn’t blown away. But then I realized after progressing to watch some of her other roles, that she tends to go for characters of a similar nature, and a lot of her roles are from live action movies and dramas. That doesn’t mean to say she’s not an interesting and fun, versatile actress. I look forward to seeing her in something a little different where she can shine some more, but for now, she’s doing great kicking ass as Kyoko Hayagawa in Kyou Kara Ore Wa! She’s also slated to star in the upcoming highly-anticipated live action movie Kingdom.
Though Mei Nagano is quite a familiar face to most viewers of Japanese dramas, I felt it only right to include her on the list as she’s still quite new on the wider scale of things, compared to, for example, her senpai Hirose Suzu. Most viewers will recognize her from her lead role in the live movie adaptation of Daytime Shooting Star, or her notable role in My Love Story!!, but Mei Nagano has recently been stealing the spotlight for her lead role in asadora Hanbun Aoi. She’s probably one of my favourite actresses, thanks to her sparkling smile and her down-to-earth demeanour, and as a result of her growing popularity, I can tell she’s destined for great things.
It’s true that Hana Sugisaki is a fairly established young actor in the entertainment world, but it wasn’t until recently that she really started to gain worldwide attention, thanks to her lead role in Hana Nochi Hare. Though she debuted in 2011, I didn’t really notice her fantastic acting skills until I caught her on Yakou Kanransha as the unruly and troubled Ayaka Endo. Here, she literally blew my socks off, and furthermore, her versatility really shines through after catching her in her later roles. Lesser known are her roles as a voice actor for animated Ghibli movies When Marnie Was There and Mary and the Witch’s Flower. She may look so sweet that sugar wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but don’t be fooled, Sugisaki is also largely known for portraying some very mean-spirited and angst-ridden characters, that I’m sure will surprise viewers who may have just gotten to know her from her recent roles.
Though I didn’t know whether to include this lovely lady at first, considering how popular she has gotten over the last couple of years, at 22 years of age she’s still young and making a name for herself. Couple that with the fact that she’s not really appeared in many dramas, instead taking the movie scene by storm, and I’d say it’s likely there are still people who have yet to experience the glowing talent of this ambitious young actress. Komatsu Nana actually started a modelling career at the age of 12, and was still in high school when her acting career kicked off. After her success in Nakashima Testuya’s The World of Kanako, Komatsu Nana’s popularity has continued to grow. She’s already slated to appear in the exciting upcoming movie Samurai Marathon, and I feel like 2019 has big things in store for her.
You just can't help but love Yuina Kuroshima. Though her acting career started in 2014, her breakout role was most likely the recent time-travel comedy Ashi Girl, where she really caught the attention of viewers around the world, despite her being in the fairly well-received remake of Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo. She's most certainly a well rounded actress who has all the makings of a future star. Kuroshima's not just a one-trick pony either, she explored her comedic side in her drama debut Aoi Honoo, where she proves she can really tackle a variety of roles. At the young age of only 21, she's certainly got a bright future ahead of her.
Though Minami Hamabe is still fairly new to the acting scene in the wider scheme of things, she’s certainly made a name for herself in the last year or so thanks to her fantastic role as Jabami in popular live action adaptation Kakerugui. While this is likely considered her breakout role, she’s also starred in a few very popular movies (such as fan favourites I Want To Eat Your Pancreas and My Little Monster). I don’t really remember her roles in the movies much, but since her impressive performance in Kakegurui, she’s definitely landed on my radar and I'll be sure to check out her future projects.
If you don’t recognize her from her insanely talented rendition of Saotome Mary in Kakegurui then it’s safe to say that you’re missing out on what is one of Japan’s most promising young actresses. Her career actually dates all the way back to 2012, where she debuted as the main role in romantic teen drama Sprout, but she’s since showcased her talents in a good number of movies and dramas, some of which are popular live action adaptations that really helped bring her into the spotlight. After seeing her as the naive young book-loving Kanoko in Bungaku Shoujo I’m intrigued to see just what other roles she has planned for the future, and am somewhat excited for the new upcoming second season of Kakegurui.
Sachiiro no One Room was, for me, one of last year's drama highlights. It was this drama that introduced me to the extremely talented Anna Yamada, a budding young actress who has really begun making a name for herself in the last year or so. Though it’s still early days, her performance as troubled young teenager Sachi was fascinating to watch unfold, and she really provided a perfect portrayal of the character from the manga. Since then she’s already landing lead roles such as the protagonist in the disturbing horror movie Liverleaf, a drama that very much centers around school bullying. I urge you to check out one of these roles, or at least keep her on your radar as I feel like she’s got a lot more to give where that came from.
The first thing you notice when you first come across Ikeda Elaiza is just how stunning she is. The Filipino-Japanese actress started her career as a fashion model in 2009, after which in 2011 she progressed on to star in High School Debut, her first movie role. Since then she’s become a rather popular addition to the Japanese entertainment world, with roles in popular manga adaptations, as well as a lead role in the recent Room Laundering. Her brief stint in Tourist was a great addition to the mini-series, and she’s recently signed on to star in Kakegurui’s second season and the upcoming live action movie. Ikeda also gained quite a following back in 2015 after she posted photos and a video documenting her first gravure modelling shoot, in which she became quite a hit! I only hope she’ll progress to more lead roles in the future.
Marie Iitoyo burst onto the scene when she debuted as a support role in Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, a drama I’m sure Tokusatsu fans will remember fondly. She started her career in entertainment as a fashion model in 2008 when she was just ten years old, progressing further to become a model for Japanese magazine Seventeen. Although she’s becoming quite popular despite her young age, it wasn’t until Today’s Kira-kun that I really saw her in a lead role I enjoyed, yet she was also in the Japanese live action adaptation of the manga MARS. Here’s hoping she gets another lead role in the near future where she can really shine!
You may remember Yamamoto Maika from her lead role in My Little Lover, and aside from a handful of movies and a couple of roles last year, she hasn’t really had her chance in the spotlight since. Thankfully, she’s tipped off for a lead role in the upcoming movie Tokyo Ghoul 2, as well as one of the leading ladies of the Japanese remake of the Korean movie Sunny. As a whole I’ve not seen much of her acting, but at 21 years old, she’s definitely got a promising acting career ahead of her, thanks to her impressive backlog of roles.
Many will recognise Matsuoka Mayu from her role in Amachan, but she’s also had quite a few outstanding roles where she really has made a name for herself. Though many may argue she’s quite popular, I personally only really came across her after watching the highly acclaimed Mondai no Aru Restaurant and have yet to really delve into her other roles. In 2009, she debuted from a very young age in the four hour movie epic Love Exposure, but today she’s making waves in International Film Festivals, especially with her role as a sex worker in Koreeda’s remarkable movie Shoplifters. Unknown to some, she’s also dabbled in some voice acting, as a seiyuu in the well-loved anime movie Koe no Katachi.
She may be young, but Kiyohara Kaya is definitely not an actress to overlook. She impressed a lot of viewers last year in her role as a nurse apprentice for a Gynecology clinic in Toumei Na Yurikago, and also garnered a lot of praise for her role in the well-received supernatural drama Switched. It seems like Kaya was born to act, and despite her young age of sixteen, she's regularly landing lead roles, with two upcoming movies under her belt already this year. I'm absolutely positive we'll see much more of Kiyohara Kaya in the near future, as she's definitely a star in the making.
There are without a doubt a myriad of other talented young actresses who deserve the recognition as some of Japan's top rising stars today and they include: Tamashiro Tina, Imada Mio, Kawaei Rina, Hirose Alice, Fukuhara Haruka, Matsumoto Honoka, and Kamishiraishi Moka. Of course, there are many actresses who, despite their young age have still managed to make a large dent in the acting world, and those would include the usual suspects such as Hirose Suzu, Tsuchiya Tao, Araki Yuko and Nikaido Fumi, plus many more.
Who are your favourite rookie actresses?
Who do you want to see grace your screens in the near future?
Which are your favourite roles?
Leave your thoughts and discussion in the comments below :)