Exploring the Next Breakthrough Actresses – Who Will Follow in the Footsteps of Post-Hirosue Suzu Phenomenon? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Exploring the Next Breakthrough Actresses – Who Will Follow in the Footsteps of Post-Hirosue Suzu Phenomenon?

Yumi Kawai, Nagisa Saito, Rei Shirakawa, Ami Toma, Natsuki Deguchi, Momoko Fukuchi, and others...talented actresses with a strong presence are rising one after another!

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Deguchi Natsuki (22) made her debut as an actress in 2019. She is currently appearing in her fourth consecutive TV drama series. In December 2022, during an interview with FRIDAY magazine, she expressed her earnest goal of becoming accustomed to acting.

A number of notable actresses are playing her younger sister.

Entertainment reporter Kaoru Shimada: There are many promising young actresses to watch, but one standout is Natsuki Deguchi (22), who played the younger sister of Yuki Yamada (33) in the January “Getsu 9” drama “Kimi ga Kokoro o Kureta Kara” (Fuji TV). Despite her refined appearance, she’s versatile, as seen in her role as a maiko in the drama “Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san” (Netflix) and as a hardworking student in the movie “Ano Hana ga Saku Oka de, Kimi to Mata Deaetara.” She has a wide range in terms of visuals. In terms of acting, she can portray young girls naturally, which is her strong point. She’s already been selected as the heroine in the April drama “Blue Moment” (Fuji TV), so I think she’ll truly break through this year.

Drama watcher Masahiro Kitagawa: Personally, I’m keeping an eye on Hoshikiri Seira (20), who played the role of “Usagi” in the drama “Shin Kuko Senkyo” (NTV). She has a cool, beautiful appearance with a short haircut. Another one is Kita Kana (26), who played the heroine in the late-night drama “Sensei Sayonara” (NTV). She previously played a striking Chinese character alongside heavyweight actors like Kenichi Endo (62) and Toyotaka Matsushige (61) in the “Byplayers” series (TV Tokyo), which made me think she’s an amazing talent. She also took on intimate scenes in the movie “Shunga Sensei,” showing her ambition to compete in this world. She has a unique charm that attracts people’s attention no matter how small the role, and her potential as an actress is exceptionally high.

Writer Kumao Oyama: Yumi Kawai (23) also has tremendous potential. She made a splash with her role as a Showa-era delinquent high school girl in the talked-about drama “Futekitte ni Mo Hodogaaru!” (TBS). While she gained recognition through this work, drama and movie enthusiasts might feel like they’ve finally found her. She already played the lead role in the NHK drama “Kazoku Dakara Aishitan Janakute, Aishita no ga Kazoku Datta,” and she has been showcasing her presence in various movies. She can handle any role, and aside from her skill, she has a unique aura that captivates people.

Shimada: Kawai truly seemed like she was from the Showa era; she fit her roles so perfectly. She also delivered excellent performances in socially conscious and serious dramas like “Yuuko no Tenbin” and “PLAN75.”

Kitagawa: Her acting is so good that she becomes too immersed in her roles, which may lead to her being remembered more for her characters than her own name. While she may be well-regarded in the industry, it might be difficult for her to become a widely recognized actress, especially as a lead in dramas.

Shimada: There are breakthroughs where an actress shines in the center and breakthroughs where she shines in supporting roles. Kawai might be more of the latter. I think she’ll become a good actress who brings a sense of security and adds depth to productions.

Oyama: She might excel as a movie actress. But she’s only 23, so it’s hard to predict her future.

Shimada: Sara Shida (24), who appeared in “Dragon Zakura 2” (TBS), is also a type that appeals to connoisseurs. Rather than glamorous heroines, she suits more natural roles. However, in the January drama “Kesenai Watashi” (NTV), she embarked on a new territory by playing the protagonist who seeks revenge with strong determination. If she finds a good project, she could have a breakthrough.

Oyama: Aju Maita (21) is another similar type. She often plays twisted or delicate female roles and has appeared in works by Yamada Taichi, Izumi Kidasara, and Yuji Sakamoto. She’s an actress chosen by authors. She was entrusted with the important role of the protagonist’s younger sister in the morning drama “Okaeri Monet” and the Netflix drama “Shinobi no Ie.”

Shimada: Like Deguchi earlier, younger sister roles tend to attract attention. Nanao Hara (20) gained a lot of popularity after playing Masayoshi Takanami’s (30) younger sister in “Number MG5” (Fuji TV). Hiyori Sakurada (21), who played Meguro Ren’s (27) younger sister in “Silent” (Fuji TV), also gained attention in the same work.

Oyama: Especially in morning dramas, sister or best friend roles are often cast for long periods, making them easier for viewers to remember. Rie Yoshikawa (31) from “Asa ga Kita,” Kaya Kiyohara (22) from “Natsuzora,” and Moka Kamishiraishi (24) from “Chimudondon” are all examples of actresses who have become successful from sister or best friend roles.

Kita Kana (26) made her debut as a child actress in 2010. She gained attention for her role as O-hatsu in the NHK Taiga drama “Dou Suru Ieyasu.” She is scheduled to appear in the April drama “Snack Joshi ni Highball wo.”
Yumi Kawai (23) made her debut as an actress in 2019. Starting in April, her starring drama “RoOT” began airing, and in June, her starring movie “An no Koto” is scheduled for release, marking a successful streak.
Nanoka Hara (20) made her debut as a child actress in 2009. She garnered attention for her role in the movie “Suzume no Tobidashi.” Her starring movie “Koiwazurai no Ellie” is currently in theaters.
Hiyori Sakurada (21) made her debut as a child actress in 2012. She won the Best Newcomer Actor Award at the 47th Japan Academy Awards for her role as the heroine in the movie “Koukan Uso Nikki.”

The next Suzu Hirose candidate is 17 years old.

Shimada: Ami Toma (17), who showcased her violin skills on the Sunday drama “Sayonara Maestro” (TBS), has a distinctly refreshing look, evident in her being selected as the “Calpis Water” commercial character. Despite her limited acting experience, her debut in dramas was in “Tsuma, Shougakusei ni Naru.” She portrayed a talented junior high school novelist, leaving a strong impression despite not being part of the main cast. With both talent and visual appeal, she steals the spotlight in any production. This aspect is reminiscent of Suzu Hirose (25).

Kitagawa: I understand. Even with limited screen time, she leaves a lasting impression. When she guest-starred as a fencer in the fifth episode of “Old Rookie” (TBS), I thought she was an actual fencer and was captivated by her performance.

Oyama: For actresses around high school age, it’s challenging to secure leading roles, no matter how highly they’re regarded on set. So, they often find roles in school dramas. In the drama “3-nen A-gumi” (NTV), broadcasted in 2019, many popular actresses like Haruka Fukuhara (25), Mei Nagano (24), and Mio Imada (27) appeared. Similarly, in last year’s drama “Saikou no Kyoushi 1 Nen Go, Watashi wa Seito ni Tsuresareta” (NTV), Toma and Mizuki Chishima (19) played student roles, and I think they’re on their way to becoming popular.

Shimada: Chishima was selected as a CM girl for “Zexy,” which is considered a gateway for young actresses. Standing at 170cm tall, she’s quite striking. In 2021, she played Juliet in the stage play “Romeo and Juliet,” displaying an impressive level of composure at just 16. Another actress shining on stage is Momoko Fukuchi (26). She doesn’t exude the tough atmosphere of her father, Akira Emoto (62), known for V-cinema, but has a refreshing charm. She was chosen as one of the quadruple casts for the role of Chihiro in the upcoming London production of “Spirited Away.” Her acting is superb, but her voice, as clear as a bell, is also remarkable. The other three Chihiros are played by Kanna Hashimoto (25), Mone Kamishiraishi (26), and Rena Kawai (29), all big names. However, Fukuchi has crafted a pure and lovely Chihiro, utilizing her youthful charm.

Kitagawa: It’s incredible to be chosen alongside those three. But I thought she would skyrocket to fame much earlier, especially when she appeared in the morning drama “Natsuzora” in 2019.

Shimada: She’s just so laid-back. She’s even been warned by staff to hurry up. I’ve interviewed her before, and she’s refreshingly unconcerned, in a good way. She doesn’t read the room. She can talk at her own pace, even when surrounded by a crowd. People who win grand prizes at auditions usually have this kind of self-contained world.

Oyama: That sense of being a big shot definitely comes from being Akira’s daughter. She’s been showcasing her presence in supporting roles, but it’s about time she had a signature work. Maybe she’ll have a breakthrough around the age of 30, like Rio Uchida (33).

When Toma Ami (17) made her debut as an actress in 2022, she garnered attention for her starring role in the anime film “Kagami no Kojo.” She also made her debut as a drama lead in the NHK drama “Ke no Hi no Kekeke.”
Mizuki Kayashima (19) on the right, Saito Nagisa (20) on the left. Kayashima won the grand prize from Amuse’s audition among 3224 contestants and made her actress debut in 2019. Saito debuted as an idol in 2017 as part of “=LOVE” and started her acting career in 2018.
Fukuchi Momoko (26) debuted as an actress in 2016. She showcased her presence by playing the role of the heroine’s sister in the morning drama “Natsuzora” and as Taiji’s wife, Ubuyama, in the taiga drama “Kamakura Dono no 13-nin.”

The Key to Breakthrough is a “Gap”

Oyama: There are also promising girls from the idol world. Mizuki Yamashita (24) graduated from Nogizaka46 this year and is going to concentrate on acting. She played the role of a ball player’s older sister in the Sunday drama “Gekkokujo Kyuji” (TBS), and she was wonderful, completely erasing her idol aura. She really looked like she belonged in the countryside. She is the ace of “Nogizaka46,” though. I think she is a person who can put on and take off her aura. There is also a dark horse , Nagisa Saito (20 ) from the idol group “=LOVE” produced by Rino Sashihara (31). Her role as a host-crazed girl in “Tomorrow, I’m Someone’s Girl” (TBS) was brilliant. She has been cast as the main heroine, Ruby, in the live-action version of “Mystery Child,” and is extremely popular among Generation Z. Her concern is that her visuals are too idol-like and her roles are limited. If she can show a gap like Yamashita, she could go one rank higher.


Kitagawa: Model Nukumi Meru (22) also had many roles as a gal-like girl appropriate for her age, but she got her big break playing a simple woman working at a chikuwabu factory in “Sunday Night About…” (TV Asahi).

Shimada: Rei Shirakawa (21 ) showed the biggest gap in dramas in the January cool season. She is the daughter of Koji Takanohana (51) and Keiko Kono (59), and although she is a flamboyant girl, she really got into the role of an otaku-like editor in “Kekkatsu 1000bonnokkou” (Fuji TV). She wears glasses, is foul-mouthed and quirky. I thought it was played by an actress from a theater company, so I was surprised when I found out it was her after about episode 6. Many of this generation are honor student types with good acting skills. To get a break, it is important to have your own personality and acting range. Keeping this in mind, I hope that as many of you named today as possible will get your break.

Rei Shirakawa (21) entered the entertainment industry in 2023. She is currently appearing as a regular on Thursdays in “Pokapoka”. Her first regular role in a drama series was in “1000 Knockdowns in Marriage Hunting”.

From the April 19, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Sono Aida (Fukuchi), Taichi Chiba (Deguchi), Kazuhiko Nakamura (Hara, Shirakawa)

Photo Gallery9 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles