Matsuzaka Tori & Chiba Yudai: Spandex Heroes No More
Previous Review: Uchuu Keiji Gavan THE MOVIE (2012) & Uchuu Keiji NEXT GENERATION (2014)
Tokusatsu series produced by Toei, mainly Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, have been constantly called the “gateway into the industry” amongst people in the Japanese entertainment industry. Previously, we have talked about how Kitagawa Keiko have made a foray into the acting aspect of the entertainment through Toei’s Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon. In this article, we will look at some of the actors who have gained the same success as her through the Kamen Rider franchise.
#1 Satou Takeru 佐藤 健
Before the world knew him as Himura Kenshin from Warner Bros Japan’s high-grossing film, Rurouni Kenshin, Satou Takeru made his debut way back in 2006 in a J-drama titled Princess Princess D. However, it was not until his role as the eponymous hero in Kamen Rider Den-O in 2007 that a path into a solid acting career was paved for the young actor. He subsequently did dramas in following years and a few renowned works of his included Rookies, Bloody Monday, Mei-chan no Shitsuji and Q10. He is currently the protagonist of TBS Sunday night drama, Tennou no Ryouriban. He also has an upcoming lead role in the live action movie adaptation of Bakuman.
#2 Suda Masaki 菅田将暉 & Fukushi Sota 福士蒼太
It was a really tough choice to decide which one of them to put at number two, but since both of these young lads got a breakthrough almost at the same time, they had to be placed together. Suda Masaki made his debut as the second half of the duo protagonists in Kamen Rider W and not long after the series ended, he has appeared in several dramas. He eventually ventured into movie roles in recent years. His most recent work is the live action movie adaptation of Assassination Classroom and has a few more upcoming movie roles under his sleeve.
Uchuu Kitaaaaaa!! Fukushi Sota debuted alongside Suzuki Katsuhiro (who later became Red Buster in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters) in Misaki Number One!! The two friends competed for the role of Kamen RiderFourze, but it eventually went to Fukushi instead. About a year later, Fukushi’s name and recognition were further boosted when he was casted in the NHK morning drama, Amachan. His signature works are Starman Kono Hoshi no Koi, Yowakutemo Katemasu, Suki tte Iinayo, Kyou Kaisha wo Yasumimasu and the recent live action movie adaptation of Strobe Edge. Unlike Suda, he seems to be content with being the heart-throb.
#3 Yoshizawa Ryo 吉沢 亮
Following Fukushi Sota closely from behind is his Kamen Rider Fourze co-star, Yoshizawa Ryo, who was also Kamen Rider Meteor in the same series. While not as popular as Fukushi, Yoshizawa is labelled one of the popular ikemen actors in Japan. Some of his renowned works are Lost Days, Suikyu Yankees, Jigoku Sensei Nube and his most recent role in the live action movie adaptation of Ao Haru Ride. It is without a doubt that the high-grossing Ao Haru Ride film has boosted his popularity and who knows, Yoshizawa might be on par with Suda and Fukushi sooner or later.
#4 Yamamoto Yusuke 山本裕典
Remember the guy in Kamen Rider Kabuto who constantly declared he was going to replace all the Gods? Well, you are reading about him right now. Yamamoto Yusuke made his debut halfway through the series in June 2006 as the arrogant Kamen Rider Sasword. Although his character gradually watered down as the show progressed, Yamamoto still gained recognition and is regarded as one of the popular ikemen actors in Japan. Having a long list of works, a few of his prominent ones are Atashinchi no Danshi, Tumbling, Ouran High School Host Club, GTO 2012 and Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo.
#5 Odagiri Joe オダギリジョー & Kaname Jun 要 潤
Whenever you hear Odagiri Joe, you will definitely think of none other than Kamen Rider Kuuga. Odagiri was well-known for revolutionising the bug themed hero when the franchise was brought back with him as the first Heisei Rider. The man soon got into a solid acting career once the series ended. Although there have been rumours circulating that he was unable to avoid typecasting due to his image constantly being associated with Kuuga, all of that was deemed false as the man have openly expressed his appreciation and respect for the role, as well as the staffs behind the show’s production. It was recently reported that he has lost his second son to strangulation ileus.
Another man who experienced the same success and recognition as Odagiri around the same time was Kaname Jun, better known amongst the Tokusatsu fandom as G3/G3-X in Kamen Rider Agito. Although he is frequently casted as a supporting character in his long list of drama works, Kaname has always been regarded as the actor who had the gateway to stardom opened to him thanks to his role in Agito.
Honourable Mention: Mizushima Hiro 水嶋ヒロ
You are probably wondering why is the man who walked the path of heaven is nowhere on the Top 5 chart, but as a honourable mention instead. Mizushima Hiro may have prominent works such as Hana Kimi, Mei-chan no Shitsuji, Tokyo Dogs and BECK after his role as the eponymous hero in Kamen Rider Kabuto, but the actor eventually disappeared from the entertainment industry at the end of 2009 when he announced that he will pursue a writing career instead. However, he made a surprise return when he was casted in the live action movie adaptation of Kuroshitsuji in 2014. Mizushima is currently married to singer/songwriter, Ayaka.
The Kamen Rider franchise will celebrate its 45th anniversary next year and with no signs of it going away anytime soon, it also raises the possibility of more successful Kamen Rider actors in the future. By then, look forward to an updated Top 5 chart!