Kanata Hongo: From a Prince to a Musician to a Warrior

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  • What does it take for an artist to stand out amidst the competition in the entertainment industry? Is it just the face? Talent?

    Or is it appeal? What makes popular, popular?

    Japan has a bunch of artists who have made their names known not only through the music industry, but also in the field of dramas or movies. Among all the other talents in the industry, there is one who has stolen the spotlight for his excellent skills in bringing to life some popular anime characters. Who else could it be? It’s 24-year-old Kanata Hongo (本郷奏多).

    He’s starred in a number of drama series and movies since 2002. But what could perhaps be a notable thing about this young artist is his brilliant portrayal of some popular anime characters in live adaptation anime films.

    Here are 3 of his most unforgettable characters.

    Ryoma Echizen (Tennis no Ouji Sama / Prince of Tennis)

    Who could forget that cocky freshman of Seishun Gakuen (Seigaku) who busted a lot of his senior tennis players to secure a spot on the regular line-up of his school’s tennis team?

    Takeshi Konomi’s Prince of Tennis received a significant amount of support, most notably from its female fan base, ever since it started airing October of 2001 at Animax and TV Tokyo. In 2003, the musical version was also produced to provide more entertainment for the fans.

    With its growing popularity in the succeeding years, it came as no surprise when the live film adaptation was released on May 13, 2006 in Japanese theaters. This is also where we see the young Kanata Hongo, displaying his acting prowess in playing the movie’s protagonist, Ryoma Echizen. For all it’s worth, Hongo managed to pull out an excellent performance in bringing Ryoma to life. Kudos!

    Shinichi Okazaki a.k.a. Shin (Nana 2)

    As if he’s not yet that busy, the 2nd part of the live adaptation of the hit anime, Nana, was released on December 9 of the same year when Prince of Tennis was aired in Japanese cinemas.

    He played the role of Shin, the bass player of the band Blast, who happens to be the youngest member of the group as well. Contrary to his very young age, Shin’s character is depicted as very cunning and a sort of difficult-to-relate-to personality.

    Sporting his trademark spiky hair with multiple piercings and rock star bling, Hongo became a dazzling real life display of Shinichi Okazaki.

    Simply put, he’s like the real deal who stepped out of the anime world to grace us with his presence in the flesh.

    Armin Arlert (Shingeki no Kyoujin / Attack on Titan)

    Who hasn’t heard of the anime series Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama? If you fell in love with the series’s fast-paced storytelling, interesting revelations and well, those badass fighting scenes that usually end up in bloodshed, then you most likely have watched its film adaptation released this 2015 in two succeeding parts.

    Have you ever noticed just how gorgeous the intellectual badass Armin looked in the film? Years after his notable roles in Prince of Tennis and Nana 2, Kanata Hongo made another mark in his career by playing Armin – the protagonist’s ever supportive friend who can be considered as the brains in their batch of combatants (though this wasn’t highlighted so much in the movie.)

    Hongo played his role very well, with a frail appearance that seemed to be unfit for a front line soldier, calmness and a sense that helped tone down Eren’s (Haruma Miura) hot-headed attitude.

    In Conclusion

    If there are characters who actually can manage to recreate an anime character as close to the anime version as possible, Hongo’s definitely on top of his league.

    With his combined background in modeling and acting, it’s easy to see why projecting different kinds of emotion seemed so natural for this young talent. From his cool demeanor as a tennis prince, hot rock star character in Nana 2 up to the mature and friendly portrayal in Attack on Titan, Kanata Hongo is undeniably among the most talented artists Japan could be proud of.

    Kanata Hongo Official Website*Automatic translation

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