Well-defined eyebrows, piercing eyes, chiseled jaw, and the menacing presence – all of these describe Japan’s pride and top actor Shun Oguri (小栗 旬). But one would be a fool to think that his looks are the only reason behind his world-famous status. More than any of that, he has talents that set him apart from others and the experience to actually pull off any type of role given to him.
Quality dramas and movies are just a few of the things that Japan’s entertainment industry take pride of. This fact is also evident with the number of individuals all over the world who are fans of various films and television shows being offered.
Starting with an unconventional character from the get-go, he played as Noboru Yoshikawa, a bullied and abused kid in the drama Great Teacher Onizuka for his debut role. His portrayal garnered the attention of many. Over the years, various projects have come his way and all of the roles given to him were done proper justice. But here are 6 that can be considered a standout among the numerous projects he’s done.
The live drama was an adaptation of the famous shojo manga that has spawned a huge following not just in Japan, but all over the world as well. The teen-romance modern-day Cinderella story was given a different twist when the heroine, Tsukushi Makino (Inoue Mao / 井上真央), is a strong-willed person who believes in fairness and justice, hard work, and perseverance, while the prince charming, on the other hand, Tsukasa Domyoji (Matsumoto Jun / 松本潤), is a bully and arrogant heir with no charm to offer at all. It follows the blossoming relationship of the two and their interactions among the other members of the Flower Four or F4 as they all learn lessons both in life and love.
This is also the drama that gave a serious case of “second lead syndrome” (when you want the lead actress to end up with the second male lead) when Shun delivered a layered and complex, yet beautiful performance of his Hanazawa Rui portrayal. Depicted as the silent and mysterious one in the group, there is a need to maintain the balance of being indifferent and cool with the need to still have a strong presence in the entire show to keep the story going.
Shun’s cool facade hides a warm heart underneath that created the right dynamics for a very good love triangle between the leads. Hana Yori Dango’s success is evident when another season and a movie sequel was produced right after. If that is not enough proof, there’s also the adaptations from other countries proving the worldwide influence that this drama has.
Another shojo manga adaptation that captivated the world has been adapted to a live drama, not just in Japan, but in Korea and Taiwan as well, inspiring even more avid fans. It tells the story of a girl Ashiya Mizuki (Horikita Maki / 堀北真希) who disguised herself as a boy to inspire her idol and savior to be an athlete and high jump again.
Shun played the character of the talented athlete, Sano Izumi, who have lost his abilities to jump properly because of an accident and his negative perception of his situation. The struggle and the fun start as they all try to protect and keep her secret just so she could stay in the all-boy high school.
Hana Kimi is full of crazy antics and top-level wackiness. With everyone doing their own thing, being the only sane person and not getting swept up by the crazy is not something any character could do easily. The consistency of Shun’s performance and his ability to maintain composure and cool despite everything is one element that held the show together.
This crime-comedy series was worlds away from the teen romances and love triangles that Shun was becoming known for. It focuses on the relationship between cops who have to work on certain cases together, leading them closer to the things they have been looking for.
Shun plays So Takakura, a well-disciplined level-headed detective who belongs to the New York elite in terms of skill and intellect. He also uses all his skills to capture his father’s murderer.
When Shun’s character was sent to Japan to work with local detectives, he meets with hot-blooded Maruo Kudo (Hiro Mizushima / 水嶋ヒロ) who has an entirely different method of solving cases compared to him. Their differences proved to be effectively hilarious given the various scrapes they were in.
Tackling something that is not directly centered on romance but instead on friendship and justice is quite a different track for Shun. However, he was never the type to veer away from unconventional roles as such. Instead of being stereotyped as the typical leading man, he takes on new challenges, hence his versatility.
2012 made way for the romcom that the rest of the world fell in love with and gave birth to one Hyuga Toru – internet genius and entrepreneur extraordinaire. Shun’s character suffers from prosopagnosia (the inability to recognize faces) which only worsens his anti-social attitude. His journey to love also became his journey to self-awareness and development.
This was the drama that highlighted how versatile of an actor Shun can really be. The interaction with other characters, their reactions, the scenes, and his attitude has created the perfect synergy to create a series that will always be remembered. His performance as a socially and emotionally underdeveloped adult gave him the Best Actor Award at the 74th Drama Academy Award in the same year.
Honestly, I have never seen anyone play gangster or delinquent and give it as much depth and justice as Shun Oguri does. The film, which was released in 2007, centers on the violence-filled Suzuran All-Boys High School and Genji Takiya (Oguri) on his road to conquering and ruling the “crows.” This was done in hopes of surpassing his father but it proved to be harder than he thought.
This was a film highly directed to teenage boys with the screaming amount of violence that were used in the entire film. But all of these issues were played brilliantly and were displayed artistically. The entire film made it easier for the youth to understand things that they needed to learn but could not do so inside the classroom.
When it comes to roles needing angst, rage, and the depiction of a struggling teenager, Shun Oguri would be one of the top picks. His eyes are what creates the biggest impact. It’s as if it talks for him, and conveys emotions for him. His performance for this earned him a Supporting Actor Award and two Best Actor awards.
There’s never an age limit to achieving dreams – this is the main idea of the entire film, and that in itself is very inspiring. This story revolves around two brothers and their desire to becoming astronauts after seeing what seemed like a UFO when they were kids.
Hibito, the younger brother, was able to achieve this dream. Meanwhile, Mutta Nanba who is played by Shun, the older of the two, spent most years of his life doing mundane jobs. But just because you didn’t succeed the first time you wanted it doesn’t mean that it would never come true. As proof of this, he later received a letter of acceptance to an astronaut training program after years of struggle.
This is also the film that proved how much Shun was willing to sacrifice appearance to play a role right, hence the afro. Through this movie, he was able to represent the majority of the population who didn’t achieve their dream the first try and have chosen to live a practical life instead. His character is easy to relate to.
Both the big and small screens were platforms that provided Shun opportunities to showcase his talents. Several projects were considered to be his breakthrough, giving him the exposure necessary. With all the projects he’s done so far, you might be wondering what he’s going to do next or if he’s ever going to slow down since he is already starting a family. But fear not! You will see him soon as the protagonist Gintoki Sakata in the live film adaptation of Gintama (2017) by Hideaki Sorachi (空知英秋).
Breathing life to wonderful roles and perfectly portraying each character are tasks that can’t be easily done. It takes talent, hard work, and commitment. And not doing it wholeheartedly could easily ruin the performance. In a world full of actors still needing improvement, Shun Oguri is one of the few who really delivers solid performance after solid performance.