On the Spotlight: Masato Sakai

I have to admit, after watching Legal High, I’d say that he’s drool-worthy! ;p

According to wellesley.edu/Faces of the Shinsengumi:

Born on October 14, 1973 in Miyazaki Prefecture, Sakai Masato first started appearing in films and drama series in 1999. In comparison to other actors, he began his career rather late, but he has demonstrated his talents time and time again.

One of his biggest roles was in the Shinsengumi film When the Last Sword is Drawn as Okita Souji. His training in preparation for this role would soon come in handy for the following year he appeared as Yamanami Keisuke in the Shinsengumi NHK Taiga Drama series. Although a strong actor, his preference appears to be supporting actors, for which he has received awards several times.

And… for the nth time, he’s a CHARMER.

I found some information that he used to be part of the Acting Club in high school and he even majored in Chinese literature in Waseda Daigaku… meaning to say that his Chinese is not bad, although heavily accented. Also, his English is fairly fine, although not as excellent like Kouhei’s.

What else? I have also read that he did not finish college to pursue acting. So far, he debuted in 1995 (Source: D-Addicts Wiki), but he’s better known in the movies–he could actually be very serious, then very funny, and imagine that he has showcased his English in “Sukiyaki Western Django” as Shigemori, although he has a few lines there.

Yahoo! Japan Images|Sakai-sama as Shigemori

Check out his background/profile here.

Actually, he’s the most underrated actor out there, aside from Kei Tanaka. I really don’t get it why the hell does he not get more popular projects compared to good-looking Japanese guys who are merely just members of boybands. Like, come on, people like him deserves MORE and MOAR exposure! Sadly, since he’s underrated, little is known about his personal life, we only know that he’s finally married to Miho Kanno, but during that time, I was yet to watch Legal High.

In other words, since he was part of the Acting Club and studied in Waseda, it makes him earn more POGI POINTS since what he learned is actually applied once he acts like err… wait, I really do not have any idea whether he has memorable roles, but so far, he won a lot of awards (not to mention he even hosted an awarding ceremony), and not to mention he didn’t actually reveal much of his personal life since the Japanese people value their privacy very much to the point that they won’t flash anything behind close doors, and I think Masato-niichan is excellent in doing things that won’t ever tarnish his stardom.

In fact, he should be in the “racial” trio, together with Chris Tucker (USA) and Rowan Atkinson (UK).

Kanara Ty said:

I strongly believe that Masato Sakai is one of Japan’s under-appreciated actors. Usually known for playing serious roles, Sakai takes on a refreshing comedic role as Kensuke Komikado, a sleazy and conniving lawyer who’s never lost a case. While the show had a strong supporting cast, it was Sakai that carried the drama (as he usually does), case after case.

Wow ah, she knows what “nagdala” really is, and I really appreciate her for that! 😀 I didn’t realize that Sakai-sama is a serious actor in reality, but I’d say that he could actually be at-par with Johnny Depp and Robert Downey, Jr. when it comes to serious roles–they mix it up with comical acts, whether it is intentional or not.

I really do not know how Masato retains that sarcastic expression if he acts too nice or too serious. I’d say that despite being under-rated, I call him a veteran actor under the age of 50. Even though his role as Komikado-sensei is exaggerated, he isn’t over-acting compared to other Japanese actors who exaggerate with going overboard, thus adding blandness towards the series. If he’s not very handsome according to Japanese standards, I consider him as H-A-N-D-S-O-M-E. Yeah, he may look like Osamu Mukai and Kei Tanaka, but among these O-type cuties, he’s the best-looking amongst them. He is the most charming and there are no dull moments when he’s in the series.

One forum in AsianFanatics.net said:

Sakai is the antithesis of mannered acting. You never quite know what this exciting, constantly smiling actor will do next, but you can always see him thinking.

Now this is the reason behind his sarcastic facial expression despite looking very serious or very emotional. This so-called “anti-thesis” of mannered acting usually applies to these actors I’ve mentioned who has a comparable acting trademark like Sakai-sama. This also makes me think that “reading between the lines” has also been applied in his role as well.

hippokathy88 said:

i dont know about the others but Masato Sakai & Tae Kimura are definitely very under-rated! theyre wonderful artists!!! and to be honest i dont think Yoshitaka Yuriko can act that well, but then again ive only seen her in Tokyo DOGS.

Totes agree, although I haven’t seen Tae Kimura yet or her movies, but I partially agree that Yuriko Yoshitaka isn’t that great in acting (I’ve seen her Cannonball Wedlock, she’s too over-acting), which makes me prefer Yui Aragaki more (Yui has improved a lot and I think she acts better) and Yukie Nakama. I also consider Chiaki Kuriyama underrated as well, even though she starred as the deadly Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill, and one of the students in Battle Royale.

I didn’t expect that he started his career late as an actor, but that’s okay, since the younger actors (particularly child actors) ended up doing drugs and some of them didn’t actually improve their craft that much. I really didn’t know why such good-looking actors in Japan have weaker acting prowess compared to the ones who are not even that good-looking in their standards. There are yes, good-looking actors in Japan, but the charm and X-factor isn’t shining on them, is it? Haha. To add, even though he prefers being a supporting actor, the audience would choose to stare at him more than the actual lead. There’s one video in youku wherein even though as a lead actor, he’s really willing to help another co-actor do the correct thing. He even taught Yui Aragaki how to display this paper written with Kanji characters on it. This makes Yui and Masato both teamplayers in Legal High, that’s why the series is more appealing to me compared to my very first J-Dorama, Misaki Number One!! (I honestly think that even though the story flow’s at its perfection, Karina’s exaggerated acting is labelled as over-acting, and it’s quite comparable to Masato’s effortless comic acts.

See more photos of Masato Sakai (screenshots from Legal High):

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 7.28.15 AM

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 7.30.35 AM

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 7.31.13 AM

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 7.41.48 AM

If I were to watch again Legal High Season 2, I hope Sakai-sama would be given more projects, and I’d like to see him in an English-language film (Hollywood please!) or roles where he will speak English (not contented with his English lines in Legal High and in Sukiyaki Western Django).

Lastly, every skin tone suits him, whether he’s tanned or he’s fair–and although in some scenes he looks like PSY, he’s way better-looking and has a certain charisma that cannot be explained! HAHA!


About Molybdenum Studios

I am a very opinionated person. Get used to it. If you can't stand it, then so be it.

Posted on July 17, 2013, in Asia, Continental Talks, Japan, On the Spotlight, States and Nations of the World and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’m team Masato as much as I’m team Yamamoto Koji when it comes to Shinsengumi! What an elegant man with a nice smile. Finally fans are speaking…

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