My first Stalker’s Guide can’t be to anyone other than to the man you see in this picture. Look at this face!
If you recognize him, chances are that you probably know him as ARATA, written in capital letters.That’s how he used to write his stage name, and that’s what you always will see in the credits when you watch any of his older dramas or movies. Personally, I feel that it’s rather appropriate; I want to use capital letters when I write BECAUSE HE’S SO HANDSOME AND TALENTED!
However, according to DramaWiki, he is now using his full name Iura Arata after having starred in the movie 11.25 The Day He Choose His own Fate (2012). It’s a movie about the writer MishimaYukio. In his recent movies and dramas you don’t see “ARATA” anywhere, but his full name in kanji: 井浦新. (In the trailer for Su-chan, Mai-chan,Sawako-san (2013), to give you an example.)
I have only read one novel by Mishima, but it was very interesting and it made me want to read more. I think it’s cool that an actor I like this much portrayed a writer I’m fascinated by. There’s something about the way an actor can pull you in completely by his screen presence that reminds me of what it’s like to read a very good book, don’t you agree? I wonder if Iura Arata is a guy who likes books, hm… I would like him even more if he does, but won’t like him any less if he doesn’t!
First, we’ll have to confront the fact that this handsome actor, who’ll turn 40 this year, is already taken; sorry girls, he has a wife and a son. So, that’s that. No reason to deny the man a Stalker’s Guide, though! Next, something about his career. As you perhaps know already, he is also known as a model. No wonder why, considering he’s tall and handsome!
Did you guys know that Iura Arata has more than 40 titles under his belt! That’s rather impressive, isn’t it? (But of course, many of these are supporting roles.) Sadly, many of the dramas/movies where he has a main role have not been subbed. Some of his dramas/movies have been based on award winning novels and many are the kind of movies that are shown at film festivals. Very often, he portrays a character that seems cool on the outside but who carries an ocean of emotions underneath. If you want an actor who can dive deeply into the darker realms of passion and do it with true conviction, he’s your man.
The first time I saw him was in Rich Man, Poor Woman, where he played the role of Hyuga Toru’s (Oguri Shun) friend Asahina Kosuke.
This drama was also my first ever Asian drama. Maybe I like Iura Arata because like a newly hatched chicken, I got attached to the first face I see?
That’s how I felt. At that point, I wasn’t thinking about the actor, only the character, but of course it must have been the acting skill that convinced me to care about Asahina Kosuke. It wasn’t until I had finished the drama and began to want to watch more J-dramas, that it hit me (hard!) that I really wanted to see that Asahina-guy again because he’s so incredibly beautiful…… You could say that my days as a stalker began there and then! :)
…That’s why the next few dramas I watched also had him in them. I’ll tell you about them:
Mitsuno Aji (2011) was my second drama and very different from the first one. Many people feel put off by the subject matter in this rather slow-paced drama, which is an incestuous relationship between an uncle and his niece (Eikura Nana) who is ten years his junior; however, I feel that the characters are so believable in all their angst and genuine love for one another that I just can’t feel “oh no, this is so wrong,” although I was prepared to feel that way before I watched it.
I found this drama fascinating. The theme of forbidden love was very well executed and Iura Arata and Eikura Nana had chemistry in my opinion, even though some bloggers and reviewers felt differently. My favourite scene happens in one of the later episodes; his acting is so vibrant, so intense, that just thinking about it gives me goosebumps even months later!
Chase (2010) is yet another completely different kind of story. Like the title suggests, it’s mostly about a chase: the relationship between the hunter and the hunted. (Because as in many such stories, these two characters seem to form a special bond while trying to outsmart each other.) The “hunter” is the tax bureau inspector Haruma Sosuke (Eguchi Yosuke), and the “hunted” is played by Iura Arata, the brilliant tax-evasion consultant Murakumo Shuji. He seems ruthless and cold, but there is a secret scar in heart; he is heavily burdened by a shadow from his past… This is the kind of drama where you don’t automatically hate “the bad guy” but you try to understand him... you want to understand him. Until close to the ending, I was actually surprised by how some things turned out here.
For his portrayal of this man, Iura Arata won the award for best supporting actor (the 65th Television Drama Academy Award), and he deserved it, if you ask me, for totally owning this drama! Supporting? In my opinion, his was just as much a main character as Eguchi’s!
Iura Arata’s fourth movie was Ping Pong from 2002. (Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to find any of his earlier work.) I’ve read that this was the movie that made him rise to fame, and when I finally saw it, I could see why. Ping Pong is a quiet movie with a lot of intensity. The sport is definitely an important part of it, but what made it enjoyable was the relationships between the characters, and also their feelings for the sport they love. Why is Iura Arata great in it? Because he has a very expressive face, that's why! Although his character Smile is an introverted person who doesn't smile, and doesn't even talk a lot, Arata manages to convey a lot of emotion.
There were scenes in this movie where just a subtle change in his facial expression made my heart skip a beat – I’m not kidding! – not just because it’s a handsome face, but because he knows how to use it for acting! <3 I’ll not say anything more about this movie, but I recommend it!
Another role of his that I loved was Katase Shintaro in Koi (2013). I was happy to finally be able to watch this movie recently, because it felt like I had been waiting forever for him to be in another main role. Koi is the story of young university student Fumiko (Ishihara Satomi) who becomes romantically involved with a professor and his wife. Iura Arata’s character is a charming intellectual seducer, experienced in the ways of the world, a man who plays a game only he and his wife know the rules for (and my inner teenager falls head over heels for this, can’t help it!!). As the story progresses, we learn that there are even deeper and more complex emotions beneath the surface. Gradually, Fumiko becomes aware of this as she gets to know him; he doesn’t tell her his thoughts and feelings, but from the audience’s point of view, I feel that the acting says it all. Iura Arata can do emotional scenes, he can be subtle, he can use his face – and he can kiss his co-star like he means it.
It wouldn’t be fair not to mention the movie Snakes and Earrings (2008) in a stalker’s guide. This movie is based on a book that I actually saw in a bookstore a few months before I began watching J-dramas; I thought it seemed interesting and wanted to read it, but didn’t buy it for some reason. That’s why this was the first of Iura Arata’s movies I tried to watch. Yes, tried to – I guess you could say that his portrayal of the sadist tattoo artist Shiba was too much for me to stomach at the time. This movie is not for sensitive people! Still, I will say that his acting is convincing and pretty brilliant, it’s just that some things I’d skim through in a novel become so in-your-face in a movie… I’ll watch it all some day, though!
I mentioned already that Iura Arata has been in many supporting roles, some of them really minor ones. I liked many of those dramas/movies, but I don’t want to take up too much space writing about two minutes of screen time here and there. (Just one example: In Ultra Miracle Love Story (2009), a very good movie in my opinion, we don’t even get to see his face! *lol* Even so, I recognized him immediately… that’s how much of a fangirl I’ve become!!) I’ll just mention a few so you know what to expect if you follow in my footsteps and begin stalking Iura Arata. :D
In Hi wa mata noboru (2011), a drama that I enjoyed, we get to know the student Miyata (Miura Haruma) and his classmates at the Police Academy, and their instructor Tono (Sato Koichi). If you like stories about a young person’s growth and teacher/student relationship (I don’t mean romantic relationship in this case), this is a drama for you. Iura Arata plays the part of the bad guy, Anzai, the arch enemy of Tono. Unfortunately, my dear Arata doesn’t have a lot to work with here (in my opinion, the drama could have been longer). He played his part very well, though, and it’s not his fault that the script left some questions unanswered.
Shima no sensei (2013) is a visually beautiful drama with a lot of warmth (it’s about acceptance and finding a place where you belong, creating your own concept of family, etc). A major theme is how conflicted and painful parent-child relationships can be.
Iura Arata here portrays Tajima Akiyoshi – the son of the man who is a father figure to the teacher Chihiro (Nakama Yukie). He is a man of few words but grand visions, and rather sulky and stubborn. If this had been the first drama I watched, I might not have been attracted to him at all, but since I already had a deep, stalkerish love for him, I appreciated his portrayal of this character. (Wouldn’t it be nice to see him alongside Nakama Yukie in another drama, both as main characters?! It would be a fangirl dream come true!)
I found the official website for this drama and there were long interviews! Sadly, my Japanese is still at the beginner level so there’s no way that I can read interviews. But because I’m such a fangirl, I sometimes try to make sense of the gibberish that comes out of Google Translate… I could be wrong, but I think Iura Arata said he liked the nature on the island and enjoyed photographing the scenery. I feel confident about saying that, because sources in English have told me he’s also a photographer! It’s not “just” a hobby; he has had an exhibition called Between the Sun and the Moon. He took the pictures for the Hakkone Open Air Museum’s official 2013 calendar, and those photographs (as well as many others) turned out so well that they became his first solo exhibition.
Air Doll (2009) is a different, quiet movie about a sex-doll that comes to life and begins to discover what it is like to have a heart… I didn’t actually really think a lot about Iura Arata when I watched this movie, I mean, I was not distracted by his beautiful face because the story was so compelling.
Kimi ni todoke (2010): A small, supporting role, but I think his character is pretty funny here; it’s the first time I've see him in a role like that. This teacher is a guy who cares a lot about his students even though they might not see it. This movie was very sweet and I liked it a lot!
Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou (2013) is a very good drama that takes place in a used bookstore. In this drama, Iura Arata has a role in episode 7 only, but it’s totally worth it to watch the drama for its own sake!
Do you guys know what Iura Arata does when he’s not acting or photographing? Well, I can’t say that I have a lot of info, but I do know that he has created his own fashion line called Elnest Creative Activity. Isn’t that cool?
I get the impression that he’s one of those creative people who need all kinds of outlet for their creativity; in his case, he’s an actor, photographer and a designer. It makes me wonder if there’s anything more he can/wants to do? I have no idea! But I wouldn’t be surprised if he has more hobbies, talents and interests than the few I’ve been able to find out about through obsessive googling.
I want to see him in big roles in interesting stories, where he can show off his beauty and elegance alongside other beautiful people; he can be a good guy or a bad guy, as long as he gets to be one with complexity; I want to see him in intense romantic scenes, in short, I want to see him in more main roles in the future! :D I think it’s safe to say he’s a very talented, brilliant actor and the dramas he’s in should get a lot more attention. I hope he’ll be in something we get subs for in 2014!
I could go on and on about how I could stare at his beautiful face forever, but I’ll have mercy on you guys and stop typing now! Thanks for reading!
If there is an actor or an acress who is worthy of a Stalker's Guide in your opinion, and you have watched enough dramas of his/hers to prove it, please contact Elisabetta about it!