Kimura Takuya

Kimura TakuyaThe current stream of stories bemoaning teenage violence in Japan has its origins in the "butterfly knife" hysteria, in which tabloids reported scores of maladjusted boys attacking students and teachers with said weapons. What seems to be forgotten, however, is the allegation that some of them were following the example of SMAP member Kimura Takuya, aka Kimutaku, who proved himself handy with a butterfly knife in the 1997 TV drama The Gift.

Born in Tokyo in 1972, it was once said that Kimutaku (his real name) was "born with one eye already winking at the world." At junior high school, he displayed a tendency to get into fights, as well as the ability to score high grades—a sign of a gifted child frustrated with and unable to fit into the system. For his fifteenth birthday, an aunt sent his photograph to the talent agency Johnny' Jimusho; probably the best present he ever received, because soon after he took an audition and passed.

After the initial training he was cast as a member of what was to become the latest boy-band, a quintet called SMAP. He made his TV debut acting with his teammates in Abunai Shonen 3 (Dangerous Boys 3), and his solo TV acting debut came in the 1993 drama Asunaro Hakusho (The Conifer Report). 1994 saw his movie debut in Kimi O Wasurenai (I Will Never Forget You) and by 1995 he was all over the place: as a love struck teen in We Have Tomorrow, as a samurai warrior in You Journey Beyond Time, and of course in countless commercials.

It was the commercials that translated his sex appeal into bankable figures, and betrayed his curious fascination with cosmetics. A 1995 ad for Kanebo, in which he smeared lipstick over his own face, certainly drew a lot of viewer attention. In a recent ad for TBC he paints symbols on a girl's face with lipstick while she sleeps. In real life too he is rumored to carry a bag of cosmetics with him at all times.

Despite this androgynous sexual tension, Kimutaku clearly sees himself as a man of action, on and off screen. His personal interests include surfing, snow boarding and soccer. He insists on performing his own stunts, which led to him falling and striking his head on rocks during the filming of Nemureru Mori (A Sleeping Forest) in late 1998. He was rushed to hospital, but later he confided to a TV company insider, "Actually it wasn't serious; but I did appreciate having a rest that afternoon."

As The Gift showed, Kimutaku easily fits the role of villain, and it was the truly bizarre Christmas 1998 SMAP special that finally brought this out. In it SMAP, playing themselves, commit a (fictional) murder of a blackmailer after a (real) concert, and are pursued by the fictional detective Furuhata Ninzaburou (Japan's answer to Lieutenant Columbo, played by Tamura Masakazu). Laughable as it may sound, Kimutaku's steely performance, planning the cold-blooded murder and covering it up, was enough to send a chill through most of the audience, whether they were fans or not.

SMAP were designed to be squeaky-clean teen idols, but Kimura Takuya never fitted into this mold. Instead, he has proved himself to be the unpredictable dark side of the generic, wholesome Japanese tarento.

John Paul Catton

299: Nakamura Kankuro
Arizona lover and Kabuki actor
298: Miura Yuichiro
The Man Who Skied Down Everest
297: Iron Chef
Gourmet cuisine battles
296: "Katte wa ikenai"
"Don't buy these products"
295: Oda Yuji
The dancing detective
294: Enoki Takaaki
An artist who acts
293: Glay
Japan's reigning pop princes
292: Akebono
Hawaiian Sumo wrestler
291: Issey Miyake
Fashion designer
290: Murakami Ryu
Radical writer
289: Oshima Nagisa
Movie director
288: Takakura Ken
Crime film actor
287: Miura Kazuyoshi
Soccer player
286: Suzuki Koji
Author of the horror, Ring
285: Tezuka Osamu
God of Comics
284: Yuming
283: Anpanman
Bean-powered superhero
282: Yamaguchi Takashi
Immersed in traditional Japanese music
281: Nasubi
280: Doi Takako
First female Speaker of the House
279: Nakamura Kichiemon
Retiring Kabuki actor
278: Oe Kenzaburo
Nobel prize winning author
277: Kimura Takuya
SMAP member
276: Utada Hikaru
Teenage pop phenomenon
275: Bando Tamasaburo
Kabuki female role impersonator
274: Otomo Katsuhiro
Akira creator
273: Dreams Come True
Premier recording artist
272: Dango San Kyodai
Surprise hit of 1999
271: Banana Yoshimoto
270: Matsuzaka Daisuke
Baseball player
269: Moritaka Chisato
Model and singer
268: Mukai Chiaki
Female astronaut
267: Natto
Traditional Japanese health food
266: Hiroaki Kikuoka
Shamisen player
265: Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Japan's most revered dramatist
264: Ryuichi Sakamoto
Oscar-winning musician
263: Shigeo Nagashima
Japan's Mr Baseball
262: Ayako Totsuka
Pioneer careerwoman
261: Yatsuhashi Kengyo
Koto player
260: Chiyotaikai
Sumo wrestler
259: Pocky
Japanese snack food
258: Itsuki Hiroshi
Enka singer
257: Pocket Monsters
Conquering the world
256: Classified ads
New concept in Japan
255: Chara
Japanese pop star
254: Pink Lady
1970's singing duo
253: Takashi Sorimachi
Japanese heartthrob
252: Ennosuke Ichikawa
Kabuki actor
251: Rie Miyazawa
Model and actress
250: Shazna
Visual-kei band

Issues 350 +
Issues 349 - 300/1
Issues 248/9 -