Kotaro Yanagi

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Yanagi Kotaro
Born (1985-12-21) December 21, 1985 (age 28)
Berlin, Germany
Occupation Actor, Model
Years active 2002 - Present

Kotaro Yanagi (柳 浩太郎 Yanagi Kōtarō?) is a young Japanese actor who plays in various movies, dramas, and stage events. He's most commonly referred to as "Yanagi", although he sometimes shortens it to "Yana" or "Nagi.". He is also part of a young men's stage acting troupe, D-BOYS, which perform in various skit-like performances, and is currently the group's sub-leader.

Biography[edit]

Yanagi was born on December 21, 1985, in Berlin, Germany. He stayed in Germany for three years before moving back with his family to Japan. On the first semester of elementary school, his father had to work in India and the family moved once again. Until third grade, Yanagi stayed with his parents and attended a nearby school. However, from fourth to sixth grade he attended an American boarding school further away, which is where he learned English. Yanagi's family moved back to Japan where he finished school.

D-BOYS[edit]

Yanagi is a member of the young men's stage acting troupe, D-BOYS, which plays in various skit-like performances. He acted in the web drama, Hice Cool!『沖縄ボーイズ』, and had a supporting role in the movie Aa~! Izakaya Puroresu『あゝ!一軒家プロレス』, a wrestling film, as well as the drama Rocket Boys. He also acted in his D-BOYS troupe's TV drama DD-Boys. His first major film role is as the otaku lead character in Chikan Otoko『痴漢男』, based on of a book by the same name. He has also acted in a short drama in 2007 named Puzzle『パズル』, where he played a prominent role with a couple of other D-boys.

At the beginning 2007 he appeared as the main character in the musical Cooky Clown (ミュージカル『Cooky Clown). In March of the same year, he participated as a guest in "Out of Order".

Musicals[edit]

His most famous role, however, was as the tennis prodigy and lead protagonist Ryoma Echizen in the Prince of Tennis musical series, Tenimyu. During his run in the musicals, he was able to work with fellow D-BOYS members Yuya Endo (whom he shared the role with), Masaki Kaji, Hiroki Suzuki, Osamu Adachi, Hirofumi Araki, Masato Wada, and former members Yuu Shirota and Yamazaki Ichitaro. After recovering from his accident (see below), he continued to play his role along with the second generation Seigaku cast, which featured most of the D-BOYS members. On March 29, 2006, Yanagi graduated from the role after his performance in Dream Live 3rd and has so far been the longest serving actor to play Echizen, as well the second longest serving actor in Tenimyu. Since his graduation, the role of Echizen has been played by Dori Sakurada, Shōgo Sakamoto, Ryuuki Takahashi, and by Yuuki Ogoe.

Yanagi reprised to his role as Echizen and reunited with the 1st generation Seigaku cast to perform in Tenimyu's Dream Live 7th to celebrate the end of Tenimyu's first season.

Yanagi recently starred in the stage play 'Taikan Kisetsu' (Cornflakes), alongside former Hyouteimyu cast member Kawaii Ryunosuke. In January 2008 he also starred as one of the main characters in the play 'Sohji'.

Yanagi can currently be seen as the lead character in the drama 'Tadashii Ouji no Tsukurikata' (How to Create the Ideal Prince), shown on TV Tokyo. His co-stars include former Tenimyu castmates Takashi Nagayama, Hiroki Aiba, Takiguchi Yukihiro, Kiriyama Renn, and Takeda Kouhei. (Two D-BOYS members in the drama with smaller roles, Kumai Kohei and Nakagawa Shingo).

Accident[edit]

After leaving a rehearsal for Remarkable 1st Match: Fudomine, less than two weeks before it was due to open, Yanagi was hit by a car. He had extensive damage to his body and vocal cords and was in a coma for two weeks. Doctors predicted he would be bedridden for the rest of his life. After waking up, Yanagi weighed around 30 kg and was unable to get up at all.

However, Yanagi was able to make a miraculous recovery and is currently strong enough to act again, although he has difficulty with his dancing and singing. His recovery time prevented him from playing in Remarkable 1st and the next two Prince of Tennis musicals; J-pop singer and co-star Kimeru, who was playing the role of Shusuke Fuji, filled in as Echizen for Remarkable 1st, and fellow D-BOY Yuya Endo was eventually cast as the new Echizen.

Yanagi was able to come back and star in the Side Fudomine musical, and got the chance to perform with his fellow first Seigaku cast members one last time before they graduated out of their roles; he shared the role of Echizen with Endo, but he only acted in stand still scenes while Endo did the dancing and tennis match choreography. He did not appear in the Side Yamabuki musical. After Endo graduated from the musicals after Dream Live 2nd (in which he and Yanagi again shared the role), Yanagi continued playing Echizen with the second Seigaku cast up until he and the cast graduated; although he played the tennis matches, his movements were still slow, and many of the dancing skits he was in had limited choreography so he could keep up with the rest of the cast, and vice versa for them. Kimeru, Endo, and Takashi Nagayama (who played Eiji Kikumaru in the first Seigaku cast) went to see Yanagi graduate from his role at the final performance of Dream Live 3rd.

Because of his accident, Yanagi wasn't able to join his castmates in the live film adaptation of The Prince of Tennis. At the same time, the directors wanted to cast someone younger for the role, as Yanagi was twenty years old at the time. Actor Kanata Hongo was cast as the movie's Echizen.

As a result of the accident, Yanagi now walks with a permanent limp, his voice is forever changed, and his speech pattern is slightly slurred. Despite this, Yanagi continues to act and sing.

Kimeru, who was close friends with Yanagi, was struck hard by the accident that when he released his third single, OVERLAP (a theme song for the anime Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters), he also dedicated its coupling song, OATH IN THE STORM, to Yanagi.

Miscellaneous[edit]

Yanagi's hobbies are hanging with friends and karaoke. His major skills, as he personally states, are "street dancing, lock dancing, and pantomime." His dream was to become a professional dancer, however his dancing skills were impeded by his injuries from his accident.

Merchandise[edit]

Yanagi has an Idol DVD released called YA-NA-GI. Beforehand, he has also released a photobook titled "20-2", shortly before he was involved in the accident.

Also, Yanagi released his newest photobook/album titled "NAGILAND" in September 2007.

Filmography[edit]

Year Film/Television Role Other notes
2004–2005 Aa~! Izakaya Puroresu movie
2005 Chikan Otoko movie
2006 Rocket Boys TV Tokyo
DD-Boys as himself
2007 Puzzle TV Asahi
2008 Tadashii Oji no Tsukurikata Shinozaki Tatsuya TV Tokyo
2009 Ikemen Bank the Movie Nashitaro Kanezoko movie

Theatre[edit]

TENIMYU: THE PRINCE OF TENNIS MUSICAL SERIES (as Ryoma Echizen)

  • The Prince of Tennis Musical (2003)
  • The Prince of Tennis Musical: Side Fudomine ~Special Match~ (alongside fellow D-Boy Yuya Endo, who also played Echizen) (In Winter of 2004-2005)
  • The Prince of Tennis Musical: Dream Live 2nd (he again shared the role with Endo) (2005)
  • The Prince of Tennis Musical: The Imperial Match Hyotei Gakuen (2005)
  • The Prince of Tennis Musical: The Imperial Match Hyotei Gakuen in Winter (In Winter of 2005-2006)
  • The Prince of Tennis Musical: Dream Live 3rd (2006)
  • The Prince of Tennis Musical: Dream Live 7th (2010)
  • The Prince of Tennis Musical: Dream Live (2013)

OTHER MUSICALS

  • D-BOYS STAGE Musical - Guest Performer (on June 6 and June 9, 2007)
  • D-BOYS STAGE: The Last Game - Performer (June 2008)

References[edit]

External links[edit]