Why Japan is smitten with Sho Hirano: The anatomy of a national crush

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    Sho Hirano

    3rd December 2023 – (Tokyo) While little known in Hong Kong, Japanese actor and singer Sho Hirano has emerged as one of his country’s hottest young idols. His recent appearance at a Louis Vuitton fashion show in Hong Kong instantly sparked frenzy among his legions of fans. The 26-year-old’s earnest, comedic personality has propelled his meteoric rise since debuting in 2018. Hirano’s recent guest appearance at Louis Vuitton’s 2024 Men’s PreFall 2024 Collection marked his first visit to Hong Kong. He shared a photo overlooking Victoria Harbour the night before, writing “Hong Kong, I’m coming to bother you.” Fans went wild seeing him walk the runway in a stylish green and black suit, dubbing him a “modern-day Tanjiro Kamado.”

    This May, Hirano left Johnny & Associates and idol group King & Prince alongside bandmates Yuta Kishi and Yuta Jinguji. In July, they announced joining Hideaki Takizawa’s new agency TOBE and formed the group Number_i. This transition let Hirano reboot his career under new management.

    Hirano launched his personal Instagram simultaneously with joining TOBE. He amassed over 200,000 followers in under a day, with his first post exceeding 1 million likes instantly. His account surpassed 4 million followers rapidly, showcasing his incredible popularity.

    Hirano has starred in various live-action adaptations of manga and anime, starting with 2018 film Honey based on the shojo manga. His warm personality contrasted his delinquent look, creating massive appeal. He’s also appeared in adaptations of Hanazakari no Kimitachi e and Flower of Evil, plus 2022 remake Kurosagi, winning multiple acting awards.

    Hirano’s friendly, goofy nature has earned him many friends in the industry, like actor Yokohama Ryusei. The two publicize their close “bromance” frequently, with Hirano even saying “I love you” jokingly on a show. Ryusei also followed Hirano’s Instagram rapidly after its launch, signalling their tight bond.

    Since debuting, Hirano has rocked diverse looks from clean-cut to long-haired hipster to his current cropped style. His versatility and handsome visuals make him a favourite of brands like Louis Vuitton, Valentino and Givenchy.

    In a 2018 TV appearance, Hirano’s friends revealed he’d never gone out alone and even called Nagoya friends to accompany his Tokyo driving lessons. It’s unclear if the now 26-year-old has overcome this extreme reliance on company.

    Hirano confessed on TV to having crowd anxiety. He manages overwhelming live audiences by focusing on individuals. But he humorously added he’s fine with boba pearls, showing his endearing personality.

    Despite quirks like wanting his face on money and sleepwalking, Hirano remains beloved for embracing his oddball side. Constantly sharing silly antics on social media, he interacts affectionately with fans, enhancing his appeal. Clearly, Hirano’s blend of talent, humour and humility strike a chord in Japan and beyond.