Unmatched singing skills, ondemand for 2D music projects, delivering impressive performances as singers. These are the seiyuu that impressed in 2021.
Estimated reading time: 18 minutes
This is a yearly feature that reflects my impressions of the various male seiyuu active in the music industry.
To create this feature, I had into consideration several things about the seiyuu in question:
- How active they were in 2021
- How much the seiyuu improved as singers
- Their technique and voice tone
- Variety, and the versatility of their music
- Quality of the music released
- Performances outside of their solo careers
So, this isn’t just an article about who I like the most but about who impressed me the most taking into account those factors.
A note that this even with that criteria, this is a highly subjective top and as such, it is quite possible that the seiyuu you felt like impressed the most in 2021 will not coincide with my choices. As such, I welcome you to tell me your picks in the comments.
These entries in this feature ARE RANKED, starting from 12th up to 1st.
Without further ado, let’s kick this off.
#12 Gakuto Kajiwara
Gakuto Kajiwara had a bold and pretty entertaining 2021. He released his 1st mini-album “Dokoka no kimi ni” and set the bar really high for any upcoming entries in his repertoire.
He then proceeded to hold a worldwide livestream of his 1st live show “Koko ni iru kimi ni”. That was unexpected yet such a nice surprise that put Kajiwara one step closer to his international fans.
Outside of his solo artist work, Kajiwara was active as the leader of the rap team BAE in the Paradox Live franchise as well as a member of εpsilonΦ in the FROM ARGONAVIS franchise and as a member of ALKALOID in the Ensemble Stars!! franchise.
He had a strong year of performances with all those 2D groups however where he has been shining the most is with BAE. His performances have an energy and intensity that leave you wanting more. It’s almost magnetic.
As a whole, Gakuto Kajiwara is a pretty skilled singer that is further developing and polishing his skillset with every song he performs.
After a solid 2021, I look forward to knowing what he will pull off in 2022.
#11 Koutaro Nishiyama
Koutaro Nishiyama released one of the albums of the year with his 2nd mini-album “Laundry”.
Loungy citypop and nu-disco are a rare sighting among male seiyuu or even 2D music projects so Nishiyama always arrives to fill in a need for those good vibes and cinematic soundscapes.
This time around, “Laundry” bet a lot on being consistent throughout, with all songs fitting well together, the mood never changing dramatically, and its core theme being present across all 5 songs.
The mini-album ended up impressing me, especially after I thought he would have a hard time topping “CITY”.
As a member of 2D music projects, Nishiyama was active with Ryuseitai in the Ensemble Stars!! franchise, Spring Troupe in the A3! Franchise, and QUELL in the TSUKIPRO franchise.
As far as impressive performances go, he stepped up in the Neo X Lied CD series in the TSUKIPRO franchise. Teamed up with Natsuki Hanae, Nishiyama delivered a stunning performance.
Not only did he perform on top of his game, but he also matched Hanae’s high level of singing – and fit well with his unique singing tone -, in what is one of his best performances as a member of QUELL.
Koutaro Nishiyama now has a clear identity and sound as a solo artist and keeps on improving his singing skills, most noticeable in the 2D music groups he’s a part of.
Although he may go unnoticed to many people, he has improved into a consistent singer, he knows his skillset and plays always to his strengths. And because of that, everyone could be graced with a set of exciting and groovy performances that had me jamming along.
#10 Arthur Lounsbery
Arthur Lounsbery has been growing on me a whole lot and in 2021, he left a big mark on me.
Not only he has been a reliable member of EROSION, with his technique, power, and emotion standing out, but he has also fully embraced his role as the frontman of the visual-kei rock band, Fantôme Iris. He was still active as a member of Swing Cats in the JAZZ-ON! franchise.
Additionally, Lounsbery joined the lineup of THE LAST METAL’s Venomous 8.
It seems that everywhere there is rock or jazz music, you will find Arthur Lounsbery and honestly, I do want to hear more of him.
He fits any music genre, visuals, aesthetics, and tones. And his singing skills are top tier. You can have him screaming and shouting in one second, being completely melodic with his smooth mid-tones in the other.
He will deliver emotional performances with ease, you can find him adding a dramatic vibrato or ethereal falsetto to his performances.
As it is, Arthur Lounsbery is one of the most exciting talents to take the spotlight in the last couple of years.
#9 Yoshiki Nakajima
This year, Yoshiki Nakajima, the talented singer-songwriter was active as part of UMake, pioniX, Fujin RIZING!, and Ryuseitai.
He was also active with Mosotei Ichimon, also within the JAZZ-ON! franchise and lead Sir Vanity in two exciting single releases.
His versatile skillset and music sense have always put him one step ahead of the wide majority of seiyuu cast in 2D music projects. As such, he saw the number of projects growing, with him joining the Paradox Live franchise as part of VISTY, α-TuNe in the Live us franchise, and Himmel in the FABULOUS NIGHT! Franchise.
Nakajima is on-demand and his versatility as a tenor that can pull off a robust faux baritone, he’s invaluable for 2D groups as he can dabble in multiple roles, always delivering performances that will impress you.
#8 Soma Saito
Last year’s number 1, Soma Saito drops to #8 after a no-show year as a solo artist.
Still, in his solo endeavor, he headlined his very first live tour and managed to pull it off when all other live shows in Japan were being canceled left and right.
Aside from that, he did not release any music in 2021, which came as a surprise to his fans.
When it came to 2D music projects, in 2021, Saito was active in the usual suspects: TRIGGER in the IDOLiSH7 franchise, SolidS in the TSUKIPRO franchise, 2wink in the Ensemble Stars!! franchise, Judah in the Dear Vocalist franchise, and Fling Posse in the Hypnosis Mic franchise.
As usual, he continues to be a go-to talent when it comes to 2D music projects, and thus, he joined Oath of the Peach Garden in the Dragon’s Bite franchise as well as the TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise as a member of the, now, winning team 2.
Fans got to hear different performances from him with TRIGGER’s jaw-dropping concept album “VARIANT” enabling him to not only play around with his singing skills but also with the image and energy he brings to his performances.
SolidS released a passionate single after a series of unpredictable singles, so he was back with an intense performance.
2wink is as bubbly as ever, his performances as Judah continue to impress and the tension and emotion cranked up for Fling Posse’s performances.
He continues to improve as a singer and performer, now being completely comfortable playing live – as seen during his live tour “We are in bloom” – and embracing the characters he’s cast as, delivering performances that always exceed my expectations.
Although 2021 was not his year, being less active than usual, he was still one of the big figures after pulling off an impressive 1st tour in the middle of a pandemic and delivering, day in and day out, stunning performances in all projects he’s cast in.
#7 Toshiki Masuda
Toshiki Masuda continues to be one of the busiest seiyuu when it comes to working on 2D music projects.
He was active as a member of Anthos* in the Hana-Doll franchise, UNDEAD in the Ensemble Stars!! franchise, Wonder Corona (not stylized as WC) in the Pythagoras Production franchise, ChronoStasis in the FABULOUS NIGHT! Franchise, ECLIPSE in the VISUAL PRISON franchise, MooNs in the B-PROJECT franchise and IDOLiSH7.
No matter where you looked, chances were that you’d come across Masuda.
The interesting thing, once again, is that Masuda delivers polarizing performances in some of these projects, some diving deep into his baritone range, or even going extremely dramatic into faux bass; and in others, he has a youthful, preppier tone relying a lot more on his higher range.
As a solo artist, Masuda impressed me a whole lot. He did a hard reset to his sound as a solo artist and brought forward the sounds and melodies he loves. As a result, the album feels much closer to him as a solo artist, exploring his guitar rock origins.
As part of 2D music groups, you basically had him tackling all kinds of music genres and doing so while delivering consistent performances filled with emotion.
He continues to improve as a performer, something noticeable, particularly, with projects he has been a part of for a long time. And as a solo artist he seems to have found his identity and sound, whether that sticks around for the upcoming CD releases is a mystery but he seems to be going in the right direction.
#6 Mamoru Miyano
2021 was a big year for Mamoru Miyano. Not only did he release 2 singles “Toumei” and “Dream on”, but he also held MAMORU MIYANO COMEBACK LIVE 2021 ~ RELIVING! ~ back to back live shows that were simultaneously on location and being livestreamed worldwide.
Miyano was, once again, at the forefront among male seiyuu, holding a worldwide livestream that ended up being extremely successful.
His music made its big return to the glory times. “Toumei” was emotional and, at the same time, eclectic, showcasing Miyano’s singing skills and versatility.
“Dream on” was a simple single that brought a loungy R&B tune and a happy-go-lucky track meant to put a smile on his fans’ faces.
As far as 2D music projects go, Miyano is only active in the Utapri franchise, and while STARISH released a new CD, the focus is barely on Miyano’s vocals, so I can’t say it was that impressive.
When 2021 wraps up, the name Mamoru Miyano has to be mentioned, especially given how he is taking bold steps towards making all his fans able to attend his live shows. Hopefully, he starts yet another trend among male seiyuu.
#5 Shugo Nakamura
Shugo Nakamura was pretty busy in 2021. He held his first live tour in the last half of the year.
Additionally, he released in July and shared the same release date, the new single “Kowareta sekai no Byoshin wa” and 1st full-length album “NATURAL”.
Both were interesting entries however, “NATURAL” was easily his best CD release.
“Kowareta sekai no Byoshin wa” had a bit of experimentalism going on, and it lacked a bit of emotion aside from the title track. You can tell it was a completely different thing from the full-length album “NATURAL” as its sound didn’t really go in line with what you get there.
The album “NATURAL” stood out for its quality, the good vibes, and positive messages in the lyrics by Shugo Nakamura. Consistency was key to impress but its cinematic feel was what completely sold me to this album.
As far as 2D music projects go, Nakamura was active as part of QUELL in the TSUKIPRO franchise, DRAMATIC STARS in the IDOLM@STER SideM franchise, and Ro$$o Cor$a in the Dragon’s Bite franchise.
He also joined the Live us franchise as the frontman of the rock band “unknown order”.
All in all, when 2021 wraps it was good knowing that the talented singer-songwriter was busy spreading his charms and mesmerizing everyone with his singing skills and natural good vibes.
#4 Toshiyuki Toyonaga
When it comes to busy seiyuu in 2021, Toshiyuki Toyonaga is yet another name that you can’t avoid talking about.
The talented singer-songwriter released a new full-length album “.Link”.
He enlisted the help of friends in the seiyuu industry – Subaru Kimura and Kana Hanazawa – and gave them the freedom to write lyrics for him. The result was extremely interesting and Toyonaga made sure to impress even in songs that only required simplicity.
As far as 2D music projects go, Toshiyuki Toyonaga won the Stage Battle series in the Paradox Live franchise as a member of the duo cozmez.
He was also active as a member of EROSION in the CARNELIAN BLOOD franchise, Lagrange Point in the Pythagoras Production franchise, Loulou*di in the Hana-Doll franchise, SOARA in the TSUKIPRO franchise, and THRIVE in the B-PROJECT franchise.
All this to say, Toshiyuki Toyonaga not only was busy working on his album but was also everywhere when it came to 2D music projects.
Well, that comes as no surprise as Toyonaga is a vocal chameleon, with a wide vocal range, a lot of technique, and consistency and control that are otherworldly.
You can expect quality from him day in, day out. And that is what makes him still one of the most sought-after seiyuu for 2D music projects. As a solo artist, Toyonaga keeps on reinventing himself and impressing everyone along the way.
#3 Yuma Uchida
He held another live show and was active as a member of Eve and Eden in the Ensemble Stars!! franchise, DRAMATIC STARS in the IDOLMASTER SideM franchise, HEAVENS in the Utapri franchise, and Impish Crow in the DIG-ROCK franchise.
He got to showcase his versatility as a performer tackling rock, jazz, hip-hop, ballads, and R&B and perfectly suit each music genre, adjusting his performances to fit them even better.
Uchida continues to be the technical singer overflowing with energy and with a lot of charisma and infectious good vibes.
If you’ve followed him in 2021, you may have also noticed that he matured as a solo artist, delivering a set of performances that will render you speechless in one second and make you go wild on the dancefloor in the other.
“Equal” has set a really high bar for him for future releases. However, in a way, I feel like he’ll easily overcome it. He’s at such a high level as a singer that no matter how high he sets the bar, he always overcomes it.
I’m pretty excited to see and hear what he can do in 2022 both as a solo artist and voice actor active in 2D music projects.
#2 Makoto Furukawa
With a flawless first mini-album under his belt, an impressive first live show, and a set of outstanding performances for 2D music projects, Makoto Furukawa retains his seat from last year’s edition of this feature.
The talented seiyuu and singer-songwriter was active as a solo artist, holding his first online live show in April as well as releasing his first mini-album “ROOM Of No Name”.
The mini-album is easily among my favorites in 2021, going outside of the box for a set of surprising performances that showcase an unshackled Makoto Furukawa, now free to experiment creating different music beyond his trademark jazz sound. And what listeners get is an impressive showcase of skill, versatility, and charisma from Makoto Furukawa.
He’s matured as a solo artist, now daring to leave his comfort zone or even the image he set for him and show more of him.
And then, as a voice actor active in 2D music projects, he showed his singing skills with SOARA in the TSUKIPRO franchise, RUBIA Leopard in the DIG-ROCK franchise, Hoshikuzu Ryodan in the JAZZ-ON! fanchise, O★Z in the VISUAL PRISON franchise, and Café Parade in the IDOLM@STER SideM franchise.
He performed a wide variety of music genres, using completely different singing tones and skillsets. And he nailed all of those.
When it comes to a seiyuu that impressed in 2021, Makoto Furukawa has to be in the conversation.
#1 Shoya Chiba
The unmistaken rising star among male seiyuu. Shoya Chiba was everywhere in 2021.
He’s come a long way since his shaky performances early on with KiLLER KiNG in the B-Project franchise and now is one of the most exciting talents in the seiyuu industry.
And you could tell that it wasn’t only his fans that felt that, 2D music projects started to cast Chiba like crazy, with him being the poster boy for plenty of high-profile 2D music projects from VISUAL PRISON, TOKYO COLOR SONIC!!, PERFECTION NOISE, and CARNELIAN BLOOD.
He’s a talented tenor with quite a lot of low range to himself. And while you don’t usually find him belting high notes, when he shows his range – for example in the solo song “Criminal” in SparQlew’s “Daybreak” mini-album – he impresses.
Additionally, he always provides a lot of depth to group performances, making full use of his emotional range and technique.
He can perform clean singing, screamo, and even rap. He’s the glue that groups need, he’s the power and grit that rock bands thrive from, he’s the type of singer that can always deliver charismatic performances full of charm.
He does have the makings of a vocal chameleon so you can pretty much tell that, if everything works well, we will be seeing and hearing more of Shoya Chiba in years to come.
Last year, I ranked him at #5. Yet since then, so much has changed. He went from being called a promising talent to being a rising star.
He went from being cast in 4 2D music projects to being in 8. He joined the Paradox Live franchise as a member of 1Nm8 and the GAMDOL franchise as a member of Gambét. He was active with Kashicomi and High x Joker.
He has been everywhere, everyone wants him in their projects, his singing tone and technique have been polished to a whole new level, his performances have a unique charisma and he continues to push himself towards improving even more with each role, each song, and each project he undertakes.
He was the male seiyuu that has impressed me the most in 2021 and I sure hope he gets to rise even more in 2022.
So much talent and yet, I didn’t even cover all the seiyuu that managed to impress me. All these seiyuu are extremely talented and proved their quality as singers with outstanding or exciting performances as part of the 2D music projects they are cast in.
At the same time, almost all the seiyuu that I mentioned in this feature that have solo careers have managed to release awesome albums, regardless of it being singles, mini-albums, or full-length albums. Those who don’t have solo careers, surely have started to make a case for themselves with their performances.
Thing is, there was no shortage of quality from them in 2021.
Which male seiyuu impressed you in 2021? Share those in the comments!
You can find all the content in this feature on episode 76 of SEIYUU LOUNGE, The Hand That Feeds HQ’s official weekly podcast in video format.
If you prefer content on the go, you can also find the content in this feature in the sound-only version of SEIYUU LOUNGE.
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