2021 in Review: Big Solo Artist and 2D Group Debuts

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A year of unexpected solo debuts, of refreshing new 2D groups and seiyuu units. As 2021 comes to a close, it’s time to revisit the big solo, seiyuu unit and 2D group debuts.

Estimated reading time: 18 minutes

This article only covers the big and unexpected solo debuts + the new 2D groups and seiyuu units that joined in this year and are already impressing everyone.

Time to look back at 2021 and go over in a bit more detail the big solo artist debuts, whether those were successful or not, as well as new groups joining some of the highest-profile 2D music projects.

A note that new groups from new projects are not mentioned in this feature as everything in those is new instead of just a new addition to an already active project.

There will be a special feature including all the new 2D projects of the year for you to check.

Let’s first check the:

Solo debuts

2021 wasn’t necessarily a prolific year for solo debuts and many ended up coming out of nowhere, catching many fans by surprise.

2021 was completely atypical when it came to the seiyuu that announced the start of their solo careers.

Takuya Eguchi

The biggest solo debut of the year was undoubtedly, Takuya Eguchi.

When you think about him, you’ll remember he is a variety show personality, hosts multiple radio shows, has his own clothing brand, designs jewelry, is a part-time games YouTuber with Natsuki Hanae, and does plenty of anime dubbing work, not to mention he is a frequent feature in 2D music projects.

All this alone would make you say “He doesn’t have time in the middle of all this to make a solo debut”.

Yet, Eguchi found that time.

I find that impressive. Seriously, with all that he does, joining the music industry would have been the last of his worries.

The member of the popular seiyuu unit Trignal decided to venture solo in 2021, kicking off his solo activities under Kiramune.

Takuya Eguchi EGUISM
“EGUISM” (2021)

He released the mini-album “EGUISM” and absolutely caught me off guard with the sound that he chose for that release.

Pop-rock was a big part of the body of sound in the mini-album, with plenty of electrifying songs to choose from as well as a couple of bubbly, upbeat tunes made to put a smile on the faces of his fans.

He did play safe when it came to his singing in this mini-album. He’s well-known for being a chameleon in whichever 2D music project he is cast in but, in this album, you barely listen to him exploring his range or insane versatility.

All seiyuu artists, especially in their debut and sophomore CDs, tend to play extremely safe to attract more people to their music while they are trying to find a music genre, approach, or singing style that suits them best.

That’s natural, however, for a singer like Takuya Eguchi – incredibly reliable, with a solid vocal baritone range that can go as high as a tenor or as low as a bass and loads of experience under his belt – I was expecting something a bit “flashier”, that would better represent his skills.

However, as far as solo debuts went in 2021, Takuya Eguchi’s was the best solo debut of the year. Completely unexpected and with a mini-album “EGUISM” that is nearly flawless.

Daiki Yamashita

Another big solo debut of the year is Daiki Yamashita. A couple of years ago, I was hoping he’d join the music industry and have a shot at showcasing his insane technique and skills as a singer with professional classical training.

It seems that, with each year that passed, that Yamashita’s focus wasn’t going to pass through music however, after many years of waiting, Yamashita announced his solo debut with A-Sketch, a music label best known for housing rock bands.

In a way, this solo debut was surprising, and in the other, it sounded like a natural progression, something expected of him however we were all waiting to know when it would happen.

For those that may not know, Yamashita is a classically trained singer. Becoming a voice actor was just a result of his curiosity while he was attending Muse Academy of Music in Japan.

So, it’s no surprise that whichever music project he joins, you’ll be in for a treat because he is a terrific singer. Insanely consistent, with a good technique and skillset, versatile within his natural tenor range but with a good chunk of baritone available to him as well.

He’s been dazzling everyone as part of the lyrical pop group Growth in the Tsukipro franchise since 2015. He’s a big reason why Knights – in the Ensemble Stars!! franchise – sound that well as a group. He absolutely dominates Loulou*di’s performances.

No matter how tricky a song is, you know that Yamashita will pull it off with ridiculous ease. He’s that good of a singer.

Daiki Yamashita "hear me"
“hear me?”

His solo debut was with the mini-album “hear me?” and fans were pretty impressed with what they heard. It was a solid mini-album that welcomes everyone to who Yamashita is as a solo artist. Still, I feel like he played it “too safe” and refrained from showcasing why he’s considered a vocal powerhouse.

Daiki Yamashita’s solo debut may have not gotten the fanfare that Takuya Eguchi’s got, but he’s for sure one of the most exciting seiyuu joining the music industry in recent years.

Jin Ogasawara

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I absolutely love how much Jin Ogasawara has been growing as a singer, especially his work with GYROAXIA in the FROM ARGONAVIS franchise.

He’s grown a lot as a singer, now having more control and a bigger emotional range in his performances. You can tell he’s been honing his skills, making sure he’s the most effective – without straining his voice – but also that he can consistently deliver performances that will surprise fans of GYROAXIA.

Well, as much as I love his singing voice and his energy and charisma singing for GYROAXIA or even for the Wave!! franchise, I believe his solo debut was incredibly rushed.

It is known that seiyuu now, more than ever, are trying to branch out to the music industry in hopes of having another steady revenue stream. Most of the seiyuu making solo debuts are either incredibly popular or have long careers behind them. At the time Ogasawa made his solo debut, he didn’t fit any of the 2 descriptions.

Still, he has been putting in the effort to show that his solo debut wasn’t handed to him, that he actually has the talent to be a solo artist. A quality solo artist. And I see – and hear – this in his work so far.

“Only one thing” (2021)

Ogasawara made his solo debut with “Only one thing” in 2021, digital single that brought to the spotlight 00s pop-punk with a bit of electro-rock in the mix. It was a single with a twinge of nostalgia and, in equal measures, a youthful vibe.

Jin Ogasawara "Guns&Loudness"
“Guns&Loudness” (2021)

His 2nd digital single “Guns&Loudness“ was slightly different, embracing a fast-paced, aggressive rock sound and, despite not improving upon his debut digital single, it showed a different side to Ogasawara the solo artist.

“TURBO” (2021)

In December 2021 he releases his first mini-album “TURBO”. I am curious to check it as well as know how it is received by his fans.

Jin Ogasawara showed he has the talent that earned him a solo debut and his brand of pop-rock is as interesting as nostalgic.

Takuma Nagatsuka

If there is a solo debut that caught many people by surprise was Takuma Nagatsuka‘s solo debut.

It seriously came out of nowhere. And I believe part of the indifference his solo debut had from the Japanese public – with low sales numbers (under 1800 copies sold) – illustrates how “random” the announcement was.

Although Nagatsuka has been part of some 2D music groups – HighxJoker (SideM), Getsumeiseiki (Dragon’s Bite) – and seiyuu units – M4!!!! and Guitar Seiyuu -, at the time he made his solo debut he had little high-profile music-related work that would justify a solo debut.

In a way, I believe his solo debut would have been better received if he had waited just a couple of months for the premiere of VISUAL PRISON‘s anime and release of LOS†EDEN‘s “BLOODY KISS“.

The hype from the franchise would, even if slightly, carry over to his solo debut, and, perhaps, things would have gone a bit differently.

Takuma Nagatsuka dance with me
“dance with me”

As it was, his solo debut with “dance with me” was met with indifference by international fans and was extremely lukewarm in Japan – his primary market.

As far as his music goes, Takuma Nagatsuka is all about dance-pop.

For those that love that music genre, it’ll sure be a treat to check out. At the same time, Nagatsuka focused a lot on covering songs on his artist’s YouTube channel to showcase his singing skills and released a full dance video version of his debut single “dance with me”.

He lacks a bit of consistency as a singer – something especially noticeable when he tries to belt – but other than that, he’s got a passion for music and singing and there’s potential left to untap.

Seiyuu unit and 2D group debuts

TRD

“Seiyuu units” is a trend that has been fading away in the last couple of years.

Seiyuu nowadays focus on solo activities as a secondary source of revenue instead of teaming up with other seiyuu under different pretenses – ranging from being paired up due to radio or variety shows, etc. -, and as such, the tendency has been for these types of formations to announce their disbandment or reduce their activities to the bare minimum.

That’s what happened to D.A.T, seiyuu unit signed to Marine Entertainment and consisting of Daisuke Ono and Takayuki Kondo. The unit reach a point in which the radio was wrapping up and thus, D.A.T that was closely tied to that radio show had to stop activities.

This arrived as a shock for fans of the electrifying duo however, OnoD and Kondo had something special waiting for their fans.

After a couple of months since their disbandment, the duo reunited under a different name – TRD – and signed to a music label – PONY CANYON – that actually focuses on promoting them like the professional duo they are.

TRD "TRAD" regular edition
“TRAD” (2021)

The change of name also marked a change of sound for the duo. Their debut mini-album “TRAD” was all about K-pop-inspired pop music. Intense, fast-paced, trendy, made to attract new generations of fans as well as cater ever so slightly to international fans.

“Strangers” (2021)

That mini-album was followed by the single “Strangers” that continued to capitalize on that sound but also brought back some of the elements that were part of their sound as D.A.T.

The duo was well received – despite the relatively lukewarm sales numbers – and sparked a wave of nostalgia to everyone that followed D.A.T. until their disbandment only to have the awesome surprise that was them making a comeback with a brand-new image and sound.

Buraikan

As far as new groups in 2D music projects go, Buraikan is one of the biggest debuts of the year.

Buraikan is a rap duo consisting of Kensho Ono and Junichi Suwabe and you can find this duo in the Paradox Live franchise.

Their debut arrived with Paradox Live’s album “LIVE” and it easily turned into its highlight.

Buraikan is not on your face being aggressive just for the sake of it. Their sound and words showcase their intensity with a unique, laidback flair while still making sure you know where you stand. That “untouchable” aura is really something.

Their debut song “BURAIKAN is Back” has little nods to the 90s and early 00s, with that grit and gangster vibe being well present throughout.

This was a massive addition to Paradox Live.

Usually, 2D music projects add new groups into the mix when projects are getting stale or, on the opposite end, just because the project is getting popular and they’ve figured a new group will bring in more sales.

And usually, those new groups don’t add anything new to the project. 

Well, Buraikan does bring a lot to the project with a unique sound, completely refreshing vibe even outside of the Paradox Live franchise, not to mention with an unexpected duo that works incredibly well.

I’m really impressed with the quick impact Buraikan had within the Paradox Live franchise. After a long Stage Battle series, they arrived at just the right time, giving a breath of fresh air to it.

ALBA & Shura Jodo

The HANDEAD ANTHEM franchise is big on its exciting and intense EDM sound for all groups however, to spice things up a little bit, the project added 2 new groups sharing the same cast between them.

ALBA and Shura Jodo arrived to shake things up with their unique brands of EDM and with a powerful lineup that includes Yuki Sakakihara, Wataru Urata, and Kentaro Kumagai.

The lineup brings 2 skilled tenors and one baritone to the stage, leading to unique performances with a delicate and melodic twist.

  • HANDEAD ANTHEM ALBA Go up
  • Shuro Jodo SCREAM

Fans of the franchise have been all over both groups after the release of their singles “Go up” and “SCREAM”.

HOUND ROAR

The DIG-ROCK franchise surprised everyone this year with the announcement of a new band joining RUBIA Leopard and Impish Crow.

HOUND ROAR is a rock band fronted by HIBIKI (CV: Toshiyuki Toyonaga), with guitarist SHOMA (CV: Ryohei Kimura), bassist TOYA (CV: Hikaru Midorikawa), keyboardist SHION (CV: Yuichiro Umehara) and drummer SOGO (CV: Takashi Kondo).

HOUND ROAR’s acid-jazz rock sound arrived at such a great time, with the band’s first song “ROAR” easily showcasing just how unique this band is.

Their sound embraces rock, soul, and funk. Basslines are massive and Toshiyuki Toyonaga’s vocals are the perfect addition to them.

  • HOUND ROAR "DIG-ROCK ―dice― Type:HR"
  • HOUND ROAR syndrome
  • HOUND ROAR Hound Roar Vol.1

The following songs “syndrome” and “Reincarnation” arrived in quick succession during the summer, with their funk sound being the perfect complement to the season in question. And recently, the band released their first CD including the new song “Eyes“.

I believe that now, with RUBIA Leopard, Impish Crow, and HOUND ROAR, that the DIG-ROCK franchise is fully optimized and complete. HOUND ROAR was the missing piece balancing this project.

C.FIRST

C.FIRST (read “Class FIRST”) is a new unit in the IDOLM@STER SideM franchise.

This was an unexpected addition, however, one that the fans easily welcomed after checking their debut digital single “We’re the one”.

The group dons an electro-pop sound that will easily stand out as trendy and features the vocals Takeo Otsuka, Yuri Ise and Masaya Miyazaki.

“THE IDOLM@STER SideM GROWING SIGN@L 02 C.FIRST”

This mix of new and up-and-coming talents is showing a lot of promise, with their first proper CD “THE IDOLM@STER SideM GROWING SIGN@L 02 C.FIRST” being highly anticipated by fans of the franchise.

Golden Record

Lastly, we have a group that wasn’t as well-received as all others in this section. Earlier in 2021, Rejet announced that a new group would be joining Marginal #4, Lagrange Point, and Unicorn Jr. in the Pythagoras Production franchise.

Fan reactions were pretty negative upon that announcement, with many fans thinking that what the franchise needed right now was new music or for each group to refresh their sound, not for a new group to join the Pythagoras Production franchise that has been losing popularity in the past couple of years.

Golden Record was announced as the new group joining what is one of the longest-running 2D music projects.

The group has a lineup comprised of rising stars in the seiyuu industry, signaling that Rejet is not kidding about the quality of this group.

“Love Holic” (2021)

Golden Record features Gakuto Kajiwara (as the center), Yuya Hirose (as the leader) and Shougo Yano. They are a dance, vocal, and rap group, with their debut single “Love Holic” highlighting their skills and technique, in what is the most complete group to actually join the Pythagoras Production franchise.

Love them or hate them, Golden Record is a pretty exciting group. And yes, the Pythagoras Production franchise still needs a good refreshing of its composers and producers team to give a breath of fresh air to all units.


These were the buzzworthy solo debuts, new 2D groups, and seiyuu units joining the music industry in 2021. What were your favorites? Share those in the comments!

You can find all the content in this feature and more on episode 70 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.

You can find the podcast on the following platforms

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Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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