2022 in Review: Best Albums by Male Seiyuu Artists and 2D Groups

Fancy tunes, intricate stories and concepts and plenty of outstanding performances marked this year’s album releases.

Time to wrap up the year with a feature about the best albums released in 2022 by male seiyuu artists and 2D groups.

Some of these are fairly recent, others were released really early in the year. And some of these albums explore so many music genres yet they remained surprisingly consistent throughout, something that impressed me a whole lot.

There were performances that put a smile on my face and others that almost made me cry given how emotional they were. 

Truth is, in case you’re wondering, the albums released in 2022 were pure quality, the best seiyuu fans got since 2020 (which was a bloody amazing year music-wise).

Let’s celebrate the top 10 best albums of 2022 by male seiyuu artists and 2D groups. And yes, every entry in this episode is ranked so prepare for tough choices from me.

As you can tell, this is a highly subjective feature and it may happen that my choices of the best albums by Seiyuu Artists and 2D groups in 2022 won’t coincide with your choices.

All entries in this feature are ranked from #10 to #1.

At the core of this ranking is:

  • Rating given to the album review,
  • Quality of the vocal performances,
  • Production (mixing, mastering) quality,
  • Overall enjoyment, and
  • Replay value.

Now, without further ado, let’s start this feature.

#10 IDOLiSH7 “Opus”

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2022 kicked off in the best way possible. IDOLiSH7, now with a mature pop sound, arrived with its 2nd full-length album “Opus” and immediately stole the show in what ended up being a ridiculously awesome year for both the septet and the franchise itself.

IDOLiSH7 pushed the envelope with “Opus”, a close to a perfect sophomore album that highlights the growth and struggles the group has gone through and their passions and determination for the future.

Going through this album, especially as a fan of the project, you’ll have a lot of nostalgia going on as songs like “Sakura Message” and “Party Time Together” start playing, and feel incredibly proud of their growth in songs like “NAGISA Night Temperature” and “Boys & Girls”. 

There are emotional moments in “Hatsukoi Rhythm” and the new minimalistic acoustic R&B tune “Everything is up to us”. These and the other songs – most fan-favorites – make this album shine in IDOLiSH7’s repertoire and show everyone just how much the group has grown while hinting at even more growth and a mature vibe for their music in future releases.

This is a perfect example of how a 2D group should mature while retaining its essence, and its trademark vibe and it was pulled off nearly flawlessly.

#9 Mamoru Miyano “THE ENTERTAINMENT”

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I’ve said countless times that “THE ENTERTAINMENT” isn’t – at its core – a new album. Yes, it is a new entry in Miyano’s repertoire but the brunt of the CD is composed of previously released songs which makes it a… sort of best of album with bonus new tracks.

But I’ve also said I love Miyano’s singing a whole lot. I’ve got a fondness for him as he was the seiyuu artist that drove me into now creating content about male seiyuu music so there was no way I wouldn’t check out this album. And deep down I was expecting to be impressed by the new songs, and it was something that happened.

Mamoru Miyano’s “THE ENTERTAINMENT” is a stylish entry that perfectly encompasses who he is as an artist: a true entertainer that loves what he does but also an entertainer that sings insanely well. 

Throughout its 12 songs, Miyano revisits old hit songs such as “ZERO to INFINITY”, “Dream on”, “Hikari Sasu Hou e”, “Toumei”, “LAST DANCE”, “Encore”, and new tunes such as “THE ENTERTAINMENT”, “Butterfly” and “TEAM”, showing his growth as an artist in the past couple of years. When “THE ENTERTAINMENT” wraps up, you’re left with a big dorky smile on your face and feel the love and care that is in all those performances. 

While far from being his best album, this is a perfect showcase of where Miyano is now in his career, encompassing a unique period in a set of near-perfect songs.

Had this album been more than half of new songs, it would instantly rise to my top 3 best albums of 2022. As it is, it sits at #9, a fantastic spot for an album that left me wanting more and more from Mamoru Miyano’s music.

#8 Daisuke Ono “Sounds of Love”

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Daisuke Ono has been on a good spell as of late. The talented seiyuu and solo artist tried something completely different in 2022 by bringing alongside him, the legendary acapella group, The Gospellers.

With that being said, Ono’s sound shifted just slightly to accommodate a more melodic and sweeter sound instead of the still electronica and disco-heavy music in his repertoire.

Sounds of Love” is a beautiful concept mini-album from Daisuke Ono. Love is at center stage, with every song in this album giving off sweet, passionate vibes, taking you by the hand to beautiful and gentle soundscapes. In the composition team, Ono counted on the help of the legendary The Gospellers and, at the same time, the best singer among male seiyuu, Toshiyuki Toyonaga

When it came to the guests, Ono brought in Reina Ueda and Wataru Hatano for two unique performances overflowing with emotion. To tie all songs together, this time around Daisuke Ono mixed drama tracks – that serve as an introduction to the stories that will unfold in the following songs.

This created a unique dynamic when listening to this album. It feels almost like you’re being told a story and the songs are just the intermission between chapters of said story. Although this is a sleeper for many people, Daisuke Ono managed to impress with this unique concept mini-album, for me being up there with the best albums released in 2022.

#7 Tasuku Hatanaka “Real”

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Another sleeper among the CDs that were released in 2022 yet one that entertained me a whole lot to the point that I want to listen to it again as I write about it.

After almost a year of radio silence, Tasuku Hatanaka finally released new music and no less with a full-length album.

Real” encompasses and closes another phase in Tasuku Hatanaka’s solo career, one marked by experimentation and growth both as a performer and singer. 

The intro and outro tracks are stunners. They create hype for the CD and leave the listener with a nostalgic note, making you unconsciously hit that replay button just so that you can experience it all again. 

Out of the new songs, “Feel the Real”, “Solid” and “UnReal” are the most impressive. “Feel the Real” is a good introduction to this album, summing up the energy that is going on in it. “Solid” is insanely groovy, and has a stylish retro sound that lends some elements from citypop and synthwave, creating a dreamy tune that stands out as the best song in this CD. “UnReal” brought a bit of surrealism to this release, something that I wasn’t expecting.

Out of the old tunes, “TWISTED HEARTS” continues to be THE highlight in this phase in Hatanaka’s solo career. It is regal, it is dark, and elegant. It is synthwave at its best with some of the biggest vocals on top. 

This is a song that will go down as his best, at least I believe so. A solid entry in his repertoire and an album well worth checking out if you enjoy energetic pop with a dash of darkness and emotional edge on top.

#6 EROSION “Dancing on the Edge”

EROSION has been consistently releasing awesome rock album after awesome rock album. This sort of consistency is quite impressive however, at the same it isn’t. 

Even if badly managed, 2D music projects housed by Rejet are known for being consistent in their sound and quality and then you look and listen to EROSION’s lineup and… just admire it.

5 vocals, all with unique tonalities and strengths, all in perfect harmony and creating some of the most powerful performances in the last couple of years.

Dancing on the edge” arrives as the last entry in the EROSION with YOU from CARNELIAN BLOOD CD series, with TOXIN (CV: Shoya Chiba) front and center for the band song and then leading the way with “Hakusha” in the solo track.

Hakusha” (the solo track) is single-handedly one of the most impressive things in terms of composition and performance together. Love metal took centerstage and Shoya Chiba got up there, grabbed the microphone, and delivered a mesmerizing performance completely in faux baritone style with clear influences of visual-kei and musical style. As you go through the story in “Hakusha”, you’re left empty and emotionally drained. The song is a goodbye. 

 And EROSION’s new band song “Dancing on the edge” balances things up by bringing in a groovy rock sound with a playful tone. While not the band’s best song to date, this is a rock-solid entry in its repertoire. 

All in all, “Dancing on the Edge” is a perfect closer to what is one of the most impressive CD collections by a 2D music project/group released in 2022. And it is definitely one of the best entries in EROSION’s repertoire.

#5 SparQlew “neon”

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2022 was a golden year of transformation and further growth for the, now, talented quartet. SparQlew released the groovy and retro-sounding album “neon” and I can only say that the album not only matched but also exceeded my expectations.

Shun Horie had hinted early in the year that this was going to be the most eclectic album the group had ever released and, it is exactly what fans were presented with.

“neon” will please both fans of bubbly pop and fast rock. It has both sides of the spectrum and for each of the songs in this album, all members rose to the occasion showcasing their improved teamwork as well as every little bit they grew individually as singers. 

Whether it was rock, pop, jazz, ballads, dance, or hip-hop, SparQlew shows that the change that happened in tone and concept in “Daybreak” only brought good things to them.  

Matured, and improved, showing their skills without the restrictions of bubbly pop, the group shows that it is ready to take that crown of best seiyuu unit to itself. 

As it is, “neon” is a fancy album showing a further matured sound, improved vocals, and overall versatility by SparQlew. It is a confident display of their personality as a group and the talents they have. It is a diamond among all albums released this year by seiyuu artists and groups.

It is one of my albums of the year.

#4 GYROAXIA “Freestyle”

GYROAXIA has been turning into one of the best rock bands fronted by seiyuu, slowly distancing itself from its 2D roots now that it made its major debut under UNIVERSAL MUSIC JAPAN.

And while “Freestyle” initially divided the fanbase due to its alternative rock sound versus its original punk-rock/hardcore sound, I feel it is one of the most amazing albums released to date by a 2D rock or even rock band fronted by seiyuu. 

It is growth. Maturity as a band in full display. It is a statement of intent in album format. And it is bloody awesome.

“Freestyle” has a muscular, intense rock sound in which all members shine at all times. From the intricate drum parts to the shredding guitar riffs, the groovy, dirty basslines, and those powerful and raw vocals.

As you go through the songs in “Freestyle”, you’ll encounter banger after banger, plenty of songs made for the moshpit with an infectious energy that suits the band like a glove. Hard to pick a favorite track in this mini-album still, I’m quite partial to “NEW ERA” as I love shock rock and the band absolutely nailed that attempt at the rock subgenre.

Really, if you’re a rock fan – especially aggressive, fast-paced rock -, “Freestyle” is a treat. Jin Ogasawara’s vocals have improved a whole lot. You can tell that in the little details in his performances such as breathing, legato, crescendos, and even the way he switches around screamo, clean singing and rapping.

His control and consistency across all songs show that GYROAXIA will only continue to dazzle on the vocal end. And let’s not even dive into the instrumentals. The drums continue to be my absolute favorite part of GYROAXIA’s music and in “Freestyle”, they are bonkers.

“Freestyle” is incisive, aggressive when it needs to be, emotional – sometimes incredibly raw in its display of emotions – and it experiments with various rock subgenres, showcasing just how versatile this band truly is. This is no longer a band creating aggressive music just because, this is a band on a mission and with a good, focused rock sound that appeals to many yet retains its essence.

As a massive fan of rock music, GYROAXIA’s “Freestyle” impressed me a whole lot and honestly, got me begging for more.

#3 Shunichi Toki “Good for”

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This was an instant favorite of mine. Shunichi Toki’s “Good for” is so unbelievably good that I don’t even know where to start talking about it. 

Shunichi Toki went for a perfect homage to the sounds of the 70s, 80s, and 90s in the groovy 1st album “Good For”.  As someone that was born in the early 90s and grew up listening to music from the 70s and 80s, this album feels like a return to those simpler, cozier times. It felt – and in a way still feels – nostalgic to me.

But don’t expect this album to be a one-trick pony. There is a lot of depth, and various music genres explored from Funk to Jazz, Ballad, Ska, and Citypop.

Expect a really consistent album with plenty of Jazz and funk leading the way – or used as undertones – for all songs. 

From the majestic, classy sound in “Nonfictional” to the throwback 90s hip-hop sound in “Original Scenery” – easily my favorite song on this CD – or the neon-lit soundscape in “Home”, Toki impresses with laidback, warm, and punchy soundscapes. 

And when it comes to his singing… Shunichi Toki continues to impress with how smooth he always is. His control is ridiculous, his technique is second to none and, of course, his musical sensibility shows in the way he tackles any music genre he performs. 

Shunichi Toki shows a lot of growth and maturity as a solo artist delivering a consistent album with “Good for”. 

He paid the perfect – and respectful – homage to 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s music, taking the listener through a memorable sonic experience. If it wasn’t for the usual suspect, you know who I’m talking about, Shunichi Toki’s “Good for” would have been my album of the year. 

Absolutely masterful from start to finish.

#2 Soma Saito “Yin/Yang”

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This one was hard. As you may have noticed, I just listed Soma Saito’s brilliant “Yin/Yang” as #2 in this top “best albums of the year”.

Crazy, right? This IS such a great EP, genius even. But not on the level of the #1 pick for me.

So, let’s talk a bit about “Yin/Yang”, shall we?

The human condition.

That is the big, underlying theme of this EP. This is, right off the bat, an insanely difficult and complex concept in sociology and psychology much less trying to make it bloom in music format.

On a first listen, “Yin/Yang” seems like a collection of disjointed songs that only represent the “light” and “dark” sides of the main concept however, the depth that this EP has is something that took me a full week of listening to it to no end, reading about the concept and then returning to it, every time with a different theory in my mind.

It was like that until everything clicked with me and the concept went full circle, finally making sense as a story.

I don’t kid around when I say that this is the most niche and complex that Saito has – so far – gone with his music. And I love it a whole lot. But it was also the first time I took a week to review a CD so… “Yin/Yang” is insanely complex despite not looking nor sounding like it.

In “Yin/Yang” you go from the creation of paradise to it turning into pure hell to its destruction by its creator. Saint Obsession, the story’s narrator (Saito’s persona in this EP).

This EP is a rollercoaster ride of pure madness. glee and power, showing that instead of “light” and “dark” sides, people inherently have both light and darkness intertwined. Everything you do, you will have parts of both that will influence those around you in different ways.

In a way, this makes the stakes in “Yin/Yang” much higher than expected story-wise for you, the story’s protagonist.

This duality shows, through Soma Saito’s lens, that humans are both good and evil, and while you see in songs such as “Hae no ou” that good intentions may quickly turn into pure anarchy and death. Then in “Kazahana” and “mirrors” you have humans realizing how broken they are because of others but mostly, firstly, because of themselves. 

This despair that comes with that while you, the protagonist, lie to yourself that everything is okay and you love everything – even the pain – while harboring deep hatred for yourself or others is visceral.

And then, Soma Saito, as Saint Obsession, the creator of that paradise that ended up corrupted and broken, arrives to set fire to everything you destroyed, including yourself. 

And it is time to start again. The cycle continues but the gasoline is nowhere to be found should history repeat itself in the next cycle.

I think this is a genius EP. The storytelling had me glued to my seat, trying to unveil more of what was happening until I understood what Saito wanted listeners to feel when listening to “Yin/Yang”. 

This is up there with “in bloom” and “my beautiful valentine” when it comes to the sheer quality of the storytelling. And songwriting-wise, he absolutely continues to sweep me off my feet with visceral performances and emo-rock tunes that pull my heartstrings while overflowing with nostalgia.

“Yin/Yang” is brilliant and I believe that had it been released a couple of months ago and had I spent as much time with it as the #1 entry in this feature, this would be my album of the year but as it is…

#1 Soma Saito “my beautiful valentine”

Soma Saito "my beautiful valentine"
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My album of the year is the mind-breaking surrealistic EP, “my beautiful valentine”.

Just what an EP this one is. While the concept was insanely easy to grasp in comparison to “Yin/Yang”, this story is not as straightforward and goes really dark, really quickly. 

This is, up until now, Soma Saito’s darkest entry in his repertoire, one that is hauntingly beautiful in its compositions, has a unique soundscape at all times ready for you to immerse yourself, and has lyrics that will reach the depths of your heart with minimal effort.

“my beautiful valentine”  is a descent into madness, pleasure, desire, and darkness, all carefully crafted by the genius storyteller that is Soma Saito. 

Each song is a chapter in that alternative reality, in that fever dream.

Pain and pleasure go hand in hand as you go through the songs in this EP, letting darkness seep through, embrace you, and lead the way to your demise. 

And if that wasn’t enough to pique your interest, Saito was addressing you since the start of the EP. You are the protagonist in this story, trying to break away from this dream that turned into a nightmare.

And there’s something absolutely genius about the fourth-wall-breaking happenings present in this EP, a first for Soma Saito. The beginning of his joker side as a writer. He plays around with you and your expectations, letting you fill in gaps as he sees fit and then delivering a blow that will leave you in tatters. 

“my beautiful valentine” shows that Soma Saito is not afraid at all to take his chances and craft a story spawning several chapters, hiding his true intentions until the bonus track arrives and hits you like a truck. 

It has started to be a staple of his and one thing I love – among the many I do –  that when you listen to a CD by Soma Saito, you are not just listening to a CD.

You are waiting for a story. 

You want to experience a tale, no matter how twisted it is.

And Saito delivers that at an insanely high level of quality time and time again.

When I stopped to listen to this EP, I was on the edge with every single detail in it. I was immersed in the story, I wanted more and more. I wanted to know its ending. Listening to “my beautiful valentine” felt like reading a book however one that doesn’t truly come to a close, perhaps intentionally to leave you wondering what happens to the protagonist – you – after “Kudryavka”.

Was this all a dream? What is reality? What happened to this protagonist? Did they escape that nightmare? Did they let desire take the best of them?

“my beautiful valentine” is a twisted, surrealistic fever dream that explores the deepest and darkest sides of your psyche, dealing a blow so powerful that you weren’t even expecting as the bonus track rolls in.

In my eyes and ears, “my beautiful valentine” is a masterpiece, right there alongside the stunner that was – and still is – “in bloom” and with “Yin/Yang” not that far away.


2022 was such a strong year for fans of male seiyuu artists/bands and 2D groups.

Seiyuu are really giving their all, some of them expressing their passion for singing and even songwriting through intricate compositions, concept albums, or even through the most technical of performances.

And you and I as fans get to experience this all. Joy, nostalgia, pain, anger, sadness, and love.

We get to experience all of these emotions through amazing songs that were and still are, for some of you, the soundtrack to your days. We get to be characters in the stories created by our favorite seiyuu artists.

Isn’t that amazing?

This year, I reviewed over 150 CDs by the most varied male seiyuu artists, bands, units and 2D groups. And I can certainly say that the 10 CDs in here were the ones that left a lasting mark.

Either for their nostalgic tone or for how elegantly they sound, or even because of the obvious leap in quality on the vocals. Some made their way to the top because of their unreal consistency or for the unique stories that were told through a carefully crafted collection of songs.

After a year that got close to rival 2020’s quality, I expect 2023 to be a busy year for male seiyuu artists as many have yet to release full-length albums (and some of those seiyuu were barely active or really inactive in 2022).

I also hope there are a couple of interesting – and deserving – solo debuts in 2023 that put the focus on talent and quality instead of looks or connections in the industry.

Only time will tell if any of these wishes come true but one thing is for certain, if the artists mentioned in this feature are active in 2023, then you and I will be in for a treat because they always deliver high-quality music.

What were your favorite albums released in 2022 by male seiyuu or 2D groups? Share those in the comments!

You can find all the content in this feature on episode 126 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

YouTube

Spotify

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts


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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