2022 in Review: Big live tours, unexpected comebacks, and more

Between big live shows and tours, unexpected comebacks, and albums that arrived to shake everyone to the core, there was no shortage of interesting things happening in 2022.

2022 seemed like a slow year despite how strongly it kicked off. There were very few live shows, 2D music projects didn’t do anything out of the ordinary, and some seiyuu artists chose to not be active while others were surprisingly active in 2022.

You can say that the quality of the music released this year was nowhere near the sheer quality of 2020 – that was a truly amazing year for fans of 2D music projects and seiyuu artists – but it did come relatively close, especially in the first and last months of 2022.

January and February 2022 were ridiculous in terms of the sheer quality of the music that was released.

Yuma Uchida’s “Good mood”, Makoto Furukawa’s “Ware, bara ni insu”, Soma Saito “my beautiful valentine”, Toshiki Masuda “Midnight Dancer”, GYROAXIA’s “Freestyle”. The quality was off the charts.

And the year wrapped up with November and December 2022’s releases being equally strong. Mamoru Miyano’s “THE ENTERTAINMENT”, Soma Saito’s “Yin/Yang”, Miyu Irino’s “NO CONCEPT”, ZOOL’s “Zénit”, Wataru Hatano’s “TORUS” and more left their mark, and wrapped up 2022 in style.

In this feature, you and I revisit the buzzworthy albums, comebacks, tours/live shows, and changes in the music industry for seiyuu artists and 2D groups.

These are the key storylines in 2022.

Biggest albums of 2022: concept albums

Don’t mistake this title for the “Best albums”, that’s a different topic that will be covered in a different episode of seiyuu lounge. In here, I’m going to share with you which were the biggest album releases of the year given how unique they were.

There were  – and still are – CDs that impressed me a whole lot and that, in some way, I’d love to relive the moment they were released to experience yet again listening to them for the very first time.

To avoid making this episode extremely long, let’s talk about 5 of those albums. Do remember that you can visit handthatfeedshq.com for the extended feature that covers much more than these CDs. 

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2022 was a year of concept albums. Seriously. Daisuke Ono released “Sounds of Love”, Wataru Hatano released “TORUS” and Soma Saito released not one but two concept EPs in 2022, “my beautiful valentine” and “Yin/Yang”.

Daisuke Ono and Wataru Hatano explored infinite, passionate love in completely different ways, giving way to two unique CDs.

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I felt that, in a way, “TORUS” by Wataru Hatano had an insanely difficult concept at its core and there are times when you listen to this CD in which it is not clear what the concept really is, something that attests to how complex the whole concept is.

Daisuke Ono’s “Sounds of Love” mixes songs with drama tracks however, for those listening to the CD on streaming platforms, only the songs are available so you will be missing part of the story that makes this CD so good.

Having the legendary acappella group The Gospellers helping out with the composition of some of the songs and even providing backing vocals ended up taking this mini-album to a really high status among those released in 2022.

After a 2021 in which he did not release any music, singer-songwriter extraordinaire Soma Saito was pretty active in 2022 releasing not one but two EPs, both concept albums with an intricate level of complexity and stories that will kick you in the gut when the twist arrives.

Soma Saito "my beautiful valentine"
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my beautiful valentine” explored surrealistic love, giving way to one of the most twisted and dark stories that Soma Saito has ever created. Even “Yin/Yang” doesn’t go as dark as “my beautiful valentine” went. The fact that “my beautiful valentine” kicks off really bright and bubbly arose suspicion by Saito’s fans that maybe, just maybe, a twist was coming, and indeed it was.

By the time “uzumibi” and “zakuro” arrive, Saito tells you that everything you heard up until then was a dream – or a nightmare, depending on your point of view – and now you have to find a way out.

Wake up from this dream. And it is as dark as it is alluring and thus… questions arise. Will you destroy everything around you and move on after that destruction or will you succumb to pleasure and stay there?

When “Kudryavka” arrives, Saito directly addresses you, breaking the fourth wall, and asks what you think before ironically wrapping up the EP saying that “here, have a chocolate”. Twisted humor started to show in this EP.

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And when “Yin/Yang” was released, that twisted humor was heightened and what you get in this EP is something dark, full-on ironic, presenting the human condition in several states while mocking it from the lens of its creator.

In this EP you go from the creation of paradise to it turning into pure hell to its destruction by its creator. It is a rollercoaster ride of pure madness, showing that instead of “light” and “dark” sides, people inherently have both light and darkness intertwined. You can’t put one apart, they are one and the same. 

This 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 chaos and death, you also have humans realizing how broken they are, the despair that comes with that while they lie to themselves that they are okay. 

I could go on and on about this CD given how brilliant and thought-provoking it is but one thing is for certain: Soma Saito managed to, in the same year, release the two best albums of the year. It’ll be interesting to see which CD ends up topping my list of best albums of 2022.

And lastly in this section is Jin Ogasawara’s digital single series (5-part, yet with a total of 6 singles): “AQUARIUM“, “Yuurei“, “Yogaakeru“, “DandeLION“, “Tenbin” and “Black Cat”. This is me cheating and adding more CDs than I should but let’s approach this as a series of releases, a concept series if you will.

This was absolutely amazing to witness. Up until now, Jin Ogasawara had been releasing an interesting – albeit far from original – brand of pop-rock. But things completely changed when this series kicked off.

Ogasawara put his singing skills to the test, pushing his limits while showcasing to everyone that he is more than that cool frontman that does screamo for GYROAXIA and much more than a solo artist that performs generic pop-rock. He has a wide vocal range – he can go really high, something I was not expecting but also insanely low, to faux bass range -, has falsetto, head voice, vibrato, can pull off clean singing, rapping, screamo… And perform rock, ballads, jazz, hip-hop, EDM, and more music genres. 

What Jin Ogasawara showed in this series of releases is that he is insanely talented and has a high ceiling for his growth as a solo artist. Honestly, I’m quite excited about what he will release next and hopefully, fans continue to get something new and refreshing – yet still very much on brand – from Jin Ogasawara.

I said this a couple of times during MONTHLY REVIEW’s episodes – you can find those on THTFHQ’s youtube channel and they are viewable, so you get to watch my reactions to every CD I talk about – but if Jin Ogasawara had released all these songs as an EP, this would be my top 3 best albums of the year.

As it is, this collection of songs is one of the few treasures from 2022, and certainly, something that shows that when seiyuu artists are given the freedom to create the music they want, experimenting with music and lyrics, even down to the performances, awesome things happen.

I’m really happy about what Jin Ogasawara pulled off this year with this digital single series and I can’t wait to hear what he releases next.

Big Album releases

It is well known by now that Toshiki Masuda, despite having a solo career, doesn’t dedicate much of his time to it, releasing music not as frequently as most fans would love and with long periods of hiatus between CDs.

Although it was not a surprise when 2022 kicked off that Toshiki Masuda was going to make a long-awaited comeback with “Midnight Dancer”, for those still in 2021 and looking forward to 2022, it arrived as unexpected.

Toshiki Masuda Midnight Dancer
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And the hype was more than met with a fantastic release that only has 1 fault: being brief. Toshiki Masuda left many people looking forward to more from him but as 2022 wraps up, we’re experiencing that well-known period of… nothing.

After everything looked like Mamo was going to release a full-length album in 2021 – something that didn’t happen -, 2022 arrived and fans finally got that long-awaited announcement.

Mamoru Miyano was set to make a comeback with “THE ENTERTAINMENT”, his 7th full-length album.

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This album is a much-needed addition to Miyano’s repertoire, showcasing a solo pop star maturing, finding music genres he loves, embracing those, and delivering high-quality music time after time while remaining relevant throughout that growth.

As 2022 wraps up, “THE ENTERTAINMENT” stands out as one of the best albums of the year.

Just like Toshiki Masuda, Sir Vanity has been quite erratic in its music releases.

The rock band fronted by Yoshiki Nakajima and Yuichiro Umehara had been on a hiatus for over a year when they announced they were working on new music – set to release their 1st full-length album – as well as hold their 1st live show.

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The band did manage to impress with “Ray”, album that showcases the unique colors of Sir Vanity both in their sonority and lyrics. 

Sir Vanity is slowly attracting attention and as 2022 wraps up, they are one of the most exciting bands out there, one certainly to look out for in the coming year.

Industry changes

2022 was a year with very few debuts but, at the same time, many 2D music projects faded away, others completely messed up their opportunities while others ended up seeing the light dimming, ultimately going on a hiatus until.. god knows when.

jazz-on!

The biggest offender in this category is JAZZ-ON!. The 2D jazz music project had been struggling with sales for quite a while and despite the fact that the music was generally good, it seems like it was not clicking with fans in Japan. In the last quarter of 2022, UNIVERSAL MUSIC JAPAN announced that the franchise was set to go on a hiatus however leaving a note that they want to bring the franchise back better than ever.

Whether this will happen or not is something you and I will have to wait to see.

On the opposite direction was the Band Yarouze! franchise.

Yes, you read it well.

In the last quarter of 2022, the franchise rose from the dead and announced the release of a live DVD as well as announced a new live show, opened a TikTok account to actively promote the franchise, and is back to being relatively active on social media.

You can’t imagine how happy I am about this. This is one of my favorite franchises and to see if fades away in 2020 – with even OSIRIS, its most popular band, stopping its activities -, seeing the franchise back and with some strength to it, possibly aiming at a 100% comeback is something that puts a massive smile on my face.

I do hope this is not a one-off thing and that the Band Yarouze! franchise is here to stay and possibly get its well-deserved 2nd chance.

The big tours and live shows

Time to talk about the big live shows in 2022. There were several seiyuu artists hitting the road as well as 2D groups performing live – some of those solo – for the very first time.

Let’s talk about some of those.

IDOLiSH7 LIVE BEYOND “Op.7” and Re:vale LIVE GATE “Re:flect U”

Double whammy for the IDOLiSH7 franchise as IDOLiSH7 and Re:vale joined the trend in the franchise – started by TRIGGER – of holding solo live shows, focusing on creating a unique spectacle for fans of each group.

IDOLiSH7 kicked off 2022 with “LIVE BEYOND Op.7”, showcasing a renewed chemistry and consistency on the vocal end while delivering some of the fans’ favorite songs. This live show was closely tied to the release of the group’s 2nd full-length album “Opus”.

In the second half of 2022, Re:vale hopped on stage for “LIVE GATE Re:flect U” and the same happened. The talented duo presented “Re:flect in”, their 2nd full-length album in almost its entirety in a set of electrifying performances.

When 2022 wraps up, these two live shows are the ones standing out the most among all 2D music projects out there, especially given their high production value and how many people each concert reached through both on-location and streaming tickets.

TSUKIPRO LIVE 2022 WINTER CARNIVAL

SOARA

After a couple of years without TSUKIPRO’s groups all on the same stage, in 2022, the franchise was able to hold a live show that quenched the thirst of fans eagerly waiting to watch the new songs by each group being performed live.

TSUKIPRO LIVE 2022 WINTER CARNIVAL was held on 13/02/2022 in Tokyo, with a simultaneous livestream made available to international fans in 20 countries.

This is part of the recent efforts by TSUKIPRO and Movic in making their content known overseas. It has started with their yearly 48-hour livestreams and has now extended to their flagship live shows featuring the cast members of SOARA, SolidS, Growth, and QUELL.

Who knows if the next step by Movic is to make the music by all groups in the franchise available for streaming internationally? That would be amazing and is, easily, the step left for this franchise to garner more interest internationally.

But as it is, TSUKIPRO LIVE 2022 WINTER CARNIVAL was a fantastic live show, filled with high-octane performances, plenty of highlights on the vocal end, mesmerizing performances, and laidback banter. It was everything a fan of the TSUKIPRO franchise could have asked for.

Paradox Live 2nd LIVE DOPE SHOW @ Pacifico Yokohama

Paradox Live

The Paradox Live franchise is making sure all its music and live performances are open to all fans around the world, removing almost all the obstacles that most 2D music projects put in front whenever the topic of “international livestream” is raised in a meeting.

Paradox Live 2nd LIVE DOPE SHOW @ Pacifico Yokohama featured live performances by BAE, The Cat’s Whiskers, cozmez, Akkan Yatsura, Buraikan, 1Nm8, AMPRULE, VISTY, and Goku Luck wrapping up in style an interesting era for the franchise.

At the same time, Paradox Live actively welcomed the 4 new groups and impressed at the same time with stylish performances while paying homage to some of the most niche hip-hop subgenres you can find.

YUMA UCHIDA LIVE 2022

Almost like a tradition, Yuma Uchida held a massive live show to wrap up solo artist activities in the year. YUMA UCHIDA LIVE 2022 was held at Nippon Budokan for two days.

This time around, each day of the live show had a different concept with completely different songs being performed.


2022 was a busy year despite how uneventful it seemed. Some heavy hitters among male seiyuu made their return, long-awaited CDs were finally released, and 2D music projects were a bit more conventional in 2022, not going full-on crazy with large-scale concepts or promotions.

Seiyuu artists were quite innovative this year. The 3 sales monsters among male seiyuu artists – Mamoru Miyano, Soma Saito, and Toshiki Masuda – lived up to their title however, it was quite interesting yet worrying to see Miyano’s “THE ENTERTAINMENT” selling below 10k copies whereas most albums by Mamo usually sold around 15k and 20k.

Soma Saito and Toshiki Masuda – both with barely any publicity on traditional media; and Saito really without any publicity – managed to sell a whole lot with their CDs in February.

Talking about February… That was a month packed with quality music. Everywhere you looked there was a new shiny and awesome new CD to check. Although it is far from surpassing the quality of the music released in December 2020, this was a bloody amazing month that does come close.

International livestreams were far from being a big thing for most of the live shows that were held in 2022. 2D music projects seem to be betting more on these than seiyuu artists, something that I find quite interesting.

Well, as 2022 wraps up, there are a lot of awesome things that happened, something that leads me to conclude that this was a really good year. At least for me, it was a near-perfect year.


What were your favorite happenings in 2022? Share those in the comments!

You can find all the content in this feature on episode 124 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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For media, PR, and business enquiries, please email me at: info@handthatfeedshq.com

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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