2022 in Review: Big Solo Artist and 2D Group Debuts

2022 was a rather quiet year for solo artist and 2D group debuts. As the year comes to a close, it’s time to revisit the big solo, seiyuu unit, and 2D group debuts.

Time to look back at 2022 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

2022 was, for a change, a year in which not many seiyuu wanted to try and give a chance to be a solo artist. It seems crazy that after all the galore of solo debuts, things would, eventually, quiet down a lot.

Surprisingly, most seiyuu that were being pinned as the probable solo debuts in 2022 did not even come near the music industry this year, focusing instead on other projects, practically catching up to the lost time during the pandemic.

It is understandable as taking a leap towards becoming a solo artist can be time-consuming and should be done at the right time to avoid not standing out – even if they have the best marketing team behind them.

Lost time, especially when the seiyuu industry is ever-changing, is not advisable and as such, in 2022 we only got… 2 solo debuts, and only one of those was actually considered successful.

Tomohito Takatsuka

The first solo debut was early on in 2022 by Tomohito Takatsuka.

For those that may not be familiar with Takatsuka, he is a voice actor with very few roles in anime with his biggest credit so far being in THE IDOLM@STER SideM anime series.

He’s an okay singer but he has never shown more than the “okay” in his performances as a member of Beit.

Thus, when his solo debut was announced my first reaction was “Why?”.

If regularly read my features or listen to the episodes of THTFHQ’s podcast SEIYUU LOUNGE, you are well aware of my stance regarding solo debuts given prematurely to seiyuu that have not proven a thing to earn them.

I’ve said before that rushing through solo debuts can instantly kill a seiyuu’s solo career (regardless if they have talent or not) because they barely have any fans to sell their music to, people won’t feel drawn into picking up their music (perhaps will have the curiosity to check online but that’s all) and, of course, if the seiyuu has barely proven that they can sing… why giving them a solo debut?

Don’t get me wrong, Tomohito Takatsuka has potential if he sets his mind to becoming a good singer, however, he has never realized that potential to the point that he is active in some 2D music projects or that he is turning heads with his voice acting, thus taking a leap to the music industry would be a good way to cash in on the exposure he’d be getting.

He’s far from being popular or a rising star – things that help, especially early on, in getting people’s attention when making a solo debut – and he is barely in any 2D music projects in which he can showcase his skills or even improve them.

So, when you look at Takatsuka’s profile so far… his solo debut literally arrived out of nowhere.

People did not understand why he was given a solo debut when other seiyuu, perhaps more experienced and with a proven record of being good singers, continue to be overlooked and not given a chance.

I honestly do not understand why this solo debut happened this early. 

Well, if Takatsuka’s solo debut is only to release a CD per year to celebrate his birthday, I can sort of understand but even so… that’s a unique opportunity he is not going to have ever again and that went down the drain as his solo debut absolutely tanked even before release.

On social media, there was no interest whatsoever prior to the CD release and that reflected in poor sales way below 800 copies, and complete radio silence ever since.

Was the timing wrong for Tomohito Takatsuka? 

Yes, this solo debut could have happened a bit later in his career when he was more comfortable as a voice actor and got a bit more experience as a singer. There have been countless seiyuu that have made supposedly “late” solo debuts – just look at Kent Ito – and those worked for them. Waiting for a moment in which his name brings some attention was essential, and it was completely missed.

Was Takatsuka unlucky to release his debut single close to some of the biggest CD releases of the year?

Also this. When Takatsuka announced his solo debut, all the attention was on Toshiki Masuda’s “Midnight Dancer“, Yuma Uchida’s “Good Mood“, Soma Saito’s “my beautiful valentine“, GYROAXIA’s “Freestyle” and Makoto Furukawa’s “Ware, Bara ni insu“.

Too many big names were making comeback releases in late January 2022, or early February 2022.

The attention of the public was definitely elsewhere, not on Takatsuka’s solo debut.

Could Dreamusic make things happen differently, especially already knowing that those CDs were going to be released close to Tomohito Takatsuka’s solo debut CD? 

Yes, but at the same time, I believe that the music label was betting on people feeling curious about a name that is not commonly active as a solo artist in the middle of that comeback streak of releases.

But that strategy didn’t end up going well for Takatsuka.

Regular

As far as the quality of the music in “Hoshi no Oto“, it was far from remarkable and ended up not bringing anything new to the seiyuu music panorama nor did it make Takatsuka shine. 

The songs were generic at best and the performances, even with Takatsuka’s effort, were… forgettable.

To me, this debut had everything wrong right from the start and I honestly don’t know if Takatsuka will continue his journey as a solo artist after that.

Is there room for improvement? Yes.

Can Takatsuka turn his solo career around? He can but it’ll be really difficult to do so after such a cold solo debut.

The other solo debut belonged to Kent Ito

He is a good example of a seiyuu that wasn’t expected nor pointed for a solo debut given how long it was taking for him to actually announce it. Not many people believed it would happen however, with UMake basically on a hiatus and a lot of demand for Ito, it ended up being something natural.

So this debut is the polar opposite in terms of having or not having everything a seiyuu needs to make a solo debut.

In this case, Kent Ito did have everything and more to warrant a solo debut. 

He is extremely popular as a singer and rapper for some of the most popular 2D music projects. He is active in plenty of 2D music projects, he has his own band with Yoshiki Nakajima (UMake) and has been actively composing songs for 2D groups in other projects.

He has a track record of being an insanely technical singer as well as a crafty songwriter.

He may not be in many anime series – just like Tomohito Takatsuka – but his work alone in the music side of the seiyuu industry + his popularity more than begged for his solo debut, one that I feel has arrived at the right time in his career, as he is now in the height of his popularity.

So, with everything he needed to make a solo debut, Kent Ito announced he was going to take his first steps as a solo artist with the release of a digital single, one that feel the pulse of his fanbase while being relatively low-cost for the music label.

“hear me?”

Mayonaka no Love” arrived with a stylish citypop sound and a mature performance by Kent Ito.

This ended up being one of the most buzzworthy songs released in 2022, something that quickly led to the announcement of the release of Kent Ito’s first EP, set for release in February 2023.

Seiyuu unit and 2D group debuts

This year was quieter when it came to seiyuu units debuting. There was only 1 taking its first steps in 2022: P☆LiSH.

P☆LiSH features the vocals of Haruki Ishiya, Chikahiro Kobayashi and Eiji Takeuchi, co-hosts of the radio show Ishiya Haruki, Radio de migaku.

Despite the fact that the lineup features 2 seiyuu talents that have been growing in popularity thanks to the Hypnosis Mic franchise, what stands out the most is the fact that the seiyuu are performing as the characters they voice in the radio dramas. 

So you could say this seiyuu unit is almost like a mix between 2 and 3D which is quite unique given that they stem from a radio drama.

Things had a better rhythm on the 2D side, with plenty of 2D groups joining already established 2D franchises. I’ll go over some of the biggest, but I believe there were many more that went under my radar.

Despite having been announced in 2021, Paradox Live’s VISTY, AMPRULE, 1Nm8, Goku Luck only started their activities in 2022.

And they managed to add a unique spice to the franchise by bringing K-pop-inspired music, regal hip-hop, loungy hip-hop, and rap rock to the spotlight. While there was a lot of variety coming from these crews – with AMPRULE and 1Nm8 standing out the most for their passive-aggressive style of rapping -, none of them were able to advance to the next stage in a fight to become the next Legend in the franchise.

On my end, I feel like all 4 crews arrived as direct rivals to all original groups however, instead of building up their repertoire and making the crews more well-known among fans in order to create an exciting and certainly more balanced set of matchups… they were immediately thrown into a fight to become a legend.

Are you even surprised these crews were defeated? Because I am not. It was expected. 

Still, it is good to see that the Paradox Live franchise continues to invest in high-quality music, putting the spotlight on niche sub-genres of hip-hop while continuing to make sure each crew is truly unique and distinctive in sound and vibe.

As a fan of hip-hop, I couldn’t ask for more. 

The Technoroid franchise added two new groups to its ambitious lineup. 

The project, created by Noriyasu Agematsu (of Utapri and VISUAL PRISON fame), is all about its heavy EDM sound with some dashes of hip-hop and pop and counts with a lineup that mixes young, promising seiyuu talents with established seiyuu.

And in 2022, joining the series’ 4 mainline groups were D.M.A and Karakuri Shinshi.

D.M.A. counts with vocals by Daiki Hamano, Ryohei Shioguchi, and Tatsuyuki Kobayashi. This is a group known for its intense sound that brings EDM and hip-hop together to create a powerful set of performances. For fans of trap music and heavy EDM, this group arrived to shake things up.

On the other hand, Karakuri Shinshi counts on vocals with Kenji Nojima, Shunichi Toki and Kentaro Kumagai. The group has a soft, refined EDM sound that lends a lot from pop music and makes the best out of its sound with a stellar lineup.

GAMDOL is an original mixed-media project that puts in the same stage idols and gambling. The project follows the idol groups Gambét and Raise through voice dramas + music releases.

But it wasn’t until 2022 that Raise would join this franchise. The EDM/dance-pop group features vocals by Shohei Komatsu, Tetsuei Sumiya, and Hayato Dojima.

Their debut single “HIGHLIGHT” wasn’t particularly remarkable, especially in comparison to Gambét’s debut single. Still, it showed the potential that there is for this lineup, especially on the vocal end.

In February, the TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise welcomed a new team to its ranks, bringing Yuya Hirose (as a new vocal in the franchise) and Yuichiro Umehara (voicing a new composer in the franchise).

This was one of the most surprising announcements of the year in the 2D music industry, bringing two coveted and incredibly popular talents to the increasingly popular TOKYO COLOR SONIC!! franchise.

While I still haven’t listened to the first entry by Tomoe – voiced by Yuya Hirose -, it is no doubt that the franchise only won with the addition of Yuya Hirose on the vocal end, not to mention that when the time comes for the drama tracks, having Yuichiro Umehara in the lineup is a massive plus.

ZINGS consists of Shun Horie and Fumiya Imai, stars in the music/comedy anime series “Kami Kuzu☆Idol“. The duo made its debut in 2022 with the release of the single 恋のBANG (Koi no BANG) and made some heads turn with their lineup and sound.

On my end, I can’t comment about their music beyond this because, at the time of recording this episode, I have yet to check their music out.

Still, having Shun Horie in a 2D group is always a treat and there is certainly some curiosity from me about how Fumiya Imai sounds when singing.

VadLip arrived to dazzle everyone. The acappella group part of the aoppella!? franchise arrived in the second half of 2022, ready to impress with a lineup that will make a lot of 2D franchises envy them.

On the vocal end, VadLip counts with Yuma Uchida, Kensho Ono, Natsuki Hanae, Taku Yashiro, Takuya Masumoto and Shunsuke Takeuchi. Absolutely stellar lineup that covers all the vocal ranges from tenor to bass.

While the group has yet to release original music, their cover of “Odo” made a lot of heads turn around, making VadLip the most buzzworthy 2D group debut of 2022.

To wrap up this feature is Seraphilight, group part of the HeavenlyHelly franchise.

This was a group that arrived a bit out of nowhere, especially when the focus in this project is on making talents from AONI PRODUCTION to the spotlight and then… AONI and Universal Music Japan cast… seiyuu from different agencies to this group.

Don’t get me wrong, Seraphilight has a stellar lineup that includes Shugo Nakamura, Daiki Hamano and Shunichi Toki.

The only problem is that their music is heavily edited on top of a really glitchy style of EDM, something that completely overshadows the potential quality that this lineup could deliver.

Out of all the new 2D groups, this is the one that frustrates me the most because the lineup is absolutely perfect. The music however is far from being it.


These were the buzzworthy solo debuts, new 2D groups, and seiyuu units joining the music industry in 2022. What were your favorites? Share those in the comments!

You can find all the content in this feature and more on episode 122 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).

Recent articles

Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.