With so much talent in the seiyuu industry taking the leap to the music industry, it’s inevitable that some seiyuu artists go under the radar. However, these seiyuu specifically had it rough.
In this feature, you and I revisit and, in a way, celebrate the solo careers of 7 seiyuu that fully deserved all the love you can give them and more.
From surprisingly short solo careers to mentors “abandoning ship” even to weird hiatuses, this feature is filled with odd ends to solo careers of talented singers among seiyuu.
Daisuke Kishio is one of those veteran seiyuu that has drastically reduced their work in anime series in the last couple of years and doesn’t have an active career as a solo artist.
For those that may not be familiar with Kishio, he was a buzzworthy name in the seiyuu industry during the Kiniro no Corda hype in the 00s.
People loved him and he was quite the stable singer, as shown by the various live performances he did over the years.
He would eventually join the Tokimeki Restaurant franchise in 2013 as part of the idol group 3 Majesty.
And in 2015, he joined the B-PROJECT franchise as part of Kitakore.
But aside from those 2D music adventures – successful ones -, for fans of 2D music in general, Daisuke Kishio may not ring many bells (unless, of course, they are fans of any of those projects).
Now, the interesting thing is that Daisuke Kishio did have a solo career back then, at the height of his popularity.
He made his solo debut in 2012, after signing to Victor Entertainment, releasing the album “BIRTHDAY”.
That was quite the awesome album – even taking into account the lower quality of seiyuu music back in 2012 -, counting with plenty of entertaining pop-rock tunes that were a glimpse into the kind of music Kishio loves and wanted to perform.
It was still a pop-rock release, pretty much following the basic, unspoken rule of the debut CD having to be easy listening, leaning more towards pop, but it was fun from start to finish.
He wrote lyrics to some of the songs as well, something that was still rare among seiyuu artists back in 2012 – for reference, only Showtaro Morikubo was doing that since the start of his career as a solo artist.
A year later he would release the single “0F〜Love Forever〜” that instead of being known for its trendy rock sound, is known for having Takuma Terashima, Daisuke Hirakawa, and Tomoaki Maeno guesting on the music video.
After that Kishio halted his solo career and never looked back to it.
He would eventually start his own indie rock band in 2016.
As a solo artist, Kishio was not that popular though, even if his solo debut was made at the height of his popularity.
His CDs sold poorly and that – allied with the want to do something different from just pop-rock music – may have been at the core as to why his solo debut failed to garner attention and quickly after it came to a close.
Daisuke Hirakawa is yet another seiyuu that had a solo career and let me tell you that it was one of the most solid in the early ’10s.
Hirakawa made his debut as a solo artist signed to Lantis, releasing the mini-album “Hikari no Tobira” in 2009.
Very few people are aware of this but the talented Daisuke Hirakawa was actually one of the very first male seiyuu to join Lantis, making a solo debut under them, performing ballads, and managing to have all his CDs ranked within the top 50.
Hirakawa was doing an awesome job without bringing a lot of attention to his solo career, something that I absolutely love, as it sounds very on-brand with his kind, reserved public personality.
He would then release his 2nd mini-album “dice” in 2011. This is still one of my favorite mini-albums by seiyuu. Insanely consistent, a lot of solid tracks in it, and Hirakawa sang with a lot of passion.
His deep voice and emotional range impressed in the ballad “Kyohansha”.
A year later he released the single “identity+” that followed the same somber and emotional tone to his music.
Everything would tie up neatly with “identity-“ in 2013, Hirakawa’s last CD released as a solo artist.
Although no longer a solo artist, Hirakawa was still active as part of GENESIS in the Yumeiro Cast franchise and as a member of STYLE FIVE.
He’s a ridiculously talented singer with a somber, gentle voice tone that tugs at your heartstrings however, it seems that his solo career did not click with many people at that time, which is a pity.
If you’re into ballads and love a soothing, bass voice, Daisuke Hirakawa’s repertoire is well worth checking out.
We’re getting into obscure territory in here. Who remembers Takashi Kondo’s solo debut?
Takashi Kondo made his solo debut in 2008 with the mini-album “a little wonder”.
His debut was made during the Katekyo Hitman Reborn hype and, as such, he even covered the song “Sakura Addiction” from the anime series.
Kondo’s cover of “Sakura Addiction” was the first-ever song by a male seiyuu to be ranked several weeks in a row within the top 50 on Oricon’s charts.
However, the opportunistic time chosen to make a solo debut, the lack of time to record his songs – something that Kondo openly complained about in an interview in the same year – and the fact that “a little wonder” was an assortment of music genres and styles, not having a consistent theme or sound, led to his solo career to tank before it could properly take off.
Still, Kondo managed a couple of impressive things on his own.
Remember, he made his solo debut in the same year as Mamoru Miyano and was quicker to achieve success than Miyano. So there was potential for Kondo to be successful. Of course, that was a brief display of success but still worth commending given how brief his solo career was.
Since then, Kondo has focused his efforts on narration, and only in 2015 would he return to music-related activities as part of Procellarum and Twinkle Bell and 2 years later, experience a lot of popularity as he joined the IDOLiSH7 franchise as a member of the intense urban-pop group ZOOL.
And once again he impresses with his singing skills.
Those weren’t a fluke.
Those were the best greeting card to his solo debut mini-album. Those still are his greeting card.
And even if Kondo is quite the intense, dramatic singer – being a bit too theatrical and, at the same time, way too conventional in his performances -, his low vocals and solid mid-tones are always a treat to listen to.
If Takashi Kondo’s solo debut was considered obscure then I don’t even know how to describe Yuto Suzuki’s solo debut in 2009.
For many of you, Yuto Suzuki may be an unknown name.
Well, I can’t blame you if it is, because despite being talented and having a good voice tone, he does struggle to get work in anime and it seems that, in the last couple of years, he’s been shifting his career focus to announcing and variety hosting as opposed to voice acting.
But for those fans of 2D music projects, he sure is a known name, especially if you’ve been following some of the best 2D music projects from the early 10s.
He’s the leader of Marginal #4, one of the very first successful 2D music groups.
Although the Pythagoras Production – and by extension, Marginal #4 – are far from having the same popularity levels they experienced in 2013 when they were, alongside Utapri and Tsukiuta, the only 3 active 2D music projects featuring male seiyuu, Yuto Suzuki has, since day 1, being the most consistent member of the whole franchise.
But let’s go a bit back in time because Yuto Suzuki’s singing skills were no fluke. He was already massively talented as a singer prior to joining Marginal #4.
Before joining 2D music projects or even being popular as a voice actor, Yuto Suzuki tried his chance at making a solo debut. Seems bold and risky and it sure was, to a disappointing result.
He made his solo debut with the single “Garden of Eden” with the popular J-pop singer Masami Okui as his mentor.
How to put this lightly?
“Garden of Eden” was an instant failure sales and charting-wise.
The CD did not rank within Oricon’s top 100 and soon after, Masami Okui, Suzuki’s mentor and lyricist left him stranded, no longer supporting his solo career from that point on.
The whole “abandon ship” behavior ended up making Suzuki’s solo debut even messier.
With an indie music label supporting him – well, they barely supported him –, the failure of the debut CD, and the departure of a star from Suzuki’s solo career, the end to a career that could have been successful – had everyone been more patient – was the only thing that could follow.
After putting a close to his solo career, Suzuki joined several 2D groups but to this date, he’s best known for his work as part of Marginal #4.
Highly underrated, with a gentle, honeyed singing voice and a solid skillset that made him stand out even among Toshiki Masuda, KENN, and Takahashi Naozumi, singers that, on paper, were more popular and skilled, Yuto Suzuki was a victim of bad timing and lack of commitment from those responsible for his solo career.
If there is a seiyuu that almost everyone around the world and a fan of anime know about is Yuki Kaji.
He’s a superstar seiyuu, successful at everything he endeavors to… well unless you’re talking about his solo career.
That is the only occasion in his career in which Kaji didn’t experience success.
Kaji was really popular as part of the seiyuu group G.Addict and, in 2012, he signed to Lantis as a solo artist, making his solo debut with the single “sense of wonder”.
The single paled in comparison with the quality of the music he had been performing with G.Addict – also signed to Lantis – up until then.
Additionally, Kaji showed that he struggled a big with control over his singing tone, delivering performances that, today, wouldn’t happen given how much he’s improved as a singer.
A couple of months later, Kaji released the single “Hello!”
And some of the issues were still present. The music was still lackluster while Kaji proved that he was working on improving his singing skills but was still far from sounding as solid as he does today.
Yuki Kaji’s solo debut is one of those cases that make me wonder whether it would have been a good idea for him to wait and attempt it years later instead of that early on in his career.
And that’s how the most popular seiyuu in Japan had one of the shortest solo careers among male seiyuu, lasting only 7 months.
Since then, Kaji has joined Ensemble Stars!! as a member of Trickstar and participated in a covers album in the late 10s showing improved singing skills but not one bit of intention of resuming his solo career activities.
Hiroki Takahashi has what I consider to be one of the best dramatic singing voices among male seiyuu.
As a matter of fact, if you are familiar with Valkyrie in the Ensemble Stars!! franchise, you’ll know exactly what I am talking about.
Owner of a low, dramatic singing tone and quite a solid skillset as a singer, Hiroki Takahashi had one of the most underrated solo careers.
He made his solo debut in 2003, and he was a good singer right from the start.
His debut was in 2003 under the indie music label “FEEL ME” with the pop single “Kokoro o shinjite”.
Once again, as a result of the times, the music back then wasn’t anything extraordinary nor of good quality but Takahashi surely delivered solid performances, outperforming the quality of the music handed to him to perform.
He would end up releasing 6 singles, 2 full-length albums, and 2 best of albums before calling it quits to his solo career in 2013.
None of his CDs ranked within Oricon’s top 100.
Very few people supported his solo career despite him being quite the consistent singer with a powerful emotional range and a pleasing singing tone to top it all off.
Takahashi’s solo career is one that deserved more love because he was one of the best solo artists of his generation of seiyuu. A pity that very few people followed his career and now, very few even know or care about it.
Takuya Sato made his solo debut in 2015 under FRONTIER WORKS. And surprisingly, all his CDs ranked within Oricon’s top 40, even if he was not that popular back then.
If you are not familiar with Takuya Sato’s singing tone, you’re seriously missing a lot. He’s a high bass/low baritone with one of the sweetest yet, at the same time, most alluring singing tones among male seiyuu.
Honestly, Sato oozes charisma and, let’s not sugar coat it, effortless sex appeal that carry over to his performances. That is rare to find in seiyuu artists as most opt for going the “cute” or “guy next door” image/vibe. Not Takuya Sato.
Also, he’s got awesome control over his singing skills and, in a live setting, he’s extremely expressive and passionate, always giving 100% in order to put a smile on the faces of his fans.
With a booming voice and a lot of skill under his belt, not to mention signed to a relatively big and influential music label, Takuya Sato had everything to be a successful solo artist.
What’s weirder than him making a solo debut when he was not popular – to this day he still is in that limbo between being and not being popular – was the fact that it was never stated that he’d stopped his solo career activities.
Fans simply got a long, hard silence from FRONTIER WORKS after Sato released “Monologue” in 2018.
It surely doesn’t seem like his career will resume and it may as well be finished since 2018 and that’s what is frustrating as Sato continues to be the first choice for 2D music projects looking for his raw talents as a bass with baritone range.
Him joining the IDOLiSH7 franchise in 2015 and experiencing a lot of success as well as breaking and setting records as part of TRIGGER and later on joining the aoppella!? Franchise due to his acappella singing skills proves that he’s a talented singer, one that deserved a better outcome out of his solo career.
I would love for him to resume his solo career but it seems impossible right now, especially under a music label that completely showed it didn’t care for him at all.
And thus everyone, this is that moment when you wonder where were the fans of every seiyuu mentioned in this feature. Or what their music labels were thinking when they helped the seiyuu make their solo debuts but didn’t support them throughout.
The music industry is not kind to seiyuu, even if they are insanely talented.
Would you add any other male seiyuu solo artist – doesn’t have to be active as of now – to this feature? Leave his name in the comments and a brief justification why you believe so and, who knows, maybe your comment will inspire other readers to check them out or give them a 2nd chance!
This content is featured on THTFHQ’s weekly podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE.
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