Young talents trailing their path in the seiyuu industry. Showcasing impressive singing skills or potential to become powerhouses. This feature is all about those rising stars that have been impressing with their singing skills in 2021.
Estimated reading time: 29 minutes
As the theme of this feature indicates, it’s time to cover the young talents in the seiyuu industry that have been impressing in 2021 with their singing skills.
These are seiyuu that are noticeably on the rise. Some are on-demand for 2D music projects, others have unique qualities as singers yet, due to the fact that they still do not have much work in 2D music projects or even anime, they have yet to pop up on your radar.
This is a feature that I will start writing yearly as every year there are new, exciting talents on the rise, especially when it comes to singing.
Who do I consider a rising star?
- Voice actors who are 30 years old or younger (regardless if they are rookies or veterans)
Some of these seiyuu already have solo debuts, others, let’s be honest, I wish they already had gotten the opportunity to do so or, in case it is still too early, at least are thinking about making a solo debut in the long run.
So, let’s cover those 9 seiyuu I believe should be on your radar because they haven’t stopped impressing everyone so far in 2021.
For many, Tetsuei Sumiya may be an unknown name and that’s because, beyond 2D music projects, Sumiya isn’t cast in many anime series.
I dare say that out of all the rising stars I bring to you in this episode, Sumiya is the rising talent that has the fewest credits in both anime and 2D music projects.
He’s part of the Readyyy! Project franchise. He was chosen as the “face” of the project in 2018. He passed the auditions and was chosen as the leader of SP!CA, and the face of Readyyy! Project.
He was chosen as the best singer in the crop of insanely talented rookie seiyuu that made up the cast of Readyyy! Project.
And it wasn’t a fluke at all that he was chosen for those roles. Although the group started off a bit quietly, they really took off quality-wise later in 2018 and were a force to be reckoned with in 2019.
Sumiya led the charge and he was impressive. Unfortunately, Readyyy! Project has seen better days and the project is in a weird status.
But Sumiya didn’t let that cripple his career in the seiyuu industry and thus, he passed the audition held by Tsukipro for its new group, TOBARI.
He joined the group in 2019 alongside Yoshiki Nakajima, one of the most exciting talents in the music industry among male seiyuu and… Sumiya dazzled once again.
Tsukipro’s supergroup pioniX teamed up TOBARI and Infinit0 and while initially, it seemed like both groups wouldn’t work well together, the truth is, everything worked out pretty well.
And Sumiya was impressing everyone yet again.
2021 kicked off with a lot of quality for pioniX as the group wrapped up its “Xtory” CD series and kicked off the “Season” CD series.
And Sumiya once again, although subtly, has been really impressive.
His singing tone is gentle and carries a bit of warmth to it. His falsetto is delicate, with the right amount of breath in it.
He can lower his tone to match Yoshiki Nakajima for TOBARI’s songs or be an incredibly reliable singer that levels up everyone when it comes to his performances with pioniX. His legato and long notes are consistent.
With SP!CA, he was energetic and could bring a youthful vibe to his performances.
In 2021, although really subtly, Tetsuei Sumiya has been showing the aces up his sleeves. He’s a talented singer with a lot of room to grow but already able to impress alongside some of the industry’s best singers.
When it comes to delivering electrifying rock performances, Jin Ogasawara has been one of the most exciting talents to follow.
He’s grown quite a lot in these past few years performing with GYROAXIA in the from ARGONAVIS franchise.
Yes, in case you haven’t noticed, GYROAXIA’s powerful and energetic frontman is none other than Ogasawara.
Since 2019, GYROAXIA has been rocking everyone with their exciting and fast-paced – at times even aggressive – brand of punk-rock.
Jin Ogasawara’s experience with the band has enabled him to grow as a singer. While he did have the energy and was able to pull off screamo and incredibly raw performances, he was still a bit too rough around the edges.
He has worked on that in the past couple of years and now he’s showing that he can control his emotions when performing and make everything about his performances sound less strained.
Although these aren’t things that are easy to notice for the casual listener of GYROAXIA’s songs, if you pay closer attention, you notice that Ogasawara worked towards making his performances easier to pull off.
He didn’t lower the quality of his performances though. He learned how to manage those without getting out of breath or risk damaging his vocal cords.
That’s a massive improvement in my books. And it shows maturity as a singer.
Ogasawara is not a high note belter like many of the rising talents in this feature but he sure packs a punch with each of his performances.
He’s got a raspy twist to his mid-toned vocals – I dare say, from what I’ve heard so far, that Ogasawara is a baritone – and he feeds off the energy of the tracks in order to deliver electrifying performances. His singing tone is also unique so he also has that to his advantage in the long run.
He made his solo debut in 2021 with “Only one thing” and while it seemed like a rushed solo debut, he’s got a nostalgic brand of pop-punk meets electro-rock going on that not only works to his favorite but it’s also something I deeply appreciate.
And for his solo career, he showed a more melodic side, bringing falsetto, ad-libs, and vibrato into the mix.
Jin Ogasawara is rock frontman material and, in my opinion, he does have a bright future ahead of him.
You can never go wrong with 81 Produce’s seiyuu when it comes to singing. The talent agency has focused on gathering a lot of multi-talented seiyuu that are well versed in singing or even music composition.
And every year, 81 Produce’s rookie seiyuu showcase their skills and they are almost always on a level that makes a lot of jaws drop.
Hinata Tadokoro is such a talent.
He’s a low baritone or high bass singer, with a deep, warm voice, and a lot of technique. He can tap into baritone and even faux tenor territory.
Although extremely underrated and still not on the radar for many of you, Hinata Tadokoro has the makings of a vocal powerhouse.
He’s got a massive vocal range – from bass up to faux tenor -, is able to pull off spine-chilling high notes and powerful low ones, can do falsetto, and has a sweet vibrato. He adds a lot of emotion to his performances, making those engaging.
Tadokoro is starting to make heads turn with his performances as part of Infinit0, pioniX, and, most recently, Neo Basara in the Fabulous Night franchise.
His long notes and legato, vocal range, and singing technique are impressive.
And his composure and charisma as a singer when he’s in very few projects lead me to think that Hinata Tadokoro can turn into a star in the future, at least, I’d love for that to actually happen to him.
Yuya Hirose has a beautiful voice. In a way, I believe that, among the new generation of seiyuu, Yuya Hirose is part of an exclusive group of unique tenors with a twist that includes Shun Horie and Shoya Chiba.
Hirose is a tenor – with a solid high range – and he’s really smooth in his delivery. Really, his performances feel like he’s gliding through the lyrics. It’s a unique feeling.
He can add some raspiness in his performances as he does for ZOOL’s songs in order to sound edgy. But he can also be extremely delicate in his delivery like he does in some of EROSION’s songs.
Although still extremely young – he was born in 1996 – he has been singing at a high level with good quality and control since 2017. This alone is quite impressive as most voice actors, early on in their career, do not have a high level as singers (there are exceptions, of course).
Due to his unique, gentle singing tone and technique, he’s been a sought-after talent for 2D music projects.
Fans will best know him as ZOOL’s center in the IDOLiSH7 franchise but he’s got a lot of versatility to him that not only make him excel in pop, EDM, and R&B but also rock with EROSION in the CARNELIAN BLOOD franchise and even Eurobeat music as the leader of Himmel in the FABULOUS NIGHT franchise.
In 2021, Yuya Hirose joined the lineup of Golden Record, vocal + dance + rap unit in the Pythagoras Production franchise. He’s the leader as well as vocal/rapper for the group alongside Gakuto Kajiwara, and Shogo Yano.
Versatility, reliability, and quality that few his age have are the details that make Yuya Hirose one of the most exciting young talents with outstanding singing skills.
And he kept on impressing with each performance he delivered in 2021.
Ryota Suzuki is another name that should be in the conversation. He was born in 1998 and is one of the rising talents in the seiyuu industry.
He’s already got a couple of anime roles with some airtime and he’s starting to make waves in 2D music projects.
If you’ve been following this podcast with some attention, you may have noticed that I often mention EROSION, the 5-vocal rock band part of the CARNELIAN BLOOD franchise. Suzuki is part of this band.
Later in 2021, Suzuki was announced as one of the members of the heavy metal 2D project, THE LAST METAL.
So what can I tell you about him?
He’s a warm baritone with a bit of tenor range in him. He’s got a lot of power and energy in his performances so you can always expect him to crank up the tension in whatever song he’s performing.
He’s surprisingly consistent, doesn’t make mistakes of any type in his performances, and harmonizes with a lot of ease.
Ryota Suzuki is showing a lot of promise and I believe it will be a question of time before he starts to be a sought-after seiyuu in 2D music projects.
As far as rising talents in this list go, Gakuto Kajiwara was the first one to make a solo debut and he didn’t even have much work to his name to warrant a solo debut (solo debut with only 3 years of career, while still being an F rank seiyuu).
For those familiar with 2D music projects, Gakuto Kajiwara is the face of the Paradox Live franchise as the leader of BAE, Suzaku.
The project was launched in 2019 and since then, Kajiwara has made it a trend to impress fans of the project with his perfect English pronunciation and an awesome rap flow in both English and Japanese, not to mention his singing skills when there are chorus parts that require the group to sing instead of rapping.
Still in the same year, Gakuto Kajiwara joined the Ensemble Stars!! franchise as a member of the popular group ALKALOID.
In 2020, Kajiwara joined εpsilonΦ (epsilon phi) as its second vocal, and more recently, in 2021, he joined the Pythagoras Production franchise as a member of Golden Record.
Kajiwara has been in high demand for 2D music projects much due to his rising popularity from his work in the Paradox Live franchise and as such, in 2020, he signed with Avex Pictures, making his solo debut in the same year with the single “A Walk”.
In that single, he showed that there was more to himself than just the pop and hip-hop he’d been performing in the past couple of years. He ended up delivering a single that explored pop-rock and acoustic ballads.
He showcased his vocal prowess by delivering emotional performances in both, displaying a technique and control that are striking, especially to find in a seiyuu that was with only 3 years of career as seiyuu when he made his solo debut.
Although I do believe his solo debut was rushed, there’s no denying that Gakuto Kajiwara is a talented singer, still with a lot of room to grow and improve.
A pure tenor with faux baritone range in the mix, Yuki Sakakihara has been responsible for making jaws drop in awe since 2018.
Most of you will be familiar with his work as part of Bad Ass Temple in the Hypnosis Mic franchise or even as the frontman for the electro-rock band εpsilonΦ however, he first started to showcase his singing skills and unique, crystal-clear singing tone around 2018 as the center of La-Veritta in the Readyyy! Project franchise.
He’s one of the rookie talents that 81 Produce bet a whole lot in 2018.
Sakakihara does have a really unique singing tone.
He has really good control over his singing tone, has a clean delivery, his technique is second to none, and his emotions overflow in each of his performances.
He’s genuinely good at conveying emotions and making the listener “care” for what he is singing. In a way, there is a certain dramatic and theatrical touch to his performances that always makes him stand out.
He can sing really high with a clarity that impresses. He can go as low as faux baritone – a skill that is useful for visual-kei rock artists. And he can also be as cheerful and upbeat as you ask of him.
He’s versatile, overflowing with energy, and a want to impress. He’s a diamond in the rough with a strong core skillset as a singer.
In the past couple of years, he’s joined a couple of high-profile 2D music franchises, namely the Hypnosis Mic franchise and from ARGONAVIS franchise.
And in 2021, his most active year so far in his career, he joined the cast of Dragon’s Bite, a 2D entertainment project that mixes seiyuu × cooking × music × Romance of the Three Kingdoms, all in the same place.
He joined the project as a member of SCHWARZE KATZ.
He then joined GAMDOL, original mixed-media project that puts in the same stage idols and gambling.
He is a member of the idol group Gambét (Junta Terashima, Shoya Chiba, Yuki Sakakihara, Jin Ogasawara, and Taito Ban).
He’s also joined HANDEAD ANTHEM, the EDM-centric franchise, as a member of Shura Jodo and ALBA and is showcasing his versatility in all those projects as he raps, sings, and delivers banger after banger.
Sakakihara is a rising star with a bright future ahead, especially taking into account how it is rare to find among voice actors high tenors that are good singers and have a lot of control.
First off, Shun Horie‘s singing tone is otherworldly.
He is a raspy and warm high tenor, something I believe I’d never heard before, well, that’s up until I came across Horie in the VAZZROCK franchise in 2018.
But there’s much more to his singing than what is usually known. He’s versatile, incredibly so.
He can be there belting high notes with Anthos*, adding an alluring twist to his lower raspy tones with Vazzy, or just sounding downright cute in Beit’s songs.
Worth noting that his performances with Beit are far from displaying his technique and robust voice tone, and that’s because what is required of him to perform as Pierre is the polar opposite of his singing style + natural tone.
He can add a lot of flair and elegance to group songs like he’s shown with SparQlew and O★Z.
He can drive a song, be the glue to a group, and absolutely mesmerize you with his performances. His singing is filled with life. You want to just sit back and give him all your attention as soon as he starts singing.
Horie is one of the most complete up-and-coming talents in the seiyuu industry when it comes to singing.
He’s got the composure and comfort on record and stage. He knows his limits on the vocal end as well as makes the best out of his strengths in an effortless fashion.
After listening to him performing “Aoshigure“, solo track on SparQlew’s “Daybreak” mini-album, all the cards are on the table.
Shun Horie has the talent to warrant a solo debut. He’s incredibly versatile and has a unique voice tone. If he wants to actually do something in his own name, something as personal as a solo debut, it’d be more than deserved.
As soon as you listen to him singing, you’ll instantly notice just how impressive and complete he is as a singer.
Easily one of the biggest up-and-coming talents among seiyuu is Shoya Chiba. Seriously, you can feel it in the way the industry is all over him that he’s the next big talent on his way to turn into a star.
He’s got quite the unusual path in the seiyuu industry with several hiatuses early on in his career – and with a parallel career as a live-action actor – but in the past couple of years he’s managed to find his groove and went from an unknown seiyuu to one that people look forward to both in anime but also in the music industry.
Shoya Chiba has a background of playing guitar and singing for rock bands, he’s a music geek with a deep knowledge of music and its history, and to top it all off, he is a singer-songwriter.
He’s also a tenor with quite a lot of low range to himself. You won’t normally find him belting high notes but he can sure as hell provide a lot of depth to a group’s performances or make chills run down your spine if performing a solo track.
He’s best known as the leader of KiLLER KiNG in B-PROJECT as well as the leader of HighXJoker in the IDOLMASTER SideM franchise. Those were his first-ever exposures to working as part of a 2D music group.
However, he’s come a long way since his shaky performances lacking emotion back in 2015.
You could tell that he was still trying to find a way to convey the character’s emotions without compromising quality in his performances.
He was figuring himself out as a singer as well as a voice actor performing character songs.
However, things started to change around 2018, when Chiba started to show vast improvements to his singing technique, a lot of emotion and power, not to mention impressive energy and charisma on stage.
He joined Kashicomi in 2018 alongside Sho Nogami, as well as the popular seiyuu unit, SparQlew.
He’s versatile. He can perform rock, ballads, dance music, and bubbly pop. He can rock the stage as well as dance pretty well.
His voice can be soft and warm, melancholic and somber, bubbly and upbeat, or raw and aggressive. Chiba has the perfect voice tone for it – he’s a tenor – and he’s managed to perfect the way he tackles his performances as well as polished his technique, bringing a lot of falsetto and some bits of vibrato into the mix.
He’s starting to show the makings of a vocal chameleon.
Shoya Chiba polished his vocals and technique and in 2019, he was in his groove.
Since then, he’s been a delight to follow and has been on the rise, being one of the most sought-after young talents in the seiyuu industry when it comes to 2D music projects.
Those are 4 of the highest-profile 2D music or mixed-media franchises that were launched in 2020 and 2021.
That’s him performing aggressive rock with screamo (at times), dance music with R&B and pop in the mix, visual-kei rock, and pop-rock.
That’s Shoya Chiba once again showing that he’s got the talent and versatility that justify him being the face and voice of those projects.
He’s that one seiyuu that I seriously hope will end up making a solo debut. He can dabble as a songwriter and lyricist as well having showcased some of his skills with 8P as well as with his solo track “Criminal” (included in the mini-album “Daybreak”).
He’s already got plenty of the things needed for that to happen and for his solo debut to be successful.
Out of all seiyuu in this list, Shoya Chiba is the one that can properly be called a rising star given how many high-profile 2D music projects he’s a face of, as well as how in-demand he is for plenty of other projects.
As 2021 wraps up, Shoya Chiba stands as the most exciting rising star making his way to the top. And the buzz and anticipation are there in the seiyuu industry.
These are just 9 out of the 14 young talents in the voice acting industry in Japan that I consider that have been showcasing outstanding singing skills, are on their way to becoming top stars, or have only recently started to make people notice them.
You can check more impressions as well as the complete coverage of all 14 seiyuu (including some suggestions by THTFHQ’s viewers) on episodes 60 and 65 of SEIYUU LOUNGE, The Hand That Feeds HQ’s official weekly podcast in video format.
If you prefer content on the go, you can find all about these 14 rising stars in the sound-only version of SEIYUU LOUNGE.
You can find the podcast on the following platforms