Seiyuu Digest #109 – Kengo Kawanishi

While his career took a bit to take off, as soon as it did, Kengo Kawanishi has never stopped being one of the references in the seiyuu industry.

Kengo Kawanishi

Kengo Kawanishi

KANJI: 河西健吾

BORN: February 18, 1985

OCCUPATION: Voice actor

HEIGHT: 158cm

Kengo Kawanishi was born on February 18, 1985, in Osaka, Japan, and is currently represented by Mausu Promotion.

Seiyuu

The trigger for becoming a voice actor stemmed, like for the majority of seiyuu, from a childhood love of anime and games.

Despite following a conventional educational path through high school and university, Kawanishi felt that the prospect of continuing with routine studies and a subsequent job didn’t seem appealing.

If anything was interesting to pursue in his life, Kawanishi believed it could be found in the entertainment industry. And why? Because the path of an actor relied on one’s own body and passions, something that attracted him a lot.

With that focus, he decided to give it a try to voice acting, enrolling at Amusement Media Academy’s Voice Acting Department. He graduated in 2005 and soon after joined

In 2005, he graduated from the Amusement Media Academy’s Voice Acting Department. Following this, they completed the 14th term of the Office Kaoru Voice Actor Training School. It was time to make his debut.

2006 – 2014

The first steps in the industry

Kawanishi made his debut as a voice actor in 2006. Much like you’d expect from a rookie seiyuu, his first years in the industry were not the most eventful.

He got a couple of minor roles in anime series and kept himself busy, slowly building his repertoire to open the doors to a big break.

From 2006 until 2014, he had several minor roles in Kanon, Naruto: Shippuuden, Angel Heart, Doraemon, Hakuoki, Gintama, Gosick, Blood-C, Aldnoah.Zero, and Psycho-Pass 2.

His first 8 years in the industry were so irregular to the point that he didn’t get any work in anime in 2007 and 2008, then appeared again with minor roles in anime series.

Junta Nakao
Junta Nakao

There were a couple of supporting roles standing out in his repertoire during this time. One such role was as the laid-back Junta Nakao in the psychological/horror anime series, Another.

In June 2012, Kawanishi left the talent agency, Office Kaoru. He would end up freelancing until January 2013 when he announced he was now represented by Mausu Promotion.

Wataru Kariba Diamond no Ace

In 2013, he joined the cast of the popular sports anime, Diamond no Ace.

He was cast as Wataru Kariba, a second-string catcher from Seidou High. He is friendly and quite supportive of the series’ protagonist, the pitcher Sawamura (CV: Ryota Osaka).

Shigeru Yahaba
Shigeru Yahaba

In 2014, he voiced the calm and carefree Shigeru Yahaba.

He is a second-year student and backup setter and pinch server at Aoba Johsai High in the popular sports anime, Haikyuu!!.

These roles span a variety of genres, including comedy, sports, drama, horror, fantasy, and supernatural, already showing that Kawanishi was aiming at branching out from the get-go.

During this period, he also voiced characters in the following anime series:

  • Saki (2009)
  • Asobi ni Iku yo! (2010)
  • Sazae-san (2010)
  • Beelzebub (2011)
  • Deadman Wonderland (2011)
  • Chocolat no Mahou (2011)
  • Inu x Boku SS (2012)
  • Phi Brain: Puzzle of God (2012)
  • Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de (2012)
  • Inazuma Eleven Go: Galaxy (2013)
  • Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (2013)
  • Golden Time (2013)
  • Strike the Blood (2013)
  • Little Busters! Refrain (2013)
  • Nagi no Asukara (2013)
  • Samurai Flamenco (2013)
  • Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (2013)
  • Space Dandy (2014)
  • Nobunaga the Fool (2014)
  • Tokyo ESP (2014)
  • Black Bullet (2014)

2015 – 2018

First leading role and keeping up the momentum

It took Kawanishi longer than usual in the seiyuu industry to get his big break. However, it was more than worth the 8-year wait and hard work with minor roles and some supporting characters.

Mikazuki Augus
Mikazuki Augus

His career would take a big turn in 2015 as he got his first-ever leading role in an anime series. He was cast as Mikazuki Augus in “Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans“.

Augus is a calm and collected individual with an easygoing personality – much in line with Kawanishi’s roles up until then. In a surprising contrast, he is cold-blooded and will not hesitate to finish off his enemies.

Kawanishi brought to this performance a touch of ruthlessness, darkness, and aloofness, something that made Augus stand among a cast of memorable characters.

This was the first time that Kawanishi would get this much time in the spotlight, with the series going for 25 episodes and being received both in Japan as well as overseas.

From this point on, the doors were open for Kawanishi to become more requested for anime series and games alike.

Rei Kiriyama
Rei Kiriyama

In 2016, Kawanishi would make waves with his performance in the drama anime series, March Comes Like a Lion.

He was cast as the series protagonist, Rei Kiriyama, a teenage professional shogi player. But there is much more to this character than what meets the eye, a big reason why this was one of the most talked about anime series and characters in 2016.

Rei has an extremely complex personality and background. He is a genius shogi player but his connection with the game is rather superficial – out of convenience. In his life, he struggles with his personal relationships – a result of traumatic events in his past – and craves for connection and attention of others.

Throughout the series, the character overcomes loss and slowly builds friendships that go beyond those who play shogi.

This was one of the most complex roles that Kawanishi had to tackle as a voice actor as characters who suffer from anxiety are not usually portrayed in anime. Still, he gave life to a self-pitying Rei and slowly showed him healing throughout the series.

Jin Ebihara
Jin Ebihara

In the 2017 he was cast as Jin Ebihara, one of the main characters in the slice-of-life anime series, Kabuki-bu!.

Li Hu Voice of Fox
Li Hu

2018 was a quieter year when it came to Kawanishi nailing leading roles in anime series. He was cast as Li Hu, the protagonist in the music anime, Voice of Fox.

Complementing this main role, Kawanishi was cast in supporting roles in anime series such as Hinamatsuri, Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru, and Major 2nd.

During this period, he also voiced characters in the following anime series:

  • Seraph of the End (2015)
  • Arslan Senki (2015)
  • Shokugeki no Souma (2015)
  • Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri (2015)
  • Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai (2015)
  • Charlotte (2015)
  • Boruto: Naruto the Movie (2015)
  • Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. (2015)
  • Monster Strike (2015)
  • Prince of Stride: Alternative (2016)
  • Bubuki Buranki (2016)
  • ALL OUT!! (2016)
  • Saiki Kusuo no Psi-nan (2016)
  • God Eater (2016)
  • Boruto: Naruto Next Generations (2017)
  • Dive!! (2017)
  • “The iDOLM@STER SideM (2017)
  • Dorei-ku The Animation (2018)
  • Jingai-san no Yome (2018)

2019 –

A renowned popularity breathing new life into his career

Having already shown what he could when voicing protagonists in anime series – and especially how good he was with more complex characters -, Kengo Kawanishi continue to be sought-after in 2019.

Ritsu Souma
Ritsu Souma

He kicked off voicing Ritsu Souma, character representing the Monkey in the Chinese Zodiac, in the drama anime series, Fruits Basket.

This was a performance that strayed away from the type of roles Kawanishi usually does.

Not only did it tap into a different side of his vocal range – going higher and sounding more androgynous – but it was also a character that through its behavior ended up having some comedic moments throughout the series – even if their character arc is quite emotional.

Muichiro Tokito
Muichiro Tokito

He was then cast as Muichiro Tokito, one of the major supporting characters in the hit anime series, Demon Slayer.

Tokito is a Demon Hunter with quite the airheaded personality but, at the same, a hatred for demons that has him in a laser focus mission to erradicate them. Logic takes precedence to emotions, making him look quite practical and cold.

This is, alongside his role as Rei in March Comes Like a Lion, one of the most beloved roles in Kawanishi’s repertoire. And this was the role that shot Kawanishi to a new popularity high, something that all the voice actors in the series ended up experiencing.

For him, this popularity boost opened doors for more projects than usual – mixing main and supporting roles.

Inyou
Inyou

In the same year, he was cast as the opportunist Inyou in the anime series, Ultramarine Magmell.

Gen Asagiri
Gen Asagiri

Still in the same year, Kawanishi added another massive role to his repertoire. He was cast as Gen Asagiri in the popular anime series, Dr. Stone.

Asagiri arrives as another character who is operating in a grey zone, being a master manipulator and liar, making him untrustworthy and a threat for the characters in the series.

Natsusa Yuzuki
Natsusa Yuzuki

2020 kicked off with a main role in the sports anime series, number24. He was cast as the series’ sadistic and sassy protagonist, Natsusa Yuzuki.

Liu
Liu

He was then cast as the Japanese dub for Liu Gongzi, the protagonist in the Chinese anime series, Fairies Albums.

Nahoya Kawata

In 2021, he was cast as Nahoya Kawata, the Fourth Division Captain of the Tokyo Manji Gang, in the popular anime series, Tokyo Revengers.

He’s impossible to read as he’s always smilling even when fighting others. At his core, he is extremely loyal to his gang but his loyalties hold stronger with his younger brother.

Haruka Hashida Blue Period
Haruka Hashida

Still in the same year, he was cast as the eccentric and aloof Haruka Hashida in the anime series, Blue Period.

2022 ended up being a year of reprisals in anime series. He reprised his roles in Vanitas no Karte Part 2, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Special Edition, Dr. Stone: Ryuusui and Orient: Awajishima Gekitou-hen.

Eita Otoya
Eita Otoya

Still in the same year, he was cast as the laidback and confident Eita Otoya, one of the supporting characters in the sports anime hit, Blue Lock.

Junta Shiraishi
Junta Shiraishi

Before the end, Kawanishi was cast as Junta Shiraishi, the protagonist in the comedy/romance anime series, Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible.

Rosho Tsutsujimori Hypmic Anime
Rosho Tsutsujimori

In 2023, Kawanishi finally got to reprise his role as Dotsuitare Hompo’s Rosho Tsutsujimori in Hypnosis Mic: Division Rap Battle – Rhyme Anima +.

For 2024, he is set to voice characters in Kimetsu no Yaiba: Hashira Geiko-hen (reprising his role as Tokito), Kaijuu 8-gou and Boukyaku Battery.

During this period, he also voiced characters in the following anime series:

  • Fire Force (2019)
  • Ahiru no Sora (2019)
  • Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai! (2019)
  • Kakushigoto (2020)
  • Shadowverse (2020)
  • King’s Raid: Ishi wo Tsugumono-tachi (2020)
  • Crayon Shin-chan (2020)
  • Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei: Raihousha-hen (2020)
  • Log Horizon: Entaku Houkai (2021)
  • Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (2021)
  • Shiguang Dailiren (2021)
  • Vanitas no Karte (2021)
  • Orient (2022)
  • Tensai Ouji no Akaji Kokka Saisei Jutsu (2022)
  • Overlord IV (2022)
  • Shadowverse Flame (2022)
  • Mob Psycho 100 III (2022)
  • Chainsaw Man (2022)
  • Mashle (2023)
  • Overtake! (2023)
  • Captain Tsubasa Season 2: Junior Youth-hen (2023)
  • Nanatsu no Taizai: Mokushiroku no Yonkishi (2023)

Radio

When it comes to his work on radio shows, you can expect Kawanishi to be at home in those.

He is energetic, fun and if he is paired with other seiyuu, you can expect him to crack jokes or say funny things with a straight face completely ruining the composure of his co-hosts (or even of the show’s hosts when he is a guest).

His welcoming vibe ends up making guests on his shows feel at ease, something that helps the conversation flow and makes any nervousness go away.

Below are some of the radio shows he has hosted/co-hosted:

Kanmidokoro waraji (2017)

Kengo Kawanishi was then invited to co-host the radio show “Kanmidokoro waraji” (甘味処わらじ).

Alongside Junta Terashima, Kawanishi talks about games – from analog to digital – that he wants to play or has played. Listeners are invited to share their impressions of the video games they are playing.

Kawanishi Kengo Amasaki Kouhei Tenkaippin (2019 – )

Since 2019, Kengo Kawanishi has been working alongside fellow seiyuu Kouhei Amasaki.

The duo co-hosts the radio show “Kawanishi Kengo Amasaki Kouhei Tenkaippin” (河西健吾 天﨑滉平 天河一品).

Other radio shows he has hosted/co-hosted/guested include:

  • Tekkadan Broadcasting Station (2015-2018)
  • Ishikawa Kaito to Kawanishi Kengo no Sakurada Reset Houshi Radio (2017)
  • Kawanishi Kengo no Tetsu kamen janai radio! (2018)
  • Voice actor NOTE (2020)

Games

Kawanishi is equally prolific when it comes to voicing characters in video games. Fans will find him voicing complex characters with a dash of darkness from time to time.

You know for sure that if Kawanishi is voicing a character in a game, he will be voicing someone with quite the complex personality (and you can expect a turn or two in those characters’ stories).

He has voiced characters in RPGs, action, sports, figthting, rhythm/music, strategy, otome/romance, and horror games.

His first role in video games was as Fin in LORD OF SORCERY (2012).

He’s lent voice to characters such as:

Rosho Tsutsujimori in Hypnosis Mic – Alternative Rap Battle – (2020 -)

Rosho Tsutsujimori

Kawanishi reprised his role as Dotsuitare Hompo‘s Rosho Tsutsujimori in the smartphone game, Hypnosis Mic – Alternative Rap Battle –.

Rosho is a teacher who was once part of a Manzai – a style of comedy from Osaka and beloved in Japan – but due to a certain event, he now has stage fright and can’t speak normally when facing crowds. Despite his rebellious look, he is beloved by his students, peers and friends.

The game features a short introductory story for each crew, highlighting how Fling Posse came to be as well as their internal dynamics, which are drastically different from all other crews.

Noritsune Taira in Birushana (2020 – 2022)

Noritsune Taira

Easily one of the most iconic roles Kawanishi has done for otome games is Noritsune Taira in Birushana.

Noritsune is righteous samurai and crafty war general, focused on improving his craft while straying away from the hedonistic lifestyle of the Taira clan.

He has a one-sided rivalry with the series’ protagonist Shanao – which is controlled by the player -, making sure to encounter the character several times throughout the game in order to have a duel.

During his route, players will experience one of the best romances in the game, one that rises from a place of rivalry – and remains so – but also one in which Noritsune acknowledges Shanao not only as his rival, but also as the person he’d love the most to be fighting alongside (and sharing his life with).

Kawanishi did an amazing job giving life to Noritsune, starting from his heated rivalry to him changing his ways and forging his own path. His growth and maturity show in Kawanishi’s portrayal from the little details to the bigger actions.

For many Birushana players, Noritsune ends up having the best – and most natural – romance in the game, standing out when he’s not even the cannon choice in the game.

He also voiced characters in the following games (list is not exhaustive):

  • The Evil Within
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme VS Force
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • Fate/Grand Order
  • Haikyu!! Tsunage! Itadaki no keshiki!!
  • Touken Ranbu
  • Prince of Stride
  • Sengoku Night Blood
  • Nioh 2
  • Honkai Star Rail
  • Onmyouji
  • Fate/Samurai Remnant

Narration / Dubbing

Contrary to most seiyuu, he’s actually quite active in narration and dubbing.

When it comes to dubbing, although he is not the official Japanese dub voice, he has been dubbing Lucas Hedges and Sterling Knight’s roles in movies for quite a while.

He has credits dubbing in foreign movies and TV series such as:

  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 9
  • Cold Case Season 6
  • American Gods
  • Heroes
  • Grey’s Anatomy Season 7 and 9
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • Rizzoli & Isles Season 2
  • Supernatural Season 7
  • iCarly
  • Law & Order Season 17 and 18
  • Hawaii Five-0 Season 4
  • Empress Ki
  • River Where the Moon Rises
  • Ghost Whisperer Season 3
  • The Book Thief
  • Queen Seondeok
  • The D Train
  • Dessau Dancers
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
  • Into the Storm
  • It Follows
  • They Found Hell

Kawanishi has lent his narration talents to JR East Japan and Nihon TV and voiced several commercials for TV series or shows.

Drama CDs

Kengo Kawanishi has voiced characters in more than 30 drama CDs. Fans can find him more commonly voicing characters in Boys Love (BL), niche in which he has been fairly active in the past couple of years.

At the same time, he has voiced characters in tie-up drama CDs for anime and games.

Some of the drama CDs he has voiced characters in include:

  • Dear Vocalist series (since 2022)
  • Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle- (since 2019)
  • Yoake no Uta
  • Fudanshi-kun no Citrus Days
  • Jackass!
  • Choco Strawberry Vanilla
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans EPISODE DRAMA
  • Fire Emblem Echoes: Another Hero King on a Foreign Sky, Dawn of the Forest
  • Sayonara Koibito Mata Kite Tomodachi
  • Techuu ni Otooshite Ii Desu ka
  • Ai wa Kane Nari
  • Ikigami to Donor
  • Platinum Blood
  • Oshioki Execute
  • Neko to Watashi no Kinyoubi
  • Hibi Chouchou

Music

While Kengo Kawanishi may not be in many 2D projects, for the few he is cast in he has shown that not only does he know how to sing – and impress – but also has a groovy rap flow (as fans can assess from his work with Dotsuitare Hompo in the Hypnosis Mic franchise).

If you are coming across him for the very first time you will encounter a tenor voice with a bit of an interesting voice color – darker and full of emotional – and natural warmth.

From what he has shown so far, he is quite versatile and skilled. His singing is rock solid and he shows a lot of control over his vocals. He can perform in unison, harmonize with others but also put on a show of his own with ad-libs, high notes – in falsetto – and go all out with fancy rapping.

His delivery is quite frequently sweet and mellow. He fits perfectly in that spectrum of tenors with a sweet voice.

He’s best known for being part of the following 2D music groups:

Hoshikuzu Ryodan (2019 -)

Hoshikuzu ryodan

In 2019, UNIVERSAL MUSIC JAPAN launched the 2D jazz music project JAZZ-ON!.

Alongside Makoto Furukawa, Yoshiki Nakajima, Kento Ito, Yoshiki Murakami, Haruki Ishiya, Shun Horie, and Takeaki Masuyama, Kengo Kawanishi is part of Hoshikuzu Ryodan, group that has a hybrid approach to jazz music.

Ryodan nakama wa shinjite mo, rakuda no himo wa shibatte oke

The group released its first CD JAZZ-ON! Sessions 「Ryodan nakama wa shinjite mo, rakuda no himo wa shibatte oke in 2019.

Due to the franchise’s unusual organization of pair and group songs, in this CD, Kawanishi didn’t perform any song.

In 2020, the group released JAZZ-ON! Sessions 「星屑寄れば文殊の知恵」(Hoshikuzu Yoreba Monju no Chie).

Hoshikuzu Yoreba Monju no Chie
Hoshikuzu Yoreba Monju no Chie

In this CD, Kawanishi showed his vocal chops by performing alongside Yoshiki Nakajima in “Exodus“.

For this performance, he was in charge of the core of the song, keeping everything together while taking his chances to shine.

In 2021, the JAZZ-ON! franchise kicked off its very 1st shuffle CD series. The series would end up having a total of 4 CDs.

Tone of Stars Beta JAZZ-ON!

Kengo Kawanishi participated in Tone of Stars Beta. He performed the self-titled song “Tone of Stars Beta” alongside Kent Ito, Yoshiki Nakajima and Haruki Ishiya.

And also in the same CD, Kawanishi performed “We are here” alongside Arthur Lounsbery.

In 2022, the JAZZ-ON! franchise announced its temporary hiatus.

Known for their quirky rap style, Dotsuitare Hompo didn’t take long to be beloved among fans of the Hypnosis Mic franchise.

The group features Ryota Iwasaki (as Sasara), Kengo Kawanishi (as Rosho), and Takaya Kuroda (as Rei). They represent Osaka. Their sound and rapping style are pretty quirky yet a perfect representation of the bustling yet laidback of the prefecture’s natives.

However, the sound of the group can be pretty different between members.

Sasara is obviously the most traditional representation of the prefecture, with his sound being upbeat, fast and riding on shamisen and shakuhachi melodies and a “pun” filled rap style that takes influences from Osaka’s Manzai style of comedy.

Rosho goes towards a jazz-hop sound, quiet and more rational, much following the character’s background as a teacher. Now, when it comes to Rei things get drastically different.

Rei (CV: Takuya Kuroda)’s sound is imposing and intimidating, with his rap not sparing anything nor anyone. Hard-hitting trap coats his whole vibe, making him the member that stands out the most within the group (not even going about his flashy dressing style).

dotsuitare honpo

The crew debuted in 2019 with the outstanding album, Ah, Osaka dreamin’night.

The mini-album was Gold Record certificated (100,000 physical copies sold) by RIAJ (Recording Industry Association of Japan), attaining that feat a month after its release.

Dotsuitare Hompo cover

At the time I reviewed this album I wrote “Dotsuitare Hompo make an astounding debut with Ah, Osaka dreamin’ night. The album is playful, fun, and overflowing with a unique energy that is essentially, Osaka encapsulated in music form.“.

It truly felt like they captured the fun and familiarity of Osaka in music form at the same time that they showed the city’s different sides through 3 completely different solo songs.

For this CD, Kawanishi – as Rosho – performed “Own Stage“.

The performance and sound are stylish, groovy, and slow-paced, exuding a nostalgic 90s vibe that is impossible not to groove while listening to it, even if a lot of math is being spewed at the listener.

Surprising performance, especially taking into account how Rosho was having a hard time finding his groove in the title track.

Dotsuitare Hompo
Dotsuitare Hompo (Kengo Kawanishi, Ryota Iwasaki and Takaya Kuroda)

The group was announced during Hypnosis mic- Division Rap Battle – 4th LIVE @ Osaka, massive live held in 2019 that counted with Buster Bros!!!, MAD TRIGGER CREW, Fling Posse, Matenro, and the, then recently announced Bad Ass Temple and Dotsuitare Hompo.

In 2020 due to issues with Coronavirus (COVID-19), Hypnosis Mic’s ambitious MetLife Dome live, SIX SHOTS TO THE DOME was cancelled.

Instead, all crews performed on 29/03/2020 on a special broadcast by AbemaTV, Hypnosis mic- Division Rap Battle – 5th LIVE @ AbemaTV – SIX SHOTS UNTIL THE DOME that counted with millions of live views.

Dotsuitare Hompo‘s members work pretty well together, harmonizing in singing parts, covering for each other in the background, and exuding a unique energy that captivates the listener.

They are just like you’d imagine: flashy – however, without the cheesiness that, for example, Matenro’s Hifumi brings to the table -, imposing and with contrasting vibes that, one way or another, fit pretty well in this group.

The first franchise release on Blu-ray and DVD is Hypnosis mic- Division Rap Battle – 4th LIVE @ Osaka, massive live show held in 2019 that counted with Buster Bros!!!, MAD TRIGGER CREW, Fling Posse, Matenro.

This was the first live appearance for the recently debuted Dotsuitare Honpo and Bad Ass Temple.

In 2020, due to issues with Coronavirus (COVID-19), Hypnosis Mic’s ambitious MetLife Dome live, SIX SHOTS TO THE DOME was cancelled.

Instead, all crews performed on 29/03/2020 on a special broadcast by AbemaTV, Hypnosis mic- Division Rap Battle – 5th LIVE @ AbemaTV – SIX SHOTS UNTIL THE DOME that counted with millions of live views.

In January 2021, the Hypnosis Mic held its 6th live “2nd D.R.B”, with the 3rd battle counting with Dotsuitare Hompo vs Buster Bros!!!.

Despite their efforts with “Wara Osaka! What a OSAKA!“ in “Dotsuitare Hompo vs Buster Bros!!!“, album that served as the catalyst for this live show, Dotsuitare Hompo lost the battle to Buster Bros!!! with “Re:start!!!”.

Later in August 2021, the crew performed live at Hypnosis Mic 7th live “SUMMIT OF DIVISIONS”.

Kicking off the year, Dotsuitare Hompo participated in Hypnosis Mic’s 2nd full-length album “CROSS A LINE“.

The crew performed “縁 -ENISHI-”, song that introduced Ska music into the Hypnosis Mic franchise.

At the time I reviewed this song I wrote “Dotsuitare Hompo embraces a ska sound for this tune, bringing forth tropical-inspired brass and piano melodies, playful guitar riffs, and a jazz-inspired beat. This is ska at its best. The tempo is irregular and fun, the guitar stabs and bassline will have you jamming to this track in no time, moving to the good vibes.

Soon after, the crew released its 2nd CD “Dotsuitare Hompo -No double dipping!-“. The CD included a new solo track by Rosho titled “Under Sail“.

Still in the same year, the crew was back on stage for Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle- 8th LIVE《CONNECT THE LINE》.

This was the first time that Kawanishi performed the solo song “Under Sail”.

In April 2023, the Hypnosis Mic franchise held a large-scale live show featuring all crews titled Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle- 9th LIVE ≪ZERO OUT≫.

In August 2023, the group participated in the franchise’s 1st ever EPs.

This was the first time that members of all rap crews participated in shuffle groups, brought bands to the spotlight

As Rosho, Kawanishi participated in “The Block Party – HOMIEs –”, performing “Maido! Ikitaro kai! ~OSAKA Big Up~” alongside Sasara Nurude (CV: Ryota Iwasaki).

In January 2024, the Hypnosis Mic franchise released “Welcome 2 Rhyme Anima+”, album including all the songs featured in Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle- Rhyme Anima +, the 2nd season of the franchise’s anime series.

The CD includes Dotsuitare Hompo’s new song “New World“.

Division All Stars (2020 -)

After the franchise introduced 2 new units to the franchise, Dotsuitare Honpo, and Bad Ass Temple, the classic track got a revamp, thus Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle-+ was released.

In 2020, Division All Stars made their comeback and once again revamped one of their hit songs. Hypnosis Mic -Division Battle Anthem- was revamped, adding Dotsuitare Honpo and Bad Ass Temple into the mix, creating Hypnosis Mic -Division Battle Anthem-+.

And in 2020, Division All Stars released the fan favorite, and up until July of the same year, in-game exclusive, Survival of the Illest.

Still in the same year, Division All Stars released the funky tune “SUMMIT OF DIVISIONS“. The song was included in the franchise’s Hypnosis Mic – Division Rap Battle – Official Guide Book.

A year later “Hypnosis Mic-Glory or Dust-“ was released.

The song featured a 3D CGI animated music video – the first one in the Hypnosis Mic -, going in line with the franchise’s recent bet in VR and CGI technology to improve the visibility of its contents.

A couple of months later and still in 2021, Division All Stars released an extended version of the groovy hit tune “Survival of the Illest“.

The reworked song was titled “Survival of the Illest+” and included Dotsuitare Hompo and Bad Ass Temple in the recording.

In 2021, Division All Stars released the funky hip-hop tune with a ’90s touch “Hang out!“.

Still in the same year, the group released a new – extended – version of “Hoodstar”. Now including the rapping by Bad Ass Temple and Dotsuitare Hompo, “Hoodstar+” was released.

In 2022, the Hypnosis Mic franchise released its 2nd full-length album “CROSS A LINE“.

In this album, which included new songs by all crews, there is the groovy self-titled all-star song.

With the premiere of the 2nd season of the anime series in 2023, Division All Stars released the digital single “RISE FROM DEAD”.

VS AMBIVALENZ (activities as the 14 member group – 2021 – 2022)

VS AMBIVALENZ

VS AMBIVALENZ is a 2D music project by NIZISTA (best known for HANDEAD ANTHEM).

It was launched with a unique survival show format in which only 7 out of the 14 members would make it to the final group.

The cast includes Shintaro Asanuma, Makoto Furukawa, Chiaki Kobayashi, Reiou Tsuchida, Tasuku Hatanaka, Kengo Kawanishi and Ayumu Murase.

All seiyuu lend their voice to 2 characters in this franchise. And 1 of the characters that each seiyuu voiced would not make it to the final group.

Kengo Kawanishi voiced ISSEI and MIO.

In 2023, it was decided that Kawanishi would be voicing ISSEI, a member of XlamV.

The group debuted in 2021 with “Go My Own Way”.

They arrived with a sound that was nothing like what you’d listened to up until then from 2D idol groups.

The care for quality music and technical performances was there. The balance between vocals was insane. Their sound was upbeat and tasteful while the soundscapes were aesthetically pleasing.

The highlight of this release was “Restart“, song that put the spotlight on Ayumu Murase, Reiou Tsuchida, and Makoto Furukawa’s vocals.

“Restart” is pretty much flawless on all fronts, not to mention insanely catchy.

Still in the same year, the franchise released its 2nd CD in the 1st season (out of 2 to decide who the 7 members making it to the final lineup were).

VS AMBIVALENZ’s “PreOrder” was not a perfect entry, especially when its first CD was quite impressive, but it still had its awesome moments, more quality on the vocals, and music almost for all tastes.

You have trap music, hip-hop, and R&B in the electrifying “PreOrder”, enka, Eurobeat, and pop in “Ai no Uta” and then an emotional EDM-meets-hip-hop tune in “Fight-or-Flight”.

Team Classic‘s NAGOMU and CUC (CV: Shintaro Asanuma), ISSEI, and MIO (CV: Kengo Kawanishi), and JINTARO and CION (CV: Chiaki Kobayashi) delivered the best performance to date in the VS AMBIVALENZ with the emotional “Fight-or-Flight“.

6 voices, 3 of those high, 3 of those are comfortable baritone or low tenor vocals. You have this balance right off the bat in this song.

This was a lineup that was impressively well balanced, bringing 3 singers that can pull off those high notes in the chorus. What they did together was bloody brilliant and, to this day, makes this song one of the biggest highlights there is.

This is one of those songs that you can’t just describe. You need to listen to it to understand how amazing it is.

2022 arrived and with it came the 2nd and last CD season for this 14-member lineup.

In “VSA Musical”, the franchise tackled songs that felt like a musical, showcasing a more intense and dramatic side to each performer.

VS AMBIVALENZ “VSA Musical” is, just like its title, all about its musical sound. The first two songs are presented in a way that it feels like you’re watching a musical play unfold.

You have different acts within each song, the songs progress through a mix of talk parts and singing and the cast made sure to deliver performances with a lot of drama.

However, as interesting as each song is, I feel like when you listen to both tracks (over 7 minutes long each), many things are lost in translation and would fare better when performed on stage rather than on sound only. Highlights on the vocal end belonged to Makoto Furukawa, Tasuku Hatanaka and Ayumu Murase.

The three were relentless on the vocal end, fitting perfectly with the technically dramatic style of singing that was required in all songs.

VS AMBIVALENZ

Later in 2022, the 14-member group wrapped up its activities with the release of “Still On Journey”.

After this, in a final vote, the fans decided who would be a member of the 2D idol group, XlamV.

Veronica (2022 -)

In 2022, Kengo Kawanishi joined the cast of Veronica, an eclectic and disruptive rock band fronted by Momochi (CV: Toshiyuki Toyonaga) and part of the Dear Vocalist franchise.

He made his first appearance in the UNLIMITED CD series (7th season of drama + music CDs) in this franchise.

Veronica consists of:

For this band, Kawanishi only voices AMA in the drama CDs. He doesn’t participate in the “you and vocalist” part drama CD, only the “band” drama CD.

He is set to appear in the 8th season of the CD series titled HEADLINER, kicking off sometime in 2024.

XlamV (2023 -)

XlamV

After a full year of activities to determine the final 7-member lineup for VS AMBIVALENZ, fans made their choice.

The once 14-member lineup – with seiyuu voicing two characters representing a color – turned into the 7-member unit XlamV (read: Kranve) ready to shine.

“XlamV” is a word that combines “climb” and the Roman numeral “XIV” (meaning 14), meaning those who have won the audition but also paying homage to everyone who participated.

The “V” in the name also means “VICTORY”, including the vow to surprise the world and aim to become an idol group that will reach the top.

The full lineup is as follows:

XlamV

The group announced the release in April 2023 of their debut digital single “From me“.

From Me” broke away from clichés for pop tunes by 2D idol groups, avoiding a high-tension EDM sound while highlighting each member’s vocals at all times.

The composition is daring enough to change keys midway and evolve in front of you, creating a pure and clean singing experience that shows a different focus, and a different determination for XlamV.

This was the first of 3 digital singles, and everyone was excited to see and hear them.

XlamV This my way

This is my way” takes listeners on a captivating journey, guided by atmospheric synths and the warm R&B-style riffs of Tasuku Hatanaka.

XlamV’s “This is my way” showcases a potent fusion of EDM and pop, characterized by its pristine production, ethereal soundscapes, and a strong focus on the vocal performances.

Once again, the group’s vocal abilities shine brightly, solidifying XlamV as one of the most harmonious and cohesive 2D groups in today’s 2D music scene.

The third single was “Groovy Night” and yet again, XlamV was creating music no other 2D group was up until then.

XlamV "Groovy Night"

Groovy Night” embodies a downtempo, mature nu-disco sound, and the vocals follow suit with their melodic and warm delivery.

While Tasuku Hatanaka, Makoto Furukawa, and Ayumu Murase provide ad-libs and riffs, the spotlight is on Kengo Kawanishi, Shintaro Asanuma, Reiou Tsuchida, and Chiaki Kobayashi.

They bring a funky energy to the forefront, making the song ridiculously groovy for the listener. “Groovy Night” is an addictive entry in XlamV’s repertoire and another exciting look at the group’s potential going forward.

And the time was here for the release of the 1st EP “Climb“.

XlamV climb

XlamV’s journey, starting with 14 members and refining to a final 7, has been amazing.

The series of digital singles culminating in the EP “Climb” proved they are the big surprise of the year and one of the best 2D groups active in 2023.

On the vocal end, Makoto Furukawa impresses with his evolution as a singer, while Chiaki Kobayashi’s warmth and consistency shine throughout. Tasuku Hatanaka stands out as the driving force behind the group’s performances.

Kengo Kawanishi proved to be essential for the core of this group due to his versatility and skills as a singer. You will find him often giving a lot of power and energy to XlamV’s songs but when it comes to his time in the spotlight, he ensures you are dazzled.

His comfort and control as a singer make it so that he can easily mix and match with other voice tones and singers within this group and never steal the show from them, instead complementing them.

XlamV’s “climb” easily stood out as one of the top 10 CDs released in 2023, showcasing their stylish sound and talent.

XlamV raise

After that, the group released two additional digital singles “Said that” and “Mikan“, leading up to the release of their astounding 2nd EP “Raise“.

If you thought “climb” was amazing, you have to listen to XlamV’s 2nd EP, “raise”.

In the review, I added “This EP feels like a massive leap in quality in their music and performances at the same time that they changed things around in their vibe. Yes, XlamV sounds more mature as a group.

This is something you’d expect from a second big album or EP and this is exactly what they deliver. But there is more. The tone is more serious and there is more intensity in their sound in “Said that”, the group, for the first time shows their loving and romantic side in “what about love”, they go all out with a funky performance made for the dancefloor in “Mikan” and deliver one of the most unique songs in their repertoire with “A.S.A.P”.

Since the start of their career, XlamV has shown that they are a group not afraid of creating music other 2D groups don’t, and better yet, doing it with such a high level of quality that it is impossible not to feel curious about them and their music.

On my end and after reviewing this EP, I only have to add that this is XlamV’s best EP to date and that the group’s evolution and growth have made them even more unique and interesting to listen to.

This was a surprising bump in quality and maturity for XlamV, something that instantly made the EP join the conversation of the best albums released in 2024.

Variety

Kawanishi always brings good vibes to the talk and variety shows he is invited to. Due to his laidback and welcoming behavior, some hosts will use that against him and tease him to no end.

One such example was in Say you to Yoasobi in which Nobuhiko Okamoto and Hiroki Yasumoto started praising his Kansai accent and friendly vibe to the point that Kawanishi was already visibly embarrassed.

Some of the variety/talk shows he has participated include:

Santaku (guest in 2017)

Santaku Kengo Kawanishi

In 2017, Kawanishi was invited alongside Daiki Yamashita as a guest on Santaku, variety show hosted by Takuya Eguchi and Taku Yashiro.

As it is common for the show, the guests had to choose their “Taku” name, with Kawanishi choosing “Kentaku” as his name for the show.

Aside from this, hosts and guests played Train Simulator, with Taku Yashiro embodying the role of a train station staff member while Kawanishi was driving the train through the various stages.

This started as a simple game but Kawanishi and Yashiro started their own role play prompting Takuya Eguchi to say “There they go…”.

Hypnosis Mic variety

Still in 2020, Kengo Kawanishi participated in Hypnosis Mic -Division Variety Battle @ ABEMA alongside fellow Dotsuitare Hompo members Ryota Iwasaki and Takaya Kuroda.

The variety show included impromptu rap battles, an information corner – on the latest Hypnosis Mic news -, and a Super Difficult Love Trial! Division Pressure Q, a variety challenge in which both crews in attendance on a given episode had to face each other in a difficult quiz.

Banpresto/Prebanlab (guest in 2021)

Kengo Kawanishi Prebanlab

In 2021, Kengo Kawanishi was invited to guest on Prebanlab, talk and variety show hosted by fellow male seiyuu Kenichi Suzumura and Ryota Osaka.

Kawanishi talked about how he knew Suzumura since he debuted (he was an assistant on Suzumura’s radio back in 2006). He also participated in a gestures game which ended up being pure chaos, and helped promote clothing items from the Chainsaw Man anime series.

Dotsuitare Hompo Hypnosis Mic Division Study Guide

In 2021, Kawanishi participated alongside Dotsuitare Hompo members Ryota Iwasaki and Takaya Kuroda in the AbemaTV exclusive show Hypnosis Mic Division Study Guide.

The show is all about making it simple for newcomers to get into Hypnosis Mic by explaining a bit of each character’s background and intentions, the group’s dynamics as well as talking about the music (with some games in the mix).

In 2022, Kawanishi was invited by fellow seiyuu, samurai and Japanese history buff, Yusuke Kobayashi for his YouTube show 小林幕府 (Kobayashi Bakufu).

The show is all about Kobayashi being bored and in need of new hobbies. For each episode, Kobayashi is joined by a guest seiyuu to talk about their careers, and their passions, all in a lighthearted vibe.

Kawanishi joined Kobayashi for two episodes, with their banter, jokes and interactions showing their good vibes.

Kengo Kawanishi Say You to Yoasobi

In 2022, he was invited to the popular seiyuu talk and variety show, Say you to Yoasobi.

He was received by Hiroki Yasumoto and Nobuhiko Okamoto.

For this episode, the three talked about where they knew each other from – and in what they first worked together -, as well as his Kansai roots, Kawanishi’s newfound passion for exercise, as well as answer viewers’ questions.

Facts

Admires Akira Ishida

As a big fan of anime and good performances, Kengo Kawanishi admires the veteran seiyuu and narrator Akira Ishida.

In 2015, he made his dream come true of working with Ishida dubbing South Korean dramas such as “Hero”.

His voice is praised by mangakas/creators

Kengo Kawanishi was cast in the anime “March Comes in Like a Lion” and its creator/mangaka Chika Umino praised his vocal quality and color as a “shining, dark-like voice”.

Takes a good care of his body

Since 2020, Kawanishi has been actively sharing with his fans parts of his workouts. He has been focusing on conditioning his body to become an even better voice actor – voice acting uses a lot of the back and abdominal muscles.

If you follow him on Twitter/X you will regularly come across videos of some of the exercises he has been doing and his progress toward having a body prepared for the intensity of voice acting.


With this, THTFHQ wraps up another Seiyuu Digest. In the meantime, don’t forget to check past Seiyuu Digests (some of those recently updated) – HERE.

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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