Japan’s number one aniki is the target to our new Seiyuu Digest. Katsuyuki Konishi, owner of one of the classiest and most charming honeyed baritones in the seiyuu industry, is more than just a talented seiyuu with a knack for righteous, cool or silly characters.
We’ll dive deep into Konitan‘s career in anime, music, radio, games and theater. Make sure to stay for this ride.
KANJI: 小西 克幸
BORN: April 21, 1973
OCCUPATION: seiyuu, narrator, radio personality, stage actor
HEIGHT: 180 cm
Born in 1973 in Wakayama, Japan, Konishi had a pretty active youth before even kicking off his seiyuu career.
He was active in the boys’ scouts since he was a little kid, had fairly good grades at school and even played soccer for a Wakayama club (middle school to high school). One thing he didn’t have was access to anime.
During that whole time he didn’t even once lay his eyes on anime. When he graduated from high school he thought that working for a normal company like every Japanese men end up doing was not what he wanted to do.
Gladly, a friend from his drama group in high school suggested him to try out to be a voice actor.
The struggle to be one of the graduates from the voice acting school he was attending (Katsuta Voice Actor’s Academy) was real.
He was even told by some of his peers that “he wasn’t suitable to be a voice actor and should just give up on that“.
Toshiyuki Morikawa is one of the iconic graduates from Katsuta Voice Actor’s Academy (graduated in 5th place) and while Konishi was met with criticism on one side, others said that he had Morikawa‘s talent and would be just like him in a few years.
Eventually Konishi managed to graduate from Katsuta Voice Actor’s Academy and a year later was invited to Ken Production, talent agency that has been in charge of his management ever since.
Kicking off his career in 1996, Konishi was now under Ken Production, talent agency that is often regarded as one that has an uncanny talent to scout future talents to their ranks.
As always, trying to make a name in the seiyuu business is a must for every actor, especially when they have finally gone pro. Things were as hard as ever for the class of 1996 and very few job opportunities came to Konishi‘s way. His debut role was in mecha anime GaoGaiGar back in 1997.
Things started to get serious in 1997 when a roles started to flock his way, it was all secondary roles but he was already faring better than other seiyuu in more prominent talent agencies.
From 1997 to 2000, Konishi managed to appear in several well known series such as Detective Conan and Doraemon, but always as a secondary actor.
It took him 5 years to land his first lead role. It was in 2001 as Louie in Mahou Senshi Louie (Rune Soldier). The anime run from April 2001 to September 2001.
The adventure/comedy/romance anime, provided also the first time Konishi portrayed a troublemaker with a cheeky attitude. Roles in Prince of Tennis, Shaman King, Hikaru no Go and Hellsing followed.
But it wasn’t until Samurai Deeper Kyo that Konishi would receive good reviews from the anime industry as well as his peers. The anime although rather obscure to most international fans, is actually one of the favorites among Japanese fans.
Once again as the lead actor, Konishi was able to portray the conflicted Kyo Mibu / Kyoshirou Mibu. How he’d swift between a happy-go-lucky personality to the more serious dark tone that both characters required impressed a lot of people at that time. Lots of other roles followed and the trend started to set.
With it started his relationship with the Pokemon franchise, starting with the original anime in 2002, Konishi‘s work for this franchise spanned several years and several iconic characters such as Mewtwo.
Konishi was starting to be typecasted as either stoic, quiet, bishounen characters or ranging from laidback to happy-go-lucky jokesters.
He got several roles in the Duel Masters franchise among lead roles in Dear Boys, Karin, Shounen Onmyouji.
Bleach, La Corda D’oro and Black Cat provided us with a wide range of performances from the cool trained assassin to a gentle violinist to even his double secondary character casting in Bleach as both the happy-go-lucky Keigo Asano, friends’ with the main character Ichigo Kurosaki, as well as the mature, loyal and calm Shuuhei Hisagi. Going back and forfth on both ends of the spectrum made him stand out once again among his peers.
His role as the goofy Komui Lee in the original D.Gray-man series (2006 – 2008) is also one of the highlights in the series.
Taking once again the secondary role, Konishi was able to portray Komui‘s personality (goofy and sadistic at the same time) with ease, making this character one of the most loved in the series without being the main, and one performance that is seriously missed as the series has replaced the original cast for the new D.Gray-man series in 2016 (Go Inoue replaced him).
The unhealthy obssession Komui has towards his little sister Lenalee is beyond anything we’ve seen portrayed on anime – and Konishi‘s approach made what was already hilarious in the manga, reach new heights, in the end delivering a gag-like performance that is impossible to not laugh along – his interactions with both Kanda and Allen are often on a goofier note besides some rare instances in which he turns his goofy switch off, and shows his ability to be serious.
Who doesn’t remember the unfortunate but over-the-top hilarious “Komurin 3” incident (Lenalee’s love – episode 18) in the anime series?
Golden performance in what was supposed to be a simple filler episode before the main arc resumed in the series. “If it’s for Lenalee I don’t care if I destroy one or two cities!” or from his Komurin 2 incident earlier in the series: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” are some of his punchlines to avoid the rational comments and justify his weird, jealousy driven actions.
The rest of 2007 amounted more lead and secondary roles, this time in ONE PIECE, Bamboo Blade, Moyashimon, Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica, among others. Things were starting to smile for him in the seiyuu business.
2007 – Shot to fame
It was his role as Kamina, often named by the fans of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann series as the best bro (aniki) ever, that Konishi shot to fame and started to be seeked by most studios to work on new projects.
The anime was a massive hit in Japan and overseas and as said by him, Kamina is a character he cherishes a lot, his favorite to date.
Now he was an A-list seiyuu, achieving a lot a being casted in a multitude of anime, games, dubbing gigs, among other things.
The rest of 2007 amounted more lead and secondary roles, this time in ONE PIECE, Bamboo Blade, Moyashimon, Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica, among others.
2008 – 2010: Branching out
As an A-lister, 2008 was the year that introduced Konishi to various roles that on both ends of the spectrum. Being casted as the main role in Skip Beat as the cool, sarcastic and overflowing charisma Ren Tsuruga, A-list actor that has a lot inside of himself besides looks and talent.
Skip Beat is not your typical romance anime. The main character has actually smarts and fights her way out of any kind of situation, Tsuruga comes into the wagon due to some circumstances and the story (although not developed in depth in the anime) progresses as both Kyoko (main character) and Tsuruga start to see each other as equals as well as developing feelings for each other.
Konishi was a natural fit for this role as Tsuruga tends to be a bit smug, cool and sarcastic whenever he encounters the Kyoko, the way he approached the evolving emotions and quirks received praise among the series’ fans.
In 2009, Konishi was cast as Laxus in the shounen hit Fairy Tail. The hot blodded Laxus once again made it possible for him to showcase how things are really done.
His portrayal is spot on, making the character sound powerful and imposing – due to Konishi‘s assertive baritone voice.
His role in the parody/comedy anime Hetalia as America is yet another highlight in his career, as well as one of his fans’ favorite roles to date. The whimsical, happy-go-lucky, carefree America was portrayed in a way that it’s impossible to stay indifferent to it.
Durarara, supernatural/action/mystery light novel series created by Ryohgo Narita and adapted to five anime installments, casted Konishi as Tom Tanaka, a debt collector that works with the dangerous Shizuo (Daisuke Ono) by his side.
Calm, collected and laidback but without forgetting his ruthlessness, Tanaka is one of the few characters in the series that can keep Shizuo calm.
His popularity reached new heights and Konishi was invited in 2010 to the United States to attend “Anime Expo“, yearly anime convention held in Los Angeles. Footage from that event can be found easily on Youtube for those that are curious about it.
2011 – 2015 – Typecasting, vampires and staying relevant
2011 was a year that presented fantastic opportunities for him.
Hit shounen manga Beelzebub was set to be adapted to anime as well as hit shounen-ai Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. Both manga were insanely popular among their fanbases/demographics and with Konishi landing main roles in both of them, his popularity skyrocketed.
As Tatsumi Oga in Beelzebub, Konishi was portraying a troublemaker, strong fighter and arrogant once again. His experience with that kind of characters/roles made it easy to portray Oga‘s sadistic moments as well as his growth throughout the series.
As Takano Masamune, Konishi was this time working alongside a star-studded cast (Hikaru Midorikawa, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Yuiichi Nakamura, Shinnosuke Tachibana, Hiroshi Kamiya, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Tomoaki Maeno, Kenyuu Horiuchi and Yusa Koji).
Takashi Kondo plays opposite to him in what is a hilarious, and emotional chemistry-driven rollercoaster of an office romance. Masamune is incredibly sarcastic and isn’t afraid to say everything to anyone’s face (editors, artists), making him a presence to avoid in the Emerald department.
Diabolik Lovers started to be the talk in town in 2013.
Rejet announced the anime adaptation of their otome game “Diabolik Lovers: Haunted Dark Bridal“. Konishi was once again among a cast of top stars (Hikaru Midorikawa, Takashi Kondo, Kousuke Toriumi, Daisuke Hirakawa and Yuki Kaji), in what was a controversial anime, plus he had on his hands the least popular character in the series.
Diabolik Lovers received a lot of hate and criticism almost instantaneously because of the abusive nature of the anime/story – especially from overseas fans – and ultimately didn’t fare as well as it did in Japan.
Dialovers is a phenom in Japan since the release of the first game back in 2012.
Sexy vampires, drama, mystery and whole lot of family feud have been the core of this series and, of course, the abusive nature in which some, if not all, of the relationships with the main cast are triggered/developed have a major focus (were’re talking about a dating sim).
Reiji Sakamaki is downright sadistic but more cautious than everyone else in the Sakamaki household.
Careful, strict, with high intellect, insanely smart and calculative, Reiji passes off an image as the coldest character in the series pretty easily. The paused, cold but powerful way in which he addresses the main character or the mocking tone in which he addresses his brothers made some people reluctant about his intentions.
The fact that his storyline is developed in a slower pace in comparison with other characters, amounted to make Reiji not as “loveable” as others in the series are. Konishi‘s performance was once again bone chilling good – just as it was in the game – really making us shiver as well swoon at the same time whenever he spoke.
2014 brought Konishi back to mainstream anime, this time around with Tokyo Ghoul as Koutarou Amon, investigator that has a high sense of justice and a quest to erradicate all ghoul set on his mind.
It wasn’t a main role per say (but is present in both installments of the anime), but Konishi‘s performance was essential to make Amon come to life on the screen.
The stubborn, goal-driven Amon soon starts to question his goals and having second thoughts about everything around him due to a certain event (check the anime if you want to know why).
The way he portrayed that conflict showed once again why Konishi is still a A-lister despite the decreasing number of roles he’s been getting in the last few years.
It was a year filled with strong characters, whose sense of justice was through the roof. Also adding to his never ending list of cool characters that counts with Kamina and Oga as their representatives, was Bulat from adventure/action anime Akame ga Kill!.
A tendency was starting to form at this time. Starting from 2012, Konishi‘s main roles started to be replaced by secondary roles – much due to the fact that new talents started to sound more appealing to the directors and started snatching main roles that he’d auditioned for.
From 2012 to 2015, he managed to get something around under 25 main roles (not necessarily as the lead actor but more as part of the main cast).
In that exact same span of time he was casted in more than 70 anime (more than half as a secondary actor).
For a seiyuu of his caliber, 25 main roles in a year is abnormal – just compare with seiyuu like Junichi Suwabe, Kousuke Toriumi, Jun Fukuyama and you’ll see the difference despite every single one of them being an A-List seiyuu.
Things certainly started to change around and Konishi, once a lead man, was now relegated to the secondary roles, being typecasted into either goofy or his trademark intimidating characters.
Still among all those secondary roles we need to mention some that came off as impressive to most viewers in Japan: Souma Lionet in Saint Seiya Omega, Full-time Panda in Shirokuma Cafe, Lieutenant Konitan in parody anime Ixion Saga DT, Renato “R” Socci in Jormungand, Dreyfus in Nanatsu no Taizai, Ryuuji Keikain in Nurarihyon no Mago: Sennen Makyou, Pinion in Suisei no Gargantia, Tsumugu Kinagase in Kill la Kill between many others.
2015 – Officially recognized
Finally, after several years at the top without any kind of award under his belt, Konishi won in the category “Best Supporting Actor Award” alongside the industry’s top seiyuu and Katsuta Voice Actor’s Academy‘s alumni, Toshiyuki Morikawa at the 9th Seiyuu Awards for his role as Ritsu Kisaragi in Kiniro no Corda Blue♪Sky.
His role in Kiniro no Corda Blue♪Sky as Ritsu Kisaragi had a lot of tsundere on it. Kisaragi passes off the idea of being extremely cold but he was actually a caring member of Seiso Academy’s orchestra club.
When Konishi‘s name was announced as one of the winners for “Best Supporting Actor“, people were actually surprised that he had won that award based on Kisaragi, part of the main cast but that didn’t really showed much in the series due to the anime’s harem nature.
With so many impressive roles in 2014 especially as Koutarou Amon in Tokyo Ghoul and Bulat in Akame ga Kill!, it was surprising that such an incomplete character had been the reason for it. Still fans rejoiced because Konishi‘s efforts had finally been rewarded, even among so many new blood in the seiyuu business.
During this year and mainly due to the hype the award created once again around Konishi was basically everywhere in the second half of the year. Diabolik Lovers made its comeback with a second installment, the same happened with Tokyo Ghoul and Durarara.
Despite returning to those series to reprise his roles, Konishi was also casted in a multitude of anime ranging from historical, adventure, sports, shounen, comedy, ecchi and shoujo.
Some of his roles include: Takehito “Gakuto” Morokuzu in Prison School, Kuin in Ushio to Tora, Tank Top Master in One Punch Man, Keisuke Kagami in Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace, Sakaki in Akagami no Shirayukihime and a double casting as Shapur and Esfan in Arslan Senki.
So far this year Konishi hasn’t been in much anime. Besides making a return to Akagami no Shirayukihime, as it entered its second season, being casted as part of the main cast in Cheer Boys, as well in second installment of the GATE anime (Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri 2nd Season) series as a sadist, the other roles are only one-off things without much exposure or importance.
One of the most extensive games repertoire among seiyuu is under Konishi‘s name. His first roles were in 1997. The Last Blade and Moonlight Syndrome we’re the first of many games in his repertoire.
Konitan has been a frequent cast in most otome game over the past decade and keeps it balanced with strong roles in other game genres.
On the otome gaming section Konishi is perhaps mostly known as Reiji Sakamaki, one of the resident vampires in the Sakamaki household. Through Diabolik Lovers Konishi was able to once again showcase how cool, calm and collected he can sound, as well how incredibly sadistic he would be throughout most of the game.
The character although not that loved within the Dialovers community is still a pivotal one to the series with Konishi‘s quality portrayal of Reiji‘s conflicted emotions (or lack of them).
He’s also a household name when it comes to La Corda D’oro (Kiniro no Corda) games – otome rhythm game with its main focus on classical music – he’s been part of all games both with his original character (Shinobu Ousaki) as well as the one from the most recent games (Ritsu Kisaragi) from the most recent Kiniro no Corda anime series.
Both Ousaki and Kisaragi are your typical cool, methodical, intellectual types with insane charm.
On a first approach one of the characters is rather aloof to the main character while the other is warm and easily approachable.
Other franchise in which he’s a part of is “Tales of“. In Tales of Symphonia, Konishi portrayed Lloyd Irving, the main protagonist coming from the countryside and exuding an upbeat, energetic, short-tempered young self at the early stages of the game.
Things change and we can see how matured the character turned out to grow into at a later stage. He then returned for the following game Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World as the main character as well.
Both games were well received by the franchise fans as well as critics. This character made appearances in other games of the series as well.
Lloyd is one of the most popular characters in the franchise hence Konishi is often part of the cast invited to the yearly event held at Pacifico Yokoma “Tales of Festival“.
The Assassin’s Creed franchise also welcomed Konishi with open arms as he was chosen to dub Altaïr, the first protagonist in the franchise. He reprised his role for the franchises’ 4th game “Assassin’s Creed:Revelations“
We can say that starting from 2006, Konishi started to be almost everywhere when it came to games. As an avid video game fan, he must be on cloud nine to have the opportunity to dub so many characters in video games.
Some of the games he was a part of include: Diabolik Lovers franchise, Inuyasha: Juso no Kamen, Arabians Lost: The Engagement on Desert, .hack fanchise, Code:Realize, Biohazard 0, Storm Lover 2nd, Gurren Lagann, D.Gray-man franchise, Samurai Warriors franchise, Togainu no Chi, Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Gundam Meisters, Durarara!! 3way standoff, Dragon Ball Raging Blast (1 and 2), KILLZONE 2, Starry Sky: After Spring, Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Battle and Fist of the North Star (Ken’s rage series).
This is that one area in which he’s always extremely active.
Konishi has been hosting a wide variety of radio shows since 2004. Known for his witty and fun comments alongside his deep smooth voice, fans often rave about having him hosting radio shows. Konitan has hosted game or anime related radio shows in the past: Prince of Tennis radio (2005), Kiniro no Corda Hokago no Étude (2005 – 2008), Shiokaze Housoukyoku 〜 Minato Station Radio 〜 Kazama Family-hen 〜 (2010-2012), Bunka Gakuin presents Konishi Katsuyuki and Ogawa Makoto no bunbun theatre (2010-2014) and Onosaka ・Konishi O+K Otasuke (on going since 2010).
Solo wise Konishi never really debuted.
He’s sang several character songs before but never took the plunge to be a solo singer. But if we’re talking about unit projects, then he’s got some under his belt, although none of them successful.
For anyone that has taken their time to listen to his character songs for both La Corda D’oro (Kiniro no Corda) as well as the Diabolik Lovers franchise knows that Konishi has a voice that tends to melt everyone’s ears, switching from his sweet nasal mid tones to powerful low tones with a bit of vibrato in the mix.
He’s not particularly gifted when it comes to singing but tracks like “Akashi” from Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica crimson S Character Song CD Vol.1 or “2nd Stage” from Kiniro no Corda 3~ Renbo no Kanki ~ showcase how much control he has over his voice and tone, seldom sounding off key or straining his vocals trying to belt certain notes within a scale.
But it’s with songs like “A Certain Prophet’s Fate” (とある預言者の、運命) from the first solo character song series in the Diabolik Lovers franchise that Konishi impressed. Tackling a fast paced rock track that required powerful and steady vocals, he fared better than anyone. With improved vocals (in comparison with the previous tracks mentioned) and even more control over his tone, he delivered each verse with impressive technique – attacking most of the chorus with a trained vibrato and even tackling the higher notes with fly colors.
Still within the Dialovers universe we have the solemn power ballad “銀の薔薇“, track that was tackled by all main seiyuu in the series – Hikaru Midorikawa, Takashi Kondo, Kousuke Toriumi, Kaji Yuki and Daisuke Hirakawa. Konishi showcased in full power his lower notes making this song sound more powerful than Midorikawa and Kondo‘s (that delivered two of the best performances for this track) renditions of it.
In the seiyuu unit department Konishi was part of Dear Boys, unit that consisted on the anime’s main cast. Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Masaya Matsukaze, Ken Takeuchi and Kohei Kiyasu complete the lineup of what was an awkward incursion for every single one of them. The unit even performed at the Dear Boys events and funny enough, Japanese fans thought they were a “cute” act. The unit disbanded as the series came to an end back in 2003.
If you’re curious about how they sounded feel free to check the video below.
If someone asks around casually to a seiyuu fan if they know Seki to Konishi, the result will be interesting, 9 out of 10 fans won’t even know that we’re talking about a seiyuu unit – unless you ask to a die hard fan of both or one of them.
Well, Seki To Konishi was founded in 2014 and consists of Tomokazu Seki and Katsuyuki Konishi. Despite the fact that both of them don’t lack in the talent department and are fairly skilled singers, the unit flopped hard after releasing two singles.
Some say that this unit was created for fun, some think this was actually a serious endeavor by both seiyuu, the only thing we actually know is that it was a project that fell short way too soon.
After the release of their second single, the unit seemed to have gone under the radar. Up until now it’s unknown if they are on a hiatus or if they have disbanded.
His work as a theatre/stage actor is rather unknown to some of his fans. Konishi has been part of several theatre productions and is vice-president of Hero Hero Q Company, theatre troupe founded alongside Tomokazu Seki.
The company has developed several theatre productions such as Dark Crows (with Kensho Ono as the main actor), Who killed Ryoma? (with Tomokazu Seki as the main actor), 無限の住人 (Mugen no Junin), among others. The company is affiliated to Ken Production.
O+K: The unstoppable duo
Perhaps one of the mostly known duos in the seiyuu universe is O+K.
Masaya Onosaka and Katsuyuki Konishi have known for over 10 years and are one of the most iconic duos in the seiyuu industry alongside OnoD + HiroC, Sakurai and Suzumura or even Sugita and Nakamura. When this duo is around even the mighty Ishida Akira is frightened.
Overflowing with humor, sense and some dirty jokes in the mix, they are as crazy as you could get among the famous duos. They’ve been together in quite a few anime and game series – Hetalia for example in which Onosaka gives voice to the laidback France and Konishi portrays the happy-go-lucky America or even in the “Tales of” franchise.
The events for both series managed to have this duo together which brought a lot of laughter among their fellow seiyuu, as well as fear that the events would enter forbidden territory (mainly due to Onosaka‘s constant dirty jokes).
Not even the Tokimeki Recipe series was safe with them around. When Onosaka and Konishi were invited to the show in which they have to cook something based on the ingredients they are given + recipe they chose, the duo turned the show into a complete mess that will make your cheeks hurt from laughing so much.
This duo is so funny that they even decided to create their own anime series based on their “Otasuke” show.
Titled “O+K 2.5D Animation”, the show focus on solving their fellow seiyuu’s issues.
Onosaka and Konishi are themselves in this, as well as the guests that are voicing themselves. The series has spawned three seasons so far and among the guests are Hiroshi Kamiya, Ryotaro Okiayu, Ishida Akira, Shinnichiro Miki, Hirofumi Nojima, Hiroyuki Yoshino, among others.
And with this we complete our October Seiyuu Digest. Be on the lookout for Novembers’ issue.