We celebrate the New Year here is our special edition December 2014 / January 2015 seiyuu digest featuring one of the seiyuu industry’s most underrated voice actors and singers, Naozumi Takahashi.
BORN: December 6, 1972
OCCUPATION: Singer, seiyuu, actor, radio personality
A note, this article was written in 2015 and is currently undergoing a deep update.
Naozumi Takahashi is the subject of our 4th Seiyuu digest. He’s the owner of one hell of a voice that knows very well how to deliver a performance that will blow you away, be it for the music or his posture on stage.
He’s a powerful vibrato user that really deserved to be more than a “cult” musician or simply known by his anime fans. He deserves much more than that.
Working in the seiyuu business since the early ’90s, Naozumi Takahashi has had a fair share of work in the anime and drama CD’s industry, he’s a radio DJ as well with many radio shows under his belt but he’s clearly more regarded as a singer – he’s obviously more prolific in the music business than in any of those areas.
He’s one of those talents that are well hidden but that turned out to be an awesome find for those lucky enough to search for and find this little piece of heaven with an angelic voice.
Many musicians have been in the music business in Japan for several years but few have been as many years in the music business and have received the recognition that Naozumi Takahashi has received from his fans and peers.
It’s not that he has received awards for his releases, it’s way simpler: he’s widely known as a powerful, highly technical singer, the problem is when many people are asked if he does anything else in his life besides being a singer people forget that he took the plunge and entered the seiyuu business back in the 90s, way earlier than his solo debut.
With this digest, we take a look at the many facets of Naozumi Takahashi, the seiyuu, the musician, and the radio DJ.
Coming from the mountainous Iwate and arriving in Tokyo full of hopes and dreams, with his mindset totally directed towards being a singer, Naozumi really turned things around in an interesting way now being one of the most complete and talented singers in the business and also a highly skilled seiyuu – although his work in that business is almost scarce – we can say that he has a modest seiyuu career.
Naozumi Takahashi debuted in the seiyuu business back in 1990 and, while we might not think that he’s a veteran seiyuu, he sure is. With a career spanning over 25 years, Naozumi still sounds as fresh as when he debuted.
At first, the fans thought that his voice was too androgynous, occasionally mistaking him for a woman, but time has passed and that jovial voice alongside those seductive tones and nuances upgraded.
His voice tone got “manlier” and with the help of several rough or low-voiced characters that androgynous image is long gone.
Those vocal characteristics alongside his natural talents are what makes him one of the most interesting seiyuu the business has to offer.
Back in 1990, Naozumi Takahashi was working with Mamani Komori and had the opportunity to make guest appearances in his show Nami’s radio mow communication – that is considered by Naozumi to be his stepping stone foray into the voice actor industry.
With regular appearances in 2000’s anime “Digimon Adventure 02“, Naozumi started to make a name for himself in the business but it was certainly in other anime and with another character that he paved his way in the seiyuu world.
Bunta Marui in The Prince of Tennis is the most hyped and loved/known by his fans. As Bunta Marui, Naozumi released a couple of character songs, the fans’ favorite being “だろい“, Bunta‘s catchphrase in the series.
The success with Prince of Tennis is so impressive that most seiyuu have been asked to release character albums and tours in their name.
The first one was Yoshimasa Hosoya that made a Japanese tour to promote Shiraishi‘s character album – an excellent one to boot – it was also the first time that someone performed live as a character and was so successful.
Then it was followed by this year’s Bunta Marui tour. Naozumi performed live the character’s album titled “Bun bun à la carte“, the show received great reviews and had the house full.
It was one of those situations where Naozumi had the luck to get to play a character that turned out to be extremely loved by the fans and set a solid ground for him to work on.
On another side, Naozumi has been working in otome games since his debut and is a regular face in Neoromance events held every year in Japan where he and many other veteran voice actors – mainly – live dub the characters they’ve played in those games as well as participate in live corners with games and questions.
This might be one of the only times of the year that his fans can see him dubbing live since his anime roles count is so low.
Sadly his anime roles count is extremely low as he tends, more than ever, to focus his efforts on working for CD dramas and games – these are the areas where he’s more prolific, lately, he’s been part of the main golden roster in Rejet alongside fellow seiyuu Hikaru Midorikawa, Kousuke Toriumi, Daisuke Hirakawa, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Takashi Kondo, and Kenji Nojima.
Judging by Naozumi‘s performances, it is safe to say that he’s one of the most underrated seiyuu in the business, he could easily be on par or sound even better than most of the names mentioned before – he has the talent to shift from a calm and collected composure to a complete sadist or even from the goofiest character to the sweetest – the shifts are interesting and always new, sometimes impossible to notice that it’s in fact Naozumi playing each and every one of those characters.
If we had to resume his seiyuu career we’d basically say that he has a lot of talent left unexplored and a voice to die for that a lot of seiyuu fans are missing.
In several interviews Naozumi mentioned that he sings since he was only 3 years old and, besides playing the shamisen (Japanese traditional strings instrument) he was part of a volleyball team and brass band (in the percussion side) in Junior High.
A multi-talented youth that right after graduating high school started to think about being a singer in Tokyo. While trying to make a living, such as being a sushi chef apprentice and working as a clerk in convenience stores, plus making appearances in roller skating shows, Naozumi was always thinking about his dream of being a singer.
That opportunity was only provided – solo wise – in the early ’00s, but as a unit, it was earlier, back in 1996.
Naozumi‘s solo career kicked off in 2002 with the single Rainy day／スカイライトの空. This was only the start of what is a long music career for the now veteran in the business.
With a total of 19 releases since his debut, Naozumi Takahashi is currently the only male seiyuu to release that much material without almost no hiatuses between releases.
Since then several of his songs have been featured in anime as opening themes such as in BLACK BLOOD BROTHERS, Muteki Kanban Musume, Harukanaru Toki no Naka de: Hachiyou Shou, and New Prince of Tennis.
Naozumi has released a couple of great singles and albums over the years, several of them charted incredibly high on Oricon but sadly there aren’t any top 10 releases in his repertoire.
The 2009-2010 period might have been the most successful in his music career. Three singles and two live DVD’s charted the Oricon charts in the Top 20 and one album reached the Top 30: the singles パレット, タイムカプセル／歩いて帰ろう, 羅針盤 and the two live DVD’s Naozumi Takahashi A’LIVE 2009『ColorS』 and Naozumi Takahashi A’LIVE 2010『infinity』come alongside 2010’s album infinity, making this impressive phase in Naozumi‘s music career more complete and fulfilling.
He knows and excels in the art if singing with his fearless versatile baritone that allows him to use both vibrato and falsettos anywhere he wants. He’s just that good and experienced that those come out almost naturally for him.
Naozumi is what we’d call a powerhouse singer since he not only knows how to deliver those sweet, seductive verses but he also knows how to get aggressive and deliver assertive, strong performances as well, all delivered equally close to perfection.
Also, bad character songs always sound good when he sings them. All of that with an incredibly solid posture and never off-key.
With an already solidified solo career with more than 10 years of hits, Naozumi doesn’t take it easy, always trying to improve his game with new tricks up his sleeve to keep the listener’s focus on him and his ever-growing, evolving sound.
As well as being a singer he often participates in the creative process be it with the arrangements, creating the music and penning all his lyrics.
He’s, without a doubt, one of the most complete solo artists in the business.
AsR – Assemble Resolution (1996 – 2001)
As mentioned before, Naozumi made his debut in the music business firstly as a unit and only then as a solo artist. 1996 is the year that marked Nao-nii‘s debut with Manami Komori, the unit was called AS-R (later renamed to AsR – Assemble Resolution) and lasted up until 2001 when the works regarding a solo debut for Naozumi were almost complete.
The unit featured lyrics written by Komori and dance work by both of them. It was entertaining times where the unit managed to gather a lot of fans and success along the way. But that eventually came to an end.
Naozumi Takahashi + Tatsuhisa Suzuki (2006 – 2008)
Several years later, in 2006, a new seiyuu unit was formed.
Originated from Takahashi Naozumi‘s radio show Takahashi Naozumi Trouble maker, in collaboration with newbie seiyuu Tatsuhisa Suzuki the duo, simply called Naozumi Takahashi + Tatsuhisa Suzuki released “Gold Goal” and “Always in my heart“, singles that were featured as the opening and ending themes for the show.
Both singles were strong releases showcasing their singing skills.
Naozumi’s focus was on putting the spotlight on Suzuki with this unit. This unpredictable and unexpected seiyuu unit debut ended up being short-lived but quite awesome at the same time.
Two years later the duo disbanded – at the same time that Tatsuhisa‘s presence in the show was over.
Marginal #4 (2013 -)
And after that last seiyuu unit experience, it took more than 5 years to hear something about Naozumi being featured in another unit. It was 2013 when drama cd and game company Rejet firstly announced their first seiyuu unit project.
Toshiki Masuda, Yuto Suzuki (leader), Takahashi Naozumi, and KENN teamed up as Marginal #4 in 2013. The unit made a thunderous debut with 100万回の愛革命, single that lived up to all the hype surrounding it at that time. The unit had an addictive pop-rock sound that easily impressed.
Marginal #4 rose in popularity with singles such as LOVE★SAVIOR (2013), Masquerade (2013), CHU CHU LUV♥SCANDAL (2014), and Red Hot Saga (2014), setting itself as one of the most exciting 2.5D units in Japan.
The unit ended up performing live for the first time on Rejet Fes 2013, performance that wasn’t released on DVD and still remains a unique experience for those that got to attend Marginal #4’s stage debut.
However, that status didn’t last long, and later in 2014, the group started to struggle with their identity and sound.
Marginal #4 faced a major slum between 2014 and 2016 with all-new singles released during that period being complete disasters – Bingo!!!! (2014) and UFO (2015) -, plagued with overcrowded compositions, lacking vocal performances, and a weird overall feeling that something was missing from the unit’s original exciting yet alluring sound.
In 2016, with the releases of YO-HO! and IV aile, Marginal #4 started to show signs of trying to overcome those struggles. However, the group still lacked consistency, something they were only able to regain with Choooose me (2017).
Since their debut, Marginal #4 have released 2 best ofs, 11 singles, 1 solo series, shuffle units releases, and performed live more than a handful of times, the most recent being the headlined show 「Marginal#4: Kiss kara Tsukuru Big Bang」Presents Pythagoras Production LIVE “Big Bang Fes”.
Although the oldest member in the group, Naozumi is a sparkplug for Marginal #4 both on record and live. He also brings a lot of experience and quality to the group, being one of the most complete members part of this group.
As time has passed, Naozumi hasn’t improved his performances – those are with the same high quality as ever. While in 2013 it seemed no one could match him, now it’s the opposite, all the other members focused on improving their singing skills and now it seems like it is Naozumi that has to work hard in order to match their quality.
This is actually a positive thing for Marginal #4. With all members pushing each other to be better, fans will be delighted to hear the group improving with each release.
Naozumi has a lot of work as a radio personality and DJ, his most known and long-running show is Takahashi Naozumi Trouble maker – airing without hiatuses since 2004.
The show has already counted with a lot of guests and invited DJs, one of them being Tatsuhisa Suzuki back in 2005 and HILUMA in 2007. This show with 11 years of work behind it is the epitome of Naozumi‘s radio djing so far.
Looking more closely at all of his radio djing over the years we find a lot of shows with completely different formats but all equally well received by its listeners. AsR Radio Revolution with Manami Komuri, mamiのRADIかるコミュニケーション, TV Game Radions R, MAMI☆OMO Radio Caravan, RADIOアニメロミックス (Radio Animero mix), Animelo Nights, テニスの王子様オン・ザ・レイディオ (Prince of Tennis on the Radio) and Rejet Presents ダミーヘッドマイク妄想ラジオ LOVE★BOMBER with fellow Marginal#4 member Toshiki Masuda.
Rejet Presents ダミーヘッドマイク妄想ラジオ LOVE★BOMBER is one of the first radio shows that is completely recorded with a 3D dummy head mic (see image above), giving the listeners the impression of being in the studio alongside the hosts.
The show received a lot of Rejet related guests and earned a lot of great reviews from listeners around Japan.
It was a web radio show but still managed to last 4 months before its end in November 2013.
Naozumi is often regarded as the “hyper” host in radio shows, always showing his bright and funny sides while maintaining the listeners entertained with both his jokes or plays with words.
Some concepts provided him with enough space to maneuver, allowing him to go a bit “wilder” live like on LOVE★BOMBER, while others were a bit stiffer but always with a great mood going on.
All in all, Naozumi’s radio shows are always something to anticipate because chaos and fun are always present.
We hope you’ve enjoyed 2015’s very first Seiyuu Digest. Please look forward to next month’s artist.