Seiyuu Digest #4 - Naozumi Takahashi

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.

Naozumi Takahashi

Naozumi Takahashi

KANJI: 高橋直純

BORN: December 6, 1972

OCCUPATION: Singer, seiyuu, actor, radio personality

HEIGHT: 163cm

naozumi takahashi

Naozumi Takahashi is the subject of our 4th Seiyuu digest. He’s 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 90’s, 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 several 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 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 90’s, 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.

Seiyuu career

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 in 2012
Naozumi Takahashi in 2012

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 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 other character that he paved his way in the seiyuu world.

Marui
Marui

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 catch phrase in the series.

The success with Prince of Tennis is so impressive that most seiyuu have been asked to release character albums and tour 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 into 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.

Solo career

Naozumi Takahashi circa 2006
Naozumi Takahashi circa 2006

In several interviews Naozumi mentioned that he sings since he was only 3 years old and, besides playing the shamisen (japanese tradional 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 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 00’s, 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 it 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 many 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 BROTHERSMuteki Kanban MusumeHarukanaru 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. 

infinity
infinity

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.

Seiyuu Units

AsR
AsR

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 were 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
Naozumi Takahashi + Tatsuhisa Suzuki GOLD GOAL

Several years later, in 2006, a new seiyuu unit was formed.

Originated from 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” that were featured as the opening and ending themes for the show.

Both singles were strong releases showcasing how great both sang/sing. It was a strange but awesome collaboration that quickly fell short. Two years later the duo disbanded – at the same time that Tatsuhisa‘s presence in the show was over.

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.

Their brainchild was called Marginal#4 and would feature already known talents as well as two young seiyuu.

The names chosen couldn’t have made the seiyuu fans alike incredibly excited, the two youngsters Toshiki Masuda and Yuto Suzuki would be joined by heavy weights – KENN and veteran singer Naozumi Takahashi – the biggest surprise of them all.

Credits: Twitter @yuto_suzuki
Marginal #4 Credits: Twitter @yuto_suzuki

Marginal#4 so far has released 6 singles and a Best of and, despite being currently in a slump, have shown that they are one of the most interesting and complete seiyuu units in the business.

With Naozumi‘s strong contributions to the unit the music sounds more eye catching and powerful. The unit has already performed live in two occasions: Rejet Fes 2013 and Rejet Fest 2014 and have impressed with their on stage chemistry and professionalism.

Marginal#4 performance on 2014's Rejet Fes Credits: AnimateTV
Marginal#4 performance on 2014’s Rejet Fes Credits: AnimateTV

So far Naozumi‘s seiyuu unit path has had a lot of ups and downs but it’s starting to stabilize and show great signs of being a successful one to add to his solo career.

Radio

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 DJ’s, 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 KomurimamiのRADIかるコミュニケーションTV Game Radions RMAMI☆OMO Radio CaravanRADIO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.

Love Bomber radio / Credits: AnimateTV
Love Bomber radio / Credits: AnimateTV

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 great mood going on. All in all, Naozumi’s radio shows are always something to anticipate because chaos and fun is always present.

We hope you’ve enjoyed 2015’s very first Seiyuu Digest. Please look forward for next month’s artist.

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