A late start in one’s career in the seiyuu industry can prove to be a tremendous hurdle to overcome, but Yusuke Shirai has proven us wrong on that note.
With a career of over 8 years, Shirai has showcased his formidable talent, and along with his playful personality, has managed to captivate many.
BORN: January 18, 1986
OCCUPATION: seiyuu, rapper, radio host, fashion designer
Yusuke Shirai was born in January 18, 1986, in Saku City, Nagano Prefecture. Shirai‘s background is quite intricate.
As we know the seiyuu debuted at the age of 25, a age one often thinks of as it being the prime of a seiyuu who has debuted in his late teens, so out f the bat Shirai had to overcome the immense pressure of being “too old to debut”.
Rewinding a few years, back to when he was a child, we are able to discover some interesting facts about himself, as well as what lead him to wan to be a seiyuu. Though he initial had already shown interest, ultimately he fell under the influence of his brother’s dream.
After Shirai decided that he also wanted to become a seiyuu himself, he ended up attending the Amusement Media College, which focuses its activity in providing specialized education for creators, in design, anime, voice acting.
Right after graduating, Shirai remained in this ambiguous situation in which he was working as a salary men and being quasi-affiliated to a seiyuu enterprise. Eventually, he became affiliated, and currently Shirai is an EARLY WING talent.
2011 – 2014
Much like the majority of seiyuu have in the early stages of their career, Shirai began paving his path by getting into the seiyuu scene through the numerous minor roles he played.
At this point of his career, the sole down side for the seiyuu was his age, specially in this competitive industry in which everything counts. Age may not appear to play that major of a role in one’s success, yet it all boils down to having talent, and now more than ever, having the looks to have the full pack so as to thrive in this industry.
Though we cannot forget that perhaps his personality also played a role in captivating the fans, as he often comes off as the older brother, hence his nickname Shirai-nii, but also for his uncontrollable sense of humor.
Shirai‘s very first role was in popular psychological and thriller anime Mirai Nikki.
Despite him being in such a hyped anime, the reality is that he only played the role of a random student, so we can only imagine that people surely wouldn’t associate his name with this anime, but it was nonetheless a most necessary first step that Shirai needed to take.
After that, the only thing he could do was to make sure he grabbed the next role and with some luck he could get more exposure, and so he did.
In 2012, Shirai got his role as Giorgo in La storia della Arcana Famiglia, and still in the same year he made another appearance in the well-known romance anime Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun as a friend of Sasayan (played by Ryota Osaka) from the baseball team.
Another role we ought to mention in none other than Ryou Nishikura from Silver Spoon, which once again is a minor role, much like his roles in From the New World as Kashimura, in Ace of Diamond as Akio and finally, in Meganebu as Makoto Zeniba. Essentially, and for the most part, Shirai appeared in anime as minor characters.
Some of the other characters Shirai portrayed are from anime such as Karneval (2013), Golden Time (2013), Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! (2013), Little Busters ~Refrain~ (2013), Magi, The Kingdom of Magic (2013), Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou (2013), Witchcraft Works (2014) and Magical Warfare (2014).
Making a name for himself
2015 is surely a year for Shirai to remember, as it was then that he got his first main role in an anime, namely Binan Koukou Chikyuu Boueibu LOVE! as Io Naruko, a 2nd year high school student whose passion for money goes beyond normal, in fact he gains quite a lot in trading stocks.
Needless to say, Shirai reprised his role in the second and third seasons of the anime.
We can say that this was probably a key role in his career as it enabled him to get recognized by the fans. And if one main character had not been enough, Shirai managed to land on another in Gan Volley-bu Next! as Masahiro Yanagida.
Other roles he played in the same year were as Lucas in the popular vampire anime Diabolik Lovers More, Blood, but we can also count with his appearance in Durarara!! and in Chaos Dragon.
While still having some minor roles, Shirai definitely managed to add new entries in his repertoire, as more than just unmemorable characters.
The iDOLM@STER Side M and his character Haruna Wakazato, Shirai ensured, once again, that he was heard. He is one of the typically aloof teenager, in this case he also appears to be lazy and laid-back which far too often results in him failing to do something. He is the drummer for High×Joker.
Another role of his was in My Marriage Partner is My Student, a Cocky Troublemaker (censored version) as Souji Kuga, the teenager how is to get married with his high school homeroom teacher Nano Saikawa.
We can count on Shirai in other anime such as Handa-kun as Kei Hanada, Divine Gate as Percival, Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School – Despair Arc as Soushun Murasame, Nana Maru San Batsu as Ryouta Mukai and Yume Oukoku to Nemureru 100 Nin no Ouji-sama: Short Stories as Drole.
Most recently, Shirai has made appearances in several anime, either with minor or main roles.
One of it was in the recently aired anime Dame x Prince Anime Caravan as Mihart, one of Vino‘s acquaintances, who very much enjoys to fight with Liott.
The other was is one of his most popular roles in the anime adaptation of the android game IDOLiSH7 as the leader of the main idol group Yamato Nikaido. Shirai has made a huge statement with his characters throughout the years, seeing as he usual portrays the kind and older brother types, and he is proficient in that department.
However with Nikaido we get the idea that more than being mysterious, Shirai was really spot on when making the character all the more believable and secretive, while attempting to not drop his mask and bare his true feelings in front of others.
It is no surprise that Shirai made endevors to the drama CD department, yet what many might not know is how prolific he actually is. Having taken the first steps into this section back in 2013, and since then he has been going strong.
His first drama CD was in Lecan! as Yamada, and since then Shirai has, not only remained in the drama CD department but he has also endevored to the BL realm, something that the seiyuu. Unlike some other fellow seiyuu, he does not have any problems whatsoever mentioning his rank in popularity.
Shirai was also featured in two drama CDs for the THE IDOLM@STER Side M ST@RTING LINE, both in Beit‘s and High×Joker‘s.
Some of his other works are Kimi Doll (2013), NightS (2013), Mofu Doll (2016), Blue Sky Complex (2016 & 2017), amongst others.
Shirai has proven to be a jack of all trades, and with that in mind we cannot forget his several radio show appearances or even the shows he hosted. While it is true that Shirai has made an effort to be prolific in any way possible, radio shows became another part of his career. 『RADIO ν WING』 has aired in 2103 and up until 2015 was airing, but most recently Shirai has been hosting, alongside fellow seiyuu Junta Terashima, BOYS Bar [S].
However, Shirai is also all about being a guest in other seiyuu radio show’s. One that is particularly memorable was when he was invited to come to 中島ヨシキのフブラジ hosted by fellow seiyuu Nakajma Yoshiki.
It is no secret that Shirai is extremely passionate about all his work, regardless of what it may be, so him being in the BL scene is no exception. What we did not expect was for him to be openly discussion popularity ranks in the BL realm with Yoshiki, in fact he even brought up other names such as Furukawa Makoto and Tarusuke Shingaki. All in all, that episode extremely entertainning and above all else hilarious.
Other shows include アイリスクォーツラジオ アイ♡ラジ, IDOLMASTER SideM Radio 315Night!, セガ ガールズ通信 広報宣伝ラジオand 鷲崎健和・白井悠介のRadio.
When it comes to appearances in games, Shirai has been quite prolific. He took his first steps into this department in 2011, the same year he debuted, and since then he has been active like no one else. Arcana Familia – La storia della Arcana Famiglia was his first role as well as Senran Kagura. However, when it comes to Shirai, we cannot forget to mention iDOLiSH7 and his role as Yamato Nikaido, a role which pretty much made him gain quite the popularity.
For the seiyuu, the year of 2015 was extremely important, since not only did he get his role in this game, but he was also casted in the game of IDOLM@STER SideM as Haruna Wakazato and I-Chu franchise as Takamichi Sanzenin. Mind you, that all this games aforementioned are rhythm games from which 2D seiyuu units have been born.
A3! was also an amazing launching ramp for Shirai as he was casted as Usui Masumi, a member of the Spring Troupe in the game. Masumi is aloof and above all else totally in love with the main character, and does not go through the trouble of hiding it, in fact he is quite like a puppy following his love interest, hence why the character is so popular.
And last but not least, Shirai‘s character, Takaomi Hiyama, in the android game Stand My Heroes has also made left a good impression on the fans.
Other roles in which he was featured were in Eikoku Tantei Mysteria as William H. Watson, Ken ga Kimi as Tsuzumi Hougen, Bara ni Kakusareshi Verite as Louis XVI, Ikemen Kakumei ◆ Alice to Koi no Mahou as Blanc Lapin, Steam Prision as Eltcreed Valentin, Side Kicks! as Shishiba, Majestic☆Majolical as Hauyne Idocrase, World End Syndrome as Kamishiro Mibu, POSSESSION MAGENTA.
In 2017, Yusuke Shirai alongside Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Yuki Iwai hosted the variety show “Seiyuu Koe Jikken-Shitsu” (Voice Actor Lab). The show aired on AbemaTV and had the hosts talking about seiyuu life, their techniques, rituals as well as a couple of voice experiments. It turned out to be an informative as well as highly entertaining show in which Shirai showed both his MCing as well as seiyuu skills.
Most recently, it has been announced that Shirai will appear on Bar Renta. Nekoribi Danshi hosted by Hamano Daiki. It is no surprise that Shirai enjoys cats, so this show was heaven for him.
Although Shirai has never set foot in the music business as a solo act, he’s got quite the repertoire when it comes to the several 2.5D units he’s a part of.
IDOLiSH7 (2015 -)
IDOLiSH7 is Yusuke Shirai‘s most well known music project. The 7 member group consisting of Toshiki Masuda, Tsubasa Yonaga, KENN, Atsushi Abe, Takuya Eguchi, Kensho Ono and Yusuke Shirai debuted in 2015, part of the rhythm game of the same name.
The game was an instant hit due to its well done blend between a rhythm game and its story components. This wasn’t like other idol games out there, focusing on delivering a rich story alongside high quality music, ending up attracting a lot of people to this game with that formula.
Back to the unit, IDOLiSH7 are led by Yamato Nikaido, a character that often comes across as lazy and with lack of initiative, but as the story progresses in-game, fans get to see the other side of his, a perfectionist and a natural at what he does, a passionate leader for this unit. As Nikaido, Yusuke Shirai got to be, for the first time, the leader for a 2.5D unit.
Since their debut, IDOLiSH7 have released several singles as a unit, cross units, special sub-units and solo tracks, all of them well received by their fans. Back in 2016, IDOLiSH7‘s first ever full-length album “I7” set a record among seiyuu/2.5D units.
It was the first ever album to score a #2 on Oricon Weekly in the album category. The album had an impressive number of sales, sweeping the charts when most people doubted they would be able to pull anything like that off.
That feat showed the franchise’s popularity when it was only promoting itself through the game and music (no live events nor anime adaptation plans at that time). Their record was later broken by none other than TRIGGER, rival unit also from this franchise.
Out of all members, Shirai‘s singing usually doesn’t stand out much, especially taking into account the quality vocals I7‘s lineup has and the focus made on upbeat, higher pitched vocals as opposed to those lower toned vocals as his. However, he’s a reliable mid-toned singer.
Shirai even has some moments of brilliance in a couple of the unit’s songs and has been continuously showing improvements since the unit’s debut.
On the solo end, Yusuke Shirai, as Nikaido, performed “Love two you“, song part of IDOLiSH7‘s “12 SONGS GIFT“, a series of solo song releases from the franchise’s units to be released throughout 2018. Shirai‘s performance was lackluster in comparison with the improvements he’d shown up until then.
His performance lacked power and good direction, something that left him sounding lost most of the times. It was disappointing to find that range and skill that he’d been showing up until then – surprising high notes, consistent low notes and even some flourishes – were not being used at all for his performance.
Alongside Tomoaki Maeno and Yuma Uchida, Yusuke Shirai is part of Lancelot. This trio debuted in 2015, part of the I-Chu franchise.
Shirai‘s mid and low tones fit perfectly with Lancelot‘s well known mature, jazzy music. In the few songs the unit has released, his performances have always left a strong impression, showcasing falsetto and vibrato in some occasions, all while delivering on par performances with Maeno and Uchida‘s top vocals.
Aside from IDOLiSH7, Shirai is known for being a member of IDOLMASTER SideM‘s HighxJoker, pop-rock quintet consisting of Sho Nogami, Shoya Chiba, Takuma Nagatsuka and Hiroshi Watanabe. The band’s lively and upbeat pop-rock sound is addictive.
Over the years, since their debut in 2015, HighxJoker have released multiple singles, between collaborations, cross units, solo and their unit songs. Shirai is an essential part of the band, providing the most consistent and engaging mid-toned vocals to them.
On a live setting, it was with them that Shirai first danced on stage. Although a bit awkward at first, Shirai is now known as the dancing energizer within the group, with his performances standing out from the rest of the band members.
Just like what happens with other IDOLMASTER SideM releases, HighxJoker’s singles have incredibly good performances on Oricon’s Charts – ranking high upon release and managing to maintain their rank within top 20 for more than a couple of weeks.
During the summer of 2017 (July), 7Colors were announced as one of the two new units to debut part of a new smartphone game, “Anidol Colors“. 7Colors, unit consisting of Yuto Suzuki, Taku Yashiro, Junta Terashima, Yoshitaka Yamaya, Yusuke Shirai, Shunichi Toki and Junya Enoki, debuted in September with the single “Ride on☆ 7Dream“.
Yusuke Shirai is owner of one of the few low toned vocals in this unit, being an highlight in the middle of “Ride on☆ 7Dream”, a trainwreck of a release filled with tacky melodies, overcrowded instrumentalization and subpar performances that overshadowed the talented vocals within the group.
In 2017, Rejet announced the launch of their first ever idol game “Star Revo“. Yusuke Shirai was announced as part of the four piece unit, Judgement, alongside Junta Terashima, Yuma Uchida and Koutaro Nishiyama.
The unit still hasn’t released any official single or album but their song “One love” is already well known among the game’s fans.
Spring Troupe (2018 – )
In 2017, Shirai was announced as part of the cast for the stage acting game, A3!. He voices Usui Masumi, a young man part of the Spring Troupe. Since their debut last year, the franchise, as well as all troupes, have consecutive popular and successful music releases ranking high on Oricon’s charts.
The unit’s popularity as well as Usui’s popularity shed some light over Shirai and his performances, both in story as well as in the music department.
Alongside Kodai Sakai (leader), Koutaro Nishiyama, Shintaro Asanuma, Masashi Igarashi, and the most recent addition to the lineup, Wataru Hatano, Shirai has performed several songs.
The only solo song he’s performed so far for this franchise was “SICK SICK SICK“, song included on Spring Troupe’s First SPRING EP. The unit is known for a cheerful and upbeat sound, befitting of Spring’s lively vibe.
Yamanaka Masahiro & Shirai Yusuke
Part of Radio Tomo’s Airaji‘s radio show, the hosts Yusuke Shirai and Masahiro Yamanaka teamed up as a unit. So far the duo has released one mini-album in 2017 titled “Colors“.
As Yamanaka Masahiro & Shirai Yusuke, they are a self producing duo (lyrics and composition is shared between them), performing easy-listening pop-rock songs. Shirai wrote the lyrics for “コンパス” (Compass), featured on this mini-album.
The duo participated in last year’s DOUBLE DARE COVERS, project that featured 5 Radio Tomo’s radio duos for a series of cover performances of J-Pop masterpieces from the 70’s to the 00’s. They performed フィアンセになりたい (song by Mitsuhiro Oikawa) and YOU (song by SOFT BALLET).
Shirai‘s performances with this duo are by far the best he’s ever put out with a group – be it 2.5D or a real seiyuu unit. He’s displayed not only more of his range, that goes well beyond those low tones and nasal mid-tones of his, but also showcased his falsetto and high notes, something that many weren’t expecting to listen him tackling without issues.
Fling Posse (2017 -)
Hypnosis Mic did what many people thought would be impossible: to make the general public in Japan take a liking to hip-hop and rap music. At the time the project was announced, many people were at disbelief that seiyuu and rap music were going to coexist.
Many though the project was going to be a failure because only a couple of seiyuu were experienced with the music genre, had shown their cards in other occasions. The project introduced 4 crews.
Yusuke Shirai was introduced as Fling Posse‘s leader, voicing Ramuda, a flirty and easygoing rapper. The rest of the crew members include Soma Saito and Yukihiro Nozuyama. Fling Posse are known for their pop-imbued music, the easiest and most commercial sound among all 4 crews.
For his rap performance as Ramuda, Shirai had to tackle a couple of things he’d never done: perform with a high pitched voice and sing in a cute and sly way. His solo song “drops” wasn’t an easy one to tackle.
Aside from the fact that the song was difficult to record, the fast paced sections alike anything he’d perform so far proved to be complicated to tackle. He mentioned on an interview with Animage that he had to redid those sections more than a couple of times both on recording as well as when rehearsing those for last year’s Hypnosis Mic event at AGF2017.
He mentioned on that same interview that he was worried because during rehearsals he couldn’t manage to be on tempo and perform the section with the necessary speed.
Thankfully, he managed to pull off those when it came to the live performance, surprising himself and everyone that was attending their short live performance corner. According to Shirai, this was the first time he rapped in public, which made that performance all the more special for him.
Fling Posse‘s released “Fling Posse -F.P.S.M-” in December, 2017 and was the most popular out of all releases in the series, ranking the highest on Oricon Weekly among all 4 crews (#11).
The franchise is back this year for “Battle Season“, CD series in which all 4 crews are going to battle for the title of King, series in which fan votes are going to decide who deserves that title. Fling Posse are scheduled to go head-to-head with Matenrou.
VAZZY (2017 – )
Announced in 2017 and only now making their debut, VAZZY is a unit part of TSUKIPRO‘s newest franchise “VAZZROCK“. VAZZY consist on Tarusuke Shingaki (leader), Yusuke Kobayashi, Masahiro Yamanaka, Yusuke Shirai, Tsubasa Sasa and Shun Horie. The unit is labeled as owner of a dangerous and powerful sound/appeal.
Yusuke Shirai voices Kira Futaba. Since the unit is rather fresh in the business, there’s little to no information about the character, its background and other additional details.
Up until now only a couple of songs from the “bi-color” series (solo tracks) have been released, and Futaba’s song previewed – release that drops by the end of this month -, but from what people can assess from the preview released, Shirai is delivering a comfortable performance in a funky pop song, one in which he can put to great use his mid-tones and even add some flourishes in the mix.
VAZZY are going to have their first live performance as a group by the end of the summer. It’ll be a perfect opportunity to see how Shirai fares in a rock imbued environment.
SQUARE ENIX announced in March, 2018 that the company was going to launch their first ever idol game “IDOL FANTASY“. Yusuke Shirai was announced as part of E-LEMENTS, unit consisting of Taku Yashiro, Yuto Uemura and Junta Terashima. The group performs Dance-Pop / EDM pop music.
It is well known among Shirai‘s fans and those that casually following him on Twitter, that Shirai is an hardcore football (soccer) fan. He’s a well known Liverpool supporter, even sporting Adam Lallana’s official shirt when he goes watching the team’s games at a bar in Tokyo.
— 白井悠介 (@shirai_universe) 22 de outubro de 2017
He often engages in football banter with Daiki Hamano, known for his love for one of Liverpool’s rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. Shirai’s favorite football players are Steven Gerrard, Mesut Özil and Gareth Bale.
A fan of a particular drink…
While most seiyuu often mention that their favorite drink is either beer or sake, Shirai‘s go-to drink is Coca-Cola Zero. He’s mentioned on several interviews that he can’t live without drinking it.
A do-M changing his ways
Among seiyuu it is common to mention that Shirai is a do-M (masochist). Him liking to be ordered around is just the tip of the ice for his masochistic tendencies, however he mentioned in an interview that he was working on turning things around, towards a more “do-S” lifestyle.
I want to be updated
Shirai mentioned on a special interview for RADIO N WING that he daily checks his own Japanese Wikipedia page to see if someone has updated it. He mentioned that whenever there’s an update, it brightens up his day. He even encourages fans to update his Wikipedia page.
For more than a couple of times Shirai has expressed his love for karaoke. He often goes to karaoke alone to relieve his stress. Singing his heart out seems to have a healing effect on him. The song he best performs on karaoke is DEEN’s “Hitori Janai”.
A mountain man
Shirai was born in Nagano prefecture, Sakuno city. The prefecture, and especifically the city are well known for their mountains. When asked about what he loves most about his hometown he always mentions the clean air and their mountains, something that refreshes him. He even was part of his high school’s mountaineering club.
Fan of “Planetes”
His love for the sci-fi drama anime series “Planetes” is something otherworldly. This is the number one anime he recommends to anyone he meets for the first time, almost all his favorite characters are from the anime and even his twitter account header is the main visual from the series.
During IDOLiSH7‘s anime pre-screening back in 2017, Tsubasa Yonaga asked Shirai why was he so good at memorizing their choreography for “Pythagoras☆Fighter” (that song was performed at IDOLiSH7‘s 2nd fanmeeting held as well in 2017).
Shirai mentioned that the reason as to why he memorized the choreography faster than Yonaga and Eguchi was because he’d already listened to the song plenty of times and, with that in mind, the choreography was easy to memorize.
Master of imitation
Usually, seiyuu list one or two things they are particularly good at imitating. However Shirai is in a complete league of his own when it comes to imitations. It’s not one or two things he’s good at, it’s a whole repertoire featuring over 40 different things!
His repertoire includes animals (Mouse, Chicken, Cow, Horse, Cicada, racoon, snake, caterpillar, squirrel, reindeer, etc), fireworks, soda, famous football players (Luis Alberto Suarez), Japanese comedians, among many other things.
And that’s all for this month’s Seiyuu Digest. In the meantime don’t forget to check past Seiyuu Digests (some of those recently updated) – HERE.
LAST UPDATED ON 16/09/2020 (fix broken images)