With a voice that melts everyone and a passion for playing eccentric characters, Yoshihisa Kawahara is a seiyuu that deserves more love.
Estimated reading time: 19 minutes
KANJI: 川原 慶久
BORN: June 22, 1976
OCCUPATION: seiyuu, narrator
Yoshihisa Kawahara was born on June 22, 1976, in Tokyo and is currently represented by Across Entertainment.
Before joining Across Entertainment in 2010, Kawahara was represented by Keke Corporation and Atomic Monkey.
2001 – 2005
A great start
Kawahara made his debut as a seiyuu in 2001 with a couple of minor roles in Shaman King and One Piece, however, this surprised everyone, as he nailed a pair of supporting roles in one of the most popular sports anime in Japan, Prince of Tennis.
He was cast as Kippei Tachibana, charismatic captain, and coach at Fudomine Middle School.
Despite his intimidating vibe, Tachibana is a respectable sportsman, showing appreciation and respect for his opponents.
This would end up being one of Kawahara’s most beloved roles, putting a lot of eyes and ears on him.
Also in the same anime series, he was cast as Ichiro Kaneda, a regular and doubles specialist in the St. Rudolph Team.
This would not be a recurring role but still, it is quite impressive how Kawahara managed to grab two roles in a series that was packed with talented seiyuu.
Still in the same year, Kawahara was cast in his first-ever leading role in anime. He voiced Bifou in the sci-fi anime series, Genei Toushi Bastof Lemon.
As exciting as it was for Kawahara to be cast in this role, the truth is that the anime completely failed to impress, going under the radar for many.
2004 and 2005 would prove to be difficult years in Kawahara’s career, struggling to get new leading roles or even supporting characters that would appear for more than one episode in anime.
In those two years, he was cast in supporting/minor roles in anime series such as Kaiketsu Zorori, GANTZ ～the first stage～, and Yu☆Gi☆Oh!: Duel Monsters GX.
Other anime series in which he voiced characters include:
- Yu☆Gi☆Oh! Duel Monsters (2003)
- TEXHNOLYZE (2003)
- MOUSE (2003)
- SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HERLOCK (2003)
- Samurai Champloo (2004)
- Suzuka (2005)
2006 – 2013
Struggling with consistency
2006 would end up being the year that Kawahara would get to impress with his acting thanks to a very specific role.
He was cast as the trustworthy and caring drummer Yasushi Takagi in the popular drama/music anime series NANA.
Despite being a supporting role in the anime, Takagi’s influence and guidance, making sure everything runs smoothly in the band and with those around him, make him pivotal in the story.
Kawahara’s acting stood out for making Takagi’s personality believable, adding a gentle element to the main cast.
2007 would end up reverting to grabbing minor roles in anime series such as ZOMBIE-LOAN, CODE-E, Taiho Shichau zo: Full Throttle, among many others.
In 2008, Kawahara was cast as Glo Xinia, a member of the White Spell of the Millefiore Famiglia, and a supporting character in the popular action anime series, Katekyo Hitman Reborn!.
This is the character that kicked off Kawahara’s knack for voicing eccentric characters, with Xinia being over the top in his behavior throughout the arc in which he was featured.
Still in the same year, Kawahara was cast as Pierce Aogami in the action anime series, Toaru Majutsu no Index.
For this role, there were a couple of challenges for Kawahara to tackle starting from the fake Kansai accent that the character has throughout the series – intentional, it’s something other characters in the series make fun of – even down to how masochistic and a bit of a stalker Aogami is.
All of those were nailed, giving way to one of the most eccentric and quirky performances of his as a voice actor.
He would end up reprising this role in the several seasons and specials that were released from 2008 until 2018.
And when everything seemed to be going Kawahara’s way, there he was again experiencing another year of minor roles and supporting characters with little to no spotlight.
2009 proved to be such a year with him scoring roles in anime series such as 07-GHOST and DARKER THAN BLACK.
In 2010, Kawahara was cast as Bickslow, a member of team Raijinshuu in the popular shounen anime series, FAIRY TAIL.
Bickslow is known for his creepy appearance and maniacal laughter with his tongue sticking out. This was Kawahara’s longest-running role in an anime series, going for 9 years.
2011 would be yet another quiet year for Kawahara with yet again a couple of role reprisals in Prince of Tennis and FAIRY TAIL but for the most part, he was struggling to get a consistent stream of good supporting roles or even leading characters.
Still this year, he was cast as Koujiro Sasahara, a son of farmers that believes he’s from an aristocratic family, in the slice-of-life anime series Nichijou.
This is yet another eccentric character in Kawahara’s repertoire, going as far as heading to school on a goat.
2013 was yet another quiet year, with only a couple of supporting and minor roles to his name in anime series such as Karneval, Silver Spoon, and Uchuu Kyoudai.
Other anime series in which he voiced characters include:
- capeta (2006)
- BLOOD+ (2006)
- Le Chevalier D’Eon~ (2006)
- Saiunkoku Monogatari (2006)
- Wangan Midnight (2007)
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai (2007)
- Persona: Trinity Soul (2008)
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei (2009)
- Kämpfer (2009)
- Kaidan Restaurant (2009)
- Aoi Bungaku Series (2009)
- Amagami SS (2010)
- K-On!! (2010)
- Bakuman. (2010 – 2012)
- Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai: Under the Innocent Sky. (2011)
- SKET DANCE (2011)
- TIGER & BUNNY (2011)
- Gintama (2011)
- BLEACH (2011)
- Mirai Nikki (2011)
- Aquarion Evol (2012)
- Hiiro no Kakera (2012)
- Binbougami ga! (2012)
- Shinsekai yori (2013)
Trying to find his stride
2014 kicked off with a supporting role in the supernatural anime series Tokyo ESP. He was cast as Hokusai Azuma, one of the antagonists in this series.
2015 and 2016 were two extremely quiet years for Kawahara, only nabbing 7 roles, all minor or supporting roles.
In 2017, he was cast as Gunpei Kawahara, a member of the Yamagata Mogami Senior High Bicycle Club, in the sports anime Yowamushi Pedal: New Generation.
A year later, Kawahara reprised his role as TRIGGER’s manager Kaoru Anesagi in the anime adaptation of the popular game IDOLiSH7.
Still in the same year, he was back to voicing characters in a moral grey zone, voicing Matsuri Washuu in the supernatural/action anime series Tokyo Ghoul:re.
2019 was quiet with only a minor role in the anime series Kimetsu no Yaiba.
In 2020 and 2021, Kawahara reprised his role as Kaoru Anesagi in IDOLiSH7: Second Beat! and IDOLiSH7: Third Beat!.
Still in 2020, he reprised his role from the drama CD as Ushio Tsuzuki in the BL movie adaptation of Yes ka No ka Hanbun ka.
Other anime series in which he voiced characters include:
- Madan no Ou to Vanadis (2014)
- Nobunagun (2014)
- Denki-gai no Honya-san (2014)
- Sword Art Online II (2014)
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin (2015)
- Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku (2015)
- ONE PIECE (2015)
- Owari no Seraph (2016)
- TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION (2017 – 2021)
- Baki (2018)
- Detective Conan (2018)
- Asatir: Mirai no Mukashi Banashi (2020)
- Marulk-chan no Nichijou (2020)
- Boruto: Naruto Next Generations (2022)
With Kawahara’s career primarily focused on anime and narration, it would be expected he’d have plenty of credits in radio however, he doesn’t.
His first radio show hosting/appearance was in 2011 on BLink alongside fellow seiyuu Takashi Kondo. He then guested on Prince of Tennis On the Radio and Yuse to Yoshihisa no Rekishi Entertainment P!.
Kawahara Yoshihisa to Murase Ayumi no Sekaiju Web Radio (2016)
To promote the game Etrian Odyssey V, Yoshihisa Kawahara and Ayumu Murase, the game’s protagonists teamed up for the special web radio show “Kawahara Yoshihisa to Murase Ayumi no Sekaiju Web Radio“.
The radio show aired on Atlus’ official YouTube channel in 2016.
Yamanaka Masahiro & Kawahara Yoshihisa no Beautiful Life! (2017 -)
Kawahara’s longest-running radio show is “Yamanaka Masahiro & Kawahara Yoshihisa no Beautiful Life!” (山中真尋&川原慶久のBeautiful Life！).
The radio show is focused on all things BL (boys love), talking about the theme and its sub-themes without a filter, discussing acting techniques, impressions on their work and their guests’, among many other things.
As far as his work goes in games, Kawahara is active since 2004, counting roles in action, sports, RPG, fighting, and BL games.
His first role in games was as Kippei Tachibana in the game adaptation of the popular sports manga/anime, Prince of Tennis.
He’s lent voice to a couple of iconic characters such as:
Rand Travis in Super Robot Wars series (2008 – 2022)
This is Kawahara’s longest-running role in games. In 2008, he was cast as Rand Travis in Super Robot Wars Z.
This role would end up being reprised across 5 different games from 2008 and 2022, turning into a beloved character in the Super Robot Wars universe.
Kaoru Anesagi in IDOLiSH7 (2015 -)
In 2015, Kawahara would end up being cast as Kaoru Anesagi in the – now – popular franchise, IDOLiSH7.
Anesagi is a diligent manager, professional at all times while having the best interests of TRIGGER into account. Short temper is one of their quirks, being able to, if angered, snap a pen in two.
This is a role you wouldn’t usually see/hear Kawahara tackling as his voice tone is very far from that of Anesagi’s.
As mentioned by Kawarahara during his appearance in Scat Babys Show!! in 2020, he was given free reign by the producers to choose how eccentric and intense he wanted to make Anesagi.
The rest is history, with Anesagi being one of the most beloved side characters in the franchise.
Genji in Overwatch/Overwatch 2 (2016 -)
In 2016, Kawahara was chosen as the Japanese dub voice for the cyborg ninja Genji in the popular shooter Overwatch.
Toru Higashi in Judgment/Judgement 2 (2018 -)
Two years later, in 2018, Kawahara joined the cast of the new ambitious project in the popular Yakuza franchise.
Since then, he’s voiced Toru Higashi, a supporting character in the game franchise, a former member of the Matsugane Family as well as the former manager and current owner of the game center Charles.
Despite his tough-guy appearance, he’s a good person, caring a lot for his subordinate, something that all other characters quickly notice.
He also voiced characters in the following games (the list is not exhaustive):
- THE kanshiki kan (2005)
- Ace Combat: Joint Assault (2010)
- Original story from FAIRY TAIL (2011)
- Time Travelers (2012)
- Tales of Xillia 2 (2012)
- Danball Senki Wars (2013)
- Summon Night 5 (2013)
- GUILTY GEAR Xrd -SIGN- (2014)
- NAtURAL DOCtRINE (2014)
- Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (2014)
- Witch boy magical piece (2014)
- The King of Fighters (2016)
- League of Legends (2016)
- CARAVAN STORIES (2017)
- Touken Ranbu (2017)
Narration / Dubbing
Kawahara has made most of his career about narration and dubbing, having over 50 credits in this field. With his well-known control and unique deep voice, Kawahara is chosen for narrating Japanese TV shows and commercials.
Fans can also find him dubbing everything from Hollywood movies to TV series or even Korean dramas.
Some of his most important credits include:
- Alice in Wonderland,
- THE MENTALIST,
- LAW & ORDER,
- Pretty Little Liars,
- Start-Up (Korean drama),
- The Sinner,
- Criminal Minds,
between many more TV series and movies. For a detailed list, I welcome you to dive deep into Kawahara’s Japanese Wikipedia page.
When it comes to drama CDs, Kawahara is one of the biggest names in the BL drama CD scene. Almost every seiyuu active in this field – and primarily performing roles of “uke” characters – will be has co-starred with Kawahara.
His versatility as a voice actor – able to tap into a lower, faux bass register – makes it so that he can voice imposing, dangerous characters as well as those with a sweet, gentle side in which his warmth shines.
Some of the drama CDs he’s best known for include (list is not extensive):
- Akegatani Yamu Ame,
- Yes ka No ka hanbun ka,
- Kyoushi mo Iroiro aru Wakede series,
- Shinsodan Nobody Knows,
- Tokyo Shinchu,
- Jabamii Tori,
- Yuwakusha no Koi,
between many more.
Although Kawahara is active in the BL scene, fans of situation drama CDs will find out that he is not active at all in that field, having no credits in “regular” otome content.
Kawahara’s fans have had very few opportunities to listen to his singing. Not only has he performed very few character songs but he has never joined a 2D music project (as a singer).
There are, however, a couple of instances in which fans can listen to his baritone – on the lower side – vocals.
For those fans of the Prince of Tennis franchise, Kawahara performed a couple of character songs as Kippei Tachibana. Stand out songs include “Victory Road” and “Spirits of Hunter”.
He’s also performed character songs for anime series such as Nichijou, Oretachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai, Mirai Nikki as well as the game series Boyfriend (Kari) Kirameki Note.
Tokeijikake no Buriki Ojisan (2020 -)
In an unexpected turn of events, in 2020, Yoshihisa Kawahara teamed up with the long-time friend and fellow seiyuu Hiroki Shimowada and kicked off activities as a unit, Tokeijikake no Buriki Ojisan (時計仕掛けのブリキおじさん).
The duo released the pop single “Kyu-suke“. You can find snippets of the two songs in this single in the video below.
Since 2020, the duo has been inactive.
When it comes to variety, Yoshihisa Kawahara is not the most active seiyuu. He does have punctual appearances in some variety shows but for the most part, due to him not being that popular, variety show work doesn’t come to him as often as you’d like.
Still, whenever Kawahara is invited to a variety show you can expect him to be awkward for a couple of minutes into it, addressing his juniors overly politely – something everyone starts making fun of – but after that you can expect him to be all smiles, listening to everyone pretty closely, participating naturally in conversations.
He always brings an interesting story or behind-the-scenes comment to his variety appearances, something that, at times, throws off the hosts or the rest of the cast (in case of cast events).
Some of the variety shows he’s hosted or guested include:
Absolute Duo variety (2015)
In 2015, Yoshihisa Kawahara was the host of a special variety show featured as a tie-up to the ecchi anime series “Absolute Duo”.
IDOLiSH7 Production Meeting (2019)
In 2019, Kawahara co-hosted the special broadcast to celebrate IDOLiSH7’s 4th anniversary “IDOLiSH7 Production Meeting” with Susumu Chiba and Satomi Sato.
Surprising everyone, Kawahara was dressed and acting as Kaoru – the character he voices in the franchise -, taking the broadcast to a whole different level of fun.
During this special broadcast there was talk about merchandise, game’s story and the anime series.
Scat Babys Show!! (2020 as guest)
In 2020, Kawahara guested on Wataru Hatano & Takuya Sato’s risky viewable radio show “Scat Babys Show!!“.
During this episode, there was a lot of nostalgia going on, with Kawahara, Hatano, and Sato reminiscing about where they had first started to work together, anime series, and drama CDs in which they got a strong impression of each other, between many other things.
Inevitably, the trio talked plenty about IDOLiSH7 from its recordings to how he came up with Kaoru’s voice, even down to how everyone is incredibly passionate about the story, checking their scripts to know more about the story before it is available in the game.
Is always “extra” in his roles
On several occasions, TRIGGER’s members Wataru Hatano, Soma Saito, and Takuya Sato have mentioned how they feel like Kawahara’s acting as Kaoru is always extra, going all out in a role that wouldn’t suit his voice (or so, people would think).
This is something inherent to Kawahara’s acting. He takes on crazy roles or roles that wouldn’t usually suit his deep baritone/high bass vocals and always seems like he’s having a blast while performing as those characters.
Kaoru in the IDOLiSH7 is a good example of that as Kawahara is voicing a character that is gender-neutral however with a couple of feminine quirks in their speech.
The biggest TRIGGER fan
For those that follow Kawahara on Twitter, this comes as no surprise.
Not only does he voice Kaoru – TRIGGER’s manager – but in real life, Kawahara is a big fan of the group, actively playing IDOLiSH7 and “hunting” for TRIGGER’s cards or passionately participating in the game’s events.
This is is something endearing as most seiyuu don’t play the games in which they voice characters, much less turn into fans of the project or the groups.
Everyone loves him
Although Kawahara is not as active as other seiyuu, every single seiyuu that works with him only has praise to give. Kawahara is known for being pretty warm and welcoming, learning from and teaching those around him.
Seiyuu like Takuya Sato, Shingaki Tarusuke, Yuki Ono, Soma Saito, Wataru Hatano, Takuya Eguchi are just some of the seiyuu that absolutely love his voice acting skills and his personality, having mentioned those in cast talk parts in drama CDs or even in video/written interviews.
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.