THTFHQ AWARDS 2021: 2D Music Project of the Year

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The sheer variety of music genres and quality of 2D music projects in 2021 was impressive. Among the over 60 2D projects out there, there were 10 that stood to you the most.

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

From December 27, 2021, until January 10, 2022, over 2500 of our readers voted at THTFHQ AWARDS 2021.

Nominees were shortlisted by The Hand That Feeds HQ and a winner emerged, however, in the interest of fairness – and want to put the spotlight on other male seiyuu that also had a fantastic 2021 -, this feature includes the top 10 in the voting, with only #1 being ranked.

To avoid petty fights between fans and disrespect towards seiyuu and their fans, no votes are disclosed in any of the written features covering THTFHQ AWARDS 2021.

If you want to check the abridged version of the complete results of this year’s edition, those were unveiled on episode 78 of SEIYUU LOUNGE, our weekly podcast all about male seiyuu music and 2D groups.

Without further ado, these are the 2D music projects that made it to the top 10.

#1 Uta no Prince Sama

Utapri

Seeing Uta no Prince Sama getting this award feels really nostalgic for me.

Following the project in its inception up until now has been a crazy ride for me and although I no longer review music by the franchise, I still hold it in high esteem.

It is, after all, the project that opened the doors for all the 2D music projects we now have and that were nominated in this category.

It is, essentially, the project that gave me the final push to start covering music by 2D music projects at The Hand That Feeds HQ. So Utapri does have a special place for me.

Like me, many fans, long-time or even new ones have awesome stories of how they came across the project and what it means to them. There is so much love and nostalgia for this project that I believe it was a part of the reason why this project won this award.

The other part is the fact that to celebrate its 10th and 11th anniversaries, the Utapri franchise released plenty of content for its fans to enjoy.

QUARTET NIGHT kicked off the Idol Song CD series, having all CDs ranking high on Oricon’s charts, selling over 20.000 copies each.

ST☆RISH, QUARTET NIGHT, and HEAVENS then participated in the Uta no Prince Sama 10th Anniversary CD, delivering 3 unique songs that were the talk in town.

After that, ST☆RISH and QUARTET NIGHT released “Shining All Star CD 3”, CD to celebrate the franchise’s 11th birthday. The CD was extremely well received by their fans, yet again ranking high on Oricon’s charts.

HEAVENS released its 2nd mini-album One day and to wrap up 2021, the franchise met their fans with the long-awaited Uta no Prince-sama Maji LOVE LIVE 7th STAGE, after the live show was postponed in 2020 due to Covid-19.

Utapri is still going strong after 11 years active and 2021 was certainly a big year for the franchise, being voted by you as the 2D music project of Year at THTFHQ AWARDS 2021.

From this point on, the 2D music projects mentioned are not ranked (the order in which they appear below doesn’t correspond to the place they ranked in the final voting):

IDOLiSH7

IDOLiSH7 franchise had a solid year as it celebrated its 6th anniversary, aired the 1st cour of the IDOLiSH7 Third Beat anime, IDOLiSH7, and Mezzo released new music, and TRIGGER released 2 CDs, turning into the trio’s best year since debut.

To kick off the year, the franchise kicked off airing of the 1st cour of what is one of the most emotional – and heartbreaking – story seasons in the IDOLiSH7 franchise.

Due to the impossibility of holding an in-person live show for the franchise in complete safety, Bandai decided to have TRIGGER lead the way and hold its one-man online live show TRIGGER LIVE CROSS “VALIANT”.

The live show announcement arrived as a surprise as, never before, the IDOLiSH7 franchise had never held one-man live shows for its units – instead holding a massive yearly live show featuring all groups – but what followed was one of the most impressive and mesmerizing performances by a 2.5D group (Note: a 2.5D group is essentially one in which the voice actors perform live as the characters they voice).

TRIGGER released “VARIANT”, an outstanding concept album that even non-fans of the IDOLiSH7 franchise felt drawn to, and followed with the release of the heartwrenching “PLACES”.

IDOLiSH7 released “THE POLiCY”, single that showed a group maturing while still having at its core the fun and bubbly idol vibe of their debut days.

Later in the year, MEZZO released an outstanding first full-length album with “Intermezzo”, further solidifying its stance as one of the best sub-units in 2D music.

As 2021 wrapped up, the IDOLiSH7 franchise stands tall with a fantastic year behind it.

Paradox Live

PARADOX LIVE

Paradox Live wrapped up its Stage Battle series, the climax of several entries that showed that the franchise is more than just entertainment. There is genuine care about making the music by each team unique and engaging.

Early on in the year, the franchise held its first live show “Paradox Live Dope Show-2021.3.20 LINE CUBE SHIBUYA-“.

After that, cozmez won the Stage Battle series after turning around the results that initially didn’t hand them that win.

To wrap up the Stage Battle series, the franchise released 2 full-length albums “TRAP” and “LIVE”.

Buraikan made its debut, showcasing a robust hip-hop sound with strong late 90s, early 00s hip-hop vibes, and a lot of swagger on the performance side by the fantastic pairing of Kensho Ono and Junichi Suwabe.

Following that, Avex announced that the Paradox Live was going to kick off its 1stShuffle Team Show” CD series, counting with 2 releases that gave way to some of the most unique – and unexpected – pairings and performances.

As the year wrapped up, the franchise announced the addition of 4 new teams: VISTY, AMPRULE, 1Nm8 and Goku Luck.

Although without the fanfare of other 2D music projects, the Paradox Live franchise keeps its hip-hop roots close to heart, unique music characteristical to each team, and a whole lot of care in delivering music even non-fans of 2D music project will enjoy given the high production quality of every single of its songs.

Hana-Doll*

Hana-Doll* is the sleeper in this list.

Easily the most underrated 2D music project currently active – especially in Japan, which is odd and mostly shocking -, the Hana-Doll* franchise was focused on releasing high-quality music by its 2 groups Anthos* and Loulou*di.

Anthos* released “Meet” and “ES” while Loulou*di only released one single “Idéal”, but honestly, that was more than enough to leave a massive mark, becoming one of the best CDs released in 2021.

Anthos* had a slight shift in their dynamic with the addition of Shun Horie but he’s settled in pretty well and in 2021, it was like he had always been a part of the group to be with. However, the group changed a bit its vibe, leaving behind their aesthetically pleasing music and music videos to give way to a more intense, dance-centric sound. This wasn’t necessarily an upgrade, more like a couple of steps backward and quite honestly a change I believe fans weren’t really hoping for, given how Anthos* had a unique sound up until 2021, only to have it watered down and sounding like most 2D groups nowadays.

On the other hand, Loulou*di kept on working in the opposite direction, being one of the most unique and niche groups in terms of sound. The trio released “Ideál” and in there, there’s “Final Direction”, a song that is as impressive as it is deeply intricate and layered in its composition. On the vocal end, the group continues to showcase their prowess, delivering spine-chilling performances in both songs within the CD.

Midway through the year, Anthos* held its first live show “7 Meet A Anthos* Stage Event”.

Despite not being one of the buzzworthy 2D franchises, Hana-Doll* is overflowing with quality, good music, impressive performances, and one of the most unique 2D groups out there. If you’re reading about this franchise for the first time, I welcome you to check them out. It’s worth it.

Hypnosis Mic

Hypnosis Mic had yet another solid year, continuing its reign as the most popular hip-hop franchise – and quite possibly, currently the biggest 2D music project out there.

The franchise kicked off the 2nd Division Rap Battle series, now including Bad Ass Temple and Dotsuitare Hompo.

Buster Bros!!! and Fling Posse joined the final battle for the very first time winning their respective battles with Dotsuitare Hompo and MAD TRIGGER CREW, then they went face-to-face with the 1st Division Rap Battle winners, Matenro.

Up until the preliminary results, there was never a clear winner however as those results were unveiled, it started to show that Fling Posse could be in for the win – which eventually happened.

After a hard-fought battle, Fling Posse emerged as the winning crew in the 2nd Division Rap Battle series.

But not everything was about the 2nd Division Rap Battle series. The Hypnosis Mic franchise held Hypnosis Mic –Division Rap Battle- 6th LIVE earlier in 2021 as well as Hypnosis Mic 7th live “SUMMIT OF DIVISIONS” during Summer 2021.

Division All Stars released “Hypnosis Mic-Glory or Dust-“, “Hang out!” and “Hoodstar+”, 3 digital singles brought a lot of groove and old-school hip-hop vibes to the franchise.

As 2021 wrapped up, the Hypnosis Mic franchise stands as one of the most popular and buzzworthy.

Ensemble Stars!!

Ensemble Stars

Ensemble Stars!! is up there with the IDOLMASTER SideM franchise as one of the biggest – with 51 seiyuu in its cast– and as such, with its 15 units, it was bound to happen that the franchise would be releasing music pretty much every month, trying to cater to fans of all groups.

In 2021, Ensemble Stars!!’s units were all about the 1st and 2nd seasons of the ES Idol Song CD series, there were a couple of special and shuffle units releasing music during the year and the FUSION UNIT CD series kicked off.

The latter was a new CD series that, for the very first time saw two units teaming up – usually with polarizing music genres – and delivering a unique performance as an impromptu fusion unit.

To celebrate its 6th anniversary, the franchise released the special digital single “FUSIONIC STARS!!”.

Still in 2021, the franchise held Ensemble Stars! Starry Stage 4th, putting a smile on its fans’ faces.

VISUAL PRISON

VISUAL PRISON

VISUAL PRISON made a bang early on in 2021 with its announcement of a fantasy, visual-kei-meets-vampires concept.

Seeing how there was so little visual-kei-inspired music within 2D music projects, the premise in VISUAL PRISON ended up being extremely interesting, drawing a lot of people to the franchise. At the same time, ELEMENTS GARDEN was in charge of the music, which ended up piquing the interest of another group of 2D music fans.

With Shoya Chiba as its poster boy, the franchise brought a star-studded cast forth, giving life to the characters that make O★Z, LOS†EDEN, and ECLIPSE. Aside from the franchise’s pre-release single “GUILTY CROSS”, the 3 groups released the joint single “Zankoku Shangri-la/BLOODY KISS/Gyokuza no GEMINI”.

The franchise welcomed as well its anime adaptation – which was fairly well received in Japan and to some praise internationally. The anime welcomed solo songs by all main cast members, further expanding on the visual-kei aesthetics and on the vampire-kei vibe of the whole concept behind VISUAL PRISON.

FROM ARGONAVIS

FROM ARGONAVIS

FROM ARGONAVIS had a rollercoaster year.

The franchise launched its first smartphone game – “ARGONAVIS from BanG Dream! AAside” – early in the year to have it ultimately end distribution in January 2022.

At the same time, the franchise changed its name from ARGONAVIS from BanG Dream to FROM ARGONAVIS following the big announcement made later in 2021, seeing all bands and the franchise itself parting ways with Bushiroad Music and the BanG Dream brand to start their own journey.

This is, in itself, something that may have stressed out some fans but, ultimately, it is a sign that good things are to come to the franchise and its bands, now that they have creative freedom.

During the year, fans were presented with new music by Argonavis, GYROAXIA, Fantôme Iris, Fujin RIZING!, and εpsilonΦ.

GYROAXIA released its first full-length album “ONE” and impressed a whole lot of people with its high throttle and aggressive pop-rock sound.

The franchise held several live shows in 2021, fueling fans’ love for all its bands in “ARGONAVIS LIVE 2021 JUNCTION A-G”, “ARGONAVIS 3rd LIVE CROSSING”, “ARGONAVIS Acoustic Tour 2021 -Spring Session-“, “Fantôme Iris 1st LIVE -C’est la vie!-“, “Fantome Iris Concept LIVE -Moonlight Feast-“, and “GYROAXIA LIVE 2021 -Hibana chiru-“.

If there was a 2D music project that was busy all year, releasing new music and holding live shows catering to fans of the different bands – or the franchise as a whole – it was FROM ARGONAVIS.

TSUKIPRO

TSUKIPRO continues to be one of the most consistent 2D music projects, counting with high-quality music by all its groups in the SQ series – SolidS and QUELL – and the ALIVE series – SOARA and GROWTH.

With Akira Takizawa and Takeshi Hama leading the composition team for the SQ and ALIVE groups, fans found outstanding – and unique – songs by all groups.

The SQ series wrapped up the Neo X Lied CD series with a set of performances that had SolidS and QUELL mixing things around with Takeshi Hama and Akira Takizawa giving a different twist to groups they weren’t initially composing for.

At the same time, ALIVE’s groups – SOARA and GROWTH – resumed the Neo X Lied CD series after an odd stop (and no communication for a while) by Movic.

Simultaneously, the 2nd season of the anime adaptation of the TSUKIPRO franchise, TSUKIPRO the Animation 2, aired in the summer, bringing even more music by each group, with all 4 performing an opening song for the series. In the series, there were not only 2 new songs for each group, but also shuffle songs for the very first time.

While 2021 was far from being the franchise’s big year, there’s no denying that if you’re looking for consistency, quality, and an outstanding cast, you can always count on TSUKIPRO.

Dear Vocalist

Dear Vocalist finally opened its doors to international fans by making its RAVING BEATS!!! CDs available on streaming platforms worldwide.

This arrived as a massive surprise as Rejet has never been too open when it comes to making their 2D music projects available to international fans.

And better yet, the CDs that were made available are part of the first-ever full-length albums released by all 6 vocalists RE-O-DO (CV: Toshiki Masuda), Joshua (CV: Nobunaga Shimazaki), Judah (CV: Soma Saito), (2)you (CV: Natsuki Hanae), momochi (Cv: Toshiyuki Toyonaga) and A’ (CV: Ryohei Kimura).

The CDs included songs voted by fans as well as 3 new songs that would – for sure – be in each album + a brief drama track.

This resulted in outstanding CDs with a lot of emotion on top of shredding rock tunes, others went incredibly romantic – surprisingly so -, while others were all about feeding off your energy, delivering memorable and intense performances.

At the same time, the franchise held its 2nd live show CR69Fes.2021「Blast!!!」and announced not only the release of the said show on DVD but also greenlit its 7th season of drama + music CDs to kick off in 2022 (“UNLIMITED”).

While still a 2D rock music project that few international fans are familiar with, Dear Vocalist has been making sure that everyone now checking it will easily fall in love with the rock music – all composed by R.O.N – as well as with the stories for each character.


Thank you to everyone that voted and spread the word about THTFHQ AWARDS 2021!

Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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