Reinventing themselves, embracing old-school sound, spreading their wings as singer-songwriters, these are your solo artists of 2021.
Estimated reading time: 12 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 10 best solo artists of 2021 as voted by you.
#1 Yuma Uchida
The competition was fierce in this category with Yuma Uchida winning the Solo Artist of the Year Award with only 1 vote of difference for 2nd place.
What a year 2021 was for Yuma Uchida!
He released 2 singles “SHAKE! SHAKE! SHAKE!” and “Comin’ Back” and the outstanding 2nd album “Equal”.
There 3 CDs had completely different vibes, “SHAKE! SHAKE! SHAKE!” being a peppy, playful single, “Comin’ Back” being slightly edgy with its rock sound, and “Equal” being a pure showcase of versatility across a wide variety of music genres.
On top of that, Yuma Uchida held another successful live show – Equal Sign – and was active as a member of Eve and Eden in the Ensemble Stars!! franchise, DRAMATIC STARS in the IDOLMASTER SideM franchise, HEAVENS in the Utapri franchise, and Impish Crow in the DIG-ROCK franchise.
He matured as a solo artist and kept pushing the boundaries of his sound and performances, further emphasizing that he is a complete solo artist, and one of the biggest seiyuu talents to make a solo debut in the past decade.
He’s a pop star in the making.
If you’ve followed him in 2021, you’re well aware of the raw talent he has and how impressive his singing is. And he didn’t disappoint with “Equal”, album that left a mark in 2021 and on many of you.
Yuma Uchida is your Solo Artist of the Year.
From this point on, the seiyuu mentioned are not ranked (the order in which they appear below doesn’t correspond to the place they ranked in the final voting):
Gakuto Kajiwara was extremely busy as a solo artist in 2021.
He released his 1st mini-album “Dokoka no kimi ni”, this time around opting for not keeping anything about the album hidden.
A couple of songs in it were pre-released to build up hype for the full release, there was behind-the-scenes content for fans to get to know how the recording went for the album and more.
While all of this could have easily backfired in terms of the marketing strategy, making the hype for the mini-album completely fade away, it actually worked, with fans being all over the album when it was released.
Then, Kajiwara proceeded to hold a worldwide livestream of his 1st live show “Koko ni iru kimi ni”. That was unexpected yet such a nice surprise that put Kajiwara one step closer to his international fans.
2021 was, indeed, a big year for Gakuto Kajiwara as a solo artist, taking important steps towards including his international fans.
2021 was a big year for Mamoru Miyano. Not only did he release 2 singles “Toumei” and “Dream on”, but he also held MAMORU MIYANO COMEBACK LIVE 2021 ~ RELIVING! ~ back to back live shows that were simultaneously on location and being livestreamed worldwide.
Miyano was, once again, at the forefront among male seiyuu, holding a worldwide livestream that ended up being extremely successful.
His music made its big return to the glory times. “Toumei” was emotional and, at the same time, eclectic, showcasing Miyano’s singing skills and versatility.
“Dream on” was a simple single that brought a loungy R&B tune and a happy-go-lucky track meant to put a smile on his fans’ faces.
When 2021 wraps up, the name Mamoru Miyano has to be mentioned, especially given how he is taking bold steps towards making all his fans able to attend his live shows.
Shouta Aoi had a quiet year when it came to CD releases however, what he released was quite good. “give me ♡ me” favored downtempo tracks that focused more on massive basslines and barely any background distractions to make Aoi’s vocals stand out.
As a result, “give me ♡ me” is a fun, upbeat single filled with downtempo dancefloor bangers and a bubbly rock tune for you to enjoy.
Earlier in the year, Aoi held Aoi Shouta ONLINE LIVE at Nippon Budokan Utaibito, a special acoustic online live show that ended up being livestreamed to some countries internationally. It was quite the emotional live show, with Aoi revisiting some of his hit songs, coating those in new colors, delivering memorable performances that made a lot of fans extremely emotional (the live version of “I am” is beautiful).
And later on in December, Aoi returned to live touring, announcing his new live tour “WONDER lab. coRe”.
Wataru Hatano‘s music is usually – and surprisingly – underrated and in 2021 it was no expectation.
Earlier in the year, Hatano held a special acoustic live show Wataru Hatano Live 2021 -Thanks-, later on announcing the release on Blu-ray of said live show.
A couple of months passed until fans would hear any news about new music from him. In August Avex announced that he’d be releasing a new single, “Breakers”.
The single arrived to steal the show in 2021 with a sound that fans had never heard before from Hatano (and is a rarity for seiyuu artists).
I’ve said it in its review, “Breakers” – the song – is a massive surprise even by Wataru Hatano’s standards.
He does frequently experiment with his sound, not being particularly tied to a music genre or style of singing however, he had never tried anything that happened in this single.
And “Breakers” is the type of song that is so empty in its core, it’s almost like a void yet it is so rich and hauntingly beautiful.
“Heart To Heart” is an elegant funky tune that adds a lot of bounce in this single, bringing a groovy bassline and playful guitar riffs to the spotlight while Wataru Hatano takes center stage and absolutely owns this performance.
When “Breakers” wraps up, you’ll be left thinking you want more and wondering why Wataru Hatano is so underrated when his consistency and technique continue to impress (and he keeps on stealing the show in the last quarter of every year).
As a solo artist, Toshiki Masuda had a fantastic year – although his 2nd full-length album went a bit under the radar for international fans.
He did a hard reset to his solo artist’s sound and brought forward the sounds and melodies he loves. As a result, the album feels much closer to him as a solo artist, exploring his guitar rock origins.
As part of 2D music groups, you basically had him tackling all kinds of music genres and doing so while delivering consistent performances filled with emotion.
As a solo artist, he seems to have found his identity and sound, whether that sticks around for the upcoming CD releases is a mystery but he seems to be going in the right direction.
The talented seiyuu and singer-songwriter was active as a solo artist, holding his first online live show in April as well as releasing his first mini-album “ROOM Of No Name”.
The mini-album is easily among my favorites in 2021 – and I believe favorite mini-album for many of you -, going outside of the box for a set of surprising performances that showcase an unshackled Makoto Furukawa, now free to experiment creating different music beyond his trademark jazz sound.
And what listeners get is an impressive showcase of skill, versatility, and charisma from Makoto Furukawa.
He’s matured as a solo artist, now daring to leave his comfort zone or even the image he set for him and show more of him, and it was quite impressive.
In both songs, listeners can expect Shunichi Toki to showcase his control and reliability as a singer. There are no misses, no suboptimal performances. It was an impressing entry in his repertoire.
At the same time, Toki teamed up with fellow seiyuu Junta Terashima for “Nightmare Before Halloween by Shunichi Toki and Junta Terashima!!” as well as Shunichi Toki Special Reading Live 2021-True Gazer-.
After a relatively quiet year, Shunichi Toki still made sure to leave a mark, teasing fans to what would end up being, early on in 2022, the announcement of the release of his 1st full-length album.
In the last couple of years, Kenichi Suzumura has been toning down his work as a solo artist however, surprising everyone, the talented singer-songwriter announced the release of his 4th full-length album “BRIGHT”.
And what an album it is!
“BRIGHT” arrives 7 and a half years since his last album. While not much has changed about Kenichi Suzumura’s sound as a solo artist – he’s still the awesome pop-rock artist I’ve been a fan of since 2010 -, there is maturity as an artist that will certainly strike you as different.
That is most noticeable in how his pop-rock sound now has iterations to Jazz or even funk, adding a bit more variety and excitement to his performances. Or even the themes Suzumura explores in his lyrics (he wrote, as always, the lyrics to all his songs) have now changed.
He’s a bit more serious in what he talks about, there is a lot of hope and good feelings in his songs. In a way, his lyrics now are a result of growing old, of experiencing new things but also seeing others experience those same things.
When it comes to the music itself, this album brought back a couple of “oldies” releases in the last 7 years but that had yet to make it into an album. And brought new songs, some of the best released in 2021: “Ake!”, “Kumo no Ito”, “Negai no ito”, and “Saki e”.
Although his comeback to the music industry went under the radar, Kenichi Suzumura made sure to make a big impression.
Pop-rock was a big part of the body of sound in the mini-album, with plenty of electrifying songs to choose from as well as a couple of bubbly, upbeat tunes made to put a smile on the faces of his fans.
He did play safe when it came to his singing in this mini-album. He’s well known for being chameleon in whichever 2D music project he is cast in but, in this album, you barely listen to him exploring his range or insane versatility.
For a singer like Takuya Eguchi – incredibly reliable, with a solid vocal baritone range that can go as high as a tenor or as low as a bass and loads of experience under his belt – I was expecting something a bit flashier or more confident than what was in that mini-album.
However, as far as solo debuts went, Takuya Eguchi’s was the best solo debut of the year and one of the most consistent solo artists among male seiyuu in 2021.
Thank you to everyone that voted and spread the word about THTFHQ AWARDS 2021!