From concept albums that twist your mind to stylish R&B tunes or even cosy acoustic rock, 2022’s albums by male seiyuu artists were amazing.
From January 15 until January 22, 2023, readers and viewers of THTFHQ voted for these awards that value, first and foremost, talent and quality over popularity.
Nominees were shortlisted by The Hand That Feeds HQ and a winner emerged in each category.
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 2022.
If you want to check the abridged version of the complete results of this year’s edition, those were unveiled on episode 130 of SEIYUU LOUNGE, THTFHQ’s weekly podcast all about male seiyuu music and 2D groups.
Without further ado, these are the albums by male seiyuu artists that impressed you in 2022.
#1 Soma Saito “my beautiful valentine”
Honestly, I was not expecting this CD to win given how Soma Saito’s fans are not many among the international side of the fandom but this is an interesting surprise.
Who would have thought that one of the most complex CDs ever released by a male seiyuu artist would get this much love?
I for one am quite happy to see an EP all about surrealism, an overly abstract concept, turned into something concrete, palpable, and, in a way, mind-blowing.
There are a lot of superlatives I could use to describe this EP – as I extensively did throughout the year – but in case this is your first time coming across “this CD”my beautiful valentine”, let me give you a quick breakdown of this EP and tell you why it is brilliant.
“my beautiful valentine” uses surrealism as a lens to analyze romance and all its love, desire, and twisted feelings that may come along with it. It starts off really jolly but quickly the contradictions start to show.
The lyrics are dark but the instrumental is.
Saito’s performance sounds quite sarcastic at times to mask the darkness underneath and then… everything comes crashing down on you when “Uzumibi” arrives.
The dream you’re in is one you can’t get out of. It is dark, and devoid of people. It’s only you and your thoughts as you try to keep the flame, your resolution, and your determination ablaze. This song is a descent to madness and perfectly leads you on to be enticed to stay in this twisted dream forever in “zakuro”.
But it all hits you like a truck when “Kudryavka” arrives and you come to a realization that… Saito was toying around with you all along, breaking the fourth wall by directly addressing you, the listener, and mocking you by saying “good work, now here’s a chocolate”.
The journey you go through, the story you live in this EP. The music and the performances are ridiculously mind-blowing. There is nothing like it and, in a way, that is a big reason why you can’t just listen to this EP once. You want more and more, hoping to replicate that unique feeling you got on the first listen. To go through all those emotions and arrive at the twist and be caught by surprise by it.
This is an EP that shows the genius behind Soma Saito’s storytelling and compositions. It is, indeed, your album of the year at this year’s THTFHQ AWARDS.
From this point on, the albums 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 “Road Movie”
From his unique clean singing tone to his loungy semi-acoustic music, Gakuto Kajiwara has been checking all the right boxes for me.
Gakuto Kajiwara is maturing at an insanely fast rate, showing the maturity, control, and consistency of a veteran in “Road Movie“.
The vibes are good, the music has a comfortable tempo and the soundscapes are cozy and welcoming.
Listening to the songs in “Road Movie” feels good. Each feels like a warm hug after a hard day’s work.
“Road Movie” ends up being a trip down memory lane, exploring nostalgia, love, and care through a set of semi-acoustic songs with tasteful funk and citypop influences.
On top of those are Gakuto Kajiwara’s smooth and always steady vocals.
His clarity and consistency across tracks continues to impress and by the end of “Road movie” you will be wanting more and more from his performances.
Shunichi Toki “Good for”
Shunichi Toki’s “Good for” is so unbelievably good that I don’t even know where to start talking about it.
Shunichi Toki went for a perfect homage to the sounds of the 70s, 80s, and 90s in the groovy 1st album “Good For”.
But don’t expect for this album to be a one trick pony. There is a lot of depth, various music genres explored from Funk to Jazz, Ballad, Ska and Citypop.
Expect a really consistent album with plenty of Jazz and funk leading the way – or used as undertones – for all songs.
From the majestic, classy sound in “Nonfictional” to the throwback 90s hip-hop sound in “Original Scenery” – easily my favorite song in this CD – or the neon-lit soundscape in “Home”, Toki impresses with laidback, warm, and punchy soundscapes.
And when it comes to his singing… Shunichi Toki continues to impress with how smooth he always is. His control is ridiculous, his technique is second to none and, of course, his musical sensibility shows in the way he tackles any music genre he performs.
Shunichi Toki shows a lot of growth and maturity as a solo artist delivering a consistent album with “Good for”.
He paid the perfect – and respectful – homage to 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s music, taking the listener through a memorable sonic experience.
Sir Vanity “Ray”
However, the band has been impressing with their work so far, presenting fans with plenty of interesting performances well worth your attention.
And in “Ray”, the band’s 1st full-length album, listeners get to check the band’s music released up until now with a couple of new tracks in the mix.
From solo tracks by Nakajima and Umehara to full-on band tunes such as the title track “Ray” or the aggressive, fast-paced rock tunes “will” and “HERO”, the band offers a refined pop-rock sound that puts a massive smile on my face.
With double vocals and double guitars, listeners can expect Sir Vanity’s songs to be impactful but with different yet complementary charms.
Yoshiki Nakajima and Yuichiro Umehara do have awesome chemistry and when it comes to sharing vocal duties they more than cover for each others’ weaknesses, ending up delivering performances that may make your jaw drop in awe.
While far from a perfect album, Sir Vanity made sure to arrive with a bang with “Ray”, setting the stage for something bigger in 2023.
If you’re into good voices performing exciting rock music, Sir Vanity’s “Ray” is, undoubtedly, a must-listen.
Mamoru Miyano “THE ENTERTAINMENT”
After everything looked like Mamo was going to release a full-length album in 2021 – something that didn’t happen -, 2022 arrived and fans finally got that long awaited announcement.
This was a much needed addition to his repertoire, showcasing a solo pop star maturing, finding music genres he loves, embracing those and delivering high quality music time after time while remaining relevant throughout that growth.
At the same time, this album is a return to that sweet, playful R&B sound that marked the start of Miyano’s solo career, now sounding more polished, mature and stylish than ever before.
As 2022 wrapped up, “THE ENTERTAINMENT” stood out as one of the best albums of the year.
Tasuku Hatanaka “Real”
The intro and outro tracks are stunners. They create hype for the CD and leave the listener with a nostalgic note, making you unconsciously hit that replay button just so that you can experience it all again.
Out of the new songs, “Feel the Real”, “Solid” and “UnReal” are the most impressive. “Feel the Real” is a good introduction to this album, summing up the energy that is going on in it.
“Solid” is insanely groovy, has a stylish retro sound that lends some elements from citypop and synthwave, creating a dreamy tune that stands out as the best song in this CD. “UnReal” brought a bit of surrealism to this release, something that I wasn’t expecting.
Out of the old tunes, “TWISTED HEARTS” continues to be THE highlight in this phase in Hatanaka’s solo career. It is regal, it is dark and elegant. It is synthwave at its best with some of the biggest vocals on top.
This is a song that will go down as his best, at least I believe so.
Solid entry in his repertoire and an album well worth checking out if you enjoy energetic pop with a dash of darkness and emotional edge on top.
“Real” showed that Tasuku Hatanaka is, indeed, a terrific solo artist however his long periods of absence make it hard for him to ride on a lot of momentum and capitalize on it.
2022 was a golden year of transformation and further growth for the, now, talented quartet.
SparQlew released the groovy and retro-sounding album “neon” and what followed was an amazing set of performances in the most varied music genres.
“neon” pleases both fans of bubbly pop and fast rock. It has both sides of the spectrum and for each of the songs in this album, all members rose to the occasion showcasing their improved teamwork as well as every little bit they grew individually as singers.
Whether it was rock, pop, jazz, ballads, dance, or hip-hop, SparQlew shows that the change that happened in tone and concept in “Daybreak” only brought good things to them.
Matured, improved, showing their skills without the restrictions of bubbly pop, the group shows that it is ready to take that crown of best seiyuu unit to itself.
As it is, “neon” is a fancy album showing a further matured sound, improved vocals, and overall versatility by SparQlew. It is a confident display of their personality as a group and the talents they have.
It is a diamond among all albums released this year by seiyuu artists and groups in 2022.
Thank you to everyone that voted at the THTFHQ AWARDS 2022! A new edition will be held in January 2024 so make sure to follow THTFHQ on social media for notifications when the voting starts.