Hello and welcome to another special edition of the “weekly” J-song roundups!
If you follow this segment pretty frequently (thank you, first of all lol), you might remember a roundup I wrote that was all about the groups which include the talented and well-known musician Kawatani Enon. It’s definitely been while since I posted that particular roundup but I’ve always wanted to do these themed posts, just to change it up a bit.
This roundup is a pretty long one, so let’s just jump right in!
First off, allow me to give my definition of what a “seiyuu idol” is. A “seiyuu idol” is pretty much what it suggests, a person in the Japanese entertainment industry who does both voice acting and idol-related activities such as perform on stage. Voice acting started to cross over with the idol industry back in the early 2000s, as many popular personalities/actors/singers like Hirano Aya or Mizuki Nana began to do work for anime and other otaku media. Being able to do crossover events such as concerts or stage performances allow these seiyuu to really become one with their character with a perfect example being the Love Live franchise and how popular the voice actresses are among the fan base.
Since then, crossover events are still a thing but it seems like nowadays we see the reverse, as there are more and more seiyuu becoming idols/singers later on in their careers rather than what someone like Hirano Aya experienced.
Today, I’ll be showcasing some songs from some very well-known seiyuu which are either a track relating to an anime they’ve been a part of or just something off their solo idol/music career.
“Wonderful Caravan!” – Minase Inori
Most likely you know who Minase Inori is if you’re an avid anime fan, as her most popular role is Rem from the Re:Zero franchise. Inorin has definitely become a rising star within the anime/seiyuu community, thanks to her various roles, pretty darn good vocal range and cute appearance. If you were wondering, she plays a few characters in the current Winter 2019 anime season like Endust Meiza in Endro! and Nakano Izuki in Gotoubun no Hanayome. She, like many other female seiyuu, is also dedicated to her solo music career, as she has released multiple singles and even two full albums.
This song, “Wonderful Caravan!”, is actually the ending song for Endro!, and it definitely fits well with that anime’s setting. There is definitely a soft, marching-band, “storybook” feel to this whole song with Inorin’s great vocals and especially the instrument choices. I would say Inorin hasn’t done this particular genre/type of song before (basing off my listening experience with her most recent album BLUE COMPASS) but I think it’s obvious that she does a really nice job anyway.
“DREAMS, Count down!” – sphere
Ah, Sphere. So much to say about them. (also big congratulations to Tomatsu Haruka, she announced her marriage back in January!)
I would still consider myself an amateur with Japanese music but if I’m not missing something, I would definitely consider this particular seiyuu idol group as one of the greatest so far. And for good damn reason since, well, it’s absolutely filled with talented and veteran seiyuu. Formed in 2009 by music company Music Ray’n, this pop unit consists of Tomatsu Haruka (Asuna/Sword Art Online), Toyosaki Aki (Hirasawa Yui/K-On!), Kotobuki Minako (Nanami Touko/Yagate Kimi ni Naru), and Takagaki Ayahi (Karisawa Erika/Durarara!); certainly an elite group of voice actresses that are still together even after 10 whole years. As a matter of fact, just a day or so before this post was published, Sphere announced their upcoming album (releasing May of this year) that celebrates their 10th anniversary.
This song, “DREAMS, Count down!”, is probably my favorite Sphere track out of all of the ones I’ve heard from them. It’s just incredibly upbeat, catchy, and fun while not being too extravagant/loud like with other pop songs (I guess a better way to put it is calling it “light”). All of sphere’s voices, while all being very different/distinct, just mesh together so well and that’s probably one of the main reasons why I love this group. Speaking of vocals, one of my favorite things about this song is there were are certain parts of this song that were beautifully sung such as when Toyosaki Aki goes, “Yumemiru nowa honnou dakara”… it’s so good it gives me the chills lol
Also, the music video for this song is just enjoyable. Seeing all of them in formal attire and doing stuff in an office setting is just all-around fun to watch.
(if you want more sphere goodness, listen to this INCREDIBLE acapella version of one of their more popular songs, “Future Stream”… it’s so beautiful it almost made me tear up lol)
“Odore! Kyukyoku Tetsugaku / 踊れ!きゅーきょく哲学 ” – Uesaka Sumire
Uesaka Sumire is certainly one of the more unique seiyuu in today’s industry, compared to greats like Hanazawa Kana or Hayami Saori. More specifically with Sumipe’s appearance and fashion choices; they’re a lot more flashy and not something you’d see someone wearing out in public. And if that isn’t unique enough for you, Uesaka Sumire is known for having an extremely huge interest in the country of Russia (yes, Russia), as that has influenced her appearance, personality and acting skills throughout the years (she is actually fluent in speaking Russian, as seen with some of her roles). If you want to read more about that in detail, I wrote a Seiyuu Spotlight feature about her that may interest you.
Anyways, let me make a confession: I wasn’t a huge fan of Uesaka Sumire’s music before writing this post. Sure, her performance for the opening theme of Pop Team Epic was unique and insanely popular because of that anime but after listening to some of her other stuff, it didn’t exactly pop out to me… until now. Despite watching the dumb comedy anime Aho Girl when it aired, I never really paid much attention to the ending theme of that show, “Odore! Kyukyoku Tetsugaku”. But after a year or so later, I stumbled upon it again and well, let’s just say it’s been on repeat for the past week.
I definitely think this song reflects Sumipe very well, as there are just an abundance of unique sounds/things mixed into this one song. One part is pop music, another part you hear a sick electric guitar solo, random kakegoe shouts, and more, all mixed in with Sumipe’s idol-like vocals. Plus, the music video showcases what kind of style she likes, both with the visuals of the MV and her clothing/appearance.
“EXCITING!” – Miyano Mamoru
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. The guy who voiced Light Yagami from Death Note and Hououin Kyouma in Steins;Gate… can be considered a “seiyuu idol”. Not only because of his solo musical career like with this song, but he has done character songs for many, many shows like Steins;Gate, Kimi ni Todoke, and especially Uta no Prince-sama: Maji Love 1000%. So yeah, him being called a seiyuu idol is not too surprising (and I mean, come on, his “ikemen” looks are just a given).
Miyano Mamoru is pretty amazing in my eyes, mainly because of how much of a talent he is. We all know that he is an incredible voice actor in anime and great at acting in general but when you look into his musical career (which he is very devoted to, given him creating 6 albums and going on 11 live tours), he puts on the same level of talent as his acting skills. The man can absolutely sing; he has a great singing voice, deep and alluring while also being able to hit high notes pretty well. Plus, he can dance as well.
This song, “EXCITING!”, is great example of what kind of music he makes while it does also have more of a Western/modern twist to it. His nice vocals are there and the mixture of EDM and pop, usually seen in more Western music, just fit really well. Miyano Mamoru has also done songs with more of a dramatic and dark feel, like with “Orpheus / オルフェ”, but I think he is at his best with more upbeat pop music.
“Endless Notes” – i☆Ris
Have you ever liked a musical group because you mostly like one single member? That’s basically me with i☆Ris 😛 But I will say that despite my love for Miyutan, I have been gradually enjoying the rest of the group’s presence such as Serizawa Yuu having a role in an anime this Winter 2019 season or Shibuya Azuki posting her TikTok videos on her Instagram.
i☆Ris is one of the more popular seiyuu idol groups out there since all six of them (Yamakita Saki, Serizawa Yuu, Akaneya Himika, Wakai Yuuki, Kubota Miyu, and Shibuya Azuki) voice the main cast of the well-known idol anime series PriPara, as well as provide the OPs and EDs. They have also provided some openings and endings for other anime such as Mahou Shoujo Site and Akiba’s Trip: The Animation.
“Endless Notes” is another one of their songs that is featured in an anime, as it’s the ending for the currently airing Grimms Notes The Animation. I’ve only heard a handful of i☆Ris songs but this particular track is much different from their normal, upbeat, full-on pop style. A lot more mellow, their vocals are softer, a violin playing super beautifully… and it’s not bad to hear this kind of genre from them at all. Another reason why I enjoyed this song is that I can distinctly hear each member’s voice, unlike with some of the i☆Ris songs I’ve listened to in the past. Hearing voices like Miyutan’s or Himi’s or Saki’s separately was just really nice (really, everyone in i☆Ris has a great voice).
“Apple Girl / アップル・ガール” – Ogura Yui
Basically the reason why I wanted to write this post.
If you asked me who my absolute favorite seiyuu idol/idol in general is, I would immediately say Ogura Yui. There are some that come close such as Uchida Maaya, Touyama Nao, Minase Inori but this past year, I’ve definitely garnered a love for Yui-chan and her music (mainly after watching this video). I truly believe out of all the seiyuu idols I’ve listened to and loved, Ogura Yui definitely encompasses what it means to be an idol the most. High-pitched and pleasant-sounding voice, cute and flashy appearance, catchy pop music; as I’ve said many times before, it really doesn’t get more “idol-y” than Ogura Yui (at least for myself lol). As for her voice acting side of things, she has been in many different shows like Yama no Susume, Tsurezure Children, Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko, and most will probably know her as Priestess from the recently aired Goblin Slayer.
Yui-chan has a brand new album coming out; as a matter of fact, it releases about a day or so after this post is published (February 20th in Japan). In order to hype up the release, she released a MV for one of the songs on that album, “Apple Girl”, which… has been on repeat for the past couple weeks for me. I feel like this song is a bit more “lighter” than her other popular tracks like “High Touch☆Memory” or “Honey♡Come”, mainly because of how she sings this one. I’ve definitely enjoyed the lighter side of Ogura Yui’s music, and “Apple Girl” is another example of that. Plus, it’s pretty darn catchy like most idol music, especially when it comes to the chorus.
The MV is something to note about as well since it seemed like her persona where she’s wearing the white dress and the setting she’s in is referencing how Japanese live TV performances were shown in the 80s/90s. Her appearance and how she moves, how the camera zooms into her from different angles (and how cheesy that looks) at that one part, and the fact that they showed that scene through an old school television set… that was a nice touch.
“Howling” – petit milady
What a duo these two are (lol). petit milady is a seiyuu idol duo consisting of two very talented and popular voice actresses in Yuuki Aoi and Taketatsu Ayana. They’re well-known for their songs being featured as the opening or ending for a ton of shows such as Yu☆Gi☆Oh! Zexal Second and Hyakuren no Haou to Seiyaku no Valkyria. But other than that, they made themselves one of the more popular seiyuu idol groups out there (probably because of the tons of anime they’ve acted in), with them releasing five full albums and many singles since their formation. Also fun fact: the duo is named “petit milady” because of how both of them are under 152 cm (5 feet) in height; Ao-chan is 145 cm tall while Ayachi is 151 cm.
I think one of my favorite things about this particular song is despite it having a metal/rock vibe to it, Ao-chan and Ayachi’s higher-pitched vocals and random chants throughout the song just make this a more amusing song to listen to. However they definitely mix well with a rock song like this one. I haven’t really listened to much of this duo but I can tell they have a ton of fun singing and performing their songs.
“Speed☆Star / スピード☆スター” – Hirano Aya
In the mid-to-late 2000s, Hirano Aya was considered the most popular voice actress in the anime industry with many well-known roles like Izumi Konata in Lucky Star, Amane Misa in Death Note, and of course Suzumiya Haruhi from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. As she felt like she was on top of the world, making music, voice acting in anime and performing at live concerts very frequently, it wouldn’t be long until her career started to fall towards a bad spot. With incidents involving her like her talking shit about otakus or being accused of doing sexual activities with her band mates, Hirano Aya’s image quickly started to become a negative one to a point where anime studios didn’t want to cast her in shows any longer… it’s quite unfortunate what she had to go through. However, Aya-chan is in a good place as of today, as it seems like she has matured as a person and has put her past behind her. Plus, she has been finding work in stage plays and other types of acting jobs.
But putting all the drama aside, Hirano Aya is quite the seiyuu idol. We probably all know her singing abilities with performances like “God knows…” and other anisongs, and she has definitely expressed that kind of talent in her solo musical career. One of her songs, “Speed☆Star”, is the first solo career song I’ve heard from Aya-chan, and it’s just fun to listen to. She’s just flat out incredible at singing and has a very distinct voice that many anime fans can pick out. One thing I like about Hirano Aya is that she isn’t like many of the seiyuu idols that have more of a soft, cute personality. As seen with her other songs like “Hysteric Barbie”, she’s more on the rebellious side with her image (almost being similar to someone like Avril Lavigne) which is a style many young people can enjoy. The rock/metal genre of music that is shown in Aya’s music, like with “Speed☆Star”, is also reflective of that.
I could talk about Hirano Aya for hours but overall, despite the drama surrounding her, I believe she’s a great seiyuu and someone who is influential to many aspiring voice actors, actresses and idols.
Aaaand that’s all I gotta talk about! I know this post was pretty darn lengthy (you can see how much I can talk about seiyuu and music lol) but I hope you enjoyed the songs I featured! Seiyuu idols are something I’ve really gotten into in the past year and I’m glad I could talk about some of the ones I love in this post.
Other than that, if you have a seiyuu idol you enjoy, definitely let me know in the comments! I’d love to learn some more of them 😀
Thanks for reading!! 😀