Bet you didn’t expect to see this again 😛
Well, I found myself with some free time and given that there won’t be an album review this month, I figured I would write something in order to fill my monthly music post quota for September. That said, we’re once again referring to an old segment and doing a J-song roundup!
In case you’re not familiar with what the ‘Infrequent J-Song Roundup’ segment is, I essentially compile a list of Japanese songs that I’ve enjoyed and/or been listening to lately and give some thoughts about them. It’s used both as a way to show my appreciation for these great artists, as well as give you all some (hopefully) good song suggestions. I used to do these on a regular basis but as you can probably tell, I stopped doing so a while ago and now I write one whenever I feel like it (calling this segment ‘infrequent’ is a bit generous at this point lol).
Lack of consistency aside, today, I wanted to do a roundup that focuses on seiyuu artists (one could say that this is a specialty of mine 😏). What is a seiyuu artist, you may ask? Most of the time, anime voice actors/actresses pursue a music career of their own, in addition to their work as a seiyuu. Not only is this great for fans of certain VAs but because their songs tend to be featured as the opening and/or ending themes for many anime, I believe it allows for these seiyuu to showcase their vocal abilities and talents in a different way, compared to how they are when they voice act.
Now I have done a roundup with a theme like this before, but that was back in February 2019 and as time went by, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve made some newer discoveries within the world of seiyuu-related music. Whether it was coming across songs I haven’t heard before from artists I was already familiar with or even finding out about a completely new voice actress and their stuff; I’ve certainly had my fair share of listening to some fantastic tracks from some talented seiyuu. Plus, I have started to realize that I’ve been mistakenly calling every seiyuu who does music a ‘seiyuu idol’, when in reality the more appropriate term for some of them really is a ‘seiyuu artist’. So even though this post will, for the most part, consist of both, referring to everyone as a ‘seiyuu artist’ is more accurate.
Rambling aside, let’s just jump right in! (also you’re immediately gonna notice that all of these seiyuu are female lmao… that’s just how my taste is)
“Pinky Hook / ピンキーフック” – Asakura Momo
Interestingly enough, my recent obsession with the Idoly Pride multimedia franchise rekindled my interest in the TrySail seiyuu unit (which consists of well-known VAs in Amamiya Sora, Asakura Momo and Natsukawa Shiina). Realized that I’ve been disgustingly neglecting them for the past couple years cause as I learned, they truly are a fantastic, entertaining and talented trio (both as a group and solo).
But as I was compiling this roundup’s list, I had to make a decision on which song to feature. I didn’t really want to include a TrySail track cause I figured it’d be more interesting if I mentioned/showcased their solo stuff. And on top of that, I had a hard time choosing which member to even talk about (featuring all three of them would be more appropriate in a separate post). But ultimately, it really came down to Asakura Momo and her most recent release, “Pinky Hook”.
Not gonna lie to you… I have listened to this song MANY times; I really wouldn’t be surprised if my listen count reached 100 at this point 😛 With “Pinky Hook”, Mocho presents us with an incredibly fun, upbeat and infectiously catchy tune that’s hard not to like. Obviously her vocals are great to listen to but the overall atmosphere with the glimmer-y noises, high-pitched keyboard and funky bassline; there’s certainly a lot going on in this song and it’s one reason why it’s so amusing to listen to. Add on the INSANELY cute music video and oh man… that’s some good stuff right there. Even her fellow TrySail groupmate Nansu knows how adorable that MV was.
And even though I dislike the anime that this song is featured in, Kanojo mo Kanojo, at least I can look forward to hearing it at the end of each episode.
“My Pace ni Mermaid / マイペースにマーメイド” – harmoe
I know summer has pretty much come to an end but this song can definitely put you in a summer-y mood again.
Seems like pairing two voice actresses together to create an idol/music unit is a common practice in this particular industry, as we have seen many great and successful duos come to fruition such as petit milady (Yuuki Aoi and Taketatsu Ayana), YuiKaori (Ogura Yui and Ishihara Kaori) and Pyxis (Itou Miku and Toyota Moe), just to name a few. And I’m pretty confident that we can add harmoe to that list.
Consisting of Iwata Haruki and Koizumi Moeka, both of which are most notably members of the Starlight Kukugumi cast within the Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight franchise (Mahiru and Nana respectively), 𝒉𝒂𝒓𝕞𝕠𝕖 takes us on a bit of a summer vacation with their most recent single release, “My Pace ni Mermaid”. This song absolutely encapsulates the summertime season, as we get to hear a super fun electro-pop song that includes some marine-like elements such as the steel drums and general mermaid themes. Haruchan and Moepii also just nail it with their superb vocal performances, and you can really tell that pairing these two together was a fantastic decision. And fun fact: the lyrics to this track were actually written by none-other-than their fellow Seishou Academy cast member, Mimori Suzuko! (she plays Hikari and is just an incredibly talented seiyuu/singer all-in-all lol).
“too late for chocolate?” – Hanazawa Kana
Back in March 2021, it was finally announced, alongside the release of her single magical mode, that all of Hanazawa Kana’s music would be available for streaming. And if you ask me, that was a big W for all HanaKana/seiyuu fans.
I think most anime fans recognize HanaKana as the person who originally sang the wildly popular/memeable “Renai Circulation” (from the anime Bakemonogatari) but I can assure you that her other musical works are definitely worth checking out. While I haven’t taken a deep dive into her solo stuff, I’ve really enjoyed her overall sound, as a lot of her songs are very relaxing and serene. Which is perfect and fits her well since her voice is very soft and lively, like we’ve heard in many of her anime character roles (and in general). “too late for chocolate” is a good example of what kind of music HanaKana performs; just a lovely track that can seriously put you in a good mood. Plus, with the inclusion of certain instruments like the subtle xylophone and the French-style accordion (the latter of which has been used in her other songs; maybe it stems from her love of bread? xD), they do a good job adding to the overall atmosphere/style and pair really well with HanaKana’s vocals.
“Fairytale” – yuigot feat. Kanno Mai
Referring yet again to my obsession with Idoly Pride, when an idol fan becomes interested in a new group/franchise, they’re guaranteed to eventually pick a favorite member from said group. And when it came to choosing my oshi from the HoshimiPro squad (at least on the seiyuu side of things), it didn’t take long for me to appreciate and admire the voice of Kawasaki Sakura, Kanno Mai. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know more about Maimai and her background as a seiyuu and singer; hearing about her apparent ability of having perfect/absolute pitch sounded insane yet I feel like it was put on full display during the Idoly Pride anime. Other than that, I love her cute personality and appearance 😛
Apart from her performances in the AiPura franchise and her occasional Instagram live streams, Maimai hasn’t had many major singing opportunities, at least from what I’ve seen. However she did provide the vocals on “Fairytale”: a song by pop producer Yuigot, as part of Miraicha Records’ 2019 compilation album Miraichaya Vol. 2. And I really enjoyed hearing her in this track! As you can probably tell, there is a lot happening in this song with its jolly and magical qualities, thanks to all of the fun-sounding instruments being meshed together, as well as its fast pace. And when we take a listen to Mai’s performance, she sounds really good. Her child-like and youthful vocals fit perfectly with a song like this, and I guess one could say that this is a bit reminiscent of how she sings as Sakura.
All in all, it’s clear-cut obvious that Maimai has a superb voice and she certainly exhibited her abilities well in “Fairytale”. This and how amazing she has sounded in the AiPura franchise; I’m absolutely rooting for her to get more music/singing-related work because she 1000% has a voice that is worth showing off.
“Snow Glider / スノウ・グライダー” – Run Girls, Run!
When looking at the track record of the holy idol producer trinity of Avex Pictures, 81 Produce and DIVE II Entertainment, and how they’ve created many popular idol units like i☆Ris, Wake Up Girls and Run Girls Run… you know they’re doing something right.
Run Girls, Run! is a group that I recently got into (thanks to my existing love for their sister/senpai unit i☆Ris), and as expected from a group that’s produced by those three aforementioned companies, they are really nice. Not only are the members (Hayashi Coco, Atsugi Nanami and Morishima Yuuka) absolutely adorable and lovable but listening to their music this past month or so has been a great experience. “Snow Glider” might be my favorite song of theirs so far, as it was a nice change of pace compared to their usual, giddy pop idol tracks. Not that anything is wrong with their other stuff, “Snow Glider” just immediately stood out to me and I love the chill vibe it gives off. It really does feel like a song that you can play while you travel around in the snow, and mix that in with the trio’s emphasized vocals; you got a nice track from a nice idol group.
“Moonlight Balcony” – Kobayashi Aika
When all of the voice actresses from the Love Live! Sunshine!! series started dabbling in their own music careers, Kobayashi Aika’s (voice of Tsushima Yoshiko) was one that I, and I assume many other fans, was looking forward to the most. IMO Aikyan’s voice is one of my favorites out of all of Aqours, and her overall love for music and singing definitely got me excited to see what she was able to do outside of the Love Live environment. And obviously, her first couple single releases were a fantastic start to her solo career and gave us a taste of what’s to come. On June 23rd, 2021, Aikyan FINALLY came out with her very first studio album titled Gradation Collection.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to that album; just hearing Aikyan have a ton of fun singing all these different songs and her strong vocals was a huge treat. One song in particular became a favorite of mine, “Moonlight Balcony”. Usually when it comes to Aikyan, you think of how well she pairs with fast, loud rock music, as shown in some of her previous songs like “NO LIFE CODE” and “Tough Heart” (as well as her performances as Yoshiko). But surprisingly, she can really take it slow and does a fantastic job singing a more gentle-sounding track. This bossa nova-like atmosphere with the subtle wind instruments and pleasant guitar can make one feel more at ease, and throw in Aikyan’s soft vocals… holy moly.
“Ai no Supreme! / 愛のシュプリーム！” – Super Chorogons
Alright, last one.
The Summer 2021 anime season saw the return of the lovable TV series Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon with its second season, and more importantly, it was the first television production release by Kyoto Animation since that tragic incident in 2019 (plus, COVID happened). I am a big fan of the Maid Dragon anime and not only was it great to see this show get another season but when I saw the amount of effort KyoAni is putting into this anime, especially with all the tough times they’ve been dealing with recently, it just made it even sweeter. They are doing an excellent job with Maid Dragon S2 and like many are saying, KyoAni really has returned stronger than ever.
That said, the opening theme of this anime is, without-a-doubt, a banger. Pop band fhána has come back to provide the OP, and similar to their first run with “Aozora no Rhapsody”, they just composed an incredibly bright and catchy song that absolutely reflects what this anime is all about: fun. In fact, “Ai no Supreme” felt really nostalgic to me and I won’t lie: I get emotional sometimes whenever I hear this song, considering everything else that’s happened and how joyful it is.
However, as amazing as the original version by fhána is, I actually wanted to feature the version of this OP that’s performed by the main voice cast of Maid Dragon. Kuwahara Yuuki (Tohru), Naganawa Maria (Kanna), Takahashi Minami (Lucoa), Takada Yuuki (Elma) and new addition Mineuchi Tomomi (Ilulu) make up the dragon unit ‘Super Chorogons’ and they do an awesome job singing “Ai no Supreme”. I love how everyone’s in character and you can tell that they’re having an absolute blast. IIRC the seiyuu never did their own version of “Aozora no Rhapsody” back when season one aired so to finally get one in 2021, as well as their rendition for this new season, is really special for fans of the Maid Dragon series.
Aaaaaand that’s all I got for you today!
Hope you all enjoyed this little song roundup. As you can probably tell, my daily music rotation usually consists of seiyuu artists like these so for me to showcase some amazing ones here was a ton of fun. Voice actors/actresses really are multitalented people!
If you enjoyed any of these songs, definitely let me know your thoughts in the comments! And if you got any seiyuu song suggestions of your own, I’d be more than happy to listen to them.
Last thing: in case you missed it, Leap and I wrote reviews for last month’s J-Music Exchange/Rate. I talked about Fullkawa Honpo’s Girlfriend from Kyoto while Leap gave his thoughts on Blend by LUCKY TAPES; both reviews are pretty solid so feel free to catch up while the segment’s on a quick break!
Thanks for reading!! 😀