A rocker at heart, bookworm and passionate seiyuu, Saito has risen from the unknown kid everyone doubted would make it in the seiyuu business back in 2013, into the man media, fans and music specialists are raving about.
Still trailing carefully in the seiyuu business, Saito has been steadily growing in popularity and getting more, deserved exposure since 2014. We take a look at the career of one of the hottest rising stars in the seiyuu and music businesses, Soma Saito.
|BORN||April 22, 1991|
|OCCUPATION||seiyuu, singer, songwriter, TV show MC|
Soma Saito was born on April 22, 1991 in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. He’s the oldest of three siblings. He’s got two younger sisters with whom he’s close (he mentioned on several occasions that, when he lived with his parents, his room would always be open for his sisters to enter at will, even sharing shoujo manga and novels between them).
When Saito made his debut as a seiyuu, he decided to change his family name’s kanji from 齊藤 to 斉藤 because the kanji 齊 was considered too difficult to understand, both its meaning and reading. Even though he changed the kanji for professional purposes, both names are read in the same way, Saito.
When Saito was in Junior High, he didn’t quite adapt well to the school he was attending and ended up missing it for a long period of time. During that time, he stayed at home watching anime, reading manga and novels. That first exposure to anime and manga left a spark in him towards being a seiyuu and, at the same time, novels left in him his passion for literature.
He ended up graduating from Oshihara Junior High, then enrolled at Yamanashi Prefectural Kofu Nishi High School.
Saito was dreaming about being a seiyuu, and his parents didn’t seem to object to his idea of becoming one. He mentions that his parents said that if he wanted to embrace this career, he’d have to shoulder everything about it, failure, successes and expenses related to it (mainly attending seiyuu, dance, acting and variety skills lessons like any other aspiring seiyuu).
He signed up for 2008’s 81 Produce audition as soon as he heard about it. Known as one of the toughest and pickiest seiyuu agencies, especially when only the winner of those auditions can get signed by the agency (other agencies tend to accept the top 3), 81 Produce was the house for the incredibly talented seiyuu Takahiro Sakurai (now with INTENTION), Tetsuya Kakihara (now with Zynchro), Miki Shinichiro, Wataru Hatano and the rookie, Takuya Eguchi. The reason as to why he chose 81 Produce as the company to audition is unknown.
For the 2008’s edition, a total of 1,035 people participated. Only 33 went to the final audition to decide who would win and stay under the talent agency. A teenager coming from Yamanashi and going by the name Soma Saito won the 81 Produce’s yearly 81 Audition in 2008. In the judge panel were veteran seiyuu Tessho Genda as well as Tetsuya Kakihara.
After winning 81 Produce‘s audition, and now undertaking seiyuu classes, Saito participated in 33rd National High School Comprehensive Cultural Festival in 2009 – during his high school senior year -, ending up winning the Jury Special Award in the reading section.
That was yet another small step on his road towards being a seiyuu. Winning 81 Produce‘s audition and an award at a national recitation competition were just small steps towards his dream of being a seiyuu. Now, he had to develop a solid foundation and improve his skills in order to enter the seiyuu business and thrive.
2010 – 2014
After training at 81 Produce’s Actors Studio for two years, Saito made his official debut as a seiyuu.
But looking at his repertoire, it’s rather confusing as to why there’s not a single role in 2010 and 2012. Well, that’s not strange nor confusing if you know the circumstances behind it.
Why was everything erratic about his career up until 2014?
Long story, short: he moved to Tokyo in 2010 because he got accepted into university, due to that he was working at two different places to pay for his living expenses. Juggling studies with work and a career as a seiyuu didn’t seem to work at the time for him so one of those had to stay on hold. Saito chose to pursue his studies over his seiyuu career up until he entered his senior year.
Saito was accepted in one of the most exclusive and respected universities in Japan, Waseda University. The private university is known for having 7 Japanese prime ministers as their alumni as well as several well known sportsmen, and it is ranked as one of the best universities in Japan. Saito graduated in 2014. He mentioned on an interview that he ranked among the best students in that year in his major, Literature.
This period of time – 2010 to 2014 – is perfect for everyone to understand how difficult it is to strive and thrive if you want to be a seiyuu and still make sure that if anything goes wrong, you have a safeguard, namely a degree in something.
Winning an audition and being hired to work under a seiyuu talent agency doesn’t mean you’re going to be famous, that is a given. It also doesn’t mean that work will come looking for that aspiring or rookie seiyuu. A rookie seiyuu has to earn it.
For Saito, winning 81 Produce‘s audition and being accepted into the talent agency were major steps towards being a seiyuu, but if he wanted to leave a mark in the seiyuu business, he knew he had to work a whole lot. A debut was a positive step towards it. However, at that time, he was juggling too much – studies, part-time, seiyuu classes and seiyuu work – all while trying to pursue his passions.
Even it seems crazy, Saito chose his studies over his seiyuu career when everyone would easily say that it was the perfect time for him to make the best and most out of his debut. His career needed to flourish yet he was determined to complete his degree, only later completely devoting himself to being a seiyuu.
That decision makes him a rare case in the seiyuu business. It’s not often that you find an aspiring seiyuu graduating from high school and juggling so much in order to pursue his passions – various in Saito‘s case. Attend college, seiyuu school, work part-time in two jobs (he was working part-time as a bartender to pay for his living expenses and college tuition), study, practice singing alone – because singing, now, more than ever, is a skill required for a seiyuu that aims to be popular -, debuting in the process, accept and perform several jobs as a seiyuu leaves little to no time to rest, nevermind sleep.
He was doing more than the average seiyuu would do. Hence early in 2010, he came to the realization that it was impossible to balance all those things and be productive in all of them at the same time. Deciding to focus on his studies, putting his seiyuu career on hiatus twice (2010 and 2012) is something that a rookie doesn’t dare doing because it’s hard to catch up and stay relevant in the business if you have little to no work during long periods of time.
During this 4 year span, Saito had a mix of secondary and minor roles on Sengoku☆Paradise Kiwami (2011), Pretty Rhythm · Aurora Dream (2011), Inazuma Eleven GO Galaxy (2013), Kill la Kill (2013), Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince (2013), Servant × Service (2013), Tokyo Ravens (2013), Non Non Biyori (2013), Pretty rhythm · Rainbow Live (2013), Non Non Biyori (2013), Pokemon Best Wishes! Season 2: Decolora Adventure (2013), My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (2013) and Nijiiro☆Prism Girl (2013).
2014 – 2016
Ready to put his name on the map
Saito decided on his senior year in college to gradually return to the seiyuu business. To make sure that he still got what it takes to be a seiyuu, he attended some extra classes at 81 Produce ACTORS studio, even appearing later in a promotional video for that school. Saito returned from hiatus with two important roles that would help shape his career: Tadashi Yamaguchi in Haikyuu (2013) and Twelve in Terror in Resonance (2014).
Tadashi Yamaguchi is part of the main cast in Haikyuu, although he doesn’t get that much spotlight in comparison with the leading duo. However, Yamaguchi was an instant favorite among the fans of the series. He was pivotal in some instances of the anime series, providing a good insight on the other side of Tsukishima Kei as well as his useful role as a volleyball player. Saito jokingly claimed during a radio show that due to this role (and the one in the otome game “Possession Magenta”), offers to play other roles that involved shouting and/or acting as a tsundere started coming his way.
On the opposite side is his main role in the psychological thriller, Terror in Resonance. Regarded as one of the best anime of that season and year, Terror in Resonance impressed with its serious tone and realistic acting – instead of the usual hyped anime kind of acting. Shinnichiro Watanabe, legendary anime producer behind critically acclaimed classic anime such as Cowboy Bebop and Kids on the Slope, was helming the project. For Watanabe’s projects he looks for talent or a certain feel instead of the popularity of the seiyuu he casts. With that being said, Saito, still unknown to a wide majority of anime fans, managed to capture Twelve‘s essence during the audition. scoring this role thanks to his realistic and emotional acting skills. It was the perfect opportunity to impress.
On a first look, Twelve might seem like a jokester but the reality is that he has a contrasting violent and ruthless side. Throughout the series, it’s easy to understand that he’s a reliable friend with a genius mind and an interesting sense of justice. His interactions with Nine as well as other characters of the series are important to shape the character, showing a broader range of emotions from him. Saito‘s performance was certainly one to remember – as it was the other main cast’s performances -. Realism and emotion were required to make the world of Terror in Resonance come to life and Saito was well aware of that – as he later mentioned on a special interview included in one of the DVDs of the series -, this was not a simple anime, this was an anime that felt like a live action movie or a TV series and the characters were complex, demanding realistic acting. It pulled you in with its believable and relatable storyline and characters. Twelve is quite possibly one of the best performances in Saito‘s repertoire. The broad range of emotions, his seriousness and top acting skills managed to impress a lot of people at that time – and still do.
These two roles opened the door for what would be Saito‘s first ever leading roles.
First leading roles
The first leading role arrived in 2014. Saito was announced as the lead actor in Akame ga Kill!, in short a shounen anime focused on a band of assassins on a quest to overthrow a corrupt prime minister. Tatsumi sets out on a journey to make a name for himself as well as earn money for his village, accepting all kinds of jobs in order to accomplish his objective. Saito had in his hands a character that was kindhearted but, if prompted, also violent. Although the anime was nowhere near as popular as the manga actually is, it was still a good outlet for him to prove that there’s more to his voice and talent than what people knew him for in Haikyuu and Terror in Resonance.
A year later, during the summer season and after winning his “Best Newcomer” award at the 9th Seiyuu Awards, Saito returned with a leading role on yet another shounen anime. Rokka no Yusha (2015), fantasy shounen anime, focused on six heroes chosen by the Goddess of Fate in order to stop the Demon God when it revives. Out of all the main roles Saito has got in his career, this character easily fits as one of the most interesting. Adlet is dubbed stupid by some of the characters in the series but that doesn’t stop him from finding ways to have fights within his grasp – and weak abilities -, all of that using his craftiness. Contrary to his role in Akame ga Kill!, Adlet is nowhere close being a powerful character, as a matter of fact, he’s one of the weakest, which strays away from the shounen “overpowering main character” cliché. The anime ended up being well received in Japan as well as overseas due to its suspense filled plot as well as interesting characters.
Also in the same year, anime season and following the same adventure/shounen pattern was his role as Swallow Cratsvalley in Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Seneki (2015). Despite its rather promising plot, cast and writers helming the project, this anime was a complete disaster. Swallow proved to be a weak, redundant hero stuck in a story that lacked a good pace, interesting set of characters and a decent plot. The bad reputation this anime got was enough to make Saito go unnoticed during that whole season as very few people actually bothered to watch this anime.
A season later and there was yet another leading role in Saito‘s ranks: Rem Kaginuki in musical/fantasy/romance anime Dance With Devils (2015). The anime although flawed had a different dynamic and flair than any previous Rejet project that had been greenlit for anime or OVA. There’s still the traditional plot of the evil guys looking for something rare that the main female character either possesses or is, a war is breaking or ongoing and there’s also a group of bishounens set to attack her by all means necessary, and we have that character that sets itself apart from that group and takes the lead in the romance department and wants to protect her. Almost all reverse harem clichés: checked.
What made this anime standout – even if just a little bit – was the fact that Rejet handled the mixing of supernatural/romance anime with a musical concept in an interesting way. The show was praised during 2015’s Fall season for this exact fact. Unfortunately, Rem might be the leading character but there’s little to no character development besides the character’s feelings for the main character. For those that watched the anime that was a lackluster point. However, for those that played the game, that plot hole was somehow filled.
Now let’s take a look into some noteworthy secondary roles during this 2 year span.
With an oldschool flair, the episodic comedy, slice-of-life anime Kyoukai no Rinne premiered in 2015, spanning a total of 3 seasons (2015 – 2017). Saito voiced Kain, a shinigami clerk that reveals itself as more uncooperative than useful with the main character due to a certain event in the past. This comedic role proved to be a nice change of pace from both his serious roles and the generic shounen ones he’d been getting up until then. The anime might have not sparked interest in many people due to its simplistic, episodic formula with 90’s inspired art, but it was a different addition to Saito‘s repertoire, necessary to display that he can also pull off a different set of roles, in this case comedic ones.
Teito High School’s Taiyou Mukai in Diamond no Ace (2015) is yet another noteworthy mention. The confident pitcher proved to be a problem to deal with due to his technique, Saito‘s performance helped his not so likeable personality come to life incredibly well.
Between 2014 and 2015 he had secondary roles in Aldnoah Zero (2014), Sidonia no Kishi (2014), Bakumatsu Rock (2014), Future Card Buddy Fight (2014 – 2017), Kaitou Joker (2014), Tribe Cool Crew (2014), Nourin (2014), Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (2014), 12-sai. (2014), Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note (2015) and Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (2015).
To add to the list he had several supporting roles in Wizard Barristers (2014), Kamigami no Asobi (2014), SUPER SONICO THE ANIMATION (2014), Pokemon XY (2014), Yowamushi Pedal (2014), Lady Jewelpet (2014), Magi: Sinbad no Bouken (2014), Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans (2015 – 2017), Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (2015), Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (2015), Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo (2015), Ongaku Shoujo (2015) and Plastic Memories (2015).
2016 was an eventful year with an almost complete balance between the amount of secondary and leading roles for Saito.
He had roles across various anime genres, ranging from seinen to shounen, shoujo, adventure, mecha, slice of life and more.
Some of the anime he was casted in were somehow popular such as Ajin (as Takeshi Kotobuki), D.Gray-man HALLOW (as Tokusa), Arslan Senki: Fuujin Ranbu (as Jimsa), Magi: Sinbad no Bouken (as Vittel), PERSONA5 the Animation -THE DAY BREAKERS- (as Naoya Makigami) and Touken Ranbu Hanamaru (as Tsurumaru Kuninaga). These roles stood out from the rest during this year, with Saito showcasing improved skills and an impressive range.
As balanced as the amount of leading and secondary roles during this year was, the reality is that Saito‘s secondary roles were more memorable than his leading roles. One would think that with him as a lead actor in 6 different anime in 2016, some would stand out and perhaps shoot him to fame. The reality was quite different though. Most of the anime he was casted in to be the lead actor had flawed premises, confusing plots, uninteresting characters and/or lacked anything truly engaging and memorable that would lead to positive viewer reviews.
Few people remember Saito‘s leading roles in Qualidea Code (as Ichiya Suzaku), Haruchika (as Haruta Kamijou), Bubuki Buranki (as Hiiragi Nono), Hagane Orchestra (as Chris), Divine Gate (as Aoto) and 12-sai.: Chicchana Mune no Tokimeki second season (as Yuuto Takao).
Saito was initially the voice of Yuno in Black Clover. He voiced Yuno in 2016 for a special episode. He was later replaced by Nobunaga Shimazaki in 2017 when an anime adaptation was greenlit.
Among the various secondary roles he scored in 2016, his roles as Corteo in 91 Days and Daichi Saito in WWW.WORKING!! also stood out. 91 Days had a dark, serious tone, bringing a story of revenge and mafia to the table. Corteo was a pivotal character in the series despite only being a secondary one. On the complete opposite of the spectrum is WWW.WORKING!!, comedy, slice-of-life anime. Saito voiced Daichi Saito, a traumatized bodyguard that ends up working close to Wagnaria’s staff, protecting one of the characters from being killed. Turns out that Daichi founds himself protecting someone on the same restaurant in which the culprit to his trauma is actually working at. The meeting between the two characters lead to one of the most awkward introductions between characters, with Saito‘s performance shining as Daichi stumbled and slurred on his words.
Other secondary roles include: Nobuhiro Yoshisada in Battery, Oogi Mitsuteru in Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu, Yukinojou Tachibana in KING OF PRISM and Sei Yuzuriha in Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince Movie: Kakusei no Idenshi.
The fright: Tonsil issues
On September 2016, Saito was met with one of the things that seiyuu most worry about: throat or tonsil issues. He could have not disclosed what happened after all – most seiyuu like to keep the details private – but he did disclose them on Voice Newtype No.64, issue in which he was not only the cover boy but also the main focus of the whole issue. He mentioned that he realized his tonsil was swollen while recording for a BL CD. Because of that and the pain associated to it, he went to the hospital for a checkup. He mentioned hearing the doctors talking behind doors while he was in the waiting room and what was being said frightened him. The doctors were saying his condition wasn’t normal and he started to fear the worst – to have to leave the seiyuu business.
Thankfully, the reason as to why his tonsil had swollen was nothing too serious or that demanded him to leave the seiyuu business. Apparently he didn’t have enough flow of saliva. By the doctor’s initial diagnosis he needed one week of recuperation at home. After recovering, Saito was already back with multiple schedules under his belt.
The Rising Star
Saito‘s popularity skyrocketed in 2017.
Whether it was due to the various 2.5D idol projects he’s a part of, or his debut as a solo artist that gathered the attention of several media outlets that were far from taking an interest in covering seiyuu music releases besides the really popular ones – i.e. Mamoru Miyano, Shouta Aoi, OLDCODEX and GRANRODEO -, or even the media that started to label him as a “man who is way too beautiful“, making people more interested in his looks and, of course, in his work, 2017 was the year in which Saito finally started to see his popularity grow exponentially with his efforts finally starting to pay off.
With more leading roles coming his way at the same time that he tried to expand his career to other areas, all eyes started to focus on him. One could say that 2017 was a satisfactory year for him however, the tendency for some of his leading roles being lackluster or in lackluster series was still there to hinder a bit his plans to be recognized and popular in the seiyuu business.
The first couple of months in 2017 and some isolated events during the year weren’t that kind to Saito, at least when it came to anime.
Anime such as Fuuka (as Makoto Mikasa) and Hand Shakers (as Tazuna Takatsuki) are among the worst released in the past year. Fuuka was immediately bashed due to its overly ridiculous and predictable plot, on the other hand, Hand Shakers was also criticized for not sticking to its plot/lore. Plot holes, a rather incestuous relationship, among other issues lead to poor reviews. Even though there were poor reviews for both anime series, Saito‘s acting was still commended in both cases.
Still in the middle of this rough patch in his repertoire, we find his role in DYNAMIC CHORD as Soutarou Haruna. The anime was met with a lot of criticism due to lazy animation, lack of plot – and if there was one, it was far from being related to the original stories for each band. Soutarou wasn’t nowhere near being a main character and even as a secondary character, he felt more like an extra. Lack of lines and exposure made this character basically invisible to the fans.
If that wasn’t enough, the year closed with the return of Dance with Devils (with a special movie). Saito reprised his role as Rem Kaginuki, yet his role started to feel less like a leading role and more like a secondary one. As most people that have watched the anime might have noticed, the adaptation focused mainly on Rem‘s route, yet it didn’t disclose anything regarding the character besides its exterior and a glimpse of the character’s true nature. That issue was somehow solved with the games – from which the movie Dance with Devils-Fortuna- was based on to wrap up each route -, however, according to those that attended the movie screenings, Rem‘s side of the story in Fortuna was sloppily worked as opposed to some secondary characters that received lead character treatment, which bewildered his fans. Many voiced their dissatisfaction at the treatment Rejet gave to Rem‘s story, making it sound more like he was voicing a secondary character instead of the main one. Some worried that Saito had actually prepared himself in vain to reprise all scenes – or at least the main ones according to the game -, only to end up having most of those cut from the movie’s final recording.
Aside from these hiccups, Saito‘s 2017 had some interesting roles across the board. Glenn Radars in Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records, Hermes in Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series, Casshern in Infini-T Force, Tsurumaru Kuninaga in Katsugeki Touken Ranbu and Tsubasa Okui in TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION.
Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records was adapted from a light novel, airing during the Spring season. Saito voiced Glenn Radars, a substitute teacher that despite his lazy vibe, is, in fact, a reliable magic teacher and fighter. Only when a certain event occurs it that everyone gets to see just how impressive he is. The anime adaptation was highly praised by most people, saying that, for a change, a light novel had a solid adaptation. Most even have asked for a second season and thoroughly praised Saito‘s performance, that ranged from sarcastic to serious seamlessly. However there were some hardcore fans voicing that this series hardly adapted everything correctly or with the correct pacing.
The role as Hermes in Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series caught some people off guard. Saito was in charge of voicing a motorcycle, one that complains a lot to boot. The series is commended on its stunning and unique visuals as well as its unusual concept.
For those fans of oldschool anime, the characters in Infini-T Force are well known to them. Casshern had its debut in anime in 1973. In 2017, a CGI anime series featuring several popular oldschool heroes was greenlit. Saito was announced as the voice actor for Casshern, one of the most popular characters in this series.
Already a well known and loved character in the Touken Ranbu franchise, Tsurumaru Kuninaga was one of the leading characters in Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, anime series that premiered in July, 2017. Completely different in tone in comparison with its predecessor, “Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru“, Katsugeki introduced the fans to an heavy action oriented plot. Saito‘s performance as Tsurumaru exceeded everyone’s expectations, standing out from the rest of the cast with a cool air and poise and even introducing a bit of a comedic touch to the serious anime.
The Fall season kicked off and with it was Saito‘s role as Tsubasa Okui in TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION brought to the spotlight. Tsubasa is part of SolidS‘, quartet expert in a mature and electrifying sound. Due to the fact that the anime series focused more on the slice-of-life aspects for its plot/concept/pacing, fans could understand little about Tsubasa’s background or even about SolidS‘ formation, yet, Tsubasa more than often served as a comic relief character (on SolidS’ side), showing a little bit of his personality.
Other credits in anime in 2017 include: Vatican Kiseki Chousakan (Lauren Di Luca), Jigoku Shoujo, Yoake Tsugeru Lu no Uta, Seikaisuru Kado, Warau Salesman New, Sword Oratoria: Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? On the Side, GRANBLUE FANTASY The Animation and Isekai wa Smartphone to Tomo ni.
2018 kicked off rather quietly with Saito scoring 4 roles on this Winter season.
Saito voiced Luze Selen El Philizar in the romance/comedy anime Dame x Prince Anime Caravan, Yuu Mizuno in the slice-of-life Sanrio Danshi, Tenn Kujo in the anime adapation of the popular rhythm game IDOLiSH7 and reprised his roles as Namazuo Toushirou as well as Tsurumaru Kuninaga in the second installment of Touken Ranbu, Zoku Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru.
He returned to reprise his role as Casshern in the theatrical anime Infini-T Force that was released in the first quarter of 2018 and the role as IkeP in the anime adaptation of “Caligula“.
In the spring season Saito voiced characters in the sports anime Inazuma Eleven: Ares no Tenbin (as Kirina Hiura) and Captain Tsubasa (as Jun Misuji). The role as Jun Misuji was one that he directly auditioned for (even though it’s a supporting character), however Saito mentioned in an interview that, as a fan of the original Captain Tsubasa series, he always wanted to voice Misuji, character known for being a smart midfielder, a strategist and a natural leader. He was delighted when he knew that he had landed that role.
Perhaps the most important role in 2018 so far is Kai Ichinose in Piano no Mori. The anime is being praised in Japan, even considered by most anime/entertainment outlets as one of the best anime of the season. Saito mentioned in an interview that he was, in fact, a longtime Piano no Mori fan, having read all volumes of this manga. He was instantly drawn into the unique, rich story and character development and often mentioned that, if the manga ever had an anime adaptation, he’d want to voice Kai Ichinose. That opportunity appeared in front of him when it was announced an anime adaptation back in 2017. Saito nailed the audition and got the role, fulfilling yet another of his wishes.
It was confirmed that Ensemble Stars! is greenlit for an anime adaptation in 2019. The scheduled date of airing is still not confirmed. He will reprise his roles as the 2wink twins Aoi Hinata and Yuta Hinata.
2018 is being an interesting year for him, with several leading roles, some of those in insanely popular franchises – e.g. IDOLiSH7 and Touken Ranbu -, branching out to franchises with a serious tone – e.g Piano no Mori -, and scoring roles in most anime he’s a fan of .
His hard work was starting to be recognized. In 2015, at the 9th Seiyuu Awards, Saito won the coveted “Rookie/Newcomer” award. Given that he had debuted in 2010, 2015 was the last year he was eligible to win this award (awarded to seiyuu that debuted in past 5 years). His roles as Tadashi Yamaguchi in Haikyuu and Twelve in Terror in Resonance left a deep impression in the judges. Alongside him in that category were Ryota Osaka and Natsuki Hanae. This award put Saito on the watchlist for most anime producers, earning him more roles than usual up until then.
Since he was in high-school, Saito has delved into hosting radio shows. His experience in the area instantly shows whenever he has radio work. Laidback, with good sense of pacing and filled with sassiness, Saito often makes the radio shows he’s in, an entertaining listen.
Some of the radio shows he’s worked in include: Nishiyama Koutaro & Saito Soma Happy Radio (2013), Eguchi Takuya and Saito Soma Genji Monogatari’s Happy Radio! (2014 – 2015), Future Radio Buddy Fight (2014 – 2016), MAN TWO MONTH RADIO Saito Soma’s SOmaniac! (2015), Dance with Devils Shirokuen Gakuen The Third Broadcasting Room (2015 – 2016), Haruchika~Haruta and Chika’s let’s radio ~ (2015 – 2016), Monthly New · Men’s Communications August Issue ~ Monthly · Saito Soma (2015), Radio Divine Gate (2015 – 2016), Future Radio Buddy Fight SSS (2016 -), Nippon Reading Academy (2013 – 2016), 91 Days WEB radio “9 minutes 10 seconds radio” (2016) and Saito Soma・Ishikawa Kaito’s Damepuri RADIO (2018).
In 2016, Saito started to host his radio show “Fantasy Science, Outrageous Theory!” Saito is known for his love for the occult, conspiracy theories and urban legends and this was the perfect opportunity for him to share a bit of his knowledge. Wataru Hatano, his senpai from 81 Produce, joined him on this special radio show, sharing the same love for those themes as his junior. The show airs monthly on Nico Nico.
Earlier in 2018, TS ONE UNITED announced that Soma Saito and Takuya Eguchi had paired up to host their own radio show for their online radio. The two 81 Produce talents and long time friends host “Production Eguchi Soma“, show that kicked off in late January. The show has a different format from all others mentioned above. For this radio show Saito and Eguchi don’t share a studio. Each one has a whole 60 minutes to fill alone, with their recordings being broadcasted intercalated. It’s like having two different radio shows in the same radio show. For his take on “Production Eguchi Soma“, Saito plays his favorite songs, has a talk and several variety corners in which he answers fans’ concerns, gives them advice or just plain plays around. The show is exclusive for those owners of TS ONE UNITED’s smartphone app and only works in Japan.
Earlier in 2018, Saito and Kaito Ishikawa hosted “Saito Soma・Ishikawa Kaito’s Damepuri RADIO“, radio show that was as chaotic, random and fun as the anime series actually ended up being. This radio show was one of the most anticipated at the start of 2018 due to the fact that not only both seiyuu are popular, but also because it’s the first time the well known close friends were hosting a radio show together. The show was so popular that soon after it was announced that it was ending – by the 13th episode -, Saito and Ishikawa were immediately paired up for a new radio show.
“Saito Soma and Ishikawa Kaito Dame janai radio” premiered in April 2018 upon fan request. The duo paired up once again but now on their own show – although it stems from Dame Prince‘s show and the respective radio show. The show is as crazy, if not even crazier than the original radio show. Now, without having to promote the anime series, both take their antics and random stories to a whole new level. The show is the audience leader during its time slot – 23:30 to 24:00- and is one of the most talked about on Twitter.
In June 2018, Saito started hosting his one-month radio show “Saito Soma no Ascension Please♡” (斉藤壮馬のアセンションプリーズ♡) on TS ONE UNITED. The radio show was primarily created to promote his 3rd single, “Date“.
When it comes to drama CDs, he is not the most active seiyuu but he’s starting to rack up more roles since 2015.
He’s got several BL as well as otome CDs under his belt but not enough to say that his focus is mainly on this field of the seiyuu business.
He tends to work often with Kadokawa, Otomate Records and Rejet.
Dance With Devils, CRAZY CIRCUS, Dear Vocalist, POSSESSION MAGENTA, Majestical cr[L]own, Oresama Residence, Genji Monogatari, Mofudol, linJewelry Kiss, DOLLS, CollarxMalice, Midnight Jiang Shis, Dynamic Chord are just some of the franchises he’s recorded drama CDs for. The list is clearly longer for both otome and BL CDs. He’s often found voicing tsundere characters.
When it comes to games, Saito‘s credits exceed 65. This is the only area in which he’s been consistently active since his debut in 2010. His first ever roles were actually on video games. Although he’s branched out to several game genres such as RPG, otome, action and rhythm, Saito is more commonly found voicing characters on otome driven games.
He’s got roles in games such as: SANGOKU CHAOS ~ Mikuni CHAOS ~ (2010), Star project (2011), Grand Blue Fantasy (2014), DYNAMIC CHORD feat.Liar-S (2015), DAME × PRINCE (2015), Future Card Buddy Fight Friendly Explosive Fight! (2015), Cafe Cuillere (2015), POSSESSION MAGENTA (2015), Doraemon Nobita’s Eternal Space Book (2015), Tokyo Otome Restaurant (2015), Touken Ranbu (2015), LORD of VERMILION ARENA (2015), Dance with Devils (2016), Collar x Malice (2016), Caligula (2016), Sanrio Danshi (2016), Divine Gate (2016), World of Final Fantasy (2016), Ayakashi Musubi (2017), CARAVAN STORIES (2017), KING OF PRISM Prism Rush! LIVE (2017), Knight Blood (2017), IDOLiSH7 Twelve Fantasia (2018), Fortissimo (2018) and Caligula Overdose (2018).
Rhythm games have been a constant in his repertoire since 2015, most of them are now incredibly popular. I ★ Chu (as Tatsumi Madarao), TSUKIPARA (as Tsubasa Okui), IDOLiSH7 (as Tenn Kujo), Ensemble Stars! (as the Hinata twins), Yumeiro Cast (as Takuma Haiba) and KING OF PRISM (as Yukinojo Tachibana).
One of Saito‘s most iconic game roles is Tenn Kujo in IDOLiSH7 (2015). Tenn Kujo is TRIGGER‘s center and main vocal, a perfectionist at heart that, despite his cold and poised looks, is just sassy, likeable and with an immense love for his job, group mates and brother. Tenn is often ranked as the fan favorite character in the franchise. Saito is particularly passionate about IDOLiSH7, be it about the story, characters or songs as you can watch from the video below, released in 2016 to promote the game’s 2nd story release.
If we’re talking about popular characters in Saito’s repertoire Tsurumaru Kuninaga has to be mentioned.
Among the vast Touken Ranbu (the game) cast that has over 30 seiyuu, Tsurumaru quickly earned a big fanbase. The character has been repeatedly voted as a fan favorite in the franchise and it is often found on year-end polls for “favorite characters”.
Some argue that Saito‘s popularity boost is due to this character’s impressive and vast fanbase.
Saito hadn’t gotten much opportunity to do narration for TV shows or even dub foreign movies (he’s only got three credits on this department), however, since then he’s been showing his skills in the area.
Being the fixed narrator for Takuya Eguchi and Koutaro Nishiyama‘s “Oreiya”, show that has been airing on TOKYO MX since 2016, Saito put not only his narration skills to test but made a great use of the opportunity to showcase what a sassy narrator with a fancy for making fun of others is like behind the mic. Since 2016 he’s also been narrating Planetarium “Seasons ~ Stars falling in the water ~”.
He’s also done some work in the audiobook market. So far he has narrated 5 books: “Kirishima, I quit club activities“, “Sanada Tsuyoshi“, “Deltora Quest“, “Tenchi Shimbun” and “Yamanashi“.
Recently, in 2018, Kadokawa partnered up with Saito to promote the novel 青くて痛くて脆い (Aokute Itakute Moroi) by Yoru Sumino.
Mentioned by Saito as one of his favorite things to do in the seiyuu business, live reading is something that he hasn’t done much since his debut. In 2017 he started to embrace more live reading plays. He wrote on his blog that those are the ones that remind him of those days when he wanted to be a seiyuu. For those that know Saito‘s work in depth, you’ll know that he excels in live reading.
Recitation Play TARO (2017), Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de (2017), Maihime jiken – Ougai rondo – (2018), Nippon Reading Academy (2013 – 2016), Reading play Cinderella trial ~ love is red poison ~, Midsummer recitation festival!, are just some of the live reading events he’s participated in.
Acting is far from being his primary or even secondary focus but he’s done some acting work before. Alongside other 81 Produce’s talents, Saito appeared on one of Wataru Hatano‘s music videos as an extra.
In 2017, Saito was announced as part of the guest cast of BADASS PSY-KICKS, stage play created and performed by fellow seiyuu and friend, Subaru Kimura‘s theatre troupe. This was his first ever stage acting gig.
If there’s one thing Saito‘s fans know is that he’s extremely well versed as a singer, especially when you take into account that he never attended singing classes like most seiyuu do nowadays.
His low, high and mid-tones are well controlled and polished, he can rap, do screamo, add some falsettos and a little bit of vibrato if required. He can be unrecognizable in some songs, and he adapts well to almost every music genre. From what we can ascertain, taking into account all the reviews we’ve made of projects of his or in which he’s a part of, he’s a well rounded singer that can adapt to almost every tone as his range not only is vast but is also rather versatile. To top it all, he still has a lot of untapped potential in himself. He’s been praised by the Japanese music media for his music sensibility and vast knowledge.
A solo debut for the books
Fans had been anticipating this news for quite a while. Now that Saito was starting to be an on-demand seiyuu, it was the right time to make a solo debut. He debuted as a solo singer in June 2017 with the single “Fish Story“.
He mentioned that he wanted to rebel “against today’s pop music”, presenting an eclectic and rich sound with three distinct tracks included in the release. The single ranked high on Oricon daily and earned him his first ever top 10 on Oricon Weekly (9th place).
The monster rookie
Not long after the first single’s release was announced, Sacra Music made yet another announcement: Saito was to return with a second single in September 2017, making the best use of the momentum he got with the first release as well as the hype surrounding him. “Yoake wa mada/Hikari Tatsu Ame” was going to be featured as the opening theme for Touken Ranbu, popular anime and game franchise in which Saito voiced Tsurumaru Kuninaga, one of the most popular characters in the franchise.
If his debut single ranked high on Oricon, this one ranked even higher in what was a mix of high music quality, newfound popularity, raving reviews, specialists’ praises and exposure to the masses that watched live the episodes of Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu without skipping the high tension intro credits. The results were impressive. Saito scored another top 10 on Oricon (7th place on Oricon Weekly) with “Yoake wa mada/Hikari Tatsu Ame“, breaking every record from his debut and even setting one for all solo male seiyuu. His rookie year as a solo artist ended up being one of setting records among seiyuu.
In December 2017, Saito started teasing his fans via official twitter account, mentioning that he was working on a “major project”. A couple of months later, Saito announced his return to the music business with “Date“, single in which he was in charge of lyrics and songwriting for all tracks.
— 斉藤壮馬:[Official] (@SomaStaff) 31 de março de 2018
Turning his career around as a singer-songwriter
No one was expecting the impact “Date” would have upon release or how it would sound with Saito handling everything about his music.
SACRA MUSIC gave the green light for Saito to take over songwriting for his 3rd single. He took over his solo career, writing lyrics and composing all songs for this single. And by doing that, he strayed further away from pop music.
Saito had a completely different approach to his music and where he wanted to take his solo career to. He embraced his indie-rock and funk roots to craft an outstanding single, praised by Japanese music media outlets such as the alternative rock magazine, SKREAM!.
Saito showed that he isn’t another “seiyuu turned solo artist“, by displaying his vast knowledge in music, crafty songwriting skills and tapping into a part of his vocal range that, up until now, he hadn’t had the opportunity to showcase. Saito mentioned on a long interview with Animate TV that his work as a seiyuu – singing as different characters and adopting different techniques for each performance -, helped shape and hone his singing skills however, even after two single releases, he felt like he still hadn’t found his own “voice”. With “Date” he mentions that he felt like he’d found a common ground for him, a “voice” of his own, making the performances in “Date” unlike any performance he’s given before.
With so many changes to his sound, “Date” was far from being tailor made for fans of his previous singles. Rock, funk, acoustic replaced pop, rock and electronica, showing a matured artist in Saito.
“Date” was well received, claiming yet another top 10 spot in Saito‘s career. It ranked at #7 on Oricon Weekly, matching the record set by “Yoake wa mada/Hikari Tatsu Ame” as his highest charting single. However, this wasn’t the only chart he topped, as a matter of fact, and this went almost unnoticed by most fans, but Saito was topping almost all major music charts in Japan during the first week of sales of “Date“.
Saito managed the impossible and scored a #1 on Billboard’s Hot Animation chart, his first ever #1 rank as a solo artist. Additionally, he scored 3 top 10’s including Billboard‘s most competitive chart, Hot 100, Billboard Top Singles Sales and TOWER RECORDS weekly chart.
A total of 5 top 10’s were enough to label “Date” as Saito‘s most successful single to date.
At the same time, and without people noticing it, Saito is currently the only seiyuu with only top 10 releases in his solo repertoire.
Tenjyou Tenge debuted in 2015, part of I-Chu‘s vast unit lineup. The quartet consisting on Soma Saito, Yuki Ono, Kei Minegishi and Ryohei Kimura is known for their traditional Japanese songs with poetic lyrics. With this lineup, Saito is able to embrace a lower, smoother register, fitting incredibly well with the themes of the songs and instrumentals.
Also in 2015, Saito joined the cast of Sega’s musical/rhythm game Yumeiro Cast. He voices Takuma Haiba, Genesis‘ chairman. Genesis consist on Makoto Furukawa (leader), Soma Saito, Daisuke Hirakawa, Daiki Yamashita and Kenichi Suzumura.
Just like the game’s flagship theater troupe, Genesis perform some songs – although few in comparison. Their unit song “Phantom Rain” impressed as soon as fans got to listen to it in-game (back in 2015). That is the only song the quintet has sang together so far. Genesis don a dark electronic pop sound, wrapping it up with a vocal lineup that impresses beyond words.
SolidS started out from songs and a drama CD, then a photo album, live events, culminating on the anime adaptation that aired during 2017’s Fall season. This group founded in 2015 has grown and evolved over the years.
As a group, SolidS have suffered all kinds of changes. The group we now listen to isn’t the same one that debuted back in 2015. Their sound was completely revamped and suffered multiple changes over the years to what it is right now (originally they donned a drum&bass sound). For those that haven’t been following the group since their debut, the first releases will sound out-of-place or even over the top ridiculous compared with the music they now release. That is because Tsukipro and John Zeroness, the unit’s composer/producer, were still trying to figure out what would fit the unit and make us say “this sounds just like a typical SolidS song!“.
SolidS completely embraced their “sexy/mature” concept back in early 2016 and setting for a music genre or at least a blend of music genres that is now characteristical of them. Their sound is passionate and fiery, made to excite the listeners and while at it, snatch their hearts. Even if the unit took their time to find common ground in terms of sound, it wasn’t the only change this unit has suffered.
Saito joined the group with passable singing skills, however, his growth throughout the years flashes through your ears and will impress you. Just listening to his performance in any of the songs part of their debut single and comparing with, for example, “Burny!!“, “Oka Ranman” or “Back on Track” is enough to understand that he has come a long way. He improved his singing skills in the span of 3 years, evolving from a consistent role singer that could help the group sound leveled and in tune, to the singer he is today, in charge of high notes, most of the times overshadowing the power-vocalist Natsuki Hanae and even displaying rapping skills on par with Takuya Eguchi‘s iconic ones.
His evolution from a role singer to the one in charge of leading the way for SolidS‘ songs proves that Saito continuously pushes himself further to improve, match his peers and overcome them. Right now he’s one of most complete singers within the group.
The group went on hiatus in June 2018, after Yuichiro Umehara was suddenly diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. As news of Umehara’s recovery surfaced in July, Tsukipro announced the group’s return, resuming their take on the RE:START series.
Since 2015, Saito is, alongside Wataru Hatano and Takuya Sato, part of TRIGGER, unit from the IDOLiSH7 franchise. Considered by many as one of the most complete 2.5D groups currently in the industry, and their teamwork is something that impresses on record and live. The concepts of “flawed” and “soulless” are not present in their music/performances. For those that listen to their songs, it’s easily understandable that the unit has fun performing their songs. There’s a sense of unity as well as competition when it comes from their performances – TRIGGER‘s story aside. There’s a chemistry between all three seiyuu that makes them a unit to anticipate with each comeback, as they keep further improving their performances and quality.
In a group in which strong bass vocals are common, Saito‘s tenor vocals are the spice needed for this unit to standout in the middle of a crowded 2.5D idol market.
The unit debuted with the single “Secret Night” in 2015 and released a music video to the suggestive “Leopard Eyes“.
After a series of successful single releases (physical and digital ones), TRIGGER went a bit under the radar, only to return with new music 11 months later, in August, 2018. They released the top charting and record setting 1st full-length album “REGALITY“.
“REGALITY“ is currently the holder of the “Highest Ranking album on Oricon by a seiyuu/2.5D unit” title. This feat was all over the news in Japan (Oricon, Billboard, Animate Times and more) as well as overseas, celebrating the rare feat that had never been achieved in the seiyuu business, a #1 on Oricon Weekly. TRIGGER‘s “DAYBREAK INTERLUDE” was the chosen track to promote this album, with a music video being released at the same time as the album.
The album has an impressive record on Oricon, staying on the Weekly Charts for 23 weeks straight without leaving the top 100 ranks.
The trio was on the cover of Cool Voice in 2018, issue in which they shared their thoughts on the series, the success of “REGALITY“, expectations for the first live event (that took place at Met Life Dome in July, 2018) as well as their thoughts on the on-going anime series. This was the first time the trio promoted (physically) as TRIGGER, officially transforming this unit from a 2D idol to a 2.5D idol group.
Still in the same year, TRIGGER released their second single “Heavenly Visitor / DIAMOND FUSION“, another single that entered top 10 on Oricon Weekly.
TRIGGER are one of the few 2.5D units to have all their singles/albums rank within top 10 on Oricon Weekly.
TRIGGER performed live for the first time on Road to Infinity (held on 07/07/2018 and 08/07/2018).
2wink are part of the Ensemble Stars!‘s universe since the game’s release in 2015. Saito is in charge of voicing the Hinata twins. When it comes to the performances, he was given by the producers the option of voicing and singing as both twins with just one tone – to make it easier for him to perform -, or have a distinct tone for each of the twins, hence changing completely how the duo sounds. Saito chose the later. Aoi and Yuta sound completely different and on record, the performances are distinct and nothing alike what he has been doing in other 2.5D idol projects.
2wink‘s songs are known to being upbeat and playful, most of them resorting to heavy synth based instrumentals. Since 2015, the unit has released 3 singles part of the Ensemble Stars! unit song CD series.
Up until now, 2wink are the only unit that so far hasn’t performed on stage nor appeared in a single variety/fan meeting event.
This is the iconic moment when everyone got to listen to Saito rolling his R’s or even showcasing his screamo skills. MEDICODE, visual-kei band part of the FlyMe project, collaboration between seiyuu and visual-kei artists, might haven’t been the most buzzworthy project with him helming it, but it sure is a pearl.
The band debuted in 2015 with “CARMA“, single that right from the bat left everyone in awe.
It was Saito performing visual-kei rock songs – a first time for his fans. And he was rolling his R’s, a bit like how the gazettE’s Ruki does (that Kansai quirk), to top it all, he was doing screamo parts, something that was unexpected of him.
The band went on hiatus in the same year they debuted, only making a comeback later in 2017 with the second single “GABBY“, single that changed a bit the gears for MEDICODE, embracing a dramatic rock sound.
But the sound wasn’t the only thing that changed with this single, Saito was almost unrecognizable. For “ROSA“, second track included with the single “GABBY“, his singing tone was completely different from anything he’d showed until then. He embraced a deeper, vibrato-ed tone, a register that he seldom uses. According to Saito, “ROSA” was one of the toughest songs for him to record, taking a bit over 5 hours for him to successfully complete the performance.
Created with the main cast of Dance With Devils, Soma Saito, Wataru Hatano, Subaru Kimura, Kondo Takashi and Daisuke Hirakawa – and recently Tatsuhisa Suzuki -, PENTACLE★ released several singles featured in the anime series as well as the games. So far the unit released the singles “Mademo★iselle“ (2015), “覚醒のAir starring PENTACLE★” (2015), “BL(U)CK BASIS” (2016) and “光れCAROL“ (2018).
Rap crew part of the Hypnosis Mic large scale rap battle project. Saito is part of Fling Posse, crew representing Shibuya. As Phantom/Gentaro, Saito showcased his rapping skills – that have been showing for quite some time.
Fans got a glimpse of his rapping skills with some rap parts performed for SolidS, and a rather impressive freestyle rap on Ensemble Stars!’s nico nico show hosted by Shintaro Asanuma back in 2015. In 2017, with Fling Posse, we got to see more of his potential as a rapper. He performed “Scenario Liar”, song that had an introspective feel. It felt like listening to a story unfold through Saito‘s flowy and steady rapping.
The performance demanded rapping, rhythm, good pacing and, to top it all, good control over his high notes because the chorus sections were made for that. Although the song ended up being somewhat uneventful in comparison with the others on that release, it was the first proper taste fans got of Saito‘s rapping skills in an exclusively rap environment.
At the time he was announced as part of this project, there was a lot of skepticism. Most people mentioned that bringing Saito‘s name to this project was only for the publicity, now that he is one of the most talked about and popular seiyuu in the industry. Others mentioned that he was certainly going to fluke as a rapper or would only bring a generic “idol rapper” performance to the table, falling short to meet the project’s objective of making rap and hip-hop popular in Japan.
The reality was that Saito has always been a fan of rap and hip-hop, practicing alone for years his freestyle rapping skills, improving his speed and clean diction. His performance – alike most of the performances by seiyuu part of this franchise – was praised by some of Japan’s most popular rappers and producers that worked closely with Evil Line Records for some of the franchise’s releases. While “Scenario Liar” failed to bring most of his skills to the table, later, his performance with Division All Stars’ “Battle Anthem” was more than worth it. Saito showed once again that he’s a vocal chameleon.
Division All Stars
Hypnosis Mic made sure to create an all star team and impress everyone with it. It was through this group that Saito‘s fans got a first listen of his rap skills. Division All Stars‘ lineup consists on all crews within the franchise (Buster Bros!!!, MAD TRIGGER CREW, Matenrou and Fling Posse) and so far have released two explosive singles:
Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle- (2017)
Hypnosis Mic Division Battle Anthem (2018)
On both instances Saito caught fans off guard with his rapping skills. Some mentioned that it was rather weird and refreshing at the same time to find his rapping in a more serious and comfortable tone, others mentioned that on Division All Stars‘ songs he always brings a spicy, strangely alluring touch to his rapping; one thing is for certain, those that were initially making fun of him when his name was announced as part of Hypnosis Mic surrendered to his talent.
T-Backers is a seiyuu unit created by Saito and that includes Koutaro Nishiyama and Takuya Eguchi. The unit debuted in 2017 with the song “Kachofugetsu”, the official theme song for Saito‘s variety show “Wagokoro wo Kimi Ni”
If there’s something Saito enjoys just like being a seiyuu, watching Italian movies, drinking alcohol or reading, is writing.
Saito mentioned in an interview in 2018 that long before he thought about being a seiyuu, he was aiming to be an author. Although he ended up being a seiyuu, that hasn’t stopped him from writing, be it for his serialization columns for seiyuu magazines, on his blog or even his lyrics.
Over the years he hasn’t stopped writing, although he’s never published a book.
Going back in time, when Saito was still in high school, he wrote and submitted a novel to a contest and ended up winning an award for it. He mentioned on his personal blog that the title of his novel had a rather confusing/advanced kanji reading which led to a funny as well as awkward situation when he went to receive his award. The award’s announcer called him out to the stage, however the name of the book ended up being wrongly pronounced. Saito mentioned that it was incredibly embarrassing for him as he had to correct the announcer. At the same time, and before people would think that his writing talent or even the award had been something big and important, Saito mentioned that the ceremony had been simple, in a small venue and the award hadn’t been anything special.
After debuting as a seiyuu and getting his name on the map – his award at the 2015’s seiyuu awards might have been crucial for this – Saito started to write special feature columns for several seiyuu magazines. Saito Soma’s “At Wits’ End” on KIKI-VOICE.jp (online and physical), Saito Soma’s “Healthy, Cultural Bare-minimum Living” on Voice Newtype (physical only), Saito Soma’s “Books in the book” (斉藤壮馬「本の中の本」) published on Seiyuu Men are the three columns he’s currently writing.
In 2018 (June), Voice Newtype made an important announcement: Saito Soma’s “Healthy, Cultural Bare-minimum Living” serialization corner was going to be released as an essay book by the end of the year.
Saito Soma no Wagokoro wo Kimi ni (as MC)
Saito Soma no Wagokoro wo Kimi ni is his first ever TV show MC experience as well as his first own TV show. The announcement was made in July 2017 and the show started airing in September 2017 and finished airing in April 2018.
Natsuki Hanae, Yuichiro Umehara, Subaru Kimura, Kaito Ishikawa, Taku Yashiro and Wataru Hatano, close friends of his guested on the show. The show’s pace and vibe is completely laidback, between visiting shrines, beer theme parks, bonsai museums and tasting local delicacies, this show is known for its slow pace and feel good vibe. Saito Soma no Wagokoro wo Kimi ni is also house to T-Backers, seiyuu unit created by Saito and that includes Koutaro Nishiyama and Takuya Eguchi.
Oreya (as narrator/guest)
Since the show’s premiere in 2016, Saito is Oreya’s narrator (and even guested on the show), show hosted by fellow seiyuu, friends and 81 Produce talents, Takuya Eguchi and Koutaro Nishiyama.
Voice Academia (as guest episode 9 – 2013)
When Saito was starting to make his gradual return to the seiyuu business he guested on BS Fuji’s “Voice Academia“, television show focused on seiyuu.
Animemashite (as co-host)
In 2014, Saito co-hosted TV Tokyo’s Animemashite, show focused on the anime and seiyuu scenes, with fellow seiyuu Toshiki Masuda. The recording was split into two, with a part of each episode focusing on each seiyuu, their likes, ambitions and what was the catalyst for them to enter the business. The show’s concept allowed the seiyuu to interview each other and then interview other guests – that went there to promote their shows and/or music releases.
Tokyo Otome Restaurant (guest)
In 2015, Saito guested on Tokyo Otome Restaurant. The show based on the smartphone game (now discontinued) with the same name was hosted by fellow seiyuu Showtaro Morikubo and Natsuki Hanae. Guests would help out cooking a recipe with given ingredients – without any help at first (they could win hints on how to cook certain ingredients or techniques they needed or simply get more or different ingredients depending on clearing challenges). Saito guested on the show from April 1, 2015 to December 23, 2015.
Tsukipro Channel: Bar SolidS
Quite possibly one of the most difficult TV show segments to handle, Bar SolidS was marked by frank talk about women, music, dirty jokes and more, all with a drunk SolidS‘ cast back in 2015. Even after being heavily edited in post-production, the show was borderline rated R (sometimes really rated R thanks to Natsuki Hanae‘s dangerous wordplays). Saito unveiled on this show his knowledge of alcoholic drinks from his days as bartender – even introducing “Sidecar” to his fellow SolidS members.
Tsukipro Channel: Cafe SolidS
Taking into account that Bar SolidS proved to be almost a disaster – not because it wasn’t a good show, but due to the fact that drunk seiyuu talking about women and rated themes was difficult to handle for the show’s producers -, the second season of SolidS TV show took a quiet and more controlled turn. Cafe Solids (2016) was alcohol free and focused more on each of the member’s interests in different periods of their lives. Even without alcohol, the group’s mood was laidback and fun. Saito unveiled on the show that he used to have a rock band in middle school in which he played guitar and sang, and showed everyone his massive love for books.
Oha Star Super Live (regular guest)
From April 6, 2015 to April 1, 2016, Saito guested on kid’s show Oha Star Super Live as OHA Danchou Soma. The show counted at that time with other seiyuu on its regular and guest cast ranks. Among those names were Koichi Yamadera and Natsuki Hanae. Due to its nature, the show and Saito‘s role are the basis of several iconic memes. It was the first time that Saito was part of a television show’s regular guest cast.
Diamond no Ace All Star game II (2016)
In 2016, Saito was invited to play at Diamond no Ace‘s second All Star game. Representing Teito, Saito mentioned that his father always complained that he had an awful timing when batting, however in-game what happened was quite different. His timing was never once off and hit almost everything that was thrown at him – even if some of his batting led to penalties such as charming the camera or cleaning the mound -, he was, alongside the mvp Tatsuhisa Suzuki, the one to take the team to victory in both the semi and finals.
Comic BAR RENTA! (guest episodes 3 and 4)
In 2017, Saito guested on Shuuta Morishima‘s Comic BAR RENTA!, show that airs on TOKYO MX. Following the premise of the show, the guest performs alongside the host a short part of a comic.
Loves his job and does everything seriously
He is known for his extreme sense of responsibility and seriousness towards every single role he’s casted in. All roles are important ones and he performs every single one of them as if they were leading roles. Saito is often praised for his professionalism and diligence. He’s known as the type of seiyuu that isn’t ashamed of doing BL work and proudly talks about it, he’s also the kind of seiyuu that won’t say “no” to a project as long as he can fit it on his schedule. But he’s also the type to vent his frustrations, even if indirectly, when he feels a work of his isn’t doing well or deserved a different treatment, e.g. Dance With Devils – Fortuna back in 2017 (Cool Voice vol.24).
His hobbies include reading, walking, singing, writing, watching movies – foreign, especially French and Italian that he mentioned he watches those with subs in Japanese instead of dubbed -, playing musical instruments (mainly guitar), composing music, cooking – he often lets his fans know about a new recipe he’s working on, ending up sharing the results on his personal blog. He often mentions the music or movies/series he’s into as well as gives suggestions to his fans based on his experiences. He’s known for being a curious person with lots of interests and pastimes.
Seldom goes to karaoke but when he goes…
On SOmaniac!, Saito received a mail from someone that had a friend that insisted in singing Bon Jovi songs whenever they went to karaoke. He was a bit surprised saying “That’s almost like my recordings for Akame ga Kill!, you’re always screaming!”. He mentioned that he, on the other side, always sings Maroon 5 and Sting’s songs if he goes to karaoke. On another episode of the radio show, the subject was brought to the table again. Saito mentioned that he seldom goes to karaoke because he’s got no free time and even whenever he has some, he prefers to go drink with his friends.
Some of his known friends in the seiyuu industry include Kaito Ishikawa, Kensho Ono, Yuma Uchida, Natsuki Hanae, Koutaro Nishiyama, Tetsuya Kakihara, Takuya Eguchi, Subaru Kimura, Yuichiro Umehara, Yoshiki Nakajima, Shuuta Morishima, Ryohei Kimura (he mentioned that they like the same movies and mystery books and hit it off pretty quickly), Wataru Hatano, Takuya Sato, Taku Yashiro, Mark Ishii, Shouta Aoi, between many more. He’s incredibly close with his fellow SolidS’ members as well as close to everyone in TRIGGER. However, the most famous friendship is with Kaito Ishikawa.
Close friends with Kaito Ishikawa
The two have been close friends since Terror in Resonance back in 2014. Ever since then, they have been more than often casted in the same anime and game projects, time and time again showcasing their incredible chemistry whenever there’s an opportunity. Their friendship is so tight to the point that Ishikawa mentions that one day, before his birthday, he was feeling lonely so he decided to invite Saito for a drive. Saito although stuck with work used his free time to join him for a late-night drive to Odaiba.
When they arrived at Odaiba’s park, they noticed that there were only couples in there and the mood was too romantic. Even so, Ishikawa mentions that going there and walking around the park with Saito was refreshing and that he was glad both had been there. This story started as a huge rumor in the seiyuu industry in 2015 but was later confirmed by Ishikawa on Kensho Ono’s Tabitomo in 2016 when both were guesting. They mention each other regularly on radio shows or events and/or attend each other’s radio shows whenever there’s time. If fans doubted their friendship, Kaito even mentioned on “Saito Soma’s Wagokoro wo kimi ni” that he found Saito as his ideal as a person, the one he looks for inspiration.
Saito, Hanae, Eguchi and Umehara tend to get together quite often. From hanging out at a bar near Saito‘s apartment (even at his flat), to guesting on each other’s shows, narrating or sponsoring each other’s works or just simply mentioning each other and/or working together on the same anime projects, the SolidS members’ friendship is one of the most interesting and well known in the seiyuu business.
Since his early days in 81 Produce, Saito has been in the care of Takuya Eguchi, senpai who dotes a lot on him. Eguchi mentioned on Genji Monogatari’s radio show back in 2014 that he thought Saito acted in a rather indecent way, especially when both went together to shop for clothes. “He might not look like it but he’s indecent on the inside. The outside is okay, but the inside is a problem!”. He mentioned that whenever both went shopping for clothes, Saito would always start talking comfortably with female store clerks, discussing what fits him best or what they think would suit him best. As a result Eguchi mentions that Saito‘s charming behavior sometimes got him discounts on his purchases but annoyed him a whole lot. “Just do your shopping normally! Do you really have to behave like that?”
“He’s my rival!”
Perhaps something that Saito‘s fans don’t know is that he has a friendly rivalry with fellow seiyuu and close friend Natsuki Hanae. During Piano no Mori‘s press event in March, Saito mentioned that both had auditioned for the role of Kai Ichinose. After the audition Hanae texted him saying that he wasn’t going to lose that role to Saito and that he should prepare himself, acknowledging him as a rival. As everyone knows, Saito ended up getting the role but he mentioned that Hanae (that got the role as Shuuhei Amamiya) not only congratulated him for nailing that main role, but also plans of avenging that and getting the next role from him. Saito wrapped his interview saying that both are friendly rivals.
The monster rookie and record setter
On 15 September 2017, Saito set a record among seiyuu. His 2nd single “Yoake wa mada/Hikari Tatsu Ame” sold 18,983 copies on its first week (rank #6 on Oricon daily), earning him the second top 10 on Oricon Weekly chart in his debut year. The single remained for 7 weeks straight on the charts, ultimately selling a bit over 28.000 copies in total. Saito set the record in the seiyuu business as the only singer (coming from a seiyuu background) that has managed to, during his rookie year, grab not only one but two top 10’s on Oricon Weekly. He’s also the first seiyuu that, as a solo artist, has his debut release within top 10 on Oricon Weekly.
His record and successful debut as a solo artist even impressed the members of popular veteran Japanese boyband A.B.C-Z when he guested on their radio show back in November 2017.
The lowkey rocker and classical music lover
Saito mentioned on Dear❤Vocalist Entry №3 Judah’s cast talk that he always wanted to be part of a rock band. That’s an old dream of his that he wants to make true if time allows. On an Ensemble Stars! interview, he mentioned that even though he couldn’t join a music club during his school days, mainly because his high-school didn’t have one, he formed a band with his friends outside of it in which he sang, played the guitar and composed lyrics, performing several times outside of a school context. The band specialized in cover songs.
He’s mentioned that his favorite classical music composer is Debussy and his all-time favorite artist is Elliot Smith. His playlist usually includes a lot of American indie rock, acid-jazz, progressive rock, punk rock, metal, visual-kei rock, classic rock, hip-hop and classical music. Some of his favorite artists include: Awesome City Club, Porno Graffiti, Ramones, Base Ball Bear, Maroon 5, Rolling Stones, T-REX, Bump of Chicken, The Doors, Block Party, Libertines, U2 and Marilyn Manson.
Surprisingly good rapper
In 2015, on Bar SolidS, he mentioned that he enjoyed freestyle rapping, saying that he practiced it quite often. However, when prompted for a rap battle with Natsuki Hanae, he mentioned he’d only battle him if he was drunk. Due to his clear avoidance to showcase his rapping skills, fans were curious about whether or not he was joking about his skills.
On Ensemble Stars’ NicoLive “Monthly Ensemble Studio”, hosted by Shintaro Asanuma, Saito managed to draw a punishment that wasn’t what anyone would expect.
Facing this unexpected request, Saito nervously asked if any of the previous guests had drawn that punishment to which Asanuma evaded sarcastically. Noticing that he couldn’t get away from the punishment as he had been set up, Saito asked for a backing track to avoid any awkwardness during his short performance. Impromptu beatboxing did the trick and what followed caught Asanuma, the show’s staff and the fans watching the show off guard. They weren’t expecting him to be that good.
In September 2017, Saito was announced as part of the Rap Battle project “Hypnosis Mic”, part of Fling Posse. He performed “Scenario Liar” resorting to a completely different rapping technique than his usual. The mix of singing, rapping and talking made a story about lies and life materialize.
Actually, back in 2015 on SolidS‘ vol. 3, he rapped for the fast paced and danceable “Chronoah” alongside Takuya Eguchi. That was the first glimpse of Saito‘s rapping skills that his fans got. For SolidS’ “Burny!!!”, single released in October, 2017, Saito showcased his rapping skills, shining in the middle of the group with his groovy flow and natural performance.
Saito is not your average Pocari sweat consumer. He mentions that he can tell apart with his eyes closed if the Pocari he’s drinking is from a PET bottle or an aluminum can. He even added that he can’t live without drinking it.
Used to be a sports guy
On Bar SolidS, Saito said that he was part of his middle school’s basketball team. He mentioned as well on one of the interviews with Dengeki Online about Ensemble Stars!, that when he was in high school, he’d play soccer with his friends. Now, he mentions that his only exercise is walking from bookstore to bookstore or visiting shrines.
It’s well known that Saito is an avid reader. Back in 2014, alongside Toshiki Masuda on Animemashite, he confessed that he has books everywhere around his house. Kaito Ishikawa also confirmed this saying that he has different kinds of books depending on the room you’re in. Saito is such a bookworm that he purchases his favorite authors’ books in paperback to read while commuting but then purchases the hardcover versions because, according to him “those have a different feel that can’t be replicated by the paperback versions”. On SOmanic!, he said that he takes books with him no matter the place or occasion and is always reading something whenever he has free time. Back in the day when he was a young kid, he preferred to stay at home reading books rather than going to amusement parks or anything of the sort.
Some of his favorite authors include Raymond Carver, Jonathan Carroll, Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur Conan Doyle and Daniel Alarcón. His all time favorite author is Takehiko Fukunaga. He reads a little bit of everything but his favorite genres are mystery and sci-fi.
In 2018, Kadokawa partnered up with Saito to promote the novel 青くて痛くて脆い (Aokute Itakute Moroi) by Yoru Sumino.
For their interview, Saito mentioned that he’s the type that when he starts reading something, he won’t stop until he’s finished.
Fear of almost anything
On SOmanic! Radio, Saito surprised everyone by saying that actually he’s afraid of many things. He’s afraid of horror movies but he’s the type to watch them. The problem for him lies in the aftermath, he can’t help but act strangely and doubt any noises he hears, ultimately leading to him laying on his bed covered and unmovable.
If the issue with horror movies doesn’t seem like much, he kept talking about his fear of heights. As a kid, he always rejected any outings that involved going to theme parks and ride attractions. He specifically can’t ride on jet coasters or Ferris wheels – if his words weren’t enough for everyone to believe them, a couple of months later, Saito participated in a special treasure hunt at the German village in Tokyo (for the variety DVD Real Treasure Hunt) and unfortunately had to ride the Ferris wheel.
Even with Wataru Hatano (his pair for the game) there trying to soothe his fear, Saito couldn’t help but panically say that they were “too high”. The result was a frightened Saito clutching onto the handrails inside of the ride, refusing to get up or moving around, at least for a couple of minutes. After mustering some courage, he got up and helped Hatano clearing the mission.
On Saito Soma no Wagokoro wo kimi ni, when Natsuki Hanae guested (1st episode), both went up some stairs to visit a Shrine. Midway through, Saito was glued to the railing and couldn’t even dare to look back without loosening his grip on the handrail. The show’s staff noticing that, put a major focus on his weird behavior as they kept climbing the stairs.
Adding to his list of fears is the fear of bugs. He said that ever since he was a kid he has always been afraid of them. He’s not fond of them at all but he’s changed from screaming when he spots one, to simply avoid them quickly and without much fuss.
He’s also mildly afraid of dogs and cats. He mentioned that it’s not that he hates them, it’s just that he can’t get close to them or they scare him. Later, on Dance with Devils’ radio, Saito mentioned that “I’m not good with living things in general“, hence he doesn’t have any pets but instead has a lot of cacti, bonsai and other plants around his house.
He mentioned on one of his articles for his serialization “Healthy, Cultural Bare-minimum Living“, that the simple idea of going to an hospital and getting a checkup gives him chills. He mentioned that up until then (2016), he had seldom needed to visit an hospital, so whenever he now is advised to visit one (be it to monitor his health in general or just his vocal chords since the tonsil incident) he gets chills.
In 2018, during one of the Saito Soma and Ishikawa Kaito Dameraji episodes, Saito mentioned that he had been seriously thinking about piercing his ears however, after thinking about the pain that would be associated with it, he easily gave up on the idea.
On several occasions, he mentioned that whenever he likes something he immediately says it without a filter or care for the consequences. Tetsuya Kakihara was thoroughly shocked to find out this side of him on his radio show back in 2016 (Unisong radio). He assumed that Saito would be the stereotypical Japanese man and avoid being blunt but he’s the quite the opposite. Saito mentioned that when loves someone he’ll say it directly to that person’s face without hesitation. And that isn’t exclusive to people, he also does it with things he likes, startling people that might be close by and not understand why he’s proclaiming his love for something out of the blue.
Seiyuu inpirations: Akira Ishida, Koichi Yamadera and Tetsuya Kakihara
On several interviews he mentioned that he wanted to be a seiyuu because of Akira Ishida‘s as Koyemshi in Bokurano. He’s also cited Koichi Yamadera as an inspiration (on Animemashite), as well as Tetsuya Kakihara.
Saito also said that he respects Tetsuya Kakihara (former 81 Produce seiyuu). His respect for Kakihara is due to the fact that he was one of the few seiyuu supportive of him while he was attending 81 Produce’s Actors seiyuu school, and even when he was auditioning to enter 81 Produce. He recalls Kakihara saying that he would not forget his name and hoped to meet him at recordings when he got a chance to debut. Time passed and when Saito was casted in the same anime as Kakihara, he was surprised that Kakki came immediately to greet him. “You made it! I told you I wouldn’t forget about you!” Saito mentioned that gesture showed just how amazing and caring Kakihara is, he mentioned that he found even more respect for him because of it.
On several interviews as well as radio shows, Saito said that he loves reading manga regardless of genre. He mentioned that when he was young, he was a fan of Shounen Jump’s manga as well as he enjoyed reading shoujo and seinen. His love for manga enabled him to have a great time as part of the Broadcasting club at his high-school. Since there were barely any guys part of that club, he mentioned that through shoujo manga he shortened the distance to his female club mates.
On Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san’s radio (October 2018), Saito mentioned that he even reads BL making his co-host for the day, Yuko Sanpei asked him if he is a fudanshi to which he replied that he isn’t, he’s just a guy that reads anything as long as the story is good.
Saito said on SOmanic! that he hates summer. He’s really sensitive to heat and quickly starts sweating. During Real Treasure Hunt at the German Village in 2015, Saito struggled with the heat and humidity while travelling in the van with Wataru Hatano and the show’s staff. Japanese summer is a mix of rain, hot weather and humidity. He finds it annoying hence why he prefers any other season aside from it.
Refreshing looking guy that was once afraid to look people in the eye
On ミュ〜コミ＋プラス (radio show), during his Yoake wa mada/Hikari Tatsu Ame promotions in 2017, the show’s MC mentioned that Saito has refreshing/soothing looks that give off a “rich boy” vibe. Not long after saying that, the MC concluded that looks can deceive. As soon as Saito started talking and getting more comfortable with the show, the MC noticed that he is slightly different from his image – “a bit crazy” according to the MC – which immediately tainted that soothing image of his. Saito said that’s normal about him, adding that people are often surprised to know how he truly is behind his looks and aura.
On a rather old interview, Saito mentioned that his looks right now and his when he was a student are slightly different. Back in the day he used to be afraid of looking people in the eye so he grew his bangs longer (photo below) than his current, trademark hairstyle. Ironically, his character in WWW.Working!! had the exact same complex and explanation to vouch for his looks as Saito did when he was younger.
Saito added that he’s the type to worry about his work, preparing everything ahead of time, be it going over his lines multiple times or just play a game ahead of an event that demands it (in order to avoid getting a penalty). Contrary to what most people think, his shaking hands aren’t from being nervous or stressed. Saito mentioned on a radio show back in 2016 that since middle school he’s got his hands shaking whenever he holds a bold, script or even works on his computer. Sometimes, in auditions, other seiyuu or staffers would come to him asking if he was nervous because of his shaking hands. Saito mentioned that he seldom get’s nervous, his hands just naturally shake when holding things.
“I want people to find me sexy”
Saito‘s fans label him as the gentle and cool type that looks artsy and intelligent. At the same time, the media labels him as currently one of the most handsome in the seiyuu business, even as “the beautiful guy“. Some television channels have labeled him as “美人過ぎる声優” (beautiful voice actor). However, Saito begs to differ. He mentioned on A.B.C-Z’s radio show back in 2017 that he’d prefer people to find him sexy instead of someone cool, gentle or beautiful.
On Saito Soma and Ishikawa Kaito’s Dameraji (2018), Saito mentioned once again that from now on he wants to be viewed as sexy, which prompted Kaito to make fun of his wish.
In 2018, at the BL Awards, Saito was voted as the 5th most popular seiyuu in BL. When it comes to drama CDs, this is the genre he’s most active in and his performances in titles such as “MODS” have impressed the fans of the genre.
Smart and witty despite denying it
Soma has showed a couple of times just how smart he really is. During the Real Treasure Hunt at the German Village he showed, alongside Wataru Hatano, just how quick witted and smart he is, helping solving some of the riddles in a way that even Hatano was surprised. Still, on Kensho Ono’s Tabitomo, he said that he might look like the smart type but “Only the characters I voice are intelligent”.
Obssessed with a certain “popular guy” pose
Everything started to make sense by the time Kensho Ono’s Tabitomo was recorded (2015). The famous pose that Saito had been doing up until then – and he still does it with some variations – was explained. When Ono asked the guests, Kaito Ishikawa and Soma Saito what was the pose that they’d automatically associate with a popular guy, Saito showed everyone his “popular guy” pose.
Since 2013, whenever Saito has to pose for photos, that pose is in 50% of them. However since he shifted his aim from “popular guy” to “sexy guy” that pose is slowly disappearing from his recent photos.
Sadist with an angel’s face
On Haikyuu radio, Saito mentioned that he “likes seeing other people’s terrified face“, hence he loves taking people with him to visit haunted houses as well as he never loses an opportunity to tease others over the smallest of things.
Labels himself as the typical arts and literatures guy
Saito mentioned on a special Ensemble Stars! interview that when he was a student, he wasn’t the kind to be loud, ask for attention or the sort. He was independent and was mostly alone at school. But him being alone didn’t mean people were bullying him or that he didn’t have friends, he mentioned that if he wanted to join a football game, the guys at school would let him join however because he always liked reading more than playing any kind of sports, he’d spend most of his school breaks reading books.
He wanted to join a music club while he was in high school but unfortunately, there was no such club at the school he attended. He then decided to join the Broadcast and Literature clubs. Since he was interested in voice acting, the broadcast club was a good fit for him and the literature club was a right choice for his reading passion. His passion for books came from his mother reading picture books to him all the time when he was a kid. He fell in love with the stories, that’s when his love for books took over his life completely.
And with this we conclude Soma Saito‘s Seiyuu Digest.