Seiyuu Digest #47 – Masakazu Morita

With almost 20 years of career under his belt, Morita is a staple for all anime fans, as the seiyuu has brought to life his fair share of iconic roles, but that it’s not the last of it. Aside from his roles, Morita is further known for his unrivaled talent in almost all departments of the entertainment business.

All things considered, Morita is a full-fledged all-rounder that has made the most out of his talent, and has become one of the members of the group of seiyuu whose voice does not seem to show signs of aging any time soon.

KANJI 森田 成一
BORN Oct 21, 1972
OCCUPATION seiyuu, singer, radio host, narrator, stage actor, actor.
HEIGHT 168 cm

Seiyuu

Born in Sumida-ku, one of Tokyo’s wards, on October 21, 1972, Morita has gone a long way. After finishing high school, Morita did not go to a seiyuu school, as one might have assumed. In fact, he graduated from NHK Promotion Actors Seminar, which enabled him to perform as an actor with the backup and promotion affiliation from NHK. Henceforth, Morita began studying about (stage) acting.

It was only in 1999 that Morita came to have his first contact with the seiyuu industry as he was doing motion capture for Zell Dincht from Final Fantasy VIII, his debut role as an actor. After having his first taste of the industry, Morita had the privilege to work alongside fellow seiyuu such as Hiroshi Kamiya, Hideo Ishikawa and Kazuya Nakai, all the while refocusing his passion and redirecting it to the seiyuu industry.

In 2001, the seiyuu debuted as seiyuu as a freelancer, a bold move for someone who had just debuted. A few years later, he caught the eyes of Aoni Production. In 2003 he signed the contract with them.

2001-

Almost two decades after his debut, Morita has definitelly incarnated a myriad of different characters. From witty characters to psychopaths, we’ve got it all. Although his first two years as a freelance seiyuu did not cut it for Morita as he simply managed to land on one role as Tashiro in The Prince of Tennis, though his efforts were remarkable, all things considered, it was to be expected.

The tide, however, changed when Morita signed his contract with Aoni Production. The market that once seemed to not be kind to a freshly debuted seiyuu taking it’s chances as a freelancer had a different response after him signing the contract. And the results were almost immediate.

In 2003, as anticipated, the seiyuu began his long journey towards what is a solid career. Roles in Sonic X and in Rockman EXE Axess as Kido Atsuo, were the first step. In 2004, Morita landed a role as the main character of Bleach as Ichigo Kurosaki, one of the most popular roles he had played so far.

Ichigo Kurosaki in Bleach

Kurosaki was a role that, partially due to the anime having aired for almost a decade, allowed the fans to not only watch the character grow as time passed, but also to notice Morita‘s growth as a seiyuu. It’s true that the anime kicked off with lots of gaggy moments in which one might have though Kurosaki was a gag himself always messing something up yet getting things done when needed, however, the truth is that Morita managed to portray the teenage Kurosaki perfectly. It is safe to say that after this role, Morita got his well deserved attention, be it for his young voice, for his ability to captivate people with it or for all of the reasons above.

2004 was indeed a prolific year for Morita. Aside from his role in Bleach, the seiyuu was featured in Aqua Kids as Gino. The adventure series as first aired in Japan, despite it being a South Korean production. His role in Onmyou Tai Senki as Yakumo Yoshikawa is also worth mentioning. Once again Morita saw himself in an shounen anime, a genre that suits him like a glove.

Ryuuji Takane in Ring ni Kakero

And if the year had not been generous enough to the seiyuu, Morita got a role in the sports anime Ring ni Kakeru 1 as Ryuuji Takane, one of the main characters aims to be the best bower in the world, just like his father once was. Though Takane inicially refuses to do anything related to boxing, and that includes learning it, later on, after a unexpected encounter, Takane comes around to like it.

For the rest of 2004, Morita‘s roles were either minor or supporting, namely Space Symphony Maetel, Uchuu Koukyoushi Maetel: Ginga Tetsudo 999 Gaiden, Northward: Diamond Dust Drops, Kidou Senshi Gundam SEED DESTINY as Aur Nieda, Beck as Hyodo, One Piece, Interlude as Akio Fuyuki, Saint Seiya: The Hades Chapter – Elysion as Seiya Pegasus.

2005-

Rise to fame

After the golden year of 2004, Morita’s popularity rose fast and with the coming of the new year so did more job offers. Despite the number of roles having cut by more than half, the fact that Morita managed to stay relevant sure did work wonders for him.

Toshiya Satou in Major 2nd season

Once again, Morita landed on a role in the popular sports anime Major season 2 (reprising his role in the suceeding seasons) as Toshiya Satou, one of the main characters.  Satou is the friend of Honda Goro, the other main character, teaching him how to play baseball. The same year, Morita had another role in Xenosaga The Animation as Luis Virgil, a pilot and tactition that is known for letting his emotions get the better of him, which makes him have an erratic and unexpected behaviour. Overall, Virgil has a strong personality and likes to make sure his values are understood by others.

Still in 2005, Morita also got a couple of supporting roles in the popular anime Detective Conan as Ryousuke Fukuma and Naosuke Kurokawa.

Kazuki Hihara in Kiniro no Corda Primo Passo

The following year, it was time for him to shine as Kazuki Hihara in the popular music anime Kiniro no Corda Primo PassoHihara is a third-year student, which plays the trumpet. Although he is extremely friendly and outgoing, sometimes he might come off as being too aggressive in his approach, even though he has the best of intentions. Hihara is the one how made Kaho, the protagonist, learn about the true meaning of music.

Marginal Prince: Gekkeijyu no Oujitachi as Alfred Visconti, an American star from Hollywood. Much like the stereotype we often see present in anime, Visconti is a loud and straightforward character which sometimes leaves others thinking he is rude, even though that might not be the truth.

Claire Stanfield in Baccano!

In 2007, Morita took on the role of Claire Stanfield in Baccano!, a charming and mysterious young man who just so happens to be the youngest conductor for the Flying Pussy Foot. Interestingly, he also knows a story about the inexplicable disappearances that have taken place inside the train. Setting aside all the fog around this character, it is only fair to mention that this may well be one of the first characters Morita had in some time that differs a little from the type of characters the seiyuu had been playing since his debut in your typical shounen anime. Needless to say, the fans applauded Morita‘s performance as this character’s that seems to hold many secrets. The rest of the year was pretty much uneventful, aside from his character as Mummy man Valmond is Gegego no Kitarou.

Some anime in which he worked in include: Keroro Sergent (2008), Duel Masters! (2008-2018), Battle Spirits Shonen Denshin Dan (2009) and Eden of the East (2009).

Itsumi Ryougoku in Miracle☆Train: Ooedo-sen e Youkoso

From here on, Morita‘s roles every year became something of an established fact, and even though the majority of his roles not being main characters, it is safe to say that the seiyuu has secured his spot in the industry. Later in 2009, Morita’s role in Miracle☆Train: Ooedo-sen e Youkoso as Itsumi Ryougoku, a character whose interest in the Edo period goes beyond healthy. He is obsessed with anything related with battles and fighting scenes.

For the next year and a half Morita‘s schedule was pretty much uneventful as some of the roles he got include: SD Gundam Sangokuden Brave Battle Warriors (2010), Kaidan Restaurant (2010) and Pocket Monster Best Wish (2010).

In 2011, two very different characters portrayed by Morita, proved once again, in case there was any need, that the season has mastered his technique and has perfected his performance.

Barnaby Brooks Jr. in Tiger & Bunny

The comedy and action anime Tiger & Bunny have provided us with the change to see Morita take on a more serious character as Barnaby Brooks Jr., is a rookie hero who likes to plan things ahead of time, in fact he won’t take action if he has not planned do to so beforehand, unlike his partner Kotetsu. But let’s not forget another character worthy of mention, Kazuya Hiramaru.

Kazuya Hiramaru in Bakuman

Morita’s character in Bakuman, Kazuya Hiramaru is a salaryman whose hate for his job led him to become a mangaka as he believed it would be easier for him, seeing as he had to work less, but he was naive. Throughout the series, we have more than enough chances to see Hiramaru regretting a lot of decisions as well as him being lazy, an attitude that needless to say, got him in trouble several times, as he attempts to meet deadlines. Since he is so lazy he is often manipulated or led to do his job my his editor, because otherwise the lack of will to actually keep on drawing Hiramaru‘s manga would be depleted. This however enables us to see quite a lot of moments in which the character is a gag or just simply him being too disconnected from what is “normal” to everyone and therefore he ends up embarassing himself.

Xin Li in Kingdom

Xin Li in Kingdom is a slave that despite being a victim of the social stigma dreams of the future which dreams of leaving his social class and to become the world’s best general, a hard task since Li often lets his hot temperament get the better of him. Following th built momentum, Morita continued to be casted in several anime, with some supporting yet key characters to the plot of the anime and some main characters as well.

Kouichirou Tanba in Diamond no Ace

Popular baseball anime Diamond no Ace was a hit, be it for the plot or the characters, it was an overall success. If there is one character that was pivotal for the 1st season of the anime was Morita’s Kouichirou Tanba, the ace of Seido High School baseball team and the pitcher. Much like his rough appearance his voice does not betray our expectations, and although Morita has a young sounding voice, the seiyuu does not hesitate when he needs to bring out his raspy voice.

For those who were missing Morita’s upbeat characters, 2014 was the year for you as the seiyuu reprised his role in the Kiniro no Corda series, Kiniro no Corda Blue Sky as Kazuki Hihara and was also casted as another character Shirou Hodzumi, also a trumpet player from Shiseikan High School, with a rough appearance.

Ki-ja in Akatsuki no Yona

As if there was any shortage of Morita’s more airheaded characters, we have his role in Akatsuki no Yona as Ki-ja. Displaying nothing but naivety and simplemindness Ki-ja is one of those characters that end up creating comic relief scenes as their actions oftentimes are not the most intelligent ones, per se. Yet, do not fool yourselves, Ki-ja can be pretty serious when he is mad or being serious. Once again, we must mention just how good Morita‘s performance was, specially attention to the fact that his voice sounds young.

Azazel in Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul

In the same year, Morita got a role for one main character in Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul as Azazel, a demon who had the gall to desobey God. If not from the fact that he is a demon, he thinks too highly of himself and consequently talks to others as if he’s looking down on others. Adding to that, Azazel‘s attempts to negotiate with others tend to be pretty aggressive and oftentimes one-sided.

We must say that 2015 was a prolific year for Morita. Kicking off with him getting a supporting role with a strong presence in the plot in the popular historical and adventure anime Arslan Senki as Xandes, the son of Kharlan’s son. Everytime we are blessed with Xandes presence it usually has to do with him persuing his wish to get revenge on Arslan and Daryun, so if anything he is hot-blooded and perhaps even short-fused.

Shougo Haizaki in Kuroko no Basket 3rd season

It is no secret that Morita has been casted in numerous sports/shounen anime, but what seemed to have been missing was him portraying a dishonest character such as Shougo Haizaki in Kuroko no Basket‘s 3rd season. This teenage boy is ruthless and pays no heed to playing dirty to get what he wants. Aside from that, his temperament has gotten him kicked out of a basketball team before, yet he does not seem to have learnt his lesson for his way of behaving has, if anything, gotten worse than before.

Yukari Mishakuji in K: Return of Kings

To spice up Morita’s repertoire, his character in K: Return of Kings, Yukari Mishakuji changed the way people saw the seiyuu’s career so far. It is true that the wide majority of his roles are more or less the same archtype of characters, so him being casted as one that defies the norm was a lovely surprise for anyone. Mishakuji is Kuroh’s fellow student under the guidance of Ichigen Miwa’s teachings and is a member of the Green clansmen. With his flamboyant and effeminate appearance, he graces us with his elegant swordmanship that matches his looks.

Still in 2015, he got another main character role in Big Order as Eiji Hoshimiya, reprising it in 2016. The protagonist is indifferent to others and has a special power he is afraid to use for fear of its consequences.

Other anime he was casted in include: Mobile Suit Gundam AGE (2012), Battle Spirits: Sword Eyes (2012), Hakkenden: Touhou Hakken Ibun (2013), World Trigger (2013), One Piece 3D2Y: Ace no shi wo Koete! Luffy Nakama Tono Chikai (2013), K: Missing Kings (2014), Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor – Exodus (2015), Death Parade (2015), Baby Steps (2015), Dragon Ball Ultra (2015) and Crayon Shin-chan (2015), Tiger Mask (2016).

In 2016, Morita was casted as the main character of the anime Rewrite, an adaptation from the visual novel, Kotarou Tennouji. This teenage boy is know for his arrogance and fickle personality, although he will change his personality depending on the certain circumstances.

Currently Morita has reprised his role in the Major series, and is the main character in the yet to air anime Gakuen Basara as Keiji Maeda. Aside from that he also has a role in the Yume Oukoku to Nemureru 100-nin no Ouji-sama as Rosso.

Radio

If there are any perks of signing a contract with a talent enterprise such as Aoni Production is that you’re going to be well promoted, so there is no surprise when we say that Morita became active in the radio show hosting game in 2004, coincidentally the same year the stopped being a freelance seiyuu.

His first radio show was Morita Masakazu no ore = Yo from 2004 to 2005, and since his debut in this department, the seiyuu has been active ever since. Morita has hosted a plethora of shows. Here are the names of the radio shows he has either hosted or being a guest to: Sweet Junction (2009-), Weekly Radio Seed Destiny (2005), Bleach “B” Station (2005-2010), Night on the Planet (2006), Everyone friends! Sengoku Basarajio (2007-2008), Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Station (2008-2009), Morita Mazakazu’s ADULT.EX ~ Adult experience value ~ (2010-2012), Virtual Adventure 2 Hoshizora Sunrise (2012-2014), K of Radio 4th (2015-) and Rewrite Monthly Radio (2016-2017).

Dubbing/Narration

Mazakazu Morita in 2015

When it comes to dubbing, we must say that Morita is Zack Efron’s official voice, as we can see in his repertoire the seiyuu has dubbed several movies, namely the popular musical series High School Musical as Troy Bolton, Seventeen Again as Mike O’Donnell and as Matt Brody in Bay Watch. But those are not the sole entries in his repertoire. Morita has also dubbed El Camino · Christmas as Eric Ross, The Green Hornet as Kato, Sweet 17 Monster as Nick Mossman, Prometheus as Chance, Red Warrior as Mansur, Mindhunter as Holden Ford and Love manual – still a woman you want to get married as Ha Ming Jae.

When it comes to his works in the narration department, Morita‘s list is equally extensive. Between commercials for Mitsubishi Motors and Nivea’s, the seiyuu has done a little of everything, namely BLEACH BEST TRAX CM, TIGER & BUNNY On Air Jack! TVCM, Final Fantasy × Pazdola, KLab BLEACH Brave Souls, Kadokawa Comics Ace ” Big Order Vol.9″, Ion lottery for summer! !, KAGOME basic tomato sauce TVCM. Most recently, Morita narrated the teaser for the live action of the popular anime Bleach.

Drama CDs

Morita’s voice is unmistakenly one that is pleasant to the ears, and though the seiyuu my not be in many drama cds, aside from the one’s that are part of either a game or anime he has already starred in, when he does his performance is never something less than impeccable.

Aiji Yanagi in Collar x Malice

His repertoire includes names such as: Akatsuki no Yona, Orange Honey, Collar x Malice, Kiiniro no Corda, Kuroko no Basket, K: Return of Kings, Sengoku Basara, Tiger & Bunny, Diamond no Ace, Baccano!, Bleach, Bungo and Alchemist, Marginal Prince series and Meganebu!.

Games

When it comes to the gaming department, Morita is vastly known for his several characters in the Final Fantasy franchise, which coincidentelly are also his first roles in this department, back in 2001, as Tidus in Final Fantasy X. But if one thinks Morita is stuck with only the shounen genre, one is gravely mistaken. After taking a look at the seiyuu’s repertoire, it’s safe to say that Morita is equally strongly present in the shoujo and in the shounen genre, when it comes to the game department, which just comes to say that he his work is catered to a wide variety of tastes.

Masakazu Morita circa 2016

Some of his most notable roles include: Kazuki Hihara in Kiniiro no Corda series (2003-2017), Tidus and Shuin in Final Fantasy X-2 (2003), Isami Kondo in Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi (2004), Fang in SCAR-RED Ten no Okami-chi no Hayate (2005), Ichigo Kurosaki in the Bleach series (2005-2017), Alfred Visconti in Marginal Prince: Gekkeijyu no Oujitachi (2005), Shiranui-yō Saburō in Yo – Jin – Bo 〜 Unmei no Furoide (2005), Patrick James Beckett in Ace Combat Zero The Belkan War (2006), Keiji Maeda in Sengoku Basara series (2006- 2016), Teru Saki in Tokimeki Memorial Girl’s Side 2nd Kiss (2006-2007), Ledah in Riviera ~ Promised Land ~ (2006-2007), Tsuji Keita in Orange Honey ~ I am in love with you ~ (2007), Seiya Pegasus in the Saint Seiya series (2007-2015), Riku Takahashi in Akai Ito (2008-2009), Nagai Yoshihiko in Kaiken Phase (2010), Kazuya Hiramaru in Bakuman. The way to a manga artist (2010), Kotarou Tennouji in the Rewrite series (2011- 2016), Rebellion in Kingdom Crash Puzzle Musou (2012-2016), Burnaby · Brooks Jr. in the Tiger & Bunny series (2012-2013), Damian in 24 o’clock bell and Cinderella ~ Halloween Wedding ~ (2012), Buddist teacher in Bakudan ★ Handan (2012), Shin Nakamichi in Shiratsuyu no Kai (2013), Kubozu Atsushi in CV ~ Casting Voice ~ (2014), Caesar in Tales of Link (2014), Xandes in Arslan Shinki Musou (2015), Virgil in World End Eclispe (2015), Aaron in ELCHRONICA (2016),Aiji Yanagi in the Collar x Malice series (2016- 2018).

(Stage) Acting

For Morita acting is something that comes natural to him, be it stage or voice acting, however one thing remains certain, even after the seiyuu having debuted, his passion for acting has not lessen and that shows when one takes a look at his resume. In fact, before him debuting as a seiyuu he was an actor, so it makes sense that even after all these years he continues to have some roles here and there.

The first entry in his repertoire dates 1999 and it was a short appearance in the drama Tsurukama Waltz. Mind you, Morita graduated from the NHK Promotion Actors Seminar, and because of that he has a special relationship with NHK as it promotes Morita and provides him with some acting work, so bear in mind that all TV dramas are NHK productions. Hibiki no Kyuka (2001) followed next, then its was Sakura (2002), Honda no Shokudou (2015), and finally, Shikuntsu Danshi Veranda (2015).

Tenjuro Banno (2015)

In 2015 Morita appeared in the live action movie of Kamen Rider as Tenjuro Banno and in 2016 reprised his role in another movie of the series.

Mazakazu Morita as Barnaby Brooks Jr.

But thinking that Morita’s endevors in the acting department stop there is a grave mistake. The stage also holds as dear place in his heart. Some of his main roles in plays are in “Gift – gift -” as Nakajima Yujiro, Sherman Businessman “Ran-ROH-DOH” ~ Voice in City ~(2009 & 2010) as Kamo Ranjo, Tiger & Bunny Live (2012) a Barnaby Brooks Jr., “Destiny – Destiny-” (2013) as Shy Turn, Ichigami no Ichizou (2017), Dissidia Final Fantasy Reading Play Actor’s Live Dissidia FF “SECRETUM – Secret -“(2017) as Tidus and Nozomu Sasaki Produce Performance Reading Play Super Voice Live “What did you eat yesterday?(2017) as Kouji Yabuki.

Other plays Morita was casted in include: Scarecrow no Uta, God’s Mutual Faith in Progress, Drill Spirit YOKOHAMA Gachinko Hen, Tachiyomi Vol. 2 (2016), Tachiyomi Vol. 3 (2017),Koi Koie ~ Inunagawa Junji ‘s funeral ~(2017), Tachiyo Mi Vol. 4 (2018), T-PROJECT vol.13 Harold Pinter’s death 10 years Special project “Dam Waiter” + “Victoria Station” (2018).

Music

Nowadays, the seiyuu industry has practically been an intermediate between seiyuu doing their actual work as voice actors and them debuting as singers. When we speak about seiyuu debuting as singers, however, there are always some we could not see them debuting, not because they do not know how to sing, quite the opposite, but because they had not shown any interest whatsoever regarding endeavors to the music scene. Morita has been a prime example of that.

Going solo

In 2012, the seiyuu debuted as a solo artist, trying his luck in this department with an album, but not any kind of album, in fact, Morita was in charge of writing the lyrics and composing all the tracks in the album giving a personal touch to it.

鬩ぎあう角質 (2012)

 鬩ぎあう角質 is a compilation of songs with completely different genre, ranging from pop-rock to a more loungy/jazzy genre, this album has songs for everybody’s taste. Although, at first the album may sound peculiar for its lack of commoness to other music seiyuu usually release, one should highlight the fact that in its essence 鬩ぎあう角質 is an ecletic album and one that makes a statement or attempts to do so proclaiming how Morita differs from others.

Variety

Morita has been one of the seiyuu that has always been more or less consistent in his appearances in live events.

BLEACH SOULD SONIC 2005 SUMMER

In 2005, Morita attended the BLEACH SOUL SONIC 2005 Summer and what might have surprised the fans on the day was the fact that the seiyuu had actually dyed his hair to match the character’s, Ichigo Kurosaki, hair.

Masakazu Morita dressed as Ichigo Kurosaki

Aside from the cast playing around and acting out some of the most iconic scenes, the event was pretty much smooth sail, except when Madono decided to fool around with the members of the cast.

Diamond no Ace All Star (2014 & 2017)

Since the Morita has been in numerous events, and for the most part he tends to always find a way to make others laugh with his remarks or actions. For instance, at the Diamond no Ace All Star event, Morita seemed to be Tanba, but also to take over the role of the announcer making “illegal” changes of the pitchers as if that was nothing.

Masakazu Morita in Diamond no Ace Christmas Event (2014)

And let’s not forget the part where he pretended to be a maestro he even game instructions mid-game, so we’re guessing he was also a coach and a reporter, that was hilarious as well, but above all else, Morita’s energy was at its max at all times. All jokes aside, Morita’s performance in the Diamond no Ace Christmas event in 2014 was surprisingly good, the members of the cast were calling him a “hitting machine”.

Otomate Party 2017

Morita’s first appearance in an Otomate Party event was in 2017, although as the MCs, Kousuke Toriumi and Showtaro Morikubo mentioned, it felt like Morita had always been a guest, fellow seiyuu Koji Yusa answered to that statement saying that Morita is a newbie at the event but an old-man.

Koji Yusa and Masakazu Morita in Otomate Party 2017

Following up the joke about his age, after Souma Saito, Tetsuya Kakihara and Koutarou Nishiyama stroke a pose as if they were models, Morita joked about his age and said “I’m feeling a little aenemic” to which statement everybody laughed.

Facts

Motion capture specialist

It comes as no surprise to anyone that Morita has been casted as several characters in the games of Final Fantasy franchise. What some might not know is that up until now, for every character he played in the series, not only did Morita give his voice but he also motion captured for it. In the most literal way possible, Morita has completely brought those characters to life. Morita has also motion captured for the Final Fantasy VII Advent Children ova in 2005.

Awakened passion

Morita‘s first started his career as an actor, but it was in 1999 when he was playing Tidus, the main character in Final Fantasy X, he admitted that he became impressed by his co-stars Kazuya Nakai and Hideo Ishikawa’s work and later on pushed him forth to pursue his newest passion.

Knows Tite Kubo

If there is one of the things one needs in the entertainment business is to have connections, because that might, or not, increase the chances to participate in other projects, yet what came as a surprise was that Morita knows the mangaka who created the popular manga Bleach, in fact it was Tite Kubo’s recomendation to cast Morita as Ichigo Kurosaki.

Near death situation

Back in 2012, the seiyuu had to be hospitalized after having an unknown allergic reaction. After being admitted into the hospital Morita was diagnosed with anaphylaxis, which consists in a serious allergic reaction to an alergen putting the person in a life threatning situation. Fortunately, the seiyuu then explained that the situation had been handled and that he was okay.

And that is it for this month’s Seiyuu Digest.

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