February, the month where we celebrate love in all forms. In this leap month, let us take a leap of faith, and extend the loving to one of anime’s favourite relationship tropes – the man-to-man, boy-to-boy brotherly love – the “Bro-mance”.
In this feature celebrating bro-mance, we bring you nine epic seiyuu friendships, or bro-mances. In a fiercely competitive industry where many still struggle to make ends meet, it’s amazing how these people have evolved from colleagues (and even potential competitors) to steadfast friends, who (apparently) have fun and support each other.
1. Hiroshi Kamiya & Daisuke Ono – Work Buddies
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You will probably be familiar with this pair, known for appearing in numerous series together as partners or rivals – Durarara!!’s Izaya & Shizuo, Osomatsu’s Choromatsu & Jyuushimatsu, Working!!’s Hiroomi & Jun, Attack on Titan’s Levi & Erwin.. the list is endless.
It was probably web radio programme Dear Girl ~Stories~ that sealed their close partnership. The web radio programme was a runaway hit way before both became household names in seiyuu-dom, a combination of Kamiya’s razor-sharp tsukkomi and Ono’s blundering earnestness. Dear Girl ~Stories~ is also credited with starting their most endearing and well-known nicknames – HiroC and OnoD. Their partnership has been so successful, the radio show has now spawned it’s own line of merchandise, product endorsements, live events at Budoukan, and even a series of movies.
The partnership may have started from a senpai-kouhai relationship, with Kamiya leading radio-novice Ono, and has evolved into a comfortable partnership where both are able to laugh at each other without reservation. Their easy partnership and sparkling chemistry are often highly anticipated by fans when both are in attendance at events.
Also: DG5 – Hiroshi Kamiya, Daisuke Ono, Hiroki Yasumoto, Tomokazu Sugita, Yuuichi Nakamura
2. Tomokazu Sugita & Yuuichi Nakamura – United in gaming
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Unlike our first pair, Sugita and Nakamura rarely appear together in the same production. However, they are one of the most well-known BFF (best friends forever) pairs in seiyuu circles. Sugita’s affection for Nakamura is legendary, with stories of Sugita literally telling everyone within earshot (on air!) how awesome this seiyuu friend was, and that he was an ii otoko (good man) to all. On top of that, Sugita even had a picture of Nakamura as his phone wallpaper, and was showing off his “ikemen” friend to everyone. However, Nakamura being the tsundere that he is, denies being that close to Sugita (no one believes him anyway).
Known as avid gamers, their shared love and expertise in all aspects of electronic games is evident on their programme – Tokyo Encounter. Despite Nakamura’s protests, their easy banter and ability to understand each other’s obscure references (that barely anyone gets) reveal their close friendship and bond.
3. Yoshitsugu Matsuoka & Nobunaga Shimazaki – Sengoku Warriors
In an epic twist of fate, we have a pair of friends who were both named after renowned Japanese historical figures – Yoshitsugu Otani & Nobunaga Oda – from the Sengoku Era. According to Matsuoka, they met each other for the first time at a recording, with the two newcomers sitting next to each other. Shimazaki struck up a conversation, and surprising both of them, they hit it off and became fast friends. Although shy and reserved, Matsuoka can be effusive with praise for his buddy – unreserved complimenting Shimazaki for his good personality, steadfast friendship, and of course, his signature smile. Also, who can forget Tatsuhisa Suzuki ribbing Shimazaki and digging up stories about his “good friend” on Free! Iwatobi Channel radio? Priceless.
4. Kenichi Suzumura & Takahiro Sakurai – He is my boss!
This brotherhood is one for the ages. Spanning over a decade, this is another pair of good friends who shared the airwaves on a radio programme – Cherry Bell. The radio programme co-hosted by Suzumura, Sakurai and Miyu Matsuki ran for 12 years, and only wrapped recently due to Matsuki’s unfortunate demise due to complications from lymphoma.
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The duo has also appeared together in several anime, recently in Osomatsu-san (Iyami & Osomatsu), and going back to D. Grayman (Labi & Kanda) and Final Fantasy VII (Zack & Cloud). Both started out in the industry at about the same time, and live close to each other when they were starting out. Their commutes home from work became sessions where they both talked about their work and dreams, sharing worries and finding support and encouragement. Although Sakurai could not attend Suzumura’s wedding party due to work commitments, he recorded a special video message for the happy couple. After Sakurai left his original management agency 81 Produce, most felt it was only a matter of time that he joined Suzumura’s newly-established agency INTENTION. Their long-standing chemistry and experience working together as a team can be seen in Suzumura’s series of AD-LIVE improv stages.
Also: Jun Fukuyama & Takahiro Sakurai
5. Yuuki Kaji & Hiro Shimono – Misty-fied
You may know this pair first as the voices behind Attack on Titan’s Eren and Connie. However, this is yet another close working relationship from a now-defunct radio programme – Radio Misty. Radio Misty has been responsible for sending this duo out on multiple amusing events that have seen guests along the likes of Kishou Taniyama, Tsubasa Yonaga, Takuma Terashima and Hiroki Yasumoto, to name a few. In these events, they get up to hilarious antics including pillow talk in pajamas, re-enacting Snow White and even entertaining bizarre requests to compare the advantages of a front-hug versus a back-hug (enactment included).
Uta no Prince-sama fans will also note that they were cast as twins in the game series, with Shimono as Sho Kurusu and Kaji as Kaoru Kurusu. With their similarly mild (and fluffy) temperaments, it is easy to see how their brotherly vibes readily transcend real life into fiction.
6. Tomoaki Maeno & KENN – Maenu & Kennu
This duo is yet another combination of socially awkward dork and socially competent partner (see Matsuoka and Shimazaki). They were both casted in otome game series Vitamin Z, which spawned off multiple game spin-offs, yearly events and DVD outings. Their close friendship is clearly evident in all those events, and their spontaneous affection for each other has been put to good use in Tokimeki Recipe, which has the two of them making food for audiences in a studio kitchen. The cooking saga continues in Tokyo Otome Restaurant, where the duo has been marketed as part of a tokuten special for the DVD release.
7. Takuma Terashima & Wataru Hatano – 2D love
Originally part of the Sugita-gumi group of friends, which also included Tatsuhisa Suzuki and Mitsuhiro lchiki, this duo bonded over their shared love for all things 2D and beyond on their shared radio show (what else?) Radio 2D Love. With their shared love for anime, moe girls and all things otaku, it is not difficult to see why they get along so well. This duo has brought otaku-dom to a new level, performing together as singing unit “M.O.E.”, bringing to fans their own renditions of old anime song classics.
8. Kaito Ishikawa & Souma Saito – 9 & 12
The numbers nine and twelve transcend series – appearing as character names in Zankyou no Terror, and jersey numbers in Haikyuu!! (Kageyama’s and Yamaguchi’s). While promoting Zankyou no Terror during its run, Ishikawa and Saito break the 4th wall, starring in a series of videos solving MENSA-level puzzles. The ease at which they interacted with each other evidently moved off-screen as well, becoming drinking buddies – even appearing on Natsuki Hanae’s twitter inebriated (tsk tsk).
On a recent Animate poll, this duo ranked 8th for favourite seiyuu combi – even without a radio show together – simply because they have mentioned each other too much on their own separate radio shows! Apparently, Ishikawa is quite adept with his hands, having helped Saito put together self-assembly bookshelves and possibly more furniture in his new home.
9. Yuuichiro Umehara & Koutarou Nishiyama – Hyorotto Danshis
We first encountered this newcomer pair on Nico Nama sessions to promote Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!, voicing (and cos-playing to some extent) En Yufuin and Atsushi Kinugawa. As their characters are close friends in the show, both seiyuus were completely unabashed about hamming it up for the cameras, even participating in blatant skinship. They even went as far as revealing Umehara’s butt fetish and his appreciation for Nishiyama’s butt. This partnership has now spawned off its own radio show – Hyorotto Danshi – embedded within the weekly show Agson, with its own merchandise line.