Turmoil For Japanese Anime Power Couple

Turmoil For Japanese Anime Power Couple
The upcoming Free! anime movie features not only Suzuki's spoken talents but also his singing ones. (Screenshot: Kyoto Animation/YouTube)

Voice actor Tatsuhisa Suzuki and his popstar wife LiSA are an anime power couple. But earlier this month — following revelations about Suzuki’s alleged extra-marital activities — they suddenly announced they were taking a break from the entertainment industry.

Warning: This article contains a mention of attempted suicide.

Tatsuhisa Suzuki has been an anime voice actor since 2003, with roles including Makoto in the swimming anime Free! He also has a lengthy video game voice acting resume, including the role of Noctis in Final Fantasy XV. Suzuki also sings in Japanese rock band Oldcodex. LiSA has recorded a number of studio albums and sung award-winning hit theme songs for anime Sword Art Online, as well as Demon Slayer. Her song “Homura” was the theme for the smash hit film Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train.

In late July, one of Japan’s most influential publications, Shukan Bunshun, published an article that detailed alleged infidelity on Suzuki’s part, with accompanying photos that supposedly showed him and another woman entering a hotel. According to the publication, the two had entered into a relationship, and Suzuki would allegedly invite her to his home when LiSA was away. The story angered both anime fans and those of the pop singer.

The unfortunate irony is that it was Shukan Bunshun that first reported Suzuki and LiSA’s engagement, months before the official announcement. But that’s what Shukan Bunshun does, breaking stories on everything from political scandals to young idols getting caught smoking cigarettes. Its stories are picked up by mainstream news and TV networks across Japan, and its track record has been impressive. In a country where PR spin rules, the publication has never been afraid to broadcast the secrets of the rich and famous. And the Japanese public is always eager to read.

Within days of Shukan Bunshun’s story hitting the web, LiSA’s official site announced that she was going on a partial hiatus, cancelling concerts in Fukuoka. The reason given was physical and mental fatigue. The same day, the Oldcodex official site announced that Suzuki was in poor physical shape, adding that normal activities had become difficult. Because of this, the site explained, he and his band were going on hiatus. For Japanese celebrities, appearing in Shukan Bunshun can be career-ending. The last thing they want is to be approached on the street by one of its reporters saying they would like to ask them a few questions. True or not, the story was, no doubt, devastating to the couple.

LiSA has lent her vocal stylings to the Demon Slayer anime.  (Screenshot: Aniplex USA) LiSA has lent her vocal stylings to the Demon Slayer anime. (Screenshot: Aniplex USA)

According to Japanese news site News Postseven, Suzuki allegedly attempted suicide after the Shukan Bunshun story was published. He was rushed to hospital where he was put on a ventilator, the publication reported. When asked about this, Suzuki’s management replied, “As we announced, it’s poor physical health. As there are privacy concerns for the patient’s condition, we will refrain from answering that question.”

Japanese weekly publication Shukan Josei Prime reports that it was someone connected to the police department who leaked news of the alleged suicide attempt.

The upcoming Free! anime feature film was slated to use an Oldcodex song as its theme, and score an upcoming trailer. According to the movie’s official Twitter, since the group was going on hiatus, it would not be releasing a new trailer with the Oldcodex tune because the track has been delayed. As of writing, there’s no word on whether the song will be included in the movie.

Today, LiSA’s official site announced that she would resume touring later this month and has been recovering from her physical fatigue. Oricon News reports that while Suzuki will be leaving his role as Kotaro Higashi in the Ultraman anime, he will continue to voice Makoto in Free! On the anime’s official site, Kyoto Animation stated that the studio had a long, established relationship with the actor and that he was an essential part of the anime. Therefore, the Free! production committee decided to continue with Suzuki in the role.

If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support or someone to talk to, contact the Lifeline Australia hotline at 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service at 1300 65 94 67 or the Kids Helpline (for ages 5-25) at 1800 55 1800.

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