Music is a powerful tool to evoke great emotions in tv and film, and anime is definitely no exception. Anime has some of the best soundtracks out there. With emotional ballads, to intros you can properly head-bang to, there are countless songs and soundtracks out there that give the anime series or film is needs to add that little extra something to make it even better.
There are many different soundtracks for a variety of tastes, but we compiled a list of some of the best anime soundtracks that really add to the show or film they were written for. The soundtracks to these anime films or series have songs you can listen to in the car, at work, or throughout your day at home. Without further ado, here are our top five picks:
#5: Dragon Ball
The soundtrack for the Dragon Ball franchise is vast and all over the place. Not all the songs are great, but there are definitely a lot of rockin’ songs that add to the battles, emotional moments of the story, and nostalgia-inducing moments of pure awesomeness. One of the reasons this made the list is because the soundtracks for the games are amazing and well suited for battling to one’s heart’s content.
#4: Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan made this list almost solely because of its season one intro. What song in anime is more epic than “Guren No Yumiya“? Probably none. This song really gets the viewer ready for the high-stakes intensity that every Attack on Titan episode brings. It’s also a great song to blast in the car on your way to an anime convention, or even while working out at the gym. There are some other good songs throughout the show as well, but this one takes the cake and brings the soundtrack onto this list.
This early ’00s anime is a rollercoaster of emotions. NANA is about two young women starting a friendship together while battling their own tumultuous lives (romantic and otherwise). The anime follows two different punk bands, so naturally the soundtrack would be pretty important. Luckily, the soundtrack delivered. The songs were well written and well performed. There were moments in the show that were excruciatingly heart-breaking, and at one point one of the Nana’s sings out one of the songs without any music and it’s beautiful. The show is filled with heartache, and the soundtrack delivers some of that through making the scenes even more emotional. The soundtrack made the anime even better.
#2: Spirited Away
It was hard to pick which of Studio Ghibli’s soundtracks made the #2 spot on this list, as they’re all amazing (Joe Hisaishi is a musical king), but we decided upon Spirited Away, as the range of songs was quite wide (from riveting pieces to songs that seemingly came from the depths of the human soul), and each piece was expertly executed. It has a lot of variety, and each song fills the listener with some sort of strong emotion. Joe Hisaishi‘s orchestra performs every note with passion, and the listener can really tell. It’s very well done. (The runners up on the Ghibli list would be Princess Mononoke, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Howl’s Moving Castle.)
#1: Your Name
Finally, the soundtrack that made the #1 spot on this list is the soundtrack to Your Name. RADWIMPS did a fantastic job creating a musical landscape for this film. The film itself was deeply emotional, while also having many slice-of-life and comedic moments. It was heart-warming and moving on so many levels, and the songs went along with each scene to perfection. When the collector’s box set came out in 2017, fans of the anime who purchased the set also received the soundtrack (both in Japanese and English), which was loved by fans all over the world. The album was written while the movie was in production, so the two were woven together and influenced each other, as mentioned by band member Yojiro Noda in an interview he had with Forbes about the process his band had in created the score for the film:
It took almost a year and a half to make the whole entire score. We talked with the director and the producer more times than I can even remember. The songwriting process was moving forward at the same time with the animation so it influenced each other. The music changed the story, the lines, and if the new scene was created, we changed the music. It was a creative process. The two main characters were very attractive. So I concentrated on them. How and when their feelings moved. We weren’t able to see the actual animation until it was all finished so we focused on the script and director’s words. And just kept imagining.
The fact that the songs were created without even seeing the movie is an impressive feat in and of itself. This album will likely be loved and talked about for years to come. If you haven’t already seen the film, check out Your Name and listen to the beauty in its score.
Of course, this list is subjective, and many other anime fans out there may have different top five lists. Regardless, this is still a great place to start when thinking of phenomenal anime soundtracks. There are countless other great soundtracks to anime, and there will likely be more and more produced of expert quality. We look forward to discovering more and listening to more of our favorites (including those not included on the list).
What are your favorite anime songs and soundtracks? Tell us in the comments below, or find us on Twitter.