Music is one of the defining contributors to the overall artistic quality of an anime. Soundtracks mainly serve to accompany and amplify important scenes and moments, heightening the viewer’s experience as they watch a story unfold. From comedy to action to romance, every anime is backed up by some kind of music.
Over the decades, awesome opening and ending themes have become popular in and out of anime and have been released as standalone singles. There are several anime series with brilliant musical scores, and regardless of the type of series, the universal appeal of music increases the emotions of anime watchers, and for some, can make an anime better or worse.
Here are 10 anime soundtracks that are simply outstanding and will intensify any viewer’s experience.
Attack on Titan
A brilliant soundtrack is sure to send any listener through a rollercoaster of emotions, and Attack on Titan clearly prioritized the music as much as the animation. Led by Japanese composer Hiroyuki Sawano in the first three seasons and Kohta Yamamoto for most of the final season, this soundtrack is masterfully epic, full of intense emotional numbers to fit the different scenes in the anime. Across the seasons, Japanese rock band Linked Horizon has also contributed powerful opening and closing themes to the acclaimed anime series. The first opening theme, “Crimson Bow and Arrow,” became a viral sensation at the time of its release.
Even without attributing the music to the anime, the Violet Evergarden soundtrack as a stand-alone is packed with grand, sweeping orchestra numbers and melodramatic music. Titled Violet Evergarden: Automemories, the soundtrack was composed by California native Evan Call and gives off a live concert feel. Vocal performances in the anime’s soundtrack are by Japanese singers Aira Yuuki, Minori Chihara, and TRUE.
It’s not enough that Cowboy Bebop became a gateway for several anime to penetrate international markets. It also has one of the most acclaimed soundtracks of any anime ever. Led by Yoko Kanno and Seatbelts ⏤ the band she formed exclusively for the anime ⏤ the soundtrack infuses a number of music genres, including Latin, jazz, folk, and blues. The iconic opener, “Tank!,” is an infectious jazz piece that has gone on to become one of the most popular anime openers of all time. The Netflix live adaptation of the anime series made use of the catchy opener as well, as Kanno also composed for the series.
Yuri!!! on Ice
It’s common knowledge that figure skating and music go hand in hand, and the moving soundtrack from Yuri!!! on Ice does not disappoint. Featuring several numbers led by pianos and violins, the mostly instrumental body of work was mostly composed by Taro Umebayashi and Taku Matsushiba. The stirring music also features captivating layering and build-ups of the instruments as the skaters on the show continue to advance in technique in their performances.
Carole & Tuesday
When humans eventually move to Mars in this anime, almost everything is controlled by artificial intelligence, including the music. Carole & Tuesday is about a duo of singers who have a stripped, acoustic sound in the midst of electronically produced musicians. The beauty of this musical anime’s soundtrack, however, is that it caters to lovers of several music genres. From singer-songwriter, pop, and French pop to disco, hip hop, opera, and psychedelic electronic music, there are many beautiful numbers in this anime sung and rapped by a plethora of professional artists in both Japanese and English.
Naruto consistently delivered epic opening and ending theme songs throughout its almost two-decade run. With several memorable songs sung in both Japanese and English, Naruto’s soundtrack is one of the most popular ones out there due to the overwhelming success of the manga, anime, and video games. There are emotional, comedic, and energetic pop, rock, and classical songs that evoke different emotions from listeners and viewers. Toshio Masuda is responsible for the original anime’s soundtrack while Yasuhara Takanashi took over for Naruto Shippūden, and both delivered strong and flawless compositions and arrangements.
Samurai Champloo featured an anime soundtrack heavily doused in hip hop, making for one of the most unique and excellent anime soundtracks of all time. Produced by four composers ⏤ Shinji Tsuchida, Fat Jon, Nujabes, and Force of Nature ⏤ it perfectly blended hip hop and anime and is still highly regarded today. While many action anime series lean into energetic tracks and grand classical pieces, Samurai Champloo’s music offers a relaxed, mellow, and experimental style of music, making it a standout among other series.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
This anime has never been regarded as “regular,” and the music follows suit. A combination of heavy metal, jazz, flamenco, and even opera, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has a wild and psychedelic element to its music and the songs blend well with the camp and hyperbolic characters that make up the anime. As the series centers on different time periods, the musical style often changes per chapter, but the quality and brilliance remain throughout. With songs titled “Crazy Noisy Bizarre Town” and “Lady with Beautiful Legs,” you’ve got to give this eclectic soundtrack a listen.
A contender for best anime soundtrack of all time, FLCL’s musical performances have been praised by fans and critics alike and marked a turning point in Japanese rock in anime. Featuring music by acclaimed rock band The Pillows, this anime’s soundtrack was a perfect accompaniment to many animation scenes, amplifying them in the process. With epic choruses, grand climaxes, and powerful rock moments, FLCL’s soundtrack has stood the test of time.
Composed by Yoshihisa Hirano and Hideki Taniuchi, the soundtrack to this popular noir anime offers music fit for the anime’s genre and plot. With enough dark and intense music, often accompanying the gloomy setting and catastrophic deaths, Death Note has one of the most compelling and enthralling soundtracks on the list.