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10 Best Tracks From Japanese Anime Soundtracks

From blazing rock numbers to J-pop informed hits, we count down fan favorites

Tanushi Bhatnagar Jun 24, 2021

Japanese artists LiSA, Shinsei Kamattechan and Joe Hisaishi. Photo: Courtesy of the artists

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The Anisong or anime song is as crucial to Japan’s animation industry as playback songs are for Bollywood. For fans, openings and endings become the symbols of the anime that define its personality. In today’s time, it is becoming increasingly common for anime producers to use pre-existing tracks from artists, but specially commissioned songs were the norm for the last four decades. For certain, no anime is complete without its specialized intros and outros – especially the music video that goes along with it.

We list some of the best tracks across multiple Japanese anime series and films which pack the most punch and are fan favorites. 

“Gurenge” by LiSA (Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba) 

“Gurenge” is the 15th single of the Japanese pop artist LiSA (don’t confuse her with BLACKPINK’s Lisa) from her 2020 album called Leo-Nine. Lisa has contributed most of her music to the animation industry, and “Gurenge” was no exception. Created especially for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the single bagged the top spot on the Japanese Hot Animation charts and second place on Japan Hot 100. “Gurenge” is an upbeat song, almost driving you to headbang to it automatically. It is synonymous with the Demon Slayer and has become a fan-favorite instantly.

“Unravel” by Toru Kitajima (Tokyo Ghoul) 

The pop-rock anthem “Unravel” is regarded as one of the best anime openings out there. This first solo single by Toru Kitajima (from Japanese rock band Ling tosite Sigure) was released in 2014. Its emotional and meaningful lyrics capture the essence of Tokyo Ghoul and make the perfect match with powerful guitar riffs. The music video for this opening sequence makes the audio-visual dynamic a heightened cinematic experience. 

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“One Summer’ Day” by Joe Hisaishi (Spirited Away) 

Twenty years ago, Joe Hisaishi gave this masterpiece instrumental track to the world as a part of the exemplary 2001 movie by Studio Ghibli, Spirited Away. “One Summer’s Day” is primarily played on piano with the addition of a violin. This soul-soothing melody will make you long for something you’ve never had.

“The Girl Who Fell From The Sky” by Joe Hisaishi (Castle in the Sky)

One of the most beautiful tracks in Studio Ghibli movies, “The Girl Who Fell From The Sky” is another beautiful orchestral symphony from Joe Hisaishi. The main theme of Castle in the Sky, the rich, layered melodies are bursting with emotion — one minute you’ll be smiling, the other you’ll be crying. Combined with the visuals, it’s sure to bring you to tears and gives you goosebumps. 

“Tank!” by The Seatbelts (Cowboy Bebop) 

“Tank!” has all the makings of a classic anime opening. Released in 1998, this hard bop Latin Jazz song was composed by Yoko Kanno and performed by The Seatbelts as the main theme track of the iconic anime Cowboy Bebop. “Tank!” is a unique combination of cultural and modern music and is mostly instrumental with some male vocals. The song reminds one of the Pink Panther theme track but with a fast-paced symphony of bongo drums and saxophone – something that instantly invites the listener’s attention.

“My War” by Shinsei Kamattechan (Attack on Titan)

If anything could describe Eren’s mindset during the final season of Attack on Titan, it would be its original opening track, “My War.” Created by the punk/noise rock Japanese band Shinsei Kamattechan, it’s a theatrical experience like none other; Fast, loud, dark and angry — it’s everything that an AOT fan needs. 

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“The World” by Nightmare (Death Note) 

The first opening theme of Death Note, “The World,” was performed by the Japanese heavy metal and rock band Nightmare. It was first released in 2006 and placed at the fifth spot on the Oricon charts. The niche band rose to fame with the mainstream success of “The World” and “Alumina,” both of which define the Death Note OST. 

“Bloody Stream” by Coda (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

Japanese artist Coda’s debut single “Bloody Stream” marked the second opening theme of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and was featured in its second story arc, Battle Tendency. The song was produced for the 2012 show (which in turn is based on the 1987 manga) and was an instant hit. The fashionable and funky retro pop melodies made it a perfect fit for Joseph Joestar’s crazy battles against Pillar Men. “Bloody Stream” featured number 7 on Billboard’s Japan Hot 100 and number 2 on Japan Hot Animation Chart. 

“Blue Bird” by Ikomono-Gakari (Naruto)

“Blue Bird” was an original pop hit created for Naruto as its third opening and featured from episodes 54 to 77. It is one of the most popular songs in the anime world and recently picked up traction as a viral TikTok audio clip. 

“Fuyu No Hanashi” by The Seasons (Given)

“Fuyu No Hanashi” was composed and performed by Centimillimental, a solo singer-songwriter who works primarily for anisongs. This J-pop hit bursts with guitar riffs and merges into math-rock. It is used as an insert track in episode nine of Given and aptly replicates Mafuyu’s perspective mid-show.

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