Anime fans can get seriously salty about their fave anime OPs and EDs (opening and ending songs), and for good reason. If someone bashes your best bae track it’s like they’re denying your weeaboo supremacy.
Of course you’re going to go feral.
I’m here to tell you that every other list of the best anime songs ever is complete bullshit, and I’m correct, and it’s not actually subjective.
Why am I so sure I’m right?
Because I don’t have crap-tier taste, I’m old so I remember the greatest of the greats, and also because WatchMojo’s anime videos somehow only reference pleb-tier shounen, so obviously they’re missing all the good stuff.
This list is the definitive. You will be impressed, or I will paypal you $1.
I’m deadly serious: comment below as to why my list is crap. If you make a compelling case, you get $1 for your troubles.
But I doubt you won’t think there are gems here, even if you’re not an anime fan. They’re all exceptional songs.
These are in no order, because it’s impossible to actually pick the best song out of the bunch.
Let’s get this party started.
1.) Paprika: Susumu Hirasawa – The Girl In Byakkoya
Paprika is a special, special film, by a fantastic man whose death I mourn on a bi-weekly basis: Satoshi Kon. It’s a trippy, cryptic, strange, fun animated film that blends dreams and waking life together in a taut thriller.
There are laughs to be had, too, and the film has a whole lot of heart.
Not to mention a bitchin’ techno soundtrack, which made it really hard to pick which was the best anime song.
Every single thing he’s ever touched has been breathtaking, smart, and gorgeous.
Support Susumu on Spotify:
2.) FLCL PROGRESSIVE: The Pillows – Thank You My Twilight
I was incredibly excited when the first new episode of FLCL’s triumphant return featured this track. The Pillows is honestly one of my favorite bands of all time, and I was not expecting this track to make its way to mainstream, but I’m overjoyed that it did.
For those not in the know, The Pillows is a grungey, nostalgic, playful, high-powered alternative rock/punk band formed in 1989 in Hokkaido, Japan.
As a fan of the 90s, this track hits the perfect note. It’s catchy, it’s spirited, and the aural textures are flawless.
It’s like if The Postal Service’s ‘Such Great Heights’ had a baby with The Foo Fighters.
And I mean that in the best possible way.
Support The Pillows on Spotify:
3.) Rurouni Kenshin: Makoto Kawamoto – One Half
Give this track a listen. At first it seems like your run-of-the-mill Shoujo-y intro song, but be prepared for the motherfucking drums!
Rurouni Kenshin is actually just fantastic. Not only is Kenshin an amazing example of empathetic leadership, but there are almost no filler episodes (until later in the series), and the characters are fun.
The battles are also flawless, but that’s to be expected from this classic gem.
Oh, and every single song on the Rurouni Kenshin roster is floating around in a top best anime songs list somewhere…and for good reason.
I can’t find Makoto on Spotify, but please support her in any way that you can. She’s fantastic.
Let’s just throw in some more goddamn Kenshin tracks because the series has bangers left and right:
Rurouni Kenshin is honest-to-God god-tier when it comes to anime soundtracks.
Go watch it, go listen, and rock the fuck out, my dudes.
4.) Escaflowne: Every Single Goddamn Song
No, okay, but I’m being real here. When it comes to music for anime, the 90s and early 2000s were where it was at. I just have to be real with you.
And Escaflowne was where it was at, and not just for its epic music.
Listen to all of these rite meow:
Escaflowne is one of my top favorite anime series of all time, and will definitely get a review when I get the chance to pen out my UwU feelings.
The art style, the complex characters, Dilandau motherfucking Albatou, Allen’s amazing hair—all of this is worth me writing a thesis-sized dissertation.
But right now, it’s about the insane eargasms that make up Escaflowne’s OST.
Not only does the series have absolutely insane tracks, but the movie Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaia gave us Sora’s Song and this marvelous remix:
I can’t freak out enough about Escaflowne, so I’m going to stop right now so you actually get to listen to the next absolute banger on my list of best anime songs of all time.
5.) Tokyo Ghoul: Unravel – Tōru “TK” Kitajima
I’d be straight-up idiot if I didn’t include this song on the list. This breathy, fragile, violent, extremely emotional song hits my ears with such force I’m blown away every single fucking time.
I let Tokyo Ghoul sit for ages before I picked it up, like I do with almost all hyped-up anime titles. It seemed fairly ‘UwU so edgy’, so I wasn’t inherently into it, but when the first theme song kicked on, I was floored.
If this song was what encapsulated the series (and it does) I had to absolutely devour the whole damn thing.
And so I did. Worth it.
I’m also going to throw in Tokyo Ghoul: RE’s Half by QUEEN BEE for good measure, because it’s also an obnoxiously catchy track.
Tokyo Ghoul also deserves its own review, but at this point I’m so backlogged on what anime I want to screech about that it’s getting out of hand.
Sit tight, it’s on the list.
Please support TK and check out this song on Spotify:
6.) Devilman Crybaby – Judgement
Probably one of the best decisions Netflix ever made was to adapt Devilman Crybaby, because it is patently one of the best anime I’ve seen in my entire lifetime.
Hands down, it will break your heart. It will break your mind. It will break your spirit.
You’ll cry, you’ll be confused, you’ll mourn the death of your innocence.
Devilman Crybaby also deserves it’s own review, so now I’m kicking myself for not just doing that in the first place. Shit.
You’ll notice I didn’t list Devilman no Uta as the banger of the series, but although it’s catchy as hell and a fan-favorite, Judgement is my go-to for best anime song of this show.
Judgement’s beat drop is just way stronger than Devilman no Uta. Sorry, y’all. I’m just being real here that it’s a slammer.
Please go watch Devilman Crybaby on Netflix. It’s worth it, but also be aware that it’s not an anime for kids or those faint of heart.
Not in the least bit.
7.) No. 6: Spell – Llama
I have to be fully upfront as to why this song’s on this infallible list. It’s not just that it’s an amazing, breezy, hopeful techno song. It’s not just that it’s one of my favorites and fills me with a sense of awe, wonder, and joy.
It is, but that’s not nearly the half of it.
It’s because it’s from one of my other all-time favorite bands, Supercar, that I honestly thought had broken up and was never to be seen again in any permutation.
Not so, I found, as I tuned into the (also incredibly epic) No. 6 and paused the fucking show immediately.
I sat on my haunches, then turned to my partner. Silence. He was confused as to why the look on my face was a mixture of melancholy and absolute joy.
I freaked out, then ran to Google to confirm my suspicions.
Supercar. Llama was Supercar. It was Supercar.
They were one in the same.
I probably cried a little bit. I know, dramatic, but…this band is very meaningful to me.
I mourn the death of late 90s and early 2000s jrock and alternative jpop so fiercely…Japan’s record company giants went on a damn killing spree on Youtube and we lost bucketloads of musical artists because of it.
Thankfully many of the songs resurfaced and the copyright strikes chilled out, but at the time Japan gated all their music, I thought it was the musical apocalypse.
They wanted to keep all that tasty music on the mainland, and so they did, by kaboshing it wherever else it lived.
Supercar suffered for that, and because of this, they’ve mostly been lost to obscurity.
Thankfully Youtubers never forget, and keep uploading their stuff.
I would be beyond sorrowful if we lost this band to the annuls of internet weeb obscurity.
No. 6 is also a very great anime, which I could also talk about for hours at a time just because of its tasteful representation of a healthy queer relationship….but for right now, please just appreciate the awesome tunes.
8.) Itazura Na Kiss: Kataomoi Fighter – Go!Go!7188
I straight up have never watched this shoujo anime. I’m just putting it out there that it looks like standard Shoujo and I’m not into it. But I will not ever miss the chance to include Go!Go!7188 on this list.
In fact, if there’s any opportunity to talk about pop-punk, I’ll be spewing about them.
Actually, at any given moment I might just slide their music someone’s way because they’re amazing, and I feel like a turd for not getting to see them in NY when they showed up.
Pop-punk, you say? Jpop, you say? Female-fronted band with catchy tunes and a gritty sound, you say?
Motherfucking surfer riffs, you say?
Earworms that won’t leave you for thousands of years, you say?
It’s all right here. Every single go!go!7188 song is a treasure, and my life is better for knowing them.
I’m serious. Go take a listen, I don’t even care that this article has devolved into my spewing about alt jpop. Go. Listen. Now.
9.) Last Exile: Shuntaro Okino – Cloud Age Symphony
I count Last Exile as one of the best anime series ever created. It’s well-written, animated beautifully, and has buckets of political intrigue. It deserves several posts talking about it, but now at this point I’m super overwhelmed by all the cool anime stuff I want to write about.
I might have to save that review for a rainy day.
The characters are enjoyable, textured, and have excellent depth. The sci-fi themes are solid, the class struggle and overarching plot are interesting, and it’s steam punk as hell.
This song truly stands out as the best signifier of what this anime is all about. It’s techno, it’s wistful, it makes you feel like you’re riding in an airship and careening through clouds.
Please give it a listen, you really won’t be disappointed.
10.) Serial Experiments Lain: Bôa – Duvet
I might be incredibly biased (this article proves it), but Lain is a masterwork anime series that redefined the genre forever, in my humble opinion. And Bôa, sweet Bôa, redefined anime theme songs and what they could be. At least for me, anyways.
Having a wildly unknown british, melodic, singer-songwriter band pen your anime’s theme song seems like a risky play as far as anime is concerned.
Hyperactive, non-chorusy, insanely auto-tuned, haptic anime intro songs only, please.
At least this seems to be the general gist of what anime likes to throw around for most token shounen, which is my preferred genre.
I still own the CD this song was first featured on (Twilight) to this very day, 18 whole years later.
It’s sitting in my bookshelf, having given me countless memories of sitting and pondering what it truly meant to be real, myself, and alive.
If I’m honest, I actually have plenty more songs to list.
But this article is absolutely getting out of hand. It was meant to be a simple list of anime songs, and I went into all my bloody feels about them. But that’s what it’s about, right?
The reason why music gives us pause isn’t just ‘sounds cool lol’, it’s because it makes us truly feel something.
I think perhaps the reason why almost all the above songs come from my favorite anime shows lends itself to the idea that anime is a whole package.
Media like film, games, and television are all a whole package. It all has to work cohesively together.
If the narrative, story, characters, art direction, and lore are all phenomenal, why wouldn’t the soundtrack be as well?— Moi
Anime music shouldn’t just be about hyping you up for the battle, or repeating the same dumb phrase over and over again.
It’s a part of the tapestry; sound is a character and a setting as much as anything else.
So, too, must the best anime songs of all time truly embody and personify the series they illuminate.
Which all end up being flawless.
I hope you listen to this music. I hope you watch these series. I hope you go on to pick up some amazing CDs, and follow some amazing people on Spotify.
If I’ve turned you on to stellar bands or series, I’m living my life’s purpose: helping people have amazing experiences through art, music, and storytelling.
That’s all I ask of you: engage with beautiful media, and really, really feel something.