Hello friends! We apologize for the two week long hiatus from posting anything. Spring break and finals happened so we had to prioritize.
As us, the Anime Inspectors, have stated in our previous Top Composers, Top Soundtracks, and Top Ending Themes lists, music is integral to our enjoyment of anime. Sure, a series doesn’t necessarily require a top-notch soundtrack to be stellar, but it sure does help. A beautiful musical score can also aid in easing the pain of watching a mediocre or even terrible series (see Guilty Crown and Sword Art Online). Some shows like Hyouka, Ouran High School Host Club, and Wolf’s Rain have magnificent scores that stem from their beauty and richness while other shows such as Cowboy Bebop, Baccano!, and Trigun have brilliant soundtracks that are high-pointed by their high-octane jazz grooves and fluid, mellow blues tracks. I love these soundtracks just as much as the next person. However, none of those soundtracks are what most people would describe as “epic.” This list is for the anime with large, booming orchestras, haunting vocals, and an intense and driving back beat. This is a list for tracks that will make you want to gallop into battle Lord of the Rings-style or get you pumped to run a marathon. These are the tracks that will make you want to flip tables in a burst of adrenaline and these are the tracks that you play as background music in mundane situations to make whatever you’re doing seem way cooler than it actually is. Now, realize how I said “tracks” and not “soundtracks.” This will be a list of SINGULAR TRACKS, NOT ENTIRE SOUNDTRACKS. Not only this, but I will only be selecting one track per anime soundtrack even if I think there are other superior tracks in said soundtrack. Also, I will not be including openings or endings in this list because that’s a different list for a different time. Lastly, as with all lists, this is my personal list and I know almost nobody will completely agree with me with every track I select which is perfectly fine. I’d love to hear what you guys think I missed or which tracks are better in any given soundtrack that I select. Now without further a due, let’s jam!
When I mentioned how a glorious musical score could help ease the pain of watching a mediocre series, this is exactly the type of thing I was referring to. Although Owari no Seraph isn’t absolutely terrible from my perspective, It’s certainly generic to say the least and it falls flat in a bunch of areas. This is partially due to it jumping on the vampire bandwagon and also partially due to it having a main character that makes me want to punch myself in the face. Luckily for this series, Hiroyuki Sawano (aka: the up-and-coming god of anime soundtracks) was the man behind the musical score which definitely numbed me up a bit. This soundtrack is well-balanced and certainly presents this series with some sorely needed flare which the series was obviously lacking. “Dansshutsu Gyo”-or the main battle theme- is a track that I think exemplifies this flare. It begins eerie and bleak with a deep bass, static-like synth, and some screeching strings. It then quickens with some swift violin and percussion play which, ramping up the intensity several fold. It got my blood boiling and that’s why it makes it on this list.
Overall, Akame Ga Kill! a s a series was generally hit or miss for me. Thankfully, it bolsters an awesome soundtrack. Of the several tracks I was selecting from, I think “Yami o Kiru” is the most badass of the bunch. The quick, driving bass combined with the aggressive German chanting gives this track an added jolt of intensity that the other tracks didn’t have. The intermittent fanfare sections with the bright brass sound give this piece even more momentum. I really loved the refreshing sound of the mandolin and flute in “Kinpaku,” but this piece had to take the cake.
Now, whenever I think of music from Kara no Kyoukai, my mind doesn’t go straight to intense or epic pieces. Even though the series boasts a commendable amount of gorgeous chorale and orchestral pieces, Yuki Kajiura also turns the knobs up to 11 at some points with some seriously epic pieces. Of the several that there are, I think “M12 + 13” is the best. This track is fast and will get your heart beating with its falling strings, guitar riffs, and periodic chorale harmonies. It’s the perfect mashup between beauty and intensity which is why I put it here.
It was really hard choosing between this track and “Satsuki Kiryuin Theme,” but Nui’s Theme edged it out by a hair. I love the intense bass/cello opening from “Satsuki Kiryuin Theme” and the vocals from “Blumenkrantz,” however I loved the expertly crafted combination between rock, synth, and orchestra that this piece has. I mean, it’s an intense orchestral piece with a double bass drum beat and some Inception-level horn blares. How can you get more intense than that? It’s amplified even more considering how it begins with light vocals and strings along with a bell melody. This track kicks some serious ass and I can’t get enough of it.
Their is an entire catalog of epic tracks to select from when it comes to Attack on Titan. Even so, I couldn’t find or think of one that beats out the original fight theme. Sawano’s masterful mixture of electronic/synth, rich strings, and powerful vocals make this an astoundingly intimidating and aggressive piece that will get anybody ready for a fight. The choir makes it effective while the additions of synth and rock elements set it apart. Like the series, this piece is a force to be reckoned with.
I was debating putting “Low of Solipsism” in at this spot, but after very little thought, I undoubtedly went with this piece. Sure, “Solipsism” has the awesome driving string bass at the beginning and a bomb chorale track to boot, but “Death Note Theme” I just believe is in your face and explosive right from the get-go. It’s relentless, leading off with booming vocals and vibrant percussion and then evolving into a more orchestral driven track while still maintaining the brilliant chorale aspect of it. With an unrelenting intensity from start to finish, this piece is the very definition of “epic.”
4.) Omega– Guilty Crown
Wow. Another piece composed by Hiroyuki Sawano. What is that, like 4 now? Anyway, Guilty Crown has a whole slew of fast-paced and energetic tracks to pick from, from the melodic “Basileus,” to the brighter pieces like “GHQ” and “Genesis,” to the darker “Apocalypse.” In the end, I had to go with “Omega.” It truly is an orchestral epic. There is constant energy in the lightning percussion while the orchestra blares in beautiful, yet gritty harmony. This piece is fast-paced, loud, and has some magnificent chord structure and harmonies; It’s real ear candy.
This piece straight up sounds like something Howard Shore composed for Lord of the Rings. The orchestra sets up a well-blended and heavy melody while the pounding tom drums and bombastic choir really drive the track forward. Like the pieces before, this track is intense from start to finish and is really saturated with a monolithic sound. This track is rich, fast, bright, and has one of the most epic chorale tracks to come out of anime in recent memory. After listening to this for the first time, it knocked me flat on my ass.
2.) Kurogane- Fairy Tail
Anecdote time: I am a psychology major/history minor in my senior year of undergrad schooling. I am also on my college’s top level ultimate frisbee team. I have a clogged schedule and my body aches like no tomorrow. Through all of my practices, assignments, and other such turmoil, picking out which Fairy Tail track I wanted to put on this list was BY FAR the hardest thing I’ve had to do this week. The series is completely littered with tracks that could make this list. Hell, I could probably make several lists about Fairy Tail music alone (and I probably will). Unfortunately for me, I had the distasteful job of having to try and pick my favorite. So, I picked “Kurogane.” This song I think is the musical equivalent of a colonial-era bar fight. Whenever I listen to this track, the image of the Tortuga bar fight scene from Pirates of the Caribbean: Legend of the Black Pearl always comes to mind. This track still retains all of the qualities of hard rock/metal while also incorporating an almost equal level of Irish folk elements. It’s fast, brutal, and completely different from 99.9% of other soundtrack music. However, I’d like to reiterate that I probably could’ve pulled countless other tracks out from Fairy Tail such as the fan-favorites “Dragon Force” and “Against Magic” or even a track from the 2014 series like “Blazing Guy” and would’ve had no qualms about having it at the number 2 spot.
I know it’s usually against my own moral code to put anime films on lists if the lists aren’t exclusively related to anime films, but there was no way in Hell that this piece wasn’t making my number 1 spot. Heck, I basically created this list just so I could mouth off about how much I covet this piece of music. I’m not even sure what exactly it is about this piece. Maybe it’s the perfectly blended, almost serene orchestral intro. Maybe it’s the gradual building in intensity of the melody. Maybe it’s the feeling of an ultimatum that I get from this piece. Or maybe it’s just because of it’s perfect integration of the tin whistle. Honestly, I can’t really tell you what makes it so special. All I can tell you is the combination of the orchestral tone structure, the simple yet powerful melody, the direction, and the pacing all make for what I believe to be the most epic piece of anime soundtrack music ever.
That’s it for this list. I know that not everyone will agree and some may be pissed that Samurai Champloo, Naruto Shippuden, or Bleach didn’t even make the honorable mentions. However, keep in mind that I haven’t seen everything (this includes Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and I haven’t finished Hunter x Hunter). Feel free to tell me what you believe I missed or what your favorite tracks are. Until then, keep watching anime!Ps, I apologize for not linking to the *Fairy Tail* music, but PONY CANYON enjoys making my life a living Hell by taking all of the music they own off of YouTube so I can’t use it.