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Top 15 Anime Soundtracks

When I think of things that are prevalent in any anime that is considered by viewers to be great, there are a multitude of things that immediately surface in my mind: a solid story (if the anime requires one), likable and properly developed characters, and above-average animation at the very least. But one thing that a larger portion of viewers tend to overlook or sideline is an anime’s soundtrack. I know not all fans disregard soundtracks, but I know it isn’t the most important aspect for most people. As for me, an anime’s soundtrack is not a “make it or break it” category when it comes to deciding to whether I actually enjoyed an anime or not, but it certainly does have the potential to significantly increase the enjoyment value of a program and allows for a “good” anime to reach the zenith of being truly special. Unfortunately, several shows that lack in multiple areas and may be considered “bad” also happen to get lucky and are granted with spectacular musical pieces to accompany their lesser visuals or story. For this list, I am compiling **my personal **favorite 15 soundtracks  from anime to date. Not all of these soundtracks will be grandiose and epic in nature. Some will be serene and soothing and others I may just think fit ideally with the anime they were paired with. Also, as with all lists, this is my goddamn list! It’s not Tims; it’s not Addison’s; and it isn’t yours (but check out Addison’s list of top 5 composers). So feel free to disagree, for I would love to see what you perceive as the best soundtracks in anime…especially if I haven’t watched that anime yet. Also, I would like to note that no anime films will appear on this list. This list is for series only. I will make a “Best Anime Films Soundtracks” list later. Without further ado, lets get to it!

This show is not 4Kiz!
**15.) Madoka Magica: **What better way to kick off this list than with a soundtrack composed by the masterful Yuki Kajiura? With anime, I have found that certain composers have specific styles and a select standard of quality that they tend to have their music reach. Yuki Kajiura has elevated herself as one of my favorite anime composers of all time and her music for Madoka Magica is no exception. Because of the art style that Shaft used when doing this show, it really needed a brooding and almost eerie soundtrack to help convey that the anime wasn’t for children and was actually exceedingly darker than the cover let on. Kajiura does just that. With the elite combination of the high strings, the flute, acoustics, and [Kalafina’s haunting vocals](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwquipMpsiQ), Madoka Magica’s [soundtrack is dark, fitting, gorgeous](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btmSuNcxiIU), and full of the imminent feeling that the Madoka girls are toying with something that is more than they can handle. I love it and it is one of the aspects that helped boost Madoka Magica into the fantastic show and expanding phenomena that it has become.

**14.) Hyouka: **This may be the token curve-ball of this list. But for anybody that knows me, I regard this show very highly and I think its production is some of the highest I’ve seen. The soundtrack only exemplifies this notion. Now, the composer for this series, Kohei Tanaka, isn’t really a household name when it comes to renowned anime music. However, this soundtrack proves to me that a composer doesn’t have be ultra well-known or have  an esteemed resume to produce something of high quality. The tracks in Hyouka are melodic, smooth, and mystifying. Not to mention, it surprised me when I ended up enjoying the opening to this show. When it comes to anime soundtracks that fit with the show perfectly, this one is right there at the top.

13.)** Code Geass: **This soundtrack, or at least sections of it, are the first on this list that I can really declare as being epic. Though not all pieces in this soundtrack can weave their way into that category, the select few that can do so with near perfection. Almost every watcher who has had the pleasure of seeing Code Geass probably knows the piece titled “Madder Sky” and understands just how godly it is.

“The Master” basically describes Lelouch in a song.
But another piece that I personally think can hold its own against it is called [“The Master.”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HoMz4Ly_AQ) In my opinion, this track is easily one of the best character themes in anime…period. The composer, Kotaro Nakagawa, makes constant use of strings and brass which give his music a enormous, powerful, and rather bright sound. Combine this with a commendable first opening in [“Colors”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dYjJ3kOGoY) and one of the best ending themes anime has to offer in [“Continued Story”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHViAiVuDsA) and you have the recipe for one of the best soundtracks in anime.

**12.) Baccano!: **Oh, jazz, how I love thee! And to my excitement, Baccano! is effectively bursting with jazz. Baccano! is a show that focuses around the mafia in the 1930’s which screamed smooth grooves to me, and thankfully, it pumps out grooves in spades. Seriously, Makoto Yoshimori knew exactly what he was doing with this show. He sets the varying tones in Baccano! famously by shortening or quickening the pacing of his music while still pulling from the same set of instruments. The soundtrack can change from slow, rich ballads to driving, brassy tunes. Not to forget, Baccano! has an absolutely sick opening in “Guns ‘n Roses” by Paradise Lunch. I adore the way this soundtrack melds perfectly with the time period of the setting and I never once felt like I shouldn’t be dancing. It’s just so lively and that’s what makes this soundtrack as great as it is.

**11.) Kill La Kill: This soundtrack should almost be a no-brainer. Hiroyuki Sawano is a composer who is quickly ascending to the higher pedestal of anime composers with the likes of Yoko Kanno, Yuki Kajiura, and Kenji Kawai. His music is usually exceedingly high-octane and full of intensity. Luckily, he does just that with Kill La Kill. With some of, if not the best character themes in anime (specifically Satsuki Kiryuin and Nui Harime’s respective themes) and an exceptional villain theme in “Blumenkranz,” the sound of Kill La Kill never  ceased to make me want to flip tables. It would be higher on this list if the openings were anywhere as good as the soundtrack and if more of the soundtrack was memorable. However, the three pieces I mentioned previously along with “Until My Body is Dry”  and “Light Your Heart Up” are obviously enough to hoist this soundtrack close to the top.  **

**10.) Cowboy Bebop: **Alright. I know I’m probably gonna receive an immense amount of flack for putting this track this low on the list. But don’t get me wrong; I still love Cowboy Bebop’s soundtrack. Yoko Kanno might as well be a deity if she isn’t already because she’s essentially the John Williams of anime. Cowboy Bebop I think is like Baccano! but better. Instead of having all of the fast-paced swing pieces that Yoshimori chose to opt for in Baccano!, Kanno decided to go a different route and presented a more bluesy type of jazz in  Bebop. This does nothing but work in the show’s favor by making it upbeat in times of action and slow, even somber at times, when the show decides to take a darker tone for an episode. And in all seriousness, it would be a travesty to not mention the opening, “Tank.” I mean, it’s my favorite opening and I played it in jazz band in high school. So yeah. So it’s not like I think there’s anything particularly wrong with this soundtrack, it just happens not to be my favorite, that’s all. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop it from being a near masterpiece.

**9.) Death Note: **Did I say Kill La Kill was a no-brainer? Well, so is Death Note. And something I haven’t mentioned yet is that I love pieces that are strictly chorale-only. Death Note has many chorale-only pieces like “Requiem” and all of its Kyries. But what I also love about this soundtrack is that it is also epic. The composer, Yoshihisa Hirano, combines loud, expressive percussion, the driving and rich tones of the string bass, and the booming chants of his choir to create tremendous pieces such as Death Note’s theme and  “Low of Solipsism.” These dark and eerie pieces convey a palpable sense of foreboding through every moment of the show which really aids in making the suspense THAT much better.  The series also contains a variety of rock and synth tracks such as both Light and L’s themes. These tracks are a nice touch and do well at balancing out the more ominous and brooding sound of the other tracks. Death Note also does well with its two openings, “The World” and  “What’s Up People.”  Both songs set up what is to come fantastically each in their own unique way.

**8.) Wolf’s Rain: **You shouldn’t be surprised to see more of Yoko Kanno on this list. Kanno packs Wolf’s Rain full of some of the most emotionally-charged pieces of music I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. The show itself tends to be serious and rather dramatic at points and the soundtrack plays along with the mood. Basically, Kanno uses a full orchestra for Wolf’s  Rain and the emotion that seeps through the music really helps to drive the fluctuating emotion of the show.“Shiro Long Tail’s,” “Sad Moon,” and “Go to Rakuen” are gorgeous pieces that I can listen to on loop, all day. The emotion is just so apparent and visible in all of Wolf’s Rain’s music. Not to mention, the piece titled “Friends” almost never fails to draw at least one tear from me whenever I hear it. The show also sports a tremendous ending song called “Gravity” which basically encapsulates the general tone of the story in one song. There’s not a whole lot more I can state that wouldn’t be repetitious. Seriously, just listen to this soundtrack.

**7.) Ouran High School Host Club: **This is another slight twist on this list. What’s funny about this show is that I didn’t notice how good its soundtrack was until I saw the show for a second time. Only then did I realize how perfect the track was for the show and how musically superb it was. Yoshihisa Hirano (see Death Note) I think matches the tone of the show to a ‘T’ when it comes to Ouran. The pieces are usually all orchestral pieces that take advantage of the high strings, the piano, and the woodwinds. These pieces are mostly all energetic and playful which is a direct match with the show itself. And what I find even better is that this soundtrack is such a mixed bag of fun: pieces like “Tango Birlliante” and “Theme for the Cute One” are gorgeous and yet dorky, “Scherzo for Orchestra” wants to make me dance like a doofus, and the orchestral version of “Sakura Kiss” is just downright beautiful. You might not think this soundtrack deserves to be this high on my list or even deserves a spot, but to me, the happiness of the music along with the elite technicality and beauty of the pieces make it more than deserving of its place.

**6.) Guilty Crown: **Back in the intro, I mentioned how some mediocre or even bad shows somehow obtained amazing soundtracks. I may or may not have just been referencing Guilty Crown. As a show, even with its high production quality, GC does not hold up in my book. And yet, Hiroyuki Sawano was magically put on this project. GC is so lucky that he was. He made one of the most epic anime soundtracks I’ve ever heard. This list of tracks is full of bombastic, fast-paced, and in-your-face orchestral tracks which are mixed with a touch of synth. The blending of tones that Sawano does with the string and wind instruments is phenomenal and he makes considerable use of dark, resonant percussion and  Latin-influenced acoustic guitar. “Omega” and “GHQ” are both pieces that illustrate this epic sound and he even throws in a choir in the tracks “Genesis” and “Basileus.” Lastly, Sawano can also slow it down by adding in more orchestral harmony and throwing in the piano. The token example of this is a piece titled “Krone.” If you ever want to watch GC, just listen to the music…it’ll save you from having to endure the show.

**5.) Kara No Kyoukai: The Garden of Sinners: **Oooooh! We’re at the top 5! And look- it’s another Yuki Kajiura sighting! I love Yuki Kajiura. If Yoko Kanno is the John Williams of anime, then Kajiura is the Hans Zimmer of anime…and Kenji Kawai may as well be Danny Elfman.

Watch this series!!
Anyway, KnK is an insanely intense and tone-driven show, more so than others on this list.  Kajiura delivers with some tracks that may actually be some of my favorite tracks ever. KnK relies heavily on its choir and I commend Kajiura for the immaculate blending she did with the harmonies. [“KnK 5, Track 23”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFMx9FW5qps) has a great, ethnic percussion beat to it and the chord structure in the choir is heavenly. [“KnK 7, Track 01”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5V4ZjmQxVwM) is by far my favorite pure-chorale track to come out of anime. The emotion just resonates in the voices of the choir and I can’t help but get chills. The pieces even include masterful incorporation of the piano and violin, specifically in the [song used during the epilogue.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8LGZllK8ps) This movie series is horrendously under-watched and if the visuals aren’t enough to make you want to watch it, the music should be.

**4.) FLCL: **Now here is a bizarre change of pace. FLCL may be wacky experience, but its soundtrack is freaking awesome. It’s not full of epic choirs or orchestral tracks nor is it jazzy or bluesy. I think the YouTube anime reviewer, Gigguk, explained it best. He said that the band who does all of the music (The Pillows) sounds like “if you mixed Pixies with Oasis.” That’s probably the best description I think anyone could give. It’s just filled with a bunch of grungy, yet melodic alt-rock tunes which do the show a lot of justice. All of the tracks are great like “Little Busters,” “Comedown,” and  “The Last Dinosaur” just to list a few of my favorites. Also, the shows ending, “Ride on a Shooting Star” is equally as great. You might as well just buy the album.

**3.) Fate/Zero: **What a surprise…Yuki Kajiura. When it comes down to anime soundtracks that really embody the notion of being truly epic, I think Fate/Zero’s takes the cake. If you’ve seen the series, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Kajiura pulls the oldest trick in the music book and combines epic choirs, a well-blended symphony orchestra, and intense, rhythmic percussion to give birth to one of, if not the most epic musical experience you will ever witness in anime. It also fits seamlessly with the drawn-out, suspenseful, and amazingly-animated action that takes place all throughout Fate/Zero. And like always, Kajiura can slow down the pacing of the music to be smoother and more melodic during the scenes where it needs to be. I could list some tracks where these qualities are present, but I feel like you could look up the entire soundtrack and have every piece fit the bill.

**2.) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood: **Now, if you know me, you’d know that FMAB is my favorite anime (yeah, I know it’s cliche) and I think it’s the masterpiece to end all fucking masterpieces. But the music in this series is just mind-blowingly perfect. Composer, Senju Akira, really outdid himself when crafting this soundtrack, considering he really hasn’t done soundtracks for a huge laundry list of anime.

Ed knows his own music is great.
One of the things that this soundtrack has that a lot of the others on this list don’t have is sheer variety in terms of both tone and instruments used. Tracks like [“Trisha’s Lullaby,”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2kwie-gs2o) [“Overture,”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eRFHyuobQs) and [“Main Theme”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkNjCfMjRXA) are deep, rich orchestral pieces with lots of emotion while [“Requiem for the Brigadier General”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEiucbbXBUA) and [“Lullaby of Resembool”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASWcIZWmXfk) are slower and are much more somber and gut-wrenching. However, Akira managed to get even creepier by using chanting choirs, eerie xylophone, and off-tone strings in pieces such as [“Lurking,”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLXtkxU69B0) [“Pride’s Theme,”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gweNNwVMClw) and [“Lapis Philosiphorum.”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_439qLQzHs) He also manages to make  light, fluffy, and almost whimsical pieces with plucked strings and acoustic guitar like [“Interlude”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0Gb6u_dA7o) and [“House on the Hill.”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28NzMD4X_tU) It may just be nostalgia value with this anime that compels me to adore it to the extent that I do, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s just among the best there is.

**1.) Fairy Tail: **Now, now…I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I’m quite aware that this isn’t Sword Art Online, Attack on Titan, or Bleach. But for the record I haven’t even watched Bleach (oops) and AoT and SAO were very close to making it onto this list, but just barely missed. Also, I’m well enough versed in anime to understand that half of you reading this think that Fairy Tail is one of, if not the worst series to come out of anime. However, if there’s one thing that fans and non-fans of Fairy Tail can all agree on about the show, it’s that Fairy Tail has a boss soundtrack.

Yasuharu Takanashi is such a pro.
Like FMAB, nostalgia may play a part in why I like this soundtrack as much as I do. I realize that. But that doesn’t stop it from being my favorite. To inform all of you, I love folk music and I love metal music and I love orchestral music. Fairy Tail’s soundtrack consists of these three genres of music while also combing two of them or all three of them. There’s just something extraordinary about hearing the [tin whistle, bagpipes, accordion, and English horn along with all of he other normal symphony orchestra instruments.](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs3KGCQfZdE) Also, I just believe it to be the coolest thing to hear [folk metal](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG9cPZntyd8) in anime. Seriously, this soundtrack can manage to produce music that reminds me of Alestorm and Ensiferum and that’s undoubtedly a complement. I give Yasuharu Takanashi mad props for creating this soundtrack. It honestly blows my mind how good it is at some points and how perfectly it matches the show and it’s varying tones. Sometimes, I even listen to this OST as workout music. And for the record, the first season of Fairy Tail has [THE BEST show theme](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6kb96YWXMA) I have ever heard, hands down. If you don’t enjoy this soundtrack even somewhat, I don’t understand you. Feel free to hate the show as much as you want, but the soundtrack is the bomb.

**Top Runners-up: **Attack On Titan, Sword Art Online, Spice & Wolf, Terror in Resonance, Durarara!!, Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, Akame ga Kill!, Trigun, and Eureka Seven.

This about raps up my Top 15 Anime Soundtracks list. Hope you enjoyed it! Remember, feel free to disagree. And please, tell me what soundtracks are your favorite, which tracks you believe I missed completely, or soundtracks you believe I should listen to.


Greg is a 23 year-old from Traverse City, Michigan. He likes catching frisbees, drinking coffee, and driving over the speed limit. His favorite anime is definitely not School Days.

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