Soundtracks help bring anime shows to life, so we’ve ranked the best anime soundtracks of all time!
Japanese anime rely heavily on sound design and music to complement the story. From opening and ending theme songs to the background score, music becomes an identifier for any anime series. So, we’ve come up with a list of the 10 best anime soundtracks of all time!
Living up to the thriller theme of the anime, Death Note’s soundtrack has elements of post-rock with dark atmospheric elements.
Composers Hideki Taniuchi and Yoshihisa Hirano came together to create this eclectic soundtrack beautifully complimenting the adaptation of the Death Note manga.
The original soundtrack features tracks with rock and alternative rock elements. However, what starts as a rock album slowly walks into the orchestral realm to complement the menacing nature of the story.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
As stylish as the anime is, the soundtrack of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a perfect blend of classic rock and pop music with heavy use of synths.
The music of the anime creates exciting moments and goes hand-in-hand with the larger-than-life persona of the characters from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
FLCL (short for Fooly Cooly) is a coming-of-age tale of a 12-year-old boy named Naota Nandaba who lives in a quiet city called Mabase where nothing extraordinary happens.
Things change for Naota after the arrival of a red-haired girl named Haruko Haruhara in a yellow Vespa wielding a Rickenbacker bass guitar like a weapon.
The anime, which came out in 2000, has achieved a cult following status for being surreal and experimental.
Most of its music is composed by an alt-rock band named “The Pillows”. The soundtrack has punk rock elements and goes well with the teenage angsty feel of the characters who are fighting for independence in the small city of Mabase.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion is a mecha anime but with a psychological narrative. The soundtrack of the anime is haunting and drives the narrative with ease.
Composer Shirō Sagisu created primary themes for the characters that the showrunners used throughout the series.
Sagisu’s work in Neon Genesis Evangelion encompasses several genres of music.
In the track titled “Misato“, Sagisu composes a beautiful melody played on the flute, while “Rei I“ has a delicate piano and cello duet.
The classic anime that first aired in April 1998 in Japan achieved landmark status.
Yoko Kanno’s spectacular and vibrant opening theme song titled “Tank!“ signaled the arrival of Cowboy Bebop.
Falling in the early jazz basket, the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack is fast-paced with elements of blues, bossa nova, and J-pop.
Kanno’s honest and impressive work shines throughout the series.
Related: Best Anime Opening Songs
Musashi and Toshio Masuda joined forces to compose the Naruto original soundtrack.
The soundtrack, comprising 19 tracks, features classics like “Go Go Naruto!” and “Rocks”, which are both fan favorites.
Other memorable songs from the album are “Team 7”, “I Said I’m Naruto”, and “Sadness and Sorrow”.
Ghost in the Shell
The 1995 sci-fi anime movie, Ghost in the Shell, is scored by Kenji Kawai, who is one of Japan’s finest composers.
Kawai has cleverly amalgamated ancient percussions and modern synthesized sounds to portray the coming together of old traditions and futuristic ideas.
The composer used taiko drums while scoring the battle scenes and created a tense and military-like atmosphere.
Noted composer Yuuki Hayashi, known for his works in Haikyuu!! and My Hero Academia, came on board to compose Death Parade’s original soundtrack.
Dealing with the afterlife theme, Hayashi’s music is melancholic and poignant.
The opening track of the original soundtrack, titled “Death Parade”, sets the mood of the show by pairing the saxophone with a fretless double bass.
The fluid bassline duets beautifully with the saxophone, gripping the listener, and the other tracks build on the opening mood.
By the time the album reaches the track titled “Vs“, Hayashi starts building tension, perfectly going along with the plot of Death Parade.
Samurai Champloo is the only anime to feature music from the legendary Japanese hip-hop producer Nujabes before his demise in 2010.
This is one of the few anime shows that has incorporated the hugely popular chill-hop, lo-fi, and boom-bap genres from the whole instrumental study beat genre.
The soundtrack is a reflection of Samurai Champloo’s laidback narrative.
The most iconic Samurai Champloo track is “Departure“, where the composer chops old jazz records and samples them with hip-hop beats.
Attack on Titan
Hiroyuki Sawano’s unforgettable work in the Attack on Titan series takes the top spot.
The tracks are grand orchestral arrangements with elements from the rock and metal genres.
Sawano strips away all sorts of pretentiousness and presents the most bombastic soundtrack for any anime series.
The tracks composed by Sawano feel raw and loud, depicting the ruthlessness of the titans as well as the characters, who evolve as the series progresses.
The entire catalog is not just filled with heavy orchestral tracks as there are soothing and beautiful piano pieces too.
“YouSeeBIGGIRL/T.T” and “Call of Silence“ are the stand-out tracks from Sawano’s Attack on Titan original soundtrack.