This is a compilation of my favorite anime songs. What makes up an anime theme song’s unique sound? Why do most Japanese songs sound refreshing to most of us Gaijins. They just have this certain ingredient that we’ve never heard of on any other music. Japan’s unique culture is no doubt one of the factors.
Bear in mind that this list comprises my personal favorites. I have grouped some songs by anime since most of my favorite songs come from the same amazing anime. I may be biased towards anime songs from my own generation – the songs that I grew up with – so don’t get all upset if songs from newer anime aren’t included. Those will be included in another anime song list.
Top Anime Songs List
The list is in no particular order except for the first entry “Yakusoku wa Iranai” which I am really, really fond of and in my opinion deserves first place, hey it’s MY list.
Vision of Escaflowne
Yakusoku Wa Iranai ( I Don’t Need Promises ) – I am placing this marvelous theme song at the top of my list. This song really takes me places. I can vividly see myself riding a dragon soaring through vast farm lands and mountain tops. I know that the imagery I get from the song has nothing to do with the lyrics but that’s how I feel when I listen to it. The song’s melody is really incomparable to anything I have ever heard before, its uniqueness is truly refreshing . The truth is I’m more familiar with the song than the anime itself. Composed by the amazing Yoko Kanno, this gem of a song boosted budding artist Maaya Sakamoto’s singing career. Listen to it here and you’ll see what I’m talkin’ bout.
Dragonball and Dragonball Z
No self-respecting 90’s child has never heard of these songs.
Makafushigi Adventure! – Aptly titled, “Makafushigi Adventure!” ( Mystical Adventure! ) exudes a sense of travel and adventure. With upbeat keyboard riffs and funky bass sounds, the song greatly enhances the retelling of Son Goku’s extraordinary pursuits around the world, to collect those magical dragon balls. Sung by Hiroki Takahashi. Listen to it here.
Romantikku Ageru Yo ( I’ll Give You Romance ) – This anime song is the memorable ending theme of Dragonball. The image of a young Bulma near a window pane on a rainy day definitely pops up in my mind whenever I hear this calm, free spirited song. Sung by Ushio Hashimoto. Listen to it here.
Cha-La Head-Cha-La – This Dragonball Z theme song is a rich, grand opening song sung by Hironobu Kageyama who is also known for singing other various anime and tokusatsu theme songs. The title is derived from a Japanese slang “hetchara” which translates to “No problem” or “I can handle it”. This very popular anime song is pure energy. I feel sorry for kids of today’s generation who are denied of hearing the original version (the english dub of the song really takes away most of the magic). Nothing beats original, all other versions of this song seem weak by comparison. Listen to it here.
Magic Knight Rayearth
Yuzurenai Negai ( Unyielding Wish ) – This song has a wonderful and instantly-recognizable melody that sounds really inspirational and commands strong emotions. The lyrics alone are very poetic and well-constructed (“Aim for the unstoppable future and embrace the unyielding wish”). There are a lot of anime fans out there that place this song at the top of their own list. That doesn’t come as a surprise to me, play this songs once and you’ll remember it for sure. Listen to it here.
Now let’s not get into who is and who isn’t into girly songs from girly anime. Ok?
Itooshii Hito no Tame ni ( For The Sake Of My Beloved ) – This song has a grand and exotic-sounding intro that fits perfectly with the show’s theme. Two girls who were transported to a different time and place. The song builds up nicely from dream-like chantings to a more lively and epic chorus. Sung by Satou Akemi. Listen to it here.
Wakatte-ita Hazu ( I Should Have Known ) – A slow and sad love ballad about the character’s heartache and regret, a theme for a rainy day. Sung by Satou Akemi ( What a lovely voice ). Listen to it here.
Yu Yu Hakusho
This show has many great songs but I’ll have to choose the ones that really leave an impression.
Hohoemi no Bakudan ( The Smile Bomb ) – A nice, lively song that tries to electrify you with synthesized sounds and powerful singing. Sung and composed by Mawatari Matsuko who did the same for most of the shows theme songs. Listen to it here.
Taiyou ga Mata Kagayaku Toki ( When the Sun is Shining Again ) – A song that exudes a bit of loneliness, depression and nostalgia. This song kind of reminds me of boring afternoons when I was a child. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good song. Sung by the late Hiro Takahashi. Listen to it here.
A real robot classic. This is part of a mecha trilogy that has entertained many generations.
Tate! Tosho Daimosu – A real blood-pumping battle anthem. The song features the manly voice of Isao Sasaki along with some children singing, creating an interesting effect. There is also a very nice though short metal cover of this song by the band Animetal. Listen to it here.
Erika’s Ballad – Greatly contrasting with the action-themed intro, this ending song is a slow, sweet and relaxing ballad. A song that reflects the emotions of two lovers torn by war they didn’t wish for. The show’s ending credits begin with Erika flying ( Probably towards her lover ) in outer space with a galaxy as the backdrop, truly what dreams are made of and an amazing feat if possible. This song is pure poetry that tells of a person’s yearning desire to be with his/her lover. Sung by Kaoru Kumiko with backup vocals from Ohkura Masatake. Listen to it here and take time to listen to an excellent cover.
Chodenji Machine Voltes V
Another great classic. This is also part of the Robot Romance trilogy that includes Tosho Daimos.
Voltes V no Uta – ♫ TanTanTan Tanan..Tantan ♫. It’s amazing how a few notes put together becomes an instantly recognizable intro. This anime theme song has a marching beat and is as iconic as the whole Chodenji Machine series. The Voltes Team’s march to battle won’t be complete without this playing in the background. Sung by Mitsuko Horie and accompanied by Koorogi ’73. Listen to it here.
Chichi wo Motomete – The title means something like “Searching for Father”. This song is calm and peaceful with a sprinkle of nostalgia, a perfect contrast to the anime’s lively, march-to-battle intro. The closing credits that is accompanied by this song shows the Gō brothers Kenichi, Daijiro and Hiyoshi running tearfully towards their long lost father, Professor Kentaro Gō. The scene along with the song is quite emotional and never fails to make me shed manly tears each time I hear it. Sung by Ichiro Mizuki and accompanied by Koorogi ’73. Listen to it here.