My love for anime is far-reaching and extends not only to the storylines, but the intro and ending songs.
These songs are what prepare us for what’s to come, the characters we’ll see, and the plotlines that’ll break our hearts. There are songs that are total head-bangers. The ones that we burst out singing at random moments. When heard, they bring us back to the moment they first occur within the series. We don’t hit “skip intro” or “play next episode” on Netflix for these.
The great thing about anime songs as with the songs for other shows is that they drown us in nostalgia. Songs can trigger vivid memories for us, whether it’s a memory of when we first began watching the show, or when we cried at the end, or remembering a whole arc and how long it took for the main character to get from Point A to Point B. For me, what truly proves how powerful these songs are involved partaking in a “If You Sing Or Dance You Lose! Anime Edition” challenge. I had a bit of faith in myself, but certain songs broke every self-control I thought I had and I was heard belting Japanese lyrics in my room. So, for nostalgia purposes and showing love to irresistible anime songs, here are the top 8 songs that caused me to lose and that have landed a special place in our hearts.
Guren no Yumiya by Linked Horizon, Attack on Titan
This was the first song that was played, and I caught myself before I immediately lost. Instead, I screamed in frustration. The way the song begins is extremely catchy; there is a shouting of lyrics and when the music accompanies it, head bobbing occurs. Our first image is the wall keeping the titans out and chains giving the impression of being trapped within these walls. Then we get the Survey Corps, those who volunteer and train to kill titans.
It’s clear that opening doesn’t try to shy away from the carnage that ensues in the anime. There are images of both the surviving soldiers and the fallen. Yet despite the soldiers and the walls, titans clearly litter the city in their decimation. But, the Survey Corps still fight to defend humanity! My favorite parts involve Mikasa soaring through the city and Eren attacking a titan at the nape right as the lyric yells “Jaeger!” Epic is the best word to describe this one.
Haruka Kanata by Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Naruto
Back in the crux of the Chunin Exams. Back when Orochimaru was our only problem and Gaara was still giving us those “I’ll kill you” lines. When Naruto wasn’t “Boruto’s dad” but the number one hyperactive knucklehead ninja. This is the time Naruto got juicy. We were no longer singling out Team 7 as the only relevant team, seeing the other squads straight outta the ninja academy. We finally got into the world building Masashi Mishimoto had been working on post-Zabuza saga. Here we see what the other ninja villages bring to the table. We start from the jinchuriki of the Sand to the manipulation of the Sound. Then we root for and explore more in depth other ninjas than the title character. Too bad they couldn’t cut down on the flashback count.
Shiki no Uta by Nujabes and MINMI, Samurai Champloo
Take us on a journey to find the samurai that smells of sunflowers.
This anime is unique in that it combines hip-hop, anime, and Japanese history lessons all in one stylistic show. I thoroughly suggest hearing the song in it’s entirety. Not only does the music lull you into a sense of peace, but the rap verse towards the middle is straight fire. The song creates the same sense of longing felt from Fuu as she searches for answers. The Chill Hop playlist on Youtube features this song because of how relaxing the melodies are with its soft drum beats and background piano notes.
The World by Nightmare, Death Note
Life and death. Friend and foe. Gods and demons. Blue and red. Books and apples. These are just small snippets of what Death Note brought us and what’s brought out in the opening song. The song gives us a lot within the first few seconds. Light and L facing off against each other, Ryuk reaching towards Light’s apple, and the wicked look in Light’s eyes are quick glimpses. The video itself uses brilliant imagery portraying the drama that unfolds and what’s on the line. Not to mention the music has you feeling like you can run a few miles without breaking a sweat.
Out of Control by Nothing’s Carved in Stone, Psycho Pass
“CUS I FEEEEEEEEEEEL.”
If you say you don’t feel anything when this song plays you’re lying. In this opening we see more of the conflict Kogami faces as an Enforcer. His obsession with taking down Makishima, and the eventual struggle Akane feels as the truth of the Sybil system slowly unravels. Akane realizes that Kogami might be at the point of no return in bringing justice into his own hands. This part of the series had me STRESSED because as everything unraveled I had no idea how this series would end. Even as I binged it again I stayed stressed. I also had no problem ignoring the “skip” option and listening to it in its entirety before each episode. I’ll admit though, it took me forever to realize this song is in English.
Again by Yui, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Let us be thankful this anime exists. With a developed plot and structure we shall rejoice in an ending that makes sense, unlike it’s counterpart. This song offers hope and strength in its tunes. It begins with just vocals sounding like a lullaby of what was once good in the Elric family, then the beat drops. We see images of all the people revolving around Ed and Al’s journey, including their father’s departure, and a fast rap summarizing their bodies’ traumas as Winry is also pulled into the fold.
The intro song clearly displays the struggle the brothers face but has us cheering them on for what they seek. We want them to succeed as this song is plays for the first chunk of episodes that reveals their reasoning for wanting the Philosopher Stone. We become as desperate for their real bodies as they do. But, at this point we are unaware to what lies beyond the powers of the stone. We didn’t know how deep and intertwined each conflict of the series really was, and finding out was worth it.
Moonlight Densetsu (English Version), Sailor Moon
Quirktastic has a whole collection dedicated to this show so you know it’s real. The English dub is what brought us this catchy song we hum today. I almost lost my cool with this one as I watched Serena run towards Tuxedo Mask, but I held strong. This song gives us jams of being a fighter while also being a typical girl who loves her friends and her man. We see the kinds of enemies Sailor Moon faces during an amazing guitar solo, and finish off with the transformation goals that still gives us life. Though now with Quirktastic’s new t-shirts out I keep singing “Fighting f*ckboys by moonlight” instead.
Pokemon Theme by Jason Paige, Pokemon
That first line. The line that gave us the inspiration and strength to do what we believe. The line that recognizes inner courage and strive. The OG chapter capturing the adventures of Ash, Brock, and homegirl Misty. “I wanna be / the very best / like no one ever waaaaaas BUM BUM BA DUM.” It gave way to a gaming empire and shameless amounts of merchandise (I myself own a Pikachu Build-A-Bear). I find it fitting the challenge ends with this song. This was a gateway anime for most. Suddenly here was a cartoon with edgy an animation style, character depth, and cool adventures.
While the current series may be vastly different from how it began, we will never forget the song that started it all.
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Cute and Depressed Black Girl is a grad student who binges anime when she's supposed to be studying. She also reads and re-reads a lot of Gambit x Rogue fanfic after watching the Cajun Spice episode of X-Men Evolution multiple times. When she's not reading or binging, she's in the dance studio getting her queen on.