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The Best Anime Theme Songs of All Time

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Best Anime Theme Songs Of All Time

Anime is one of today’s biggest entertainment genres. Known for bright and brilliant animation, often wacky plots, and loveable characters, anime has some of the most recognisable sounds and looks. Within these shows and films, the title sequence and songs are essential, as they set up the tone for the show and give a sneak peek into the episode and season’s plot. The best anime theme songs have become massively popular beyond the series they are tied to, and for good reason! 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best anime theme songs of all time. We’ll explore the musical characteristics of each song, look at the shows they represent, and consider their impact on anime and beyond.

What Is Anime?

Anime. We’ve all heard of it. But what is it?

It is defined as a style of Japanese TV and film animation. It caters to adults and children, and the shows that fall under the genre span many genres of stories. Within Japan, anime is a term used for all animation despite where it came from, but outside of the country, it generally means Japanese animated shows or films.

Most shows and movies in the ‘genre’ have identifiable and catchy theme songs – or OPs as they are sometimes called. OPs refers to the opening songs with credits at the beginning. These often change between seasons of a series, too.

The Best Anime Theme Songs

The genre is huge, and there are so many soundtracks to listen to that are all amazing! Here is our curated list of the most well-known anime theme songs from some iconic shows.

Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon is the most notable female-led anime of all time. Generations have grown up with it, and many look up to the characters.

‘Moonlight Densetsu’

The iconic song in question is ‘Moonlight Densetsu’. The soundtrack to season one of the show, the song has become rooted in fans’ hearts since day one. There are both English and Japanese versions of the song, which perfectly capture the 80s vibes and teenage setting of Sailor Moon. Russian figure skater Evgenia Medvedeva even used the song during one of her performances!

Death Note

Released in 2006, Death Note is based on the manga series of the same name. With a long-running presence and a captivating cast of characters, fans fell in love with this darker-toned anime.

‘The WORLD’ by Nightmare

Used as the opening credits scene for the first nineteen episodes of Death Note, Nightmare’s song ‘The WORLD’ became an instant classic. A dark and broody song with fast-paced guitars and smashing drums, it resonated with the young and angsty audience that Death Note accrued. Interestingly, Nightmare’s song ‘Alumina’ off the same album as ‘The WORLD’ was also used as the credits song for the show!


The world of Pokémon is absolutely massive. The name is one of the most recognisable brands in the world, and it is still growing. Even after 25 years filled with games, films, trading cards, and shows, there is one stand-out song that everyone knows. The original theme song from the (English dub of the) Pokémon anime is an absolute classic to which many people still know all the words.

Pokémon Theme Song

While not technically an anime song as it is for the English version of Pokémon‘s anime, the song must be included for nostalgia and popularity purposes. The song itself is a pop-rock effort with a fast pace and catchy lyrics. It incorporates the franchises’ tagline “gotta catch ’em all” within its early 90s sound.

The song defined a generation and is one of the most recognised sounds among younger people, along with the Star Wars and Simpsons theme songs!

Cowboy Bebop

The choice of theme song for Cowboy Bebop might seem an odd choice at first! However, for an animated show about a bunch of bounty hunters on their journey across the stars, somehow, the jazz-influenced instrumental track perfectly sums up the action-packed nature of the show.

‘Tank!’ by The Seatbelts

A largely jazzy song, The Seatbelt’s iconic track mixes elements of blues, swing, and pop to create this contemporary and individual mix. ‘Tank!’ is used for all episodes of the anime and has become an entry into jazz and fusion genres for fans since the show’s release. The song has since been remixed by musicians across the board, including EDM artists!

Attack On Titan

Regarded as one of the biggest anime shows, Attack On Titan has the perfect theme song to match its giant style. The dramatic, dystopian and down-right delightful show has gained massive popularity thanks to its original plot – featuring a group of teens battling against horrifyingly big monsters, trying to survive and continue against all odds.

‘Guren No Yumiya’ by Linked Horizon

Roughly translated as “Crimson Bow and Arrow”, this track is the catchiest of all anime openings. Attack On Titan was the first anime that many Western audiences watched, and the earworm of a chorus from this song has rooted itself into a generation’s minds. The music is hard, fast, and catchy! Interestingly, the song mixes Japanese and German lyrics due to the European setting of the anime.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion, while a huge success in itself, is still a niche interest in the Western world. The show is set in a future version of Tokyo and features a young cast of characters living after a worldwide cataclysm. It has a big plot and a big theme song to go along with it. 

‘Cruel Angel’s Thesis’ by Yoko Takahashi

Now, this is what we call a conflict of interest! Like ‘Tank!’, this theme song features quite a jazzy, disco beat. However, the lyrics combine important elements of the show, such as depression, the apocalypse, and other dark areas. The fact that Yoko Takahashi managed to juxtapose these two things is incredible. A fascinating fact: this song is one of Japan’s most popular karaoke choices!

Honorable Mentions

While anime mostly refers to TV shows, several other formats sit under the umbrella title, including films and games. Below are some of our non-TV favourites that have also profoundly affected audiences worldwide.

Studio Ghibli – Best Anime Movie Theme Songs

Studio Ghibli is famed for its wholesome and fantastical films, featuring lovely animation and delightful soundtracks. It is hard to pick favourites, but the two stand-out film soundtracks from the studio – in terms of popularity and recognition – are Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Spirited Away

SPirited Away, from Studio Ghibli, is famous for having one of the best anime movie theme songs

The 2003 Studi Ghibli movie Spirited Away immediately captured the hearts of watchers across the world – due in part to its catchy and emotional soundtrack. Composed by Joe Hisaishi, the original album scores highly on any review. It features the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, and on top of the classical music, it has traditional Japanese instruments and some synths dropped into it! The melodies in songs like ‘One Summer Day’ have become very recognisable since the film’s release.

Howls’ Moving Castle

Another soundtrack by the master composer Joe Hisaishi is for the film Howl’s Moving Castle. The album features many different sounds – from the first few opening seconds of ‘Merry-Go-Round Of Life’ played on an organ, to the raucous orchestral music of ‘Sophie’s Castle’. The whole soundtrack is genius and makes for good listening. It perfectly accompanies the magical and loving story of Howl’s Moving Castle.

Persona 5 – Best Anime Game Theme Songs

Along with one of the best anime theme songs, the anime game Persona 5 features a number of standout tracks in its soundtrack.

Persona 5 is one of the biggest anime games to date – made by Atlus studio, the game garnered astonishing popularity. The immense appreciation for this game does, in fact, partly rely on the funky soundtrack that accompanies the Phantom Thieves on their journey through the game. 

The soundtrack features work from Lyn Inaizumi, the famed Japanese jazz and soul vocalist, and Atlus’ own sound team. The original songs blend jazz, rock, and lounge music – with some funk mixed in for fun. But then ‘Blooming Villain’ comes on, and it all goes heavy rock for a few minutes.

The soundtrack has a whole spectrum of emotions, from laid-back beats over rainy-day sounds to fast-paced, pulse-raising battle songs. The songs in Persona 5 are all so good you could consider several to be the “theme”. The recommended tracks (covering different genres) are: ‘Beneath The Mask’, ‘Blooming Villain’ and ‘Life Will Change’.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure features one of the best anime theme songs

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, as the name suggests, is a wild ride from start to finish. Each series has a new theme song, new characters, and weird and wonderful plots. The theme songs are all fast-paced, energetic, retro-rock-influenced songs. Some feature jazz elements, others metal. No matter which series it is, the theme songs perfectly set up the episodes and capture the characters’ personalities.

Final Thoughts on the Best Anime Theme Songs of All Time

As we conclude this exploration of the best anime theme songs, it’s clear that these pieces are far more than just introductions to our favourite shows. They are powerful expressions of the series’ essence, encapsulating the emotions, narratives, and characters within a few dynamic minutes.

From the adrenaline-pumping beats that gear us for epic battles, to the melancholic melodies that echo the series’ poignant moments. These songs have become inseparable from the anime they represent. They have the power to transport us back to the first time we encountered these worlds, rekindling the excitement, tension, and even tears.

Whether you’re a seasoned otaku or a casual viewer, these theme songs represent the rich tapestry of creativity and emotion that makes anime such a unique and beloved medium. Here’s to the composers, lyricists, and performers who create these memorable pieces, and to the countless fans who keep these tunes alive in playlists and karaoke bars around the world. As the anime industry continues to grow, we eagerly anticipate the new melodies that will capture our hearts and become the soundtracks of our adventures in these fantastic animated worlds.


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