Music makes the world go around in my opinion. Every situation would be better with some music but unfortunately the real world is nothing like the movies and situations are never paired with an appropriate song but if I had the power you’d bet I’d hire someone to give my life a soundtrack. Every good anime has to have a few certain things to make them memorable; good visuals, good story, good voice acting and a good soundtrack but most series’ are kind of lacking musically.
Though, for every average anime soundtrack there will always be one that blows you away, one that impresses you more than the series alone could ever do and one that will stick with you for the rest of your life. A few weeks ago I brought you an article that compiled my top 5 favorite video game soundtracks (which you can read by Clicking Here) but this time around I’ve decided to list my “5 Anime Soundtracks That Belong In Your Music Library”. Each of these series’ have earned a place in my heart for being quirky, unique and memorable, and I hope that they will make some sort of impact on you too!
When a melting pot-type series such as “Durarara!!” comes along – one that bounds into and over all the genres – it’s hard to let it fly past you. It’s a series you grip with both hands as fast as you can so not to miss the wonderful ride. Action, Supernatural, Drama, Romance, Mystery, Psychological, “Durarara!!” is a superb mix of all of these genres and, to this date, the prime example of a perfected, multi-genre anime series.
Set in the city of Ikebukuro, the series revolves around a group of quirky characters who all come into contact with each other one way or another, the one thing they share in common; they live in Ikebukuro. Dealing with themes of mythology, gangland violence, underground societies and everything in between, “Durarara!!” has pretty much something everybody and that includes its funky-fresh soundtrack.
The series’ soundtrack is just as varied and odd as the characters in its story. Mixing funk, electronica, jazz, classical music and a whole bunch of other musical genres, the soundtrack may come off as quite an odd one but to those with broader tastes in music it is a brilliant mix of both sweet and sour tracks that perfectly represent the series’ setting and the characters within it.
Tracks go from being bubbly and upbeat to sombre and gloomy when necessarily, all the while creating the perfect atmosphere. Watching the series will have you almost automatically loving the soundtrack and I believe that’s the best way to first digest such a wide-ranged set of musical tracks but I can guarantee that most music-lovers out there will find this musical stew quite appealing.
Produced by Hollywood big-shot Samuel L. Jackson, “Afro Samurai” is an anime short series that was originally released back in 2007 to an amazing critical reception which allowed the series to continue on and into a full feature film titled “Afro Samurai: Resurrection” two years later in 2009. The series follows the story of a young, wandering samurai referred to only as “Afro”. Afro is the holder of the “Number 2” headband; a symbolical item that indicates the owner of it is the second strongest fighter in the known world and is the only person who is eligible to battle the fighter who currently holds the “Number 1” headband.
The legend behind the “Number 1” headband is that it gives the holder God-like abilities so, as you can imagine, people from all of the world are slaughtering their way through countless headband-holders in the hopes of defeating the fighter in possession of the “Number 1” which just so happens to be killer of Afro’s father. Need I say more?
The soundtrack is highly comparable to that of the “Samurai Champloo” soundtrack, in fact, both anime titles are extremely similar; they both take place in an ancient Japanese-style environment and they both host soundtracks entirely made up of rap, hip hop, soul and RnB songs. RZA, who some of you may know from the “Wu-Tang Clan”, produced the entire soundtrack for both the series and its movie, doing an absolutely brilliant job for both.
The RZA brought a caliber of urban music production that could only be attained after years and years of great success in the industry, something that filled out the series in an ultimately fantastic way. The reason I chose to feature the soundtrack of “Afro Samurai” over that of “Samurai Champloo” was simply because I feel as though it doesn’t get nearly as much attention as that of the Watanabe original yet it deserves so much more.
I shouldn’t even have to explain why this legendary series is on the list, it’s something that each and every single anime fan should already be well aware of but for the sake of consistency I’ll explain why exactly it is that I believe this soundtrack to be one of the greatest in anime history. The series follows the crew of the “Bebop” (an intergalactic spaceship) who’re a group of outlaws/bounty hunters who make a living by hunting down wanted criminals for cash.
“Cowboy Bebop” takes viewers on a wild ride through all different types of stories that get the heart racing while also bringing audience members to tears. The series practically created its own genre, “Space Western”, and has been the source of inspiration for countless other Japanese and English series’ including the cult classic TV and movie “Firefly”.
The soundtrack – produced by the extremely popular Japanese musician Yoko Kanno (and her band “The Seatbelts”) who has worked with series creator Shinichiro Watanabe on countless occasions – is populated mostly by jazz and blues-type tracks with certain other genres such as funk and rock being thrown in every few episodes. Fans of jazz will easily be engulfed by the series’ soundtrack, with each musical track being brilliantly composed by Mrs. Kanno herself and performed by her very own band.
The soundtrack for the series is definitely the most accessible on this list, I feel as though even music-lovers who aren’t entirely keen on the genre of jazz will find some redeeming qualities within the soundtrack and I also feel as though people who aren’t entirely won over by the anime will still find the soundtrack as enjoyable as any other. The series is legendary for a reason; it does everything perfectly and that includes the music.
The most recent anime series on this list to be released, “Blood Lad” follows the story of a young vampire and gang boss living in the demonic afterlife who comes into contact with a beautiful human girl who has wandered into the hellish plane. Lusting for both her curvy body and her human blood, Staz (the vampire) instantly falls for her. Unfortunately for the both of them she doesn’t last too long in hell, within minutes she’s killed by a lowly demon but soon returns to us in the form of a ghost.
Staz explodes after finding her fleshless bones, exclaiming that he’ll do everything within his power to bring her back to life so he can once again feel the way he did when he first laid eyes on her. “Blood Lad” puts a modern twist on age-old myths and legends; demons, vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, they’re all here but not quite in the way that you’re imagine them. With a modern-type setting comes a modern soundtrack and if you’re a fan of bubbly electronica-style music than you’ll fall for this soundtrack much like Staz for Fuyumi.
The series oozes style, each character sports modern fashion and the world is populated by vivid colours and settings so you can imagine that the soundtrack would match the fictitious world as much as it possibly could. It’s funky, it’s poppy, it’s everything you want out of anime soundtrack. It has tracks that work fantastically for idol chatting scenes and others that work to add a level of intensity to a battle or conversation that only music can.
Much like the rest of the titles on this list “Blood Lad” utilizes a great deal of different genres to instill different emotions into audiences and it does it so damn well. I could say this about almost any soundtrack but it’s the “Blood Lad” one that really openned my eyes up to such varying degrees of auditory-induced emotions.
“Air Gear” is the last soundtrack to be listed in this article but don’t you for a second think that it is any worse than the titles that have been listed above. Released back in 2006, the story of “Air Gear” follows the life of a juvenile delinquent named Ikki as he goes from being a regular highschooler to a legend in the “Storm Rider” community.
“Storm Riders” are types of people who devote their lives to mastering “Air Treks” which are basically motorized rollerblades that these riders purchase and customize, making them incredibly powerful and dangerous to ride. Being an anime, the events are extremely exaggerated with most of these “Storm Riders’ gaining the ability to reach high speeds, scale buildings and in some cases even fly for short periods of time.
As the series goes on the story gets deeper and more complicated until it becomes nothing like what it was at the start. The “Air Gear” soundtrack is mostly made up of electronica and hip hop tracks which, much like all these other titles, perfectly fits the series and its characters. Quite possibly my favorite on this list, the soundtrack does a fantastic job at getting a viewer into a more light-hearted mood but instantly bringing them back down to Earth when something crucial is going down onscreen.
When it comes to funky rhythms and heavy beats, “Air Gear” takes the trophy hands down. Sick beats, huge hits and an ethereal style that will make you truly believe you’re soaring through the air, talking about “Air Gear” is the perfect to complete this list.
Whether you agree or disagree with my choices please head down the the comments section below to let us here at Capsule Computers know what you think. Also if you have any awesome video game soundtrack suggestions please feel free to discuss them below.