Soundtracks, otherwise known as OSTs, are the soul of what makes an anime shine. More than the animation itself, the soundtrack and voice acting are what differentiate the experience of watching an anime from reading its manga. The music can make or break the experience of watching an anime: good music can salvage an otherwise dull period in the plot or make an already pivotal scene in the story hit even harder. The anime music industry is particularly good at producing music of epic proportions, and at the top of this industry stand names such as Hiroyuki Sawano and Takafumi Wada, among several others. These musical geniuses have been known for producing soundtracks so uplifting or impactful, that they have transcended their parent anime and have found a place in several playlists ranging from workout music to gaming music- they're just that good!
Everyone is the protagonist of their own lives and good music blasting away in our headphones makes the experience just that much better! Be it the inspiration they provide or the infamous scenes in their anime which they have inevitably come to be associated with, these are the top 5 Anime Soundtracks (OSTs) of all Time!
#5: Death Note: L's Theme
We start off our list with a throwback to the best anime of 2006- the one and only Death Note. This 37 (and a half) episode cult classic was an Adult Swim staple for many years and was responsible for revealing the darker sides of anime to the western world. Still regarded as one of the most successful and popular anime of all time, Death Note tells of a story of two geniuses and the inevitable clash of their ideals. The world itself is turned into a colosseum where death stalks every player with its dagger aimed at their hearts.
Set in an otherwise normal world, Death Note follows the exploits of high-achiever Light Yagami as he stumbles upon a book with the power to kill anyone whose name it written on its pages. Eager to effect his dreams of a utopia, Light begins his effecting his ruthless cleansing upon the miscreants of the world but soon finds himself in the crosshairs of a mysterious and efficient detective known only as L. Quickly finding himself subject to public ridicule and grossly outmaneuvered at the hands of L in their first major exchange, Light comes to the conclusion that he's in for the biggest mind game of his life.
Death, mystery, fantasy, romance and action all find themselves in a brew of healthy proportions as the story of Death Note advances towards its inevitable (and arguably tragic) conclusion. Although the journey ended well over a decade ago, a part of the epic tale remains immortalized in its OST, perhaps the most iconic track of which is L's theme music. Simple and minimalistic in its percussive employ, this soundtrack exemplifies the spirit of Death Note as a whole and rightfully earns its spot on the entry spot of our list!
#4: Bleach: Treachery
Where Death Note gave us an unforgettable story, Bleach gave us one of the most memorable villains of all time. One of the Big 3 titles of the early 2000s, Bleach saw worldwide acclaim in its run from 2004 to an unceremonious hiatus in 2012. While the series has once again taken the spotlight following news of its return, it never quite fell off the map whenever the discussion of fights in anime came up. Bleach is known for its great animation and the ever-increasing tension in its storyline, particularly in the first 3 seasons which are almost unanimously regarded as the peak period in the story's quality.
While Bleach suffers from bad writing in terms of plot, nobody dares question the brilliant complexity and intriguing design which has manifested itself in the form of its characters. Byakuya, Kenpachi Zaraki, Mayuri, Kyoraku and Sosuke Aizen are regarded as some of the best designed characters in the show's formidable roster of characters. While quite tragically none of these are the names of the main protagonists (who unfortunately tend to become quite linear and shallow as the story progresses) of Bleach, "Sosuke Aizen" is a name that is very well recognized in any anime community across the world.
Ruthless, arrogant and ten steps ahead of (almost!) everyone else, Sosuke Aizen is famously quoted for saying "all part of my plan"- a quote which has been memed and referenced into oblivion over the past decade. As the story progresses, Aizen truly becomes the centerpiece on multiple occasions and establishes himself as a character deserving of respect and admiration from every fan of the show. His OST, aptly titled "Treachery", is a good reference to Aizen's unyielding nature and the ever so epic chorus of "I can tell that you've never been true to me" sung by the opera perfectly encapsulates everything that Aizen stands for: deceit and power. Even today, listening to it will raise goosebumps on any Bleach fan's skin and we dare you to prove us wrong.
#3: Naruto Shippuden: Douten
A hero's theme fit to carry itself to the third spot on our list is Douten. A perfect example of a soundtrack which oozes hope, passion and energy, Douten plays during every eventful fight in the anime- especially when things finally take a turn in favor of the heroes. Translated as "Heaven Shaking Event" for the english release, Douten was also used as the ending clip for dubs of the anime as the "Next time on Naruto" segments would play to cast sneak peeks of the next episode.
For those new to anime, Naruto is an anime set in a world of ninjas with five great countries (Fire, Water, Wind, Earth and Lightning) and shows us the journey of Naruto as he becomes a Chunin and is revealed to harbour a powerful nine-tailed fox which allegedly killed his parents. The sequel, Naruto Shippuden, introduces us to an older Naruto and picks off approximately two years after the end of the first series and explores several more themes, the most prominent of which is the mobilization of a mysterious organization known as Akatsuki and their attempts to seal away the tailed beasts in an attempt to subdue the entire world.
Several themes are explored in the show and the story never allows its action packed elements to detract from moments of sentiment and seriousness, which are scattered about the story and add a unique flavor of maturity and help the viewers truly bond to the characters with time. Douten exemplifies the most hopeful and invigorating moments of the show and is an infamous title in the show's vast collection of OSTs.
#2: Attack on Titan: YouSeeBIGGIRL/T:T
Attack on Titan is one of the most popular anime in the world at the time of writing and this is unlikely to change any time in the near future. Regarded by many as the best anime of the current generation, Attack on Titan covers the story of humanity as their last members are forced to retreat inside giant walls in an attempt to protect themselves from giant man-eating behemoths called Titans. While the story spans four seasons and the plot undergoes significant progression, YouSeeBIGGIRL is an OST unlike any other. First played in episode 6 of season 2 to accompany one of the most eye-opening events of the entire show, this track has become iconic in anime communities today.
Composed by the legendary Hiroyuki Sawano himself, YouSeeBIGGIRL breaks away from the norm and features lyrics in German. Not only does this complement the stylism and inspiration behind Attack on Titan, it adds a unique layer of reverence to every scene it touches, so much so that the show faced significant backlash when this soundtrack wasn't recycled to accompany another iconic scene which would happen later in the first part of Season 4 of the show.
YouSeeBIGGIRL claims the number two spot of our list with ease!
#1: My Hero Academia: You Say Run
That's right folks: the top spot for iconic OSTs goes to Boku no Hero Academia's You Say Run! With over 16 million views on YouTube compared to YouSeeBIGGIRL's 5.4 million, You Say Run truly proves itself as the most iconic OST of this list! First introduced through the All Might vs Nemu fight, You Say Run is essentially the heroes' anthem of the anime; whenever it plays, you KNOW something huge is about to happen. It didn't take people long to realize that the OST goes along with practically every major action scene in recorded history and the music was greatly popularized following the upload of hundreds of videos on YouTube with major scenes (Spider-Man saving a train full of people, Goku mastering Ultra Instinct, Mumen Rider vs Sea King, you name it!) having You Say Run edited to play along and add its charm to each event.
Although My Hero Academia has come a long way from its first season, variants of You Say Run (for example, Jet Set Run) still play along whenever events of note related to Deku and All Might occur. Truly no OST has seen wider appeal in recent history than You Say Run; the music itself carries such a generic and hopeful inspiration to it that it can motivate anyone to get up and work hard. Commonly found in motivational music tracks compilations today, You Say Run has left a mark like no other OST in the world! The next time you're feeling like giving up, put on headphones and let the soundtrack work its magic and you'll see just why millions of people worldwide just can't get enough of this music!
While Boku no Hero Academia is an anime centered around the premise of a world full of people with superpowers, You Say Run is the anime's gift to all those watching the anime to let them know that they too can be great if they simply believe in themselves!
That's all for this week folks! We'll be right back next week with more articles to tickle your fancy! We'd also love to hear if there's any OST you think should have found a place on this list! Our Discord server is a great place to share your opinion on this; who knows, we just might end up making a hell of a playlist if we all contribute a title