Top 5 Anime OSTs

Top 5 Anime OSTs

Introduction

Today we’re taking a break from the Monogatari series reviews by looking at (and listening to) my top 5 anime OSTs. Before we begin, I’ll explain what I mean when I say OST.

An OST is an original soundtrack for those who don’t know. For anime, this generally includes every song that plays at some point during the main portion of an anime. This means that OPs (opening credits) and EDs (ending credits) don’t count.

If OPs and EDs counted, the Monogatari series would surely have made it onto this list, and although I do enjoy a fair amount of the OST, I don’t think it’s quite as good as those that made the list. At some point in the future, I’ll make top 5 lists for both OPs and EDs.

So what makes a good OST? Well, at the most basic level the songs have to actually be good. However, what will make an OST go above and beyond is its ability to invoke the right emotions at the right time or just generally work well with the look and feel of the rest of the anime.

For each series listed below, I’ll select one song from the OST which I feel shows why the series deserves to be on the list.

5. Sailor Moon Crystal

Sailor Jupiter from the anime Sailor Moon Crystal
Sailor Jupiter

#5 on my list is Sailor Moon Crystal. For this series, I’ve selected the song “Daimon” which plays when the Sailor Guardians have encounters with major enemies in the series.

While not every song on the OST is like this one, there are a good number of songs which, like Daimon, are heavily influenced by rock music, especially towards the end of season three.

Now, some of you who haven’t actually watched Sailor Moon Crystal may be thinking that rock music like that doesn’t fit the series, but you’d be wrong. While the series is about magical girls and the power of friendship, it’s also about the destruction of the world.

There are also quite a few songs on the OST which feature a mix of rock and organ music, which often reminds me of Orochimaru’s theme from Naruto: Shippuden. The Shounen and Magical Girl genres have more in common than you might expect.

While writing this post I had YouTube autoplay on and a Sailor Moon Crystal/Naruto: Shippuden mashup actually came on so I’ll link it here for anyone interested.

4. Kill la Kill

Ragyo Kiryuin from the anime Kill la Kill
Ragyo Kiryuin

Kill la Kill is my pick for #4. For this series, I selected “Blumenkranz” which is the theme for the Ragyo Kiryuin (pictured just above), the main antagonist of the series.

Unlike the previous song, this one actually has lyrics, which OST songs usually don’t have. This isn’t to say that lyrics are rare in OSTs, just that instrumental songs tend to make up most of the soundtrack. In this particular song, the lyrics are in German.

The reason I selected this song is because it only plays for small sections of the series, when Ragyo Kiryuin is being introduced into a scene (which doesn’t happen often).

However, although this song makes up such a small part of the music in the series, it instantly stuck with me because combined with the visuals of Ragyo’s introduction, it made an unforgettable scene.

Something else I liked about this series was that each of the “elite four” from the school had their own theme which was a different style of music. For example, since Nonon Jakuzure is the leader of the school band, her theme involves marching band music.

3. Made in Abyss

Scenery of the town from the anime Made in Abyss
Made in Abyss Scenery

While the previous two entries on this list may not be known for their OSTs, that isn’t the case with Made in Abyss. This series actually won the award for best OST of 2017 at this year’s anime awards hosted by Crunchyroll.

The song I’ve chosen to represent this series is one that should be familiar to anyone who’s seen it, “Hanezeve Caradhina.” While I don’t actually know what language this is offhand (and it may not even be a real language) that doesn’t matter.

What matters is how the music of this series, and this song in particular work with the look and feel of the anime. Made in Abyss is a fantasy adventure anime and the soundtrack really helps to bring the feeling of wonder to the forefront.

Songs like this one are often used in the series during scenic shots such as the one pictured in the gif above rather than when some action scene is happening. Made in Abyss is an excellent example of how music can amplify the feelings you get from the visuals of a series.

Although Made in Abyss only came out in 2017, it’s actually not the newest series to make my list.

2. Madoka Magica

Homura Akemi from the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Homura Akemi

Anyone who knows me and my love for Madoka Magica will understand how much it pains me not to have this series listed in the #1 spot on this list. For a long time, the Madoka Magica OST was my example of the perfect anime OST.

For this series I’ve selected one of the simplest songs on the soundtrack, “Puella in Somnio” also known as Homura’s theme. To someone who hasn’t seen the series, this song might not seem like much, but although it’s simple, it may be one of the most easily recognizable songs on the OST.

Homura’s magic in the series is time magic. She can stop time as well as turn it back. She’s lived the same one month period that makes up the series thousands of times, always resetting time back when she fails her mission.

Because of this, she feels a deep connection with the rest of the characters, but to them, she’s an outsider. Homura’s loneliness is something that comes through in the simplicity of her theme.

Further, her theme sounds like a clock slowly ticking which is a reference to her time magic. The repetition of this simple song is also a reference to her repeating the same period of time over and over again without making any progress.

While Homura’s theme is the most well-known song for anyone who’s completed the series, there are other songs which also invoke strong feelings such as “Decretum” the theme of Sayaka, whose story is perhaps the most tragic.

But while Madoka Magica’s OST is great at making you feel depressed, it also includes some good battle music like Sailor Moon Crystal in the form of “Venari Strigas.”

1. Devilman: Crybaby

Devilman from the Netlix original anime Devilman: Crybaby
Devilman

The #1 anime OST on my list is also the newest one, Devilman: Crybaby which came out at the beginning of 2018. For this series I chose the song “Night Hawk” simply because it’s probably my favorite song on the soundtrack.

While the Madoka Magica soundtrack includes a large amount of orchestral songs, Devilman is the opposite. Most of the songs I can think of from this soundtrack are electronic.

Although electronic music doesn’t cause me to feel emotions in the same way orchestral music does, the electronic music of Devilman perfectly fit the art and animation style of the series. The music just meshes perfectly with the vibrant colors and exaggerated animations used in the series.

There are still orchestral songs used for emotional parts of the anime, such as “Crybaby,” but the highlight of the OST is the electronic music.

I’ve mentioned before how certain series can be carried by a single thing such as a good character, and while I wouldn’t say that Devilman was completely carried by its soundtrack, the music is so important that I don’t see myself enjoying the series without it.

Conclusion

So there are my top 5 anime OSTs. If you feel like something else should have made the list, like Cowboy Bebop, feel free to let me know in the comment section and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong.

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