My 10 most unforgettable anime tunes

Even though art and storytelling quality is what brings us to anime, there’s no denying that anime is full of music too, some tunes being solid and memorable, others being average and forgettable. While we all have our favorite anime openings, endings, BGM, and other songs, I thought I’d go beyond those today and think of the anime music that’s most “unforgettable” to me – not necessarily favorites of mine, but tunes that are so unique and catchy to my ears that I won’t forget them even if I haven’t watched their respective anime in years…

While I don’t indulge in the opening and ending songs of every anime I watch (I’ll typically listen to them once and then skip them each time I watch an episode – unless I really like them), and background music even less so, every now and then there’s a tune in anime, whether it’s an actual song or just an instrumental piece, that I can’t get out of my head. Even if it’s been years since I’ve watched that anime, I’ll always be able to recall that melody. Sometimes they’re songs I really like and listen to a lot, but sometimes I don’t even like them that much…they just happen to have a tune that I can’t forget.

So here are my ten most unforgettable anime tunes. Again, they’re a mix of both songs and instrumental pieces, and I’m judging them purely on their memorable value to me in terms of melody (not other things like lyrics or accompanying animation). I apologize in advance if any of the YouTube links get taken down. If that happens I’ll try to replace them as soon as I can (I also have Hoshiko to thank again for the post idea :3)

10. Tank! (Cowboy Bebop opening)

The opening song for Cowboy Bebop stands out because it’s not only one of just a handful of anime openings that are instrumental only, but the jazz melody it coveys is unique and one I can easily recall despite not having watched the show for a long time. The part that sticks in my head the most is the beginning, which starts right off with a few loud notes before falling into a steady jazz beat, and how it ends, with a few long trumpet notes before a final clash. It’s a classic :3

9. Inuyasha’s theme

I probably wouldn’t have had this tune on my list if I wasn’t a huge Inuyasha fan back in the day. But even though I haven’t watched it in years, I can still recall this awesome piece of music. I’m not sure of its exact name since various remixes of it are used throughout the Inuyasha anime and on CD releases, but I believe it’s basic name is “Inuyasha’s Theme.” But anyway, it’s an appealing, action-packed tune that I won’t soon forget.

8. Catch You, Catch Me (Cardcaptor Sakura opening 1)

Even though this was the very first Japanese song I ever heard, it was never really a favorite of mine – but gosh, that chorus with all the “catch you, catch me, nice to meet, kitto~” So catchy XD

7. Azumanga Daioh eyecatch

The Azumanga Daioh opening is pretty catchy too (everything about the show is catchy honestly XD) but for some reason the short little tune that’s played for the show’s eyecatch is just irresistible. Actually, Oranges & Lemons, the band that performs the AzuDai opening, has an OST with an actual song using this tune called “Kaze Iro March.” But yeah, one of the most catchy anime tunes I’ve ever heard.

6. Dango Daikazoku (Clannad ending)

I think this one is memorable to a lot of people not only because of that sharp “da~ngo, da~ngo…” at the beginning, but because the music itself can’t help but bring to mind the little dango characters hoping around :3

5. Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku (Utena dueling theme)

I remember when I first heard this song when I watched Utena many years ago and thought it was a tad…creepy. But when I listened to it more (it’s played in just about every episode of the anime) I got used to it and it became really catchy. I still felt something disturbing about the chanting and the kinda harsh singing, but it sure is poignant and powerful – and that’s what makes it so memorable.

4. SOMEONE ELSE (Working!! opening)

I haven’t listened to this song much compared to a lot of other anime openings, but I will never forget those incessantly catchy first few notes of “Someone Wan Wan, Someone Wan Wan, Someone Else~!” It’s funny because the rest of the song is kinda forgettable to me, it’s just that part I can’t get out of my head XD

3. Moonlight Densetsu (Sailor Moon opening)

I’ll have to admit that maybe my nostalgia goggles are interfering here, but the classic Sailor Moon opening simply has an unforgettable melody. It’s used as the opening for most of the anime’s 200 episodes and 3 movies (with different animation footage each season) as well as for the English opening I used to watch when I was little. I haven’t watched Sailor Moon in a long time, but like the others, I won’t forget the tune of this lovely song. Even my mom hums it from time to time and she only watched a little bit of Sailor Moon with me years ago…so it must be very memorable XD

2. Pokemon battle theme

Like the Sailor Moon opening, this one might also have to do with my own personal nostalgia. Lots of tunes in Pokemon are catchy to me because I’ve heard them so much over years of playing the games and watching the anime. Many Poke-tunes that have been reused all these years will never leave my head, but I decided to pick the Pokemon battling theme because it’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Pokemon music. It’s been remixed countless times in the games and anime, but no matter, I’ll never forget it XD

1. salvos nos (theme from Noir)

Out of the thousands of anime tunes I’ve been exposed to over the years, “salvos nos” from Noir is the most catchy in an eerie, haunting way, and because of that it stands out to me more than the light, fun tunes we usually associate with catchy melodies. I enjoy Yuki Kajiura’s music, but a lot of it does sound the same after a while – except for “salvos nos.” This tune alone made the entire Noir anime more memorable, and it’s certainly one of the most unforgettable pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

32 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Toonleap says:

    Great selection, except that I dont see “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis”
    Shame!…(Just kidding)

    My top five are:
    1- Magic Knight Rayearth – Yuzurenai Negai
    2- Neon Genesis Evangelion – A Cruel Angel’s Thesis
    3- Card Captor Sakura – Catch You, Catch Me (It seems a CCS remake might be on its way)
    4- Rurouni Kenshin – Heart of Sword
    5- Revolutionary Girl Utena – Rinbu Revolution

    There could be more, but thats the top five I never feel tired to listen.

    • Yumeka says:

      I was considering “Cruel Angel Thesis,” but decided it didn’t quite have that “can’t get out of your heard” quality like the others on my list XD

      I like “Yuzurenai Negai” and “Rinbu Revolution” a lot as good songs (though not “unforgettable” ones).

  2. froggykun says:

    All of these are definitely classics. As soon as I read the titles the theme songs popped into my head at once. Oh, the nostalgia!

  3. chikorita157 says:

    While I don’t recognize most of them, probably the few I known out of the list is the Clannad ending (which has more significance in the second season) and Working (the second season OP isn’t as enjoyable compared to the first season’s). To me, there is a good amount of memorable songs which are mostly recent, but here is some of them.

    Tori no Uta – Lia – Air Opening
    Toki wo Kizamu Uta – Lia – Clannad After Story
    Summer Lights – Jun Maeda from Air
    Innocent Starter – Muzuki Nana from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
    Magia – Kalafina from Madoka Magica

    • Yumeka says:

      Hmm, I actually don’t remember the ending songs in Clannad AS…so I can’t say they’re as memorable to me as the dango family XD

      The Air opening song is one of my favorites. The Clannad AS opening is very nice too. They don’t really get stuck in my head, but they’re always a pleasure to listen to =)

  4. Alvin B. says:

    Nothing from Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi? God Knows, Lost My Music, etc they’re all good on that anime!

    • Yumeka says:

      I love the Haruhi songs of course, but as musical pieces outside the anime, they don’t get stuck in my head that much. “Hare Hare Yukai” almost made it to the list though…if I had kept going, it may have taken the #11 or #12 spot XD

  5. Given this site’s tendencies and your preferences, I’m almost shocked that Hare Hare Yukai didn’t make the cut :p

    A bit of the old, a bit of the new. My list would probably find some way to cram in Uninstall and Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari. Is this sort of a prelude to the anime music contest I’ve been stealthily putting together?

    • Yumeka says:

      In response to “Hare Hare Yukai,” see my reply above =P

      “Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari” is one I didn’t think of, but yeah, a very catchy melody there.

      Not sure what anime music contest you’re talking about, but sounds interesting =)

  6. jimmy says:

    I totally forgot the Azumanga Daioh eyecatch theme, and then when I listened to the first note it rushed back into my head like the tide. Now I’m gonna be whistling it for the rest of the day, thanks.

    My criterion for an unforgettable tune – apart from being good – would be simply that I listen to it often completely out of the context of the anime. I’d absolutely rank “Tank!” up there, but my Yuki Kajiura choice would be… shit, every vocal piece from .hack//Sign, mainly “The World”, “Key of the Twilight”, “Fake Wings” and “Aura”.

    I prefer “Platina” to “Catch You Catch Me”. The first OP is more iconic but I find “Platina” a superior song. The bridge after the second chorus where everything comes together in an emotional rush with “It’s gonna be your world” is just fantastically uplifiting. It gives me the same sort of sense that the climax of Wolf Children does: “It’s your life!/しっかり生きてっ!”

    “Cruel Angel’s Thesis” is a classic, as others have commented, but my somewhat guilty Eva music pick is “Les Bêtes”, the fabulously bombastic (isn’t all Rebuild music?) version of “The Beast”, complete with evil-sounding electric guitars.

    It feels like cheating, somehow, but I also love “Duvet”, used as the opening to Serial Experiments Lain. Another excellent anime that used a pre-existing British alternative rock song as its opening is Gunslinger Girl with “The Light Before We Land”.

    I’ll meet your ten by quickly mentioning five more: “happily ever after”, Gurren Lagann’s OP’s B-side and the insert song from the classic episode 11 scene; “Hybrid Rainbow”, used in FLCL; “Senshadou Koushinkyoku! Panzer vor!” from Girls und Panzer for exemplifying and setting perfectly the tone and mood of the series; and lastly the OPs from Kodomo no Jikan and the first season of Higurashi.

    • Yumeka says:

      Oh, I definitely agree that “Platinum” is a superior song to “Catch You Catch Me.” It’s only that the latter is more catchy to me XD

      “Cruel Angel Thesis” would have made it on my list if I had gone beyond 10. Not sure which Eva musical piece you’re referring to, but I’m sure I’d know it if I heard it.

      Gurren Lagann’s OP is a good choice too.

  7. Artemis says:

    Great choices! I agree with most of them… actually, the only ones I don’t agree with are those I’m not familiar with, so no surprises there. If I was making my own list, I’d probably add the first Durarara!! OP (one of the jauntiest and catchiest tunes I’ve heard in my life, Japanese or otherwise) and the first OP from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (the fact that the lyrics are mostly in Russian definitely adds to the uniqueness, but pretty much anything Yoko Kanno touches turns to gold anyway).

    • Yumeka says:

      Ah, the first Durarara!! OP is a good choice. Haven’t listened to it in a long time but I remember it, so there ya go XD I almost added more Yoko Kanno to my list via the music she’s written for Wolf’s Rain, which is my favorite OST, but decided that the other tunes were a bit more catchier.

  8. Kal says:

    I like those, the Inuyasha one is really good! There are lots of really great opening songs, and general music in Anime. Just out of the new ones, I can think of the “Attack on Titan” opening theme. Powerful stuff :)

    I love that type of music (orchestra, with chorus, etc), so Yuki Kajura music certainly fits the bill. But there are lots out there. Opening and closing themes in the gundam series, “Ash like snow” is a really, really good one. Music is quite unique and different in anime, they really put a lot of effort into it, and makes anime much more enjoyable :)

    • Yumeka says:

      Since the Attack on Titan OP is so new (the full version hasn’t even come out yet) I can’t really rank its “unforgettable-ness” yet. But I have a feeling it will go down as a classic that fans will remember years later, much like the Eva and Bebop openings.

      “Ash like snow” is a good choice too!

  9. Shikon says:

    Those are some great choices, I agree with everything that I recognize. I gotta say when I saw the big dango family the song immediately popped back into my head XD it’s like Clannad drills that little tune into your head with every episode. Like the above posts I enjoy many of the works by Kalafina, Yuki Kaijura, and Yoko Kanno. Im actually surprised you didn’t mention the opening from Wolf’s Rain (or the ending) lol I thought it was quite classic and unique.

    • Yumeka says:

      Wolf’s Rain actually has one of my most favorite anime soundtracks of all. I was thinking of adding a song or two, but while they’re beautiful pieces, I can’t say they’re particularly catchy. If I went further with the list, “Tell Me What the Rain Knows” may have made it on.

  10. Shadowapple says:

    I like quite a bit of the music on your list, but the Dango thing for Clannad creeps me out. When thinking about anime music I liked, instead of deliberating about it, I just thought about anime music and some rather peculiar first choices popped up.
    The opening to Baccano, ‘Guns’n’Roses’ by Paradise Lunch was great in my opinion. And I liked the ending theme ‘Calling’ as well.
    On that same vein, both openings to Durarara were great.
    The opening and ending themes in Akagi grew on me. Although I wasn’t overly fussed with the story.
    There was this one tune in the early episodes of Bleach that sounded like an 80’s anthem that I liked.
    Oh, and the first opening and ending themes in Deathnote by that band Nightmare.
    There’s probably a bunch of other anime songs that I liked, but these were the ones that immediately sprung to mind when I thought about it.

    • Yumeka says:

      The Baccano! OP is catchy as well, along the same vein as the Cowboy Bebop opening =) And you’re the first person I’ve heard who thinks the Dango song is creepy…but to each their own XD

  11. Kai says:

    The Dango song from Clannad definitely has quite the lovely and catchy tunes xD I had totally forgot how some of these openings and endings sound like, hearing and seeing the opening of Cardcaptor Sakura makes me quite nostalgic for example, seeing cute little Sakura jumping and hopping around is lovely :D

  12. Mikoto says:

    I personally can’t get the original Pokemon battle theme out of my head (Burning Battlefield), especially the anime remix of it. It’s been over a decade since they used that mix in the anime, yet it remains one of my favorites from the OST to this day.

    Then there’s this piece of music that has never been used again after the first 80 episodes of the anime and CD Drama. Kind of shows how much the show has changed over these years. I really miss the “feel-y” bits, there’s really no reason to play a song as sad like this in a Pokemon episode anymore…

    • Yumeka says:

      Thanks for linking those two great pieces of Pokemon music. I certainly remember that more dramatic sounding tune from the Kanto episodes. You’re right that they haven’t used it in the anime in a long time, which is a shame.

  13. Amy says:

    I’m late to this party… but everyone here listed some great songs… many of which are on my own lists. Very cool. (Not too long ago I made a webpage of My Favorite Anime Songs. I couldn’t keep the list down to five songs though… there are 30!)

    • Yumeka says:

      Took a quick look at your song list – saw a lot I didn’t know actually, but a lot I did know too. We share some of the same favorites ^_^ Though the songs on this post aren’t actually my favorite anime songs, just the most “unforgettable” ones. I made a post a while back here of my actual favorite anime songs. Even though the post is now over two years old, my favorites haven’t really changed since then XD

      • Amy says:

        Usually I slow down some to read, but I didn’t today… so zipped past the unforgettable qualifier (I zoomed through the comments too). I don’t know what my unforgettable list might look like… fortunately I don’t get many earworms. Songs that stick in my head are usually from my favorites (because I play them over and over and over). ^_^

  14. Adziu says:

    Nice list. I love Tank! to bits, Azumanga had an awesome soundtrack and the CCS opening is quite the earworm. I have to say I soon skipped Dango Kaizoku whenever possible, though. I mean, it was instantly memorable and made me smile the first time but it soon grew tiresome for me.

    Naruto, Keroro, Wolf’s Rain, Rozen Maiden, Evangelion, Dragonball and Scrapped Princess all had some songs I was instantly hooked on, but I have to give credit to the biggest earworm I ever came across in anime, the opening to Kono Minikuku mo Utsukushii Sekai – I hardly remember more than the basics of the dull story but oh god, that theme song is forever lodged into my brain.

    • Yumeka says:

      The Evangelion OP, and some of the insert music, is quite catchy indeed XD And I love the Rozen Maiden OP too~

      I haven’t seen This Ugly Yet Beautiful World but I’ll keep what you said about the OP in mind when/if I do :3

  15. complex says:

    I have never watched Cowboy Bebop before, so you opened my ears to some new music, and it’s jazz too, my favorite.
    The CardCaptor Sakura theme brings me back to my childhood; very nostalgic, even though back then I was watching the american version of the series.
    I think you’re right about Revolutionary Girl Utena’s theme. It’s a little creepy. I have yet to watch this series but from the looks of it in the video, the animation looks gorgeous.
    Lastly, the Noir theme song is so rad, I really love it.

  16. EdwardM says:

    The Rozen Maiden OP is good – anything by Ali Project is likely to be (they also did “Coppelia’s Casket” from Noir and the OP for Another) – and “Cruel Angel’s Thesis” has to be near the top ten on anyone’s list, but my all-time favourite is “Omedetou”, the ED from the original Oh My Goddess OVA – specifically, the long version with piano lead-in, from the final episode.

  17. liezl says:

    I agree! magic knight rayearth has a great OST too… and fushigi yuugi opening song is also fantastic…


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