Anime Themes that Take Their Shows to the Next Level

A few weeks ago, I shared some of my daughter’s favorite K-Pop songs. They showed the massive, worldwide popularity of this genre. As with all forms of music, it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

(RELATED: ‘Finding God in Anime’ Goes Beyond Plus Ultra!)

One of the reasons behind this music onslaught is the rising popularity in manga and anime, which is quickly overtaking American comic books in terms of a fan base. This is likely due to its focus on more universal themes rather than shoehorning politics into everything, but that is another story for another time.

Now, anyone with a rudimentary grasp of geography knows Korea and Japan are two entirely different countries, but both of these nations are pop culture adjacent in terms of their appeal to teens and young adults.

With the well-anticipated live-action version of the 1998 Space Cowboy Noir anime Cowboy Bebop coming soon to Netflix, I thought it might be fun to check out a couple of popular anime themes that veer from the standard K-Pop and J-Pop “boy band” sounds, starting with the cool, fusion jazz mid-century sounding theme of the aforementioned Cowboy Bebop, “Tank!”.

This song is from the group Seatbelts and arranged by Yoko Kanno. She assembled an international array of talented musicians to come up with sound that mixes jazz, blues, rock, electronic, and more. And, yes, Yoko will be in charge of music for the live-action series, so there will be much to love from her in that soundtrack.

For something a little more heavy, there’s the theme from One Punch Man, “The Hero,” by the vocal group, JAM Project. Unlike the cutesy boy band sound, this song features some serious headbanging screamo and nu metal energy, and fits perfectly with the crazy, violent fun story of slacker hero Saitama and his buds. FYI: JAM stands for “Japan Animationsong Makers,” so these guys have a good niche going.

This next one by, ALI, is the closing theme from Jujutsu Kaisen. It’s probably the closest on this list to the K-Pop sound due to the involvement of Japanese-Mexican rapper and MC, Aklo. Get a little further into this one, and it really gives me the feel of the jazzy pop and R&B hits from the 1980s. An acronym for “Alien Liberty International,” ALI’s members’ roots are from all over place (Asia, Europe, Africa and America), and they consider themselves a mix of funk, jazz, R&B, Latin and soul.

Finally, Attack on Titan, the tremendously popular and incredibly dark anime and manga series, garners a theme as large scale as the show, “Guren no Yumiya.” Bring in Linked Horizon, led by composer, musician and vocalist, Revo. This group’s live shows have filled huge venues with their orchestral rock opera performances. Check out the reception to this 10-minute long live performance of the theme.

I mean, really, look at this massive crowd.

As anime becomes more and more worldwide, it only stands to reason its music is on it’s way becoming as well known as the shows in one of contemporary Japan’s most beloved pop culture exports.

4 comments on “Anime Themes that Take Their Shows to the Next Level

  1. The Mgmt. says:

    Instantly I want a follow up piece. These are so good. The Cowboy Bebop is just an all time classic. But how about the showmanship in the Attack on Titan video?! That was awesome!
    Check out Full Metal Alchemist. Beyond being one of my all time favs, they had some of the best theme songs. And they changed it all the time!
    And A big shout out to the world of anime for keeping the theme song alive. American TV has mostly cut them all to make more time for commercials. It’s a shame. Glad anime keeps it going. Great Stuff!

    1. The Mgmt. says:

      here’s some of the themes from Full Metal Alchemist. So Good. And So MANY!
      https://youtu.be/Z49CzDIOxMI

  2. Lisa Kay says:

    Full Metal Alchemist is excellent.
    You’ve inspired me!
    A follow up in coming next week. There is so much good stuff, plus a good way to get people interested in some of these great shows.

    ….See you, Space Cowboys…

    1. The Mgmt. says:

      Full Metal just might be my all time fav. I’ve seen both versions of the series and could watch em again today. HA!

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