As Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, once rightly said, “Life without music is no life at all.” It transcends customs, cultures, languages, and even mediums to the point that one can hardly think of their daily life without musical joys. Similarly, music in anime is also a critical part of any anime genre, loved by the viewers. Even then, there’s an entire genre dedicated to songs and music. They feature masterpieces of pop, rock, classical, idol, band music, and many more. What makes them better is the plotline that revolves around the struggles, drama, group bonds, and more. There is no dearth of creativity in this genre, making for a perfect blend of story and music. So, without further ado, here is a countdown of 15 of the best music anime that you will ever see.
Best Music Anime
Set in a dystopian world where music is no more, we meet Echo, who comes across a girl with an auxiliary jack in her body named Myuu. Together, they embark on a journey to bring music back to the world. But the Earless monsters are posing a threat to their adventure and the human world at large. Albeit a rather short show with only 12 episodes, it’s still more suited for seasoned anime watchers. There are plenty of references to the Gen X era music culture throughout the show. Also, something that really stands out is that each episode has its own ending song. Now, that is something you don’t get to see every day. The soundtracks are really good, and the animation improves over time. While a lot is going on, the show grows on the viewers, earning it a spot on our best music anime list.
14. Lost Song
Lost Song brings to life the magical powers of song. From creating wind and water to healing wounds and injuries. The two songstresses follow their destinies, but the threat of war looms on the peaceful kingdom. Thrown in the mix is an over the top evil prince with his wicked schemes. The show begins with a strong start and is quite good for the most part. You get fairy tale vibes throughout the show, with songs being played like magical spells straight out of your fantasy. So follow this musical and magical adventure of songstresses, a handsome prince, and evil hurdles on their path along with action and some degree of graphic violence. Lost Song makes for an enjoyable watch with its decent animations, voice acting, and of course, the songs. Do give it a try, and maybe you will find yourself rewatching it too.
13. Fukumenkei Noise/ Anonymous Noise
Fukumenkei Noise revolves around music meets love triangle providing you with your daily dose of drama. It follows Nino and her two first loves who parted from her. But she had promised to keep singing in hopes of reuniting with them once again. Six years later, they find themselves in the same high school. But has their old feelings changed or yet linger on? Witness the charm of music as Nino tries to mend her friendship and overcome the complexities. The love triangle and the drama are not all that there’s to the show. The characters grow and develop to deal with their personal feelings and their bond’s complications. Meanwhile, songs and music are the show’s core strength, enticing you to go along till the end. It’s a must-watch for anyone with an emotional connection with any form of music. And even otherwise, a good recommendation too.
12. Detroit Metal City
Souichi Negishi is a soft-spoken and humble person, and so nothing is out of the ordinary initially. However, he dons an entirely different personality as the singer and composer for Death Metal City’s death metal band. His alter ego on stage, Johannes Krauser II is publicized as a demon from hell ruling with death metal, which is in stark contrast to his usual persona. Souichi struggles to balance his stage life, and his normal one as the band’s popularity shoots through the roof. And so, hilarity ensues with funny misadventures as his life spirals out of control. There’s enough comedy with a very casual and absurd approach that you can’t stop laughing. Nothing too serious, but it’s certainly not for those easily offended with swearing, drug references, certain innuendos, etc. All in all, this may be one of the funniest music anime that you will have ever watched.
11. Mekakucity Actors
Shintarou Kisaragi, a recluse, is forced to go out to a grocery store. As fate would have it, it’s the first time that he’s going out in 2 years, and he’s taken hostage in a store robbery. To his luck, he’s saved by members of the “Mekakushi Dan” with mysterious eye powers. But they force him to join them. Their abilities are like puzzle pieces that connect each other, and they slowly unravel this secret. The music touches upon various psychological aspects from light-hearted, feel-good tones to more profound and darker moods. Each song and eye color relate to each character’s past and personality. This music anime is quite unique in itself. As it’s based on a mixed media music series titled ‘Kagerou Project.’ You may even need to rewatch it to understand the plot entirely. The show may seem fast-paced, but it is worth the watch.
Given is a rare gem among music anime and that too in the shounen-ai category. Rid yourself of all preconceived notions, though, as there’s no cheesiness, over the top romance/ eroticism, or any form of second-hand embarrassment. The story surrounds Mafuyu Satou and Ritsuka Uenoyama, who happen to meet by chance. It focuses on their band and singing. But as their bonds grow over time, so do their feelings for one another. There’s quite some soulful music, too, ideally communicating feelings and emotions that will make you weep as well. The show also beautifully depicts the couple’s growth as individuals and from strangers to soul mates. Rather than being a music anime with romance, it’s rather a romantic anime with music. Even then, it’s one of the must-watch shows. To give you an idea, Given was considered as one of the top 5 best anime of 2019 too!
09. Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight
Starlight is a song and dance play love throughout the world. Our main characters, Karen and Hikari, promise to perform the play together in their childhood but move away later. 12 years on, they now come across a mysterious underground audition. They plan to compete in the music competition with other stage girls. Will they be able to gain acceptance and become the top star? This is a bit like idol anime shows like the Love Live! Series. But it is one that any music anime lover will enjoy to the fullest. All of the songs in the show are top tier. So kudos to the composers, who do have other big anime songs under their belt. There is also some comedy and freshness. The show does say a lot but in a very creative way. So it definitely won’t stale your mind with all the idols and music competitions.
08. Hibike! Euphonium/ Sound! Euphonium
The plot highlights Kumiko, who joins a high school and becomes a part of the school brass band. It’s a pretty average band, though, but she encounters both new friends and friends from her past. The show throws light on the characters’ growth and development journey as individuals and as musicians. In contrast, they strive to materialize their goals and dreams. Each character is fleshed out well, giving more depth and realism, and thus, appearing lifelike. So it’s not like the typical one-note characters in the average music or idol anime. There’s plenty of attention to detail, too, in all aspects of animation, designs, music, lighting, etc. While appropriate to the mood, all of it also enhances the atmosphere and elevates your experience to the next level. Thereby being nothing short of a masterpiece of music anime. And one of our recommended must-watch shows in this genre!
07. Carole & Tuesday
Carole & Tuesday is a music anime where sci-fi meets music and songs. With the backdrop of human civilization on Mars, Carole lives in a metropolitan city. Working to make her ends meet, she is also fond of playing the keyboard and becoming a musician. Tuesday is a run away from her wealthy family in hopes of becoming a musician too. Both feel lonely in a world dominated by AI, wherein no-one understands them. A chance encounter of the two sets them on a journey to create ripples in the ocean by bringing about a musical miracle on Mars! The detailed worldbuilding and animations with the sci-fi setting give an interesting outlook. Meanwhile, the motivations and characters’ drive show how music’s authenticity can’t be stripped away by modernization. The songs are catchy too, and you will find different genres of music as well.
Nana Komatsu and Nana Osaki are the main characters of Nana. They have opposite personalities, with their own drams. Surprisingly, ending up as roommates after the fateful encounter on a train to Tokyo and a chance meeting later on. Komatsu wants to start a new life with her boyfriend in Tokyo, leaving behind her past life. Osaki wants to debut with her punk band, Blast, in Tokyo, while her boyfriend is already a famous Trapnest guitarist. The strings of the fate of the two intertwine as their bond deepens while they face romance, music, challenges, and heartbreaks. The characters feel all too real with their personalities, not really falling in the typical anime clichés. You may even find yourself rooting for them as you relate to them and their lives. The shoujo story is a tearjerker but with good music, depicting life’s ups and downs, the good and bad.
05. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso/ Your Lie in April
Your Lie in April is certainly not for the faint of heart. There’s romance and sadness. But there’s also some gentle sweetness like the colorful Spring’s gentle breeze. Kousei Arima was a piano prodigy but was devastated after his mother’s passing. No longer could he hear even the sound of his own music. His life was but a monochromatic, monotonous struggle. But when he met Kaori Miyazono, a beautiful violinist, it was like a whirlwind stripping away the blank and white. She helps bring him out of his cocoon, back to the musical world. While she herself suffers from a terrible illness. It is an excellent show for classical music lovers too. But chances are you may come here for the songs, but stay for the plot. So, ready your tissues and hankies, for its one hell of a tearful, tragic journey ahead! But with some cheery moments too.
K-On! is a pretty popular anime show in the genre of music. The story is based on some Japanese high school girls who try to save their school’s Light Music Club. They spend time together after classes, learn to play various instruments, and practice together. It is a story about learning music, growing bonds of friendship, and resolving problems together. Each character brings their unique set of vibes and problems that lend a lot of energy to the club’s atmosphere. This is a perfect watch for fans of the slice-of-life genre, too, with a very casual and silly approach. And there is the overloaded cuteness factor, too, as the girls spend their day spending time together in the band.
03. Nodame Cantabile
Nodame Cantabile is a story of Shinichi Chiaki and Megumi Noda. Aas they fall for each other and cause one another to grow as musical professionals and individual persons. Shinichi is a perfectionist coming from a renowned family who dreams of playing the violin among Europe’s elite. Yet, he can’t leave Japan due to his fear of flying. Megumi, or Nodame as she calls herself, has an inborn talent for the piano. But she’s much free-spirited and messy. The two end up as neighbors, and Nodame starts to fall for him. You will love, laugh and cry throughout the show with its light-hearted approach, making for an unforgettable experience. The animation and designs have a great degree of elegance. And the show has some of the best classical music in all of anime.
02. Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad
Tanaka Yukio is a somewhat aloof person but changes after he saves a dog from being harassed. This leads him to meet the dog’s owner, Minami Ryuusuke, an emerging guitarist with excellent skills. Eventually, he is captivated by the Western rock culture and gets into playing the guitar. He decides to help Minami in forming the best rock band ever, with a few other members. The story seems straightforward but is very well executed. There is plenty of rock music in the show, and quite a bit of English and ‘Americanized’ ones. Who knows, you may even add some of these songs to your own personal playlist! After all, is said and done, Beck does true justice to its genre of music, anime. And is rightful, one of our top picks in this best music anime list!
01. Kids on the Slope
Kaoru Nishimi is a rather lonely and introverted person who recently moved to Kyushu. However, on the first day at his new school, he meets the school’s delinquent, Sentarou Kawabuchi. Sentarou is a big-time jazz music fan. This inspires Kaoru to learn more about this unexplored world of music. The story revolves entirely around jazz music with a wonderful set of lifelike characters, budding friendship, and romance hints. All packed together in a coming of age genre meets music. The animation is simple, the plot is easy to follow, and each character stands out with their real personalities. But the one thing that really puts Kids on the Slope at the top of our list is the memorable music. If you need just one reason to watch it, this is it!
So we are finally at the end. Ranking some of the masterpieces in this list may be construed as an injustice to the others. After all, some of these are as good as the top-ranking ones. The music genre itself doesn’t have as much of a roaring fanbase as its action and shōnen counterparts. So we have brought to light some of the underappreciated ones. Japanese music still has many scopes to grow with more upcoming anime and their relation with Japanese bands. Did you love the songs and the music in these shows? What are your favorite music anime shows? Do let us know. Also, if you like this, you may want to check out our other list of idol anime shows as well!