How anime music works (Topic)

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How anime music works


Recently watching a new title, Carol & Tuesday, [the show follows two girls composing music while AI is writing it around the rest of the world] got me thinking about how music works in anime. Music always enhances the perception of anything, both games and movies. However, since anime is so different from other visual arts, it can use it in its own way. Consider this reasoning as an attempt to understand exactly how anime music works.


Opennigs in the anime are a separate topic of conversation. They do not always reflect the main essence of the series and are just an opening act. That which sets the tone and mood. Openings and endings are more like just clips with anime characters. They can also be full of spoilers without context, when one or another image in it you will only understand after watching the series itself to a certain point.

However, their availability is not heavily dependent on music. This is the catch, in openings the visuals are not always obliged to reflect the main idea of the series [only after watching a couple of episodes we will understand something in it], when the music should always do it right away.

An example of a good opening opening that reflects just the mood is the first opening from Naruto with the song "Rocks" by Hound Dog. The visuals where Sakura and Sasuke smile at Naruto, or when they shake hands with him does not really coincide with what we see the first 5 episodes. And only at the end of the first arc, we begin to see manifestations of friendship between the trinity [and even then not very strong]. In turn, the song "Rocks" fully conveyed the mood of adventure in a pleasant company, which will eventually become the heroes. At least that's how I saw it.

Or another great example, the aggressive "Tank!" composite that always accompanies "Cowboy Bebop".

As a result, the music in the opening is always obliged to set the very mood that you should get, watching all the anime from start to finish.

Suitable soundtrack

Going directly to the music in the anime itself, there is a difference between the tracks that fit the picture and just exist. The point here is how unexpectedly one style of music fits what we see on the screen. In some cases, we could not even imagine such an unusual connection in this context.

Two versions of the Helsing anime are ideal for comparison. In OVA, the soundtrack usually consists of church choir singing, and this is quite logical, since we see Alucard - the personification of hell, and Maxwell's father, who cannot live a day without prayers and constant shouts in the spirit of “Lord with me, die hellish offspring ! ". However, this soundtrack doesn't really stand out. Yes, it is appropriate, but how is it different from similar choral singing in other films or anime?

Another thing is in the original anime, where you don't expect that with exactly the same setting and characters, jazz and swing motives will play there and they just fit perfectly into the picture. Whatever you say, but when you hear them, there is only one desire - to quickly add to your playlist.

Soundtracks like these can give anime a new character and personality.

Basis for the series

Sometimes music can even be the main feature of a title. When the story itself tries to fit in with it. At this point I want to go back to Bebop again, as this is the greatest example of a show trying to adjust to the rhythm and melody, and not vice versa.

The main thing is that this can happen even when the characters themselves are literally trying to be musicians. A good soundtrack will still touch you to the core. And if you remove it, it will change the very essence of the anime work.


One of the greatest strengths of music and animation is that it conveys emotions and feelings better than direct communication. Creates an emotional catharsis [wow, with what smart words we spoke]. When music conveys emotions, we perceive it not intellectually, but precisely we feel. An excellent, and, moreover, a composition sounded on time can evoke emotions that will always arise during repeated listening. Music is a universal language and good anime directors are always able to turn it into a vehicle for feelings.

As an example, the composition Shinigami Kai from Death Note [spoilers carefully!] perfectly captures the atmosphere of despondency in the moment when Misa, Light and Chief Yagami are locked up while L. is watching them. Despite the fact that this visualization despondency and decay is pretty good, the music heightens the atmosphere. Therefore, the next time you hear this track, you immediately have a clear association with sadness.

Character Themes

Probably my favorite use of music in anime is character themes. Without departing from "Death Note", remember "L'Theme A" and "L'Theme B". Under them, L always just bursts into our life with the phrase: “Here I am, here is my orchestra, which follows me on my heels to play my music, now I’ll tear you all up.”

All this evokes just clear associations, and when this or that musical theme turns on, you know that something will happen now. But, at such moments, you can also be broken off to the fullest, for example, when the hero is going to demonstrate strength and you expect an epic, but this does not happen. As an example, take any monster and its theme song from the first season of Onepunch man. They often whip up the atmosphere, try to show the monster as dangerous, evil music plays, and then Saitama hits him and the testosterone composition is replaced by a stupid motive.


A similar thing happened in Bleach, when Ichigo attacked Aizen with his theme, and he stopped him and hit with his finger, and at that moment the combat soundtrack stopped.

Back to opening

Another example that anime music uses is back to opening. This usually happens with animes that run no more than 30 episodes and have only one opening. Namely, when suddenly a song from it starts playing in the last scene of the series. This becomes the real culmination of the whole picture.


Anime Music

Finally, I would like to talk about anime music. I love it as hell when what the characters play reflects their emotional state or character. For example, in "K-On!" the songs perfectly convey the close friendship between the main characters and we can feel it. Likewise, the rivalry of the rap battle heroes in The Zombieland Saga is superbly.

To sum up, I want to say that music in anime is not always in the first place, and anime can be great without a catchy sound. Conversely, you may not like this or that title, but its soundtrack is in your playlist. But still it is a mechanism for transmitting emotion, and I can say with confidence that I would have loved, for example, “Domekano” a little less without its main theme, as well as obviously not so strongly perceived “Akira” without his music.


The Topic of Article: How anime music works.
Author: Jake Pinkman