Wow. This ended up being a real challenge.
Last year’s video of the Top 100 Anime OPs was tough to make, but mainly due to my inexperience in video editing. I had a pretty solid idea of where any opening should go because these were songs I’d listened to countless times before. Endings, however, I don’t listen to nearly as often. Ranking them thus proved to be quite a challenge; prone to frequent changes once I actually heard any song back-to-back with its neighbors.
Nevertheless, the video eventually got done and is here for you to enjoy. Without further delay…
#100 Mystic Eyes – Escaflowne
Kicking off the list we got Mystic Eyes from Visions of Escaflowne. A classic J-pop love song by H-Wonder (Hiroki Wada), who also did music for other shoujo anime. It’s a diverse song where sudden rises in pace give an exciting touch to the romantic lyrics. In doing so, neatly matching the series’ own diverse appeals.
#99 One For All – Anima Yell
The first anime to make both lists and for very similar reasons. Both the OP and ED for Anima Yell play with its cheerleading theme to great effect. One For All is a pleasant, cheery song that doesn’t so much end an episode as it makes you excited for the next one.
#98 Anata no Omimi ni Plug In! – Seiyu’s Life
Seiyu’s Life frames its ending songs as a series of radio shows in which the cast discusses the plot of the anime. It’s a wonderful way to wrap up an episode, but its highlights are the songs. As the in-universe idol group Earphones, the girls cover songs from all kinds of other anime—many of which also appeared on last year’s list. It’s really cool, though I kept it high up on the list since it’s mostly a gimmicky novelty.
#97 Afterschool Promise – Mysterious Girlfriend X
Ayako Yoshitani was a one-hit wonder when it comes to anime voice acting, but her amazing voice was a major appeal for Mysterious Girlfriend X. She also performs the anime’s ending song “Afterschool Promise”, again with impressive results for such a little-known actress. Somewhat unfortunately, the fetishistic nature of the show is also present in the ED—limiting its appeal somewhat.
#96 Moffumoffu DE Yoi no Ja yo – Senko-san
Comfy anime are best-served with comfy music. That’s exactly “Moffumoffu DE Yoi no Ja yo” by Senko’s voice actress Azumi Waki seeks to provide. A song that makes you want to lie down, curl up, and relax.
#95 Ishukan Communication – Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
And one more VA song to complete this chain. “Ishukan Communication” is performed by the dragon girls from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. The song captures the goofy and adorable personalities of the characters and is super catchy to boot. Well-deserving of a spot on this list.
#94 Raspberry Heaven – Azumanga Daioh
In contrast to its bouncy opening song, Azumanga Daioh‘s ED is much more serene. Its a calm, almost emotional song, that becomes a lot goofier if paired with its visuals. Because of that, it’s a nice closer for the anime its attached to; whilst having a very different appeal if listened to on its own.
#93 Tutti! – Sound! Euphonium
Though I cared little for the music in Sound! Euphonium itself, its ending song is much more my style. It’s a darn catchy pop song with a fast pace to it, sung by the actresses of the main characters. Further helping this ED stand out are KyoAni’s fantastic visuals and editing. While other anime settle for minimal or silly animations to accompany the ED, Tutti! feels like a proper music video.
#92 La divina tragedia – Umineko
Not gonna lie, Jimang is an acquired taste. “La divina tragedia” is a very experimental song with strange lyrics and sudden changes in pace. It’s certainly not as epic as Umineko‘s legendary opening song, but it does fit the show brilliantly. It’s such an intimidating song, with its tragic lyrics and villainous cackling.
#91 Shine – Hellsing
It’s always a little special when bands from the West get to produce music for an anime. While “Shine” by LA rock band Mr. Big was far from the first instance of this happening, it was the first time that I encountered it myself. This song and Hellsing itself are nostalgic for me to this very day. A shame that Hellsing Ultimate would come around and outSHINE the original series; often condemning this fantastic ED to obscurity.
#90 Star Rise – Bamboo Blade
Bamboo Blade‘s OP just barely didn’t make the list last year, but I have a soft spot for “Star Rise”. It’s a VA song that comes out swinging with its memorable chorus. The rest of the song is characterized by the great synergy between the singers and its introspective lyrics. Definitely a song worth looking up the translation for.
#89 Set Them Free – Tonari no Seki-kun
Tonari no Seki-kun is a show all about wasting time in class, so how brilliant is it that the ending song plays with that idea as well. “Set Them free” is technically played by Akira Jimbo, but the music is provided by Seki-kun himself. Using all kinds of stationary, the master of killing time puts up a musical performance that even Rumi can’t resist dancing to.
#88 Tokimeki☆Climax – Uzamaid
Speaking of songs that are way catchier than they have a right to be. Uzamaid‘s “Tokimeki Climax” is a goofy song about working out, set to visuals of Tsubame and Misha doing just that. With varying degrees of success and of course aided by the ever-loyal ferret Kumagoro. Goofiness is not the song’s only appeal, however. The build-up eventually explodes and the song becomes genuinely great to listen to.
#87 My Pace de Ikimashou – Yuru Yuri
I can’t get this song out of my head please send help.
#86 Naked Flower – Murder Princess
Romi Park is as prolific as she is talented. Video games, anime, theatre, drama CD’s, she is everywhere and for a darn good reason. However, it’s not often that we get to hear her sing. Something that I’d like to see rectified asap. My evidence: “Naked Flower” from Murder Princess.
#85 Hey! Smith!! – Monster Musume
Once again returning to goofiness, we have “Hey! Smith!!” from Monster Musume. A song in which the operatives of the MON Team take center stage in an homage to their enigmatic leader. The song gives each character a spotlight, as well as a few lewd poses. And while I chose to include a sillier portion in the video, the more rock-like portions of the song are nothing to scoff at.
#84 LET IT OUT – Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
There was a lot of good music to pick from in FMAB. Most people seem to prefer “Uso”, the first ED. Personally, I really love “LET IT OUT” by Miho Fukuhara. A song that starts slow and tender, then builds up to a big shift in the middle. A great song, helped along by Miho’s phenomenal voice.
#83 Beam my Beam – Omamori Himari
Here we have an ED that I passed on while watching the show itself, only to rediscover it while making this article. I don’t even know how it eluded me, because Beam my Beam is so bouncy and energetic that it’s almost irresistible. Qualities that pair well with the fanservice included with the ED.
#82 Kyou mo Doko ka de Devilman – Devilman
The original TV adaptation of Devilman left a lot to be desired, but its music was pretty damn on point. Its opening would go on to garner fame thanks to its inclusion in Devilman Crybaby, but “Kyou mo Doko ka de Devilman” is no slacker either. The song feels like an embodiment of what old school anime was about and the kind of music featured in them. It’s nostalgically retro, even to those who were but future sperms back when this song dropped in 1973.
#81 Shiki no Uta – Samurai Champloo
“Shiki no Uta” or “Song of the Seasons” is a song that defies my usual preferences for music genres; just like the anime it’s attached to. It’s apparently J-pop mixed with reggae, but I have nothing else to compare it to. All I know is that I can’t help but bop my head along to the beat, while enjoying the rap-like singing.
#80 Neguse – Tamako Market
I could straight-up copy chunks of my paragraph on Sound! Euphonium here again. Another super-charming, upbeat pop song with fantastic visuals, sadly attached to a show that I don’t like. At least I can enjoy the music.
#79 Yuke! Yuke! Kawaguchi Hiroshi – Heaven’s Lost Property
Kawaguchi Hiroshi was a famous actor and TV personality, up until his death in 1987. This song was originally made as part of a TV show he worked on, but for some unknowable reason was then also included in Heaven’s Lost Property. An anime made when Mr. Kawaguchi had been dead for decades.
I think it’s somebody’s in-joke that got way out of control, but the result is so preposterously funny that I can’t help but love it. This ED chronicles an entire adventure, as Ikaros dives underwater and finds all kinds of silly nonsense. It’s already comedic on its own—funnier than the actual episode even—and this song plays on top of it with no added context whatsoever.
#78 Michishirube – Violet Evergarden
I am typically not a fan of Minori Chihara’s work, but holy shit does she hit it out of the park with “Michishirube”. Her unique voice combines elegantly with the bittersweet piano music, creating a mesmerizing blend. Hearing this song kick in after some of the more emotionally-devastating episodes of Violet Evergarden is a real punch in the gut. Your feelings gut, that is. Or something like that.
#77 Kairaku Genri – Chaika
Returning to my comfort zone of J-rock, we got Coffin Princess’ “Kairaku Genri”. What makes this song stand out is its strange tone. Portions of it sound like your typical VA song, but the instrumentals veer into industrial sounds and the lyrics get quite intense. This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to fire up the next episode right away.
#76 X-Jigen e Youkoso – Space Dandy
And straight back out of the comfort zone: “X-Jigen e Youkoso” by Etsuko Yakushimaru. Like Minori Chihara, Etsuko is another artist that I often can’t stand the sound of. She sounds so bored and passionless in the songs I’ve heard so far. Not so for Space Dandy, however.
This is a lively and experimental song, matched with creative visuals. The lyrics are also particularly noteworthy, as they tap into some of the underlying subtext of Space Dandy. Context that is rarely brought up in the show itself, here twisted into a funny and appealing pop song.
#75 FLIP FLAP FLIP FLAP – Flip Flappers
If I were to redo this video, this is the one bit I would change. My favorite part of this song isn’t so much the cheery chorus featured in the video, but the build up towards it. During the calmer portions, the vocalist sounds so enchanting. A feeling that pairs super well with the fairytale artstyle of the ED’s visuals. It’s still a nice song with great art once it speeds up, but for once I like it best when the song is still slow.
#74 Magical Circle – Magical Circle Guru Guru
“Magical Circle” from the anime Magical Circle. What’s not to love?! Like the anime, this is a very charming song. Energetic, funny, and vocals by Shoko Nakagawa are always a treat.
#73 Honnou no Doubt – Milky Holmes
Fanservice and Faylan. A better combination does not exist!
#72 Beauty of Destiny – Persona 4
The Persona series has a particular soundscape to it. One that I feel peaked in Persona 4, though I have yet to play Persona 5. “Beauty of Destiny” is a fantastic song, created specifically for the anime adaptation of Persona 4. In spite of this, it feels like it fits perfectly with the existing soundtrack. The mix of rap sequences and Shihoko Hirata’s singing allows “Beauty of Destiny” to fit seamlessly besides songs like “Backside of the TV” and “Pursuing My True Self”.
#71 Furare Kibun de Rock’n’Roll – Doki Doki School Hours
Not many entries have such a disparity between the originality of the ED and that of the show attached to it. Teacher’s Time or Doki Doki School Hours was a thoroughly generic post-Azumanga comedy anime. “Furare Kibun de Rock’n’Roll” meanwhile is unlike any other ED on this list. It’s a delightfully-cheesy song that’s fun to hum along with, and a chorus that’ll stick with you.
#70 “Rashiku” Ikimasho – Sailor Moon
There was a lot of music to go through for Sailor Moon, so I was surprised when the winner was an ED for my least favorite season. SuperS has its problems, but this song sure ain’t one of them. Mue puts on a stellar performance here with a song that sound great, even if its lyrics aren’t wholly appropriate for the context. Particularly cute is how the ED focuses on Chibi Usa, as she hangs out out with all her friends and dreams of the future.
#69 Bloody Samurai – Afro Samurai
I did not expect to rank this one so highly, but daaaaaaaaaaamn. What a song. “Bloody Samurai” is a massive cooperative effort between various rappers. I won’t pretend to know who these people are, but I was very impressed with the result. The full song clocks in at nearly 4 minutes, which is massive for ED standards. It is also really cool to listen to, though I say that as a complete outsider to rap music.
#68 Junketsu Paradox – Blood-C
Blood-C has an amazing soundtrack, of which “Junketsu Paradox” is yet another example. The opening song “Spiral” also ranked high last year and while this ED lacks the same novelty value, it is very hype. Songs with vocals by Nana Mizuki are always a plus in my book, especially ones that go as fast as this track. Admittedly it’s not her best work, but even the average Mizuki song trends above par.
#67 ∞Loop – Maid-Sama
It always makes me happy when shoujo anime get some rocking music in them. Maid-Sama! was already a great anime before “∞Loop” replaced its prior opening, but I remember well how excited I was when I first heard it. It opens so strong and then keeps that energy going for the entire song. Sure, it’s still a love song, but those guitar segments don’t lie. That’s rock ‘n’ roll, alright.
#66 Torikago – Darling in the FranXX
“Torikago” is not what I expected from an anime like Darling in the FranXX, but it grew on me quickly. Just like with other songs from voice actress units on this list, there is some very good synergy between the actresses. All these voices coming together in unison, for a song with a lot of power behind it.
#65 Wind – Naruto
Ooooooh nostalgia. Akeboshi’s “Wind” is perhaps the first anime ED I ever heard. Back when you watched anime in cut-up parts on YouTube. The song still sends shivers down my spine today and its lyrics are so apt for early Naruto. Honestly, it makes me want to rewatch the entire series again. Let’s move on before the compulsion gets too strong.
#64 Blue Flow – Haibane Renmei
I was happy to see “Blue Flow” rank highly on lists from other creators. It’s a moody, melancholic song, with lyrics and visuals to match. Rakka spinning in a void, with indistinct images superimposed over her while Heart of Air sings about loneliness. It’s a gripping combination that makes “Blue Flow” so memorable.
#63 Harvest Moon – Hakumei to Mikochi
“Harvest Moon” is not the most exciting song on this list, but it is one that resonates with me very well personally. The lyrics, the vocalists, the shifts in its pace, and the stylish visuals. It’s all so very neat. The art is also changed around for almost every episode, which is always a nice effort. Bonus points for Aoi Yuuki.
#62 Yes, Prisoner – The Mystic Archives of Dantalian
“Yes, prisoner” is a very experimental song by a band I have never heard of. Combined with its stop-motions visuals, it’s a surreal, somewhat-nightmarish thing to witness. In spite of its overall weirdness, I can’t deny that the vocals are captivating. It draws you in, even though it’s so off-putting on the surface.
#61 Lullaby Blue – DRAMAtical Murder
Of all the love songs on this list, this is the only one for a yaoi series. Even better, this is a song all for my boy Clear. “Lullaby Blue” is a touching song, which stands out for being sung in English by a Japanese singer. No, not Engrish. Kanoko Ito makes herself so clear, you’d think she was a native speaker.
#60 Underground – Tengen Toppa
Kicking off the Gainax/Trigger representation on this list, we got “Underground” from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. A rebellious punk song by High Voltage, Underground is such a good fit for Gurren Lagann. It captures the right spirit and is a blast to listen to on top of that. Definitely a song worth looking up on its own, because even Spotify has a version with much crisper audio than what was used in the original TV cut.
#59 Anata no Kokoro Ni – Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi is a show fundamentally about nostalgia for bygone times. And it’s that theme, however undefinable, that Megumi Hayashibara captures with “Anata no Kokoro Ni”. It’s a calm, swooning song, supplemented with black & white pictures of old-timey city life. Images and a song that are unlikely to appeal to the juvenile audience of the anime itself, but I very much commend its creators for sacrificing easy appeals for thematic consistency here.
#58 Koi wa A La Mode – Tokyo Mew Mew
Speaking of nostalgia… Few songs inspire love for 90s shoujo anime as strongly as “Koi wa A La Mode”. A charming and happy song that spotlights the cast of Tokyo Mew Mew, with fun chibi animations to go along with it. I can’t listen to this without a smile on my face.
#57 Hajimari no Hito – Bartender
Another ED that jumped up on the list a lot from its original position. Originally I kept it high because it was such a gimmicky song, but the more I listened to it, the more it appealed to me beyond novelty. “Hajimari no Hito” has the immediate appeal that each episode shows you how to make a different cocktail. However, it is also a stunningly beautiful love song by Natural High.
#56 Omokage – Shaman King
It’s hard to resist any song with Megumi Hayashibara in it. Especially one with a sound as impressive as “Omokage”. I lack the musical knowhow to articulate just why this ED appeals to me so much. The whole flow of this song just drags me along like the merciless currents of a river.
#55 Ten Years After – MSG: 08th MS Team
“Ten Years After” is notable both for the incredible appeal of the song itself, as well as for its incredible directing. The entire ED is one ongoing shot of protagonist Shiro Amada trying to relax, while all around him people are messing about. Fellow soldiers joke about in the background, vehicles drive by, friends get in front of the camera, there’s some titties at one point point. Amazing directorial work, all set to a song that would have been great even if it was just a static picture.
#54 Kamisama no Iutoori – Tatami Galaxy
Damn, there is Etsuko Yakushimaru again. What a surprise!
“Kamisama no Lutoori” is a song very comparable to her ED for Space Dandy, but one which is more consistent in tone with the rest of the anime. It’s a song that makes a lot of sense for The Tatami Galaxy. Etsuko’s singing is very mystical, while the visuals of tiny apartment rooms contracting and expanding is very apt for the series’ subject matter. It’s not an ED I’d quickly listen to on its own, but it is one that I never skip when watching the show itself.
#53 Itsumo Itsudemo – Digimon Adventure
This is not a nostalgic pick. I didn’t watch the Japanese version of Digimon Adventure until waaaaaaay into adulthood. Nevertheless, I am shocked that a show for kids is permitted to have an ED song that goes this hard. “Itsumo Itsudemo” is so damn catchy. It’s hard not to sing along with that chorus, as evidenced by the fact that I played the song while hanging out with a Digimon fan and he did just that.
#52 I Wanna Be – Soul eater
What a perfect song for Soul Eater. It has a bit of a slow intro, only to dive straight into some of the best punk rock you’ve ever heard in anime. An absolutely stellar song, with great visual accompaniment to go along with it.
#51 Yuukyou Seishunka – Code Geass
Ali Project songs aren’t very distinct from each other, but it is a sound very specific to this one band. A sound that I very much enjoy. The symphonic rock music paired with the baroque vocals is just so unique. I put their OPs for Rozen Maiden and Another on last year’s list, but this time around “Yuukyou Seishunka” from Code Geass is their only entry.
#50 Hawatari 2 Oku-senchi – Chainsaw Man
I have yet to see Chainsaw Man, but nothing sold me on the anime more than this song. Maximum the Hormone blows it out of the park with a song that jumps from one genre to the next. Industrial metal suddenly shifts into a melancholic ballad, only to lurch right back into high-speed J-rock. It’s a song full of surprises and all of those surprises are made of pure hype.
#49 Dango Daizoku – Clannad
This song is just unbearably cute. You really want me to say more?
#48 Great Escape – Attack on Titan
“Great Escape” has perhaps the best opening riff of any song on this list. It comes out swinging and only gets better once the vocals come in and the chorus hits. It’s a song that just keeps getting better, even though every time you feel like it has just peaked.
#47 Tactics – Rurouni Kenshin
Another anime I have yet to see, but where the ending has reached me nonetheless. “Tactics” by The Yellow Monkey is some of the catchiest J-rock I have ever heard. Those guitar riffs and Yoshii’s vocals hit so well. Especially in the full version of this song.
#46 Mask – Sorcerer Hunters
Masami Okui is already impressive as a vocalist for JAM project, but has also frequently impressed with her solo performances. “Mask” is an example of these, again hailing from the 90s. Is my nostalgia shining through enough?
I once again lack the musical literacy to explain why this song works so well. Give it a listen and judge for yourself.
#45 Watashi no Tamagoyaki – Dragon Half
One of the goofiest songs to make it this far up the list, “My Omelette” is one of two songs that had me crying the first time I heard them. Though for entirely different reasons. It’s ostensibly Beethoven’s 7th symphony, but with absurd lyrics added on top of them. Mink’s voice actress sings about the wonders of love and having lunch together, though making sure to stipulate what she will and won’t share. It is so profoundly stupid, but perfectly in character both for Mink and the show itself. Never before did a song leave me laughing this hard.
They even credit Beehoven. Fucking hell.
#44 Paradox – Akuma no Riddle
Akuma no Riddle is another series that no shortage of music to pick from, as each episode has its own ending song. “Paradox” is a thrilling song that gets paired with some very cool art for protagonist Azuma. I almost feel bad for the other endings, because “Paradox” sets the bar too high for any of them to beat.
#43 Downtown Dance – Irresponsible Captain Tylor
Compared to other song on this list—even the romantic ones—”Downtown Dance” is particularly sultry. A smooth relaxing song, set to the titular Captain Tylor as he relaxingly sways back and forth. It’s a bit short, but in a way that makes you wish there was even more.
#42 And Forever… – Big O
And while we’re on the topic of romantic songs, we absolutely have to address “And Forever…” from The Big O. This duet between Robbie Danzie and Naoki Takao is so enchanting and beautiful. Like “Lullaby Blue” it manages to sound perfectly English in spite of its Japanese talent. It also emphasizes the classier side of The Big O, whereas the corresponding OP is more about upbeat mecha silliness.
#41 Sugar Song to Bitter Step – Kekkai Sensen
Kekkai Sensen is a very stylized show. A quality that “Sugar Song to Bitter Step” taps into with great results. It’s a jazzy, energetic song, set to the show’s wide roster of characters goofing off on stage. Sometimes managing a bit of dancing finesse, while at other times drunkenly stumbling about. It’s a damn fine song on its own, elevated by all the visual details that fans of the show will notice and enjoy.
#40 Raison d’Être – Chobits
God, I love Chobits. I am not even going to act like this was a fair pick. “Raison d’être” was always going to make it unto this list, though it has ample merit to back up my admitted favoritism. This list may have betrayed my fondness for cheesy love songs already, of which Rie Tanaka presents another fine contender. “Raison d’être” is a very soothing song to listen to and pairs well with the visuals from A City with No People.
Let me be biased in peace, darn you.
#39 Passionate Squall – Seikon no Qwaser
As with everything Seikon no Qwaser, its ED “Passionate Squall” is a guilty pleasure through and through. The song alone would have put it on the list already, but the visuals really complete it. Like the show itself. the overabundance of fanservice is only paralleled by the shameless pretentiousness of it all. The ED is full of symbolism and artsy bullshit, which may—for a brief moment—make you forget that you’re just watching borderline hentai.
#38 Lithium Flower – Ghost in the Shell
“Lithium Flower” is another one of those rare instances where an all-English song was used in anime to great effect. Lithium Flower is fascinating. Both for its lyrics about a person becoming mesmerized with a woman who may not be really human, as well as for the slow, heavy tone of the singer’s voice. Australian singer Scott Matthew did a wonderful job and added a unique touch the soundscape of Stand Alone Complex.
#37 Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari – Monogatari
It’s no surprise that the Monogatari series would has some amazing music to it, especially its openings and endings. While OPs like last year’s high-ranking “Platinum Disco” draw the most attention, I am also very fond of “Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari”. A pleasant though cheesy love song by Supercell, here transformed into an artsy spectacle revolving around Senjougahara. The stylized animation is top notch and helps to emphasize the high points of a song that was already a chart topper to begin with.
#36 Heikousen – Scum’s Wish
Sayuri’s voice and style of J-rock is a combination I could never get tired off. Her music never misses for me and this is certainly not her last inclusion on this list. “Heikousen” or “Parallel Lines” is a fast-paced, passionate song. I sought out Scum’s Wish specifically because I discovered this song and now I can’t imagine the anime without it.
#35 Hare Hare Yukai – Haruhi Suzumiya
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya had an impact on the anime fandom that is almost unfathomable if you didn’t experience it firsthand. As a result, its music is ingrained in the minds of many. Both for being some of Aya Hirano’s finest work, as well as the unbearable amounts of cringe it inspired. “Hare Hare Yukai” is an amazing song with a memorable dance attached to it, which for years was utterly inescapable. And even today, this catchy bastard of a song.
#34 The World of Midnight – Black Lagoon
Putting this song just after “Hare Hare Yukai” gave me emotional whiplash while editing. This is the second song that had me weeping when I first heard it, though not for the same reasons as with Dragon Half. I am not going to spoil the best arc of Black Lagoon for anyone. If you know, you know. If you don’t, go watch Black Lagoon ya doofus.
#33 Down by the Salley Gardens – Fractale
Fractale alternates between two versions of “Down by the Salley Gardens”. Both inspired by a 19th century poem, both beautiful to listen to. The song retains its charming Celtic influences, regardless of whether you listen to the Japanese or English versions of it. These are amplified by Hitomi Azuma’s soothing voice, making for one of the comfiest songs on this list.
#32 Gomen ne, Iiko ja Irarenai – Kill La Kill
Getting back to the more energetic songs, we have “Homen ne, Iiko ja Irarenai” by Miku Sawai. A cool song about teenage rebelliousness, which is certainly apt when paired with Kill la Kill. A fantastic song to get you hyped up for the next episode, or listen to on full blast while driving down the high way.
#31 Rebirth-day – Symphogear
“Rebirth-day” is not just the best ending in Symphogear, it may well be the best song in the entire series. For an anime literally revolving around music, that is saying a lot. Yet, out of every opening and ending, every insert song and concert, Rebirth-day is the one track that gets me fired up beyond 100%. This song gets to the heart of Symphogear and reminds me of why I love this series so fucking much.
#30 Fairy Dance – Figure 17
Figure 17 was the big winner last year, with “Boy” by Japanese folk band The Alfee. “Fairy Dance” was performed by that same band and I adore it. It’s a slower, more emotional song, but one that grips you with the sudden rises and drops in tempo. It’s an amazing work with a sound unlike anything else in anime.
#29 aLIEz – Aldnoah.Zero
What a waste of amazing talent Aldnoah.Zero was. I just keep discovering more people that apparently worked on this forgettable trash fire. People like goddamn Hiroyuki Sawano, who was apparently behind “aLIEz”. The music in this series being its one lasting contribution to anime history. I had always attributed this song to its singer Mizuki, so I was surprised when a friend mentioned it was Sawano. Not that this at all changes how hype of a song this is; it only serves to explain some of the underlying reasons.
#28 Bourei-tachi yo Yabou no Hate ni Nemure – Katanagatari
Katanagatari is another one of those anime that uses different songs for each episode. Theoretically this would have given me a lot to choose from and thus a difficult decision to make. In reality, the song by Faylan wins by virtue of being a song by Faylan. “Bourei-tachi yo Yabou no Hate ni Nemure” sends shivers down my spine, both because its such a thrilling song, as well as for its placement in the anime itself. It directly plays after one of the most emotional twists in the show, guaranteeing that it will be ingrained in your memory.
#27 Ride on Shooting Star – FLCL
The Pillows were massively influential in shaping the soundtrack of FLCL, so it’s no surprise that a song by theirs features as its ending. What is surprising is just how addicting “Ride on Shooting Star” is to listen to. The English chorus makes it fun to yell along with the song, but even beyond that it’s a damn fine bit of rock ‘n’ roll. It also feels very tied to FLCL‘s identity, again owing to The Pillows being a big part of the anime’s production. This also makes it one of the most fun endings to watch, as it tells a short story about Haruko’s bike. The use of stop-motion photography also gives it a memorable touch.
#26 Last Piece – GTO
Acting as the ending theme for the first 17 episodes of Great Teacher Onizuka, “Last Piece” is an iconic part of the series for me. Its a pop song with a romantic touch to it, though I like it more for the bittersweet tone than the actual meaning of its lyrics. This tone and the lingering shot of Onizuka smoking alone at dusk help to underline some of the anime’s often understated feelings. A great direction for a song that helps you wind down after another no-doubt crazy episode.
#25 BAD END – My Next Life as a Villainess
Why do romantic shoujo anime sometimes have the most fire of ending songs. Do audiences really need to be stirred up this hard for another episode of goofy romantic fun?
Regardless, that is certainly what “BAD END” achieves. It’s a high-pace, kick-ass song by Shouta Aoi. Not something I expected from a singer renowned for his “angelic”, genderless voice. The editing of the ED helps to make it even more memorable, though I gladly listen to BAD END without it as well.
#24 Nippon Egao Hyakkei – Joshiraku
If you thought “Hare Hare Yukai” was going to be the pinnacle of ridiculousness on this list, then think again. Joshiraku is a nightmare of an anime, owing to it being largely unintelligible. Unless you’re fluent in Japanese, have a keen understanding of its folklore, and an interest in obscure performance art, that is. No such requirements apply to “Nippon Egao Hyakkei”, the series’ (in)famous ending song.
Essentially, it’s a musical rendition of a folktale about a father that can’t decide on a name for his child, so instead decides to string together every name into one. It is so goofy, yet Momoire Clover Z somehow manages to turn this comedic tale into an unforgettable song.
#23 Styx Helix – Re:Zero
When it comes Myth & Roid, I am mainly a fan of their louder, metal-adjacent songs. Some of which will be further down on the list, no doubt. “Styx Helix” was my introduction to some of their more melancholic work. An experience that revealed to me just how big of a range this band has.
The song’s lyrics are also a great fit for Re:Zero. It bounces back-and-forth; one the one hand desperately clinging to life, on the other accepting death in the hopes of amending any regrets in the next life. After an emotional episode of Re:Zero, it sure feels good to hear this amazing song kick in to end things off.
#22 Inkya Impulse – Asobi Asobase
Joke songs are all well and good, but it makes me particularly happy when a song is both comedic, as well as genuinely good. “Inkya Impulse” from Asobi Asobase is exactly that and so much more.
It’s the perfect counterpoint to the show’s opening, which is a mellow, calm song. A great fit for the kind of adorable slice-of-life experience that Asobi Asobase is distinctly not. As such, Inkya Impulse is rough and loud. It’s an intense metal song, which banks on the amazing voice range of its actresses to fit in some amazing screams. A tone that pairs well with the frantic linework of the ED’s visuals.
It’s plain cool and a joy to listen to. The meta joke of how it relates to the OP is a nice extra on top.
#21 Resuscitated Hope – Gosick
It’s a good song.
#20 don’t be discouraged – Slayers
My fondness for both Megumi Hayashibara and Slayers are well-documented at this point. The question wasn’t if an ED from this legendary fantasy series (and singer) would make it unto the list, but which one of the many. Last year “Give a Reason” pierced well into the top 20, this year it’s “don’t be discouraged” from season 3—narrowly beating out “Revolution”.
Both songs are brilliant in their own ways, but “don’t be discouraged” has that funky beat going for it and shows off Megumi’s voice just that little better.
#19 L.L.L. – Overlord
When I mentioned being primarily a fan of Myth & Roid’s more aggressive songs, “L.L.L.” stood out in my mind as the foremost example. Acting as the first ending of the only good season of Overlord, L.L.L. is a love song of a very different flavor. It’s a song about obsession, about wanting to possess the other by any means necessary. It’s unhinged and aggressive, yet melodic in its own way.
#18 Hanabira Ondo – Interspecies Reviewers
As with Joshiraku higher up this list, I like it when anime can poke a little fun at Japanese traditions and folklore. Something which few shows do as brilliantly as the wildly inappropriate Interspecies Reviewers. Ondo music is a type of folk music, commonly associated with Buddhist festivals like Bon. A beautiful tradition born from culture and religion, that is here transformed into a sick beat for a song about banging big titty prostitutes.
Goofy, unseemly, and highly disrespectful, but super catchy nonetheless.
#17 Masquerade – Oreimo
Oreimo is not an anime I expected much from in terms of music, but leave it to Kana Hanazawa to fit in an absolute banger of a song. “Masquerade” acts as the ending of episode 7 and I remember how I almost skipped over it. None of the other endings were anything special, so why would this one be? I caught myself just in time and it has since become one of my favorite anime songs to listen to. It has a real punch to it, especially anytime when that chorus kicks in.
#16 Omamori – Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei
The inspired soundtrack for Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei is one of its few redeeming qualities. Every song is wildly experimental and all of them hit the mark just right. “Omamori” is no exception, but stands out even more for the music video attached to it. Shifting the anime’s look to that a stylized, gothic horror was certainly unexpected and very cool to see. The first time I saw this ED, I immediately rewinded to watch it a second time.
#15 Odoru Akachan Ningen – Welcome To The NHK
“Odoru Akachen Ningen” has a big fake-out, but one that ultimately pays off. It lures you in with an intense opening and symbolic shots of the main cast, before cutting instead to a wacky song starring weird little mini-dudes that dance inappropriately. I’ll admit that I didn’t like it at first, but it quickly grew on me from there.
First and foremost, it is a cool alt rock song that I just like to listen to. It has a nice rhythm and great vocals to it. Then there is the underlying meaning of its lyrics and how those pertain to Welcome to the NHK. It’s a pathetic song when you get down to it, really. A self-righteous tirade about how unfair it is to grow up and how much better it’d be to stay a baby forever. It’s about wanting to wallow in unconditional love, free of responsibilities and judgment.
Whether you take that on face value or see it as satire, it is a great fit for this particular anime.
#14 Fly Me To The Moon – Neon Genesis Evangelion
“You can’t put Frank Sinatra on the list, that’s just cheating!”
#13 Fallen Angel – Panty & Stocking
Many songs on this list I’ve praised for being a good fit for their respective anime. In the case of “Fallen Angel”, it’s the reverse. Panty & Stocking is a raunchy, high-octane show with vulgar humor aplenty. To then have the ending song be so melancholic and beautiful feels so abrupt, in a good way.
I can’t understate how enchanting of a song this is, in spite of its grim subject matter.
#12 Nai Nai – Shadows House
“Nai Nai” is a song of constant surprises. Its rhythm and style change drastically as the song continues; from the soft humming of “tu tu tu tu” as its opening to the bombastic singing as the song swells towards the end. It constantly catches you off guard, though not in a way that feels at all gimmicky. It’s inspired and pairs well with the gorgeous visuals that Shadows House is known for.
Though if it inspires you to give the series a try yourself, then it’s generally recommended to go for the manga instead.
#11 Hoshizora no Spica – Lyrical Nanoha
Plot twist: I like Yukari Tamura!
Though she is surprisingly absent on today’s list, “Hoshizora no Spica” comes in at a respectable #11. It’s the first ED for Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, acting as a nice change-of-pace compared to the more action-centric songs the franchise known for. Still, Yukari’s voice lends the song a lot of power as it keeps slowing down and immediately picks back up again. It gets me pumped up, even though it’s really such a calm song.
#10 Don’t Say Lazy – K-On
So I don’t know what any music clubs in middle school were like for you, but mine was definitely not putting out anything like “Don’t Say Lazy”. While its lyrics are as charming and innocent as the rest of the series, this rocking ED is far from moe. It’s stylish and fast-paced, with gorgeous singing by Yoko Hikasa.
K-On! may be a divisive series, but few would deny that this song kicks ass.
#9 Lapis Lazuli – Arslan Senki
Speaking of songs that come from the left field, “Lapis Lazuli” from The Heroic Legend of Arslan. A pretty darn good show, though not one that grabbed me right from the start. Then this song kicks in and… damn. I wanted to watch another episode right away.
I don’t really know what to add. It’s such a hype song and I listen to it frequently to this very day.
#8 Rage Your Dream – Initial D
This one may actually be cheating. I haven’t seen Initial D yet, it’s on my to-do list and has been there for a while. However, I have been a fan of Move since I was a teenager. I never they knew did music for anime. Or that my favorite song by them, “Rage Your Dream”, was actually for an anime.
Blatantly a nostalgic pick, but this is a hill I am prepared to die on.
#7 Why, or Why Not – Higurashi
I first mentioned “Why, or Why Not” on my list of best English songs in anime. Since then, it has grown on me more and more. An effect that is certainly amplified by my deep fondness for the original Higurashi anime.
“Why, or Why Not” is a song that taps into a lot of emotions at once. It’s a tragic piece about running out of time and losing one’s life, for reasons that lack any sense whatsoever. Very much speaking to the mysteries of Hinamizawa that keep its cast trapped in a time loop of tragedy. However, it retains a hint of defiance. Demanding over and over again to explain why things are the way they are and why they could not be different.
A message with a lot of power to it, especially in those moments where all seems hopeless. As is so often the case in this franchise.
#6 DANZAI NO HANA ~Guilty Sky~ – Claymore
Peak J-Rock. I will hear no objections.
#5 Sore wa Chiisana Hikari no You na – ERASED
I already praised Sayuri’s impactful singing earlier in this list, but nowhere is this shown off as much as in ERASED. “Sore wa Chiisana Hikari no You na” starts off slowly, building up pace line after line. Before you know it, Sayuri explodes into passionate song. Each word hits like a sledgehammer and, mercilessly, she just keeps picking back up just as you think it might slow back down.
Even without the emotions attached to ERASED, this is a song that blows you clean off your feet. This is the song that turned me into a fan of Sayuri’s, because I couldn’t recall the last time I’d been this overwhelmed by music.
#4 Akatsuki – Yona of the Dawn
Wow, what a song.
“Akatsuki” has an undeniably traditional sound to it, utilizing a lot of old-timey instruments with some strong but calm singing. As it picks up, however, Akiko Shikata’s wondrous voice really gets to shine. Even more so than in the already amazing opening song to Umineko, which was my only prior experience with her work.
It may not be the kind of intense song you’d expect from a shoujo series, but damn am I happy they went with it.
#3 Los! Los! Los! – Saga of Tanya the Evil
Talk about ending songs that overshadow their respective openings. “Jingo Jungle” is… a thing. I don’t particularly care for it myself, but it has plenty of fans. However, “Los Los Los” is the the song synonymous with Tanya. Militaristic and full of aggression, it is an excellent fit for this show. Not to mention, perfectly performed by Aoi Yuuki.
It’s a song that emphasizes, more so than any other entry on this list, that the voice actress and the character are inseparable. The song and Aoi’s performance of it leave no doubt that this is Tanya’s song and Aoi is Tanya Degurechaff. She certainly owns it during live performances.
#2 Dear Future – Penguindrum
I did not expect to have an alt rock band this high on the list, but I can’t deny that “Dear Future” by Coaltar of the Deepers is… an experience. It’s a mesmerizing song that I find difficult to pin down, even as it topped my Spotify playlists years in a row. The sound is so unique and mystical, the vocals and lyrics so elusive. It is the anime song that I click first whenever I start up my playlist, because I never get tired of it. Here’s to another year of it becoming my most played song.
#1 Magia – Madoka Magica
No contest. When I wrote this list, “Magia” was the first entry I put on it and the only one not to budge an inch from its original position. Perhaps it’s an unsurprising pick, though it’s unsurprising exactly because it is entirely deserving of being #1.
My foremost evidence for that claim being the ever-reliable work of Kalafina. “Magia” is their magnum opus; a moody, emotional song with hard-hitting lyrics and Yuki Kajiura’s amazing voice to tie it all together.
With all that said, I’d love to hear some of your nominations for songs that should be on this list. Don’t expect me to fit them on the list, however. I am going to drink myself silly today and don’t want to touch my video editing software for another 10 months.
Happy new year! Drink Responsibly! Watch Madoka Magica!