When it comes to anime theme songs, there are positively far too many bangers of tunes to keep track of. Whether you vibe to Bleach’s “Asterisk” or you can’t stop humming Dragon Ball Z’s “Cha-La Head Cha-La”, we’ve all got that one favorite song that we’ll always bust out when it’s time to break out the anime music playlists.
But which ones are set to go down in history as the best of the best? Which anime openings are cemented in everyone’s minds as exemplary tunes that no fan would ever be able to forget? Obviously, there’s no one correct answer here, but we were able to round up 25 of our favorites that represent the cream of the crop, the absolute masterpieces of the genre.
Check out this list of the 25 best anime theme songs of all time. And be ready to let us know if we missed your faves.
“Fighting evil by moonlight! Winning love by daylight!” Whether you know the Sailor Moon theme song by its English dub lyrics or the original Japanese, you have to admit it’s one ridiculously catchy tune. It holds all the wonder and romance the legendary magical girl series has featured since its debut in the ’90s and remains the best song in the game (aside from Sailor Stars’ “Sailor Star Song”). If you’re a Sailor Moon fan, you know you’ve had this one as your ringtone more than once. This is one for the Moonies, and it’ll always be a favorite that everyone and their brother knows.
“I think it’s time we blow this scene…get everybody and their stuff together…okay, 3, 2, 1, let’s jam!” One of the best anime series of all time gets one of the best opening songs of all time. Cowboy Bebop is a rare, near-perfect anime series, and its jazzy “Tank!” is a tune that gets you hyped every single time. You just don’t skip this song. You don’t. And it’s always worth listening in because you can’t help but jump up out of your seat.
If you’re an anime fan, chances are you know all about Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s one of the most popular mecha series of all time, and chances are you know all about the “Shinji, get in the robot!” meme. The opening song, however, is all about rising and becoming a legend, which we all know the cursed children ended up being after fighting off the Angels and saving humanity…well, kind of. At any rate, this is a true-blue karaoke classic and one of the best songs you’ll hear in the anime world.
You thought this was a list of some of the best anime theme songs of all time, but it was Dio! There are plenty of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure songs to choose from, but you can’t go wrong with the original. It has no business pumping you up this much and prepping you for a long, amazing anime journey, but it goes so hard you won’t even believe it.
The most famous fighting anime of all time has to have an equally famous theme song, and this first-season banger is it by a long shot. It may not always make sense, but “Cha La Head Cha La” is a bona fide bop, as are all the rest of the Dragon Ball songs. Sparking! And don’t forget the English version, which is just as good.
The moe anime that launched a thousand memes, this ridiculously gleeful opening even has a dance you can shake it along to. If you’re a Lucky Star fan, you’ve probably sung this yourself over and over again in the shower, as well as everywhere else, too. You’ve probably cosplayed as Konata while eating a chocolate cornet and humming this song. And to think, it’s all about a sailor uniform. Yep. Bet you didn’t know that.
The Gundam series is known for many things, and excellent music is just one of them. Two-Mix’s “Just Communication” is the first theme for Gundam Wing, and it does a perfect job of getting you hype for figuring out the weird attraction between Relena and Heero, and the secrets behind the Peacecraft family…and everyone else, for that matter. “Just wild beat communication!”
Okay, look. Everything about the first season of The Promised Neverland was hype. It was close to perfect, including this theme song. We can just pretend the second season didn’t happen so we can think about how amazing this song is. The “na na na” chorus? Spare a chef’s kiss for that part of the tune, because it plants an earworm in your head that’ll never go away. Just don’t think about the second set of episodes. They may as well not exist.
Dororo may ultimately be a somewhat depressing anime, but its opening is anything but. It’s an inspirational tune that’s inspired by the flames of ambition, and it stirs something wild in you every time you listen. If you need to prepare for something, this is the song to get you going. Light it up, and dive into this series while you’re at it. It’s criminally underrated.
Berserk is hardly an upbeat show, yet this is one of the most radio-friendly rockers you’ll ever hear from an anime. It has a nostalgic, alt-rock vibe to it that just feels good. While the anime is filled with carnage, this is a song that just ignites something inside of you — perhaps the desire to start your own Band of the Hawk and live your own dream?
The Pillows wrote one of the most iconic songs they’d ever craft when they put pen to paper for FLCL’s opening “Ride On Shooting Star”. It’s a crunchy, garage-rock tune with one of the most recognizable riffs in anime. And though the anime is short, it’s oh-so-sweet. So you’d better not skip this song when it comes on, even though it’s more of an ending than an opening.
No one understands the longing of Paradise Kiss heroine Yukari better than Tommy february6, the pop project alter ego of The Brilliant Green’s Tomoko Kawase. As a result, this high-fashion pop track has the gloss of new love written all over it, but it’s also bittersweet, too. A true, delectable banger that prepares you for what’s to come.
The late Origa put her all into this Russian theme song for the excellent Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. From the chorus to the haunting introspective bridge, this song embodies everything appealing about this series, from Major Motoko Kusanagi to the adorable Tachikoma robots.
This all-English opening wouldn’t have been out of place on ’90s alternative radio, and that alone makes it worthy of being added to any anime playlist. Serial Experiments Lain can be difficult to parse, that’s for sure, but this tune makes it feel a little easier to relate to since it feels like the late ’90s embodied in one catchy track. “And you don’t seem to understand…” — you got that right, this show is confusing.
Devilman Crybaby is a masterpiece of an anime as it is, but the anime’s trippy, dark opening is right up there with the best of the best. It’s a pulsating, thumping beat with repetitious lyrics, but it feels just like the rave that Akira went to and transformed into the Devilman during the show. And it gets you pumped and ready to see what’s to come. You won’t be ready, really, but you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting for it.
This self-titled theme song for one of the spookiest, most disturbing, heart-wrenching series you’ll find this side of Another will prepare you for the trippy, time-looping storytelling of Higurashi. There’s nothing quite like your first time viewing the series, and this first song will get you in the mood quickly.
Let’s face it: the older the anime series, the more dramatic and city pop-like tunes you get. And Dirty Pair certainly skews toward the classic J-Pop idol and city pop genre, all for the better. From the first crunchy notes of guitar and “Ru-Ru-Ru-Ru-shi-an” of the song’s opening, you’ll be hooked. Try and find a better ’80s theme or two cooler female protagonists. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
Lum is gorgeous, but she has a very sweet side to her as well. That comes out in this very catchy, very cute opening to the long-running slapstick comedy Urusei Yatsura. It’s all about Lum being in love with the guy she cares about, but it’s also a song you won’t be able to stop humming. And you’ll want to sing it again and again, too.
Sailor Moon’s “Moonlight Densetsu” may be the crown queen of magical girl music, but Card Captor Sakura’s “Catch You Catch Me” is a whole other world of sweetness and poppiness that feels just like going out hunting for cards with Sakura herself. And if you listen to it long enough, you might start feeling a little like Kero-chan, bopping around in Sakura’s bedroom.
Elfen Lied tells a very bleak story, but its theme song is a pious, respectful anthem. It isn’t something you’ll want to listen to on your daily commute or anything, but it’s a nice, reverent hymn that focuses on Lucy’s plight and the kindness she was eventually shown. O, lily of purity! What possessed you to make such a banger?
Just like Cowboy Bebop’s “Tank!” is iconic in all the right ways, its spiritual counterpart Samurai Champloo is known by its theme, “Battlecry”. A hip-hop gem like no other, this song flows with the best of ’em and feels like the best companion to Mugen and the rest of the gang in the show. Plus, it’s still one of the best opening songs in the anime world by far. Rest in peace, Nujabes.
Bleach came out at a time when the shonen anime scene was positively exploding again. And if you jumped on it from the beginning, you know how hype “Asterisk” got you as soon as the show began. It was the first of what would be many, many excellent opening songs, but it was one of the best ways to kick off a series ever, period, and Orange Range took the cake with this unforgettable tune.
Hellsing’s Alucard has a certain groove to him, in the way he moves, speaks, fights, and eliminates other vampires. So it makes sense that this jazzy, Beatles-esque Britpop tune sways along just like he does. It might not feel like what you’re probably expecting from such a violent and grisly anime, but it’s a deeply dark, mysterious bop that’ll make you feel as cool as a new recruit for the Hellsing Organization.
“Let’s get started, ready steady go!” Just try to get this song out of your head once you think about it. L’arc~en~ciel (French for “rainbow”) understood the assignment when providing this song for Fullmetal Alchemist. Not only did it seem to capture the Elric brothers’ plight and adventure perfectly, but it became the perfect “road” song. Listen to it and you’ll see what I mean.
I’ll go ahead and say it: Gunslinger Girl is deeply depressing. So you need a little bit of hope to balance out the bleakness. The Delgados’ “Light Before We Land” offers just that. It’s a ray of sunshine peeking through the clouds, and a reason not to skip the animation with each episode. It’s also strangely comforting, so you’ll want to come back to it again and again.