Far too often we are so focused on what we see, we often overlook the messages in what we hear. Anime, however, draws heavily on the power of music. With beautiful stories and even greater scores, we have curated a list of only the best anime about music. The visual appeal may enhance a frame in anime, but music is what breathes life into it. As cliche as it may sound, music really has no language. It transcends everything.
Music is what kept man going when all else failed him. The brilliance of music in Japanese animation is a legend in itself. How many of us grew up learning the opening sequence of Pokemon or quietly dancing around to The Merry Go Round of Life from Howl’s Moving Castle? Music in anime is more than just a tool, it creates entire stories and worlds in its notes while subconsciously putting you in the characters’ heads.
List Of The Best Anime About Music
- Kids on the Slope
- Sound of the Sky
- Nodame Cantabile
- Detroit Metal City
- Your Lie in April
- Macross Frontier
- Tari Tari
1. Kids on the Slope (2012)
This heartwarming story revolves around two drastically different lives of a successful but aloof academician and a rebellious delinquent during three years of high school. The story closely develops around their mutual love of jazz music in a record music shop and a close friendship through these sessions.
The time this anime is set in, which is the late 60s and 70s makes for a crucial aspect behind the success of this show. People listened to records and this anime incorporates older jazz and rock music which will keep music enthusiasts absolutely captivated.
2. Sound of the Sky (2010)
Sound of the Sky, also popular as So Ra No Wo To is a war story about Kanata Sorami, a young girl who joins the Helvetian army only for her love of music and becomes the bugler. This apocalyptic setting has a surprisingly compelling style of storytelling. The relationships between characters as well as with themselves is a beautifully crafted experience.
Mamoru Kanbe does really well with Kanata’s expression of absolute love for music and how she takes this musical journey to seek herself. The music in the anime reinterprets classical scores from several different cultures and nails every single one. You’re going to love Sound of the Sky even if just for its music.
3. Given (2019)
Given is one of the best anime there has been. The way this romance drama employs music to drive the storyline is what really captured me. The series follows four young students who form an amateur rock band and set off to create quite the history. This anime is as much about the journey of music as much as it is about finding yourself while coping with the you that already exists.
As an anime about musicians, the music is some of the best I’ve heard and the character arcs are downright amazing. The Given franchise breaks away from the usual lighthearted comedy and skirting around the LGBT theme and gives us a solid story with strong dynamics and important discourses. Check this one out if you are looking for anime about music.
Also Read: Anime About Friendship
4. Nodame Cantabile (2007)
Perfectionist Chiaki Shinichi is your typical arrogant musician whose life gets turned on its head when he meets the supposedly sloppy Nodame, a pianist who prefers to play by the ear rather than off the sheets. Romance ensues as their love of music draws them closer while opportunities arise that lead them towards risks that take them far higher than anyone ever thought possible.
Here’s the opening sequence to it:
Nodame Cantabile is fascinating in more ways than one and romance here is not just another tool for show. It actually drives the story towards personal development instead of just meshing the two characters together. The music is great, the romance is fresh, and the art style is different and keeps it relatively simple without any harsh tones. If you’re looking for anime about music, this musical romance is totally the gem for you.
5. Detroit Metal City (2008)
This musical parody is unlike anything you might have previously seen. The lead singer of Detroit Metal City, a death metal band is called Johannes Krauser II and is the subject of some of the vilest rumours possible. However, the shy young musician underneath that stage persona Soichi Negishi is capable of anything but all that. This anime follows Negishi as he tries to juggle his wild stage life and his extremely average real one.
While this anime might not be for everyone, there are themes in it that parody all the hilarious stereotypes that come with this genre of music and does surprisingly well with holding a pretty solid storyline around it. For all the death metal fans looking for anime about music, this rocking show is it.
6. Your Lie In April (2014)
A one-shot comic entered into a competition which led to the existence of this masterpiece. This musical tale is about a piano prodigy who loses his will to play after the tragic death of his mother. He continues living his monochrome life until Kaori, an eccentric violinist brings him back into the spotlight.
The story goes beyond bringing music back into Kosie’s life, it brings him back to life. It is a story of friendship and music but above all, it is a story of finding your once-lost self and falling in love with life. Your Lie in April is one of those anime that is worth every second of your time, so grab your tissues cause you’ll need it.
Also Read: Anime About Gods
7. Nana (2006)
Nana is a romantic musical that finds two women with identical names but completely different personalities. The two women, Nana Osaki and Nana Komatsu arrive in Tokyo at the age of 20, and the plot centres on their struggles to keep their friendship afloat while Nana O pursues a successful musical career and Nana K pursues romance even as adulthood tries to drive a wedge in between.
Nana is one of those timeless classics that everyone seems to have heard of, and rightfully so. The way music becomes an invaluable tool in expressing emotions and thoughts makes it extremely compelling and the soundtracks are absolutely beautiful. Nana is not your typical shoujo anime but it definitely is one that you must watch at least once.
8. Macross Frontier (2008)
Another atypical anime about music is the sci-fi space opera Macross Frontier. Set in 2059, Alto Saotome, a trainee mecha pilot, and his friends are gearing up to perform an accompanying routine for the well-known singer Sheryl Nome when a biomechanical alien species attacks and wreaks havoc. Subsequently, Alto gets involved in combating this new alien threat.
Music in Macross Frontier is a message about it being a universal language that can open up communication possibilities no matter the differences. This take was pretty interesting to me as rarely do anime weaponise music in their storyline. The diverse discography in this anime makes it a great recommendation for anyone looking for anime about music.
9. AKB0048 (2012)
Imagine you wake up one day and the music becomes illegal. The universe would descend into madness but that is precisely what happens in this anime. This sci-fi comedy is about a group of rogue idols based on the Japanese idol group AKB48, who fight against the system and hold concerts on planets where music is banned.
AKB0048 is an anime about the fight to keep music alive. It really makes you root for supposed criminals as they grow and train as they willingly take concerts to the people who love music, despite being branded as terrorists. The premise is one that’s never been done before and has very promising characters with great dynamics.
10. Tari Tari (2012)
Wakana Sakai used to be enthusiastic about music but quit after losing her mother, while Konatsu’s life hung on singing. With three other companions, the 5 friends are adamant about living out their last year in high school with all their dreams realised. And what better than music to bring them all together to weave in some magic in their lives?!
The central theme of Tari Tari is about the incredible power of music and its identity as a solid force of encouragement and motivation to unify people. While it may seem like your usual coming-of-age story, Tari Tari manages to stand out with its splendid scores and the ability to use it as a device at driving the story.
Here are a few anime about music that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless:
- Carole and Tuesday
- Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad