Listening to Japanese Music — Favorite Insert Songs in Anime

Long time comin’!

‘Cause being “primarily” an aniblog before I am a music blog (…or an idol blog as is the current hell hole niche that I’ve found myself in), coupled with how I’ve been making playlists and whatnot with my Monthly Round-Ups and my Feature Lists, it stands to reason that at some point I should have already made a post for anison. Admittedly though, and I alluded to as much on a feature list that I did not too long ago about the bands and artists that I discovered through anime (check that one out if you haven’t yet~), over the years I’ve trailed away from anison a bit as I find myself entrenched more in J-Music itself in general.

NOT to say there’s no longer any room for anison on this ol’ blog because there is. So here we are (xD).To be fair though I actually stole this one from The Pantless Anime Blogger (I did say I was gonna, lol) so do check out his list as well.

Now, usually when you see posts like this you’d expect, like, “Top OP/ED Songs” first before Insert Songs but honestly that to me is such a daunting task in itself that I don’t even wanna start thinking about just choosing ten or so opening or ending themes because there’s been just so many good ‘uns throughout the years (ooooh, maybe I could do it like a per year thing, lol)  that I don’t feel confident enough that I won’t leave something out. I mean, you leave something out regardless as per the nature of these lists, but it’s one of those things where I’ll probably second guess everything and end up with like a list of 50 (or worse just scrap the idea altogether, HAHA!)


It’s funny really. I sort-of had a weird realization as I was doing this list that, I couldn’t really “place” one song over another because I’m not really one to keep lists in the first place, let alone “Top n” lists” I mean if you do a search on my now 7 year-old blog I’ve only ever made one list and it was for my Top Ten Favorite Anime and even then I didn’t want to commit to some sort of ranking because, well, that’s just who I am as a purveyor of these types media.

So when I took a crack at making this here list of insert songs, I thought it’d be more telling if I based it on songs that left a lasting impression on me, instead of relying on existing lists of already highly regarded songs and picking out what I liked out of ’em. Makes it a bit of an honest listing too don’t you think? I will say though, that even having to rely solely on memory, this was a hard list to curtail to just ten (lol).

Honorable Mentions:
Basically ALL of the Digivolution songs (lol)
ROCK OVER JAPAN (cover) from Mawaru Penguindrum
Yakusoku no Kizuna from Kyoukai no Kanata
ALL the Maiden Songs from Star Driver

God knows…
from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu

As far as highly regarded and iconic anime insert songs go, at least for the “modern” era (don’t think I forgot about you, Utena), right at the top of the heap is surely Hirano Aya and her band’s God knows…. I say as much over on TPAB’s post but I really do believe that this song should find itself at some place in everyone’s top lists. Mostly because I find that it straddles the line between anison and straight-up J-Pop/Rock magnificently, owing to its band nature (something that K-On! was able to fully capture three years after) and if you’ve been following my content for the past couple of months then you know that I like my bands, especially female-fronted ones. Shame that anything related to Aya Hirano is still laden with unsavory stigma (albeit less than before) but I at least wouldn’t let that takeaway from how awesome this song is.

Koshi Tan Tan / 虎視眈々
from Loups=Garous

There was once a period of my life where I watched/listened/read anything and everything related to SCANDAL that I could get my hands on — which was really the only reason why I saw Loups=Garous way back when (2011 to be precise /I even wrote about it, haha!). I’d even go so far as to say that this song was pretty much the highlight of that movie (for myself at the time at least). This PV in particular actually had a bit of hype to it as it’s motion capture footage of the band overlayed with CG animation as opposed to just a straight up CG render to better portray SCANDAL’s dance choreography (yeap, they really did used to run around like that xD). Song is hella catchy too even now, eight years removed from when it first came out. More than that, this is a sound of theirs that has since been lost too so do go and cherish what was the height of SCANDAL’s early “Girls’ Rock”.

Bios / βίος 
from Guilty Crown

Initially I’d planned to put Alnoah.Zero’s “Keep on keeping on” here (mostly so I can gush about SawanoHiroyuki[nzk]:mizuki) but for old times’ sake, I thought I’d give Guilty Crown’s Bios a listen and MAN I forgot how epic this song was. Sawano Hiroyuki started to make waves in the world of AniOST for his work in Attack on Titan, but this track (in my opinion) was what put him on everyone’s radar as the go-to guy for anime hype songs (xD), and Bios was just all kinds of hype for Guilty Crown (at some points even more hype than the anime itself, lol). What I like about it most is the “sh*t is about to go down” feeling it gives you — from the heavy drum work, the hard riffs, and most but certainly not the least; the gratuitous German.

Awaken the Power
from Love Live! Sunshine!! Season 2

Love Live! Sunshine!! S2s schedule of insert songs is actually pretty good (as it probably should be, given that music should be a primary focus for this show) — and this is coming from someone who does consider himself a stark critic of idol music in general. I’d like to think that that’s mostly because the songs themselves are much more than “just” songs. They are all very much spliced into the show’s narrative as opposed to being a tacked on thing; which in turn gives the songs a bit more of a lasting sentiment. Although not what many could consider the best song to come out of Season 2, as the capstone to one of my personal favorite arcs for the series, “Awaken The Power” will always always have a special place in my heart.

from Charlotte

One of my low-key favorite things to come out of an anime, music-centered or otherwise, are real/fake bands (xD). What I mean by that is, actual bands/artists performing songs in an anime as an in-universe fictional group (not like how Aqours is for LL!SS!! but think along the lines of Angel Beats!‘s Girls Dead Monster or Mawaru Penguindrum‘s Triple H). Speaking of GirlsDeMo, fun fact for y’all; Marina. the vocalist for ZHIEND right here, is also one half of the vocalists for GirlsDeMo alongside LiSA (here’s Crow Song for those of you who are feeling a bit nostalgic /Marina’s the one doing the backing vocals). Of the two though, ZHIEND just happens to be more my speed with their post/alternative rock sound, with “Adore” being the most upbeat (and fun to listen to) of their othewise ethereal offerings for Charlotte.

Come Sweet Death / Komm Süsser Tod
from The End of Evangelion

I’ve finished many writing assignments listening to this song — and I’m not even kidding. I used to put this song on a loop while on chat with classmates while we worked on a group paper. Of course, I started doing it ironically as tongue-in-cheek kind of thing (y’know, to at least find humor in the fact that we crammed a month’s worth of analysis in upwards of seven hours of straight writing), but after like the fourth or fifth time I really did start to like it. It was such an odd moment when this song started playing towards the end of… End of Eva (lol) that the song just kinda stuck to me (it wasn’t bad but,  I mean, wouldn’t you be curious if this song played right as the entire world’s population started to reach The Singularity!?).

Silver Sky
from Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio

I did try to establish some semblance of thought when I made this lineup by making it so we start with some fast-paced songs and ideally progress down the list towards more somber tracks — so, eyy, welcome to the feels portion of this list (and yes, that should’ve started with Come Sweet Death xD). In all seriousness though, I do love this song primarily (and as a bit of a recurring theme here as some of you may have notice) because of how it was used for Aoki Hagane and in the interest of having you see it yourself (if by chance you haven’t seen Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio)  I’ll skirt around the specifics of it all. Heck I’d even say it’s worth it to watch Aoki Hagane for this scene alone. It helps of course that the song by itself is overflowing with emotion already (I mean just listen to some of these lines!)

from Tasogare Otome X Amnesia

*sighs* I can’t with this song. It’s just so… sad. I don’t think I can even listen to this on a really bad day (lest I make myself feel more down than I already was). Admittedly though that’s also what makes this song so good. Again, a large part of that does come from how Tasogara Otome X Amnesia chose to use Hiiragi Nao‘s “Requiem” in the series’ most despairing sequence and as a direct result just hearing this song is enough to bring it all back for me (really it’s the chants at that intro that get me the most). I don’t think we hear much if at all from Hiiragi Nao after this, which is a shame in itself, but I doubt that I would’ve been as emotionally invested in the scene without the harrowing vocals and the overall somber instrumentation that accompanied it.

Hanazeve Caradhina
from Made in Abyss

If you were to ask me to summarize into one word everything good about Made in Abyss, it would be “atmosphere”. It is a show that thrives in pulling you into its vast and mysterious world, instilling into the viewer a sense of wonder and awe for the unfamiliar. “Hanazeve Caradhina” is that feeling condensed in song form. Interesting to note is that it is actually a song sung in a fictitious language to “keep a certain amount of ambiguity” (according the show’s main music composer) which does tie in to Made in Abyss’s world-building, as well as instilling a sense of isolation in an expanse of unknown breadth for the listener; of an optimistic foreboding as one treks along uncharted territory; of a broadening of one’s horizons as the song continues to escalate before ultimately petering out into the distance.

Moon on the Water
from BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad

BECK is very much a mediocre show that was ahead of its time (xD). Its a show plagued by subpar animation (even for its time), contrived storylines, and poor character development. If it was made now it could’ve at least benefitted from the fact that most anime now look better than they were fourteen years ago generally whilst also having more to work with from the source material (with the anime stretching out 33 out of 103 chapters in the span of 26 episodes). BUT, if there was anything to take away from BECK at the time, it was the songs. This rendiction of “Moon on the Water” (there were a couple all throughout the show) still gives me chills to this day. It just sounds so raw and real with those bare vocals at the start — nevermind the broken English (lol) but even that kinda gives this song a bit of charm I would think. It’s such a release too, listening to this song, and I felt like this would be the most fitting song to end with.


How’d you like this lineup? Feel like I left some songs out?
What are your favorite insert songs from an anime?
Lemme know and then some in the comments section!


15 thoughts on “Listening to Japanese Music — Favorite Insert Songs in Anime

  1. Is it bad I’ve never seen any of the above mentioned shows or heard their music? (Eventually I will work up the courage to get into Love Live but not quite right now lol) Shame on me because for their music alone I should probably have invested some time into a few of them. Great choices though, I had fun listening through them so thank you for sharing!

    • Not at all — I wouldn’t even recommend some of these shows really; they just happened to have really good songs in ’em, Haha! (would like to hear your thoughts on it when you do then, lol) Thanks, glad you liked ’em Rise!

      • I mean… that’s also fair. Some of the best shows get the worse music and vice versa lol (We’ll see if that ever happens!) You’re much welcome!

  2. God, I love a lot of your choices. Like Requiem! And Hanazeve Karadhina (I believe you were the one who recommended it to me when I wrote a Made in Abyss post a while back)… Your rock choices are great too (the Mawaru Penguindrum one is super catchy).
    How I wish I can play all the videos I don’t know now, but I’m currently in a 3hr-long evening class…

    • Thanks Moya! I had a feeling you’d like the latter half of the lineup (xD) and yeah, I remember gushing to you about Hanazeve Caradhina as well, haha!
      Aww, hope you check back soon then (I’m gonna sneakily add something to my honorable mentions that I forgot to put in that I think you might like as well, lol)

      • Yup, I went and clicked every song now. Wow, I really like Komorebi no Contact (Saori Hayami!). And Silver Sky! I didn’t know Nano could sing like this, but I really like this side of her too.
        Let’s see if I have any of my own to add… I really liked the Angel Beats! insert songs, and many Studio Ghibli’s (especially the broom-riding song in Kiki’s delivery service and the OSTs that involve lots of chanting). Oh, and the Nana ones~
        …And probably many, many more. Geez, maybe I need to make my own list after my hiatus! Thanks for the recommendations.

        • Awesome! Shame YT struck down “Monochrome” though ’cause that was also good 🙁 Yeap, I agree, this was a really nice change of pace from nano
          Ooh, yeah, I snuck in Crow’s Song but there are a lot of other good songs to come from Angel Beats! yep. I feel like I could’ve explored more movie tracks now that you bring Ghibli up (there’s a Kalafina insert song for Gate of Seventh Heaven that I really like too…). Reminder that I should also watch Nana at some point, haha!
          Uohh, would love to see/hear it when you do make one then! Always, and likewise, thanks for going through ’em all~

          • Oh yeah, Kalafina sang two interludes, iirc. Mish-mashs of the KnK EDs too. And definitely watch Nana! I…didn’t actually watch Nana, but read the manga and looked up all the songs afterwards. Really love the vocals.
            I’ll…add the OST list idea to my growing backlog. XD It would definitely be fun to do.

  3. Pingback: Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Round-Up (July 2018) | Leap250's Blog

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