For many people, music has the ability to touch emotions and pull listeners into the moment. How people enjoy music can range from warming, comforting, to even inspiring. Just as we may listen to music depending on our mood, so too is music used to really give that needed charm to a scene in a show.
Anime has always used music to complement its visuals, so we’d like to narrow this down to music performed by the cast of characters themselves. After all, there’s no better way to drive in that emotion than with songs that tie into stories and their intriguing characters.
Whether it’s through the performers’ breath-taking voices or their masterful use of musical instruments, here is our list of the 15 best musical performances in anime you should experience.
#15. Lost Song – Song of Destruction
In the Kingdom of Neunatia, songs have the power to control the elements and create miracles. Music being used as a crucial story element is always interesting, and this story follows two girls who can wield their singing like magic.
One of the highlights of the anime, however, comes from a turning point when the main character Finis unleashes a Song of Destruction on her enemies. There’s just something hauntingly beautiful about a person who continues to sing even as the world gets torn apart by meteors above.
#14. Angel Beats – Crow Song
Crow Song holds a special place as an introduction to the Girls Dead Monster band in Angel Beats. Even as an intense battle ensues outside, the audience is completely enraptured by the rocking performance of this all-girls band. You’ll get to see (and hear) them more, but the detail going into this first ever concert of theirs stands out.
#13. Tari Tari – Radiant Melody
Five unlikely students gather together to share a passion for music. And what better way to truly showcase that passion than as an ensemble for their last ever school festival? The tune they sing is uplifting, with equally great lyrics that touch on their growth throughout the show.
Their desires to face the future with no regrets ring true in this performance and quintessential coming-of-age story.
#12. Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card – Misty Moonlight
Next up is Misty Moonlight from Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card. Sakura’s best friend Tomoyo has always been a talented singer, with her fair share of performances in the original Cardcaptor Sakura anime. This time, though, she performs a slow duet with a new classmate of Sakura’s named Akiho, all while Syaoran plays the piano in the background.
It’s a sincere piece that makes us all the happier that we got a sequel to such a beloved show.
#11. Love Live! – Aishiteru Banzai!
This next performance is one that introduces us to the talented main composer of the idol group called μ’s (Muse), Maki Nishikino. We first find her singing ‘Aishiteru Banzai!’ through a lovely performance that marries her singing with the equally skilled hands of a pianist. Though we only get a brief listen in this one instance, it’s a song that soon carries meaning through the show’s finale.
#10. Macross Delta – Giraffe Blues
If you’ve been around the block with mecha anime, you’ve likely heard of Macross and its use of idol singers as a core element in its stories. Seeing these idols perform in the midst of a warzone is quite a sight. More intriguing, though, is how their singing affects the people on the battlefield.
Halting conflict with the beauty of song is an inspiring message that has touched the series for years, and the latest Macross Delta continues to serve that tradition with Giraffe Blues.
#9. Anonymous Noise (Fukumenkei Noise) – Canary
Ever been to a live rock concert? If not, Anonymous Noise may give you an idea of what that might sound like. The vocalist Nino steps up to the stage and opens her song, Canary, with a deafening yell.
As she sings, she loses herself in the moment and strains her voice to deliver a kind of energy that’s infectious to even her audience, all so she can reach out to her past lover.
#8. K-On! – Touched by an Angel!
All good things must come to an end. Even if you think that K-On! should have gone on forever, there’s no denying that the girls of Ho-kago Tea Time had to graduate eventually.
The final song by the group was performed as a surprise for their youngest member Azusa, as both a heartfelt farewell and proof of their everlasting friendship.
#7. Macross Frontier – Diamond Crevasse
While Macross may be filled with action and conflict, that doesn’t mean it can’t slow down at times when it needs to. Composed by the legendary Yoko Kanno, who also worked on classics such as Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell, the soundtrack of Macross Frontier is one for the books. And if you wonder how her touch could work in a series full of idols, then look no further than the beautiful tune of Diamond Crevasse.
#6. Revue Starlight – Revue of Solitude
A show about young girls fighting for the position of ‘Top Star’ as part of a mysterious audition, Revue Starlight symbolises the sheer ferocity of competition between actors in the world of theatre. This anime is great in that most of the episodes have a revue performance of some kind, but Revue of Solitude is a notable one that drives in that feeling of empowerment against overwhelming odds.
#5. Detroit Metal City – Mad Monster
This concert is definitely something. Detroit Metal City’s performance here is filled with high-octane death metal and well-timed comedy. One moment the lead singer is completely in tune with his band and looking like a real death metal singer, the next he’s biting down on someone’s head and riding them on the shoulders against their will.
With some absurd lyrics to boot on top of an actually great performance, it’s hard not to include Mad Monster on this list.
#4. The Idolmaster – Yakusoku (Promise)
At 4th place is Yakusoku (Promise) from the Idolmaster anime. It’s a song that belongs to one of 765 Production’s idol members, Chihaya, and completely wraps itself in her troubled past. The beauty of this scene, though, lies in how her friends step forward to sing her opening lines, giving her the confidence to pull off her performance in spite of her fears.
#3. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya – God Knows
Who could forget God Knows? Of the many reasons as to why The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya became such a popular series, this performance was one of them.
Never mind that Haruhi herself is playing the lead singer in a bunny costume, there’s some exceptional attention to detail with how the band plays their instruments. No one could have expected this from a wacky story about espers, aliens, and time travellers.
#2. Sound! Euphonium – Crescent Moon Dance
It’s rare to find an anime that goes through intricate details of a musical performance at length, let alone one that’s about the band. A story about a high school concert band that’s trying to regain its former glory, this show wastes no time in showcasing the fruits of the students’ efforts.
If you’re an aficionado in these instruments yourself, you might want to pay attention to how accurately they’ve animated the fingerings to the music.
#1. Your Lie in April – Rondo Capriccioso
Coming in at number 1 is a show that’s filled with raw emotion, and one thrilling performance to reflect that. Your Lie in April is well-known at this point for being an all-out tear-jerker. Though a love story at heart, it’s a show that also explores a young man’s rekindled passion for music.
The classical Ronda Capriccioso duet between piano prodigy Kosei and the manic violinist Kaori doesn’t hold back on the punches. This musical clash between titans fills the screen with an insanely well-animated act and a bucketful of sweat.