Top 7 Anime Theme Songs from Series I’m Not a Fan Of

It’s Top 7 List time! WOOHOO! I had trouble thinking of a good one. I realized that I hadn’t done an music-based list in a long time. It was just as good a time as any to to make a unique list.

Having an anime theme song list is tricky. You’ve seen plenty of general lists like favorite or least favorite songs. For the former, it’s also a cliche to put “Tank” from Cowboy Bebop and/or “Cruel Angel’s Thesis” from Evangelion on there. I mean, they’re good songs, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so overdone and they’ve been overplayed for so long, let’s be honest here. I thought I would change it up with anime theme songs I like from series I either dislike, don’t care about, or thought they were average at best. Am I the only one who feels that way about anime that have good theme songs, but the series is just meh at best?

Here are the rules I set for myself:

I had to have watched at least part of the series at some point.

Only anime series and OVAs are on this list. No movies.

Not so much a rule, but I decided not to put “Heart of Sword ~Yoake Mae~” from Rurouni Kenshin on this list. It’s a great song and arguably THE song people think about when it comes to that samurai anime, but I’m not putting it on there after what the creator Nobuhiro Watsuki did even if it was super tempting to mention that ending theme from TM Revolution. The less said about it the better.

Let’s listen to some anime songs I like from series I’m not a fan of!


7. Kizuna by Yoshinori Shabana (Ending Theme to the anime remake of Sukeban Deka)

Some of you might remember me mentioning this song when I reviewed Sukeban Deka a while back. Yes, it does scream early 90s cheese, but at least it’s good 90s cheese. This song works as a breather between both episodes and for the finale. I really like the saxophone solos peppered throughout. Yoshinori Shabana just sells the emotion with his gritty and dramatic tenor. I almost expected this song to be in some kind of shonen or mecha show instead of a shojo piece (I’m still shocked even after all these years how Sukeban Deka can actually be a shojo work of all things). While I found that OVA to be average as an adult rediscovering it, I still enjoy this ending theme.

6. Tori no Uta by Lia (Opening Theme to the Air series)

Ooh, I could see some scorn from hardcore Key and KyoAni fans. I did watch Air TV when it came out and it had so much hype behind it. I sadly drank the Kool-Aid at first before realizing how it wasn’t as great as others have hailed it to be. With that being said, I still like this theme song. It has the right mix of ambient, dream pop and tasteful trance elements attached to it as a great piece of J-Pop. Lia’s airy vocals work so well with the instrumentation and aesthetics. “Tori no Uta” is easily my favorite theme to a Key project even though I’ve only seen some of the anime adaptations and reviewed one of them (Angel Beats! for those scoring at home. How appropriate, Lia did “My Soul, Your Beats”, too.).

Side note: Did you know this song got plagiarized by a Singaporean musician named Shaun Yu and he got sued for ripping off this song? Wow, I think I may like “Tori no Uta” even more now!

5: Kohaku by Mikuni Shimokawa (Opening Theme to Grenadier)

I have sadly seen this anime when I was in high school. After watching stuff like Noir, Mezzo DSA, Gunsmith Cats, and Gunslinger Girl, I thought this would be another watchable entry in the “girls with guns” subgenre. It wasn’t. If you’re into tons of fanservice with your action anime, then more power to you. Trust me, the fanservice aspect with Rushuna’s gun technique is improbable as well as ridiculous. That said, I still enjoy the opening theme. While I wouldn’t call myself a Mikuni Shimokawa fan, most of the songs I’ve heard from her I liked. She’s the same person who did the theme to the original Kino’s Journey anime and has also done music for Full Metal Panic! if you recognize that voice. This has nice usage of dynamic changes with pleasant verses, but with a powerful chorus. While Grenadier was trashy, “Kohaku” still holds up as a song.

4: Over Soul by Megumi Hayashibara (1st OP to Shaman King)

Okay, I only saw the garbage severely edited 4KIDS English dub when it was on FoxBox (FKA Fox Kids), but this still counts. The Japanese music is infinitely better than that in-house garbage 4KIDS did in their sanitized version. Why don’t I like Shaman King? Well, I’m not into as much shonen stuff as I used to for starters. Besides that, it got into the cliched fighting tournament territory (it IS a Shonen Jump anime, you know) most characters weren’t interesting, and as one can probably guess my opinion on this matter: Chocolove has such a racist character design and everybody knows it. I just wished this song wasn’t attached to the anime which is kind of hard since the title refers to one of the attack modes in Shaman King. Megumi Hayashibara is a talented voice actress as well as a singer, so when she gets to do a theme song, chances are it’s going to be great. “Over Soul” really pumps you up with it’s upbeat tempo, synths, build-ups between the pre-chorus to the choruses, back up choral voices, and it has a fun guitar solo near the end. Definitely a choice cut from Hayashibara. If only it was for a different anime instead…

3: Warriors by Yuichi Ikusawa (4th OP to Yu-Gi-Oh!)

If this isn’t proof positive that Japanese youth are spoiled with music in their cartoons, then I don’t know what is. So many of the Japanese themes blow the 4KIDS crap out of the water and I was genuinely shocked when I randomly stumbled across this song after watching Yu-Gi-Oh! Abridged during my teenage years. My jaw dropped hearing it and thought “This song is way too good for Yu-Gi-Oh!”. Seriously, this has an explosive chorus, urgent vocals, and the mix between rock, techno, and pop was spot on. There’s also a blistering guitar solo and some dynamic changes in different sections. That key change in the final chorus really packed a punch. “Warriors” works as a song by itself, but I’ve also worked out to this song on a playlist and it just really pumps you up while exercising. Yuichi Ikusawa, you almost made me want to get a Duel Monster starter pack. ALMOST.

2: Migite by Ellegarden (1st ED to I’ll/CKBC)

I actually mentioned this song on here despite not reviewing I’ll/CKBC. That’s a 2 episode OVA that’s based on a Shonen Jump basketball manga. It was way too short and could certainly use a remake. I first heard of this song from the trailer on an Anime Works DVD and I was really impressed by this song. Even though I don’t listen to as much indie rock or real emo (think Sunny Day Real Estate, Mineral, or Texas Is the Reason instead of Fall Out Boy), “Migite” really hits that 90s emo sweet spot with the huge guitars, thunderous drums, passionate vocals, and sweeping dynamic changes. My favorite part of the song is the bridge where it starts slow with just the guitar while all the other instruments start creeping in in order to build up to a meteoric final chorus that would make Driver Eight proud. This anime deserved so much better and it had a phenomenal indie rock/emo song to make an otherwise unfinished OVA seem a bit better.

1: Life Is Like a Boat (1st ED to Bleach)

Let me get this clear. I don’t like Bleach. Sure, it started out good, but it dragged on way too much and had way too much filler later on. But dang it all, Bleach had some great theme songs and “Life Is Like a Boat” was my favorite tune despite being way more mellow than most other themes. This is such a beautiful mid-tempo ballad from Rie Fu who is really talented at singing and playing piano. The half English/half Japanese lyrics worked so well as they actually mesh with each other without her repeating what she said in either language. The song has a pleasant message and it’s certainly relatable. Also, I figured out how to play this on guitar and was able to nail both the English and Japanese lyrics. When I first heard of this song, I thought this was an American singing this. Interesting fact: Rie Fu despite being born in Japan and currently lives there, has actually lived in Maryland (I lived in that state when I was a baby!) for years which explains why she can speak perfect English. Bleach maybe overrated and typical shonen stuff, but it contained easily one of my favorite anime songs. I would certainly listen to this and my other top 3 choices even if they weren’t anime songs.

Are there anime anime theme songs that you like even though you may not be a fan of the anime they’re associated with? Let me know in the comments.

All photos and videos are property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. The music note picture is from Pinterest.

13 comments

  1. I will defend the 4KIDS version of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Opening. Of course the japanese version is better, but the 4KIDS version was sweeping and dramatic and always got me pumped up for the show when I was a kid. I still find myself going back to listen to it every now and again. It’s about the only thing 4KIDS ever got right.

    Admittedly this could just be my nostalgia talking, there’s several openings of that era that I have a fondness for, Beyblade springs straight to mind. Also, and controversially, I actually prefer the soundtrack to the UK version of Cardcaptor Sakura, it really gave the series this ominous air. Again, the original japanese versions are better, but there’s bits of those early dubs that I quite like. It’s like the original Sailor Moon dub, terrible writing, but good voice actresses for the Sailor Scouts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • To each their own, I guess. We’ll have to respectfully disagree here. I certainly remember the 4KIDS version. “Warriors” and some of the other songs I heard from the Japanese version (not counting Season 0, if you’ve seen any of that) were pretty good. I was shocked Masami Okui did one of the themes and she’s sung a lot of anime songs I like. I guess my favorite 4KIDS-based theme would be the Pokemon one since they were involved with the dub at first. As much as I can’t stand 4KIDS and they deserve to be slagged off for butchering several anime series, it’s not not to bust out in song when someone says “I want to be the very best like no one ever was.” Hahaha!

      Gotcha. I have never seen Beyblade before (shocker, right?), so I don’t know anything about the dub songs. The only song I know is “Kaze no Fuku Basho” and that’s only because another aniblogger posted it in an article. The UK had a separate dub for Cardcaptor Sakura? I didn’t even know that. The Nelvana edited version was terrible. That’s good how the UK dub did something different, but still good with the soundtrack.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure if it’s an entirely separate dub we got for Cardcaptor Sakura, but I know there are major differences between what got aired in europe and what got aired in the US. The version I watched as a kid was still heavily edited and poorly written, but we got all of the episodes, in order. The majority of the changes were just to make the show more appealing to young boys and I can’t say it didn’t work.

        From what I’ve heard about the US dub, things were even more hacked apart and episodes were aired out of order, if not missing entirely. I have no idea why there’s such a difference, but there was.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gotcha. I wasn’t sure how that would compare. I noticed that in hindsight to appeal to boys as well by editing to make sure Syaoran got a bigger role alongside Sakura which was the case in the dub we got in America.

        I did hear that they didn’t show all the episodes which is so bogus. Sure, the whole series is available on DVD and uncut, but they weren’t shown on US TV.

        Liked by 1 person

      • See I need to compare the old US to the old UK version, because I don’t remember Syaoran getting that much bigger a part than he has in the manga. Yes the opening and music were changed to remove any ‘girliness’, which is it’s own problem, but the focus was definitely on Sakura and Syaoran doesn’t turn up until he’s supposed to, several episodes in. I somehow need to track down a full set of the UK version and the US to compare them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That would be a good post to compare and contrast both dubs with the original Japanese version. From what i can remember and from other articles about the US dub, they emphasized Syaoran more to balance out the boy/girl viewing demographic although they also give him more of a bullying and chauvinistic edge which is completely out of character for him.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Really unique list idea! I haven’t seen about half the shows on this list, and the ones I do know I either like or am ambivalent about, but the songs you chose are really great picks! It’s funny you brought up Rurouni Kenshin – I was just thinking of rewatching the series (And I love the opening and ending) but yeah it’s tough getting up the drive when stuff like that is on your mind, even if it does pluck nostalgia strings. I’m usually good about separating art and artist, but some circumstances make it harder than others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Fiddletwix! I do my best to have creative list and post ideas. That’s pretty cool how you liked the songs whether you saw the anime series of each one or not.

      Rewatching Kenshin? Yeah, that’s one piece of media that got so tainted for me after finding out about Watsuki’s crimes. Japanese law or not, he got a slap on the wrist. I’m glad you understand my feelings on that matter. There were good theme songs and I used to love the Trust & Betrayal prequel OVA series, but it was really tough in trying to separate the art from the artist for me.

      Any examples you like of anime themes you like, but aren’t so much a fan of?

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s an interesting question.

        I LOVE the ED for H2O: Footprints in the Sand while I hold a flame of ire for the show itself.

        The OP to 11Eyes was also pretty good despite the show being blech.

        I’ve always been pretty meh about Bleach, and this is coming from someone who tends to enjoy long shounen shows, even if I suck at keeping up with them lol Despite that, I’ve always liked the first OP Asterisk. The first ED was also pretty nice.

        Finally, Zetman’s OP was always cool and fun to dance to even if it was unfitting for the show itsellf. My opinions on the show was a cool idea with a good beginning, but it was very sloppy and unsatisfying.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ll check out the themes from the anime you mentioned. Bleach does have good themes from the ones I remembered when I watched it. I think I stopped somewhere during the 3rd season when the theme song used was “Ichirin no Hana”. “Asterisk” is a great song, too. I remember a bunch of people in my Japanese class were huge Orange Range fans mainly because of that song and “Viva Rock Japanese Side” from Naruto. Haha!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I believe I made it to the point like right after they saved Rukia from being executed by the soul society – I didn’t make it very far. It just didn’t click with me that much nor was it good at holding my attention.

        Plus, as a Yu Yu Hakusho and DBZ fan, I couldn’t get the feeling out of my mind that the show was just Yu Yu Hakusho and DBZ fused together with swords. lol I have seen a handful of Bleach’s OPs and EDs and they always seem to be creative, visually, with some nice songs.

        Oh yeah, I remember that song! Lol

        I mostly remember the cute chibi versions of the Naruto characters in the ending instead of the actual song, but it was alright.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s close to the time I stopped watching, too. The Soul Society Arc really dragged itself out. What also didn’t help was Aizen’s heel turn. Sure, it was a plot twist I legitimately didn’t see coming, but once he revealed his bankai powers, I facepalmed with how OP it was. He’s one of the biggest Villain Stus I’ve seen because of that alone.

        No disagreements there. Hahaha! I heard that Tite Kubo was even accused of ripping off both series when he started out with Bleach. I wouldn’t go that far, but there are certainly derivative elements. Funny enough, Pierrot has animated both YYH and Bleach and I heard Akira Toriyama actually encouraged Kubo. I did like the Bleach songs I’ve heard of in those first 3 seasons I saw.

        Yes! That was a fun song. I remember then when some of us students in Japanese class would imitate the marching intro in that song and the “Japanese people!” line that Orange Range says right after the first verse.

        That’s right! They had the chibi designs in the ending animation.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s