Music and animation have always worked well together, whether in experimental films like Fantasia or in recent musicals like Netflix’s Vivo. They are some of the most beloved animated titles due to their ability to create iconic scenes and moments from the lyrics and beats of the music.
Nonetheless, there are numerous Japanese animated films and television shows that have explored various music genres while producing some of the best anime in the industry. These are the best anime music examples, ranging from a death metal singer with a hidden secret to two students falling in love with their musical talents.
1. Your Lie in April
Kousei Arima is a child prodigy known as the “Human Metronome” for his precision and perfection in playing the piano. Kousei, who is guided by a strict mother and rigorous training, dominates every competition he enters, earning the admiration of his musical peers as well as audience praise. When his mother dies unexpectedly, the resulting trauma renders him unable to hear the sound of a piano, and he never returns to the stage.
As a junior high school student, Kousei leads a quiet and unassuming life with his friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryouta Watari. He continues to cling to music as he struggles to come to terms with his mother’s death. His monotonous existence is turned upside down when he meets the eccentric violinist Kaori Miyazono, who hires him as her accompanist. Through a little deception, these two young musicians become closer as Kaori attempts to colourize Kousei’s world.
Nana Komatsu, a helpless, naive 20-year-old, falls in love easily and becomes dependent and clingy to those around her. Despite her lofty ambitions of escaping her provincial roots and discovering her true calling, she ends up travelling to Tokyo for the simple reason of pursuing her current boyfriend, Shouji Endo.
Nana Osaki, on the other hand, is a proud, enigmatic punk rock vocalist from a similar rural upbringing who dreams of becoming a professional singer. She boards the same train to Tokyo as Nana Komatsu, putting her career with a fairly popular band (and her passionate romance with one of its former members) firmly behind her.
The young women with the same given name are brought together by a fateful encounter on their journey to the metropolis, sparking a chain of events that eventually leads to them sharing an apartment. As their friendship grows stronger, the two try to support each other through thick and thin, their deeply intertwined lives filled with romance, music, challenges, and heartbreaks that will eventually put their seemingly unbreakable bond to the test.
Joining a club is one of the many things that come with a new high school year. Yui Hirasawa, who is undecided about which club to join, stumbles upon and applies for the Light Music Club, which she misinterprets to be about playing simple instruments like castanets. She decides to visit to apologise and quit because she is unable to play an instrument.
Meanwhile, the Light Music Club is on the verge of disbanding due to a lack of members. As a result, club members offer Yui anything from food to slacking off during club time in order to persuade her to join. Despite their efforts, Yui refuses to leave because she lacks musical experience. They play a piece for Yui as a last resort, which ignites her fiery passion and finally convinces her to join the club.
After that, it’s just playing around with bits and pieces of practise. The members of the Light Music Club are excited to spend their time together!
Mafuyu Satou steps out of his dark apartment, clutching his Gibson guitar tightly, to begin another day of high school. While napping in a quiet spot on the gymnasium staircase, he runs into fellow student Ritsuka Uenoyama, who chastises him for allowing his guitar strings to rust and break. Satou begs Uenoyama to fix the instrument and teach him how to play after noticing his knowledge of it. Uenoyama eventually agrees and invites him to join his two bandmates, bassist Haruki Nakayama and drummer Akihiko Kaji, for a jam session.
Satou’s voice is stunningly beautiful, and Uenoyama is determined to make Satou the band’s lead singer. Satou accepts the offer after an emotional reunion with an old friend, despite his initial reluctance. Satou must not only learn to play the guitar with the help of his new friends, but also come to terms with the mysterious circumstances that led him to be its owner.
5. Zombieland Saga
Sakura Minamoto aspires to be an idol. Unfortunately, reality slams into her like a truck, and she dies in a car accident. She awakens in Saga Prefecture ten years later to find herself a zombie with no memory of her past. While still grieving her death, she meets a man named Koutarou Tatsumi, who explains that he has resurrected her and six other zombie girls from various eras in order to economically revitalise Saga through an idol group. Assuming the role of an obnoxious manager, Koutarou begins scheduling events, which the girls accept, eventually naming their idol group Franchouchou.
Zombieland Saga is an absurdly comedic take on the idol genre that tells the heartwarming story of Franchouchou’s struggle to save Saga Prefecture while hiding their zombie identities and rediscovering their past lives.
6. Love Live! School Idol Project
Otonokizaka High School is in trouble! With enrollment numbers declining year after year, the school is set to close after the current first-year students graduate. Honoka Kousaka, a second-year student, is not going down without a fight. In search of a solution, she discovers popular school idol group A-RISE and decides to form her own school idol group. Honoka forms’s (pronounced “muse”) with the help of her childhood friends Umi Sonoda and Kotori Minami in order to raise awareness and popularity of her school.
Unfortunately, all of this is easier said than done. Eri Ayase, president of the student council, is vehemently opposed to the formation of a school idol group and will do everything in her power to prevent its formation. Furthermore, Honoka and her friends are having difficulty recruiting new members. However, the Love Live, a competition to determine the best and most popular school idol groups in Japan, can help them gain the much-needed attention. With the contest quickly approaching, Honoka must act quickly and diligently to form a school idol group and win the Love Live in order to save Otonokizaka High School.
7. Sound! Euphonium
Kumiko Oumae hopes to forget her past now that she has enrolled at Kitauji High School. Despite her desire for a new beginning, she is dragged into the school’s band club by her new friends, Sapphire Kawashima and Hazuki Katou, and is once again forced to play the euphonium.
As things stand, the band will be unable to participate in the local festival Sunfest, let alone compete on a national level. Noboru Taki, the band’s new advisor, gives them a choice: relax and have fun, or practise hard and try to make it to nationals.
Kumiko is unsure whether they should compete at nationals because she does not want to repeat her mistakes from middle school. In the midst of the chaos, she discovers that her former bandmate, Reina Kousaka (with whom she had a strained relationship), has joined Kitauji’s band club. Kumiko and her bandmates must learn to overcome their difficulties and achieve success together under the pressure of Noboru’s strict training.
8. Kids on the Slope
Kaoru Nishimi, an introverted classical pianist and top student, has just arrived in Kyushu for his first year of high school. He abandons all hope of fitting in, preparing himself for another lonely, meaningless year after having moved from place to place since his childhood. That is, until he meets Sentarou Kawabuchi, a notorious delinquent.
Sentarou’s undying love for jazz music inspires Kaoru to learn more about it, and as a result, he gradually begins to break out of his shell, making his first friend.
Kaoru begins playing the piano at after-school jazz sessions held in the basement of Ritsuko Mukae’s family-owned record shop. Kaoru’s summer may just culminate into one he will remember forever as he discovers the immense joy of using his musical talents to bring enjoyment to himself and others.
Sakamichi no Apollon is a touching story of friendship, music, and love that follows three distinct individuals who are brought together by their mutual love of jazz.
9. Nodame Cantabile
Shinichi Chiaki is a first-rate musician whose ambition is to perform among Europe’s elite. He comes from a distinguished family and is an infamous perfectionist—not only is he harsh on himself, but also on others. Shinichi’s only impediment to travelling to Europe is his fear of flying. As a result, he is currently stranded in Japan.
Shinichi meets Megumi Noda, or Nodame as she refers to herself, during his fourth year at Japan’s top music university. On the surface, she appears to be an unruly young lady with no direction in life. When Shinichi hears Nodame play the piano for the first time, he is blown away by the music she creates. Nonetheless, Shinichi is surprised to learn that Nodame is his neighbour, and worse, she falls head over heels in love with him.
10. Carole & Tuesday
It has been 50 years since humanity began its migration to the terraformed Mars, where they live in comfort thanks to advances in artificial intelligence. Carole lives in Alba City, working part-time during the day and playing the keyboard at night. Tuesday has fled her home in Hershell City to avoid the clutches of her wealthy family, and she hopes to pursue music with her acoustic guitar.
Following a chance meeting, the two decide to perform music together. In the face of the AI singers who dominate the music world, the two of them believe that by working together, they can convey their emotions through their songs. Will the duo’s hard work and luck be enough to produce the biggest miracle that Mars has ever seen?
The plot revolves around Yuu Haruna, who recently relocated to Tokyo with his sisters after their father was forced to relocate due to work.
A high school girl crashes into him on his way to buy dinner while looking at his Twitter account. The girl takes Yuu’s phone, breaks it, and slaps him before leaving Yuu lying on the ground, thinking he was taking upskirt pictures of her. This girl, Fuuka Akitsuki, also attends the school to which Yuu is transferring.
Fuuka, unlike most people, does not own a cellphone and prefers to listen to music on a CD player. These two eventually become friends and decide to form a band with their friends and enter the professional world of music. What will become of Yuu’s new life in Tokyo now that Fuuka is present?
12. Kono Oto Tomare!
Gen Kudou, a koto maker, believes that his delinquent grandson Chika will never grasp the significance of the traditional musical instrument. Chika attempts to join the Tokise High School Koto Club in order to atone for his naiveté and better understand his late grandfather’s words.
Despite the club’s dire need for new members, new club president Takezou Kurata is hesitant to accept Chika’s application due to his bad reputation. Nonetheless, after seeing Chika’s seriousness and enthusiasm, Takezou accepts the problem child, along with koto prodigy Satowa Houzuki and three of Chika’s energetic friends, into the group. Kono Oto Tomare! follows a merry band of musicians as they strive to compete at the national level.
13. White Album
Is it possible for a relationship between a regular college student and an idol singer to last? That is the question White Album attempts to answer. Touya Fujii is a typical college student with typical concerns, such as balancing his classes and the job he works to pay for school. He is also concerned about how much time he has to spend with Yuki Morikawa, or rather, how little time he has.
Yuki, as an aspiring idol singer, has her own concerns. Even though she isn’t as well-known as veteran Rina Ogata, Yuki is attracting attention and landing television interviews. This should be a good thing, but not everyone is pleased with the media’s and Rina’s attention.
Rival singers have their sights set on Yuki in the idol industry, which is surprisingly cutthroat.
While watching your girlfriend on television may seem exciting, how does Touya feel about it all? Their relationship may not last due to the challenges of Yuki’s career and the other people Touya meets at his university…
14. White Album 2
Haruki Kitahara’s light music club is about to disband. At this rate, the third year’s ambition of performing at the school festival will never come true. However, an angelic voice and mysterious piano begin harmonising with his lonely guitar as his exhausted fingers drift through the chords of “White Album,” the first song he would ever play. It is a historic performance that marks the start of everything for Haruki.
As the curtains of the stage he so desired begin to open, White Album 2 orchestrates Haruki’s final semester with complex romance and exhilarating music…
15. Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop
Yui “Cherry” Sakura expresses himself better through the haiku he writes and posts on the internet, despite the fact that no one pays attention to them. He spends the summer working part-time at a welfare facility while preparing to relocate with his family in August. Meanwhile, Yuki “Smile” Hoshino is a rising influencer who wishes to make everyone smile. She is concerned about the braces on her protruding front teeth and hides her own smile with a disposable mask.
Smile finds herself working as a part-time employee at the same facility as him after an unintentional encounter. Soon after, the two help a senile man, Fujiyama, find an old vinyl record he owns. He wishes to listen to it again before his memories fade forever, as he is unable to recall its last location. Cherry and Smile’s hunt in the hazy summer heat begins with only the record’s sleeve and the word “yamazakura” as clues.
16. Tari Tari
Every year, Shirahamazaka High School hosts a special recital in which music students can showcase their talents in front of professionals and other prestigious guests. Konatsu Miyamoto, a third-year student, desperately wants to sing in her final high school recital, but the vice principal has barred her from doing so because she messed up the year before.
That’s when Konatsu devises a new strategy for getting involved: rather than joining the official choir, she’ll form her own singing club with her friends! Unfortunately, this proves to be more difficult than she anticipated. For one thing, her friend Wakana Sakai has given up singing, and Konatsu requires more than two members. Will Konatsu be able to find enough members for her club and actually be ready to sing at one of the most important events of the school year with only a month until the recital?
17. Sound of the Sky
Seize is a peaceful town on the outskirts of Helvetia’s country. Citizens go about their daily lives on its cobblestone streets, unaffected by the increasingly tense military relations between Helvetia and the neighbouring Roman Empire.
The 1121st platoon of the Helvetian army, stationed at the Clocktower Fortress in Seize, receives a new recruit in the young and spirited Kanata Sorami under these circumstances.
She joins the military to pursue her dream of learning to play the bugle, and she eagerly accepts the tutelage of Sergeant Major Rio Kazumiya, a skilled trumpeter. They are joined by the aloof mechanic Nol Kannagi, the feisty gunner Kureha Suminoya, and the compassionate Captain Felicia Heideman; together, they experience the beauty of life in Seize and the lasting joy of a community that has persevered in the face of a crumbling world around them.
18. Paripi Koumei
Zhuge Kongming was regarded as one of the greatest tacticians of third-century China’s Three Kingdoms period. Kongming, who has led his army to numerous gruelling victories, falls gravely ill during the Battle of Wuzhang Plains. The weariness and regret caused by the seemingly never-ending war catch up with Kongming, and as he draws his final breath, he wishes that if he were to reincarnate, he would be born in a more peaceful era.
Kongming’s wish is granted, and he awakens in modern-day Tokyo with a younger body and his memories intact. He stumbles into a nightclub and meets Eiko Tsukimi, an aspiring singer whose performance immediately captures his attention.
Eiko takes Kongming under her wing and teaches him about the modern world, which sparks Kongming’s interest in contemporary music. Kongming, seeing Eiko’s immense musical potential, vows to make the world recognise her and soon becomes her manager.
Unsurprisingly, the music industry is harsh on those who make even minor mistakes. Kongming is still determined to achieve his objectives, even if it means resurrecting the war strategies he famously employed in his previous life!
19. Those Snow White Notes
Following the death of his grandfather, the legendary shamisen master Matsugorou Sawamura, Setsu Sawamura flees his small hometown. Matsugorou told Setsu on his deathbed to give up the shamisen if he was only going to imitate others and not play in his own style. Setsu flees to Tokyo, hoping that the big city will inspire him to develop his own distinct playing style. Tokyo, on the other hand, defies his expectations by drowning out all other sounds with the deafening noise of city life.
Setsu’s wealthy and successful mother, Umeko, returns into his life, concerned for his well-being, and forces him to enrol in Umezono Academy. He meets Shuri Maeda at school, a girl who is fascinated by the Tsugaru shamisen and wishes to perform a song her grandmother once heard a long time ago. Shuri establishes a shamisen appreciation society and persuades Setsu to teach the club’s members how to play the instrument. Will Setsu be able to rediscover his love for the shamisen and discover the unique sound he lacks as he becomes more involved with the club?
20. Liz to Aoi Tori
Liz’s days of solitude end when she meets a blue bird disguised as a young girl. Despite the fact that their relationship blossoms, Liz must make a heartbreaking decision in order to truly realise her feelings for Blue Bird.
Mizore Yoroizuka and Nozomi Kasaki, high school seniors and close friends, are tasked with playing the lead instruments in the third movement of Liz and the Blue Bird, a concert band piece inspired by this fairy tale. Mizore, the introverted and reserved oboist, represents the kind and gentle Liz. Meanwhile, Nozomi, the radiant and popular character, plays the flute as the cheerful and energetic Blue Bird.
However, as they practise, the gap between Mizore and Nozomi appears to widen. Their disjointed duet disappoints the band, and with graduation approaching, uncertainty about the future elicits complex emotions. With little time to practise as the performance date approaches, they desperately try to connect with their respective characters. Will Mizore and Nozomi be able to face harsh realities after reconsidering the story from a fresh perspective?
Liz to Aoi Tori, a spin-off film adaptation of the Hibike Euphonium! series, juggles the parallels of a charming fairy tale, a moving musical piece, and a delicate high school friendship.
All Shuichi ever wanted to do was emulate his pop idol Ryuichi Sakuma and the band Nittle Grasper. Shuichi has formed a band called Bad Luck with his best friend Hiro, and they’ve even gotten signed to a major record label! Unfortunately, the studio deadlines are approaching, and Shuichi has yet to complete the lyrics for any of the songs. What he needs is some motivation… but he’s been lacking in that department lately. While Hiro advises him to find a girlfriend, fate has other plans for him…
Shuichi’s latest lyrics flutter away as he walks through the park late one night, landing at the feet of a stunning stranger who takes his breath away. Unfortunately, that mysterious stranger turns out to be famous novelist Eiri Yuki, who completely humiliates the young singer by telling him he has “zero talent.” Shuichi is now so irritated that he finished his song just to find and confront Yuki again. But, is his behaviour truly motivated by rage, or has he fallen in love?
22. Forest of Piano
A peaceful story about two boys from very different backgrounds. On the one hand, there’s Kai, the son of a prostitute who has spent his childhood playing the abandoned piano in the forest near his home. On the other hand, Syuhei, the son of prestigious pianists, was practically breast-fed by the piano. Yet it is their shared love of the piano that eventually connects their lives.
23. Anonymous Noise
Every day, a young girl dressed in a mask stands by the beach and sings a nostalgic tune. Nino Arisugawa has been singing her songs to the ocean since she was a child, bound by a promise she made with her two childhood friends—her first love, Momo Sakaki, and a boy who composed music, Kanade “Yuzu” Yuzuriha. Despite having never met, the boys both promised that if Nino was ever separated from them, her voice would be the beacon that would reunite them.
Nino, Momo, and Yuzu have finally been assigned to the same high school after six long years. However, the passage of time has changed many things in their lives—while Nino persists in fulfilling her childhood promise with the boys, Yuzu’s feelings for her from the past resurface, and Momo goes to great lengths to prevent a reunion with Nino. Will they be able to mend their friendship and overcome all of the emotions involved in this complicated love triangle through music?
24. Searching for the Full Moon
Eichi Sakurai, Mitsuki Kouyama’s friend, moved to America two years ago before she could confess her feelings to him. Though she is unable to contact him, they made a promise to pursue their respective goals: Mitsuki wants to be a professional singer, and Eichi wants to be an astronomer. She dreams of one day having her music reach him across the world with the brilliance of the full moon.
The only catch is that Mitsuki has throat cancer, which makes her voice quiet and singing difficult. Her grandmother, who despises music, insists on Mitsuki having surgery to remove the cancer, but she refuses because she fears losing her voice.
Meroko Yui and Takuto Kira, two shinigami, appear one day and inform her that she has only one year to live. Mitsuki is sparked into action by this unexpected revelation, and she decides that with Meroko and Takuto’s assistance, she will become a professional singer in the time she has left.
Full Moon wo Sagashite follows Mitsuki and her shinigami friends as they learn what it means to sing—and, eventually, what it means to live.
25. Kiniro no Corda: Primo Passo
Seiso Academy is a prestigious high school that divides students into two majors: General Studies (which wears distinctive grey uniforms) and Music Studies (which wears pristine white uniforms). Kahoko Hino, a General Studies student, meets Lili, a small fairy looking for someone who can see her, while rushing to class one morning. Lili takes off, and Kahoko, perplexed by their encounter, continues on her way.
Later that day, the winners of a school-wide music competition are announced, and they are all, predictably, Music Studies students—at least until Kahoko’s name is called. After quickly tracking down Lili, the small fairy gives Kahoko a magical violin and persuades her to enter the competition.
Kiniro no Corda: Primo Passo follows Kahoko’s adventures alongside Lili, as the young student must now face competition and compete against her peers while navigating a new world of classical music.
26. Haruchika: Haruta & Chika
Chika Homura starts high school with one goal in mind: to develop a “cute girl” persona. Chika, despite her all-star status on the volleyball team, decides to join her school’s underappreciated Wind Instrument Club and play the flute, believing it to be the most delicate and feminine instrument. Chika reunites with her childhood friend and polar opposite, Haruta Kamijou, for the first time in nine years. Unfortunately for Chika, Haruta is not taken in by her attempts to be more endearing. But this doesn’t stop Chika from developing feelings for the band instructor, Shinjirou Kusakabe—but so does Haruta!
However, Chika’s high school life is not going as planned, as mysteries begin to emerge around her and her friends. Members of the club must work together to solve the mysteries plaguing the school while also recruiting new members to compete in musical competitions.
27. Show By Rock!!
Show by Rock is a fantastic musical adventure!! begins when Cyan decides to play her favourite rhythm game and finds herself sucked into a world called Midi City, where music reigns supreme. She discovers that anyone who can create amazing and powerful music can also control the city. Not all music, however, is pure. An evil plan is in the works to engulf Midi City in darkness. Is it too late for Cyan to intervene?
Cyan Hijirikawa has always considered herself to be nothing more than an ordinary girl living in a mediocre world. She has incredible talent and guitar skills, but she lacks the confidence to take the first step toward realising her dream of playing in a band and becoming a music millionaire! She had no idea that she possessed a great power—the ability to defeat evil with her magical music!
In a world where music is everything, join Cyan, Chuchu, Retoree, and Moa.
Tsumugi Takanashi did not expect to be named manager of the agency’s new male idol group on her first day of work at her father’s small production agency. Tsumugi, though surprised that her father is entrusting her with such a large project so soon, vows to do everything she can to help the seven young boys. Tsumugi meets with her father after seeing how well the boys work together and learns that her first job as manager will be to cut four boys from the group. This is because her father believes that managing seven idols is too difficult, and the current top group, TRIGGER, only has three members.
Tsumugi returns to her father after an impromptu audition and boldly declares that she will not cut anyone from the group because each member has a unique allure that collectively enhances the group’s appeal. She returns to the boys, who are overjoyed that none of them will have to give up on their dreams. They form IDOLiSH7 and prepare to face the fiercely competitive world of idols.
29. Sing a Bit of Harmony
Sing a Bit of Harmony is the story of Shion, a beautiful and mysterious girl who transfers to Keibu High School and quickly becomes popular due to her open-hearted personality and exceptional athletic talent…until she is revealed to be an AI in the testing phase!
Shion’s goal is to bring “happiness” to chronic loner Satomi. Her strategy, however, is unexpected: she serenades Satomi in the middle of the classroom.
Satomi and her childhood friend, engineering geek Touma, gradually warm up to Shion after learning that he is an AI. Shion’s singing and earnestness move them, even as her antics perplex them, along with the popular and attractive Gocchan, the strong-willed Aya, and judo club member “Thunder.” But Shion’s actions for Satomi’s sake end up involving them all in some serious chaos. Prepare to be moved by the touching story of a not-quite-market-ready AI and her classmates!
30. Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song
When highly evolved AIs decide to wipe out humanity, the ensuing carnage fills the air with the stench of fresh blood and burning bodies. In a desperate attempt to avert the disaster, a scientist stakes everything on a relic from the past.
Turning the clock back a century, AIs are already a part of human society, programmed with specific missions that must be completed throughout their lifespan.
Vivy, the world’s first autonomous AI, is a singer tasked with spreading joy through her voice. She strives to pour her heart out into her performances in a theme park where she rarely gets a proper audience, bound to repeat it day after day—that is, until an advanced AI from the future appears before her and enlists her help in stopping a devastating war a hundred years in the making. Vivy is catapulted into a century-long journey to avert the violent history that awaits her, with no time to process the revelation that turns her world upside down.