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5 Anime Music Composers and their Legendary Works

Written by: Nicole Castro

Published on: September 9, 2021 at 19:00 PHT (GMT+8)

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There is so much to love about anime series. They have unique stories, memorable characters, mind-blowing plot twists, and gorgeous visuals.

But let's not forget about the music. This time, we're featuring the genius composers behind the background music (commonly known as "original soundtracks" or OSTs) you hear on your favorite shows. We thank them for elevating the story to their highest levels!

1. Taku Iwasaki (Noragami, The Irregular at Magic High School)
Taku Iwasaki | PHOTO CREDIT: Akiba Souken

Taku Iwasaki (岩崎琢) is a Japanese composer and arranger from Tokyo, Japan. He is a graduate of the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.

Iwasaki has composed music for several hit anime shows through the years. Some examples include Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji), Noragami, Gurren Lagann, The Irregular at Magic High School, and Akame Ga Kill.

His music style features a fusion of the traditional and modern, with traditional instrumentals interspersed with dubstep and jazz.

In Noragami's OST, Noratan, he creates an action-packed mood for battle that sounds like a combination of traditional Japanese music and modern-day dubstep.

In Black Butler's The Dark Crow Smiles, his music captures the dark themes of the anime with a combination of ominous church chanting and jazz.

Official website for Taku Iwasaki

2. Yuki Kajiura (Demon Slayer, Sword Art Online)
Yuki Kajiura | PHOTO CREDIT: Comic Natalie

Yuki Kajiura (梶浦 由記) is a Japanese musician, composer, and record producer. She was born in Japan but raised in West Germany as a child. She was largely influenced by her father who was a big fan of classical and opera music.

Kajiura is a distinct musician for her ability to compose emotional music that heighten the experience of fantasy anime like no other. Some of the major series that she has composed for include Fate/Zero, Sword Art Online, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, Pandora Hearts, and Demon Slayer.

Kajiura has composed so many beautiful soundtracks that they are too long to mention (just search for "Best of Yuki Kajiura" and you will find a lot of results). We hope you enjoy exploring and reminiscing her music across decades.

For now, we feature one of her most popular soundtracks for Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, A Song of Storm and Fire.

Below is her iconic OST for Sword Art Online, Swordland. The chanting you hear in her music isn't a real language, but a unique combination of sounds that remind us of Latin and Japanese. Fans have called it "Kajiurago" to pay respect to her creativity.

Official website for Yuki Kajiura

Social media: Yuki Kajiura official Twitter

3. Yoko Kanno (Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell)

Yoko Kanno (菅野よう子) is a Japanese composer, arranger, and musician who attended Waseda University as a literature major but found her passion returning to music as she composed for various student groups at the time.

Kanno, with her background in genres such as jazz and bossa nova, has made these kinds of music accessible to and appreciated by the general public. We know you all know Cowboy Bebop's iconic opening theme, Tank! This is a collaboration between Kanno and her band Seatbelts.

And of course, we can't forget about her work for Ghost in the Shell. Below is her soundtrack Inner Universe, with its electronic and new age sound.

Other iconic anime Kanno has composed for include Darker than Black, Macross Plus, The Vision of Escaflowne, Wolf's Rain, Kids on the Slope, and Terror in Resonance. She has also composed music for pop artists Maaya Sakamoto and Kyōko Koizumi.

Official website for Yoko Kanno

4. Michiru Ōshima (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Fullmetal Alchemist)
Michiru Ōshima | PHOTO CREDIT: Hatena Blog

Michiru Oshima (大島ミチル) is a Japanese composer who is one of the most prolific living composers for film, anime, and video games. Some of her works include compositions for Fullmetal Alchemist, Nabari no Ou, Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayukihime), Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

With her numerous (and we mean NUMEROUS) works, Oshima has demonstrated she is a master at orchestral music. We will let the big titles she has worked for speak for themselves.

For Fullmetal Alchemist fans, you'll never forget Oshima's work for Bratja. We're crying too, we promise.

We've also chosen to feature Oshima's music for the anime Blast of Tempest (Zetsuen no Tempest). In the soundtrack Aika, Oshima gives justice to one of the most pivotal characters in the series.

Official website for Michiru Oshima

5. Hiroyuki Sawano (Attack on Titan, Aldnoah.Zero)
Hiroyuki Sawano | PHOTO CREDIT: Moshi Moshi Nippon

We all know you've been waiting for Sawano's name to appear in this list. There is not an anime fan who hasn't been awestruck of his music thanks to Attack on Titan (which he has won numerous awards for, such as the Newtype Anime Awards for Best Soundtrack, and the Tokyo Anime Award for Best Music).

Hiroyuki Sawano (澤野弘之) is a Japanese composer, arranger, musician, lyricist, and pianist best known for his work on many hit anime series, television dramas, and films. His works include the musical scores for Attack on Titan, Blue Exorcist, Kill la Kill, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Aldnoah.Zero, and The Seven Deadly Sins.

Sawano's music is larger than life. Everything about his works feel EPIC with the big orchestral sounds that are given flavor by electronic and rock. This style makes him a composer of choice for many action-packed anime with intense fight scenes. He also collaborates with famous singers in the anime industry, such as Aimer (SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:Aimer) and mizuki (SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:mizuki)

With a strong presence in anime, you will have no trouble finding samples of Sawano's music. Below is one of our favorites, Project【emU】"Attack on Titan" suite. This piece is a perfect example of how Sawano creates the best music that would suit his equally powerful team of vocalists.

And here is MKAlieZ, a soundtrack from Aldnoah.Zero, with vocalist Mika Kobayashi. You just KNOW it's Sawano's sound.

Official website for Hiroyuki Sawano


Digest by AniRadioPlus

Reference: CBR

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