If you’re a lover of anime music, you know that it has the power to take you back to scenes in your favorite show. Maybe it’s the music itself, or maybe it’s because it makes you recall the specific scene from which it hails. Either way, these songs can bring a tear to your eye without any help whatsoever. Here are a few that get us every time.
“To My Dearest” (ZOMBIE LAND SAGA)
The girls of ZOMBIE LAND SAGA go through a lot during their undeath. For some, it’s the realization that the world they know is gone forever and they have to adapt to something entirely new. For others, their past is dangerously close, but they can’t interact with it. In cases like that, these zombie idols turn — of course — to music. Lily Hoshikawa’s solo “To My Dearest” goes out to a family member just within reach whom she can never see again. But there’s more to it than just nostalgia: it’s a song of love, understanding, and letting go.
“Blue” (Cowboy Bebop)
Cowboy Bebop is full of memorable music, thanks to composer Yoko Kanno. But as we reach the end of the Bebop‘s journey, we’re left with “Blue” — a soulful song with a swelling orchestra and powerful lead vocal against a gentle choral accompaniment. The statute of limitations may be well past on this ending, but we’re still going to leave it unsaid. This bit of anime music speaks for itself regardless… and if you have seen it to the end, revisiting this tune will likely get you a little choked up.
“Noriko” (Aim for the Top! Gunbuster)
One of two non-vocal tracks on the list. Anime music veteran Kohei Tanaka’s score for Gainax giant robot series Gunbuster was larger than life, just like its title mech. For hot-blooded series heroine Noriko’s musical motif, he provided a sweeping orchestral piece that’s equal parts courageous and romantic. It’s stunning to listen to on its own; but Gunbuster fans can probably think of plenty of emotional moments using this piece of music.
“Empty Diamond Crevasse” (Macross Frontier)
Penned by Yoko Kanno, Sheryl Nome’s “Diamond Crevasse” served as the first ending theme for space opera Macross Frontier. The song came around again within the show itself, this time underscoring multiple events happening simultaneously. We won’t go into what those events were… but when that one chord hits, if you know what happened, you’ll get choked up. And if you don’t? Well, any version of “Diamond Crevasse” is already affecting.
“Sis Puella Magica!” (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
Music aside, the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica is emotional enough as it stands, especially once that first shoe drops in episode 3. This particular tune turns up a lot throughout the show, and its light, innocent tone serves as a counterpoint to the actual life of a magical girl in this entropy-fueled world. There are plenty of other pieces of BGM that are heavier and more dramatic — and that almost seems to be why this one is so affecting.
What other pieces of anime music get the tears rolling for you?