I will be excluding movie soundtracks, or else this would have way too many Ghibli soundtracks.
Again, the top three are my favorites, and can switch places regularly.
10. Monster, Kuniaki Haishima:
Haunting is a word for this soundtrack. While some tracks sound too over the top for this subtle and dark series (which is why this is in 10th place), there are pieces that stand out and give you chills, as well as anxiety. But it also balances the darker parts with lighter pieces of music: like the anime, there are light spots in the darkness. It isn’t just sadness and fear. And there are quiet songs that just stuck with you.
9. Durarara, Makoto Yoshimori:
City music. That is the best way I can define this sound. It has electronic beats, instruments, and often a steady synthesized beat as an undertone. It can be fast paced, funky, and fun, like with the aforementioned songs with the word “Ikebukuro” in the, (they are such long titles!), but also have slower, more istrumental songs, like Their Aspirations. It can be subtle, insane, or loud, but always fun.
8. Psycho-Pass, Yugo Kanno:
Standouts: Psycho-Pass, Dominator, Makishima Shogo
Like others on this list, Psycho Pass had a great balance between computer generated music and actual instruments, but it often has a more electronic sound, which makes sense for the world. It is also very fast paced, matching the more action packed sequences nicely. However, it also has more subtle sounds in the background for the quieter scenes, and the scenes with strong instrumentals were made more memorable by their rarity; usually it sounds more electronic, so the instruments make a strong impact.
7. Noragami OST, Taku Iwasaki:
Noragami may not have my favorite soundtrack, but objectively, it deserves a spot here. While I do love some tracks, for the most part, there aren’t many I’d want on my iPod (Lurk in the dark and Misogi being the main exceptions). But it is here for its sheer originality. It sounds totally different than most anime. It sounds distinctly modern with a steady electronic rhythm and beat underdone, but at the same time. It mixes with more oriental, traditional music and voices, making for a unique sound and meeting of modern music and traditional melodies.
6. Steins;Gate, Takeshi Abo:
This may not sound like the Person of Interest soundtrack, but my reasons for putting it here are similar. This balances out the science fiction and the time travel with a very human feel. As much as this is about time travel, it’s also about the characters’ relationships with each other. This has strong electronic songs, like Gate Of Steiner, but even that is associated with one of the most emotionally powerful scenes in the anime. This also has strong piano songs, like in Beleive Me and the Christina themes. It’s a very balanced soundtrack that has a strong punch.
5. Tokyo Ghoul, Yutaka Yamada:
In some ways, this reminds me of Hiroyuki Sawano’s work mixed with Danny Elfman. It has great use of electronic music for the action scenes, then the sweeping orchestras and choir, and then there are the gothic sounds that feel like they’re straight out of a Tim Burton movie. This balances the action, fantasy, and horror aspects of the series very well. Even the action music sounds unique with the orchestra and choir in the background, like with my favorite track, TG Symphonie. This also has quiet songs that play during the sad moments, like Licht Und Schaten.
4. Puella Magi Madoka Magica OST, Yuki Kajiura:
Standouts: Sis Puella Magica, Salve Terrae Magicae, Surgam Identidem, Credens Justitiam
How could I not include at least one Kajiura album here? That woman makes the best fantasy songs I’ve heard. Anyway, PMMM is notorious for being one of the darkest Magical Girl anime, and I think the soundtrack helped play a big part in that. It balances the lighter, more sweeping songs, like “Credens Justitiam” and then darker songs like “Surgam Identidem” so well. It can make you feel hopeful, then just sad. It also has a distinctly medieval sound, like in “Salve, Terrae Magicae”. And the show’s most recurring song, “Sis Puella Magica”, is at once haunting and beautiful with its choir.
3. Attack on Titan OST, Hiroyuki Sawano:
Did you really not think I wouldn’t include both seasons of AoT in here? No way! Part of Attack on Titan’s fame is for its music; Sawano has an incredible range with the type of sounds. There are it’s action songs with epic vocals and blaring orchestra with some computer music. Then there’s also the more vocal-heavy, almost quiet songs that ramp up in intensity, like both seasons’ versions of Vogel Im Kafig. There are also tracks without any vocals whatsoever, but are no less amazing. But one cool thing is that most of the background songs with vocals, like “The Reluctant Heroes” and “Call of Silence,” are sung in English.
2. Death Note OST, Hideki Taniuchi and Yoshihisa Hirano:
This was the first anime soundtrack to truly hit me. It was in the second episode, where Light and L have their first ‘confrontation’ without seeing the others’ face. It was a great scene in general, but the track playing in the background (L’s Theme) was what made the scene one of my favorites in the series, with it’s catchy piano and guitar. Anyway, this soundtrack is still one of my favorites. While some tracks were overplayed in the show, that doesn’t completely reduce my love of them This has amazing orchestra and choir, like in “Low of Solipsism”, “Death Note Theme”, and ,Kyrie”, but this is one of those rare soundtracks where the character themes (L’s Theme, Light’s Theme, and Near’s Theme are my favorites) all sound amazing.
1. Fate/Zero, Yuki Kajiura:
I swear, this didn’t get to be so high because I’m currently watching it! While Kajiura’s work on PMMM stuck out particularly, I feel as thought Fate/Zero has a more impressive sound, as well as being more diverse. This has the epic medieval music, but it also has a surprising amount of guitar, and even has music that sounds Middle Eastern. I guess it’s the diversity that makes me love this. This also has one of the best orchestra and choir combos I’ve heard, like with Death Note. But this sounds more fantasy, and sometimes the choir even has a near operatic sound without going overboard. I also associate certain songs with points in the show. One of them is Point Zero, where I remember the summoning of each of the Servants, which is one of the scenes to give me the most chills. This a stunning, beautiful soundtrack, with a perfect medieval and fantasy sound.