Music anime is, as some fail to consider and realize, actually slightly different from an industry dominated by idol anime. Yes, in fact, you can have an anime centered around music without it being saccharine laden and full of characters with slightly different hair and eye colors, and personalities. In fact, there are a wide variety of music anime out there and it is just a matter of looking beyond the flashing lights, shiny costumes and more to see that some music anime really have soul and purpose as they tell a story centered around music. Sure, there are plenty of idol anime, ready to be tossed like yesterday’s trash when the next newest and shiny vision appears, but what where do you start to get a feel for them? Good news if you are new to anime or new to this genre, we here at Honey’s Anime have looked into how to help out those who fit into either category. So, whether you love a good tune or are looking for shows with soul and music, these are great starters!
Sheet Music & Exposé
Like with all anime ever, music anime will always, in some way or another, explain the music being performed or prepared OR they will have sheet music everywhere. Just like how ecchi anime shower the viewer with fanservice, music anime does the same with sheet music and exposés. It is not a bad thing per sé, as this allows the series to really drive home the concept that this is a music anime. It is not to say that the series loses focus, but rather that the viewer is able to, more often than not, be sucked into the story to the point that sometimes the characterizations seem to overpower the music itself. Thankfully though, it always comes full circle as music seems to be the healing force of everything.
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct. 2014 - Mar. 2015
Kousei Arima is a musical prodigy. He has been referred to as “the human metronome” and is an accomplished pianist. However, the loss of his mother proves to be too painful and he loses the ability to play. He happens to be in a park one day and meets a quirky girl named Kaori Miyazono. Suddenly, his dark world is lit up and sets him on the path of rediscovering what he was so talented at and what he loved: music. Though his journey he falls back in love with music while being perfect every time is not what music needs. Music is living and breathing and Kousei is about to learn that.
The beauty of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is that what you think you are getting and what you get, are two very different things. This expands and goes well beyond the story as you see Kousei struggle with his past, Kaori with her reality, and the two of them working passionately for music. Not to mention, too, you should definitely bring a box of tissues to this anime as you will go through a variety of emotions that may just shock you to your core. So sit down, and get ready for a musical journey based on a chance encounter in a park.
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso Trailer:
Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2012 - Jun 2012
Kaoru Nishimi is a pianist who finds himself now attending school in Kyushu in the south of Japan. He’s more or less given up on making friends and just goes with the flow. However, he happens to meet Sentarou Kawabuchi and from there, he learns just how diverse music can be. You see, Sentarou is really into jazz music. This pushes Kaoru to want to learn more and he suddenly gives up on the hopeless resignation that this year was just another year shut off from everyone. Then, he meets Ritsuko and the three start playing jazz music learning more and more while forging a powerful bond. This year is going to be the summer of his life and Karou is oddly ready to dive headfirst into this magical, musical, and whimsical world of lazz.
If there ever was an anime that really hits home what the concept of what a music anime should be, it would be Sakamichi no Apollon. The series focuses on students from various walks of life and helps them form a deep, strong bond over fantastic music. Even more, they focus on classic jazz music and even go into the stories of the music, the artists, and the rhythms. One only has to start the first episode to realize that this is going to be a fantastic series, and it truly delivers.
Sakamichi no Apollon PV:
Band Performances & Idol-Lite Yet Action Packed Music Anime?
Yes, idol anime falls under the umbrella of music anime, but thankfully, especially since it has its own genre and article like this on Honey’s Anime, we will not focus on major idol anime works. However, it still is an important part of music anime, because what would idols be without music? Soundless dolls dancing to a tune that does not exist? Creepy. Meanwhile though, music anime tends to err on the side of wholesome for the most part as seen by one of the other two anime on this list. The really cool thing about the other anime is that it beckons to a future setting in fantasy where music has a real, visible power and can change the flow of battle at the drop of a hat. Sure, it might not always be as magical as we want, but the other show likes to play the “what if?” card as much as possible.
Hibike! Euphonium (Sound! Euphonium)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr. 2015 - Jun. 2015
Due to a past traumatic incident that occurred when Kumiko Oumae was in a middle school band competition, she quit music. Straight up, she did and went on to high school where she was sure she could turn over a new leaf. However… that was not the case as as soon as she got there, Kumiko immediately missed being involved with music and finds the motivation to once again join the school brass band. There, she meets a variety of girls who also are all interested in playing instruments and together, they try to make music. However, chaos and disarray await them and while they want to aim for nationals, just making it to a local festival is a massive struggle. They have got to do something to have their music reverberate all over the town and country!
Hibike! Euphonium is a beloved anime by many for its incredibly wholesome story, captivating characters, and of course, fantastic music. The characters, brought to you by Kyoto Animation, are all unique and yet mesh together so well that it is rather surprising. Of course, this is a music anime that is actually going to focus on an actual band and spoiler alert: the anime has done very well for itself with a slew of movies and sequels. The world of anime is very odd as it’s very wide and broad, however, it is something like Hibike! Euphonium that actually takes the focus to the band and the instruments playing for the story. You will not regret a single moment of watching this KyoAni masterpiece.
Hibike! Euphonium Trailer
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: Apr 2008 - Sep 2008
Humanity has fled to the stars. Ever since a war with the Zentradi, humanity has been fleeing them across the universe aboard a massive floating colony/spaceship known as Macross Frontier. Life goes on though, and for the most part, the people do not see attacks on the ship by hostile forces and their lives go on steadily. All of this changes when the famous singer Sheryl Nome lands on Macross Frontier to perform a concert. Alto Saotome is roped in with his colleagues to do a routine for her show in their mecha suits. But after a malfunction and a race of biomechanical aliens known as the Vajra attack the Macross Frontier, things change in an instant. An audience member known as Ranka is saved from the Vajra by Alto and this leads to the government aboard recruiting him to help them in their fight against this new menace.
Macross Frontier is, as far as we can see, one of the most beloved installments of the Macross franchise, and that is why it has a spot here. The music portrayed in this anime is moving, dramatic, and tells a story on top of the story that is already being told. It is said that there is power in music, and Macross Frontier is a perfect illustration of this. From inspiring people to work harder, delaying and hindering foes, to moving hearts, this sci-fi, action, music anime does that in a fantastic tale that for a moment, you lose sight of the fact that this is a music anime. However, once you get into it, the series is captivating making you want to smash that next button as soon as you finish an episode.
These are just some of the suggestions that we have for you if you find yourself new to anime and want to explore music in anime. As we have stated, this is an article intended for those who wish to learn more about this genre of anime while keeping their distance from your regular idol anime. Nothing wrong with it, but the two genres are not the same. Of course, these are only four of a litany of music anime out there like Uta no Prince-sama, Nodame Cantabile, BECK (a fantastic show), Show by Rock!! and more! Be sure to leave a comment if you have a music anime that you love or want others to know about. Till next time!