Japanese Fans Share Their Top Anime Songs Across Different Eras

On October 7th, 2023 TV Asahi aired a program tallying votes of 10,000 people who chose their favorite anime songs from Reiwa, Heisei, and Showa, giving international fans a sense of Japanese tastes across different ages and generations.

TV Asahi is one of the largest broadcasters in Japan, and if the scale of the survey wasn’t seismic enough, the program ended up being a gathering of legends and some of the most iconic people in anime. Pitting the Showa era (25 Dec 1926 – 7 Jan 1989), Heisei era (8 Jan 1989 – 30 Apr 2019), and Reiwa era (May 1, 2019 — present) against each other, voices like Akira Kamiya (Kenshiro, Fist of the North Star), Yuko Miyamura (Asuka, Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Kikunosuke Toya (Denji, Chainsaw Man) were in attendance.

Insert image of stars in attendance, Yurie Igoma (voice actor of Oshi no Ko's Ruby is featured in the top left)

Pictured above and from the top left are Yurie Igoma (Ruby, Oshi no Ko), Kento Ito (Hirotaka Nifuji, Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku), Miyu Tomita (Chuchu, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, and Kikunosuke Toya (Denji, Chainsaw Man). From the bottom left are Akira Kamiya (Kenshiro, Fist of the North Star), Yuko Miyamura (Asuka, Neon Genesis Evangelion) Shiori Izawa (Pochita, Chainsaw Man), and Yuki Iwai (writer from the comedy duo, Haraichi).

Insert image of Hiroko Moriguchi who performed Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam's second opening song, "Mizu no Hoshi e Ai wo Komete"
Hiroko Moriguchi, performer of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam OP 2, “For Us to Decide”

The ranking from the Showa era (1926 – 1989) was as follows:

Year Song Anime Performer
1 1985 “Touch” Touch Yoshimi Iwasaki
2 1979 “The Galaxy Express 999” Galaxy Express 999 Godiego
3 1974 “Space Battleship Yamato” Space Battleship Yamato Isao Sasaki
4 1987 “Get Wild” City Hunter TM Network
5 1972 “Mazinger Z” Mazinger Z Ichiro Mizuki
6 1969 “Sazae-san” Sazae-san Yuko Uno
7 1984 “Ai wo Torimodose!!” Fist of the North Star Crystal King
8 1963 “Astro Boy” Astro Boy Kamitakada Boys’ Choir
9 1977 “Lupin the 3rd Theme” Lupin the 3rd Part II Yuji Ono
10 1988 “Anpanman’s March” Let’s Go! Anpanman Dreaming
11 1981 “Lum’s Love Song” Urusei Yatsura Yuko Matsutani
12 1983 “Cat’s Eye” Cat’s Eye Anri
13 1984 “Do you remember love?” Macross: Do You Remember Love Mari Iijima
=14 1986 “Makafushigi Adventure!” Dragon Ball Hiroki Takahashi, Ushio Hashimoto
=14 1979 “I’m Doraemon” Doraemon Fujiko F. Fujio
=14 1973 “Cutie Honey” Cutie Honey Yoko Maekawa
17 1976 “Candy Candy” Candy Candy Mitsuko Horie, The Chirps
18 1979 “Fly! Gundam!” Mobile Suit Gundam Ko Ikeda
19 1985 “For Us to Decide” Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Hiroko Moriguchi
20 1983 “Omoidegaippai/10% no Ameyohou) Miyuki H2O

The ranking from the Heisei era (1989 – 2019) was as follows:

Year Song Anime Performer
1 1995 “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” Neon Genesis Evangelion Yoko Takahashi
2 1989 “Cha-La Head Cha-La” Dragon Ball Z Hironobu Kageyama
3 1990 “Odoru Ponpokorin” Chibi Maruko-chan B.B. Queens
4 1994 “Sekai ga owaru made wa…” SLAM DUNK WANDS
5 1992 “Moonlight Legend” Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon DALI, Sakura Sakura
6 1974 “Yasashisa ni tsutsumareta nara” Kiki’s Delivery Service Yumi Matsutoya
7 1999 “We Are!” One Piece Hiroshi Kitadani
8 1997 “Mezase Pokemon Master” Pokemon Rica Matsumoto
9 1996 “Sobakasu” Rurouni Kenshin JUDY AND MARY
10 1993 “Kimi ga suki da to sakebitai” SLAM DUNK BAAD
11 1997 “Princess Mononoke” Princess Mononoke Yoshikazu Mera
12 1999 “Butter-Fly” Digimon Adventure Koji Wada
13 1993 “Anata dake mitsumeteru” SLAM DUNK Maki Oguro
14 1975 “Rouge no Dengon” Kiki’s Delivery Service Yumi Matsutoya
15 2016 “Zenzenzenzense” Your Name. RADWIMPS
16 1996 “DAN DAN Kokoro Hikareteku” Dragon Ball GT FIELD OF VIEW
17 1999 “Magical Carnival” Magical Doremi MAHO-do
18 2001 “Itsou nandodemo/Inochi no Namae” Spirited Away Yumi Kimura
19 2000 “Secret of my heart” Detective Conan Mai Kuraki
20 2013 “Guren no Yumiya” Attack on Titan Linked Horizon

The ranking from the Reiwa era (2019 – present) was as follows:

Year Song Anime Performer
1 2023 “Idol” Oshi no Ko YOASOBI
2 2019 “Gurenge” Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba LiSA
3 2020 “Homura” Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Train LiSA
4 2022 “Mixed Nuts” SPY x FAMILY Official Hige Dandism
5 2021 “Zankyosanka” Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba — Entertainment District Arc Aimer
6 2022 “KICK BACK” Chainsaw Man Kenshi Yonezu
7 2023 “Utsukushihire” Detective Conan: Black Iron Submarine Spitz
8 2022 “New Genesis” One Piece: Film Red ADO
9 2020 “Niji” Stand by Me Doraemon 2 Masaki Suda
10 2019 “Is There Still Anything That Love Can Do?” Weathering With You RADWIMPS
11 2021 “Cry Baby” Tokyo Revengers Official Hige Dandism
12 2022 “Dai Zero Kan” The First Slam Dunk 10-FEET
13 2020 “Kaikai Kitan” Jujutsu Kaisen Eve
14 2021 “One Last Kiss” Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon A Time Hikaru Utada
15 2022 “The Blessing” Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury YOASOBI
16 2023 “Where Our Blue Is” Jujutsu Kaisen Tatsuya Kitani
17 2019 “Inferno” Fire Force Mrs. GREEN APPLE
18 2023 “Kizuna no Kiseki” Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Man with a Mission, milet
19 2023 “Mephisto” Oshi no Ko Queen Bee
20 2021 “Kaibutsu” BEASTARS YOASOBI

Many of the current Reiwa era inclusions are unsurprising, as hits such as YOASOBI’s “Idol,” Man With A Mission & milet’s “Kizuna no Kiseki,” and QUEEN BEE’s “Mephisto” all ranked in Anime Corner’s first-ever Best Opening and Ending Theme Songs of Anime Spring 2023 poll. Additionally, “Where Our Blue Is” topped the recent Summer 2023 edition which dropped on October 9. Despite this, there were notable omissions throughout the eras. Some of the most popular anime adaptations, such as Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Ranking of Kings, and Mob Psycho didn’t feature at all, while One Piece‘s only inclusions are its first and more recent theme songs.

To document international differences, TV Asahi also conducted a random street poll of 151 foreigners in Japan about their favorite anime songs, and the top 8 were quite surprising when compared to their Japanese counterparts:

Year Title Anime Song
1 2008 “Blue Bird” Naruto Shippuden Ikimonogatari
2 1999 “We Are!” One Piece Hiroshi Kitadani
3 2023 “Idol” Oshi no Ko YOASOBI
4 1995 “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” Neon Genesis Evangelion Yoko Takahashi
5 2019 “Gurenge” Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba LiSA
6 2014 “unravel” Tokyo Ghoul TK from Ling tosite sigure
=7 2022 “KICK BACK” Chainsaw Man Kenshi Yonezu
=7 2004 “Go!!!” Naruto Flow

YOASOBI’s “Idol” quickly went viral both Japan and in abroad, owing greatly to the easy accessibility to anime that fans now have. The Deputy-in-Chief at Shonen Jump+ shared this sentiment in his statement via X (formerly Twitter) while announcing recent overhauls of their international MANGA Plus platform:
Instead of a series gaining popularity abroad only after becoming popular in Japan, or a manga becoming recognized after an anime adaptation, we are entering an era where when an interesting new serialization starts, readers around the world can enjoy it in their preferred language, leading to worldwide popularity right from the beginning.

The success of “Idol” meant that YOASOBI quickly put out an English version of the song which soon topped the charts. Like newer anime, such as Oshi no Ko and Chainsaw Man, Naruto served as one of the earliest introductions to anime for many abroad, suggesting that while things can and often do go viral at the same time, what remains iconic to viewers, and the subcultures of anime that grow as a result of separate histories may slightly differ.

Source: TV Asahi, Oricon
Featured image: Oshi no Ko © Akasaka Aka x Mengo Yokoyari / Shueisha / Oshi no Ko Production Committee

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