The 15 Greatest Anime Composers Of All Time, Ranked

Over 100 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The 15 Greatest Anime Composers Of All Time, Ranked
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Vote up your favorite anime composers.

One of the most important elements in making an anime come alive is its music. While there are many people who create the anime OSTs we love, this list is honoring some of the best OST composers in anime history.

If you're a Studio Ghibli fan, you've almost certainly heard the name Joe Hisaishi. His compositions helped create the sometimes-gentle and sometimes-intense atmosphere that's characteristic of Hayao Miyazaki's films. Love Demon Slayer? Then you should know about Yuki Kajiura, the composer behind the series' unique sound - and behind a ton of other shows ranging from obscure works like .hack//sign to wildly popular ones like Sword Art Online. And if you've rocked out to Cowboy Bebop's 'Tank!!', you should know that you're listening to the work of Yoko Kanno - and that she handled the rest of the series, too. 

Which of these creators do you think were responsible for the best anime OSTs?

  • 1
    73 VOTES
    Yoko Kanno
    Video: YouTube

    Yoko Kanno's most famous anime work is Cowboy Bebop. Alongside her band the Seatbelts, she composed the series' sountrack, including its legendary opening theme, 'Tank!' Other works include The Vision of Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Wolf's Rain, Kids on the Slope, and Terror in Resonance. 

    She's been working since 1986 as a composer, musician, conductor, and producer. She's worked with singers like Maaya Sakamoto, Akino Arai, and Origa, and has composed soundtracks for a plethora of video games, movies, and TV shows. In 2019, she composed a song called 'Ray of Water' that was intended to celebrate the Enthronement of Emperor Naruhito. 

    73 votes
  • 2
    100 VOTES

    Hiroyuki Sawano

    Hiroyuki Sawano
    Video: YouTube

    One of the many reasons that Attack on Titan has been so popular is its music. Hiroyuki Sawano is responsible for composing much of it, although in the final season he worked alongside fellow composer Kohta Yamamoto. He's also worked on 86, The Seven Deadly Sins, Blue Exorcist, Kill La Kill, and Promare, among others. Outside of his anime composing career, he's also an independant musician, lyricist, pianist, and arranger who has put out multiple albums with other artists - a noteworthy one being Aimer.

    In an interview with Otaku USA Magazine, he named Joe Hisaishi as one of the figures who inspired him to pursue a musical career. 

    100 votes
  • 3
    64 VOTES
    Yuki Kajiura
    Video: YouTube

    Yuki Kajiura's first job was in systems engineering programming, but in 1992 she decided to go back to her first love - music. It's a good thing she did, because without her we wouldn't have the scores for Demon Slayer, Sword Art Online, Puella Magi Madoka Magica.hack//Sign, Erased, The Case Study of Vanitas, and many other amazing series. She dabbles in so many styles that it's impossible to list them all, but they range from hardcore EDM to gregorian chanting.  

    When she isn't taking charge of an entire anime's sound, she's creating theme songs for a wide range of anime, or creating independent music and helping other creatives under the talent agency she created, FictionJunction Music.

    64 votes
  • 4
    67 VOTES
    Shiro Sagisu
    Video: YouTube

    Shiro Sagisu is a music producer and composer who has been working for over 40 years. He started off as a member of the jazz fusion band T-Square. He released three albums with them, and then moved towards composing, writing, and producing. In addition to the over 2,000 songs he's written for movies and commercials, he also composed an arrangement of the Japanese National Anthem that Misia performed at the 2020 Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

    But what about his anime work? You've likely heard his music in hits like Evangelion and Bleach. For his work on Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advancehe won the Tokyo Anime Award for Best Music in 2010. He's also worked on Berserk (2016), His and Her Circumstances, SSSS.Gridman, Magi, and more.

    67 votes
  • 5
    25 VOTES

    Taku Iwasaki

    Taku Iwasaki
    Video: YouTube

    Since 1995, Taku Iwasaki's whole career has been dedicated to composing and arranging anime soundtracks - with a few video game titles thrown in for good measure. Little is known about his personal life, but his professional life speaks for itself.

    His works include Noragami, Gurren Lagann, Soul Eater, Bungo Stray Dogs, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, and many more.

    25 votes
  • 6
    35 VOTES
    Kenji Kawai
    Video: YouTube

    Kenji Kawai is a prolific composer and arranger who has been active since 1980. After dropping out of a nuclear engineering program at Tokai University, he started studying music at Shobi Music Academy but dropped out of that too. He developed his skills his own way, by playing in a band called Muse.

    When the band broke up, he started composing music for commercials and voice actors, which ultimately led him to start working on anime soundtracks. His earlier works include Ghost in the Shell (1995), Maison Ikkoku, Ranma 1/2 and Patlabor. More recent works include Mob Psycho 100, Barakamon, and Higurashi: When They Cry – Sotsu & Gou.

    35 votes