Mellowbop lists his top five classic anime soundtracks

From anime staples to more obscure titles, Mellowbop’s top five anime soundtracks are a testament to the diversity of his craft.   

Given the sheer excellence of his discography, and in particular the standout track Mellow Theme, it should come as little surprise that Atlanta crooner Mellowbop informs his artistry with an array of influences.

Chill-fi production and soft hip-hop grooves provide the backdrop for Mellow Theme, but the artist is even more eclectic than what initially meets the ear.

Mellowbop interview

Proving that inspiration can strike even in the most abstract of places, Mellowbop swung by Happy Mag to list off his top five classic anime soundtracks, and the role they play not only in his work, but in the broader music realm.

From the one anime that birthed a whole new genre to a soundtrack with “traces of jazz, hip hop, and rock,” Mellowbop’s anime playlist is as diverse as it is intriguing, and stands as a testament to the extensiveness of his craft. 

Catch Mellowbop’s full list of classic anime soundtracks below, and scroll down to listen to his single, Mellow Theme.

As companion pieces to other media, soundtracks can be easy to ignore. If you look further however, you’ll find a lot of soundtracks are made with attention to detail not just on the narrative they’re paired with, but also to other genres, artists, and cultural movements.

Sometimes they’re just nods based on the preference of the composers, other times they help contextualize the subtext of a work by connecting the events in the story to real life cultural analogues.

Mellowbop interview

Either way, there’s no particular reason soundtracks need to go so hard, but somehow they still do. I find this holds true for anime as well.

The visual spectacle, lengthy tournament arcs and multi-story hair-dos are all well-known hallmarks of the medium at this point, but don’t sleep on the tunes.

These anime composers are literally styling all over the place for no damn reason, and it’s great. Here’s my top 5.

Heart Cocktail

Citypop blew up thanks to the youtube algorithm a couple years ago and ever since, it’s been enjoying a long overdue renaissance. If that’s your bag, this anime is basically Citypop personified.

Every episode is a short vignette detailing a slice-of-life romantic struggle of some kind, all scored with a catchy, jazzy, Citypop rhythm behind it.

There’s this great international feel to the whole thing, like each song is drawing from different regions and different styles, with this underlying piano jazz vibe connecting all the disparate pieces into a more congruent whole. It’s also 80s as hell, and that’s never a bad thing.

Reign The Conqueror

This might be one of the most obscure animes I’ve ever seen, and the soundtrack to it is fittingly eclectic, filled with all sorts of underground, synth-heavy experimental electronic music.

Traces of jazz, hip hop, and rock flirt with electronic and orchestral rhythms to create something really atmospheric and catchy. It feels like vaporwave before vaporwave existed.

There’s no official release for this soundtrack so you might have to track it down on youtube, but it’s worth it. The whole series is really a great find too.

Overwhelmingly opaque and purposely obtuse, it’s got a little bit of Aeon Flux in it while still being its own thing, and the soundtrack makes me wanna cry and dance at the same time. I’m pretty sure that was the point.

Space Cobra

70s animes are a whole vibe. The combination of terrible animation and extremely dramatic, violin driven soul music hits on something different, man.

Space Cobra is the very best of that 70s mystique. This fucking soundtrack slaps hard as fuck. They were smoking something when they made this I, know it. I can feel it.

The funk on this soundtrack had me doin the stankface several times and that is not easily earned. You don’t have to sacrifice catchiness to be cinematic or dramatic, and this soundtrack proves it in spades.

Howl’s Moving Castle

It was hard to pick just one soundtrack out of the Studio Ghibli discography – they pretty much have heart-wrenching down to a science at this point.

Joe Hisaishi, the lead composer for most Ghibli films, has been scoring for almost 40 years and has mastered plucking at heartstrings. But Howl’s Moving Castle might just be the perfect introductory soundtrack to Hisaishi’s work. Much like the movie, the soundtrack feels effortlessly idyllic without becoming corny or over-dramatic.

It succeeds in communicating a joy for the simple things, reminding us that even every day life can have majestic, inexplicable and mysterious moments to it. Much like Ghibli films themselves, it never feels patronizing or inaccessible, but rather, warm and inviting.

The Animatrix

The Animatrix is one of my favorite anthology animations of all time, I genuinely think it’s deeper than the movies at some points. But really underappreciated is the soundtrack – this shit is 90s techno to the core, even if it came out in 2004.

Y’all remember the rave scene from Matrix: Reloaded? This soundtrack is like that energy for an hour and a half. You got that deephouse, you got that trance, you got that drum and bass, the whole gang is here.

It’s that industrial, dystopian angst we all know and love so well. If you ask me, horrifying visions of a violent and angry future never sounded better.