Announcing a New Upcoming Post Series: Anime Composer Profiles

About a month ago, I had asked you all to come up with a list rank-ordering your favorite anime composers for a few reasons. First of all, I was curious as to how well people know the composers behind some of their favorite anime series and I was delighted to see that we got a wide range of musicians, including a few I’ve never heard of. The second, but more important reason was because I had in mind a plan to do a writeup on anime composers and simply needed a list to put together so I can decide who to start with first.

The responses I got were pretty overwhelming and encompassed over 90 (!!!!!!!) composers (if you can believe that). Speaking as someone who can name maybe half that number, this was a pretty staggering amount and suggests that there may be more anime music fans amongst the fanbase than I’ve seen so far and that most are just kind of dormant. Anyhow, you’ll want to know how things will look over the next 15 months (yes, we do intend to cover 15 anime composers), so check out the list after the jump!

I also plan to run through the methodology and maybe do some comparisons between the sites where I put up the request. That boring quantitative stuff I’ve thrown on page 2, so if you’re really interested how things unfolded, you can look there. As for the general list and the number of points they received from voters in parenthesis:

  1. Yuki Kajiura (547 points)
  2. Yoko Kanno (499 points)
  3. Joe Hisaishi (383 points)
  4. Taku Iwasaki (295 points)
  5. Kenji Kawai (233 points)
  6. Jun Maeda (214 points)
  7. Susumu Hirasawa (127 points)
  8. Shiro Sagisu (124 points)
  9. Tenmon (120 points)
  10. Kou Otani (118 points)
  11. Toshihiko Sahashi (114 points)
  12. Yoshihisa Hirano (111 points)
  13. Yasuharu Takanashi (103 points)
  14. Michiru Ooshima (101 points)
  15. Kotaro Nakagawa (83 points)

Names that barely missed the cut include: Naoki Sato, Kouhei Tanaka, Masumi Itou (Hikaru Nanase), and Mina Kubota.

How This Will Work
Each month, we’ll be highlighting a composer and place a bit more emphasis on reviewing their albums. In fact, we’ll try to toss out somewhere around 3-4 reviews specific to that composer each month. Before we even do that though, we’ll start off with a general profile where we highlight any important biographical tidbits, the sort of stuff you’d find on Wikipedia for instance, but that will make up a small portion of the profile. The bigger portion is in analyzing just how far we feel they’ve progressed as an artist and analyzing the consistency of their works.

So while last year’s big post series revolved around looking at anime soundtracks from 2000-2009, this year’s series looks to be just as ambitious. Maybe even more so. Do look forwards to it and hopefully you can gain some newfound appreciation for the composers you’re familiar with or find a new composer to check out.

For those with a lot of time on their hands, check out page 2 if you want a peek at the methodology as well as a site-by-site breakdown.


Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

22 thoughts on “Announcing a New Upcoming Post Series: Anime Composer Profiles

  • January 12, 2011 at 1:00 am

    ohhh nice this looks like a fun little project! 😀 I look forward to reading them

  • January 12, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Yuki Kajiura only won because of Anime-Planet! 🙁

    Anyway, great idea, zzero! Good luck, I can’t wait to read these! Hopefully my own composer series won’t become too overshadowed 😉

  • January 12, 2011 at 2:05 am

    I should have voted when I had the chance :(. Was a little absent minded and didn’t put my vote down the first time I read the Anime Instrumentality post and then forgot all about it.

    I also didn’t realize until now that many composers are extremely well liked for a few very specific but well done soundtracks. Susumu Hirasawa, Jun Maeda, Tenmon, Shinji Orito and Takeshi Senoo, just to name a few off that last list, are all known for only one or two soundtracks of their small anime repertoires. It’s just that one (or two) soundtrack is often one of the most memorable ones in anime. We still have some obvious heavy hitters with lots of work under their belt like Kajiura, Kanno and Hisaishi though.

    Otherwise, nice to see Kou Otani on the list, as I didn’t think he was well known enough. I’m a little sad that Mitsumune Shinkichi seemed to have gotten little if any mention, but that one’s a personal bias because the Rozen Maiden soundtrack was one of the first few OSTs I listened to.

  • January 12, 2011 at 5:20 am

    I’m glad to see Yuki Kajiura at number one. She’s my favorite. So many soundtracks come to mind… Noir, Mai HiME… etc.
    Anyways, looking forward to the project. It’s going to be fun to expand on my way too limited knowledge of composers.

  • January 12, 2011 at 7:28 am

    No surprise at the top 3 biggies although I thought Kanno would top the list. I ‘m looking forward to your write up on all these different composers. It’s a good way for a newbie like me to get to know more about the composers whose work are less known to me. Great idea for sure!

  • January 12, 2011 at 7:31 am

    I’m so glad Yoshihisa Hirano made it! Some of that music has just…made my life all-around better. Looking forward to this series!

  • January 12, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Looks like a very exciting year (and a few months) ahead. Most of my own highlights comes in the second year, so let’s make this series a success so we will be able to continue strong into the second year.

    For this year, there’s always Hisaishi, Sagisu, Hirano and Sahashi to really look forward to. I’m kind of disappointed Sahashi ended up at 11. His works are among the best of any composers out there. (And easily the most consistent too)

  • January 12, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Looks like a giant project that stretches more than a year! All the best!

    I’m definitely interested in reading more on Hisaishi, it’s an elephant of a hole in the little knowledge I have of anime music, as emphasised by his ranking in this here poll. Definitely looking forward to it!

  • January 12, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Very glad Kou Otani made the list, he’s a favorite of mine. Disappointed that Kaoru Wada didn’t make it at all… I think I’m the only one that voted for him… Though I wonder if you counted all of Baka-raptor’s 1-10 votes for Kajiura, haha? Look forward to workin on this.

  • January 12, 2011 at 9:23 am

    To tell you the truth, the only two composers I really know are Kajiura and Kanno. Please educate me.

  • January 12, 2011 at 11:07 am

    this is awesome!
    it was a little hard for me to find this website and its sad there not more websites about anime musik, because this also shows how people arent aware of this great music at least in the west.
    A friend i asked (who has over 100 soundtracks from hollywood films) about anime Soundtacks. He said he has not heard anything, from Japanese composers (or especially Anime Soundtracks) the only thing i had, was prinzes mononoke and i sold it on ebay, because i didnt liked it.

    When i became interested in Anime OSts i also wanted to get to know the Composers a little more beside the great ones i couldnt find little to nothing.
    I would love to see making offs of maybe fma, fma brotherhood, death note, naruto, fairy tail, elfen lied soooo much moore, like in hollywood. Not even interviews of them maybe its all in japan i dont know…

    But its good to see there is a site like this thanks!

  • January 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    Looks like you won’t be learnin all that much the first two months, then, eh? Haha.

    @Bearfist (Awesome name, by the way. Ironic in a manly sort of way, like “OctopusKick”)
    If you’re interested in Death Note,check out my review of its OST from a few days ago:
    In any case, I’m glad you like the site. Keep coming back, because those shows you mentioned just might pop up in our upcoming series!

  • January 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    It just hit me that I forgot to mention how excited I am to see Yasuharu Takanashi on the list! The Jigoku Shoujo soundtrack is my favourite OST, and Shiki is at the same level so far. So good at creepy!

  • January 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    sounds great! I’d definitely want to read this!

  • January 12, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    I’m really excited for this. I don’t know much about anime music (one of the reason I read this blog) but I’d like to so this sounds like a wonderful series. Good luck!


  • January 12, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    As much as I’d like to say that I have this music domain covered down pat, this project will also be a huge learning experience for me since I’ll actually make a stab at listening at nearly everything the composer I’m covering worked on. Also, biographical details I’m kind of thin on, so that’ll be fun to research.

    On to the comments:

    You did a damn excellent job with the 365 anime characters project of yours. I can only hope to be able to maintain the discipline you showed in seeing that through to the end.

    Yeah, I mean, what kind of ridiculous victory margin was that? If it’d approach the normal levels shown on the other locales, then we’d be looking at Kanno first.

    I’ll be looking forwards to reading your personal composer list though!

    Thanks! Hope to be able to meet those lofty expectations.

    I wonder how true it is that a great many composers got noticed because of one work. I mean, most people probably won’t be able to name Kou Otani out of anything other than Haibane Renmei and Shakugan no Shana. Maybe Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, but the focus of that show was on other things and not so much the music.

    As for Shinkichi Mitsumune, you’re right in that not a lot of people seemed to have mentioned him much. Probably because aside from Rozen Maiden, his stature isn’t that high. Not many have listened to Asatte no Houkou though they should. It’s a gem of an album.

    Glad to see that your favorite composer is the one right out of the proverbial starting blocks then. A lot of work too, especially since I’ll have to cover her work with See-Saw, FictionJunction, and of course, Kalafina.

    Well, you know who to blame for Kajiura taking first place 😀 But yeah, I’d say the first four were predictable (if out of order in terms of what I expected). Surprisingly, people like Kenji Kawai. My coverage of him may be a wee bit more critical.

    @Arianna Sterling
    The Julliard man packs quite a punch, and I’ll be eager to explore what he’s got to offer. No surprise that the Ouran fans came on strong for this one though. As for Takanashi, I thought he’s pretty under-appreciated, and relative to the big names, he is. He does seem to be gathering a solid fanbase though.

    It’ll be a fun project for sure as we put our best effort into figuring out why some of these artists, even ones we’re not totally fond of, attract the following they do.

    I’m pretty excited to see where this will head, especially since it means I’ll be knee-deep in listening to a specific composer each month. Or rather, pay more attention than I usually would. Just imagine me going through the entirety of Kajiura’s discography right now and that’s an accurate picture of what I’m doing.

    You doubt me, good sir! But yeah, Kaoru Wada didn’t get that much support. Guess Casshern Sins and Inu Yasha fans were kinda absent when I called for votes.

    Glad to be of service! I’ll be delving as deeply as I can since there’s much to explore. Hope you get something out of my musings!

    Keep an eye out then! I’ll be sure to be going clip-happy whenever I stumble on anything that needs mentioning! You may just discover some new stuff to appreciate and older stuff that’s worth giving a re-listen.

    This is kind of like… uncharted territory for me? I mean, we’ve got plenty of seiyuu bloggers, people who really focus on franchises or directors or studios, yet music seems to be neglected. Glad to know we’ve served as a great resource and that we’re highlighting an area that’s definitely a part of the viewing experience (while giving us nostalgic hearkenings out of context ;)).

  • January 13, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    I’m looking forward to this a great deal 🙂

    Learning more about the people who create the stuff you like is always a good thing, as is discovering more things to enjoy about artists you’ve never paid much attention to before.

    • January 15, 2011 at 1:43 am

      And there shall be sound clips galore. Yeah, here’s hoping people discover new stuff, which I guess is what all of my post series have emphasized most.

  • April 14, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Sigh, as far as pop song PLUS ost’s are concerned, where the hell is Kousaki Satoru?

    Since God Knows from Haruhi, to Lucky Star, the Haruhi movie, Bakemonogatari, and many others, Kousaki has shown deft skill with both OST’s and hit pop songs.

    Even in the last season, he composed both hiru hoshii from Fractale AND Monochrome from Star Driver. The problem with these insert songs is that few people care about the composer, they just see that Aya Hirano sang it, big whoop. How many people know who composed God Knows…?

    • April 14, 2011 at 6:48 pm

      Well, arguably, Kousaki has yet to really knock the ball out of the park soundtrack-wise. Kanno and Kajiura have both been more impressive in that arena. Beyond that, you’re preaching to the choir since people just don’t give the J-pop composers enough credit and they all seem to flock to the performers who tend to be dime a dozen (the good ones notwithstanding).

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