Jazz never dies. It ducks and hides in the notes of some of our most beloved shows, practically promising a hyped response from anyone who listens. Even for those of us who don’t know much about Dizzy Gillespie or John Coltrane, the classic sound of a wailing trumpet is all it takes to get the community going. That being said, here’s five of the jazziest tracks anime has ever had to offer.
Gunsmith Cats Theme by Peter Erskine – Gunsmith Cats OP
Everyone I’ve ever heard speak about this one summarizes it as guns, girls, and low cruising cars. I’m not sure it gets jazzier than that. Bullets fall from the sky over a pitch-black screen, cars zip past color-blocked panels. The art is ripped straight from gunslinger manga of the 1990s. In all honesty, it’s good even if you haven’t seen the series.
Gun’s and Roses by Paradise Lunch – Baccano OP
We honestly could’ve muted this one and guessed it was jazz—the guy is wearing a green zoot suit and matching fedora—but hey, it works! Even without lyrics, the song makes you feel like you’re dashing through the back alleys of a car-lined street in the early 1930s. After listening to this one, it’s hard to say that anime isn’t a match made in heaven. Every frozen shot fits the sound and the winding notes played by this all-girl ensemble are absolutely unforgettable.
Paraiso by SOIL&”PIMP”SESSIONS – Michiko to Hatchin OP
Shockingly, the show and the opening are drastically underrated despite how crisp the visuals are. Composed by Alexandre Kassin, there’s a Brazilian flair to the opening that compliments the show. Just one glance would tell you the studio that brought us Samurai Champloo had their hands all over it. The color pallet is a tropical wash of gold, green, and blue, perfectly paired with the show despite it having nothing to do with music. It’s genius, to say the least.
BLOODY STREAM by Coda – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure OP 2
Now, this one almost slipped under my radar. There’s a certain swing fusion that distracted me from the horns, but nonetheless, it checks the box. Considered a favorite by the Jojo fanbase, this snazzy piece gives us a blast of character right from the start. It stays on-brand for Jojo openings while stunning us with a new take on the well-known character introduction slides. It’s been on my playlist for months now and eight openings later it still holds up.
Tank! by Seatbelts – Cowboy Bebop OP
If I didn’t include this one I’d likely be tried for treason so here we go. Odds are you’ve heard this masterpiece even if you haven’t seen the show—it’s just that exciting. The horns, the smooth voice, the countdown. It screams James Bond in a unique kind of way. Despite debuting back in 1998, this opening reigns supreme as one of the most well-known openings for any anime to date. The character introductions are fresh, cool, and framed with panels. Years from now we’ll probably still be rolling our shoulders to it.
Bonus! Cowboy Bebop OST – Rush
This one isn’t an opening—it’s a song on the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack—but if you’re a sucker for jazz then it’s a crime not to mention. Yoko Kanno is a music god. She’s been on countless tracks as a masterful composer; in fact, she did Terror in Resonance too. Somehow she knows exactly what it takes to make that sax wail and weave throughout a hard bongo beat. It’s perfect for any late-night jazz club, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a group cover it once we’re able to hit the con scene again.
Lauren is a 23-year-old cosplayer and writer from Chicago. Her favorite shows include Wolf’s Rain, Terror in Resonance, and Samurai Champloo. If you can’t reach her for whatever reason, she’s probably reading or figuring out how to turn her kendo skills into functional ones. She’ll be back in a minute.