Given that anime and K-Pop are considered to be the biggest entertainment exports of their respective countries, it made sense to combine their individual strengths into something no fan can resist. As the Hallyu, or Korean wave, has expanded to the rest of Asia and over to the West, more Korean singers have begun to contribute to anime soundtracks one way or another.
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Selecting popular artists to perform opening themes, arguably the most important and iconic of anime songs, is just another clever way for the K-Pop genre to keep breaking into one of the biggest music markets on the planet. From legends like BoA and TVXQ to newcomers like Stray Kids and TXT, Korean artists are continuing to leave their mark in the anime world with their catchy tunes.
10 Noblesse — “Breaking Dawn” by Kim Jaejoong
Originally a Korean webtoon, Noblesse tells the story of Raizel, a long-lived noble who must learn to adapt to the modern world after a long slumber. After a couple of OVAs in 2015 and 2016, a full anime adaptation consisting of thirteen episodes premiered in late 2020 on the anime streaming platform Crunchyroll.
Ex-member of the K-Pop powerhouse TVXQ, Kim Jaejoong, performed “Breaking Dawn,” the opening song for the show’s only season. Jaejoong is known for his contributions to OSTs for both Korean and Japanese dramas and movies and has dabbled in acting multiple times. He’s currently a soloist and a member of JYJ, a group he formed with his TVXQ teammates Junsu and Yoochun.
9 Tower Of God — “Top” by Stray Kids
Tower of God follows Twenty-Fifth Baam, a boy whose only friend Rachel goes missing after she enters the mysterious Tower the two of them have been living under for years. In an effort to find her, Baam enters the Tower himself and starts his own adventure. The anime adaptation of the original Tower of God webtoon premiered in early 2020 and can be streamed on Crunchyroll.
The show’s opening theme, “Top,” is performed by Stray Kids. With nine EPs and one studio album to their name, the eight-member group is making waves as one of the most prominent groups of K-Pop’s fourth generation of artists. Their single “Back Door” from the album Go Live was the only Korean song in Time magazine’s list of 10 Best Songs of 2020.
8 Hanasakeru Seishounen — “Change” by J-Min
In 2009, soloist J-Min’s single “Change” was used as the opening song for the Hanasakeru Seishounen anime adaptation. The show has fourteen-year-old Kajika Burnsworth as the main character, the daughter of a wealthy businessman who prompts her to choose a husband from the three prospects he has handpicked for her.
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Despite being Korean, J-Min first had her debut in Japan in 2007 before finally releasing music in her home country years later. Aside from lending her voice to several Korean drama OSTs, including “Stand Up” for the popular drama To The Beautiful You, J-Min also interpreted Geum Jandi in Boys Over Flowers: The Musical, a musical based on the Japanese manga Hana Yori Dango.
7 Kiba — “Hakanaku Tsuyoku” by Younha
Younha is no stranger to the Japanese music market. She made her debut in Japan before trying her luck at Korean releases, gaining mainstream attention when her single “Houkiboshi” was used for the Bleach OST. Her 2007 song “Hakanaku Tsuyoku” served as the second opening for Kiba, which marked her last Japanese release before her Korean debut.
A 2006 entry of the isekai genre, Kiba follows fifteen-year-old Zed as he travels into a new dimension called Templar where magic users called Shard Casters are constantly at war with each other. The anime consists of fifty-one episodes divided into two seasons and was produced to bank on the popularity of anime with trading cards like Yu-Gi-Oh!
6 Rilu Rilu Fairilu — “Brand New Days” by Apink
Created as a joint effort between Sanrio and Sega, Rilu Rilu Fairilu is a fun fantasy anime about various fairies named the Fairilus and their adventures in the human world. The three-season anime was created a year after the creation of the franchise as a way to promote Rilu Rilu Fairilu’s tie-in merchandise.
Apink’s “Brand New Days” was used as the first season’s opening theme. The six-member girl group is known for its bubblegum pop and synth-pop sound, with Billboard naming their 2018 song “I’m So Sick” as one of the best K-Pop songs of the year. They’ve won multiple awards for their outstanding music, including Best New Female Artist at the 2011 Mnet Music Awards.
5 Beelzebub — “Baby U!” by MBLAQ
MBLAQ started as a five-member group under J. Tune Camp, the entertainment company created by Korean superstar Rain. Two of its members, Joon and Thunder left MBLAQ in 2014 to pursue solo careers. The boy group has released eight EPs and a 2011 studio album Just BLAQ, which sold over fifty thousand copies in Korea alone.
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In 2011, MBLAQ’s second Japanese single “Baby U!” served as the fourth opening song for Beelzebub. The anime tells the story of Tatsumi Oga, a first-year high school delinquent who finds a strange, green-haired baby with connections to a great demon king. It premiered in 2011 as an adaptation of the manga of the same name and ran for sixty episodes.
4 Black Clover — “Everlasting Shine” by TXT
Hailing from the same agency that produced K-Pop giants BTS, TXT have proven to be worthy leaders of the new generation of K-Pop. The quintet has released three EPs and two critically acclaimed studio albums, with their latest release Freeze debuting at number five on the Billboard 200 chart. After a successful Japanese debut, TXT were selected as the performers for “Everlasting Shine,” Black Clover’s twelfth opening theme.
Black Clover follows Asta and Yuno, two orphans who grow up in the magical Clover Kingdom wanting to compete over the title of Wizard King. While Yuno is highly skilled in magic, Asta has none whatsoever, which prompts him to train his body as a way to compensate. Things change when each of them chooses a different Magic Knight squad, turning them into full-fledged rivals.
3 OZMA — “Neverland” by F.T. Island
OZMA is set in a post-apocalyptic Earth where the entire planet has turned into an arid desert. One day while working as a trader, Sam saves a woman called Maya from an army of clones called the Ideal Children. Once safe inside his ship, Sam and Maya notice a giant monster surge from the sand. It’s Ozuma, Sam’s brother’s biggest enemy.
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In 2012, F.T. Island’s seventh Japanese single “Neverland” was chosen as the opening song for OZMA. The rock band debuted in 2007 with “Love Sick,” dominating the Korean charts for several weeks and earning them various awards later that same year. They’re considered to be the first idol band, incorporating K-Pop visual elements into their unique rock band aesthetics.
2 Fairy Tail — “Masayume Chasing” by BoA
With a ten-year run and three hundred episodes under its belt, Fairy Tail is one of the most popular fantasy anime of the last two decades. The anime is set in the magical Fiore, where wizards join guilds to take on various jobs. Natsu Dragneel, a member of the Fairy Tail guild, leaves on a quest to find his father and runs into another mage called Lucy Heartfilia.
Queen of K-Pop, BoA, sung the anime’s fifteenth opening theme “Masayume Chasing”. Considered the pioneer for K-Pop in the Japanese market, BoA has a long, exceptional career that started when she debuted at the age of thirteen in the year 2000. She has released over twenty albums in three languages—Korean, Japanese, and English—and continues to be one of South Korea’s most iconic pop stars to date.
1 One Piece — “Share The World” by TVXQ
Uniting One Piece with TVXQ was probably one of the best decisions TOEI Animation ever made. The adventure and fantasy anime follows Monkey D. Luffy on his journey to become the King of the Pirates and has consistently stayed at the top as one of the most popular anime series of this century.
Alongside a remix of the first One Piece opening theme “We Are!” TVXQ provided the eleventh opening “Share The World!” from their twenty-seventh Japanese single album of the same name. The then five-member group was a breakout hit in both their home country and Japan, topping the charts since their first release in 2004 and setting a standard for K-Pop groups of the time. TVXQ is considered K-Pop royalty and remains one of the best-selling foreign acts in Japan.
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About The Author
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Gabriela Delgado is a writer based in Lima, Peru. A Film Studies and Creative Writing graduate from the University of Alberta, she now writes for Comic Book Resources. She’s a fan of all things film and television, ranging from the latest superhero entries to the classic reality tv of the early 2000s. Send all inquiries and suggestions to her email: [email protected]
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