Everyone is discovering the lo-fi chill-hop channel on YouTube and tuning in for those long study sessions. If you’re like me, you’ve heard every song on there 100 times now and are burnt out on all the popular anime and gaming music.
If you need something new to refresh your palate, here are some undiscovered gems from some of the strangest places that you’ve probably missed.
1Ending Theme – The Vision of Escaflowne
This song starts bright then settles you into long stretches of relaxing violins that encourage you to breathe with their natural progression. The song comes from the acclaimed composer Yoko Kanno and is featured in the often forgotten Escaflowne series. The anime is like Evangelion but set in medieval times with less doom and gloom. The heroine doesn’t want to save the world and is scared of almost everything, but much like Shinji, she finds a way to fight her battles. This ending theme will help you fight your battles with building strength and a calm focus through the 5-minute song.
2The Wonderful Star’s Walk is Wonderful – Katamari Damacy
Sometimes studying makes your brain feel like it’s buzzing and you need something to do with your hands as your brain grinds through a problem. This song is like constructive grinding with so many different instruments, buzzes, chirps, and even an accordion. Your mind will feel pulled along with the happy soundtrack from the strange Japanese Katamari Damacy game that had players pushing a small ball around to collect objects and create stars. The cast features a prince, the king, and lots of kids who say weird things like “I can feel it. I feel the universe.” It’s a strange game that doesn’t fit any mold and also features inspirational songs like “You Are Smart” that seems to brainwash you into thinking you’re smart.
3Call to Arms – Armor Blitz
It’s hard to keep up the studying mindset and sometimes you fall out of flow while wondering if you’ve gotten any new phone notifications. (Protip: Lock that phone in a box until you’re done with your work). This song is a good way to bring yourself back to focus with a retro-game style sound that will key into the part of your brain that lets you grind games for 4 hours straight on your GameBoy. Marching drums, cymbals, and soaring climaxes will pull you into your study session with music by the fantasy composer Phyrnna who created battle-ready tracks for the Armor Blitz online game. Armor Blitz starts in Valhalla, which is filled with war inspired tank girls that are being ravaged by a dark force. Players build a squad, evolve the team, collect allies, and fight to not lose their sacred land. Armor Blitz stands out for its music that pushes you to heed the call of duty and also for its in-game hentai options that have made Japanese games so popular in the West.
4Natsu no Hi to Kimi No Koe – Glasslip
This Japanese song by Choucho really feels like a beautiful summer distilled down into music. It’s calm but bright progression is accented by a gorgeous guitar and happy bells. This song will help you cope with studying inside all day and missing the sun by helping you dream of brighter days. The supernatural, slice-of-life anime Glasslip aimed for the same positive joy but fell short in many fan’s eyes. It’s sparked hundreds of debates on what went wrong in the series but one thing everyone can agree on is how wonderful the opening song feels.
5Krone – Guity Crown
Guilty Crown seemed poised to become a superstar action anime with another lovable pink-haired heroine but it fell flat due to a confusing plot line and cliched episode endings. This 2011 anime has a few saving graces that fans love to celebrate and its incredible music is at the top of this list. It’s OST overall is an incredible listen with an opening from Supercell and riveting orchestral tracks. The song “Krone” will take you on a deep adventure and makes any study session feel like a special journey.
6Battle Theme – Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
This song hails from a 90s JRPG that made waves for its spell-binding animated sequences that broke out of the 2D, sprite focused stereotypes. The music also surpassed peoples expectations thanks to Noriyuki Iwadare composing over 100 songs for the game. He focused on drawing from his own personal, emotional experiences to create truly unique and powerful songs to pull gamers into the traditional dungeon crawl story. Like Guilty Crown, the entire OST is incredible but “Battle Theme” is a favorite rock song that feels so 90s it hurts – but in a good way! Anyone who loved old-school JRPGs will fall for the music from Lunar: Silver Story.
7Love Tropicana – Jungle wa itsumo Hale nochi Guu
If you HATE whatever you’re doing and are depressed about it, this is your starting song for the study session. This tropical celebration is crazy cute and happy, which contrasts with the weird, sometimes dark, and hilarious anime: Hale nochi Guu. The show is set in a bright jungle and focuses on a young boy with his lazy, single mother. He tries to be responsible but his life is overtaken by a mysterious being that presents itself as a young cute girl but is actually a monster capable of impossible skills. This hero is strangely optimistic in this comedy and the opening song captures that feeling perfectly.
8Mii Channel Theme (Jazz Cover)- Nintendo Wii
It’s no secret that the Wii and Wii U Nintendo systems had trouble gaining traction but their Mii Channel theme blew up in a BIG way. Fans have given millions of views to this easy-listening tune that pulls you along in a gentle beat. It’s calming and somewhat easy to play, which has led to musicians of all kinds rearranging the music into trap, hip hop, a piano cover, a saxaphone cover, and a Fresh Prince of Bel Air remix. This jazzy cover by Insaneintherainmusic mixes in a ton of styles that will help break up your study session with some creative fun.
9Senbonzakura – Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F
“Senbonzakura” is one of the most popular Vocaloid songs but for many anime/gaming fans, they have missed out on this hit that mixes traditional Japanese music with an electric feel. If you are easily distracted and need something to get your feet tapping while your brain is busy solving problems, throw this on in the background and let yourself be carried away. There are a million fan remixes for just about any mood and it can start you on a journey of discovering the incredible music of Vocaloid.
10Believers High – Captain Earth
Captain Earth was one of those anime that most people dropped after episode 3. It faded into the background as another mecha trope anime but this opening is something special. It is a great inspirational song that captures the feeling of conquest, taking flight, and moving forward – similar to the Code Geass openings. In contrast to this unique song, the anime borrows from a lot of cliche tropes like using the power of friendship, a mystery surrounding the father’s death, and the teenage hero is leading the fight against alien invaders. The song “Believers High” is possibly the most memorable thing about the show with smooth vocals, a slow build, and then hard-hitting beats at the climax. It’ll make you feel like you’re a hero in an anime more groundbreaking than Captain Earth.
11Cowboy Bebop – Don’t Bother None
Sometimes, no matter what you do things don’t come together. You could be missing a deadline or struggling to make sense of a differential math equation. When your anxiety shoots through the roof, throw on this Cowboy Bebop classic that is a gem hidden in the series. It has a strong blues and folk opening and ending that will help you calm down by the time this 5-minute song is over. All your frustrations will get broken down in the intense music break in the middle and will help you accept that sometimes you just can’t win even if you’re the best, just like in Cowboy Bebop.