Anime and K-Pop are considered to be the biggest entertainment exports of their respective countries. It makes sense to combine each medium's individual strengths into something that no fan can resist. As Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, expands across the globe, several Korean artists have contributed to anime OSTs.
Selecting popular artists to perform opening themes is a clever way for the K-Pop genre to continue breaking into one of the biggest music markets around. Legends like BoA and TVXQ and newcomers like Stray Kids, TXT, and ENHYPEN have left their mark in the anime world with their catchy tunes.
Updated on March 9th, 2022 by Sarah Martin: As the worlds of K-Pop and anime continue to collide, fans hope to see their favorite idol groups contribute to their favorite anime in the future. In the meantime, however, there have been a few new contributions of anime openings from the world of Korean idols. As both mediums continue to dominate their respective sectors of the entertainment industry, fans can only hope for more to come.
10 Noblesse — "Breaking Dawn" by Jaejoong Kim
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 Jaejoong Kim 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 NAVER 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 group is making waves as one of the most prominent groups of K-Pop's fourth generation. 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 Re-Main - "Forget Me Not" by ENHYPEN
In 2021, ENHYPEN released the opening song for Re-Main. The anime is about Minato Kiyomizu, who awakens from a coma that lasted over two hundred days. The cause of his coma was a car accident, which also caused Minato to lose his memory. However, playing water polo brings a few of his memories back leading him to join the water polo club in high school.
ENHYPEN is a relatively new K-Pop boy group under Belift Lab. The group has taken the K-Pop world by storm and has become one of the most recognizable fourth-generation boy groups. ENHYPEN has members from South Korea, Japan, Australia, and even Seattle, Washington.
7 Kiba — "Hakanaku Tsuyoku" by Younha
Younha initially debuted 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 and 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.
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 Tomorrow X Together
Tomorrow X Together have proven to be worthy leaders of the new generation of K-Pop. Hailing from the same company as BTS, the quintet has released three EPs and two critically acclaimed studio albums Their latest release Freeze debuted at number five on the Billboard 200 chart. After a successful Japanese debut, TXT was selected to perform "Everlasting Shine," Black Clover's twelfth opening theme.
Black Clover follows Asta and Yuno, two orphans who grow up in the magical Clover Kingdom and want to compete over the title of Wizard King. While Yuno is highly skilled in magic, Asta has none whatsoever — prompting 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 Ozuma — "Neverland" by FTIsland
Ozuma 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.
In 2012, FTIsland's seventh Japanese single "Neverland" was chosen as the opening song for OZMA. The band debuted in 2007 with "Love Sick," dominating the Korean charts for several weeks and earning them various awards later that 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. Natsu Dragneel, a member of the Fairy Tail Guild, leaves on a quest to find his father and runs into another mage 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 in 2000. She has released over twenty albums in three languages —Korean, Japanese, and English — and continues to dominate South Korea's charts.
1 One Piece — "We Are" by TVXQ
One Piece is one of the most popular anime of all time. It tells the tale of Monkey D. Luffy on his quest to become the King of the Pirates. Legendary K-Pop boy group TVXQ performed a remix of the first One Piece opening, "We Are!"
Aside from "We Are!" TVXQ also performed "Share The World!" as the series' eleventh opening song. At the time, it was their twenty-seventh Japanese single album. TVXQ set the standard for the K-Pop industry in their time, and they are still one of Japan's top-selling acts.
NEXT: 10 Anime That Never Topped Their Original Opening Themes