10 Anime songs with the worst, worst English lyrics
Anime has some terrific music. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how awesome you think it is), some anime gets the English lyrics wrong—like, really wrong. So, for the purpose of enriching your musical palate, here are 10 Anime songs with the worst English lyrics.
1) “Rose” by Anna Tsuchiya—Nana (2006)
Easily one of the best manga and anime ever made, Nana is the perfect fusion of love, friendship and music. But, really, what is wrong with that theme song!? “When I was darkness at that time?” Not IN darkness—evidently, you can “be” darkness at any given period of time. And then, “Baby, help me from frozen pain!” What in the world is “frozen pain?” And, finally, “with your smile, your eyes and sing me just for me!” How can you sing a person, and that too using your eyes and smile?
2) “Under Star” by Shocking Lemon—Hajime no Ippo (2000)
This theme song to the beloved boxing anime starts off with an elongated, “Rolling GOOOOOOOOOO!” And while you’re still scratching your head over how go can “roll,” the singer starts chanting, “I want to dive lost mind, I want to dive lost mind, I want feeling, I want feeling.” While it’s not clear exactly what feeling he wants, he already seems to have the “lost mind” part down right.
3) “Catch You, Catch Me” by Gumi—Cardcaptor Sakura (1998)
If there was ever a time to appreciate English dubbing, this would be it. While North American fans enjoyed a fairly catchy theme song, Japanese viewers had to put up with a music video so sweet and colorful, it makes you want to vomit rainbows and Hello Kitty dolls. And other than the splash of pink running across the screen, the singer keeps repeating, “Catch you, catch you, catch me, catch me.” Sakura’s a cardcaptor so perhaps she’s talking about catching the cards, but why does she want them to catch her back? I don’t think that magic stick was meant to play tag.
4) “Chain” by Back-On—Air Gear (2006)
It’s tough to dislike Tokyo-based rock group Back-On; they have done excellent work for several animes, including the popular Eyeshield 21. What they did with Air Gear, though, is unbearable. Starts off with a stylized, “On top to break the chain, no pain,” the song immediately poses the question as to what exactly someone needs to be on top off in order to break a seemingly metaphorical chain? This metaphorical chain is then further established through random phrases like “same old days, same always” and use of the word “puppet.” But the singer then claims, “I hear your voice,” meaning the chain is a puppet string that also talks. Phrases like "Gotta grab the sky" (as if clouds are solid) are also found here while, in the extended version, we also hear, “I wanna step in the mid makes no deal working.” But before our hero can step into the mid of whatever isn’t working, he declares, “the winds at my back so it’s time to fly” and “you ready to wake up, you gotta fly with us.” Please, feel free to try flying with him. But because it still sounds so awesome, the original music video is included as well.
5) “Ai O Torimodose!!” by Crystal King—Fist of the North Star (1984)
“You wa shock, you wa shock.” It doesn’t make sense, particularly because “wa” is an article with no proper translation in English, but many are content with translating the line as “you are a shock.” So much better.
6) “kiri” by MONORAL—Ergo Proxy (2006)
When a song begins with, “You complete my faith,” good things are easy to expect. After all, the guy clearly loves someone so much that things feel complete because of that other being. However, the singer then starts talking about a “world unwinding inside” of him, and reveals that he was apparently an angel because “the halo crawls away.” He then claims, “you repeat my faith,” but doesn’t elaborate how faith can be “repeated” like some terrible anime rerun. He adds that they are “rewinding all we can,” (apparently to get back to the rerun) and “you refill my place” (because a person’s place is like a glass of Coke that can be refilled). Then, he reveals how “heavens stroll inside of me,” apparently refilling the place once left vacant by the unwinding. And, to top it all off, he asks the listener to “take my hand,” but not before saying, “believe in me, drink the wine.” If this was a romance song, it just got creepy.
7) “Howling” by abingdon boys school—Darker Than Black (2007)
With all the poetic grace of a sixth-grader, Goth aficionado, our singer, originally describes, “A night sky full of cries, hearts filled with lies.” And when he realizes he has lost his soul, he yells out, “I know I can kill,” because losing your own soul apparently allows you to mess up somebody else’s day too. And if that isn’t enough, he then claims, “Sun will rise, close your eyes, downfallen, falling, hold inside, just howling in the shadows.” Not sure if this kid is soulless or a vampire scared of light.
8) “Runners High” by The Pillows—FLCL (2000)
Song: “Escape from the sinking, do you see what I mean?”
Listener: No, I don’t. Please elaborate.
Song: “Freedom beats the kingdom and I saw you in my dream.”
Listener: It’s all so clear now; any further details?
Song: “Just Runners High!”
Listener: Got it.
9) “Ready Steady Go” by L'Arc~en~Ciel—Fullmetal Alchemist (2003)
Apparently, before heading out to revive their mother, the Elric brothers had just graduated from kindergarten because they were reciting the “Ready Steady Go” rhyme we used to sing in order to learn the function of traffic lights. They also claim, “give me good luck,” because wishing people good luck just isn’t fashionable anymore and it must therefore be given. So what are you waiting for? Ready Steady Go!
And now for the grand victor…
10) “Around the World” by m.o.v.e.—Initial D (1998)
We were always going to end up here. In spite of being a beloved and, some would say, revolutionary anime, Initial D had some of the most laughably bad English in its undeniably catchy theme song. There are so many bad lines that it is impossible to make snide remarks about all of them in just one listing, so let’s just leave you with “now we go full speed and funky beat!” To be fair, they did have a very funky beat.
Of course, it would be cruel to leave with just a bunch of awful lyrics, so here are two anime songs with the best, best English.
11) Sakamichi no Merodi by YUKI—Kids on the Slope (2012)
Shinichiro Watanabe, the man behind Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, also made this terrific jazz-centric anime where every episode is named after a classic song. And, more importantly, the songs are chosen based on the mood of the episode, such as “But Not For Me” being the theme for when our lead is feeling lonely. Of course, this is a list of original theme songs and “Sakamichi no Merodi” (“Melody of the Slope”) is the perfect theme for the series because it captures exactly what makes the series great: soothing melodies as we down the slope of life.
12) Kimi ga Suki da to Sakebitai by BAAD—Slam Dunk (1993)
Simplicity is king when it comes to memorable lyrics, and Slam Dunk’s main theme song simply uses the words “Crazy For You,” while the second, “Zettai ni Daremo,” only says, “Set me Free.” Neither have any errors and both perfectly capture the mindset of the legendary anime basketball player Hanamichi Sakuragi as he tries to both woo the ladies (he fails) and become the best basketball player of all time (he kind of succeeds).
So what other anime songs have English that makes you laugh (or cry)? Be sure to sound off in the comments below! And remember—this list was made only in good humor and it’s never okay to belittle someone who speaks English as a second language.