Mainstream music of the 2000s was dominated by hip-hop music and the emergence of alternative rock and emo music. We see these musical trends incorporated in many anime opening and ending theme songs in the 2000s through the popularization of rap-rock music. However, when it comes to iconic anime theme songs in the 2000s, a few in particular stand out -- because fans can’t help but sing along to them.
"Every Heart" by BoA (Inuyasha, 2000-2004)
"Every Heart" is the fourth ending theme song for the fantasy series Inuyasha. The song is performed by Korean singer BoA and has both English and Korean versions. "Every Heart" is a soft melodic love song and is an appropriate track to describe the complicated romantic relationship between Kagome Higurashi and Inuyasha. The song centers on themes about longing for a loved one: Kagome has strong feelings for Inuyasha, but she can't express those emotions when Inuyasha still has lingering feelings for Kikyo, a priestess who passed away. The ending credit visuals complement the song perfectly as we see that each scene has all the characters admiring the sunlit sky or looking somberly into the night.
"Hare Hare Yukai" by Aya Hirano, Minori Chihara and Yuko Goto (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, 2006)
The “Hare Hare Yukai” is the ending theme song to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The track is sung by Aya Hirano, Minori Chihara and Yuko Goto, who use their respective character voices in the series to perform the song. The track has an upbeat tune accompanied by a fully choreographed dance sequence. This dance sequence was so popular among viewers that it became a cultural internet phenomenon. Many anime fans made dance music videos for the song and performed the dance at anime conventions. The song and dance also appeared in other media such as Overwatch and League of Legends.
"Hero’s Come Back!!" by Nobodyknows+ (Naruto: Shippuden, 2007- 2017)
"Hero’s Come Back!!" by Nobodyknows+ is the first opening theme song for Naruto: Shippuden, the second part of the Naruto franchise series, which takes place about two and a half years after the original series left off. "Hero’s Come Back!!" is a hyped-up rap-rock song perfect to start the show. The title speaks for itself, as it means the return of a hero. As the opening credits play, we see the return of our main protagonist, Naruto Uzumaki, now a teenager, and his fellow allies as they begin another adventure.
"*Asterisk" by Orange Range (Bleach, 2004-2012)
"*Asterisk" by Orange Range is the first opening theme song for the series, Bleach. Similar to "Hero’s Come Back!!," "*Asterisk" is a rap-rock song. The lyrics could best be described as cosmic and otherworldly; the song's title refers to the stars and the cosmos. The overall message is about having a person's memories, dreams, and feelings transcend time and space, as if those thoughts and emotions are as everlasting as the stars. However, even though the song talks about some serious themes, the visuals in the opening credits don’t match the song’s aesthetic. These visuals are colorful and vibrant, featuring Ichigo and his friends in early 2000s fashion and just being teenagers, disregarding the supernatural elements in the series.
"Battlecry" by Nujabes (Samurai Champloo, 2004-2005)
"Battlecry" is the opening theme song for the anime series Samurai Champloo, which was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, known for the critically acclaimed Cowboy Bebop. The song was produced by Nujabes and featured Shing02. Samurai Champloo is set in an alternate version of the Edo Period, where characters use modern dialogue and behavior. In addition, the series has a unique hip-hop aesthetic, showcasing how hip-hop and samurai culture are similar because they create identities that are against the norm and highlight the importance of cultural acceptance. “Battlecry” perfectly suits the series, as the lyrics focus on the lifestyle of a samurai, and it's considered one of the late Nujabes’ masterpieces.