Hey all,

I was just reliving old childhood memories watching some anime and it got me wondering about about sound design for it (I watched Dragonball Z and the movie Princess Mononoke)

Does anyone have any experience for doing sound design etc for anime?

Are there any different processes rather than in live action?

Is it more a "focussed" sound design? (As one sound for each main thing you see on a screen, rather than a whole soundscape like in films?)

Is it more ADR and musically orientated, and if so, is there any room for bigger sound structure?

Is it mostly synthesis?

Any input would be great! There isn't really anything on Anime Sound Design on the net I noticed!

Thanks a lot!

  • Definitely not "mostly synthesis", as most sound simply isn't. But I recognize that there's a characteristic use of individual melodic elements (like arpeggio lines) in fantasy anime or children's anime. Feb 6, 2013 at 6:18
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    Just giving an extra kudo to this question: It points at a popular genre with a very different aesthetic than most Western media, and the fact that there aren't a ton of obvious answers or insights makes it a really good inquiry. Feb 17, 2013 at 15:11

3 Answers 3


Mostly all anime sound design is done in Japan. I worked as a sound designer at a post house which dubs anime for english audiences. There were a lot of times that clients wanted me to "americanize" the japanese sfx to make them bigger and less cliche. However, the Japanese definitely have their own unique sonic style when it comes to this genre, and there isn't much information out there on how to achieve it's unique qualities. The japanese definitely have a different philosophy when it comes to sound design.

  • Would it be related to the perfectionist culture of the Japanese? I've always been impressed by japanese music and sound and thought of it being tons more inventive and detailed than most western stuff I've heard, be it in films or games. Something brief here: thekartel.com/video-games/… Feb 6, 2013 at 6:13

I did a sound redesign for this anime-style music video (it's actually French animation so not technically anime). My observation was that to make it work it had to be somewhat more stylized than a typical western-style animation/video. My instinct was to emphasize specific moments on-screen rather than attempt to cover every little thing - I also ignored a lot of the off-screen sound effects.

Also, as Austin points out, anime tends to embrace what western audiences tend to perceive as cliche sound effects. The cheesy bell sound effects, for example, on the titles. The voice acting also tends to have a different cadence to it as well, especially if you're watching anime that's been redubbed to English.

Anyway, best way to learn is by doing. Try doing some sound design for anime and see what works and what doesn't. Trust your instincts.

nsfw, btw http://youtu.be/BTwUEKHN-Xc

  • That video was dark! Haha but nice job!
    – FFRMusic
    Feb 7, 2013 at 19:07

The main thing to keep in mind when working with japanese animation is to keep it stylized. think of it more as a "score". you don't need to worry about the "photo-realism" of the shot, unless it specifically calls for it, of course. it doesn't matter if its foley, overused canned fx, synths, or traditional percussion; if it conveys the right emotion, it fits. the guys I've worked with in Japan don't brag about fancy sound design software or tricks. they use pro tools, native instruments, typical libraries, do their own foley. They work with the same tools we do, but they approach it very differently. Kind of a forrest for the trees thing. very similar to what Alan Parsons says about UK vs US engineers. Americans are obsessed with "gear & secrets", always chasing the perfect sound or tone... & Brits are obsessed with the "arrangement" or the creation of the piece as a whole... or so he claims.

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