A song specific in content and tone to a character from an anime, sung by the character's voice performer — usually on a soundtrack CD.
The animation houses which produce anime are nothing if not masters of cross-marketing and cross-promotion. One means by which a series is promoted and supported in the Japanese media marketplace is (as is sometimes the case in the United States) the original soundtrack CD. In the early days of this practice, such CDs usually contained nothing more than the program's opening and closing themes, as well as most or all of the incidental music heard in the show. Eventually, though, the producers of such discs began to take advantage of the fact that most Japanese voice performers are also professional singers, often of the "idol" variety which drives the Japanese pop music market. They began to write songs that typified — and sometimes explored more deeply — the characters.
Thus was born the "Image Song", a uniquely Japanese variety of All There in the Manual
. While a viewer can enjoy and understand a series without ever hearing the soundtrack, those that do listen to the music often receive a "bonus" in the form of a deeper understanding of the nature of the characters. Occasionally the Image Song makes its way back to the series, where it may appear as a character's theme music, or to punctuate a sequence which features them. As time goes on, this has become more frequent, to the point where in some shows the Image Songs almost (but not quite) supplant the traditional soundtrack entirely. And in some cases, the show's theme song
is treated as an Image Song — usually sung by the most important female member of the cast, but also remade any number of times by other voice performers from the show.
The Image Song differs from the leitmotif
in that it primarily exists outside of the show, whereas a leitmotif is created specifically for use in the show to represent a character or idea. In Western musicals, the Cut Song
has a similar function. "I Want" Song
is similar but occurs in the show.
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Anime and Manga
- Digimon Adventure 02 alone had one song for each of the Digi Destined, one song for each of their Digimon partners, and one song where they sang together, for a total of 36 — in addition to ensemble songs and a Christmas album. Digimon Adventure and Digimon Tamers also had songs for secondary characters and antagonists. Digimon Frontier and Digimon Savers eventually leveled off on the practice, and Digimon Xros Wars and Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Leaping Through Time has none at all. Tai's Image Song was used as an insert piece late in Digimon Adventure proper, Matt performed his in a concert in Digimon Adventure 02, and several other characters' instrumental themes seem to be derived from theirs (or vice-versa).
- In a German example, the first album of Digimon put out by RTL II has Mimi's Song, while the second one has Matt's Song.
- Digimon Savers did eventually get an Image Song CD, but Yoshi and Lalamon were missing altogether. Frustratingly ironic, as their Back Story is that they met after Yoshi failed in a piano recital and Lalamon has an attack called Sing A Song which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Later in the year, another CD was released that included all new songs from the five "goggle boys" for Digimon's tenth anniversary (bonus points for one of the songs being called "GOGGLE BOY").
- Slayers has between one to three image songs between each of the major characters (including one of the villains, Valgaav), and there is both the infamous "Maiden's Prayer" duet by Lina and Amelia's voice actresses from the second season of the anime, and a song where the four leads all sing together. The opening and ending themes (sung by either Masami Okui or Megumi Hayashibara, or both) are all Image Songs for heroine Lina Inverse, as they tend to describe her personality directly.
- Sister Princess had an extensive soundtrack with solo and group songs for all 12 of the sisters.
- Similarly for Mahou Sensei Negima!, featuring all thirty of the girls from Negi's class, alone and in combinations. The Opening Theme for the second anime features several re-recordings by different combinations of the girls, which were then used for the actual opening of different episodes. Many of the important characters (i.e. Ala Alba) are given their own songs as well.
- One episode of Azumanga Daioh features some of the characters singing their image songs as karaoke. Interestingly, some characters turn out to be horrible singers in the "reality" of the show, whereas their voice actors are always at their best on the CDs (even when in character). In a later episode, when Yomi's listening to the radio, the DJ starts to play a request: "Kokoro wa Shoujo de Parachute" by Asakawa Yuu. This is Sakaki's image song and voice actor. They also use Tomo's image song, "Poi Poi Peace", as her ring tone.
- Some of the earliest examples of image songs may well be found on the various soundtrack albums released for Bubblegum Crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
- Weiß Kreuz is the poster anime for this trope. For lack of a better term, Takehito Koyasu, Hiro Yuki, Shinichiro Miki and Tomokazu Seki basically formed their own boy band.
- The Di Gi Charat franchise is extremely guilty of this trope, with lots and lots of discs and singles released. Somewhat justified since the main characters want to be idols and the franchise itself born as an marketing strategy. There was even a crossover CD with Galaxy Angel featuring characters with the same VA.
- Haruhi Suzumiya, thanks to its immense popularity put out 9 character albums, 4 soundtracks, 3 drama CDs, 8 combination soundtrack and drama CDs that shipped with one of the DVD versions, a live concert, an orchestral concert, followed by 7 more character albums for the 2009 re-airing from the Five-Man Band, plus Tsuruya and Taniguchi. All this for just 28 episodes! Emiri Kimidori, who only appears in a single scene for less than three minutes, gets a CD (although she later received an increased role in the later books that hadn't yet been adapted), and Churuya has 6 image songs. Naturally, the Gender Flip faction has redone even these image songs. And they're GOOD.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, being a musical, uses every image song in the episodes, as well as every other song in the vocal box.
- The Tenchi Muyo! series — or group of series variants — has released a whole lot of CDs, including a Christmas album. Characters have several songs that could be Image Songs, and some made their way into the first television series (which followed, and re-structured, the OVA, during karaoke on-board ship. A few of these were released in America by Pioneer, including one CD called "Meet The Tenchi Muyo" that mimicked the appearance of several Beatles albums.
- Lucky Star has a large collection of image songs thanks to its overwhelming popularity. And it's not just the four main girls, either. Kagami's classmates and even Konata's deceased mother get songs. Misao, formerly one of Those Two Guys, became enough of an Ensemble Dark Horse to get an album all to herself. Shiraishi got more songs than anyone else thanks to him taking the lead for the second half of ending songs. One of the songs that got a full version was none other than Ore no Wasuremono.
- Hayate the Combat Butler:
- The "Butler Network" segment advertises the show's image songs in a very direct, No Fourth Wall kind of way, including having Nagi wonder how well her song is selling.
- Although not technically her character song, Hinagiku sings the ending of season two, it could fit for it though. Also for the second ending of season two, Hayate and Nagi sing, what could be considered, an image song.
- Aside from the Season One mini-albums for the major characters (containing 2 songs, karaoke tracks, and interviews), there are a few albums for Season 2, The Movie, Can't Take My Eyes Off You, and Cuties with a few characters tracks for pretty much everyone - notably most characters got an Image Song for the ending of their personal episode in Cuties.
- Due to astronomical Popularity Power, Hinagiku has three full character albums (HiNA, HiNA 2 Spring Has Come, and HiNA 3 Message). The Idol Singer character has only just gotten one. Both also get a Crossover album with The World God Only Knows featuring that series Tsundere Haqua and Idol Singer Kanon.
- Urara from Yes! Pretty Cure 5 has two Image Songs which, in the show's reality, she wrote herself. She regularly sings them in concerts, accompanied in at least one case by the rest of the main cast.
- In a rare English language example, there is a soundtrack CD released titled Pokemon: 2B A Master that features Image Songs associated with characters from the show, but not performed directly by their English voice actors. Later, there was even a live theater show — Pokémon Live! — that featured the characters singing some of the songs from that soundtrack. The exception would be "Double Trouble", sung by Team Rocket's VAs. The Totally Pokémon CD released during Johto had a particularly memorable one sung by Brock's VA, Eric Stuart ("Two Perfect Girls").
- On the Japanese side, there's Satoshi's theme Spurt! which is also one of the openings, May's theme is Watashi Makenai (one of the ending themes) and Hikari has Kimi no Soba de. Instrumentals of these are usually heard during their contest appeals. Team Rocket have "Rocket-Dan Yo Eien Ni" which they have occasionally sung in place of their motto. Brock has "Takeshi no Paradise", originally an Ending Theme which he later started singing in episodes whenever there's a need for some kind or distraction. And Kojiro has "Lucky Lucky", a flirtatious Hurricane of (Pokémon) Puns. Vocal versions of both these songs have made it into the dub.
- Fushigi Yuugi had quite a few of these, most of the main characters had two image songs. A few of these were used in the series to punctuate serious moments ie. character deaths. Notably, several of the image songs were actually background music from the show with lyrics.
- Rurouni Kenshin had quite a few image songs, though they were not actually used in the show. These included songs for characters from mini-arcs.
- Seto no Hanayome has a massive collection of image songs to its name, most prominently by San and Luna. Magic Music is such a major part of the show it was to be expected.
- Ojamajo Doremi had four songs for each girl by Dokkan, though Pop still only had two (and one wasn't even sung by her seiyuu). There is also a separate 2 CD set with songs sung by their classmates and teachers.
- Here's the full list of Sailor Moon albums. A lot of money was made off The Merch.
- The anime has image songs and singles for central characters in almost every season; only some of them actually appear in the show. There was also a CD of image songs sold in North America called "Lunarock!", which featured songs that appeared in a few episodes. Sailor Moon had more than one for herself on there, unlike common anime practice in Japan different voice actresses were used to sing for the girls, due to the album being recorded in L.A and the voice talent for the show being based in Canada.
- Its live-action adaptation Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon has these as well, as did, predictably, The Musicals Sera Myu.
- Stephanie Beard wrote the song "The Real SugaBayBee". Supposedly it was for her radio character persona, but she had to have at least drawn some inspiration from her hated character in the series. Most people consider it her image song for Rini.
- Tokyo Mew Mew follows the suit, with two character songs for each Mew Mew — except Mew Ichigo, who got five.
- Even thirteen-episode Prétear has image songs for the four older Leafe Knights on the second soundtrack CD.
- Ranma ˝:
- Song Calendars and the "Hot Song Battle Contest" album display the voice actors singing wholly in character, sometimes purely for humor (such as Genma trying to sing while in Panda form), but for surprisingly dramatic effect at other times (girl-Ranma singing an unusually angsty song while crying in the rain).
- Shampoo's Wo De Airen (My Beloved) is also surprisingly touching.
- The juxtaposition of Akane's two song really shows her Tsundere nature. Her infamous Baka Song shows the tsuntsun, while Akane's Lullaby is very deredere.
- A little in-joke for the fans was the duet by Ryouga and the Jusenkyo Guide - the two characters share the same voice actor.
- Magic Knight Rayearth often mixed image songs along with traditional soundtrack themes. Although they were usually performed by Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu, sometimes Emeraude and Eagle would get a chance to perform. Even Mokona got in on the fun with at least two songs.
- A more extreme case is The Prince of Tennis, which keeps delivering image songs, duets, group releases and/or image CD's for almost each player in the show in a more-or-less regular basis. It's gotten to the point where the number of image songs is probably somewhere near four hundred.
- The second Simoun OST has an Image Song for Rodoreamon.
- Several of the Bleach characters have Image Songs released on CD, though they have never appeared in the anime itself.
- Rosario + Vampire has a usual share of image songs in both its seasons, as well as covers of 80's J-Pop songs. In both seasons, all of these have been gratuitously inserted into the anime, with the poolside karaoke in season one and the singing in class in Capu2 being the most obvious.
- Several characters from Kinnikuman have one of these.
- Gundam Wing has four OSTs, five if you include Endless Waltz; out of those, two are peppered with Image Songs, while a third is given over to them entirely (the only non-Image Song track being the show's second opening theme). Most of the primary cast gets songs, with the central characters (the Gundam Pilots and Relena) getting at least two while lesser-but-still important characters like Zechs, Treize, Lady Une, and Dorothy each get one.
- Gundam SEED Destiny's second OST features "Shinkai no Kodoku", Stella Louisser's image song, which is also an insert song for her important scenes in the series, particularly her chance meetings with Shinn, her death scene and Shinn interring her body.
- Zettai Karen Children, being done by the same creative staff as Hayate, has a pretty large collection to its name. There are songs for the expected characters (The Children) and some less expected (Muscle Okama?).
- Both seasons of Hidamari Sketch have these, though much more extensively in the second season. Even the Principal gets to sing.
- One Piece has quite a few image songs for the Straw Hats and for other noteworthy characters like Shanks and Mr. 2. Some of the Straw Hats' image songs have only one character singing, but there are often ones with multiple characters (for example, Hurricane Girls features Nami and Robin), or the entire crew. At one point during the Skypeia arc, Luffy and Usopp sing one of Sanji's songs. Badly.
- Mai-HiME gratuitously inserted three image songs - one for each of the main players - into the show in episode 15. The show also got two full albums full of image songs for just about all of the main characters.
- Ouran High School Host Club has some very fun image songs, as well as a song sung by all of the characters together. Noticeably missing is Haruhi's image song, and she only speaks in the group song. This makes sense as canonically, she's a horrible singer.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- There are five Fullmetal Alchemist image song CDs, with three image songs each, one for Ed, Al, Roy, Winry and Hughes. And of course, there's the compilation CD with all of those on it, plus a few group songs. Sheska joins Winry for a duet (likewise Riza Hawkeye does one with Roy, and Hughes' daughter Elycia joins her daddy for a song that really Tastes Like Diabetes). The Homunculi manage to get in a really strange talk session set to trance music, when an Elric brothers duet probably would be a much better choice for Al's CD.
- Meanwhile in America, Vic Mignogna (Ed's voice actor) wrote a tribute song in this style.
- Brotherhood has an image song by "Romi Park and the Alchemists", which is A Good Name for a Rock Band.
- Saiyuki has numerous image albums from the three separate anime series and almost every major character has at least one song. And try not to count how many the four main characters have, you'll give up half way through. The only exception is Hakkai, since Akira Ishida doesn't like to sing—when Hakkai absolutely needed an Image Song as part of the "Four Seasons" promotional CD for the movie, he simply delivered a monologue to music. This has led original author Minekura to playfully refer to the group of Goku, Gojyo and Sanzo's seiyuu as "-8," or "Minus Eight," as the "ha" in "Hakkai" is written with the kanji for 8.
- Pretty much the entire vocal soundtrack of Pani Poni Dash! is sung by the characters involved.
- Standard practice in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is to include three tracks worth of Image Songs in each Sound Stage as extra incentive to buy them. Nanoha and Fate naturally gets a good chunk of these, with Hayate a close third.
- Axis Powers Hetalia:
- Music CDs exist for the eight main characters (or nine, since Italy's VA does a song for North and South Italy). They also sing their own versions of the Ending Theme of the anime, which are included as extras on the DVDs.
- The movie has "Wa! Wa!! World Ondo", in which the eight main characters all sing together, and the "Character CD Perfect Guide" gave Prussia his own image song "Mein Gott!" as well as a joint image song for Chibitalia and Roma Anitqua called "Ren Ren Renaissance". Then there are also all the drama CDs...
- That's not counting the ones for Austria, Ukraine and Belarus, let alone Prussia's other song "Song of the Awesome Me", "With Love From Iceland" with Iceland and Puffin, the digital released songs for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, and Rome, the song for the Nordic5 that came out with their Drama CD...
- The Rozen Maiden drama CDs all feature image songs to their respective dolls, sans Kirakishou, who doesn't have any drama CD.
- The Hit Square Character Songs of Saki, a music CD containing the Image Songs of the two most popular characters from each of the four teams.
- The anime Soul Eater has several albums of songs from the anime out along with at least three image albums out. The image albums each include one song (along with two other versions of the same song and a song from the anime not sung by the voice actors) sung by the Japanese voice actors. Soul Eater Evans along with Maka Albarn have a song sung together, Black Star and Tsubaki have a song sung together, and Death the Kid along with Liz and Patty Thompson have a song sung collectively. All of the tracks are quite awesome.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has these for all of the major characters: Syaoran's being 'Kizuna,' Sakura's being 'Towa no Omoi,' Fai's being 'Smile,' Kurogane's being 'Zankou,' and Mokona's being 'Tabi no Tochuu de Kibou no Uta wo Utaou'. Though really, Yuui Makino (Sakura's Seiyuu) actually sings quite a couple of songs for the anime.
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn! gives an image song to Gola Mosca, a machine who can't talk, much less sing. Instead he makes depressurizing noises from his exhaust ports which sound like creepy breathing. One of the Anime's endings was Sakura Addiction, a duet Image Song for Hibari Kyouya and Rokudo Mukuro.
- Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh is quite generous with its image songs; the three pilots and The Chick get two or three each, and the remaining 14 main characters each get a song. Even the villains get a shot in a "karaoke showdown" themed song.
- Ronin Warriors has many soundtrack CDs, often containing image songs. Touma's singing voice is infamously bad and most of the others aren't much better - but a lot of the songs, especially groups, are fun anyway.
- Claymore has several, from Clare's "Memory" to Irene's "Shippu". They're surprisingly good.
- Shugo Chara! has three "Character Song Collections".
- Many for Dragon Ball, including "Vegeta-sama no O-Ryouri Jigoku" or "Lord Vegeta's Cooking Hell", a song about Vegeta... making okonomiyaki. He forgets to add the mayonnaise. The Ginyu Force get "Sanjou!! Ginyu Tokusentai!!", a Villain Song that is exactly as hammy as one would expect.
- Strike Witches has image songs for the entire cast as well as many duets. With five CDs, covers by each girl for a song from their respective country from around that era, and a solo for each character (Yoshika got two solos) The ending theme for both seasons are sung by different cast members each episode as well. So far one of Sanya and Eila's duets, "Sweet Duet" has inserted into the end of season two's sixth episode.
- Durarara!! came out with character singles for Mikado, Kida, Shizuo, Kadota, Anri, Shinra, Izaya, and Celty. All the songs are covers of old songs from anime or otherwise. For example, Celty's song is a cover of "Message in Rouge," the Japanese theme from Kikis Delivery Service.
- The Image Songs for Kannagi are the same ones from the Karaoke Box episode, although with improved vocals.
- Toradora!: Yui Horie sings Midori's.
- K-On! has two for each of the five main characters, as well as for some of the side characters.
- Minami-ke has a few image song albums; in addition, the soundtracks include versions of the opening and ending themes by each of the three sisters.
- Vision of Escaflowne while there was not much in the way of image songs, Merle got one and it was great.
- Dancougar has some sung by the voice actors themselves. Some of the notable ones are Ai Wa Zankoku No Fairytail and Ai Wa Shitta Yajuu No You Ni. The former was sung by the entire Juusenki Tai, the latter's just Shinobu.
- Marginal Prince features a song by any of the characters in focus of the particular episode - episode Nine even features three of them. This was probably mainly done to promote the game the anime is based on, as it main feature is the songs as a "reward" for completing a character route. Luckily, most of the seiyuu are good singers. Unfortunately, not all songs from the game made it into the anime series (but therefore, some new ones were created).
- Working: Takanashi, Popura, Inami, Yachiyo, Sooma, Satou and Yamada have their own image songs, plus their own versions of the song "Wagnaria Sanka." Additionally, the opening and ending theme songs for both the first and second seasons are sung by the voice actors themselves, while in character.
- Aria the Scarlet Ammo has a few, notably "First Contact" and "Ring a ding on, Riko-rin" for Aria and Riko
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
- Kamina and Simon do a duet by the name of "Break Through the Dream." It is filled with about as much manliness as you can cram into a song.
- Yoko has two "Trust" and "S.t.a.r.S.", the latter of which also has it's own full-length music video depicting Yoko's inner Idol Singer... and then Yoko with her inner Idol Singer. As can be expected from the series, it's actually quite awesome.
- Seeing as Saint Beast has an All-Star Cast of Voice Actors and began as an audio drama, there are multiple image songs and CDs for the series.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Madoka's See You Tomorrow and Kyouko's and Sayaka's duet And I'm Home.
- Spirited Away has an image album, unusually for a standalone film. Probably the highlight is No Face's oddly bouncy song about his loneliness.
- Multiple major charactes in Anpanman have an image song, most of them sung by their voice actors, with a couple sung by the musical duo Dreaming. A shortened version of Anpanman's song is the theme song for the whole series. For multiple characters, an instrumental version of the image song will be used as a leitmotif for their scenes. An interesting case is the Donburiman Trio: they each have their own song that they sing in-show, but their image songs are different (Tendonman's has slightly modified lyrics, Katsudonman's is tacked on to the very end of his image song, and Kamameshidon's is completely different). It's also common for very major characters to have more than one image song (Baikinman has one that glorifies him and another one that basically spells out his defeat).
- Sword Art Online has them for almost every female main character, featured on the bonus discs included with the Blu-Ray sets of the series.
- Tiger & Bunny has a few: "GO NEXT!!" and "My Song" for Karina/Blue Rose, "POWER OF JUSTICE" for Barnaby, and "Hamidashimono Sanka" for Kotetsu/Wild Tiger. "Seigi no Koe ga Kikoerukai" is a a duet with with Kotetsu and Barnaby while "Natsu no Koi wa, Otsukare Summer" features all three of these characters.
- This is actually the theme of Senki Zesshou Symphogear. Every Symphogear has at least two image songs per season and at least one of them is used in the anime. This is justified because their powers can only displayed when they sing. There are also some other songs and duets they do.
- Mekakucity Actors, being the anime extension of Kagerou Project (a Vocaloid project) has a ton of these. Every character gets at least one (Takane and Mary get two, Momo and Hibiya get a joint-second), plus several other 'plot-based' songs. There are 23 songs in total, with one actually topping the 2013 Yearly Vocaloid Rankings.
- Mega Ran's album "Black Materia" is a collection of raps about Final Fantasy VII, of which most are done from Cloud's perspective. "Cloud Strife" in particular is Mega Ran, in character as Cloud, rapping about Cloud's life story.
framerate's mad spotty like a PS1
the story's still cloudy, sorta like my namesake
so wait— it turns out that what was in my mind
was a memory, a dream, that wasnt even mine
- Miracle Of Sound creates songs based on video games. When he did one for Portal 2, he decided to create Wheatley's Song, and it fits Wheatley just perfectly. ("So don't call me a moron / I'm super astute / There is no conundrum that / My core cannot compute.")
- The Picard Song for Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation closely fits this trope, including being "sung" by Patrick Stewart through some very well-edited voice clips.
- Touhou fandom is filled with these, taking a character's respective leitmotif and creating songs based on them. A lot are just bizarre, but some fit their respective character almost perfectly, including Byakuren's White Lotus... ~ Piano, Remilia's Serenade to Red Rose, Sakuya's XXI (Quoth ZUN: "You can't have a maid without hard rock."), Flandre's Who Killed U.N. Owen? and Sweets Time Midnight, Utsuho's Flames Within These Black Feathers, Marisa's Magus Knight, and many, many more.
- Similarly, the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fandom create many songs sung from the perspective of one character or another. Merely some of the more popular ones include Lullaby for a Princess (a Tear Jerker about Celestia's greatest failure), Picture Perfect Pony (complete with show-quality animation), Knights of Time and Space (a duet between Derpy and Doctor Hooves), and Anthropology (Lyra singing about humans). And the parody series Friendship is Witchcraft gave its version of Pinkie Pie (known as "Gypsy Pie") the tragically cheerful Gypsy Bard.
- The album Working for Peanuts by Jimmy Wallace contains image songs for eight Peanuts characters. Some of them are really catchy.
- As a tribute to the show Gravity Falls, Ken Ashcorp created the song Supernatural, a "slower and more melodic song" where Dipper expressing his feelings about the paranormal activity.
- The show The Legend of Korra has Queen of Future Industries by Finer which is a song describing the character Asami.
- James Bond:
- For the film that eventually became Thunderball, a theme tune was written for its previous title, Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. While the title was changed, necessitating a new theme, "Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" typifies Bond's character so well that it served as Bond's Image Song. Though the replacement theme, Tom Jones' "Thunderball", still fits the trope.
- For Casino Royale, Chris Cornell wrote "You Know My Name" to serve as an Image Song for the inexperienced Bond (as the Leitmotif is only used at the final scene).
- Six years after My Cousin Vinny, Joe Pesci revived his character for the album Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You. Many who heard it wished that he hadn't.
- "Gollum's Song" (Gollum) and "Into the West" (Galadriel) from the Lord of the Rings films seem to fit.
- Mercedes Lackey's talents as lyricist as well as a fantasy writer allowed her to create image songs for several of the characters from her novels, most notably Tarma, Kethry, Idra and Vanyel.
- Super Sentai releases yearly Image Album songs by the heroes ever since Abaranger, with variable degrees of singing. Gekiranger had villains Rio and Mele be such major characters that they too got to sing.
- Even before that, there were Sentai image songs-not usually sung by the characters, usually done by anime singers such as MoJo or Isao Sasaki. The villain songs were usually done up until the 90s by vocal trio Koorogi '73.
- Some Sentai characters did perform their own image songs, including Goggle Pink, Blue Dolphin and Black Condor. There was also an album named Sentai Heroine that included most of the female rangers' and villainesses' (including Bandora) songs sung by their actors from 90 to Gaoranger.
- In Abaranger, the song "Evolien's Hymn" sung by Lije (Kasumi Suzuki) made it into episode 29 of the show.
- On Go-onger, along with the three female leads (Saki, Miu and Kegalesia), Hiroto also got not one, but two Image Song(s). Not so surprising since his actor is also a singer as well.
- Kamen Rider occasionally does this as well, but how many of the actors sing on the album depends entirely on whether their characters would be the type to sing.
- Kamen Rider Den-O. Ryoutarou has a duet with each of his Imagin and he has his own song. The Imagin also do their own version of the opening song!
- Kamen Rider Kiva gives it a twist in that the primary Riders (and Kiva's alternate forms) all have Image Songs, but these are all sung by TETRA-FANG, a "limited band" formed for this express purpose, with Kiva star Koji Seto providing the vocals.
- Kamen Rider OOO also has plenty of these. There's one for each of the main character's "Combo" forms (his base form plus every Set Bonus), all of them sung by the main character's actor; the two full-on Super Mode combos are duets with a different character.
- Doctor Who:
- Jon Pertwee released a spoken-word single titled "Who is the Doctor?" after his character in Doctor Who. (Sometimes called "I am the Doctor" after its "chorus.")
- John Barrowman did a song called "The Doctor and I" which can be read as in-character as Jack Harkness, although it can also be read as a fantasy about John Barrowman being the Doctor's companion. In a rather physical sense.
- A Thunderbirds spinoff single had Lady Penelope singing "Parker, Well Done!" as part of a short dramatization featuring the original voice actors for Parker, Lady Penelope and Jeff Tracy.
- Dinosaurs has the famous I'm the Baby (Gotta Love Me) song and music video, as well as the 1992 album Dinosaurs: Big Songs, which included songs made for the regular characters, all sung by their respective voice actors. A version in Spanish was also released, but it didn't feature the voice actors from the dub (at least not the Mexican dub).
- Edd Byrnes recorded the hit song "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" (with Connie Stevens), which was based on his character in the ABC Detective Drama 77 Sunset Strip.
- Lizzie McGuire has "I Can't Wait", a Brooke McClymont that Hilary Duff covered, singing "as" her character. The song is on both of the Lizzie McGuire albums and caught a lot of airplay on Radio Disney back in the day, and was actually released as a single in Happy Meals in 2004 (along with another CD that had "Lizzie" narrating a few episodes, although the voice actress was not really Hilary).
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- Glee has Get it right for Rachel.
- Bill Mumy sings The Ballad of William Robinson, from the perspective of his character at age 42, having been Lost in Space with his family for 30 years. He also did Stronger Than Gravity, an image song for his character Lennier from Babylon 5.
- Walter White from Breaking Bad has "Negro Y Azul : The Ballad Of Heisenberg"
- Batman had a So Bad, It's Good one for The Riddler, released as a 45 and with a song by Frank Gorshin as himself as the B-Side.
- Dos Gringos, a band comprising United States Air Force fighter pilots, has a song called "Last of the Breed" that (aside from being written in a future where they're all Retired Badasses) describes what modern USAF fighter pilots are like. "I'm A Pilot" is more satirical and Self-Deprecation (it's written from the perspective of crew chiefs and their perceptions of fighter pilots).
- The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy: Marvin, the Paranoid Android had four such songs sung by Stephen Moore, his actor from the original incarnations. The soundtrack of the movie included as bonus tracks one of the aforementioned Marvin songs and the hilarious campaign song "Vote Beeblebrox."
- Several albums of songs sung by their wrestlers were put out that are supposed to provide more insight on the characters, including The Wrestling Album, Piledriver: The Wrestling Album II, Wrestlemania: The Album, and WWE Originals. With few exceptions, they all pretty much suck.
- Both of John Cena's best-known and longest-lasting entrance themes ("Basic Thugonomics" and "The Time is Now") were written and performed by him. Basic Thugonomics was good. The Time is Now? YMMV.
- The second and most familiar version of Shawn Michaels' entrance theme, "Sexy Boy", was performed by him.
- BlazBlue includes one for almost every female member of the cast...and Bang. Kanako Kondō, Noel's VA sings the vocal version of her theme, Love so Blue, during one of Calamity Trigger's final battles, as well as singing in duo with Asami Imai for the vocal version of the Noel vs Tsubaki theme and Continuum Shift's credits. Other entries include the VA for Rachel, Tsubaki, Litchi, Makoto and Bang singing each character's theme. Chronophantasma adds up the new characters' vocals... but Amane has none, in conjunction with how his VA (Akira Ishida) has an aversion of singing Image Songs.
- Sakura Taisen might be one of the most extreme cases. There are literally dozens of versions of the original theme song, recorded by every possible cast member or combination of cast members. In addition, there are straight Image Songs for each of the main cast, which sometimes find their way into the program as individual themes.
- The Tokimeki Memorial series has had loads of CDs released. The first game in particular had MANY image songs and that was just for the lead character, Shiori.
- Galaxy Angel has a massive amount of image songs across its various seasons and games, and throws in a few duets for good measure.
- "Ai No Uta" (Love Song), the image song for the eponymous creatures of Pikmin, became a phenomenon in Japan, actually outselling the game it was about. The most popular demographic was middle-aged working men, who strongly identified with the themes of loyalty despite abuse which the Pikmin expressed:
Uprooted, we'll follow you alone.
Today once again we'll carry, fight, multiply, and then be eaten.
Dug up, we'll meet again and be thrown around.
But we'll follow you forever.
- The King of Fighters has a few image songs on every arranged sound track from '94 to '98. Most of them are usually sung by Athena's VA, but '95 has a song where the entire cast gets in on the action, and '97 has a Kyo/Iori duet. Hell, even Choi gets to sing! The tail end of it is the short song that's played in his intro during KOF '98 if he's the first character out on the team or if it's a 1v1 match, "Choi Bounge Ondo."
- Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) have character songs for all the playable characters plus the game's theme tune. Sonic Heroes replaced individual character themes with team themes (fitting the game's gimmick). The trend varyingly continues with the most recent games (different songs for different endings in Shadow the Hedgehog, only one theme song for Sonic Unleashed, etc).
- The Masou Kishin/Elemental Lords in Super Robot Wars mostly had their Leitmotifs turned into Image Song. Other than Masaki's, they're usually sung by their own seiyuus (Masaki's Image Song is sung by Ichiro Mizuki and Hironobu Kageyama.) There's also image songs by JAM Project about the SRX Team's Leitmotif.
- Mai Shiranui from the Fatal Fury games has gotten 2 image songs, based on her background music themes: "Kachou Fuugetsu Otome Mai" (not by her voice actress, but Reiko Chiba) and "Dear MAI Boy" (by her actual voice actress, Akoya Sogi). Blue Mary also has an image song, "Blue Mary's Blues" which has a sprite-based video.
- Some image songs for Samurai Shodown exist, at least for Nakoruru and Rimururu (like Egao de Iru for the latter). A couple of albums made of them were once released by SNK: SNK Gals Vocals Collection and SNK Guys Vocals Collection; the former included one for Yuri Sakazaki.
- A couple of albums made of them were once released by SNK: SNK Gals Vocals Collection and SNK Guys Vocals Collection; the former included one for Yuri Sakazaki.
- Laharl, Etna, Mid-Boss and Axel each have one ("Lord Laharl's Hymn", "Etna Boogie", "Ah, My Magnificent Life" and "White Tiger", respectively), featured in the characters' respective endings.
- Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has ones for Mao ("Go Mao!"), Almaz ("Unlucky Hero"), and Raspberyl ("Love Combination").
- In Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten, Valvatorez's Image Song, "Arcadian Vampire", is even brought up within the story - Some of the Prinnies write it in the first half of the game to use as a Hub Level theme. Meanwhile, Fuka gets a humorous remix of Flonne's Leitmotif With Lyrics (or one lyric, rather), and the song "Naked Requiem" appears to serve as one for Fenrich and Val in Tyrant Valvatorez Mode (which ups their occasionally lampshaded Homoerotic Subtext even further).
- XenoSaga Episode II contains a track called "The Image Song of XenoSaga Episode II" (a portion of it is played while fighting Margulis). However, it doesn't appear to be from the point of view of any particular character.
- The three leads of Final Fantasy X-2 all got their own CDs.
- F-Zero GX featured image songs for all of the characters, some with lyrics. Yes, including Captain Falcon.
- Super Mario Bros.. combined this with Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics to create Super Mario Compact Disco. Oddly enough, Peach is only mentioned once throughout the soundtrack (specifically during the "Super Mario USA" song), as the rest of it is spent playing up Daisy as Mario's Love Interest.
- The Harukanaru Toki No Naka De franchise got quite a bit of these; in fact, the Hachiyou Shou anime TV series makes a point of using the ten associated character songs — eight for the main team plus two for the villains — for the character-centered episodes: either within the episode itself, often as a Theme Music Power-Up, or replacing the regular Ending Theme. Even Yasuaki, who is voiced by Akira Ishida, wasn't spared (one episode has a remake version of his Image Song as the ending).
- Angelique has mulptiple image songs for all of the datable guys, including plenty of duet and group songs. The third set of OVAs even includes music videos for the Cherry Blossom/Sunflower set of image songs.
- Metal Gear:
- Young Maylay, the voice of Carl 'C.J.' Johnson in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and accomplished rap musician, used the game's theme song as a backing track for the first song on his LP, San Andreas: The Original Mixtape, where he raps about the game in character. Before that, Love Fist recorded a few original eighties hair metal pastiche songs for the in-game radio stations, as well as the game's soundtrack CD.
- At the end of Portal, GLaDOS sings a little song about her feelings, and it's such a catchy, memorable song it became a triumph. GLaDOS does it again at the end of Portal 2, and while "Want You Gone" wasn't as well received as "Still Alive" it did prove that, yes, giant computers can be tsundere too.
- Star Salzman from OverClocked ReMix turns "Robo's Theme" into this with the addition of lyrics, recounting several incidents from Chrono Trigger that focused on Robo, using first person language.
- Saints Row: The Third's [adult swim]-themed radio station includes a song by Unknown Hinson sung in-character as Early Cuyler.
- The Idolmaster has it in spades, even down to character cover songs. Doesn't help that this game is all about Idol Singers...
- Double Dragon Neon has Glad I Am as the BGM to one of the levels, sung by Billy and Jimmy Lee. The lyrics are all about them teaming up and helping each other beat their enemies. Firebird may also count, since it's sung by Billy. The Big Bad Skullmageddon has his Villain Song, Dared to Dream, play over the end credits. Linda has Mango Tango - "Neon Jungle", the Stage 2 BGM.
- Two were released along with Um Jammer Lammy - one a fairly straightforward extended version album with Katy Kat singing to the game's songs along with the tutors (with occasional rap guest verses from Parappa), and a more interesting hip-hop remix album by Parappa, whose voice actor was presumably given carte blanche to rap about whatever he wanted and so did a kid-friendly 70s Conscious Hip Hop throwback that darkens up the character. The implication of the album is that while Parappa is a good, diligent kid who stayed well away from gangs, drugs, underage drinking, institutional police violence and so on, he grew up in an environment where he had to work to avoid it, instead of being in a situation where he never had to face that at all. (These topics are not even mentioned in the games.)
- Child of Eden has Lumi's "Heavenly Star", originally from Q Entertainment's previous game Lumines II, during the final stage.
- Higurashi: When They Cry:
- One that stands out the most has to be Keiichi and Ooishi's duet from the first season set of songs featuring Gratuitous English rapping. Following true Higurashi fashion, it's a funny song to listen to. Until Keiichi claws out his throat at the end.
"Do you know Oyashiro-sama?"
"I kill you, you kill me."
- The song for Shion and Mion called "Birthday of Two". The difference is, however, that it sounds happy and upbeat...if you don't speak Japanese. Insert Mion begging, probably for her life, and Shion's creepy laugh right before the final chorus and you have something that will does a thorough job of creeping the hell out of random passerby. Shion then got her own image song, called "Sora No Mukou".
- Everyone's various renditions of "Dear You".
- Umineko: When They Cry:
- During the airing of the anime, we had Jessica's Ear Worm-inducing "Dokkyun Heart" and Maria'a absolutely adorable "Happy Halloween MARIA", as well as Beatrice's "Chain" and George's "Love Declaration".
- The album Rokkenjima in Love (released alongside EP6) contains Image Songs for Battler, Maria, Bernkastel, Kumasawa/Virgilia, Kyrie, Beatrice, The Seven Sisters of Purgatory, Ange, and one for the EP3 myth battle between Beatrice and Virgilia. Beatrice's second Image Song deserves mention, though, for being instrumentalized and used as epic BGM in EP7.
- Rokkenjima Yakai, which gives Battler and Beatrice a new song each, and also one for Kanon, Clair, Dlanor, Erika, Ronove, and Chiester 556. Will and Lion share a song, as well as Kinzo and Genji.
- Fate/stay night has one of these for Saber, Shirou, Rin, Archer, Illya, Sakura, Rider, and Caster, respectively. They come with a remix and an instrumental version. There's also the image song for both Taiga and Illya, We Are Tora Buru, which is Fun Personified and hilarious insanity condensed into a single song.
- Hate Plus has "It's Not Ero!" for *Hyun-ae. It assumes the listener completed both games with *Hyun-ae as a lover and is about her desire to be with the investigator who salvaged her from the Mugunghwa, while—as the title suggests—making a Take That, Audience! at the parts of the eroge fanbase who views characters purely from a sexual standpoint and nothing else.
This is no ero story
Won't show you smutty CGs
Those things aren't romantic to me
- In 2003, the creators of Homestar Runner released an album called Strong Bad Sings and Other Type Hits, mostly featuring new versions of songs from the site.
- Red vs. Blue is fond of doing this as extras on the season soundtracks. So far Sarge, Donut, Caboose, Church, Tucker, and York have all had one.
- RWBY, fitting its anime inspirations, has Image Songs for almost every primary character, and for some, more than one. Some of these songs also appear in the show itself as battle songs, though the lyrics can be out of context to the action onscreen.
- Fans!! actually had an entire chapter about a musical vampire that included Image Songs for most of the main characters.
- Erfworld has "Quest for the Arkentools", sung by the comic writer, from Warlord Stanely's POV.
- The songs in 'Homestuck don't normally have lyrics, though a handful of album exclusive ones do, a few of them acting as Image Songs for the characters. The first is the original (Scrapped) version of The Ballad of Jack Noir, which serves as an image song for, well, Jack Noir. The second is Eridan's Walkabout which, while not having a vocal track, was released with a set of lyrics that serve as this for Eridan... or at least, for his pirate persona. Interestingly, the lyrics seem to indicate that Eridan is not, in fact, the one singing. The third is Temporal Shenanigans, which acts as a theme for Aradia, illustrating her character development through the comic. "G4m3 Grl" serves as one of these for Latula, although perhaps not with Latula singing.
- The two-part episode of Kappa Mikey had a karaoke theme and each character had his or her own song included. Being a parody of anime, this is appropriate, although the voice actors' singing abilities are far from American Idol quality.
- "I Don't Need No Instructions (To Know How to Rock)" from Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters would fit this trope for Carl down to a T if it weren't for the fact that Carl's voice actor never actually sings this in any known media.
- Pixar put out cassette tapes with corresponding songbooks including songs "sung" by the characters in A Bug's Life and the first Toy Story.
- The Simpsons had "Do the Bartman" and "Deep Deep Trouble" (among others; the cast recorded an album called The Simpsons Sing the Blues which was about half these and half blues songs sung in character, which was followed up by The Yellow Album, but those two are the best known). The former gets referenced in later episodes occasionally in order to poke fun at the show's initial reception; in one episode, Bart sings a bit of it only to be dismissed by Ralph Wiggum —
Ralph: That is so 1991!
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did this in the early 1990s with the Coming Out Of Their Shells, an album featuring the eponymous characters as a rock band, singing character building and motiviational songs about their lives. It's obscure because it's terrible, and not sung by the actual voice actors. (On the bright side, one song from the album - "Pizza Power" - was good enough to be featured in the arcade/SNES title Turtles in Time.) This album also gave birth to a live stage tour, which Shredder temporarily takes over to sing an image song of his own, in which he sings about... how much he hates music. Figure that one out.
- The Around the World with Willy Fog soundtrack CD features image songs for Romy, Rigodón (joined by Tico), and Dix and Transfer (as antagonists with different goals, they share a Distant Duet).
- June had her own image song in KaBlam!, titled "I'm Flying", which she (most likely) wrote herself. However, she got a neck injury and never finished. As well as "I Love to KaBlam™"
- Action League Now: "THUNDERGIRL, FLYING LIKE THUNDER, WHILE OTHERS MUST WONDER, WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE MEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
- Snap from ChalkZone had "I'm Back and Bluer Than Ever".
- Christy Carlson Romano, Kim Possible's voice actress, sings "Say The Word" as Kim, which is a braggy song about her released on the soundtrack CD. She sang a remixed version in the "Hidden Talent" episode.
- Toad in X-Men: Evolution has one.
- Each of the Winx Club girls has one of these released as part of the Winx Club In Concert CD. (However, this excludes Roxy, as the album was released before season 4.)
- While not sung by any voice actors from the cartoon adaption, there were a few songs back in My Little Pony G1 that described some ponies. The CD was based off the toy line and was European, so it makes sense they wouldn't use anyone from the American cartoons.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man" (toot)
- Around when An American Tail: Fievel Goes West was being released in theaters, an entire album of original songs titled "Fievel and Friends" was produced. Only Fievel was voiced by his original actor, however, with more professional singers hired to play other characters. He did a solo version of "Somewhere Out There" among the more original tracks.
- The Sponge Bob Square Pants song "The Best Day Ever" could qualify as one for SpongeBob since its Tastes Like Diabetes lyrics fit his personality well. Accompanying the song on "The Best Day Ever Album" are original songs performed by the main characters that could fit as image songs: Employee of the Month for SpongeBob, Under My Rock for Patrick, Superior for Squidward, You Will Obey for Plankton, Who Wants to Race Me? for Sandy, and Fishin' For Money for Mr. Krabs.
- The Dutch national anthem Het Wilhelmus is a song written from the point of view of William of Orange, and why he's fighting for the Dutch.