Yesterday I was having trouble sleeping and, in order to relax, I started to replay some anime openings inside my head. And then I thought I should compile all of them in a single post to share with friends who have the same interest, for future reference or just because, since there are millions of these out there. So bear in mind, please, that this does not intend to be a top. It’s just a simple list, based only on the series I’ve watched so far, of those openings that combined perfectly the key ingredients: good music, good animation and a good intro to the plot. I will also try to list it alphabetically. If I fail, feel free to throw me into a pit full of cockroaches.
-> Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch OP1/ FLOW – “Colors”
I may be starting on the wrong foot here since the animation for this opening is pretty stereotypical: we have the lonely hero in the beginning with projections of the people who drove him to start the main plot, we have the girl crying, we have battles in the end. So, why this one, especially since I didn’t like the series? The answer is simple: the feeling the music conveys to the viewer. Just by listening to it we feel the urge to do something, be it running around or jumping franctically up and down the couch. So it’s a perfect song choice for Code Geass since it’s all about one man’s struggle to fight the injustice his family and country suffered. It gives you that “I’m on a mission feel”. Plus, the animation, though cliché, isn’t half-bad. It’s just your standard CLAMP character design (no, I did not like Code Geass at all).
-> Cardcaptor Sakura OP3/ Sakamoto Maaya – Platinum
This one is just plain beautiful and delivers perfectly. Just when the show started to get a bit more emotional and, well, serious (yes, Cardcaptor Sakura has some seriousness to it), in comes Sakamoto Maaya’s beautiful voice linked, as usual, to Kanno Yoko’s haunting melodies. The result is a gentle, sweet song that gives out a gentle, warm and fuzzy feeling of hope just when Sakura is starting to hold on to it herself. As for the animation, it’s very different from the cheerful first ones, all with Sakura appearing lost and everything. I really, really love this opening and its one of those special occasions where the song fits the story like a glove.
-> Death Note OP1/Nightmare – The World
Just from watching the first few seconds you know you’re in for something unusual. There are Light’s pretensions to being God, there’s the whole religious iconography, there’s the biting of the forbidden fruit (making a deal with the devil being implied) and there’s the confrontation with L. All right there, in just 1:20. This is what makes an opening great. The way it presents the story to the viewer, like a very, very small introduction. And I personally love it when, after watching the show, I watch the opening again and catch some little details, some very little spoilers that I previously had missed out on. In this particular case, the song is just OK. It’s the animation and the concept that really shines on, making me feel like watching the series all over again. Oh, and if you laughed all the way through due to the Karaoke Skull it’s OK, so have I.
-> Durarara!! OP!/THEATRE BROOK – Uragiri no Yuuyake
For those of you who’ve seen this show you can probably guess how hard it is to choose between its two amazing openings. I chose this one because IT’S COOLER. Like it happens with Cardcaptor Sakura, there’s this turning point when things get darker and a bit more depressing and that’s when Durarara’s second opening, Complications, comes up. If you’re into things like these, I suggest you go and take a look at it as well. So, the main difference between the second opening and this one is, of course, the feeling of it but there’s this detail I like best in this one than in the other: the way the characters are introduced and the tiny hints of possible links between them, which is something that happens frequently on the show – characters crossing each other without knowing their true identities. This is not so blatantly obvious in the second opening, hence me choosing this one. And I like the way it all seems like it’s viewed from Celty’s perspective: beginning with her, showing the other characters very fast as if riding a motorcycle, and then ending with her as well.
-> Elfen Lied/Kumiko Noma – Lilium
Because this is one of those moments of pure genius, I won’t add anything further.
-> Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood OP1 /YUI – Again
This is another moment of pure genius, but this time I will add something. Because, damn, this really is the most perfect introduction to a series I’ve ever seen. Everything is here: the first transmutation circle ever used, a very young Hohenheim looking disheveled (who has connections to that circle but that is a spoiler), then Trisha smiling, then Edward and Alphonse as children, then the philosopher’s stone which turns into fire burning their house and then *bam* Main Title. This is, indeed, perfection. Then we have some idyllic scenes of their childhood before tragedy hit and then the usual character introductions, but these are done so perfectly that… I mean, look at how Riza is introduced and how they chose to link her with Winry at the end, suggesting some strong similarities between them (which are confirmed later in the series). And, all along, we have “Again” playing, an amazing song by YUI about not giving up dreams or hopes no matter what we have to give up. Also, Envy appears (this was a 100% fangirl note). So, and maybe I’m repeating myself, this is by far one of the best openings out there and a perfect introduction to an amazing, almost phenomenal series.
-> Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood OP5/ SID – Rain
The circle completes itself. This is also absolutely amazing since it feels exactly like the last episodes of the series feel like and because it hints to some parts of the plot as well, working like a story itself. It’s a very, very emotional opening that sometimes makes my eyes water. I love the references to the source of all their future misfortune: their mother, especially the way she appears to Edward after the rain is gone, almost reassuring him everything will be OK in the end. It’s very, very moving. It’s sad with a tinge of hope: just like Fullmetal Alchemist feels like all along. And don’t get me started on Alphonse waiting at the other side of the gate, Roy drowning in blackness and Riza holding Hayate. Too much emotions to deal with.
-> Honey and Clover/YUKI – Dramatic
It’s original and refreshing, just like the show itself. And artsy – all the characters are in Art School. So it all connects in this very creative opening. Not much more to it, but it definitely earns a place here. The opening to the second season is very similar in concept but, in my opinion, it doesn’t quite deliver as well as this one. And those crabs always gave me a scare.
-> Kuragehime / Chatmonchy – Koko Dake no Hanashini
Considered by many one of the best openings in years, it’s also something I hold in a very special place since this show meant a lot to me (and it was a gush of fresh air in the anime scene as well). The song lyrics are about, I guess, living each day as its own, going through life without getting hurt, in all, about gaining the courage to live fully another day after being in a dark situation (the way I read it). This applies fully to the story, since it’s about a group of girls with absolutely no confidence in themselves whose world is shook up by an outrageous (and beautiful) cross-dresser. These girls, living cooped up together in a dormitory, lived happily alone with their hobbies, for all of them were hardcore geeks: trains, old men, statues, dolls and, well, jellyfish. So I think this opening nailed it down since it puts those same characters in well-known movie scenes, never forgetting about their special features (like the girl portraying Leia at the sight of a middle-aged man). I strongly reccomend this show. It’s a gush of fresh air, like I said before. It’s insanely funny, romantic and touching at the same time. I just wish there were more shows like this every season… and I don’t get why a second season hasn’t been green lit.
-> NANA OP2 / OLIVIA – Wish
This show is as depressing as this opening. Calling it depressing is an understatement, even. It’s sad to the point of sadism. It’s about coming of age, becoming an adult, taking responsibilities, fiding a place where you belong and then losing it by sheer bad luck. This opening starts to portray it: all with the being underwater scenes but, most importantly, with the phones scene. Nana’s phone ringing with Hachi in it, Hachi’s phone ringing with Nana in it. And no one’s picking up because, at this point of the anime, I think distance was starting to creep in. I may be wrong since I’ve watched it some time ago and I’m more closely attached to the manga. Talking about NANA is a bit painful to me. It’s something I love deeply, but something I try to forget about since it’s unlikely it will ever be finished.
-> Ouran High School Host Club / Kawabe Chieko – Sakura Kiss
This is one of the biggest traps ever. Not in the sense of a girl being a boy or a boy being a girl (although, of course, the subject is slightly similar) but because if you watch this opening and only the opening you’ll probably say something like “Hell if I’ll ever watch it”. It’s pink, it’s girly, it’s sugary, the characters are way too good looking and the song is borderline silly. So why is it a trap? Because yes, the anime scenery is pink, girly and sugary but this is actually one of the best anime comedies ever. Because all that pink and sugar is actually mocking those real pink and sugar shows. So if you judge Ouran by opening only, you’re missing out big time. It’s just part of the whole experience (I think this opening is what Tamaki wanted the show to be really like).
-> Rurouni Kenshin OP2 / Kawamoto Makoto – “1/2”
This is nothing special in itself. Yes, it’s a deeply personal choice because Rurouni Kenshin tops all my lists but opening-wise it doesn’t quite match the criteria. So why is this “remarkable”? Because it’s a landmark. It marks the beginning of the best, most-known, most loved arc of the story: the Kyoto Arc, which is also the best animated part of the series. All the characters look wonderful from here on (until episode 62, at least), the animation is always flawless and consistent and the story is brilliant. So this opening is almost like a “things will get serious from now on” sign. And the Juppongatana illuminated by candle light is something that always gives me the chills. Pitty the lyrics are so out of context. Watching Saito appear to “Aishiteru” is a tad bit silly.
-> SHIKI OP1 / BUCK-TICK – Kuchizuke
Shiki is a revival of the true vampire genre, where vampires are scary and not queens dancing around shining in the Sun. So the song choice was good to begin with, because BUCK-TICK are usually very sombre and Sakurai’s voice has that special depth and… OK, I’m a huge BUCK-TICK fan, this is not about them, moving on. This opening, apart from being perfectly synchronized to the lyrics, is full of spoilers. At first it can be quite annoying (unless you’re really dumb and can’t figure it out) but, after watching the series, it’s actually quite pleasurable to see how subtle those spoilers really are. There are the blatantly obvious ones (here’s a tip: you can know who dies beforehand just by watching it), but there are more subtle ones as well. Plus the colouring, the stained glass faces, everything gives the correct vibe to start the show with. Doves turning into crows, blood falling slowly down the screen, contaminated blood flowing through veins… yes. This is a perfect achievement and so were the series. The second opening is ridiculous. I don’t understand what went through their heads to begin with such perfection and then mess it all up opening-wise, particularly when the show was reaching its zenith.
And that’s it. I fought the urge to put up particular openings just because the full soundtrack is amazing (Macross Frontier) or because the show is a classic and a personal favourite (Sailor Moon). If you have any suggestions, comments, don’t be afraid! I’ll love to hear back from you.