In general, end sequences tend to be less impressive than opening ones. This makes perfect sense since they are so much easier to skip and in our new world of streaming content sometimes get auto-skipped whether we want to or not, so I can’t blame studios for prioritizing the intros but once in a while we get some truly great endings and I think it’s about times we celebrate them.
Like for my favorite intros list, I’ve only included endings for series I’ve actually seen so I have a good idea how these fit in with the show. Maybe I forgot to add your favorite, heck maybe I forgot to add my own but I think we got a pretty solid little list here so enjoy, stretch a little and get ready for a living room dance party! Or public bus, whatever… Please sent pics if it’s public bus!
In very loose order:
Bakemonogatari was a very creative show with a surreal structure and this is carried over in the ending of season 1. The odd and vaguely menacing visuals have little to do with the show but give you that same mildly disoriented feeling. Extra points for the fun shifting font used for the credits. The music is uncharacteristically light and cheery reminding you not to take anything too seriously or at face value. This was a very interesting end which accomplished the impressive feat of keeping up with the show it was closing out.
I still don’t know how I feel about the announced new season of FLCL, this was such a great show but also such a tricky one. All that weirdness and experimental elements were very carefully balanced to achieve a surprisingly charming whole but the slightest missteps would have easily resulted in an unwatchable mess. The original closing was perfect example of this. Using real life stop motion animation (already unique), it seems to be telling the story of an apparently sentient bike set to the tune of Ride on Shooting Star. An eclectic mix that could have been confusing or distracting but worked perfectly.
8. Paranoia Agent
Paranoia Agent may be my least favorite of the late great Satoshi Kon’s works which means I like it a lot. A tense and violent story which made this closing theme, showing peacefully sleeping people on a blissful sunny day all set to a cheerful lighthearted tune, incredibly creepy. It literally sends chills down my spine. You can’t really get the full impact without seeing the show but let’s just say that I still don’t know if those people are actually sleeping. This is a fantastic close which not only works well with the series but actually adds to it.
7. Puella Magi Madoka Magica
This is an odd one for me. I have to admit I’m not too fond of Magia or the weird minimal visuals of this outro but somehow I could never quite skip it. This is the second end theme of the series and it served as a flagrant cue to the dramatically dark turn the narrative was about to take – you know, in case the graphic death of a main character hadn’t tipped you off. I wouldn’t listen to this independently of the show like I would for most of the other ones but I can’t really leave it off this list because of how well it was integrated with the plot.
6. Natsume Yuujinchou
I have only seen the first season of Natsume so far so this may actually be the worst ending of the bunch but if it is, congratulations! I remember after the first episode, when I was still unsure what to make of the show, I was watching those closing credits and I just thought – well this is melancholy AF. What can I say, I’m pure class. At the time, I didn’t realize that this was going to be one of the overarching themes of the whole show. The quiet bittersweet feelings that are so expertly instigated by Natsume Yuujinchou are perfectly embodied in the closing theme, from the simple and effective art work to the slow nostalgic music, it will leave you calm, charmed and maybe just a little sad all at once. Not bad for 1 and a half minute of a kid calmly looking up at the sky.
5. Rurouni Kenshin
Heart of the sword may not be as catchy as Freckles but it remains a great tune that pumps you up and gets you in the mood to watch more. The visuals here are not exactly the most revolutionary stuff but please pay attention to those fight sequences, especially the confrontation between Kenshin and Sanosuke (man I love this show!) towards the end. Now remember that this is over 20 years old! Next time you see a janky half-assed choreography or stills being used in an action scene, remember the type of animation Rurouni Kenshin was putting out in 1996! Impressed now? You should be.
4. No game No life
I’ve in fact talked about this actual ending before and the clever distortion of it to align with the narrative which I found brilliant. But even without that particular touch, this remains a great closer. The story told in images is intriguing and heartwarming and the art is just beautiful. I want to print out a series of stills from this closing and have them framed. It doesn’t hurt that Oracion is a delightful song that I happily hop along to every time I hear it.
The second outro used in the magnificent series that is Haikyuu!!! instantly grabbed my attention. I loved it so much that I remember being extremely disappointed when it was changed. The switch in visual style made it interesting to watch and the focus on Kageyama instead of Shoyo was a great choice. Everything in this montage, fantastic music included, drives home the point that no matter how good you may be, no one becomes great without putting in the effort. I felt the sweat and exhaustion through my screen and I cheered my heart out for Karasuno. They clearly deserved to win, I know how hard they worked, I saw it at the end of every episode.
3.5 MORE Haikyuu!!!
A second closing theme for Haikyuu!!! that clearly went for traditional openings with more interesting closings, this one is almost the polar opposite of my previous pick. Instead of the determined emotional Leo, we get an infectious bubbly earworm that is almost impossible to resist dancing to, and the solitary images of a lone athlete pushing himself to the very limit are replaced by a colourful parade of every single character we ever saw. I don’t think this one works quite as well as the previous within the context of the show but it really put me in the mood to watch the next episode immediately and what more can you possibly ask for.
First of all, don’t even try to pretend that touch me isn’t a great song. It’s my ringtone. I wished people called me more…. And b) Durarara has a number of great endings all with really good visuals (arguably better than this one – definitely more animated). But this stylish layout of all the characters strewn together in a long sweeping chain has become iconic and has been recreated and reimagined by countless people. I’m sure you’ve seen a version featuring the characters of your favorite show. If not, you will now! Very few closing visuals have had quite that much impact. Sometimes simple is better.
Of course it is! I actually couldn’t decide between the first and the second season so Free is double winner! Both feature great songs that are super fun to blast in the house as you go about your weekly chores or something (because they even make cleaning the house more fun) and hilariously cheesy fanservice visuals that don’t even attempt to tie in with the plot. Both are just wonderful and I occasionally YouTube them for fun. If I absolutely had to pick I would say that SPLASH FREE Is my favorite song but the assorted glamour shots of the s2 end are my preferred visuals. Happily for me though, I don’t have to pick!
Both KonoSuba and 91 days have great outros but I have already listed them in my top 10 intros so they are Honorable mentions. But you also listed Kenshin in the openings yet he still made the list! Well that’s not the same, those are for different seasons and also…shut up…
91 days closes out on a pulpy somewhat James Bond inspired theme complete with smoking gun and characters overlaid on broken glass (symbolic). It’s a tonal shift from the show that’s not completely cohesive but I still found it to be a very good way to cap off the series. It should be noted that the ending was switched out for the very last episode and you really can’t understand how brilliant this last closer is without seeing the series but it is.
Both seasons of KonoSuba end on more subdued songs and cute happy visuals that help us unwind and ease us right into the next episode. No really, I could not sit through one of these without ending up saying – aww just one more. Needless to say I binged this show, I don’t exactly know how to explain it but they just make me happy.