I love a good OP. It’s not necessary but I think when obvious time and effort has been put into creating an interesting opening sequence, it’s a good sign that the creators care about their audience and love their work. When done right, these little creations are small works of art in and of themselves that can entertain and move us in their own right. So today I’m taking a moment to celebrate my favorites.
Why isn’t YOUR favourite on the list? Many reasons, maybe I haven’t seen the show or forgot about it – maybe I don’t like it. Feel free to explain to me why my tastes are wrong. Why isn’t TANK on the list. Cause it’s Tank man! Of course I love Tank. D*mn show is twenty years old and it’s still the gold standard in anime intros – it really doesn’t need my endorsement.
So here we go in some but not rigorous order:
13. KonoSuba 1 and 2
Both seasons of KonoSuba feature what I would call delightful ops. These little introductions depict actual mini adventures in themselves that set up the irreverent tone of the series and had my laughing out loud. I grew so attached to the sequences that I ended up watching them almost every time, they just put me in a good mood. I couldn’t pick a favorite either. I would say I prefer the music of season 1 but the animation of season 2. In any case both are really great and a nice addition to this surprisingly enjoyable series.
12. Sailor Moon – English version
Ok so I’ll admit this isn’t in fact a very good intro. The visuals are pretty boring, not particularly well set to the music and not insightful either. The song is hokey and silly BUT, who among us hasn’t at some point belted out “fighting evil by moonlight”? I bet you’re singing it right now, aren’t you? Yeah you are!
11. Attack on Titan
I love the first AoT theme, it psyched me out and got me ready to attack those titans. Although I can’t say it was particularly special there’s something in the rhythm of the music and the cadence matched with the vigorous animation that just got my adrenaline pumping. I was ready to go jogging or something which is the perfect setup for this particular series.
10. Bungo Stray Dogs season 2
This is a pretty pretty show with appropriately pretty openings but as I’ve mentioned before the opening arc of season 2 was particularly impressive and the show creators smartly crafted an opening especially for those episodes. Of course the animation and visuals are great but here a little narrative has been added to situate the viewer in the non-linear storyline and the colour palette has been played with and adjusted to reflect the darker tone of these episodes. The entire thing has been matched so well to the theme that when the same music is reused with different animation later in the season, I actually found it less enjoyable. The fact that the credits themselves have been integrated into the sequence as neon signs is a great little extra touch.
9 . Another
I really didn’t know where to put this one. I originally thought of making it an honorable mention but as I rewatched it, I couldn’t find anything wrong with it at all except that I am not personally a big fan of the visuals. The music though is just awesome. I listen to it regularly. After careful consideration, I believe that the main issue I have with the opening animation is that there does not seem to have been any effort made to match it to the music in any way. Also, the visuals almost seem from a different show as we never really see those settings in that way but it does set up the atmosphere really nicely and creeps you out a little before the show even starts which is a big plus in a horror series.
I have something to confess to you guys. I’ve never watched a single episode of Pokemon…I’ve never played any of the games and I don’t go. Somehow, I missed it and now it just seems too big and daunting to take on. Also I’m just not that interested. But I can sing the opening song. I don’t even know how I learned it – maybe it’s just seeped so deep into the collective unconscious that we just all instinctively know the Pokemon op song right now. I have no clue if the animation or art of the intro are any good but that song sure is catchy and telepathic? Anyways, it gets on the list for being magic!
7. Azumanga Daioh
There are actually a few of these wacky little intros where the characters do crazy little dances or poses set to super fun little earworms that come to mind. I’ve always liked the first Yuru Yuri OP for instance, but I think Azumanga Daioh rises to the top of the crop of these. First because the song might be the funniest of all of them with completely bonkers lyrics and second because I really appreciated the extra touch of incorporating the credits into the animation.
6. 91 days
This show actually has two different intros. One was used only for the first episode and it was simply tremendous. It is masterfully crafted to resemble a traditional crime movie and I tip my hat to the team that created it. The music, the pacing, the short disjointed scenes which add up to an introductory narrative, the title cards in English combined with the absolute perfect font! Nothing is random and nothing was left to chance. A clear example of consummate artistry. Now I would not call it fun but clearly brilliant. Sadly I couldn’t find a clip…
The second op used from episode 2 on was not as impressive to me – I remember wondering if they would really keep the first op for the entire season as it was a little long. As you can see the second one is a lot more traditional anime – the credits are back to Japanese and everything – and for a while I thought it was just run of the mill but I realized that it was just suffering from the comparison with the first one. When I actually took the time to really pay attention to it, I noticed that the music was in fact quite good and the animation well done. It shows you the preamble to the story in a very effective way, showing us characters when they were much younger as we do not see them in the actual series which is a nice touch and even sets up the plot. And that logo is awesome! All in all it is in fact a great intro in its own right and I’m sorry for being such a snob before.
5. Yuri!!! on ice
I’ve also mentioned this intro before but I’ll try to elaborate. Once again, the animation in the op is done in a completely different style from the show. The intro uses an artsy rough sketch style that does a great job of highlighting the choreography clearly created specially for the opening theme. It’s gorgeous to look at. The music and even lyrics of History Maker are extremely well chosen and very difficult to resist. On top of that, it let’s you know in completely unambiguous terms what you’re in for. Ice skating. It’s a great little piece of work that deserves a gold medal…I’ll go jump out a window now…
Kiznaiver was produced by Trigger so it’s no wonder that it is a generally stylish series and nowhere is that style more obvious and finely crafted than in the intro. The song is a fantastic remix/adaptation of take on me (called lay your hands on me) and very well suited to the series. The animation is fluid and completely choreographed to the music. The backgrounds aren’t exactly exceptional but again work so very well with the song that I wouldn’t want to change a thing. This opening sequence works more like a little music video than a narrative. It doesn’t tell you anything about the show you’re about to watch but it will make you want to dance around your living room. I never once skipped over it!
3. Rurouni Kenshin
Kenshin is the sh*ts and although I had seen Bebop before and therefore already knew of the greatness that is tank, it was Rurouni Kenshin’s very first opening theme that really made me realize how important an op can be to a show. I had a pavlovian response to this intro and to this days just hearing that opening riff perks me up and instantly lifts my heart. I would go into each episode just a bit more ready to fall in love because of it and fall in love I did. I don’t know if I will ever do an actual post dedicated to Kenshin because it’s a bit too precious to me to share with others, but for now I will leave you with the simply terrific Freckles. You are welcome!
2. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju
Maybe this should in fact have been number one – I told you they were loosely ordered! Although very surreal, I still find that this opening gives you a taste of what you’re about to see. Although it doesn’t give away any of the plot, it establishes the mood of the series early on while making it clear that you’re in for something a little more unusual. Also it’s gorgeous in every respect. As far as music, art and animation go, I think this one is in fact my favorite. I created a little list in the bus before actually writing out this top 10ish and put in a few words next to each title to remind me what I wanted to say about it. My entire notes for this entry: “just dahyuum…”
1. Orenchi no furo jijou
I’ve made no secret of my love for this intro. This one is seriously fantastic. Not only is the animation and music great and carefully matched but it’s also a complete clash with the actual show. The artists didn’t just create a special sequence for the opening, they went out of their ways to explore a different art style, animation technique and mood just for the intro. On top of that, the loosely inferred storyline behind it all is super intriguing. As I have mentioned, I personally found this op almost as entertaining as the show itself and I deeply applaud the show runners for taking the time to craft such an ambitious opening when they could easily have gotten away with a few detailed fanservicy stills over a poppy little tune and no one would have complained. So thank you, keep up the good work.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn op2 and op8. I simply love both these songs. I have danced to them so much and they are currently playing on a loop as I write this. The visuals that go with them are however sadly boring and not matched well enough to the music to make them official selections but I just couldn’t talk intro without mentioning these.
It is not impossible that Hunter x Hunter is my favorite show. I’m not sure, it changes often but this title stays way up there. The intro(s) aren’t that great admittedly but the song (with some lyric adjustments) remains the same for 148 episodes so it gets a shout out for sheer perseverance! By now, I really couldn’t imagine the series without it!