20 of Our Favorite OPs

(In Alphabetical Order)

UPDATE: We added five more for a total of 20.

Angel Beats!

A very lovely, moving theme accompanies an opening that still manages to efficiently unveil the sizable cast and the show’s purgatorial school setting.

Angel Beats!

(Yui’s J-Rock Arrangement)

A rippin’-good remix with electric guitars and a bolder, edgier palette.

Bleach OP#1

We once watched a lot of Bleach…too much, in hindsight. But we won’t deny it had a good start, and we still consider its first (of many) OPs to be the best.

Bokurano


We don’t know why, but Ishikawa Chiaki’s powerful, mournful yet hopeful vocals that open this GONZO series always get us a bit choked up. Pass the tissues, damnit! (This talented lady also sang the themes to Majestic Prince and Kamisama Dolls.) 

Chrome Shelled Regios

This is what happens when an OP washes down some adderall with a half-dozen Red Bulls. The booming energy is infectious.

Cowboy Bebop

One of the best anime ever made also has one of the best – and most iconic – openings.

Darker Than Black

This was a pretty good series partly due to Yoko Kanno’s participation in the soundtrack, but the OP is handled by a band rather amusingly called “Abingdon Boys School.” Our favorite part is how it so abruptly ends, which unfortunately this YouTube video cuts off.

Escaflowne

Yoko Kanno’s stirring, epic instrumentation, paired with a young Sakamoto Maaya’s strong, buoyant vocals make this entire OP shimmer and soar.

Eden of the East

We’re not what you’d call super Oasis fans (we’d never put a name to the song before watching this), but it really works here, and the complex, easter-egg-filled visuals still enthrall us today. A feast for eyes and ears.

Gantz


Considering how dark this show gets, it has a mighty upbeat theme! Another great GONZO OP.

Gundam 00

We’ve seen a lot of Gundam OPs, but this is our favorite, with a very serious and mature tone to it.

Kare Kano


Despite an abysmal ending due to running out of material and/or money, this remains hands-down our favorite romantic comedy series. Nothing else has been able to get into the heads of two crazy kids in love quite like this show did.  Its (literally) uplifting OP is one of our favorites as well.

Last Exile

Yet another GONZO series. Pretty much OP perfection, starting off with bagpipes and digeridus, then giving us Napoleonic sky battles and creepy starfish mechas. Claus’s touching down on the flight deck brings things to a tidy close.

Macross Froniter

Another very well-balanced and captivating OP, with an incredibly catchy theme tons of sci-fi action, love trangle themes and a few military salutes for good measure.

Mawaru Penguindrum

Crisp, sparse, dramatic, fantastic.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Evangelizin’ it old school.

RahXephon

Six Years after Escaflowne, Kanno and Sakamoto strike again and prove they’re a match made in heaven. The theme starts quietly, then progresses to a utopian/futuristic sound, and finishes with a nice acoustic guitar.

Samurai Champloo

Some days, some nights, some live, some die, in the way of the samurai.

Serial Experiments Lain

In our opinion, another successful use of an english-language song, along wih lots of weird multiple-personality imagery and general malaise.

Shiki

Weird-ass vampiry goodness, with a grinding, snarling, and rousing Buck-Tick song laced with appropriately dark lyrics.

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Mirai Nikki OVA

Mirai Nikki is a scant six minutes and 45 seconds long, but it gets a lot done in that short period of time. There’s a decidedly Death Notey atmosphere as a kid comes into possession of a phone that tells his future. But in exchange for that precognition, the phone itself represents his life; if it’s lost, so is his life.

He also discovers he isn’t the only one with such a phone: his female classmate Yuno has one as well, and so does a deranged terrorist in striped kneesocks who bombs the school. Apparently they’re all of them participants in a game, and the last one surviving gets the “throne of god.” Now that sounds like Eden of the East…especially with the phones.

Overall, some nice ideas, and nice animation, but this felt like more of a teaser and set-up than an actual full story, but perhaps that’s just due to the brevity. Subsequent installments that delve a little deeper would be welcome.  Rating: 3

Eden of the East: Paradise Lost

Nine years ago, the words ‘terror’ and ‘terrorist’ took on an entirely new significance for many Americans, including myself. Personally, prior to 9/11, whenever the word terrorist came up, I thought of the ‘bad future’ in Back to the Future Part II, in which Biff Tannen rose to power by using the Sports Almanac to win all the bets. I shit you not.

Who was it, the principal guy, who Marty runs into (and ends up on the wrong end of his shotgun) who refers to these guys terrorists. They were guys who show up in a burnt-out beater, fill your house full of bullet holes, and are gone as soon as they arrive. But neither Marty nor the principal are injured by the attack. The ‘terrorists’ were fearsome, but somehow, they were also a joke. The film Brazil takes a similar, dark comedic tack to terrorists as more of a nuisance to the people than a real threat.

Eden of the East throws around the terms ‘terror’ and ‘terrorist’ in way that makes me recall those other films. In the world of Eden of the East, it denotes individuals or groups who engage more in mischief than terror, or at most, the threat of death and destruction, while delivering only destruction at best. Such was the Careless Monday incident that took place prior to the timeline of the show or its two sequel films: a big hole in Tokyo was made, but no casualties.

It makes you wonder as well as wish that the World Trade Center site had been totally devoid of people when the attacks took place. After all, it is the lives we mourn the most by far, not the structures. Still, New York is and always will be conspicuous in the towers’ absense, even if they’re replaced by newer, shinier, taller skyscrapers. Even if there hadn’t been any people in or around the towers when they fell, their falling would have still caused a shock.

The Seleção, operating under the motto “Noblesse Oblige” share a lot of qualities with terrorists. They operate in secret for the most part, with large amounts of funds at their disposal. They act unilaterally and outside the constraints of the law. They are deemed ‘noble’ by their benefactor, Mr. Outside; all terrorists believe they’re noble. And their goal is to improve the nation and become its messiah. Improving it to their specs, based on their impressions of that nation’s society, mind you. Without their input or consent. All of this is fairly innocent compared with mass murder, but its well within their means to kill lots of people with the resources on hand. Thankfully, this series doesn’t take so dark a turn, and this doesn’t happen.

Whew…sorry about that! Anywho, Eden of the East: Paradise Lost, a film that follows The King of Eden and completes the story begun in the original anime, which not only had my favorite opening credit sequence to date, but had one of the best starts of all the anime I’ve seen. The series and these films never really reached the same stratospheric highs of those first episodes, but remained above average, solid storytelling.

New York of the not-too-distant future. As usual, this film is chock full of surprisingly accurate settings: I’ve visited Tokyo between the two Eden films, and in this second one, I noticed the characters were in Chuo, Shibuya, Odaiba, Toyosu, and Sakuradamon. The detail of the settings are impressive and lend the film the same immersive quality of the series. I also enjoyed the character design of the Eden franchise, particularly the adorable Saki and the fat NEET computer genius. The romance between Akira and Saki gets little play in the film, as the two are separated for most of it, but everything Saki does is for Akira’s sake. It may not be in your face, but her love and concern does show through in the film.

The film also takes a few cracks at modern Japanese society, courtesy of arguably the shrewdest but most cynical of the Seleção. ‘This is a nation of 100 million egoists…prime ministers are nothing but scapegoats,’ he says. To a degree, that’s true. They had just switched PMs the week I visited; not because of any scandal or crime, but simply due to not fulfilling a campaign promise. Our President has used the previous president as a scapegoat for most of our problems, and he will be used as a scapegoat by his eventual successor, so I guess Japan isn’t alone here; but a change of leaders happens more often there than here since ours can break promises for eight years and not step down.

That same cynical Seleção would also consider the American Dream an encumbrance to a nation’s success: ‘citizens are parts for improving a nation,’ nothing more; and be believes individuality is an inconvenience to that nation. ‘It is impossible for everyone to become someone,’ he says, exposing his narrow understanding of society. Japan may seem conservative on some levels, but nobody can doubt that the ambitions of individuals have helped more than harmed both Japan and the states.

Finally, Japan is on the same level of development and prosperity as America, which means, inexorably, there’ll a certain section of society doing absolutely nothing. NEET may be a term coined in Japan, but there may be more NEETS in America. There are probably also more NEETs in both countries than there are ‘chosen’ individuals whose circumstances have in one way or another led them to live lives of privilege and obligation – in other words, nobility. It stands to reason the NEETS would outnumber the nobles.

Seleção IX, or Akira, believes he’s been given the power to shake the nation like a tree until all the NEETS come out, then inspire them to put their NEETness to use improving their nation. The Seleção’s AI concierges may refer to their masters as messiahs, but IX and Mr. Outside seem to agree that losers are the real saviors of society, despite everyone else’s revulsion to them. It’s true that it’s impossible for everyone to become someone. But I don’t want to live in a world where nobody tries. Rating: 4