Song: “Tandeki Miragism” (耽溺ミラアジュイズム) by Kradness, from Nil Admirari no Tenbin: Teito Genwaku Kitan
It’s another busy new season, with ten new shows (though one’s only four minutes long) plus three Fall carryovers. That means lots of new OPs and EDs. Instead of listing our favorites all at once, we’ll be posting them on a weekly basis, with the OPs early in the week and EDs on Friday. An OP and ED for your week, as it were.
This week’s OP is the new supernatural Bones series Noragami. It’s a fast-paced, rousing, nicely-staged opening, efficiently presenting the characters, their various forms and connections, and alternating between action and rest. We also found some possibly coincidental similarities to Lain’s OP—specifically the tight shots of power lines and the stark monochrome setting, albeit with a totally different mood.
Every Monday we share a video of Weekly OP or ED that we like. It could be from a show we’re currently watching, watched long ago, or never watched. Note that the videos may not hang around forever, since we have no control over them.
How did we find out about Bleach? By opening up the Baltimore Sun to a story about Otakon in 2005, where we saw a pretty good Rukia and Ichigo with his giant sword thing. Bleach would become the first show we watched regularly, and ultimately watched it longer than we should have.
The first 26 episodes actually weren’t that bad. The world-building, character design, music, and comedy were imminently watchable, but the thing is we just hadn’t watched that much other anime, and so couldn’t compare it to anything. In any case, we liked the shinigami/hollow mechanics of the show, and were immediately charmed by Rukia, the death god who became a transfer student.
By the time this OP came along, Rukia had been taken captive and it was up to her human friends to save her. The first OP was very light-hearted, hip, and playful, but this one is all business, successfully capturing the urgency of the rescue mission and all the new characters who would stand in the gang’s way. Our first glimpse of many shinigami captains and lieutenants whose lives we’d follow for years came right here.
Unfortunately, the mission, like the show itself, didn’t have the same urgency as this OP, perhaps because the anime was rushed out before adequate source material was published, resulting in lame filler arcs. But for a while there, Bleach was good watching, as long as you cared about the characters, which we did.
Every Monday, starting today, we’ll be sharing a Weekly OP or ED that we like. It could be from a show we’re currently watching, watched long ago, or never watched. Note that the videos may not hang around forever, since we have no control over them.
This week is the final arc in Monogatari Series: Second Season: Koimonogatari or “Lovestory”, a shining example of blending old and new animation styles and a retro song evoking a superb feeling of nostalgia. 80’s Senjougahara and Kaiki rock!
It occurs to us we haven’t done one of these posts in a while, but there are a couple pieces we look forward to almost as much as the episodes they’re attached to. So here’s what we consider to be the best opening and ending sequences this Summer. (Apologizes if the YouTube videos won’t play; that means someone had them taken down.)
Best OP: Gatchaman Crowds
Gatchaman’s colorful, kinetic, awesome opening is our unquestioned favorite. The first frames give you a quick glimpse of just about every member of the cast, then comes back to them all standing/sitting around the city, looking cool, all to the zig-zagging “Crowds” by J-rock group White Ash, blending English and Japanese lyrics fluidly around the music. It’s also dotted with gorgeous CGI of the Gatchamen in their suits kicking ass or flying through the sky.
OP Runner-up: The World God Only Knows – Goddesses Arc
First, we like how the OP is bookended by trippy abstract patterns, and starts off with a very melodramatic ballad-like sound that segues into the original TWGOK leitmotif, before going back to doing its own thing with a happy, optimistic tune as Keima and his conquests are presented. The whole thing is suffused with a divine and angelic tone very appropriate for a show full of goddesses. The theme is by Oratorio The World God Only Knows, with very upbeat English lyrics.
Best ED: Free!
For us, this was as much of a no-brainer as Gatchaman for the OP category. The thumping club-like theme “SPLASH FREE” by STYLE FIVE (composed of the five male leads’ voice seiyus, which is welcome news to us as of this writing) is perfectly complements the little tale of water-loving Nagisa traversing the barren desert in search of water, finding none in town, being mocked by Rei, who has plenty of it, and finally coming across an oasis where he jumps right in with the others.
ED Runner-up: Blood Lad
Both the OP and ED of Blood Lad are highly conventional, and don’t blaze any trails, including the tendency for the ED to be a slower, more morose counterpoint to the fast, upbeat, rocky OP (or vice versa). Still, we think the ED is very well executed, focusing on Fuyumi and Bell and their struggle for Staz’s attention. We particularly like the final sequence of Fuyumi inexplicably beaming very widely; she and Staz set back in the wildly-colored graveyard as Bell peeks her head out of a portal in the foreground, looking displeased.
Another season, another set of opening and ending sequences. How do they stack up?
YouTube links provided where available. Some are just the music. Some are probably dead links :/
OP: There’s something about the girl(guy?) whispering “It’s only just begun…” followed by the rapping that just makes our eyes roll. Rating: 4
ED: The music’s a little too heartwarming, and the visuals are just beauty shots of Himiko. Rating: 5
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
OP: Clearly Haruhi-inspired, but not as good – it’s trying too hard. Rating: 4
ED: We like the character names in Roman letters frizzing to the beat, but other than that, but watching Rikka try to dance? Notsomuch. Rating: 5
Sword Art Online
OP: Not as good as the first season’s, and when we first saw it, all the elf ears really confused us. But nothing offensively bad about it. Rating: 5
ED: Heavy use of Sugu; also pretty innocuous. Rating: 5
OP: The overengineered vocals were fine in the first season’s OP, but there’s something stale and laggy about this new theme.Rating: 5
ED: The first season’s ending theme was a beautiful, haunting piece of music that carried the whole ED. This, like the OP, just isn’t as good, though it does remind us of FF battle music.Rating: 5
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
OP: Fairly generic brassy-rock music. The visuals are better, with good colors and layers, a chain motif, and a nice moment of the two leads dancing together. (FWIW, this remains our favorite Romance OP.) Rating:6
ED: Also very generic ending rock music. Girl can’t hit the high notes. Ruins the nice watercolor montage. Rating: 4
Zetsuen no Tempest
OP: We’re really not fans of the English vocals, but the rock instrumentation and visuals are solid. Rating: 7
ED: Syrupy-sweet vocals and very generic rock music with walking silhouette. Neither offends nor impresses. Rating: 5
Sukitte Ii na yo
OP: Very quiet, gentle music and vocals. We like the longing strings. Pretty good visuals of characters, settings and various moments. Rating: 7
ED: Fittingly bittersweet rock piece, blue slideshow, and an animated chibi preview Mei that’s either cute or frightening. Rating: 6
OP: Stirring rock with really strong female vocals (we like the occasional hesitation as she enunciates the lyrics), perfectly fits the energy of the series. Very lively montage of characters/factions too. Ends a bit abruptly. Rating: 8
ED: Whimsical snowglobe-type song, with a lovingly-animated Neko lounging around nude, looking forlorn. Rating: 6
From the New World (Shin Sekai yori)
OP: There is no OP as such; the show jumps right into those flashbacks, which are awesome. (No Rating)
ED: Electro-pop that gets more rousing as it progresses. Nice use of electric guitar. Really neat, dreamy animation too. I’m a soap bubble…Rating: 8
OP: Cute vocals, cute visuals, just plain cute…but not in a bad way. Rating: 8
ED: Really nice transition from episode’s end to the credits. Same cute vocals form OP. We really like the underlying strings. Ah, ah ah ah…Rating: 7
None of the OPs and EDs of the shows we’re reviewing have knocked our socks off, but there are certainly good ones and bad ones. Let’s explore:
OP: The cast running around like they’re on a sugar high to forgettable music. Rating: 2
ED: The cast sitting on a ledge, followed by panning closeups, accompanied by muzak. Boring! Rating: 2
OP: Goofy techno beat (there is good techno, this is not it), generic action/character montage, and naked Haru flying around. Guh. Rating: 2
ED: Similarly underwhelming. Rating: 2
OP: One-way Two-way Three-way Four-way No way this is a great opening. Kinda catchy though. Rating: 2.5
ED: Shots of the two leads in various outfits. Well-drawn, but random. Rating: 2.5
OP: Very well-animated, but paired with uninspiring music, and the whole “Oreki stuck inside reflections” thing…it’s just bludgeoning us in the heads with its symbolism. Rating: 3
ED: Corny Sherlock/Watson cosplay. We get it, they’re like, detectives! Rating: 2.5
OP: We like the flying logo, but the rest is your standard high schoolish opening, much like Tari Tari. Rating: 2.5
ED: We like how the ending theme plays over the next episode preview, then segues seamlessly into the ED; a novel approach. The music is nice and funky and complements the ‘winding down’ sunset visuals. Not too shabby! Rating: 3.5
Eureka Seven AO
OP: Great Animation, so-so music. Overall, not bad. Rating: 3
ED: In no danger of supplanting our favorite EDs, ‘Tip Taps’, but not bad either. Rating: 3
Sword Art Online
OP: Comely visuals and a theme that gets us pumped up without getting irritating (though we don’t really dig the dissonance in the last sung lines.). Nothing extraordinary, but competently done. Rating: 3
ED: Nice slow, graceful vertical character pans, so-so music. Rating: 3
Rinne no Lagrange 2
OP: We loved the first season’s OP. We just like this. Rating: 3
ED: This actually improved last season’s ED by expanding on it and making it weirder. Very catchy theme. Rating: 3.5
OP: Pleasant enough visuals (we liked the multi-burst character portraits) paired with fairly generic music for the genre. Rating: 3
ED: Gorgeous visuals and better music. Rating: 3.5
OP: It’s not the prettiest, but the quirky pulsing techno-rock sells it. Rating: 3.5
ED: Pretty standard visuals, but again the music steals the show, progressing from a smooth and breezy ballad to more urgent battle music appropriate to the series’ harsh setting. Rating: 3.5
Best Opening: [C]: Control: The Money and Soul of Possibility. A very slick, confident, adn frenetic beginning to a show that also possesses those qualities. A virtual camera zooms into a 1000 yen note, a dollar, a Euro, and a black MIdas bill, and the designs on those currencies explode and fly by with impressive depth and detail. I also like how the financial district’s giant spinning coin is presented.
I didn’t include [C]’s ending, because while it was pretty good, the School Food Punishment song sounded too similar the one used for the Eden of the East ending, which had far better visuals.
Runner-up: Deadman Wonderland. The WWE-grade metal lyrics of this season’s runner-up are kind of silly, but there’s nothing wrong with the music itself; it’s harsh, dark, and unyielding, like the series itself. The mostly red palette and multi-layered, highly-textured visuals also match the show’s mood quite well. While hardly subtle, they also show the dual personalities of both Shiro and Minatsuki. Sweet on the surface, but terrors lurk within.
Best Ending: Ao no Exorcist. I discuss the music and visuals of this ending at length here. Suffice it to say, It’s a great concept, very simple and very nicely executed. A really elegant yet satisfying ending. (Sorry, that video was removed!)
Runner-up: Deadman Wonderland. A peaceful shot of a Ferris Wheel glowing at sunset combined with a soothing, upbeat dance track makes for a nice respite from each episode’s pervading darkness and despair. The slideshow of photos – which didn’t mean much the first time we see them, are given more gravity as the series has progresses: they’re snapshots of the character’s pasts. In each case, they’ve all changed quite a bit, except perhaps Ganta and Shiro.
So, what were the worst openings and endings? The World God Only Knows II was a beginning I don’t think I ever watched in its entirety after the first time. They were clearly trying to replicate the novel and IMO very successful opening of the first season, and failed miserably. See it here. The ending is also something I skipped every time.
Hanasaku Iroha has a pretty (if not altogether original) opening that’s hampered by a subpar vocalist. Watch here, but be forewarned: it’s shrill.
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko though, takes the cake as the most obnoxious vocals by far, and the visuals just seemed a bit lazy and uninspired. If you’re a aural masochist, you may get your kicks watching it on a loop. As for the ending, it’s just a cutesy-cutesy Arakawa-type sequence with Etsuko Yakushimaru’s shy vocals putting me to sleep. Venus to Jesus was infinitely better.
Aside from having one of the dumbest, laziest logos for a series I’ve ever seen, Tiger & Bunny‘s opening and ending are notable only for their crushing genericness. The blatant product placement didn’t bother me so much.