Friday nights in the early 2000s were a safe haven for those of us who liked to get lost in a Japanese animated adventure 20 minutes at a time. I would have happily stayed in the living room watching Inuyasha and Witch Hunter Robin through high school, unfortunately life treads forward and some people grow out of their kawaii phase – but I sure didn’t. So I present “Music Monday: Anime Openings” for the anime lovers out there, the top picks for best anime openings to a series!
There are a ton of great openings/ending themes to choose from and a host of other in-show music that could make this list roll on into a babbling mess, so for the sake of sanity the only songs we’re going allow are the opening themes. Second this list is limited to animes I know, my knowledge of anime is pretty expansive but it’s not omnipresent; if I miss a favourite opening song of yours, let me know in the comments. Lastly since this is a Music Monday this will be judged solely on the music, the clichéd anime-ness of an opening will not skew the list (regardless of how many panned fades of character faces or sweeping action shots there are). It will be based on how fly the beats are and how well it fits with the show, with no further adieu here we go! (Didn’t mean to rhyme there)
Tank – Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts – Cowboy Bebop
Let’s kick it off with one hell of a jazzy bang, eh? The opening to the critically acclaimed Cowboy Bebop series is a master work of saxophone prowess! Masaro Honda goes crazy on alto for three minutes and thirty seconds and the result is one of the most recognizable themes of an anime to date. This song sets it’s self apart from the rest of the list because it’s pretty much the only one that isn’t a pop/rock/wuss rock mix. The only other song that doesn’t follow that rule is the following opening, an anime by the same director of Bebop.
Battle Cry – Nujabes – Samurai Champloo
Who isn’t gonna vibe with a hip-hop/samurai inspired anime? Samurai Champloo as an animation is a great mix of cultures into a crazy mish-mash of moods; it makes for one hell of an experience to watch. Battle Cry is a perfect opening for the show’s pace, it’s crazy smooth like the fight scenes with the just the right amount of attitude.
Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni – Eiko Shimamiya – When They Cry
This is a messy anime for sure, it’s not for the faint of heart – and possibly not for anyone with a soul. When They Cry is fuster cluck of unfortunate/nasty/gory events all set with a foreboding and terrifying presence. The opening theme to season one of the series is another one of those songs that captures the tone of the anime so perfectly; it’s a strange and beautiful.
Lilium – MOKA and Kumiko Noma – Elfen Lied
Talk about your weird and upsetting anime if you’ve come to see a happy story that makes a lick of sense or has a moment of sympathy, Elfen Lied is not the anime for you. But this is about the music and that is gorgeous. Lilium is actually is sung in Latin with references to gospels/psalms and the love of god – which also all tie into the show. But the reason it’s on this list is that it’s such a wonderfully arranged and performed piece of music – and if you watch the anime, don’t watch the dub. Ju-just don’t.
Kuusou Mesorogiwi – Yōsei Teikoku – The Future Diary
Classified as ‘Gothic metal” this band is just a swoopy emo haircut away from dropping $80 at Hot Topic on chokers – which makes them the best thing ever. The Future Diary’s opening is jumpy and poppy – despite it’s metal claim – but gosh dang if it ain’t catchy. It’s fun song, followed by a great anime! There’s not much to say about it other than it’s sort of the reason we love anime, it’s a lame-ass song that’s so great that it burrows into our hearts as a guilty little pleasure.
Unravel -TK – Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul’s first opening theme? Is bananas it’s actually just a great song, no anime attached gimmicks. It has heart and feeling and it’s been covered by so many artists on Youtube – because it’s just that great to sing. Unravel is a song I put on to my Ipod with no misgivings, it’s a song I would share with non-anime fans just because I think it’s hecka freakin’ neato.
Connect – ClariS – Puella Magi Madoka Magica
Now does this song round out the list because Madoka Magica is my favourite anime of all time? Yeah it totally does, I said there would be biases and here they are. Madoka Magica’s theme perfectly encapsulates what I’ve been driving home this whole feature. That an opening should reflect the anime so well you’re like, “dang girl, that’s an opening!” and Connect does that. It gives off the sense of hope and fun the show is supposed to have, but it isn’t pure joy it has an almost ineffable edge to it that keeps it from being a Perfume song.
So there it is, a starting list for amazing anime openings. I know, I know “How could you forget _________!? It’s infinitely better than ________!” I’m sorry, but tell me about it in the comments! For serious I love hearing new music and discovering new animes, so throw it at me!