Anime OP: Part 2

The thing continues. The thing where OP gets listed for some reason(s) and words attached to them. Sorted by age.

You can revisit part 1 and part 1.5 if you wish. I will resume the senseless measuring.

Onegai Twins OP

It’s got a motif–summer, sunflowers, smiling faces, film, flight. It’s the story about an awkward birth secret that nobody knew, brewing romance and budding individualists trying to remember what the hell was going on. There was the usual gaggle of teenage hijinks and some strange reference to its earlier prerequisite series, Please Teacher.

The song is relatively weak compared to the other entries on my list, but I like it just as much as any other. It is also a duet, which makes it kind of special. If I could typify I’ve Sounds and Summer in one song this would be it. The harpsichord is punchy, like aged furniture in some expensive import showroom, except you just noticed it was Ikea you are in. Nonetheless everything comes together by design, those fast cuts and articulated notes transporting me, almost, to where everything began.

I wonder how it looks on Blu-ray.

  • Pleasing? Please is its name after all
  • Teaser? Sure.
  • Pitch? Nobody knows its pitch, maybe?
  • Pace? 10/10
  • Marketing power? Could be better

Rank: A-
Rank comment: I hit it all the time.

Cowboy Bebop OP

I confess, it nearly didn’t make the list because it is by far the most overplayed crap western fandom does in terms of OP/ED. At least when it comes to anime. By 2012 I’m sick and freaking tired of hearing it blaring everywhere. At least give me some What Planet Is This!?, it’s the same damn of thing, but just less tiresome. However as far as an OP goes it is succulent. So it’s special because while the music was good, to me it was the animation that made it memorable.

There’s a strangely doodlish nature to the piece, I guess, it’s like jazz improvisation. I probably don’t need to mention the clever use of dark and white spaces, the stylish animation, humor, everything about it. There’s just not a lot to say, actually. It’s a relatively minimal piece where the animation was focus and it’s not trying to dazzle, just trying to do its thing.

  • Pleasing? Not anymore.
  • Teaser? Big time.
  • Pitch? Black?
  • Pace? Spot on
  • Marketing power? More than ever.

Rank: A
Rank comment: Please don’t loop it.

Himiko-den OP (any variety)

For a late 90s anime, the OP is surprisingly impressive because it manages to say a lot without doing very much at all. It made a huge splash for a sweet-voiced (or I guess by today’s lingo, moe-voiced) model turned idol. I think it’s important to distinguish this work with later upcomers (say, Shaft and Kana Hanazawa’s masterpiece) because all you had were these ornate illustrations sliced together by some catchy framing and simple cuts. The on-the-twos pulsating hair-in-the-wind and longing looks were used just enough in those 90 seconds to convey that supermodel stare into the heart of every moefag. To that end, Himiko-den was spot on.

On the other hand, the songs and pretty girls aside, the show was not too much like it; the OP did convey that fleeting fantasy idea that made the show somewhat exotic, and so the failure to match lies more heavily on the lack of execution of the anime itself than the OP. The anime itself would’ve been much better if it was, say, like Shaft and Kana Hanazawa’s efforts.

  • Pleasing? 9/10
  • Teaser? Oh yeah
  • Pitch? There was one?
  • Pace? Smooth but with character
  • Marketing power? Aplenty

Rank: A
Rank comment: I’d loop it, but more for the music.

Card Captor Sakura OP 1

Most universally catchy thing ever IMO. The song and visuals work so well.

It’s always kind of tricky when you make a long running series in terms of how to frame something that will be durable to watch all the time. Those CLAMP music videos tie-ins really glows when you frame the OP with that perspective.

  • Pleasing? Pretty good.
  • Teaser? I suppose.
  • Pitch? You wanna be a magical girl, babe?
  • Pace? Perfect
  • Marketing power? CCS MERCH NOW ON SALE

Rank: A
Rank comment: You just can’t help but to sing to it

Dinagiga OVA OP

You know you’ve hit the next level in “anime history” when it’s an OVA that you’re digging into. This one is, I’m going to guess, the one most people aren’t aware of. It was subtitled thanks to some intrepid old time digisubbers, but surely you must be aware the effort of subbing from LD.

What I like about this OP is that not only it’s one of those late 90s anime where all the money went into the OP and the first 5 minutes of the first episode (and this is an OVA!), it is also like the best-yet-totally-generic thing ever. The only appeal it had was conveyed through the animation and the direction, which is to say, delivers exactly what I want. Well, even with that said, it’s not too bad.

  • Pleasing? Sure.
  • Teaser? 7.5/10
  • Pitch? Not too sure, it’s kind of a generic robot thing.
  • Pace? Just right.
  • Marketing power? I guess so

Rank: B-
Rank comment: It is an earworm.

Escaflowne TV OP

This song is kind of like the other Yoko Kanno entry, so let’s leave that aside and focus on the animation. It’s obviously well-colored, there’s a consistent and thematically relevant sheen, lack of a better word, on this shoujo-esqe fantasy. Actually, that strikes me as the biggest point (and perhaps, problem). It’s really a fantasy anime pitched with a girl’s POV. Except when you examine the concept presented by Escaflowne like that, it feels like some cheap trick to inspire BL doujinshi. Well, I’m sure much ink has been spilled for those causes.

The montages of pretty people (and their pointy noises) aside, the OP sequence literally flies when we get to the giant robots, which for all of us who’ve seen the show, knows that’s what it’s all about. That, and random scenes of catgirls longingly looking at the stars, with a bad guy’s single tear permanently painted on his face. Escaflowne OP marries two concepts together, or maybe rather co-ops one into the other, in that happy, piano-percussion beat about girly fantasies.

  • Pleasing? Only if you don’t think about it.
  • Teaser? I guess.
  • Pitch? It could do a better job.
  • Pace? 8/10
  • Marketing power? LOL

Rank: B+
Rank comment: Not the last time a Yoko Kanno OP song overpowers a Shoji Kawamori’s story.

Magic User’s Club OVA OP

In a way this is memorable for the same way CCS OP3 was, but it’s much less over the top. It sticks to being cute, despite, obviously, this is otaku fare, folks. We’re in the mid-90s, the bubble has yet to explode completely, but we’re already mixing oil with water, the sickening spectre of moe with wholesome magical girls. [It almost reminds me of a skit from Inu x Boku SS anime a couple weeks ago…] I’m not sure, however, that matters much. I think what appeals visually is almost universal in this regard, that evocative direction and cute character animation will always find fans regardless which marketing speak people had been speaking before.

In this case, just the cut before the title card was already pretty ambitious, and that’s barely 13 seconds in. Somewhere between the computer-graphics-y effects and the pond-skipping animation, there was suppose to be something off-cute and gap-moe-ish. But I suppose that’s where this show deviates, or rather, is a deviation.

  • Pleasing? For some.
  • Teaser? So-so.
  • Pitch? You know what the show’s about.
  • Pace? Good pace.
  • Marketing power? 8/10

Rank: B
Rank comment: It’s not a masterpiece but it was a piece you can measure other things with.

Evangelion TV OP

Besides being “kami anison” class and available at every karaoke system manufactured since 1996, I think Gainax put a lot of effort into it, like any good serious giant robot anime planners would. Like the other two entries so far I think it’s got the nod because of the music. I mean nobody would know who Yoko Takahashi was without it.

The animation itself was trend-setting with the large amount of on-screen text it used, and I think that was a good short cut in this case, giving you the very first looks at the weird lingo employed by the show, keeping you intrigued, showing off what has happened in a symbolic sense. For what it’s worth, the rich setting of the show needed something like this to get you going. For hardcore fans/conspiracy theorists, it served, well, as breeding grounds of sorts. But to me I see it as a tribute to the typical “real robot” anime that likes to put out the entire plot in the OP.

  • Pleasing? I guess.
  • Teaser? Massively
  • Pitch? 9/10
  • Pace? It went on its merry way without overstaying
  • Marketing power? Somewhat

Rank: B+
Rank comment: This is the music you sing along to in the shower.

Tenchi Muyo TV OP 1

Anyone remember Sonia? I know you remember I’m a Pioneer, LOL. And I’m not going to go back older than this simply because you run into things like this, and I can’t really hate on it, and this is the best it gets. It’s just no longer any good trying to compare them. By any good I mean it’s not really a meaningful exercise.

Well, Tenchi Muyo, I barely remember thee. But you were landmark for at least being a pretty good production value harem show. Perhaps the first one worth liking, unless you’re into a certain esper and his saxophone-sucking friend. The 80s is a great barrier to my interests, I almost swear I like watching the OP (1) to Mobile Suit Gundam than most things in the 80s, and that stuff is relatively dreadful. Relatively. It kind of cuts off right around when AMG was a thing or when there was an elf chick.

  • Pleasing? It’s actually more soothing than it is exciting.
  • Teaser? Not really?
  • Pitch? All kinds
  • Pace? 7/10
  • Marketing power? Well, the English version maybe a bit more.

Rank: B
Rank comment: This is almost something entirely different.

Magic Knight Rayearth OP 1

The original crack. It’s crack for eyes and crack for ear. I list it here mainly for sentimental reasons, because it is the OP that broke me and turned me into the puddily otaku that might have become. And now it’s on Blu-ray. Also, it dates back to 1994, and I have a hard time finding something older that looked this good. In fact the only real competitor to it is OP3, which would’ve made the list if the 2nd half of the OP looked better (only if because the first 30 seconds were so excellent). And it wasn’t just flexing animation muscles per se; there’s just a methodical pace to the direction (for both OP1 and OP3 for that matter) that made it more compelling.

I also think magical girls shows tend to have the most anime-ish OPs. They’re often stylishly colorful and move to the marching of a catchy beat. I’m inclined to think that is ultimately what gets exported to today’s late-night otaku fare when we sample the various new OPs on this basis. What we’ve come to like about OP/ED is distinctly displayed in these things.

  • Pleasing? Like pain?
  • Teaser? A bit.
  • Pitch? It’s pretty clear.
  • Pace? Steady.
  • Marketing power? Not its strength

Rank: A
Rank comment: Mostly nostalgia at this point.

Wrap-up

It’s hard to really rank this list. Which is why I didn’t; I mean, I don’t really see any real purpose behind it; I enjoy all these works, and would glad to watch them repeatedly, talk about it, buy the single (…I think I have most of them if not all of them), get the DVD, whatever. The exercise is not just futile spewing words onto some vanity website, however. I did learn one thing: OP is a lot less interesting than ED. By this I mean OP sequences tend to be a lot more orthodox and they serve a bit like a formal, structural example of what the show has to offer. In even for edge cases like ef-melo, the OP is very faithful to what the show has to offer to its viewers and conveys structurally the same thing as boring and poorly-done OP. For everything, it isn’t until the show runs its course that we get crazy in the ED. Throughout this exercise I thought about my favorite EDs and I find it impossible to even repeat this exercise (or rather, I don’t think I want to repeat this exercise). Mainly because this list would be a couple times longer.

Another thing that came to mind is that when it comes to looking at the OP, it is a much more neutral and level ground to compare animation from the past with animation from today. Because you know a lot of the budget still went into the OP, it’s the most “OVA” type sort of work in a TV show. And usually a lot of care is put into it. With that in mind it seems actually surprising to see better OP today than you did 15+ years ago, on average. But this kind of comparison breaks down right around the start of the 90s. Well. LOL 90s anime.

I’ve listed these OP between parts 1 and 2, now in one place for you to review:

Part 1 (2011 to 2008)

Then we got: f-memo OP1 OP2 ef-melo OP1 OP2;  Paranoia Agent OPTsukuyomi Moon Phase OP 1; BECK OPDokuro-chan OPPani Poni Dash OP1 (2007 to 2005)

Part 2 (2003 to 1994)

Hope that was as fun for you as it is for me.


21 responses to “Anime OP: Part 2

  • BranchDevidian

    Why don’t I see Galaxy! Bang! Bang! or Motteke! Sailor Fuku! on this list?!?!?!

  • vlsmooth

    Looking at this list, one could think shounen shows didn’t exist ;)

    Thanks for the amusing trip down memory lane!

  • TheBigN

    >>Dinagiga OVA OP

    You know that your post on this OP years ago got me to watch this in the first place. Oh god, was the OP the best part of that work. :P

    I liked these series of posts. I feel like they help give me a little more perspective on some of the things that pique your interest. And it’s a good reminder of the fact that I probably look for different things than you do in regards to OPs. It was interesting that I feel like I got a lot (memory-wise) out of the OPs you had in the first place; that is, they were memorable to me when they came out for one reason or another. And in the second and third posts, even though I’ve seen most of the OPs in these sets as well, these don’t pique my interest quite as much (save for Cowboy Bebop, CCS, Himiko-den and aforementioned Dinagiga). Maybe I’m just of a different time. I need to take a look at my OP posts again in my blog from the past.

  • ToastCrust

    >Mahou Tsukai Tai

    Wow that white haired girl’s totally my fetish from that impression ahaha

  • omo

    @BranchDevidian
    Motteke! Sailor Fuku! is, on repeated viewing, not really that good. I guess it was creative. The Galaxy Angel OPs were just catchy, I didn’t find them particularly noteworthy. I mean I didn’t include, say, Excel Saga OP for the same reason, and that one is probably better than either of the two you mentioned.

    @vlsmooth
    Assuming by shonen shows you mean adaptation of shonen manga, yeah, I watched a bunch of those OPs for this line of posts, all of them were the same one-trick ponies in terms of composition and banked on nostalgia and your familiarity of the characters to make them interesting. And many of them were marketing vehicles for various Jpop songs, which was good that they tend to be above-average crafted works musically but bad in that often times they were generic songs that didn’t really say anything interesting in regards to the show. I suppose it’s better than the truckload of OPs that used generic songs that were below-average.

    Put it this way: how many “shonen shows” OP are actually better than this? I know there’s a lot of stuff out there that I didn’t get to watch, so do share.

  • Stef

    Is it just me or were the OPs a lot quieter in the 90s? I wouldn’t mind swapping the current bland ear bleeding inducing songs to some old bland sleep inducing ones.

  • omo

    You’re right about that. I think part of it has to do with more prevalence of jpop in anime music. Or at least, trendy music.

    I partly think Hourou Musuko OP works for this reason. But I also kind of want to see newer OPs using slower songs not as a mean to invoke nostalgia. That never happens it seems.

  • Fencedude

    Yay, someone else who finds the 80s just so very…eh, whatever.

    Also goddamn I’d forgotten how relaxing and completely non-indicative the 3rd Ranma OP was. Also I’m reminded that I watched and read all of that fucking show/manga. What a goddamn waste of good college time I could have used playing Counterstrike studying.

    Otherwise, I largely agree, in the sense that they may not have been my choices (Platinum was much better than Catch You, Catch Me, and I would have put Kiseki no Umi or Hemisphere over Yakusoku wa Iranai….and I just realized I name dropped four Sakamoto Maaya songs.), but what you said about them I agree with.

    …sorry for getting lost in that parenthetical.

  • omo

    I have a hard time liking Platinum. It’s a really…boring OP. The song was fine though.

    The Ranma OPs were memorable if you liked Ranma OPs, but they were all too 80s for me. Even if it wasn’t the 80s, I guess. The third one was probably the most timeless one out of the bunch.

    Kiseki no Umi is a great song but the OP animation? Seriously?

  • Fencedude

    Hey, the animation for Kiseki no Umi had more money put into it than half a dozen episodes of its actual show.

  • omo

    That’s probably true for most anime of that vintage lol.

    I don’t know, I just didn’t think Lodoss TV OP was good. It feels like mixing too much of the original OP with what was hip and cool with those quick cuts (Himikoden OP does a better job, with even shittier production value) that is prevalent of the times. In the end the result lacked the charm of the original and came off just kind of dreary.

  • Fencedude

    Huh, interesting. I never thought much of the Lodoss OVA OP (though the Lodoss OVA is of course vastly superior to the TV series), and in fact right now I’m struggling to even remember anything about it.

  • omo

    There are a few cuts from Lodoss TV OP that was basically lifted from the OVA OP. In fact the dragon scene in the original came across so well, in the TV OP it felt just kind of meh.

    Well, let’s put it in perspective. despite the trashing i’d like to give it, it’s still a B- at worse.

  • Mushyrulez

    I think it might be worth just compiling a post of, say, five EDs that really got your attention. As you said, they are usually more interesting than OPs, and it’d also be interesting to compare the EDs of these shows to their OPs, as well.

  • omo

    Just 5? I can probably do a 25 ED list easily. So much work though.

  • fencedude

    A prime factor on an ED list would be how frequently the ED yanked you out of whatever you were feeling at the end of the episode, due to being spectacularly inappropriately cheery *cough*TORCH*cough*

  • schneider

    Himiko-den – This is very beautiful. So the show itself wasn’t as good?
    Dinagiga – Why have I never heard of this until now? This is sooo for me!
    Magic User’s Club – WOW. WANT.

    Catch you, catch me~ and I’m also sick of TANK! It’s just that any “cool OP” discussion becomes dull when it’s brought up. Yeah.

  • omo

    Hahahaha Hmiiko-den. Yea. Just stick to the OP. The show itself isn’t actually that bad; it’s like a much less offensive Queen’s Blade with a male protagonist. It just…horrible in some other ways.

    Dinagiga is … well, most people haven’t seen it so it’s not panned so widely, but I probably won’t recommend the anime either. I guess it’s closest to Gunbuster in terms of inspiration but obviously it falls way, way wayyyyy short.

    Magic User’s Club is definitely worth checking out if you’re fine with standard-issue late-night otaku anime. That it’s made in the mid 90s is probably what blows the mind; in some ways stories and storytelling in that particular genre hasn’t really moved much further. Madoka might be the only major increment since magic and magical girls were a thing for otaku proper, and that happened in the 90s.

  • omo

    It didn’t take very long for me to realize a first omission from this list. 2002, Sunrise, music video styling. As unique as it is today as it was then.

    I slightly prefer that over another classic (which I would still omit, but it’s worth rewatching):

    Note I say “first omission” as I’m sure I probably should not have left more out…

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