I was just thinking how well encapsulated anime OPs are as both a pleasing thing, a teaser, and a pitch about what the show is. It’s also a pace setter and even at times a way to mislead the audience. It is a marketing tool, as well.
It naturally goes on that I thought about my own top 10 anime OP under those lenses. I used to update my top 10s, as they were actual lists of things, not just vague recollections or rose-tinted nostalgia disguised as some metric about how #1 is better than #10.So I’m going to just talk about a few of these OP that I like. I will try to proceed systematically for greater fun and enjoyment++ but this is probably not going to turn out to be a “your OP is worse than my OP” kind of ranked list.
This is part 1 of a two-part post, mainly because it’s taking me a long time to just come up with them, and the older I dig the harder it gets? Maybe it’s just that I have been not getting enough sleep (damn you iM@S). Who knows?
And maybe I’ll think about the other categories at some point later. No promises.
Since I’m listing by date, some of my “honorable mentions” (it’s not like I’m doing a top 10 at any rate, so maybe it doesn’t matter) gets mentioned first. This OP is something I thought about a lot before putting it in here. Mainly, I just didn’t think it’s got a lot of staying power. So it’s just an “honorable mention.”
What it has, though, is catchy direction, solid character animation, and a very cool bridge. You don’t hear many cool bridges in anison. Yes, OP1 is catchier and the song is probably better. I just don’t think it’s got what OP2 has overall. Plus, they dance a lot more! That must count for something right?
- Pleasing? DANCING!
- Teaser? Well, not much left to tease.
- Pitch? 8/10
- Pace? Very spot on
- Marketing power? As much as Takane’s hair is white
Rank comment: ENCORE WA NAI LIFE
I think this one is listed here because it’s one of those story-element things where it does a superb job setting the mood for the show, but also hides within a possible narrative that says something about the story itself.
The magic is in the music, yes, but it is also in that strangely distilled, but masterfully directed framing. When combined with witful color direction and a restraint that you will only find in anime for actual adults, the end product is remarkable just like that, even if there’s nothing to remark…or is there?
- Pleasing? I love “less is more”
- Teaser? Kinda, yeah
- Pitch? It’s really opaque but it’s there.
- Pace? Slowly and methodical
- Marketing power? 5/10
Rank comment: For srsbzns OP analysis and OPED types only
This OP barely makes the inclusion mainly for so succintly and stylishly express the overall concept of the story. Majority of the animation in the OP is 3D CG, and it looks fairly competent, if oversimplified. The song and the visuals just merged like a couple that were made for each other.
There is violence and anger but also fun and just the right amount of sarcastic despair that signifies the average SHAFT adaptation. Don’t take it so seriously.
- Pleasing? Sorta
- Teaser? Totally
- Pitch? Parabola
- Pace? Just like the song
- Marketing power? 7.5/10
Rank comment: Kobayashi’s big break
I think the song was the most striking thing about this OP. It is not your everyday anime with an electric-rock pumping the animation engine. It helps that the Xam’d had an unique presentation, being one of the only anime available to Americans before it was available to the Japanese, digitally available. It was the one watershed moment where I can now point and say “the future is here.” The future was also $4 a pop. It definitely served well as a marketing tool, and I have a couple t-shirts and an autograph from Boom Boom Satellites to prove it. Sony made the OP the primary trailer for the show, and I guess that goes to show the OP being, well, good.
The animation, however, is actually the crown jewel for the OP. It’s worth repeating that animating the OP animation is time consuming and relatively expensive compared to the remainder of a TV series. I’m not sure if Xam’d counts as a TV series, that said. It is a pleasing thing visually, especially given the moving camera treatment, the perspective changes, the way the mailman ran. It kind of sets up your expectation for some mysterious action slash Nausicaa naturalism nonsense, which Xam’d was. The pacing, though, I guess is up to debate.
- Pleasing? Yes
- Teaser? Sure
- Pitch? 8/10
- Pace? Fast and explode-y
- Marketing power? Lots.
Rank comment: I’d loop it. Repeatedly.
[LOL gimme a link]
It sure is plain, that OP. This is what I would also consider as “honorable” mentions but taking digital pens to a choreographed idol dance is probably old hats by Kannagi standards. The post-Haruhi ED generation (that probably should also be a honorable mentions) craves this nonsense, just like how the special episode 6 ED of Kannagi was kind of one of a kind. Or how the two OP for the idolM@ster was just the…best?
The song is catchy, if plain. The dance is simple, but the animation makes it outstanding and mesmerizing. The end result is that it kind of hampers the overall experience? You feel like there can be so much more to it but in the end it’s kind of just a plain anime OP.
- Pleasing? Sure.
- Teaser? Like a whore
- Pitch? 95mph
- Pace? 9/10
- Marketing power? Some
Rank comment: There are a lot of better OPs out there.
It’s probably the last Megumi Hayashibara song that I will sing to myself fondly, marking the end, hopefully, of the era when I didn’t really know any better. Well, I probably don’t still. The more important thing about this OP is that it is similar to another quality work in recent memory, Hourou Musuko OP, where the OP tells a story if you dig deep enough. Perhaps a controversial story, even. It did stir up some legit controversy at first when people complained that it was outright glorifying graffiti, tagging up a school. Most people opt not to dig any deeper than Manabi Straight’s strangely deformed exterior and moe/kuukikei style filling.
But as someone who did, the OP was rewarding beyond expectation. There’s a beautiful thematic symmetry within the show and the OP expresses it just as well. It sums up the soul of the show. It’s only then that the lightness of the OP theme song made sense, under the harsh light of reality that it parodied.
For clarity’s sake, the OP I linked is the original; a “digital ink” version replaced the original OP after the graffiti complaints.
- Pleasing? JET SET RADIOOO
- Teaser? It doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination at first, but much more in context.
- Pitch? 5/10
- Pace? Just like the show
- Marketing power? It cries forget-me-not.
Rank comment: One single tear
…. and I think that’ll do for now. I have like, 9 OPs to mention that I think are worth mentioning but kind of fall below the threshold (I’m not even sure MariaHolic falls above or below that) between Manabi Straight OP and the first on the list in the next post. Sigh. This is going to take forever.