Tuesday’s Top 5: Opening Themes in 2018

You may be asking why in November I am starting my top 5 for the year lists. There’s a really simple answer to that. I want to have them all finished by the end of January but with only one list coming out a week in order to get through all the top 5’s I want to do I needed to start at the beginning of November. That said, I’m holding off on best character lists until the season is almost done because I’m trying to give the Autumn characters as much time to develop and show us what they can do as I can.

Now my 2016 and 2017 lists are both available if you want to see what OP’s have grabbed in previous years though it will be fairly unsurprising to see that History Maker (Yuri on Ice) took out 2016 and The Other Side of the Wall (Princess Principal) landed a top spot in 2017. I’m kind of looking forward to when my blog is five years old and I can see the five top choices over the years of blogging  and whether or not I’ve completely changed my mind.

Anyway, much like my taste in comedy, my taste in music is a little odd at times. Sometimes songs just grab my attention for reasons even I can’t explain and other times music that works perfectly well for everyone else just seems like noise to me. I think for me, what makes a great anime opening is music that gets my attention but has visuals that also draw me in and they work together to set a tone or a mood for the episode to come.

However, that more or less means my list is entirely my own opinion so as with all of my lists I welcome your comments telling me what you would have picked. So check out my list below and then I’d love to know, what are your top 5 openings for 2018?

Please Note – There probably won’t be any spoilers in this list.

Honourable mentions this week go to: GeGeGe No Kitaro, Goblin Slayer and Sword Art Online Alicization. And a double special honourable mention to Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai. That opening is awesome though I’m not so sold on the visuals.

Number 5: Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens – Stray by Kishida Kyoudan & The Akeboshi Rockets

Now, this opening sounds fairly generic when just listened to with the audio but for this show, it works perfectly. The pace changes and the overly dramatic moments interspersed between quieter and more contemplative moments really does capture the nature of the show itself as though there was always a tug of war with the tone. I also love the way the characters are each introduced through the visuals in the opening. This actually kind of helped early in the series as a lot of the characters didn’t get a lot of screen time until later and the OP just set you up to enjoy the show and know who everyone more or less was (kind of similar to Baccano except that they don’t bother to float the character names around the screen). All and all, this was one OP I didn’t skip during the season.

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Number 4: Cells at Work – Mission! Ken – Kō – Dai – Ichi by Kana Hanazawa, Tomoaki Maeno, Daisuke Ono and Kikuko Inoue

 

I shouldn’t really need to explain this one. With the main cast singing along, this opening is just pure fun and energy. It is impossible to listen to it and not have a smile on your face and watching the characters get up to their usual antics as they run about in the opening is a great time before the episode even gets going. This is what all OP’s should be about; capturing the tone of their show.

Cells at Work Episode 7 Red and Platelet

Number 3: Banana Fish – Found & Lost

And speaking of OP’s that perfectly capture the tone of the show, Banana Fish’s first opening Found & Lost did a truly excellent job. Despite being relatively energetic there’s some real pain and longing in the sound and when coupled with the visuals the tragedy surrounding the characters is very clear as is a sense of trying to move forward and through the situation. There are some beautiful visuals in this OP and it really does suit the show so very well.

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Number 2: March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 – We of the Coming Spring by Unison Square Garden

This is an opening that made me smile each and every week but not for the same reason as Cells at Work. After two season of two cours each, this fourth OP brings so much hope and warmth to the characters while still holding onto the visual symbolism that has dominated all the openings. Wind, water, and light are used beautifully to showcase the progress the characters have made and the tone of the story and it is just a delight to listen to and watch. Of course, I’m pretty biased when it comes to this anime in general but I absolutely loved this OP. The only surprise is that it isn’t number one on my list.

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Number 1: Attack on Titan Season 3 – Red Swan by Yoshiki

Seriously, even I don’t know how this happened. The first time I heard the opening to Attack on Titan season 3 my reaction was stunned silence, a head shake, and then a ‘what was that?’ before replaying it just to check that I’d heard right. Where was the dramatic tension and the terror of the titans. However, I did say that my choices are based on how well the music fits the show and having watched season 3 of Attack on Titan with its heavy focus on politics and characters and bringing all of those old secrets out into the open, reconnecting characters with their past whether they like it or not, I really feel this opening fits perfectly with what the show delivered. I do know that by the mid-season I was very into this song and found myself listening to it even when I wasn’t watching an episode. Ultimately, I just really like it and that is why it is my number one pick for the year.

Attack on Titan Episode 9

Alright, over to you. What have your favourite opening themes been this year?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Opening Themes in 2017

Last year I wrote my list on the top opening themes of 2016 and unsurprisingly Yuri On Ice’s History Maker took out the top spot. This year there wasn’t a single stand out song that really stuck with me, but there were lots of opening themes that really matched their show so it ended up being a fairly close competition.

My criteria for top 5 opening theme is mostly that the song could be listened to as a song by itself and still sound good without the visuals, though also had good visuals to go with it, that it matched the tone of the show, and that it got me ready to watch the episode. So here are my top 5 opening themes of 2017.

Please Note – There probably won’t be any spoilers in this list.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Recovery of an MMO Junkie, 18if, Chain Chronicle and Land of the Lustrous.

Number 5: Here from The Ancient Magus’ Bride

This probably shouldn’t need too much explanation but the song conjures up a sense of sadness and lonliness even while it seems to move us forward. The visuals also have Chise alone a lot of the time and yet surrounded by magic and beauty, even when it is quite dark. All and all, I really enjoy this theme each week and feel it compliments the show quite nicely.

Number 4: Rapture from Juni Taisen

 

One thing I noticed last year was that not necessarily liking the show doesn’t necessarily mean that I dislike the theme. Rapture is a definitely a case where it captures what I would have loved Juni Taisen to be. It really gets me ready to watch something truly special and then I found the episodes mostly leaving me disappointed. That said, it wasn’t like the theme was a mismatch. It is more the theme is aspirational of what the show was trying to be.

Number 3: Tabiji from KADO: The Right Answer

As much as I ended up disappointed by the ending of KADO I still loved the way the show presented itself early on and I love how the theme just prepared you for a calm viewing experience that was puzzling and made you think. Visually, the quality of the opening isn’t impressive, but it still looks gorgeous and draws you into the story as you try to link ideas and images that may not actually go together. Regardless of how the show ended, it was a theme that really stood out for its show and set a tone that was unique in its season.

Number 2: Shadow and Truth from ACCA

Now this was a theme I would have happily listened to over and over again. It’s boppy and upbeat but also just a bit intriguing. The visuals stood out and it really set the laid back and yet exciting feel of the show. Okay, maybe I’m just a sucker for jazz inspired opening songs because there were a few this year I really enjoyed.

Number 1: The Other Side of the Wall from Princess Principal

This one is exciting, thrilling, powerful and visually entertaining. It is everything you could want from an opening about an all female spy team back at the turn of the century in a steampunk like setting. Thematically relevant and hitting just the right tone, this was definitely the opening of the year for me.

Alright, over to you. What opening themes made you pay attention in 2017?


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The Best of Winter 2017

Earlier today, I shared the Worst of Winter 2017 (both my opinion and the view of the readers). If you didn’t check it out, make sure you have a look later and let me know your view. Meanwhile, this post is celebrating all the good things that happened during the 2017 Winter season.

My Favourite Show

Pretty straight forward category. I had to have watched the show all the way through and I had to have loved watching it. There are only 2 shows this season that I nominated as being a must watch in my weekly overviews and choosing between them is really hard at the moment and I reserve the right to change my mind later in the year after I rewatch both as to which is actually my favourite. But for now I’m giving the award to…

ACCA.

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I really had a lot of fun with this show, though there is definitely a fear that it won’t hold up under a rewatch because a lot of the fun came from never knowing quite where it was going next.

My Favourite Character

This was a really hard choice because there were quite a few characters that I really loved spending time with this season, even if the show they were in wasn’t doing much for me. I did notice going through my notes from all the shows I watched this season that there are very few female characters of note from the season. Possibly that’s because of the shows I ended up following but even those that had female characters didn’t really seem to do much with them.

Anyway, not the point. My favourite character from Winter 2017 was…

Rei Kiriyama from March Comes in Like a Lion.

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I loved Rei and found him almost instantly relatable and I really loved watching him struggle and slowly grow but remain true to who he was (again, I had a hard time deciding between Rei and Jean from ACCA but Rei had quite a bit more development and twice as many episodes to win me over).

My Favourite Story

Obviously ACCA but given I gave that best anime I’m going to look at my next favourite story from the season. And I know this one is going to make some people raise an eyebrow but my next favourite story from the season came from…

Chain Chronicle.

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Possibly this is a sad criticism on the quality of the narratives this season (or my taste in stories depending on how you view it) but Chain Chronicle managed to build from a pretty good opening, through some basic world building, a couple of obvious twists, to a final conflict without tripping itself up, losing momentum, or doing anything that might make you question the story (though plenty of questions about the originality and execution at times). The other show I considered here was Spiritpact but the beginning of that story was far too rocky for it to be seriously nominated even if the end of the show was pretty magnificent.

My Favourite Opening Theme

Boy I’m glad I didn’t exclude it because it was my choice for best show…

Definitely ACCA.

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This opening theme is a fantastic fit for the show and just fun to listen to, accompanied by highly relevant and interesting visuals. Not once did I skip the opening and I certainly went back and watched it a couple of times after I was finished some episodes.

My Favourite Visuals

Winter 2017 didn’t have quite the plethora of visually appealing shows that previous season have had so the choice here is pretty obvious…

March Comes in Like a Lion.

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While there are certainly shows with better character designs and better animation, March consistently delivered interesting and memorable visuals that added to the overall depth of the viewing experience. Couldn’t ask for much more from a story.

Reader’s Choice – Best Anime of 2017

Here it is:

Best Winter 2017

And yep,  March Comes in Like a Lion won. Possibly because I forgot to include Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju a fact which has been pointed out to me a number of times (that was actually an honest mistake as I thought I’d covered most of the anime people had been talking about whether I’d watched them through or not but I missed one). However, from the choices available March won.

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Of course Dragon Maid and Scum’s Wish both made a decent showing here and I knew before I started this that ACCA wouldn’t win a popularity poll given it really isn’t the kind of show that everyone is going to love.

Okay, these were my choices for favourite of the season so now I’d love to know yours. Feel free to share in the comments below and I’d love to know the reasons for your choices.

With that I’m leaving Winter 2017 behind and I’m now ready to face the Spring 2017 anime season.


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The Worst of Winter 2017

Later today my Best of Winter post will come out and I’ll celebrate all those wonderful moments that got people talking (or at least entertained me during the past three months). But that is not his post. This post shares the worst and the lowest moments of the season as well as the reader’s choice for worst anime of Winter 2017.

My Least Favourite Show

Chosen only from shows that I watched from beginning to end during the Winter 2017 season (or completed in 2017 if they carried over from the previous season), this is the show that I cringed at the thoughts of watching but still managed to string me along with the faintest of hopes that eventually it would reveal something of note.

Yep, Hand Shakers.

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And no, it never did produce anything of note other than just how awful it was. Then again, anyone who has been following my blog is not even remotely surprised by this.

It should probably be noted that I literally hated everything about this show, however, in order not to let Hand Shakers get a big head by letting it take out every worst of category, I’ve pretty much excluded it from this point forward.

My Least Favourite Character

So, this had to be someone I bothered to remember but I actively disliked them as a character (so not just because they were a villain). And once again, I had to have finished watching the show so all the characters from Fuuka were removed from potential nomination because otherwise my decision would have been easily made.

I’m kind of going to have to go with Chuta from elDLIVE.

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I really wanted to see him grow as a character and I did enjoy the few kind of moments of growth he got, but he pretty much instantly regressed right after and given they are playing his insecurities for laughs it really doesn’t have quite the same appeal as some other emotionally damaged characters this season.

My Least Favourite Story

Again, I had to have finished the story to make this decision so Iron Blooded Orphans Season 2 and Zestiria are momentarily given a reprieve as neither of them have actually finished, though both would have been contenders given their season 2 plots have mostly just gone through the motions and added little of significance. And on that theme we have the winning anime:

Blue Exorcist Season 2

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All build up and hints at later plot threads but the plot delivered in this season is strictly side-story material and the final villain is all but inconsequential (and treated as such). Basically, if you have been reading the source material, you might get a lot out of this in terms of the set up for later events, but if you view this just as an anime season and ask it to stand on its own two feet in terms of plot, its going to fail miserably.

My Least Favourite Opening Theme and Visuals

Okay, these categories are only combined because the answer was one and the same. Not a lot to explain about the category other than this is an opening theme I couldn’t stomach listening to and visuals that were just hideous to look at (and I already excluded Hand Shakers from nomination).

I give this dubious honour to Spiritpact.

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As much as I ended up enjoying the show by the mid-season point, the opening was terrible as were the visuals. While the visuals improved in the second half, there were still some really questionable choices and to be honest the whole show would benefit from a total remake as the story is actually kind of good once you get into it.

Reader’s Choice – Worst Anime of 2017

Here it is:

Hand Shakers, you did it again.

Admittedly, there was a pretty short time frame on this poll and Fuuka was definitely rallying there at the end so maybe if I’d left the poll open a bit longer we’d have a slightly different result.

Now, I’ve had my say on the worst of Winter 2017. What do you think? Who would you have nominated for worst character? Which show had the worst opening, visuals, or storyline? Share your opinion in the comments below and be sure to check out the best of post later today.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Opening Themes in 2016

One of the things most of us remember about an anime series is the opening theme. Whether we loved it or hated it, listened to it every time, or reached for the remote (mouse) to hit the skip. Opening themes set the tone for the entire viewing experience and yet it is another element I seldom take into consideration when ranking my favourite anime on my weekly lists. This week’s top 5 gave me a chance to reflect on some of the themes of 2016 and to realise it was not one of my favourite years for opening songs.

My criteria for top 5 opening theme is mostly that the song could be listened to as a song by itself and still sound good without the visuals, though also had good visuals to go with it, that it matched the tone of the show, and that it got me ready to watch the episode. Also, it had to be an opening I didn’t want to skip because listening to the song was part of the experience. They also had to be in an anime that aired at some point during 2016 (either continuing on from 2015, completely in 2016, or at least started before the end of 2016).

For patrons there is a list of the 5 openings of 2016 that didn’t particularly impress over on patreon.

Please Note – There probably won’t be any spoilers in this list.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Cheer Boys (because it was fun) and 91 Days (because it set the tone of the show so well). Also, special honourable mention to Raise Your Flag from Iron Blooded Orphans because if that had been the theme the whole way through the show it would have been absolutely perfect.

Number 5: Coolest from Sakamoto Desu Ga

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This is the weirdest choice on this list because this is an anime I didn’t even finish watching. However, this opening gives you more or less the entire concept and is fun, bright and over the top which is everything the show itself is trying to be. I probably would have ditched the show and kept watching the opening if that was a viable option really.

Number 4: Bye Bye Yesterday from Assassination Classroom Second Season

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Assassination Classroom has continued to have excellent openings that nail the tone of the show and manage to convey the overall emotion the characters are feeling at that point in time. From that point of veiw, Bye Bye Yesterday is the perfect opening during the second season because our characters have moved on from who they were and they are at a critical transitional point. The visuals throughout the song are pretty awesome to with a lot of looking back on where the characters have come from and the events that have shaped them in the series. The fact that the song is still upbeat and energizes you in preparation for the episode is perfect because Assassination Classroom still has that weird back and forth between comedy and real drama so a song that makes you feel sad and nostalgic while getting you energised is exactly what was needed.

Number 3: Lay Your Hands on Me from Kiznaiver

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I know I didn’t end up thinking much of the show but this song was amazing. Actually the entire opening sequence is just an overload on the senses. The song is full of energy and drama and yet you aren’t sure whether it is trying to be optimistic or poignant and overall it just makes you feel like something is coming. Unfortunately for me, most episodes went downhill after the opening but at least I never skipped the song.

Number 2: Re:Re from Erased

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During the first few episodes, while I enjoyed this opening, I couldn’t figure out why this show had such an up-beat and happy little opening. The visuals hinted at darker ideas but the song itself felt like it belonged on some coming-of-age high school romp rather than a mystery with potential supernatural elements. Turns out the song wasn’t lying as the mystery part of the show falls short and it is the coming-of-age and the finding out who you are that dominates the show thematically in the second half. So great song in and of itself and once you’ve watched the show through you realise just how apt it actually is.

Number 1: History Maker from Yuri On Ice

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That was probably obvious from the get-go given the theme to Yuri on Ice was probably the only one I commented on (more than once) during my weekly reviews of a show. I couldn’t help it, the song just swept me away each and every time I listened to it. It is one of the few themes that I actively looked up and played just by itself without any intention of watching an episode of the show. And please, hit repeat. Then of course we have the beautiful animation that accompanies it. I also liked that it didn’t really sound like an anime opening. That kind of made it stand out. All and all, this was the perfect opening song for this particular story.

Alright, over to you. What opening themes made you pay attention in 2016?


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Karandi James.

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