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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30 Day Anime Challenge: Day 5

30-day-anime-challenge

Right, day 5: Favourite anime opening theme song. I’m going to cheat and give two answers to this. Mostly because there’s the opening theme I’ve been in love with for a fairly long time and then there is a more recent one which I really love but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it in a few years time (it could just be the novelty factor working in its favour but I doubt it).

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Long time favourite anime opening is My Soul, Your Beats from Angel Beats. This is a truly beautiful opening and I love the visuals that go with it. Okay, I just love Angel Beats, but I was hooked from the very first few notes on the piano when this song started and every time I hear it I just get completely swept away. If you haven’t heard the song you should go check it out because it is amazing.

The more recent love comes in the form of History Maker from Yuri on Ice. This opening as I mentioned while the show was airing really just got me excited for the show and swept me up in its emotions. I like that it is a little bit different in style to a lot of anime openings, it is catchy and gets stuck in your head like crazy (just mentioning History Maker can get it going again), and visually it was really interesting. Plus, the changes to the visuals as the series progressed were kind of fun to track.

Your choice now. What is your favourite opening?


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Karandi James.

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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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If you like this site and you like what I do, please consider becoming a patron.

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Karandi James.

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Haven’t You Heard I’m Sakamoto Episode 2

Review:

So, is Sakamoto human? That’s what I took away from this episode. That, and I think the opening may even rival Kiznaver in terms of being one of the best this season.

The initial story about the part time job didn’t really interest me, but I found the second half with the focus on the girls and the possession (fake?) really quite interesting, if confusing. Was he possessed? Did they just deliberately imply that he isn’t a human? And why are they hiding his name?

Haven’t You Heard I’m Sakamoto is available on Hanabee.

Ghost Hunt Episodes 1 -3

I’ve recently been rewatching Ghost Hunt and so I’m going to review each of the stories separately. It’s one of those rare anime that I’ve never actually watched the original soundtrack for and have only ever listened to the English dub.

The premise of this anime is that Mai, a ‘normal’ school girl who likes telling ghost stories is hired to work for a Psychic Researcher and then participates in various ghost hunts, each one being an independent narrative arc lasting anywhere from 1 to 4 episodes.

Review: Evil Spirits All Over!

This arc nicely introduces Mai to Kazuya Shibuya, a 17 year old who dresses in black and runs the Shibuya Psychic Research company. She also meets his assistant Lin and a range of other spiritualists including a monk, a shrine maiden (kind of), a clairvoyant, and a priest (from Australia and I must say that accent is truly dreadful – I wonder how that was distinguished in the original Japanese).

The case in this arc involves an old school building at Mai’s school. A number of accidents have occurred and the Principal wants the building cleansed so it can be demolished. While the mystery in this arc isn’t particularly compelling, it is a nice backdrop to introducing the characters and Mai’s entry into the world of ghost hunting.

Without spoiling the conclusion of this arc, it is difficult to say anything more about what happens. We learn a range of facts about ghosts and poltergeists and are introduced to each of the characters specialties when it comes to dealing with spirits. We also see that they don’t always get it right.

This is a very satisfying introduction to the series.

Positives:

  • The voice actress for Mai is a fantastic screamer. Very few screams in television are as satisfying as some of Mai’s.
  • Kazuya hates being wrong. He’s so cute when he is angry.
  • The show isn’t going for flash or gimmicky. It’s keeping a steady pace and measured tone but uses the characters and the atmosphere to keep you interested. It’s refreshing for a show to not feel the need to dress itself up and go over the top.

Negatives:

  • Already mentioned it, but John’s Australian accent is horrendous. To the point where I was showing Ghost Hunt to a friend of mine and she actually asked if his character was going to die soon so that we wouldn’t have to listen to it any longer.
  • A lot of narrative convenience, like most mysteries. If you pay attention, you’ll probably solve this case before the characters do because it isn’t that mysterious.

Anyway, you should definitely check out Ghost Hunt at some point. The opening theme is also kind of interesting because it has no lyrics and doesn’t use character images. Instead you just get a simple orchestral piece and a range of visual effects that set a nice, spooky tone. While the opening gets old after a few episodes, it is definitely different from the usual anime fare.

Rinne Episode 30

An overview of this series can be found on the previous episode review.

Review:

Episode 30 is actually three short stories. One focussed on Rokudo’s grandmother cleaning house, one on his father doing his usual scummy act, and one on Masato doing his thing. Each story is amusing in its own way but this episode doesn’t break any new ground. I would like to ask what is with the new opening and why is Mamiya Sakura singing? That seems really out of character for her. I’m still enjoying this show but it is becoming increasingly ordinary and forgettable.

Rin-ne is available on Crunchyroll and AnimeLab.