Anime openings are complex things, they are something that deserve to be looked at and not just skipped over to get to the show as fast as possible. It’s more than just a place to have the names of the artists flash on the screen set to a catchy tune. Openings are a place for the creators to place Easter eggs, to do special scenes that aren’t in the story line, or to give spoilers, foreshadow events, and even to help give some insight into the mental state of characters. But, the most important use of an opening, I feel, is to help set the mood for the show.
Openings are usually paired with some music, whether specifically created for the show or a popular song chosen to pair with the animation. The song choice for the opening is crucial, as a song that doesn’t match the show, unless done deliberately, can offset the mood of the show in its entirety. An action anime with a rousing opening song such as “Rock City Boy” by JAMIL for Fairy Tail, or “PSI-Missing” by Mami Kawada for A Certain Magical Index, will help increase the tension when paired with the action displayed with the song. A romance anime with a heartfelt song, like “Friendship” by Ritsuko Okazaki for the show Say I Love You, brings us in line with the warm fluffy feelings that usually go along with a shoujo anime.
The time that openings really shine is when it’s paired with animation that really matches the both the show’s feeling and the music. When both the animation and the music combine, it can help to communicate the mental states of the characters or accentuate the events that happen in the season. A set of examples that I enjoyed were the two openings for a show, Golden Time. The first opening was a happy, flirty song paired to the two main characters showing a cute, fresh relationship. The second opening accentuates the turmoil of the second part of the show, both with the frantic song in the background and actions in the animation of the female lead.
Another top pick of mine would have to be the opening from Cowboy Bebop. While it may seem like a cliched and standard response, I truly believe that it sets the tone for the series perfectly. The show feels like a detective and spy movie reminiscent of the late 80’s, early 90’s. The silhouettes and other images that flash across the screen as the Jazzy song “Tank” by The Seatbelts plays in the background gives the opening the gritty feel that we come to expect for the “cool guy” that we see on the big screen, such as James Bond or Dick Tracy. The snappy sound and toe-tapping rhythm allows a bit of happy dancing right before the intrigue and action, along with witty banter that follows.
Akatsuki no Yona
For the absolute #1 opening that I have seen in my experience of countless titles would have to be the two openings for Akatsuki no Yona. The first opening was an old oriental soundtrack set to dramatic and moving stills and minor animation of the characters and events that showed a bit of what the characters would be going through. The wonderful part of this opening was that a story could be told just by the images and animation, which drew me in. The second opening was set to a rousing pop-rock song with more animation and less stills. However, as with the first opening, the story telling of the images and animation remains and shows the mindset of the female lead more. All over, both of the openings resonated with me, and were the only ones that I never skipped over.
Those are just a few examples of openings that I found to be within my idea of “setting the tone for a series” and may not be what you think. I don’t ask you to think like me, but to just think about openings as something more than just something to skip over, as I believe that they are an amazing facet of this medium of entertainment.
I’d love to hear what your favorite openings are, as well as what you think makes the perfect opening for a show.
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