herongale: (maka- sparkly insane eye)
herongale ([personal profile] herongale) wrote2009-07-27 03:30 am
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Top 15 Anime OPs of All Time!

Alright, so [livejournal.com profile] cephiedvariable did this, wonderfully, in her own LJ. It looked like a lot of fun so despite the fact that I knew some of my choices would be identical to hers, I decided I'd share my own personal picks for top anime opening sequences of all time.

Cool, right? Cool! Let's proceed!

15. Minami-ke- Keikenchi Joushouchuu

This song is seductively, obscenely addictive. All the little "woo-hoos" and "furu furus" absolutely slay me. The animation quality is excellent, with a stylish quality reminiscent of the Azumanga Daioh opening. Be warned: this is an extremely upbeat song and if you are not careful you might go into diabetic ketoacidosis (aka sugar overload).

14. Revolutionary Girl Utena- Rinbu Revolution

The Utena animation never looks dated to me, at least not in the way that a lot of older animation looks dated, because the art direction on this series was so strong and so unique that I don't think I've ever seen it duplicated anywhere else. Lots of rose imagery, with elegant swordplay and iconic views of the upside-down castle in the air. I like how it perfectly sets the stage for the animation that follows; Princess Tutu should have had an opening animation sequence this good. I think it might have become equally as popular if it had.

13. Card Captor Sakura- Catch You Catch Me

This is another opener that is too fucking cute, it might kill you. In this case it serves as a fair warning for the anime to follow: unrepentant, unabashed, unashamed girliness galore. It's cute and pink and frilly and love-lovey and... marvellous. Whenever I think of Sakura, the first image that pops into my mind is always that of her flying in the air in her pink dress against a perfect blue sky. As with many anime series, there is a brief little introduction to all of the major cast members, but this is very much Sakura's show. I think I might like the song for the 3rd opener for CCS a tiny bit better ("I Am A Dreamer"), but as an overall animation sequence, I find this one to be the most watchable of the series.

12. Serial Experiments Lain- Duvet

And now we go from happiness overload to suicidal nihilistic depression. I have a confession: I didn't actually like this series very much, and never finished it, mostly because it was so sad and I could tell it was going in a direction which would make me want to slash my own wrists by the end of it. But the character designs were all by my favorite Japanese artist, Yoshitoshi ABe (who brought into being my favorite anime series of all time, Haibane Renmei). And this was a very striking and innovative OP for it's time: one of the first to use a song with English lyrics that was actually originally sung by an English band. The recurrent imagery of the crows as well as the fact that Lain keeps showing up in TV and computer monitors that others are basically ignoring is a nice effect, and I very much like that you get the sense of "two Lains": the one inside the monitor who is singing, who seems very jaded and distant, and the one who is in the real world, who comes off as clumsy and more like a normal little girl.

11. Eden of the East- Falling Down

"The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power." One of the many intriguing quotes that flashes across the screen during this OP, which is sung by a band probably many of you have heard of: Oasis. This is the natural evolution of what Lain started in terms of using English-speaking bands, and the song fits the theme of this series perfectly. Of all the OPs on this list, this one is the most recent, from a series that just ended in Japan only a few weeks ago. But I already love it. Character designs on this series were by the mangaka who was drew Honey and Clover, and animation was done by Production I.G., and you can tell they went all out trying to make the hippest and most appropriate OP possible. I think they succeeded.

10. Kannagi- Motto Hade Ni Ne

The director of this series is the same production director responsible for the original Haruhi Suzumiya anime, and that quickly becomes evident when you compare the opening animation song-and-dance sequence with that at the end of Haruhi: it is very well choreographed and believably rendered. The song is nothing much, but the animation quality is practically miraculous at times, and I love how the stage scenes are intercut with more amusing fantasy sequences of Nagi learning how to be an idol. A huge amount of characterization is compressed into a mere minute and a half. This is a great teaser for the series that follows, which is a lighthearted and ultimately rather touching harem series which manages to avoid being generic by the virtue of being so utterly charming (and so free with the yaoi subtext) that you can't help but love it. Well, I can't help but love it, anyway. I DON'T EVEN LIKE THE OPENING SONG AND YET I KEEP WATCHING THIS OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

9. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex- Inner Universe

Here is an OP with a song I adore. I mean, really adore. It's by the legendary Yoko Kanno, and I think this is probably her best music in terms of OPs that she's ever done. The animation for this opener is all CGI, focusing mainly on Motoko and the Tachikomas (Tachikomas... ;__;). I like how the CGI gives this a distinctly cyberpunk flavor, and the imagery with the broken doll is extremely appropriate, considering that the whole theme of GitS is about what it means to be "human" (aka sentient, aka having a "ghost") in a world where the boundries between technology and nature are beginning to blur. Everything in this OP is overlaid with soothing neon blues, giving the overall presentation a slickly cool and futuristic feel.

8. Haibane Renmei- Free Bird

My favorite anime series of all time does NOT have my favorite OP of all time! This does not mean, however, that I don't love this OP dearly. It's a very intimate, quiet little introduction to the world of the Haibane, the world into which Rakka falls in the midst of her dream. The colors are washed out, "antiqued." Some of the effects are CGI but in general this is a traditionally animated piece, and as with the Card Captor Sakura opener, this one give fair warning for the type of series that follows: low on action, high on ambiance and introspection. I really love the watery green skies.

7. Uninhabited Planet Survive- Our Message

This is one of the first that really makes my heart burst with longing whenever I see it. I've always liked the genre I'll call "group of kids goes to another world, has to work together to survive," but only if it is uplifting and positive (aka Digimon) and not a Lord of the Flies clusterfuck look into the Heart of Darkness (aka Infinite Ryvius, another series I could never finish because it just got to be too fucking depressing after a while). And actually, this is the one series I would enthusiastically recommend to anyone who loved Digimon. If you love Digimon, you will love this. Of this I am 95% certain. This OP has a very lovely song, and although it uses some clips from the series itself, there is also some original animation which shows all of the kids working together. I love the sense of teamwork and camradarie this OP represents.

6. Beck:Mongolian Chop Squad- Hit in the USA

"I ain't no lonely!" "I was made to hit in America!" This song is sung completely in English, but unlike the previous two OPs with all-English lyrics, this was sung and written by a Japanese band, the Beat Crusaders. I find the lyrics completely adorable, the song insanely catchy, and the animation perfectly appropriate. This was a series about a group of kids trying to make it big as a punk rock band, and as such this opener is a great introduction to the characters and themes that follow. I really like the America imagery; iconic without being utterly stereotypical. It makes me want to see this America that they want to conquer; it looks like a really fun place.

5. Soul Eater- Resonance

Soul Eater is this high-octane, excessively caffeinated action series with a quirky stylistic aesthetic; this opener by T.M. Revolution suits the series perfectly. There are many swooping extreme camera angles in this bit, as well as a lot of Extreme fighting. I like how this opener pretty much tells the story of the first half of the series without letting you KNOW that's what you're getting: it gives hints without giving anything important away. The Maka and Soul bits are especially awesome; I always love to see them interact, and here you get to see exactly why they are Partners 4Eva. Very pretty, very stylish, very fucking nuts... but in a very good way. The best sequence is near the beginning where you get the Shinigami, then Medusa, then Excalibur dancing: it's so wtf and awesome all at once. Maka's insane battle face near the end is also something to behold.

4. Record of Lodoss War (TV)- Sea of Miracles

This is where we start getting the throwbacks; older OPs which have stuck with me, and which have proven their worth over years of familiarity and fondness. Probably my favourite piece of music on this entire list, and although some of it looks rather dated, the overall composition holds up very well. The integration of the animation with the music is nicely done, with several sustained sequences (such as the panning shot of Deedlit) which comes upon her from afar) which show off a strong color and style sensibility. It's just so... pretty. So perfectly, hauntingly pretty.

3. Escaflowne- No Need for Promises

The scene near the end, where you see the two guymelefs fighting from afar (one of which is, of course, Escaflowne), is a few seconds of perfectly executed, perfectly conceived action. That bit, plus the shot of Dilandau, would probably be enough for me to love it, but then it had to couple all that with a really great song and and overall storytelling animation sequence, and thus I became helplessly, hopelessly enthralled. The rewatchability on this one is truly incredible.

2. Neon Genesis Evangelion- Cruel Angel's Thesis

This one was [livejournal.com profile] cephiedvariable's top pick, and the only reason it isn't mine is because I kind of cheated when I decided on what was allowable as "anime" to give me my #1. It's perfect. Absolutely perfect.

1. Robotech- instrumental

From the beginning when you see the brown-colored film strip scrolling up the screen, followed immediately by that iconic shot of Rick looking up, I get this most heavy feeling of wistfulness (a good kind of wistfulness). This opening brings back so many memories.

When this series originally aired, this was the only opening sequence it had. Robotech was the melding of three different anime series into one overarching, epic story in three acts; the opener includes animation from all three parts. So when one of the "acts" was over, you still could see the characters from the previous acts in the opening animation. When Rick's story was done and we'd moved on to Dana's story, for instance, I used to get this most complicated feeling of loss and longing whenever Rick's face showed up: this was before the time of VCRs (at least, we didn't have one), and so those episodes which I had seen previously could not be watched again at my convenience; at the time, I had no idea if the series would ever be aired again, so Rick was already a part of my past, dead to me. And yet every day, a small reminder of him was delivered via the opener, and it kept him alive for me in a way that mere re-runs never could, because it made me miss him while at the same time giving me him. And when the series moved from the second act to the third (eg, from Robotech Masters to the Invid Invasion), I had the same experience all over again: except this time, now I was nostalgic for TWO things... the Rick arc, and the Dana arc.

This is a beautiful piece of emotional manipulation, and I don't think it's overstating things to say that it taught me a lot about how to create suspense and longing as an element of storytelling. Plus, look at the lovely shots of the Veritechs! I loved them almost as much as I loved the Transformers, at the time.


And that's it. This list was a ton of fun to compose, and I hope to see this catch on as a meme because I would like to see everyone's choices. XD

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