Hey anime peeps! So for all you music junkies like me out there, here is my list of my Top 20 Favorite Anime Openings!
If you have read any one of my articles before, you’ll know that I’m a gigantic music nerd. I love what music has the ability to do. Although music usually isn’t panned too hard in anime if it is mediocre or worse, it has the incredible ability to amplify how good an anime already is. It also can add a necessary flare to anime that aren’t as well received. Although it may seem so with this precursor, this list has nothing to do with anime soundtracks (at least not in-anime tracks); I have my best soundtracks list and most epic soundtrack list for that. Instead, if you could tell from the title, this is my list of my top 20 openings in anime.
Openings are the pieces of not only music, but animation that you witness before beginning watching a new series. An opening is an anime’s first impression. It can either aid in drawing you into the world of the anime or completely deter you from the series.
This is my own personal list of my 20 favorite anime openings of all time. These are openings that I think have exceptional music that not only is pleasing melodically, but draws me in to unique atmosphere of whatever I’m about to watch. These are also openings that have what I believe to be great, atmospheric visuals that really bolster the musical accompaniment. Most of these openings also have a special…je ne sais quoi–something that I can’t necessarily put my finger on that elevates it above the other competition. However, there are some guidelines that this list will follow: 1.) There will only be one opening per anime to prevent shounen anime from dominating this list…which it wouldn’t anyway because 2.) this will only include anime that I have finished. This means stuff like Bleach, Naruto, Tokyo Ghoul and One Piece won’t be making an appearance on this list. This also means stuff I’m only halfway through like One Punch Man, Hunter x Hunter, and Nana won’t be on this list either. 3.) This list will only include anime that have concluded. So as much as I love Yuri!!! on Ice‘s “History Maker,” it can’t appear here (just know it would be if the series was finished).
As with every list ever written, this is my own list. It’s my humble opinion and I’d love to hear what you believe I missed or which openings you think deserve recognition. And so, here are my top 20 favorite openings in anime. But before that, here are 10 honorable mentions that just missed the cut.
20). Angel Beats! – “My Soul, Your Beats” by Lia
This opening is defined by the first 6 piano notes. The piano plus the synth track make this a light, yet bumping track which resonates with the tone of the series. Angel Beats! is lighthearted and easy to digest while also having an attitude and I believe this track has the same feel. The visuals are a nice accompaniment by introducing the massive cast while also giving the viewer a glimpse of the purgatory world the characters live in. It’s a fun intro altogether…and it helps that I’m a sucker for piano.
19.) Deadman Wonderland – “One Reason” by Rui(Fade) & Jon(Fade)
Deadman Wonderland has a lot of moments of being gritty. I think “One Reason” is a song that embodies that feeling of harshness and grittiness within the series. The animation is fluid and has images that exhibit a weird eeriness to them along with using a color palate of only white, black, gray, and red. I like the driving guitar riffs and style of the song and I think it’s more than fitting for the series it proceeds.
18.) Samurai Champloo – “Battlecry” by Nujabes feat. Shing 02
I don’t talk about rap that much. However, if I think rap is done well, it works. I personally think the rap is done pretty damn well here in this OP. I mean…this is also the opening for Samurai Champloo–a series about a hip-hop influenced Edo-era Japan. Rap only makes sense for this opening. The art is cool with its older oil painting look and I think this is the only pure rap opening that I’ve seen in an anime up until now. This OP is unique and I respect it for that.
Arkada said it well. This is “air guitar- the anime opening.” This opening doesn’t need to have vocals to be badass. It’s fast paced, driving, and is essentially one large, epic guitar riff. And if one anime deserves this opening, it’s Trigun. The melody is awesome, the visuals are fun and chaotic, and it hints just enough at what the series really is to keep the audience intrigued. This is one of the first OPs I ever saw and it’s impression has stuck.
16.) Sound of the Sky – “Hikari no Senritsu” by Kalafina
I don’t talk about Sound of the Sky enough. It’s a solid slice-of-life series with a unique bend to it and a killer ending. Even more underrated than the series itself though is the OP. The music itself is bouncy and calming and the vocals are gorgeous with just a glimmer of intensity (thanks Kalafina). The visuals are also super cool and unique. They’re renditions of paintings done by Gustav Klimt with the main cast members inserted into them. The series and the opening are both great, yet underrated and I suggest you watch both.
15.) Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood OP#4 – “Chemistry” by Period
I feel that a some of the praise I grant this series has to do with the immense amount of nostalgia that comes with it. But that shouldn’t detract from how much I like this opening. It’s a melodic pop-punk track that I think exemplifies everything that FMA:B is. I know everybody else on the planet would probably pick “Again” by Yui as their token opening for FMA:B–and don’t get me wrong, I love that OP–but the memories of coming down to my friend, Tim (Krogoth22)’s basement only to hear this theme puts it over the edge for me.
14.) Log Horizon – “Database” by Man With a Mission feat. Takuma
Gonna be honest with you guys. I originally thought this OP was SUPER annoying. However, after listening to it 26+ times, it grew on me. It’s a cruising rock beat with techo riffs and rap (if you’d call it that) spliced in. I mean, it’s a mess of a song, but it works somehow. The visuals aren’t outstanding, but they definitely give you a feel for the world you’re about to enter. Love it or hate it, this tune will get stuck in your head and it sure got stuck in mine.
13.) Durarara!! OP#2 – “Complication” by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D
Here’s another series where I personally liked another OP better than the first OP. Once again,I think “Uragiri no Yuuyake” by Theatre Brook is freakin’ awesome and it would probably make this list if I weren’t limiting myself to one OP per series. But that isn’t the case, now is it? “Complication” is another pop-punky tune that I think exhibits the energy and coolness that Durarara!! as a series oozes. The visuals are basically along the same lines as the first OP with introducing all the inter-playing characters…but actually introduces them with English subtitles which is nice. Maybe it’s personal taste (hint: it is), but this OP just got the hair over it’s predecessor from me.
**12.) **Steins; Gate – “Hacking the Gate” by Itou Kanako
This is another OP that I believe is underrated. The techno beat of the song along the visuals really mesh well with the vibe of the series. It’s driving and somewhat intense, yet fun. Also…I’m freaking in love with Itou Kanako’s vocals. Her voice is like butter. So, if you’ve never listened intently to this OP, I suggest you should. Also, if you haven’t seen Steins;Gate…what have you been doing with your life?
11.) Death Parade – “Flyers” by Bradio
The only adjective I know that accurately describes this OP is groovy. This OP is groovy to a ‘T.’ The intro is awesome with blaring horns and the lyrics are ironically uplifting. The animation of the dancing characters is not only fun, but extraordinarily well-animated and I thought it was awesome. I think this may be the OP on this list with music that juxtaposes the tone and overall theme of the series, but I think it works here. I think the dichotomy in tones only makes the experience of the series better. That and I love the irony of it all.
10.) Elfen Lied – “Lilium” by Kumiko Noma
So, something to know about me is that I love choral tracks. Whether it be a soloist or an entire chorale, I’m always down for a good choral piece. That’s why I love this OP. It’s a gorgeous Latin chorale track with some beautiful backing strings. It’s also accompanied by Gustav Klimt paintings with the main character, Lucy, integrated into them. It should come as no surprise that this OP and Sound of the Sky‘s OP have the same director…which only makes things better. This song also contrasts the theme of the series (I lied last paragraph) with how sweet and elegant the OP is and the series being…well…not that. So if you like choral tracks like me, take a listen to this.
9.) Death Note OP#2 – “What’s Up People?” by Maximum the Hormone
This OP is intense. Some people may hate the screamed vocals, but I think that metalcore is a perfect musical fit for Death Note. The sound is grungy and fast paced and the overall sound is chaotic which melds great with the second half of Death Note. The visuals are really cool because while the series it portrays is dark, the color palate is surprisingly bright which I think is fun touch. If anything, this OP just proves to me that metalcore should be present in more anime.
8.) Baccano! – “Guns and Roses” by Paradise Lunch
Funky. Fresh. Smooth. This OP is all of that. It introduces the large cast of characters just like Durarara!! and Angel Beats! which is definitely helpful. The visuals are fun , but this OP is all about the music. This track is a grooving jazz track that just breathes coolness and personality. It’s fast and upbeat and is really unlike a lot of other OPs–Cowboy Bebop and Joker Game, notwithstanding. I actually have this song on my Spotify and I think everyone should.
7.) Excel Saga – “Ai (Chuuseishin)” by Milk
Here’s another OP I initially hated, but grew to love. This theme is a spunky, poppy song with almost an 80s feel to it; I just want groove along to this song whenever I hear it now. But what really makes this OP great are the lyrics and the visuals. The visuals are basically just the two main heroines singing, but in extremely random and unrelated settings. What makes it better is that the lyrics are all about failed love which makes zero sense. But what can I say? That’s Excel Saga for ya.
6.) Ergo Proxy – “Kiri” by MONORAL
In terms of an OP with a tone that fits the series, this may be one of the best there is. The vocals are deep and full of emotion and the tone is dark–solemn almost. Ergo Proxy is a deep, and thought-provoking series so this just fits so perfectly. This song just sounds lonely and Ergo Proxy just radiates a feeling of solitude throughout. The visuals are also a great touch, being dark, gritty, and an even mixture of art and real-life camera shots. This OP is just a executed well and is a nice cherry on top of an already great, dark, and perplexing series.
5.) Darker Than Black OP#1 – “Howling” by Abingdon Boys School
Here’s another rock tune for ya! This OP is another one that is more reliant on the music itself rather than the visuals and music as a cohesive unit, but I think it’s okay in this example. The visuals are synthetically pleasing, but they’re not incredible. However, the music makes up for all of it. This song is great. It’s rock-based sound meshes well with the up-tempo action of Darker Than Black and the tone of the music is on the darker side which makes sense. Also, the vocals are incredible. Seriously, if I could have the pipes of one Japanese man, I would pick T.M. Revolution. And as a final statement, any song with a double bass pedal gets extra brownie points from me.
4.) Anohana – “Aoi Shiori” by Galileo Galilei
This OP just has an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. Not personal nostalgia mind you, but nostalgia as an overall feeling. The art direction is great in this OP. The visuals really drive home looking into one’s past which is what Anohana is all about. The music is remarkably fitting as well. I really like the main guitar melody and the vocals are on the softer side. I don’t know why exactly, but this OP resonated with me in some way and I just love it to no end.
3.) Attack on Titan OP#2 “Jinyuu no Tsubasa” by Linked Horizon
Okay. Yeah, this isn’t the first OP. But you know what? After hearing the first OP for this series 1,000 times, it gets old oddly enough. Plus, I liked this one better to begin with (Attack on Titan fans are now triggered). The beat is super fast paced and intense like the series and its a fantastic blend of both rock and orchestral instruments.Oh, and the visuals are AWESOME!! Like, the close-ups of the machinery are just eye-candy. Also, I love the the transition from the more regal, anthem-sounding intro to the guitar riff. Yes, the first OP may be awesome in its own right, but I personally like this one more. BAM! Drops mic
2.) Cowboy Bebop – “Tank” by Seatbelts
I mean…how could this not make the list? There are so many reasons why this OP is amazing: The silhouette artwork is unique and well-animated, the song, aside from being iconic, is a great big band jazz piece with some ball-breaking alto sax solos, I played this song multiple times in my high school jazz band which was before I even knew it was from an anime, and YOKO FREAKIN’ KANNO! Like, if you somehow haven’t heard “Tank” before, click on the song name in the title of this paragraph, listen to it, and then read the rest of what I have to say.
1.) Beck – “Hit in the USA” by Beat Crusaders
Now, even I was surprised that “Tank” wasn’t in my top spot. But by the end of making this list, I couldn’t help but put this OP on top. This OP perfectly exemplifies what an OP should be and can be. I mean, the actual track is a great pop-rock track with a sound that perfectly resonates with the series, has some great harmonies, and lyrics that actually pertain to the plot of the series! The visuals are also well-animated, well-directed, and essentially tell the story of Beck in a short, minute-and-a-half clip. It hypes me up to see the series and I don’t want to skip it. All this and I just like the track by itself. So that’s why “Hit in the USA” makes my number 1 OP in anime.
So those were my top 20 favorite anime openings. Tell me what your favorites are, which ones you think I missed, and which anime with good openings you think I should watch. For all I know, my favorites might have changed by the time you ask.
And with that, I bid you adieu. So long, and keep watching anime!