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Monday, May 2, 2016

Anime Ichiban: Top Ten Openings Redux


A year ago I released my Top Ten Opening Themes in Anime. I’ve always intended to update it because I haven’t seen every anime to make a true definitive list. That day isn’t today and it will never come.

But as is the nature of life, opinions change. New things come in, old things go out, and the mindset and reasoning  from a year ago isn’t what I have now. However, a new top ten was only going to come if it was substantially different from the first.

It is. Like a lot.

There's no entry from last year in its original position and actually more to the point, the vast majority of last year’s entries are gone. It was significantly harder to settle and god damn it, ten is not enough.

My criterion is the same.
  1. The opening must grab your attention immediately.
  2. The opening must stick with you, not just after the episode but after the entire series.
  3. The opening must be recognizable should it ever be encountered outside its series. 
  4. The opening must get you excited to watch, regardless of how the show actually is.
With those in mind, here are my new Top Ten Opening Themes in Anime.

Song: Cha-la Head-cha-la
Performed By: Hironbu Kageyama
Lyrics: Yukinojo Mori
Composition: Chiho Kiyooka
Arrangement: Kenji Yamamoto
Released: May 1, 1989

Former Rank: 1

The mighty have fallen. The opening to Dragon Ball Z not only made my list last time, it was number one.

Before I said that there was no way I could justify putting this anywhere but the top spot. That's not true at all, I can totally do that. In fact, Dragon Ball Z almost didn’t even make it this time around. The only reason it did was because, it is Dragon Ball Z.

That’s why I have my third criteria of a song being recognizable. When you hear this one, you know what it is; there’s no mistaking it.

That’s why it’s kind of earned the right to be considered one of the best of all time. I will admit that I jumped the gun a little a year ago because there are better openings that better fit my other three points.

However, this is such an influential show that in my eyes, my hand was forced to add it to the list. But that’s why it’s at number ten.

Song: Make My Day!
Performed By: Piko
Lyrics: Piko and samfree
Composition: samfree
Arrangment: samfree
Released: August 15, 2012

Former Rank: Not Listed

Do I have this one blasting in my head phones while on a crowded train? I try not to, but sometimes I forget and I’ve had a few strange looks before.

What makes it so good?

Well it’s pretty f@#$ing catchy for one. Upbeat, fast paced, it really gets you into the comedic mood. However it’s that opening beat that tells me all that I need to know and all I need to instantly bring to mind where it’s from.

Also the little English pun they have going on is charming for absolutely silly it is. “One way, two way, three way, four way, go (Japanese for five) way.” I don't even like puns, in any language, but I’m sorry, it made me chuckle.

One more thing, I found this out the hard way but this is apparently a difficult as s@#$ song to sing at karaoke. Or at least for me it was, but god damn I going to keep doing it because I have to get it right one day, right?

Song: Zankoku na Tenshi no These 
           (English: A Cruel Angel's Thesis)
Performed By: Yoko Takahashi
Lyrics: Neko Oikawa
Composition: Hidetoshi Sato
Arrangement: Toshiyuki Omori
Released: October 25, 1995

Former Rank: 6

I’ll repeat myself, the definition of a classic.

Much like it was for Dragon Ball Z, if you’ve even seen a quarter of the anime I have, I willing to bet that there's a good chance that you have come across this opening once or twice. However I think this song is overall a lot better, and gets you considerably more jazzed for the show that is to come.

Especially since the original series ends…the way it ends; I really do need to check out all the other installments. Plus Shinji is still the annoying little prick he is; regardless of the fact that he may be justified in his hesitation.

Although it has gone done in the ranking, I’m willing to bet that whenever I make a third list, because eventually I will, this one will mostly likely be on it as well. Neon Genesis Evangelion is, and will all ways be one of those quintessential anime that has defined the medium. All that it has done to accomplish that can be heard when this song is played.

Song: Nirvana
Performed By: Mucc
Lyrics: Miya
Composition: Miya
Arrangement: Miya and Tanaka Yoshito
Released: March 7, 2012

Former Rank: Not Listed

Am I rocking out to this one while it’s blasting through my headphone while on a crowded train? If it sounds like I’m repeating myself it’s because this is a real problem. The judgmental nature of people man, I swear.

This song kicks ass.

I don’t know if it was specifically written for Inu x Boku, but it fits incredibly with what the show is about. I can hear the mix of magic and mysticism, as well as the sad, lonely romantic nature of the series. Every time I listen to this song, it makes me want to re-watch the show.

I probably do so anyway because although I remember that this is a great romance anime, I am starting to forget many of the smaller details about it. 

Thought the show’s quality is what keeps it from going back under my radar, it is this song that constantly reminds me of its existence and why whenever I think romance anime, this comes to mind.

Song: Higurashi no Naku Koro ni
Performed By: Eiko Shimamiya
Lyrics: Eiko Shimamiya
Composition: Nakazawa Tomoyuki
Arrangement: Nakazawa Tomoyuki and Takase Kazuya
Released: May 24, 2006

Former Rank: Not Listed

The first time I heard this song, I knew, I just knew that whatever was about to come next, it was going to be awesome. Then what proceeded to follow was the Higurashi series; one of the most terrifying, unsettling, and darkest anime I have ever seen. And I’ve loved the show ever since and I've loved this song ever since. This is the track I'm looking for when I find myself skipping through my shuffled playlist.

The entire opening sets the mood perfectly. While the show itself does try to throw you off with how cute everything looks, the opening lets you know that it’s all bull s@#$. People are going to get hurt, things are going to get violent, and people are going to die.

That’s why it’s appropriate that then entire tone is sad and apologetic.

However it’s that beginning chant that makes me smile such a satisfied smile every time. The mystery, the intrigue, the betrayal, and everything this show is, is right there for everyone to hear.  

Song: One Reason
Performed By: Deadman Wonder Band feat. Fade
Lyrics: Jon Underdown and Rui Watanabe
Composed By: Rui Watanabe
Arrangement: Fade
Released: April 27, 2011

Former Rank: 2

I would be willing to say that if there was one opening that should permanently belong on this list, it would be this one; and I guess to be fair, so does every entry that's coming after.

In fact, if I wasn’t so dead set on making Dragon Ball Z my number one last time, this one should have taken it. I say that as I put it now at number five.

That notwithstanding, this song, no matter what arbitrary ranking I give it, still kicks all kinds of ass.

Also, I don’t why I didn’t mention it last time, but this is also the only English song here. It’s actually quite rare to see. It’s not like its important, but it does make it a whole hell of a lot easier to sing when I fully understand what's being said.

Still, regardless of what language its in, Deadman Wonderland's opening song is simply one of the best I have ever heard.

Song: The Hero! Ikareru Kobushi ni Hi wo Tsukero
Performed By: JAM Project
Lyrics: Hironobu Kageyama
Composition: Hironobu Kageyama
Arrangement: Makoto Miyazaki
Released: October 21, 2015

Former Rank: Not Listed

If you show me someone who doesn’t want to fight something after listening to this song, then I will show you a liar. Every time I hear this opening, it gets me pumped.

I know that some of you might be thinking that One Punch Man is quite new, so then why do I feel justified with putting it on this list, and at number four no less Because this is my list and I’m going to do what I want. Also, everything about this opening hits every single point I was looking for.

Does it grab your attention immediately? Absolutely. Does it stick with you after the show? Long after the show. Do you know exactly what series it comes from? How could you not? Does it get you excited to watch? You better f`#$ing believe it.

This opening tells you precisely what you are about to see. It’s big, over the top, and ridiculous to an absolute ludicrous degree. It doesn’t matter that this series is less than a year old at this point. It does exactly what I’m looking for when it comes to a great anime opening. 

Song: Moonlight Densetsu
           (English: Moonlight Legend)
Performed By: DALI (Seasons 1 & 2)
                          Moon Lips (Season 3 & 4)
Lyrics: Kanako Oda
Composition: Tetsuya Komoro
Arrangement: Ikeda Daisuke (Seasons 1 &2)
                         Hayashi Yuuzou (Seasons 3 & 4)
Released: March 21, 1992

Former Rank: Not Listed

Dragon Ball Z made this list because of its influence on the medium. Neon Genesis did the same, but that opening was much better in terms impact. Sailor Moon takes it that final level.

When I played the first episode, I was unaware that I had actually heard this opening theme many, many times before, but I was never able to place it.

Even with openings I enjoy, normally I skip them to save time. Sailor Moon was a two hundred episode anime, and often I would just let it play; I liked it so much. Plus, having heard it as much as I did, it’s not hard to see why it would stick.

I even said it in my Sailor Moon review, how it was strange to not hear it play during the final season. However, it played one last time in that final episode, and it was awesome. That alone is what clinched this number three spot.

Song: Guren no Yumiya
Performed By: Linked Horizon
Lyrics: Revo
Composition: Revo
Arrangement: Revo
Released: July 10, 2013

Former Rank: Not Listed

Are you really that surprised? I know I’m not.

When this series dropped back in 2013 (a full three years ago, what the s@#$), it was a worldwide phenomenon. I cannot even begin to tell you how many of my friends, who do not consider themselves anime fans, have seen Attack on Titan. Thus it’s fair to say that many people would be able to place this opening.

Throughout, the images of giant creatures, high flying battles, and human struggle are conjured.  

While the whole thing is gets you hyped, we all know it’s that opening drop. Once we hear it, it can only mean one thing.

Now that I think about it, Attack on Titan shot itself in the foot. The second opening theme from the show, Jiyuu no Tsubasa, isn’t a bad song; it wouldn’t make on this list, but it’s still pretty decent. Yet when you compare it to this, it’s such a massive downgrade.

Let’s see if season two will give us a good encore. 

Song: Complication
Performed By: ROOKiEZ is PUNK'D
Composition: ROOKiEZ is PUNK'D
Arrangement: ROOKiEZ is PUNK'D
Released: June 2, 2010

Former Rank: Not Listed

You know…I was surprised too. But that's made this all the more fun.

I always knew that whenever I made a second list this one would be on it; in fact, it’s possible that this is the one that made me start thinking about redoing the old.

Then as I was putting everything together, each time it went up against another opening, it would win out. Durarara kept doing this. 

Eventually it hit me, it was clear what was happening; was I trying to deny it for some reason?

This opening is amazing. It’s my starting karaoke song; which I completely butcher. Its fast, upbeat, there’s a lot going, it feels busy, just like Durarara is. 

It may have come out of nowhere, but that’s okay. For the second time around, I’m giving the second opening of Durarara the top spot. Until next, we have a winner.

Final Thoughts

There you have it. After another full year of anime, it was time to reevaluate myself. Next year I’ll probably have to do it again, and then next, followed by the next.

As I said in the beginning, opinions do change and these are just mine. There were so many that I wanted to include, and many that hurt me to deny.

However, I want to know. Where and how did I screw up? I must have somewhere. What’s your list? Please let me know. As always, your opinions may very well influence the next update.

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