A memorable opening theme can elevate an anime from good to great, particularly when its visuals and music tie into the show’s narrative. Today, we’re focusing on five OPs that change over time to reflect the shifting events and themes that play out in their respective shows. Some of these changes are so subtle that you’ll need several rewatches or a comparison video to catch them, while others are so abrupt and intense that they hit you like a punch to the gut. Let’s check out the 5 Best Evolving Anime Openings!
5. Go! Princess Precure
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: February 2015 – January 2016
Like any self-respecting sentai show, Go! Princess Precure alters its OP partway through the series to include the newest member of the team, Towa Akagi. She’s added to group shots and such, but the most significant change is her transformation from the evil Princess Twilight to the reformed Cure Scarlet. Cleverly, the new version uses the same framing and movement as the original, but swaps her intimidating stares and fierce rivalry with Cure Flora for a friendlier sequence of her teaming up with her former enemy.
A more subtle change is that, after a minor character is featured in an episode, they’re added to a scrolling background behind the main girls as they walk to school. Even before Cure Scarlet appears, each episode’s opening is just a little bit different!
4. Yuri!!! on Ice
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2016 – December 2016
We didn’t even notice that “History Maker” was an evolving opening until years after we first watched this series, but if you look closely, you’ll see some differences. In episode 1, the color palette is mostly monochrome except for the saturated tones when Victor appears. Later, Yuri and Yurio’s skating sequences gain splashes of color and Victor gradually gets more washed out, until the final episode where the whole opening is swimming in bright reds, blues, yellows, and pinks.
Even though they’re just different watercolor washes, these changes symbolize Yuri’s growth as a character. He practically worships Victor at the beginning and thinks nothing of himself, but gradually gains more confidence and rises in the ranks until he’s at the top amateur skating competition in the world. And when he finally admits his feelings for Victor, the two of them can be in the spotlight together!
3. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind)
- Episodes: 39
- Aired: October 2018 – currently airing
Ever since part 3, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has had a tradition where the main villain takes over the opening once his appearance has been fully revealed and he’s about to face off against the heroes. Dio smashes through the screen and casually walks behind Jotaro in stopped time while Kira reverses the entire opening with Bites the Dust, but Diavolo’s takeover is the best one we’ve seen yet.
Emerging from his split personality Doppio, Diavolo uses his Stand to slip behind Giorno’s attack and deliver a chilling monologue in Italian about “the world where time has vanished”. This part has technically been in the opening all along, but we weren’t able to see the skipped time until Diavolo’s perspective revealed it. Oh David Productions, you spoil us!
2. Boku dake ga Inai Machi (Erased)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2016 – March 2016
Fittingly for an anime called Erased (or “The Town Where Only I Am Missing”, to directly translate the Japanese title), episode 11 literally erases Satoru from the opening. Since our main character is supposedly dead, all we see during the sequences that used to feature him are lingering shots of empty rooms and barren streets. There are a few other changes as well, such as certain characters’ eyes no longer being blacked out and a symbolic spider thread appearing on the heads of Hinazuki, his mom, and Airi.
Without Satoru, “RE:RE:” feels desolate and deeply wrong. It underscores how much his absence affects the other characters by making us experience that same sense of loneliness and dread. Such a simple change, but it hits hard.
1. Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2015 – September 2015
Every single one of School-Live’s openings is slightly different, becoming more zombie-infested and depressing as time goes on. The first version sets the audience up for a peppy slice-of-life comedy, which is the world that Yuki thinks she lives in, and then the happy scenes are slowly replaced with the reality of the zombie apocalypse that she’s eventually forced to acknowledge.
Buildings crumble and become overgrown with weeds, the girls’ friends and loved ones disappear, and the puddle in the final shot gets darker and darker until it’s a pool of blood. But even though she’s faced with such utter despair, Yuki stays cheerful through it all.
We can never get enough of these evolving openings, particularly the ones that change so subtly that you might think you’re imagining it until you go back to check. They’re fascinating!
What did you think of our list? What are your favorite evolving anime openings? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!