2020 has certainly been a rough year, racking up enough tragedies to last a decade and leaving us with an uncertain future ahead. You may have tried watching cute or relaxing anime to lift your spirits, but if that doesn’t quite hit the spot, we have another suggestion – why not make like Aggretsuko and scream out your feelings to the most intense music the anime world has to offer?
We’ve gathered five of our favorite hardcore anime openings so you can make a playlist, find the most soundproof spot in your immediate vicinity, and let out all the emotions that are trapped in your mind. Say it with us: AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
5. “Chaos Drifters” by Hiroyuki Sawano and Jean-Ken Johnny from No Guns Life 2nd Season
Hiroyuki Sawano has made a name for himself as a master of heart-pounding anime music, with credits ranging from Attack on Titan to Kill la Kill to Aldnoah.Zero and many more. Jean-Ken Johnny from the band Man With a Mission also has his name on a fair share of similar tunes, such as “Dark Crow” – the second opening for Vinland Saga. It’s no coincidence, then, that their collaborative project “Chaos Drifters” from the second season of No Guns Life is such an absolute banger!
Thumping drums and guitars pound out an unusual background beat that drives steadily forward to the famous Sawano Drop, and then the vocals soar to life in the chorus with an infectious energy that just begs to be sung along to. It’s the perfect theme for an anime about a mercenary with a gun for a head!
4. "unravel" by TK from Tokyo Ghoul
Tokyo Ghoul’s first opening is often included on lists of the best anime OPs ever, and for good reason. As flawed as the anime itself can be, “unravel” adeptly captures the feeling of hopelessness and rage at a situation you didn’t sign up for that Kaneki experiences throughout the series.
Even if you can’t hit the spine-tinglingly high notes that TK belts out at the beginning of the song, you can still join in at the chorus and headbang along to the shredding guitar solos. You may have eventually ditched the Hot Topic merch and raccoon makeup from your high school emo phase, but this OP deserves to stay with you!
3. “Let Me Hear” by Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas from Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu (Parasyte -the maxim-)
Parasyte is the kind of anime that gets very hardcore very quickly, and so too does its OP “Let Me Hear”. The combination of autotuned vocals with a bass-heavy backing track and guttural screaming segues well into an anime about societal unrest and xenophobia – and since that panic is caused by a mysterious parasite that’s slowly tearing humanity apart from the inside out, it’s a natural fit for your 2020 rage playlist. Fun fact: although it’s extremely difficult to understand, this song is actually mostly sung in English! Look up the lyrics and belt your heart out!
2. “FEED THE FIRE” by coldrain from Ousama Game the Animation (King’s Game)
“Feed the Fire” is another anime OP sung in English, but thanks to the lead singer’s Japanese American background, it’s crystal clear to the Western ear. That’s not to say it’s exactly a good song, though... it’s more like a lost Get Scared track ripped straight out of the 2014 Warped Tour, complete with lyrics like “embrace the darkness” and “burn away the fear” layered with screaming and insidiously catchy melody lines. Still, it has a lot in common with the anime it’s attached to – blatantly terrible in almost every way, but just stupid and hype enough to be a source of unbridled joy for anyone who witnesses it.
1. “MUKANJYO” by Survive Said the Prophet from Vinland Saga
As fun and scream-tastic as the other OPs are, none of them quite come close to “Mukanjyo” in terms of pure raw catharsis. Survive Said the Prophet chose to sing the song from Thorfinn’s point of view, demanding to know what he did wrong as he gradually transforms from a starry-eyed child to a broken husk of a man driven only by vengeance.
One of the biggest themes of this year has been bad things happening to good people through no fault of their own, so the emotional maelstrom of “Mukanjyo” is perfect for letting out everything you’ve been holding in your heart for so many long months. And while you’re at it, watch Vinland Saga as well!
You may also want to add these bangers to your 2020 catharsis playlist: “Touch Off” from The Promised Neverland, “What’s up, people?!” from Death Note, “Flashback” from Kokkoku, “Black Catcher” from Black Clover, “99” from Mob Psycho 100, and pretty much any Attack on Titan opening (except for maybe the uncharacteristically calm Red Swan).
What did you think of our list? What are your favorite intense anime OPs? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!