This winter season is filled with dozens of new anime, with enough hotly anticipated sequels and promising new upstarts to get any fan excited. And speaking of getting excited, the start of a new season means we get to do one of our favorite things – talk about kickass anime OPs! This time, we have funktastic shounen bops, ominous undertones hidden within bombastic toe-tappers, and some eyegasm-inducing animation to wash it all down. Let’s get started!
5. “VIVID VICE” by Who-ya Extended from Jujutsu Kaisen
So, the music for Jujutsu Kaisen’s second OP is perfectly satisfactory – it’s a melancholy hard rock piece from Who-ya Extended, who you may remember from his work on Psycho Pass season 3 – but that’s just window dressing for the god-tier animation that MAPPA delivers for the sole purpose of flexing on us. Shockingly realistic lighting effects, motion blur, liquid reflections, and even little details like visible breath emanating from Panda’s mouth and raindrops slowing to a stop before they hit Gojou... every time you watch this opening, you’ll notice something different. It truly looks like a cinematic production! We can only hope that the second cour of Jujutsu Kaisen lives up to the sky-high expectations that its own OP sets for it.
4. “Kaibutsu” by YOASOBI from Beastars Season 2
To be honest, “Kaibutsu” isn’t as good as Beastars’ first OP, “Wild Side”... but then again, few things are. And even though it isn’t a stop-motion feast for the eyes drenched in the timelessly cool sound of early 20th century jazz, this electronic jam from YOASOBI (the duo of Vocaloid producer Ayase and vocalist Ikura) has its own unique charms. It’s got that bright pop energy to echo Legosi and Haru’s adorable relationship, while carrying an undercurrent of disturbed mania to represent the carnivorous instincts that Legosi has to fight every time he’s around her. The animation deliberately avoids touching on any of the spoileriffic moments that litter this season like a minefield, but it gets the point across by focusing on how fragile this society that pretends carnivores and herbivores can live side by side really is. Can Legosi and Haru actually be happy in a world like that?
3. "Paradise" by Rude-α from SK∞ (SK8 the Infinity)
This fresh and vibrant new original anime from studio Bones and the director of Summer 2018’s Banana Fish has been blessed with an equally colorful OP that would feel equally at home on a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack as it does in front of SK8 the Infinity. Rude-α, a rapper from Okinawa (the same place where the series is set), lays down a funky beat for the main characters to dorkily dance to and then follows it up with a driving chorus to match the cast’s killer skate tricks as they glide through a neon-lit city. We also love that the anime’s ED “Infinity” serves as such a good companion piece, since it’s a bouncy acoustic number that gleefully showcases the skaters wiping out in a hilarious variety of ways. Play them back-to-back and feel the emotional whiplash!
SK∞ OP Announcement Video
2. “My War” by Shinsei Kamattechan from Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season (Attack on Titan Final Season)
It’s pretty much impossible to surpass Linked Horizon when it comes to Attack on Titan openings, but Shinsei Kamattechan surprised us with their surreal and militaristic “My War” for the first half of the final season. The visuals aren’t anything fancy (mostly watercolor splashes and vague symbolism to avoid spoilers), but the song itself is a fascinating mishmash of “spells” sung by a children’s choir, ominous distorted male vocals, and invigorating key changes from the backing orchestra. It really drives home the idea that the black-and-white ideals of seasons past have transformed into a maelstrom of grays where the “good guys” may not even be good people anymore. Now release the full version already, Shinsei Kamattechan!
1. “Grandeur” by Snow Man from Black Clover
For some reason unbeknownst to the rest of the anime community, Black Clover OPs are like a meat lover’s order at an Irish pub: bangers every single time. And “Grandeur”, which introduces the Spade Kingdom arc and features a newly hulked-out Asta (who got some sick gains by training in the Heart Kingdom for six months), comes courtesy of Japanese boy band Snow Man. They only made their debut about a year ago, but they’ve already released several singles, including Black Clover’s eleventh opening “Stories” and, of course, this high-energy track. The complex backing beat feels like a marching band drumline riff, and when combined with the enthusiastic unison vocals in the chorus, it really gets the adrenaline pumping. Maybe Asta got so jacked because he put this song on his workout playlist…
We’ve also been bopping along to the openings for Otherside Picnic, Horimiya, Dr. Stone: Stone Wars, World Trigger Season 2, So I’m a Spider, So What?, The Promised Neverland Season 2, and Kemono Jihen. But what are your favorite anime OPs of Winter 2021? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!