One of the appealing qualities of anime is its ability to transport you to different, unusual places that can really spark your imagination. Adventure anime as a genre excels at this, transporting us to different places as we follow the journey of the characters through fantastic lands, oceans, alien planets, and more! Sometimes you'll not be sure where you'll end up, but the trip is always exciting!
In this list, we're counting down the best openings in the adventure genre that really get you ready to experience the unexpected, just over that next hill! Regardless of setting, we've picked these anime openings based on how well they fit the overall feeling of their show, how catchy their melodies are, the quality of the animation, and how well the music works with the visuals together to make the opening a complete experience. Let's go!
10. “CHANGE THE WORLD” by V6 – InuYasha, 1st Opening
- Episodes: 167
- Aired: October/2000 – September/2004
InuYasha tells the story of Kagome Higurashi, an ordinary teenage girl living in modern-day (well late 90's modern-day) Tokyo with her brother, grandpa, and mother at their family shrine. After trying to find her cat, Kagome falls into an old well within the shrine and is transported to a fantasy feudal Japan, complete with a variety of spirits and demons. Kagome ends up freeing the titular half-demon InuYasha when in a pinch and the two soon reluctantly begin their search together for shards of the sacred Shikon jewel, finding allies and fighting all sorts of demons across Sengoku-era Japan.
An introductory anime to many, InuYasha is considered to be one of the classic shonen adventure stories and is much beloved like its manga source material by the legendary Rumiko Takahashi. With its 167-long episode run, InuYasha had many different opening and ending sequences, but we chose the show's first OP, “CHANGE THE WORLD”, because it best captures the adventurous and positive spirit that embodies the feeling of early parts of the series. Performed by boy band V6 (who would also provide “Brand-New World”, the eighth ending theme), “CHANGE THE WORLD” is an upbeat, catchy pop song that, when coupled with the beautiful imagery from the opening, gets you pumped to see the latest feudal fairy tale adventure!
9. “Deep in Abyss” by Miyu Tomita & Mariya Ise – Made In Abyss
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July/2017 – September/2017
Living in Belchero Orphanage, young girl Riko has lived a hard life ever since her mother Lyza, a famous cave raider, disappeared when she was young. Yet, she remains full of hope and determination to live out her dream of carrying on her mother's legacy. Cave raiders are treasure hunters that explore a gigantic hole, the titular Abyss, which is full of mysterious artifacts with special powers, strange and dangerous alien-looking creatures, and a host of other oddities like the “curse of the abyss” that causes those that enter the deeper levels to become violently ill, insane, and eventually will lead to their death. Made in Abyss tells the story of Riko's journey downward, accompanied by her amnesiac robotic companion Reg.
Made in Abyss was a standout series of its season in many ways with its high-budget art and animation, dark and dramatic storyline, and extremely well-done world-building. Made in Abyss' soundtrack was also phenomenal, including, of course, its opening! “Deep in Abyss” is sung by the character voice actors for Riko and Reg, which is slightly unusual for anime and makes the song feel more connected to the show. The overall sound, look, and feeling is soaring with a sense of mystery and seriousness that, together with some strong buildups, reflects the anime as a whole quite well.
8. “We Are!” by Hiroshi Kitadani – One Piece, 1st Opening
- Episodes: 838+
- Aired: October/1999 – Current
As one of the longest-running and continuously popular anime and manga series, you probably already know about One Piece. Protagonist Monkey D. Luffy and his Straw Hat Crew are on a quest to find the titular treasure, a huge hoard of amazing riches left hidden by legendary pirate Gol D. Roger. One Piece is a high-seas adventure full of swashbuckling action and some added supernatural flair like the Cursed Fruits which bestow bizarre powers and a diverse cast of humans, talking humanoid animals, and more.
“We Are!” by Hiroshi Kitadani (and later others, more on that later) is probably the most iconic One Piece song. It was used for the first opening as well as for special episodes later on and was also given remixed alternate versions for the 7th and 10th openings. A triumphant and exciting pop song, “We Are!” captures the spirit of the anime perfectly and works great with the energetic animation introducing the main cast of the series to get you ready to set sail for adventure!
7. “DAYS” by FLOW – Eureka Seven, 1st Opening
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: April/2005 – April/2006
Eureka Seven is a science fiction, action-adventure, mecha anime about young teenager mechanic Renton Thurston who dreams of becoming part of Gekkostate, a renegade group of mech pilots that he idolizes, to get away from his backwater town of Bellforest and become a hero like his deceased father. Renton shortly gets the opportunity when enigmatic Gekkostate pilot Eureka crash lands her Nirvash typeZERO mech right into Renton's room and a mysterious force called the “Seven Swell Phenomenon” is activated within the Nirvash. Eureka Seven is Renton's journey to discovering himself and the true nature of the Gekkostate, Eureka, and the alien world on which he lives.
One thing that makes Eureka Seven unique among mecha anime is its inspiration from popular culture, especially music, which is evident throughout the series, most obviously in the episode titles that draw from famous Western and Japanese song titles. “DAYS” is a pop-rock song by the immensely popular group FLOW who have contributed many opening themes for anime like Naruto, Code Geass, Dragon Ball Z, and more. “DAYS” starts off slow with very strong buildup in the beginning that leads to an exciting crescendo verse that syncs up wonderfully with the top-notch animation by BONES. We recommend checking out the other OPs, EDs, and OST as a whole as well!
6. “Cha-La Head-Cha-La” by Hironobu Kageyama, Dragon Ball Z, 1st Opening
- Episodes: 291
- Aired: April/1989 – January/1996
Dragon Ball Z is a continuation of the world-famous, sci-fi/fantasy, martial arts Dragon Ball series by legendary manga and game artist Akira Toriyama. Dragon Ball Z tells the story of Goku who is now a young man with a son, Gohan. When humanoid alien Raditz comes to Earth and kidnaps Gohan, he reveals that he is actually Goku's brother and that Goku is a member of a nearly-extinct but powerful alien race known as the Saiyans. Goku has to team up with old rival Piccolo to fight Raditz which is just the tip of the iceberg for the foes Goku and his friends will have to face in this classic shounen fighting series.
For many, Dragon Ball Z was one of their first exposures to anime and it remains a very popular and beloved series to this day, and it’s currently continuing the story in Dragon Ball Super. While non-Japanese fans might have first encountered localized openings like “Rock the Dragon” in America, “Cha-la Head Cha-la” is an instantly recognizable and nostalgic song for fans of the series that perfectly captures the excitement of the show and works great with the opening animation in all its late 80's/early 90's glory!
5. “Battlecry” by Nujabes feat. Shing02 – Samurai Champloo
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: May/2004 – March/2005
After she manages to help save swordsmen Mugen and Jin from execution, waitress Fuu insists that they help her in her quest to find a mysterious “samurai who smells of sunflowers”. The two reluctantly agree and begin the ragtag group of three begins the search across an anachronistic, hip-hop infused version of Edo period Japan. Samurai Champloo is a largely episodic anime with strengths in its pseudo-historic setting, awesome music and subculture-inspired style, and character personalities that contrast and play off each other wonderfully.
True to its inspiration, Samurai Champloo's opening music is done by famous Japanese hip-hop producer Nujabes which is a driving force in setting the overall style and feeling of the series. The animation for this opening is also highly-stylized and makes use of a lot of short, mono-colored cutout sequences mixed with traditional Japanese painting and modern graphic design styling. Interestingly, the lyrics are also fully in English, which helps to further create the idea of blending American rap and hip hop music with a distinctly Japanese setting, or as the song puts it “far East style with the spirit of wild West”. “Battlecry” is an excellent opening and one of the most memorable of all time, even outside the adventure genre.
4. “Ugoku, Ugoku" by Inori Minase & Yurika Kubo – Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Girls' Last Tour)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October/2017 – December/2017
Girl's Last Tour is a post-apocalyptic anime following Chito and Yuuri as they explore vast, abandoned city ruins, military bases, factories, and more in a strange, relatively low-tech science fiction version of Earth after some unspecified catastrophe. Despite the gloomy setting, Girls' Last Tour, and by extent Chito and Yuuri, are mostly positive about the world. The characters' naivety and curiosity lends itself well to the show's exploration of philosophical topics which, when coupled with the interesting and strange world it is set in, makes each episode a joy to watch, just to discover what oddity the two characters might encounter.
Like many other anime of this list, Girls' Last Tour has a very strong soundtrack as a whole that plays a major part in the overall experience of enjoying it. Sung by the main characters' voice actresses, “Ugoku, Ugoku” (meaning “Moving, Moving”) is a heavily electronic song with a very strong baseline and a catchy chorus. The visuals of the opening are very stylized and largely feature Yuuri and Chito on their iconic motorcycle-tank-like vehicle going up stairs and them walking or dancing in perfect sync with the music. Girls' Last Tour's OP is our number 4 pick because of how well the animation and music are put together, the interesting visuals, and how the opening fits with the feeling of the show as a whole, all of which are done so fantastically!
3. “again” by YUI – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, 1st Opening
- Episodes: 64
- Aired: April/2009 – July/2010
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is the long-awaited adaptation of the extremely popular shounen manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa which followed the manga substantially more than the previous anime adaptation that had to create an original story after a period of time due to not having manga material to base it on. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is about Edward “Ed” and Alphonse Elric, two brothers how tried to use alchemy to resurrect their mother and lost a literal arm and a leg in the process in the case of Edward. Alphonse lost everything save his soul which was placed inside a huge suit of armor that serves as his body. Brotherhood follows the brothers as they search for the mythical Philosopher’s stone, fight evil, and uncover secrets of their society as they explore a European-inspired fantasy world dominated by the magical science of alchemy.
“again” by YUI serves as the first opening to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and is one of the most memorable and poignant songs in a series with a ton of excellent openings and endings. We chose “again” and the first opening because of how perfectly it sets the serious tone of the series and how well the animation makes use of symbolism to highlight the core themes of the series, namely sacrifice, corruption, and relationships between people.
2. “Tank!” by The Seatbelts – Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April/1998 – April/1999
Probably Shinichiro Watanabe's most well known work (he also is responsible for Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy, and more), Cowboy Bebop is a science-fiction, action-adventure series about a ragtag band of bounty hunters Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward “Ed” Wong, and a genetically-engineered, hyper-intelligent Welsh corgi named Ein. Cowboy Bebop explores a wide variety of themes and has a unique style highly inspired by music, in this case jazz and blues, and different real-world cultures and subcultures ranging from the American West to eco-terrorists and more!
Practically every anime fan knows and loves the opening to Cowboy Bebop. With it's largely lyric-less, bebop jazz music provided by The Seatbelts, Cowboy Bebop's opening relies on its stylish and colorful animation to make an impact. “Tank!” makes heavy use of silhouettes, monochrome/selective colors, and newspaper-clipping style text ornamentation and syncs its visuals perfectly with the music, even using trumpet flairs to mimic the sound of guns firing and more. Cowboy Bebop's opening oozes style, class, and has stood the test of time as one of the greatest of all time! 3, 2, 1, Let's Jam!
1. “STAND PROUD” by Jin Hashimoto – JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April/2014 – September/2014
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a manga series written and illustrated by Hirohiko Araki that has been in publication since 1987 and continues to this day. The story consists of many different arcs, split into numbered parts with their own subtitle and all of them concern someone named JoJo and, as you might expect, are quite bizarre. Part 3, Stardust Crusaders, follows Jotaro Kujo, a teenage delinquent who finds out that he has a mysterious power in the form of a Stand, a manifestation of his fighting spirit with amazing strength and speed. After he is told by Mohammed Avdol that his stand's awakening means the return of a great evil in the form of a resurrected Dio Brando, the two, along with his grandfather Joseph Joestar (the now aged protagonist from Part 2 of JJBA) and later others, set off on a quest to Egypt to defeat Dio once and for all.
All of the openings to the anime adaptations for JoJo's Bizarre Adventure have been top-notch, which made it an extremely hard decision to decide on which one would be our top pick. We chose Stardust Crusaders because this part best exemplifies the journey aspect of adventure anime with the whole series being a journey ever closer to Egypt, and STAND PROUD in particular (over the second Stardust Crusaders OP) because it has a great air of discovery and excitement for the start of the journey. Needless to say, STAND PROUD has an absolutely epic, power metal-style with an amazing buildup that is awesomely paired with a standout, largely 3D-animated opening that takes full advantage of its animation technology for amazing depth and cool camera movements. An exciting and breathtaking opening that is full of symbolism for what the story will tell without giving it away and a killer track to get you pumped for the episode ahead, Stardust Crusaders' first opening STANDS PROUD as our number 1 pick for best adventure anime openings!
Adventure is something that is nearly universally compelling, that feeling of wanting to see what's over the next hill and experience something like you've never seen before. Anime is an excellent way to explore this idea, given the medium's flexibility as an entirely created artform without any real limits on creativity and expression. From legendary introductory series to modern classics, adventure anime continues to inspire and entrance people seeking excitement in the unknown and will continue to do so forever as far as we know.
We hope you enjoyed our picks for the best adventure anime openings! We invite you to comment on your own favorites, especially if we missed one of them. Please let us know how you feel in the comments section below and good luck on your future adventures, anime or otherwise!
Some honorable mentions: Akatsuki no Hana (Yona of the Dawn), Database (Log Horizon), Departure (Hunter X Hunter)