Sometimes, we skip the opening so we can cut straight to the episode. Other times, we find an opening with a catchy song that we’ll eventually download. And then there are the times when an opening captivates you. An opening with symbolic visuals and a beautiful song. Openings are not here to just show the credits, but to pump us up for the episode. An opening can foreshadow future events in a way that won’t spoil the series. Let’s take a look at ten of the most stunning, catchy, and symbolic openings.
10. “Answer” by Bump of Chicken
3-gatsu no Lion (March Comes In Like A Lion) Season 1
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct 2016 to Mar 2017
Kiriyama Rei became a professional shogi player in middle school. Rei’s passed away in an unfortunate accident when he was five. Now beating his adopted father at shogi, Rei is depressed and isolated at the top of the shogi world. One night, Rei was rescued off the street by Akira Kawamoto. Akira takes care of Rei and introduces him to her younger sisters. With the help of the Kawamoto sisters, maybe Rei will no longer feel isolated.
Studio Shaft creates some of the most symbolic openings ever. Just look at any one of the Monogatari Series openings, or Madoka Magica. The opening starts off with Rei sinking into a gray ocean. This is a metaphor for Rei’s loneliness. All of the visuals showcase Rei in darkness and wondering alone. Rei tries to escape the ocean, but black vines grab and consume him. Rei suddenly has flashbacks about his past, which presents itself with a glowing gold hue. The opening ends with Rei in the fetal position, looking as if he wants something to hold.
9. “History Maker” by Dean Fujioka
Yuri!!! On ICE
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 2016 to Dec 2016
Yuri Katsuki loses a major figure skating tournament and decides to retire. But once a figure skating practice video of him goes viral, Yuri catches the attention of the champion Victor Nikiforov. Victor chooses to take a break from figure skating to help Yuri become the next champion. But with the rise of Yuri Plisetsky making his senior debut, can Yuri Katsuki even pass the first round?
Unlike our previous entry, Yuri On Ice’s opening is not symbolic. Instead, we are treated to a beautiful performance with unique visuals. Sometimes, an opening will change the sequence of the visuals or add new images from episode to episode. Although the skating routine remains the same, new colors are added -or should we say- splashed onto the screen. Keep your eyes on the opening for the last two episodes especially. You’ll notice the backgrounds are filled in with an arena and an audience.
8. “Shadow and Truth” by ONE III NOTES
ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (ACCA: 13- Territory Inspection Dept.)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2017 to Mar 2017
The kingdom of Dowa has been at peace for 100 years. They don’t see why the inspection department should stay, so the new king wants to shut them down. Therefore, Jean, a member of the inspection department, must audit all 13 provinces of Dowa as his final task. Not caring about his department being debanded, Jean takes a trip to each providence with little to no worries until he realizes that the “100 years of peace” is a lie.
ACCA is a very calm series with little to no action and a smooth jazz soundtrack. The opening, on the other hand, is loud, fast, and bursting with color. The lyrics of the song, Shadow and Truth, match the series perfectly. Shadow and Truth speaks about going on a journey and how nothing is exactly what it seems. It’s not often we get an anisong that starts with an english rap, but thats what makes this opening stand out. Visually, the opening foreshadows the possible suspects in the coup d’etat, and shows a bit of uncertainty in the main characters’ faces. It’s a stylish and cool opening that everyone will love.
7. “Brave Shine” by Aimer
(Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct 2014 to June 2015
Every so often, the Holy Grail War takes place. A war in which seven mages fight using their servant in order to gain a wish. Shirou Emiya accidentally enters the war and has no clue what he’s doing. Shirou better think fast, because this war is actually a battle royale.
One word: ufotable. If a series, movie, and in this case, opening is being animated by studio ufotable, you know your mind is going to be blown. The visuals have a mix of stunning landscapes and epic action. The colors are vivid and animation is fluid. To accompany the amazing display, Aimer’s Brave Shine sends chills down your spine. A beautiful song with an uplifting chorus turns the visuals into its own mini movie. Before the episode plays, we repeat this opening at least three times.
6. “Trigger” by Yuuki Ozaki
Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: July 2014 to Sept 2014
A girl with an obsessive mother, two boys with nowhere to go, and a message they want to convey. The boys take the girl, Lisa, under their wing to spread a hidden cypher throughout Japan. They blow up buildings, but no one dies. Can the police department decipher the code?
The song may be a hit or miss, but the visuals are what make this opening memorable. The opening is just as mysterious as the series; the visuals don’t spoil you on the characters’ plans, and they keep you guessing as to what it could all mean. There are shots of running, falling, skylines, empty lots, and future antagonists. The last shot is symbolic to the ending of the series; you see a heavenly scene of angelic feathers floating. A lot of thought was put into the visuals and it shows.
5. “Bloody Stream” by Coda
JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Season 1)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Oct 2012 to Apr 2013
Jonathan (JoJo) Joestar’s life changes forever when Dio Brando moves in. A generations-long battle begins with the rivalry of JoJo and Dio. Dio, a man filled with hatred, turns himself into a vampire to kill JoJo once and for all. JoJo, a noble gentleman, sees that it’s his duty to defeat Dio and save England.
The second opening to this bizarre anime is probably the most unique JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure opening. The visuals are stylish, with bright colors and neon silhouettes. Most JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure openings use a rock song, but this one has a pop theme. The opening is reminiscent of a James Bond intro, with silhouetted women and smooth transitions. JoJo is no James Bond, but this opening might make you believe he is.
4. “Hikaru Nara” by Goose House
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie In April)
- Episodes: 22
- Aired: Oct 2014 to Mar 2015
Piano prodigy, Kousei, can no longer hear the music he plays. After a traumatizing incident when he was young, Kousei struggles to make music. One day, a whimsical violinist named Kaori befriends Kousei. She makes it her duty to lift Kousei to his feet, and play the piano again. Kousei immediately falls in love with her, but it seems that Kaori has eyes for his best friend.
Ufotable and Shaft aren’t the only studios you can expect a visually stunning opening from. A-1 Pictures pride themselves in showcasing the best possible opening. You have the jumpy and fun theme song, Hikaru Nara, the watercolor art style, and a swift yet smooth transition from shot to shot. Put it all together, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful opening. The visuals perfectly foreshadow the good and tragic scenes that the series will bring, while adding cute moments between Kousei and Kaori. It’s a shame the opening was replaced in the second half, but at least we enjoyed it while it lasted.
3. “Tank!” by THE! BEST!
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 1998 to Apr 1999
It’s 2071, and humanity colonized several planets and travels around using spacecrafts. Spike Spiegel is a bounty hunter running away from his past. The crew members he finds along the way also have their own personal baggage. Despite their pasts, the members of the Bebop spacecraft will band together in hopes of catching their next bounty. If only they were good at their jobs.
A classic opening that inspired future openings for years. Before Tank, anime openings were the same slow or fast-paced pop song. The visuals would show you the characters and the silly or adventurous antics that they’ll get into, but Cowboy Bebop shook things up with an upbeat big band-style opening. The color palette uses reds and blues with a ton of black silhouettes. The characters are introduced in a funky way that’s in sync with the beat of the song. It’s loud, fun, and an overall epic experience.
2. “This Game” by Konomi Suzuki
No Game No Life
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2014 to June 2014
NEET siblings Sora and Shiro can beat anyone at any game. Be it a video game, card game, or even a board game. One day, a man claiming to be God challenges Sora and Shiro to an online poker match and they win. As a reward, God teleports Sora and Shiro to the world of Disboard. In this world, all conflict is solved with games, including crowning the next ruler.
Usually, an opening will have a different art style than the series has. An opening is supposed to grab you, so the animators use most of their budget on the opening animations and hire a separate director for the opening alone. In No Game No Life’s case, the opening matches the series art and animation. It’s incredibly bright, wild, and jaw-dropping. The song itself starts off with a soft piano, but quickly picks up with electric guitars. Throughout the opening, we’re introduced to the amazing world of Disboard and future opponents. This is yet another opening you can’t help but rewatch multiple times before you watch the episode.
1. “My Soul, Your Beats!” by Lia
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Apr 2010 to June 2010
When teenagers die suddenly without reaching their goals, they’re sent to a high school purgatory. There, a squad of rebel students fight off against “Angel”, a servant of God. The squad tries to figure out how they can escape this purgatory, but Angel keeps killing them over and over again. Will they ever pass on to the afterlife, or will they die repeatedly?
Like No Game No Life, Angel Beats starts off with a soft piano. Not only that, but you see Angel herself playing the piano and swaying to the music. When the title drops, synths are added and the artist beings to sing. Lia’s lovely voice adds to the beauty of the song and the opening as a whole. When the chorus hits, a quick preview of the episode flashes on-screen. By the end, you get a feeling of satisfaction as the opening draws to a close.
Openings can do just about anything, and we’ve just witnessed some stunning ones. But with all the anime out there, we’re sure to have missed some incredible openings. Let us know your favorite anime openings in the comments, and we’ll be sure to reply as soon as we can. Till next time!