10.  Coolest by CustomiZ

Show: Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto

Studio: Studio Deen

This opening is ridiculously over the top, just like the protagonist of the series. It’s loud, fun, and silly, and does a great job of preparing the audience for a comedic show.  The video only features protagonist Sakamoto doing ridiculous poses and looking “cool”, “cooler”, and “coolest”. It matches the brand of humor the show is known for, and since Sakamoto is the central character and driving force of the series, it makes sense for him to be the focus of this opening. It may not have any deep meaning, but this opening is sure as heck a lot of fun to watch and listen to, and when you hear the singers yell those random English phrases, you just can’t help but want to shout along with them.

9. S.O.S. by Weaver

Show: Poco’s Udon World

Studio: LIDEN FILMS

Sweet and heartwarming, this is another opening theme that captures the tone of its show perfectly. The song features a bubbly, electronic beat accompanied by the washed out water color style that Poco’s Udon World is known for. The song is about wanting to cheer someone up and to have them smiling genuine smiles again. The singer states that he will never abandon the other person and desperately wants to cheer them up again. The singer’s thoughts are quite similar to the kind of effects Poco has on protagonist Souta. Souta, who is now in his 30’s and struggling to find his purpose in life, is slowly starting to come to terms with both his father’s death and his own personal demons with the help of Poco, whose adorable smile and boundless energy is absolutely infectious. The opening theme also features some nice looking backgrounds and those final few shots of Poco are just too cute for words.

8. Kami Iro Awase by binaria

Show: Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc

Studio: Lerche

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING VIDEO AND COMMENTS WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE DANGANRONPA FRANCHISE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Against a deceptively soothing song and warm pastel colors lies a sinister message and literal despair-inducing subliminal messages. The lyrics foreshadow class 77’s eventual fall to despair from beginning to end starting with it’s very first lyrics “Hello Despair”; and it’s final words: “The darkness gently leads you by the hand”. This hits even harder when the second version of the opening was aired and the pastel colors turn dark with all of the students of class 77 now bearing red eyes (sans Chiaki). The visuals of this opening are fairly minimalist, but it works and does a good job of reflecting Ryouta’s brainwashing video in the show proper. Of particular note is the scene where Junko literally has class 77 in the palm of her hands before she blows them away and they all literally fall to despair because of Junko’s actions. Adding the red eye symbol that mirror’s Monokuma’s onto Izuru was also a nice touch. And while heartbreaking, the way that Hajime seems to be flickering from existence in the second version of the opening to reflect how he’s lost his original personality was also a nice add-on. There are so many things I could talk about in regards to the foreshadowing and symbolism to this opening, but sadly, I just don’t have the time. But the song, despite it’s despair inducing message, is a nice listen. Annabel and Nagi Yanagi’s voices blend really well and the song has an overall relaxing tone to it. The way that their voices mix together in the chorus especially is almost trance-like, and given the many subliminal messages that the opening video has hidden, it was probably done on purpose.

7. Answer by Bump of Chicken

Show: March Comes in Like a Lion

Studio: studio SHAFT

As the song’s title implies, Answer’s lyrics translates to finding, well, the right answer. As to what exactly, it’s never really specified. But whatever it is, both the singer and Rei seem to have a difficult time looking for it. The singer wistfully wonders if he can ever find the answer and finds it difficult to move without that knowledge. Likewise, Rei has difficulty moving as he struggles against murky dark waters, representing the depression he suffers from. The song starts out lost and confused, much like Rei at the start of the series, but by the end, it gains a more hopeful tone. The gentle chimes that resound through the chorus add a bit more lightheartedness as the song’s heavy atmosphere dissipates and the way it’s represented in the video, with Rei’s happier memories appearing in a golden light, match up with the song perfectly.

I couldn’t find a proper player to link, so only way you’ll probably be able to ind this (by legal means) is by watching an actual episode.

6. Signal by TK

Show: 91 Days

Studio: Studio Shuka

91 Days is a story of revenge wrought with violence and crime. But as is the case for most narratives that focus on revenge, the end result is never worth it. Signal’s lyrics reflect protagonist Angelo’s conflicting feelings on whether to go on with his plans for revenge, especially once he becomes closer to his target. Despite his anger, he’s lonely, he’s been alone for such a long time. But abandoning all those years of planning and hatred isn’t easy, and even when he knows it’s wrong, he still wants to see his plan through. The song’s emotional impact is delivered well by TK, who sings the song with enough raw emotion to deliver an angst-filled message to the viewer even with a language barrier in place. The opening theme also reuses some footage from the show proper, a rarity in anime, but it manages to fit well with the song’s lyrics and further reinforce Angelo’s justified hatred when images of his family’s murder flash by. The final shot of a younger Angelo, scared and infuriated hiding inside a closet before it shifts to his older, angrier self is especially powerful in getting the message of lingering hatred across.

5. Re: Re: by Asian Kung Fu Generation

Show: Erased (Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi)

Studio: A-1 Pictures

Re:Re is a song about past regrets, which fits the narrative of Erased perfectly. The video contains a narrative of its own, starting with protagonist Satorou’s happy childhood before fast forwarding to the tragedies that befall his adult self in the future due to one single regret. The use of film strips representing Satorou’s memories is a clever touch and the way that adult Satorou struggles before he reverts to his child self holding a more determined pose perfectly portrays his newfound resolve to correct his past mistakes after he goes back in time. The opening’s animation contains brilliant timing alongside the accompanying song, which features J-rock vibes and a fluidity that stands out from typical anime openings with the way that the entire song is arranged, particularly the fact that it doesn’t seem to have a clear cut chorus. But it works well, it sounds great, it looks great, and it fits this show like glove.

4. Hikari Are by Burn Out Syndromes

Show: Haikyuu!! Season 3

Studio: Production IG

There’s a looming mountain as the underdogs, our protagonists, walk into view, exhausted but determined. Hikari Are, which in English, literally translates to “Let there be light”, is oddly enough, a love song at its core. But it’s a love song laced with determination and that ever popular sports motto of never giving up. Coupled with some stunning animation and powerfully sung vocals, the end result is the best sports opening theme I’ve seen EVER. PERIOD. Speaking of stunning animation, the imagery and symbolism are brilliantly executed, from the large mountain transforming into an eagle, to the way that Hinata’s spike is compared to a crow’s dive, to the shot featuring a pack of crows fighting against a single, large eagle as the opposing teams walk into the court, to that final shot of the shining championship trophy as the words “Let there be light” ring out one last time; it effectively builds up the kind of hype you want to get from a sports show and the uses of symbolism is absolutely on point. Kudos to you once again, Production IG.

3. Lay Your Hands on Me by Boom Boom Satellites

Show: Kiznaiver

Studio: Studio Trigger

This opening theme features a nice, relaxing tune in surprisingly good English.  As a show that focuses on developing relationships,  the lyrics manages to convey this message, with the singer stating that he wants to “fly” into the other person’s heart and pleading for them to stay by their side and grant them affection. The lyrics, while somewhat flighty, could also be the voice of protagonist Katsuhira, who acts as an emotionless blank slate and subconsciously seeks out human affection. What helps carry this opening theme, in addition to its infectious tune, is its lovely accompanying animation. Besides the main characters, the opening doesn’t give away any plot details, but at its core, this show is a character drama and we see enough of the main characters’ personalities each time they appear on screen.

2. History Maker by Dean Fujioka

Show: Yuri!!! on Ice

Studio: MAPPA

Despite being entirely in English, this song reflects Yuri’s own thoughts.  How he wants to improve, to get better, to become great, to make history. The song offers a techno mashup that pairs surprisingly well with the orchestral instruments in the background that give off the type of tone one would expect from your typical ice skating background music. The rotoscoping is also incredibly well done, which acts as a preview for the many well animated ice skating sequences the show has to over. Later opening themes add in backgrounds as the characters skate by, a nice touch that makes an already stunning piece of animation look even nicer to watch and inspires the viewer to never skip it, as later opening sequences will continue to add in more details. Brilliant animation that pairs off with an inspiring song that adds to the show’s narrative would have easily made this ong my top pick for this year…But a song that aired the previous season had already won my heart over.

1. 99 by Mob Choir

Show: Mob Psycho 100

Studio: Studio Bones

I’ve already gushed about the animation in this opening sequence in an older post, so this time I’ll focus more on the song. It’s yet another song that inspires greatness and encourages being different, “who you want to be”. In a way, it’s a song that encourages the show’s protagonist, Mob, who is very much different from his peers. It’s a song that really matches the show’s tone, much like how ONE’s previous show, One Punch Man‘s opening was very much a song that fit the show. The added effect of the singer counting down in between was also a nice call back to Mob’s own internal countdown from whenever his emotions reach 100%. The opening video is also incredibly well animated and each scene transition is done in fun and creative ways. As amazing as History Maker sounds and looks, 99 succeeds in both sound and story telling, making it my number one pick for this year.

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