Microcosms in Anime OPs
I love anime openings (OPs). They’re more than just introductions to a given episode. My favorites are little stories in and of themselves. They draw me in and unleash my imagination. In fact, my favorite on this list inspired the villain’s headquarters’ design in my novel Evolution’s Hand Book 1: Executive Action.
I thought you might enjoy reading my five current favorites. I say “current” because I find the list varies, to some degree, over time. Though to be honest, numbers 1 and 2 have been static for quite a long while. In fact, as I prepared to write this, I actually swapped the OP at number 4 for another — simply because I remembered it at the last moment.
Without further ado, here’s my (current) top five anime OPs.
My Five Favorite Anime Openings
Number 5: Soul Eater’s PAPERMOON
Tomoko Kawase (a.k.a. Tommy february6) performed Soul Eater’s second OP, which was called PAPERMOON. This song started in a minor key, so it felt dramatic and dark. Excalibur strode across the screen, so for just an instant, it seemed like the song might be lighter than it sounded. Then we saw Maka plunge into a dark pool.
There went any hope of frivolity!
This OP has great movement. It shows us the villains, some of the heroes, and then a shot of the pretty much insane Franken Stein, which sets up my favorite part: a circling camera showing Soul Eater play a demonic piano. It’s also packed with characters that, from time to time, I forget how much I loved. That is, until I rewatch the OP. I hope you watched the original series and enjoyed it as much as I do, because watching it’s a real treat:
Number 4: Beyond the Boundary’s Kyoukai no Kanata
Chihara Minori recorded the OP for Beyond the Boundary, which was simply named Kyoukai no Kanata after the series itself. Like all the songs on this list, this OP wastes no time setting a vibe: it’s quietly beautiful with a hint that all’s not well. At first, we see a few slice of life shots, like Hiroomi Nase and Mitsuki Nase walking to school. But then we get a few mid-point shots of the Nase siblings, Akihito Kanbara, and Mirai Kuriyama looking concerned. Like, they were trying to hide it but it wasn’t working.
I don’t know what magic “really” looks like. But I think this show is the most accurate representation. The OP gives us several shots of magic use, from Hiroomi Nase to my favorite, which is Shizuku Ninomiya, whose fiercely determined expression amazes me. I also love how Mirai Kuriyama’s train ride bookends the whole thing. Check this out:
Number 3: Cross Ange’s Kindan no Resistance
Singer and voice actor Nana Mizuki performed Cross Ange’s OP, Kindan no Resistance. There’s a lot I like about this series, not the least being the title character, Angelise Ikaruga Misurugi — Ange. The OP encapsulates the story of her fall, captivity, and struggle to return to power. It’s packed with little cool details, like Ange looking up when her counterpart, Salamandiné, maintained a downward gaze. But my favorite part is near the end, when the music gets sweeping and we see several mechs maneuver into formation around Ange. She looks to her right and left, obviously delighted, and powers forward. It showed how comfortable she was in a position of leadership.
You might watch this OP and say, “Dude, you just like it because it’s packed with very attractive women folk.” Not true! Instead, I say to you that I like it because it’s packed with very attractive women folk who are independent, strong, and capable. That’s quite a difference! Take a look at the OP, and you’ll see what I mean.
Number 2: Blood+’s Season’s Call
Hyde performed Season’s Call for Blood+. Hyde’s no strange to anime OPs (like Attack on Titan Season 3’s OP), and it’s easy to hear why. They’re dramatic and breathy and seem to be an extension of the show. That’s the case for Blood+. The OP opens with Saya Otonashi, the show’s main character, who’s shown in a contemplative pose. A few quick shots of Haji and snippets of stylized violence later, we see Saya trying to work a cash register, or race an airplane, or goof around with her friends. She’s a typical young woman in some ways; but she’s clearly more than that.
There are a couple of shot that really get me. We see several people in hoods, a blonde woman centermost, that indicates a long, ancient line of some sort. What’s it about? We’re not sure; but it’s intriguing. My favorite part starts at 1:18, where a gently smiling Saya, in slow motion, brings her hands away from her face. The OP invites you in and makes you feel for Saya, even if you don’t know exactly what’s going on.
Number 1: Ergo Proxy’s Kiri
My favorite anime OP has been my favorite since I saw it for the first time. Monoral recorded the song Kiri, and though I think it was recorded before it was selected as the OP, it sure sounds like it was a custom fit. The vibe fit the series perfectly.
The OP employs a film damage effect that gives it an aged, recovered effect. The OP introduces us to several key characters, like Raul Creed, Re-l Mayer, and Pino. Quick shots of silhouetted doves and barbed wire separate the characters. Shots of stained glass windows or stone statues are particularly cool — they give the whole thing a medieval feel. My favorite place comes at 00:54, where we see Vincent Law rearing back and screaming his fury at the world — and the stone statues are unmoved by said fury. That’s just good stuff.