By popular demand, and because I knew I’d end up doing it anyway, here’s a big (you have no idea) list of awesome anime OPs. Why is the list so big? Well, the whole point of the awesome ED list was that awesome EDs aren’t easy to come by, so I was pointing out the ones I found most notable. Great OPs, however, are quite common.
Much more than the ED list, this one contains a large percentage of songs that I listen to regularly and know very well, and plenty performed by bands that I like outside of their anime songs altogether. Don’t be surprised if many entry descriptions contain MY FAVORITE LYRIC IN FULL CAPS.
Initially, I’d planned to do my Top 100 anime OPs and split it into four posts, but there were just too many good OPs for me to sort through and narrow down. Instead, I’m just gonna go through this insane list alphabetically by show a few letters at a time.
.hack//LEGEND OF THE TWILIGHT — “New World” by ROUND TABLE featuring Nino
When I bought the first LEGEND DVD, which came with an artbox and soundtrack, I remember feeling gypped that it only had a slowed-down, acoustic, adult-contemporary-sounding version of this song on it. In reality I was lucky to get any full version of the OP, but what did I know about anime soundtracks—I was thirteen! Over time I got way more used to the acoustic version, and now the OP version sounds strange to me. Either way, it’s a great song and probably the least-pretentious OP that Bee Train has ever created.
.hack//SIGN — “Obsession” by See-Saw
And here’s the much more famous OP from the parent series. In a post on I Hate Bee Train, I said that this OP was the best thing that Bee Train had ever animated, and I’ll add to that, it’s also the best thing they’ve ever done. Of course it houses lots of nostalgia for me in the body-chopping and clothes-dissolving scenes that transfixed me as a kid. Now, I’m a lot more appreciative of that wicked dance.
Air — “Tori no Uta” by Lia
I’m mostly including this because it’s insanely popular. I’ve seen it listed among the greatest OPs of all time more than once. I agree that it’s a neat song and a decent video, but mostly, I’m avoiding complaints that I left it off lol.
Anyamaru Tantei Kiruminzoo — “Poo” by Neko Jump
The colors are wicked, the song is strange, and the cute things are dancing. What’s not to love about this? It’s one of those things where it’s made for kids but also for stoners. This song is a disastrous earworm, I warn you.
Arakawa Under the Bridge — “Venus to Jesus” by Yakushimaru Etsuko
Leaving aside the obviously cool color palette and animation style, one of the notable stylistic elements of this OP is an unsettling juxtaposition of light-toned, cute things and highly detailed, creepy looking things (namely fish). What ties it together for me is how what’s going on follows along with the lyrics, so it doesn’t seem like meaningless abstractions (instead, meaningful abstractions). Yakushimaru’s voice is about as nasally as it can possibly be without being annoying, and instead is soothing.
Azumanga Daioh — “Soramimi Cake” by Oranges & Lemons
What’s happening is clearly bizarre, but it’s presented in this dry, minimalist way… anyway it’s fun and kooky like what’s made this show so ridiculously popular in the Western fandom for the past ten years. It also lends itself very easily to parody, which has produced no shortage of excellent results. I can’t say I like the song, but it works with the video.
Baccano! — “Guns & Roses” by Paradise Lunch
A possible send-up to the Guy Ritchie films that Baccano so resembles, Guns & Roses is way too cool for school, and the kind of OP that I would make for any movie or show I was working on. Slick. As. Fuck.
Bakemonogatari — “Staple Stable” by Saitou Chiwa, “Kaerimichi” by Katou Emiri, “ambivalent world” by Sawashiro Miyuki, “Ren’ai Circulation” by Hanazawa Kana, “Sugar Sweet Nightmare” by Horie Yui
Stable Stable: SHAFT wasn’t satisfied with the sexuality of this OP, so they through in shots of staplers fucking. And then Senjougahara was giant. Kaerimichi: some kind of lost magical girl OP. Thinking of it that way becomes depressing when you realize the friends she rescues are all herself. Ambivalent world: suffers from the unfortunate “awesome OP in a show full of even-more-awesome OPs” syndrome. The ending is just amazing, though. Ren’ai Circulation: bow before your goddess. There’s a video of myself, Bluemist, and Zeroblade singing this in karaoke that the world will never see. Sugar Sweet Nightmare: I love the sense of urgency and desperation. And of course the rape scene.
Beck — “Hit in the USA” by Beat Crusaders
A show about a rock band better have a damn fine rock OP, and boy does it! After all, what’s more rock’n'roll than America? (Nothing.) The singing-along parts are my favorite, both for how they-re animated and the facial expressions of the bandmates while singing.
Berserk — “Tell Me Why” by Penpals
Tell Me Why Berserk has such a lighthearted OP, has been a question among fans since the 90s, but at this point it’s hard to imagine anything else, nor anything more fitting. After all Berserk is, in its heart of hearts, a fun and feel-good thing.
Big O — “Big-O” by Nagai Rui
CAST IN DE NAME OF GOD, YE NOTA GUILTY. WE HAVE CAME TO TEAM… BIG O! I’m told this OP is a reference to some old thing but whatever, to me it’s just unforgettably “yeah that happened.”
Black Lagoon — “Weapon… I Have It All” by MELL
As infamous for its terrible Engrish as Revy herself, this song is a blast to sing (I think I sang this in karaoke as well with Kuroshinko). I got to hear it live at Otakon 2009, and MELL discussed it at her Q&A panel. It seems that she studied the character Revy and tried to capture her essence in the song, and I think she did well, Engrish and all.
Blood+ — “Colors of the Heart” by UVERworld
Watching this now just reminds me of how awesome Production I.G. used to be. Why the hell couldn’t we have a Blood show that looks like this instead of that complete failure, Blood-C?
Bokurano — “Uninstall” by Ishikawa Chiaki
This song was an instant hit and for damn good reason, it’s amazing. I’ve heard some great karaoke of it, too. The video is a tad drab, but I strangely enjoy it as a fan of the manga who hasn’t seen the anime, just seeing the characters. After all Mohiro Kitoh’s designs pretty much make me jizz in my pants.
Busou Renkin — “Makka na Chikai” by Fukuyama Yoshiki
You could set anything to this song and it would be fucking awesome. You could film a turd on the ground for a minute and a half, set it to this, and it would be the most kickass turd ever. I of course prefer anime characters to turds, so this is nice, too. God the main chick is hot.
Cardcaptor Sakura — “Catch You Catch Me” by Gumi, “Tobira wo Akete” by ANZA
Catch You Catch Me: another karaoke video you’ll never see! This song fills me with joy like no other. Sakura skipping in UNISON with the song is my favorite bit, followed by ko-i-shi-te-ru! Also I can’t hear this without thinking about Kyon, and Yuki’s face covered in jizz. Tobira wo Akete: I adore the color scheme and Sakura’s outfit, but the part that always struck me was Sakura looking out over the town, and all the layers of the animation. This layering effect was used a lot in CCS, including in the first scene which recurs many times.
Casshern Sins — “Aoi Hana” by Color Bottle
I have no idea what this director’s obsession with Casshern’s midriff is, but I’m betting its how he landed the job directing Yumekui Merry. In any case, thanks to that fixation with ultra close-ups, the video is largely worthless, but the song is really, really good.
Code Geass — “COLORS” by FLOW and “Kaidoku Funou” by Jinn
COLORS: JIBUN WO! This one’s particularly famous for its opening line. Another great song that we did at karaoke, though we didn’t film this one. The video is standard, but standard is not bad, and it’s plenty exciting. Kaidoku Funou: the song is pretty kick ass and video is again standard but exciting. I know the song best from being in the Ryuuseigun.
Code Geass R2 — “02~O~Two” by Orange Range
ASA MO YORU MO KOI KOGARETE! This one is best known for INTENSE HORSE RIDING and a now-awesome Orange appearing with “I CONTINUE TO FIGHT! I CONTINUE TO FIGHT!!!” But for me, Lelouch’s hand gesture towards the end takes the cake.
Cowboy Bebop — “Tank!” by The Seatbelts
I don’t need to tell you how or why this is amazing. It’s fucking TANK!
Cromartie High School — “Jun” by Yoshida Takuro
This video effectively summarizes everything that happens in Cromartie. It is disturbing. It is manly. It is hilarious. The hallway-walking scene with the “doke, doke, doke!” line is legendary.
Anyway that’s all for part one, now I’m going the hell to bed. Let me know if there’s anything I missed from shows starting with the letters A through C.