As many have pointed out in the past, anime has a bad habit when it comes to starting shows off. An opening episode of anime tends to start off almost grindingly slow, reserving the hook until after the commercial break. Why this has become such common practice is beyond me – when I went to go look for anime with good opening scenes, I was surprised to find a nice little handful, but infinitely more surprised at just what a small percentage that handful was.
And those weren’t even all ‘great’ ones. There are plenty of anime with decent action starts, which puts them above the usual fare, but they aren’t usually something to write home about. As such, I embarked on a search to find at least 10 anime with truly jaw-dropping opening moments. I didn’t include ones that wait a couple of minutes to blow things open (FLCL comes to mind) but strictly shows that grip onto your balls in the first couple of moments and get your attention so hard you can’t even help but glue yourself to the screen. These are my Top 10 Nut-Clenchingly Awesome First Scenes in Anime.
10. Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei
The opening moments of Zetsubou-sensei have become iconic. A beautifully-drawn cherry blossom forest in the dawn of Spring, the backdrop to a cute and sunny girl’s cheerful dance, but set to eerie music that helps to ingrain the image… of the main character hanging by the neck from a cherry tree. It cuts then into the hilariously unfinished opening video, leaving the viewer with only one thought in mind – what in the HELL just happened?! What am I watching?! The image of Fuura Kafuka gazing up at her hung sensei has become almost synonymous with the series itself.
9. Heartcatch Precure (watch here, safety not guaranteed)
Watching this opening is what inspired me to make this list – the show explodes into action with a gorgeously animated scene of two spectacularly designed fighters duking it out in a psychotropic wonderland of sorts. The almost absurdly dramatic music and brilliant directorial touches combine with the surprising art style to create an instantly engrossing scene, rife with exciting use of magical girl tropic dialog as if to say ‘hey mahou shoujo fans, you’re in for something good!’
In perhaps Akiyuki Shinbo’s greatest teasing moment of random pointlessness, Bakemonogatari begins with a glorious slow-motion 10-second panty shot. And if that doesn’t catch your attention, it then uses a fake opening song to recap the entire series prequel long before the non-novel-reading audience has any idea what the fuck is going on, and does it with incredible violence and brutality. These opening moments had me more than glued enough to the screen to handle the next twenty minutes of almost non-stop impenetrable dialog.
7. Giant Robo
I almost feel like using Giant Robo is cheating because the awesome opening scene rides out for a full 10 minutes, but the first minute alone is more than enough to hook, and the proceeding events just seal the deal. Possibly anime’s greatest purely action-oriented opening scene, Giant Robo showcases stupendous animation, god-like directing prowess, and good old-fashioned giant robot fighting in far less time than almost any other show has managed.
6. Eden of the East
While I’m sure CAB ASS’N caught some people’s attention right off the bat, Eden of the East takes about 2 minutes to let the viewer adjust to the gorgeous animation before dropping one of the most memorable opening bombshells ever in the form of a naked man holding a cell phone and a gun in front of the White House. All logic and reason goes out the window after that – the transfixion on one special Johnny certainly turns the heads, and Eden’s audience was instantly sold.
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