A couple of years ago I posted my “top 10 unskippable EDs”—titled that way because I used to skip EDs a lot of the time. Now I don’t do that unless it’s really bad. Anyway, all the embedded videos are broken in the old post and I watched a *lot* of anime in the past two years, so here’s a new list of memorable EDs.
TO BE ON THIS LIST I had to like the ED as a whole, meaning song and video both. There are some ED songs that I liked where the video is unmemorable (think Mawaru Penguindrum’s “Dear Future”—amazing song, boring vid). Some also might be awesomely bad.
These videos are alphabetized by the shows they came from. And no, I have absolutely nothing better to do, and yes, I’m very tired right now.
Akagi — “Akagi” by Maximum the Hormone
Right off the bat I’m biased as fuck and ignoring the awesome video rule. I adore Maximum the Hormone even when their song is oddly cut and put to weird bouncing static images. This video qualifies as awesomely bad because of its hilarious attempt at making mahjong and bland character art look INTENSE. Also I can’t get over that thing at the end where Akagi’s head keeps reappearing to the music. This is unbelievably stupid, what the hell Madhouse.
Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge — “Akai Coat” by Suneohair
I wonder if this is what inspired them to do a live-action show of Arakawa. This video is awesome because it’s not just a live-action gimmick, but a genuinely great video, from directing and editing to feeling. It really feels like some indie flick, which is perfect for the song. The best part is Hoshi playing guitar on stage which is only as hilarious as it is soulful. This video is pretty much perfect, so I wasn’t happy about the it changing, but some people seem to like the other one more.
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu — “Baka Go Home!” by Milktub
This song is much cooler than the show it comes from (I’m not a BakaTest fan), a perfect loser punk song that celebrates idiots and saying fuck school, which is a message I can get behind (coughcollegedropoutNEET). The video lets the leads look pretty cool, but the real magic is when it fuses with the second ED later in the show. Don’t be surprised if this video goes down immediately—I’ve always had a hard time getting it thanks to Funimation’s collective jackass.
Bakemonogatari — “Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari” by ryo/supercell
Finally, something we can all agree on. This video is Fucking Astounding. Ueda Hajime is a superb artist with the style I most wish to emulate of any artist, and this ED features IMO his best illustrations. In true Shinbo fashion, the video combines a touching song and riveting style with stunning sexuality. No series quite captures the libido of moe light novel adaption like Bakemonogatari does and flaunts it like a middle finger to anyone who bitches about fanservice. You’ll note that I chose the Nadeko version of the ED because it has a lot more illustrations than Senjougahara, and importantly, more of them feature Shinobu. I chose it over the Tsubasa one because are you kidding me Nadeko is way hotter.
Berserk — “Waiting So Long” by Silver Fins
I love the song, which, like the op, somehow fits Berserk in this sideways way. I would ordinarily disclude this because the video isn’t very interesting, but it’s strangely enchanting. The rustic appearance strengthens the medieval feel of the show, and goes along with whatever that ancient-sounding instrument they play at the beginning is. Casca’s picture is adorable, too.
(Aside: As I go through MAL, there are a lot of really weird EDs that stand out by sheer weirdness, like Betterman and Black Lagoon. I am not including these because they aren’t awesome.)
CLANNAD — “Dango Daikazoku” by Chata
Yes, you may cry now over this ultimate adorable tear-porn. This video is a children’s storybook that would probably win some kind of award. But I’m incapable of hearing that opening melody and not expecting to hear Busta Rhymes. Afraid of us, you know this ain’t a game to us, you strange to us, that’s why we gettin’ dangerous, c’mon. I’m in no way joking when I say that remix is one of my top 5 favorite songs ever.
Cowboy Bebop — “The Real Folk Blues” by The Seatbelts
The fucking all-time. As soon as I hear those horns and see that rose, it just washes over me. Back when I was in middle school, this song was my personal national anthem that I sang every day (true story). This my friends is some badass noir shit. I also extend a shout-out to Blue which, if counted as an ED, would be overkill.
Dantalian no Shoka — “Yes, prisoner” by MaRIONetTe
This one’s fresh off the shelf. Everything about it screams “Sound Horizon inspired,” from the creepy low budget dark-fantasy live-action video to the song that goes from gothic-sounding melody into heavy guitars, and even the use of the word “rakuen” in the first lyric. Sure enough, the full song is a 7-minute suite. All of it’s quite lovely. Unlike the Arakawa one that succeeds in trying to look cool, this one relishes in looking like a film student’s bizarre short. I love the use of sound effects (again very Sound Horizon) and those visual filters.
Eureka Seven — “Fly Away” by Asami Izawa
This video significantly enhances my appreciation for the ray=out sky-surfing culture that plays a subtly major role in the series and really gives it its stylistic edge. I love that the scene of the LFOs surfing doesn’t involve any crazy stunts or action, but just them cruising along being chill. Throw in awesome art (and awesome word art) and set it all to this ultra-lively funky-ass song and I can spin this shit all day long, all night strong.
FLCL — “Ride On Shooting Star” by The Pillows
It’s probably cheating to keep including these live-action-driven GAINAX EDs, and double cheating to have one from an OVA that can get away with putting the entire damn song in the ED. I can’t forget all the gorgeous and hilarious Haruko art in here, but I almost do because of this for some reason adorable stop-motion vespa. I remember someone once commenting that “the vespa is totally flirting with that girl!” and that there is something special. I wonder how many yellow vespas this video sold.
Gankutsuou — “You Won’t See Me Coming” by Jean-Jacquez Burnel
Generator Gawl — “Kore wo Koi to Iemashou ka” by Yoshimba
Holy fucking shit this takes me back. This ED is pure cute fun with a dryness that makes it great. Gawl fucking sleeps and eats through the whole thing and the chick just stares at him pissed off, nonetheless shoveling more rice into his bowl, defeated. And everyone else is just enjoying themselves. This video probably has more personality than the actual comedy portions of the show.
Gintama — “Mr. Raindrop” by Amplified
Couldn’t find a better upload. Gintama is chock full of cool EDs, but this is the unforgettable one. First the pop song with the weird lyrics sung in perfect English by a Chinese band that’s only popular in Japan. Then, the whole fucking thing is dedicated to Elizabeth, which at this early point in the show just tells you how fast Gintama became extremely meta and how the fanbase eats it the hell up. I mean, who doesn’t want an ED for Elizabeth? …or rather, several?
Hidamari Sketch — “Mebae Drive” by Marble
I throw around the word “stylish” a lot without getting into the bones of it, so let me do so now. Hidamari Sketch’s style consists of a really light color scheme that somehow always feels subdued in spite of so many single-color frames and backgrounds. The style is striking, but it doesn’t strike out. This ED captures the “style” of Hidamari Sketch perfectly. The OPs are fun with their zany upbeat songs and highly animated videos, but this ED contains the soul of Hidamari Sketch.
K-On!! — “NO, thank You” by Houkago Tea Time
Don’t Say Lazy was great and all when it happened. Listen!!, whatever. This is the best ED ever. For me to do it justice I’d have to break it down shot by shot—so I did (coming soon).
Kuuchuu Buranko — “Shangri-la” by Denki Groove
Again I’m ignoring the cool video rule, but for good reason. This ED is the cherry on top of each episode of Kuuchuu Burnako. Right at the height of each feel-good ending, the violin piece (not heard in video) cuts in, and then this ultra-sexy song drives the feeling home. The show couldn’t have achieved that level of feeling without this song.
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki — “Boku wa Koushin Saremashita” by Hirohashi Ryou
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki was notable for having like six or seven ending videos that would be different depending on what channel you watched the show on. All are good, but this one is great for Hirohashi Ryou’s adorably addictive vocals and the melancholy-cute video that suddenly starts looking like the game Rez about halfway through. I remember having this video on repeat for like 3 hours once around when the show started.
Lucky Star — “Ore no Wasuremono” by Shiraishi Minoru
Everyone has a favorite Lucky Star ED, be it one of the love-remembering karaoke songs or the love-gone-horribly-wrong Shiraishi Minoru ones. For me, the ultimate is this utterly fucking bizarre video of Shiraishi serenading annoyed picnickers with a live song that combines a meme from Haruhi and the opening song of Ashita no Joe. How in the hell did this happen? And this culminates into the album (album!) Shiraishi Minoru no Otoko no Lullaby, which features a heavy metal version of Koi no Minoru Densetsu. Mind fuck-blowing. His rendition of the show’s OP is a close second for my favorite.
Mnemosyne (NSFW) — “Cause Disarray” by Galneryus
For one thing, I can’t argue with Galneryus. Also, this ED captures exactly why I like Mnemosyne—naked immortal lesbians getting tortured and fighting. What more could I want out of life than this? (The next ED.)
NEEDLESS (NSFW) — “Aggressive Zone” by Needless Girls+
Oh. My. Fucking. God. Lolis kissing. Lolis making out. Did that loli just kiss that loli’s ass? Lolis in barely anything. Lolis in nothing at all. Under a blanket together. Stuck together. And there’s a loose narrative—at the start, the kissing is on cheeks, and blue-haired loli refuses a kiss on the lips. However, after a lot more kissing and other bonding, there’s a really emotional kiss between her and blonde girl, and then they start making out like crazy. At the end, using the same quick cuts as the beginning, all the kissing is happening on the lips. I’m totally not making an excuse to like this for reasons other than FFFFUUUUUUCJKJKJLLJSHFLDJH.
Paradise Kiss — “Do You Want To” by Franz Ferdinand
Holy shit, Franz Ferdinand! Holy shit, Imaishi Hiroyuki animation! Holy shit, adorable dancing on par with the second xxxholic ED! This is such a great video—a perfect fit for the show’s fashion focus and fun even without ever having heard of the show (as I hadn’t when I first saw the video).
[note: I couldn’t find a video of Rock the LMC from Red Garden with working sound. It’s amazing. Watch the show.]
Revolutionary Girl Utena — “Virtual Star Hasseigaku” by Kamiya Maki
Somewhere in the middle of Utena, one Be-Papas guy must’ve said to another, “the show doesn’t quite seem perfect yet,” and another guy responded, “then we’ll have to make a fucking badass ED.” And the angels cried. Elevators, sillhouettes, naked lesbians—I’m becoming impressed by how many naked lesbians I’ve found in anime EDs, and I’m not even listing like Sengoku Otome and shit. This song is the pinnacle of the chorus rock style invented by J.A. Seazer for this show and never duplicated, and the full version features a badass extended guitar solo.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei — “Zessei Bijin” by Zetsubou Shoujo-tachi
No way could I leave this out when I had the iconic shot of crying-masked Kafuka as my 16th birthday cake. This video and song are pure sex in the most gruesome way. Chiri over all those bodies on the subway haunts my nightmares. Compare with Hidamari Sketch in how it represents the soul of the show—now dark colors, faceless characters, comic violence and utter despair, all wrapped up in the choking hands of beautiful women. See that noose there at the end? That noose is for you.
Seikon no Qwaser — “Passionate Squall” by Qwaser Shoujo-tachi
If No Thank You didn’t exist, this would be my un-contested favorite ED ever. Instead, it’s my contested favorite ED ever. My co-blogger Thoughtcannon wrote a huge thesis about it for the failed acadime awards series, and I haven’t posted it yet because I also want to write a thesis about it. Long story short, this video lavishes in stylistic and sexual decadence. The girls are all blase, even as they get dragged to their demise by an evil bathtub from hell. The greatest bathtub in anime by far, which may not be saying much, but is important to me! The money shot beyond all is, after all this slick attitude and deathly treatment of the girls, when it shows them in towels and Mafuyu blow-drying her hair. That shot kills me every time.
Shakugan no Shana — “Yowake Umare Kuru Shoujo” by Takahashi Yoko
OMG SHANA GET OUT OF MY LIFE!! Okay, this song pretty much turns the ending of an episode of Shana from “I can’t believe I just sat through that shit” to “YOOOWAKE!” which might be how I managed to get through the show in the past (though god knows how I did when the ED changed). I think it was Thoughtcannon who pointed out that this song is basically Cruel Angel Thesis for a girl rather than a boy. The video isn’t amazing, but I don’t mind it because the design work is incredible, as evidenced in my having given this show both a second and a third glance. Too bad the show itself looks like SHIT.
Soul Eater — “I Wanna Be” by Stance Punks
My #1 on the list from two years ago. The art in this video is superb. The opening shot is this soulfully lonely image with this soulfully lonely song that suddenly explodes into punk, gratified by motherfucking explosions. There’s fighting and coolness, but still this pervading sense of somberness in both the song and the video. I Wanna Be is a weird song and I think it fits beautifully with the show.
Spice and Wolf — “Ringo Biyori ~ The Wolf Whistling Song” by Rocky Chack
Lots of moe girls have a token food that they always eat and which becomes an excuse for the show to make self-memes. Leave it to hipster-moe anime Spice and Wolf to find a way to make it all clever and indie and shit. This video is enchanting right from “seven apples on the witch’s tree, with seven seeds to plant inside of me.” Yet again, it’s a video whose visual style might have even more personality than the show itself.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann — “Underground” by High Voltage and “Minna no Peace” by Afromania
Both of these songs are really, really cool in a way that’s pretty different from the show itself, especially Underground. I love that the first one has a really dank, deep sound, living up to the title Underground along with the white-on-black backgrounds, while the second one is totally upbeat and sunny, so the video inverts the colors. Both videos are Simon walking with Boota, once as a child and again as an adult. Aside: Underground would feel at home on a Queens of the Stone Age album. I’m gonna let Minna no Peace stand in for the Birdy Decode ED as well.
Umineko no Naku Koro ni — “La Divina Tragendia” by Jimang
The video could be cooler but I love it anyway. Awesome use of photoshop filters and cool-looking CG chess sets, much more successfully intense than the mahjong in the Akagi ED. But seriously, we all love this ED for one real reason: YAMI O KIRISAKU, OH DESIRE! Jimang is the man. I want to be him when I grow up (he’s not even that old, he just sings that way). Studio DEEN has this weird tendency to end episodes of their shows in random places, and in Umineko, sometimes the episode cut to this so suddenly that I thought the show got cut off. And then I was like “SACRIFICE SHEEP TO GOD!!!”
Welcome to the NHK — “Odoru Akachan Ningen” by Ootsuki Kenji/Kinniku Shoujo Tai
“What the fuck just happened,” is the proper reaction to seeing this video for the first time. I love that it starts with really sexy images against a sweeping piano, and then the whole thing rapidly spirals into hell and chaos. Those little creature things are the right mix of creepy and hilarious, and don’t forget oh so dirty. Ootsuki Kenji is the man, having done a lot of my favorite anime songs between this show and Zetsubou Sensei. The ED is depraved and I love the insane, terrified scream at the end, like a man watching the lid close over his coffin.
xXxHolic — “Kagerou” by Buck-Tick
You know, I bet this video actually happens. I can totally imagine a couple of young goth girls air-guitaring to Buck-Tick. Anyway this video has cute girls air-guitaring and the best part is how much fun they seem to be having. No, the best part is really how they set cute girls dancing to a genuine, excellent rock song. I could use more like this.
That does it for my list. I probably forgot a lot of good stuff, but the fact that I forgot about it makes me feel better about not including it. I feel like I should do an honorable mentions or list of songs I liked as well, but whatever. Look forward to more bloggers covering their favorite EDs in the near future.
Have I listed any of your favorites?