Bit of a break since the last post, but here’s something I can write about, and that’s anime openings. I’ve written about this before, but may as well rehash my previous thoughts with some new ones.
My Previous Thoughts
Previously, I held two different opening styles in high regard, both ranking highly for what would be considered my favourite openings.
First up is the openings for Durarara!! and Baccano!.
What both of these shows do is make use of the opening in a great way. Both anime contain a very large cast of characters, casts that’d be difficult to follow along with even if you just watch the series normally. It’d take you many episodes to get an idea of who’s who, and who belongs to what group, and so on.
That’s where the openings come in. They educate you, by putting names to faces, and showing you roughly which group of characters each character belongs to. This does both anime a great service, and speeds up the process of learning the cast. And I feel like the sooner you learn the cast, the sooner you can really get into their individual stories and so on.
Of course, even now, I hold these openings in high regard. They’re excellent, and I haven’t encountered any openings that manage to do what they do. And naturally, the songs are great.
Next is the openings for the Monogatari Series.
In a way, they’re more traditional, in that they don’t educate us or anything like that.
But what I really enjoy about these is that:
- The opening changes with each story arc (meaning sometimes we only get an opening once or twice before the anime moves onto a new opening).
- Each opening’s song is sung by that story arc’s heroine / primary female.
- The openings are very abstract and are focused around the story arc’s heroine / primary female.
Basically, the Monogatari Series openings give us a large variety of openings, massively cutting down on repitition, and they manage to also be very personalized / stylized for the current story arc. There’s a lot of flavour in each opening, and if you really watch the openings closely, there’s a lot of abstract hints at what the story arc will be about.
For these reasons, I feel that the Monogatari Series openings are elevated above most others in their own way. And once again, the songs are great, although this isn’t explicitly about the song choices.
There’s one anime that’s managed to elevate it’s openings above even the above mentioned series, and that’s Mushoku Tensei.
It’s possible that I’ve encountered this opening style in anime before, but if so, I feel like it’s very sparse, and was maybe only done for a single episode in a series, making it less noticeable. Meanwhile in Mushoku Tensei, it’s a fully implemented system throughout the series.
If you haven’t seen this series, I’ll explain how the openings work.
Typically, the openings are a cold opening, meaning we are given some action in the beginning before transitioning to the opening. But instead of playing a minute and a half of hashed together footage with a catchy song, we get camera pans of the landscape / area the protagonist is currently in. Sometimes we also see characters doing things in silence while the music plays.
The opening essentially acts as a nice transition of sorts, both from the last episode but also from the events at the very beginning of the episode.
Basically, instead of some random video showing us a bunch of random aspects of the anime, we get relevant footage of where the protagonist is now, and where the protagonist is right now. Given that we find ourselves in new environments very often, it’s very fitting. I can’t stress enough how well this works.
And because the opening feels so relevant, I don’t feel inclined to skip it. Naturally, as I follow the story, I’m curious at seeing more. There’s no vocals or major action during the openings, but they still feel like a part of the anime, so to skip one means to miss something, even if it’s not as important.
As someone who typically skips openings, as they often spoil elements of the anime (for example: spoiling the appearance of a character we haven’t met yet), or feel repetitive, this style is perfect. Because each opening isn’t just a minute thirty of whatever over and over, it’s actually a part of the anime. It has direct relevance.
Even the previous two styles I mentioned, as great as the openings are, they can be skipped.
But Mushoku Tensei really manages to integrate the openings into the anime itself. They don’t feel distinct from the anime whatsoever.
I really enjoy this style of opening.
And as mentioned before, this isn’t even about the songs, or song choices. It’s about the style. Yes, I think the opening songs in Mushoku Tensei are excellent, and manage to bring out all the right emotions to set the stage for the episode. But what really makes the openings shine is how they are a part of the anime.
Anyways, those are my newfound thoughts on what I consider to be the best anime opening style. I know many people really love their anime openings, but personally, I feel like it’s typically just the song that makes your average opening shine.
Which for me usually means that I’d rather look up and listen to the full song than sit through a short version of it twelve or more times. The actual footage in a typical opening usually doesn’t interest me either, as it’s either arbitrary, or has spoilers, or just doesn’t really matter.
I think that there is a practical reason for it, which is that your average opening is designed to catch people who are flipping channels, but of course as someone who doesn’t watch anime on TV, this doesn’t matter to me.
Mushoku Tensei really impressed me, and I’d be interested to hear if there were other anime that use this style. I’m sure there are. I know that some anime use this style for a single episode, showing us footage of something happening while overlapped with the opening song. But it’s not all that common, I think.
Likely there are some other great styles that I haven’t noticed or encountered, but I’d be interested in seeing other ways that anime make use of that time.
What are your thoughts on anime openings / your favourite styles?
Until next time,
Thanks for reading!