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TOP 5 BEST ANIME OPENING THEMES

It's important to set the mood at the beginning. Which anime openers have done that best?

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Well vice-troop, you survived our ill-advised April Fools list last week, so we thought we’d take it easy on you. This week, we’re counting down the very best of an old fan favorite - - the anime opening! These two minutes or less of animation (coupled with the right music, of course) can get us psyched for what’s to come (or sometimes set us up for disappointment).

This isn’t just about the music. We’re looking for that perfect blend of infectious jams and awesome visual sauce.

One quick caveat to this list though: since the TOP 5 already tackled the best anime soundtracks, we’ve decided to omit opening sequences that already appeared on that list. There is no doubt that several of the anime mentioned in that list would have placed on this one as well (COWBOY BEBOP, and TRIGUN would have definitely nabbed choice spots) but we want to give some other shows a chance to shine.

Luckily there’s plenty of good stuff to choose from!

NUMBER FIVE == OUTLAW STAR

Say what you will about how this series turned out, there is no denying that this opening grabs attention. It's pure attitude, right out of the gate, with a kind of sneering vocal style, punchy guitar and silly over-the-top sci-fi shit to keep your eyes interested.

This series includes a lot of out-there stuff like cigar-shaped space ships with tiny robot arms and guns with magic bullets (as well as a few standard anime tropes like cat-girls and naked women in suitcases). This intro gives you a nice taste of what to expect from the show - - a few clichés and a fun time.

The intro quickly showcases the designs and the attitude of its characters, and throws a few of the typical slow-pans-over-portraits at you. The best part is the short sequence of Gene Starwind running down an alleyway while rockets and bullets fly past him.

The man outruns a rocket! What else could you ask for?

NUMBER FOUR == FIST OF THE NORTH STAR (1)

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this kind of ultra-violent madness. FIST OF THE NORTH STAR provides some of the best in outrageous absurdity, and this opening could not be a more perfect representation of what to expect from this masterpiece of macho head-bursting.

And then there’s the song by the unparalleled Crystal King (seriously, look them up). This shit is so epic, I can’t stand it. That falsetto is powerful enough to propel a cargo ship through a skyscraper. The imagery and music are both so perfectly epic that watching the intro once is never enough.

There are also countless fan tributes and parodies of this song/intro out there and a great number of them are pretty inspired. If it’s at all possible for an anime intro to be considered a “classic” or “culturally important,” well... this is the one.

NUMBER THREE == PARANOIA AGENT

I’ve sung the praises of Satoshi Kon and his work on several occasions, so it should come as no surprise that PARANOIA AGENT’s crazy intro has made the list. This one is totally surreal and just a bit disturbing - - in other words, perfectly appropriate for the show. Though, it actually tells you very little about what to expect. Then again, confusion tends to be an important part of Kon’s work, so I can’t really find fault with that either!

Instead of the usual heroic poses and glamour shots, we’re introduced to the cast of characters standing in the midst of chaos and laughing. Some are on busy streets, others on top of skyscrapers, or underwater or on the damn moon.

Oh, and there’s an atomic explosion.

It seems silly but when that music swells and those absolutely HUGE vocals soar, the whole thing just feels gigantic and magnificent and disconcerting - - like a dream that leaves you reeling for hours after you wake up.

NUMBER TWO == RECORD OF LODOSS WAR: CHRONICLES OF THE HEROIC KNIGHT

OUTLAW STAR may not have quite measured up to the raucous fun of it’s opening sequence... but CHRONICLES OF THE HEROIC KNIGHT straight-up wrote checks its show couldn’t cash.

This is one big fat letdown of a series however you slice it; but I’d bet the kickass intro has a lot to do with why fans got their hopes so high up. If the whole series had been anything like its opening minute and 47 seconds, it would probably be among my favorites.

This intro is moody, stark, and beautifully animated, with slick new character designs, and hair-bristling music by the one and only Yoko Kanno. To this day, whenever I watch this intro I think, “I should give that show another chance.”

Word to the wise... don’t give this show another chance.

The opening sequence for the original OVA is nothing to sneeze at, either, but there’s something about this one that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. While the original OVA intro was really striking and serene, this update manages to be a bit haunting and still totally active and exciting.

NUMBER ONE == GUNSMITH CATS

This is kind of the COWBOY BEBOP intro before COWBOY BEBOP: stylish as hell, nice jazzy tune, great animation, and a perfect fit for the show. There’s no mistaking what this show will be about: girls, cars, guns and bombs all receive pretty much equal screen time.

(Hell, the words GUN and BOMB are blasted across the screen right at the start).

There’s a nice, retro kind of approach to the visuals here, with high contrast cut photos used for some buildings, and bright primary colors filling the screen. There are also some bits of dot tone here and there, as a nice nod to the manga. Above all else, this intro is soaked in buckets of style. You can expect some rock sax, and “authentic” Chicago-style jazz to set the tone. It’s all very silly but really well done and obviously enthusiastic for its subject matter.

This intro has a definite, decisive look and attitude and that goes a long way. This isn’t just a series of clips and character portraits - - it feels unified and cohesive. It’s like a great album cover, it’s a complete statement on its own and you’ll remember it as a part of the experience of the show, not just a snippet of music and images before the story begins.

As I said at the beginning of the list, there are a ton of great intros out there, so if you didn’t see your favorite on this list don’t fret - - there will almost certainly be a part two! With that in mind, feel free to name some of your favorite intros in the comments section below. If I like your suggestions, they just might make it into the next TOP 5...!

Alex Eckman-Lawn is an illustrator and comic artists from Philadelphia. Check out his site - -alexeckmanlawn.com - - rumble with his Tumblr - -dudenukem.tumblr.com - - and hit up his Twitter: @alexeckmanlawn

SammyGabrylon April 8, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.
These are all great openings but I wouldn't put any of them in my top 5. What about Trigun, Bebop, Ergo Proxy, Bleach OP 1, 3 or 4, Darker Than Black, Qwaser OP 3, Death Note OP 1 or 2 or Hellsing?
Kino88on April 8, 2013 at 1 p.m.

OP's I love in no particular order,

Higurashi

Key the Metal Idol

Soul Eater

Black Lagoon

Angel Beats

Chrono Crusade

Lain

Bleach (original OP)

AURON570on April 8, 2013 at 1:37 p.m.

This is my favorite OP as of right now: I actually find myself singing along during some parts, haha.

Marshal Victory is online on April 8, 2013 at 2:40 p.m.

I dig gunsmith cats an all but theirs better.Well in my opion any way.

In no order.. also i think a good opening does NOT spoil the characters of the show ,future plots etc.

Visualy creative second season opener.As well as reflective of the characters from 1st season... err so to speek.

how can you not like it?

wait it out 80's the 80s! with out spoiling the series.oh the irony oh the song.

Wanted to add more but explorer did not like me posting vids. An its hard to find vids now because of song rights i guess.

Zetsuen no Tempest: The Civilization Blaster is real hard to find the open . 1st season opener was a great one to visual an music wise.

Durarara!! Is good because it ties the characters an events together much like the subplot um plot .Which sould remind you of..

note how both move things or link things to from character to character.

Then we have this...

Thats right dancing Detective Conan .The shows awesome. The intros um... suck.This ones the worst.Did i mention hes dancing.. note 00:50 ya can see Sinichi face-palming Conan's dance.When your mocking your self in your own intro that is bad.But worst sin the show does is the clips of whats incoming an give clues to the mystery way before the show even gets going.

Kuro_Sanon April 8, 2013 at 3:20 p.m.

The Ultimate Kuma From Argentina Anime Opening top 5

5- GTO Driver's High

Onizuka is the man, anybody that considers knowing about anime will concur, Onizuka is the man. And his anime as awesome or flawed as you can consider it haves one monster of an opening. One of L’arc en Ciel finest anime theme songs, Driver’s High fits the awesomeness of Onizuka to the fault, describing a high speed motorcycle through the city.

4- Cowboy Bebop Tank

You cant make an Anime Opening list and ignore this gem, this is made of awesome, style, music, animation, everything joins in to give out one of the best anime openings ever, not to mention the fun factor of getting up a Karaoke in any kind of Con and say that you will try this out.

3- Shin Getter Robo Armaggedon HEATS

This may be a personal pick but trust me, you wont find more hot blood anywhere in the world apart from this ****ing face melting, blood boiling song. Hironobu Kageyama rocks out, and the lyrics can set an iceberg ablaze. If you had the original CD of this song (as I have) you could try to cook eggs over it without a flame, this song is that ****ing Hot Blooded.

2- Casshern Sins Blue Flower

Feel the sorrow and the pain, fuck how much I did cried with this fucking series…. You will feel this song each time you hear it after the series. CASSSHERN!!!! Why did you made me cry so fucking much! The style is incredible, the music fits like a glove, a very sorrowful glove, the lyrics are particularly good and will make you cry your heart out…

1- Sakamichi no Apollon Sakamichi no Melody

This is the best opening I’ve heard in a really long time and it feels good, it feels right. The music could relax a junky lion going through cocaine abstinence syndrome, and the animation is so fucking fluid and dreamy…. Fuck them all, all the animation studios that make moeblob crap instead of really fucking awesome work like this…. YUKI wherever you are I ****ing love you…

Honorable Mention

This is the song of my childhood, a really, really crappy Saint Seiya opening for the latin-american version, that was the same of the Spain Version, that copied it from the French version and is even sung by the same artist that happened to be able to talk French and Spanish, enjoying the glorious hamminess of "Los Guardianes del Universo" (The Guardians of the Universe) one of the most singed songs in Karaoke in any Argentinian Convention

AgentJon April 8, 2013 at 3:24 p.m.

I haven't been able to get this song out of my head since I first heard it four years ago.

Turambaron April 8, 2013 at 4:23 p.m.

I've always been curious. What led to the rise of the trend of putting sound effects into the OP of the show during the 90s?

As for my favorite...Brain Powered's "In My Dream" because of the nekkid boobs...nah, probably not.

It's probably a close call between Stardust Memory's "Men of Destiny", which is just a great song, 08th MS Team's OP which has fantastic imagery, and Overman King Gainer, which has giant robots doing the monkey.

GokaiRedon April 8, 2013 at 4:28 p.m.

My fav Openings are...

Wolf's Rain (surprised that didn't make the list)

Cowboy Bebop

Outlaw Star

Mezzo DSA

Lupin the 3rd Part 2

Desert Punk

Falkenon April 8, 2013 at 5:28 p.m.

@GokaiRed: Wolf Rain and Lupin III are awesome!

@Turambar: In My Dream A.K.A. Boobpening

N15PCAon April 8, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.

Glad you put Gunsmith Cats intro on this list. Here is some of my other favorite anime openings. Golden boy, Blue Seed, Hellsing, Masion Ikkoku (3op), Lupin the III (Red jacket op), Tenchi Muyo, Boys over flowers and Ramna 1/2. Just to name a few.

Donwunon April 8, 2013 at 6:38 p.m.

Co-sign GTO Drivers High

rubberluffyon April 8, 2013 at 8:53 p.m.

I've seen too many to even try to put favorites in order (or even remember what my favorites are), so I'll go with some recent ones:

JoJo Op 2 - Blood Stream

JoJo Op 1 - Sono Chi no Sadame (only good quality video I found on short notice has the weird borders)

FMA: B Op 3 - Golden Time Lover

Attack On Titan - Guren no Yumiya

Falkenon April 9, 2013 at 7:51 a.m.

@rubberluffy: The two Jojo openings pump my blood! Bloody Stream is fucking awesome! not to mention than both have kick ass lyrics

Daniel_Newton moderator on April 9, 2013 at 8:07 a.m.

You teach meeeee and I'll teach yoouuu, POOOOOKÉÉÉÉÉMOOOOOOON!

AlexEL staff on April 9, 2013 at 4:54 p.m.

@Marshal Victory: hahaha, that Conan intro is embarrassing! thank you so much for posting this.

those jojo's intros are pretty slick! I'm still on the fence about the animation style of the show but there's no denying that these are really energetic and I love how they're using the comic sound effects. cool stuff.

I was always more partial to the poke-rap, myself.

great suggestions so far, everyone. keep'em coming!

rubberluffyon April 9, 2013 at 5:13 p.m.

@AlexEL said:

those jojo's intros are pretty slick! I'm still on the fence about the animation style of the show but there's no denying that these are really energetic and I love how they're using the comic sound effects. cool stuff.

The openings were done by Kamikaze Douga, who generally just do CG work, like the cutscenes in the PSP port Final Fantasy Tactics: War Of The Lions. The show isn't CG like that, but both stay true to the spirit of the original manga art. They only did the openings, which are cool as hell.

unkle_matt85on April 10, 2013 at 3:39 p.m.

I didn't like any of those songs, that's my opinion. The opening song songs I like: Ikki Tousen, Basilisk, Samurai 7, Gilgamesh, G.I.S.T SAC, Fate/Stay Op 1, Blood + Op1, Trinity Blood, Tenjou Tenge, Eureka 7 Op1 and Cpwboy Bebop.

lentfilmson March 10, 2014 at 8:21 a.m.

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