Every story needs a great beginning…
Criteria for this list include that it has to be an anime that I have seen. If I haven’t seen an episode, but I have seen the opening, it doesn’t count. Also, only anime that I thoroughly enjoy will make it onto this list. Some anime I have seen have amazing openings but the content of the show is…lacking. Also no series can be listed twice on this, (Sorry Sono Chi No Sadame, you know I love ya!)
Honorable Mention: Gunslinger Girl (“The Light Before We Land”- The Delgados)
A gloomy tune for one of the gloomiest anime I have ever seen, but with hope spots to it. Gunslinger Girl is the tale of several girls fitted to be cybernetic assassins following life-threatening injuries. The song feels like an innocent song with a darker edge, fitting the lives of these girls well as they go through their missions with little remorse. It certainly sets the mood for what is in store and the song is absolutely beautiful. If you can handle animation from the early 2000s, give this a watch.
5: Paranoia Agent (“Dream Island Obsessional Park”- Susumu Hirasawa)
One of my favorite anime, and one of the first I saw as an adult. This opening is one that sticks with you. It barely makes my list because I feel like there are better openings to other anime I enjoy, but boy is it -unsettling-. Only fitting when you know that it is a murder mystery made by Satoshi Kon. Consisting of shots of people laughing madly in the face of death, this is certainly one to not watch right before bed. If having your mind blown is something you enjoy -do- check this series out. Sadly, it is only 13 episodes long, but it is WORTH it.
4: Speed Grapher (“Girls on Film” – Duran Duran)
Sadly this opening is the less known variation of the Speed Grapher opening. Honestly, this song fits the theme of the anime so well, (about a man who can kill using his camera and an objectified young girl treated as a “goddess” by a corrupt society). I first caught this anime on IFC and I fell in love, (which apparently makes me a bad feminist). This is the only opener using an 80s song on my list, but the fact that it uses such a popular song makes it pretty amazing. It works wonderfully with the anime and prepares the viewer for what’s coming in a rather artsy way.
3: Last Exile (“Cloud Age Symphony”- Okino Shuntaro)
I swear I am the only human being who absolutely loved this steampunk inspired anime, which I feel fell under the radar. I really enjoyed the imaginative storyline, but it was the opening that made me want to watch it. The sweeping shots of the airships with dramatic bagpipe laden music drew me in and I wanted to know the story behind both the pilots and the guild just from that, and from there, I ranked it among my favorite anime. It’s beautiful, but simply made, like the series, and does a good job of preparing the viewer for what’s in store.
2: Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency (“Bloody Stream”- Coda)
Everyone who knows me knew that this was going to happen. NARROWLY edging out the iconic opening to Phantom Blood is the opening to Battle Tendency. It’s so colorful, lively, and upbeat with a jazzy edge, just like its heroes. One of my favorite things about this opening are all the contrasting art styles. From the cel-shaded figures of Joseph and Caesar, to the simplistic designs of the minor characters, and the almost sketchy and dark designs of the Pillar Men, this opening is mind blowing. A fitting opening for the adaptation of the best part of Jojo!
And my favorite Anime Opening is…
1: Cowboy Bebop (“Tank!”- The Seatbelts)
Was there any doubt that this would take number one? The song is as iconic as the anime itself and the jazzy theme really fits the feel of the show. Animated in simple blocks of color with black shadows, the opening is simple but put together wonderfully. This stands up to this day while other anime openings look old and dusty because they tried to be too complex. Brilliant. Simply Brilliant. And Cowboy Bebop still, (in my mind) holds its title as the best anime ever made.