Melting to Wandering Son’s OP

It’s really weird, but somehow I really like Hourou Musuko’s OP. By Winter 2011 anime on Japanese TV standards, it’s not a happening OP. For noitaminA standards, it’s not a happening OP. In fact it’s basically the polar opposite of Kuragehime OP. Maybe because it is so out of place, that it ranks at the top of my favorite OP/ED this season.

I think Kuragehime OP is a good point of comparison. The dynamic and lively chain of references aside, the song “Koko Dake no Hanashi” is one of Chatmonchy’s better works–at least from a non-fan’s perspective–and it is great accompaniment to a happily-paced romantic comedy. On the other hand, I simply melted to my seat when folksy upstart Daisuke played out his “Itsudate.” during the opening of Hourou Musuko. I’m not sure what it was or why it happened, but there was something that was able to grab my attention, help me focus, and make me soak in the watercolor landscaping and the simple guitar chorus, on a dime.

If I had to guess, it was the watercolor credits hovering eerily over the empty school scenes. It came with an English translation. Three-Dee English translation. If that doesn’t draw your fancy, well…

The funny thing is, from some kind of objective sense, the OP to Hourou Musuko is all messed up. There are different kind of visual elements clashing together; it’s largely full of computer generated visuals, and (again) nothing really happens, yet it is almost the first thing we see in each episode. It works for me, but I can’t imagine it working for the average Western anime person. What is going on here?

This is just one part of the conspiracy. To see the big picture, we have to talk about theme (a little). Soft focus? That’s a good place to start. It’s like digestive juices of a pitcher plant, blending together character animation, background, colors, themes, and viewers like you.

One of the themes as expounded upon by others within Wandering Son is loneliness and finding common ground as a way to bring people together. I think the OP plays right in by cranking the folksy nostalgia lever up to 10 and lets you fill in the blank on your own. That’s why the school is empty, anyways. The show works when we project ourselves, when we engage our powers of empathy. The anime works because it invites us to do so. Even if you never had a problem with any of the problems the characters from the show faced, you can put yourself in that empty school. [And you can imagine how much more so for people who can really identify with the cast.]

Anyway, I melt when I watch the OP each week. It’s almost like the whiplash Rie Fu is now serving up weekly in the ED, except it is reversed; the OP buys us in, the ED flips out the trump card and collects the winning. There is a method to this not-so-madness.

And we didn’t even get to talk about transgender stuff! But hey, them otaku love it when a plan comes together. That plan is having a visual direction that is a part and extends the thematic content of the story. And it’s a grand plan.

PS. This is the best anime since K-ON at this trick. And I have no idea why a carnivorous plant was referenced in this post. Food chain identity disorder?

No Responses to “Melting to Wandering Son’s OP”

  • TheBigN

    Would you think that the OP sort of fits the watercolor-style adapted into the TV full stop? The show’s subtly colorful. And there is that hole “fill in the blank yourself” sort of thing.

  • omo

    The OP and ED both have the same art designs as the rest of the show.

    Color is color is color, yeah. I personally would phrase it as “really washed out” but yes.

  • omo

    Ko pointed out this awesome Japanese blog who does the full treatment (well, not counting the music) on the OP

    If you can handle the Japanese (it’s not a hard read I think) do check it out. I was like woah after getting a gist of the content.

  • otou-san

    I can’t read the Japanese stuff, but simply with respect to the sound I think it works pretty well despite seeming pretty incongruent with the soft look at first. There’s an honest, almost raw feeling to the vocals (very similar to the Kuragehime ED you mentioned) that seems to go with the laid-bare emotional level that Wandering Son is operating on.

    I like it as well, although I don’t think the whole experience of the OP animation/music tops Kuragehime’s for me. I’m not a big Chatmonchy fan either (I’ve seen them live and I couldn’t tell you which band of three they were) but the way it all worked and set the tone for the series itself was rare.

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