The thing continues. The thing where OP gets listed for some reason(s) and words attached to them. Sorted by age.
It’s got a motif–summer, sunflowers, smiling faces, film, flight. It’s the story about an awkward birth secret that nobody knew, brewing romance and budding individualists trying to remember what the hell was going on. There was the usual gaggle of teenage hijinks and some strange reference to its earlier prerequisite series, Please Teacher.
The song is relatively weak compared to the other entries on my list, but I like it just as much as any other. It is also a duet, which makes it kind of special. If I could typify I’ve Sounds and Summer in one song this would be it. The harpsichord is punchy, like aged furniture in some expensive import showroom, except you just noticed it was Ikea you are in. Nonetheless everything comes together by design, those fast cuts and articulated notes transporting me, almost, to where everything began.
I wonder how it looks on Blu-ray.
- Pleasing? Please is its name after all
- Teaser? Sure.
- Pitch? Nobody knows its pitch, maybe?
- Pace? 10/10
- Marketing power? Could be better
Rank comment: I hit it all the time.
I confess, it nearly didn’t make the list because it is by far the most overplayed crap western fandom does in terms of OP/ED. At least when it comes to anime. By 2012 I’m sick and freaking tired of hearing it blaring everywhere. At least give me some What Planet Is This!?, it’s the same damn of thing, but just less tiresome. However as far as an OP goes it is succulent. So it’s special because while the music was good, to me it was the animation that made it memorable.
There’s a strangely doodlish nature to the piece, I guess, it’s like jazz improvisation. I probably don’t need to mention the clever use of dark and white spaces, the stylish animation, humor, everything about it. There’s just not a lot to say, actually. It’s a relatively minimal piece where the animation was focus and it’s not trying to dazzle, just trying to do its thing.
- Pleasing? Not anymore.
- Teaser? Big time.
- Pitch? Black?
- Pace? Spot on
- Marketing power? More than ever.
Rank comment: Please don’t loop it.
Himiko-den OP (any variety)
For a late 90s anime, the OP is surprisingly impressive because it manages to say a lot without doing very much at all. It made a huge splash for a sweet-voiced (or I guess by today’s lingo, moe-voiced) model turned idol. I think it’s important to distinguish this work with later upcomers (say, Shaft and Kana Hanazawa’s masterpiece) because all you had were these ornate illustrations sliced together by some catchy framing and simple cuts. The on-the-twos pulsating hair-in-the-wind and longing looks were used just enough in those 90 seconds to convey that supermodel stare into the heart of every moefag. To that end, Himiko-den was spot on.
On the other hand, the songs and pretty girls aside, the show was not too much like it; the OP did convey that fleeting fantasy idea that made the show somewhat exotic, and so the failure to match lies more heavily on the lack of execution of the anime itself than the OP. The anime itself would’ve been much better if it was, say, like Shaft and Kana Hanazawa’s efforts.
- Pleasing? 9/10
- Teaser? Oh yeah
- Pitch? There was one?
- Pace? Smooth but with character
- Marketing power? Aplenty
Rank comment: I’d loop it, but more for the music.
Most universally catchy thing ever IMO. The song and visuals work so well.
It’s always kind of tricky when you make a long running series in terms of how to frame something that will be durable to watch all the time. Those CLAMP music videos tie-ins really glows when you frame the OP with that perspective.
- Pleasing? Pretty good.
- Teaser? I suppose.
- Pitch? You wanna be a magical girl, babe?
- Pace? Perfect
- Marketing power? CCS MERCH NOW ON SALE
Rank comment: You just can’t help but to sing to it
You know you’ve hit the next level in “anime history” when it’s an OVA that you’re digging into. This one is, I’m going to guess, the one most people aren’t aware of. It was subtitled thanks to some intrepid old time digisubbers, but surely you must be aware the effort of subbing from LD.
What I like about this OP is that not only it’s one of those late 90s anime where all the money went into the OP and the first 5 minutes of the first episode (and this is an OVA!), it is also like the best-yet-totally-generic thing ever. The only appeal it had was conveyed through the animation and the direction, which is to say, delivers exactly what I want. Well, even with that said, it’s not too bad.
- Pleasing? Sure.
- Teaser? 7.5/10
- Pitch? Not too sure, it’s kind of a generic robot thing.
- Pace? Just right.
- Marketing power? I guess so
Rank comment: It is an earworm.
This song is kind of like the other Yoko Kanno entry, so let’s leave that aside and focus on the animation. It’s obviously well-colored, there’s a consistent and thematically relevant sheen, lack of a better word, on this shoujo-esqe fantasy. Actually, that strikes me as the biggest point (and perhaps, problem). It’s really a fantasy anime pitched with a girl’s POV. Except when you examine the concept presented by Escaflowne like that, it feels like some cheap trick to inspire BL doujinshi. Well, I’m sure much ink has been spilled for those causes.
The montages of pretty people (and their pointy noises) aside, the OP sequence literally flies when we get to the giant robots, which for all of us who’ve seen the show, knows that’s what it’s all about. That, and random scenes of catgirls longingly looking at the stars, with a bad guy’s single tear permanently painted on his face. Escaflowne OP marries two concepts together, or maybe rather co-ops one into the other, in that happy, piano-percussion beat about girly fantasies.
- Pleasing? Only if you don’t think about it.
- Teaser? I guess.
- Pitch? It could do a better job.
- Pace? 8/10
- Marketing power? LOL
Rank comment: Not the last time a Yoko Kanno OP song overpowers a Shoji Kawamori’s story.
In a way this is memorable for the same way CCS OP3 was, but it’s much less over the top. It sticks to being cute, despite, obviously, this is otaku fare, folks. We’re in the mid-90s, the bubble has yet to explode completely, but we’re already mixing oil with water, the sickening spectre of moe with wholesome magical girls. [It almost reminds me of a skit from Inu x Boku SS anime a couple weeks ago…] I’m not sure, however, that matters much. I think what appeals visually is almost universal in this regard, that evocative direction and cute character animation will always find fans regardless which marketing speak people had been speaking before.
In this case, just the cut before the title card was already pretty ambitious, and that’s barely 13 seconds in. Somewhere between the computer-graphics-y effects and the pond-skipping animation, there was suppose to be something off-cute and gap-moe-ish. But I suppose that’s where this show deviates, or rather, is a deviation.
- Pleasing? For some.
- Teaser? So-so.
- Pitch? You know what the show’s about.
- Pace? Good pace.
- Marketing power? 8/10
Rank comment: It’s not a masterpiece but it was a piece you can measure other things with.
Besides being “kami anison” class and available at every karaoke system manufactured since 1996, I think Gainax put a lot of effort into it, like any good serious giant robot anime planners would. Like the other two entries so far I think it’s got the nod because of the music. I mean nobody would know who Yoko Takahashi was without it.
The animation itself was trend-setting with the large amount of on-screen text it used, and I think that was a good short cut in this case, giving you the very first looks at the weird lingo employed by the show, keeping you intrigued, showing off what has happened in a symbolic sense. For what it’s worth, the rich setting of the show needed something like this to get you going. For hardcore fans/conspiracy theorists, it served, well, as breeding grounds of sorts. But to me I see it as a tribute to the typical “real robot” anime that likes to put out the entire plot in the OP.
- Pleasing? I guess.
- Teaser? Massively
- Pitch? 9/10
- Pace? It went on its merry way without overstaying
- Marketing power? Somewhat
Rank comment: This is the music you sing along to in the shower.
Anyone remember Sonia? I know you remember I’m a Pioneer, LOL. And I’m not going to go back older than this simply because you run into things like this, and I can’t really hate on it, and this is the best it gets. It’s just no longer any good trying to compare them. By any good I mean it’s not really a meaningful exercise.
Well, Tenchi Muyo, I barely remember thee. But you were landmark for at least being a pretty good production value harem show. Perhaps the first one worth liking, unless you’re into a certain esper and his saxophone-sucking friend. The 80s is a great barrier to my interests, I almost swear I like watching the OP (1) to Mobile Suit Gundam than most things in the 80s, and that stuff is relatively dreadful. Relatively. It kind of cuts off right around when AMG was a thing or when there was an elf chick.
- Pleasing? It’s actually more soothing than it is exciting.
- Teaser? Not really?
- Pitch? All kinds
- Pace? 7/10
- Marketing power? Well, the English version maybe a bit more.
Rank comment: This is almost something entirely different.
The original crack. It’s crack for eyes and crack for ear. I list it here mainly for sentimental reasons, because it is the OP that broke me and turned me into the puddily otaku that might have become. And now it’s on Blu-ray. Also, it dates back to 1994, and I have a hard time finding something older that looked this good. In fact the only real competitor to it is OP3, which would’ve made the list if the 2nd half of the OP looked better (only if because the first 30 seconds were so excellent). And it wasn’t just flexing animation muscles per se; there’s just a methodical pace to the direction (for both OP1 and OP3 for that matter) that made it more compelling.
I also think magical girls shows tend to have the most anime-ish OPs. They’re often stylishly colorful and move to the marching of a catchy beat. I’m inclined to think that is ultimately what gets exported to today’s late-night otaku fare when we sample the various new OPs on this basis. What we’ve come to like about OP/ED is distinctly displayed in these things.
- Pleasing? Like pain?
- Teaser? A bit.
- Pitch? It’s pretty clear.
- Pace? Steady.
- Marketing power? Not its strength
Rank comment: Mostly nostalgia at this point.
It’s hard to really rank this list. Which is why I didn’t; I mean, I don’t really see any real purpose behind it; I enjoy all these works, and would glad to watch them repeatedly, talk about it, buy the single (…I think I have most of them if not all of them), get the DVD, whatever. The exercise is not just futile spewing words onto some vanity website, however. I did learn one thing: OP is a lot less interesting than ED. By this I mean OP sequences tend to be a lot more orthodox and they serve a bit like a formal, structural example of what the show has to offer. In even for edge cases like ef-melo, the OP is very faithful to what the show has to offer to its viewers and conveys structurally the same thing as boring and poorly-done OP. For everything, it isn’t until the show runs its course that we get crazy in the ED. Throughout this exercise I thought about my favorite EDs and I find it impossible to even repeat this exercise (or rather, I don’t think I want to repeat this exercise). Mainly because this list would be a couple times longer.
Another thing that came to mind is that when it comes to looking at the OP, it is a much more neutral and level ground to compare animation from the past with animation from today. Because you know a lot of the budget still went into the OP, it’s the most “OVA” type sort of work in a TV show. And usually a lot of care is put into it. With that in mind it seems actually surprising to see better OP today than you did 15+ years ago, on average. But this kind of comparison breaks down right around the start of the 90s. Well. LOL 90s anime.
I’ve listed these OP between parts 1 and 2, now in one place for you to review:
Part 1 (2011 to 2008)
Part 2 (2003 to 1994)
- Onegai Twins OP
- Cowboy Bebop OP
- Himiko-den OP
- Card Captor Sakura OP 1
- Dinagiga OVA OP
- Escaflowne TV OP
- Magic User’s Club OVA OP
- Evangelion TV OP
- Tenchi Muyo TV OP 1
- Magic Knight Rayearth OP 1
Hope that was as fun for you as it is for me.