To be honest; I’ve never really given much consideration to anime opening themes. Which is pretty damn ironic given how much I love Japanese music and additionally, love anime. Thinking back, reviewing my personal myanimelist page I really don’t have all that many anime intros I can honestly admit I thought were good.
I find a lot of intros that are boring, ill-fitting (who the hell put BoA’s ‘Musayume Chasing’ as the Fairy Tale opening?!), or just… gimmicky. There’s nothing worse to me as a music fan as anime fans claiming they “love” a group
(*cough Black Butler fans to the Gazette cough**cough Death Note fans to Nightmare cough*) and then only knowing the opening despite their supposed ‘love”. Call me a snob, but most Japanese musicians are wildly successful in Japan regardless of getting booked to do an anime opening/ending.
In fact, admittedly (so many confessions in one post!) I even skip these parts of the episode. A true shock right? You’d think that I’d at least sit through the minute and a half of music to appreciate the art or animation previews in the background, that’s what those songs are for. My excuse is so I can finish an episode faster, yup you read that right. I gotta cut down the whole potential four minutes of opening and ending credits in a usually 25 minute anime episode in order to finish faster. Unless there’s a problem buffering, then I have to watch it through. This is also beneficial as hell when I binge watch anime on DVD since I save a ton of time skipping the next episode previews too.
(A whole 6 or 7 minutes in total saved guys!)
Moving beyond my confessions, I figured for all my love of music and anime it might be interesting to talk about openings that I actually liked and or remembered for a specific reason. Why? Simply to combine my two interests into one fun post and maybe have people chime in with ones I’ve missed.
First, I absolutely have to talk about the original Soul Hunter (1999) anime opening. I vividly remember watching in the late-2000’s and thinking, “This is the most late 1990’s sounding anime opening I have ever heard in my life”. I also remember it being ear-splitting loud and high pitched, so of course I had to look it up.
Surprise! It actually isn’t as bad as I remembered it (vocally, the animation is still awful). Even before drafting and re-writing this article, I found myself humming the tune from time to time which is a even bigger rarity for me. I always remember humming it and thinking, “Where is this from? Oh, Soul Hunter”. With most tunes, from anime openings or not I usually have to think for awhile, remember the artist and doubt myself where it came from, before I can remember. I’ve never had that with the Soul Hunter opening.
This next song is among the few I can half-ass the words to in karaoke or in the shower and it doesn’t sound too bad. Which is Serial Experiments Lain’s opening ‘Duvet’ by BoA. I was totally stunned to find out it was BoA, the kpop star singing this theme. She really did that, folks.
Which, while Kpop idols singing Anime intros is fairly common place (I believe 2PM sang one for Blue Exorcist and Boyfriend has sung one or two as well), BoA was the one to break into the market. Not to mention, the song is entirely in English, further upping the hurtle for it. She nailed it of course, and this song completely re-set any feelings you had about the previous episode and order to allow you just one more f****d up episode of Lain.
My family was pretty bemused when I excited talked all about this over Thanksgiving my freshmen year of college. But this intro does a lot more then set a mood, it IS the mood. The lyrics aren’t complicated, there’s not spit fire rap or guitar solo, or even a breakdown. It’s in the weird shade of grey where I’ll forget about it for a year or two, start singing it in the shower, remember, look it up, and have on repeat for a few days in a row. Despite my weird cycle of memory for this song (and for Lain in general) ‘Duvet’ is one of my all time favorite opening for any show, period.
Which leads into another similar genre of anime, but completely different style of music which is Yoko Kanno and Origa’s opening themes for ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Seasons One and Two. These songs are intense, like shooting us a hundred years into the future of music but they’re both songs from the past (does that even make sense?).
“Inner Universe” is the song from season one and let me tell you; I was so confused as to why for awhile I only found the song in Russian. Turns out there’s both a Russian, English and Latin versions of the same song. The one that struck me most is the Latin version so I purposefully jumped back to the opening theme no less then six times in order to memorize the words. It’s that good of a song in my opinion.
Following this up of course is ‘Rise’ probably the more underrated opening. I can still picture all the animation that goes with the lyrics and even ending up turning some heads singing the short version at karaoke with my host family.
The reason these two intros stick out to me is probably because Ghost in the Shell is one of my favorite franchises ever. Like, if I was stuck rewatching one franchise and one franchise only for a year it’d be Ghost in the Shell. It helps that instead of being in Japanese or English, there’s Latin versions of these songs. Origa aka Olga Vitalevna Yakovleva, is amazing Russian artist who worked exclusively in Japan until her recent passing in 2015. She was responsible for the lyrics and their translations and worked with a ton of other amazing Japanese artists. And yes, I sing these as loud and full as possible in the shower, in latin, startling my twin brother who knows latin with my awful pronunciation.
Only recently, I watched “Ousama Game” and fell in love with “Feed the fire” by Coldrain. It was one of the few theme songs I was rocking out the entire time it played when loading the full episode. I found myself genuinely rocking out, and I’ll have to set aside some time getting to know Coldrain better. King’s Game might have sucked but it’s opening was awesome.
Lastly, I can’t deny the most iconic opening in anime of all time. No it’s not ‘Fighting Dreamers’ from Naruto. Of course it’s ‘Asterisk’ from BLEACH. You can feel the nostalgia dripping out of your memory as you read that, can’t you?
It’s still a damn jam even now. I don’t know a single person in the anime community who hates this song. I have friends who only watched BLEACH in passing and STILL remember this song and all the words. You don’t get a lot of songs with that much impact anymore.
So there you have it. More confessions then I should probably admit as a music and anime fan and a few favorites and stand outs from my personal collection. Did I miss one? Did I re-connect you to a long last favorite theme song? Let me know in the comments below!