I swear I’m not trolling.
Once upon a time, years and years ago, I did a series of posts on this blog about my favorite OPs. It’s been at least seven years since I did that, and a lot of anime have come and gone in that time. While there are some OPs which still hold a top spot in my heart, it’s high enough time to re-consider my favorites.
Having done so, it seems that it’ll always be 1998 in my heart to some degree – only three of these are post-2000. I’m becoming one of those fans, aren’t I?!?! I was also surprised to realize just how many of my favorite OPs are from shows that I either actively disliked or simply didn’t like. And half of these are from Sunrise shows?! It’s funny how lately Sunrise just pisses me off but keeps popping up as the common thread when I try to do favorite this or that lists. It does help to be prolific, I suppose.
These aren’t in any specific order, so let’s go:
Red Garden – Jolly Jolly (JiLL Decoy Association)
It is remarkably difficult to find a decent copy of Red Garden’s OP, especially if one wants the fully animated version instead of the initial one. I love Red Garden, and think its a very underappreciated gem, and I love it’s OP. It’s a more creative one than most, and brings to mind GONZO’s earlier work, Gankutsuou, given it’s visual approach, although it goes for a cleaner, simpler look. It’s a stylish OP with music and animation that work together perfectly.
Outlaw Star – Through the Night (Masahiko Arimachi)
Tragically, Outlaw Star’s another show where it is difficult to find copies of the OP online. Outlaw Star wasn’t a good-looking show, and it’s OP isn’t much different in that regard, although it does have a few nice shots. My favorite is the bit with the lead, Gene, facing away from the audience while his cape flaps against a beautiful night sky (if there is one thing Sunrise does really well with, it’s starry skies, be they a night sky or in space). It also has a fantastic song that even now I cannot resist bellowing along to when it starts up. And, honestly, watching this makes me feel a little bit of the way I felt back when I was a pretty new anime fan.
Shiki – Kuchizuke (BUCK-TICK)
I wish I lived in a world where BUCK-TICK did the theme songs for all horror anime. Sadly, I either don’t, or the world hasn’t advanced enough yet for that to be the case, but at least they did for Shiki (they also did one of the EDs). There’s a lot of great imagery, too, here, from the glowing eyes in the darkness to the stained glass-esque portraits of the cast… and reducing most of the cast to skeletons before our eyes is a nice touch, especially given how shocked some of them look about it. (I’ll also note that it makes for a hell of a much better music video for Kuchizuke than the actual music video which BUCK-TICK made for the song.) And I like, too, the variety of art-styles they utilize. It’s an OP I like a lot, and also one which I feel comfortable saying is genuinely great.
Gundam ZZ – Silent Voice (Jun Hirose)
Putting anything Gundam ZZ into a list of favorite or top things feels a little bit trollish, but this is easily the best thing to come out of the series (the first ED is a runner-up). If anything, I think ZZ would’ve been a much better show had it matched the tone of this OP much more than it managed to. I like the very start of it best, as to me it seems like it’s souls escaping from a star system, something which would fit with the more out-there moments of Newtype powers.
Escaflowne – Yakusoku wa Iranai (Maaya Sakamoto)
Here’s one that I think a lot more people can agree on being a good OP. As Maaya Sakamoto’s debut song, it’s certainly a strong one, and the animation features a lot of genuinely lovely shots of night skies. I honestly didn’t like Escaflowne the TV series, but the OP is wonderful. Check out the animation in the second half of the distant duel and consider that while stuff like Outlaw Star and Gundam X looked like utter garbage, Sunrise was capable of turning out that sort of fluidity in 1996.
Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori – Nightmare (SNoW)
(You’ll have to skip to 0:20 for the OP – sorry, tried to embed to start that way when you hit play, but it didn’t work, guess I’m not high-speed enough.) This is the weakest season of Jigoku Shoujo, but the best OP it had. The music is good, and I like the shifting lines and their occasional insets. The visuals are well-coordinated with the music, which is a nice touch, even if the whole “characters lips moving as if they’re singing the lyrics” thing doesn’t do a whole lot for me; the flourish with the falling flower is the better moment.
Macross 7 – SEVENTH MOON (Fire Bomber)
Macross 7 is far and away my favorite Macross (although I am enjoying Delta a decent bit, and I’ll note that I’m not a Macross fan), and a lot of that has to do with the fact that I actually like its music. Fire Bomber’s great! And SEVENTH MOON is their second-best song in the series (Holy Lonely Light is the best, which it should be considering it is the sound of the universe being saved from destruction). I really love the way the animation starts off with the cords being highlighted in time to the music; I am incredibly amused that we’re then essentially introduced butt-first to Basara. But the first half of the OP has a lot of moments I really like, such as the bit where Fire Bomber is cut to leaping up on the stage at the start of a concert, and the launching of the Valkyries. It’s a really good OP, and it even looks better than the show usually looked, which is definitely a plus considering just how bad Macross 7 looks at points.
Revolutionary Girl Utena – Rinbu Revolution (Masami Okui)
I’m hesitant to really say anything, because what could I even say at this point that hasn’t been said a zillion times before about such a classic? I’m bummed that I couldn’t find an embeddable copy of the remastered OP, but I think even in it’s original form it holds up very well.
Gundam Wing – Rhythm Emotion (Two-Mix)
Everything about this OP is perfect and you aren’t allowed to say otherwise (ok, Duo looks really dorky, but he’s only there looking dorky for half a second). Two-Mix is fantastic (did you know the vocalist is the voice of Conan in Detective Conan? She also voiced one of the Haros in Gundam 00). I love the line-work on Relena when we see her face right before we see that she’s with Heero. Did you know that shot of them together by a falling apart cathedral is being made into a figure? The explosion at the end is great since it could be interpreted as having killed Zechs, and Zechs sucks. It does blow my mind that this OP was as well-animated as it was considering that the show itself could only get points animation-wise for managing to keep the characters relatively on-model. By the way, 18th century French aristocracy!Relena? Hnnnnnghhhhhh.
Brain Powerd – In My Dreams (Eri Shinyouji)
Do you like boobs? Well, have I got great news for you! You’ll love this OP – it’s even got nipples! Does it make you want to watch Brain Powerd? Don’t do that, you will be so very, very sorry if you do. Ultimately, it’s the music itself which lifts this into my top ten, as the visuals strike me as uneven. The shot of Himeko (the orange-haired girl) with the coral is nice, and I do love that one of the women is toting a gun despite being completely naked, but the bits of all the women flying together while naked are stupid at best. Brain Powerd had great music, but that’s genuinely the only positive thing that can be said about it.