2010: A Year of Great Openings

When looking back at this year, I was struck by how many great openings came to mind so I thought,”hey, let’s call that out in a post!” And the way I see, to have a good opening you need a good song, good animation, and both of them need to fit together distinctly. When watching an opening, I’m looking for a feeling, it should set a tone and a pace for what I’m about to watch. I think openings can have a lot of power so I have to give props when they are done well.

A good opening draws you and sets a tone for the anime. It can be the vanguard and frontman for a series giving you your first impression of what the show is about and what mood you should be feeling when you watch. Plus the animation on the opening usually at least one level higher quality than anything in the show itself so most openings are a joy to watch. There are some exceptions to this rule but we are not here to talk about them today. Today we will discuss some of the best openings of 2010 and why they stand out.

Durarara!! 1 and 2: “Sunset of Betrayal” by Theatre Brook and “Complication” by Rookiez is Punk’d

High energy and a modern style defined the entire run of Durarara!! so it is no surprise those descriptors also apply to both of its openings. These are the type that you always insist on watching even if you’ve just seen it. From the beat of the drum when you see the tire of the motorcycle of the first opening to the perfectly timed build up of the second, you can’t separate the music and the animation, they are truly integrated. These are pace setting openings for sure and they really make you feel like you can’t wait to watch the show!

Kuragehime: “Just Between Us” by Chatmonchy

Not only one of the highlights of the fall season, Kuragehime’s opening can’t help but put a smile on your face. There are a plethora of western film references, everything from Star Wars to Sex and the City, Singing in the Rain to James Bond, all those who saw it played the guessing game to see who could recognize them all. Weaving all these scenes together is a light, bright tune. Thanks to the charming lilt of Eriko Hashimoto‘s voice and the western parodies, Kuragehime’s intro is pure joy.

Giant Killing: “My Story” by THE CHERRY COKE$

Are you ready for some soccer!? Well, you will be after Giant Killing’s opening that feels like a cheer sung by soccer hooligans to rile up the crowd. The instruments (especially the bagpipes) and the vocals give it that European soccer theme. There is an equal amount of energy in the on the screen play that reinforces the music, too. But at the same time we get a sense of each character’s personalities; Tatsumi’s laid back but attentive coaching style, Murakoshi’s straight-laced leadership, Tsubaki’s nervous naiveté, plus others all come through in just the few glimpses we get of them. A wholly fun opening that makes you want to “fly a flag” for your home team!

Arakawa Under the Bridge: “Venus & Jesus” by Etsuko Yakushimaru

Arakawa’s humor would be described as absurdist and the opening has that same vibe, just look at the song title! The surreal and dreamlike imagery, angles, and color palette reinforce the atmosphere of the people under the bridge and the comedy of the show as a whole. The opening focuses on the relationship between Nino and Kou, showing off Nino’s normal deadpan manner no matter what oddity is occurring in contrast to Kou’s high-strung nature and how it makes them an awkward but loving couple. The song lyrics are as surreal as the imagery but some examination shows they are not random nonsense but just as carefully crafted as the visuals.

House of Five Leaves: “Sign of Love” by immi

This isn’t the most crazy over the top intro, in fact it is very even, but it has a charming and unique quality. The way it plays with space and depth as it pulls through the country side and eventually into the town and our cast using very flat graphics is what makes it special. 

Star Driver: “Gravity Ø” By Aqua Timez

Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop fame was brought on to do the opening of this rather odd mecha show. This opening is all about design as it is shot linearly but brings depth to it through bright and contrasting colors plus well-used black and white. Takuto’s initial resting then leisurely walking pace gives way to a running speed as he darts past people and jumps down flights of stairs reflecting the feel of the music. This is a perfect visualization of Takuto’s personality while simultaneously being the pacing of an average episode.

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru: “Down Town” by Maaya Sakamoto

This is the second Shaft show on the list, because if nothing else they have style, especially in their openings. The opening song has the same casual vibrancy and whimsy that pervades the show’s humor. There are also little hints of the weirdness outside of the normal slice-of-life happenings that occur from time to time in the series. We get a good look at Hotori’s slightly off kilter personality and love of detective work as well. Being a dance number starring the cafe’s staff helps.

Hisui’s Bonus Picks

I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like. I don’t really have Narutaki’s sense of design so my pick bonus picks are more for songs than anything else.

To Aru Majutsu no Index II: “No Buts!” by Mami Kawada

A high energy opening is essential to a good action show. The techno-baseline works well in getting ready for some action. The lyrics are also well-suited for the show and its themes. The idea that you must overcome trials of misfortune for greater rewards is a wonderful allusion to Touma’s predicament in Index. I admit there is some bais towards Railgun but that is just further proof she is the Hinagiku of this series.

Fate/Stay Night – Reproduction: “disillusion -2010-“ by Sachi Tainaka

This was picked by a heart filled with bias. While Fate/Stay Night TV Reproduction was an awful completion OAV the opening is the only salvageable item from that train wreck. I think it does a nice job of capturing the feel of all the major players and some of the more memorable moments in the series. The song has a mixture of energy and melancholy that encapsulates the series well. I might being place this higher than it deserves but the nostalgia it invokes for the visual novel is highly effective. Also both of my bonus pics prove I really like openings with occult symbols in them.

4 thoughts on “2010: A Year of Great Openings

  1. Shadowblade Edge says:

    Great picks all around, especially Soredemo, hands down my favorite for the year. I’d also like to throw a few more on the stack, because why not? Hidamari Sketch x ☆☆☆, Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge, (I’m just an unforgivable SHAFT fanboy) Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, and Working!! are all some good stuff.

  2. reversethieves says:

    Well I guess I should mention it had to be shows we had watched. There is the same chance that Narutaki would watch Hidamari Sketch x ☆☆☆ as I would be transported to Byston Well. I think we enjoy the experience about equally.

    – Hisui

  3. hoshiko says:

    Yes, I definitely like this – “Sunset of Betrayal” by Theatre Brook. I could listen to it playing all day while at work (with earphones on of course, you don’t want to disturb others) cuz it sort of gives out the energetic vibe

  4. gerjomarty says:

    Completely agree with your choices. They all flow smoothly, are nicely animated, and have clearly been designed with the song in mind, which always makes a great difference. One thing I love more than anything else in openings is cool typesetting with credits. I absoluetly adore shows that blend the credits into the animation smoothly.

    I would also add The World God Only Knows to the list, mostly for the song, it has to be said. The animation is lovely, but the song really makes it.

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