Photo from Maki Maki / Flickr
By Kevin Matyi
With the new year comes the new season of anime and new openings to rank. As with the previous entries, this list will only be considering anime with no previous anime adaptation and in their first season. Sorry, “Assassination Classroom,” you can’t get on the list a second time.
Both normal length and shortform anime were considered for this list, with the openings taken from whenever they first appeared in the show.
The full listing of anime airing this season can be found on Anichart.
This list does not judge the content of the anime, only the quality of the opening.
Here are the top ten anime openings this season:
10. “Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut” (Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle)
“Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle” by Lerche, photo from Anichart
The highlight of this opening is easily the characters flying around in mech suits. The suits are unique in that they don’t cover the characters up, but rather seem to work as robotic extensions of the user, allowing for flight and fast-paced combat.
However, the characters are the weakest part of the opening. The designs are not particularly memorable. Their introductions look nice, but only show them with light animation, followed by an overlay of them using their weapons. Aside from a few visuals in the middle, none of it is particularly memorable.
“Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation” by Telecom Animation Film, photo from Anichart
Much like the previous entry, the character designs for this show are pretty generic. Unlike the previous entry though, they have alternate designs for when they go in to the sci-fi game world, and the alternate designs are much more memorable.
The visuals of the game world are pretty standard for space sci-fi, although that makes it more interesting to look at than a basic school setting.
One problem with the opening is that when the characters go from the real world to the game world, there is no transition, so anyone unfamiliar with the show’s premise will likely be completely lost and think that the cast for the show is enormous.
“Prince of Stride: Alternative” by Madhouse Studios, photo from Anichart
Two elements of this opening try to draw viewers in. The first is the vibrant colors used as stylized textures on the architecture the characters are jumping around. Instead of everything being grsy and dull, it adds excitement to almost every scene.
The other element is the synthesized voices mixed with heavy syncopation in the music, especially near the end of the opening. They work together to make an opening that conveys a lot of the energy of people running around and racing with parkour.
Unfortunately, the character introductions are still just shots against a cityscape background, and at times, the stylized look leads to the characters looking like they’re jumping hundreds to feet, instead of doing the more realistic moves the anime is likely to showcase.
7. “Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm” (AOKANA: Four Rhythm From Across The Blue)
“AOKANA: Four Rhythm From Across The Blue” by Gonzo, photo from Anichart
The song for this opening is soft but works very well with the action on screen. Much like with a movie soundtrack, it fits the scene it was made for, but it would probably not work as well on its own.
The character introductions for the main characters are simple, with each of them staying still while wind is blowing their hair around, but it is an improvement over completely still shots. The rest of the cast are given still images, but they are at least set against a scene with continual animation.
The characters themselves are forgettable, but the main draw of the series— shoes that let you fly— have interesting enough designs that the shots, which zoomed in on them, and the uniform people wear with them are memorable.
6. “Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu” (Girls Beyond the Wasteland)
“Girls Beyond The Wasteland” by Project No. 9, photo from Anichart
This opening tries its best to never stop moving. Between the fast pace of the song and the quick editing of the visuals, something is always changing and trying to get the audience’s attention. Why is a high school club suddenly a band on top of a train driving through the desert? I have no idea, but I’m paying attention, so it is doing its job.
The character introductions are done well. The scenery for each of them is a void colored like old paper, with writing around the characters. Each person is given a few seconds to move around and try to show off their personality before the opening moves on.
5. “Luck & Logic“
“Luck & Logic” by Dogakobo, photo from Anichart
The main reason that this opening did so well is because of the sheer creativity of the character designs. Much like with “Phantasy Star,” the characters seem to have two distinct designs, one for general use and one for combat. While the general use designs are fairly typical—although the female lead’s hair alone makes her stand out— all of the combat designs are easily recognizable.
The opening also easily sets up who is going to be partnered to whom. It goes so far as to show their interactions outside of what is presumed to be their workplace, showing a bit more personality in the process.
4. “Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru” (Haruta and Chika)
“Haruta and Chika” by P.A. Works, photo from Anichart
Seemingly with every season, one or two shows play with how music is used in the opening. With this show, I have little doubt that the male and female voices are the voice actors for Hauta and Chika. The song itself is a great fit for the show, being both sweet and becoming somewhat grand when the entire cast is on stage.
The animation in the opening is great. Between many small movements to stop scenes from becoming static and layers of animation going on in many scenes, there is a certain liveliness and motion to the opening that stops it from becoming boring, even during less interesting moments.
The opening also shows that the characters exist and interact outside of school, which is a good idea when the anime is likely to focus around a school activity, and it would be easy to simply put the entire cast in a hallway for most scenes.
3. “Bubuki Buranki” (BBK/BRNK)
“BBK/BRNK” by SANZIGAN, photo from Anichart
This opening is a case of being good in spite of itself. While other shows like “Girls Beyond The Wasteland” had quick editing— which kept the momentum high— “Buranki’s” opening has such quick editing during the character introductions that it is impossible to absorb all of the information in one attempt.
Despite that, the opening is great. I could easily see myself listening to the song on its own. The high energy and changing rhythms keep everything moving quickly and with energy.
The characters aren’t over the top, at least by anime standards, but are unique enough to be memorable, especially when paired with their weapons and fighting. This allows them to show a few moments of personality before the opening moves on.
The basic conflict of the show is a bit vague, but given that the protagonist team is shown defeated early on, and an antagonistic team is shown beating them one on one during their introduction, it is safe to say that the conflict will not be subtle.
2. “Dimension W“
“Dimension W” by Studio 3Hz, photo from Anichart
This opening shows the balance of the show between the goofy moments and really cool action. It begins by showing the main character dancing around, presumably imitating a music video.
After some disconnected imagery which is interesting in its own right, he wakes up on top of a van, stretches and goes to work… by getting into a car chase with mobsters and taking them down by ramming in to one, then turning his car sideways while driving on the highway and using throwing knives to destroy their cars. Later, when he is discovered in an alleyway, he singlehandedly takes down three people carrying swords with nothing but a few knives and some wire connecting them.
Also, he has a partner who is an android.
We may very well have just found the biggest badass of the season.
On the music side of the opening, the song is really good. I generally do not like voices to be synthesized much, if at all, but it worked so well with the opening that I did not even notice it until the very end. Having a human voice be more electronic also works very well with the themes of the show.
1. “Boku Dake ga Inai Machi” (ERASED)
“ERASED” by A-1 Pictures, photo from Anichart
This opening is difficult to describe, mainly because so many of the visuals either have so much going on or don’t make sense without knowing more, it almost makes no sense to describe them. Why is there an image of someone’s heavily bruised leg, then a shot of a wall of clocks ticking followed soon by a picture of the grim reaper and all the while, blood pools over more of the screen? I have no idea, but like with “Girls Beyond The Wasteland,” it intrigues me and makes me want to see more.
The first part of the opening shows that there is a lot of effort being put in to the show. When the floor and stairs of a school building have scoff marks, you know that there is going to be some quality art present.
The song is not something that I particularly want to listen to, but I can tell that in its genre, I would expect it to be popular.
Given how confusing it is to describe the imagery, there is not much more to say about this opening. It is really good, and what little I have heard about the show can be summed up in “go watch it right now.”