(Check out #20-16 here)
(All videos linked from reddit.com/r/animethemes)
#15: Star!! – Cinderella Project (The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls)
If you’ve read my In Defense of Cinderella write-up or talked to me about the iDOLM@STER franchise in the past month, you’ll know that I am far out of the norm when it comes to the iM@S fandom. I adored Cinderella Girls and personally ended up preferring it to the original series, with CG taking my personal #3 anime spot. No small part of this was through one of my first introductions to the Cinderella Girls part of the franchise, Star!! I heard the first season’s main OP long before ever starting Cinderella Girls and was instantly smitten with the song. The visuals themself are pretty standard as far as iDOLM@STER OPs goes, lots of cute candid shots of all the different members leading into a beautifully choreographed dance sequence during the chorus. However, the song has this kind of effect on me, wherein it always makes me smile or gets me excited whenever I hear it. It’s one of the first songs I really loved from Cinderella Girls and between the great harmonization of the group’s multitude of different voices and a simple, understated instrumental track that drives the song forward, Star!! made me excited for each episode as I binged through the first season of Cinderella Girls.
#14: Go! Go! Maniac – Ho-Kago Tea Time (K-On!!)
There was absolutely no way I would make it through the list without including something from K-On! Still by far one of my favorite anime franchises, K-On has a whole slew of great, catchy OPs and really any of them would have been a solid selection for this spot. However, I’ve always been drawn to the sound of the second season’s first OP, Go! Go! Maniac, due to how unique it sounds compared to the rest of the OPs. It has its own funky sound, fitted with some great keyboard work and Aki Toyosaki’s shout-sing-songy vocals for the track. The visuals as well are colorful and flashy, with a lot of great use of different camera angles and the poppy, bouncy fun that K-On provides throughout its entire run. As much as I love Cagayake! Girls and Utauyo Miracle, I always find myself preferring Go Go Maniac for how much it stands out from the pack.
#13: Again – Yui (FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
Oh, boy, FullMetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. For a show with so many fantastic opening sequences, this decision came surprisingly easy for me. For as killer as the driving rock sound of “Period” is or the moody nature of “Golden Time Lover”, nothing beats the series’ first OP in “Again” for a lot of reasons. The video itself is packed with so much symbolism and so many major plot points of the series that I couldn’t even begin to tackle them all in a short piece like this. If you want to see someone talk about how amazing the sequence is far better than I could, check out Mother’s Basement’s “What’s the Best OP?” video for the FullMetal Alchemist franchise. It is a fantastic video and he does some of the best OP videos out there. As for the song, I can’t describe enough how fantastic it is as a piece of music. Yui’s vocals manage to hit a mix of both haunting ominousness and also bombastic hype depending on the portion of the song, and the instrumental for the song does a great job of building the tension slowly before exploding into the hard driving sound of the chorus. It’s an amazing OP for one of the franchises I hold closest to my heart.
#12: Hikaru nara – Goose house (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso/Your Lie in April)
Speaking of heart, our #1 entry has a whole lot of it. Shigatsu was one of the breakout hits in anime from the past couple years and its OP, Hikaru nara, is an audiovisual spectacle that has so much heart and soul packed into every note and word that it deserves to be called one of the best OPs of recent years. The instrumental track for the OP plays huge to the show’s roots in classical music, with a heavy emphasis on classic instruments, and the vocal track for the sequence bounces back and forth between male and female voices, perfectly playing to the bouncy back-and-forth relation of Kousei and Kaori within the show. The visuals for the sequence are vibrant and energetic, with exceedingly smooth animation and a marvelous attention to detail within each scene. The style of the animation plays close to its manga roots, looking almost like a comic book brought to life. Shigatsu was definitely a special experience for me and its first OP certainly doesn’t fall short of the standard set by the show itself.
#11: High Free Spirits – TrySail (High School Fleet)
Oh, boy, so here’s where my personal bias really starts coming in. For a long time, I’ve been a fan of the anime premise of “young girls operating war machines”. I always tend to love and get into stuff like KanColle, Girls und Panzer, Strike Witches, Sky Girls, and the like. In my opinion, High School Fleet may just be the best of the bunch and no small part of it is its fantastic OP, High Free Spirits. The instrumentals for the OP take on a harder style than a lot of the other entries in the bottom half of this list, and the vocals carry a power and pack a punch with every word. The visuals themselves pack a whole lot of hype and action and always did a great job of getting me pumped up for action in every episode. Funny side note, because of how strong the sound of the OP was, High Free Spirits was actually my morning alarm song for several weeks after completing Haifuri.