Rory Muses about Anime Opening Themes

The anime opening theme: roughly a minute and a half for the show to establish itself with spectacular visuals and incredible music.
I have seen many, many opening themes over the years. Some opening themes stuck with me, and certain ones in particular even found their way onto my music playlists. In this post, I’ll be sharing the opening themes I’m particularly fond of. There’s quite a few, and I shall be sharing videos of them. These videos will only be of the opening sequences – you’re going to have to look elsewhere for the full versions. With that said, I’ll start talking about opening themes now.

The question becomes where do I start? Where better than with the first anime I ever saw, and a very well known tune.

So, I kick things off with the English opening theme for the first ever series of Pokémon. In my opinion, this is the finest opening theme the Pokémon anime has. Whilst I did like the one for Advanced Battle, I’m sure many would agree when I say the original is arguably unmatched.
It’s practically iconic, and I have a fond memory of hearing loads of people singing it when I went to my first London MCM Expo (which is now known as the London MCM Comic Con).

Moving on from that, let’s move on to the first anime I watched after I became familiar with the very concept of anime: Bleach.
Now, Bleach‘s first opening theme, ‘Asterisk’ is very good, but there are two in particular I want to highlight.
First up is the third opening theme, High and Mighty Color’s ‘Ichirin no Hana;.

This song debuted on Bleach‘s 52nd episode, and rapidly became a favourite of mine. The title translates as ‘One Lone Flower’ (at least according to the Bleach wikia), includes some screaming and the full version has a rocking guitar solo.
Actually, I’ll say now that a lot these themes are going to be of the rock genre – that is my favourite type of music, after all.

The other opening theme from Bleach that I really like (admittedly, they are all pretty good) is the fourth opening theme: ‘Tonight, Tonight, Tonight’ by Beat Crusaders.

I absolutely love hearing gratuitous English in anime, and this theme song is entirely just that – they rhyme the word ‘ration’ with ‘nation’, for example. This might also be the very first anime opening theme I was able to sing along with. Bleach had some incredible opening themes, as did the other two of the trio that were considered the ‘Big 3’ back when they all aired.

Talking of the big 3, they’ve had their fair share of brilliant opening themes too. Naruto‘s fourth opening theme, ‘Go!!!’ by FLOW is arguably one of its best, even taking into account the Naruto Shippuden openings.

This is the song that features the lyrics ‘we are fighting dreamers’, but that’s not its actual title. It’s one heck of a catchy song though, and pretty much the only opening theme from Naruto that I can easily recall.

We move on to One Piece, and my favourite opening theme from that one is the first. When it came to watching One Piece, I first got into it through Funimation’s dub. As such, their English version of the first opening theme, ‘We Are!’ is the one I’ll be featuring here.

The singer for this theme is Vic Mignogna – the English dub voice actor for Fullmetal Alchemist‘s Edward Elric.
The theme song captures the adventure of One Piece pretty well, at least in my opinion. There’s also a great moment when it crops up in the anime when the Straw Hats ride the Knock-Up Stream into the sky.

Moving on from one Toei franchise to another, Dragon Ball Z has an arguably classic opening theme.

‘Cha-La Head-Cha-La’ as performed by Hironobu Kageyama is one of the many opening themes of Dragon Ball Z and arguably the best one in the franchise.
However, a challenger appeared with the debut of Dragon Ball Super:

I adore ‘Chozetsu ☆ Dynamic’, which is performed by Kazuya Yoshii. It’s all about taking on the challenge of the gods, and becoming stronger in the face of defeat – it just works so well for Dragon Ball Super. Also another example where the opening theme is used during a great moment in the show; in this case it’s during the battle between Goku and Hit.
There is also an English version, also sung by Kazuya Yoshii. Just as enjoyable as the Japanese original.

Since we’re sticking with Toei, I’ll guess I’ll also share my favourite opening theme from their PreCure series. Whilst I think the title themes for the first and second seasons are great, Splash Star‘s opening theme is the one that remains my favourite to this very day.

The title of this song is ‘Makasete★Splash☆Star★’, and is performed by Yuka Ichiyae with Splash Stars. The opening themes for the various PreCure series are pretty strong across the entire franchise.

Some opening themes are simply pure classics. None more so than arguably this one:

That is ‘Tank!’ by Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts, the opening theme of Cowboy Bebop. Without a doubt in my mind, Cowboy Bebop is one anime series that everyone should watch at least once – there’s not really much I can say about it that hasn’t been said already. As for the opening theme: it’s really good.

Another arguably classic anime series is Gurren Lagann, and it’s opening theme is pretty good.

‘Sorairo Days’ by Shoko Nakagawa is a fun song – a perfect fit for the show that reconstructed the mecha genre after Neon Genesis Evangelion‘s deconstruction.

Talking of Neon Genesis Evangelion, that show has a pretty great opening theme as well.

See? Whilst the opening theme is great, I will say I prefer the Rebuild of Evangelion movies to the main series. However, they don’t have ‘A Cruel Angel’s Thesis’ as an opening theme.

How about some Japanese Nu-metal? If so, I’m sure Death Note‘s second opening theme will have you covered.

Maximum the Hormone’s ‘What’s Up, People?!’ is one of the few opening themes that have made their way onto one of my playlists. It’s a song I really like, and that’s all I really have to say about it.

Other opening themes just manage to worm their way into your head and stubbornly refuse to be dislodged no matter how hard you try to forget about them. My premier example of this comes from probably the first slice-of-life show I ever watched:

Azumanga Daioh‘s opening theme, ‘Soramimi Cake’ by Oranges & Lemons, is very catchy. It’s not the type of music I typically enjoy, but it’s definitely an opening theme that sticks firmly in the mind.

Another example of an earworm comes from another slice-of-life show, and perhaps the second one I ever watched.

‘Motteke! Sailor Fuku’ is a very upbeat song, which makes it quite a contrast from the actual content of the show. Still, I find the song to be very enjoyable, and there is a cover of it out there by none other than JAM Project.

Since I’ve mentioned JAM Project, I figure now would be a good point to mention an opening theme that is more recent than most of the stuff in this post thus far. A song by JAM Project called ‘The Hero!! ~Ikareru Ken ni Honou o Tsukero~’.

ONE PUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNCH! The opening theme for One Punch Man is hot-blooded, which is what you’d pretty much expect. I know JAM Project have several other opening themes under their belts, but this one is my top pick of theirs. This song is also currently my ringtone on my mobile phone.

One Punch Man isn’t the only superhero anime I found to have a really good opening theme.

My Hero Academia‘s opening theme is ‘The Day’ by Porno Graffiti. It seems that rock music and superheroes go quite well together. The visuals on display during the opening are pretty great, too. Plenty of action, whilst we also get to glimpse some of the cast that we’ll be investing time in watching.

Considering I have an Attack on Titan poster on my wall, it”ll probably be prudent of me to mention one of the opening themes from that. However, I’m going to feature the second opening theme here, because I feel that Guren no Yumiya would be the one everyone expects.

‘Jiyuu no Tsubasa’ by Linked Horizon is the second opening theme for Attack on Titan, and I do quite enjoy the triumphant sounding beginning. I do like the rest of the song as well; I’d consider it equal to the first opening theme.

I’ve covered a fair few opening themes at this point, but I’ve still got more I’d like to mention, and I shall do just that.
One song that I find myself constantly revisiting is the opening theme of Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid.

I’ll acknowledge that this show’s heavy doses of yuri fanservice aren’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the show. Regardless of what I think of the content, this song – ‘Overdrive’ by Hitomi Harada – is really great. Definitely one that builds adrenaline and gets you ready for the action (and fanservice) that follows.

Another song I find myself revisiting is the second opening theme for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. This particular opening theme is incredibly good, but it manages to surpass itself when it does this towards the end of the series:

I’m not going to say much else about this one, and just let you experience it for yourself.

I’ve already mentioned how I like hearing gratuitous English in anime, but how about a song that takes that a step further and seemingly consists of large parts of gibberish?

Gatchaman Crowds is a very good anime, despite the way it ended. Fortunately the sequel was a little better about that, but I’m here to focus on the opening theme rather than the show itself. ‘Crowds’ by White Ash is a song I like very much, just don’t ask me to try and make any sense out of it.

Guess I should probably mention my favourite anime series at some point, huh? Symphogear is all about the music, and having three seasons (at the time of writing, two more are in the works) means it has three opening themes to choose from. My favourite of those three is this one:

The opening theme for the third season, Symphogear GX. ‘Exterminate’ starts with just Nana Mizuki singing, and it sends shivers down my spine. I probably don’t know much about Japanese music in the grand scheme of things, but I do know that Nana Mizuki has an incredible voice. Then the song just builds on that, and it’s so good. Seasons 4 and 5 are going to have to have their work cut out when it comes to their new opening themes.

Another favourite series of mine would be Kill la Kill, and that too, has a couple of great opening themes. The one I’ll be featuring here is this one:

‘ambiguous’ by GARNiDELiA is a pretty great song. You know what, I feel like I’ve said a fair few variations of that phrase throughout this post, but these are songs that I’m really quite fond of.

Next up, Riddle Story of Devil. The opening theme sounds a little something like this:

This was a great anime, without a doubt. ‘Soushou Innocence’ by Maaya Uchida is of just as equal quality – I particularly like the way it starts with the singer whispering and then the guitar kicks in.

Another song that has made it’s way onto my playlists is this one from The Rolling Girls:

I adore the soundtrack for The Rolling Girls, and this song is no exception. ‘Hito ni Yasashiku’ is a song originally by Japanese punk rock band The Blue Hearts, though the song you hear here is a cover performed by the four main cast members of this show. A high energy track that is just a joy to listen to.

A lot of the opening themes here are for shows that are quite action-packed, so I guess I’ll share one from a more recent slice-of-life series that I consider to be the pinnacle of the ‘iyashikei’ genre.

If you ever want to just kick back and relax whilst watching anime, Flying Witch is perfect. That opening theme is catchy as well, and it really goes well with the tone.

Most of the opening themes here I’ve chosen to mention based on the actual songs themselves, but sometimes you get opening sequences that have rather interesting visuals. I can think of no better example of this than summer 2016’s Mob Psycho 100.

The words ‘acid trip’ spring to mind. Well, I assume this opening theme is pretty much what experiencing one of those is like. The song that goes with it is called ’99’ by Mob Choir, and I have to say I do quite like it.

Often you get opening themes that are performed by the main cast of the show they’re for. The best examples of this I can think of come from the Love Live! franchise. There’s three different opening themes to choose from here; two performed by µ’s and one by Aquors. Out of those three, this one is my favourite:

Maybe I’m biased because Love Live! Sunshine!! is currently airing at time of writing, but I reckon Aquors just pips µ’s to the post when it comes to opening themes. The song is called ‘Aozora Jumping Heart’.  There’s also some humour to be found in the opening sequence: You’s ‘photobomb’, and then keep an eye on Yohane when all nine members of Aquors are sitting down whilst wearing their school uniform.
Regardless of whether you prefer µ’s or Aquors, the opening themes present a chance to hear the groups performing all together, and give you an idea of what to look forward to once all the characters’ respective dramas have been resolved and they come together.

There are a few examples of the opening theme perfectly matching the anime, and the last theme I’ll be sharing here in this post is arguably a prime example of this. In fact, it works so well that said theme was brought back for the second season.

Log Horizon is another anime is up there as one of my favourites – it does the stuck in a video game world thing, but actually focuses on gameplay elements and how they affect the world.
As for the opening theme, it is ‘Database’ by Man with a Mission ft. Takuma. This is another example of a song that made its way onto my playlists – it has some English thrown in there, and it sticks firmly in the mind.

There we have it, a whole bunch of anime opening themes that I really like. Of course, there’s plenty more out there. As such, feel free to share any of your favourite opening themes in the comments.

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About Rory

I enjoy writing, manga, anime and video games, so naturally here on my blog, you will find anime reviews, my art, Nintendo news and other such things that I deem interesting.
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