I’m never too busy to reference six of my favorite shows in a single post.

I’ve been saving this post for a week when I was really busy, because I knew I would be able to write this one quickly. For those who have followed some of the series I’ve blogged, you will recognize this as an old rant, but I think it’s one worth expounding upon, or at least one I’ll enjoy talking about at length. Here’s the crux of my argument: anime studios should use every aspect under their control to enhance the story they’re telling, including two of the most frequently neglected elements, the OP and ED.

Anime is not watched in a vacuum. There are many elements that color a viewer’s experience with a series, but since most of these – a viewer’s friends, their preexisting biases, whether they had a bad day at work/school, etc – are outside of the studio’s control, they can be safely ignored. What goes on during the run-time of the episode, though, is entirely under their control, and nothing that takes place there should detract from the story they’re trying to tell. That’s why it aggravates me so much when an OP or ED clashes with an episode.

I’ll give you a few examples. The series that made me first think of this was Clannad ~After Story~. Compared to 「Dango Daikazoku」, which was pitch-perfect, After Story’s ED was a super-peppy upbeat thing shoved into an emotionally powerful series. No matter the merits of the song itself, every time it came on it would poison the emotions that preceded it, to the point that I always scrambled to skip forward whenever it was about to come on. After an emotional gut punch, I wanted to sit there and bask in it, to let it seep in as I marveled at the story’s ability to make me feel so much…not be lunging for the pause key because the ED was ripped from a mahou shoujo show!! And After Story is by no means the only offender – Sora no Woto’s ED was similarly peppy no matter the gravity of episode before it, and even this season’s HenNeko has a cutsey ED that clashes with the cliffhangers they’ve been ending the last few episodes with, which is surprising given the studio behind that show.

Though they did give us two Tsukikos at once, which makes up for a lot.

As far as OPs go, fewer examples come immediately to mind. While EDs have the responsibility of maintaining and/or amplifying the thoughts, themes, or emotions that took place in the episode before them, OPs set the stage for what is to come, and therefore are less likely to be objectionable. Broadly though, they hold the same burden, and must contribute to the tone of the series. For example, Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge’s OP and ED both fit the series quite well. They’re not necessarily fantastic sequences or songs in and of themselves, but they fit in with the tone and atmosphere of the series extremely well, and never detract from an episode. From a storytelling perspective, that’s actually a win.

A handful of series illustrate my favorite tactics for getting the most out of OPs and EDs. The first, which will surprise absolutely no one, is Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon. This series is the only one I’ve ever seen that always runs two EDs simultaneously, and picks which one to show each time based on the tone at the end of the episode. There’s the serious, tragic ED – always based around the main heroine of that season, Horizon for the first, and Mary for the second – and the upbeat or heroic ED, which usually features chibis of some sort. This tactic ensured that every episode ended with the perfect ED for the occasion, which greatly enhanced the effectiveness of some extremely powerful endings. I wish more series would do this. Rather than finding one ED that can account for all episodes, this allows them to utilize different tones while maximizing the emotional effectiveness – and they get more CDs to sell us to. It’s win-win-win!

The day one of these songs is sung by or about Suzu, is the day Stilts becomes radically poorer.

Another tactic I love is starting the ED before the episode is completely finished. Once again, no one who knows me will be surprised with my examples – the J.C.Staff romcom division are masters of this with shows like Toradora, Ano Natsu de Matteru, and Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo. This requires that the series have appropriate EDs to make use of, but provided they do, the effect on an emotionally powerful scene can be stunning; there’s is nothing quite like the music coming on as a character has a stunning realization, when two characters finally kiss, or when they all run off into the future together. Music has an indescribably powerful effect on the human mind, so in the same way that a great OST enhances the viewing experience, this does that in a much more overt way.

Those are the rare ones – now for some more common tactics, though ones I still highly respect. The first is getting rid of the OP or ED when an episode needs extra time. I cannot even begin to explain how annoyed I get when I think of how much better an episode could have been with just a minute or two more of screen-time, and they just faithfully played the OP and ED like normal! OPs and EDs can be powerful, but they’re support elements – if the story itself needs more time, chop them off! Once again, my usual examples prove themselves adept – Kyoukaisen and Sakurasou in particular were both masters of cutting out these sequences when they had more important things to do. Or rather, they would cut out the OP and play the ED theme over the last part of the episode, which the best of both worlds! They’re not the only ones, though – even this season’s mid-length short Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san never wastes time on the ED because it has better things to do with that time. It’s a shame we always get both sequences with Aiura, which cuts down the actual episode length to like 40 seconds. It could have been so much more!

We could have had so much more time to focus on legs.

Last one: though its so frequently used it borders on cliché, I love the old tactic of playing the original OP or ED during the climactic scene of the final episode. Since I’ve already brought up a ton of my favorite shows, I’m going to trot out one more – the original TV run of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The second 「Sorairo Days」 came on, I knew they were signaling that this was the moment when the good guys were going to gloriously and irrevocably kick the bad guy’s asses. Its a throwback, to hear the music that so defines the series at this final, critical moment, and it serves to tie the whole story together. It also takes what could have been a static song blindly stuck on the beginning of each episode, and makes it a powerful part of the story itself.

There’s my old argument, written out in full – rather than lazily tacking the OP and ED onto every episode with nary a thought, anime studios should consider the entire viewing experience in order to deliver the best story they possibly can. And it’s not just them – any author who doesn’t pay attention to her cover art or typography, any app designer who doesn’t design for usability, and any musician or illustrator who doesn’t think about where their work is going to be displayed and how people will interact with it are only doing part of their jobs. Hopefully more creators will consider the entire experience of consuming their work, so that we all might have a better time in doing so. Hey, I can hope, right?

If all else fails, just give me more wrathful KuguRie tsundere lolis. Is Nagi really the only one left? What is the world coming to!?


  1. They also need to make it memorable, I can’t tell you how often anime is ignored because the intro itself is tedious and boring. Not only that but I I really wouldn’t want to skip over something as memorable as the intro to a good anime

    1. I’m notoriously bad for this. I’ll pretty much just watch the OP of a show once and decide if I even want to bother with it. (Which left me scrambling around in the dark for Shinsekai Yori.)

      And I’ll do this despite loving shows where I dislike the OP in the past. However, I think that generally, OP and ED quality and tone are a good indicator of the quality and tone of the show itself.

  2. Regarding the strategy of ED starting before the episode is completely finished: I think the first time I saw this was in Gundam SEED and I loved it! They had a very nice song by See-Saw 😀

      1. If you’re referring to episode 22 of Steins;Gate, when they used an insert song which was actually part of the soundtrack used in the VN as the ED, thumbs up for you. I thought it was done a lot better in the VN, but have to give props to the producers of the anime adaptation for pulling the scene off.

      2. @junglepenguin
        The VN was more epic cause you thought it would end like that then suddenly whammo! the credits start going static and Amane Suzuha calls with brief flashes of CG scenes. But yeah White Fox did a good job on said adaptation.

        I find the Fake Innovators to have stupid names.

      3. I actually like the Steins Gate ending of ep 23. The music really melded well with the scene, and not to mention it was a different song from the regular EDs. On the topic of Steins Gate, the ep 9 ending was also done really, the beat and melody of the song meshed extremely well with the scene, making it that much more impactful.

    1. Probably should have included that, tbh! So I’ll riff on it real quick – spoilers in OPs and EDs (usually they happen in OPs) are damn stupid. I do enjoy two semi-related things, though:

      1) When the spoiler is so subtle that it only becomes clear later on, like the dueling Yunos in Mirai Nikki OP1. That was masterful.

      2) When events happen in the OP that are ONLY shown in the OP, but are still cannon, like in both of Sakurasou’s OPs. That’s the only place I’ve ever seen that.

      1. More examples of #1 are Madoka and Blue Drop. At the end of Madoka you realize that the OP could be all about Homura, and Blue Drop’s OP could be what happens at/after the end of the very last episode.

      2. Oreimo has the ideal solution to this. They actually change the OP every episode to reflect recent developments in the anime. It’s been particularly noticeable this season, when some reveals happened in the minute right before the OP played, and the OP was already updated with new scenes to confirm the new info.

        Of course, this only works when your studio has the budget for it, but when they do it, it’s awesome.

        Show Spoiler ▼

      3. Mirai Nikki, I read the manga before it got an anime and I was laughing hard at that opening when I first saw it. It threw in obvious spoilers to get you to take the easy bait and not look deeper (the future diary holders) but also put in subtle ones that you would never notice until after the fact (and it was the biggest one too). It was excellent.

  3. For a different kind of impact, I’d like to point out Girls und Panzer. That show *always* started with the OP. No cold open, no alternate OP’s. Only the first episode (which had no OP, and played what would be the OP as the ED) broke this trend. And what that does for me is help ‘clear the palate’, a clean break with whatever you were doing before, and now get into this other show. Even for the fourth OVA, which itself was only a 3 minute version of the Ankou Dance, they had the full OP. And the show always ends with the ED, which might get it accused of mood whiplash, but I never felt the mood was *that* serious that the earnest and happy ED song and animation ruined the mood. In fact, it helped to lighten those moments by reminding that the show wasn’t about life or death, not about war, but about sport.

    1. Garupan’s OP and ED were like Crime Edge’s from this season – they were pitch perfect and added to the tone of the episode, but were never elevated beyond that. I do happen to like the songs and sequences from Garupan much more though, which counts for a lot in my book!

  4. I dont like spoilerific OPs for some reason. And non-canon OP’s. Examples are like with Bleagh Ichida VS Hitsugaya and in Fate Zero Saber VS Assasin pairings.

  5. Well, here are my 2 cents:
    There are few OPs and EDs that will be stuck into my head forever…
    Eerily haunting Higurashi NNKN OP…
    Cordite-smelling, high octane OP of Black Lagoon
    Horribly misleading, genki and cheerful OP of Evangelion TV series
    Jazzy and sophisticated OP of Cowboy Bebop
    anyone else with such memories?

    1. Cordite-smelling, high octane OP of Black Lagoon
      Horribly misleading, genki and cheerful OP of Evangelion TV series
      Jazzy and sophisticated OP of Cowboy Bebop

      All fantastic OPs for the reasons you described. They weren’t utilized as well as some of the ones I spoke about in my post, but for pure design, it’s hard to get better than these. I especially liked how misleading Eva’s OP was. It sounded like a typical gung-ho shounen OP, and then you realize that Evangelion is NOT that show. Whoopsie!

      1. I’ve never thought of Eva’s OP as misleading. Is this a fairly common point of view? I remember downloading it as a young kid 12 years ago, not knowing anything about it, and when I heard the OP I was immediately creeped out.

        Maybe it isn’t an image I’d have if I had first seen it at an older age, when I had lot more experience with anime.

      2. That’s pretty atypical, from everything I’ve heard. It was designed to sound like a stereotypical giant robot anime OP, with the punch coming when you contrast it to the twisted plot. It established the expectations which were quickly dashed. I never got a creepy vibe from it, save for in retrospect.

  6. TORCH by Lia was a fine song for an ED. Abrupt at times, yes, but I thought it worked well at others. As far as basking in melodrama is concerned, I don’t really see a problem with just pressing a button to pause the show, but I guess that’s just me, since I tend to skip most OPs and EDs, as catchy as some of them may be.

    Aiura’s OP (disturbingly macabre as it may be) and ED are cute and catchy as heck, so it’s fine. =D

    No mention of either one of Nichijou’s OPs? I am disappoint. I declare with confidence that Nichijou has two of the best OPs to have ever been made.

    The first OP for Hanasaku Iroha is the embodiment of passion. The way the OP was arranged in the first episode was sheer brilliance.

    Toradora!’s Vanilla Salt is classic. Simplicity brings out the best of things.

    I could go on all night. Time to browse through everything I’ve seen before, lol.

    1. Should be pretty obvious that I love OPs and EDs by the end of my post(s), even if I do skip past them after a few episodes.

      If there was anything good about the anime adaptation of Bleach, it would be the couple of groundbreaking OPs that it gave us (EDs don’t really come to mind though. Besides ED#23 maybe). Who can forget OPs like the very first, with Asterisk by Orange Range? We were introduced to fantastic bands like UVERworld, Beat Crusaders, Aqua Timez, Porno Graffit, SID and (my all-time favourite band) Asian Kung-Fu Generation. We were given OPs animation sequences that got the blood rushing (OP#9, with Velonica by Aqua Timez, case in point). But the one OP I have to bring up is OP#13, featuring Ranbu no Melody (Melody of the Wild Dance, for those who don’t speak weaboo) by SID. I had planned to mention it simply because it blew me away the first time I saw it, but having put a bit of thought into the concept revolving around pre- and postludes to an anime series, I realized that this particular OP is probably as close as we get to absolutely satisfying. I suppose this is a good time to talk about my criteria for OPs/EDs (not a lot actually).

      To me, an OP/ED has a simple job: keep me entertained. I don’t need to see what I’m already going to see in the whole series when I watch an OP/ED. It doesn’t have to feature a theme or bunch of pictures related to the series. It doesn’t have to fit the mood all the time. All it has to do to satisfy the least of my demands is to make sure I feel like what I’m watching and listening to is worth watching and listening to. A strangely apt example is the currently-airing Aku no Hana. Anyone who watches anime and isn’t living under a rock has probably seen the OP and ED at least once. Long story short, the OP does not fit, and the ED sounds like something you should be killing with fire. And hey, not one shit do I give, because they both fit amazingly well, even if it’s something nigh impossible to explain in full.

      In other words, I’m easily satisfied with OP/EDs. That doesn’t mean I like ALL of them. Far from that, only a very few stay in my thoughts that can be recalled at any instance, the few most memorable ones being the OPs of Nichijou, Bleach’s Ranbu no Melody and Toradora!’s Vanilla Salt. Why so? I’m unable to articulate my exact thoughts (I can barely make them out in my head), but if I were to answer, I’d say that they embody not only the essence of the series, but also the passion the producers of these opening and ending clips have for the series and its audience. Hyadain no KakakataKataomoi-C captures all that is Nichijou in a short one-and-a-half minutes, and you can tell that all the stops were pulled out to make it look absolutely delicious to watch. Ranbu no Melody has so many pieces of the plot that are yet so elegantly and subtly inserted into the whole sequence, even as it gets the adrenaline pumping with the raw, gritty visuals. You can’t help but be impressed with the feeling that you’re watching the most badass thing ever, and as you go through the sequence over again, you notice the little details and realize what they represent in the series itself. You can tell that a lot of thought has gone into the production of this particular OP. Lets not forget that you can’t beat catchy songs sung by VAs who play cute girls. Vanilla Salt is my guilty indulgence on my music playlist, and the visuals in the ED are just darn adorable (Those umbrellas! That palmtop tiger! That walking Minorin!!). I suppose that I should mention the practical aspect of these OP/EDs, which are used to display the credits. I believe that the credits need to be displayed in a way whereby they are clear, but also allow a viewer to remain unhindered from watching the animation sequence. I think the three titles that I’ve mentioned have had fantastic jobs done with the integrating of the credits into each clip.

  7. The ED that I liked overall but I found very jarring for the finale was Hyouka’s. After one of the most moving confessions both verbally and visually, we go to a comic ED. I wanted to bask in the feelings that this episode engendered since it wrapped up the romance that had been building for two seasons. They didn’t even need to do something elaborate, just show the two walking down the road together with the music from the ED playing.

    1. I know how you feel about that ED, I really wanted the credits to start rolling on that one too. I’m kinda glad they ended there though. The antics of volume 5 would have complete screwed that up. I loved the 2nd OP though, it was almost like an episode to itself.

    2. A good example. I liked Hyouka’s ED2, which like Megas said, had a little story all its own, but it did have that clashing potential. I found Hyouka’s OPs to be really good, especially OP2 (I think), where Oreki was traveling through glass. That was more pure sequence design than utilization, though.

      1. Speaking of OP/ED “stories” the Hyouka’s OP2 was amazing in that without one word it told the viewer how Houtoru in his dream realized he had become just an observer of life isolated from everyone and how Eru was the one that brought him back to participate in life. It was a great synopsis of the effect Eru has had on him over the course of the story.

  8. OP & ED having relevance to the episodes? That’s really common.
    The sequences being canon, & referenced by the characters themselves?
    I think the only one I’ve seen so far is Sakurasou’s 2nd OP, when they recall having their dinner on Sakurasou’s rooftop.

    As for a good OP but minimal relevance to plot, I think it would be Nisemonogatari’s 2nd OP.
    The one with the kawaii imouto dancing around. =)

  9. I think that Openings and Endings can be used to encourage people to watch anime as well. Many times I’ve heard people rant about how openings contain spoilers and that it ruins everything for viewers who haven’t read the source material in cases where there is some, but I can say from experience that several openings and endings I’ve seen have actually resulted in watching the anime. Sword Art Online is a good example of this, as was K Project, Fairy Tail and a number of others, after I had watched a couple of openings and liked them I decided to pick up the series.

    Also I feel that they’re a good way of getting viewers who thought things were getting stale back into the anime. A current example of this is To Aru Kagaku No Railgun S, which after seeing and hearing things about the previous series I was left feeling like it would be a waste of time, however seeing the new opening and ending animations made me give it another chance and this series has been better than ever! Bleach was another example here, I know people have mixed feelings about this subject and I share them too, however back when the studio put in fillers before one of the biggest and most epic fights in the series (Ichigo vs Ulquiorra) I dropped it out of disappointment but was pulled back in after the new opening was released containing scenes from the main storyline again. It was so nice seeing the animated versions of the managa that I picked it up once more.

    Sorry about the rant, but I am a large fan of Openings and Endings in anime. In my opinion they are one of the best things about it and like I said, they’re far more than just a minute and a half video before the episode kicks off…though in fairness they are that too.

    1. I think that Openings and Endings can be used to encourage people to watch anime as well. Many times I’ve heard people rant about how openings contain spoilers and that it ruins everything for viewers who haven’t read the source material in cases where there is some, but I can say from experience that several openings and endings I’ve seen have actually resulted in watching the anime. Sword Art Online is a good example of this

    2. @ Celecia01

      There’s some truth to that. I’ve been spoiled on some anime / manga before, and it actually made me watch shows I wouldn’t have watched otherwise. I don’t think it’s something you should plan for, though…studios should make the OP and ED exciting (if that’s what they so desire) without spoiling all the major plotpoints – that’s just lazy.

      1. Agreed, I prefer if any major twists/ plot points are left out of the opening. They can still contain developments such as new characters and hints of events to come, but I think that literally showing what happens does ruin it for anyone who doesn’t have knowledge of future events. I do, however, like when they show events happening slightly different, as it is exciting for newcomers and entertaining for people who know what is going to happen. For instance; in Railgun S it shows a fight from the manga between two characters and adds in characters that aren’t actually present at the time. Another is, as many Naruto fans know, that during the Pain attack on the Lead village, Konan didn’t do much, but in the opening it showed her having an epic battle with three characters that never encountered her.

  10. For me, opening and endings need to be easy on the ears…and I really hate it when the animation studios put spoilers in the opening, such as Valkyria Chronicles (excellent game adapted into a anime series, but the second opening had a huge spoiler for something that happens a few episodes down the road.)

    There’s no doubt that a lot of people will rank Guren No Yumiya (Shingeki No Kyojin’s opening)as one of their top Openings for this season…never had I seen a opening that was parodied so many times and yet with every video that I watch, it never get boring.

    For your entertainment, here’s the voice actors for Eren, Mikasa and Connie Springer singing the Shingeki No Kyojin opening song:


  11. There are great OPs and EDs that add a lot to the show.

    And then there are the great OPs and EDs that take away from the show because you end up just looping the song instead of watching the episode.

    1. Honestly, I’m not as big of a fan of it. It can work, certainly, but there is something to be said for repetition, and also in having one or two EDs that are done really well. Sora no Otoshimono, OreImo, and this season’s Hayate Cuties all have some good EDs, but I can’t honestly say I remember them because they were there and gone inside of an episode. That makes them lack permanence.

      Oh yeah, and on that done-really-well part, when a series does 12+ EDs, the sequences are usually pretty simple, which takes away from a lot of the enjoyment that can be derived from the sequence itself. So I don’t hate seeing an ED per episode, but it’s not my preference.

  12. Maybe it’s related to personal taste, but I always found that:
    -if one OP could catch my attention during the first 5 seconds, there’s high chance that I will like the rest (ex: Honeycomb, Valvrave). Strangely, that’s not happening a lot for EDs.
    -there are times when I like the 1:30 version more compared to its full version. One recent example I could think is PSYCHO-PASS OP2. I love that opening, but the full version is…underwhelming (for me, at least)
    -playing ED at the middle of the scene could be very effective. One best example is Anohana. Everytime I hear “Kimi to natsu no owari…” at one particular scene…damn, A-1, thanks for the trick.

    Kevin Yamagata
    1. The second Accel World OP is a great example of a song made much better by the 1:30 version. The full version of Burst the Gravity is so cheesy, with tons of engrish and horrible rapping. And except for two lines (just enough for some impact), it’s cut out of the 1:30 version.

  13. Speaking of disconnected OPs and EDs, the one show I’ve seen that this so badly it almost felt like it was purposely trolling you was Narutaru.

    Its opening and ending songs were completely disconnected from the crazy violent stuff that was going on in the show. It made it seem like you were watching a Pokemon imitation.

    This is NOT a happy, little kids show.

  14. Some great points. The really great shows make sure to make full use of each and every element they have at their disposal.

    The two installments of Saki are another example of a show preparing two EDs and switching them appropriately – there’s always a super-perky ED with chibis involved and a “crisis” ED with drama all over it. The crisis ED coupled with starting the music during the last scene of the episode turns some simple endings into incredible cliffhangers.

  15. For what it’s worth, one of the best OPs I’ve seen is C3’s first one where Fear is dancing. That made up for what was a just okay series.

    And I also love the Haruhi S1 ED…

    Is it just me or is an OP/ED better when there is dance involved in them?

      1. +1 for mentioning Tsuritama. Definitely agree with you about being able to follow along with a dance. Actually tried it with a friend. It was hilariously embarrassing.

        Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita’s OP has a pretty fun dance.

  16. Actually I pretty much started watching anime because of OP/ED, so to me they’re pretty important.

    I agree on most of your points but I on your conclusion I disagree. see not all anime series have a story to tell! shocking I know but hear me out. for example manga adaptions are a part of a franchise, so to say that they have a story to convey to you is half the truth. they need to promote themselves so having an OP/ED every episode is a tool no? like having a character appear on the OP/ED who they know doesn’t appear for a while is marketing. this is only an example but we need to remember that anime cost money to make(really?) and the studio obvious goal is to sell the anime, and the OP/ED is(not always) a great way to help selling an anime. I have to give an example of this. if you remember the ED of the melancholy of haruhi suzumiya, Hare Hare Yukai , turned out to be a huge selling promoter. whats a better way to advertise your anime than a dance everyone is preforming? again an example of OP/ED and their marketing potential.

    Whoa that was a long paragraph, but having said that, to me a great OP/ED have to dazzle. be it a song, really awesome action sequence, or just getting the mood right is a must. and please be creative. change the OP/ED if something happened that demands it(like if a character died).

    Damn I can talk about OP/ED all day but to end this discussion OP/ED are awesome lol 🙂
    Some old ones to enjoy :
    Naruto’s 1st opening hard to beat , Damn this still holds and CODE GEASS!!

    1. I agree that the OP and ED are tools to enhance the anime more to sell more BD/DVDs rather than tell a better story, but I have to disagree – every anime has a story to tell, even if it’s a super subtle one like in slice of life. And I still think telling a story well is the best way to sell BD/DVDs, or at least enjoy the work that you’re doing, which is even more important.

  17. I Never really was picky about the OP and ED. OPs give me an initial impression of the anime, so it’s important not to blow it. But I don’t judge it ultimately from solely based on the OP. EDs rarely leave an impression on me, but I like what J.C. Staff does when they fade out of the last scene with the ED. Oddly enough, I did like After Story’s ED even after all the emotional jerkers (though it takes a lot to get my emotions rattled, so I guess I wasn’t in the mood to hate things to begin with.)

  18. I’m watching Horizon right now, and loving it, not only but also, thanks to your posts.
    I’m in the 1st season ep10.
    I’ve read the 1st chapter of the manga and the 1st chapter of the novel after the 1st episode that helped too.

  19. As a fellow writer I wish you the best of luck on your sprint.

    One small error though on your first sentence:

    because I knew I would be able to write this quickly one no problem.

    should be: because I knew I would be able to write this one quickly, no problem. Even then the sentence sounds a bit awkward. Perhaps because I knew I would be able to write this one quickly, with no problem.

  20. oh god where to even begin…from the amount of anime i’ve watches…its difficult to even narrow down to a few…
    die buster op – my guilty pleasure
    samurai champloo is definitely up there
    duvet’s also a classic
    and that one oasis song which oddly made it into the anime realm…
    driver’s high
    i swear, nothing carved in stone composes the best sing-along ops ever….

    too many eds to sort out…can’t be bothered…

  21. There’s so many good OPs and EDs that stack up in your mind over the years.Tamako Market’s ED pops into my head every time i see something spinning.

    Even for shows that a lot of people hate on like Basquash (I still love it, DESTROOOOOY!) the OPs and EDs stay with your forever.

    The OP and ED of Paranoia Agent definitely fits the tone of every episode, man I miss that anime.

  22. Great Article, but not what I expected from the title.
    When I read the title of this article I expected more talk about OPs and EDs (the imagery used in them, what makes a good bad ending, etc.), rather than how good they fit or don’t fit the episodes.

    1. That may not quite be up Stilt’s alley (no offense).

      If it were me however, I would’ve critiqued the editing and technical details behind the openings and endings but that probably may bore people.

  23. Something that certain series do that I really think makes the show pop out, is to not show the opening until the ending of the first (sometimes even second) episode, right when the main premise has been finally established. Fate/Zero did this, and it makes sense. Sword Art Online did this, and it contributed to its having an amazing first episode, regardless of the quality of the rest of the series. Ef did this, holding off until the ending of the second episode, until you fully understand what’s going on. Just showing the OP at the beginning of the first episode seems to be to be a version of the spoilers in the OP, as in it’s telling you the premise of the show, rather than showing it to you in the first episode, and then encapsulating that in the OP. I’m sure there’s more I’m missing, so if anyone else remembers any shows that did this, I’d like to know of them.

    In other topics, I do agree that there’s a certain laziness in just playing the OP at the beginning of every episode and the ED at the end. There’s a whole other level that can be reached by simply playing around with established structures at important times, to emphasize their importance.

    1. True! Admittedly, that one doesn’t bother me as much because I think most people have some idea of what a show is about going in, else why are they watching it? That doesn’t really excuse spoiling with an OP on Ep1 though, even if it’s a lesser sin.

      More important in my mind is to use that extra time to make sure the tone and basis of the series is thoroughly set up. That’s the most compelling reason in my mind to only run one sequence in Ep1.

      1. Very true. Actually setting up the atmosphere is quite important.

        Ah, remembered a few other moments of delay of OP/ED. Kotoura-San’s OP was delayed till halfway through episode 1, and I really thought that worked out. A little bit too cheery still, but it was set up well. And Madoka’s full visual ED delayed till episode 3 for MAXMIMUM FUN. Can’t believe I forgot that one.

    2. I also think that it is a matter of how much resources the studio is willing to invest in the show.
      For Fate/Zero, the EDs are the main theme-setters. Although the OPs did the job nicely in setting the mood, it is the EDs that truly encapsulates the thematic elements of the show, particularly the flashback episodes of Kiritsugu’s childhood. If you pay close attention to lyrics of the special ED, you would find that it is more or less a ‘fit’ for what the show is trying to convey.

  24. One anime that did this was Chuunibyou. Some episodes that were emotional ends with that somewhat upbeat song. In Clannad ~After Story~’s case i think they should have done what other anime’s have done before, just drop the ending song for that one episode. The song itself is not bad, just because it happens to be the ending that it leads to after some emotional moments. Take it from Hyouka, where they actually drop the ending or even drop the opening.

  25. You can add one more series to the list of series that cut out OP/EDs. Shinsekai Yori didn’t have an OP for a long time (and when it did, it was a one-off instance that later became the ED). It just had that big of a story and such an alluring atmosphere that an OP would have detracted from the experience.

    And it also cut out the ED in the last episode in favor of a nice, long segment from Dvorak’s 9th (hell, one of the characters played it before, even).

  26. Another example of good use of the ED is Mawaru Penguindrum. There’s like 7 different endings for the 24 episodes. And they use a few different techniques you described Stilts-senpai. Playing the ending at the slot scene/leaving it out, mewaru penguindrum handles it good.

  27. Best OP Ive seen ever – Shingeki no Kyojin. The graphics and the music are just…And Ive seen a loooot of ops and there are a lot that I like.
    Other really good ops are:
    Higurashi no naku koro ni 1st OP
    Bleach 1st OP
    Xamd OP (great subtle “spoiler”)
    Gantz OP
    Durarara OP

    And one OP that I just HAVE to mention, because it is so damn promising while the anime was so bad, is Record of Lodoss War – Series (not the OVA!). You’d wish they hadnt produce anything else except the OP :S

  28. Also speaking of unfitting music – I wonder if there is any OP that fits the mood of the series as “well” as the Hunter x Hunter OP, that we STILL have for the chimera ants part now…Music and images create quite the contrast, and that is not art – that is weird.

  29. One of the coolest anomalies I’ve seen is Yosuga no Sora, which actually has two EDs every episode. The first plays after the main episode and is really low-key and sentimental, to top off the emotional moments that played out in the show. Then they show a short omake (extra/bonus) centered around one of the side characters in the show. After that comes a second ED, which is much more upbeat and catchy, to finally end the episode on a light note.

    1. The good shows know how to counter this, like this season with Hataraku Maou-sama! where the OP was filled with recap scenes until they’d finished introducing all the main characters.

  30. For me, Anime OP & ED are that sets the mode of what the anime will become. The rhythm of the beat, the tone, makes you feel what this certain anime will be. Though this conclusion wasn’t right when I watch Guilty Crown.

  31. Ah, forgot to mention one very special case: Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. I think after the manga ending, every SZS reader couldn’t forget how SHAFT made those OPs and put all those foreshadowing clues inside them.

    Kevin Yamagata
  32. Personally, I think there are two types of op/eds that usually succeed: i) an op/ed that ‘fits’ the anime itself, or ii) an op/ed that is catchy.

    In essence, as mentioned above, an op/ed is a mechanism to engage the audience and hopefully, render the audience more willing to purchase the goods. I agree that if the op/ed ‘fits’ the themes of the show, it would most certainly capture the attention of the audience. However, I would equally contend that if an op/ed is ‘catchy’ the same effect would also be achieved.

    One show that fits the bill from the top of my mind is Kiddy Girl-And. Although the overall plot is questionable, the op and eds are both ‘catchy’ – to the point that they cannot be forgotten even if you forget what the plot even is.

  33. My personal favorites will always be the -Monogatari series Op’s. I loved how each one was a song written from the characters perspective and sung by them. The lyrics reflected their emotions and it worked perfectly when an instrumental version of the opening would play in the background of certain scenes. Even if there were no words I could still recall the emotions of the song and how it changed with the other versions to fit the scenes.
    Senjougahara’s song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OyKbPR5pi4
    and the instrumental version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDH8bHB_8FI

    wish I could find a version with english lyrics on youtube, but they keep getting taken down. At least the Blurays have subbed lyrics.

  34. Being an AMV maker, I tend to look at the more technical side of openings. But I still enjoy the underlining details, themes and moralities (if present).

    Tales of Symphonia United World Arc’s is probably the opening that jumps into my mind as being a great opening. It had a very nice lip-syncing touch to the beginning of the opening which just gives me chills every time I see it. But I love the drama in the opening and how well it expresses the emotions and trials the characters have to overcome. Plus it is also great how the opening touches up on what the anime could not so it really was a bonus.

    I would have mentioned my favorite series Kyoukaisen but Stilts already covered that so props to you.

  35. I have no idea to what makes a impressive opening or ending, but the way I see it, when it catches the audience and makes them feel the overall atmosphere of the show, then in a way it has done its job. For example, like that particular song in Bakemonogatari (Kimi no shiranai monogatari), that song especially moved me when in episode twelve, the song flowed through while Senjougahara and Araragi were looking at the night sky. For sequence though, I think my favorite would be the ending sequence of Hataraku Maou-sama when it kind of displays Chiho and a reoccurring clock (it was quite mesmerizing). In the end, its when an ending or opening sequence moves me (whether by song or by the animation) is how I judge them.

  36. Aaaaaand nobody mentioned Kozue Amano’s Aria The Animation/Natural/Arietta/Origination’s always-changing-OP-sequence, which, very masterful in my opinion… (and their beautiful ED too).

    I’m disappointed… c=(.-. )

    1. I second this. What anime OP that could rival the beauty of 54++ different sets of different scenery p*rns shown in front of three beautiful OP of three ARIA series? I still thank God that someone managed to prepare a budget to animate the entire trilogy of ARIA until that perfect ending in Origination, I still think it’s a once in a lifetime chance and probably nobody else will try to create something that could compare to that in a pure slice-of-life genre.

      Probably I will give ARIA if I saw someone asks “Do magic exists in this world or not?”. While it’s probably not the best animation series in the world, it still has a very strong magic that helped me to cure negativeness of daily moodswings in reality and granted me a lot of good sleeps.

      It also has a lineup of strong endings, where every episodes always end up at a spoken-mail-conversation over the intro of the ending song. It’s not an uncommon technique (I think the last time I saw a very excellent execution of “dialogue+song intro > ending song” was in Kokoro Connect -especially in the first ending song), but it’s still a very beautiful way to wrap the episodes.

      [/fanboymode]Dang, talking about ARIA still turns me into a fanboy mode although it’s been a very long time after I started watching and finished it.

      1. /fanboying
        /still reading the whole manga + spinoff + watching the anime series all year long.
        More anime needs healing effect like Aria and beautiful-always-changing-OP/ED

  37. There has been too many OPs and EDs to list them all, but the ones that stick out in recent memory is the Mondaiji ED. A decently catchy tune with a very nice ED sequence. I found myself watching the entire ED every ep, despite it being quite simple.

    1. Very true! It had a good atmosphere, and it fit the “game” atmosphere of the show quite well. It’s like the Garupan ones referenced in a comment above – it helped remind us that even when things got super tense, to the problem children at least, this was all fun and games.

  38. What I’m not usually fond of is anime openings/endings that entirely reuse footage from the series It strikes me as being a little lazy. I’m not sure what other series make use of this style. Sorry to Trinity-Blood fans but Dress is one:

    Trinity-Blood OP – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52HMyg_yFIU

    The only exception I’d say would be if the ending is supposed to be a tribute to a certain character. Show Spoiler ▼

    Now what I AM fond of are those anime openings/endings with songs that were made specifically for that series. A recent example would be Sister’s Noise from Toaru Kagaku no Railgun S. From reading the lyrics Show Spoiler ▼

    Railgun S OP – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGicolK_VUE

    A little older example would be Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’s first and second opening songs. I love their use of CG, the direction how it looks like a moving manga, and how the lyrics tell the story of the anime as well:

    Jojo Opening 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hRXxnTue5w
    Jojo Opening 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnHyj7G1kjI

    Now its ending song doesn’t really fit the description since Yes’s Roundabout doesn’t really have anything to do with Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, but I do like the simplicity of the animation (following that blood trail) and how you can link the animation of season 1 to the second. I’m guessing the retro feel of the music matches with the series.

    Jojo Ending 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8okVPx2LpCc
    Jojo Ending 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NggC8Ga8vI

    A more classical example would be Gonzo’s Gankutsuou aka Count of Monte Cristo in space. I like how the opening portrays the Count’s past calm and pleasant past in the serene animation and in contrast the ending’s fast-paced and a little bit chaotic (not in a bad way) animation describes perfectly the Count as he is now, ruthless and vengeful, maybe unstable. And again the lyrics of the songs compliment the animation.

    Gankutsuou OP – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im6-iZGmgsA
    Gankutsuou ED – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnNd5XVFKOM

    1. Jojo qualifies also for best use of the OP inside the series. The second “Sono chi no sadame” started playing in the last episode, when Jojo finally finishes Cars, marked the beginning of what are probably the most epic 4 minutes in anime ever.

  39. My most memorable OP for this season is Preserved Roses from Valvrave!

    And there was the Yanagi Nagi’s Zoetrope OP, and Ray’s Recall from the Amnesia anime earlier this year.
    (I know that anime had…issues, so I’m just talking bout the music here.)

  40. I never ever skipped OP and ED of my show (has to be good to listen to, of course), the clip could survive in my playlist for months. Best ED for me has to be Mushishi, the music got such coherent to the story, the emotion only works when it is pair with the story though

  41. One of the best non spoilerific OP ever: Show Spoiler ▼

    It’s up there with Narutaru OP

    Not only it can boost up your day with it’s upbeat/happy tune, it will also guarantees a smile with the sheer irony.

    In related note, I totally agree that happy upbeat OP/ED can ruin the emotion brought by the story. But generally I am not bother by it since often time i skip the OP/ED when i watch it too many times.

    The only ones that I know that i’ve yet to skip are :
    – Getter Robo Armageddon’s OP 1 and 2
    – Gurren Lagann OP
    – 08th Ms Gundam OP and ED
    – V Gundam OP 1
    – Shingeki no Kyojin OP
    – Macross Frontier’s Lion
    – A lot of Jam Project OPs

  42. For me, OP’s are more about how much I like the song than setting the mood. ED’s are different, they should reinforce what you just saw.

    In this regard my favorite OP of all time is almost certainly The Light Before We Land by The Delgados, OP for Gunslinger Girl. It’s the only OP I can think of that single handedly caused me to seek out all of a band’s albums and become a superfan.

    For ED’s, there are several that stand out. The show itself ending up sucking, but the ED for Another was absolutely perfect for that show. The ED for Sankarea also, it’s so melancholy that it says “No matter what happened in this episode, remember that the premise of the show is quite dark and the drama is coming towards you like a speeding train.” I’d have to say that my favorite use of an ED to extend the episode you just watched though was from Inu x Boku. I don’t remember the episode number, but it was the one where Kagero was introduced, and then the ED was him singing his amazing S&M song. An already hilarious episode that just kept the laughs coming right through the ED. Best ED ever.

  43. Rather enjoyed the lack of an OP sequence(minus one episode) in the Shin Sekai Yori series. Just the music was all it took to set the mood for most episodes. Don’t remember how the first ED sounded, but the second one was mostly out of place by my ears. Bit too upbeat for the atmosphere they built.

    Kioku from Laptop
  44. What, no mention of the damn-near cutest ED ever, Dog Days (Dash)? That’s an ED I won’t pass up watching, no matter how many times I’ve seen it.

    Can’t wait to see what they do next season.

  45. Ok, no one corrected you on this so here I go:

    Most of the time, it is not entirely up to the animation studio to decide who will perform the OP/ED. This is something they negociate and decide with the publishers who are the ones that have to contract the performers. For most OPs and EDs, the animation is to fit the song.

    This is why I like those rare, custom-made OPs the best. Were both the song and animation are made to fit the show. A good example is all the OPs for Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, with 5 seiyus performing along a very talented musician. A more recent one is OreShura, also performed by the seiyus of the show and everything about that OP was telling something about the show. From the lyrics, to the visuals, the hard to do in-character-singing. Even the title of the song “Girlish Lover” was a great pun on “Gairu[shu raba]/Fighting Girls”.

    1. When I talk about the studio, I’m broadly talking about everyone who is bringing that anime to market. The publishers are on their team (even if they often don’t act like it), so if they fuck up and pick a shitty song, it’s all their faults.

      That said, most of my points were about the utilization of the OP and ED, not the music itself. It certainly helps to have a good song, but there are a lot of good OPs and EDs. It’s using them properly that’s far rarer.

  46. My favorite OP of all time would be Honey and Clover ss1’s Dramatic. So cool and art, it has been my ringtone for ages. For the ED, I’m just totally in love with Ano Hana’s. Especially when the end of ep 10, when Jinta ran towards the rocket to stop it and the music echoed. So perfect, I love that moment the most >.<

  47. SHAFT easily wins the OP/ED category. They’re more than willing to shell out most of their cash for the OP.

    Worthy mentions are Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Monogatari OPs, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, and Madoka x Magica.

    And I also think I have to say that most of SHAFT’s OPs and EDs always depict some sort of symbolic narrative. Just great.


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