Aside from my general Best Anime selections, my next favorite arbitrary year end list is naming the Best Anime Opening and Ending Songs. There were plenty of great songs to choose from this year, ranging from fun, energetic tunes with silly dances to more subtle, pensive and moody musings.
But enough of my rambling, let's get to the songs! Kick back, turn up the volume, and enjoy some of the best OPs and EDs 2012. Afterwards feel free to agree, disagree, or give a shout out to your own personal favorites.
The Best Anime Openings of 2012
5. "Try Unite!" - Megumi Nakajima (Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne)
If you want to mix some pop music into your space mecha, you can't do much better than Ms. Ranka Lee herself. A collaboration with Swedish DJ and producer Rasmus Faber, "Try Unite's" smooth, lilting verses and playful, joyful chorus are a great fit for Lagrange's "Save the World and Have Fun Doing It" attitude.
4. "Platinum Disco" - Yuka Iguchi (Nisemonogatari)
I really could have chosen any of the Nisemonogatari OPs for this list, but "Platinum Disco" is the one everyone is still going to remember by this time next year. As with all the -monogatari opening themes, Shaft does a great job crafting visuals that fit the character and songwriter Meg Rock finds a way to use the actress' vocal range in the most palatable, ridiculously catchy way. There is also a silly dance, and who doesn't love silly dances?
3. "To the Beginning" - Kalafina (Fate/Zero)
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the talented ladies of Kalafina storm in to separate the women from the girls with "To the Beginning". Their modern brand of medieval/gothic harmonies are the perfect call to action for the Fate/Zero's historical cast. Add in UFOtable's cinema quality animation and visual cues chronicling our main man Kiritsugu's past and I am now wanting to rewatch this series.
2. "Tsurezure Monochrome" - Fujifabric (Tsuritama)
AND NOW BACK TO SILLY DANCING. I absolutely adore the art of Uki Atsuya and Tsuritama just oozes his unique style. But beyond the cool art and surprisingly plot relevant Enoshima Dance, it's really the song that wins me over. Sounding something like the Pillows if they picked up a full time electric organ player, "Tsurezure Monochrome" is the kind of music I would actually listen to whether it was anime related or not.
1. "The Everlasting Guilty Crown" -
supercell Egoist (Guilty Crown)
"The Everlasting Guilty Crown" is an OP so good it actually got me to watch a few more episodes of Guilty Crown (zing!). Seriously though, it's one of the best classic style anime OPs I've seen in a good long while, delivering gorgeous renderings of the cast over a huge, driving pop rock anthem. There's no way former vocaloid legend ryo can hide behind his in-universe pseudonym: the relentless piano riffs and massive, massive chorus are unmistakably supercell, and that is a very good thing.
The Best Anime Endings of 2012
5. "My Dream Within A Dream" - Masumi Itou (Humanity Has Declined)
There's a certain creepy fairy tale vibe to "My Dream Within A Dream", appropriate considering "creepy fairy tale vibe" is exactly the feeling you get watching Humanity Has Declined. The off-kilter vocals and images of flowers, candy, blood, tears and death make this song the good kind of unsettling, again, right in line with the show.
4. "Vidro Moyou" - Nagi Yanagi (Waiting In Summer)
The first solo single from former supercell songstress Nagi, "Viro Moyou" is a much more subdued, mellow song than her work with her former group. It's still a lovely showcase for her crystal pure voice however, and the note she hits at the end give me chills every time I hear it. The monchromatic art of the cast makes a nice visual backdrop, and the song's wistful tone works well for a series told as a flashback.
3. "Mystery Surrounding You" - Satomi Satou and Ai Kayano (Hyouka)
Kyoto Animation historically puts special emphasis on their OPs and EDs (see header image), and the second ending for Hyouka is one of their best. In judging this list I put a much higher value on the music over the animation, but let's be honest, this is about the striking visuals. The song itself is a fun, catchy number, but this ending really grabs you with its bold yellow backdrop, swirling typography and adorable Sherlock Holmes outfits. It's almost like a mini stage play, portraying the relationships between the characters and emphasizing that they are the real mystery behind Hyouka.
2. "Above Your Hand" - Annabel (Sankarea)
I must admit I couldn't get into Sankarea, but even without much context the ending song is gorgeous. I can confidently say it's the prettiest depiction of Cosmic Bowling I've ever seen, creating an intriguing, unique visual setting. The song itself begins with simple acoustic guitar and drifts off into a haunting, eerily beautiful mix of drum machine, mellotron, and vocal coos that I just want to hear again and again.
1."Wareta Ringo" - Risa Taneda (From the New World)
I've been finding From the New World to be a bit of a mixed bag, but the ending song is a standalone work of art. The minimalist art style and vague Buddhist imagery is pretty but foreboding, exploding with a flash of fireworks and white light that time perfectly with the flow of the song. I was rather impressed that "Wareta Ringo" is performed by the series' lead voice actress and not an imported professional singer. Her voice soars through the dramatic call and response vocals of the chorus before the song crashes back down into reality. It's a very impressive work, and by far my favorite entry on this list.
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