It's time to celebrate the new year by awarding this past years' best and worst OPs and EDs (the opening and ending credit segments in anime), which is arguably the most silly and unnecessary ceremony on this website yet. Think about it: when was the last time TV Guide got this down and serious about the opening theme to a TV show like House or Jersey Shore? Anime fans are a pretty stingy bunch when the music playing before your child cartoons make you upset enough to rant online about it, so what better a venue to do it at than Japanator Theater!
In order of appearance, I am joined by various Jtor staff who give their short, unfiltered opinions on the numerous themes played this year. The group includes Jeff Chuang, Elliot Gay, Josh Tolentino, myself and Chris Walden, and we've each selected a few choices to give fake awards to that mean little to nothing at all. But hey! Each one is available for you fine folks to watch, so, uhhh... win win?
Anyway, hit the jump for the last huge, extravagant holiday feature Japanator has to offer you. For now, we could use the break...
More Than What Meets the Eye Award:
Don't let the simple and bright vocals fool you. The opening sequence can be seen as someone's nostalgia trip back in secondary school, walking through the empty corridors during Spring Break. The memories connect from one cut to the next, painting the picture of someone going through school looking for something that was once there. It feels particularly poignant given how often late night anime of the serious variety trigger that nostalgia as a main draw, but in this case I'm not sure what the storyboarding narrative is trying to say. Is it a vengeful spirit? Someone's regret? I guess it's what you make of it in Hourou Musuko.
I am too busy laughing to make any real comments. Seriously.
Best 8th Grade Art Class Project award:
Ever go karaoke? This song is a nice one to do. The visuals are interesting and appeals to that arthouse aesthetics.
Best Nostalgia Trip award:
As for nostalgia tripping from 10 years ago, there's nothing better than a concerted and commercial effort to bring back a disbanded girl band that topped charts and crushed hearts. And all of that on top of a nicely put-together anime ED with flowers changing colors and flying up and down.
Makes Me Feel Like I'm 12 Again award:
I have to admit, the upbeat music combined with the bright and colorful visuals really make me feel like a little kid again. The whole opening gets you in the mood to go on an adventure and I actually find myself letting the OP play every time. A true rarity these days.
I Think I'm Dying of Some Kind of Sugar Rush award:
For real guys and gals. This OP was like a sugar rush in the form of an animated sequence. Bright pretty things, cute characters, cheerful singing and lots of and lots of sparkles. I can already feel my eyes starting to freak the hell out.
"Unity Mind" Award for Best Harmonizing:
These two songs count as one, because they really are one song. Seriously, just play them both at the same time! You won't even need YoutubeDoubler for this because someone did that for you already. Click it and feel the GLORIO. These two OPs perfectly capture Idolm@ster's whole shtick about togetherness/danketsu, perpetuating its wondrous ideal world, where simply being happy and having fun together brings great success and fulfillment.
Runner-Up: Infinite Stratos ED: "Super Stream" - IS Allstars
"Keepin' It Classy" Award for Most Unexpectedly Classy Theme:
Just as Hyouge Mono's exaggerated reaction faces and Antiques Road Show enthusiasm carefully disguise a sophisticated, nuanced, for-grownups anime about sengoku-era power plays, so "Bowl Man"'s lounge-lizard, salaryman-karaoke crooning make for a refreshing alternative to the cliche of sleep-inducing classical music.
Runner-Up: Kamisama Dolls OP: "Fukanzen Nenshou" - Chiaki Ishikawa
"Ouch, My Head Exploded From Reference Poisoning" Award for Most Self-Referential OP:
The songs themselves are practically gibberish (like a lot of Hyadain's stuff, hurr), but the real genius of it is to go back and watch the animation sequences, after you've finished watching the show itself. So many jokes, skits, characters, events, and even personality traits or poses are telegraphed into the animation, that you'll slap your forehead in wonder at how you didn't recognize all this as it was blazing by. Such a masterfully orchestrated effort is extremely rare in an industry where OP themes are decided more by production companies' need to promote new idols or bands, than by what is actually appropriate for the show. Nichijou's theme is, uncommonly enough, thematic.
Runner-Up: Carnival Phantasm OP - "Super Affection" - Faylan, Miyuki Hashimoto, Minami Kuribayashi
Biggest Revelation award:
Puella Magi Madoka Magica OP: "Connect" - ClariS
It became immediately apparent after a few short episodes of early 2011's Puella Magi Madoka Magica that it wasn't the series many originally thought it was meant to be, bait-and-switch OP included! However, even though we still put up with this opening being a complete mood changer, there still was enough subtle changes to the animation and some underlying themes going on that made viewers a bit curious. By the end of episode 10, when a post-mortem OP plays and you understand what the lyrics finally refer to, utter shock spreads amongst fans when they realize the answers to their questions were right in front of their faces the whole time, behind the cutesy and vague opening credits.
Greatest Guilty Pleasure award:
0:23-0:49 on repeat. All day long, son.
Better than the Actual Anime Itself award:
When the OP of the Persona 4 anime adaption is more fun and faithful to the video game than the anime itself, then someone, somewhere, fucked up.
"...but once you get used to it, man!" award:
Compared to the first OP of The World God Only Knows, initially I was a bit disappointed at how much I hated the new season's choice in song. The thing is is that after a few episodes, I found it growing on me, and eventually I found it much, much cooler than the previous one! Oh, and yeah, the anime was good and all that stuff too, I guess...
"Skip Forward Ninety Seconds" Award for Most Disappointing Opening for a Sequel:
Whether you liked the original song or not, you have to admit it's both instantly recognisable and pretty cute to boot. The second season was always going to have a real job on their hands to replicate this, and I don't think they quite made it. I've certainly heard worse, but of all the sequels we had this season, this one has to be the most disappointing. I mean, you really can't beat perfection!
"A...Are they English?" Award for Proper Pronunciation of the English Language:
Okay, I'm cheating a little bit here. Fade are indeed a Japanese band, but you may recognise the lead singer as Jonathan Underdown, that one guy who sings the English for Yellow Fried Chickenz. Still, I'm counting this, so quit your moaning! Besides, it's quite the song! --
"Dividing Driver!" Award for Masaaki Endoh Song of the Year:
Masaaki Endoh has some amazing anime tunes to his name, and I may have picked up Dororon Enma-kun Meera Mera because of his voice alone! Not the first time that has happened either! The song was aiming for a classic anime sound, successfully lampooning the original series of Enma-kun and the other anime that were around at the time. The show was hilarious too, so there's plenty of reasons you should check it out. It might not look it, but it's full of dirty humour!
"What Is Going On?" Award for Best Live-Action Appearance in an Opening/Ending:
Hyadain was all over anime this year, after finally revealing himself as the 'only' voice behind all of his songs. Yeah, that's right, the female voice in the Nichijou openings is this guy! However, I think this song serves as an exception, with the female vocals coming from the crazy lady at the beginning of the video. Hyadain drops by in many costumes during the song, but you have to admit that he makes a good vampire. Also, this video is terrifying.
Well, that's it for us at Japanator, folks! That is, at least until 2012 rolls along. I know we've missed a lot of great vids tonight, so post your favorites down below. Thanks again for another wonderful year of dumb shit and Japanese baby-man cartoons, and we hope to see you next time with even more new features, staff and shows into the new year.
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