This isn’t my first time writing about anime music, and it definitely won’t be my last. This time around I wanted to focus on my favourite openings – the ones that make me hype, crack me up or even emotionally break me before the show even begins.
It’s the type of nostalgia fans associate with these songs that turn everyday artists into instant global sensations. So, let me channel that same youthful sentiment for a list of my 5 favourite incredible anime openings.
“Hero’s Come Back!!” – nobodyknows+
As the first hip-hop group to perform in every Japanese prefecture, nobodyknows+ were already a nationally high profile group when their Vulgarhythm single “Hero’s Come Back!!” was chosen as the OP for Naruto’s big return in Shippuden.
Think Flatbush Zombies’ aggressiveness but way more groovy and upbeat, then you’ll have exactly how “Hero’s” sounds like. All 5 members’ verses are laced with energy as they bounce off each other with immaculate chemistry.
It’s my favourite Naruto OP overall. Shame it’s attached to one of Shippuden‘s worst arcs though.
“Tell Me Why” – Penpals
Why the studio thought this hilariously awkward song was fitting for Berserk‘s overtly depressing and sombre medival fantasy setting is beyond me.
However beyond the atrociously pronounced English vocals, there’s a distinct charm in Penpal’s surf rock banger. From the slightly overbearing guitars to the now iconic ‘put your grasses on’ line, everything about “Tell Me Why” radiates with the clumsy arrogance of a college band performing their first-ever live show.
I absolutely adore it.
“うたたねサンシャイン (Utatane Sunshine)” – Unlimited Tone
Compared to every song on this list, Unlimited Tone’s performance truly encapsulates the atmosphere of Tanaka-kun to a tee. Gentle, bright and brimming with joy – the wholesome nature of the show is honestly made more potent thanks to the OP.
It helps that Silver Link’s soft animation works well with the song, making it a delightful 1:30 minutes to sit through each week.
“修羅 (Shura)” – DOES
Gintama has a plethora of OPs to choose from over its 2 decade lifespan. “Shura” isn’t even an OP (it was for one episode though). But I do want to highlight it for being the first time the series had flawlessly pulled off a serious arc – a success that I personally believe “Shura” can take a significant credit for.
Up till this point, Gintama had always been heavy on the comedy and light on the drama. Coinciding with the Benizakura arc, the song keeps the series’ OPs’ familiar bristling guitar passages but adds a layer of solemnness instead of the usual tongue-in-cheek tone.
“Gospel of the Throttle (Drifters Mix)” – Minutes Til Midnight
For the past 4 songs I talked about, I was literally just talking about that – the songs. My enjoyment of Minutes Til Midnight’s “Gospel of the Throttle”, on the other hand, is inseparable from Drifters‘ impeccable OP itself.
On its own, “Gospel of the Throttle” is a better-than-average rock song with an insanely catchy pre-chorus. With the OP, the slow-building nature of the track turns into a sullen sense of dread (with a dash of hype mixed in) before the impending battle.
The sleek presentation of the OP contrasts with the song’s ragged sound, but it’s that same contrast which only highlights the rawness that I felt from the “Gospel” – giving me goosebumps each time I watch it.