I wracked my brain for a really long time (like five whole minutes!) trying to think of a title that didn’t sound super clickbaity, but alas…
Anyways. To the point.
Have you ever watched an anime solely because you saw the opening and thought it looked awesome? If you’re like me, you check out an anime’s opening before you decide to commit to the show, just to get a feel for the tone and the style. I remember a few years ago I wasn’t sure if I wanted to watch Serial Experiments Lain, so I looked up the opening on YouTube and…yeah, I was sold. It captured the feel of the show while still keeping an air of mystery, and it didn’t have any of those “character running by the ocean” or “all the girls jump into the air and freeze frame” opening cliches. It was an awesome opener for an awesome show.
But what about when an opening is awesome but the show sucks?? Have you ever sat through an entire anime that you didn’t like just because the opening was a banger? Because I have. There are shows with absolutely amazing openings that duped me into thinking I was in for an enjoyable experience. Darling in the Franxx almost got me hooked with its sultry opening (I’m a sucker for when the OP/ED has characters mouthing along with the words), but I know better now than to trust the opening when I know I don’t like the show…
Here are a few times I thought an anime got a waaaaay cooler opening than it deserved. Most of these I didn’t end up finishing, but some of them fooled me with their pretty visuals and catchy songs. Curse you, J-Pop!!!
HELLO this is my first example because it is the one I feel the most strongly about. This show had a lot of hype when it aired in 2015 – it was a P.A. Works produced anime that featured a ton of the talented team members who worked on Angel Beats.
TOO BAD IT WAS AWFUL!
I watched through that whole series because its first few episodes were great, and then suddenly — Huge shift in tone! A bunch of Deux ex Machina plot nonsense! An idol music video in the middle of an episode for no reason? Oh, and don’t even get me started on the melodramatic little sister plotline. God, that show went downhill so, so fast. Well, at least for me, it did.
Guess what kept me going? That’s right, the powerhouse opening, driven by Lia’s excellent “Bravely You.” Every time an episode started, I was reminded of what drew me to the show in the first place – driving emotion, beautiful cinematography, and great music. Too bad the show tried to cram in about a million themes too many, which resulted in an overwrought, forced ending and some seriously bad pacing issues. …I do still jam out to this opening in the car, though.
Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace
Oh, look, another disappointing anime from 2015! Actually, wait, let me be fair – Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace wasn’t exactly bad, it was just really, really disjointed. The story wove together different stories from reknowned horror/mystery author Edogawa Ranpo, but it didn’t exactly blend the stories with itsoriginal plot seamlessly. I found the characters to be rather endearing, but wow, that plot sure was convoluted and confusing. It felt like the anime didn’t know exactly what it wanted to be, and some of the black comedy elements fell flat. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it had so much potential that it just didn’t quite live up to.
Though the narrative quality of each episode fluctuated drastically every week, one thing remained consistent: its beautiful visuals and this kickass opening. Not only was the song awesome, but the visuals are incredible. Actually, rewatching it now makes me want to give the show another shot – maybe I was too hard on it? Or am I just being fooled again?!?!
Juuni Taisen was a’ight. That’s all I really have to say about it. It was a battle royale anime that couldn’t really decide if it wanted to be a big complicated strategy show, a satire, an action show, or just another chatty NisiOisiN adaptation, so it just ended up being a predictable amalgam of all those things.
But hey, at least that opening was really pretty! The silhouettes of all the characters blended with photo-realistic backgrounds gives a strong sense of intrigue and mystery that unfortunately was never really shown in the actual series.
Okay, so here’s a somewhat controversial opinion: I hated Elfen Lied. Like, really, really hated it. I didn’t think it was deep, I didn’t think it had clever juxtaposition – I just thought it sucked.
If I recall correctly, in one of the very first episodes Lucy pees herself and is also wearing a wet T-Shirt. I think she ~nyaas and moans a bit, too. And then like, ten minutes later in the episode she smashes some guys head in. I was so confused, and actually angry that people had hyped the show up so much. It just seemed like anime nonsense to me. Don’t try to tell me I’m just not “smart” enough to get how “deep” and “meaningful” the “psychological” “aspects” of the “show” are…homie, it’s not that I didn’t get it, it’s just that it’s bad.
That being said, it does have a really, really cool opening that blends the character artwork with that of Gustav Klimt’s paintings. I can’t deny that it’s one of the prettiest anime openings ever, but…look, if you want to watch a show with an opening based on the same artist’s paintings, just watch Sora no Woto. It’s got cute girls in it, too, except that show is actually, um, good. Let’s knock Elfen Lied down a few pegs and let that underrated gem’s opening shine instead.
Another unpopular opinion. I remember people really enjoying Gangsta. when it came out a few years ago, but I was really underwhelmed by the anime adaptation. It felt like they tried to cram too much characterization and plot into the short run-time that it had. Of course, the fact that it never actually finished doesn’t help, either, since the production company went out of business before they could even begin a season two.
Even though I didn’t really like it, I ended up watching the whole show as it aired just because I thought that opening was a stone cold bop. Like, hooooo did it hype me up for a show that I knew I wasn’t even that into. It tricked me, man. I’m not even into action shows. But the visuals were so filled with ~aesthetic~, and that weird nonsensical English auto-tine bit was so fun to yell along with each week, so I stuck with it. “GET AWAY EVERY BUUUUUG!” I don’t know what that meant, but I know I was having a blast every time I heard it!!
Okay, so here’s a (slightly) more popular opinion: despite all its hype, BLEACH really didn’t end up being that good. It dragged and dragged and dragged and dragged and dragged and dragged to make it seem like it had more content than it really did. I mean, it dragged a lot. It was really obvious that they were just dragging things out for padding because they didn’t actually have enough content to work with. It also ended up being super repetitive. Really, really repetitive. I mean, how desperate do you have to be to just stretch something out for that long?
Okay, okay, thanks for staying with me here so I could make that dumb joke. In all seriousness, the first BLEACH opening is one of my favorite anime openings of all time. Unfortunately, BLEACH is far from my favorite anime of all time. The style of this opening encapsulates everything good about BLEACH – unique character designs, a flashy sense of style, and a fun sense of fashion. I never understood why the actual content of the manga and anime never felt that stylized or unique. I mean, Tite Kubo made so many awesome promo spreads that featured characters in cool outfits and cool poses, so how come the style of those spreads and this opening were never really shown in the actual series???
Punchline had style. I’ll give it that much. Its opener reminds me a lot of the kind of avant-garde wackiness I would expect to see in a Katamari Damacy cutscene. The anime’s character designs were fun, and it also had a really wonderful color palette.
Unfortunately, it was a show about a guy who will cause the Earth to explode if he sees too many panties. Yeah, yeah, it’s supposed to be an over-the-top parody, but I personally find this brand of “LOL PERVY RANDOM I WANT TO BE FLCL SO BAD” anime to be pretty darn awful. Despite all the panties, this opening is nice, at least.
So there’s my list of anime that had waaaaaaaay better opening sequences than they deserved. Obviously, this whole post is dripping with my own personal biases and my own deep hatred for some of these shows, so to even it out – let me know what anime YOU thought sucked but had a kickass opening (or ending!). If you tell me your thoughts, too, it makes me seem more balanced and unbiased…right?