Well, here we are. It’s Friday, and I haven’t caught up on my seasonals or watched any of my backlog, which means I don’t have a good essay lined up for the day. You know what that means! It’s listicle time!
I’m actually extra cheating with this post, because I wrote this before I started this blog. I posted it on GoBoiano, just to flex my anime writing abilities, but for some reason it got deleted? Which is fine, because that just means I can re-use it here! It was actually kind of fun to look back at something I wrote almost a year ago and spice it up to make it a little more “me.” Not to toot my own horn (toot), but my writing and voice has improved quite a bit since then…anyways, I hope you enjoy this quickie. Here we go!
Anime openings tend to fall into some generic traps. A shounen anime might have an inspirational J-rock song playing while all the main characters run through a forest. Magical girl anime have bubbly themes, usually performed by the lead seiyuu. And horror anime tend to have those weird auto-tuned techno-metal songs going on…
So, with all that being said, it can be really refreshing to hear an opening with a song that’s a little different. Something like…a jazz intro. Whether it be bold & brassy or smooth & funky, intros like these can be like a breath of fresh air.
And what anime has the best jazz intro ever? Why, Cowboy Bebop, of course! …well, today, we’re gonna say, “fuck Bebop,” because that opening has been in the spotlight far too long. Let’s skip right over that one and dive into the world of all those other jazzy anime openings.
Baccano!’s theme is well known for being a jazz-tastic powerhouse. “Gun’s & Roses” by Paradise Lunch is a fantastic song, and this theme is the perfect way to kick off an episode of the sprawling, action-packed series. Admittedly, I still haven’t seen Baccano!, but I have watched this sequence about a thousand times. One day, it’ll be freed from my massive backlog…
Michiko & Hatchin
Michiko & Hatchin is a viewing essential for fans of the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack. It’s got action, it’s got an unconventional anime setting (South America!), and it’s got Shinichiro Watanabe, who works as the music producer for the anime. The opening song is “Paradiso,” by Japanese jazz group SOIL&”PIMP”SESSIONS. The rest of the soundtrack is composed by Brazilian samba musician Alexandre Kassin and is equally awesome.
Kids on the Slope
Another Shinichiro Watanabe project! I guess we can’t get away from Bebop and “Tank!” here after all! Kids on the Slope features music from the brilliant Yoko Kanno, known for her work on Turn A Gundam, Wolf’s Rain, and, of course, Cowboy Bebop. The anime is about a group of friends who bond over jazz music, so naturally, the opening song has them performing jazz music. The song is “Sakamichi no Melody” by YUKI.
Death Parade’s opening is a blast. Between the goofy antics and dance moves of the cast and the fast-paced fun of the song, “Flyers” by BRADIO, this one’s the kind of anime opening you go back to and watch over and over again. I think at this point, it’s considered to be part of the Iconic Anime Opening Hall of Fame.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Opening 2)
JoJo’s is a show full of stylish action, and this boisterous opening fits it perfectly. What better way to pump people up for the wild, flashy antics of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure than with jazz? This opening was used for episodes 11 through 25 of the series. The song is “BLOODY STREAM” by Coda. I’m woefully behind on JoJo’s (it’s my boyfriend’s favorite show, so I should really get on that), and watching this opening again has reminded me of what I’m missing…
Asian Kung-fu Generation delivers another classic opening here with “Maigo Inu to Ame no Beat.” Tatami Galaxy’s unique art style coupled with this trumpet-filled jam make for one great anime opening sequence. Please, let this inspire you to watch Tatami Galaxy. It’s so goddamn good.
The Hellsing TV anime juxtaposes smooth piano jazz with images of vampires, blood, and violence. What more could you ask for? Even though it’s not as brassy and high-powered as some of the other openings on this list, it still manages to be badass, and sets the tone for the show perfectly. The song is “A World Without Logos” by Yasushii Ishii.
The Boogiepop Phantom theme is another example of smooth, soft funk goodness. The series itself is an avant-garde horror mystery that isn’t for everyone, but you don’t have to be into Lynchian weirdness to appreciate the bop that is “Yuudachi” by Shikao Suga. You may recognize Shikao Suga’s music from the xxxHolic series’ openings. Boogiepop is actually having another anime adaptation soon, so I hope it delivers on the jazz opening front, too…
Ghost Hound is yet another psychological mystery series with a sultry, spooky jazz opening. “Poltergeist” by Mayumi Kojima has a swing music vibe with its fast paced bass and jazz drums. The eclectic theme sets the mood for this odd series.
R.O.D. the TV Opening
An action series set in a universe where girls can manipulate paper and kill people with books kiiiiiind of has to deliver a kick-ass opening that’s anything but generic. Instead of going for a heavy J-rock theme typical of other action series, it gives us “Y K Z,” composed by Hideki Tanaka.
Cobra The TV Animation 2010
2010’s Cobra reboot gave us this retro, sultry opening. Sasja Antheunis’s vocals pack a bunch here on “Cobra the Space Pirate,” and with its trumpets and tempo changes, it could very well rival the classic themes of James Bond movies.
Space Dandy (Toonami Opening)
Space Dandy is directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, and is thought to take place in the same universe as Cowboy Bebop. Goddammit, I still can’t avoid Bebop! It’s no surprise that this opening would be vibrant and zippy just like Bebop’s. Here’s the opening for the Toonami Space Dandy spot, because it’s the jazziest.
Soredemo Machi wa Mawateirru
SoreMachi is an underrated slice of life anime about a maid café and its eccentric employees and customers. The show has a playful opening that has a big band, Broadway feel. The song is “DOWN TOWN” by Maaya Sakamoto.
I just started watching this one, and I love it. This opening is phenomenal, too. The song, “Deal With The Devil,” by Tia, is a powerhouse. The actual art style reminds me of the Arakawa Under The Bridge openings. It is, in my professional opinion, Good Shit.
This unique anime from 2005, about an art dealer who loves art and does dealings through the black market, seems to have been largely forgotten about. Which is a shame, because Gallery Fake’s mixture of mystery and art history makes it unlike most other anime out there. It also has a nice jazz soundtrack – just take a look at their opening, featuring the song “Ragtime” by Katteni Shiyagare.
And there you have it! Can you tell I was running out of ways to describe jazz music?? I hope this showed you some new openings and series you may have missed. Oh, and hey, since we’re on the subject of GoBoiano, here’s something I posted there about rap songs that sample anime that didn’t get deleted. Yay, for re-using old material! And, let me know if you know any other jazzy openings that I missed!