For my 2010 Summary, I’ve been planning four posts: three small ones and one big one. Here’s the fist small one, the rest will come at the end of this month.
2010 saw an intereting trend for OPs and EDs: there were a lot of well produced ones with very detailed animation and that went beyond simply showing a bunch of characters in cheesy poses. For me, a good OP is original, has a great song, and has something with which it captures my attention. Likewise, I consider an ED a great one when it can retain my attention even when the episode it closes off is already finished.
#20: High School of the Dead OP
Anyone familiar to a series directed by Tetsuro Araki know that the OPs for these series can get really hardcore. HSotD’s OP is rather tame (excluding the fanservice of course) compared to Death Note and Kurozuka, but it’s still a very stylish intro for this series. It pretty much summarizes all that you are going to get: slick visuals and lots of guns, zombies and boobs, The colour scheme in this one also rocks.
#19: Arakawa Under the Bridge OP 2
I did not watch this series, so I don’t know its context or for how many episodes it appeared. I still wanted to include this in this list though, because I love these gimmicky OPs that are based on some weird theme other than “let’s introduce the characters here”. I love the weird goats and other animals, plus the melody itself is ridiculously catchy. I don’t like Arakawa as a series, but I have to admit that it has the most impressive array of OPs and EDs of the year (yes, that’s a hint).
#18: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru OP
Shaft’s strategy for Autumn 2010: hire some really good directors and spend a lot of money on your OPs. As a result, Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru had its OP directed by Yaomi Umetsu (Robot Carnival’s Presence, Mezzo). This one is fairly low on this list because I don’t like the music and the vocals half of the time, but the animation and the choreography really is gorgeous. The entire OP just screams the themes of old fashioned cafeterias.
#17: Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge ED
Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge’s second ED in contrast is as simple as you can get, yet it’s far from cheap and uninspired. The characters are in no way stylish and instead drawn really roughly, but that does have its charms. The song is simple yet catchy and easy to listen to and overall it’s a great way to end an episode with.
#16: Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei ED
Overall, 2010 was a year of ambitious, complex, well animated and well detailed OPs, but I still do have a number of simple ones that made this list. The biggest reason why I love this ED is because it ties in so well with the general messages and themes of this series. I refuse to spoil in what way it does so, however. Apart from that, it’s a captivating song, especially in the way in which each episode ends with a bang, this ED always managed to retain my utmost attention with this series.
#15: Kaidan Restaurant ED
This one is on this list for the cool factor. I mean, it has the announcer of the series, who usually acts like this perfect butler dancing his legs off in some disco. On top of that, the song is that rare kind that just got catchier and catchier every time I listened to it. I mean, kids’ shows usually have these sickeningly catchy or generic opening tunes, but this one actually rocks. In many different ways.
#14: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru ED
Yes, yes. I know that Shaft is currently dominating the lower half of this Top list. I promise, after this one I only have one OP by them left. I just have to admit here: they came with another great song here. The main reason why this isn’t higher on the list is because the voice actress of the lead character is trying too hard at times with her random yells. Apart from that, even the fact that half of the cast can’t sing will make sense once you watch the episode that explains this ED, tying it very neatly in with the rest of the series. The animation here is again quite detailed, especially for Shaft’s standards, and yet things remain simple and effective.
#13: Senkou no Night Raid OP
This probably has to be the most minimalistic OP since Ghost Hunt, and yet it’s very artistic with the different numbers, letters and transitions. It’s another great example of an OP that is very simple, yet very effective, and it always was interesting to watch this OP in front of every episode. I especially like the shots in which the lead character appears.
#12: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo OP
This does have some of the elements that make an OP boring and generic (people slowly walking/looking into a random direction, a slide-show of the major characters), but it’s got enough to make up for that. It’s especially the song itself, composed by R.O.N. The autotune creates this dark atmosphere, and I especially like how well this entire song builds up to the final third part.
#11: Gag Manga Biyori ED
For those who haven’t watched the series: Gag Manga Biyori has also had these… unique EDs (just click here for a little medley), but with every season they actually became even weirder. And really, it’s so hard not to love these EDs, I’m always imagining what it must have been like to record these things: for one guy to just continue singing the same tune with all kinds of silly voices (and mind you, every single episode has a different ED, which totals up to 52 different “lalalalalala”s so far). Not to mention that they probably needed to do a few retakes for every iteration…Gag Manga Biyori has been going on for four series now, and they still have some of the most unique EDs out there.
#10: Giant Killing ED
Giant Killing loved cliff-hangers. In fact, it had some of the most aggravating cliff-hangers of the year. This ED was just absolutely perfect for carrying on the adrenaline of these cliff-hangers with its incredibly fast-paced beat, and ridiculously energetic chorus. The entire ED is focused on those details that also made Giant Killing great, in this case the supporters. The pictures are vague on purpose, and it really feels like a little trip to an adrenaline filled soccer match.
#9: Full Metal Alchemist OP 4
Full Metal Alchemist, if I’m not mistaken, has been running over the course of a total of nine different seasons, resulting in a total of eighteen OPs and EDs. Out of all of those, this one ended up as my favourite. It has the best melody, the singer is pretty good as well, and there is hardly any boring moment in the song as it’s constantly building up. The animation looks as gorgeous as it did in the series. There is plenty of symbolism towards the series that at the same time doesn’t try to shove its messages down the viewer’s throat. It always was a wonderful way to start out this series with this OP.
#8: Kuragehime OP
Granted, the song itself has some weak moments, especially near the beginning when it has trouble to get started, but I still just love this ED for all of the references it put in to famous western movies, and when the song gets started it really brings this animation together. Mary Poppins, ET, Singing in the Rain, James Bond, Star Wars, and that only includes half of the different homages here. It’s a great little music video. That ends up relating a surprising amount to what actually goes on in the series.
#7: Shiki ED 2
Buck-Tick are some amazing artists, so I’m really glad that Daume got them to perform an OP and an ED for them. Shiki’s second ED is haunting beyond belief. Little goes on in the scenario, but the images speak for themselves, really: they’re utterly gorgeous with some really neat visual effects. It totally fits in with the atmosphere of the series.
#6: Shiki OP 1
Continuing with Buck-Tick, it’s really that both the singles they composed for Shiki are amazing in their own ways. While the above ED was slow and depressing, this one is really up-beat, and still depressing. I chose to lump these two together because they very neatly show the change this series makes throughout its airtime. What that change is, you’re going to have to find out by yourself by watching it.
#5: Arakawa Under the Bridge X Bridge OP
Pretty much the only reason why this isn’t on number one is because the song could have been better. It has BY FAR the best visuals of any OP I’ve seen this year. Seriously, an absolute dream team has created this one: it was directed by Ryousuke Nakamura, the director of Mouryou no Hako and Hashire Melos, the animation director was Mieko Hosoi, and to make things even more perfect, it was storyboarded by Sayo Yamamoro, the director of Michiko e Hatchin. And this ED still feels like nothing these people have ever done before. Every second is meticulously detailed and imaginative. Seriously, these people need to start making another actual TV-series again.
#4: Sora no Oto OP
Those who have seen Elfen Lied will probably remember its wonderfully artistic OP. With Sora no Oto, it’s obvious that they tried the same thing (because yes, the director of Elfen Lied was in charge of this OP), but instead of the depressing Elfen Lied, this is a much more uplifting OP. It still looks gorgeous in its own way, but Yuki Kajiura behind the song gives it an entire new layer of awesomeness. It’s really a beautiful song, reminding me once again why she’s one of my favourite composers.
#3: Giant Killing OP
I think it’s going to be obvious what my top two choices are going to be, especially when I say that I got really bored of Hetalia’s EDs since June, but first I wanted to show Giant Killing’s OP, which is pretty much perfect: it’s entirely in line with the things that the series tried to make important: what we see here isn’t just a football match, we see every detail around it, ranging from the players, the coaches, the supporters and the adrenaline that’s in such a match. It introduces the characters, not in the usual cheesy ways of “here is a frame with character X trying to make a cool pose”. Instead, it introduces them by just showing them play a game. It’s excellent as a first taste, and the more I watch it the more details I find here. The song itself is also brilliantly energetic and unconventional that perfectly captures the spirit of football. Definitely my favourite OP of 2010.
#2: Hanamaru Youchien ED 10
I’ve raved about this one before. It’s nowadays fairly common for series to have multiple EDs, but none went as far as Hanamaru Youchien: it had 12 distinct EDs, all of which were completely different and had completely different themes. By far the best was the tenth one, which takes the happy atmosphere of the series, and turns it completely upside down by making it a very effective horror music video. It’s almost scary how well it works, the imagery is very creative and the haunting song really grabs you.
#1: Letter Bee ED 2
This one is so good that it also made it into my top 10 of favourite EDs. I’m still not exactly sure who in Studio Pierrot drew this, but it’s utterly gorgeous. This isn’t an ED of fancy animation, but the art that’s there is completely captivating and only gets better and better as the ED goes on, and the song does a wonderful job of strengthening it. I usually don’t like those cheesy male voices, but this is one major exception.
So, that concludes this list. What were your favourite OPs and EDs of 2010?