In Anime Ichiban, we take a look at our writer’s totally personal, totally subjective, possibly biased, and possibly stupid opinions regarding anime associated affairs.
For our previous installment of Anime Ichiban, Harry covered a diverse array of openings, from thumping prog-rock to hip jazz. For this piece, I veer in the opposite direction and show just how much of a sucker I am for bouncy, upbeat JPop anime OPs.
Below, I talk about 10 OPs whose unceasingly bright tones and color palettes highlight all things fun, happy, and ?~kawaii~?. These cheery beats have bored their way into my skull, filling it with sunshine and smiles against my better judgment.
1. “SHINY DAYS” by Asaka (Yuru Camp?)
“SHINY DAYS” is somewhere between an uncomfortable copyright infringement and a charming homage to the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”. The sweeping piano roll and up-strumming guitar create funky Motown instrumentals for the peppy JPop vocals. Yuru Camp’s opening perfectly captures the effervescent pastel wholesomeness of the show and its characters, reminding the viewer to find joy in the little things.
2. “Groovin’ Magic” by ROUND TABLE (Gunbuster 2)
Keeping in theme with OPs modeled after Western music, Gunbuster 2‘s opening is exactly what its name says. Funky bass, jazzy licks, and sparkling vocals intermingle to create a head-bobbing (gun)buster of a song. “Groovin Magic” abounds with a sense of hopeful, childish wonder and whimsy, traits that perfectly describe the show and its protagonist.
3. “Hyadain no Kakakata?Kataomoi – C” by Hyadain (Nichijou OP1)
From the get-go, Nichijou hits you full force with its OP’s unwaveringly wacky energy. Characters and colors fly by at top speeds, leaving you wondering “Was that boy riding a goat?” A brief lull in the high-octane zaniness lets you catch your breath to some 8-bit scatting, dreamy filters coating the vocals. Suddenly, the music picks up, explosions abound, and you’re back at it again.
Nichijou brings its offbeat humor to the slice-of-life genre, and its OP is your first-class bullet-train ticket there.
[Fun fact: all the vocals were provided by one guy]
4. “Kakushinteki?Metamaruphose!” by Aimi Tanaka (Himouto! Umaru-chan)
If you thought things were weeby, they’re about to get a whole lot weebier.
Himouto! Umaru-chan glorifies the potato-chip-eating, soda-drinking, video-gaming lackadaisical lifestyle through its little gremlin of a protagonist, Umaru. A well-mannered picture of perfection at school, Umaru turns into a greedy self-centered goblin the second she gets back home. Her voice actress performs the OP in-character as an anthem to Umaru: an incessantly catchy whirlwind of chiptunes, JPop, and spoiled brattiness.
5. “Aozora no Rhapsody” by fhána (Ms. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid)
Slightly stilted English never fails to be charming. Dragon Maid‘s opening cries of “Chu chu yeah!” and “Please me!” set the tone as characters pop and a violin sings. KyoAni fills Dragon Maid‘s OP with so many fun visuals, made even more entertaining by fhána’s inspiringly upbeat music. Each scene blends effortlessly into the next and takes the viewer on a soaring adventure of sight and sound.
6. “SOMEONE ELSE” by Kana Asumi, Saki Fujita and Eri Kitamura (Working!!)
I don’t know how ska got to Japan, but I’ll be forever thankful that it did. Working!!‘s OP comes straight out of a Reel Big Fish album. With its fast-paced syncopated guitar, bright trumpets, and trio of harmonizing female voices, “SOMEONE ELSE” could give the best skankers a run for their money. Working!!‘s huge cast of characters each have time to shine in the OP, showing their quirks and singing along with utter cheeriness.
7. “CRY MAX Do-Heijitsu” by Fujirokyu (Space Patrol Luluco)
Despite being one of the shorter OPs I’ve seen, Luluco packs so much into a hectic 30 seconds. Fujirokyu’s slightly off-key sing-speaking holds an endearing quirkiness that blends wonderfully with Trigger’s fluid and crazy animation.
8. “Ren’ai Circulation” by Kana Hanazawa (Bakemonogatari OP3)
Despite only appearing as Bakemonogatari‘s OP for two episodes, “Ren’ai Circulation” is definitely its most popular. The catchy trumpet, bouncy pastel visuals, and Kana Hanazawa’s criminally adorable voice make for a dangerous combination. The only things to rival the opening’s popularity are the memes and mashups that have spawned because of it.
9. “Q&A Recital!” by Haruka Tomatsu (My Little Monster)
My Little Monster‘s opening is shamelessly sweet and energetic, with a tinge of sadness to it. If “SOMEONE ELSE” sat more on the poppy side of Japanese ska, then “Q&A Recital!” sits comfortably in its punk-rock roots. The harmonizing vocals, up-tempo instrumentals and singing that borders on crying and shouting lead into a punchy chorus fit for moshing.
10. “Hanamaru Pippi wa Yoiko dake” by AOP (Mr. Osomatsu)
Osomatsu-kun first appeared in 1962 as a gag manga drawn by artist Fujio Akatsuka. Over fifty years later, Mr. Osomatsu has adapted the dysfunctional Matsuno brothers for a modern audience. The focus of Mr. Osomatsu is still in the gags and sketches, but similarities to its predecessor end there. The show has gained in popularity due to its adult humor and clever non-sequiturs, a far cry from its family-friendly roots. “Hanamaru Pippi wa Yoiko dake” encompasses everything fun, frantic, and non-sensical about Mr. Osomatsu.