I vowed to not spend 11 months procrastinating this time around and let the record show I meant it. The winter 2021 premieres are already trickling out, but before I dive headfirst into those, there’s one piece of 2020’s unfinished business to attend to (well, regarding anime, that is). You either love it or love to hate it: the annual rundown of my favorite opening theme songs is back, on schedule for once, and it’s in peak form as it’s ever been.
No, seriously, 2020 was a really good year for OPs overall, so much so that it made the usual slog—watching every opening to debut in the last calendar year—surprisingly manageable. Some assaults to my faceholes snuck through as always, but for once the issue wasn’t what to add so that I’d reach 25 worth praising, but what to cut. I’ll address some of those bubble entries in a minute, but more importantly, I need to recap the criteria for what’s eligible and valued on these lists:
The OP must have debuted in 2020. It can be from a show that premiered before 2020 or that will continue airing after, but the OP in question had to debut this past year.
I don’t need to have seen a show in order for its OP to be eligible on the list, but recognize I’m inherently biased towards those I have seen since I’m able to parse additional context from them. OPs of long-running shounen adaptations, kids’ shows, and idol hell tend to be absent here for that reason.
Movies are also excluded; these are just OPs from TV anime and ONAs.
My rankings are somewhatarbitrarily based on music composition, audio production, lyrics and delivery, visual production, audiovisual sync, originality, and pretty much any other metric you could think of. Some of these aspects are weighed more than others based on what I feel the OP in question was trying to accomplish, but I don’t give these individual metrics ratings of their own during the ranking process. The pros and cons of each still ultimately come second to my personal enjoyment.
On that note, never forget that the following is all just my personal opinion. You’re entitled to disagree and I expect that you will. If you decide to reach out asking where X or Y is, just remain civil and don’t act in bad faith. I certainly welcome you responding with your own favorites.
You ready? I’m ready. Let’s get this countdown started!
The end is near, oh, thank God, the end is fuckin’ NEAR. Every year I whine “waaah this year sucked, yadda yadda, on to next year,” but uh, holy shit, 2021…please, I’m begging you, no new viruses, alright? Maybe some slightly more competent political leadership while we’re at it? My expectations are still low, but for as long as the current situation remains a thing, I’ll be using the free time I get to stare at a screen and watch cartoons. That’s just what we do around here at For Great Justice, and if anything made 2020 bearable, it was the one-two pick-me-up of watching anime—some fantastic, others horrendous—and then chatting about them with my pals online.
With a new year (and an absurdly stacked winter season) on our doorstep, it’s time to reflect with one final article on what 2020 meant for anime. Some might define it by pandemic delays, others by a smattering of sequels that brought magnificent closure to huge franchises. For me, breakout original productions mostly stole the show, but we’ll get to those in due time—first, I’ve gotta explain what exactly I’m doing here.
It’s Yata, back for the third month in a row with takes about anime themes. What do you mean, “already?” I told you there wouldn’t be a huge wait this time around! What do you take me for, a liar? My record speaks for itself: I may be wrong about things, but I never intentionally lie. It’s for that very reason you should be able to trust that I ain’t bullshitting you: these following ten anime EDs are my favorites the medium gave us in 2020.
Hey y’all! Welcome back to For Great Justice, and today it’s time for our final seasonal update of 2020. At the end of December, we’ll have some awards pieces to run and our thoughts on these seasonals’ final acts will be included there instead of a separate article, as has been the case in years past. In the meantime, this is a Yata-only update—Haru’s swamped with work right now, but I took one of his shows upon myself in order to cover every seasonal I’m caught up on. That doesn’t include Love Live Nijigasaki right now (I fell way behind) or Adachi & Shimamura (which everyone’s been telling me is their AOTS, so I figure I’ll give it a second chance soon), but the rest of the notables from this fall are covered below. What’s standing out? What’s falling apart? Why is this season so incorrigibly 7/10? All of that ahead! Let’s run ’em down!
It’s here. I did it. It’s late, sure, but it’s done and done early enough that I won’t necessarily set myself further behind schedule. You wanted it, you asked for it, and now, 10 months late and almost totally irrelevant, I return with a Top 25 OPs post for the year 2019.
Why did it take so long? Well, I typically do the annual OP list when I get a lull of work in the winter, but this year I got a pandemic instead, and that led me to pursue more ambitious projects in my limited free time, If I had, you know, died, I didn’t want my last creative exercise to be this. Don’t get me wrong—I still love anime themes as an art onto themselves, but the ones 2019 had to offer were perhaps the overall weakest batch I’ve seen from a year in a while. And no, I didn’t “miss the good ones,” I watched every OP available on them databases as research. It was a grueling time.
The only thing that could make it more grueling is if it’s all for naught, though, so fuck it, you’re here, I’m here, let’s run down my favorites.
Three seasons down, one to go. 2020’s given us plenty of great anime as compensation for the, uh, [gestures broadly at the world], and now we’ve got one last slew of offerings trying to make their mark and give us some light in a trying year. Which shows do we frankly regret wasting time trying? Who are the seasonal frontrunners? And which shows simply stuck the landing for the time being? Find out below, as Yata and Haru take you on a retrospective of 22 of this season’s premieres!
The winds of change are coming. No one knows what the next month will hold for us. Hell, we didn’t even know what this past week held in store for us, as Yata was briefly hospitalized from a freak choking incident, Haru had to become an emergency plumber in real time, and WordPress shat out a new editor for us to learn the ropes of on the fly. So we’re 5—practically 6—days late, but we’re here. We’re here and we have thoughts on the one thing we can control: a season of anime in the rear view mirror, a scattering of good shows entered into the Completed log, and intact computers that let us ramble about them to our heart’s content.
Hey, everyone. Yata here. I’m now 9 months late to what’s supposed to be an annual tradition here at For Great Justice, my opinions about the year’s OPs and EDs, but better late than never, I guess. If nothing else, you lot kept demanding the usual content, and while I’d normally be happy to provide, my time management has gone completely out the window and it will probably remain there through the end of the year. There will be no good time to churn these overdue pieces out. Their day has passed. But in order to get any head start for this year’s OP and ED list, I’ve first got to make good on last year’s promise. There can’t be a gap in the timeline. My pride won’t allow it.
Hey, y’all. Yata here. On top of FGJ’s home country still completely fucking up this whole pandemic response thing, it’s officially Too Fucking Hot™ out, and you know what that means: summer is here! Normally staying indoors and bingeing some anime sounds like our idea of a fun time, but the mood turned sour twofold over the last few weeks; Haru has been feeling ill for the better part of a month and while his doctors have run tests concluding that what’s ailing him isn’t COVID-19, his top priority right now is getting rest and not stressing himself out over writing words about cartoons.
The second issue is that the anime industry itself got set back from when this crisis had its wave over in Japan last season. As a result very few shows—I haven’t run the numbers, but probably the fewest we’ve seen in about a decade or close to it—are airing weekly for the next 3 months, and that’s before taking into account how transparently mediocre most of the surviving batch is, or how two of the biggest hype-titles of the summer dropped in non-weekly formats. Masaaki Yuasa and Science SARU’s new adaptation Japan Sinks 2020 went live all at once, and I loved it so much I intend to give it a proper article of its own, so expect that within a few weeks. Studio Wit’s new title Great Pretender also seems cool, and I say “seems” because I actually haven’t gotten around to it yet; its first half came out in arc-length increments, but it likely won’t leak the second half until the fall, so I’m tempted to hold off for now and just watch it then.
What remains are slim pickings, but if there’s anime airing, someone’s gotta cover it, and here I am to answer the call. What’s worth tuning into weekly between now and September? Hell, what’s even airing, like, at all? Buckle up, ’cause it’s time for some first impressions.
As 2020 rolls on, the question isn’t “what anime will air next?” but “will us two dorks live long enough to see it all through?” That’s the plan, even if the new normal is us being 48 hours behind deadline. Time isn’t real anymore anyway, but the takes? The takes never change. Except for when they do, and boy did some of them this month. Spring looked promising and still delivered a fair number of hits, but many of this season’s shows lost balance towards the end. Here to break down which ones did and didn’t (and what it all meant in the grand scheme of things), Yata and Haru are valiantly back with thoughts. Dig on in.