Happy holidays, everybody! Yata here, with what seems to be an annual tradition at this point. That’s right – it just wouldn’t feel like the end of the year if I didn’t frantically write up a bajillion blurbs about anime openings, and I don’t intend to break the streak now. If you’ve been around FGJ for a while, you probably know the drill by now. If not, allow me to quickly summarize my criteria for you:
- The OP must have debuted in 2017. It can be from a show that premiered before 2017 or will continue airing after 2017, but the OP in question has to be from this year.
- I don’t need to have seen a show in order for its OP to be eligible on the list, but I recognize I’m inherently biased towards those I have seen since I’m able to understand additional context from them. OPs of long-running shounen adaptations tend to be absent here for that reason, and though they fare a bit better this year, if you’re eagerly awaiting entries from say, One Piece or Gintama, you’ll probably be disappointed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- My ratings are arbitrarily based on music composition, audio production, lyrics, visual production, audiovisual sync, visual prowess…and pretty much any other metric you could think of. And despite all that, the pros and cons still fall second to my personal enjoyment. After all, objectivity is bullshit and these ratings are ultimately just my personal opinion. You are certainly entitled to disagree and/or think I’m a maniac.
- And last but not least, I’ve always considered an entry field of 25 large enough to not think twice about including multiple OPs from the same show, but this year, the competition was abundant and I wanted to highlight a maximum number of different productions, so I’ll be limiting each show to one OP.
So after watching probably 90% of openings this year at least once, which ones just barely missed the cut? For one, the artistic creativity in the OPs of Atom: The Beginning, Owarimonogatari 2nd Season, and Gamers! were all wonderful, though for one reason or another I wasn’t as fond of their songs. Kado: The Right Answer, The Ancient Magus’ Bride, and Berserk each faced the opposite problem: superb songs with underwhelming visuals. Some titles made a fine effort on both fronts but still didn’t quite stick out enough for me to put them on the list (see Alice & Zouroku, Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul, Hell Girl: Yoi no Togi, Welcome to the Ballroom, etc.). And as far as meme openings go, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the OPs for Blend S and Gabriel DropOut, even though neither were solid enough overall to crack my top 25.
But those are all contenders if I play by my own rules, and if there’s one thing I use my actual honorable mention spot for, it’s bending them. So fuck it all, this year’s honorable mention OP technically isn’t even from this year. The song sure as hell isn’t, and the film it’s from (yes, film, so even calling this an “OP” is a bit of a stretch) came out in Japan in 2016. The only way I can count this at all is if I go by the movie’s American theatrical release date, which was this past October. Thankfully, that’s when I saw it, so I feel like there’s just enough leeway there to go for the stretch, and anyone who disagrees can either put up with it or fffffffade away.
Enough hints, you know what it is:
HONORABLE MENTION – “My Generation” by The Who
Studio: Kyoto Animation
OP for A Silent Voice (Koe no Katachi)
I’ve mostly kept my praise for A Silent Voice…well, silent, but only because I recognize I’m already viewed as a KyoAni diehard and I won’t do myself any favors by pretending this film is flawless. That said, it might be the most meaningful, emotionally unsettling anime film I’ve ever seen, and this sequence is one of its most essential moments. Contrasting the film’s dire opening minutes with this flashback of Shouya and his two elementary school cohorts fucking around and being “cool” to the tune of “My Generation” is just perfect. It establishes the disregard and naiveté Shouya feels haunted by for the rest of the film, all while nailing the “dumb young boys doing dumb young boy things” vibe that, speaking from experience, is never as rosy as it once seemed. What’s more, this opening sequence isn’t only important the first time through, it’s also full of Easter eggs that reward the viewer on repeated watches, and the tonal balance here between The Who’s off-kilter, old-school punk and the nostalgic, glamorized visuals makes for a truly one-of-a-kind experience and the perfect way to kick off this film.
#25 – “Aozora no Rhapsody” by fhána
Studio: Kyoto Animation
OP for Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Sadly, Dragon Maid is the only other KyoAni entry I can even give attention to this year, but I don’t think anyone would deny its OP is stylish. The thing’s packed with bizarre non-sequiturs, inventive visual choices, and a cheerful, upbeat pop track by fhána, one of the industry’s most consistently enjoyable ani-bands. A few drawn-out cuts like the spinning, flying side cast or Tohru’s blurred zig-zagging fall a little short of their potential, but when the goal is to be quirky and produce striking visual moments, a few swings are bound to miss. Most of this OP is right on the ball though, and its silly, inclusive attitude is a perfect fit for all that is Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
#24 – “Sora ni Utaeba” by amazarashi
OP2 for My Hero Academia 2nd Season
While I aspire to someday gain even half the attention that shillster Geoff “Mother’s Basement” Thew does with his OP analyses, I’d also never blindly parrot his opinions. That said, and I’m sure this won’t win me over too many fans, he’s absolutely right that “Sora ni Utaeba” is MHA’s best overall opening to date. “Peace Sign” may have been your hit (and who can blame you? The song is great!), but each of MHA’s themes builds off both the material of the arcs it corresponds with and the OPs which came before it. As a result, though MHA2’s second theme, “Sora ni Utaeba,” is less of an immediate standout musically, it’s a tremendous grower whose darker tone fits quite well paired alongside the multitude of sinister plot developments from the sequel’s second cour. You might not realize it at first (I didn’t until right when 2nd Season wrapped up), but each arc’s main conflict is even represented in chronological order here, masterfully coordinated to the song’s changes in mood. Like MHA itself, the show’s OPs only get more meaningful with time, and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming third season has in store for us.
#23 – “Kanadeai” by Itowokashi
OP4 for Twin Star Exorcists (Sousei no Onmyouji)
If my memory serves me right, two episodes was enough for me to determine Twin Star Exorcists probably wouldn’t be up my alley. Its action scenes were alright and I thought its two protagonists had nice, contrasting character designs, but it didn’t really hook me and I promptly forgot about it. If you had told me it’d suddenly show up again a year and a half later on one of my “best of” lists, I probably would’ve thought you were mad. But hey, 2017 is a year full of (awful) surprises, so what could one positive one hurt? The show’s final opening, backed up by the steadfast alt-rocker “Kanadeai,” mostly focuses on what I assume to be Rokuro and Benio’s last challenges, and I love the way it emphasizes the aforementioned character designs and their respective black & white, red & blue. The storyboarding has some fantastic moments, the animation is remarkably smooth, and with an OP this polished and confident, I was even almost inspired to go back and give the show a second try. I didn’t, but still, if that’s not praise, I don’t know what is.
#22 – “MIND CONDUCTOR” by YURiKA
OP2 for Little Witch Academia (TV)
Little Witch Academia’s first opening was a pleasant enough introduction to the series, but it was also rather bare, focusing almost solely on Akko and her determination to “perform” magic. Considering the show itself was tight-lipped about its overarching plot until about halfway through, it makes sense that the second cour’s opening is the one that really takes off, emphasizing the cast’s teamwork and solidarity alongside a more obvious depiction of the series’ root motifs. Each instance of it is brief, but like the picture above, LWA also forefronts its generational duality, with Akko and Diana teaming up where their mentors Chariot and Croix broke apart. Speaking purely from personal preference, “MIND CONDUCTOR” also scratches my itch more than YURiKA’s first OP for the show, “Shiny Ray.” The piano and guitar riffs duel through opposite speakers sublimely, and the restless drum work drives the whole package forward.
#21 – “Rapture” by Panorama Panama Town
OP for Juuni Taisen: Zodiac War
Though Juuni Taisen could’ve brought forth an action-packed spectacle of an OP, I’m actually glad it went the reserved, brooding route. The show’s pace was mostly slow and contemplative, only occasionally peppered by chaos, and that’s reflected well here. Its visuals may be blurred too, but that choice works to establish an ominous, foreboding tone and keep most of the specifics about its cast secret. Regardless, “Rapture” is the crowning achievement of this OP from the get-go; with its moody hook backing up the band’s gritty guitars and Akihiko Tano’s playful bass line, the song quickly became one of my fall favorites and gave this almost aggressively enigmatic OP the little extra kick it needed.
#20 – “fake town baby” by UNISON SQUARE GARDEN
OP for Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond (Kekkai Sensen & Beyond)
Keeping in mind that the OP of Blood Blockade Battlefront’s first season is among my favorites ever and its much-beloved ED was done by none other than UNISON SQUARE GARDEN, the pressure was on for both the franchise and the band to deliver a second time. And if I’m being completely honest, B3&B’s opening is probably the least compelling theme from the show yet: there’s no meme-able dance sequence, no clear-cut message that unfolds over its runtime, and the song itself is less immediately memorable than many of the show’s other tracks. But in a way, that’s very B3&B of it; smooth but amped up, this thing exudes spur-of-the-moment energy and goes through several composition changeups to the point it almost sounds like 3 high-octane songs smashed together. UNISON SQUARE GARDEN is one of the most active and consistent J-rock bands out there, and they demonstrate their chops once again here, elevating an OP that’s not particularly meaningful and reinforcing its better qualities: flashiness and excitement.
#19 – “MY LIBERATION” by nano
Studios: Telecom Animation Film & Graphinica
OP for Chain Chronicle: The Light of Haecceitas
I ain’t gonna lie, if you lined up the cast of Chain Chronicle, I wouldn’t have any clue who these characters were or which generic fantasy shounen they belonged to. But that’s neither here nor there, ’cause this OP totally snags my attention. Nano’s vocal delivery is commanding as hell, the composition fits its TV size format impeccably, and the string arrangement is especially striking to my ear. Those almanac illustrations have tickled my fancy ever since I first saw that same technique used in Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, and while I can’t reward this OP many originality points, it absolutely maximizes its mileage with Chain Chronicle’s aesthetic, swinging camera angles, gorgeous book pages, and all.
#18 – “MY HERO” by MAN WITH A MISSION
OP for Inuyashiki
MAN WITH A MISSION still haven’t quite escaped their one-hit wonder status for me, and if we’re being totally honest, I’m not sure they’ll ever be remembered for something greater than the wolf mask gimmick and “Database.” But hey, “MY HERO” sure does its best to repeat that successful formula, like some mixture of Rage Against The Machine and a symphony orchestra, channeling all the intensity you’d expect from that combination. While I can’t explain any of the specific imagery here (and the mechanical close-ups might be a bit excessive in number), several of the shots from this OP are downright beautiful, combining flesh, metal, and fire in a variety of creative, eye-appealing ways. I didn’t get very far into Inuyashiki and despite hearing some praise, I have a feeling I won’t be returning to it. But on the off-chance I do, I’d be very excited for this in-your-face OP to “hit me on the ground” over and over again.
#17 – “Sono Saki e” by RIRIKO
Studio: J.C. Staff
OP for Children of the Whales (Kujira no Kora wa Sajou ni Utau)
If you’ve been following any of my content this season, my grievances with Children of the Whales are probably pretty obvious by now, but its imaginative setting and gorgeous background art were two facets that kept me going long after my interest in its plot cooled. Both those elements are front and center for this OP, and “Sono Saki e” embraces the series’ oft-underutilized relaxing vibes to their max capabilities. That atmosphere is beautifully reflected in the track’s folksy strumming and driving beat, RIRIKO’s vocals only multiplying in passion as the piece climbs. Somewhere between a lullaby and an anthem, this song deserved a better show, and not even including a shot of Liontari is enough to send it to the trash bin.
#16 – “Saturday Night Question” by Megumi Nakajima
Studio: Signal. MD
OP for Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Net-juu no Susume)
While I’m sure some would say Moriko’s “me irl” moments were MMO Junkie’s best attribute, for me its delicate and humorous handling of online persona confusion was remarkable. That’s precisely what this OP focuses on too, several clever reflections and shifts of perspective evoking the series’ themes of identity. Although the second half of the visuals simply centers on some generic Fruits de Mer gameplay and a few grim scenes in sepia which never actually occur in-show, the opening takes off strong and the ricocheting synths of “Saturday Night Question” power it forward. Megumi Nakajima’s vocal performance is wonderful too; neither too sugary nor too dry, her tentative start transitions to an optimistic chorus with elegance, reflective of Moriko’s own social development over the course of the series.
#15 – “Kanashii Ureshii” by Frederic
OP for Love and Lies (Koi to Uso)
I know, I know. Love and Lies? On a “Best of” list? You’d better believe it, pal. No possible angle could cast this show in a positive light, but with funk this strong kicking things off every week, surely you can’t blame me too hard for letting my pessimism slide. The symbolism here isn’t particularly subtle, the red string of fate taking a prominent visual and lyrical role, but subtlety was never Love and Lies’ strong suit. Klutzy, uncomfortable melodrama was this show’s M.O., and it’s carried over with surprising tolerability in “Kanashii Ureshii,” whose stomping grooves, plunky keys, and nasal, repetitive vocals just work even though they’re about as smooth as trying to swallow a cinderblock. With a number this catchy, its weaknesses become strengths, and its strengths (see: Koji Mihara’s bass skills) are elevated even further. By the way, check out the song’s music video too – it’s a total trip.
#14 – “Itteki no Eikyou” by UVERworld
Studio: A-1 Pictures
OP for Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
To likely nobody’s surprise, I haven’t actually seen Blue Exorcist, and as previously noted, a lot of shounen OPs tend to fly in one of my ears and right back out the other, failing to set themselves apart on first watch. Go figure then that UVERworld, a band familiar with starring alongside big-name shounen, is the one to break through most memorably for me this year. “Itteki no Eikyou” showcases the group’s knack for masterfully combining acoustic and electronic elements; the grainy synths and lush guitar of the verse give way to a unique percussive pre-chorus before bursting into a climactic moment caked in tremolo. For me, the song is the real core of this package, and I’m utterly unqualified to discuss the relevance or meaning of its visuals, but for what mostly appears to be a “remember these guys?” OP, it sure looks polished and proud. Props, Blue Exorcist.
#13 – “Morning Glory” by (K)NoW_NAME
Studio: P.A. Works
OP1 for Sakura Quest
Sakura Quest’s second OP, “Lupinus,” is still a nice little rock number on its own, but its lackluster storyboarding was a huge disappointment. Thankfully, the show’s first OP contained everything Sakura Quest needed. The peppy, “fuck it, might as well embrace the world” attitude of “Morning Glory” is a perfect fit for Yoshino rushing out of bed, performing duty after duty with hardly a second to spare, and still ultimately finding a place to call home in the middle of nowhere. It’s stylish, it’s fun, it’s just a tinge rustic, and it all adds up to a classy, sweet encapsulation of the series’ themes.
It might not be quite as hard-hitting as the series’ ED, but the opening of Scum’s Wish still pushes forward a ton of teenage angst, this time cloaked in a dreamy, electronic pop sheen. Cut up with overlaid flower outlines and manga-like panels, the visuals here aren’t the artsiest thing in the world, but they do portray the show’s aesthetic accurately and match the various mood changes in the song. And boy, does “Uso no Hibana” shift mood – from desperation to hope and back, the vocals spill into a near-stream of consciousness delivery while the tune goes through not one, not two, but four key changes in just 90 seconds. It’s admittedly just back and forth a few times between D major and F major, but still, it’s impressive that they don’t sound forced just for the sake of it. In fact, the key changes coupled with their breakneck pace capture the show’s uncontrollable volatility exceptionally well, and I couldn’t imagine a more fitting way to careen into Scum’s Wish each week.
#11 – “Sayonara Bystander” by YUKI
OP2 for March Comes In Like a Lion (3-gatsu no Lion)
While BUMP OF CHICKEN took good care of March with their two respective 2016 themes, I was delighted to hear YUKI return with her first anime work since 2012’s “Sakamichi no Melody,” one of my all-time favorite opening songs. She didn’t disappoint here either; both “Sayonara Bystander” and “Flag wo Tatero” are beautiful pop tracks, and I’m giving the slight edge to the former on account of its catchier melody and more daring visual package. This song just soars, spectacularly arranged so that each instrument’s little fills steal a handful of spotlights as they rise to one of the powerful choruses I’ve heard from an OP this year. This opening just looks spectacular too; for what’s mostly a grab bag of character cards against appropriate backgrounds, SHAFT brings their A-game in conveying each character’s mannerisms and the natural beauty of March’s homely neighborhoods. That one lengthy painted shot is just an extra gift.
#10 – “Deep in Abyss” by the cast (Mariya Ise & Miyu Tomita)
Studio: Kinema Citrus
OP for Made in Abyss
With how good his work for the rest of the soundtrack is, it’s almost a shame Kevin Penkin’s material didn’t end up part of Made in Abyss’ OP itself.
…almost. To be honest, I wasn’t sure who wrote this until I looked up the credits. Masahiro “Godspeed” Aoki’s composition on “Deep in Abyss” evokes Penkin’s style so well it was truly impossible to tell the two’s work apart by ear. Where a show like Abyss could’ve ventured into more experimental territory for its themes, crafting a poppy duet with lead voice actresses Ise and Tomita actually feels like the more impressive feat. In a way, the two playing off one another’s lines evokes the banter of Riko and Reg’s conversations, and the lyrics read like an assertive but dreadfully ignorant set of childish proclamations. This is an adventure anime through and through, and the charging energy of “Deep in Abyss” still comes second to the sheer beauty that is the set design of this show. Pulling no punches, the mysterious grandeur of the pit is emphasized in the OP’s visuals alongside some truly breathtaking watercolor stills. The fantasy script underneath the actual credits is a wonderful flourish as well.
#9 – “TOMORROW” by Machico
OP for KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! 2
KonoSuba’s second season improved upon its first by nearly every metric, but its OP didn’t need much work. With another little light-hearted track courtesy of Machico, the folks over at Studio Deen seemed to decide there was no point in fixing something unbroken and wisely reprised the first OP’s standalone adventure, this time with a giant tree-toting tortoise and an even wealthier supply of silly faces. I’ve written about enough theme songs in my time here to recognize just how rare openings and endings with a self-contained narrative are, and after the first season’s OP stood out for that very reason, it was a special treat to see KonoSuba 2 repeat the formula this effortlessly.
#8 – “The Other Side of the Wall” by Void_Chords feat. MARU
Studios: Actas Inc. & 3Hz
OP for Princess Principal
Not that the visuals here are a total let down or anything, but as a mystery show of sorts, Princess Principal would’ve erred if it revealed too much information about its shady cast through its OP. Thankfully, “The Other Side of the Wall” commands enough attention to make up for the streamlined sights. Anime doesn’t give us European steampunk thrillers very often, much less with “cute girls doing…spy things” tagged on there too, and this song makes the most out of both those elements. Ryo Takahashi’s chaotic, cinematic big band score is utterly badass, no nonsense about it, and MARU’s vocals are just…listen. Goddamn, what a set of pipes. Princess Principal’s cheesy side leaks through too; lines like “I won’t ever be deceived. I’m a girl that sees through lies” are almost too dorky to take seriously, but with a performance this bombastic, there’s nothing saying “The Other Side of the Wall” can’t coexist with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor…or that that’d be a bad thing in the slightest.
#7 – “Kyoumen no Nami” by YURiKA
OP for Land of the Lustrous (Houseki no Kuni)
Long before I realized Land of the Lustrous was one of my favorite anime of the year, this OP captured my attention; anything with clean, noodly guitar riffs, somber violin, and reverb-drenched atmosphere is right up my alley anyway. Add to that YURiKA’s fragile vocal performance and you’ve got yourself a Yata-ready classic. But what’s more, the song even evokes the glistening, delicate beauty of gemstones – fitting for a story starring anthropomorphic jewels. The gem motif is carried full circle by the visuals too, which collide and shatter in a rainbow of jagged spikes and stubs. Perhaps my favorite thing about the OP is that it doesn’t end with any sense of closure, nor is it abrupt; “Kyoumen no Nami” certainly swells, but it also recedes with heavy, unresolved tension. Considering Land of the Lustrous also seemed to get darker with each passing week, this opening only felt more and more fitting as time pressed on.
#6 – “Deal with the Devil” by Tia
OP for Kakegurui
Kakegurui branded itself a gambling thriller, but its provocative nature was what drew a lot of viewers back week after week. Its OP probably didn’t need to do anything more than make good on that same titillation, and while it’s certainly present, there’s a good deal more symbolism here than first meets the eye. The whole opening takes place in a fish tank, alluding to the show’s survival of the fittest dynamics, while each character’s introduction informs the viewer well in advance what their games of choice and ulterior interests are. The effective visuals aside, “Deal with the Devil” balances the show’s edgier elements with a sense of disorderly fun, Tia’s voice temptingly floating over the song’s fluttery piano and punctuated brass. The whole thing is unapologetically sultry and while Kakegurui itself was a bit less effective chasing after that tone, it’s pulled off without a hitch here, Honey.
#5 – “Don’t” by NakamuraEmi
Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
OP for The Laughing Salesman NEW
The Laughing Salesman NEW was one of the most mean-spirited anime I think I’ve ever tried out. For a show about the pitfalls of adulthood – addiction, lust, and the like – it was pretty insufferable watching Moguro, the titular salesman, turn each side character’s transgression (some of them practically molehills) into mountains of shame. Even more insufferable than that, the show seemed to expect us to side with him, taking vicarious pride in how his schemes ruined people’s lives. Sadly, the lyrics of “Don’t” follow this same idea. But I’ll be damned, every other aspect of this OP is remarkable. The crisp sound production, Hiroshi Kawamura’s arrangement, and Nakamura’s vocal performance are all superb. It’s also handily one of the year’s best visual packages, nearly every object transition in the OP toying with perspective and resulting in virtually no hard cuts. Subject matter aside, I can’t help but adore the presentation here.
#4 – “Nasugamama, Sawagumama” by milktub
Studio: P.A. Works
OP for The Eccentric Family 2 (Uchouten Kazoku 2)
Both artists from The Eccentric Family’s first season returned for its sequel, and “Nasugamama, Sawagumama” shows that milktub clearly haven’t forgotten how to write a scrappy punk rock number. Bamboo’s raspy, gung-ho vocals are still a delight, and though the song overall isn’t quite as immediate or memorable as “Uchouten Jinsei,” it packs a wildly fun punch. The Eccentric Family 2’s opening really shines through its visuals, though; much like the first season’s, it stitches together real life environments and animated characters, the credits themselves ingrained into each shot and inventive camera angles allowing for multiple planes of perspective on screen at once. Even if its legacy will be haunted by a Ghost of OP Past, The Eccentric Family 2 had a killer opening of its own, and it deserves more recognition than I’ve seen it get.
#3 – “Ugoku, Ugoku” by the cast (Yurika Kubo & Inori Minase)
Studio: White Fox
OP for Girls’ Last Tour (Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou)
Come on, you know why. The moonwalk! The countdowns! The dab! The OP for Girls’ Last Tour pretty much perfected the formula for memorable, goofy dance sequences, and that’s more than enough reason to throw it this high up the list. But in most of those cases, the song alone isn’t something I typically come back to. And yet I do with “Ugoku, Ugoku,” whose low-bit electronics and sing-along chorus are both catchy and…kind of poignant? Exactly like Girls’ Last Tour itself, the show’s OP is perseverant, but it also notes the bleak reality of its world. You might not know it by how cheerful the tune sounds and how playful the visuals are here, but taking this opening as a sugar pill just made Chito and Yuuri’s actual weekly discoveries all the more sobering.
#2 – “Shadow and Truth” by ONE III NOTES
OP for ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.
I’ve already praised Ryo Takahashi and Konnie Aoki’s (half-)English, big band contributions to Princess Principal, but they released another snazzy, spy-themed opening this year that I feel slipped under many people’s radars. ACCA did too, but I suppose that’ll happen with a patient, political slow-burner. In fact, “Shadow and Truth” is one of the show’s loudest elements, though that’s not to say it doesn’t embrace the series’ idiosyncrasies too. There are still a bunch of baked goods and cigarettes and all the little worldbuilding details that make ACCA the unique product it is, and most importantly, this OP doesn’t give away too much of the show’s later coup developments too early. There’s enough foreshadowing here to make you go “OOOOH” once the puzzle comes together, but it hides the obvious among other imagery from the show’s B-plots and completely superfluous symbolism. Best of all, the colorful designs and upbeat tune really do allure the viewer to go on the show’s journey. Was it worth the watch? Just stream and you’ll find out!
#1 – “Imawa no Shinigami” by Megumi Hayashibara
OP for Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2nd Season
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2nd Season is probably one of the most pained anime I’ve ever seen; its elderly protagonist spends a majority of his time in this sequel on the verge of death, hallucinating the spirits of his regrets and bemoaning what more he has left to lose. All that pressure is hauntingly conveyed through both the visuals and music of its OP, Yakumo attempting to walk into the flames, plummet to his end, and shy away from the outreach of his friends and family…only to be revealed he’s been hollow all along. The imagery is distressing enough, but “Imawa no Shinigami” amplifies the tension tenfold, set to the backdrop of a ticking clock. Ringo Sheena and longtime collaborator Neko Saito’s songwriting here is dynamic and chilling, flitting between a near-whisper and swooning clamor. The final shots in particular, Sukeroku revealing Yakumo’s bare ribs and the candle gently flickering out as the piano tiptoes into nothingness, have never failed to send tingles up my spine. Hayashibara’s vocals still steal the show though; returning from her lustful performance in the first season’s OP, it’s downright incredible how effectively she transmits the desperation and fear of 2nd Season’s material. I’m not sure any OP from 2017 is a strong contender for “Best OP Ever,” but if I had to choose one, this would certainly be it. Take the praise, Rakugo. TAKE IT.
And that’s it for now! Feel free to leave a comment letting us know your own favorite OPs of the year, and if you liked this list, be sure to check out my shorter, more manageable Top 10 EDs of 2017 list and my OP lists from years past. Once again, I’d like to take a moment to wish everybody a happy holiday season, and we hope to see you around in a week or two when we wrap up the fall and recap our favorite anime of the year! ‘Til then, thanks for reading!