Well, it’s that time of year again. The holidays will soon give way to the long dark days of winter and the start of 2016, meaning two things: One: I’ll finally have to learn how to consistently and safely drive through several feet of snow for the first time and two: I have to bring great justice to this past year’s best anime openings! In addition, a post like this offers the ability to touch on a variety of shows from throughout 2015 all in one convenient place, something I greatly enjoy doing to reflect on the year (you know, in addition to the 12 Days of Anime, which I think went well!). If you’re new to For Great Justice, you may not know how I judge anime openings, and if you’re really new to anime in general, you may not understand what exactly an OP is. I’ll sum up my main criteria below, but for a more in-depth explanation, see the start of my 2014 OPs post.
The OP must have debuted in 2015. It can belong to a show that started before 2015, just as long as the OP itself debuted this year. In other words, fall 2014 shows that carried over into winter 2015 and used an OP that only aired this year are acceptable entries. In slippery cases where an OVA or something used an OP the previous year once or twice but it was used for a full production this year, I’ll make an exception; just as long as the OP wasn’t counted in the previous list, really. That’s what this point is about.
If an OP has multiple versions (either different animation set to the same music or different music set to the same animation), I’ll choose the version I like the most. Multiple versions of what is otherwise the same OP won’t take up multiple entries.
If a show has multiple OPs, they are all eligible as long as they fit the above criteria. Both this year and last year it just so happened that no show which aired multiple OPs made it into the top 25 twice, though several shows came close this time, and if this list were extended to a top 30 or 35, series such as The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Food Wars and Durarara!!x2 may have indeed been on the list more than once.
I don’t need to have seen a show to include its OP, though shows I have watched are much more likely to be on the list, seeing as I’m more familiar with them and the in-show significance of their OPs’ contents. Doubly so for sequels or long-running series.
Unlike the many YouTube channels dedicated to ranking OPs seasonally and yearly based solely on music, I judge OPs on a sliding scale combination of their music, visuals, audiovisual sync, relevance to the show (when able), and my personal enjoyment, with regards given to what I feel the OP was trying to accomplish most. These rankings are very loose apart from the top few. Don’t fixate yourself on the exact numbers too much.
And just a reminder once again that rankings such as these are purely opinionated, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If you disagree with what I’ve included or where I have or haven’t placed something, that’s okay. We can agree to disagree. If you want to start discussion, at least keep it civil. That’s the justice way!
Anyway, 25 of the best OPs 2015 has to offer plus one honorable mention lie ahead. Let’s get this show on the road.
Hopefully this wasn’t too much of a let down for you guys expecting something bigger for the final post. For me, and I assume for Haru and L-K as well, this website lasting more than a year feels like a bigger accomplishment and something more memorable and impactful to us than anything we’ve watched this year. When we first got the ball rolling in August 2014, it had been an idea in our heads for a few months but not something we anticipated getting quick success on. And by most measures, success isn’t really something we’ve found yet. Though our readership has seemed to grow, there’s no real For Great Justice community yet; no diehard fans, no constant comments, no real recognition.
But success is what you make out of what you get, and for a year and four months now, I’ve had the pleasure of writing about anime in a place the world can see it. Statistics and numbers come after. I enjoy my role here first and foremost. For any of you who see this, it’s been a rough fall for each of us. Haru’s been swamped more than usual with incompetent management at work, L-K’s been off doing his own thing, and I got more than I bargained for with my first semester at college, including a period for about 3 weeks where I was bedridden and miserable with mono and strep, needing 2 ER visits and still afterward completely drained of energy while trying to catch up academically. I think our combined lack of posting can be excused for now, but our future also looks uncertain. I won’t sugarcoat anything; we’re all at points in our lives now where anime is a back burner leisure activity and not something we can devote a significant portion of our time to. This isn’t a departure forever. Great justice must be served. But our posting frequency will likely continue to be inconsistent in the coming months.
That’s all stuff to fret about later though. For now, it’s worth it to just celebrate getting our first solid year in the books. Thanks to everyone who read, commented on, or shared an article of ours. With all the anime blogs out there to choose from, we’re humbled anyone even bothers to skim our uncontrolled mess of a newborn website. This was (and will be) for you. We hope you had a great 2015 and that you’ll enjoy whatever we post in 2016 with us. See you soon.
Hands up, who else remembers Death Parade’s OP? You know, that funky energetic track “Flyers” that didn’t match Death Parade’s mood at all? Yeah, that one. If you need a recap on some of the year’s best openings, I’ll have that coming up shortly after the 12 Days ends, but until then, I can’t help but continue to reminisce about one of the year’s best OP songs. BRADIO, the group behind the music in that wonderful opening, became my guilty pleasure of the year. I rarely listen to anime-affiliated J-Pop of any variety outside of when I’m actually watching anime, but something about BRADIO just kept me coming back – to “Golden Liar,” to some of the ballads from Power of Life, but most of all, to “Flyers.”
I can now say without a shadow of a doubt that if we’re counting it as a 2015 show, Shirobako is easily my Anime of the Year. At the end of 2014, I praised it for being a realistic slice-of-life with relatable characters and scenarios that explored the ins and outs of modern anime production while juggling hints of workplace stress and subdued comedy. It was perfect.
Most of Blood Blockade Battlefront operated inside its own little realm of reality, and though there was clearly a realm outside of it, the show’s focus on Hellsalem’s Lot meant that what we saw was almost always a fantasy joyride that operated on its own laws of physics and badassery. Typically such shows provide little in the form of emotional investment. Characters are treated as comical punching bags or the ones doing the punching. What little downtime exists is often used to drive a plot, not explore character dynamics through small moments. And BBB had its handful of such instances, but give the crew behind this adaptation credit where it’s due; there’s no denying Hellsalem’s Lot feels like a living, breathing, place with characters who, even if just shown once or twice, feel like they have their own life waiting outside their immediate involvement in this patchwork of a story.
I know this will sound odd in retrospect, but considering a lot of my appreciation of Sound! Euphonium came in retrospect anyway, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to state this here; I didn’t truly appreciate Eupho until it featured a tasteful lesbian romance. Usually that’s the last thing a show like this would need, as it’d end up getting played as comic relief or ditsy side character nonsense, but Eupho is a KyoAni drama, and if there’s one thing KyoAni dramas excel at, it’s…
…well, no, never mind, KyoAni dramas excel at pretty much everything.
As I sit here typing this, it is currently December 9th. I’m writing these 12 Days of Anime articles in advance to avoid vacation scheduling conflicts and I’m preparing set times for them to post themselves thanks to WordPress. One such conflict is the fact that I have to turn in a 10 to 12 page paper on Friday the 18th over – of all fucking things – post-rock.
Yesterday I displayed something I generally try not to: hype.
I fucking hate hype.
All it does is build you up to in almost every case let you down. Especially in anime, “meeting the hype” tends to simply mean “I thought this show would be good and it was.”
But One Punch Man’s hype was different.
I first heard of One Punch Man three seasons before it aired, and the first two people who told me about its manga counterpart are not people I regularly discuss anime with. One of them didn’t even know the origins of the comic; they just described it enough until I realized it was One Punch Man we were talking about. That shit doesn’t happen often. Usually when an anime gets an above-average amount of hype behind it, it still stays confined to the community. And I’ll be honest, this had me worried, even more so than I usually am going into “hype” shows. The premise sounded silly but ultimately kind of flat; the hero can defeat everything in one punch. Great. How are you going to build a plot out of that?
Thankfully, while One Punch Man’s hype was different, so was the show.
Sorry, gotta get this out there first: Kizumonogatari is coming out on January 8th! I repeat, everyone, Kizumonogatari is coming out on January 8th! The sequel prequel the world’s been waiting for years for is now finally upon us. Shinbo’s not fucking around anymore, I can’t make “Jenny SHAFT when?” jokes now, and for once, it looks like if the PV is any indication, all will be right in the world.
(In case you haven’t guessed, this post is NSFW. Leave now if that could be an issue.)
J.C. Staff has never been among the greatest of anime studios. For the last few years in particular their offerings don’t seem to follow any specific genre trend, nor are many of them utterly awful. Their recent work of note that I’ve seen includes such shows like Golden Time, Ano Natsu de Matteru, Kimi to Boku, and Witch Craft Works, none of which are terrible, some even verging on recommendable, but nothing that substantially raised the bar or made J.C. Staff stand out in a world where other studio powerhouses still reign supreme.
But 2015 was quite a year for Japan Creative (bet you didn’t know what that stood for, did ya?) Staff. Instead of just putting out acceptably average works with a few duds here and there, they went absolutely bonkers in all directions. Some would argue nothing they aired this year worked. With cringeworthy filler contributions like Shimoneta, Tantei Opera Milky Holmes TD, Heavy Object, and Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls In A Dungeon?, the studio aired at least one shit show all year long. But two of their most off-putting titles ended up being not only two of the studio’s most memorable shows in years, but also two of 2015’s best series…for reasons I can’t possibly portray in a positive light, but I’ll try.