Top 10 Anime Openings of 2016
Written by: ClayDragon & Shiggins
Let’s not mince words – 2016 was an absolute shitshow. Far too many great people died, there were huge political divides in both Britain and the USA, and we only got one new episode of Doctor Who. Despite this, the anime side of 2016 was pretty good, and so over the next few days we’re going to be looking at some of the best aspects of anime that came out this past year. For this list, we’re focusing on openings – as long as it debuted in 2016, it’s eligible for this list.
Side note: Whilst we made an effort to watch lots of shows that started airing this year, we couldn’t see them all. So if there’s an opening that you think should be on this list but isn’t, then it’s probably because we never got around to watching it, as opposed to us not liking it.
As is this the case with many of these lists, SPOILER ALERT. You have been warned.
10.) “Redo” by Konomi Suzuki (Re:Zero –Starting Life in Another World–) (Written by: ClayDragon)
Allow me to talk about a different anime opening for just a second. The opening to Steins;Gate is simply brilliant, so how could I not love an opening that has so many similarities with Steins;Gate that it can’t be a coincidence? Re:Zero’s first opening shares a lot of design and animation styles with Steins;Gate, from the occasional bursts of static to the swooping camera angles to the subtle symbolism. And given that Re:Zero’s time travel plot bears a slight resemblance to the one in Steins;Gate, it’s fitting that the opening would pay homage to that.
Beyond the similarities, it’s still a damn good opening. It’s bookended by a shot of Subaru dying in slow motion, but the first time is played in reverse to highlight his ability of rewinding back through time when he dies. Really, the symbolism in this opening is one of my favourite aspects, as a lot of it is indirect, and it goes by too fast for you to really take it in. It’s only when you watch it again that you pick up on all the hidden imagery – and since the song is pretty catchy too, there’s a high chance that you’ll be watching this opening again and again anyway. Oh, and there are some pretty creepy images that flash up for literally one frame every so often.
|Some of these foreshadow plot points. Others are just there to subliminally induce nightmares.|
Know Know” by Does (Gintama˚) (Written by: ClayDragon)
Okay, we’re technically cheating a little bit with this one, but hear me out. See, this song was used in 2015 for the latter half of Gintama’s Shogun Assassination arc. But when the next arc started in 2016, the animation for the opening changed completely, and given how much I like this opening I was desperate to find any loophole I could. The first half really focuses on the despair and sadness caused by events in the preceding arc, and it’s only once the chorus kicks in that the action really starts.
|I know this is meant to look cool and serious, but Elizabeth completely spoils the mood.|
The short scene where Gintoki, Shinpachi, Kagura and the Shinsengumi are fighting against an army is excellently done, and the cuts between the different battles are seamless. This opening really gives off the feeling that events are coming to a climax, and the fact that this is one of the very few Gintama openings without any funny moments just goes to show that they don’t need humour in order to make an excellent opening. Plus, the opening music plays during one of the most epic moments in this arc, so bonus points for that.
|I'd suggest for the goons to just rush them all at once, but I don't think that would help much.|
Day” by Porno Graffitti (My Hero Academia)
(Written by: Shiggins)
Sometimes, an opening doesn't need to blow open the doors and break new ground. It can just do everything right, follow the guidelines of the past, and give you the same nostalgic feel that many others in the genre have done before. That is exactly what My Hero Academia's opening does, giving us an opening that bleeds the colour of Shonen and reminds us why it's so fun to just sit back and enjoy the pure adrenaline-pumping action that comes with watching a superhero series.
|He's not a superhero, he's a superMAN!|
As I've said, this opening does very little to try to reinvent the wheel and almost comes across as completely cliché, hence its lower place on this list. It highlights the most important characters in their respective costumes, showcases some action against disturbing monsters and generic villains, and keeps the pace fast and energetic to match the tone of the series. It's fun, it's frantic and it follows the rules. Nothing wrong with that.
7.) “99” by Mob Choir (Mob Psycho 100) (Written by: ClayDragon)
Given the One Punch Man’s opening was very action-packed and bombastic, I was expecting something similar from Mob Psycho 100, given that they were written by the same guy. Instead, I got what looks like a bad drug trip. Although to be honest, it’s a very good bad drug trip. At first, it looks normal as the camera pans over a neon city. But once the city is revealed to be part of a giant eye, things get a little weird. And then the weirdness just keeps ramping up as the opening continues. It’s like a giant weirdness rollercoaster with no brakes.
|This is one of the less weird scenes in the opening.|
One of the impressive aspects of this opening is that the animation during the chorus is done all in one cut, without any scene breaks – and given how madcap the animation is at this point, that’s pretty surprising. There’s also a huge amount of foreshadowing for the series, including events that haven’t even been animated yet. The song is incredibly catchy, the animation is colourful and, even though it looks a jumbled mess, everything shown relates to the series in some way. The only question is whether or not the animators were actually high when they planned this.
6.) “Knew Day” by (K)NoW_NAME (Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash) (Written by: ClayDragon)
It is a sad fact that not enough anime openings have fiddle solos. Thankfully, Grimgar’s opening rectifies this problem. Whilst the song is fairly gentle throughout, the first 25 seconds have an excellent fiddle solo that fits perfectly. In terms of the animation, the opening is gorgeous to look at. The watercolour style used in the anime proper is also applied here, and it makes every scene that much nicer to look at.
|Come on, Shihoru! Everyone else is striking an action pose!|
Aside from that, this opening is fairly minimalistic, with shots of the cast against a white background being the main focus, with the occasional scene showing some locations from the show itself. But the slow pace, the emphasis on the characters and their actions, and the occasional bit of action reflects Grimgar perfectly. And in the end, that’s a pretty good quality for an opening to have.
5.) “Kami-iro Awase” by Binaria (Danganronpa 3: Despair Arc) (Written by: Shiggins)
As mentioned previously, one of our all-time favourite openings is from the fantastic anime Steins;Gate, with one of the major reasons for that being the amazing amount of hints and foreshadowing in the anime that only becomes more and more obvious as time goes on. That is exactly why both Danganronpa 3 openings were considered for the top 5 of 2016, and after much debate, we went with the prequel's far more visually appealing one.
|I hope someday someone looks at me the same way Junko looks at her victims.|
Unlike Future's opening, Despair's one is far more obvious with its foreshadowing and doesn't require guessing or deciphering to figure out. The meaning behind Junko holding everyone in the palm of her hands is about as obvious as her gender, and fans of the series immediately know what this opening is hinting at it. However, the calm pace of the music and the updating of the visuals as the series progresses really helps to create a vastly different mood to the other openings of the year, and places this opening at number 5.
|Of course, the opening reveals it was Gundam Tanaka all along!|
4.) “Re:Re:” by Asian Kung-Fu Generation (Erased) (Written by: Shiggins)
Can we all agree that most kids in fiction are annoying little shits that we wish never existed, and usually tend to be an unmovable clutch in a likeable story? With the exception of Gohan and Clementine, I really do struggle when it comes to enjoying the screentime of a child character, such as Carl Grimes. Thankfully, the kid characters in Erased are fantastic, and the opening does a great job of reminding us that in such a short time.
|Watching your own series while your younger self sits next to you. Is this meta, or just seriously fucked up?|
This opening shows upcoming events in a quick and decipherable fashion, which I love, but the real reason I love this opening is the charm. It's a charming opening. You see the wonderful animation, the beautiful snow-covered setting, and the kids running about together as good friends who are secretly being threatened by a mass murdering psychopath who takes perverse pleasure in causing death and pain wherever they go... And the opening has a great song too!
|Unattractive characters are now the best characters! That is the power of Erased!|
3.) “History Maker” by Dean Fujioka (Yuri on Ice) (Written by: Shiggins)
Well, fuck. Yuri on Ice is beautiful, and I never thought I'd say that. You can be sure to see Yuri on Ice appear in other Top 10s of 2016, but for now let's just focus on the opening itself. While some may be initially put off by the artistic choice to make the opening's style sketchy and faded at times, this only works to the gorgeous creature's advantage and what we're left with is something truly surprising.
|Pay no attention to the fact that Victor becomes Shuu Tsukiyama for a second here.|
The flowing movements of the skaters helps to create an almost mesmerising atmosphere, and the tone of the opening is driven by the characters as they move in time with the music, perfecting it. The opening blew me away and I'm still staying up at night, unable to get those pretty boys out of my head. I'm not even going to try to talk about all the reasons this opening is fantastic, so I insist you just take a look yourself.
|Fly, my waifus! Fly away!|
2.) “Answer” by Bump of Chicken (March Comes in Like a Lion) (Written by: ClayDragon)
I’m going to be honest for a second – I haven’t actually seen March Comes in Like a Lion. Then again, I hadn’t seen Unlimited Blade Works when I did the 2015 Openings list, and I still wrote about it, so why should I let that stop me? Bump of Chicken is fast becoming one of my favourite Japanese bands ever since I saw Blood Blockade Battlefront, and they’ve done another great job here, especially considering that their songs are used for both the opening and ending for this show.
|Wait, wasn't there a Spyro 3 level like this?|
The animation is similarly impressive, as the whole opening is done in such a way that every scene looks like a painting. These scenes do an excellent job of showcasing protagonist Rei’s mental state during the series, and whilst most of the symbolism isn’t exactly subtle, it’s still effective. The muted colour scheme and striking imagery combine well with Bump of Chicken’s music to create what is easily one of the best openings this year.
|It's weird how many anime openings show a character sinking into water. I hope they all know how to swim.|
1.) “Lay Your Hands on Me” by Boom Boom Satellites (Kiznaiver) (Written by: Shiggins)
Kiznaiver is not an anime you're going to see a lot of when it comes to our Top 10s of 2016, because unfortunately it didn't live up to its amazing premise and delivered a series that, while not bad, was underwhelming and quite a disappointment. The expectations I had for this series only increased over time, as I discovered the studio behind it also made Kill la Kill, and I saw this utterly brilliant opening.
|Oh god, I'm coming down!|
It's a cliché to say, but this opening really was like no other. In fact, the majority of this opening doesn't even show the group of characters that carry the bulk of the story, but the simple movements they do let us see quickly identify how each of them move and act. You get a firm grasp on their personalities just from a few seconds, and the rest of Kiznaiver's opening delivers such a euphoric and trippy atmosphere that knocks you off your ass the entire time it's on. The visuals feel like exactly like a music video, but not a shitty one. A good one. A really good one. A number one!
|The ass-shaking quota for every opening has now been met... I think.|
Is there an opening you feel we missed out? Or do you have any suggestions for another Top 10 list? Let us know in the comments below!
|"Reason Living" by Screen Mode (Bungou Stray Dogs)|
|"Bye Bye Yesterday" by Class 3-E (Assassination Classroom)|
|"Ashita o Narase" by Kavka Shishido (Fairy Tail Zero)|
|"Deal With" by Oldcodex (Servamp)|
|"Blood Circulator" by Asian Kung-Fu Generation (Naruto Shippuden)|
Thanks for reading!
ClayDragon has finished studying Physics at university, and understands about as much as he did when he started. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at email@example.com. He has an ask.fm account at ask.fm/ClayDragon. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to figure out what to do with his life. Happy New Year!
Shiggins enjoys many strange forms of communication, especially those including cosplayers or presents or videos. However, until that wonderful day comes when people care enough to give him things for being him, you can contact him on his Skype; shigginsishere. He can also respond to you if you contact him through GMails at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere.