The Best of the Worst Anime Openings

About a month ago, a group of fellow bloggers, YouTubers and Twitter users set out to complete a spectacular project. We were going to rate the worst anime OPs of all time.

Beyond giving me a chance to express my absolute hatred for the Wolf’s Rain opening (more on that later), it allowed me to listen and watch 154 openings that may or may not have been really bad. This was a project organized and compiled by K at the Movies with the help of others.

If for some reason you haven’t come across K at the Movies, you can see him (and the video) here.

If you pay attention to my scores, you will notice something, I am consistently on the high end of the distribution curve. I’m pretty sure I broke the curve on a lot of those. Now there were a few that I hated, but in total, I only gave out three 1s, and my median score was a 5.

I don’t want to speculate on why that is. It could be that I’m tone-deaf. It could be that I like a wider range of music. It could be that I started with a higher score than most. I don’t know.

The short version of how I graded them could be summed up as: If I finished it, it got a 5. The somewhat longer version involves three criteria.

  1. Was the music bearable to listen to?
  2. Were the visuals dynamic and technically competent?
  3. Did I like it?

So you might think that those first two could be part of that third one, but I disagree. There were plenty of openings with saccharine pop songs that were utterly inoffensive. I finished them, so they got a five. But I wouldn’t seek out those openings to listen to them again. 

The same goes for the visuals. What I wanted to see was movement. Were the images static, or was there animation? Were the computer graphics competent for their time?

It’s the third one that I really want to talk about though. There are several openings where I enjoyed them more than others would. For instance, whoever the Japanese Tom Waits is that sang the Niea_7 theme got an 8 from me simply because I love Tom Waits.

In case, for some reason, you don’t know who Tom Waits is, let me pull up a song for you.

Here is the Niea_7 OP just for comparison.

The more I liked something, the better the chance that it would score higher. Across 154 scores, I gave six of them a 10. While not all of them made it to the final list, at least a few of them did.

Why do I want to talk about the best of the worst? Because that is where the evidence of taste becomes the most obvious.

So without any further ado, let’s talk about iniksbane’s Best of the Worst.

The Best of the Worst

So I’m going to start with three entries that escaped making the top 100 Worst Anime Openings. 

K-On!!: I love high-energy music. I don’t just love it when I’m listening to anime openings. I actually have a playlist called Fast Musc with punk, rock and rap songs that are all high-energy. 

Go-go Maniac is no different. This song is just going so fast that I get tongue-tied just listening to the singer whipping through those lyrics. I know this is super nerdy, but her diction (as far as I can tell) is impeccable. 

Another thing that will be a running theme in this list is that I love when the animation works with the music. There are multiple parts of this opening where the girls look like they are playing along with the song. They move, bounce and “sing” along with the words. The cuts are also done to the music. 

The third thing I love is the camera swinging around the girls toward the end. I know that this is just animation aping a trick that live-action does but thinking about how they pulled that off gives me pause. I know it’s a small technical marvel probably, but it’s a technical marvel nonetheless. Just think about how many things are moving in that frame as the “camera” moves. The backgrounds are moving. The girls are moving. And they have to move at different speeds to maintain the illusion that the camera is actually moving around them. 

It’s pretty cool. 

Another: I will be honest. I waffled on whether to give this one a 10 or a 9. But this was one of the few that I have seen, which may have played a role in this score. 

All of that said, along with high-energy music, I like atmospheric or discordant music. (See my earlier comment about Tom Waits.) Another combines elements of both into a song that is enjoyable to listen to. We are introduced with an uptempo first verse, and then we get a transition that is just a bit off as it moves to the title card. (Look, I studied writing. Off is the only term that I have to describe it.)

I waffled a bit because the visuals, while fitting for the show, aren’t particularly dynamic. But I don’t think they need to be. Another is a show that is all about atmosphere, and the visuals convey the ruined, decrepit town that we see in the show. Along with dolls, so many creepy yet strangely attractive dolls. 

Lucky Star: I feel like you could take everything I said about K-On!! ’s OP and just copy it down here. High-energy, catchy song? Check. Animation going along with the music? Check? I really like it. 

I don’t really have anything more to say, other than I need to watch that show at some point. 

Let’s move on to the openings that were actually on the list.

Dinosaur King: OK. The computer graphics in this OP are horrible. The song split between generic television pop song and a rap of the same caliber as our teachers would dream up when I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s. 

But there comes a part where they break into this Saturday morning cartoon advertising jingle combined with dinosaurs dancing that left me laughing for a good solid minute or so. It was so ridiculous and unexpected that I couldn’t help myself. Even when I watch K’s video, I still break out laughing. 

So if the goal of entertainment is to bring joy, and I laughed for more than a minute about stupid dinosaurs dancing and saying they’re going to be the dinosaur king, well, I had to give it a 10. Sure it might seem like a joke, but it was a good joke. 

Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei Bangachi: So these following two entries are going to have one thing in common. They both have potentially disturbing imagery. 

I really like the theme song for this show. I like the combination of screaming over heavy guitars with the much more melodic moments of the refrain. This song has made its way onto my Spotify playlist, along with all of the other SZS opening songs. 

I want the person who picked out the music for this show to provide me their playlist. That’s how much I love it. 

As far as the visuals go. Well, when I watched the video for Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun as a teen, I think something fundamentally broke in me. I like disturbing visuals.

So when I see beams shooting out of girls’ nether regions in time to “Apple! Picking! Beam!” I’m in. It is vaguely disturbing. But the weirdness overall erases any sense of unease I might have. 

Some of the people reading this may not remember when anime openings were used to sell a show. Geneon and Pioneer, in particular, used to string all of the openings together into these 7-minute videos. 

Seeing how absurd and strange this opening is, I wanted to see the show. 

Honey and Clover: All three of Honey and Clover’s openings are strange on some level, but this one is exceptional, and I love it. 

For the people reading this, Honey and Clover is a show about art school students, and I can’t think of a better opening than a collection of strange visuals. They range from the cake in the shape of panties that look like they have been peed in to the hot dog man who pulls off his head. Every moment there is another unsettling oddity. 

All of it is presented over a poppy and upbeat song, which makes it even stranger. 

I love it. I love it. I love it. 

I just bought both seasons of the show on Blu-Ray and watching this opening multiple times made me start watching the series again. It remains an excellent series, which three decent openings. But this one is really the best. 

Bonus Material

I just spent about 1,600 words writing, so what else could I have to say? Well, I thought it would be interesting to walk through the two openings I submitted to the project. But, unfortunately, neither of them made the list. One I didn’t figure would because, strangely, I’m the only one that hates it. And the other one, well, I don’t have any good reason for it. 

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax: So I’m going to make a bold claim here. None of the SNAFU openings are really spectacular. The first one has some decent animation and a decent song, but I wouldn’t look it up unless I needed to remind myself about it. 

The second opening has better music and maybe better visuals, but again, it’s nothing special. So, again, unless I needed to remind myself what it looked like, I wouldn’t search it out.

The third opening is just terrible. The people making the opening seem overly impressed with just having panning shots of the three main characters standing in a vaguely triangular shape. Look, mom! It’s symbolism. 

This is combined with a song that sounds so wholly bland that I just want to fast forward through it. It’s like the creators just ran out of steam and said, “Hey, what should a teen romantic comedy opening look like?” and grabbed every conceivable cliche off of the shelf and used them.

Wolf’s Rain: Look. I don’t know why anyone likes this song. Every time I hear “STRAYING,” I throw up a little bit in my mouth. The only reason I get to the second “STRAYING” is that I didn’t hit the skip button fast enough. 

I don’t care if Yoko Kanno composed this piece of trash. I don’t care if God came down with his heavenly choirs strumming power chords and said whoever listens to this song will be granted eternal life. I would still hate this song. 

It sounds like a bad ripoff of the mid-80s to early 90s new wave mixed with hair band music. Even after we get past that initially STUPID opening for the song, it just dissolves into this generic overproduced crap that sounds like a lousy Foreigner ripoff band. 

This song hurts me so much that I don’t care what the visuals are. Because I can’t listen to it long enough to see them. 

The most frustrating thing is that the rest of the music in the show, including the ED, is excellent. But this opening is abysmal. 

Yes. This is the hill I will die on. Screw this OP. Burn it with fire. May it sink into the deepest pits of Tartarus, where it is forced to play forever and be judged against a pack of screaming hyenas and still be found wanting. 

OK. OK. OK. Taking a deep breath now. In through the nose, out through the mouth. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

All right. I’ve said my piece about the Wolf’s Rain opening. I’m done. Until the next time that someone tells me that it’s great.

That is all I have to say. I hope that you enjoyed K’s video. It was fun. And I hope I wasn’t too generally confusing in talking about my experiences. Also, I’m hoping to convince WordPress to let me put videos in that don’t cover up the text. 

But, as always, thanks for reading. 

8 thoughts on “The Best of the Worst Anime Openings

  1. He doesn’t even say “straying” though, it’s just “stray”.

    That was my most immediate comment.

    It was interesting to read your other comments.

    1. I don’t know man. I hear straying. Even when I go back and listen to it again. He might be splitting the vowel on stray, and that’s why. I could see that.

  2. Criteria? Don’t think I had any proper ones, although I’d score things up or down depending on the gut reaction (e.g. points for creativity, if I can tell effort went in or I know the anime was plagued with production issues, then I’d bring the score up a bit…I also dropped an OP 2 pts because I noticed a dude staring at schoolgirls). If I’d say watching it “scarred me for life”, the resultant score would be pretty low and if I wanted it on Spotify after a listen or few and the visuals were cool (not confusing, like the emaciated guy in the One Outs OP), then it deserved a higher score, but I never gave out joke scores, only pity ones.

    …By the way, Wolf’s Rain I gave a 6, so it was average.

  3. I used somewhat different criteria than you.

    1. Am I in any way entertained by the opening (could be funny could be legit good music)
    2. Would I feel ashamed if people caught me listening/watching this/ would I do a courtesy to other people and skip it so they don’t have to hear the shouting (example Parasyte and Death Note 2 I would turn off.. also the one you shared that has women firing stuff from their privates.. I really loved it in many ways , but a lot of it I found in such poor taste I could not watch the opening with others without feeling very bad. ( I love everything except the beams though)
    3. Does it make me want to watch the anime itself. When an anime song about little remote control beetles has a line, NAKED BEETLE POWER! FIGHT POSE! I want to watch that anime xD
    4. Is it appropriate for the time/region that it’s launched in. Dinosaur King is a pretty generic opening but it fits how thigns were in it’s time. The one piece opening in english that was on there as well.. it kinda aged poorly but back then.. that’s kinda how dubs did their intros.

    It was certainly a interesting experience, and very fun to see how we all differ.. yet all seemed to agree the number 1 worst opening truely sucked donkey d

    1. Yeah. I can see all of those criteria, and I think they’re good. I mean I don’t think the SZS opening is really in good taste, but I think it’s ridiculous enough that it makes up for it. Maybe I’ve watched too many Terry Gilliam cartoons.

      But I can see where you’re coming from. Much like the Honey and Clover OP, I can definitely see where someone would get disturbed.

      Mostly my criteria came out of thinking about why someone would submit this. Was it the music? Was it the visuals?

      My least favorite though was that Fairy Anime. I can’t believe that thing was made In 2017.

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