A tradition unlike any other.
No, I’m not talking about that tradition. I’m talking about the dual traditions of the twelve days of anime project and me ranking things. If you’re unfamiliar with the former, Scamp’s call to arms post here gives a good run down. If you’re unfamiliar with the latter, then you’re about to learn. So with that, let’s get to ranking:
12. Miiro (Kantai Collection OP)
This one sneaks into the back end of the list entirely on the strength of the song itself. I mentioned this in our OP bracket but to reiterate, the animation here is completely lackluster. Visually, it’s just a montage of the show’s endless cast of boat girls, which incidentally is a good description of the show overall. The song however, is outstanding. Akino is quickly moving up alongside LiSA atop my list of favorite J-Pop vocalists. The song has a level of energy and intensity to it that the show never had. As one of the best songs on this list, Miiro should be higher, but ultimately it was let down by its show.
11. Brave Shine (Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works OP2)
Here, by contrast, we have an OP with actual good aesthetics. Ufotable once again delivers a smooth, polished opening with gorgeous digital effects. The animation shows off the cast in a meaningful way which gives us a bit of insight into the current circumstances of this grail war. The music provides an interesting contrast to the first UBW OP’s high energy, rock feel. Brave Shine is a more soulful, almost melancholy song that helps paint the grail war as a tragedy as much as a quest for honor. Whatever you think of the show, there’s no denying that Ufotable knows how to put together a solid opening animation.
10. TALKING (Subete ga F ni Naru OP)
Subete ga F ni Naru’s OP makes the list by being one of the most unique OPs of the last year. I love the minimalistic style it has and the dance moves the characters show off are a lot of fun. The transitions are geometrically interesting and the whole thing is really visually engaging despite being mostly outlines on a black background. The song itself is really catchy and is very distinct from the same-y sounding high-pitched J-Pop openings out there.
9. Sugar Song to Bitter Step (Kekkai Sensen ED)
The first ED on this list comes to us courtesy of UNISON SQUARE GARDEN, one of my favorite Japanese bands and maybe my favorite with male vocals. Their songs are full of energy and have a distinctive sound that makes them stand out from the crowd. The animation here is also really neat as it places the cast of monsters and misfits dancing in black tie on stage. It’s fun to see these characters in a completely different situation from what you see in the show. This combination of song and animation makes Sugar Song an easy choice at number nine.
8. Colorful (Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata ED)
While the show was kind of a mess, I really liked this ED. It’s mostly a song pick because of how pretty it is, especially the chorus. Back when the full version came out I was listening to it for hours on end without tiring of it, it was just that fun and catchy. It’s helped by the fact that the animation features the show’s outstanding female cast while being nearly devoid of the show’s garbage main male character. By focusing on the good parts of Saekano, such as they are, Colorful earns the number eight spot in this list.
7. Okaeri (Non Non Biyori Repeat ED)
Non Non Biyori Repeat’s ending animation isn’t much to look at, it’s just a series of still shots. The song isn’t that amazing either, it’s sung by the voice actresses and they aren’t exactly all-world vocalists. What carries Okaeri is the nostalgic emotions it evokes as I think back to one of my favorite shows of 2015. Each week as the girls’ walked onto the screen and announced that this week’s episode was over you’d get that wistful, mono no aware feeling as you realized you were one week closer to no more Non Non. The song and visuals were very effective at evoking a nostalgic and melancholy feeling that typified the best parts of Non Non Biyori. A simple ED from a show about the simple pleasures of country life, Okaeri is a worthy entry in my top 12 rundown.
6. Dream Solister (Hibike! Euphonium OP)
It’s made it to the final 16 of our OP bracket so you know we’re big fans of this OP here. The opening animation is beautiful and in particular I love the detailed instrument animation. It’s not often you see people hands animated while playing musical instruments. KyoAni did this previously with K-ON and they showed of that skill agian here. I also really like the way they wrote the characters’ names out of musical symbols during the first part of the OP. The song itself has a unique big band feel to it that goes well with the concert band theme of the show. Overall it’s a really solid package.
5. Cobalt (Classroom☆Crisis OP)
I know I said all that stuff up above about “unique songs” and “same-y J-Pop” up there but here we are at number five and I’m picking a generic J-Pop OP with mediocre animation just because I really enjoy the song. I like TrySail a lot and I found this song to be incredibly catchy. The animation is mostly lackluster although I did enjoy the portion where the members of A-TEC are getting stamped out but Kaito manages to avoid that fate. But in the end, this is here almost entirely for the song. I may need to give up all my music cred (assuming I had any) for liking generic J-Pop this much but this is an anime blog, what did you expect really?
4. Tutti (Hibike! Euphonium ED)
Hibike Euphonium’s ED might not have the same sense of spectacle as its OP, but the song is very catchy and the animation is bright and engaging. But the real reason this comes in at number four is this. Any ED that contains a reminder of the greatest yuri ship in recent memory is going to immediately jump up near the top of any list I make. Everything else kind of becomes irrelevant in the face of the greatness that is KumiRei.
3. Kakushinnteki☆Metamaruphose! (Himouto Umaru-chan OP)
This OP comes in at number three because of the full package. No one part of this OP is really outstanding, although the animation comes close. What makes it stand out is the way the music and animation work together and how that combines with our knowledge of Umaru from the show to make an extremely enjoyable OP. Umaru is a garbage imouto. The show knows it and we know it, but at the same time she’s our garbage imouto and we still kind of love her. The OP embraces Umaru’s garbage-ness and exemplifies why she’s endearing despite being so awful. Long live the Himouto.
2. Brave New World (Gakusen Toshi Asterisk OP)
It’s not terribly unique, but Brave New World does all the things I want from a good OP. It combines a high-energy song with lively animation and delivers a polished final product that does very little wrong. The song itself has quickly become one of my favorite songs to bike to with its high BPM and energetic vocals. The animation gets the job done but little more than that. However, with a song as good as this you don’t really need much more.
1. Tokimeki Poporon (Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?? ED)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! SO CUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTE! CHINOOOOOOOOOOOOO! MAYAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! MEGUMIIIIIIIIIIIII! SO BOUNCY! SO ADORABLE! THOSE BUNNY HOODS! AAAAAAAAAAAAA! I’M SORRY I CAN’T FINSIH THIS POST BECAUSE I DIED OF CUTENESS. RIP ME.