I’ve been watching anime as it airs for several years now. “But wendeego,” you may ask. “Why continue to watch anime seasonally when statistically, most of the stuff that airs each season will be stuff you don’t care about? Why not wait until the dust settles so that you can check out the stuff people actually like, as most reasonable people do?” That is an excellent question! You might as well ask why I’m still an anime fan to begin with. What’s kept me in the medium through hard times, slow times, sad times. Thinking about it, the answer might be “opening and ending credits.”
Yes, OPs and EDs. I have a soft spot for one minute and thirty second music videos that carefully spell out the story and theme of a given show, and typography! 2018 was a pretty good year for OPs and EDs. Let’s run through the list. This is hardly exhaustive: there are plenty of others I am sure are excellent. But these are the ones I remember.
Pop Team Epic OP: Pop Team Epic, Sumire Uesaka
How do you represent Pop Team Epic, an ongoing series of shitpost comic strips, in one minute and thirty seconds? Smash a real television with a real baseball bat with nails in it, on camera. The video is great because it captures both the transformative powers of Pop Team Epic (exploding planets! encompassing the full range of life! transforming the world!) as well as how fucking obnoxious it can be (the endless commercial replication of the two main characters, the extremely chuuni lyrics.) The song is perfect too. COOL TIME.
Junji Ito Collection ED: Otagai no Uchuu, JYOCHO
Every once in a while an unremarkable show has an OP or ED that totally surprises you. Last year it was New Warou Salesman’s amazing OP, and at the beginning of the year it was this ED for the haphazard manga adaptation Junji Ito Collection. The song is excellent (courtesy of JYOCHO!) but the sleepy forest atmosphere with cute yet horrifying Junji Ito characters peeking out adds to it as well. Gotta keep an eye on this band.
Kokkoku OP: Flashback, MIYAVI vs KenKen
This OP is all over the place, with huge typography, garish colors, abstracted cityscapes and horrifying creatures. But it’s certainly memorable, and the accompanying song is just on the right side of awesome and kinda trashy. As an adaptation of a weird and freaky manga, I suspect this OP does a better job capturing the spirit of the source than the show itself…
Darling in the Franxx ED1: Torikago, XX:me
I mentioned this one in the first 12 Days post I wrote! I won’t say much, except that I only ever saw two episodes of Darling in the Franxx but that this ED was easily the best part of it for me. Love when Zero Two runs. (Too bad about the rest of it?)
Black Clover OP3: Black Rover, Vickeblanka
I’ve never watched Black Clover, though a few friends of mine actually dig the show a lot and claim it’s underrated for a shounen series. As someone who thinks the series looks like the most cut and dry Jump comic imaginable from the outside, watching this OP made me think “huh, maybe I should check this thing out after all!” I can think of no higher compliment.
NakamuraEmi was the MVP of the aforementioned New Warau Salesman, and she’s back for Megalo Box’s excellent ED! The neon credits and individual episode subtitles are really distinctive, evoking the series’s sense of rusted, nostalgic but slightly seedy cool. But yeah, it’s the song that carries it. A perfect fit for the futuristic companion to the foundational boxing anime.
Persona 5 The Animation OP2: Dark Sun, Lyn and Shoji Meguro
This is a weird one: the final, completed OP for the second half of Persona 5 The Animation didn’t air until the final episode of that season. But the show’s director, Masahi Ishihama (one of the best ending credits directors there is) wasn’t going to finish out the series without a proper credits sequence, was he? The result is what you get when a huge fan of the original game stuffs the coolest music video of all time with tons of small references and moments. I’d reckon the anime was worth it so this thing exists!
Double Decker ED: Buntline Special, Vickeblanka
The CG cousin of Durarara’s famous first ED, spliced through with punk and fun visual touches courtesy of Kiznaiver/Masotan director Hiroshi Kobayashi. I wasn’t sure what to make of the song at first, but then I couldn’t get it out of my head….BUSTED BABY POR FAVOR
Zombieland Saga OP: Adabana Necromancy, Franchouchou
This OP is a masterpiece, up to the last few seconds where it loses some steam. The way that the chorus ends with “Saaaaaaagggaaaaaaaaa” is perfect, though. As someone who wasn’t sure what to make of the first episode of this series, the OP turned me right around back to it again.
After the Rain ED: Ref:rain, Aimer
Distilled adolescent angst. The scene where the umbrella leaks a single raindrop that becomes a star captures the feeling perfectly. Also, Aimer is great? I’m always happy to see her name show up.
Hisone and Masotan ED: Le temps de la rentrée: Koi no Ieji (Shingakki), D-Pilots
This is it. The greatest credit sequence of the year. Every character is represented perfectly and does a silly dance. There’s a karaoke version near the end of the series! And it’s set to a catchy French pop song that was already the perfect length for an ED sequence. Go watch Hisone and Masotan if you haven’t already.