An anime's opening is its way of introducing itself to the world. It tells us what to expect and quickly introduces us to the main characters of the series, both good and bad. As the years have gone by, some anime openings have become so popular that they have transcended their own anime, being recognized even by those unaware of the particular anime's lore. This may be because they're super catchy, well animated or just because they're played a lot. Whatever the reason for their popularity, here are the top 5 anime openings off all time- based on their popularity! We'll be covering entries from as far back as 2006 all the way to present day: these are the 5 openings which have shaped and redefined the anime landscape. It'll be hard to find someone who hasn't heard of at least one of these entries!
5. Dragon Ball Z Kai: Dragon Soul
Dragon Ball Z Kai was a long-awaited remake to the original Dragon Ball Z: it had better art (although much of it was reused from the original show and only very few transition scenes were truly re-drawn), cut out almost all the fillers and censored a lot of things which were considered inappropriate for younger audiences that were sparkled all throughout the original Dragon Ball Z.
What was totally new, however, was the opening of the show- it was made with much better graphic techniques (unlike the predominantly hand-drawn style of DBZ) that can go toe to toe with most anime even today. Not only was the animation extremely fluid, the heavy nostalgia factor and uplifting music made for a dangerously popular combination that skyrocketed the opening into an almost anthem-like status; ask anyone born between 1998-2002 about their favorite childhood show, and DBZ will definitely come up somewhere in the list.
A fun fact about this opening was the momentary outrage it sparked back when it was first released to Amercian audiences who were unaware that DBZ Kai was a remake. Lots of people joked around that the animation was HD while the show itself felt like 240p; don't worry- the more knowledgeable members of the community quickly set them right and the world was happy once more.
Nevertheless, this opening is a true testament to how the anime industry has evolved its techniques with time- we've come such a long way from the Sailor Moon era!
4. Naruto Shippuden: Hero's Come Back!!
Ah yes. Those of you who were fortunate enough to have heard this opening air on Cartoon Network for the very first time know the exact moment that this opening took the world by storm. Following the events of the original Naruto anime, we are told that our hero departs Konoha to go on a two-year training period with his sensei, Jiraya of the Legendary Sannin. Naruto Shippuden picks up immediately after this period of training and what better opening than this could get us more hyped about what lay in store for our childhood hero!
Very aptly named, the opening titled Hero's Come Back!! shows us a montage of the characters of the original series as they appear two years later- and what a change there is to behold! The members of the Akatsuki (which was only rather vaguely mentioned in the original show and only two characters- Itachi and Kisame- were actually shown fighting on screen) are also shown in all their glory, setting the story up for the first half of Naruto Shippuden itself.
Good music, brilliant symbolism and bucketfuls of nostalgic sentiments all collaborate in perfect synchrony to make this opening as iconic as it is today. Although another naruto opening titled Silhouette is often used for several non-specific anime montages and AMVs, the first Natuto Shippuden opening remains the unchallenged iconic representation of the anime in the hearts of otakus (and their neighbors- whether they like it or not!) across the world! This opening truly unlocks a barrage of fond memories for many of us!
3. FMA Brotherhood: Again
If there ever was an anime where the opening starts to hold an increasing amount of significance as the show progresses, it's Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. While it may appear rather simplistic- or even clicle- to some (characters staring at the fourth wall, wind blowing past them, sudden explosion, you name it), the opening actually gives the viewer several glaring insights into the plot which become obvious too late in the anime. However, that's a discussion for another day- what we're talking about on this list his how iconic this opening has become.
This is perhaps the only opening on this list that isn't popular because of its own music or animation; although both are beautiful, the anime itself is immensely popular and is rightfully regarded my many as one of the best anime ever made. The story is brilliantly executed, the characters are well fleshed out and the plot never allows time enough for the viewer to lose interest. Naturally, the popularity of the opening will follow- something that happened after the anime finished in this case, which is our grounds for making the claim that it's not just the opening itself that's special: it's the nostalgia it brings and, as stated before, the fact that it essentially delivers the entire story to the knowledgable viewer in 1 minute and 30 seconds.
Whatever the reason, the Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood has an opening that has cemented itself into the list of most recognizable anime openings of all time!
2. Tokyo Ghoul: Unravel
Chances are, you don't even know Japanese but you know the full lyrics to the first 15 seconds of this song- whether you hated this anime or not. That's just how infamous the first opening of Tokyo Ghoul has become. With 110 Million views on its parent YouTube Channel's video, it certainly has the numbers to back up such a claim. From 2014-2016, it was practically impossible to find an AMV that didn't use this song- it found its way everywhere, all the way from fan-made AMVs to YouTube Critic Channels' opening segments... and yet it never got annoying for some reason. Reasons, rather.
Brilliantly bold colour palette and screen saturation aside, the song itself has an addicitive quality to it. It starts off on a sombre note and melds into an ever increasing symphony of calamity, all the while staying true to its gentle theme.
Say what you will about the anime, but Unravel truly is a musical masterpiece of the anime world and picking it as the opening theme for Tokyo Ghoul was a decision that on its own attracted hordes of viewes to the anime.
Although its popularity has dwindled, (the song, not the anime- which effectively died midway into "Root") Unravel remains a testament to not only how brilliant Tokyo Ghoul's start as an anime was, but as a milestone in the history of anime culture itself, earning it an easy Rank 2 on our list!
1. Attack On Titan: Shinzou wo Sasageyo
121 million views speak for themselves when we crown Attack On Titan's Season 2 opening as the top entry for the Top 5 Most Recognizable Anime Openings of all time. Released 3 years ago, Season 2 of Attack on Titan was a long awaited sequel to the first season, which had been released way back in 2013... and MAN did the anime make one hell of an impact instantly following its release- a large credit of this hype going to the opening itself!
Evoking a sense of unity and patriotism even among the viewers, Shinzou wo Sasageyo (meaning "Dedicate Your Heart") shows us a chaotic rendition of the Scouts as they launch an all-out attack on the Titanic monstrosities that have kept them so desperately confined within the walls they call their home. Although this fight doesn't quite happen as early as season 2, it remains just as relevant in the season- especially following the introduction of the now infamously memed Monke, aka the Beast Titan! Since the show is still not over, we'll refrain from saying anything more so as not to spoil anything for those just binging the series to get in touch with the hype.
However, what we certainly can remark on is the deeply inspirational quality of the music. Watching the flags of the Scout Regiment flying high in the sunset as our heroes stand atop the wall sends a chill down our spine even today- and it would seem that the entire otaku universe agrees with us! Shinzou wo Sasageyo is a true masterpiece of an opening- good enough to function as a national anthem! That's something no other opening can say, leaving Shinzou wo Sasageyo as the sole contender for the top spot as one of the most recognizable openings around!
That's all for this week minna! What did you think of this list? Your suggestions and critiques are welcome on our Discord server! We'll catch you next week Friday with another blog: until then, dedicate your hearts to living your passion, everyone!