This year was insane with the amount of anime openings and endings that I liked, and it was hard to narrow down the amount to a “reasonable” number… so I didn’t really attempt to. But these ones here (coupled with Youtube videos) are the ones that stick in my mind the most over the year visually, aurally, or both. That being said, there is a list of Honorable Mentions at the end of the post to include OP/EDs that were also good, but stuff I could easily leave as well. I’m much more critical of music than I am of anime, but doesn’t mean that I have standards. :P
–ARIA The ORIGINATION ED – “Kin no Nami Sen no Nami”, Akino Arai
A great departure from the previous EDs done by ROUND TABLE feat. Nino and the ARIA seiyuu, and IMO the best ED song of all the series. Arai’s voice, as soft and flowing as I remember it, definitely encompasses the feel of Neo Venezia that I get from ARIA: Calming, smooth, ethereal, beautiful and wonderful. Getting an idea how how Akari sees Neo Venezia helps as well. Favorite parts of the video: Akari looking through the multi-colored stone, the shots of her dear friends, and the rainbow over the lone undine rowing along the water.
–Spice and Wolf OP – “Tabi no Tochuu”, Kiyoura Natsumi
My favorite OP of the year song-wise, it had me at Natsumi’s first vocals. It has a simple, waltz-like melody (helps that the song has a ¾ time signature, or so I’d like to think) that I usually catch myself singing along with as it plays, especially at the chorus with the male accompaniment. It tells a story of a journey with and unknown destination (duh), coupled with the visuals that basically explain how Horo and Lawrence meet, partner up, and continue on this intriguing journey. The combo rouses me, making me want to join up with them on their journey. Favorite parts of the video: Yay beginning snowfall, Lawrence looking a little disturbed while Horo slyly grins just before the chorus, Horo flicking her hidden tail while she and Lawrence stand together, the handshake.
–Gunslinger Girl – Il Teatrino OP – “Tatta Hitotsu no Omoi”, KOKIA
Regardless of what people might think about the second season of the show (it’s not actually that bad, despite it’s radically different appearance), I wouldn’t think that people would be bugged that much by the OP, at least song-wise, though it’s no Delgados (as digitalboy might complain about). The dual vocals I hear from KOKIA help keep the tension and seriousness of the song ramped up as they go towards the chorus with determination, and I enjoy that. Of the two versions of the OP video (changes halfway for those who haven’t watched it), I prefer the second one, as though the first one is an interesting usage of montage and real life, it didn’t really explain what the show was about. Favorite parts of the video: Rico’s leap from roof to roof, Angelica’s footsteps, the dichotomy between Pinocchio’s and Triela’s upbringing, and the final faceoff between the two.
–Allison & Lillia OP – “Tameiki no Hashi”, Kuricoder Quartet & Yukawa Shione
The Kuricoder Quartet (seems quite a fun departure from the Kuricoder Orchestra for Azumanga Daioh) work well in making Shione’s vocals more like a folk song from times gone by. The vocals themselves are nice enough to me on their own though, but the instrumentation helps keep them from flying away, if that makes any sense. The visuals of our main pairs of protagonists for both halves flying around in their planes provide a nice backdrop for the song, but only at the end of the first version where we see Allison and Will admiring the scenery does it click in my head.
–Macross Frontier ED – “Diamond Crevasse”, May’n
This is my favorite of the OP/EDs of the show, which was no contest in my opinion (though “Aimo” is still <3). I felt that Sheryl Nome bringing the audience home after all the action and antics that happened in the episode was great, making for an awesome closer. And I feel that the chorus just brings the house down, also providing a fitting coda to Yoko Kanno’s masterful work on the OST. It’s just “Go Home People” after that. :3 Favorite part of the video: the ending shot, which was great on episode 7 (I believe), since it ends up being the last shot of her powerful concert on Frontier.
–Kamen no Maid Guy ED – “Wakugai!!”, Yoshiki Fukuyama
Hearing this, I couldn’t help but imagine Basara rocking out to it, since Fukuyama is his singing voice for Macross 7. That aside, the pulsing song starts off strong from the initial drumbeat (or just from Kogarashi’s declaration with awesome screech at the end), and it never lets up. Just as our awesome Maid Guy never lets up on Naeka or Fubuki in the awesome ED video. Favorite parts of the video: the frightened pair running away from Kogarashi to the beat, their frightened faces cornered by his insanity near the end, and Kogarashi triumphant at the end.
–Kyouran Kazoku Nikki OP – “Chousai Kenbo Sengen”, MOSAIC.WAV
I’ve only really gotten into MOSAIC.WAV within the past year of so, but I’ve been liking a lot of their more recent stuff they’ve pumped out for anime, and this is an example. The pumping Akiba-Pop coupled with the waves of quickly spoken words throughout the sung vocals greatly demonstrates the hyper mood of the show, especially with the accompanying animation, which is one of my favorites of the year. The combo is probably a good representation of Kyouka’s decree to overload the world with frenzy, especially with her different declarations at the end of the OP in every episode. Favorites parts of the video: Umm, everything? Especially the intro with the mini-Kyouka’s introducing a Kyouka on the world, Kyouka parachuting onto Ouka’s head, the Midarezaki family getting ready to rumble, everyone pointing, from the running away of Ginka, Chika and Ouka from Kyouka to the end of the video.
–Soul Eater OP 1 – “resonance”, T.M. Revolution
It’s been a while since I’ve heard T.M. Revolution as such in anime, and it was great to hear him again for this first OP. But the video takes precendence to me, as I loved the kinetic camerawork throughout, the stylized nature everywhere and everything, and how there was always some form of movement present by anyone of the characters. Favorite parts: Ummm everything? Specifically, the zoom out from the moon to the main characters stopping at Maka and Soul walking, Shinigami-san’s hand movements (Baka-Raptor doing it was a good moment for me), Medusa’s dancing Soul Eater punching the camera away, and Maka and Soul fighting (yay).
–Hidamari Sketch x365 OP – “? de Wasshoi”, Kana Asumi, Kaori Mizuhashi, Yuuko Goto and Ryouko Shintani
Happy Happy Hidamari. I don’t feel like I need to say anything more about the song. Favorite parts of the video: It’s Hidamari Sketch. Everything to me. :P
–Birdy The Mighty Decode ED – “Let’s go together”, Afromania
Whenever Afromania is involved, you’re in for a rocking good time, and that’s the case with “Let’s go together”, which expresses fun vibes all around, as if one’s relaxing on the beach, if that makes any sense. It must be the opening quintet of notes from the guitar to the drumbeat and vocals kicking in. “Let’s go! Have a good time!”, indeed. I also enjoyed the video which pretty much just consisted of Tsutomu following the bands advice, with a silhouette of him dancing on by, and hi-fiving Birdy on the way. Good times.
–Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora OP – “Fly Away”, THYME
It had me at the Engrish, “good night Days, good old Days” sung by THYME, and I joined in when the main rocking tune came in, as this is another one of my favorite OP songs. It was interesting to see how the lyrics that seemed to be the one of someone who’s nervous and nostalgic for earlier times contrasted with what seems to be a genuinely positive-sounding tune and video showing Sora and others in Tokyo living life. Either way, it was good introduction of THYME to me (and their work on the ToLoveRU OP wasn’t bad either), and with their first album released (which I heartily recommend to those who like “Fly Away”), it’s a band I hope to hear from much later down the line. Favorite parts of the video: people stretching, the beginning grind of a day, Sora going up and down a hill on her bike, and the photo with her and her dog.
–Tytania ED – “LOST IN SPACE”, Psychic Lover
The song and video screams “80s” to me. In terms of the music, it comes from the synthesizer, the general melody, the lyrics (Win, Lose, or Draw!, Dive into the light!), and so on. The video? Okay, mostly from Lira’s movement between the walking Fan in the middle of the chorus. That and the attire of the non-Tytania cast. And that’s okay with me. :P
–Penguin Musume Heart 2nd ED – “Yurayura + Yuriyura + Nananana”, PNGN3: Azusa Kataoka, Mariya Ise, Yoshino Nanjou
Sung by the main trio of the show, the song gets me at the get go from the first “na” on it’s main rockish theme, I guess. Shows that it really doesn’t take much for me to enjoy a song. The video doesn’t really serve any point at all, but it’s still fun to watch anyway (kinda like the main show). Extra kudos goes to IOSYS (yay Touhou flashes), which apparently animated this ED (let me know if I’m wrong). Favorite parts of the video: Sakura holding the “na” bubble, Marie Whitebear drinking tea on top of a toilet, Sakura on the apple (wonder what that’s about), Sakura happy to have friends, and the rainbow (yay!).
–Kannagi OP – “motto ☆ hade ni ne!”, Haruka Tomatsu
The song itself really doesn’t stay in my head that well, but when coupled with the best opening animation of the year IMO, it stands out well. Tells of an alternate reality, or probably Nagi’s dream in being a popular idol that gives her the faith she needs to exorcise impurities and then some. Favorite parts of the video: everything.
–Ga-rei Zero OP – “Paradise Lost”, Chihara Minori
A pulsing pop song that doesn’t stop from the first beat to the last, with nice synthesizers and strings and a nice Eastern flair hidden in there. Given that I don’t really listen to songs from Minorin, I do like what’s done here, though apparently the song isn’t as well received as some of her other stuff? Either way, I enjoyed that and the opening video tied to it, especially because the latter evokes sad feelings as I know what’s going to happen. ;_; Favorite parts of video: Kagura looking up at the beginning, Kagura and Yomi walking in opposite directions on the sidewalk, the Nabuu brothers bobbing side to side, the chairman waving, the silhouettes of the main group moving off and leaving Kagura to stand on her own, basically any moment with Kagura and Yomi together (;_;).
–Clannad After Story OP – “Toki wo Kizamu Uta”, Lia
This OP gave me much more than the first one, with a better song, and better visuals to match. I myself am still trying to figure out the varying time signatures of the piece (does it go into 27/8ths somewhere? At least 5/8 time after the main chorus I’d like to think), which I feel is pretty clever to keep me listening to a song. Lia never losing the beat is awesome in itself, and when she and the song go into the chorus, it’s magical. Favorite part of the video: the various shots of Nagisa before the zoom out of Tomoya and Yoshino in their electrical company van, the Nagisa and Tomoyo profiles, and Nagisa floating in the end.
–Michiko to Hatchin OP – “Paraiso”, Soil & “Pimp” Sessions
Pure Brazil in the song, the only instrumental piece of the openings and endings here, and it’s great. Both the song and the video jazzy, sassy, happy and very colorful, and they are a joy to experience. Favorite parts of the video, the intros of Michiko and Hatchin, the close-up shots of them on the motorcycle during the “chorus”, and them driving away.
Honorable Mentions (told you my list was too long) visually or aurally:
true tears ED – “Sekai no Namida”, Yuuki Aira (both);
Michiko to Hatchin ED – “Best Friend”, Karutetto (both);
ef – a tale of melodies OP – “ebullient future”, ELISA (visually);
Detroit Metal City OP – “SATSUGAI”, Detroit Metal City (both);
Golgo 13 ED 1- “Glass Highway”, doa (both);
Xam’d OP – “Shut Up and Explode”, Boom Boom Satellites (both, RUN AWAY);
Kure-nai OP – “Love Jump”, Minami Kuribayashi (visually);
Real Drive OP – “Wanderland”, 9mm Parabellum Bullet (both);
Kaiba OP – “Never”, Seira (both);
ToLoveRU OP – “forever we can make it!”, THYME (both, ooh la la);
Macross Frontier OP 2 – “Lion”, Megumi Nakajima and May’n (both, “I will survive!”);
H2O ~Footprints in the Sand~ ED – “Kazahane”, Haruka Shimotsuki (aurally);
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki ED 6 – “Sekai de Ichiban Yabai Koi”, Haruka Tomatsu (both);
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki ED 8 – “Appare Henka Ja.”, Satou Rina (aurally);
Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei OP – “Kuusou Rumba”, Ootsuki Kenji & Zetsubou Shoujo Tachi (both, yay SHAFT);
TYTANIA OP – “Ano Sora wo, Yuke”, Ken Nishikiori (both, especially stabbing spaceships);
Kannagi ED – “Musuhi no Toki”, Haruka Tomatsu
Kurogane no Linebarrels ED – “Ame ga Furu”, Maaya Sakamoto
B-side of the year: “Take you as you are“, from Hatenkou Yuugi OP – “Heartbreaking Romance”, Kanako Itou (better a video with a game as its background than something else, I say. :P)
Tomorrow (hopefully): A bunch of random quotes. Help on this one is good.