OP/ED Op-Eds: The Best of Summer 2016

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With the season more than halfway over, it’s time to once again dig into our favorite songs from shows that have been airing for the past few months. Said lineup includes an anime by Yuzuru Tachikawa, the new prodigy of opening sequences, so expect Mob Psycho 100 to show up a lot on this list. Otherwise, there are still cooking classes, fighting dreamers, space pop stars, and the smoldering depths of hell. Don’t bother counting to 99, and dive right in!

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“Self Control” by Saint Snow (Love Live! Sunshine!!)

Yeah. Seriously.

Love Live! produces about as many good songs as Alex Jones produces credible deductions, but you know what they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. While Mob Psycho 100 is the obvious winner in the visuals and general excitement department, I’ve always been the guy to make my pick based on what I hear, rather than what I see. Besides, this feature wouldn’t be very fun if everyone ended up picking the same song. Not only do Saint Snow look like two-thirds of Babymetal, “Self Control” also sound just a bit like it, what with the preposterously over-processed guitars and contrast between Asami Tano’s pleasant, mature voice and hype girl Hinata Sato’s shrill interjections. Flaunting shameless stadium rock over blast beats and drop-tuned shreds, it is a lot more streamlined than most Babymetal songs, however. While its memorable melodies, layered build-up and use of countermelody aren’t likely to shock, let alone impress anyone who’s ever heard a proper pop song before, “Self Control” sounds like a bona fide classic compared to the garbage the Love Live! songwriting machine usually farts out. It may be on here more for what it signifies rather than for what it actually is, but hey, even I’ll throw the dog a bone once in a while. Besides, it’s just so damn catchy!

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“Purity of Destruction” by Walkure (Macross Delta)

I felt obligated to pick a song from Macross seeing as it’s about music and what not, and I actually had a tough time picking which ED I wanted to feature. As much as I wanted to choose the amusingly cheesy rock riffs and powerhouse vocals of “Love! Thunder Grow” (or even Freyja’s third solo song) I decided to go with the second half’s primary ED. It’s not a particularly amazing song and visuals are basically a boring CG slideshow, but it is a great showcase for JUNNA’s fantastic voice. How could I not pick the song that Mikumo destroyed time and space with?

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“99” by Mob Choir (Mob Psycho 100)

There’s been quite a few fantastic OPs this season (Sweetness and Lightning springs immediately to mind) but it’s tough for any of them top top 99, which melds a sinister chant to an electric hard rock number then pairs that with some truly spectacular and bizarre animation to quite astonishing effect. It’s no secret that Mob Psycho 100‘s main claim to fame is its amazing visual appeal and this op demonstrates that very well, veering between hard edged style, soft psychedelia, and some crazed comedic imagery that evokes the classic Cromartie High School OP. It’s an incredible lesson in how an opening can be silly and funny and yet stylish and menacing at the same time. 100/100.

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“Million Clouds” by Maaya Sakamoto (Amanchu!)

Normally I’d be picking Mob Psycho 100 or Sweetness and Lightning (sadly, JoJo: Duwang‘s second OP breaks the shows streak of excellence), but those are already represented quite well on this post, so I decided to go with something a little lower-key. This OP follows in the footsteps of Big Sister Aria‘s, being chiefly a bunch of soft music and pretty visuals to get you in the mood for… soft music and pretty visuals. It isn’t much of a spectacle or even necessarily outstanding, but it is nice and relaxing, perfectly fitting Amanchu!‘s whole raison d’etre.

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“Cheerful Fanfare” by MimimemeMIMI (Sweetness and Lightning)

Mob Psycho 100 definitely took home the animation award this season, but there’s just something irresistibly charming about Sweetness and Lightning’s fluffy pop opening. It’s the kind of thing I’d expect a hyper five year old to love, and Tsumugi definitely hams it up in many of the song’s best parts. It may be a little subdued when showing characters as just floating around in a cream void to the music while food flies by them, but that kinda fits too? I dare you to watch it without breaking a smile, and sometimes I need that more than ridiculous BONES bucks.

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“99” by Mob Choir (Mob Psycho 100)

This season has been a wasteland of OPs, but even in a more competitive season, Mob Psycho 100’s would still stand above the rest. The psychedelic visuals are paired with an excellent sense of graphical style, creating something I actively watch every single week. The song itself is also a fun reminder of how effective an OP uniquely written for a show can be. It doesn’t have the same bombastic impact of One Punch Man’s OP, but it more than makes up in style. I mean goddamn, it is just so well animated.

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“99” by Mob Choir (Mob Psycho 100)

Out of the shows I’m watching this season, I have to say it felt like pretty slim-pickings this time around. I mean, I don’t think there are many songs that are outright awful, but certainly not many that truly stand out. 99 by Mob Choir is easily the standout song for me, thanks to both the catchy tune and the crazier than average visuals. You would think that counting to one hundred in a song would be a great way to bore you to tears, but it makes the song feel faster paced, and hey, it’s even thematic. I should also mention that I’m a big fan of the Sweetness & Lightning OP; even though it’s not doing anything different, I think it does a great job in setting the mood for the show.

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“Kaze no Uta” by FLOW (Tales of Zestiria the X)

A slightly unusual pick for me this time around since a) I’m not even watching Zestiria and b) I don’t generally care for FLOW. What little I saw of the anime struck me as average at best, and to be honest FLOW has always annoyed me a bit; their vocals are of the generic nasally variety and frankly, I hated their second most recent single (though I think we can all agree that none of Durarara’s new OPs/EDs could come close to living up to the first). So why am I going with FLOW’s ‘Kaze no Uta’ now? I’m not sure exactly but it probably has a lot to do with the opening instrumentals and the chorus – the former sounds like an introduction to the type of epic historical-fantasy show that Zestiria no doubt wanted to be, and the latter has just the right kind of beat and tempo to it that makes me want to crank up the volume and dance around the room. Okay, so the vocals in the verses are still a tad grating, but the music itself is pretty solid.

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Did your favourite make the cut? Did we overlook a massive hit? Will Yuzuru Tachikawa be allowed to direct a good anime again? Have I finally gone irreversibly insane? Make sure to let us know in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “OP/ED Op-Eds: The Best of Summer 2016

  1. Yeah, looks like a pretty solid list to me. Macross Delta’s jazzy ED alone earned it a spot on my to-watch list (I’m a Gundam fan, but I don’t mind throwing out a bone), Zestiria the X’s epic-esque music style got me to watch 4 episodes already, and then Mob Psycho 100 completely freaking blew me away the first time I watched it. That thing’s gonna be an OP of the year, I tell ya.
    (On a side note, it’s funny how you guys were so worried about copying each other that the top two songs you agreed on appeared like once or twice. Being too popular is a bad thing too, huh.)
    If you’re including one-off OPs and EDs though, then I do think there’s two you missed: The Tales of Zestiria OP-as-ED insert from episode 5 of the X, which is like 3 times more badass than what the FLOW OP /wanted/ to be, and then the Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn Re:0096 episode 18’s OP. It’s the same song as the ED from the movie it’s based off of, but with actual images that tell a story (and some glorious images too, I might add) it looks even cooler.
    Self Control is… okay. It’s not bad, and it’s definitely growing on me as I listen to it more (without visuals, I’ll add) but I’d hesitate to put it at the top of an OP/ED ranking list.
    Amanchu, on the other hand, surprised me with just /how/ good it was. I mean, it’s not hyper-duper action like ya said, but it’s got this really sweet soft flow to it that really just kinda gets your heart pumping with fresh air, if you get my drift. It’s really REALLY good.

      • Yeah, I was totally surprised- I’ve never played/seen anything Tales-related before this, so I was just like “what the heck is this crossover, what the heck is this badass ED?!” Ahaha~

    • I don’t care much for Re:0096 itself, but I’m a huge fan of its OP. And yeah, “RE:I AM” is such a beautiful track it almost singlehandedly redeems Unicorn’s bizarro space magic crystal ending for me. Only reason I didn’t bring it up is because Re:0096 is mostly a retread with barely any new footage, so it’d feel kinda odd bringing up an old song and old visuals.

      • Yup, the pentultimate episode of Re:0096 just finished airing, and I have to say I’m… confused, to say the least. Admittedly, there were a few reddit-posts of creator interviews that helped, but it wasn’t really done that well IMO. If you’ve never seen a UC Gundam then that Neo Zeong bit is gonna confuse the heck out of you.
        I kinda wish there was some new footage to distinguish Re:0096 from just being a straight retread of the OVAs, like how Memory of Eden redid the Asemu vs Zeheart fight, but I’ll live. At least the OPs and EDs are good- we got bL∞dy f8 as an ED, and again the redone Re:I AM. Aimer knows what she’s doing, even if no-one else in the production studio does.

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