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

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With the season far from more than halfway over, it’s time to once again take a look (and listen) at our favourite songs from shows that have been airing for the past few months. The lineup of bloggers recommending their pick may have shrunk a bit, compared to the past couple of times we did this, but on the other hand, this will be the first OP/ED Op-Eds in ages that won’t ask you to listen to the same song twice would have been the first OP/ED Op-Eds in ages that won’t ask you to listen to the same song twice if Gee hadn’t submitted his pick after I’d already written this introduction! Not much of a consolation, but eh, we’ll take what we can get. Anyway, this time around, I namedrop a bunch of artists you should ask your dad about, Artemis gets another reason to fawn over Yuri!! on Ice and Jel is most likely on drugs. Again.

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“Flip Flap Flip Flap” by TO-MAS ft. Chima (Flip Flappers)

Who does this? While many an artist may count themselves lucky if they find a synthesizer that could credibly pass as a violin, Japan seemingly has symphonic orchestras at the ready to indulge any anime song composer with delusions of grandeur. Hardly ever does the inclusion of an entire philharmonic improve a genre so obsessed with cacophonous bombast it could make Emerson, Lake and Palmer blush, yet Flip Flappers‘ buoyant ED is a healthy exception. The arrangement has a wonderfully narrative quality to it, feeling more like the soundtrack to a classic fairytale than a commercial pop song released in the year 2016 – despite being catchy enough to blow most of Disney’s show tunes right out of the water. There are some pulsating electronic flourishes that grow more prominent as the tune evolves from an off-brand Peter and the Wolf to some kind of dangerously infectious Kate Bush rendition of the Teletubbies theme, yet this fusion between the old and the new never becomes the monstrosity it should by all means be. Instead, “Flip Flap Flip Flap” perfectly encapsulates the sense of wonder and lavish artistry of the show it’s partnered with, standing out in a season otherwise crowded with generic J-Pop. And the ClassicaLoid theme.

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“Nyaa Shogi Ondo” by Kana Hanazawa, Ai Kayano, and Misaki Kuno (March Comes In Like a Lion)

I love the creepy fairy tale ED of Flip Flappers and the lovely, intricate guitar work in March Comes In Like a Lion’s OP, but in these dark times I just want to see some dancing cartoon cats. March delivered the goods with a surprise ED switch in episode 7 and it’s sequel featuring the remaining Shogi pieces in episode 8. It’s a cute and catchy number that makes up for lack of musical depth with a healthy dose of old fashioned charm. It’s impossible to watch and not smile. Did I mention it has dancing kitties?

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“Alola!!” by Rica Matsumoto w/Ikue Ohtani (Pokémon Sun & Moon)

Pokémon Sun & Moon has been something of a rebirth for the long running series, both in its original videogame form and also in its animated incarnation. This opening is a perfect indication of that, packed to the brim with bright blue skies, great character and Pokémon designs, and bound together with a ton of lush, cartoonish animation. It’s also got an irrepressibly catchy song full of parping horns, vaguely Hawaiian ‘Aiyaiyiai’s’, and Ash/Satoshi’s voice actor Rica Matsumoto proving she’s still got the voice and energy to sing along with the best of them. And of course there’s Ikue Ohtani, closing in on her 20th year of making a living by saying variations on ‘Pika!’. Just an energy-packed delight of an opening.

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“Great Days” by Daisuke Hasegawa and Karen Aoki (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable)

Look, it’s (almost) a requirement at this point for someone to pick the new JoJo OP for this post, and the duty this season falls to yours truly. Daisuke Hasegawa is the voice behind Gundam Reconguista in G‘s colorful, goofy, and upbeat ending, and brings a lot of that same vibe to this song. That, plus it’s filled with the usual bits and bobs that David Production puts into every single one of their JoJo OP/EDs, referencing future and past events spanning the whole series. After the mediocre second OP to DiU, it’s a welcome return to form.

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“History Maker” by Dean Fujioka (Yuri!!! on Ice)

I will shamelessly admit I unironically loved, “History Maker” from the very first listen. It was a difficult choice between it and JoJo’s “Great Days,” but in the end I had to go with the former. There’s something undeniably feel good about the song that reflects many of the anime’s strengths itself. Like the show it headlines, “History Maker” gives more a vibe of, “We truly love ice skating” than, “If Yuri loses the Finals, Victor will die and the evil Americans will buy out the old local ice rink.” While Yuri!!! certainly has its pathos, there’s something very fresh about how natural its sports aspects feel compared to your usual Shounen sports anime/manga where victory is literally the borderline between life and death. I think “History Maker” does a fantastic job of encapsulating that feeling. Helps it’s catchy as hell in way only the cheesiest pop songs can accomplish and it’s accompanied by some real eye catching (if not overwhelmingly standout) visuals.

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“Answer” by Bump of Chicken (March Comes In Like A Lion)

March Comes In Like A Lion has been a real standout hit. SHAFT seems to have finally reeled in its notorious pervert auteur Shinbo and the combination of his superb directing and SHAFT’s beautiful pastel style creates an emotionally rich atmosphere. That feeling is all over “Answer”, giving a symbolic look into Rei’s subconscious struggle with guilt and belonging. I am also always willing to have an excuse to write the words “Bump of Chicken” and actually have it make sense.

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“History Maker” by Dean Fujioka (Yuri!!! on Ice)

I admit, this song took a couple of episode to grow on me – and yes, I totally get what Aquagaze is getting at when he says it might as well be Slovenia’s entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. It does certainly have that upbeat and slightly cheesy Europop feel to it. But I’m totally hooked now and I make no apologies; “History Maker” is one of those tracks that instantly makes me feel better when I’m down and gets me dancing around the room regardless of my mood. I typically prefer Japanese lyrics when I listen to Japanese music, but the English here is pretty much flawless (I had never even heard of Dean Fujioka before Yuri!!!, but apparently the man’s fluent in both Japanese and English, not to mention Cantonese and Mandarin), and there’s no denying the song’s catchiness. Paired with the unique and almost minimalist but gorgeously rotoscoped visuals, this was a no-brainer for me.

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Did your favourite make the cut? Did we overlook a massive hit? Why didn’t anyone pick the ClassicaLoid theme? Will Slovenia finally win next year’s Eurovision Song Contest? Make sure to let us know in the comments!

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