OP/ED Op-Eds: The Best of Spring 2018

Remember when this post came out around the midway point of the season? Well, it sure is the midway point for me, because I am behind on everything! In any case, those of us who do actually watch anime have informed me that this season has been a bit of a dud in the music department. Alas, that means you’ll once again get to see a couple of songs making repeat appearances, but fret not, it might actually cause you to learn a thing or two this time around! I mean, other than the fact that Jel loves to shill Hinamatsuri, that is. Allons-y!

“Le temps de la rentrée” by D-Pai (Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan)

Picking a fifty-year old teen pop song about the end of the holidays as the ending to a military workplace comedy fantasy drama seems like a decision as out of left field as any pretty much anything Hisone and Masotan does, but like so much the show does, there’s a layer of coyly subversive smarts right underneath. While the French pop music of the 1960’s was an undeniable influence on the creation of shibuya-kei, its questionable gender politics and deliberate exploitation of its singers’ young ages and innocence (cough cough) made its way straight on over to the idol industry. That same industry that, y’know, employs the girls singing this lovely rearranged version of “Le temps de la rentrée”. A clever take on women’s position in male-dominated spaces, then, perhaps? I’m reading way too much into this stuff again, aren’t I?

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“Photobook” by Yoko Ishida (Hinamatsuri)

In a vacuum there might not be much to Hinamatsuri’s one-off alternate ED. It’s a pleasant but unremarkable piano ballad over a zooming shot of a single photograph. But wow, when this actually happened… what an emotional gut punch. Seeing that photograph in context of the episode will most likely end up on my top anime moments of the year list in December. Also, Anzu is a precious, sweet girl that deserves all the happiness in the world, including the prestigious honor being a part of my top OP/ED song of Spring 2018… that and this was a bad season for OP/EDs and this was the only thing I felt positive about.

“Le temps de la rentrée” by D-Pai (Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan)

I’ve seen licensed foreign songs as anime OP/EDs before (Speed Grapher and Eden of the East come to mind), but never a French song from the 1960s; it certainly lends novelty to Dragon Pilot‘s credits. I think the animation is what keeps me coming back to this one, though. It’s simplistic – switching only between short dancing loops and renders of military hardware – but conveys the character of each pilot, and has an undeniable charm not often seen. If only the show itself could keep up…

“Bite” by LEO Imai (MEGALOBOX)

It was a tough choice between this and Lupin III’s wonderful pastel opener, but I had to go with my heart. In a show that obviously cares a lot about how its music works with the themes of the story, the MEGALOBOX opening does a fantastic job of getting you into the grungy underdog world of shady power armor boxing. The driving bass is unique for any anime op, and sets a great tone for the dingy imagining of Joe’s junkyard. What it lacks in animation, it makes up for in snappy direction that makes you feel every beat. No matter what, this show isn’t gonna let you forget: They don’t make tombstones for stray dogs.

“Lupin Trois 2018” by Yuji Ohno & Lupintic Six (Lupin the Third: Part 5)

OK this is sort of cheating, since Lupin has been using this basic opening song for decades now, but this is still a delightful rendition of it. With its liberal use of accordion combined with big band stings its imbued with the same faux-gallic charm which gives the show itself such wonderful life. That’s not even mentioning the outstanding bande dessinée style visuals, which walk the perfect line between the suave style of Lupin and its more gleefully silly tendencies. Any opening which involves launching a Fiat 500 into space to ogle girls on the beach has to be worth a nod from me.gee_700

“Bite” by LEO Imai (MEGALOBOX)

I really wanted to give a shoutout to Full Metal Panic IV’s excellent if entirely bog standard J-Pop driven mecha anime OP or even Golden Kamuy’s thematically well executed ED, but Bite is just so goddamn perfect. I actually didn’t love it at first but with every passing episode, it’s grungy underdog feeling grew on me until I was incapable of separating its identity from the show itself. It’s dirty and gritty in all the right ways. Is the OP basically just a big angry dog running around in a desert wasteland biting random shit? Yeah kinda. But isn’t that MEGALOBOX is a nutshell?

“Kakattekoiyo” by NakamuraEmi (MEGALOBOX)

Every piece of music in MEGALOBOX deserves some recognition in my opinion, but as far as the OP and ED go, this is the one I’ve found myself listening to the most outside of show itself. The powerful vocals and the simplicity of the song itself work perfectly to cap off each episode, especially when the show keeps ending on impactful story beats. The accompanying animation is also rather bare bones, but it also doesn’t need to be particularly busy. You can just sit there, listen to this great tune and think about what you’ve just seen while a stream on neon lights fly up the screen. 
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“Le temps de la rentrée” by D-Pai (Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan)

While there are plenty of anime OPs and EDs that are performed in either Japanese, English, or a mix of both, sometimes with snippets of other languages such as German or Italian thrown in, I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of them performed entirely in French. A cover of yé-yé singer France Gall’s ‘Le temps de la rentrée’ originally released in 1966 (incidentally, Gall passed away only just this year), Hisone and Masotan’s ED is sung by the voice actresses themselves – sometimes only one of them depending on the episode’s focus, sometimes the entire group. While your liking of the cover may vary depending on who exactly is doing the covering, the song itself is arranged very nicely and makes for an undeniably enjoyable, even addictive listen. The visuals obviously add to the sense of fun, featuring each of the pilots dancing in their own distinctive way (though my favourite is easily Hisone’s whole weird body shake near the end, matching her character’s completely unselfconscious quirkiness to a tee). Despite the fact that this is mostly just a continuous cycle of one or two dance moves per character, essentially making it a high-quality gif, there’s something vaguely hypnotic about it, and not an episode of Hisone to Masotan goes by where I pass the ED by.

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Did your favourite make the cut? Did we overlook a massive hit? Parlez-vous français? Make sure to let us know in the comments!

 

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