Anime Openings – Gateway To A Series’ Soul?

An anime opening operates successfully in relation to the series as a whole in a variety of degrees. Besides serving the obvious function of introducing the show’s characters and setting with entertaining sound, openings to anime highlight the quirks, plot lines, and themes arching across the episodes. In accomplishing any combination of these elements with an unforgettable musical accompaniment, anime openings reach out to the audience and help shape the perception of that anime in particular.

This leads to the convention of anime series’ possessing multiple openings not only for different seasons of a show, but arcs addressing different points of interest. Tones change as characters face new villains, encounter different challenges, or mature and gain new abilities. Anime that last multiple seasons or arcs utilize these adjustments in the openings to help viewers easily place an episode along the development of characters and plot.

Death Note’s first opening, The World, blends Visual Kei band Nightmare’s spooky rock with sequences highlighting the tension between Light (Kira) and eccentric detective L. Despite the introduction of various secondary characters, most of the artful attention is given to highlighting the epic scale of the duo’s rivalry and the poisonous possibilities of using the Death Note. Multiple city scapes accomplish the first task, pitting Light and L as both unique among the masses yet inextricable from them. The Death Note’s maddening ability is graphically highlighted in instances of shattered glass, closeups of Light’s eyes in moments of maniacal thought, and the ever-present apple of temptation – though Ryuk’s favorite snack, it is Light that is shown devouring the fruit. Finally, the lyrics notably promise a revolution brought by a steadfast leader and a new world, ambiguous enough to mean either Light or L.

Similarly, Revolutionary Girl Utena’s opening Rinbu Revolution hints at the complexity of characters and the intricately shifting setting. A soft Utena relaxes in a field with Anthy in one sequence, while in another she fiercely fights to fulfill her duty as a Duelist. Similarly, Anthy is portrayed both as the complex Rose Bride (sometimes submissive, sometimes chaos-inducing) and as a jousting fighter toward the end of the opening. Both characters are also shown interacting with one another in the ‘normal’ setting of their shared school environment, yet the upside-down castle and overlapping animation hints at the inherently skewed, surrealist nature of the series.

Now and then anime openings are blatant enough that the lyrics of the song are essentially sung by the main character. Kaichou wa Maid-sama’s opening is straightforward in explaining heroine Misaki’s odd position as authoritarian student council president in a formerly all-boy’s school and her secret job as a waitress in a maid cafe. By setting up this conflict both internally in Misaki (best expressed in the opening’s final image of her school uniform and maid cafe outfit hung side by side at home) and externally in her dangerously budding relationship with hero Usui, the opening lays out all the cards so to speak of the expected tension within the series. The opening is direct, catchy, and definitive about the overall drama and appeal of Kaichou wa Maid-sama.

However, like any component of anime, opening sequences are sometimes hit or miss as to just how much they accomplish. This depends on factors such as the type of viewer and their ideas about the anime. For example, Fruits Basket’s opening conveys a gentle and emotional tone that the viewer will understandably identify with the series, but none of the human-to-animal transformation wackiness or love triangles that so define the series.

Overall openings for anime reveal to some degree the themes of the series, ranging from a mere introduction of artistic style and the presentation of characters to obvious declarations of the series’ contents. However, it has to be recognized that anime music often takes on a life of it’s own. One of the most common ways of encountering a new series is to listen to or watch the opening. In this way, a viewer’s relationship with a series is begun by the anime opening both literally and figuratively.

An opening is inextricably bonded to the series and possesses the ability to alter the viewer’s expectations of the program they are about to enjoy; however an opening cannot exist as a stand-alone representation of any series entirely. When watched repeatedly in conjunction with the show and the anime ending, the opening sequence serves it’s purpose as part of a complete package.

Source by Diego A Munoz

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