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small image Summer 2011: Favorite OPs and EDs

August 14, 2011 6:06 pm by small image

This week I thought I’d do a fun post listing a few of my favorite opening and ending themes from this season. I’ve noticed in the past how most anime reviewers will note how much they like the OP and ED of the shows they critique, but personally this has never been a big deal to me. I’m much more concerned with things like plot, character development, art style, animation quality, music, voices… etc.

However, OPs can be great, and serve well to get viewers in the right mood for the show. They can also spark interest, serving as a sort of trailer or advertisement for what the story will entail. Meanwhile EDs are generally nice as a bit of a breather to follow the episode, or to experiment a bit in terms of art any music style. Below are some of my favorites this season–I’ll start with the EDs first.

Ending Theme – Ikoku Meiro no Croisée

Yune goes on a French camping trip.

The cross-cultural slice-of-life Ikoku Meiro no Croisée has been a really nice show so far, with likeable characters and a soft atmosphere. While the opening theme works well to convey the feeling of exploring a new land (particularly Paris), the ending theme does an excellent job expressing the gentleness of the main character, Yune. The song, “Koko kara Hajimaru Monogatari,” is soft and gentle, and is beautifully sung by Nao Touyama, the voice actress for Yune. The lyrics match what’s on-screen, and go along with the theme of people of different backgrounds forming relationships with one another. We connect through our hearts, not our words, as the song tells us. =}

Ending Theme – Natsume Yuujinchou San

Nyanko-sensei has a bucket.

I love all the ending themes of this series, and it’s nice to see that for Natsume Yuujinchou San’s ending theme, the soft painting style and “breezy” animation movement of the first two seasons has been retained. The song is “Kimi no Kakera” by Atari Kousuke, who also sang the ending theme for the first season. The ending themes for every season have gotten across the feel of the series really well–they’re warm, pensive, and move along at a “day-by-day” pace. In this one, Natsume’s foster parents also make an appearance. The series is about Natsume making friends amongst both humans and yokai, and it’s nice how the general storyline has included a gradual development in his relationship with his parents. It’s just nice to see a family where everyone is loving, and cares for one another. :>

Ending Theme – Kamisama Dolls

Kyohei wonders about the POWER LEVEL.

The ending theme for sci-fi thriller Kamisama Dolls might be my favorite song of this anime season, and the ending theme sequence is really clever. The music starts during the last little bit of the episode, often accenting the tension of the moment–which makes for a pretty cool effect. Then after stills of the main characters, we get a little montage of clips from the episode, giving a nice overview of all the big events–which is then followed up by preview clips of the next episode. I think it’s neat, and having it all reflected in the robot lenses is a nice touch. The song is “Switch ga Haittara” by Chiaki Ishikawa, who also sings the opening theme for this show (which is also quite good). I feel the ending theme does well at capturing the drama of the series, and getting viewers anticipating what will happen next.

Opening Theme – Nekogami Yaoyorozu

Why are you not watching this series? It has a cat goddess playing a DREAMCAST!!!

This is just fun. The opening for Nekogami Yaoyorozu presents a happy-go-lucky mood that fits perfectly with the series at large. It has a bunch of characters doing all the things slice-of-life characters do these days–eating food, going to the beach, playing with sparklers, starting a rock band. You know the drill. But this time, the characters are Touhou-style deities! Which means the banal activities we watch them go through will be not only fun, but godly! The song is “Kami-sama to Issho” by Haruka Tomatsu and Yui Horie, and it matches the energy of the show nicely.

Opening Theme – Dantalian no Shoka

I’m reading a book. I’m reading a book. Don’t you ever interrupt me when I’m reading a book.

The opening theme in Dantalian no Shoka is definitely one of the more unique ones I’ve seen. The song is absolutely beautiful, and a little haunting as well–it fits the peculiar feel of the show perfectly. It’s called “Cras Numquam Scire,” and is sung by… Well, I’m not entirely sure. My research tells me it’s done by Yucca, and featuring Daisuke Ono (the voice actor for Hugh), but I can’t find anything about Yucca, and I’m rather certain that’s not Daisuke Ono singing the song. I mean… that is a woman singing, right? (If not… wow.) At any rate, I’m pretty sure the song is sung in Latin (since the title is in Latin, and the song doesn’t sound like Japanese–and there are even Japanese subtitles for the song). But more importantly, it’s music to my ears. I love the juxtaposition of this slow, dramatic song behind the frantic, disjointed scenes on screen. It really gives off this ancient, forbidden feel to it, mixing the power and danger of the visuals with a grand, ominous tone in the music.

Opening Theme – Nichijou

Pictured: Heaven, according to Nichijou.

And last but not least, the second opening theme for the comedy Nichijou. This has to be the funnest opening I’ve seen for an anime–which is pretty surprising, because beforehand I would have said the first opening for Nichijou was the funnest. XD Now don’t get me wrong–the first opening was insane, fast, frantic, and unpredictable as all get out. But somehow this second opening cranks all this randomness up to 11, and manages to have it all go along with the (very catchy) song in the background, “Hyadain no Joujou Yuujou” by Hyadain. This guy, by the way, seems just as lively and zany as Nichijou itself, and his opening themes for both halves of the season fit the epic madness of the series to a T. Apparently he sings everything in both themes, or so I’ve read. (I’m guessing he’s edited the pitch of his voice for the female segments?) He does a great job with it, at any rate.

So lots of fun things to see with each passing second, and lots of in-show references to catch. I also get a laugh out of the lyrics in this one: We can be together 24/7! Almost like twins, a parent and a child, or cloned cells! Don’t you cry when you fall in love? Those are totally different things. It’s great, and I especially like how well-orchestrated the whole thing is. It just seems that in the average anime OP, a song will be picked and random shots will be chosen for the visuals–but in this case, everything matches up perfectly, where the tone of each line goes right along with what’s on screen.

Feel free to comment on what OPs and EDs you like most this season. What is it that stands out most about them?