The Importance of Being an OP/ED

April 25, 2006 on 7:41 pm | In *Polls |
  • How important are OP/ED?

Does anyone really pay attention to anime opening and ending themes? Well, I do, and I’m not alone. OP/ED function as more than pretty animation backgrounds for Japanese (and/or fansub) credits to scroll down. They may heavily influence your opinion on a show or even have the power to miff you a little.

  • The Importance of Presentation
  • Opening themes act as an introduction to a series. Aside from any promos, they are literally the first pieces of animation one views before actually moving into the episode. This makes the OP very important. A terrible or uninteresting OP already plants a little negative seed in your brain even as you just begin to watch your first episode of a series. A good song, bad song, happy or sad song, will set the atmosphere for whatever show you are about to watch.

    OP also convey vital information to the viewer as to what kind of show they can expect. Most OP are at least somewhat relevant to the actual show; you won’t see completely made up characters and scenes. The kind of music played in combination with the animation content will tell you if you are watching a shounen, shoujo, horror, or mecha show. You can immediately identify the main characters and (a lot of the time) their relationships to each other. Many love comedies already pair characters for you (School Rumble is an example).

    So does the quality of the song or animation in an OP/ED actually affect whether you like a show or not? Personally, if an OP/ED has a really good song, I am more likely to come back to that anime, even if it is just to listen. I can also become more interested or less interested in a series according to the information the OP/ED provide me. “Oh, it’s one of these kind of anime.” I am a sucker for romance embedded in action anime, so when I saw how close the main characters of Erementar Gerad were in the OP (lots of hand-holding), I began downloading more, expecting the OP to somehow prove true.

  • The Importance of Change
  • How much does it bother you when an anime’s content has progressed far beyond its opening or ending themes? Is it really that important to have appropriate and relevant OP/ED?

    • Mai Hime/Otome (SPOILERS)
    • I don’t know if I am alone in this, but what really bothered me the most about Mai Hime was not the distorted emo faces, angsty writing, or cheesy resurrections, but the fact that throughout the entire series, its opening song never changed! Even after the turning point episode, when green sparklies began to run the streets and the lesbians turned bloodthirsty, the most violent episodes opened up with the same happy, bouncy “Shining Days” (Minami Kuribayashi), showing everyone smiling in the fields together. It was as if the animators were mocking those of us who cried over the deaths of beloved Takumi and Mikoto’s betrayal. “Remember when everything was so perfect? Where’s your happy love comedy NOW, wussies?!”

      I never thought I had actually cared about opening songs until Mai Hime. I would have liked a friendly signal for the abrupt shift from happy comedy school to scary military school. In turn, one of the things that I appreciated most about Mai Otome was the inclusion of a changing opening theme. When I watched a new episode of Otome, I was greeted with the proper battle music and grim faces for the following content of the show. I did not feel the cruel jabs of anime sentimentality I would have if the theme had remained the same. (Though Otome was also not as powerful in its delivery of casualties and tragedies the same way Hime was).

  • The Importance of Spoiling
  • Many anime possess opening and/or ending animations that have more than a little spoilage flying across the screen. Many series actually contain many animation clips taken from actual scenes in the anime all spliced together. Bleach’s second theme is one example: future battles actually spliced into the opening animation. Does it bother you to be spoiled by an OP/ED?

    • Black Cat (SPOILERS)
    • It doesn’t take a 150 IQ to figure out according to the ending song’s animation of Black Cat that Saya was not going to last the entire series. (I state this regardless of whether she returns or not, since Black Cat was dropped from my watch list a while ago). To those who revelled in the Saya Train relationship present in the very beginning of the series, the sight of her vanishing at the end of the animation is extremely disquieting when first watched. Especially Sven replacing her when Train’s chibi cat form attempts to kiss her cheek, suggesting that Train’s company would soon change.

    My biggest concern out of all of this, though, is usually the anxiety I feel when all the characters and situations featured in an OP/ED are covered by the show. This antsy feeling creeps up my spine and makes my toes squirm. “Is there going to be more?” Many series have fixed episode counts, but when an anime covers all its featured characters and scenes during the middle of the series, I become uneasy. It is the same deal with movie trailers, since those are direct splices from the actual film. When you are watching a movie you really enjoy, you exact relief from the fact that there are still scenes featured in the trailer that have not shown up in the movie yet.

Many people just skip through the OP/ED after their first viewing, but I give them a few more runs than that. It is like watching a commercial again (except with more purpose). No real entertainment value can be gathered from watching it repeatedly, but if you see it again and again, you will notice something different every time. So, how important is all this to you? Am I alone in my nerdy analyzations?

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