Every year, I recall my favorite anime openings and endings in my Final Review, selecting my very favorites from each of the four Season Reviews that settle at the end of each season. But, seeing as I haven’t published a Season Review since 2013 and given that there is no other time to document my favorite OPs/EDs of the year, I have reserved Day 3 of my 12 Days of Anime for 2015 for this lacking quality of mine. Of course, I won’t reveal my favorite OP and ED of the year just yet (that will be reserved for the Final Review of 2015), but here are some of my favorites that I would love to share with you. Now, please enjoy 8 of my Top 10 Openings and Endings for 2015.
Below, the order will be reversed starting from my 5th favorite OP and ED and moving backward toward 2nd. And since we’re doing it backwards here, why not flip the order and do endings first and openings last?
ED 5: Dog Days’’ (S3) OP (Stay With Me by Yui Horie)
As you might remember from previous years, I love chibi EDs. Last year, I even wrote a post about my favorite ED of the year and it was for an anime I never even watched. This year, Dog Days’’ (S3) has a superb chibi ending, though you’ll notice all the girls are in their normal art style. Still, the creativity of the 3 chibi males running around “obstacle course”, accompanied by an upbeat song sung by Yui Horie, makes this ED hard to skip each week.
OP 5: Gakkou Gurashi OP (Friend Shitai [I Wanna Friend] by Gakuen Seikatsubu)
On its own, the song and animation aren’t too extraordinary, though I will admit, I enjoyed the song the first time I heard it. Why Gakkou Gurashi’s rather tame OP earns 5th is because of how well the OP matched the series and how it evolved as the series progressed. In fact, I wrote about how much I loved the subtle changes each week as the series and series got more captivating and thrilling. And for those reasons alone, I found myself watching the OP each episode to see what changed… or maybe, for what was going to change.
ED 4: Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor – Exodus ED1 (Anya Kouro [Course in the Dark Night] by angela)
angela is quickly becoming one of my favorite artists, especially after this somber and ominous piano track. The song and animation did an impressive job of deescalating the climax at the end of the episode, usually starting the beginning of the track at the end of a tense and decisive battle and then transitioning into the animation of Kazuki and Soushi meeting on an empty beach. Not the most impressive in terms of visuals, but the ED fit the mood of the series perfectly, all the while having one of the better songs this year with it.
OP 4: Rokka no Yuusha OP2 (Black Swallowtail by UROBOROS)
It was about episode 4 or 5 when Rokka no Yuusha really started… finally bringing all 7 characters together and realizing that one of them didn’t belong. At that time, the anime was using OP1, with all the heroes fighting generic monsters and looking like just another regular fantasy anime with heroes and villains. But, as we learned more about the characters, their uncertainties and bloodthirsty nature, the OP changed to reflect our growing understanding of the dire, deadly situation. You could see the dramatic shift in focus and style of Rokka no Yuusha with this OP, one fraught with doubt and mistrust. You could hear the change, too, thanks to the phenomenal track by UROBOROS helping enforce the transformation in atmosphere and attitude.
ED 3: Ninja Slayer from Animation ED23 (BODY by Lillies and Remains)
After another forgettable episode of Ninja Slayer, this song started. Now, it’s worth noting that every episode of Ninja Slayer had a different ED, so it was interesting to hear all the different tracks. However, this one piqued my interest. The rhythm, vocals, and sound all reminded me immediately of Depeche Mode, and it made me wonder if this was similar to using Duran Duran for Speed Grapher or Oasis for Eden of the East. But no, Lillies and Remains is a Japanese New Wave band with a very smooth and succulent sound. It was after listening to that ED once or twice did I go out and explore their other works. I don’t think that’s ever happened after listening to an ED before, and as I listen to it again and again, I think I might go back and listen to their other songs again, too.
OP 3: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works OP2 (Brave Shine by Aimer)
Stunning directing, gorgeous animation, and a magnificent song come as one to make one of the most memorable and enjoyable OPs of the year. Not only that, but considering where we were in the story when FSN:UBW switched to OP2 was a perfect transition as the Holy Grail War was ramping up. It’s always a good quality in an OP when you can watch it again and again and never get tired of it. Everything about this OP is exceptional as it makes a breathtaking start at the beginning of every FSN:UBW episode.
ED 2: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Egypt Arc (S2) ED2 (Last Train Home by Pat Metheny Group)
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure has always had some of the best songs and animations for its OPs and EDs, but this one is particularly noteworthy in how well it cooled you down after either an passionate or hilarious episode. The song is perfect for an ED theme, especially one that pays tribute to bands and musicians as much as JJBA does. Still, the relaxing vibe and calming melody of Last Train Home paired perfectly with the intensity and mood of JJBA. And let’s not forget the visuals either, a slow pan across the desert landscapes detailing all the various locales of the series until finally arriving in the sunbaked metropolis of Cairo. But what really gets me about this ED is having all the characters placed throughout the world in an equally relaxed mood, helping to complement Last Train Home. Oh, and did you notice they’re on a train at one point? Simply exceptional.
OP 2: Death Parade OP (Flyers by BRADIO)
Perhaps my favorite thing about Death Parade’s OP is how magnificently it contrasts the theme and style of the series while also hiding significant details on the story and characters throughout. But, there’s way more than just one thing that’s my favorite about this OP. The song itself, Flyers, is a fun, energetic song that helps catch your attention in a positive manner before the episode really begins. The visuals are incredible, too, showing off personality, imagination, and pleasure in a cast of characters that are supposed to be callous, emotionless, and devoid of anything that would make them human. So while my 2nd favorite ED was one that providing a cool-down to an intense and emotional anime, my 2nd favorite OP is one that injects adrenaline and excitement into an passionate drama over judging people in life-or-death games. I knew I was going to live this OP, and this anime, within the first few seconds of the OP with all the characters posing so senselessly. And, at the end of the year, I’m happy to say that I was right.