I'm back with *sigh* yes, yet another Top 10 list of anime openings, but before you stone me to death over this, let me justify this one's existence! Unlike my previous four lists from throughout the year, which were seasonal based, this one is my Top 10 of the entire year, meaning it reflects my favorites that I've seen in the entirety of 2014, including those from shows I didn't see at the time I made their respective season's list. In addition, hindsight is a pain in the ass. I'll admit that I've made a few...mistakes when it came to some of my prior lists, so this is my chance to rectify them. Lastly, remember how I said I'd do a more proper announcement article for Ani-TAY's Top 10 2014 anime openings collaboration? Well this is it! Kind of. Sort of. You'll see, it'll be covered at the end of this article.
Like always my list is made after weighing three criteria; the quality of the music, the quality of the visuals, and how well the opening represents their show. Bonus points for uniqueness, points deducted for reusing footage. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
I'll be doing something different this time, though. First I'll be listing my honorable mentions first(work with me, it is for building suspense), secondly, under every opening I show here, I will list what their ranking in their seasonal list was. It ultimately doesn't mean anything, I just thought it would be a nice touch. The honorable mentions will be in alphabetical order, rather than order of preference, for reasons.
So with that all straightened out, here are my 16 total absolute favorite openings of the year, and what a hell of a year it has been.
HM - Brynhildr in the Darkness
Previous Rank: Spring #3
This opening is still as creepy now as it was back when I first saw it in the Spring season. The haunting vocalizations combined with the electronic instrumentals made for a sound that stood out from the rest in its season, and ultimately the entire year. I also greatly liked how they presented the Witches in various states of health amongst normal and ruined backgrounds, plus what they did with the credits, presenting them in rainbow colored shapes.
HM - No Game No Life
Previous Rank: Spring #1
Oh snap, one of the four openings to top their respective season lists didn't even make it into the Top 10? Yes, yes indeed. This is actually the result of a few factors. First and foremost, naming NGNL's opening #1 in the Spring was actually one of those "mistakes" I was talking about. I even admitted in the comments for that list that I kept going back and forth on #1 and #2 while I was even making the list. The other factor is that the Spring season was actually much stronger than I thought. As I saw quite a few shows from that season months after I made that season's list, and surprise surprise, their openings were amazing as well. In reality, while I like this, especially because of its song "This Game" by Konomi Suzuki, it isn't even one of the three best openings in its own season. It's still good enough to be recognized, I think, but not good enough to make the cut.
HM - Sakura Trick
Previous Rank: Winter #5
"Wait...#5? Oh god, don't tell me there are five openings from the Winter season in this article!" Don't worry, this is just the work of hindsight again, Sakura Trick's opening got a slight boost in my opinion. It's held up more over the course of the year than my previous #4 favorite opening from Winter, Nobunagun. I can't help it, the song "Won (*3*) Chu KissMe!" by the voice actresses of the main cast is still pretty damn catchy, going on nearly a year later! And the visuals as still as sugar filled and adorable as they were when I first saw it. I really like this opening, but still, not enough to make the main list.
HM - Sword Art Online II - Mother's Rosario
Previous Rank: Fall #6(Technically)
First to explain what I mean by "technically". See, the Sword Art Online II opening that made my Fall list was the opening to the Caliber arc. That one was good enough to where it would have been in the Top 5 had it not had all that randomly placed reused footage at the end of it. I held off doing that entire list a few days to see if they would change the opening for the Mother's Rosario arc, but on the first episode of the Mother's Rosario arc, we got this weird hybrid opening, using visuals from both the Caliber arc and Mother's Rosario arc, as well as retaining the reused footage at the end of the opening. So thinking that was what they were running with for that arc, I proceeded to do my Fall opening list. Then the following week we got that absolutely beautiful opening up above, and I basically flipped the proverbial table in the Ani-TAY Skype chat when I saw it. This version basically fixed every issue I had with the visuals in the Caliber version, but it didn't just fix the issues, it went above and beyond and improved virtually everything, visually. This is the true version of the opening that "Courage" by Haruka Tomatsu was supposed to be attached to. Suddenly it makes sense why the song was calm and somber, but still energetic, because that is the Mother's Rosario arc in a nutshell. As I said in the Fall list, this was my favorite Sword Art Online opening, and I said that when it was just the flawed Caliber version. After seeing the true version of the opening, that sentiment became stronger.
HM - Terror in Resonance
Previous Rank: Summer #2
While the show itself may have faltered down the homestretch, I still greatly enjoy Terror in Resonance's opening. "Trigger" sung by Yuuki Ozaki and composed by the legendary Yoko Kanno is still just a great, soothing song to listen to. And I still like many of the visuals, even if a few of the are kinda silly in hindsight, like the creepy mean mugging that Twelve does at one point. Give it up Twelve, you aren't fooling anyone with that anymore...
HM - Your Lie in April
Previous Rank: Fall #3
This one ALMOST made the cut into the Top 10. But try as I might, I just couldn't knock any of my Top 10 out for it. Now if this was strictly speaking a list of my favorite anime opening songs from 2014, you can bet your ass this opening would have made the Top 10. "Hikaru Nara" by Goose house is simply phenomenal. Just...beautiful. Still, the issues I levied against the opening in the Fall list are still holding strong even now. I still find the random nakedness of Kaori and Kousei to be just a tad creepy and I wish that they made Aiza and Emi animated, rather than still images.
So those are the honorable mentions, time for the main event, the Top 10!
#10 - Noragami
Previous Rank: Winter #3
I said it back in the Winter and I'll say it again now, I would love to see an anime with the colorization of this opening. It is still beautiful, and I still love the fast paced "Goya wa Machiawase" by Hello Sleepwalkers.
#9 - The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behavior
Previous Rank: Spring #2
This is an odd thing to say, but Kawai Complex improved its standing by ultimately going down in my rankings in regards to the Spring openings. What I mean by this is at the time I was doing the Spring list, this definitely should have been #1 on that list. It would end up settling into third overall for Spring by being topped by two other Spring openings. Still, the visuals are very nice, and the song "Itsuka no, Ikutsuka no Kimi to no Sekai" by fhana is just beautiful. Easily one of the better opening songs of the year.
#8 - Kill la Kill OP 2
Previous Rank: Winter #2
No matter how many times I watch this, I get pumped up. This opening always got me ready for the over-the-top awesome of Kill la Kill each week. "ambiguous" by GARNiDELiA is just such a great action theme song. And I still give this opening massive props for having Satsuki and Ryuuko literally carving out the show's title and painting it is signature red with their own blood.
#7 - Yowamushi Pedal OP 2
Previous Rank: Winter #1
Unfortunately, it is at this point that the Winter season bows out. It needn't be ashamed of its performance, though, as it got 3 openings into the Top 10 and another in the honorable mentions. It is just there are 6 openings this year that I like more than anything to come from the Winter season. Fittingly, the last opening from the season to be recognized on this list was its champion, Yowamushi Pedal's second opening. As I said back in the Winter list, this opening was my first exposure to the credits being utilized in such a way, and it is still impressive even now, despite at least a couple of other openings to come out this year that used their credits even better. Still, the song "Yowamushi na Honoo" by Dirty Old Men is still an extremely energizing song that I have a hard time to stop listening to, and at the end of the day, this is still the best opening Yowamushi Pedal has had this entire year.
#6 - JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Previous Rank: Spring N/A
Oh yes, we've finally arrived to the first of the openings to make this list that I didn't see at the time I made their season's list. In the case of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, I was still watching the first season of the show, and didn't get to Stardust Crusaders until almost the start of the Summer season. There's no two ways about it, this opening is made of 100% pure Badassium. It is just such an old school opening, and in a good way. And that carries over into the song "Stand Proud" by Jin Hashimoto. Plus there is the fact that this opening is almost entirely CGI animation, and that's what really makes it impressive, because it is fluid and awesome looking.
#5 - GARO: The Animation
Previous Rank: Fall #2
The Top 5 of this list is so tightly contested. All 5 of them are visually unique, dare I say even the 5 most visually unique of the entire year. As such unique visuals alone can't carry them, now more than ever they need to truly represent their show and have a strong song to boot. GARO's opening is visually unique, and it certainly represents the show, laying out everything we need to know about the series, its shortcoming is its song. By no means is "HONOONO KOKUIN-DIVINE FLAME" by JAM Project a bad song, hell its beginning will be with me for who knows how long. It is just compared to the other songs the remaining four openings come packed with it doesn't hold up. It isn't even the best JAM Project song.
#4 - Encouragement of Climb 2 OP 2
Previous Rank: Fall #1
Sadly this is as high as the Fall season climbs. Still, it had an impressive showing, producing 2 of my Top 5, as well as earning two honorable mentions, both of which were damn close to making the list as well. As I said in the Fall list, this opening gets the edge over GARO's because I find the song "Mainichi Koharu Biyori" by Yuka Iguchi and Kana Asumi to be extremely catchy, and the visuals are colorful, adorable, and rather creative.
#3 - Ping Pong the Animation
Previous Rank: Spring N/A
This opening perfectly captures the visual feel of Ping Pong the Animation. Sure it may not be sharp and clean, but that adds to its unique appeal. I especially love the sequence where everything looks like it was drawn in pencil. And then there is the song, "Tadahitori" by Bakudan Johnny. It immediately grabs my attention and draws me into the visuals. This will probably be the most divisive of the openings to make my list, but that entirely depends on if you like the art style of the show or not. I happen to love it, which is why this opening is so high for me.
#2 - Tokyo Ghoul
Previous Rank: Summer #1
On the Summer list I called Tokyo Ghoul's opening one of the most unique anime openings I had ever seen. Praising the falsetto vocals of TK and the energetic guitar that slashes through the calmness of the beginning of "unravel" by TK from Ling Toshite Sigure. I praised some of the visuals like the screen breaking, the reflections of characters as they walked passed glass, and of course, the stunning beauty of Rize's and Touka's Kagune being presented as abstract art during the chorus. So, what the hell went wrong? Why isn't it #1? What could have possibly topped it for me?
#1 - Encouragement of Climb 2 OP 1
Previous Rank: Summer N/A
If you remember, I flat out said in my entry for Encouragement of Climb 2's second opening on the Fall list that I preferred this opening to Tokyo Ghoul's. Part of the reason is, remember how I mentioned some other openings later in the year used their credits better than Yowapeda's second opening did? Well I specifically meant this opening in particular. While Tokyo Ghoul did amazingly beautiful things with the Kagune in its opening, Encouragement of Climb 2 took that and turned it up to 11 with this opening. Aside from a few very brief still images of the main cast, everything in this opening. Literally every. Damn. Thing. Is a beautiful piece of art. I could take any frame from this opening, aside from the aforementioned still images, and it would make a beautiful wallpaper, or something I'd want to physically own in a poster or print form. And that's just me talking about the static beauty of this opening. I haven't even gotten to how amazing the transitions in this opening are. And then there is the song "Natsuiro no Present" by the voice actresses of the main cast is a pretty damn good song, too. Basically, if you've been reading my opening list articles all year long, and kind of got a grasp on what I look for/like in an anime opening, then it really shouldn't be a shock that this is my personal favorite in the entire year. It literally checks off every damn thing I like in anime openings.
I have to tip my hat to the Summer season. Despite having the lowest amount of recognitions in this entire article, with only 2 openings on the list and only 1 honorable mention, the 2 openings that did make the list not only were the top 2, they are now firmly entrenched on my Top 10 all time favorite anime opening list(another list for some time in the far flung future).
So that concludes my list, and concludes me being selfish for this year. Next up is the chance for the entire community to pitch in their opinions to form Ani-TAY's Top 10 2014 anime openings list! Here is how things will go down. First, the voting period will run from the moment this article is posted until midnight Central Standard Time on Sunday the 14th. After that point, We(as in me and anyone who volunteers for the roundtable discussions) will take the ones with the most votes(haven't decided how many specifically), and will whittle it down to just 10, and we'll decide their orders, and any honorable mentions.
Now comes to most important questions, where to vote and how to vote. You can vote by going here. As for how to vote, simply list your own 10 favorite openings from this year in any sort of vertical order you wish to put them in. The best part is you don't have to adhere to my style of things! If your 10 favorites are only because of their songs, then go right ahead! I don't even care if you use the Japanese or English names of the show(though using the English versions would make things easier on me. ^_^;)! I just require you to use the show's name, rather than say the name of the song.
And don't forget to save the link you will get after submitting your votes, that link will allow you to edit your votes later on, if you wish to. If you are worried about forgetting to vote, I will do another stand alone An-TAY Blimp next week to remind people about voting. I hope this works out, cause this is the first collab I'm helming here, and would like to see it be a yearly thing! And once again, thank you for taking the time to read my Top 10 openings lists all throughout this year and putting up with that tiny bit of self-indulgence. *bows*