I know, I know, I said I wasn’t going to write something like this, but screw it. It’s not like retrospective posts have to come out either on January 1st or never.
Note: I’ve tried to link to as many as possible of the songs I mention, but some of them may be unavailable, of bad quality or had their pitch changed. But I tried my best.
It’s not like I hadn’t been paying attention to OPs and EDs in 2013 and 2014, but I really only started taking my internal rankings of them seriously in early 2015. The reason for this was probably that Winter 2015 featured so many good OPs that I had a very difficult time trying to decide which one I liked the most. And, because I had not yet started blogging at that point, the decision was left unmade. It also doesn’t help that since Winter 2015 ended I’ve listened to and really liked a few more of the OPs from that season. And when it comes to the EDs, you guessed it, most of the shows with good OPs also have good EDs, at least in my opinion. But, maybe saying what I actually think out loud(or on paper, or on a blog) will help me make a decision, so let’s try that.
First of all, I need to mention the leftover shows from Fall 2014, because otherwise someone else will remind me about them. In my case, these two shows were Shirobako and Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. In the case of Shirobako, I liked both the 2nd OP, Takarabako – TREASURE BOX –, and the 2nd ED, Platinum Jet. When it comes to Shigatsu, I also liked both the 2nd OP, Nanairo Symphony, and the 2nd ED, Orange. However, I don’t think any of those four themes were outstanding in their own right, it’s just that I happened to really like the shows they were attached to.
Anyway, as for the shows that actually started in Winter 2015, the first one up is Yuri Kuma Arashi. It’s not unfair to say that the OP and the ED matched the show when it came sheer novelty. The OP, Ano Mori de Matteru, had this weird progressive hip-hop-esque feel to it, with occasionally whispered lyrics. I really liked listening to it, but the visuals that went together with the music didn’t feel extremely inspired. The ED, TERRITORY, on the other hand, had a very aggressive beat and melody, which made it really catchy(as did the dancing bears). The next show that had both and OP and an ED that I liked is Kantai Collection. I dropped the show itself after one episode, but in the past few months I’ve heard the OP and the ED performed at Animelo Summer Live 2015, after which I came to love both. The OP, Miiro, combines soaring vocals with some really cool action shots, which just made it impossible for me not to enjoy it. And the ED, Fubuki, is a relatively quick pop song combined with an orchestra for some reason.
I dropped Tokyo Ghoul during the first season so I didn’t even try watching the second one. However, through a very roundabout way(hearing the OP of Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace) I learned about the band Amazarashi, and in due time I learned that they had also produced the ED, Kisetsu wa Tsugitsugi Shindeiku, for the second season of Tokyo Ghoul. To be honest, though, I haven’t even seen the visual part of the ED, I only put the song on this list because I watched the actual music video and liked it and it just happened to be connected to this particular anime. This was not, however, the case with the next anime on this list, Koufuku Graffiti. I loved the show itself, it was one of my favourites of the season, and the OP and ED are very much a part of the reason why I liked it so much. The OP, Shiawase ni Tsuite Watashi ga Shitteiru Itsutsu no Houhou, is composed by Swedish house and jazz musician Rasmus Faber, with vocals provided by Maaya Sakamoto. I don’t make a big secret of my love for Maaya Sakamoto’s voice, and the melody was unusual enough to be fresh, so I can safely say that I really liked this song. The ED, Egao ni Naru, was a more standard theme song, with lyrics about food and vocals by the main voice actresses. However, and this applies to the OP as well by the way, the fact that Shaft were responsible for the visuals meant that the ED ended up being much more enjoyable than just the song on its own. (It was impossible to find acceptable versions of the Koufuku Graffiti songs so have this instead)
Next up is The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls, which is a show that I initially dropped after 5 episodes and finished later(after I’d seen the first Idolm@ster anime). This was one of those shows that had a different ED in almost every episode, so none of them really stuck with me at all. The OP, Star!!, however, had a very big effect on me. It’s not quite as good as READY!! from the first anime, but I have sung both of them in the shower, and I think that should count for something. Death Parade is another show that had a catchy and singable OP, but in an oh so different way. The OP, Flyers, is a happy and upbeat disco-esque(especially when it comes to the visuals) pop performance. When it comes to energy, it easily beats most of the other theme songs of the season. In contrast, the ED, Last Theater, is a slow and heavy and sad song(calling it “emo” would not be too wrong, I think). The visuals of the ED weren’t particularly memorable, but I liked the song well enough.
Rolling Girls was a show that started fantastically but kind of collapsed in the last third of its run. This makes me sad because I really liked the idea of the show in general, and the OP and ED were really good. The OP, Hito ni Yasashiku, is a cover of an original song by Japanese punk band The Blue Hearts. Aside from being a really catchy and good song in its own right, it actually fit surprisingly well with the tone of the show. The visuals of the OP were colourful, well-animated and just a joy to watch. The ED, Tsuki no Bakugekiki, also originally by The Blue Hearts, was not as visually impressive nor am I the biggest fan of the song, but it wasn’t bad. Compared to Rolling Girls, neither Yoru no Yatterman nor Junketsu no Maria had fantastic OPs, but I think they were good enough to at the very least get a mention. The OP of Yoru no Yatterman, Kyokugen Dreamer, was mostly memorable for its energetic and catchy lyrics as well as the action-centered animation, whereas the OP of Junketsu no Maria, Philosophy of Dear World, was appealing to me because I like ZAQ, the artist behind the song.
That’s about it for that season, but the list of possible candidates for my favourite ended up being significantly larger than I had expected. Fortunately, after mulling it over, which took a day and a half or so, I’ve reached a conclusion. My favourite OP of the Winter 2015 season is Hito ni Yasashiku by THE ROLLING GIRLS(vocals: Ari Ozawa, Rina Hidaka, Risa Taneda, Yumiri Hanamori). Some may find it an unfair choice considering the song wasn’t originally written for the anime, but to be completely honest I had never heard of The Blue Hearts before Rolling Girls. Anyway, I just happen to really really like the song and, though it didn’t have a great final arc, the anime itself.
As for the ED, my choice is… actually none of the ones mentioned above. My favourite ED of the season is STONES by Momiage Hammers(vocals: Kaoru Kubota), which was the special ED of the 8th episode of Rolling Girls. So if you weren’t already mad about my choice of favourite OP, my choice of favourite ED might just push you over the edge. All jokes and provocation aside, I did in fact find this ED really fantastic. As the only in the show not originally written by The Blue Hearts, I didn’t choose STONES just for the song. The truly great thing about it, in my opinion, is how it’s woven into the story of the show so deeply that even some of the visual effects correspond to parts of the song. The performance at the end of episode 8 of Rolling Girls was, to me, the last really good scene in the show. And none of the other EDs of the season really managed to do anything similar. That’s why I chose this one.
Fortunately(for me, that is), I’ve written about this season’s theme songs already(linked above), so I won’t have to do a comprehensive recap of what I thought back then. What I can do is talk about a few songs that I either found appreciation for after writing the original post or that I simply neglected to mention for one reason or another. The first of these is Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season. The OP, Brave Shine, is a song that I originally didn’t like but which I appreciate now that I can listen to it without having to watch the show right after. In retrospect I also like the OP animation, though Lancer’s “heel-rolling” down the highway remains as goofy as ever. As for the ED, I want to mention the special episode 3 ED, ring your bell (in the silence). It is, so to speak, a more “old school” Kalafina song than the actual series ED, ring your bell, which I’m not the biggest fan of. Another OP I’ve come to like after the season is the Houkago no Pleiades OP, Stella-rium. I still don’t think it’s a fantastic OP, but the visuals look gorgeous and the song, by Kano, kind of sounds like ClariS if you “squint your ears”(ok, I made that expression up, but it makes sense to me).
I mentioned the (first) OP of Shokugeki no Souma in the post above, but for some reason I neglected the first ED, Spice, which ended up being one of my absolute favourites later on in the season. The visuals are cute and the song, which has a sort of unusual sound, is super catchy, so much so that I would hum/sing it from time to time. The same was true for the first Kyoukai no Rinne ED, Toki no Wa, which combined a catchy assonance-filled song with a Benny Hill run-off style chibi character video. It was very enjoyable. And finally, while I mentioned its OP, I never did talk about the ED of Owari no Seraph, scaPEGoat. Looking (or listening, rather) back at it, it actually reminds me of the aforementioned ED of Death Parade in that it’s slow and heavy. When it comes to its lyrics, though, they’re more reminiscent of Seraph’s OP, presumably because both the OP and ED were written by Hiroyuki Sawano.
I mentioned a decent number of shows in my Summer Spotlight post on the OPs and EDs of the season, which is why I’m very surprised by the fact that I still have like a dozen songs left that I want to mention. Summer must have been a good season for OPs and EDs, I guess. Anyway, the first song I want to mention is the OP of Gangsta, Renegade. While Gangsta ended up being my disappointment of the season, the OP kept being remixed by various different people and so I ended up hearing it a lot later on in the year. The OP animation is still stupid, but I’ve come to really like the song. A similar thing happened with Classroom Crisis, actually. At first I didn’t really feel the OP, Cobalt, but after I heard it a few times on its own, it grew on me. It’s not exactly as remixable as the Gangsta OP, but it does have the advantage of being connected to a show that I actually liked.
In the case of Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX, on the other hand, I already knew I’d like the OP, Exterminate, and the ED, Rebirth-day, before I even started the show. Which is why I’m so confused by why I didn’t mention either of them in the spotlight post. Maybe I wasn’t as keen on them than on the OPs and EDs of the first two seasons of Symphogear, but I digress. The OP is pretty similar to both Synchrogazer and Vitalization, but possibly even more ridiculous. The ED is pretty similar to the ED of Symphogear G as well, but without the fantastic intro. Speaking of OPs and EDs that sound familiar, I have to mention Charlotte. The show itself turned out to go from boring to hilariously bad, though with a decent if not good final episode, but the OP, Bravely You, and the first ED, Yake Ochinai Tsubasa, were just as enjoyable as the OP and ED of Angel Beats, which were performed by the same artists – Lia and Aoi Tada, respectively – as the theme songs of Charlotte. I still listen to Bravely You and Yake Ochinai Tsubasa on a semi-regular basis.
Summer 2015 was also the season when Dragon Ball Super started airing. And it’s still airing. And it still has the same OP, Chouzetsu☆Dynamic! But I don’t mind that, because I still like both the song and the animation. I wouldn’t say it’s a great OP in general, but it works well as a Dragon Ball OP, that is as a generator of excitement. The OP of Non Non Biyori Repeat, Kodama Kotodama, was not the same as the OP of the first season, even though the two seasons could have been mixed together into one due to the stories taking place in the same time frame. I’m not implying that I think that’s a bad thing, I just needed to segue somehow. At first I didn’t like this OP as much as the one from the first season, but it grew on me over time, and now I actually like it more than the first OP. The same (once again) happened with the eponymous OP of Sore ga Seiyuu, albeit with the huge difference that Sore ga Seiyuu didn’t have a prior season. Anyway, I don’t think the OP is particularly well composed or performed, but it had the same kind of catchiness to it as the Idolm@ster OPs, i.e. I’ve sung it in the shower.
Gakkou Gurashi had an OP, Friend Shitai, that was not only catchy, it was actually funny on many levels. The contrast between the cheerful and upbeat song and the animation that just kept getting creepier and more depressing every week(they kept changing it) grew constantly, and the lyrics, which sounded innocent at first, had some very morbid wordplay mixed into them. Prison School, on the other hand, had a sadistically morbid OP, Ai no Prison, or maybe it was just sadistic. In any case, its lyrics were written by Kenji Ohtsuki, which is generally a good thing, but the performance of the song, by the main characters’ actors, as well as the OP animation ended up feeling pretty uninspired. The fact that the ED, Tsumibukaki Oretachi no Sanka, was performed by the same voice actors in the same half-assed-sounding way makes me think that it might have been intentional, but both songs still ended up being considerably annoying earworms for me.
Speaking of Kenji Ohtsuki, he did perform the OP of Ushio to Tora, Mazeru na Kiken (by Kenji Ohtsuki’s Kinniku Shoujo tai), which ended up being my favourite OP of the Summer 2015 season. Coincidentally, Ushio to Tora swept the awards, because the first ED of the show, HERO (by SONAR POCKET), ended up being my favourite ED.
Perhaps in a subconscious attempt at making up for my wide-spread neglect of the Summer 2015 OPs and EDs, my post on the OPs and EDs of the Fall season was pretty comprehensive if I may say so myself. There are, however, a few shows I want to mention quickly and one show that I want to take a closer look at. The first show, which is the one I have the least comments about, is Yuru Yuri San☆Hai! In the post linked above I talked about how I liked its ED as just a nice thing to listen to, but there was no mention of the OP, Chochocho! Yuru Yuri☆Capriccio. Now, after the show is over, I can say that I enjoyed the OP as much as I enjoyed the ED. It definitely lives up to Yuru Yuri OPs of past seasons. The second show I want to mention is one that I couldn’t have mentioned back in October, or whenever it was that I wrote the Fall Spotlight post, because I had not seen it yet. The show in question is Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid, and the theme song of interest is the OP, Overdrive. When I marathoned Valkyrie Drive for my review, the OP was the thing that kept me sane during the first few episodes(until, y’know, I actually started liking the show). It’s possibly the most blood-pumping(pun not intended) OP of the year, and don’t forget that this is also the year when Symphogear GX aired. Seriously, just listen to it(slightly NSFW):
The show I wanted to talk about in more detail is Owarimonogatari. The fact that the ED, Sayonara no Yukue (by Alisa Takigawa), won my favourite ED of Fall 2015 but that I still want to talk more about the show is a testament to just how big of a powerhouse the Monogatari series is when it comes to theme songs. However, enough about the ED, because what I want to talk about is the OP or, rather, all 3 OPs of Owarimonogatari. First up is Decent Black, performed by Kaori Mizuhashi and used only for the first (double length) episode of Owarimonogatari. Without vocals, the song sounds like one of those generic aggressive dance club tracks, one of those songs where you imagine the DJ being a middle-aged sweaty bald guy yelling “everybody put your hands in the air!” or something like that. But no, instead we get Kaori Mizuhashi singing a pop-y song with occasional playful bits. The visuals consist of a series of pictures and shapes that flow smoothly and seamlessly into each other(kinda like the OP of Nekomonogatari: Kuro) and a playful-looking Ougi. For Ougi fans it’s basically the best thing ever. Moving on, the 2nd OP, used in the arcs Sodachi Riddle and Sodachi Lost, is called mathemagics, and it’s performed by Marina Inoue. I’m not the biggest fan of the melody, the musical influences of which I have a hard time placing, but the vocals are some of the best by any Monogatari seiyuu, and the visuals are, to say the least, unique. The basic form of the video is not that interesting, it’s basically just a series of shots of geometrical shapes, Araragi and Sodachi, but what they did for the unique effect is that they took the sequence, copied it, mirrored it and put the mirror images next to image so that they connect in the middle. This really is a cheap trick as far as the actual costs of doing it are concerned, but it looks really cool. As for the final OP, mein schatz, it’s used in the last arc, Shinobu Mail. As with the BD opening for Shinobu Time in Monogatari Series Second Season, mein schatz is not sung by Maaya Sakamoto. I also think it sort of resembles the Shinobu Time OP in visual style(it also has the same visual style as the Owarimonogatari ED), and in the music as well(operatic vocals). It wasn’t as exciting to me as Decent Black or as awe-inspiring as mathemagics, but I liked it well enough, and I think it really fits the more serious tone that the show has taken since… actually, yeah, Shinobu Time is around the time when the scope of the story was truly revealed(as far as I know, at least). As you may have noticed, I’m a pretty big fan of Monogatari.
I already mentioned my favourite ED of the Fall 2015 season above. My favourite OP of the season, on the other hand, was Kyouran Hey Kids!! (by The Oral Cigarettes), the OP of Noragami Aragoto.