Last season I ended up giving no award to both the OP and ED of the Season, because while there were a few OPs and EDs I thought were catchy, none of them really struck a chord with me. Now, when I wrote last season’s spotlight post I was afraid that the problem lay with me and that next season wouldn’t inspire me to give awards either, but fortunately that turned out not to be the case.
Fall 2016 has some really good stuff when it comes to OPs and EDs. Of the older franchises, Gundam Tekketsu, Natsume Yuujinchou, Teekyuu, Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu kara and Bungou Stray Dogs all have good (though not outstanding) OPs, whereas the OP of Hibike Euphonium S2 is almost fantastic as the OP of the first season, and Lostorage incited WIXOSS has a crazy but fun OP.
And when it comes to the new or newer franchises, there is a surprising amount of theme song variety. Nyanbo, the children’s CG/live-action show has a catchy and sort of unique-sounding OP, which is not something I expected. Gakuen Handsome, on the other hand, keeps to the theme of the rest of the show and has some awful art and animation in both its OP and its ED, and it’s really funny. Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume, which has turned out to be the closest thing to Saki we’ll get from a non-Saki show, has a really catchy OP and ED, though not enough so to top this list.
The real competition is between Yuri on Ice, Flip Flappers, 3-gatsu no Lion and Fune wo Amu. Of these, 3-gatsu probably has the best OP-ED combination, which isn’t surprising considering they’re both performed by BUMP OF CHICKEN, and it’s obvious that emphasis was put on the connection between the theme songs. Fune wo Amu, on the other hand, is pretty much the exact opposite of 3-gatsu. The OP is a fast and hectic song with a very loud beat, whereas the ED is a very calm and relaxing guitar and piano piece. The juxtaposition between them is jarring, I must admit, but I like both of the songs. This season’s top spots, however, go to…
OP of the Season: Yuri!!! on Ice
“History Maker” by Dean Fujioka
In the end, it came down to either this or the OP of Flip Flappers. However, while the Flip Flappers OP has some fantastic animation that I absolutely adore, the song is not one of my favourites from ZAQ. It’s not bad, but it’s not much more than alright either. The OP of Yuri on Ice, on the other hand, has an extremely catchy song (which is in English even!) and uniquely great visuals. Not maybe the same amount of “pure sakuga” as the Flip Flappers OP, but the fact that it’s a choreographed figure skating program is a pretty big deal in itself, at least in my opinion.
More than that, though, I think History Maker is an OP that shines in how simple its composition is. The majority is just character animation on white backgrounds with splashes of colour here and there, and it features only the three main characters, Yuuri, “Yurio” and Victor. But every time I watch it, I feel like I learn something new about all of the characters, that’s how expressive it is. It really is something special.
ED of the Season: Flip Flappers
“FLIP FLAP FLIP FLAP” by TO-MAS feat. Chima
Again, it was difficult to choose between this and the ED of Yuri on Ice, because the latter combined a funky beat with an instagram-style photo feed, which was a really nice way of showing the main characters in their free time, just being themselves. It was a good ED, but in this case Flip Flappers actually ended up being more interesting. The scrolling wall of art at the top has fantastic style, and the theme song, composed by Masumi Itou, is probably the most memorable of the season overall. And I feel like it’ll continue to be remembered for a long time.
That said, the catchiness of the theme song is not my favourite thing about the ED, nor is the art. My favourite thing is that it’s not just a cute ED song and animation, it also contains some horror elements (the tree monster and the shot in which Cocona screams while Papika laughs), and the balance between the two is something I haven’t seen in anime before. Even the melody is not clearly upbeat or downbeat, it’s somewhere in between. And that uniqueness is why it’s my favourite of the season.