At the start of every season, a new batch of anime begins.
Most use opening credits and title sequences to get the attention of as many viewers as possible. With the current anime season well underway, all of the shows have had time to broadcast their openings.
As with previous seasons, this means that I can judge the openings against each other to determine which promote their respective shows the best.
The only anime considered for this list are ones that started airing this season and do not have a previous anime adaptation. Also the openings considered for this list are from the first episodes they aired in. If an opening changes throughout the season, then the changes are not considered.
This list does not judge the content of the anime, only the quality of the opening.
- Mayoiga (The Lost Village)
The main draw of this opening is how the music and video editing play together. When the song has three pronounced beats, the video reflects something three times over. The song as a whole has a good beat and its intensity rises and falls well, especially when set against the video.
Unfortunately, the video has a significant problem. It is almost devoid of character animation after the few first seconds.
The fairly substantial cast of characters is initially introduced very quickly as still shots with their names on screen. They are then reintroduced in group shots. During the second introduction there are some moments of movement, but for the most part, they continue to be still shots.
Given that nothing is outstanding about the opening, nothing makes up for the lack of animation and the opening suffers as a result.
- Big Order
The main reason this opening is on the list is because it manages to draw the viewer’s attention immediately and keep it by using strange audio and video editing choices.
The first sequence of the opening has the sound cut out at random, as if the viewer’s computer is messing up. The following video sequence is edited in such a way that the viewer is bombarded with attention-grabbing images that are incomprehensible on a first watch because of how quick they are.
In short the opening is on this list because it draws attention, but it is so low on the list because it does so in ways that make for a worse opening.
- Sansha Sanyou (Three Leaves, Three Colors)
In stark contrast to Big Order, this opening is almost too cheerful. From the upbeat nature of the song to the bright colors, there does not seem to be any real conflict in the show.
However unlike in the previous two openings, the characters are given time to show personality, interact with each other and develop.
The song also aids this process as the three different voices interact in the song, at times even arguing along with the animation.
Aside from a lack of conflict, the other issue with this opening is that it showed the secondary cast of the show but only in the last few seconds of the opening, meaning that it was almost impossible to catch identifying features, let alone any kind of personality trait.
- Bungou Stray Dogs
This opening is more balanced than the previous entries. The song is pretty good, always driving the action forward. The opening is also near continually animated, even if at times only the camera was shaking, rather than the characters themselves moving.
The characters have fairly unique designs, which helps to distinguish each person when both sides of the conflict have upwards of 10 people and each needs to be memorable.
The main deficiency of the opening is a lack of personality. While each character looks interesting and is given a little time to fight, the viewer knows nothing about them, how they interact with other characters or the reason for the conflict.
- Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academy)
The one element My Hero Academy does not lack in is personality. The first shot of the opening is of various lights on an over muscled hero figure looking forward with the camera at his back.
The song is the true strength of this opening. It starts energetic, but then becomes over the top, fitting extremely well with the opening shots of the video.
Outside of the song though, the opening manages to easily show off the main character’s backstory, motivation and relationship with a character who appears to be his rival very easily.
The secondary cast is given flash frames of introductions near the beginning and a more animated introduction near the end.
This show seems like it is taking cues from One Punch Man by simply having fun with its source material, but the premise is different enough that the comparisons likely stop at the opening.
- Joker Game
In large part, this opening is on this list because it is so interesting to look at and listen to. Very few anime use brass instruments or have an entire cast of people in suites. Even if the viewer did not know that the show is set in the late 1930s, the song would draw interest and the sepia-toned visuals would keep it.
It helps that the song is very enjoyable to listen to. The part focusing on the vocals dips a little, but the basic riff of the song never seems to get old.
The characters are introduced in a generic fashion, with their models being semi-transparent set against some kind of pattern and given a few seconds to show off something that distinguishes them from the rest of the cast. They are given a slight amount of characterization later in the opening when scenes from the show play in the background.
In short, the visuals are okay and character depth is lacking, but the song is great and the sheer uniqueness of following what looks like a mafia group near the beginning of World War II is likely to keep viewers coming back.
- Re: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life In Another World-)
Like Big Order, this opening attempts to use chaotic imagery to draw the viewer’s attention. The difference is that it is used to much better effect in Re:ZERO.
The opening seems to be split into two worlds: one of light and peace, the other of darkness and chaos.
The chaotic images appear as characters are standing in a black void, and ghost images of them quickly flicker in and out of existence. Most of the time, the light world seems to be a reprieve from the chaos.
The song is quite possibly the best of the season, to the point that it would work as a standalone single. It gives the color and energy to the different settings by using the harder beat and more bare bones parts of the song for the dark world while the light world has the soft vocals and more fleshed out musical parts.
The characters do not seem to interact or develop in any way throughout the opening, however, it is somewhat difficult to tell when the female lead appears to be the center of the light world and the male lead has several copies of himself in existence at various points in the opening.
If nothing else, the opening grabs the viewer and makes them pay attention to the show.
- High School Fleet
This show managed to get so high on the list because unlike Joker Game, the opening of the show rather than the show itself gives a unique enough premise to make viewers check it out.
If the opening is to be taken literally, then in High School Fleet, parts of Japan are underwater, various groups of school girls are in charge of battleships and the groups fight each other regularly. That alone is more than enough to warrant at least watching far enough for the show to explain what is going on.
The song accentuates the action on screen, moving the opening from one group to another during character introductions, and giving much more energy during the battle sequence.
The characters do not interact much during the opening, however their mannerisms show that they are not battle hardened soldiers by any means. It seems like they still want to just joke around and have fun, despite being in charge of a military ship engaged in combat.
- Sakamoto desu ga? (Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto)
Some shows, like Bungou Stray Dogs, attempt a balanced opening where all characters are introduced and interact in some way, the song is enjoyable to listen to and all aspects of the show are shown, even if only for a few seconds.
Sakamoto does the exact opposite, taking one aspect of the show and exclusively showing it off, namely how cool the main character is. The opening is so focused on that single idea that it does not even show a conflict or the rest of the cast. Even the background seems to be missing for most of the opening in favor of showing off Sakamoto.
The reason why it is so high on this list is because like My Hero Academia, it takes its premise, that the character Sakamoto is unerringly cool at all times, to hilarious extremes.
The song reflects this perfectly. The singer deserves a medal for the sheer amount of energy and passion he put into the vocals. At times, the music was so awesome that it made even silly animations, like Sakamoto tipping a traffic cone upright and having a word balloon pop up saying “Checkmate,” seem completely serious.
The main reason why Sakamoto is not the best opening of the season is because while it is easily the best in some areas, like music and passion, it falls flat in almost every other way.
Even after watching the opening, the viewer knows almost nothing about the main character, let alone any other aspects of the show.
- Sousei no Onmyouji (Twin Star Exorcists)
The first reason why this show made it on to this list was because it has a lot of striking imagery, much of it based on a destroyed, burning city or the world becoming pure red aside from a few key elements.
The part of the opening that solidified it on the list was that it introduced a magic system and gave some indication of how it works, including variants on how to use it, such as for what appeared to be portals, weapons and armor.
The song is not as fun as Sakamoto, but the first few seconds incorporate a flute-like instrument, which immediately draws the ear and thus a viewer’s attention and fits the scene very well.
High School Fleet shows the premise of the show well and had a great song, but did not show any character depth. Twin Star Exorcists is also lacking in character interaction, but each of the leads is given more individual traits to help them stand out.
On each individual point, at least one show is better than Twin Star Exorcists. However with a combination of powerful visuals fitting and attention getting song and a great primer going into each episode, it has the best opening of the spring 2016 anime season.