Intense beat-matching. Great songs I haven’t heard a million times. And powerful “summaries” of the anime you’re about to watch. Aside from anime itself, there’s probably nothing that gets me more pumped than a good anime opening, and I wanted to look at some of the openings from 2016 that I thought were exceptional.

8. YURI!!! ON ICE

While I think that the reuse of transitions disrupts the experience, there are a lot of things I really like about the opening to YURI!!! ON ICE. Dean Fujioka’s “History Maker” is rousing, the animation is striking and graceful, and there’s a real beauty to the moments where they match actions with the ebbs and flows of the music. Not only that, the opening changes slightly as the skaters “discover what (and who) matters in life,” something I didn’t know because, somehow, I have yet to check out this series.

RELATED: Check out our analysis of YURI!!!‘s gay representation.

7. MY HERO ACADEMIA

Up until I saw this opening for the first time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like MY HERO ACADEMIA. Not that I expected to love the series after only one and a half minutes of the actual show, but I was still waiting to be convinced that the anime was as great as everyone said it was. That changed once this opening started. I was immediately taken in by its quick editing and the guitar riffs of Porno Graffitti’s “The Day.” And the way MY HERO ACADEMIA’s colorful cast of characters was introduced (timed to the beat of the music) made me want to know who they were, what their powers were, and how the quirkless Izuku fit into their world. From the perspective of someone going into the series blind, I also enjoyed jacked-Captain America trading insanely powerful blows with a demon penguin.

6. MOB PSYCHO 100

The opening of MOB PSYCHO 100 is perhaps the most creative and energetic opening I have ever seen. Though it begins with a neon chalk-like cityscape — a relatively normal sight, even with characters’ faces on giant screens — the opening soon moves to showing the Body Improvement Club exercising on mushrooms, characters exploding out of another character’s head, and a heart exploding, which turns into broccoli, then a spirit, then takoyaki. Mob Choir’s “99” gives the whole thing a nice sense of momentum as well.

RELATED: MOB PSYCHO 100 received a lot of love in our Best Anime of 2016 lists. Read Peter Jurado’s list here!

5. KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS

Note: this video cuts off a bit of the opening and the subtitles distract from the experience. Watch an episode of KABANERI over at Amazon for the real thing.

KABANERI’s opening is here for one reason and one reason only: the shot of train tracks speeding by, overlaid by a silhouette of Mumei slowly walking down a set of stairs. There’s a powerful feeling of inevitability and sadness to the image, which is perfectly complemented by Egoist’s haunting vocals and music. The rest of KABANERI’s opening doesn’t even come close.

4. MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM UNICORN RE:0096

Though I collected GUNDAM vending machine toys when I was a kid, I never watched any of the series, which meant the franchise was mostly simplified to “giant robots fighting each other” in my mind. While there’s no doubt that every iteration of GUNDAM delivers a healthy dose of that, this opening shined a different light on the franchise. The piano and vocals of SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:Tielle’s “Into the Sky” emphasize the weight and endless nature of war, which is supported by the almost nostalgic snapshots of UNICORN’s cast. I don’t know whether the series is actually as emotional as this opening suggests, but for making me think I’ve been missing out, I had to include this one.

3. FLIP FLAPPERS

I’ve only watched one episode of FLIP FLAPPERS so far, and while I’m not completely sold on the series, that’s not the case for its opening. Between the use of ZAQ’s “Serendipity,” the way fight scenes are animated, and the storyline of Cocono running to give Papika an umbrella, the series looks incredibly cute, fun, and exciting. Not to mention that the pairing of the chorus and the shot of Papika running down a smokestack is just too good.

2. KIZNAIVER

I admit, I was unimpressed when I first saw the opening to KIZNAIVER. The “kaleidoscope” effect came across as overused and lazy, and I wanted the usual touchstones for what I was about to see. But the more I thought about the opening, the more I came to appreciate and be affected by it. From the images of the characters smiling and reaching toward the sky, to the lyrics about the nature of friendship, to the futuristic sheen of the anime’s dystopian setting, this opening managed to capture a sense of infinite potential and wonder, emphasizing how special we are just for being who we are in the process.

Note: KIZNAIVER’s opening theme is “Lay Your Hands on Me” by Boom Boom Satellites, part of an EP of the same name. I wanted to make a special note of it here because it’s the band’s final album, as a result of vocalist/guitarist Michiyuki Kawashima’s failing health. Several months after this news was announced, Kawashima died on October 9, 2016. Though I haven’t known Boom Boom Satellites’ music for very long, thank you for such a wonderful song. 

1. ERASED (BOKU DAKE GA INAI MACHI)

After watching the opening to ERASED the first time, I already knew it was great. I loved its tender depiction of childhood, the way danger was shown, and the image of Satoru, in the past and present, standing up and deciding to fight. But the thing I kept coming back to was the contrast between Asian Kung-Fu Generation’s “Re:Re:” and images of the snow-covered town and Satoru’s empty school. It conveyed a strange feeling of loss, like “here’s where things used to happen.” A surprisingly moving opening, and my absolute favorite of the year.

RELATED: 2015’s PARASYTE –THE MAXIM– is another series with an awesome opening, and the anime itself is amazing as well. Read our thoughts on the series here.

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