I must admit: 2019 was a slower year of anime for me. Although partially based on just IRL circumstances, and partially based on some rewatches of some old shows, there were quite a few chunks of series that didn’t interest me (especially the seemingly big push towards the latter half of the year for Isekai anime). Despite not watching everything dear readers, I went through series by series (including things I haven’t watched or finished) and made sure to compile what I can say are my favorite Openings and Endings of the year. Like last year, this is not based on the quality of the show and is not in any particular order. Without any further ado, let’s jump right into it.
99.9 by Mob Choir: Mob Psycho 100 2 Opening
The first Mob Psycho 100 opening theme was a breath of fresh air and this one is no different. With a song that feels like a natural extension of the first season’s opening to crazy colors and even crazier animation, this opening is one of the most visually stunning that I’ve seen in a long time aside from the first one. You have action, you have on-beat moments, and you have zany kaleidoscope-esque transitions: What more could you want?
Chikatto Chika Chikattsu by Kohara Konomi: Kaguya-Sama - Love is War Ending
I love the opening to this series, and I love the typical ending to this series, but this particular ending stands above both of them. With what I would say is the most fluid animation from any series on this list, and with a catchy tune sung by the character being so gracefully animated, this ending is one that I marvel at every time I see it. Again, the opening and other ending are great, but this is something special when it comes to quality. It is simple in concept but beautiful in execution and that is all I’ve got to say about that!
Kaen by Queen Bee: Dororo Opening
Admittedly, this opening takes a while to get going but that is what is so special about it. The entire first minute of this song is build up to a palpable drop that uses panning shots and stills to introduce characters and traits. The ending part, post-drop, is accompanied by some Rurouni Kenshin Sobakasu-esque fighting scenes and haunting imagery that set the stage for the series itself. An opening is meant to set the tone of a series, and this song and its imagery really help to do that.
Gurenge by LiSA: Demon Slayer - Kimetsu no Yaiba Opening
I just want to say that I called Demon Slayer being a hit before the anime was ever introduced based solely on the feel that the manga had. That feel I’m talking about is one of unique characters, momentum, and intense yet beautiful imagery. This opening captures that, both in the animation and the song. Lisa belts out an absolute hit here and the accompanying animation does a great job of matching beats to key moments, introducing major characters/characteristics, and laying out the path of the series. It says a lot when a 20+ episode anime series keeps that same opening throughout and Demon Slayer’s opening shows that quality can trump change.
Kiss Me by Nai Br.XX & Celeina Ann: Carole and Tuesday Opening
I personally have not finished this series but the opening is too good to overlook. The art style is soft, detailed, and overall gorgeous, the music is a beautiful song that is entirely in English, and the flow of it all…oh the flow. With the main characters infectiously dancing down a road on their way to play a street show while causing others around them to dance, it just feels so right with the tone of the overall show. Sprinkle in some lip synchronization at the end with the lyrics and various moments of in-sync dance moves like spins and twirls and what you have is quite literally a work of art.
Stand by Me by The Peggies: Sarazanmai Ending
It’s funny that one of the most…interesting…shows of the year that I watched has one of the most interesting ending themes of all. Normally, I’m not a fan of still shots yet here, with the shots being extremely high quality and overlaid into the real world, I must admit that it works. Not to mention some really unique light effects work to elevate the real-world aesthetic and blend the real with the fake. Did I mention that Stand by Me is one of my favorite songs on this list?
Mukanjyo by Survive Said the Prophet: Vinland Saga Opening
I’m 99% sure that Mukanjyo is my favorite song on this list and that’s not taking anything away from this opening right here. It has its emotional moments, it has sweeping moments of action, and it has some really cool transitions that pave the way (see the theme with this list?) for the events that are to come without spoiling too much. Even more than other openings, this hammers the theme of growth HARD and it really delivers. In fact, it delivers so much so that the second opening isn’t even memorable. Regardless if you have no interest in this series, the opening, and especially the opening song, is something great.
Life by Rude-A: Dr. Stone Ending
This is another ending theme that makes it on this list for just being extremely unique. Yes, the song is good, but like the Sarazanmai ending’s use of real world locations/light the use of rotoscoping here really gives this a feel all of its own. I know that this list isn’t about the content of a story, but as an ending theme the imagery portrayed of the modern day amenities we all are accustomed to is a perfect contrast to the show’s subject matter. Add in some very detailed manga stills of characters and, as the cap off to an episode, this reigns supreme.
Wild Side by ALI: Beastars Opening
I will probably never watch this show regardless of what people tell me because the character designs and style simply don’t appeal to me but real has to recognize real: A Claymation style opening is very very cool. Similar to Thunderbolt Fantasy’s use of puppets (although that series was all done via puppetry), the claymation here just grabs the viewer by telling a story that starts familiar but ends with an interesting twist. Again, I really have no interest in this show but man I imagine that the opening alone hooked a lot of people.
Papapa by Shuka Saito: Oresuki Opening
Admittedly, this opening is the one that I was most hesitant to add on this list because it doesn’t have the immediately memorable song or the staying power in the echelons of openings that I will remember down the road. People will justifiably also make arguments for why X series should be on this list ahead of this opening but hey, it’s my list so I’m gonna justify the pic. What it essentially boils down to is the bubbly energy that the panning scene of the main cast emanates, the well timed yet sparsely used moments that are synched up to the beat, and the subtle imagery reminding viewers of running gags and character traits. In fact, all of these elevate the song playing in the background. On that note, this opening could very well be the one that is best suited as an opening: It very clearly gets me ready for the hi-jinks that ensue without needing to tell its own story or hint at future story beats.
Aaaaaaand we’re done! There were a lot of probably predictable picks here, a couple that maybe people have heard of but never watched, and maybe a couple more that people wouldn’t even consider but in the end that’s what anime is all about. I mean, that’s probably a good way to describe this year in anime for me! On that note, hopefully everyone found some series that they really enjoyed, found some series that they weren’t expecting, and found some series that they are looking forward to. Here’s to a strong 2020, the winter season is already looking great!