Japanese visual storytelling doesn’t rely just on stunning visuals and engaging plotlines. Music is one of the main aspects of any entertainment content, as it decides the direction the scene will take. Scenes with well-crafted cinematography and dialogues won’t mean a thing if the appropriate music isn’t accompanying it. Like background scores, opening themes are essential as well. If background music is responsible for setting up the tone of a drama, an opening theme score is responsible for setting up the vibe and tone of an entire season. That’s why so much weightage is given to the opening theme song. Anime opening also becomes a defining aspect for fans who want to remember an anime for a long time. An iconic opening song becomes etched forever in fans’ hearts. Here, we have compiled such “iconic” opening themes for you.
1. Monochrome No Kiss
Monochrome No Kiss was the 13th single by Japanese pop band SID. The anime series Black Butler is of the supernatural dark fantasy/comedy genre, so it needed an eerie opening song with a haunted feel. The track as the theme opening song set the overall tone of the series well. SID combined the rock and pop genre and included synths and other spectral rock elements in the song. Monochrome No Kiss was the opening theme for Black Butler’s second season, and many fans firmly believe that the series never entirely managed to acquire better opening themes for subsequent seasons.
2. Phoenix By Burnout Syndrome
Haikyuu!! is an anime series based on the manga series of the same name, which tells the story of a hopeful volleyball player. The Japanese rock band Burnout Syndromes produced three opening themes for Haikyuu!!, but the track Phoenix, which served as the fourth season’s first opening song, became the most popular. The fourth season opened with the main character, Shoyo Hinata, looking at the gleaming light emanating from the basketball court as he lifted himself. Paired with the brilliant cinematography and Phoenix playing in the background, the song added the right amount of gravitas needed at the moment.
3. Starmaker By Kana-Boon
My Hero Academia is a supernatural science fiction anime series released in 2014. The series’ fourth season’s opening theme for the first 14 episodes was Polaris by Blue Encount, and the remaining episodes used Starmaker by rock band KANA-BOON. The pop-slash-rock song features catchy tunes and an overall bubbly vibe. When Starmaker was used as My Hero Academia’s opening song, the series had a school festival plotline going on, and the bubbly track was perfect for setting up the vibe. Even though the series got a lot of hate and trolls for its opening theme choices, Starmaker was the one track nobody could find faults with.
4. Departure! By Masatoshi Ono
Masatoshi Ono is a Japan-based singer-songwriter and vocal coach who specializes in rock and heavy metal music genre. The 2008 song “Departure!”, his first single in eight years, served as the anime series HUNTER X HUNTER’s first and only opening theme. The song became one of the most revered and iconic anime themes of all time, blending the genres of progressive rock and Japanese pop (J-pop). The catchy and upbeat song is in stark contrast to the anime’s dark theme and undertones, which allowed fans a bit of fun when things went a little downturn.
5. Bloody Stream By CODA
Japanese singer-songwriter Kazusou Oda, better known by his professional name CODA, is credited with producing and recording many of the songs of the anime series Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and played a vital role in defining the series’ music score. The series’ second opening theme song, Bloody Stream, is CODA’s most prominent contribution to the music score. The opening theme is a Japanese pop acid jazz number with an incredibly catchy tune. The brass section added in the full version of Bloody Stream makes the song even more captivating and a notable track in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’s music score.
6. Zankyo Sanka By Aimer
Japanese singer and lyricist Aimer has produced the most well-known opening theme for the popular anime series Demon Slayer, Zankyo Sanka. Translated in English as Reverberant Melody, the song was featured during the series’ entertainment district story arc. The song’s composition is very well, accentuated by radiant piano sounds and a brass section. The artist’s brilliant lyrical style also shone throughout the song, and the presence of extemporizations added a magical touch. Zankyo Sanka peaked at #1 on Billboard Japan Hot 100 upon its release and received over 200 million in just a couple of months.
7. Unravel By TK
Member Toru Kitajima (better known as TK), from the rock trio Ling Tosite Sigure sang the song Unravel, which was featured as Tokyo Ghoul’s opening theme song. It was the debut single from TK. Unravel was first featured as the ending theme of the series’ first episode and from the second episode onwards, continued as the opening theme. Unravel is a fusion of indie and rock genres and showcases TK’s ethereal vocals. The melancholy lyrics and the resonant background music made Unravel a standout track on Tokyo Ghoul’s soundtrack.
8. Punky Funky Love By GRANRODEO
GRANRODEO is a Japanese rock band specializing in producing and recording anime songs. Their 24th single Punky Funky Love was the opening theme song for Kuroko’s Basketball’s third season. The rock band meticulously constructed this track and the unique blend of Japanese pop/rock and metal music makes this song the best opening song from the series. Punky Funky Love was the opening song for Kuroko’s Basketball in its third season, and the time the series had the winter tournament plotline going on, this upbeat track resonated well with the scene.
9. Kaikai Kitan By Eve
Kaikai Kitan by Japanese singer Eve’s first song in 10 months. Eve was reading the manga Jujutsu Kaisen, which was the source material for the anime series, and it came as a surprise for Eve that his song was chosen for the series’ opening theme song. The artist read the manga religiously to perfectly re-produce the song so that it captured the essence of the series. A chorus was added later on director Seong Hu Park’s insistence. Kaikai Kitan features fast-paced melodies and some elements of hip-hop, and the lyrics were modified to subtly tell some events from the series.
10. Paradise By Rude-α
Paradise is the second single by Japanese musical artist Rude-α, and it was used as the opening theme song for the anime series SK8 The Infinity. While the anime has other notable tracks, “Paradise” is worth mentioning. This Japanese pop song is incredibly catchy and upbeat and is up to par with an anime that features an exhilarating sport such as skateboarding.