The opening credits, or intro, of a staple of TV and animation. it’s a combination of sound and image designed to inform the viewer and pull them in. it is basically a commercial for the show you are about to watch with the secondary effect of giving credit to the people who are responsible for the show. The ending credits continue to list names of all the people who work on a show, and though it is not always the case, especially on American TV, it can be used to leave the viewer with a certain feeling. Japanese animation is of course no exception, but somehow anime has become what I think is the standard for openings and endings. There’s something special and different about the openings of Japanese animation compared to the animation of the rest of the world, and I’d like to know what it is.

I don’t think it would be too farfetched to say that a significant portion of anime fans love, welcome, and even expect the shows they watch to have good opening and ending credits. It’s the reason why fansubbers try so hard with their ridiculous karaoke effects. It’s the reason why I’m going to Otakon to see JAM Project. And I believe that it is a common factor in turning people into anime fans in the first place.

Anime openings can cause budding otaku to go, “Wow, this is different and good!” It’s not like non-Japanese cartoons are without good or memorable openings. I bet you there’s plenty of people out there who at least have a cursory knowledge of the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme, or children (and adults) who could sing the Kim Possible opening as well. And while one can argue that anime openings have “better” music, it’s not like anime is without its repeated-title-shouting-style intros (see above concerning JAM Project, or should I say, its individual members).

Perhaps it’s simply a matter of professionalism. Not only is there an industry trying to make money off of it, but musicians, at the very least on a surface level, appear to approach these songs as if they were any other pieces they’ve performed. Directors are hired on specifically to direct the openings and endings. People’s livelihoods can depend on whether or not the opening credits are a hit with the audience.

I’d like to think that the root cause of the culture of successful openings and endings is passion and respect, but it’s an overly optimistic view of things. I just know that there’s something which makes the openings and endings of anime different and better.

PS: I haven’t even begun to think about dub openings and how they factor into all of this, though I’m sure that shouting, “It’s time to D-D-D-D-D-D-D-D-DUEL!” will get a reaction out of people

PPS: I lied, this isn’t really an opinion or an editorial.

7 thoughts on “OP/ED OP/ED

  1. True confession: I used to have the Kimpossible “Kimmunicator” noise as a text message ringtone on my phone.

    Now I have themes from Kodomo no Jikan, Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei, and Spice and Wolf instead. <3


  2. Fun bit of trivia:

    The Japanese translation used for “What’s the sitch?” is “Donna joukyou (どんな状況)?”


  3. Any good OP has meaning.
    For example, Mōsō Dairinin, aka Paranoia Agent, has one of the best openings ever. It gives you a taste of the bizarreness that you’re going to be getting into.

    Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei’s openings fit the anime really well, as, like the anime, you’re left in a state of perplexity.


  4. Pingback: What’s in an OP? « “Lelangiric”, or so they say…

  5. I’d like to think that the root cause of the culture of successful openings and endings is passion and respect…

    The point of the elaborate openings is to sell CD singles. In America there is no singles market for music anymore, but because Japan is opposite-land, whole albums don’t do as well as singles.

    I got the impression, watching TV there, that Sony owns a lot of… stuff. Like if Sony is backing the anime, they also profit by selling CDs of the theme songs.

    You’ve also totally failed to mention how American shows in the 70’s like The Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island had great catchy theme songs. American TV openings no longer have lyrics. Friends was one of the last shows with a catchy theme.

    I think they eliminated OPs and EDs in American live-action shows for “more content,” but I’m not sure.


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