Yamamoto “Yamakan” Yutaka tends to divide the anime community with the anime he’s worked on, especially with his reluctant reputation as the most well-known creator of “dance segments” for anime openings and endings. Think Haruhi, Lucky Star, Kannagi, and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about. Now there are those among us, including myself, who have decried the overuse of dances in anime intros and outros, criticizing them as being too much of a fad, a gimmick which other anime are trying to latch onto in order to give themselves more otaku cred.
And they’d be right, except it doesn’t disqualify any of the above-mentioned Yamakan shows from being catchy bookends to each episode. Simply put, they’re quite good and they deserve to be catchy.
What actually made me newly appreciate Yamakan’s work was the second season of Haruhi. Watching the new ED, it just did not have any of the pop or style of the first series’ infamous “Hare Hare Yukai.”
Haruhi Season 1 ED
Haruhi Season 2 ED
It’s not like I’m criticizing the level of animation in the new ED; in many ways the animation in the new ED is better than the old one. And I’m not comparing the full Hare Hare Yukai dance itself to the new ED either. However, I really feel that the new ED’s sense of timing is a little lacking compared to the original, and that it overuses certain visual elements (a problem that goes double for the new OP). It was a pretty good idea, but the execution leaves something to be desired.
I’m not promoting the proliferation of even more dance numbers in anime, but rather just pointing out an example in which we have to look beyond the fad and into the core of what makes an opening catchy or memorable. I think that if you gave Yamakan an opening to storyboard and told him “no dancing,” he’d still be able to create something just as visually engaging.