yohasakura

Despite being pseudo-musical (mediocre violinist for ten years), I didn’t really start listening to music just for the sake of just listening it until sometime in high school. And even then, it was just a few select songs from some of my favorite anime. In fact, it wasn’t until I got to college that I got introduced to the idea of the “playlist” and the idea of organizing your favorites in a looping list was revolutionary for me.

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A playlist?! What genius nonsense are you spouting?!

Evaluating music, much like literature, is often a subjective experience. I suppose it’s not too difficult for people who don’t get an emotional reaction from music to evaluate it objectively, but I fall in with the “music plays with the heartstrings of my soul” camp. There are just some songs that you hear that you can’t help but just like. It’s similar to  liking a dog with an eccentrically squashed face. Objectively, you know it’s not particularly attractive by standard conventions but you see something in that kyaa-inducing dopey expression.

This song was
This song was made just for me–I just know it.

I’ll leave the music reviewing up to experts like Alex, who seem to know what they’re talking about and have a legitimately systematic way of evaluating music.

My impromptu system of evaluating music involves the highly scientific method of absolute frequency.

Which is really just another way of picking the top ten most played anime songs on my iTunes.

What sort of information can I glean from this? Well, the top ten songs obviously tend to be songs that I like. I use the shuffle option frequently in iTunes to get a variety of anime songs, but certain songs that come up that I really dig end up getting replayed or added to another playlist, further increasing the chances of them getting played again.

Why the Anime Opening?

I do think while anime should hardly be judged by their openings, having an awesome opening certainly doesn’t hurt one’s chances. In fact, especially for casual watchers, the anime opening is crucial as it’s one’s first impression of a show. Weak-sauce openings give a bad impression. A lackluster opening can make one expect a lackluster show. Whether or not this is true is a whole other story but since the opening’s going to be something played at every episode, it’s important to get it right for optimal anime watching experience.

Without further ado, here is Anime Monographia’s Top Ten Most Played Anime Openings (according to jstorming’s iTunes).

Honorable Mention: Guren no Yumiya (紅蓮の弓矢, “Crimson Bow and Arrow”), by Linked Horizon (2013)

Linked-Horizon-Jiyuu-no-Tsubasa-lyrics-自由の翼-歌詞

One consequence of using mentioned highly scientific method of statistical analysis is that the method makes it hard for more recent songs to make the list. After all, older songs have the advantage of time, while newer songs get shuttled towards the bottom. Guren no Yumiya, of course, as the first opening of  Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojinspawned a deluge of covers, remakes, spoofs, and commercials that I bet took the creators by surprise. Though I was familiar with Revo‘s works prior to this with Sound Horizon, “Guren no Yumiya” is his most memorable sounding work. Right off the bat from hearing the throaty chorus shouting “Seid ihr das Essen?/Nein, wir sind der Jäger!” and I knew I would be breaking in that replay button. Repeatedly.

10) Doubt & Trust ~ダウト&トラスト~ , by Access (2007)

dgrayman

An older song, Doubt & Trust is the third opening of D.Gray-man, a shonen anime that I was obsessed with in my earlier days of anime watching. For the longest time, I firmly believed it to be my favorite opening of all time. An old time favorite that’s been consistently on my top 20 most played for over 6 years, Doubt & Trust is also a fun song to karaoke to. If you haven’t seen the original PV, check it out! Daisuke Asakura does some insane keyboarding there.

9) Fiesta  (エール), by  +Plus (2011)

Fairy Tail OP ED Theme Songs Vol.2

Fairy Tail was a standard shonen with standard shonen openings but for some reason, this one stuck. Maybe it’s because I have a thing for Japanese boy band music (takes a deep, shameless bow). But it’s a cool, fun song with a really catchy chorus. No emotional attachment to Fairy Tail’s sixth opening but it appears frequently on shuffle a lot, which gives me the impression that iTunes’ shuffle may not be so random.

8) Scarlet Knight, by Mizuki Nana (水樹 奈々)

dogdays

Mizuki Nana owns my heart and soul.

But actually, though many of her songs sound similar, Scarlet Knight drew me because its powerful chorus had an epic sound that her songs usually lack. I will be upfront and say that this is a case where I can like a song independently of its anime. I didn’t even watch Dog Days, nor do I care to try it at any point in the near future as the anime doesn’t look particularly good, but am I always up for some of Nana’s powerful vocals? Yes.

7) the World, by Nightmare (2006)

deathnotewallpaper

This is such an angry song. I love it.

A lot of anime opening music tends to be produced independently from anime. This is where you’ll get an opening that clashes dissonantly with the anime’s narrative theme. Sometimes this is done intentionally (a la ClariS’s “Connect” in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica) for ironic effect.)

Occasionally, you’ll have an opening where not only the song’s style matches the anime’s atmosphere but the lyrics themselves fit perfectly within the narrative’s thematic framework. “the World” is a dark song about a broken idealist who sees himself as a “broken Messiah” and how he turns to the darkness and vows to start a revolution that will bring forth a “bright and shining world.” Which pretty much sums up the plot of Death Note.

6) only my railgun, by fripSide (2009)

railgun-op-only-my-railgun

My first experience with this song was at a karaoke session with some friends. We were muddling through the voluminous songlists trying to decipher the hiragana and katakana characters (with all of us, we knew approximately twenty characters, which of course, wasn’t that much different from just pointing at the list, “Oh look, a song by GreeeeN! We should try that!”). An ambitious friend picked “only my railgun” and thus regaled us with screechy shouts of “ONLY MY RAILGUN!” for the next four minutes.

Good times. Nothing quite as memorable as the glory of butchering the song. “only my railgun” is fast and definitely kept fripSide on my musical radar. They’ve produce some good stuff, including their latest project, “black bullet” which kind of sounds like a crazy fusion of “Guren no Yumiya” and “only my railgun.”

Nope, didn’t finish the show (A Certain Scientific Railgun) though.

5) Hacking to the Gate, by Ito Kanako (2011)

hacking-to-the-gate

Not a song I liked right off the bat but one that grew on me as I watched Stein;s Gate. Another song that matches the anime both musically and thematically, “Hacking to the Gate,” like Stein;s Gate, is ultimately a love story. For all of his supposedly diabolical plans and impression evasions of secret government conspiracy groups, Okabe Rintarou really just wants to save Makise Kurisu from a tragic death. Similarly, this song is about a time-traveler who  “denies tomorrow” by traveling perpetually in a time loop to protect the one he/she loves.

It also just sounds really cool.

4) Get Over, by dream (2002)

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Hikaru no Go is an anime that blows you away…quietly. It was something I tried out in between the frustrating times when there were long hiatuses in the airing of new English dubbed episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh! I needed something to alleviate the ache of not watching animated characters play a children’s card game while striking dramatic poses. And then I stumbled across Hikaru no Go.

Never have I been so glad that I didn’t drop it. It’s seriously one of the best tournament-based anime out there (not that the bar is set very high for this kind of thing but let me tell you, Hikaru no Go sets a very high standard, indeed.) And while all of the openings are good, this song, the first opening, resonates very strongly with me because I enjoyed the show so much.

3) Flower- Saki Midareshi Hana, by GIGS (2008)

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Prince of Tennis openings tend to be hit or miss for me. I either really like them or just don’t. This is one that I like and interestingly enough, the song is sung by four seiyu (voice actors) who voice main characters in the show. Again, the catchy chorus from this opening theme to the Prince of Tennis: Tournament Finals Arc reels me in, hook, line and sinker. I’m pretty sure the song isn’t about tennis but then again, in this show, anything resembling real tennis would be surprising. I mean, real tennis? Who does that?

2) Monochrome Kiss (モノクロのキス), by SID (2008)

blackbutler_sidcover

Uh…yes, well, the lyrics to this song do much to further enhance the homoerotic shota elements already present in  Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji). That aside, it’s a great stand-alone song and is welcomed whenever I’m in a pensive mood (which is frequent). Hard to pin down this song–it’s not exactly sorrowful but not really angry. Maybe somewhere between regretful and longing? I like darker songs, just because minor chords tend to be more interesting musically.

1) Preserved Roses, by Mizuki Nana x TM Revolution (2013)

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I’m not sure what they’re supposed to be dressed as…pseudo space outfits or something? Mixed feelings about the midriffs.
KV_Preserved Roses
Not that their space suits are any more practical either…

So much epic. So much vibrato.

Possibly the most popular (at least sales wise) anime song from 2013, “Preserved Roses” is incredibly addicting to listen to right from the first few upbeat notes. It’s the kind of song that gets you pumped up and feel like you can do anything. Like start a revolution and create your own independent country.

Also, I am firmly convinced that like Valvrave the Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave), the story of this song is a love song. I mean, space vamp Haruto is clearly the preserved rose. And L-Elf is clearly the tragic lover who ultimately fails to protect the rose (Haruto) from his inevitable death. So clearly obvious, right?

“Preserved Roses” is not by any means my favorite song. As mentioned before, this high-powered statistical analysis is just one out of many possible ways I could have chosen to evaluate what music I think is good. I’m not, by any means, a credible music critic. But as an anime consumer, it’s important for one to think about all aspects of anime–not just the story, but the music itself as well. Because when you think about it, music is actually very important in anime. I mean, imagine an anime without music. That would be weird.

What’s on your anime top ten playlist?

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19 thoughts on “An Interlude: AM’s Top Ten Most Played Anime Openings

  1. Nana Mizuki all day every day! Solid list of “Top 10” OPs yo.

    For me personally, I don’t actually have a “top 10” absolute list – my preference for certain types of anime songs (or OSTs) changes a lot depending on the mood and circumstance, and so I tend to play certain songs on repeat A LOT for a short amount of time before cycling to something else.

    In general though, I’d say my most often-played songs (if we’re going by frequency!) would be from the Science Adventure series (C;H, S;G, R;N), with a decent emphasis on Sakakibara Yui’s more heavy stuff associated with the former two. This is supplemented with a decent dose of Samurai Champloo, Sakamichi no Apollon, Kill La Kill, and JoJo songs (from both the OPs/EDs and the OSTs). More recently though, I’ve been getting back into the Rosario Vampire (S1/2) OPs as well as Hyouka and Sakurasou’s OPs/EDs (FEELS EVERYWHERE), and so along with some of the OP/EDs from Watamote, Outbreak Company, and Nisekoi, my playlist has been pretty varied.

    Surprisingly, for how much I love Guren no Yumiya (and co.) and Naitomea’s ZA WARUDO, I don’t actually listen to them that often. Definitely mainstays on any playlist I would want to come up with though.

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    1. Nice to see some love for The Sak! I kinda thought no-one really knew about her Phantasm work, apart from mentioning the S;G ED now and then. Any favourites?

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      1. So this is a really late reply, but I’d probably go with Haritsuke no Misa and (if this counts) Uruwashiki Seduce! You?

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      2. Toki Tsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku, Sora to Chijo no Creation, Hisui no Caviliere (or whatever that word is), Haritsuke no Misa, Hallelujah no Fukuin… too many lol. Haritsuke no Misa has a special place in my heart cos it was the first Phantasm song I heard.

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    2. Nana Mizuki fans unite! Kill la Kill songs are good too! I’ll have to check out the rest since you have a a pretty diverse playlist.
      I need to listen to more of Sakikibara’s work. Besides S;G ED, I don’t think I’ve heard any of her other works. (Except for the bunny suit Joker music video…that was weird).

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  2. Some nice choices here! I don’t have any particular order (… and what I mean by that is, I can’t be bothered thinking too hard about this right now), but my own top 10 would definitely include ‘Inner Universe’ (first Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex OP), ‘Uragiri no Yuyake’ (first Durarara!! OP), ‘Period’ (third Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood OP), ‘Yasashisa no Riyuu’ (first Hyouka OP), ‘Goya no Machiawase’ (first and only Noragami OP), ‘Jap’ (first Sengoku Basara OP), and ‘Spirit Inspiration’ (first Zetsuen no Tempest OP). Also, I wholeheartedly endorse your honourable mention and your choice for number #5.

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    1. Thanks for the comment! “Period” is a good song! And yes, I fell in love with the Noragami OP (best OP in winter 2014 imho). I’ll check out the others on your list too.

      I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t had at least a begrudging respect or like for Guren no Yumiya. 🙂

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  3. The only songs on your list I’ve heard are the Death Note OP and Steins;Gate OP, both of which I agree are supreme.
    My own mostly played list looks something like this (although it is in no way a good representation of my favourite songs):

    10. Futatsu no Kodou to Akai Tsumi (Vampire Knight)
    9. Kanashimi wo Yasashisa ni (Naruto)
    8. Undo (3rd OP of Fullmetal Alchemist)
    7. Haruka Kanata (Naruto)
    6. No pain,No game (Btooom!)
    5. Brand New Breeze (La Corda d’Oro)
    4. Ready Steady Go! (2nd OP of Fullmetal Alchemist)
    3. For Fruits Basket (English version. This one has been in my library for ages, and made it to several of my favourite playlists)
    2. Jiyuu no Tsubasa (2nd OP of SnK! Although the first one is better, I still think this one is pretty rad)
    1. Guren no Yumiya (despite being probably the newest on the list it made it to the top in no time haha)

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    1. Thank you for the comment! And I like your list. Fullmetal Alchemist always seems to have strong, memorable openings. Naruto has way too many openings but Haruka Kanata is one that I remember very well, as it was one of the first anime openings I liked.

      Also, ON/OFF’s music is good–I really like the stuff they’ve done for VK, including the song you listed.

      Guren no Yumiya and Jiyuu no Tsubasa are both good–I like them for both reasons. Guren sounds slightly more epic but Jiiya no Tsubasa sounds a bit more complex. They’re both excellent songs though!

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  4. the method makes it hard for more recent songs to make the list.

    So was this done for “all-time”? For me, I could imagine that happening if I did it that way, but if I did “last year” I would guess more recent stuff would float to the top. I tend to listen to new things a lot, after that they peter off to some baseline level.

    Daisuke Asakura does some insane keyboarding there.

    He does have some speedy lines! Interesting how he was singing, I didn’t know that he did vocals. I suppose it pays to be a multi-instrumentalist. So you’ve got two Daisuke Asakura songs on the list – are you a fan of his compositions, or was it just chance that they’re two on your most-played?

    the story of this song is a love song

    DAMN RIGHT. VALVRAVE IS A RABU RABU STORY.

    Ha, I see what you meant about gravitating towards orchestral-influenced or electronic-dance songs – there’s certainly quite a few on this list! I don’t really keep track of a top 10 or most played list, unfortunately. There are some anime songs that I’ll nearly always listen to though. Various abingdon boys school tracks, some of Kalafina’s Kara no Kyoukai work plus Magia, most of AKINO’s Aquarion songs, Galneryus’ anison, some Yui Sakakibara Phantasm work, Guren no Yumiya and a bunch of random songs from all different kinds of anime that I really like.

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    1. Yes, this was done for “all-time.” A lot of more recent songs within the past two years fall somewhere between 30-150, so breaking the top 25 takes some time. It’s interesting for me to see which songs continue to appeal to me even if it’s years after the original release. Of course, since I’m a relatively new fan to J-Pop, my tastes definitely lean towards more recent releases.

      I do like Daisuke Asakura’s work, even if I don’t go out of the way to actively seek it. Guess it’s coincidence that I tend to like the stuff he writes!

      I like abingdon boys school as well, thought most of their songs tend to cluster somewhere in the 50s for me, probably because I have to be in certain mood for rock, whereas orchestral and electronic dance are more mood flexible, if that makes sense. And magia is pretty awesome.

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  5. >> music is actually very important in anime
    Oh, absolutely. I find that my favorite anime also have my favorite songs and soundtracks. Coincidence? I think not!

    >> “Connect” in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica
    The upbeat style and OP animation sequence may have been misleading, but the lyrics fit decently with the show’s ultimate theme, if a bit vague and generic-sounding.

    Unfortunately, I have no consistency in how I play my music. Lately I’ve listened the most while commuting, but I use a USB flash drive plugged directly into the car, so I have no way of tracking my top ten most played songs from there. My only option is Google Play, though the results are likely inaccurate and out-of-date. The highest frequency is a measly 13! With the numbers so low, they probably don’t mean much, but I’ll proceed anyway to humor myself and anyone reading. I’m also including EDs, just because.

    la divina Tragedia ~Makyoku~ (la divina tragedia ~魔曲~, “the divine tragedy ~Incantation~”), by JIMANG (2009)
    Umineko no naku koro ni (ED)
    Frequency: 10
    The biggest ham of Sound Horizon, the one and only JIMANG. Pity he wasn’t in the Shingeki no Kyojin songs. OH DESIRE

    Manten (満天, “The Whole Sky”), by Kalafina (2012)
    Fate/Zero 2nd Season (ED2)
    Frequency: 10
    Not much to say. It’s Kalafina, and Kalafina’s good.

    Vanilla Salt, by Horie Yui (2008)
    Toradora! (ED1)
    Frequency: 10
    This song is a discourse on tsundere. Pity KugiRie doesn’t sing it. They got it right with Golden Time though.

    Kaidoku Funou (解読不能, “Indecipherable”), by Jinn (2007)
    Code Geass (OP2)
    Frequency: 11
    Why this and not one of the FLOW OPs? Dunno, maybe it’s the kickin’ slap bass riff.

    Kuusou Rumba (空想ルンバ, Daydream Rumba), by Kenji Otsuki and the Zetsubou Girls (2008)
    Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (OP)
    Frequency: 11
    Wacky.

    My Soul, Your Beats!, by Lia (2010)
    Angel Beats! (OP)
    Frequency: 11
    I’m actually a bit tired of this song now, but back then I was totally OOOH PIANO INTRO SO AWESOME OMGOSH!!!

    Naisho no Hanashi (ナイショの話, “A Private Matter”), by ClariS (2012)
    Nisemonogatari (ED)
    Frequency: 11
    This ClariS song actually has some oomph to it. And it’s about wincest, kinda. More so than OreImo’s “Irony” anyway.

    Blood Teller, by Faylan (2011)
    Mirai Nikki (ED1)
    Frequency: 12
    Really intense. It gave me chills at the end of each episode.

    Katayoku no Tori (片翼の鳥, “One-Winged Bird”), by Shikata Akiko (2009)
    Umineko no naku koro ni (OP)
    Frequency: 12
    If there’s anything that Umineko’s anime adaptation truly did well, it’s the OP/EDs. Shikata Akiko as a one-woman choir never ceases to astound me.

    Superscription of Data, by Shimamiya Eiko (2009)
    Higurashi no naku koro ni Rei (OP)
    Frequency: 13
    Another When They Cry piece. Why not the more well-known earlier OPs from the main two seasons? Once again, it’s probably the catchy instrumentals. The intricate lead-in building up to release of the relentless main beat, just as the title card slides in. All this before the vocalist comes in, then a powerful chorus that just fills me with energy. I’ll never underestimate electronic dance music again!

    So yeah, that reflects my anisong tastes for a short period of time about two years ago? Before that, it would probably be filled with Clannad and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann tracks. Since then, I’ve been listening to a whole lot more new songs. But I still think all the songs on this list are excellent! In fact, I’ll be adding them back to my current playlist…

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    1. Wow, that’s a pretty good list! Blood Teller is definitely one of my favorites (I like the Mirai Nikki OP too). I like Kalafina too. Haha, I think I like FLOW’s songs better from Code Geass but I’ll give the one you listed another listen. Same applies to the other songs on your list that I haven’t listened to yet.

      Also, good point about “Connect”‘s actual message. But I suspect most casual watchers (such as myself) don’t pay close attention to the lyrics at first (especially if the OP itself isn’t subbed while watching so I was basing it off of mostly the song’s atmosphere and the cutesy, cheerful opening.

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  6. Here are my Top 10 anime OP (according to the same method you used):
    1. Now or Never by nano (never watched the anime, Kami no Puzzle, though)
    2. Velonica by Aqua Timez (BLEACH)
    3. Jiyuu no Tsubasa by Linked Horizon (Attack on Titan)
    4. Aoi Shiori by Galileo Galilei (Anohana)
    5. IN MY WORLD by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D (Blue Exorcist)
    6. COMPLICATION by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D (DRRR!!)
    7. GO!!! by FLOW (Naruto)
    8. WORLD END by FLOW (Code Geass)
    9. Shiver by Lucy Rose (Mushishi Zoku Shou)
    10. COLORS by FLOW (Code Geass)

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    1. Velonica is excellent, one of my favorite Bleach OPs. Jiyuu no Tsubasa is also very good and, in some ways, more interesting than its incredibly popular opening predecessor “Guren no Yumiya”. Haha, you seem to like FLOW…they generally produce very solid hits.

      Thanks for sharing!

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      1. One more reason for me to prefer Jiyuu no Tsubasa over Guren no Yumiya is the perfectly synced animation. I just love those transitions, the 3DMG close-up shot, and the pacing of scenes! I don’t often think of FLOW, to be honest. I mean, I don’t consider myself as a fan of the band, though I tend to like their anison. 🙂

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