W A R N I N G !

W A R N I N G !

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Anime opening video appreciation 2

Previously I reviewed a batch of Anime opening videos, this time I'm looking at another batch.

Honorable mention - Narue no Sekai

I have no idea what the director is trying to tell me. Lots of animation that makes no sense. This takes a few points off. However the (however meaningless) animation is fluid, the artwork is not the best but definitely good for its time, combine them both and we get something visually entertaining, although nothing remarkable enough to earn more than just an honorable mention.

Oh, and I know that the above screenshot is totally unrepresentative of the opening video and the Anime, but that is what I remember about the opening that is good - nice graphics and smooth animation. The Anime... it has nothing and the opening video reflects that well. Well this Anime is from the time when everyone was making Anime for the sake of making them... 

Special mention - Galaxy Angel Rune

This thing needs to be mentioned, because it is like a meme in Japan. A bunch of people shaking butts on public television will make it to meme status. However I do not consider it to be an exceptional opening video. Well, this gives me a chance to talk about what I do not consider to be good.

First, gimmicky stuff. I am neutral to that (I praised the one in Carnival Fantasm). But if you're going to use it repeatedly (in order to classify it as gimmicky in the first place) then make the quality proportional to the number of times you're going to use it. And the butt shaking is used too many times. No, putting filters, or zooming in, or adding more stuff, still counts as reusing it. Content of the opening video is cheesy... just like the content of the actual show. Abuse of "artistic effects". There are some parts that are good, but those can also be found in many other average standard mainstream openings. So overall Galaxy Angel Rune's opening is worse than average, with some parts that are painful to watch.


This one is another one of the few that makes me go "wow" when I watch it. At the start of the video (or even the first few times you watch the whole video), you'd think that it is standard pointless boring shyt. I mean, what are those people doing? Why are we watching people standing and walking?

And suddenly a person doing the exact same thing as you on the opposite side of the road suddenly disappears. Well, the disappearing part might be pretty common (like make the person scary or cool or something), but for this case it has some meaning.

And next... we have static pictures of emo people emoing. Ok, static pictures are common, and emos are common too. But why pictures of emos in a show that is like meant for kids (actually I don't think it is...)? And why the color filters / different times of day?

Standard transformation scene which thankfully happens fast...

Standard flying scene, except that the people in the scene are actually capable of flight so it is not cliche as ****. I like the contrast of the fast and slow flying parts. Maybe it has some meaning, maybe not, this I'm not sure, but it matches the song.

And finally... the part that single-handedly made me want to write a post to praise this video. 12 pictures, which in most other opening videos would be random or a bad attempt at trying to show something. But watch again. 12 pictures, each picture referring to something of significance in the story. Your normal shonen Anime would just have the characters coming up flashing their weapons at the chorus.

And finally, again we look at people standing, like at the start.

Now watch the whole Anime. (Sadly that might be a bit painful if you're not the type to appreciate this genre.)

And when you finished watching until the end, everything is pieced together. (Or it can happen before you actually finish watching the ending, if you have decent prediction skill.)

Umineko no Naku Koro ni

There is a possibility that I included this on the list because I couldn't find enough good ones after watching 32 videos - So far I've only got 3, two of them are not even widescreen and the remaining one isn't even like super good. This shows that not all Anime have good openings, and why we have to appreciate the good ones to encourage people to make more of them. I did find many average, decent, and personally likable, but not enough stuff worth talking about.

Right from the start we get classical epicness, setting the mood for the video which is a pretty accurate reflection of the actual show. So we kinda get the picture, know who is the main guy, the not so main guys, the not-so-not-so main guys, and the (potential) bad guys, and the mysterious young girl - seriously, like wtf, what is she? It's not spoiler that she is abnormal because it's revealed super early in the show, but what on earth is she is unknown, and the video kindly reminds the viewers of that, at the same time emphasizing on the spookiness of the story.

And... the witch, so what is she? Does she really exist or not? And if she does is she he culprit or the victim?

The images that follow, what do they mean?

Mystery genre, that's for sure.

Sekirei series

First season's opening is pretty standard but entertaining, the animation quality is better than I expected for such an Anime.

The second season earns itself more description. It is pretty much version 2 of the first opening (and I like it when people do a good job with that; sadly people like to mess it up), with appropriate updates that covers the story development. But what I really, really, really like about this opening is that almost all of the video can be watched as a recap of the whole season 2, with enough content to keep you hooked while not spoiling anything for those who haven't finished watching by mixing things up. Describe the story, this video sure did.

Strike Witches series

The starting posing scene could do some work - do we really have to see it 20 million times?

The video is standard for this kind of Anime, the song is standard for this kind of Anime, it feels like I'm watching yet another one of the other 9001 openings out there.

But the thing is, everything is smooth and the animation quality is good, and the simple standard typical song matches very well. This is a case of getting high marks by keeping everything standard and simple.

Season 2's opening is an update to season 1's with the exact same formula, it's a "duh" to say that objectively the second opening is better, but in terms of entertainment factor I find both to be equal.

Really, if you ignore the fanservice, wouldn't you agree that these opening videos are great? Same can be said for the series too... pretty sure the concept of girls flying using WWII technology while wielding MGs is a win. Or maybe the fanservice just made the win even bigger. Definitely made it not family friendly.

Honorable mention - Kaichou wa Maid-sama!

This video is otherwise very average for a shoujo anime, so it doesn't belong in the main list nor the unfortunate near-miss list. But it gets a special mention because of one scene - when the female protagonist transforms into her maid uniform. Normally I'm not a fan of maids/waitresses, nor the type of character the female protagonist is, but just for this scene I got totally moe-ed by her. This high-quality scene plus another one that happens later all, also with her in the maid uniform, probably cost more budget than the rest of the video combined.

Well, manga is all about the fantasies of readers (and authors), wishing that we are the protagonist in the story. Shoujo manga have a female protagonist obviously, often a Cinderella waiting for her prince, or just something that the audience can relate to (or think they actually are, although it usually isn't the case). Who wouldn't want to be the cute maid? Mission success.

Amagami SS (first opening)

Anime based on dating sims have it tough when it comes to the opening video, and those with stories that do not involve magic powers or supernatural live the thug life. I mean, there's like, nothing you can talk about, yea? Most of them just manage to get by if the music is good, but otherwise...

I like the start, when the verse first comes on. Instead of your standard "guy A" and "guy B" etc walking to school we have the whole cast. It gives this scene substance and quality, since all characters on screen have gone through the character design stage and not just clones, which sure is nice to watch. (When is the last time you've seen a bunch of clones IRL?)

Following that is teh standard showcasing of the everyday school life, with things happening fast enough to not feel boring while providing the rough idea of the characters and their relationships with each other.

The rest of the parts are pretty average, but a school life dating sim opening video that is actually a bit entertaining and nothing to complain about sure is something.

Oh, and I said "Anime based on dating sims have it tough when it comes to the opening video". And that applies to the second opening video. They tried to make it good, but it backfired. Ironically, the first opening worked better because it followed the standard format for dating sims... wait, the second opening video was also following it. So I have bad opinions. Well this is art appreciation! oh wait, it is the nuances in the second video. The little things that they added to make things more interesting. But those just made things feel very forced as well as breaking the flow.

Asobi ni Ikuyo!

Ah... finally an opening video that is good without a doubt. Things happen at a fast-enough pace without feeling too forced, the effects are very creative. Feels like a music video but achieves the task of telling us about the story (which has nothing much), just sit back and enjoy the producers' technical abilities.

Oh, and it feels very summer.

More honorable mentions - generally good stuff that I don't have much to say about, or stuff that I think are supposed to be good but I just don't appreciate it, or stuff that has some flaws but otherwise good if you can look past those, or just entertaining to watch even if it's hard to argue that they are good

B Gata H Kei
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (yes I'm actually going to include this here ...reluctantly)
Jigoku Shoujo Mitsuganae (add some points for the mood and "art factor", but otherwise not really good)
Koharu Biyori (tempted to put this onto the main list but finding it hard to justify with words... I can say that I really enjoy this video)
Kyouran Kazoku Nikki
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (both seasons)
Princess Lover
Shukufuku no Campanella
Tantei Opera Milky Holmes (both seasons)
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun (first opening; the second opening is just messy with no focus)
Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou
Yosuga no Sora

I think I'm getting very lenient, might need to kick some from this list or add some onto the honorable mentions list in the post "Anime opening video appreciation 1" to make things fair.

Near misses - stuff that have excellent parts but let-down by other parts of the video that prevent watching the video without pressing the stop button at some point


The starting half is simply good animation. Simply enjoyable stuff that nobody would complain about.

But the running scene at the chorus gets boring after the 2794th second or so, and all the parts that follow are just as boring.

If the producers can do such a good job at introducing Kobato, surely they could've done a better job at introducing the other characters and the setting? What a waste.

Sora no Otoshimono (both seasons)

Sadly, both opening videos are generally good and creative, but the starting (the verse part of the song) when all the characters are being introduced.... I know they're trying to do something different here, but, no, I don't get it.

And... The bad stuff

Ok, normally I just ignore and don't watch the openings that I don't like, I don't want to criticize them because the producers have the right to express their own ideas, and budget/skill/and time constraints, or I just simply don't appreciate some forms of art.

But, sometimes the opening video is just too downright horrible that there is no logical reason to explain why it was created that way. I say again, I am okay with budget limitations and attempts at being artistic, so those that make it onto this list of suckness are those with no excuse for why they have been made that way.

Hidan no Aria
Yesh... this thing is one of the unholy few videos that made me want to create this category. I'll never forget about how this has scarred me for life.

I'm not including a screenshot, because you'll need the whole video if you want to see how ass this is.

Okay... we start with a church... I'm not sure what it has to do with the story, but never mind cos it's common to start with a building or scenery (or just about anything)

...and... ...then... baby Jesus. Ok this is starting to make me uncomfortable.

Following that is just typical animation that appears, and the title screen. Nothing to say here.

You know what I hate? A whole white canvas of nothingness. That kind of background (or lack of) is okay if we're trying to focus on something, but that is a lot of time to focus on very little...

Okay... more Google Street View. That's okay with me. But, why, do you, focus, on the girl, looking at, a stupid street sign. (You have such a close-up face and the sign to show that she's looking at the sign, and not because she's suffering from stomachache right?)

Baker Street. If the first picture isn't enough to tell you already, the sign confirms that this is London. Why is she traveling? (Unless you're telling me that the big luggage contains a corpse.) Why is the Sherlock image on the wall? Goddamn we know that she is a descendant of Holmes, but do you have to be this cliche? Does the 13 seconds of her traveling have anything to do with story apart from the Holmes thing? If not then remove most of the references and make it into simple eye-candy music video! I'm actually okay with that, but not half-assed attempts to try to make something feel like it has depth.

Next we have very nice pictures of Rainbow Bridge and the fabric on the table (I've seen better pistols, but I'm not really complaining).

And... then... everything that follows is a complete disaster. Yes, worse than the first half which is already rather disastrous.

Ok, first the white background blinds my eyes again,

Then we have the sound of a bullet ricocheting when she cocks the gun.

How many gun nuts and people who've actually shot real guns in real life will go crazy at this.

In case you don't have the general knowledge to know what's wrong already, I'll say it simple and clear - guns don't shoot when you cock them, and they don't sound like a ricochet when they shoot.

I understand that the sound is part of the music. And I am totally fine if the video does not follow that sound in the music. Treat the sound effect as part of the song and it is enjoyable in its own way.

If you want to make things cool, do it right, or you get the complete opposite of cool, which is dumb as ****.

Oh more simple backgrounds! Simple backgrounds as far as the eye can see!

And... the "activated" version of the male protagonist suddenly pops up of nowhere. So there is a male protagonist now? Oh wait a moment, transmission from HQ... it says that the story actually follows the guy, not the girl.

I'm totally fine with opening videos that totally exclude the guy (e.g. most Anime based on visual novels) if the guy is totally normal/featureless/doesn't matter who he is (e.g. most otakus pretending they are the guy). Or he can have something important to the story but as long as the opening video decides that it is not important enough then he can be excluded. But you don't include him for no reason with no explanation whatsoever. So now the questions after watching Hidan no Aria's opening - Who is the guy? What is he? Who is the major character? Everything goes haywire.

Oh great... cliche sniper scope, complete with simple background and a still picture. Are the producers really running that low on budget and/or ideas?

Rose, why rose? If there is no reason for this, I'm going to put it under the 'cliche' category too.


More simple background!


And... again... guns do not make the ricochet sound when you shoot at a flower.

Ok, I say again, I do not penalize videos that have low budget. But Hidan no Aria's video doesn't feel anything near low budget. In fact there is so much quality put into the background of the starting half and in some scenes with detailed animation, much of this quality should have been diverted towards making actual background and more animation for the second half! This is what I'm not happy with. And the ricochet noises versus the animation, there is no excuse for screwing this up. This video is a complete waste of time that achieves nothing, producing something this bad with so much budget is just unacceptable.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
I figure I have to explain why I don't like this video, although this is the type of video that would surely have people who like it, so I put it in the "More honorable mentions" list above.

Ok, erm... this one is an artistic-type video, just like most SHAFT productions tend to be. Although the producers may be taking the term "denpa" too literally, which actually goes against trying to be artistic.

Interpreting the video is actually pretty straightforward so figure it out yourself if you haven't already.

The problem is that from the chorus onwards the direction became very sloppy, which is a stark contrast to the simple yet effective(?) beginning portion and the fluid animation at the chorus. It's like "Hey guys for the chorus let's do what everybody else can do, but do it worse, and with more budget."

Does the second half of the video really need to be this long? After a certain point it feels like it is not transmitting to the viewers any more information. But then again, many of Shaft's opening videos contain less than 20 chickens worth of info, so I guess I'll have to let this slide. (Yes chickens, it's the measurement unit for information.)

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