If you are new to anime, one of the first things you will notice are the fancy openings with actual singers and not only a short piece of music together with the series' logo (or a longer opening showcasing the characters and setting) like here in the West. But are these kinds of openings needed or should they be removed in favour of extra screen time?
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is a saying that has never felt so wrong when it comes to anime openings in my case. Openings play a big role in how, at least I, perceive the show itself. A great opening will give me the urge to watch the show, while a bad one might turn me off.
Whenever I listen to any opening from Aria, I am washed away by loads of emotions. The openings set the mood before the actual show starts. One thing that is special with the openings of Aria, which you maybe noticed, is that they merge with the episodes themselves, creating a much tighter atmosphere.
In almost every other anime the openings are visually superior to the episodes and consists of “random” scenes put together, creating a stark contrast. Aria does not do this and together with beautifully fitting music the opening tells you exactly what the show stands for.
This is how you create a good opening. It represents what the show stands for and puts the viewer in the right mood. In Aria’s case, the purpose is to calm down the viewer. If it were an action show it would be full of adrenaline to pump you up. It has to fit with the overarching theme. Create something unique.
If the openings I come across appeal to me in some way, I will most likely look up the show soon after. Toradora is one of those shows. The first opening appeared in the “related section” on Youtube and while it was not that unique, it screamed school, love and comedy with bits of drama. The second opening, however, had a very different tone. It was on the more serious side and had a slightly melancholic feel to it.
By judging these two openings, I could tell that this was exactly what I wanted. And in hindsight, that was what I got. The openings expressed what Toradora was all about.
And this is why I feel that openings are necessary. They represent something. They try to tell something. Instead of being a boring excuse to namedrop the creators and such, they help you adjust your mood. In that regard, anime openings win over Western openings anytime.