I saw Jenn’s list of great openings from meh shows, and I’m stealing the idea. This is my top ten great openings from AWFUL shows. There are a lot of horrible anime with amazing OP sequences or catchy songs, and I’ve come across them quite a lot. When you review all the anime in a lineup, you often get a lot of turds in that basket.
Upon making the list though, “awful” is such a subjective thing. There are a lot of shows I personally hate, but the impartial reviewer in me just cannot put them in this list. Shows like Guilty Crown or Star Driver have amazing openings, but they’re not really awful shows despite my hatred for them. I want shows that leave you scathing in how much it hurts, and you look back at the show and you just down right feel hatred for it. Again, it’s entirely subjective but I’m listing down shows that I can prove to you are awful shlock. They all have outstanding openings though, and it feels like a blatant trap for poor bastards like me blindly watching an anime.
Another side note, a lot of really awful shows are actually visual novel adaptations. I tried to limit the list, but a bunch of them still ended up here. That doesn’t mean VN adaptations are awful by default, but a lot of them just surprisingly are. For this list, it’s a healthy group of botched adaptations from manga, VN and original shows. This’ll be fun, so let’s get to it.
I wanted to include this one in the list, but I realized that the show started out good and then turned awful. A lot of shows I considered in this list start like that. Guilty Crown is another example, as well as Air gear, and you can also put Spiral in this list. A lot of people hate Spiral’s opening though, and I do agree the voice can be nails-on-chalkboard kind of grating. I left those shows out, but Black Cat is another story. One word: GONZO. This amazing studio ruined a very solid Shounen Jump adaptation, and there’s a reason why Bobobo-bo-Bo-bobo is more beloved than Black Cat. Somewhere down the line, this awesome title was just killed off. I mean, Hell Teacher Nube appeared in the latest Jump All Star lineup. Do you even know who Nube is? He’s just a dude with a hell hand. Train Heartnet is a mother*cking sharp shooter with a dead girlfriend. He deserved better!
But here we are. This opening is amazing, as it features Saya dancing to the serious song while holding the gun that Train eventually treasures. The camera work is ambitious, and it features the wonderful aesthetic of the era. Late 2000s was a gritty year where Black Lagoon, Darker than Black and Monster all made their mark, and the style of the era also reflects in this 2005 clunker. This doesn’t make the list though, because I personally love this anime. Sure, Gonzo ruined the entire thing but the anime only falls apart in the second half. In the first half, Saya’s death is a strong moment and the Sven X Eve dynamic made the show fun to watch. Gonzo just didn’t know how to feature a Jump classic.
Uninstall by Chiaki Ishikawa honestly feels like a wonderful re-work of the iconic Angel Thesis from Evangelion. Both songs hype up their respective shows while also embodying their spirit in a prophetic manner. Eva’s spirit is all about control and release featured in its amazing opening. Bokurano’s sprit is all about teenage angst and existential dread. Mohirio Kitoh’s works seems unadaptable for some reason. Between the underage characters being tortured to the existential crisis the story brings, his works are just not viewer friendly. Shadow Star Narutaru shares the same botched adaptation, but Bokurano is a different case. The director hated Bokurano, and he wanted to make a more cheerful adaptation. Sure, take a story where kids die automatically after piloting a mecha to save the world from invading robots, only to realize the robots they’re fighting are also kids from parallel planets that dies when they pilot their robot as well. There is a happy ending there somewhere. This is Mohiro’s style. You can f*cking hope, but you should uninstall. Just face the fact that you’re a soldier who should know no fear. That’ll help, I guess.
Ah, damn it Gonzo. The opening is so beautiful. It may just be a montage of the characters in their everyday lives, but it speaks to Mohiro’s work. Intercut with Chiaki basically spouting an existential crisis song, the characters live on unaware of the black hole of despair they’ll slowly walk into. Notice how the characters are never really “normal” though, since teen angst just bubble over the surface of this little opening sequence. Along with the shots of the robot and ending with the world in the hands of that random guy, the opening speaks volume to an adaptation that was not given a chance to unleash its awesomeness.
This is an odd one to place in this list, right? After all, this is a marshmallow anime. By default, this shouldn’t be awful, but it is. Yuyushiki is a dialogue heavy show with very little wiggle room. Twelve episodes feature the characters just talking in the most uninteresting way. The pacing is formulaic, and it honestly felt like torture slogging through this one. Looking back, this show might’ve been the one that spawned my hatred for marshmallow shows. Looking at the opening sequence though, and listening to the VAs just belting out their souls in the song, you’d never guess this anime is bad. Well let me spin it in a different manner. The amount of hype and joy you feel watching the OP can never be matched by the actual show. It was just a dull marshmallow. A three man team also doesn’t work. The classic four characters works best for a marshmallow show. The OP is very catchy though, and I have written a lot of reviews with this song in my playlist.
8. Galilei Donna
Yasuomi Umetsu had a weird creative stroke when he gave us this anime. It was about three sisters on a treasure hunt, or something. The anime ended on a court case about Galileo or something. I dunno, the entire thing is just botched to hell. His stroke lasted a long while though, because he brought back his misfire court room anime through Wizard Barristers, an even more awful anime. Yeah, original screenplay mostly functions like this. They hype you up with the opening and disappoint you later on. The OP sequence features a cute montage of the sisters, starting with them running on a planet. It looks cool, right? We learn that the oldest is in college, the middle likes fighting and the youngest is into mechanics. She even wears a cute jumper with no undershirt. We are then introduced to the sky pirates and the other cast members in a cool montage full of gears and paper airplanes. The OP ends with a holographic goldfish and the youngest sister buried in a pile of colorful tools.
Nothing in the OP sequence actually happened in the actual show. Yeah, it was all about little sister and the other girls are barely minor characters. The sky pirates and the other cool characters had even little role in the show, and the girl never appeared in her cute jumper in the actual show. The entire thing is a glorious mislead and it hurts a lot because of how catchy the song is. I can’t hate this song, and therefore, I can’t hate this anime. Yasuomi Umetsu is a veteran of the industry, and he has enough clout to convince A-1 Pictures to greenlight his project. That’s how a lot of misguided original anime starts and you just have to look at the long list of flops from Shinichiro Watanabe as proof of that. I don’t care if you like it, Space Dandy sucks.
Look at that, another awful original anime. Ok, I’ll be fair. A lot of people like this anime. I personally hate it. The opening sequence actually reminds me of how much I hate this anime. The vibrant colors, the familiar character design and the soothing music all feel like PA Works is returning to form. They’re going to reach deep down and give us another Hanasaku Iroha wrapped in Nagi no Asukara’s blue flame with a bunch of True Tear’s chickens. It was supposed to be an awesome show from a really underappreciated studio, but the entire thing just sucks. As I look at the guy with his hands to his ear, I am reminded of how pretentious this anime is. You can actually tell from the OP just how aimless the show is, and the awkward dynamic of the characters just stands out. The song is so good though. Choucho’s soothing voice wonderfully compliments the acoustic instrumentals that really smack you upon first listening. Coupled by the calm aesthetics and the strong visuals PA Works is known for, you just can’t help but smile as you watch the opening. The feeling doesn’t last though. Gawd almight, it does not last at all.
6. Diabolik Lovers
I really love this anime. It’s a guilty pleasure for me, but the show is pretty awful. I’m a fan of dumb shows like this though, because it doesn’t really take itself seriously. It’s just idiotic fan service featuring a girl being manhandled by a bunch of hot vampires. It’s hot. That’s a fanfic idea voted by readers to be published immediately. Of course, the anime is pretty empty and the premise of a girl getting abused by a bunch of sexy vampires won’t really appeal to people. It’s fine. This is my Glasslip, I guess. The opening is pretty awesome though. It features a very stylistic song that reminds me of visual kei, while the sequence features the best thing about the anime: the sexy vampires. Just look them. They know they’re hot, and they’re inviting you for some sinful orgy or something. I also love the scene of the guys just slowly opening their mouth to take a bite of the girl. It just works for me, OK. It’s the kind of unapologetic fan service that I gravitate to. The anime itself is really bad though. If you like twelve episodes of a girl being bitten by a group of really sexy vampires…..then I want to be your friend.
5. Super Sonico The Animation
Oh boy, this anime. I should say this product, because did you know you can buy Super Sonico. Well, you can. So go buy her already. The entire anime is just a vapid experience from start to finish, and the opening does embody that. The show has no story, but it features White Fox’s contractually obligated talents with its crisp visuals and stunning animation. The opening starts with Super Sonico and two other girls, right? Yeah, they only appear in three episodes overall. The other characters in the montage, including her manager in a demon mask, only appear in three episodes as well. Less than that, if I remember correctly. Majority of the show is just Super Sonico doing slice of life things. This was never an anime. This is just a long ad to remind people to buy Super Sonico and her figma and her album. You’d laugh at the idea, but Love Live did the same tactic and now you’re playing their app. Shame on you all.
More importantly though, the opening features a really catchy song that reminds me of a very well-polished vocaloid song. The entire opening also feels like something you’d find in a Nico Nico Douga video featuring a vocaloid, and that’s the point. Super Sonico is a virtual idol as well, and the anime is telling you to buy her already. The song is really catchy though, and I do love Sonico’s design. You don’t get a lot of curvy teen idols with massive jugs too. Yeah, I can forgive the vapid experience a bit since I did enjoy gawking at the brilliant character design here.
4. Buddy Complex
A lot of Sunrise’s original ventures are duds, except for Code Geass. The brilliant thing this company ever did is smartly use their talents to make anime pop idols once they realized their knack for mecha is treading water. It’s not their fault. It’s just the sign of the times. They put effort in the visuals, but they just don’t have the story to back them up. I was originally going to put Valvrave here, because, yknow, vampires and space Nazis but the show is two cour. The first one is pretty awesome, and the second season is where the ship sank. Learning nothing from Valvrave, the studio came out swinging with Buddy Complex, and the show sucks. It felt like Sunrise was fatigued when they released this show, and they were just creatively empty at the time. What’s worse than vampires and space Nazis? Time travel! Hell yeah, throw one of the most complicated storytelling device in a Sunrise original. That’ll shoot through the stars for sure!!!
I’ve only ever seen one Gundam, and it was Gundam Seed. I saw it back when we had Toonami. I mostly watched it because Crush Gear Turbo came next, and it was the one I was staying late up for. The opening for Valvrave and Buddy Complex evokes the familiar Gundam spirit. It has the robots, the bright color palette, the familiar character designs and the awesome animation. It’s topped with an impressive song that’ll get you hyped for the show. The funny thing about openings is that the story is not really needed in it, so you can just show brilliant flashes to get people hyped. While the show did have all the awesome Sunrise components, it was missing a story in ten out of twelve episodes with the last one insulting setting up another season. That sh*t never came. It was released as an OVA, and proof that Buddy Complex sunk. Sunrise should stick to mecha idols, since people eat that sh*t up.
3. Princess Be Careful
Ok. Ok. Wait. I saw this anime when I was really young, but I did pick it up again a few years later. I cannot stand this anime, because it’s just so stupid. The annoying thing is that it belongs to one of the rarest genre in anime: absurdist.
You’ve heard about this genre. Alice in Wonderland is the most famous example of that, and in my years as an avid anime elitist, I have only come across four titles that proudly play up its absurdism. The most famous one is FLCL, because while Alice in Wonderland is a nonsense story with a puberty allegory, FLCL is a nonsense story with a puberty allegory as well. Another absurdist anime is Humanity has Declined. Yknow, those elves stands for something. Going obscure, the next one is Melody of Oblivion where there is a scene where a farmer milks a bunch of girls as if they were cows and then drank the milk. That must’ve stood for something as well. The absurdist genre is hard to follow but very easy to like. And that’s why I think there is something I’m not getting with Princess Be Careful. As it stands, I think it’s awful. The story is nonsensical, the comedy is too fast and the characters are just unlikeable. But damn it to hell, that opening is just awesome.
It’s so vibrant and energetic and it’s really catchy. Himeko dancing along is really just captivating to watch. I am a fan of her character design. I like her hair with a simple split to the middle and I love that very thin waist that stands out whenever she walks. The animation of the opening is as good as the actual show, but it’s really the story that kills this show. It’s played seriously despite the fact that wearing a crown can turn a monkey into a authority of power. See, that’s absurdist. There’s an allegory there that I can appreciate, but holy hell, this show is just too much for me. Then again, I find Hayate the Combat Butler to be boring despite my sister liking it a lot, so maybe some of you can appreciate this show as well. I did warn you though. Don’t forget that.
2. Arcana Famiglia
If you watch this OP, you’d mistake it for a very popular Shounen Jump manga finally getting the adaptation it deserves. My first impression of the opening is that it reminds me of Bleach mixed with Katekyo Hitman Reborn. The way the characters are introduced, the stunning fight scenes and the awesome song that does invoke some classic shounen spirit, just screams awesome. I’m sure your heart will be broken to know that this anime is actually an otome visual novel. Take note of every character that appears in the opening, because they are viable candidates to end up with the girl. Yeah, even the bald guy has a route, and I think the game does stand out because of its diverse cast. Being a VN anime, the show doesn’t really have anything cool in it. In fact, it tiptoes around the idea that the girl can kiss any of the guys in the show.
This opening is too good for a boring anime like this. I know it sounds insane, given how energetic the opening is, but the show is really empty. Majority of the episodes are just the characters going fishing or doing errands. They rarely fight people, the boys don’t interact much with the girl and the girl is your typical deer-in-headlights kind of character you often see in otome anime. The first episode is pretty good though, where the leader of the mafia clan announces that her daughter’s hand for marriage is up for grabs. Next episode, fishing. Yay.
1. Umineko no Naku Koro Ni
Oh boy, did the seagulls cry. The cried till they can’t cry no more.
Umineko is inspired by Agatha Christies’ “And then there was none”, regarded as one of the most complex books ever written. Ryukishi07 took that complex book and add more complex stuff to it. The result is a very complex visual novel with a lot of layers and dimensions near impossible to adapt. Studio Deen looked at it, and they said “hold my drink”.
Yeah, what a heaping pile of garbage this anime turned out. I do personally love the anime though because the roller coaster ride turned from fun to stupid to stupidly fun in a matter of episodes. When the bunny girls appeared, I just had more reasons to keep watching. While the show is really awful, the opening is really epic. The ominous Italian lyrics playing, while the show slowly reveal the picture of Beatrice the Witch, hypes you up for the show. This is also how the VN opened so it was Studio Deen announcing the most awesome VN is about to get an awesome adaptation. You can tell a lot of care is put in the OP as well. Beatrice is never shown as menacing, and she always remained enigmatic. The only other scene she has is a somber one where she looks sad, while the little girl in the pumpkin patch is the only one that actually looked evil. The opening also showcased Battler and Beatrice’s relationship while the mystery is always hanging over them with the golden butterflies and the menacing island setting of the story. The opening is given a lot of care that it actually changes as the story slowly develops. In order to establish the “perception is reality” argument between Battler and Beatrice, the audience is taken for a ride with the changing openings.
Again, the one with the bunny girls is my fave, because the show just turned into a giant convoluted mess during this time slowly losing the spirit of the original source. Given how amazing VN adaptations can be now, I do think Umineko deserves a better one after all these years. In fact, gather all of Studio Deen’s mistakes and just redo them.
And that’s that. What awful anime do you think has an awesome OP?
Comment down below. I’d especially love to know of current ones, since I’d like to know they suck now before I start blindly picking them up for their eventual review.