Ach ja, maybe I am not the most qualified person to conduct end-of-the-year lists. As of right now, I have seen only 8 anime, two of those are movies, that finished their run this year. I rarely watch enough airing anime to even form a Top 5 at years end. I do however watch almost all Openings and Endings, either by proxy through other lists, or by just rummaging through anime music. Keep in mind that this list is heavily biased towards stuff I have seen or am interested in. The Komi Can’t Communicate Opening looks stunning, but I don’t have a lot to say about it.
This is not a ranked list, as my opinion probably shifts three times a day. So, without further ado, here are my favorite Anime Openings of 2021.
86 Opening — “3-pun 29-byou” by hitorie
Like a good chunk of the first part of 86 itself, the opening displays one of its most crucial themes, that of contrast through comparison. Lena and Shin may stand in a similar position, at least superficially, but couldn’t their circumstances be any more different. Shin stands in the lush greenery of the 86th district, looking forward to a place over the horizon, freedom in his eyes, while being surrounded by his comrades. Lena on the other hand is trapped, walking inside the military headquarter and into her dark command room, ony illuminated by the blue lights of the screen that don’t even display any visual feed. She is alone and powerless, despite being the one not only in control, but absolute safety.
The fight scene is quite fun and shows the capabilities of the Juggernauts, as well as the danger the 86 have to fights against, interspersed by some slick motion graphics. Add some powerfully symbolism, like the Saint Magnolia figure being used as a force of both liberation and oppression, a bit of foreshadowing and you got yourself one pretty good opening.
So I’m a Spider, So What? Opening 2 — “Bursty Greedy Spider” by Konomi Suzuki
Okay, this one gets a pass entirely due to its music. This opening is essentially just a summary of the later half of the season, with individual scenes referencing moments in the story, though in a not entirely obvious way. It also gives the impression, that the humans get way more attention, than what they end up with. The action parts were also mediocre with the first one being overblown by colored light flares to the point where it is hard to see what is happening, and the second being rather boring, though I myself appreciate the fidelity with which Kumoko and Ariel were animated in 3D. There were some good parts, like the moment where some of the characters mouth the lyrics in sync with the music, which still send shivers down my spine, but overall, this is mostly ok. The music absolutely slaps though, which is why I talk about the second opening and not its first, which has actually some meat to dive into :D.
Odd Taxi Opening — “ODDTAXI” by Skirt and PUNPEE
How to hide several plot twists in plain side. Odd Taxi’s opening not only displays the uncanny mundane lives of its characters, but also their personality and quirks, like Kabasawa’s ego being literally inflated by social media, or Kakihana being love struck by a match on not-Tinder. The opening seamlessly portray the entire microcosm of the anime and just feels right. Also, it is basically a big spoiler once you know where to point your attention at and even then I keep finding new clues to what is actually happening.
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X Opening — “Andante ni Koi wo Shite!” by angela
I still think it is funny how the opening starts with a “Me and the bois”-moment, before we see the boys crossing their legs in perfect sync. Anyway, our disaster queen is back at it again and does not keep missing (or missing, depending on your perspective). Catarina standing proudly on the steps in her gardening clothes, surrounded by everyone in pretty dresses never stops being a mood. Same can be said about owning the boys or her mother loosing the last bit of faith she didn’t even know she still had in Catarina. This opening is an absolute delight for everyone enjoying Catarinas and others antics and I will not shut up about them being the height of comedy. Also, 1:03 is my life blood. They do be absolutely cute together.
SK8 the Infinity Opening — “Paradise” by Rude-α
Just two guys having fun skateboarding. Also the fun introduction of all the characters. Also all the great animation and details. Also some great dramatic changes in direction. Watch SK8 the Infinity!
Attack on Titan Final Season Opening — “Boku no Sensou” by Shinsei Kamattechan
My first impression of the opening was basically “This is great, but not Attack on Titan”. The way the military is portrayed doesn’t quite catch the nature of Attack on Titan’s warfare (No one runs around with a flamethrower) and otherwise does this opening feel like it is lacking substance with most scenes solely consisting of either colored smoke or explosions. However, the opening grew on my little by little. If the current arc has to be summarized in a word, it would be “chaos” and looking at the OP through this lense, it kinda fits. I am still disappointed that the opening didn’t change over its course or “lifted the smoke” to reveal more, but I also can’t complain over everything that is there, like the petrified doves falling from the sky or the image of all the titans walking over each other and especially these two barely noticeable scenes were we see the cause of all this chaos.
Heaven’s Design Team Opening — “Give It Up?” by 96neko
Now we get to all the anime that I have not seen, but enjoyed their openings nonetheless, starting with Heaven’s Design Team. So… basically… the animals are cute. I mean, just look at the otter. The song is a bop too. Never planned to watch the anime, I still don’t but I am glad that this opening exists.
Horimiya Opening — “Iro Kousui” by You Kamiyama
I really like the imagery of the same place viewed through different perspectives or times and the square being this visual constant. Song’s good too.
The World’s Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat Opening — “Dark seeks light” by Yui Ninomiya
So, if there was ever a case of watching an anime solely based on the opening, despite my brain knowing better, this one would rank pretty high up. It is clearly Light Novel trash, but also… so well put together and dramatic, with its mostly monochrome color scheme and hints of color. The whole Assassination business looks cool and has this elegance that doesn’t make it immediately edgy. Also, despite knowing nothing about the plot, I have a pretty good feel about some of the characters already. This is what a good and effective opening looks like.
The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace Opening — “Seija no Koushin” by Tatsuya Kitani
It’s trippy imagery time. I don’t even know what this anime is about, but man do I like looking at the visuals and listening to the song.
Tsukihime Remake Opening — “Seimeisen” by ReoNa
Not sure if this one counts, as Tsukihime has no anime, but an opening for a visual novel is close enough for me. Honestly, as the trailer for the Tsukihime Remake dropped, I felt like my soul ascended to a higher plane of existence and I can’t even imagine all the people waiting for almost a decade. Now, there are some major differences between the original and the remake, but the opening captures the soul of Tsukihime… I mean, Ufotable should have enough practice bringing Type-Moon stuff to the screen by now. Can’t wait to fully appreciate it when the remake gets officially released in english… meaning never.