May 9th, 2007
Okay, everybody’s dead or dying, it’s time to go fight the final God-Beast-Demon-King, and now… here’s a song about rainbows.
The opening is one of the first things that most people see when they begin watching a show. First impressions are vitally important, and unless the goal is to shock and challenge the audience’s conceptions, the opening really should be a relatively clear indicator of what the show is about. Somebody expecting mecha, and given an opening of nothing but blue skies and people dancing is less likely to stick with the show than if the opening contained lots of robots, explosions, and other expected bits.
Just to warn you, there will be pretty major spoilers contained within.
Renkin 3-Kyuu Magical Pokaan’s Opening
Ichigo Mashimaro’s Opening
These two series are functionally pretty much the same thing… small girls wander around and do cute things. Renkan is occasionally more sexualized, a little more fantasy based, and a little stranger, but that’s really about the extent of the differences in the presentation and content. From the openings, though… you’d be expecting one of them to be about something quite a bit darker and more sinister, and despite the growing use of lolis as drug mules, it ain’t the one chanting about loving strawberries.
Naruto’s 3rd Opening
Naruto’s 4th Opening
Long running shows often fall in and out of their openings being coherant, and while that’s certainly out of the realm of first impressions, as mentioned before, openings are still at least marginally important to prime the audience and get them in the right mood to watch your show. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure Naruto fans are in it to see super powered kids fight each other, believe in themselves, and triumph over evil… not to mope about their childhoods and how much they sucked.
SHAFT is often good for a laugh and a general query of “what the fuck happened here?” Tsukuyomi’s saccharinely earwormy opening is about as far as you can get from the content. While the cat ears are a running gag in the series, most of the actual content is extremely dark and gothic in nature, and whenever your female lead punctures the male’s lung with her fingers, you probably don’t want it prefaced with “It’s cat ear time!”
Tenjo Tenge’s Opening
Tenten’s opening is straight out of left field as well. This is a dark show involving rape, excessive violence, and more assorted bodily fluids than you can shake a slop bucket at, not a light hearted series and people who like to dance and fight, and dance fight.
Koi Koi 7’s Opening
Sentai and giant robot shows in general tend to be very good at matching their openings to the content. Fans are tuning in to see transformations, explosions, and skintight suits, and there’s really nothing confusing about any of those. There’s really little confusion at all about this one… a relatively light hearted series about a bunch of super powered girls who watch over some schmuck. Easy peasy. While you may have no clue how to accurately depict parody comedy, explosions and robots are easy.
Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Opening
Gundam Seed’s 1st Opening
Likewise, despite the fact that it’s the drama and characters that set them apart from generic mecha drek, Seed and Eva have very different openings which actually reflects the content of the show. Eva is mostly drama with a healthy dose of mecha, and Seed is the opposite, and which opening shows mecha doing something other than posing?
Futakoi Alternative’s Opening
You have to remember what you’re selling here. Descended from the original (terrible) Futakoi, without a doubt, the original draw of Futakoi Alternative is “twins are cute and I have a fetish for them.” The series itself is a noir coming-of-age story about a guy detective though. It lives an dies on Rentarou’s charisma and personability, not through sky diving twins. There are characters that have more screen time in the OP than they do for the entire rest of the series, while the protagonist whose shoulders hold up the show is completely absent. You might start watching the show for the twins, but by episode 2, the scruffy detective is what’s keeping you there.
Comedy series, especially parody ones, tend to have it a bit easier than things actually containing what we erudites like to refer to as a plot. Being free of a constraint like being sensical would seem to mean that pretty much anything goes, but as Pokaan has shown us, though, they can still manage to screw it up.
Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu!?’s Opening
This is the opening to a largely madcap and slapstick comedy. About 90% of the jokes end in someone being slapped with a giant fan or something being blown up. The opening… is a breath of fresh wind, bringing sunshine and summer breezes and making us feel at peace with the world. Oh right, and Sagara just exploded a shoebox.
Excel Saga’s Opening
And on the other side of the ballpark, we have Excel Saga’s gag filled and chaotic opening for… a gag filled and chaotic show. What’s printed on the outside of the box is exactly what’s contained within.
Shows also tend to evolve as they go along, and while I support… nay… embrace it when a show has a plot that actually moves and changes, the opening can lag behind and create a really silly juxtaposition between the old themes of the show and the current ones. There are some pretty major spoilers herein, this is your second and last warning.
Full Moon wo Sagashite’s 2nd Opening
When this opening started airing, the episodes were mostly still general schlock about Mitsuki trying to become a pop idol and sing her best. 10 episodes later, she has found out her childhood friend died, she’s about to commit suicide, her grandmother was just almost killed, and her boyfriend just doomed himself to undeath for her. “I wanna be a rock and roll princess!” The disconnect between these concepts is sharp, and it’s one thing to challenge people’s conceptions and draw them in, but it’s another entirely to send conflicting messages at the same time.
If you’re familiar at all with what happens in the latter half of Narutaru, then I can stop talking here. For the rest of you, suffice it to say… this is the opening for a show featuring psychological tortue, relatively gory violence, and fairly overt genocidal and sexual themes. Something doesn’t quite fit.
My Otome’s 2nd Opening
This is actually kind of the opposite… getting to the content before the show itself does. This opening began while things were still hunky-dory at maid school, and while people did expect crap to go down eventually, this opening solidified how it would go down and whose side people would fall on literally two or three weeks before it happened in the show. Eventually, the show sort of grew into the opening, but any dramatic impetus or surprise that many of the plot events may have had was totally squelched by being revealed weeks before their occurance.
Alright, that’s enough of that. We’re over the hump now and heading into the final stretch and honestly, I’m running out of things to say. Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about making sure the audience knows, or at least thinks actual effort was put in. You’d think it’d be simple… but there are far too many contrary examples out there.