5. Undead Girl Murder Farce
Directors: Nobutaka Yoda, Yayoi Takano
Storyboard: Nobutaka Yoda
Animation Director: Naho Kozono
In what is the big underdog of the Summer 2023 season as a series, Undead Girl Murder Farce also brings us one of the biggest underdogs in terms of openings. Visually stunning artwork and creative transitions headline this opening backed by what could possibly be the most infectious theme song of not just the entire top 10 list, but the entire Summer 2023 anime lineup.
This opening doesn’t have anything rough to complain about but it also doesn’t have anything that is exemplary and overtop. It’s carried by its creativity, transitions (such as the one at 0:18), detailed artwork, and cleanly executed character introductions. Overall, it’s a well-rounded opening from beginning to end with creative touches you simply won’t find anywhere else from other openings this year. In fact, it does everything right that I wouldn’t even argue if someone said this is the best opening from the season.
It seems like at this point, there will always be an opening on these lists that includes Yoda in some way, shape, or form. Whether it’s for Dr. Stone, Bungo Stray Dogs, or Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina, chances are you’ve seen an opening that Yoda directed and storyboarded. There are so many elements from the Undead Girl Murder Farce opening that you can tell Yoda influenced the opening after a few watch-throughs, including his love for sunrises and sunsets.
But the opening also has a lot of elements that are unique to him. I’d go as far as to say Undead Girl Murder Farce is probably the most intriguing opening he has ever done, and that’s a tall task to accomplish with his record of openings. If it wasn’t for the next four openings, this would’ve taken home the number one spot.
4. Link Click Season 2 (Shiguang Dailiren II)
Director: Sun Somei
Animation Director: N/A
If I had to describe this opening for Link Click Season 2, I’d say it’s one-of-a-kind. As memory recalls over the years, I can’t seem to remember a single opening that has ever done something like this. While I would love to endlessly talk about Director Somei’s work, being able to just ramble on about what was released in the form of an opening should suffice.
Bai Sha JAWS is back with another wonderful opening theme song for the hit donghua series. And while I can’t exactly say it has the replay value of the one from the first season, it does amplify the creativity of the opening’s storyboard. The idea of rewinding the entire opening while simultaneously having its own meaning compared to when everything is moving forward was maddening in the best ways possible. The opening gives us two stories in both its first playthrough and on the rewind. You’re simply not finding that in any opening. Even when the opening theme is played in reverse then having that part played forward, the lyrics even change.
The amount of creative genius and time that went into this opening is something I can’t begin to comprehend right now. The camera rotations. The transitions like the ones shown above. The lighting. The colors. The CGI. The body animations. Everything is so mind-boggling about this opening that it’ll even have you question which part is actually in reverse and which is going forward. There’s no possible way people can watch this and think it’s not one of the best openings of the entire year.
The only criticism I can understand is, well, half of the opening theme song is in reverse. The verse and bridge are both wonderful, but the chorus is all in reverse. So I can see how that takes away a little from the “hype” this opening delivers. So for that, it comes in at the number four spot. Link Click is setting the standard for modern donghua. With series such as To Be Hero X coming out, the bar is only going to continue to be raised even higher.
3. My Happy Marriage
Director: Keisuke Hiroe
Storyboard: Keisuke Hiroe
Animation Director: Masatoshi Tsuji
I don’t think there’s a single opening from this entire year that may be as visually stunning as this one for My Happy Marriage. The detail in the artwork is reminiscent of studio Kyoto Animation’s Violet Evergarden and the the color coordination and design are downright incredible. The animation is fluid and the amount of detail taken into account in every single shot is mesmerizing.
The solar flare transitions aren’t necessarily the most creative and that would be my only criticism of this opening — the only one, even then I’d consider that nitpicking. I think if there’s any opening from this season that could be defined as a “work of art”, it’s this one. The opening is even more incredible when you realize this is Hiroue’s documented debut as a director and storyboard artist for an anime series opening.
While Hiroue has experience in openings as a key animator, he has made an enormous impact with this opening debut work of his. So while there isn’t much to pull from in terms of past openings work like others on this list, it’s now known that if Hiroue is working on another opening soon, fans will want to be tuned in for what he has in store.
If I could sit here and pick a favorite part of this opening and describe it in detail, we’d all be here for hours on end dissecting every single frame in this opening — it’s just that stunning. While I wasn’t too fond of the opening theme at first, it grew on me as the weeks went by but I love it. Now realizing it’s a perfect fit for the series and a mirror of Miyo’s character, it could definitely be an opening some would say is the best from this season — and they’d probably be right. The only thing I can hope for is for the team at Kinema Citrus to give this level of quality to the upcoming season of The Rising of the Shield Hero.
2. Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead
Director: Kazuki Kawagoe
Storyboard: Kazuki Kawagoe
Animation Director: Isao Nanba
We had to wait almost the entire season for the full opening of Zom 100 to release and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time to find itself a spot on this list. Originally, the opening wasn’t going to be on here due to it simply containing shots from the previous week’s episode. But now that the full one is finally here, we can bake in its glory.
If it wasn’t for what’s first on this list, I’d go as far as to say Zom 100 would’ve been the definitive number one for me. The track from Kana-Boon is about as infectious of an opening as it could get. And even with the lackluster opening through the first seven episodes, the track alone was enough to just watch a one-minute and thirty-second recap of the previous episode with their song over it.
Kana-Boon didn’t just give us one of the best opening theme songs of the past five years, but the opening over is one of the best in recent history thanks to Director Kazuki Kawagoe’s creative work. Having a flash mob of zombies dancing led by Akira is the most Zom 100 thing possible. The mix of humor and free spirit emotion this opening brings was displayed to a T.
Not only was the artwork and animation crisper than a polished apple, seeing Akira with Kana-Boon lead singer Maguro Taniguchi’s guitar, specifically his iconic Gibson Les Paul Junior Special Double-Cut, was a nice little easter egg to include in the opening. It’s also the same guitar Taniguchi has in the cover art for the single (see below). While the transitions for this opening aren’t as apparent as others on the list, the style of the opening and the development of its own choreography, and just about everything else, looks downright incredible.
There are some similarities in this opening to Kawagoe’s work on the first Komi Can’t Communicate opening — similar art styles, 3D camera movements (shown below), ending both openings in water, use of letterboxing, etc. All of it, including the flower petals, stand out clear as the day is in the opening and it made for another Kawagoe classic.
1. Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 (OP1)
Director: Yuki Kamiya
Storyboard: Yuki Kamiya
Animation Director: Sayaka Koiso (CAD), Yuuta Iino
At this point, I think it’s a given that whenever Kamiya directs and storyboards an opening, it’s going to make a top 10 opening list somewhere out there. She proved it last season with Mobile Suit Gundam: Witch From Mercury and she’s proving it yet again this season with the first opening of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2.
I think what I love most of all about Kamiya’s work so far is that there is no distinct style to really look for. The past two openings she’s handled have their own style and charm to them. The storyboard in this opening is so over-the-top in the best ways possible when the chorus hits that I can’t help but replay it to see little things I may have missed. The constant pull focus on multiple characters while everyone is falling out of the building is mind-blowing and I still have no idea how that was even managed. Seriously, go watch from 0:48 – 1:00 and see if you can’t count how many times the camera focuses and re-focuses.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that Kamiya’s style is simply to make amazing looking openings no matter what series it’s for and make sure the approach is unique to the respective series. Tatsuya Kitani has been on a tear recently with the incredible opening themes. Whether it’s the one for The Idaten Deities, Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?, Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War, or now Jujutsu Kaisen, there’s an opening he’s created that everyone can love.
I’d give the best replayability score to this opening for Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 as well — it hit 25 million views on YouTube for a reason. When you combine upbeat action scenes with characters constantly smiling and humorous antics throughout the rest of the opening, it just makes everything that much more infectious to go along with the music. But that doesn’t come from just Kamiya, it comes from a fabulous team of key animators, including Kaito Tamioka who animated the scene from the opening below (also in the gif above).
Your Thoughts on the Top 10 Anime Openings of Summer 2023?
Did you have a favorite from this top 10 anime opening list? Did I leave out one that you loved? Let us know in the comments! Bungo Stray Dogs Season 5, Reign of the Seven Spellblades, Edens Zero Season 2 and Cardfight!!! Vanguard Season 3 were some that barely missed out on this top 10 anime opening list.
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