The Fall 2023 season has almost come to an end, so it’s time to look back on 10 anime openings. While I don’t think this season had as strong of a group as the Summer 2023 season, it still had a handful of treating openings. As stated previously for other seasons, this list will focus on the entire sequence — animation, music, composition, color design, replay value, etc.—not just one thing or the other. So without further ado, here are my top 10 anime openings from the Fall 2023 anime season.
1. If the videos take too long to load then click on the title of the series next to each number to load the opening.
2. Creators’ names with hyperlinks are connected to their person X (Twitter) accounts.
If I were to have made this top 10 list at the beginning of the season then I might not have even placed Frieren‘s opening in the top 15. However, over time and giving it many thoughts and comparisons to others who just missed this list, Frieren deserved a spot on here. While fade-outs, wipes, and quick-cut transitions are used in this opening, the art and symbolic storyboard work during the verse of the main theme song is rather simple.
It’s when the bridge starts before the chorus that the art and animation take a drastic spike that I become that much more invested and everything becomes more complex. The style almost reminds me of something Shingo Yamashita would create. But I’d say the ending’s mirror sequence with the characters is my favorite part of the opening. Having Frieren being the last one in the middle of both was a nice touch as a symbol of her life with both groups which can also be seen as a bridge between the two as well
I still think Saitou’s creativity flourished a lot more with his work on the opening for Bocchi The Rock despite some noticeable similarities (see above). However, Saitou’s flow in Frieren is a lot more consistent, The placement of characters and their transitions is a little more refined rather than having a huge focus on the transitions themselves and some of the animation plays on key with the piano that I love. I’d say one of Saitou’s best traits is his knack for drawing your attention to certain parts of the screen and it was shown here in Frieren‘s opening extensively.
Overall, it’s a solid opening that will make my final Top 50 list at the end of the year. I can see the appeal and why so many people love it, especially the theme by YOASOBI. Even though the colors are a little disappointing considering how vibrant the series itself is, the transitions during the bridge of the song are some of the best on this list and deserve their recognition.
OP Directors: Nobutaka Yoda, Hiroki Ikeshita
OP Storyboard: Nobutaka Yoda
OP Animation Director: Yasuyuki Noda
Shangri-La Frontier is yet another opening on this list that really had to grow on me. To be brutally honest, I didn’t care for this opening at all the first time I watched it. Opening Director Yoda is known at this point to give fans visually stunning openings and it’s shown in his work for Dr. Stone, Bungo Stray Dogs, and, more recently, Undead Girl Murder Farce. There’s no taking away from that. And while Shangri-La Frontier has its share of stunning visuals, the theme song is what threw me off…until it didn’t anymore.
This wasn’t just FZMZ’s anime theme song debut, it was the group’s first song ever. FZMZ, pronounced “Fathoms”, is comprised of five different artists: Pierre Nakano (drummer from Ling Tosite Sigure), Ivan Kwong (guitarist from Survive Said The Prophet), HONNWAKA88 (bass guitar), MAQUMA (vocalist), and (sic)boy (vocalist) — widely known as the rapper that turned the combination of rap and J-rock into a commercial success. Even though I give an ample amount of credit to FZMZ for producing a good song for the opening, I keep circling around back to the visuals.
A dead Yoda giveaway in his work are the beautiful sunsets, sunrises, or starry nights with still characters (for the most part) framed within perfect use of the rule of thirds. All of that was amplified by respectable animation work by Nobuyuki Matsuo (0:32-0:37), Satoshi Sakai (0:53-0:58), and Shunsuke Aoki (0:59-1:03). The digital bits flying instead of blood and the aspect ratio are just a couple elements adding on to what makes this a top-10 opening. In short, the theme of the video game is found even in the smallest of details and that’s what elevates an average opening to a solid one.
OP Director: Tetsuya Miyanishi
OP Storyboard: Tetsuya Miyanishi
OP Animation Director: N/A
Excellent transitions. Attack on Titan flashbacks. Interesting storyboard decisions. And some high-quality animation. What’s not to like about the opening? I’d say my only qualm is that the song by Linked Horizon sounded like it was missing a chorus. It didn’t hit like others on this list did, or all of the previous Attack on Titan openings and it felt more like a recap sequence with some music rather than an actual opening itself.
That being said, the transitions in this opening are arguably some of the best from any all year long. With just 1:30 to make an opening, transitions can make or break any opening depending on how other elements are executed. It’s almost impossible to think there are some that could top the ones Miyanishi envisioned for this opening. The bridge with what sounds like the cart titan’s voice was a little odd but creative, and the abrupt end to the opening made me feel like I watched an opening without a chorus. Song aside, the opening is visually stunning on all fronts. The animation and transitions alone land it at the eighth spot on this list.
OP Director: Masaaki Yuasa
OP Storyboard: Masaaki Yuasa
OP Animation Director: Kazuaki Shimada (Series AD + Character Designer)
Created by who is undoubtedly the most decorated staff member of this entire list, Masaaki Yuasa is officially back with his first opening since his work on Keep Your Hands of Eizuoken in 2020. Yuasa’s creative prowess stands out from many others on this list and gave Spy x Family his own personal touch that stands out drastically from the previous two openings for the series. The wackiness, chaos, and humor of it all, especially during the chorus of the main theme song, is just so damn good visually. I can’t get enough of Yuasa’s style and it makes me want to revisit his work again.
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my favorite Spy x Family opening since it, much like Frieren, had to grow on me. Not so much because of the artwork and style of animation, but rather the song itself. The chorus always had me hooked but it was the verse that is the main reason it placed lower on this list. There’s no doubt the perspectives used here are clearly Yuasa’s touch, but having Shimada, the previous animation director for both Spy x Family openings, is a huge help to maintain some level of consistency.
Yuasa’s love for two or more characters having the same movement at certain points in the opening is a unique style of his that we see in plenty of his works, like in Maruko-chan. Even more so, the chorus animation sequence with the car is still blowing my mind to this day. The perspectives are off the chain and you can even see Anya and Bond’s reaction to Loid’s driving in the rearview mirror at the 56-second mark. The opening didn’t do much for me in transitions but it more than made up for it in the rest of the storyboard.
OP Director: Kazuya Murata
OP Storyboard: Kazuya Murata
OP Animation Director: Reina Igawa
In what is by far what I think is the most unique opening of the season, Murata and Igawa’s work here caught me by complete surprise. I’d even go as far as to say that if I liked the theme song more I would’ve placed this in the top three for this season. The number of layers moving in the background all for what is supposed to be a stage play to end up being an empty classroom was brilliant and I haven’t even watched the series.
Murate directed and storyboarded the first opening for Vinland Saga and the opening for A.I.C.O Incarnation but this opening for Magus’ Bride is above and beyond past creations of his. Murate likes to use camera movements in 3D space and it was no different for Magus’ Bride. Although it’s minimal compared to recent works of his, his touch is still there. But it’s the storyboard by Murate and the color design/setting by Yuko Kobari that shine a lot more for me than arguably any other opening here.
I’ve said before that an opening that feels like its own mini-story has a special feeling to them compared to other generic ones. Animation Director Igawa having pieces move like it’s an actual stage play (i.e. birds on a string in the background @ 0:41) in the beginning like pieces of cardboard and then looking wonderfully fluid during the chorus doesn’t surprise me as someone that animated the opening flower scene in The Apothecary Diaries opening.
I think this is a step up from the first opening for this season in both creativity and the main theme. Junna always dishes out good music and her style fits Magus Bride flawlessly. The creative direction for this opening is off the charts with the only big drawback for me being the replayability.