PREVIOUSLY, ON NATESTALGIA:
Intrepid CRN newswriter Nate Ming decided to do the unthinkable, and write about stuff he likes and feels nostalgic about. The last time he set foot in this dangerous territory, the column was all about his favorite opening and ending themes from anime--specifically, anime that came out before the year 2000. It has been three weeks since that grueling experience, but Nate is ready for another round...
I kinda hope you were reading that in the "movie announcer guy" voice. Welcome back to Natestalgia, a little late but none the worse for wear, as we finish up our look at some of the best anime openings and endings from before 2000!
"Ai (Chuuseishin)" by Excel Girls, from Excel Saga
I wasn't prepared for Excel Saga back when it first came out. As someone who spent more time with "serious" anime that only had bits of comedy, getting thrown into a full-on gag series kind of overloaded my brain. The problem was that once I started watching, I couldn't stop. Poor, poor Pedro. The opening really sets the tone for the brain-breaking that's set to follow. Did you know that original English Excel VA Jessica Calvello damaged her vocal cords playing as Excel?
"Through the Night" by Masahiko Arimachi, from Outlaw Star
So many of you were asking for this one in Part 1's comments--of course I wouldn't forget it! I'm a little more partial to Outlaw Star's opening than either of its excellent endings, since it really gives a great picture of what the show is about. You get a lot of cool action, a great song, and just a hint of what's going on and what's going to happen.
"Cruel Angel's Thesis" by Yoko Takahashi, from Neon Genesis Evangelion
On the other hand, the pretty-much-unforgettable Evangelion opening doesn't give you a lot to go on. You see a jumble of characters and series-specific words, making you wonder just what the show is about. And just for the record, "Fly Me to the Moon" is not appearing in this column, because Frank Sinatra did it best. Have I mentioned how much it irritates me when people think a 1954 catalog standard first appeared in an anime?
"I Want to be a Wind" by Erina Nakajima, from Variable Geo
YES, YES, I ADMIT IT: I like terrible anime based on fighting games. I'm also a big-enough Takahiro Kimura (Code Geass, Gun X Sword, Godannar) fanboy to have fond memories of something that's this out-and-out creepy (it's about an all-female martial arts tournament where the losers have to strip). I remember buying the VHS of this the same day I bought Shenmue--I was ready to go and play Shenmue for hours and hours, but my cousin insisted on watching this first. So thanks, cousin--I'm probably the only person on Earth who associates Shenmue with gratuitous nudity and bouncing breasts.
"Platinum" by Maaya Sakamoto, from Cardcaptor Sakura
There are people who like the first Cardcaptor Sakura opening, "Catch You Catch Me," better. That's fine, but I'm always partial to this one. I'm honestly not a huge Maaya Sakamoto fanboy, but she just happens to sing so many great openings and endings that it's kind of hilarious.
"I Want Out" by Yuki Saga, from Generator Gawl
I found out about Generator Gawl the same way I found out about Cardcaptor Sakura--a random Animage cover. I dunno, I just have a thing for Guyver-alike action series with transforming superhumans, like this, ZETMAN and Project ARMS. Generator Gawl has the same kind of brutal action, but also throws in a surprisingly cool story about time travel and paradoxes.
"Don't You See" (ED2) by Zard, from Dragonball GT
Funny story about Dragonball GT, a series that was only good for the music and a surprisingly sad ending: I was the manager of my high school's track team, and one of our best sprinters was also a really big DBZ fan. At a meet, we were talking about Dragonball, and I casually mentioned that I'd seen the ending of GT--y'know, the one where Goku permanently dies (don't complain about spoilers, the show ended in 1997--there's a statute of limitations on this sort of thing). He was genuinely, emotionally affected by it! He had to stifle his blubbering when it was his turn to run, and then he went and hauled ass like he had a monster chasing him or something.
"Moonlight Densetsu" by Moon Lips, from Sailor Moon S
So really, I could put any Sailor Moon opening here, since they all use the same song, but this is the opening animation I like the most. I'm not kidding--through every sequel Sailor Moon series, they literally used the exact same song with different opening animations. There's something that's actually really comforting about that, y'know? This song is 100% associated with the series, and is the series theme. That's gotta count for something.
"Arashi no Naka de Kagayaite" by Chihiro Yonekura, from Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team
Y'know why I really liked The 08th MS Team? It's not about elite soldiers or Newtypes or anything like that. It's about grunts, the terrible suicide missions they have to go on, and the horrible blood-and-mud fighting they endure. It was even better because they kept having to repair the piece-of-crap equipment they kept having to basically stress-test in the middle of combat.
"Pegasus Fantasy" (OP1) by MAKE.UP, from Saint Seiya
Generally speaking, new anime themes are pretty bad at getting you pumped for what you're going to watch--I mean, they're good, but they're not exactly exciting. But Saint Seiya almost always does a great job of getting you ready to watch a half-hour (or more) of people punching each other in the face, over and over again. Logic goes right out the window with Saint Seiya, and it's so, so good for it.
"You Get to Burning" by Yumi Matsuzawa, from Martian Successor Nadesico
While Martian Successor Nadesico did a great job punching me right in the emotions (in episode 3, no less), it mended the wound... eventually. Almost the entire cast is infectiously likeable, and it was great to see them randomly humming the theme song, or just plain getting completely obsessed with it. By the way, original series creator Kia Asamiya is going to be at FanimeCon... I should corner him in a dark alley and [Ed. Note: this portion of text has been removed]
"H.T." by Tsuneo Imahori, from TRIGUN
Tell me with a straight face that you didn't air-guitar through most of that. TRIGUN is not exactly the most metal show ever, but it's pretty badass... especially since it's a show about a nice guy who keeps bumbling into trouble and eventually has to draw his ridiculously huge handgun to show that he means business. Vash the Stampede is a lot like Captain America--he doesn't want to hurt anybody, but he doesn't like bullies.
"Koi da! Panic" (OAV OP1) by Yawmin, from Ranma 1/2
My first experience with Ranma 1/2 was with the manga, and by the time I actually checked out the anime there were a few of the OAVs and movies available Stateside. My only real problem with every single Ranma anime opening, especially this one, is that they miss a very important part of Ranma Saotome's character. Specifically, I'm talking about how he's a total, unrepentant douchebag.
"Cautionary Warning" by John Sykes, from The Legend of Black Heaven
What a way to end this! The Legend of Black Heaven was one of the most surprising US releases, especially with its kickass opening that's less of a typical anime opening and more of a trippy half-length music video to John Sykes' "Cautionary Warning." All the opening tells about the series is that it absolutely rocks--you wanna find out more? Actually watch the show!
Yeah, I know--there's a lot of great ones that I missed. I mean, unless you guys actually want to read an article with like fifty YouTubes in it. Writing up this two-parter tells me that for the "2000 to Current Edition," I'm probably going to have to do a three- or four-part Natestalgia. The list of great, recent openings I'm writing is getting kinda lengthy.
So what do you think? What are some of your favorite older openings and endings? What memories do they evoke in you? Do you want to see a closer look at any of these series in a full Natestalgia? Let us know in the comments!