I've got nothing to post about lately. Nothing that takes little effort anyway. But since I do need an excuse to procrastinate, I've decided to finally post a rant I've had for a long-ass time.
Oh this one is going to piss off a lot of weebs, so let's get into it!
Opening themes to shows are everything. It's very important to have a good theme. And it's on that premise that I have to ask: “Why do so many animes fail at it?” I was listening to anime theme music to get all nostalgic when I came across Death Note's opening theme. The show is awesome, but the opening music is ass. Why? And then that's when it struck me... It's not just Death Note, it's countless animes with themes that don't make sense or just suck. (All the following links will link to videos as neutral as I can find, since some openings aren't very epilepsy-friendly. Videos that contain the actual intro footage will come a potential epilepsy risk warning like so: |Link|)
Here's how you do opening music for your show:
Pokemon – Digimon – Dragon Ball Z – |Dragon Ball Z (Alt)| – One Piece – Sonic The Hedgehog SATAM – Pepper Ann – |MAR| – Ben 10 – Megas XLR – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – Big Bad Beetleborgs – ThunderCats – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – X-Men – Inspector Gadget – |Beetlejuice| – Teen Titans – Invader Zim – Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo
I'm aware not all of those are anime opening themes. As you can see, I said “Here's how you do opening music for your show” not “for your anime”. The last one was just to show that I'm not biased towards English lyrics, and because I find it really funny to see the way people react when they find out that's really what the show, and consequently the main character, is named. I'm not making that up. I swear to god that's what it's called. Look it up.
And before you yell at me, I chose the remade version of the Inspector Gadget theme because they're essentially the same, I just didn't like how dated the original sounded.
And here's how not to do music:
|Dragon Ball Z (Alt 2)| – |Sword Art Online| – |Blazblue|
There's more, but I can't really stand the music enough to sit through anymore. I saw a poll once that placed the Pokemon theme as the best opening theme ever, and I find it extremely hard to argue. Now this is just my opinion, my totally objective, correct opinion, and if you like any of the ones I listed, that's fine, that's your opinion, and your opinion is valid, you'll just have to live with having the wrong one.
Compare the do's and don'ts. You'll notice that the Do's are all either lyric-less or refer directly to the show you're about to watch. I've been saying this a long time, now... but Sonic SATAM is the best example of opening theme music done right.
“Blue streak speeds by, Sonic the Hedgehog. Too fast for the naked eye, Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic, he can really move, Sonic, he's got an attitude, Sonic, he's the fastest thing alive. Look out when he storms through, Sonic the Hedgehog. Don't doubt what he can do, Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic, he can really move, Sonic, he's got an attitude, Sonic, he's the fastest thing alive.”
It's literally all about Sonic and how fucking cool he is. No metaphors, no similies, no “sorta, kinda, if you think about it” it's as direct as you can get: Sonic is awesome, don't mess with him, he's really fast. ATTITUDE 90's YEAH!
The Megas XLR one is also pretty good on the "telling it like it is" factor. "Living here in Jersey, fighting villains from afar. You gotta find first gear in your giant robot-car. You/I/We/Chicks dig giant robots." It doesn't get more straightforward than that. If you've never watched Megas XLR, you should. It doesn't ever take itself too seriously, and that makes it even more awesome. It's a tragedy that the show was so short lived.
Quick note on the Pepper Ann theme... wouldn't being your own biggest fan make you a loser? Not sure that's something to boast about...
Here's the eye-opening one I always like to point out to friends. Dragon Ball Z – Rock The Dragon vs Dragon Ball Z – Chala Head Chala.
Rock the Dragon:
“Dragon, dragon. Rock the dragon. Dragon Ball Z. Dragon, dragon. Rock the dragon. Come get me.”
Chala Head Chala:
“….I fall into a paradise of panic. The scenery turns upside-down and I cheer up (cheer up), ’cause the mountains look like butts.”
This is the greatest action cartoon on the planet we're talking about. Dragon Ball Z, for those who have never watched it, is a show where characters are constantly beating the ever loving fuck out of each other, and Chala Head Chala, according to Julian Grybowski's translation, goes “Lol, mountain butts....” Why!?
Even with not-so-good shows, a good opening can make it seem awesome. As is the case with Ben 10. The show is meh, the writing is meh, Ben is a crap character, but the intro music is still really good.
While compiling this post, I noticed a trend. A lot of the “openings done right” ones are from the 90's. Over half. The ones I don't like usually end up being J-Pop crap or just plain unrelated to the show. For some reason, the 90's really had a knack for making you want to watch the show just based on the opening music alone. I'll refer you back to Power Rangers, X-Men, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to prove my point. Can you listen to them and not want to watch the show? The 90s may have been misguided, but they knew how to make the most camp theme songs. The Power Rangers theme is the very definition of "90s camp".
Now let's break down the top two on the list of Do's. Also conveniently the first two on the list...
Wanting to be the greatest. Catching them all. Doing what it takes to achieve your goal. Many references to Pokemon themselves. Challenges, being a badass, saving the world.
Right away, references to the Digimon. Even breaks down their name: Digimon are digital monsters. But not only are they digital monsters, they're also the champions, they change to become stronger to save their world.
Both the Pokemon and Digimon themes are catchy as all hell, and both accomplish telling you exactly what you're to expect from the show. How many of you reading this will forever have the theme songs to Pokemon and Digimon burned in your heads? Think about that for a second. Let's say you isolated yourself in a bunker for 40 years with no access to the outside world. Some of those iconic “do” themes are such that you'd still remember them by heart even after all that time, huh? Some of those themes are part of you now, and that's the impact a good theme can have.
I'm not saying it's impossible for the “don'ts” to be so memorable, but... here, let's use Blazblue to contrast it with Pokemon and Digimon.
“The bell that rang in youth's time opens Truth's door. Is this distant shadow a prophetic dream? Is it a nightmare? Whispers of grief are woven in the sky. After tracing the believed road, silver rain pours. (Being perplexed, I turn around, and the answer is?) The sand of the memory rushes at high speed, paying with bare hands. A sounding premonition which does not stop changes into courage which advances. It is able to precede the wheel of pain and sorrow, which repeats passionately the future which spills from the cut off eye emptiness comes and spreads in the desired heaven. The trembling voice is too quiet. The forest of glass fell to wailing.”
I'm not sure how accurate this translation is, I just found it on a fan wikia. While reading these lyrics, my only reaction was “Cryptic metaphor, cryptic metaphor, cryptic metaphor, I'm not high enough for this, I'm definitely not high enough for this, what even is this describing right now? Why are these the words that are being used? This makes no sense. How am I supposed to get excited for this show?”
Well, triggerwarning, I think Blazblue is boring-ass, cryptic crap, so it fits! But it's still forgettable...
And last, I want to point at something cool One-Piece did. I've never been able to prove they did this, but I swear when I first saw it air on TV, they modified the intro. Originally, the intro talks about all the main characters: "Usopp's doing that marksman thing, Sanji's cooking, Chopper's doctoring." But I didn't know that, and when it aired for the first time in my region, they diced up the intro to leave out characters that came in later on. So, first it was all about the treasure, and Luffy, then when Luffy meets Zolo, they extended the intro to include him, then Nami, and so on. Basically, as the show progressed, they changed the intro just a little bit to re-include each character along the way. With each new character on Luffy's crew, the intro got a little longer. It was really cool, and I've never seen that done before, or since for that matter. I only wish I had a way to prove my claim.
I don't really have a neat and tidy way of wrapping this up... it's just a rant... All I can really end on is: J-Pop is pretty much all trash, intro music really should refer to the show you're watching, English opening music is vastly superior to the Japanese intro music, and the 90's knew what they were doing...