The opening theme for an anime is almost as important as the anime series itself. The opening sets the tone, gives the feel, and introduces the viewers to what they are getting into. While there have been many grand anime openings over the years, some are more memorable than others.
If an anime is quite long, the series will likely have more than one opening. Fans might have their personal favorites among those, but most fans agree that a particular opening will hit harder than others. Some of the best anime opening themes of all time include tracks from childhood favorite anime like Pokémon to more recent hits like My Hero Academia.
Updated on May 11th, 2023 by Casey Coates: This list has been updated to reflect CBR’s current publishing style.
15 “Lum no Love Song” by Yuko Matsutani
Yuko Matsutani’s “Lum no Love Song” serves as Urusei Yatsura’s first opening. This track is likely one of its generations’ most well-known anime OPs. While it’s nearly 30 years old at this point, it is still beloved by many.
“Lum no Love Song” does a great job of showing off Urusei Yatsura’s quirkiness and style. It’s a perfect way to kick off an episode. A reboot of Urusei Yatsura began airing on October 14, 2022. The new opening keeps the same energy as the original while still making its own statement.
14 “Duvet” by Bôa
Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain is one of the most criminally underappreciated anime of its time. The show focuses on a communications network called the Wired while exploring themes of communication and identity. Given how it approached its setting, the show was ahead of its time. It came out in 1998, right on the cusp of the new millennium and aligning with the uptick in technological use.
Serial Experiments Lain’s opening still holds up thanks to its unique vibe. “Duvet” was written and performed by the British alternative band Bôa. Alternative rock isn’t always paired with anime openings, but this perfectly complements the OP’s beautiful visuals.
13 “Uragiri no Yuuyake” by Theater Rock
Durarara!! was pretty big back when it aired in 2010, and it still cultivates a healthy fan base to this day. Durarara!! is a supernatural mystery series set in downtown Tokyo with lots of action. With its massive cast of characters and intertwining plot points, there was something for everyone.
Theater Rock’s “Uragiri no Yuuyake” perfectly captures the mood of the show. It shows off the first season’s main cast while giving some insight into their dynamics with each other as the upbeat track ties everything together.
12 “Battlecry” by Nujabes/Shing02
Hip-hop isn’t often used in anime openings. However, Nujabes and Shing02’s “Battlecry” perfectly suits Samurai Champloo’s opening credits. Nujabes passed away in 2010, and this series is the only anime to ever feature one of his tracks in its soundtrack.
The series mixes modern-day Japanese characteristics with hip-hop and elements of the chanbara genre, which is the Japanese term for samurai films. The mellow beat of Samurai Champloo’s opening goes well with the vibrant visuals and serves as a great representation of the show’s main character, Mugen.
11 “Bloody Stream” by CODA
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a sprawling generational series that has had tons of great openings spread throughout its run so far. There’s bound to be some contention among fans regarding which one’s the best of the bunch, but CODA’s “Bloody Stream” has to take the top spot.
“Bloody Stream” is catchy and stands out from most other anime openings, which perfectly suits JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. The excellent animation and visuals also make this an absolute stand-out, not only among JoJo openings, but anime openings as a whole.
10 “The Day” by Porno Graffiti
My Hero Academia
“The Day” by Porno Graffiti is the first opening for My Hero Academia. My Hero Academia has very good opening themes throughout its seasons that fans love. The opening theme perfectly dictates the type of character Deku is going to be.
On a journey to become the #1 Hero, the song gives the impression that Deku must give it everything he’s got — that he hopes that one day will truly be the day. The video package shows a compilation of Deku’s training as the strong-spirited boy gives everything to be like All Might.
9 “Again” by YUI
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
“Again” by YUI is the first opening for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. The opening theme takes the perspective of Edward Elric and the lessons he must learn along the way of recovering his limbs and his brother’s body.
“Again” presents themes of there being more to life than what is seen by the eye. The video shows Edward becoming stronger and stronger along his journey. It also shows the people he meets along the way, friends or enemies. “Again” is the opening for the first 14 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
8 “The Hero” by JAM Project
When “The Hero” was played during One-Punch Man’s release during the fall 2015 season, it took the internet by storm. The iconic “One Punch!” lyric to open the song captured the hearts of fans.
“The Hero” has themes of justice and fits the satirical theme of One-Punch Man. The chorus draws from themes of not wanting the accolades that come with being a hero, such as fame and bringing happiness to those saved. Similarly, Saitama is too bored by fighting to be a hero. “The Hero” is the only opening for the first season of One-Punch Man.
7 “Colors” by FLOW
FLOW is known for opening themes in series such as Naruto, The Seven Deadly Sins, and Durarara!! However, none of them have been better than “Colors,” Code Geass’ first opening.
“Colors” draws from themes of how people can change for the better and for the worse. This anime opening demonstrates that everyone should have confidence in themselves, even in the darkest of times. This is fitting because of the rough times Lelouch goes through in the series. “Colors” is the opening for the first 12 episodes of the first season of Code Geass.
6 “Tank” by The Seatbelts
Cowboy Bebop’s opening theme is “Tank” by The Seatbelts. As one of the best anime in its decade, it’s only fitting that it has one of the best opening themes, too. Cowboy Bebop is a space Western that debuted in the late ’90s. The series follows a group of eccentric bounty hunters.
The jazzy instrumental complements Cowboy Bebop’s mystery theme, while the rhythmic editing of sequences and the music make the anime unique. “Tank” is the opening for all 25 episodes of Cowboy Bebop.
5 “Pokémon Theme” by Jason Paige
While Pokémon’s opening theme song is arguably the most well-known opening theme in anime, its title is quite lackluster. “Pokémon Theme” by Jason Paige has kids singing around the world today, even though it was released in 1997.
Pokémon’s anime opening revolves around Ash’s journey as he wants to become a Pokémon Master. To do so, Ash must win battles, meet new friends, and catch ’em all. As the song states, it is his destiny. The original “Pokémon Theme” is the only opening for the first season of Pokémon, running for 80 episodes.
4 “The WORLD” by Nightmare
Death Note’s two opening themes spark arguments on which is better for the show. Each anime opening is a different style with different sounds, but “The WORLD” by NIGHTMARE helped make Death Note iconic.
“The WORLD” talks about a world of evil and darkness. This refers to the new world that Light is creating despite him thinking what he is doing is good. The song then transitions into Light’s thought process and how he doesn’t understand why people think he’s bad. “The WORLD” is Death Note’s first opening, and it runs for the first 19 episodes.
3 “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion’s opening theme is “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” by Yoko Takahashi. This opening theme tells the story of a life that is meant to have so much more. The imagery shows audiences that even a life full of burning sadness and harsh memories can be “taken to the skies” to become a legend.
Neon Genesis Evangelion’s opening video shows scenes of Asuka, Rei, and Shinji and different battles in the series. “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” is the only opening theme for Neon Genesis Evangelion.
2 “Unravel” by TK
A beautiful display of vocals, Tokyo Ghoul’s “Unravel” is the runner-up. The opening theme is done by TK, the vocalist and guitarist of the band Ling Tosite Sigure. The band is known for its work in Psycho-Pass, but TK has done many solo openings.
The lyrics talk about Ken Kaneki as he struggles to find who he is. The song acts as a breaking point for Ken as he finally comes to terms with himself. The song is done in every episode: as an opening theme in Episodes 2-11 and an ending theme in Episodes 1-12. “Unravel” is the only opening theme in the first season of Tokyo Ghoul.
1 “Guren no Yumiya” by Linked Horizon
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan’s first opening theme is sure to give chills down every viewer’s spine. “Guren no Yumiya” by Linked Horizon is a renowned anime opening for a fan-favorite anime series.
In Attack on Titan, Eren Yeager must come to terms with the new life he must live. Titans take over humanity, he loses his family, and he realizes he is a Titan shifter; Attack on Titan’s opening theme is iconic in every sense. “Guren no Yumiya” is the opening for the first 13 episodes of the first season of Attack on Titan.
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