Why Are Anime Openings And Ending Sequences So Good?

Watching the opening (OP) and ending (ED) sequences in anime is almost as important as watching the anime itself. Anime studios spend a lot of time and money on making these scenes as good as possible, but why?

Anime studios create the opening and ending sequences specifically to entice the audience to continue watching. The best animation is therefore used to show the main characters, pieces of the plot and actions scenes to put their best foot forward.

Special effort is made to make these OPs and EDs worth watching, from their animation production to creating the music to go with it. We’ll discuss the reasons for this in detail next, as well as take a look at the history and requirements.

The reasons behind the effort that goes into creating opening and ending scenes

Anime opening and ending sequences are created to set the tone for the show. It not only provides an introduction to the anime but also a continuation and even a foreshadowing of the plot to come.

According to the Anime News Network, when an anime is being developed from a manga series, the first thing to do is to establish a production committee. This committee consists of the companies that front the money for the entire series, starting with OP and ED storyboards.

Listed below are some possible reasons why opening and ending sequences can sometimes turn out better than the anime they’re meant to represent:

1. They are created to convince the watcher to continue watching

In Japan, commercial breaks come after the opening sequence, in the middle of the episode and just before the ED. It is therefore pertinent that the audience is intrigued by what they just saw to continue watching and come back for later episodes.

In comparison to other shows, anime OPs and EDs can be watched over and over and still be appreciated, possibly even seeing something they didn’t notice before. It’s unlike the repetitive intros that most people whole-heartedly skip after seeing it for the second time.

New characters and plot twists are subtly hinted at to create some expectation for future episodes and placed in such a way that you only recognize them once you’ve seen them develop on the series.

2. A good opening or ending could create additional buzz for the anime

The openings and ending sequences could be seen as trailers for the anime, just as with movies, used as promotion before the release. That’s not all though, the short 90 second videos are also seen as short music videos, released on music platforms globally.

The popularity of released songs and the accompanying animations create additional buzz for the anime. Anime fans state that they even continue watching some animes mostly for the great OP or ED scenes, more so than the actual series.

3. Openings need to live up to the standard of previous animes

Openings and ending sequences can be real works of art, sometimes even more popular than the anime itself. The tradition of high-quality productions leads to higher expectations of future anime, especially with the advances in technology and graphics.

These can be considered so good that a “clean” version is also given as an extra with the anime DVDs. A clean version of the opening and ending scenes does not feature any of the credits that usually obstruct the animation. See an example below of a personal favorite clean OP!

One Punch Man

4. Promotions of animators and musician talents

The opening and ending sequences are started with first and are often created by different teams than the actual anime. The anime director might oversee the OP and ED, but most of the time a key animator is granted an opportunity to further their careers.

The same goes for the music chosen. A record label or music publisher can use the opportunity of an OP or ED to promote their best or newest talent. Anisongs is a genre on its own by now, with several musicians reaching fame through anime opening or anime ending songs alone.

The persons responsible for creating these sequences are therefore doing their absolute best to promote themselves, resulting in these outstanding sequences.

Requirements for anime openings and ending sequences

The producers of these sequences have the liberty to create as they see fit, but there are some general requirements according to the Anime News Network, as listed below:

  • Well-animated, but not too different to the anime itself
  • Should fit the theme of the anime in music and animation style
  • Focus on the main characters and central relationships within the show
  • It’s not a rule, but 90 seconds is the average time for a sequence (read below to find out why!)
  • Needs to be cool to watch of course!

These are general requirements, but not rules set in stone. The sequences that follow these guidelines are generally just better received by the anime community.

Why are most anime openings 90 seconds long?

When it comes to the length, most OP and EDs are each normally exactly 90 seconds long. In comparison to other shows, that can seem overlong and since it’s not the average 3-minute music track length either, why is it so common?

This is simply a long-respected tradition by studios, producers and animators alike, but not a rule. As mentioned before it’s mainly to compensate for the commercial breaks on Japanese TV channels that are shown after the OP and before the ED.

It’s also said that the 90 seconds provides the production team with an opportunity for more content than other 30 or 60 second sequences, making it more successful as the animes promotional material.

Whether or not this marketing strategy works, is up for debate. Anisongs remain mostly unknown in Japan, but anime fans across the world are known for the die-hard support of their favorite animes and anything associated with it.

One Piece is an example of an anime that does not follow the specific 90-second length. Openings #8 to #23 are all between 120 and 180 seconds long (see the example below), with the latest opening reverting to 90 seconds.

One Piece Opening #11

The first time a song was created for an anime

According to the Japan Expo, in 1963 the anime Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) set the precedent of creating songs specifically for anime opening credits, which can be seen below. Up until then, the chosen songs were normally already in existence and selected without much intention.

Do you watch anime OPs and EDs? Also, let us know what your favorites are!

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