Sunday, October 7, 2012

Top 25 Ending Themes for Summer 2012

To tell the truth, part of me didn't want to do these rankings. I honestly never made it as far as the ending theme in some shows (Dakara Boku wa H ga Dekinai, Ebiten), so it's required some forced research. That may be why some shows fell through the cracks this season, but in all honesty I'm rating the OPs higher than the EDs this summer. There was just part of me that appreciated the beginning of some shows instead of their ending.

What did I see a lot of? Scrolling. Miles and miles of top-to-bottom scrolling that probably didn't need to be done. Hey, I suppose it beats "running shots" by a mile, but at least five shows tried that pan.

What didn't I see a lot of? Good endings. Apart from the Top 5, a good season may have left a lot of these endings off the chart. I suppose the producers were as sleepy as we all were this summer.

So let's get on with it already. Here are your Top 25 EDs of Summer 2012. Cuddle up to them and get some good Z's.

Worst ED. "Mirai Shoku no Yakusoku" ("Promise of Future Colors") - Iori Nomizu, Asuka Nishi, Risako Murai and Midori Tsukimiya
(Ebiten ED)
You know a show has given up prematurely when the ending theme doesn't have a hint of artistry, let alone animation. Some shows at least attempt an outside-of-the-box idea, but the Ebiten producers just asked for the voice actresses to smile demurely and lip-sync. A horrible display of pandering to a niche audience and waving the white flag of creativity.

25. "Pieces of Treasure" - Jun Fukuyama and Tsubasa Yonaga
(Arcana Famiglia ED)

I honestly do think that Fukuyama is one of the better singers out there, but I'm just not too thrilled with the overall performance of Arcana Famiglia. The overall ending reflects a true lack of a budget, the close demoted to static pictures of the cast and a puttering duet between the two male main characters. Never seen anything so bland in my life. You know, maybe making characters run isn't so bad.

24. "Hikari" ("Light") - Makino Mizuta
(The Ambition of Nobuna Oda ED)

You had this golden opportunity, Nobuna Oda, to show that you were different from other genderswap Sengoku-Era shows out there. You could have been so much brighter than the Momoiro Paradox crap we had, but you decided on having your female cast naked under sheets while the credits ran. I mean, at least Sengoku Collection knew that clothes didn't have to come off in the end. The song? Yeah, that's not really important here, not after the sigh-fest I sat through.

23. "Natsu no Yakusoku" ("Summer's Promise") - Yui Horie
(Dog Days' ED)

Sorry, wasn't paying attention to the song in this one either. At least Dog Days' is trying to be creative with the SD-cast skittering across the bottom of the screen like the pets they represent, and the background character art actually shows some talent in this production staff, but I really wasn't listening to the song. Or identifying the cast. Or watching the show. Short attention span wins!

22. "Kanashimi wa Dare no Negai Demonai -Side Sunset-" ("No One Wishes For Sadness") - Aira Yuki
"Sora no Uta -Side Sunrise-" ("Song of the Sky") - Masami Okui
(Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere ED2)

Okay, Horizon is definitely over-the-top with its immense cast (in both number and breast-size), but at least they know where to draw attention. The two songs are good for portraying the show's dual nature, Okui's reflecting mirth and sunlight, while the sun sets on Yuki's ode to tragedy. I'd certainly like more shows to follow this example; it's good for showing range.

21. "Kokoro no Kara" - Team Nekokan w/ Junca Amaoto
"Cry Out" - Team Nekokan w/ Atsuko
"Salvage" - Team Nekokan w/ Rekka Katakiri
(Kokoro Connect ED1-3)

I'm not going to really say much about these EDs. The first and last really didn't impress me, but at least it was nice to see one focus on Inaban and the seemingly-unimportant depression inside her. The first felt too fluffy, while the third felt like it was trying to push too much of a hard edge onto this drama/comedy. Then again, I'm probably not watching the show for the endings.

20. "Sekai wa Okujō de Miwataseta" ("Looking Over the World From the Rooftops") - SKET X Sketch
(Sket Dance ED6)

Well, that was a comforting break in the fourth wall. The Sket Dance cast sings a duet with The Sketchbook. Clever, albeit still a little clunky with Switch trying to "sing" with his laptop, I probably liked this season of Sket Dance's music the most, and I appreciate more Himeko in the animated ending. I won't miss the Autotuning, but at least The Sketchbook can now go on a convenient "hiatus", right?

19. "Hyakku Pāsento Chu~ Gakusei" ("100% Middle Schooler") - Minami Tsuda, Rumi Ōkubo, Shiori Mikami and Yuka Ōtsubo
(YuruYuri♪♪ ED)

You may ask yourself, "Why do I watch this?"
You may ask yourself, "Is this fun? I don't know."
You may tell yourself, "This is not my beautiful show."
You may ask yourself, "My God! What have I done?"

The ending theme to YuruYuri. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

18. "signs—Saku Tsuki Hitoyo" - Minami Kuribayashi
(Total Eclipse ED)

There seems to be a lot of top-to-bottom scrolling in the ending themes this season. Start at the top, then just pass through the cast in one slow pan. It's been done in Nobuna Oda, Sword Art Online, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, and now here. (Heck, even Moyashimon Returns did it in the opening theme!) I suppose it's okay in this presentation of the Total Eclipse cast, and we don't get swamped in cheesecake, but the show's at least been good in resisting the temptation in the intros and outros.

17. "Darling and Madonna" - You Kikkawa
(Sengoku Collection ED2)

If you were to show this ending theme to the second season of SenColle and leave out any details, I'd say you had a pretty good magical-girl show on tap. The song from Kikkawa is at least cheerful in its robotics, and a decent amount of attention is put on the forces opposing our gender-bent Nobunaga in the show. Of course, that would all sour once you told me those were all historically male characters, but it'd still be a great Pretty Cure ending!

16. "Shiokaze no Harmony" ("Seabreeze Harmony") - Shirahamazaka Koukou Gasshou-bu
(Tari Tari ED)

I wasn't expecting the song to grow over the time of the show, but this presentation from the Choral Badminton Club gets slightly more complex from start to end, as the main cast learns harmony over the span of the season. That'd be good if I ever got to the end of the show, but I rarely did. I'd call this average, as the animation, aside from the backgrounds, didn't do all that much in the end.

15. "Singin' My Lu" - Soul'D OUT
(Chōyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi ED)

I was at least amused by the use of hip-hop at the end of every Uta Koi show, and it's a better fit that I had first dismissed. The music and rhythm at least gives the show a modern connection more than the ridiculousness we got from Teika and Yoritsuna at the start of each episode, and it's a nice head-bopper to accent the endings. It would have been better if there was a little more of an animated effort, as we've seen the "falling card" motif in Persona 4: The Animation before.

14. "Unite" - Sachika Misawa
(Accel World ED2)

Okay, now this ending was, at least from the perspective of someone who gave up on Accel World a ways ago, intriguing. A jealous Kuroyukihime marching away with Haru's avatar after clobbering her own butterfly-winged avatar with an umbrella? Maybe I was too quick to dismiss the show, but that's the sort of ending animation that pulls my strings, one where I'm now slightly intrigued in KYH's character. Now, if I could only think of a reason to say the song was any good...

13. "Jersey-Bu Tamashii!" ("Jersey Club Soul") - Kamo Onna Jersey-bu
(Rinne no Lagrange ED2)

The recycled opening animation to the second season of Lagrange was deeply frustrating, and I felt a similar bile start to bubble from the first few seconds of the ending, but...actually...this is nice. A pep-in-the-step song with billowing pop lyrics and a little bit of uncharacteristic slouch in the characters? Yeah, I'd say we hit the divider between average and honest fun in the ending theme rankings.

12. "Samba de Toriko!" (Toriko Samba!") - Hyadain
(Toriko ED5)

Morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori (I could listen to this all day.) morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori. (Really, do you need any more of an explanation about Hyadain?) morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori (Just sit back and watch the riot happen.) morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori morimori

11. "Catal Rhythm" - OLDCODEX
(Kuroko's Basketball ED2)

That was a little bit of a let-down in the second Kuroko's Basketball ending theme. GRANRODEO hit the height so perfectly in the opening theme that I think this reserve off the bench lacks the firepower. The strength is there, but I don't feel the finesse—the song just doesn't fit the background animation. I still must say that the music has got me wanting to play basketball a whole lot more, and I'm actually starting to shoot better. Hmm. That's too weird.

10. "Iolite" - Joy
(Eureka Seven AO ED2)

God, how I wish every beach episode in any anime that considers one was like this, the campy comedy left for the final 90 seconds of the show. I like the general artistic mix of monochrome purple and comic-strip dots to set the stage, and the wind-in-your-hair song from Joy adds to the easy life. I could do without the cheap bikini-top-grab gag, but it's all in passing (and definitely cancelled out by the image of a sloth lounging in non-sloth fashion. I mean, that dude is just chill.)

9. "Yume Sekai" ("Dream World") - Haruka Tomatsu
(Sword Art Online ED)

I'm probably not listening to my own advice when it comes to this ending theme, but if you're going to have a slow panning shot to end a show, it needs a little bit of a detail for me to enjoy it. I enjoy the dual nature of Haruka Tomatsu's song (wait, she's Ranmaru from Binbogami Ga!?), both happy and sad at the same time, while Kirito and Asuna float in opposite orientations and contrast. Perhaps it's just me pulling for the lovers to win.

8. "Anata ni Deawanakereba ~Natsuyuki Fuyuhana~" ("If I Hadn't Met You") - Aimer
(Natsuyuki Rendezvous ED)

At first, it feels like there's just too much filling from top to bottom in this ED, arguably the best of the scrolling shots of the season, but I definitely feel fulfilled once the field of flowers, artistically scattered amongst the grim faces of the love triangle, has passed by. I'll be damned if I let a song make me cry at the end of an episode, but Aimer's done it twice now—once at the end of No.6 and now at the end of Natsuyuki Rendezvous with her voice. Dammit.

7. "Kimi ni Matsuwaru Mystery" ("A Mystery Surrounding You") - Satomi Sato and Ai Kayano
(Hyouka ED2)

I do wish that Kyoto Animation had unleashed Hyouka for Western consumption. While the first season's ED had rubbed me the wrong way, I liked the humor rooted in the second ED's theatrical 90-second spoof. The background, swirling with Sherlock titles, is spattered with magnifying glasses and footprints, and I like the idea of having the main cast split between detectives and villains. Houtarou totally nails a Moriarty look.

6. "Saikin" ("Recently") - Hiiragi
(Moyashimon Returns ED)

Considering that Moyashimon Returns focused so much on the characters, I was disappointed by the OP, the microbes playing only a decorative role, but I like the way the show closes. It's not exactly the clever mix of live-action and CG the first season used, but the song by Hiiragi plays a coy role, lilting music and dancing horns accompanying the duo's approach to bacteria in the same way Animaniacs approached the countries of the world. Can you recite them all?

5. "Yume no Naka no Watashi no Yume" ("My Dream Within A Dream") - Masami Itou
(Humanity Has Declined ED)

These Top 5 cannot, should not, will not diverge from the top, all good enough to stay without sliding into lower ranks. It's great to hear Itou's lilting voice dipping and soaring amongst the syncopated rhythm in ways just as identifiable as her works in Azumanga Daioh with Oranges & Lemons. I appreciate the clever use of consumable sugar products and snacks to build up and tear down buildings, a perfect metaphor for our civilization.

4. "Nippon Egao Hyakkei" ("100 Japanese Laughs") - MomoKuro-Tei Ichimon
(Joshiraku ED)

The strings you hear are the exact ones plucked by the Yoshida Brothers, who have reintroduced us to the cowbell shamisen. Great use of classical instruments again, but I think the characters and song steal the show, in particular the gloomy Kukuru, whose actions have already spawned YouTube love. The theme of the song is, of course, to encourage Japanese citizens to smile, and if you can't after seeing the five rakugosha performers, you may be clinically dead.

3. "Kokuhaku" ("Confession") - Angela Aki
(Space Brothers ED2)

(For the record, I don't recommend what this ending suggests. We're not going to fire astronauts into space in a pretend spaceship. I'm pretty sure the space program will not have to resort to cardboard and tissue boxes. Yes, NASA is strapped for cash, but they're more technologically sound than this shows.)

So far Space Brothers has yet to drop the ball on endings and openings. This song from Angela Aki is majestic in its presentation, her dainty voice growing from a broadcast of brittle guitar strings, only to be supported by a full chorus once it hits orbit. This is the type of song I can picture aired by Houston for astronauts to rise for morning workouts.

While the song itself is a jet-propelled ballad, the animation is down-to-earth (pun intended), as the complex rocket ship pops out a pre-fab child's-toy of a model. Once on the moon, a younger Mutta and Hibito pop out in homemade suits, waving to the camera. It's endings like these that truly remind us all that the space program has homes for younger minds and dreams, and that connection to all generations may make Space Brothers one of the all-time great anime shows.

2. "Koi Boudou" ("Love Riot") - HAPPY BIRTHDAY
(Binbogami Ga! ED)

For the most part, I don't usually like endings that exhibit a character's sexuality for the sake of giving someone a rush of testosterone. (For examples, take a look at the Highschool DxD ED. Pole dancing, man.) I was impressed enough with the opening theme to know that Binbogami Ga! had its head on straight and was ready to at least be a little adventurous even with typical tropes, so while I do feel a little hypocritical that they're totally flaunting Ichiko's...assets, I don't really care.

Yes, if they put any less clothing on Ichiko, there would be censorship beams of sunlight all over the place, but I like how Momiji basically keeps that bored look on her face throughout the entire ending. It's like she's totally uninterested in the cosplay, and that probably makes her, in my book, one of the more entertaining characters this season. "You want a Gothic Lolita dress? Fine, but I ain't smiling, jack."

In the end, however, it's the performance by HAPPY BIRTHDAY that takes the cake. The duo of Kisa and Akko formed while they were in beauty school, but both have embraced a Sanrio approach to music. (Gotta love the mascots on their homepage and their new project "Moon Prism Power ~ Make Love!") Both have embraced the musical styling of Miyuki Nakajima, noting that their music is meant to be biting and ironic. Follow the lyrics, and you hear the story of two girls so competitive in love that they hate (and love to hate) each other. The sassy rock fits the theme, especially with Momiji and Ichiko ready to rumble a the drop of a hat.

1. "ZOO-to Ne" ("Always") - Full-Time Panda
"Michinoku Shiiku Blues" ("Michinoku Raising Blues") - Handa-san
"Zokkon! Penko-san!" ("Madly in Love With Ms. Penko!") - Penguin
(Polar Bear Cafe ED4-6)

There's some sort of simplicity when it comes to Polar Bear Cafe ending songs. There wasn't a lot to brag about the character songs by Sasako and Grizzly, but Panda's upsy-daisy "Bamboo Scramble" was a fun frolic with go pieces that really made me smile. Not a lot of animation to report on, but a lot of out-of-the-box ideas with stop-motion animation.

The second season gave us more of the same, and I'm really glad to hear it all stay in character. Our desperate zookeeper Handa sings a teary karaoke-style enka about the pains of work at the zoo, all sung by an invisible man. Penguin (played by a Hiroshi Kamiya who is finally unleashed of his straight-man schtick) hurtles through love-struck emotions by prancing about a desktop of props. Both songs are genuinely sung and creative in their output.

However, I have to give the gold star to Katsuyuki Konishi, who plays "Full-Time Panda" in the show. His folk-guitar performance is done by only a pair of panda paws that play each instrument in a separate window, while Konishi's humble voice sings about the relaxing life of a panda, even throwing in a gentle "Service, Service" under his breath. It's a song that is easy to listen to and even easier to watch, simple and clean.

Now, provide all of those before Panda, Penguin, and Polar Bear bumble through the intro to the next episode, and you have an ending that I will definitely be watching every single time. Service, indeed.

1 comment:

  1. i like best tasogare otome x amnesia theme, Requiem by nao hiragii