Continuing the celebrations after reaching 100 ANIME SERIES REVIEWED, we turn our attention to the fantastically unique world of the anime intro!
The anime intro is actually a nice way to track my development through the anime world, because one of my very first memories of watching anime was that I hated anime introductions!
For the sake of clarity, an anime intro is the video that runs near the beginning of an episode, and is often the same for multiple episodes.
Yes, for all the love I have shown for Attack on Titan – the first Japanimaiton I watched while not being a child, number two on our Anime Ranking and one of our Best Ever Anime Episodes – it actually has a really mediocre anime intro! It didn’t help that it was my first experience with Japanese music – I am still not a fan of services that show subtitles for intro music – but generally it is a cliché action intro with fire and roaring soldiers and broken buildings and so on. However, nowadays the anime intro is something I absolutely love, around ninety seconds of artistic creativity unbound by sense or story that, if done well, can not only set the right tone for the show that’s about to follow but also take on a life of its own.
So, what makes a good anime intro?
First of all, whatever you do, don’t include spoilers in your introduction video! a surprisingly large amount of series like to make an intro that follows the course of the story. Some are obvious from the start and you feel like you’ve seen the whole series in the first 90 seconds, whereas others stupidly give away further points of the story once you’re a few episodes in.
Other than that, though, there’s no real rules or golden ratios to follow when it comes to making a successful introduction, and that’s what makes them so compelling! A ten second title page can have as much impact as a two-minute mini-story, while there are cases of introductions having nothing to do with their story but still setting such a perfect frame for their series.
So, whether you’re a huge anime fan or simply someone interested in visual art in general, I urge you to check out this time-and-genre-spanning collection of some of the best anime intros we’ve seen in our 100-series history so far!
Cowboy Bebop (1998)
What better place to start than arguably one of the coolest anime intros, and series, of all time? This nostalgia punch from the 90s will revive all of your memories of Japanese cartoons from childhood, while the fantastic jazz music adds a sophisticated element to a fantastically contrasted, James Bond-esque opening scene that oozes quality!
Best Bit: The four greyscale action shots at the end, each so full of character!
While a much more recent series than Bebop, Steins;Gate also looks backwards for inspiration, with fades, overlaps and copies being used to create an intro that despite being the setup for a complex sci-fi mystery series gives off an incredibly 80’s vibe!
Best Bit: The endless chain of the red-haired woman…
A series related to Steins;Gate, Occultic;Nine’s intro is much more rooted in the 21st century with vivid pastel colouring. However, running at full pelt from beginning to end, this high-energy intro is the first of many examples here with great use of dark and light, while a pattern backdrop effect unique to the intro is evidence of this show’s ability to mix dangerous mystery with anime humour.
Best Bit: The use of patterns for hair at the very beginning!
ACCA 13 (2017)
At first I thought of leaving out intros that were particularly good because they carried on the unique style of the series itself, but like the Best Anime Episodes, an intro should be allowed to feed of the success of its series. Acca 13 does a fantastic job of highlighting the Franco-Belgian animation style of the series with a classy intro that changes form and substance throughout, creating a really fluid story that highlights the many characters and differences in its world.
Best Bit: The scene in grey, where every character is highlighted only by the colour of their hair.
Flip Flappers (2016)
While quite slow at the start this is an intro that bursts into life, highlighting the difference between the two worlds in which this series takes place. This is a fantastically vibrant and creative intro that takes you on a journey all on its own, setting up this hugely ambitious anime perfectly.
Best Bit: The sudden five/six second fight scene in the middle, starting with running down a rocket and ending with not looking at explosions!
Mob Psycho 100 (2016)
You can almost see this intro as Flip Flapper’s brother. While nothing alike in terms of substance and design, this intro – born at a similar time to FFs above – is another explosive intro that takes you on an adventure through the series’ world. The intro for one of ONE’s manga adaptations, this short video does a great job of highlighting just how quirky this show is, creating one of the strangest, most eye-grabbing intros you’ll ever see.
Best Bit: How the ending’s cuts quietly go up and up and up and up…
Another anime intro that runs at an awesome speed. However, as the intro for one of the finest comedy franchises in anime, this has another purpose of not only setting up the characters but also being laced to the brim with jokes of its own. A conveyor-belt of laughs and mischief, this intro almost needs a series-worth of views to appreciate all the jokes!
Best Bit: That blue-haired guy in the background…
Of course the number one series here at The Culture Cove is going to have a kicking intro to match. Seemingly inspired by classic American TV, this intro doesn’t try to tell you anything about the story – instead it simply does what the series does, taking you fluidly around the city to introduce every character by name. A beautifully smooth, cool and thought-out intro that does nothing to overshadow the series but at the same time frames its cast perfectly. Incidentally, this is a formula that wasn’t just copied in the following seasons of Durarara, but also in the authors other novel adaptation, Baccano!
Best Bit: The trajectory of a cola can taking you through a group of characters all on its own!
Princess Jellyfish (2010)
This series is probably our cult favourite anime series, and the same goes for its intro. This intro does nothing to set up the series, or ever explain what might happen in it. Instead, the characters take part in a re-enactment of random western movies. Star Wars, Mary Poppins and even Kill Bill are referenced in this particularly experimental introduction!
Best Bit: After all the re-enactments are over, the main character wakes up and the day starts, the perfect ending for a slice-of-life introduction!
Tokyo Ghoul:Re (2018)
Here’s one from a very recent series – in fact, at the time of posting this intro is still running! This is another intro that uses a great mix of light, with the darkness of some scenes highlighting the bright and openness of others. A really good song helps take you through an introduction that crams in incredible amount of people into it, with an understated subtlety being used to help us really understand all the different roles. The huge amount of people and quick action scenes really set you up for a series with great scope.
Best Bit: How consistently dark scenes are lifted when the main group go into fight mode, their powers being showcased across a white city background while the song reaches its peak!
To conclude, a great anime intro will often use a great mix of dark and light colours, while more content will often count in your favour!
Ultimately, like with anime series themselves its often the bravest ones that we remember, those intros that tried to do something you’ve never seen before, trying to push the boundary in terms of what their series can conjure inside of you!
What are your favourite anime intros of all time? More importantly, what do you think makes a good anime intro? Let us know in the comments, and subscribe for regular anime reviews and recommendations!