Before we get into the final installment of his talk, I just wanted to note that Alex did put up a post listing all of the OP/EDs that he had used for the Anime Expo presentation. And according to his schedule, he’ll be at Otakon from July 17-19 where he’ll be giving the same presentation so even though you’re reading this, I’d definitely encourage you all to attend since he’s a very enthusiastic speaker and presenter. So with that out of the way, here’s part 3 of his presentation:
I don’t think it’s a secret that OP/EDs have long been used as a way to promote artists by using their music during the OP/ED sequence to allow viewers to listen to the artists’ music and hopefully get them to try out other works by the artist in question. It’s a trait that I notice with more popular shows like Bleach, Full Metal Alchemist, and Naruto. Heck, I’m sure you can think of a few OP/ED sequences that had a marketing motive rather than trying to articulate the show’s core themes. The example Alex used to illustrate this concept was an interview with Anna Tsuchiya that appeared at the end of a Nana episode. During that sequence, she took us through the song and what she was trying to describe the overall tone of the song. I didn’t really pay attention too much to the music though, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you much about it though.
But that made for a short aside as we moved back into some of the better-known OP/ED sequences. Like with Haruhi’s “Hare Hare Yukai” in the previous post, there’s no way a presentation on this subject is complete without talking about Cowboy Bebop’s OP, “Tank!” This piece should be familiar with most people since it’s been touted as one of the most memorable OPs out there with its attention-grabbing jazz and animation. As a bonus, Alex played the complete version of “Tank!” (as opposed to just the TV-size version) to demonstrate just how much more complete the full version feels since the artists are able to develop the song further by giving them the chance to bring out interesting jazz rhythms and melodies unto the listener without being constrained by time.
Next up is Gurren Lagaan’s OP “Sorairo Days” which does an excellent job of infusing that whole “boy seeks and finds destiny” atmosphere into the viewer through Shoko Nagawa’s performance. While that song is fairly enjoyable, I found this choice more compelling from the animation standpoint. That also seemed to be what Alex was gunning after since he talked briefly about how some shows set it up so that the opening animation changes as the show progresses and with Gurren Lagaan, it was the way a certain character was removed entirely as the show went on. Another thing to note was that the OP would use “Sorairo Days'” second verse for the second half of the show. It’s not an unusual step, but it’s not exactly common either so it’s something to note while you’re watching a show.
And sometimes, anime just imitates life and another anime will imitate the anime imitating life. Did you get that? Well, Alex drew a comparison between The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?’s ED and the idol phenomenon that was prevalent during that time period. Just watch the ED and watch the animated singer’s (Lynn Minmay’s) movements which capture the sort of performance that one would expect from an idol performance. Decades later, Kannagi’s OP “motto☆Hade ni ne!,” would follow suit and Alex thought it did a decent job in the way it functioned as a tribute to Macross: DYRL’s ED. Although the similarities with Kannagi are rather striking, I’m still not convinced that Kannagi’s OP is a tribute so much as a parody of the idol culture, but Alex’s thoughts do have some merit, especially if you look at Nagi’s hand movements and compare them to Lynn Minmay’s. Alex also touched a bit on the Macross franchise which he affectionately described it as a sci-fi anime series with an intergalatic war backdrop where the war would come to a halt with the appearance of a singer whose songs are capable of bringing about an era of peace. Silly as it is, Macross fans will tell you that it works and works really well.
Before moving on to the next OP/ED, Alex briefly sidetracked into a discussion of some OPs that he felt misrepresented the show as a whole. His example here was Noir, which had a very enjoyable OP that was undone by the anime’s poor pacing. While the first episode had a decent dose of action, including that scene when one of the protagonists kills a man by strangling him with his own necktie, everything else just went downhill after that as the series plodded on at a sluggish pace. But that’s Bee Train for you, so nothing more needs to be said here.
Anyways, the next example that he trotted out was none other than the infamous One Piece opening and that was used to illustrate the sorry state of how OPs would get butchered when they were licensed and shown on Western TV. The original OP wasn’t horrid (but not my cup of tea) because it possessed a good amount of energy that made the show feel fun and exciting. It also had good usage of sound effects to help the audience connect with the characters. So when the show got brought to the US, the marketing executives decided in their infinite wisdom to replace the OP with a hip hop song that was hilariously bad in its attempt to sound badass. Gone is the dosage of fun that went into the show and instead, we get a rap song that tries too hard to be cool and ends up failing hard. As you might have expected, the audience was groaning pretty hard by the end because of how unbelievably bad it was. And to add more pain to the mix, Alex kindly reminded us how badly Escaflowne was butchered when it was transported to the States. Let us cease speaking about such evils lest they come back to haunt us someday.
Everything that took place after this point was just a bonus because of the time extension and Alex remarked about the OPs that interested him because they didn’t use any animation from the series itself. Before going into the samples, he did talk a bit about some false expectations to come out of OPs, pointing out to an incredibly badass fight in one particular Full Metal Alchemists OP that unfortunately never happened even though it got the audience psyched up for the encounter. The fact that it never transpired was a letdown to say the least. So the next few OP/EDs that he showed us don’t use footage from the show, but they’re not misleading either. Honey and Clover, as you can see, uses that artsy animation that doesn’t have much to do with the show, but it sure catches your attention through its clever execution. It also doesn’t hurt that the claw thing at the end never ceases to amuse me, at least, after catching me by surprise the first time through. Nodame Cantabile’s OP struck Alex in the same way Honey and Clover’s did, particularly in the way the musical instruments were synced to the music. Finally, Eden of the East’s ED was notable for making creative use of animated paper art to convey a small portion of Eden’s main plot and I think many people (myself included) who saw that when Eden ran found it to be very well-executed.
And because Eden of the East was brought out, the audience got Alex to show the OP. Like the previous three, this one also doesn’t use any footage from the anime series though this one gets the distinction for using Oasis’s music. Although music by Westerners isn’t an uncommon occurrence, it doesn’t happen all that often either, which is enough for people to take note of “Falling Down.” Alex also mentioned something about Production I.G. doing a music video set to this song, but like him, I’m not actually sure whether that’s been released yet, so if anyone can confirm its status, that’d be nice to know.
That pretty much concluded the presentation. Hopefully by reading this, you were able to get a feel for how his presentation ran and that you got something out of this. Like I said at the beginning, he’ll be at Otakon, so for those attending, even if you’ve read this, I highly encourage you to go since he might throw a few things into the mix now that these posts have been written. All thoughts on this series of posts as well as Alex’s presentation are most welcome and I’ll try to answer any questions about the panel for those who have questions (assuming my brain can recall the finer points). Hope you all enjoyed this is much as I enjoyed writing this!