Well, it’s time for my final 12 days of anime post! Except, I’ve missed a bunch of days… yeah, next year I’ll make sure to write the articles beforehand to avoid writer’s block. Anyways, I will finish all the posts which were intended for this 12 Days series, though I’ll publish them later as stand-alones.
Anyways, since today is my final 12 Days post, I thought I’d dedicate it to a rather peculiar topic that I am quite interested in: anime title screens. The inspiration for this post came when I decided to watch a bit of the first episode of Seiren, an anime airing this season that I am quite looking forward to due to it’s connections with the Amagami franchise. The show hasn’t been translated yet, so I only watched a bit of the raw. That bit, however, included the opening… and that OP included the abomination of a title screen that is pictured below. The out-of-focus background, the fuzzy gradients, the ClipArt style hearts – it’s a good example of bad design.
One might ask: why does the design of a title matter? Surely just writing the name out would suffice. Whilst I must admit that “Seiren” (or セイレン ) displayed in some basic font over a white screen would be better than what is pictured above, good titles and title screens can be memorable in their own right. Anime titles are almost like the logos of their respective series: they are plastered on mugs, shirts, posters, and all the advertising material for a series. An series with an ugly title design will end up with a lot of ugly merchandise. And the title screen is a key part of almost every anime OP – seriously, pick an OP at random and the title will probably be featured in the first 10 or so seconds. A bad title screen can bring down an otherwise fine OP.
Based on that fact, I decided to browse openings.moe for some random examples of anime title screens to talk about. In no particular order, these are the ones I ended up with . I should note that I can not read Japanese, which undoubtably does impact my view on many of these titles, but in my view good design is something that can shine through no matter what the symbols being used are. Also, I have not seen all or even most of these shows.
Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day | OP link
This was the first OP I wound up with (I automatically skipped EDs, since they usually do not contain title screens), and it is a good one. The actual design of the title is admittedly quite simple – they seem to have gone with the “basic font on a white background” method referenced above. It is an elegant look, but nothing special. The swirling flower is what really elevates this title screen, however, namely through the way the OP cuts to this screen from the immediately preceding frame. If you watch the OP you’ll know what I am talking about. It’s easily one of the most clever transitions to a title screen I’ve seen in any OP.
Gintama | OP link
Yikes. Gintama‘s first opening actually begins with its title rotating and pulling away from the camera in order to reveal its facial appearance. I say “facial” because this thing is depicted as being some weird 3d metallic extrusion. The overall effect is not good, especially since the result is a blocky title with a face that is… just plain white? Like seriously, if you are going to do 3d animation, why not make the face more interesting?
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai | OP link
Another bad one. The MS paint scribble, the weird gradient that is used on those middle two characters, the bizarre speech balloon with tears (or sweat?) in it, and that ugly colour scheme (white, blue, mustard yellow, and pink… why?) make this title one that is simply annoying to look at. It looks like the logo of some self-help home video series from the 1990s. It gets worse, though: the title is formed by having each separate element fly into view using their own unique PowerPoint transitions, giving the impression that this is in fact a 21st century self-help home video series made by someone whose aesthetic sensibilities haven’t changed since the 1990s. Its only saving grace is that the song for this OP is so grating that the title screen seems downright acceptable in comparison.
Neon Genesis Evangelion | OP link
I wanted to cleanse my eyes (and ears) after that Haganai opening, and luckily I was able to thanks to the classic Cruel Angel’s Thesis. In actuality, the openings of these two anime have something in common. Like the Haganai title, each element of this NGE title is introduced to the viewer using its own unique effect. The difference is that whilst Haganai just spams all the various elements at once, NGE takes its time, starting with just “EVANGELION” before following it up with its kana equivalent エヴァンゲリオン and ending with 新世紀 for “Shin Seiki.” The animation is memorable and the final title is striking. This OP in general is one that was carefully planned, and the title screen was clearly not an afterthought.
Needless | OP link
And we’re back to ugly title designs, yay. The Needless title screen is striking, but not in a good way. How did they come up with this design? What was the thought process behind it? It looks like what would happen if you stole a logo from some middle school heavy metal indie band and plastered it on an extreme version of the English flag.
Rosario + Vampire Capu2 | OP link
After blasting the over-designed titles of Needless, Gintama, and Haganai it would be consistent of me to hate on this “Capu2” thing as well. And I guess I would, if I saw it without the context of the OP that it is a part of. It is overly complex and ugly. However, those red lips and the bubbly pink “CAPU” are able to save it by giving it a disco vibe that fits in well with the disco OP of this anime (I mean, the thing is literally depicted in front of an actual disco ball). I don’t like this design, and it is certainly possible to design a far better retro title, but it manages to get a pass.
Ore, Twintails ni Narimasu | OP link
Finally, some simplicity. The OreTwi title is displayed in a nice blocky italic typeface, utilizing only two colours and a white shadow that isn’t obnoxious. It works well with the background of the main character’s long red twintails to create a screen that is dynamic and reminescent of tokusatsu series without actually being pastiche.
K-On! | OP link
I’ve always thought that Kyoto Animation’s title designs are a bit dissapointing given the fact that the studio is clearly capable of fantastic art and animation. In this instance, however, it looks like KyoAni simply went with a modified version whats on the manga, so I can’t blame them too much. I can still make fun of the design itself, though. The main letdown here are the colours: that combination of red and pale yellow reminds me more of a hot dog stand than a music club. The rotating wheel that has all of the main characters’ names isn’t to my taste either: it’s alright when animated, but when still it just means that two of the characters will get the short end of the stick by having their names obscured by the text on top of it.
Yuru Yuri ♪♪ | OP link
This will be the last title screen I talk about in this post, and it is good to end on a strong one. Yuru Yuri ♪♪ is proof that you can have fun with a title’s design and still end up with a good end product. The almost Bauhaus-esque round typeface used for both the Japanese and Latin characters fits in well with the bubbly pink surround, and the YRYR scrolling in the background adds even more visual flair to the whole thing. Like Evangelion, this is a good title screen that fits in well with a good OP.
Well, that’s about it for today. I doubt that many of you actually managed to make it through several paragraphs of some guy rambling about anime title screens, but if you did, thank you. I look forward to posting more rambling nonsense on this blog in the future. I also plan on posting about designs that don’t just relate to anime, such as logo designs (a particular favourite subject of mine). Oh, and I guess I should get started on my 12 Days of Anime posts for Christmas 2017, so that by the time we reach December I may actually have some of them completed!