Rather early on in my fandom, I came across a pair of posts that discussed what the role of the opening and ending to an episode of anime is. It’s rather easy to define what an opening’s purpose is. That role is one that is meant to prepare and set the audience’s expectations through animation and music, and which sets the tone for the story at the beginning. Ballads, j-rock, j-pop, high energy, low energy, the mood that the creators mean to set is limited only to the vision and talent of the composers involved in the project.
What seemed to elude clearer definition however, was the role of the ending. When I posed this question, the answers that came back were clearly a lot more personal, abstract. My favorite endings leave a sort of mental residue that stays with you as the episode closes out, lingering like a strong memory of an important event that happened to you sometime in the past. Mawaru Penguindrum’s Dear Future achieves something to this effect.
My partner and I have covered this show extensively on this blog and we sit in rapt attention at what transpires on the screen. What we don’t give voice to as often, is how well the ending song melds into the emotions that we feel at the immediate end of any episode.
The jangling and distorted guitars at the beginning of the song do a very good job of imitating the disorientation we feel, reeling as we are, trying to make sense of what it was that we just watched. It’s these first few moments where we are at our most vulnerable, not quite able to verbalize what it is we think, let alone feel. As our thoughts begin to coalesce ever so slightly, the vocals take on a more dreamy feel. It veers into the melancholy towards the end, as my partner and I discuss the grim possibilities for our protagonists. This song stays with me long into the writing process for an episode.
I asked several other bloggers and friends which ending songs stay with them after an episode ends and why, and I got an overwhelming response. I’m going feature their picks in a series of posts here and I hope you enjoy reading what they have to say!
Any fan of the Bleach series knows they have so many endings! And by many, I really mean around twenty-eight. But I decided to go with ending 23!
Bleach, “Stay Beautiful”:
Stay Beautiful by DIGGY-MO. This ending video starts off by showing us various characters from the Arrancar side and Shinigami side and sticks them in New York City! Why does this sound so interesting? Well I guess the video really speaks for its self as we see all of the popular characters doing everyday jobs and having a good time from bartending, shooting pool and yes even stealing bread. There is a part of me can’t help but laugh watching the bad guys of Bleach acting out different roles, hell we even get to see Aizen dressed up as a cop! Well suppose I should mention how fun and catchy the actual song for the video can be. They even threw in a bit of rap to keep the energy going, and if you are a fan of thee Soul Eater series you might recognize their style of music.
Well I hope you enjoyed my pick for favorite ending thanks!
The next contribution comes from Nazarielle, a friend on twitter who regularly discusses manga and current anime with the blogosphere:
I’m sure plenty of people will agree that the Steins;Gate ED fits in very well with the series. It’s not a song I really loved, and I don’t listen to it on a regular basis, but I never skipped watching the ED for any of the episodes, even though there was no next episode preview waiting for me at the end of it.
Steins;Gate, “Toki Tsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku (刻司ル十二ノ盟約)”:
The visuals are pretty simplistic too, but between the song and the visuals, the ED manages to convey all the feelings of shock, confusion, and despair. As the show got even more intense, the ED gave time to absorb the shocking events that happened during the episode. I remember watching some episodes and just sitting there, staring at the screen, watching the ED play and being completely in awe. I think the ED’s simplistic visuals helped to keep me in that state of shock and awe and left me with nothing to think or say but “Wow!” The image at the end of the ED, showing Kurisu ‘bound’ added a really ominous feeling to the whole thing and a sense of dread for the coming episodes, particularly when there were huge cliffhangers.
I’m going to close out this first post with a contribution from my good friend Shane. He lives in the middle of nowhere, but still manages to be in the mix when talking anime with us:
I could talk about how this song and it’s beautiful accompanying animation mirrors the distance between Godai and Kyoko at the point in the series it plays but instead I’ll tell you about the three responses it evokes in me.
Maison Ikkoku, “Cinema”:
With it’s very first notes Cinema causes a sense of nostalgia to well up in me, but it’s a strange nostalgia, a longing for places and times I’ve never been and may only exist in my heart and my head. A balmy summers day in 1980′s Tokyo, a city on the cusp of becoming profoundly important on the world stage. Frenetic youthful energy working around an older dignity that bares the still fresh scars of terrible conflict and a sixty’s Paris in spring rains, as I’ve seen in so many great old films. Both of these places and times laid over one another in my mind.
As the singer begins his refrain of a past love it calls up what was once nearly a mortal wound for me but is now, a decade and change on a cherished tenderness. A young artist that grew up too fast and became my friend over shared smokes and meandering conversations. Who became my lover with a hand slipped into mine when her friend made a pass at me. Green and gold eyes that I could look at for hours filled with tears as we screamed our goodbyes. A void where she should be and my stubbornness wouldn’t let me try and fill till she was long gone, happy at last.
And when the vocals reaches the plaintive crescendo, I’m filled with a wistful melancholy because while I am finally happy with who I am, the path I’ve chosen to get here is a lonely one and I can feel all thosewhat if’s and might have been’s echoing at the end of the Cinema.
I’ll leave you with the two posts that got me thinking about this one night.