It’s strange, in every season there’s always a single opening sequence and ending sequence that stands apart from the rest as the example that compels me to seek it out. And while there are several incredibly good opening songs this season (Persona 4′s comes to mind easily), there’s only been one song that has truly grabbed me like no other. That’s Un-Go’s “Fantasy”, by LAMA. The melancholy minor key tonality of the vocals being pulled along by the repetitive lilt of the piano transfixes me like no other. I’ve enjoyed several opening songs so far, but none have really grabbed me viscerally so much as this particular song has. Perhaps I need a little more time for the songs to grow on me. I know for instance that I didn’t know how much I enjoyed Tiger & Bunny’s Orion wo Nazoru until it was gone.
Occasionally, it’s not just the song that calls to our attentions, it’s the visuals in the sequence itself. That’s not to say that the song itself is an afterthought, but I theorize that once an episode of anime is over, we have a tendency to already be on our way out so to speak. It may explain why a lot of times the visuals of an ending sequence seem very haphazard and half-baked in comparison to the comparably more upbeat opening pieces of many shows which are priming you through both songs and visuals to internalize the mood and tone of what it is you’re about to watch. I will be the first to admit, that if the ending song doesn’t immediately grab my attention as an episode is finished, I’ll be less likely to pay attention to the visuals themselves.
But hey, sometimes the strength of the visuals themselves are enough to cause them to linger.
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.