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That Moment When You Know an Anime’s Gonna Get Serious

It's. About. To go. DOWN!

Much like a video game that asks if you want to save your progress before entering a room, there are certain cues in anime that let you know that shit’s about to get serious. There are the obvious ones, of course, like when a seasoned fighter reveals that they’ve been wearing weighted clothing that holds back their power, or more subtle ones, like when a character who’s had their eyes closed the entire time suddenly opens them, or when the character who rarely loses their cool is pushed into fighting for real.

Megumi REAL fight

That being said, there are even more instances besides calm guy no longer possesses any sort of chill. These signs aren’t based on a character’s actions, instead, they’re based on what the series itself does. From musical cues to there suddenly being NO episode previews, these are some clever ways that anime illustrates the weight of a particular moment.

  • There’s no previous episode recap, the anime goes straight into the opening

Reki in the opening for "SK8 the Infinity"

Unless if it’s a series that regularly starts with the opening, an anime will spend the first few minutes doing a quick recap of what happened in the previous episode. If there isn’t a recap, the first few minutes will start the episode to set the pace of what you’re in for.



The recaps or first couple of minutes are ignored in favor of just starting the opening. This is a telltale sign of trouble if you’re watching a series that usually has content before the catchy opening theme plays. No dancing to the beat for you, it’s time to get down to business!

  • There’s no opening, the anime goes straight into the episode

Saitama defeats Boros

An even more glaring sign of “oh no oh no oh no” is when an anime doesn’t even bother to play the opening at all. This sometimes happens in the last episode of the season, the series deciding to not play that minute and a half long bop in favor of going straight into the story.

Not to sound dramatic on main, but something about an episode just putting the title on-screen with no opening to hype it up is nerve-wracking. Like. What kind of episode are we in for here?

  • Opening/ending/brand new song plays during a battle/event

Courier moves on to complete the mission

Now we’re getting to the REAL shit, y’all. While it’s not always in the middle of a battle (it can be during an emotional scene or a major event), nothing says “significant moment” quite like hearing the opening theme play in the middle of the episode.

The same goes for the closing theme, too, which will sometimes play as the characters have their final moments together before the season ends.

A spin on this is if a new song is made specifically for a moment, one that you only hear at that moment and nowhere else throughout the series. Basically, if the series takes the time to create a new tune – WITH LYRICS – for ONE scene, all bets are off.

Tanjiro runs in to finish off Rui

  • There’s no preview of the next episode for a series that’s always had one

The final episode of SK8 did NOT have a preview

Not every series will show you an episode preview after the credits, but for the ones that do, you expect to get around thirty seconds of clips that tease at what’s to come. If the next episode is a REAL serious one (usually the finale) there are times when you don’t get a preview at all. Instead, you get a title card, and that’ll have to hold you over until next week.

  • There are changes throughout the opening

Hanako's brother is suddenly in the opening

The watchful anime viewing eye may notice, throughout the episodes that they’re watching, that there are changes made throughout the opening to reflect what’s going on in the series. This can include the addition (or removal) of characters, someone suddenly crying because of something that happened, the list goes on. Not every series does this, of course, but the ones that do tend to be pretty slick about it, and by the time you figure it out, you’ve already been left devastated by whatever event changed the imagery in the opening.

Yuji and Junpei sitting together in the opening

  • There was a random, lighthearted episode last week

Papa don't leave me! SK8 episode 6

Every now and then a group of anime characters decides to go to the beach or hot springs or Narnia or whatever so they can take a break. While the episode isn’t plot-heavy, it does have blips of the plot here and there so it can call itself relevant to the situation (even though, honestly, you don’t have to try and convince me I’m all for the Character R&R episode). That being said, this episode can sometimes be an attempt to lower your defenses, because from this point on, the series is about to hit you with some major plot twists, angst, and things that’ll make you wish you could go back to the beach.

Sad skate boys why

What are some other anime cues that signify a major moment in the series? More important, which ones have been your favorite?

(Image: Funimation)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)