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10 Best Anime Openings of 2022, Ranked

In a still from the opening of 'Mob Psycho 100' part III, Reigen and Mob are in suits, looking at each other, with the words "one and only" in white against a black background

2022 was an all-time great year for anime. We got tear-jerking finales, heart-warming moments galore, and an anime where a guy who can turn his arms into chainsaws befriends a female version of Eric Cartman. In short, it’s a year where we all won. And perhaps the most concise way to distill the quality of anime in 2022 is through one of the biggest staples in the genre: the OP.

Given the high in the medium in general, it only makes sense that 2022 was an amazing year for anime OPs, as well. Perhaps one of the most striking features of this year is how strongly songs used in anime performed on global music charts. Although I didn’t count film sequences in this list, this is the year a song from One Piece Film: Red displaced freaking Beyoncé in the global Apple Music charts. Add to that the success of songs like “Mixed Nuts” from Spy x Family, and we’re in a very exciting time indeed. Pop music used in OPs doing well on Japanese charts is nothing new. But both “Mixed Nuts” and songs like “Uta’s Lullaby” from Red have some incredibly adventurous moments in them. And they charted. Globally. This, for me, is thrilling. Here are the best anime openings of 2022, ranked.

10. Attack on Titan, Final Season Part 2

Song: “The Rumbling” by SiM

“My War,” which serves as the OP for the first part of Attack on Titan‘s final season, is one of my favorite OPs of all time. I don’t think “The Rumbling” is quite at that level—the animation isn’t as poetic—but it still leaves you with goosebumps. “The Rumbling” highlights how our characters have changed dramatically from where we first met them. In particular, it underscores Eren’s current isolation and his evolution into someone the viewer—as well as the other characters—wonders if they truly know anymore. This aspect is where it truly shines. As with all good Attack on Titan OPs, it gets you in the mindset of, “Oh shit, what’s going to devastate me this week?”

9. Ranking of Kings, Cour 2

Song: “Naked Hero” by Vaundy

While I had some seriously mixed thoughts about the final episode of Ranking of Kings’ cour 2, I loved the show overall—by which I specifically mean that I love Bojji very, very much. Cour 2’s opening shows the series’ shift from its first half, doing an excellent job in displaying what haunts every main character—which means that it’s quite the emotional OP. In particular, the series of shots of Bojji, Kage, and my favorite snake getting coddled by matronly presences destroys me every time. Add to that a song by Vaundy—who also wrote my favorite song for One Piece Film: Red—and you’ve got a doozy.

8. My Hero Academia

Song: “Hitamuki” by SUPER BEAVER

Like another OP later on this list, I love how stylized the sixth OP for My Hero Academia starts out. For about half of its run time, it’s explicitly referencing the art style of the American comic books that surely influenced the series, complete even with “BOOOOOM”s and “RRMMMBL”s. It’s a joy to watch, even more so when it serves as an oasis from the markedly tense events of this season.

7. Pop Team Epic

Song: “PSYCHO:LOGY” by BOUNCEBACK

I love Pop Team Epic truly and deeply. As a parody sketch show, its theme song naturally has to be some kind of meta parody, as well. Season two’s opening hits this mark in genius fashion. It feels like a messy work session gone to hell. The whole thing is set against the gray-and-white squares that signify a transparent backdrop in Photoshop, with various versions of Popuko and Pipimi frozen in place or glitching out. For an additional layer of parody, I’m pretty sure the latter half of the animation and the song itself—which is called “PSYCHO:LOGY”—is a parody of Mob Psycho 100′s trademark OP style.

For an additional additional layer of parody, this song is sung by Aoi Shouta himself. If you know, you know.

6. Spy x Family, Cour 2

Song: “Souvenir” by Bump Of Chicken

Being in Japan when this OP released was incredibly striking. Even though Spy x Family takes place in a fantastical equivalent to Cold War Europe, it’s impossible to overstate how much this series nails the arrival of autumn in Japan. This is the series’ second OP of the year, and its autumnal nature is the most eloquent way they could have possibly said, “We’re back!” Furthermore, it exudes the warmth and gentle sentimentality that makes Spy x Family so special. And you can’t tell me that shot of the Forgers riding in a convertible as the bridge kicks in isn’t satisfying as hell.

Related: Here’s the best anime from each decade on We Got This Covered

5. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

Song: “This Fffire” by Franz Ferdinand

Given the pacing and flashiness that Studio Trigger is known for, the OP for Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is surprisingly patient and, relatively speaking, quite still. But that, combined with a gorgeous color palette, is precisely what makes it so striking. Plus, as someone who grew into my pop culture tastes in the early 2000s, this OP hits a bunch of nostalgic points. The animation reminds me a lot of the music video for “Tomorrow Comes Today” by Gorillaz, and the song is by freaking Franz Ferdinand. This might seem surprising for North American fans, but I learned that Franz Ferdinand has quite the following in Japan (the same is true of Avril Lavigne). The result is an OP which is simultaneously nostalgic and fresh-feeling.

4. Urusei Yatsura

Song: “aiue” by MAISONdes feat. Minami and SAKURAmoti

When you announce the reboot of a series that initially aired in 1981, especially one as well-known (at least in Japan) as Urusei Yatsura, there’s a whole mountain of potential issues to consider. Perhaps the most obvious one is, “How do you convincingly draw these characters into the present day?” The 2022 Urusei Yatsura reboot does this effortlessly in the span of one OP. “aiue” starts in the ’80s, referencing Space Invaders and the manga, then slyly moves us into the modern day by counter-balancing smartphone dating apps and an idol concert. It’s colorful, infectious, and fun—everything you need to bring you into the headspace of a reboot of a beloved series.

3. Spy x Family, Cour 1

Song: “Mixed Nuts” by Official Hige Dandism

The top three OPs in this list are all, in my opinion, perfect. Like, actually perfect. How the hell do you rank perfection? I don’t think you can. But I must list, somehow.

Spy x Family’s first OP is a masterclass in how to create the perfect opening. You’re given a highly stylized first impression of the show that feels straight out of the intros to old spy films. Then, in a brilliant contrast, the style turns to Madeline picture books. The pastel color palette, too, is striking in its contrast. The actual animation style of the show isn’t revealed until about two-thirds of the way in. It makes the “typical anime art style” feel novel and epic.

But even more than the incredible animation, the star here is the song: “Mixed Nuts” by Official Hige Dandism. The first 10 seconds of this track is straight-up noise and free improvisation, with a catchy bass line weaving beneath to still be able to sell it as a pop track. There’s noisy guitar delicately woven throughout, bombastic drum fills, horn stings that make my inner jazz nerd proud, and a bass line that makes you work up a sweat just listening to it. When you reach the chorus and the vocals really begin to soar … dear lord.

Long story short, “Mixed Nuts” is a hell of a song. It was in the Top 10 in the Japanese charts for months. For good reason. (Thank god One Piece Film: Red can’t count as an opening, otherwise I’d be forced to figure out how “Shin Jidai” fits in here.)

2. Chainsaw Man

Song: “Kick Back” by Kenshi Yonezu

I don’t know if a single opening has ever made me as happy as Chainsaw Man’s. It captures the series’ spirit perfectly. And it illustrates just how much MAPPA’s animators deeply love Tatsuki Fujimoto’s characters. There is so much fun and care laced into this opening. Even if you can’t catch the plethora of film references, or the moment of heartbreaking foreshadowing, there’s sure to be something in here that makes you smile every time. For me, it’s Denji cracking an egg and then cocking his head confusedly. And, of course, the ending shot of Denji and Power dancing like the giddy idiots they are, which has reached meme status.

Kenshi Yonezu’s “Kick Back” was obviously written to embody Denji’s mindset, and boy, does it succeed. If you haven’t looked up an English translation of the song, I highly suggest you do so. Here’s the chorus: “Fill up with ‘happy’ / Let’s go until it’s ‘rest in peace’ / That glimpse of hell isn’t so bad / Scatter it with love / I love you, please humiliate me / Rob me of my dignity and laugh, my honey.” That’s Denji, all right.

1. Mob Psycho 100 III

Song: “1” by Mob Choir

Mob Psycho 100 III is the perfect sendoff to one of the best anime series ever made. In keeping with that, “1” is the perfect final OP. I also don’t think an OP has ever made me cry before this one. But that last shot, the first time and last times I saw it, really got me. Even more than that, Mob Psycho 100 deserves the top spot in recognition for something it’s been building for three seasons. It’s something no other anime—or TV show—has ever done, and I doubt another will try to do it again.

“1” completes a trilogy of OPs that—astoundingly, miraculously—really do feel like a trilogy. Together, they form one complete story that perfectly mirrors the growth of the series’ titular character. For me, Mob Psycho 100′s OPs are behind only the holy duo of “Tank!” and “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis” as the best in all of anime. There is no opening in all of television that looks like a Mob Psycho 100 opening. Both song and animation are “experimental” in nature, serving up what we didn’t expect but exactly what we needed. There’s so much happening in this OP, but it never feels too busy. Its overwhelming moments are overwhelming on purpose, reflecting the characters’ mindsets and struggles.

And the song’s a banger. Seriously, the way all three OP songs nail the show’s themes is masterful. Look at the English translation of the first verse of “1”: “I realized that youth is grey / The identity of my irritation is unknown / This emotion train runs side-by-side with my brain / As I struggle through adolescence.”

Pure brilliance.

(featured image: Bones)

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Kirsten (she/her) is a musician, audio person, writer, and nerd. When not talking about One Piece or Zelda (among other anime and games), she's finding surprising ways to play the guitar.