15 Anime OPs/EDs that make me cry

Note: This post is actually meant to be of therapeutic effect for me, because I am currently rewatching Diamond no Ace and suffering through angst, frustration, sadness and accentuated anxiety problems that have been seething underneath in the first place. But in any case, this idea came from my bouts of screaming, crying and cursing in watching said anime above. Since I have also never written about anime music, I figured there isn’t a better way to do it than this.

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My List of Top Anime of All Time: #10 – #6

It has been a while since my last Top Anime post. What with work and studying catching up to me I have felt it hard pressed to even come up here and comment on people’s posts or make my presence known, and I have barely managed to keep to my promise of one post a week. To balance it all out, it has been the longest period that I haven’t been watching anime, and yet not feeling anything much about it i.e. no sense of emptiness, or feeling unfulfilled. As will seen from my list eventually, there are actually very few extremely recent shows up on here, and I see that as a worrying trend about how anime as a medium to me is changing its significance, little by little. On the other hand, I am pretty sure I would be revved up again if I rewatch any of the anime on my list, so perhaps the quality of anime has been seriously dropping in terms of its ability to wow me in a way that’s novel and sets it apart from its renowned predecessors.

But no matter what, I will still continue the elusive search for jaw-dropping, adrenaline-inducing anime, and what better than to start with …

#10 Kuroko no Basket (Seasons 1 & 2)

Type: TV Series

Genres: Comedy, School, Shounen, Sports

Episodic Count: 25 + 25

Year: 2012, 2013-2014

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/11771/Kuroko_no_Basket

… the third season of Kuroko no Basket. I am a little slow to the end of this series, but it was really because I was hoarding it up and waiting patiently till it has ended so that I could marathon the entire series at one go. I am slightly more confident in the third season’s ability to bring me back into the world of Kuroko and surround me with sudden plot twists (my favourite kind of excitement), over-the-top supernatural abilities that evolve and change in a typical shounen way yet, and Kuroko-adorableness that makes me melt into a puddle – simply because it has consistently induced these emotions for the past two seasons.

Kuroko no Basket could easily been a hit-or-miss series for me, given the fact that I actually dislike too little realism and too much unexplained jumps in ability or ‘power-ups’, yet Kuroko no Basket had developed this uncanny ability to bring down the stone walls surrounding my heart and made itself a comfortable place in the Top Ten. I only knew that from the first episode, I was helplessly hooked. Thinking about it again, it must have been Kuroko. It really has been a long time since I saw a main protagonist in a shounen that isn’t hot-headed, way too energetic, and actually more close to normal-tempered. Kuroko is a fresh perspective because his deadpan expressions and yet innocent looks at times are way too tickle-inducing, and it blends in well with the comedic aspect of the entire series.

I realise I don’t have much to say about the plot and story of Kuroko no Basket because I was just overwhelmed with mini explosions in the pit of my stomach and fist-pumping moments throughout, and I couldn’t care less about the existence – if there is – of plotholes and the like because I was too busy melting into a puddle and keeping up with the amazing speed of Kagami and Aomine to even think about it.

#9. Angel Beats!

Type: TV series

Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, School, Supernatural

Episodic Count: 13

Year: 2010

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/6547/Angel_Beats!

The shortest series ever to grace the Top Ten, and the first series that enabled me to see the ‘light’ of an anime world apart from the more serious genres of politics, war, military and mecha, Angel Beats represents something very significant to me in my anime journey. Without it, I probably also will not spend so much time trying out 12 or 13 episodic series or exploring series more tailored towards drama, romance and school life. As such, I have Angel Beats to thank for opening my eyes to a world from which I have managed to discover a plethora of other gems and hence, prolonged my anime journey.

And yet, aside from my personal attachment to this series, Angel Beats is a series to behold, a judgment which most anime watchers would agree with. The setting of the afterlife may not be one totally unheard of, and yet the story that develops amongst the characters and the impression it leaves on viewers’ hearts is resounding, and painful. Its strength and perhaps fatal flaw lies in the length of the series, enabling it to be unable to really fully develop some of the main core cast of its characters. Yet, Angel Beats to me is a series that has managed to achieve the illusion of drawn out, adequate character development, by creating backstories that are executed in a way that makes the viewers remember them. Now, one does not require a genius to create a unique backstory, but to tell it at the most appropriate and emotion-inducing time is most crucial to the lasting impression it leaves. Otonashi and Yuri’s backstories respectively make my heart ache, and the closure that some of the characters are given remain the sole individual events to crush me, which I can think of. Having watched many good, excellent anime, I cannot emphasise how important that is, three years and 200 anime series down the road.

Angel Beats is also a stellar example of laughter and tears mixed into a whirlwind of emotions, which given the length of the series, also compresses time and makes its emotional impact more heavy a blow. The production team certainly used its length to their advantage, no matter how tightly packed the story was.

#8. Katekyo Hitman Reborn!

Type: TV Series

Genres: Action, Comedy, Shounen, Super Power

Episodic Count: 203

Year: 2006 – 2010

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/1604/Katekyo_Hitman_Reborn!

I never fail to look at this series fondly. It represents the better part of my first year of anime, and its glory of the 203 episodes that I have experienced with much joy and love will never be replicated. Its also one of the more unique longer series out of the ones I have tried (D. Grayman, Fairy Tail) and the ones I have never bothered, and will probably never because of the lesser and lesser amount of time I have left for anime as I ease into the life of an adult (i.e. the Big Four).

Admittedly, the first 20 episodes of this series were not easy. Those who have tried this series and have turned away before hitting, say, the 25th or 26th episode thereabouts would have been so bored out of tears by the exceedingly wimpy and gutless main character, Tsuna and slapstick humour which may not be to everybody’s liking at a first 20-ish episodic glance, especially when there are countless numbers of characters which have not been fully introduced. But as I realised, it really is hard for strong feelings to develop in, say, first 20-ish episodes of a long-running series like this, and KHR has managed to do it from episode 25 or so for me (and it took so much longer for Fairy Tail, ahem).

The one thing I love about KHR which other series has not managed to do is the presence of a combat system that is truly unique on its own. Its hard to describe as a general system, but its a mash of both magic and martial arts, making everything flow seamlessly and making evolution of powers and power-ups less of a deus ex machina or convenient plot device. No other combat system has managed to entrance me thus far, as I am really often bored by the overuse of a magic system without the rules explained (such as Fairy Tail and other shorter series), and the fact that the world of super powers here has been slowly unpeeled, demonstrated and explained through the eyes of Tsuna, a boy who was an utter failure in life and knew nothing about the existence of such things. I feel that as a viewer, I am slowly given an orientation of how things work, and from it I find my bearings and enjoyment of this series as well.

As much as I love this series, I can’t help but point out its most obvious flaws. For those looking for a character development focus, this series may not be for you, because character quirks for comedic purposes are overused, but we don’t get a sense of side characters’ motivations outside from the personalities they adorn in relation to their interactions with Tsuna, our main character. This has not managed to diminish the fun for me however, as the fact that there are plot twists and reasonably explained power-ups is a good enough source of entertainment. Also, the pacing is quite terrible somewhere in the middle of these 203 episodes, with plenty of filler and recaps in the front part and back part of episodes, leaving around only 8 minutes of new content, drawn out across 15 or so episodes and resulting in extremely prolonged fights, due to the usual issues of the anime catching up way too fast to the manga – needless to say, I still sat through everything extremely happily, though I doubt I would have the patience to do that nowadays, when I am more impatient and choosy in the quality of the anime I pick and watch, due to a lack of time in general unfortunately.

Despite the lack of character development, the cast here represents the most memorable cast of characters to me because of precisely the different characters, sporting entirely different personalities and bad tempers, fight all the time and yet have each other’s back in times of adversity or the presence of a common enemy. This differs from Fairy Tail because unlike the members of Fairy Tail, these characters don’t actually go on a monologue about how Fairy Tail is their family and how it is important to persevere because of their nakama (which can be inspiring, yet on the flipside, a tad irrational because you have even the most gruff of most members spouting such lines which can be inherently contradictory with their personality). Here, the characters don’t say mushy lines, and show their solidarity by action and perhaps a crazed desire to win and challenge somebody stronger than they are.

KHR may not be the best of its peers, and many would still gravitate to shows like Fairy Tail (which is undoubtedly better with its tighter pacing and quality fillers). But I strongly recommend those who haven’t to give this a try. You would be extremely surprised at how much you like it after 40 or so episodes, I daresay. Also, a shoutout to bishounen-lovers, this is a must watch for those who love bishounen in a shounen setting – seriously, just look at these swoon-worthy hotties! (I think this is probably the singular quality that has enabled me to love this series so unconditionally for so long)

#7 Zetsuen no Tempest

Type: TV series

Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy, Magic, Shounen, Psychological

Episodic Count: 24

Year: 2012 – 2013

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/14075/Zetsuen_no_Tempest

I move on to the top 7 series that have made such a long-lasting impression on me that my attachment to them is no longer just coloured by personal bias, but are also convincing as outstanding artistic works to make these series part of a burgeoning list of the top rated anime of all time for most people. And yet, I start with Blast of Tempest, a less well known series even during the time it was airing, and also highly underrated.

Blast of Tempest is a little of an oddball, and yet it is the juxtaposition of such starkly different elements that makes the entire series both a viewing and intellectually satisfying pleasure. The core of the plot is steeped in a mystery of a death that has already happened at the start of the series, and this soon spins a tale of intrigue including a family mystery, plausibly romantic incest, century-old legacies with hints of the supernatural with the unsheathing of the existence of magical powers, and a plot of world destruction. Even with such an ambitious outlook, Blast of Tempest does not fail in its execution, what with BONES’ excellent animation bringing out the best in action scenes, beautifully drawn characters, and mountains of quotes from Shakespeare works, especially from The Tempest , a work which the story of this series is symbolically modeled after.

Personally, I have never seen such a unique anime that has managed to combine elements of such contrast and weave a convincing and exciting story that manages to keep one on the edge of one’s seat with a slight tremor. There is simply no way of predicting what is going to happen next simply because this story is a novelty that is unlike most other anime and the paths that anime usually take. To top it off, the series features one of the most unique character casts brought together at the brim of tragedy. We have Fuwa Aika, one of my favourite female characters of all time, with her cool, snarky, confident and extremely feminine demeanour. Yoshino, as one of the main male protagonist, captures my heart with his quiet observance, stubbornness to certain principles, his undying love for Aika, and an intelligence which resembles Light Yagami. Mahiro and Hakaze are also lovable characters that stand by their own ideals, especially when it comes to the people they love.

Blast of Tempest is a real eye opener for anybody who is already more than a little bored and miffed by anime cliches, and it is a reminder of why I am still searching for hidden gems in anime even at this current state, when I have been growing increasingly disillusioned at the lack of a fresh approach to story telling or character development in recent anime I have tried.

#6 Fate Zero (both seasons)

Type: TV series

Genres: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural

Episodic Count: 13 + 13

Year: 2011, 2012

More information at: http://myanimelist.net/anime/10087/Fate_Zero

The recently concluded Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (Second Season) was excellent, but Fate Zero will always be the masterpiece out of all Fate adaptations. Both are beautifully animated and there really is no saying which is better than the other in this aspect, except to say that of course, in 2014 and 2015 animation technology seems to have further improved yet again, as shown in the flawless, swift and smooth-cutting action scenes of UBW. And yet, Fate Zero will always remain unique due to its larger focus on all characters and the development of a multitude of thought-provoking themes that span wide and far, including views on how a good king should be, whether ends justifies the means, the effect of traumatic childhood experiences on behaviour and how such a bloody, inherently harsh competition whips away at one’s principles, plunging those who, consciously or not, chose to take part in the Holy Grail War into darkness.

Fate Zero is an inherently dark tale which outlines the Holy Grail War ten years before UBW. We see the story mainly through Kiritsugu, a man with a sense of ideals of justice that are slightly warped and different from the typical anime hero, and seeks to pursue destruction before creation in a way that makes people cheer for him. His coldness and ruthlessness blend in together with the traumatic experiences he had, making him one of the most pitiable characters of all time. And yet, not only Kiritsugu shines in this series. Other characters, whom did not appear to be most memorable in other adaptations, really outdid themselves in this series, including Gilgamesh and his otherworldly and badass principles, and also Saber, in all her struggle to best herself, her despair, and her motivation. Even one time characters like the Waver – Rider combination, strike a chord in my heart because Rider personifies the loud, gruff and yet brutally honest king and an ideal of a hero, with Waver, the ‘weakling’, and yet complementing each other to no end as seen from their interactions, which I recall fondly.

I admit that I am probably attracted to darkness in a story to choose Fate Zero over its more beautiful and upright counterpart, Unlimited Blade Works. But Fate Zero has a magnetic quality about it that I simply cannot overlook simply because of the tragedy inherent in the story from the start. Time and time again I think about Kiritsugu and my heart contracts, and the same reaction is caused in me whenever I watch the second OP of the series, with ‘to the beginning’ by Kalafina as its theme song. All I have to say is that Fate Zero is quite unbeatable unless the same set of characters are reproduced, which is probably an impossible feat.

I didn’t expect such a long post, but I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised given my tendency to ramble and proclaim my love for these series, which I had the freshest impressions about and have basically captured the essence of my love for anime but never got a chance to blog about. I apologise for the long post, but this is my favourite anime I am talking about, so I am sure anybody who has anime they are absolutely in love with at all times would be perfectly understanding of this. Till the next post, which is the last post in this series! 🙂 (For those who have missed the previous posts, they are at #25 – #21,  #20 – #16, and #15 – #11 respectively.) Hope you enjoyed reading this, and I look forward to knowing your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Musings on Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works (TV series): Emiya Shirou’s Idealism

*Warning: Contains unpopular views & quotes (hence spoilers) from Unlimited Blade Works (TV series) and mild ending spoilers for Fate Zero*

Shirou Emiya has always been an enigma of a character to me. Scathingly reduced to a lovelorn and overtly idealistic two-dimensional fool in Fate Stay Night (Studio Deen’s version), his blandness as a main character has left a stark impression on my mind, like an ugly scar tainting what was otherwise a highly enjoyable anime-watching experience. As such, I have always been quick to criticise and denounce the hype and fame surrounding that series. In fact, the only way for me to rationalise said fervour was to attribute it to overwhelming fan support for Saber and a well told romantic story with a female lead of a novel archetype. Never has it crossed my mind that Shirou Emiya would have anything to do with any positive description.

Then Unlimited Blade Works arrived at my doorstep and I found myself debunking all prior judgment about Shirou being as interesting as a blank slate. Credit should probably given to the Unlimited Blade Works route, which either (1) delved more into the interesting aspects of the Fate Stay Night story i.e. the concept of heroism and how ideals that transcend the person clash with one’s sense of self; or (2) was simply adapted more masterfully. In any event, Shirou’s ideals, which gave the misleading impression in previous series of laughable naivety, are fleshed out here. They actually start to make sense.

However, that does not mean that they are in any way admirable. In fact, my position is that they are a dangerous set of ideals which if adopted without qualification, have profound effects beyond what series has explored. In this post, I will elaborate on my position by expounding on the reasons mentioned by the other characters, and add in my two cents’ worth:

Archer i.e. Heroic Spirit Emiya

Being the soul incarnate of Emiya in a parallel world, Archer is arguably the best placed to give criticism with the benefit of hindsight to the ‘rightness’ or Shirou’s cause of action. After all, he is the one who had lived through that ideal and ultimately ended up with the destiny of fruitless eternal reincarnation. (The counter-argument here would be that it is precisely because they are essentially the ‘same souls’ that any attempt to judge themselves through the eyes of their alter ego is a meaningless endeavour due to the inherently skewed lens they would cast upon themselves in doing so. Yet since they exist in parallel this isn’t as strong a counter as it would have been.)

When Archer and Shirou are set up in opposition to each other in the action scenes symbolising the clash of ideals (or swords), we can see how diametrically opposed they actually are. In that fight, Archer represents a disillusioned Shirou, sticking to his ideals and living by them staunchly, only to discover the impossibility of his goal and the fact that it has instead culminated in an outcome which he had initially sought to prevent. Hence, Archer’s words hit home when he accuses Shirou of being hypocritical in copying the ideals of a man he had idolised and looked up to and living solely to achieve those ideals. Notwithstanding the possibility that ‘saving everyone’ and ‘making everybody happy’ is an admirable goal in itself, the unqualified nature of such a goal smacks of ludicrity and the product of unworldliness. To Archer, he is doing Shirou a favour by killing him, so that he does not in future live out an existence of shame, self-blame, and despair as he do. In essence, Archer is looking to ending Shirou’s life as a form of true salvation.

Shirou acknowledges all that Archer has said and admits that he is hypocritical adopting another person’s wish. And yet, this wish of wanting to help others isn’t any less real. ‘Even if that life is like a machine; even if that life is dripping in hypocrisy’, he wants to carry out his ideals, simply because they aren’t wrong.

One cannot doubt that Shirou’s way of justifying his goals as a counter to Archer’s conclusion is pretty typical of Japanese entertainment and the positive messages it seeks to uphold and send to its viewers. By condemning his self”s desires and sense of identity to nothingness, he puts the world and an ideal above everything else – that is self-sacrifice of a truly highest level. Yet, herein lies the danger. By carrying out his goals of a better world, Shirou ultimately has to choose sides – that means killing people that are ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’, or have committed ‘crimes’. But who is Shirou to judge? Ultimately, living out his ideal means that he gets to play God, and in basing such decisions based on his personal set of morals and his sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, he is in fact condemning the people whose ideals do not agree with him.

However, detractors from this position will argue that there isn’t much of a contradiction when after all, most societies’ and/or people’s senses of morality are relatively consistent. Despite being of different race, religion and nationality, we can all agree that cold-blooded murder and rape is bad, for example. Yet, throw in situations akin to Death Parade’s episodic customers into the mix, and the moral dilemma surfaces. In fact, even in seemingly clear cut cases, such dilemmas do exist. As a judge of right and wrong, when the circumstances of a ‘crime’ are made known, the lines of morality becomes increasingly blurred.

Archer may have turned out to be more twisted and cynical than he should have been, but his concerns are valid. That Shirou may ultimately turn out to kill more people than he saves, and that knowledge may potentially destroy him given the way he was so determined to discard his self to serve as a hero of justice, appears to be Archer’s primary concern. Shirou’s declaration that he, effectively, doesn’t mind doing that, doesn’t actually help. And this will only be more clear as we move on to the other characters.

Tohsaka Rin

Rin’s objection to Shirou’s ideals as we see in the earlier parts of Fate stem from more of a concern for his well-being, which is understandable as her role as Shirou’s partner in battle and in life (at least in this route). Even if she appears to come to terms with Shirou’s stubbornness and change her stance to support him and the way he chooses to live his life at the end of the series, it is highly understandable as she loves him. However, it is through Rin’s objections where Shirou’s danger of losing his self becomes more pronounced. Shirou’s selflessness not only destroys himself, but also the people who love him and who care for him. Is that, ironically, a display of true selfishness akin to unmerited suicide? Rin’s choice in the end ultimately also means her destruction, and she clearly knows that.


Gilgamesh has a very interesting take on Shirou’s quest to be a hero of justice. His attitude towards humanity, whom he views – mostly – as mere mongrels with an inherent darkness which they refuse to admit and embrace, may come across as ridiculously exaggerated and classically villainous. And yet, there is some truth to be gleaned from his opinions, however annoying his pompousness and overpowering sense of superiority may seem to some.

From his perspective, Shirou aims to achieve equality through the moral compass, by saving all that supposedly deserves to be saved and condemning the rest who don’t. To him, Shirou is a weakling who cannot acknowledge the fact that darkness exists in humanity and the world, and cannot possibly be eradicated. In many ways, Gilgamesh’s label that ‘humanity is the name of an animal who cannot find joy in life without sacrifice’ is not entirely sweeping, though only in that joy is only joy when looked in contrast to sacrifice. Hence, it is the same with the concept of equality. Because people will never truly be equal, it is impossible to truly judge a person (the Emperor of Britaania of Code Geass and the core theme of Death Parade come to mind) and hence to distinguish between one whom he ought to save and one he should not.

Emiya Kiritsugu

Kiritsugu’s weariness of the world and his struggles are actually more aptly mirrored by Archer than Shirou. His actions of repeated killing for an ideal that has no doubt become twisted also bears more resemblance to what Archer has grown to become and realise after time. Yet, Kiritsugu also represents a cross between Archer and Shirou. By logically taking a utilitarian approach and viewing the value of human lives by mere numbers, he chooses to destroy a few to save all, as seen in his unwavering single-minded pursuit of the Holy Grail in the previous war by all means possible and destruction of all obstructions in his path. Kiritsugu however, knows the weakness of the ideal he pursues, and ultimately seeks salvation in the form of saving a single life in the fire of destruction he indirectly caused. We see the logical, merciless facade of his collapse as he sees Shirou in the fire. In a way, Kiritsugu is more humane than Shirou as his emotions tangle with his decisions towards the end of Fate Zero.

Shirou, in contrast, represents the zealous pursuit of an ideal without a care for himself, which is no doubt unsustainable and inherently more dangerous. Aside from the concerns of playing God, the concerns of Shirou’s source of humanity and sense of morality is in question when he has zero self-love. For where do these originate, and how do they stay strong as a sense of guidance, if Shirou loses himself in his relentless quest to devote himself to his ideal? This concern is more apparent here when Kiritsugu is compared with Shirou, for the former tried and his humanity surfaces in the overwhelming sense of emotion and despair that he feels. Shirou, without the benefit of years of experience, seems more like a being to fear than to love.


Of course, Shirou’s ideals are not exactly wrong. While Archer and Kiritsugu are not the best alternatives due to the weaknesses innate in the way they carry out their ideals, Shirou carries a more innocent, destructive outlook that may not be obvious when first confronted with his ideals. There are too many questions as too how his ideals are actually the ‘right’ ones to be pursuit, and whether it is indeed the ‘best’ set that should be followed. The Fate series does not offer a clear answer to this, and seems to prefer Shirou’s ideals (through it choosing to show Shirou in a more positive light and giving him a more hopeful ending than his predecessor, Kiritsugu). However, the unanswered questions loom for those who refuse to accept such a conclusion at face-value and who seek to discover a more convincing resolution or ‘truth’ to these questions. As such, Emiya Shirou remains but an alternate perspective, but he should never personify the ‘best’ definition of what a hero of justice is and should be.

What do you guys think? Which set of ideals do you think is the best to adopt? Or, relatedly, who do you think is the true ‘hero of justice’? Feel free to comment and leave your thoughts below 🙂