Here’s your daily reminder that One Piece is the greatest work of fiction of all time. One of these days, I’m going to go in-depth about why this is undeniable fact and not a matter of opinion. In the meantime, I’ll probably take a piece-by-piece approach for both the anime and the manga to act as supporting arguments for the day that I get to that major entry. First on the list is to meaninglessly and subjectively examine and rank the anime’s opening songs/visuals. This lends nothing to the fact that One Piece is the greatest work of fiction of all time, but it’s the easiest thing to do. I needed something easy to start with, so *shrugs.*
(Update: This was not easy.)
The way I’ll set this up is by tiers. We’ll have a bottom tier of openings, a mid-tier, and then a super high-quality top tier containing the best of the best. Within the tiers, there’s no significant order, so don’t read too much into that. 行くぞ (let’s go)!
(Minor spoilers ahead, especially if you actually watch the openings.)
Opening 16 – Hands Up! by Kota Shinzato (episodes 591-618)
This one just doesn’t feel like One Piece. Although it uses a strong combination of filler scenes of the crew hanging out, canon scenes of the Punk Hazard arc, and walking Straw Hat crew silhouettes (all very important elements of a strong opening), the song just kind of ruins the experience for me. It’s too . . . cheery, but in the worst way possible. And the moments of serious “drama” in the opening’s visuals try to install a type of drama that we don’t find in the actual story arc itself. Just . . . eh. Probably why it was short lived compared to other New World Saga openings. On its own, though, it’s not terrible.
Opening 13 – One Day by THE ROOTLESS (episodes 459-492)
A lot of people are gonna disagree with me here. This one is another one that just doesn’t feel like One Piece to me. If you haven’t watched One Piece yet (and that “yet” is important because, well, you basically have to), you probably won’t know what that means at this time. One day (see what I did there?) you will. One Piece has a distinct feel, and this opening doesn’t capture it. Even in One Piece’s other darkest moments, the openings can capture the tone appropriately without having this kind of sound. Most people don’t have a problem with this opening because the Marineford Arc is incredibly serious, and they think that the opening song has to match that. It’s not a bad opinion to have; it’s just not my opinion. Basically most of the slow songs belong in this tier because those are tonally different from One Piece. More on that in a future post.
Okay, so this one isn’t bad at all. I actually like it considerably more than the previous two. It feels One Piece-y, and that’s a big factor in these entirely too serious rankings. The Blackbeard monologue in the middle of the song is a nice touch that, although is completely filler, doesn’t detract from the experience too much. The visuals include some of the cool moments from early Dressrosa along with lots of filler action sequences. I think a big thing that separates this from Tier II is that this one lasted for so, so long. Dressrosa already dragged on enough with bad pacing in the anime, but hearing the same song for such a long stretch of episodes was so meh, and that’s something that the anime has consistently dropped the ball with ever since the timeskip.
Opening 18 – Hard Knock Days by Generations from Exile Tribe (episodes 687-746)
Yeah, I just didn’t like this one. Didn’t help that this song lasted way too long during the Dressrosa arc as well. Pretty much all of the post-timeskip openings have been pretty meh/basura.
Opening 19 – We Can! by Hiroshi Kitadani and Kishidan (episodes 747-current)
So in the anime, any song starting with “we” is supposed to represent a monumental moment in the series. We got “We Are!” when the series started, “We Are! (Remix)” for the series’ tenth anniversary, and “We Go!” for the first episodes after the timeskip. “We Can!” comes at the beginning of the Zou arc, which is big, but not monumental. Puzzling choice here. Also, the song itself is not great which is salt on the wound of bad timing by whoever’s in charge of these decisions. The animation in the opening visuals is really bad at a lot of points, including everything involving Brook’s afro. The fight sequence toward the end with Kaido, Jack, and the crew is pretty cool, though.
Opening 2 – Believe by Folder 5 (episodes 48-115)
You could make the argument that this song lasted a really long time in the anime as well, but who cares because these are my rankings and I really like this song. The song itself isn’t the best (still really good!!), but it’s a number of things that make this opening successful. First of all, it’s ridiculously catchy. After watching ten episodes of the anime with this song kicking things off, you’ll undoubtedly be bobbing your head to the beat. Bob-ability is a huge factor in these subjective rankings, so there’s that. The visuals work perfectly with the song, including the static pano of all of the villains and the one-by-one showcase of the Straw Hats with their best moments so far. If you don’t sing along when the artist says “I’m really really stuck on you ohhh ohhh” then there’s an 83% chance you’re dead to me.
Opening 3 – Hikari E by The Babystars (episodes 116-168)
This song is special to me because when Funimation finally acquired the dubbing and distribution rights to One Piece from the wicked 4Kids, this was where the show started on Cartoon Network. I still remember exactly where I was when I watched episode 144 for the first time, itching to hear all of the Straw Hats’ English voices. Good times. Only thing I don’t like about this opening is that it contains spoilers for an event that doesn’t happen until 14 episodes after it starts airing with the show. Don’t watch this opening until you’re on episode 131.
Opening 6 – Brand New World by D-51 (episodes 264-278)
Inspired by some of Eiichiro Oda’s best color spreads, this is a fun, lively opening that, in a way, contrasts the serious nature of the Enies Lobby arc. It’s done in a way that makes it work, though, and it’s fun to watch. The best part about it is that on top of the fun visuals, it includes some of the best and most epic moments of the best stretch of One Piece. Just a fun one overall.
Opening 8 – Crazy Rainbow by Tackey and Tsubasa (episodes 284-325)
It’s early Sunday morning. I run to the kitchen to eat cereal and say hi to my beloved mother. I beg her to use her laptop. I crack open said laptop and go straight to YouTube to search “One Piece episode 30- subbed.” This was my reality every week because by 2008, I had caught up to the show (that’s still going on). Every week, I was greeted by low quality streams unless I was lucky. One thing I will always remember because of that experience is this song. If you don’t sing along by the third episode that this runs, then yikes.
Opening 15 – We Go! by Hiroshi Katadani (episodes 517-589, 619-628)
Although this song covers probably the most boring stretch of One Piece, it’s still a really solid effort. It definitely captures the One Piece spirit, and it’s a fun watch. Extremely catchy, and it rates favorably in the bob-ability rankings. It’ll have you mindlessly reciting “ichi, ni, sunshine” for hours at the worst times in the best way. It’s a shame that the rest of the openings for the New World Saga haven’t lived up to this so far.
Opening 12 – Kaze Wo Sagashite by Yaguchi Mari (episodes 426-458)
This one is really cute. Wouldn’t want to watch Luffy break out of prison with any other song starting things off.
Opening 1 (& 7) – We Are! by Hiroshi Katadani (episodes 1-47)
Iconic. There’s no song that feels more One Piece-y than this song, and it has been repeatedly used as the de facto song to use when referencing One Piece. It captures literally everything about the story and lore that you love (or will love) and puts it in a song. Gol D. Roger’s monologue and the narration before the song start don’t take away from it at all. It’s super catchy, very bob-able, and it’s just overall a good song. If I start singing “Pocket-o no coin . . . ” and you don’t finish with “. . . soretto you wanna be my friend?” then consider our friendship over.
Opening 11 – Share the World by TVXQ (episodes 395-425)
So smooth. Literally right on the cusp of being Tier I. It’s knocking on the door, and the knob is turning. It’s just such a good and solid opening, but it’s not transcendent like the few in Tier I. The close ups and character cards (I really have no better way to describe it) are just so perfect. It’s like the beginning of a better-than-mediocre spy movie. And that face-off/slow walk between Luffy and Hancock . . . man. So close to transcendent.
Opening 10 – We Are! (Remix) by TVXQ (episodes 373-394)
It’s We Are! but better.
Opening 4 – BON VOYAGE! by BON BON BLANCO (episodes 169-206)
This song is special to me because it represents the height of the Skypiea arc which was when I really started to get hooked to One Piece. It’s arguably the catchiest song in the One Piece Openings arsenal, and Luffy’s monologue at the beginning is just so perfect. Head bob-ability is high here.
Opening 9 – Jungle P by 5050 (episodes 326-372)
I lied. This song is probably the catchiest. It also displays One Piece at its peak in animation quality. One Piece has never looked better than what it was during the Thriller Bark arc which is also One Piece at its comedic high. This song really grabs your attention and pulls you into the world of One Piece. The one-by-one introduction of all the Straw Hats striking action poses is extremely well done. The mini rap bridge in the middle of the song is perfectly set up with the visuals, including the Coup-de-Burst by the Thousand Sunny as the song slows down. Just . . . excellent.
Opening 14 – Fight Together by Namie Amuro (episodes 493-516)
This song is the perfect song. It’s head bob-ability ratings are off the chart. It’s the perfect mix of cheerful lightheartedness and low-lying drama and character development. Seeing young Luffy, Ace, and Sabo have their adventures evokes plenty of emotions and then even a little sadness. But just like Jimbe, the opening quickly reminds us of all the positives that Luffy still has in his life: his crew. On top of that, his brothers are always with him in one way or another. This opening is truly art.
Opening 5 – Kokoro no Chizu by BOYSTYLE (episodes 207-263)
This is the end of these rankings and I don’t know where to begin. This is the best opening of anything ever. That is the most subjective thing I’ve ever said, but generally, people rate this opening highly. It’s catchy. It’s dramatic. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s flashy. It’s beautifully animated. It represents One Piece at its peak. It marks the beginning of One Piece’s availability in HD. It’s beautiful. That opening sequence of all of the crew members falling (Merry Go included) is such a remarkable way to open the show. The Water Seven/Enies Lobby Saga is full of heart-wrenching drama and emotion, and this opening captures it while keeping One Piece’s trademark levity.
The action sequences are crisp (I mean, seriously. Just look at Sanji cartwheeling into that attack on Hamburg), the character models are crisp, the song is crisp . . . everything is just crispy. It’s really the perfect opening.
Thank you for sticking through 2000 words of my love for One Piece. I promise you this is only a function of there being so many openings. Anything One Piece-related in the future will likely not be nearly as long. In any case, kaizoku-o ni ore wa naru!