Anime openings tend to fall into some generic traps. A shonen anime will have an inspirational J-rock song playing while all the main characters run through a forest. Magical girl anime have bubbly themes, usually performed by the lead seiyuu. Horror anime tend to have those techno-metal songs going on…
So, with all that being said, it can be really refreshing to hear an opening with a song that’s a little different. Something like…a jazz intro. Whether it be bold & brassy or smooth & funky, intros like these can be like a breath of fresh air. Of course, everyone knows about Cowboy Bebop’s iconic opening, so let’s skip over that bop and dive into the world of all the other jazzy anime openings.
Baccano!’s theme is well known for being a jazz-tastic powerhouse. “Gun’s & Roses” by Paradise Lunch is a fantastic song, and this theme is the perfect way to kick off an episode of the sprawling, action-packed series.
2. Michiko & Hatchin
Michiko & Hatchin is a viewing essential for fans of the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack. The opening song is “Paradiso,” by Japanese jazz group SOIL&”PIMP”SESSIONS. The rest of the soundtrack is composed by Brazilian samba musician Alexandre Kassin. Shinichiro Watanabe was the music producer for the anime, which also explains why the opening is reminiscent to that of Bebop’s.
3. Kids on the Slope
Another Shinichiro Watanabe project, Kids on the Slope features music from the brilliant Yoko Kanno, known for her work on Turn A Gundam, Wolf’s Rain, and, of course, Cowboy Bebop. The anime is about a group of friends who bond over jazz music, so naturally, the opening song is jazz. The song is “Sakamichi no Melody” by YUKI.
4. Death Parade
Death Parade’s opening is a blast. Between the goofy antics and dance moves of the cast and the fast-paced fun of the song, “Flyers” by BRADIO, this one’s the kind of anime opening you go back to and watch over and over again.
5. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (Opening 2)
JoJo’s is a show full of stylish action, and this boisterous opening fits it perfectly. What better way to pump people up for the wild, flashy antics of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure than with jazz? This opening was used for episodes 11 through 25 of the series. The song is “BLOODY STREAM” by Coda.
6. Tatami Galaxy
Asian Kung-fu Generation delivered another anime classic here with “Maigo Inu to Ame no Beat.” Tatami Galaxy’s unique art style coupled with this trumpet-filled jam make for one great anime opening sequence.
The Hellsing TV anime juxtaposes smooth piano jazz with images of vampires, blood, and violence. Even though it’s not as brassy and high-powered as some of the other openings on this list, it still manages to be badass and sets the tone for the show perfectly. The song is “A World Without Logos” by Yasushii Ishii.
8. Boogiepop Phantom
The Boogiepop Phantom theme is another example of smooth, soft funk goodness. The series itself is an avant-garde horror mystery that isn’t for everyone, but you don’t have to be into Lynchian weirdness to appreciate the bop that is “Yuudachi” by Shikao Suga. You may recognize Shikao Suga’s music from the xxxHolic series’ openings.
9. Ghost Hound
Ghost Hound is another psychological mystery series with a smooth jazz opening. “Poltergeist” by Mayumi Kojima has a swing music vibe with its fast-paced bass and jazz drums. The eclectic yet soft theme sets the pace for this odd, thought-provoking series reminiscent of Serial Experiments Lain.
10. R.O.D. the TV
An action series set in an alternate universe where girls can manipulate paper and kill people with books kind of have to deliver a kick-ass opening that’s anything but generic. Instead of going for a heavy J-rock theme typical of other action series, it gives us “Y K Z,” composed by Hideki Tanaka.
11. Cobra The TV Animation 2010
2010’s Cobra reboot gave us this retro, sultry opening. Sasja Antheunis’s vocals pack a bunch here on “Cobra the Space Pirate,” and with its trumpets and tempo changes, it could very well rival the classic themes of James Bond movies.
12. Space Dandy (Toonami Opening)
Space Dandy is directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and is thought to take place in the same universe as Cowboy Bebop. So, it’s no surprise that its openings would be vibrant and zippy just like Bebop’s. Here’s the opening for the Toonami Space Dandy spot, because it’s the jazziest.
13. Soredemo Machi wa Mawateirru
SoreMachi is an underrated slice of life anime about a maid café and its eccentric employees and customers. The show has a playful opening with a big band, Broadway feel. The song is “DOWN TOWN” by Maaya Sakamoto.
14. Najica Blitz Tactics
Though this fanservice heavy anime about a perfume designer/secret agent from 2001 wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, it did, at least, have a pretty sweet opening sequence. If you’re familiar with the 1997 OVA, Agent Aika – this is essentially the same show.
15. Gallery Fake
This unique anime from 2005, about an art dealer who loves art and does dealings through the black market, seems to have been largely forgotten about. Which is a shame, because Gallery Fake’s mixture of mystery and art history makes it unlike most other anime out there. It also has a nice jazz soundtrack – just take a look at their opening, featuring the song “Ragtime” by Katteni Shiyagare.
Do you know of any other jazzy anime openings? Put ‘em in the comments section!