There's nothing quite like a good anime theme song, as many fans of the genre will attest to. A great opening will set up the series, giving context to detail like tone, characters, and genre. It helps prepare the audience for the story to come, amping them up through the power of music. Throughout anime history, there have been excellent openings in every decade, but none quite so iconic as the 2010s.
Maybe it's because the formula for an excellent anime theme was perfected in the 2010s, or maybe it's simply because the content that came out in the last decade was hugely successful. Either way, the 2010s held some of the best anime openings of all time. Let's go through a few of them.
"Unravel" - Tokyo Ghoul (2014)
Released in 2014, Tokyo Ghoul has one of the most iconic theme songs of all time - even music fans who don't know the anime tend to recognize this song. It doesn't hurt that "Unravel" suits Tokyo Ghoul perfectly. Even for listeners who don't understand the lyrics, the dark and dismal tone of the music conveys the theme of the anime before anyone even watches a scene.
For those who take the time to see the translation to English, it's also apparent how the lyrics immediately convey the conflict Ken Kaneki feels during his transition from human to half-ghoul. And, in the same way the anime stands out, the performance of "Unravel" sticks with listeners due to its unique singing style and use of repetition. It's an extremely successful opening theme song that remains hugely popular to this day.
"Shinzou Wo Sasageyo!" - Attack On Titan (2017)
No anime theme song typifies the genre more so than "Shinzou Wo Sasageyo" from Season 2 of Attack on Titan. Even though the anime is popular in its own right, this song is one of the most successful and popular openers of all time. It perfectly encapsulates the emotion of the anime - as the Scouts struggled against the towering, seemingly fatal Titans in front of them, they gained courage through camaraderie and rebellion. "Sasageyo," which is written in the form of an anthem, works perfectly with that theme. And because it can be easily sung along to -- at least the chorus -- people from all over the world can join in on the Scouts' intense rally.
Even though Attack on Titan has a few great theme songs, "Shinzou Wo Sasageyo" is the one that people remember most - and for good reason.
"Odd Future" - My Hero Academia (2018)
"ODD FUTURE," the fourth opening for My Hero Academia, has remained a fan-favorite ever since its release back in 2018. Like any other successful opening, it captured the essence of the season it represented: fun, eager, and with a definite rise. Even though My Hero Academia sometimes goes to dark places, it still remembers to keep things relatively light and engaging, just like the opening theme. "ODD FUTURE" is also insanely catchy, and the way it was edited with the visual opening makes anyone excited to see the anime.
The opener gives each character their "slow-motion" moment, and the saxophone solo definitely amps up the tone to something fun and powerful. Similar to Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia has many great theme songs, but "ODD FUTURE" is a stand-out against other anime of the 2010s.
"Jojo Sono Chino Sadame" - JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (2012)
Maybe it's because it's a cult classic, or maybe it's because the song is so catchy, but the opening theme of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 1: Phantom Blood definitely takes the cake when it comes to anime themes from the 2010s. "Jojo Sono Chino Sadame" is similar to "Shinzo Wo Sasageyo" in that it's written like an anthem that rallies fans together - this time against the evil vampire, Dio.
Jonathan Joestar's motivation and goal is perfectly exemplified in "Sadame," and when paired with the bright visuals, it's an unforgettable experience. It sets the stage for all of the following JoJo openings to come, but none can rival this one in hype or popularity. The song works so well not only because it suits the anime, but because it grabs your attention from the get-go.
"History Maker" - Yuri!!! On Ice (2016)
Even though a lot of popular anime openings come from the shonen genre, there's always a stand-out exception. From Yuri!!! On Ice, the song "History Maker" has made its name as one of the most popular and iconic anime theme songs of this generation. It definitely helps that it's sung in English, making it more accessible and more likely to be popular because it can be understood by many more people.
"History Maker" sets up Yuri!!! On Ice perfectly - the genre is definitely one that someone can ice skate to, and it conveys the romance and struggle the anime encapsulates. It definitely amps up the audience for the show to follow and reminds them that this is not a typical shonen anime -- it's a sports anime with some pretty emotional thematic elements. Anyone who listens to it will want to whistle or sing along, helping further promote the anime's already staggering popularity.