After really enjoying the experience I went through with the Bleach openings, I thought I might continue down this trajectory. Tackling classic openings or just talking about openings in general seems to be a fun pastime to me. A good opening allows you to see the heart and soul of the animators who put their time and effort behind it. The same goes with openings that have no effort behind them. I found an appreciation for openings throughout my years of watching seasonal anime, always looking for the best of the season. While I may get to that in due time I think I’ll continue to hearken back to my past with another well known shounen anime.
One Piece is a journey I am still traversing as an anime/manga fan. It continues to have powerful moments that make me turn my head in amazement as to how something so long hasn’t run into a plethora of problems for me. I have never seen a collection of openings that go along a journey with a show, having dips and dives in tone the longer the show goes on and changing the mantra of its openings as well. That mantra might be a bit overdone…using the same opening song three times, but it is a memorable classic. Now let’s take yet another journey into an childhood shounen classic of mine, One Piece. This time I am only going to go over my top 10 favourites from the series, the list will get a tad bit too long if I started going through every single one of them now.
Reminder that this will cover important parts of One Piece’s plot, you have been warned.
10. Hands Up! By Kouta Shinzato, One Piece Opening 16
Catchy song and flowing visuals can make a mediocre opening seem better than other generic ones. Another entertaining visual showcase and above average song choice, nothing particularly special about it however in the department as to any relative thought put into its visuals. The fight sequences were fun but relatively quick, there wasn’t any wow moments, and to top it off it’s of an arc most will just ignore once having read it. Nothing to write home about, but a fun ride while it happens.
9. We Are! By TVXQ, One Piece Opening 10
This would mark the third time this opening song has been used in the first 10 songs of One Piece. Even I will admit that can be a bit much. In the beginning I was merely hating just doing this song again even if they did do it to new visuals. This was because the beginning was barren of any of the fast-moving fun found in the original. Then in its second half they give you some great memories from over the years that you probably read in the manga or watch in the show. This is why anniversary songs can be done with more verve to them as they can cash in on the nostalgia of its audience and to some degree it worked. Why does it work? Well the song, We Are, is the anthem of One Piece signifying all the light-hearted joy the series started out with. To see it come this far with a song iconic to it and finally showcasing that grand adventure promised in the original it can make one forgive that this is the third time. That Going Merry visual of it watching the Vivi farewell scene did make me smile even as the Sunny blast out into the future. A fun remembrance of what was and what will be.
8. Hard Knock Days by GENERATIONS from EXILE TRIBE, One Piece Opening 18
This is an opening that feels like it is going on a bit too long, but it has less pieces to put together and feels less exhausting because of it compared to others that feel similar. Instead we get a catchy beat and song, fun visuals in the beginning and a tie in to what is happening in Dressrosa at the moment culminating in a final clash with Donflamingo. It has fun when it needs to, be serious when it wants to, doesn’t have a jarring talk in the middle of it (like another opening) and feels more like a journey than a jumbled up checklist. Not too much to digest in this opening, but standard fare excels in a well-crafted opening.
7. We Go! By Hiroshi Kitadani, One Piece Opening 15
This is a good transitional opening from the one right before it. What better way to signify a shift in the journey than with a different rendition of the original opening, done by the original singer! I mean it may sound redundant, but it actually works in this openings favour as the title “We Go” signifies a shift in progression more looking forward to the journey ahead rather than “We Are” which signifies more of a personal discovery that needs to be made. This also works because of this being the first opening after the time skip. A lot of cool action scenes later and we get the passing off of the Straw Hat from Rogers to Shanks and then finally down to a tearful child Luffy. Cool and stylish and with some meaning behind its name and the importance of the song means this stands taller than most One Piece openings. Not much else behind the visual aesthetic though.
6. Hikari E by The Babystars, One Piece Opening 3
Already loving the minimalist aesthetic for the opening narration. The colours pop off the screen. Right before the title card shows up the opening already showcases the personalities of all the Straw Hat crew really well. It feels like a more relaxed opening, one that is more content with showing the crew through their misadventures rather than showcasing the story. It creates a great portrait of the cast mixing in some comedy with its light-hearted tone. Not much besides that, but simplicity definitely pays dividends for this one.
5. One Day by The Rootless, One Piece Opening 13
Boring tone of song in the beginning leading up to the title card, probably to set a more serious tone but it doesn’t come off as atmospheric. Instead it comes off as a bit dull. What saves this opening from mediocrity and puts it this high up the list is the slow journey we have with Luffy as this song goes along. We watch Luffy trying to reach the back of Ace, remembering the good times of them together. When they finally meet, we don’t see Ace’s eyes. We see him smile, but we don’t see his eyes? Again this could be a subtle hint to him not wanting Luffy or anyone to come see him about to meets his end at the gallows, it feels more bittersweet than happy. All Luffy wants however is to see Ace and is as bluntly happy as he always is potentially blinded to the reality that could be looming over the horizon. A nice journey accented by the song, it took a while for the song to reach an understanding with the visuals even if it feels like a more sweeping song could have done the same effect but better.
4. We Are! By Hiroshi Kitadani, One Piece Opening 1
The original will always have a special place in my heart, even the english dub version of it. I love the sprawling speech about the Age of Pirates that is given during the opening. It makes it feel like a grand tale is about to transpire. This song feels like the anthem to what One Piece is, just one big adventure for freedom. The happiness and amazement is almost infectious on Luffy in this opening. I also love the transition of Luffy spinning the Straw Hat on his finger and it then shows Shanks wearing it. So much fun to be had on an opening that exemplifies why this story works so well for a wide audience. It is fun, has fight sequences, and is all about the enjoyment of the adventure. It embodies One Piece so early on in the show’s lifespan that it has become their go to song for any anniversary. To journey out into the vast seas with great friends, I mean it doesn’t get more One Piece than this one. It is an icon for the show for a reason.
3. Share the World by TVXQ, One Piece Opening 11
I love the music box start to the shot of us rising up from the ocean, makes the ocean feel like some fantasy waiting to be explored. Now open that up to one of the catchiest songs in the One Piece roster and I have to say this one already has me hooked. The Durarara character stills do have me a bit…eh because they aren’t that creative. Though it does lead into some great scenes, much like the comedic bit of Luffy surfing and inevitably falling into the water only for the other two who can’t swim to jump in after him. It actually is a legitimately charming bit within the opening. Then have the coolest character panning sequence of all the Shichibukai that could have been done, starting off with a stare down between Boa Hancock and Luffy in almost a western setting. That one shot can be a bit funny knowing that she falls in love with him throughout the show, but can be quite menacing as well not knowing anything about it. Then transition into a solid and fluidly animated action sequence involving Luffy and you colour me impressed! I didn’t know Toei would put that much effort in if I’m being honest. To top that all off we have Luffy reaching for a captive Ace as the vivre card lays burning between them. Powerful imagery to be sure. I am kind of glad that we finally received an opening that screamed of thought being put into it and effort after a lot of lazily done stills and crawls of stills in previous ones. Sure this one may have some itself, but it finally went somewhere with its visuals since the original ones.
2. Kaze wo Sagashite by Straw Hat Crew and Mari Yuguchi, One Piece Opening 12
So the opening starts off adorably cute with the Straw Hats interacting with animals. I just love how each of them interact differently as Sanji and Nami cook with some, Usopp and Franky fit a llama with armor, Zoro and a dog react similarly to when Robin defeats Zoro in Go. And to top it all off we have Chopper conducting animals with Brook playing the piano, this is already such a fun opening. The giant turtle, Luffy riding a giant seagull, re-enacting chapter title images that are just so vibrant and imaginative, it all fills me with a certain type of happiness I wasn’t expecting. Then culminating to a shot of Luffy running to his friends and tracking up into the sun and you have the making of the most feel good One Piece opening there is. No relevance whatsoever to what is happening, but does it matter? The way the Straw Hats interact in this opening fits in with their characters and gives us a grand old time to boot. Melt my icy heart why dontcha! Then through the drop in tone during the song we see Ace walking towards the Executioner’s block and trace back Luffy’s journey to get to there. It ends with a bit of a visual bang as Luffy and his unlikely allies fly forward to save Ace from the clutches of the Navy. A really solid opening through and through, from the song to the visuals taking us on a journey of their own to a conclusion we hope will be as happy as this opening started.
1. Fight Together by Namie Amuro, One Piece Opening 14
One the best moments in One Piece captured in a moving opening that feels like a music video. We see Luffy contemplative over the death of his brother Ace, the colours are now dimmed to dark shades of blue as he stares at his Straw Hat sitting on a stalagmite out of his reach. For this first time in Luffy’s journey he is now afraid, afraid of losing something dear to him. He reflects upon the journey he has had so far and the friends he had met. All those memories they shared together could be washed away in a moment’s notice. He finally lost someone dear to him, and it haunts him stopping him from moving forward towards his dream and that Straw Hat. We see another side of Luffy in this opening, one that is unsure of his future when all the time in his past he was so gung-ho. Full of life and now full of sadness. That is until his brother Ace pushes him forward, Luffy knowing this is not what he or anyone else wants Ace to be a reminder of. Rather than remembering the death of a man, he should remember the times they shared together. We see that through the shots of Ace, Luffy and their friend Sabo as they were kids.
There is this consistent melancholic feel throughout this opening. Since this is a pivotal turning point in the story, this is the time to remember all the good times and struggles Luffy has had with his friends. It is a bittersweet reminder of moving on accompanied by a great song in Fight Together, somber but powerful in its ability to make you remember to power through the tough times. Though the journey may have some rough spots, you need to persevere and make your dreams a reality. This is an emotionally draining and bittersweet opening to watch, having come so far in the series. Powerful in its messages, visuals and tone, One Piece Opening 14 is not only my favourite One Piece opening but it is one of my favourite openings of all time. I may delve more deeply into my own personal history with the song in a different post, but for now I’ll leave it at that.
As much as I might not be as high on the Big Three as when they originally came out in my childhood, I still regard each of them as some of the most pivotal anime/manga to who I am as an individual. I have strong love for animation thanks to shows like these and Disney films. Openings like the 14th One Piece opening is why I continue to watch and admire them. A lot of people love to skip over them, but if I always had my way we would be paying greater attention to them and seeing just how intricate some can be. They will forever be a fond memory to me, and One Piece is still a memory that has yet to be entirely completed and I look forward to finally seeing that journey end someday.
So what do you think of the One Piece openings? Is there any opening from your childhood that impacts you in a special way when you watch it? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have a fabulous day!