I was a part of the generation that deemed three shounen anime under a grand title due to their popularity. They were called the “Big Three”! DUN DUN DUN! It is not as impressive as it sounds as many denounce the quality of all three anime quite easily these days, more of a contrarian fad to dislike them. I covered One Piece and Bleach already, but the leader of the pack that I have yet to cover is the “Believe it” poster-boy himself Naruto! I have a history with Naruto, I mean in my generation of anime watchers who hasn’t. It has become almost a mainstream pulp culture icon recognizable by those not in the anime sphere even to this day even if they can’t pronounce it correctly. Naruto was a phenomena for a while, and still continues to be (to a lesser extent) today. So why not travel back into the past on one of the more controversial of the Big Three and dive into Naruto’s openings! Because you better believe that I am going to enjoy just another added dose of nostalgia.
Reminder that yes there will be spoilers about Naruto. Obvious ones nowadays, but still might as well put the warning up just in case. You have been warned.
9. No Boy, No Cry by Stance Punks, Naruto Opening 6
Easily my least favourite opening out of the entire Naruto openings. I am not a fan of punk music, it is not my forte and not my jam. So already the song has me a little on edge. Pair that with how dour, dull and uninteresting visually this opening is and you have just a blemish on a consistent trend of not being bad in an opening sense. All of the openings are relatively watchable, yet this one I am struggling to find one thing I enjoy about it. The visuals don’t have an interesting aesthetic to them, often employ still images, even if it is animated they don’t showcase them in interesting ways or have unique angles. There is nothing to grasp onto here stylistically that says “We put thought into this!” It just feels like the laziest thing I have seen that goes past budget cuts into them not caring because it is a filler arc opening. It is just an aggravating opening not worth the time to watch in the slightest.
8. Go!!! By Flow, Naruto Opening 4
Wow…this is a case of a song that should have been in a better opening because this was painful to watch. Yes the comic strip aesthetic makes this bland opening filled to the brim with stale still images more bearable, but there is no flair to it in the slightest. The song by Flow is catchy and so much fun to listen to on its own, however the visuals do nothing to try to keep up with its upbeat rhythm. This feels like an opening I should be dancing to yet most of it is filled with bland still-like images, since there is some animation thrown in from time to time. I just don’t feel the jolt of energy this song is trying to provide with stilted visuals like this. It is remedied a bit with a later version changing some stills into flowing action scenes, but it still doesn’t invoke the same excitement this opening needs in the first half. Maybe I am being a bit too harsh on this one as it is still one of the better openings that has an excess of still images, but it still feels like a disservice to just an absolutely fun song under-utilizing it.
7. Haruka Kanata by Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Naruto Opening 2
Asian Kung-Fu Generation is always a fun band to have for openings. The songs always stay in your head well after the opening ends and the show starts. Besides the song however this opening has more to be desired only giving us the bare minimum of interesting visuals beyond copious amounts of stills. There always seems to be that one opening in the line-up that distinctly looks like budget cuts, hoping a band like Asian Kung-Fu Generation can make people overlook it. Unfortunately for once…I can’t. This opening is bland visually besides one Orochimaru scene and one interesting scene of colour composition with Gaara, Sasuke and Naruto. The Orochimaru scene in particular shows the looming threat he poses over the bond between Sasuke and Naruto, hovering his eyes over his prey. It is kind of a haunting image and clearly the best one with long term ramifications for the story. It has a good song, some stand out visuals but falls sadly into the more generic opening category.
6. Re:member by FLOW, Naruto Opening 8
What I like about this opening is its timing. It keeps everything for the most part in the opening to the beat of the song, keeping the synchronicity and cohesion to make the opening flow almost perfectly. It is just a technically nice opening, upbeat and generic but gives a nice showcase of the characters to a good song done by one of the best bands in the business. Not much more to say about it really, which can be a bit disappointing, but also a lifesaver that I don’t need to say something relatively negative about it either. It is perfectly in the middle.
5. Namikaze Satellite by Snowkel, Naruto Opening 7
The opening starts off great with showing all of Naruto’s generation getting up for the day. What this opening feels like is just to show how close each of these characters have become. Giving us a small glimpse into everyday life ending off with a get together under the stars. A star going across the reflection in Naruto’s eye gives him a glimmer of hope that he’ll bring Sasuke back someday, clutching firmly onto Sasuke’s old leaf headband. It is a nice opening, nothing too outrageous except for a long clip show of past events with Naruto running over it replaced with another slightly more interesting showcase of the Jonin fighting. Not the best during the middle of it, but in the beginning we see some of the best colour composition in these openings. My goodness it is stunning to look at with not only the shading creating dynamic features on each of the characters faces but giving the illusion of 3D. Truly breathtaking and if that was done all through the opening this would be at the top, but sadly it has enough mediocre elements to weigh it down.
4. Kanashimi o Yasashisa ni by Little by Little, Naruto Opening 3
Going the backstory route is never a bad thing, especially when the song feels more somber and reflective. What we see is the numerous sad backstories of some of the characters highlighted at this point in the series. We see parallels of Naruto and Gaara’s childhoods filled with loneliness and abandon. Then moving onto the two Hyuugas, Hinata and Neji, we see how different their upbringings were. Hinata was built around being pampered and shy to the world, holding onto her parent’s clothes. While Neji was given less of an understanding life as part of the outside branch, instead of holding onto his parents he is being held onto as his parent tells him the way of the world. Two distinct looks into the lives of two contrasting and similar pairings. Some interesting visuals that is for sure, others include a nice little showcasing of how Sakura got her ribbon when she was younger and the Third Hokage talking to a young Iruka by the grave of those who died fighting the Nine-Tailed Fox. It is a good somber piece with some great narrative parallels that lacks from time to time, I don’t forget that generic looking showcasing of characters in the middle.
3. ROCKS by Hound Dog, Naruto Opening 1
I actually enjoy the Japanese opening over the original English opening for Naruto. I think while the English first opening is fast acting and fun it doesn’t have the care put into as much as the Japanese version. What we see is a day in the life of Squad 7, showcasing each of their personalities and doing small little tweaks here and there to show the difference in ability between them all. If we notice the first shot of Squad 7 on the roof and Kakashi landing on the powerline, we notice Sasuke’s eyes moving towards Kakashi before anyone else then Sakura’s and finally the screen using a 1st person point of view for Naruto. Little moments like these set you up for what the dynamic of the squad will be. Sasuke is the skilled genius, standing on the rooftops, Sakura is not as confident in her skills, but uses her intellect to hide in the grass and then there is Naruto falling asleep on a tree. In just simple transitions they tell us the gist of each of their basic traits. Allowing the rest of the opening to be just one well animated fight sequence allowing Naruto’s brash and straightforward fighting style to be highlighted. The lackback nature of this opening is only accented by the slow rock song done by Hound Dog which while not to my liking manages to really sell the theme of “mundane ninja life” really well. All in all, a great opening that does the best with a simple presence telling you exactly what the show’s beginning is about without spoiling any tense emotional moments.
2. Seishun Kyosokyoku by Sambomaster, Naruto Opening 5
One of if not my favourite song from a Naruto opening, Sambomaster certainly does not disappoint with the opening that becomes a turning point for the series. The action never lets up in the beginning with dynamic angles always flowing and giving almost every ninja going after Sasuke in this arc a good showcase (Choji unfortunately does not for some reason). My favourite visuals of the opening however is where Sasuke reaches down for his ninja headband thinking about his friends in Squad 7, yet when he is reminded of his brother he turns his back on the leaf to pursue the power Orochimaru will give him. This leads to the inevitable confrontation between old friends reminiscing on the opposite side of their memories being montaged. This tells you in just two scenes what transpired between these two summing up this starting half of their journey together and their emotions leading them to these decisions. Sasuke wanting power to kill his brother and Naruto just wanting his friend to stay by his side. Great showcase of the fall of Sasuke and his relationship to Naruto and just an overall fun opening to watch from start to finish, especially with a great changing Rock Lee scene from when he is injured to when he gets better. Thumbs up indeed good sir.
1. Yura Yura by Hearts Grow, Naruto Opening 9
PAH! The amateur filmmaking style that feels like a high school project and the silhouettes that are reminiscent of classic martial arts films (not to mention that lettering)…I have to say I’m hooked. The song is catchy, the animation is really well done and fluid and by gar that amateur filmmaking style with the skips over footage (I mean you can see the spots and lines that show up in the footage) really gives this opening a sense of personality. It is distinct visually even if it doesn’t necessarily tie into the series at hand. It gives you that simple reminder of “these are all children trying to have a childhood in trying times”. In a way it is a really cute look of nostalgia before they turn into adults in the next half of the series. It preserves their childhood in a childish way and to that I think it is a marvel. Not to mention the song is just superb going along with this. I need to check out more Hearts Grow!
Another trip down memory lane traversed! Clearly if I did the Naruto openings, Shippuden will be following shortly. After finishing the Big Three I wonder what else I will dive into. Maybe more of a generic genre opening list or more long series. Either way this is not the last of the openings…not by a long shot!
So which Naruto opening is your favourite? What style of openings (visual or audio) affect your like or dislike of them? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a wonderful day!