This is my final openings post on the Big Three and taking this journey back through my childhood as an anime. Naruto is something that gave me one of if not the most touching moments I have seen on television in my youth. It is one of the moments that helped propel me to where I am today attempting to be a screenwriter because I want to be able to do just that. Maybe touch the heart of someone watching, even if its just one. So to have Shippuden, the latter half of Naruto, end…it just feels like the generation is just about over since Bleach already ended and One Piece is past its halfway point. It is about time to say goodbye to a generation, and welcome the new one. The Big Three was a part of my start, but new fans may find their start with something new like Boku no Hero Academia. It was great to take this little trip back to my childhood, but sadly all good things come to an end and I couldn’t think of a better ending than with my favourite Naruto Shippuden’s openings.
Just a reminder that I will be spoiling a lot of Naruto Shippuden, or key moments in Naruto Shippuden so be warned.
10. Hero’s Come Back by Nobodyknows+, Naruto Shippuden Opening 1
What a way to start the new series off with a bang! There is a lot of interesting style choices within this opening. The monocolour palettes used in the running scenes of Naruto, Kakashi and Sakura is certainly flashy enough to keep my attention. It does so long enough for me to actual think a counting visual is actually good. One of the laziest ways to stay in rhythm with a song, yet the upbeat rock motif and heavily stylized sequences of characters fighting certainly make it feel welcomed in this opening. Though they do use it twice…so it kind of overstays its welcome the last time as it is the final part of the opening. We see the inkling of Gaara saying goodbye in this opening as he fades away into sand while Deidara and Sasori, his captors, fight silhouetted in the background. Some cool visuals and a great panning shot of the Akatsuki making them look menacing especially Deidara with his hand. It was a good visual to showcase a character without telling what his ability is. It was a fun style over substance opening posing a few questions but nothing really profound or important in the grand scheme of things.
9. Blue Bird by Ikimonogakari, Naruto Shippuden Opening 3
I do love the blue bird motif throughout this opening, especially in the beginning with the black background and the cropped images of Naruto and Sasuke. It kind of feels like the thread of fate almost, that blue bird how it leaves the screen when Sasuke turns his back to Naruto. Good imagery with Naruto falling down and Sasuke rising up and being transitioned by the feathers of the blue bird. It kind of showcases the feelings both have in that exact moment in the series, Sasuke rising higher to the power he desires and Naruto slowly realizing that he probably lost his friend forever. I like the transitions between the different members how it simply transitions as the sun hits the transitioning scene. There is a lot of stylized transitioning within this opening and it keeps even stills from feeling static. The highlight of the entire opening is the action scene between Kakuzu and Hidan fighting the leaf ninja team. It is nice to Asuma getting his dues in the openings finally. Sadly this was only in the second version of the opening as the first merely had filler arc characters to fill it, with little impact at all. Glad they changed it however. The final image is of Naruto picking up and holding onto the feather of the blue bird signifying his reluctance to let go of Sasuke even if Naruto feels lost in what to do. A good motif used throughout the opening and so good scenes and transitions to go along with it. Not often do you see a motif used in anime openings, nor do you see it used well but here it is used to full effect and should be commended for it.
8. Niwaka Ame Nimo Makezu by Nico, Naruto Shippuden Opening 13
This opening is probably, bar none, the best shot opening of the bunch. The way it directs action throughout the opening is something I wanted to see more of within the series itself on a regular basis. When all the Kage are battling Madara is where this opening comes to life, dynamic shots coupled with some well-done CGI and topped off with excellent animation in moments. If you were looking for an action focused opening than this was it. It also isn’t a slouch in the narrative department, yet it is a bit jarring to tell what it wants to achieve. Is this an opening about Naruto or the Kage? I know this is the section where the Kage face off against Madara while Naruto tries to reach Obito, but I felt a bit disconnected in moments. As cool as the montage sequence of the Kage with animals in cool scenes with their particular natural element, it never really clicked with me. I don’t get why the Kage have the best shot sections when Naruto’s story in the opening is much more telling and interesting. The lanterns of all those who trusted him and lost their lives believing in him is a nice touch, coupled with him carrying the remnants of them on a branch that I am sure is symbolic if I knew more Japanese traditions but I don’t. It is easy to see visually though his journey through the opening, and I love the fist bump with the Nine Tailed Fox in the end as it kind of wraps up their emotional arc together. This opening is flashy, it has a nice narrative through line and is beautiful yet it never manages to bring all those elements together effectively.
7. Toumei Datta Sekai by Motohiro Hata, Naruto Shippuden Opening 7
Naruto seems to be a series that loves motifs in their openings, especially in Shippuden. This opening is bookended by one of the better focuses I have seen from an opening, the recently dead mentor writing a book about his life and the life of his pupil. There is this sense of care a dedication to showing more parallels between characters in this opening. This time around it was the two previous pupils of Jiraiya and how different the paths they went down reaching to the clash near the end of the opening. Naruto reading the book of Jiraiya and Pain reminiscing of his past with his silhouette and eyes hovering over them. One of the pupils choosing to defend others and one wanting to wash away the existence of the village that ruined his life. Open up a cacophony of destruction as the rest of the opening becomes one big action sequence of the leaf ninja fighting off the many versions of Pain. That is until Naruto in the Sage mode he learned from Jiraiya, the same mode Jiraiya lost to Pain in, stands in front of him poised to protective everyone. As the ending turns into merely words on the page that Jiraiya is writing. I think it is a poetic bookending that they chose to go with for this one. Like everything in Jiraiya’s life is finally coming full circle with his death, how the mistakes of the past meet up with the promise for the future. While many may feel like this is a confrontation of Naruto and Pain, it all leads back to the choices Jiraiya made in his life that lead them to this point.
6. Silhouette by KANA-BOON, Naruto Shippuden Opening 16
This is an opening that for a long period of time I wondered why I didn’t enjoy. I am not a big fan of KANA-BOON, as shown by their latest opening in Iron-Blooded Orphans 2nd Season and this song feels no different. The visual sense to the opening is flashy of course, something I would never deny. Maybe it was because the action scenes weren’t as well done as in opening 13, the Madara action sequence is not really well shot but it is well animated. That action scene reminded me a bit of Electro fighting Spiderman in the Amazing Spiderman 2 in its last moments. What I came to enjoy about this opening was the sense of growing up it gave to its characters. Showing Obito and Madara growing up from their younger versions to the power-hungry villains we see them as today. Showing us that Naruto has finally caught up with Sasuke, standing side by side with the final battle with the big bad. The last shot especially makes me feel a bit warm and fuzzy how Obito sees a past him in Naruto, coming around almost full circle as his past catching up with his “evil” deeds. The people he could have had behind him if he had chosen the path to the light instead of following Madara. The opening itself is closely knit together, but never really grabbing until probably its final couple images, but that is not to say that this opening does not stand up among most of the Naruto openings.
5. Kara no Kokoro by Anly, Naruto Shippuden Opening 20
As weird as this may sound, I don’t think this is the most relevant opening in the Naruto Shippuden series. In some moments it feels like an afterthought and in others it is merely a nice looking showcase of characters growing old. What I do enjoy about this is opening is the feeling it gives you. In the opening segment there is this sense of melancholy and somber reflection before the song bursts into its catchy beat. Watching Shikamaru sit next to the Shogi board where he used to play against Asuma and Sasuke reflecting on the past is a nice opener. The shot with Sakura standing in between Naruto and Sasuke parallels their relationship in a nice way that we saw previously in opening 9, but this time showing her emotion towards the two in a more subtle way. Instead of merely showing her as the bridge between the two we see her now standing in the middle after their final conflict with each other. Could it be her trying to come to terms with her emotions? There are things you can read into this shot and I think it is a simple shot nicely placed into a more reflective opening. The money shots however was the clash between Naruto and Sasuke in the end and how they high five each other on their wounded arms after the collision. Some nice aesthetics and a good sense of them moving past those harsher moments in their relationship towards something more productive as we end on a picture of them as Squad 7 emphasizing almost a return to a happier time. I think this one can of grabs me because of the sense of finality for the show. It reminds us of the past, things still needing to be resolved, and of the final confrontation before the inevitable peace.
4. New Song by Tacica, Naruto Shippuden Opening 10
The comedic opening of the bunch lands! Not often do you see openings actually try to be funny and manage to bring a smile to your face, especially when it isn’t a comedy. You know immediately from the start what type of opening this was with the explosion of the rock Hokage faces in the mountain over the leaf village and the funny face they make when they fly off. Things like Killer Bee getting his jam on with some weird dance moves, Naruto knocking Might Guy off some stairs and onto a tip of a building where he does his winning smile and a bunch of Narutos running away from a giant squid is just the randomness this opening needs. It does lead into the Killer Bee joke by having two people do regular reactions leading you into a false sense of security. This opening understands insanity and timing quite well. The action is fun and quick, how Squad 7 works together to make hand symbols is a nice visual, the comedic dance portion and those pirouette jumps is fun to watch, all of it is just fun to watch. Each joke has a lead in and properly placed. They shower in some serious moments like Naruto hugging the Kyuubi version of himself before working together with his squad. There is some great fun to be had with this opening especially with the elongated art style with no distinct lines to allow the animation to move freely.
3. Sign by Flow, Naruto Shippuden Opening 6
This opening parallels the sorrow of both Sasuke’s killing of his brother and Naruto’s loss of his mentor. In a way it is the most emotionally resonant Naruto opening for how it connects us with the good memories both have had with their respective loved one. Sasuke goofing around with his brother and Naruto eating popsicles with Jiraiya, both showing the happiness before the inevitable fall. This is a journey for both of our characters showcased through two great fight sequences of Itachi and Sasuke fighting with some dark imagery and Jiraiya facing off against his previous pupil, Pain. Sasuke’s scenes are that of him obtaining greater power through the mangekyo sharingan. Fighting his brother losing his eye, but in the end he is left with regret watching the sunset as Tobi, another Uchiha, tells Sasuke the truth about his brother. For Naruto it is a different story, he loses his teacher not out of his own actions but through his inability to control the Nine-Tails within him as we see him losing control through a beautifully twisted art style. The death of Jiraiya wakes him up out of his dry spell and finally reigns in the Nine-Tails only to realize that he now has lost one of the ones who treated him like everyone else a bond that is unreplaceable. Both him and Sasuke have lost something, and both feel the same turmoil that the other is feeling. Feeling that empty void of not knowing what to do from then on. Flow finally has a good opening to stand behind and the song, Sign, doesn’t disappoint either. It is catchy during the fight scenes and somber through the quieter or macabre moments. A solid effort behind this opening.
2. Diver by Nico, Naruto Shippuden Opening 8
Probably the best imagery of Sasuke and Naruto’s relationship throughout the entirety of the series. Naruto is continuously drowning through a sea of corpses laid at his feet by the antagonists. Sasuke hovers above him waiting for the moment to strike, causing Naruto to flail in confusion as the sea melds into endless red. Just those visuals alone really sells this opening for me. Naruto only resurfaces again thanks to his relationships he has gained over the years as he flies into the air ready to pursue Sasuke with renewed vigor as Sasuke’s darkness swallows himself whole. No matter the turmoil, no matter the anguish, Naruto will search for that first friend he made. In a way, as clichéd as it is, this opening has a narrative throughline that makes this act of denial seem courageous. It makes one of the main reasons Naruto failed as a series, the will they won’t they relationship of Naruto and Sasuke, into something intriguing and visually impressive. This is all with original footage and by gar is it some of the best animation I have seen in an opening. The time and effort put into something like this that has a narrative, effectively uses imagery, utilizes a visual motif like water well and has a good song to boot is just astounding.
1. LINE by Sukima Switch, Naruto Shippuden Opening 18
Now I haven’t watched all of Naruto Shippuden, but I have read the manga to conclusion. So when I came across this opening I was blown away as to how I had a tear trying so hard to creep its way out of my eye. This opening is an homage to those who have passed away, to the hero’s journey and to the goals and dreams of all those involved in the series. Simplistic design choices done to exceptional degree, some scenes were just too emotional to me and well done with the smallest details. Those who died have let go of their dream they had cherished as they impart it on to those who still live. Seeing Naruto chase after the light and Sasuke trying to swat it away and eventually succeeding accurately depicts both of their journeys. Seeing Sakura look up as the shards of both Naruto and Sasuke float beside her was a very well done scene. The tear on falls on the side of Sasuke as she looks up at both of them, feeling more sadness towards the one who fell to darkness and perhaps a sense of pride or confidence in the one who stayed true until the end. Having every character reach for that dream was nice to see, just a nice sequence to really understand that this is a world with many characters who each have their own goals and ambitions. The ending card even changes between Sasuke holding his dream at arm’s length, Naruto holding it in his fist prepared to fight for it, Sakura holding it close to her heart and Itachi sending it out towards the camera signifying the future he created to allow others to dream. In a sense this is an expertly done opening with a melancholy song from Sukima Switch that pairs together far too well invoking emotion for a series where I didn’t feel a connection with its ending.
And thus this chapter of reflection comes to a close. When looking back on these Shounen anime and seeing some of their openings, it really shows you how some can either feel like budget cuts or you can feel the passion in each scene. Some bookmark special moments along the journey, some invoke feelings of nostalgia, and some just look darn cool. It is impressive how great an opening can be to giving the viewer a good sense of a specific moment in the show. I feel like by just experiencing the openings again I can remember those moments of me reading each journey from start to finish. Now that the journey is done yet again, I feel as though it is right to move onto future journeys with new characters and new stories.
So what did you think about Naruto Shippuden’s openings? Which one was your favourite and what did it mean to you? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a fantastic day!