Otaku or not, anime most likely has some sort of hand in your childhood television viewing. As a young kid, you probably didn’t register much about the cultural differences in the show (most of them were probably cruelly edited out or dubbed over, anyway), but I’m sure you noticed some big eyes and lots and lots of different shades of hair.
All in all, anime attracted our young minds because it was distinct from American cartoons of the time. Even with U.S. studios cutting and pasting under the assumption that animes couldn’t thrive with American audiences as-is, even kids could say, “Okay, this is different from what I usually watch. I like that.”
Included in dubbing edits were opening songs. And it’s not just dubbing over, it’s entirely new scores, especially for opening themes. Today, these are opening themes that, while most are definitely nothing compared to their original counterparts, they still hold a dear place in our hearts and ears!
5 English Anime Openings U.S. Viewers Know by Heart
Tuesday Tunes this week has us looking at five of the most significantly well-known animes in the United States, and the opening songs that we will forever be singing along to. Just for fun, I’m also including fellow fans reminiscent comments on the YouTube videos, because, really, they’re just saying what we’re all thinking, right?
#5 – “Yu-Gi-Oh! Theme” from Yu-Gi-Oh!
Four words: IT’S TIME TO DUEL! I remember finding this theme very cool as a kid. This show was huge back then. Even when I was in seventh grade and a lot of people had phased out of fandoms like this, there was still a group of seventh, eighth, and ninth graders who would meet at a table in at lunch in the lunch room to play the card game. I did not have those sort of guts, but I always applauded them for their dedication.
Eventually my little brother got into it and I asked him to teach me how to play the card game. If you’ve never played the card game, you should, it’s freaking fun!
#4 – “Dragon Ball Z Theme” from Dragon Ball Z
I was not a Dragon Ball Z fan, but it was only after Sailor Moon on Toonami, so I actually did catch quite a bit of it! The animation style and characters didn’t appeal to me at the time (hey, I was 10-years-old!), but I do distinctly recall seeing this opening theme.
Toonami was always showing the varied seasons of Dragon Ball Z in this convoluted order, so 10-year-old me always had a hard time figuring out why there was a kid version, but also an adult version, and like a mid-version, and then a blonde version… it was, like, what. I now, luckily, have a vague understanding. Sort of.
#3 – “Rise” from Naruto
Naruto is a series that I get in and out of. Guys, it’s just… really long. So long. I watched a large chunk of the final seasons of the series, and a decent bit of the first three seasons or so, but if you asked me about anything between that, I would have to give you a blank stare. (Insert derp face here.)
However, man, do I know this opening thing and it will forever go down as an English dub that no one is actually 100% sure is in English–the lyrics are that hard to understand. Fan-heard translations include, “RISE! Chew yo’ sock!” as well as, “FRIES! Too much salt!”
#2 – “Opening Theme” from Sailor Moon
Oh my gosh, if this song, this opening, didn’t change my life I don’t know what did. Okay, that’s really dramatic. But seriously, I loved this song, I loved this opening, and I loved this show. Sailor Moon came on TV around 4 P.M. after Tenchi Muyo! on Toonami. I would race home from elementary school so I could at least catch the last 15-minutes. And, no joke, I totally stayed home from school “sick” the day that I was convinced a big episode was happening. To my chagrin, it was just a filler episode. All that hard work for nothing, tsk, tsk.
I still remember watching the episode where Darien (Mamoru) and Serena (Usagi) were stuck in the elevator together and it’s like WUT YOU GONNA DO. Man, even now, I love Sailor Moon, and dang it, I love this opening. Definitely a mod of the original Japanese, “Moonlight Densetsu”, it works as sub-par homage that still I just can’t help but to love.
#1 – “Opening Theme” from Pokémon
Okay, now here’s a song that everybody and their brother’s dog know whether they want to or not. Pokémon is truly universal at this point, and part of that is the English theme song. Trust me, you know at least one part of the lyrics, whether you’ve watched the show or not. Come on, say it with me: “Gotta catch ’em all!”
While Pokémon Go at a local park where there were three gyms in close vicinity of each other, one guy blasted the tune from his car and the entire group of us sang the song in unison. It was the best. Especially this version, which is the extended cut. So epic.