2012 has been a very busy year. We saw the relaunch of Eroyume in January after a 2-year long hiatus. Fuwanovel had its grand opening. VNTLS made great strides in informing the community on the progress of translated VNs. The industry, despite what some veterans of the hobby might say, is quite bustling. Among the games released this year, there were more than 165 opening videos made available for viewing (a new record?). Today I will attempt to narrow this down to a Top 10. The two criteria I look for in a contender is a quality song and good CG/animation. If they use only CG images and portraits, it’s important they do so with some originality. I try not to take overall game quality into consideration, although I may comment on it at times. So without further ado, here are my picks for this year’s best OPs.
#10 - Fortissimo EXS//Akkord: Nächsten Phase OP3
Fortissimo won’t be winning any awards for best action VN, but what it does have are some kick-ass openings. My favorite of the five videos features No Life Negotiator and their song “Lost Garden”. This tune turned out to be an unexpected gem. Unfortunately the OP is not animated and this is one of those that absolutely begs for it, so it just manages to round out the Top 10.
#9 - Mahou Tsukai no Yoru
I think some will find the OP to Mahoyo a bit boring, but for me, the mix of gorgeous visuals and music from Hideyuki Fukasawa (previously lead composer for Onimusha 4, Chaos Legion, and Street Fighter IV) made for a very moving experience. And as far as originality is concerned, this one stands alone. There was nothing else like it this year.
#8 - Kono Oozora ni, Tsubasa wo Hirogete
I liked the OP from the fan disc a little more, but it technically belongs to 2013. This one featured my favorite song from Chata this year, and the visuals accompanying it are quite nice.
#7 - Imouto no Katachi
Out of all the singers this year, Duca may have had the most hits and “Ironna Katachi” was arguably her best. As is very typical of a Cuffs-branded game, Imouto no Katachi has some very nice CGs, but as some of you also know, with a lot of VN OPs, looks can be deceiving.
#6 - Robotics;Notes
Fans of the Science Adventure series were hoping for a repeat of the brilliance that was Steins;Gate. When they didn’t get it with Robotics;Notes, disappointment set in. But honestly, who really expected this? The OP is great, anyhow. Add Zwei with an animated video, and I am game every single time.
#5 - Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! S
The action, the comedy, the animation. Majikoi S continues the tradition set forth by its predecessor. These openings are all-around really fun and a joy to watch. I haven’t met anyone who disliked them. I am sure we’ll see something similar from the next game, and yes, there will be a next.
#4 - Dracu-Riot!
Sakakibara likes to experiment a lot with different genres of music. Honestly, if I had the kind of vocal range that she does, I’d probably do the same. “Scarlet” is certainly different, but it’s different in a good way. In typical Yuzu-Soft fashion, this is nicely animated, but I can’t help but notice that it contains fewer tits than Tenshin Ranman’s OP. I didn’t dock any points for this, but make sure to rectify it with the next game, Yuzu!
#3 - Ourai no Gahkthun
One of the last to be released in 2012, this latest iteration in the Steampunk series, or as it was often referred to, the “What a Beautiful” series, lights it up with its music composition. Rita has been on vocals for all of them, and even though I’ve only had the full version of “Tonitrus” on my playlist for a week, I can safely say that it’s her best song yet. It doesn’t have the flashy animation of the other top OPs, but it doesn’t need it either. Early reviews for the game have been mostly positive, with an 88 metascore at EGS.
#2 - Ima Sugu Oniichan ni Imouto da tte Iitai! OP1
Imaimo’s animated OP has an awful lot of charm. The song is a bit on the genki side, and I would normally pick the one with eufonius because I am a fan of them, but it works very well here. You would almost swear it was a TV series, and that might happen later, but here’s hoping it turns out better than Koichoco.
#1 - D.C. III ~Da Capo III~ OP1
And taking the top spot in this year’s top 10 is, believe it or not, Da Capo III. I really didn’t expect to like this one as much as I did. Truth be told, I am not the biggest D.C. fan, but the original from 2002 was one of my first eroges, so it could have been nostalgia that led me to this decision. This was a sort of anniversary, after all. Hearing Yozuca sing the OP once again and seeing it all animated… I was instantly in love with this.
Guilty Crown: Lost Christmas
Hatsuyuki Sakura OP1
Ima Sugu Oniichan ni Imouto da tte Iitai! OP2
Kouyoku no Soleil
Natsuzora no Perseus
Tsuki ni Yorisou Otome no Sahou
Tsukumo no Kanade
What would your list of favorite OPs look like? Anything you would include or leave out? Let me know in the comments. Here’s to another great year of visual novels. Happy New Year, everyone!