Hello and welcome to the Battle of the Ops, where I take two anime openings and pit them against each other in the most objective way I can think of. Two openings from the same show, or from different shows that I consider similar, will be pitted against each other in 11 rounds. Each of these rounds judges the opening on different criteria. Only one can be the winner.
First we have the original op to the anime that people love to hate, or just love, written and performed by LiSA aka, Love is Same All, I give you Crossing Fields!
The opponent is the 2nd opening in this controversial series, written by Ryosuke Shigenaga and performed by Aoi Eir, we have INNOCENCE!
Two Openings! One winner! Who will be victorious? There is only one way to find out. Lets Battle!
The first Five Rounds will judge the ops based off of their images
Round One: Color and lighting consistency
Crossing Fields opens up with a black background and the prominent colors of blue and then a glowing yellow. These colors appear to be more prominent in the more ominous moments of the opening, offset by the brighter and more normal shots of what appears to be an actual world. I don’t think it would be too bold to say these colors and their forms represent the digital makeup of the world well.
INNOCENCE doesn’t seem to be concerned with the idea of having a prominent color, but there seems to be a consistency all the same, such as a particular character being back lit by green. Lighting seems to stay mostly the same throughout the op, changing up based on the setting, though there is no progression of this lighting.
The winner is Crossing Fields for having prominent colors that seem to represent a portion of the series in the opening.
Round Two: Narrative
Crossing Field seems to be establishing itself by identifying a setting, one that is medieval in build and where people wield swords, but it goes on to establish that this world isn’t real. Despite that we see the characters reach upward in this world only to see it then betray them, after which our two main characters begin to fight back and are shown to be succeeding. It’s pretty straight forward, but the rest of the op doesn’t really seem to attempting to build on it.
INNOCENCE also starts in a similar fashion by establishing the world we are in and it shows us that the real world and the virtual one are going to be having an equal importance. Kirito, our main character, is visiting his girlfriend at the hospital, but then it fails to continue with this narrative and then simply shows characters doing random things, not really tying any fighting or other character actions together.
The winner is Crossing Fields, for following through on their narrative and tying the action in with the plot.
Round Three: Character Establishment
Crossing fields is starting out in the most logical way, by establishing its main character, Kirito, first. We can see he is unhappy and when he does finally move it is to turn his back on something. By contrast our second main character, Asuna is confident and boldly striding forward. We will later see that these find happiness together and are destined to be a couple, but we really don’t learn much more about them, other then the fact that Asuna can cook and that she can get fed up with Kirito. None of the secondary characters are given enough time to really establish anything about them, other then that they are there and some might be seen doing certain actions.
Again Innocence establishes our main characters for the series by showing them first, but this time drops the ball by not really telling us anything about them other then something is bothering them or they are happy. The one thing that it does seem to do that the Crossing Fields did not is establish who our villain is and showing us the connections between a few real world characters and their virtual avatars, but only serves to further strengthening the idea that the real world is more prominent in this story.
The winner is Crossing fields, for actually telling us something about our main characters.
Round Four: Tone
Crossing field starts out by rightly telling us that something is wrong by its visual tone, characters are not happy, the world they are in is dangerous and scary and they need to fight. The dark colors establish this nicely. This is far from a horror anime though, even if it could be. The world is beautiful and there are nice places to go and fun things to do. It ends on the note of their being romance, but its not shoving it in our faces, the romance is secondary if important.
INNOCENCE opens with a brighter tone by contrast, things are overall happier here, but the characters are surrounded by shadows showing they are not. Then this changes and everyone is happy and smiling and running around having adventures. The dark fight scenes are short, to be replaced with more random character shots of people being happy, almost as if they are just playing a fun game. I think its sad that any seeming darkness is less present here, especially since the plot is just as dire in this arc once it has been fully revealed and especially considering where the show goes towards its end.
The winner is Crossing Field for keeping the happy moments in their place.
Round Five: Shot Transitions
Crossing Fields for the most part isn’t particularly spectacular, using the typical cut that most everyone uses. However, there are some creative moments surrounding the fight scenes, such as going from Kirito falling into abyss of darkness to have a blue burst of light in that darkness segue into the action. Likewise, when we move on from Kirito’s solo fight into his team up with Asuna, it looks like a blue cloud blows in to change the scene. Both these moments still appear to be nothing more then simple cuts, but the way they are orientated with the previous image creates a nice transition that looks more complicated.
INNOCENCE pulls out its best and brightest work first, by tying all of our shots together with the element of birds flying overhead. As Kirito looks up at them in the next shot our eyes are drawn upward as the world changes into that of the virtual one. It ups some of the transitions in this one from cuts to the occasional dissolve, mostly used to change the angle or distance at which we are viewing one particular character, unfortunetly it seems almost disappointing to see these though, as they feel more like padded run time and these types of changes could have been far more dynamically with in or out panning when the distance is smaller.
The winner is Crossing Fields, for adding a for not making it feel like they were padding the run time.
The next three rounds will judge the op based off of the song choice
Round six: song tone
Crossing Fields manages to start out with the clear and beautiful sounds of what seems to be a synthetic keyboard, drawing one in for the first five seconds and then adding in the beginnings of base that will then be prominent throughout the rest of the song. It has a nice mix of deep base, high synthesized notes, the voice of the female singer and the constant staccato drum beat mix together well in this fast paced song. There is really only one area where the op slows down much at all. This quick pace and mostly fun song, with deep and sinister undertones, matches well with an anime that takes place in a beautiful yet sinister world.
INNOCENCE follows its older brother (or sister, your preference) in suit by starting out with the sounds of a keyboard, but this time what sounds to be like a real one. Again, grounding us more in the real world as opposed to the virtual one. Eventually more synthetic sounds are added as is the base and drum. As opposed to Crossing Fields, it feels like INNOCENCE is less sinister and more eerie in tone. It’s also generally happier sounding and when it isn’t it has depressed undertones.
The winner is INNOCENCE for capturing the mix of emotions of hope, unknowing fear and depression, as well as capturing the same type of opening feel, but changing it up for the setting.
Round Seven: Lyrics
Crossing Fields’ lyrics most prominently speak of regretting past actions, moving forward and encountering someone that makes continuing in that forward direction easier. Depending on how one looks at it these lyrics could speak of Kirito, or both Kirito and Asuna. Kirito regretting being a loner or regretting not always being a loner and Asuna for fighting back right away, for struggling to get on her feet at first. Both find solace in the other and want to protect each other. The best line I think that points to these two specifically is that of ‘I wish to feel that miracle of meeting you again once more,’ which would happen once they reach the real world.
INNOCENCE has lyrics that sing of hidden feelings and being unable to see the future. While not as straightforward as Crossing Field’s, these lyrics could be taken to speak of the fact the Asuna is now in a coma and is lost in ‘never ending darkness’ The lyrics could speak of Asuna being trapped and clinging to Kirito. Kirito feeling trapped and trying to figure out where to go as well as Kirito’s sister Sugo and her hidden feelings. The lyrics could be interpreted in many ways and applied to many characters here. From searching, to flying, to understanding someone else’s childhood it seems baffling.
The Winner is INNOCENCE for wrapping its way into so many different plot lines and characters.
Round Eight: Matching the animation
Crossing Field’s seems to only have a few moments worth mentioning; Asuna walking, the one slower moment in song pace that matches up with various characters reaching for the sky, when the giant blue monster explodes into shards and the moments when the cuts to secondary characters occur. Nothing is particularly off and the action works very well with the music throughout, but the judge says there looks to be a lot of missed opportunities, where things could have been lengthened or cut to better match.
INNOCENCE also has seems to have few special moments worth pointing out; the fact that things slow down when characters are depressed and lighted differently and when our villain comes on screen things are eerier. Again, while nothing is off putting and it works well, it isn’t by any means amazing.
The Winner is Crossing Fields, for matching up the beat as well as the slightly different tonal moment.
The next three rounds are measured via personal bias
For these rounds I’ll stop talking like an announcer and level with you all, since these ones are based off my completely biased opinion. I had to address it somewhere, even if it is more prevalent above then I wish it to be.
Round Nine: Stuck in my head
For some unknown reason if another anime song has a tune that is in anyway similar to Crossing Fields, I will segue into the SAO op. It often happens when I’m humming again from FMA:B. I can go a long time without humming it and next thing I know I’m trying to figure out what that tune is only to discover it’s Crossing Fields.
While INNOCENCE is quite catchy and I hum it quite a bit after listening it seems to fade after a while and it doesn’t come back until the next time I hear it.
The winner is Crossing Field’s for reaccurring often and randomly.
Round Ten: My eyes are glued to the screen
After seeing Crossing Fields half a dozen times I kind of get tired of it. While I enjoy the shots with Asuna and those of the two mcs fighting, its not enough to keep it from getting stagnant.
INNOCENCE has the benefit of mixing up a lot more shots and characters together and I feel like there’s something new lurking in the op. It also helps the shots go by quicker and I really have to be prepared to focus on any particular thing.
The winner is INNOCENCE
Round Eleven: I like it the song better
Crossing Fields is a great song in my opinion. I really like the mix of higher sounds and lower ones. The base is cool, if not overpowering or soul tearing, and I love it.
INNOCENCE is pretty sounding, but I feel like it isn’t quite as dynamic and I don’t enjoy anywhere near as much.
The winner is Crossing Field for its wicked base.
Crossing Field: Eight Rounds
INNOCENCE: Three Rounds
The winner of the battle is… Crossing Fields by a large margin!
Feel free to tell my if I totally goofed in my verdict and that I’m a complete fool for claiming Crossing Field as the winner, or tell me this was pretty good judging! Whatever you have to say feel free to put it in the comments below, no matter what it is.
I feel like I’m getting less and less subjective by this third entry in the series, but I don’t really care. This is fun!
Until Next Time, Always make your heart rainbow!