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.
The contestant in this corner is the first of nine op’s created for a franchise that contains one of the most popular anime series of all time, written and performed by Porno Graffiti, my personal all time favorite op, Melissa!
Opposite Melissa we have the second op from the same anime, written and performed L’arc~en~Ciel, a name that makes me praise the almightly that this is a written contest and not a verbal one, the op that most seem to fondly recall from the series, is Ready Steady Go!
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
Melissa doesn’t seem worried about dazzling us with its use of color, but is instead using lighting to create a type of symbolic meaning. There are two types of light in the op. Sunlight, which always comes from above and the light from alchemy which comes from below or within. Characters embrace, welcome and face the sun, turn from it, are embraced by it, are defined by a lack of it, or must create it. Can this artistic choice give Melissa the first win?
Ready Steady Go is using the colors of nature like, green grass, blue sky and the golden sun. They are seen in brief flashes of light, the moments in limbo and in the natural landscapes one sees. These colors are strongest in the happy moments in the op, contrasted by sullen moments colored in gray, or even by the main characters as they float silently in limbo. The two segues from black and white into color are both accompanied by Winrey, the boy’s childhood friend, and the last is a beautiful brightening of colors.
A hard choice to make and one where the judges personal bias may be showing, The winner is Melissa for its creative and beautiful lighting choices, rarely seen or used elsewhere. Though doubtless, Ready Steady Go’s use of colors may help it in the future if it makes it past this round.
Round Two: Narrative
Melissa is more or less forgoing its narrative in favor of a character focused opening, showing each character individually and separately to convey different things about them. Of course, the judge just reminded me that we’ll talk about characters in the next round, so lets see what we do have if anything. Again there is the symbolic lighting, but this doesn’t help narratively. One could watch our main characters, beginning in one location, traveling by train and then ending up in another location, and devise a narrative from these moments, but as they are broken up by other character shots and landscapes it’s easy to see that this is a weak narrative at best.
Ready Steady Go’s narrative revolves around a steady journey, an incredibly obvious one. Our characters wait and then seizing the moment take off running and don’t stop. Every moment of the op has the two boy’s in it. During shots of other characters the boys are running in the background. When they aren’t running it is in moments of either obstacles of knowledge or physical force. When things hopeless their friends are always there to help pick them back up. Keeping the brother’s in focus and present throughout the op is a huge choice that pushes this op’s narrative to a new level.
The winner is Ready Steady Go, for maintaining its narrative, throughout scenes that are present only to showcase funny character moments.
Round Three: Character Establishment
Finally it’s time to talk about the characters in Melissa. The main element in each of these is showing the characters allegiance through lighting. The boys are shown embracing sunlight or creating there own. The girl is likewise shown in the sunlight. The military characters and the nomad Scar walk away from the sun and the Homunculi come out of pitch darkness. Of course this isn’t all, the girl, Winrey, is shown with a wrench right next to her as she begins to wake up, showing her dedication to her work. The forefront military character, Mustang is shown with his two closest allies and friends at his side. The character moments in this are perfectly stunning in this op.
Ready Steady Go focuses on Ed and Al during this op and their determination to move forward. Ed isn’t slowing down, even when he almost loses his footing and falls flat on his face. The’s brothers are going to fight and move forward no matter the obstacles and when they do feel like giving up it will be those who love them who will give them the encouragement to continue. Aside from the main characters all other characters are shown in fun little ways, Armstrong shirtless, Hawkeye and Mustang showing off their skills and Hughes flashing the piece sign. These moments offer an interesting levity to these characters normally seen in more serious situations, but are these moments strong enough to give Ready Steady Go the win?
It seems they are not as the winner is Melissa, because even though Ready Steady Go is fun, we honestly learn more about the characters from the former, even if it’s derived symbolically.
Round Four: Tone
Melissa is opening up with a slow pace that focuses on characters turning to light. It has a seemingly hopeful tone, with characters that seem to be deciding to be determined or happy. Of course the judge is reminding me that we have already talked about characters. The pace of op is slow, as was mentioned, and hopeful, people are moving forward throughout the op. Near the end, while the pace doesn’t seem to pick everything does grow dimmer, which seems to reflect the narrative downward spiral of the show itself.
Ready Steady Go’s pace is much different, beginning with quick flashes of darker visuals and then a slow almost symbolically filled build up. This is of course all a fake out and with one smile the tension is broken in favor of an upbeat series of marathon shots. If Melissa shows characters that are determined then Ready Steady Go is quite a few steps ahead. Most of the op is infectiously optimistic and sometimes goofy, but this is tempered by moments of depression, brightened by the love of friends. The end and beginning book marks are truly the highlight, showing the dark undertones of the show that are still on the sidelines at this point within the series itself.
The Winner is Ready Steady Go, for capturing the brother’s determination, the wackiness in the anime and the future crushing circumstances that are slowly being revealed.
Round Five: Shot Transitions
Melissa has decided to use simple cut transitions just like so many other op’s (saying this is going to get quite repetitive unless I think of another way to say it.) These cuts are used fairly frequently, but they don’t take away from the op’s slow pace, since Melissa stays within the same scene through many of them, changing angles, distance or even just flipping the view point around. It’s most stunning use of cuts actually seems to come from its abstaining of using them. During the end fight scene, there are no actual transitions. The camera pans and moves and objects, such as rocky outgrowths more or less cover the screen, but it is one continuous shot and keeping it is such makes for some interesting visuals.
Ready Steady Go is attempting to win the audience over by having cuts that are so quick and so tied into moving visuals and camera movements its almost hard to determine if a basic cut was even used at times. Most notably is the moment when we go from the shot of Ed and the flower to the next shot of Ed as he turns and the moment where the viewer travels into Lust’s black eye. Other notable transitions would be the sliding ones, where trees cover the brothers from view and the moment where Mustangs flame is seemingly blown away and replaced by a dust storm.
The winner is Ready Steady Go for its quick and entertaining shot transitions that manage to keep everything moving at a more then steady pace.
The next three rounds will judge the op based off of the song choice
Round six: song tone
After listening to Melissa a million times the judge has concluded that the song is neutral, neither happy nor sad, but perhaps with just a hint of glass half full. There is no obvious smile in the singers voice, nor does it make one think, ‘how sad.’ With it’s quick and steady beat one could call the song optimistic and hopeful, though it would depend on ones mood. This odd middle of the road tone seems to suit the early episodes of this series, with its chronicles of a hopeful journey that often falls on one side or the other of the happy, sad track.
Ready Steady Go has been described by some as an infectiously happy song in comparison to all other op’s in the franchise. Combining the slow build and the obvious lyrics, it is like someone running a race. It continues the theme that the brothers believe their goal is possible, despite the obstacles that get in there way. Of course, there is path is wrought with obvious danger as is present through the horribly violent guitar and drum beats at both the beginning and end of the song.
The Winner is Ready Steady Go! Again, a hard choice to make, but it pulled out on top with its more obvious tone and the fact that it covers more then just one .
Round Seven: Lyrics
Melissa has some incredibly bitter sweet lyrics in its song, singing of horrible past memories, present sorrows and having a hard time grasping love. The singer is afraid of tomorrow, but knows it will come and his only hope is that he can learn to fly like the birds that have found their light and soar above him. The lyrics tie into the tragedy our brothers have faced and the struggles they have and will undergo in order to continue to move forward and find the light and strength they need. It also ties directly into the visual themes of light and embracing it.
Ready Steady Go’s Lyrics tie almost directly into what is happening on screen with the boys running. We have the build up to the start of a race, which then segues into singing about scenery flying by and not needing maps. The moment where they singing about reaching for the future and grasping it is when Ed makes a fist and so on. The lyrics are probably the most infectiously happy part of the song. However, the lyrics also get into what is being chased after, and it seems as though there is a person the singer is trying to get to, someone who is calling for them and this is where the lyrics could be said to deviate as the Brother’s goal is not a person and perhaps not even a truly tangible thing.
The winner is Melissa for covering both the tragedy of past and future the brother’s have gone as well as tying both into their uncertainty and the visuals.
Round Eight: Matching the animation
Melissa’s slow paced song and slow paced visuals seem to meld together quite well, from the establishment shots to the train ride and the boring cgi visuals. There are three parts to the song itself, the opening chorus and the ending one, the main verse and then the bridge that leads into the ending chorus. The first chorus has the establishment of our main characters, then the verse begins with a visual of Winrey and this is tentivly when the song sounds its most hopeful. Lastly the bridge occurs as the op introduces some of the other characters as they move forward quickly in what is probably the most impressive bit of syncing.
Ready Steady Go unleashes itself with its dark toned visuals and music from the get go in quite an incredible looking mash up and then it builds up to a song with a steady and, again, infectious beat. The brothers keeping running along to the steady quick beat of the drum and don’t strop. The singing in the song takes to a happy lilt as the visuals change to the military officers having their bit of fun and then eventually changes back to its rough and depressing ending. Beginning to end the sync up is incredible.
The winner is Ready Steady Go by a long shot.
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
Melissa is a song that once I get it started will play in my head all day and I love it, but I have to get it started and that isn’t always easy, often having to rely on lyrics to English cover songs to spring board myself into the proper tune.
Ready Steady Go needs no invitation to work itself into my brain and keep going. With its highly energetic beat its not hard to imagine why and while I don’t have a hard time shifting focus to another song I do have to shift focus before it will work its way out of my brain.
The winner is Ready Steady Go for popping in with no prompting.
Round Ten: My eyes are glued to the screen
I love the visual lighting in Melissa and since the lighting direction is my absolutely favorite thing about the series as a whole and probably what draws me into just about any series over all, it’s not hard to understand why. Seeing the characters as they are presented and enjoying the slow pace is great and it’s the perfect way to start the series.
Ready Steady Go isn’t boring, but for some reason I find watching the brothers just run and run on and on to be kind of tiring. Its sprinkled here and there by the fun transitions and the entertaining moments with the characters that definitely keep my interest, but in comparison to Melissa I don’t love it nearly as much.
The winner is Melissa.
Round Eleven: I like it the song better
Melissa is like a rock ballad, which falls into a category of music that, when done a certain way, I absolutely love it. It reminds me of another rock ballad that I absolutely adore, The Ballad of Barry Allen. I can play both on repeat. Melissa is probably the reason why I was much more quickly drawn into FMA over FMA:B. I heard Again first, but it is Melissa that I remember and think of. I could listen to this op at the beginning of every episode of both series and it would instantly put me in the mood for what I was about it watch. This song is the best.
Ready Steady Go is an amazing song and if it weren’t for the fact that Melissa wasn’t the type of rock song I can fully get behind I think I would understand why the people that dubbed the show and put it on tv choose to use Ready Steady Go over Melissa. I don’t dislike the song by any means, but it isn’t anywhere near enough to beat Melissa. Oddly enough though, I have been listening to this song a lot more lately since having discovered Amalee’s English cover version. If you haven’t heard it yet I highly recommend it. I like it better then the original.
The winner is Melissa
Melissa: Five Rounds
Ready Steady Go: Six Rounds
The winner of the battle is… Ready Steady Go!
Feel free to tell my if I totally goofed in my verdict and that I’m a complete fool for claiming Ready Steady Go 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.
Until Next Time, Always make your heart rainbow!