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 pop culture filled opening of princess jellyfish, performed by the rock band Chatmonchy, we have Just Between Us!
Next is the opening from the less well know Strawberry Eggs, sung by Mieno Hitomi, Dearest!
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 pallet consistency and transitions
Just Between Us doesn’t have a lot of room to be creative with colors, since it’s focus is trying to throw as many pop culture references into its minute and thirty seconds as it can. It does, however, choose its tones and colors for each individual scene to fit the reference, like Mary Poppin’s incredibly bright sky and the cold black and white gun barrel for James Bond, which changes to blood red. The beginning does have some interesting colors to go with the character introductions. They have opened the box of pastel crans and with each character the color on screen changes. These colors, although quite different sometimes, change seamlessly and naturally and it is hard tell if there is a bit of color fade in or if the change is instantly cut to.
Dearest has the interesting appearance of looking faded, the type of look a picture gets when you let it sit in the sun for too long. The colors were once brighter and more natural, but now they’ve been sun bleached out. It’s nearly consistent throughout, except for a moment when we see a man standing in a red shirt and his dog. The op also tries to use sunlight to brighten things, but rather then giving the op a natural sunlit appearance, it looks more like one side of the image is fading away to white.
The Winner is Just Between Us for its seamless opening color changes and for keeping the color choices consistent with their references and close enough to flow through the rest of op.
Round Two: Narrative
Just Between Us doesn’t seem to have any narrative at all, jumping from reference to reference which while, fun doesn’t provide a narrative. Still it keeps itself consistent by sticking with references thoughout the middle of op, rather then just having random images thrown. Wait a second, is this an it was all a dream Cliché? The references and there flow was all the a dream of the main character? It certainly adds an interesting perspective to the way the various scenes flow together and it puts a whole new perspective on the entire thing.
Dearest really doesn’t seem to even be trying to have a narrative. We have some disconnected shots of the two main characters, the title card and then the beginnings of what could be a narrative. One of our main characters wakes up and we next see her going to school and then meeting up with her friends and then we have perverted men taking pictures. After this the op is a mess, from more character shots, to completely out of place shots of still life flower, or our other main character sitting at a piano. There is no connection between shots in this op. Neither narratively, symbolically or even thematically as far as can be seen.
The winner is Just Between Us for having a consistent theme and an eventual tie together.
Round Three: Character Establishment
Just Between Us may seem like it wouldn’t be particularly good at telling us about the characters with its culture references, but it really seems to nail a lot of things down. It introduces Tsukimi, closed off and shy, then Kuranoske strong and sexy, just through their poses. It’s in the actual references though that you see the best work. Jiji, dressed as Princess Leia, getting excited over the older man. Kuranoske, in the ti fighter, dragging a horrified Tsukimi along for the ride while she is stuck as R2D2. It keeps getting better, Kuranoske appears as practically perfect to a lot of people, Banba loves riding on trains, the two guys at the end of the gun barrel see themselves as super cool secret agents and then you have the guy who passes out from shock during the wedding scene, which is perfectly in character. These are all excellent character moments that say something and they work within the theme.
Dearest really is a puzzler. It has a central character, the young school girl who is seen waking up, but it doesn’t even fully focus on her. Strangely enough while one could consider her a main character, she isn’t the main character, that would be the woman with the long brown hair, Hibiki, the one in the sexy shot where her legs are folded up into her chest. I find this shot disturbing, because she’s really a he. There’s a lot of characters here, but we really don’t learn anything about them, other then the fact that the two men who run off somewhere are perverted trouble makers.
The winner is Just Between Us
Round Four: Tone
Watching Just Between Us, one can surmise that a bunch of nerds got together and decided to just have fun. That’s what the tone is. It’s fun. It’s comprised of inside jokes and nostalgia and all the fun little things that people enjoy seeing. The end caps though are about someone shy and relatable, the pace is slower, but still happy. This is a fun and funny anime, but the characters are shy and socially awkward, so it was nice that they still captured that part.
Going from the pictures alone I would say dearest is trying to be sexy and sweet with underage girls and cross dressing men it’s very odd. I will make a confession here, that I once saw the opening to boco no pico and well, dearest kind of makes me think of that op and we all know what that anime’s about. Of course, Strawberry Eggs does have some mature themes regarding love and sexuality and if it had wanted to go in that direction I think it very easily could have. The middle of op captures the more of the zaniness, with the perverts and the normal moments with male Hibiki (blue haired dude). If you read my review for the series, you’ll know that the mesh between the more serious story and its comedy was kind of odd and I guess the op kind of captures that. Good job?
The winner is Just Between Us, because even though Dearest captures the awkwardness of the series, one has to wonder if it was entirely intentional.
Round Five: Shot Transitions
Just Between Us manages to take vastly different scenes and tie them together through its transitions in quite a creative way. These transistions, though simple are smooth, due to the way the images line up, from the umbrellas, the circular clock tower to the circular front of the train, going into the dark afro only to pull out of the dark dice cup and then having that same cup turn into a gun barrel. All of these transitions are again, very smooth looking.
Dearests opens up with a lot of cut to black and fade up, but this stops at the title. The title itself dissolves to reveal a clouded sky which then dissolves into the image of little girl sleeping. The angle of clouds and the folds in the bed sheets match up pretty well, creating a nice dissolve. This and when female Hibiki’s face dissolves into male Hibiki’s face are probably its best transition. It uses dissolves throughout the rest of the op, but nothing really syncs up well. There are even a couple awkward angle changes, which give the impression that the camera man crossed the invisible line, which is a grave sin in cinematography.
The winner is Just Between Us for being smooth and breaking no grave sins.
The next three rounds will judge the op based off of the song choice
Round six: song tone
Just Between Us starts with a halting hesitance, though it doesn’t lack energy. Instead the words and beat are more spaced out, then it jumps into the happy and even more energetic guitar and singing. It’s happy and cheerful, but it has innocence to it in its higher pitch. Eventually the song slows again, with the same spaced out lyrics. It’s almost as if its capturing the fun within the series, but the shyness of the characters all at once.
Dearest is a happy song that sounds as if it could be singing about lovers or friends, its melancholic, like a wonderful summer coming to an end. It’s warm and bright. There are no high stakes, except for those on a personal level. This is how I would describe the song. It fails to capture the awkwardness or zaniness in the show. The show does have a sweet side , but this captures only a portion of it, probably the sweet innocence of the young girl in it.
Two innocent songs, but one that captures the fun of the series as well and the other does not. The winner is Just Between Us.
Round Seven: Lyrics
Just Between Us opens up by informing us that what is about to be sung is a secret. The song is about someone who wants to take shortcuts so they don’t get wet or blown away, they want to take the easy road, because they are afraid. They want to be happy and not cry, but they need to be taught many things and not the hard lessons if they can help it. They want to see and do things, and do the best they can even if they cheat their way there. While not perfect, this song is many people within the series, a bunch of socially awkward people that don’t want to get hurt, but need to succeed in life. The lyrics about rain also match up with singing in the rain and blowing away in the wind with Mary Poppins, which is fun.
Dearests Lyrics aren’t even trying. They lyrics are that of a sad song about how someone misses someone that is no longer with them. Whether it is a lover, likely, or someone else, the person is no longer in their life. The world around them and people around have changed and everything else is happy, but they are still hurt and they hope to remember the past even if it makes the future hard. Is this a joke? What is this? What does this have to do with this series?
The win goes to Just Between Us, because Dearest is utterly ridiculous and Just Between Us is probably trying.
Round Eight: Matching the animation
Just Between Us opens up with the shots of Tsukimi, the first two syncing up really well and then the appearances of all the girls and there steps forward accompanying the beat pretty accurately. The guitar solo accompanies the star wars shots and the singing begins again when Tsukimi is in the singing in the rain scene, both of which work pretty well. This nice and suttle match up, continuous of song bars and scenes continues, though not perfectly. Eventually the dream ends with the guitar getting excited and rising in pitch and urgency as Tsukimi walks into the light and then abruptly stops as Tsukimi opens her eyes, returning to same simple sound as the beginning as well as a simpler look at Tsukimi.
Dearest’s first 25 seconds are not bad, the transitions all the way into the title fit well with the music and the slow shots after are pretty nice too. After that though it kind of falls apart. The girl runs completely off the beat and when the op changes to focus on the male perverts the music remains the same as it was for the slow sweet moments. It does again fall into an ok fit after the flowers, the flower shots seemed a bit rushed to catch up with the music, when our two main characters spin around and we move back to the sliding shots.
The winner is obviously Just Between Us
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
Just Between Us has a nice and special bounce to it continues throughout the song. Present in both the singing and the music itself it bounces its way through my head quite easily.
Dearest’s soft and sweet music is by no means catchy. While I enjoy it, it isn’t something that pops in my head or one that I can even very easily remember.
The winner is Just Between Us.
Round Ten: My eyes are glued to the screen
With so many references in Just Between Us, most of which I get with only a few exceptions, I find myself nerdy self enjoying each and everyone. I also puzzle over the choices, considering they are all quite western. Needless to say I love watching this op and its probably one of the most entertaining I’ve seen.
Dearest is as boring as all get out. Most of the shots are barely animated if at all. Some are just still shots that the camera shot slides over. It’s oddly painful to watch, but I have, at least twenty times today and I wonder if this could possibly be my least favorite op image wise.
The winner is Just Between Us
Round Eleven: I like the song better
I love the combination of the sweet soft voice and the soft electric guitar in this song. It is definitely a song that made me go out and actually find other songs by the same artist.
Dearest’s song is lovely in my opinion. As described above it has a happy melancholy feel to it. It sounds like it should be paired with something sweet and nostalgic, like a show about happy children, being kids as kids actually are. I think the song is gorgeous and very relaxing.
While a close call, and while I do really love the sound of Dearest I’m going to have to choose Just Between Us.
by a landslide… The winner of the battle is… Just Between Us!
There is no doubt here that Dearest was completely blown out of the water. Perhaps Dearest has its own merits as an op, but they don’t stand up at all in comparison to Just Between Us. At least in this competition. I knew that Dearest was lacking, but I never imagined that when put under such scrutiny I would find it this much lacking. Wonders never cease.
Feel free to tell my if I totally goofed in my verdict and that I’m a complete fool for claiming Just Between Us as the winner (though I doubt anyone will), 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!