And in the End(ing)…

Published in
7 min readDec 17, 2020

Previously on AniTAY: The Next Generation: Normally at this time of the year, I like to look back and pick my favorite anime opening and ending themes for each season of the year (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall), plus a set of Honorable Mentions, but as I alluded to in my opening post in this series, this year (especially in the second half) there’s been a real dearth of shows that I watched, let alone whose themes really stuck with me as “must listens.” So I thought I’d broaden the field a bit, and in today’s article, talk about my top 10(ish) “all-time” ending themes from shows I’ve seen instead.

Welcome to “12 Days of AniTAY 2020”, a writing challenge in which I look to have an article a day for 12 days leading up to Christmas, all centered in some way on anime or anime-related topics. You can find re-posts of my 2018 and 2019 series (posted originally on the late TAY and AniTAY Kinja sites) now here on Medium.

I basically “have” to have music when I drive somewhere longer than “up to get the mail” (and sometimes even then). I can’t do talk radio, or even half talk/half music. I definitely can’t do audiobooks — I just can’t focus on that kind of thing while I’m driving, or even in general, really. I don’t seem to “do” long(er) form verbal communication or whatever you want to call it. Eventually, I’ll start to tune out or lose the plot or whatever. I can’t do podcasts, either, for the same reason. I need to *read* the books, stories, etc., to really comprehend something. And when I’m driving, it’s even much more so. I can try and focus on understanding the words coming out of the car speakers, or I can keep on with the “not dying” part of driving.

But music on the other hand, doesn’t cause that kind of problem for me. If it’s music I like, music I know, even if I’m rocking and singing along in the car (generally) I’ve still got my focus on the road. It just ‘works’ better for me even as background for a drive. I’m not a fan of terrestrial radio, and I’m too cheap for satellite radio, so I’m still rocking my old iPod Nano 2nd Gen, with its glorious 3.42GB of storage space. Over time, the balance of music I keep on it has shifted with my tastes, new acquisitions, and so forth, but while certainly not a majority, has seen a significant increase in anime themes over the years. I’ll put the new ones I like most (or think that I do) right away on it, and as time goes by, I’ll gain a sense of what I like to hear in the car, and what I tend to skip past, to gain a sense of what can be removed to make room for the next round of additions.

Today I present my top 10 favorite anime ending themes. All of the following songs have had a place on my iPod at one point or another, and I think most (if not all) of them are in fact still there right now. As with yesterday’s openings, I present them in chronological order by air date (although not necessarily by my watch date), rather than in any kind of additional ranking. Also in some cases, I’ve gone with generally the “main” ending theme, instead of the one-offs (although there’s some really damn good one-offs from some of these shows, too!) I’ve also tried to present them with their “full” (rather than TV-size) versions, from “official” channels, for those unfamiliar to listen and compare and decide.

The Endings

Cowboy Bebop: Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts, “The Real Folk Blues”

Well now. We start with a familiar series. Although, really, Bebop has such great music overall, that it’s no surprise “The Real Folk Blues” makes this list. But unlike all those openings from yesterday, it has a totally different kind of energy carrying through it — not the driving intensity of the opening, but more mournful, befitting the series’ story themes.

Samurai Champloo: Minmi, “Shiki no Uta”

I know, I know — you’re shocked, shocked to find that gambling is taking place in this establishment, err, I mean, another Watanabe-san show again makes my list. Here, the song’s vocals and energy make for a major switch up from the opening’s hip hop beats.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!: Sora Amamiya, Rie Takahashi, and Ai Kayano, “Chiisana Boukensha”

And now we’re really starting to run into the differences between my opening likes and my ending likes. Honestly, I could’ve gone with any of the KonoSuba endings (including the movie), as they’re all great, but I picked the original here for its more relaxed and relaxing tone. And I’m always a sucker for a good theme song sung by the voice actresses.

Flip Flappers: TO-MAS feat. Chima, “Flip Flap Flip Flap”

So, this one’s a little more energetic than some of the others, but fits so wonderfully to the early madness of the show. And the original’s (not shown here) watercolor (or pseudo-watercolor-esque) visuals of the main characters doing sort of a Hansel and Gretel thing in time to the music made this a “must listen” and sing-along every episode.

Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku: nano, “DREAMCATCHER”

A suitably dark energy’d song for a dark magical girl series. Again, a “must listen” at the end of each episode, and as I recall, nicely worked in, rather than as can be the case with some shows, being tacked on for some kind of tonal whiplash.

Sakura Quest: (k)NoW_NAME, “Freesia”

Going with the ED for the first cour of the series as slightly edging the second (also by (k)NoW_NAME) out, but both are excellent choices for a nice little shirt about “cute girls doing adult things”.

Imouto sae Ireba Ii: Aira Yuuki, “Donna Hoshizora Yori mo, Donna Omoide Yori mo”

So, first up, “A Sister’s All You Need” (as the title got romanticized) is not a show for the casual anime fan. But beneath the over the top at times story-within-a-story scenes, there’s a really nice little show about friends and relationships (amongst other things), capped by a really great ending, that again, was always worked in really well to the end of each episode, where the intro might begin during the final scene(s).

Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho: Inori Minase, Kana Hanazawa, Yuka Iguchi, Saori Hayami, “Koko kara, Koko kara”

Winter 2018 was in my opinion, a really great season for anime, and featured two fantastic shows, the first of which, Yorimoi, was even recommended in the New York Times’ best TV shows (foreign section) for 2018. It was my personal “Anime of the Year” for plot, and it has this brilliant ending. (Again, I’m a sucker for the “DIY Theme Song”.)

Yuru Camp△: Eri Sasaki, “Fuyu Biyori”

While in my books, Yorimoi definitely beat out Yuru Camp, the latter’s relaxed “comfy” plot, always capped off with the gentle singing of Eri Sasaki, was a damn close (but distinct) second. But, I’d actually rate this ending slightly higher than the other one. When my “local” convention last year announced that they were having Eri Sasaki as a guest, and she was going to do a concert, well… you can bet we were in line for that one.

Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara: Nagi Yanagi, “Mimei no Kimi to Hakumei no Mahou”

A nice little one-cour show from studio P.A. Works, with some really nice themes on both ends. The ending is slightly preferred for me, though. Its haunting melodies play into the low-key magic featured through much of the show, plus the big mystery of a show that knew how to fit its story into a limited run of episodes without dragging out the wrong plotlines and rushing others.

Zombieland Saga: Franchouchou, “Hikari e”

The quiet goodbyes of the main cast singing to the piano gets me every time. Proof that simple and basic (as with “Fuyu Biyori” above) can do a hell of a lot by itself.

The 2020 Entries Most Likely To Eventually Make This List

So, to cap off this look at my favorite endings, I thought I’d throw in a pair of themes from this year that I did get to see that seem to have potential, and/or in other years would likely have made my annual “Best Of” list.

Appare-Ranman!: Showtaro Morikubo, “I’m Nobody”

Here we get back into rock, sort of a Japanese Country Rock, no less. But it worked well for the show, and was greatly missed while the entire series was on hiatus through the summer due to COVID.

Nami yo Kittekure: Harumi, “Pride”

I think what I really like is how this song builds quietly into the refrains, and then drops back at the start of each verse, only to ramp up again — rather like the waves, in fact (the show’s English name being “Wave, Listen to Me!”)

So, there we have it — my favorite(ish) anime endings. I could argue around some of these a bit more, and there were some other contenders, even some with more of an energy closer to the openings (Haruhi’s “Hare Hare Yukai” comes to mind), but this is definitely a set that for the most part, rarely gets skipped when they come up in the car. Anyway, I hope you’ll be back tomorrow, when I wrap this up with a look at some of my contenders for “overall best music” — you can bet there’ll be some familiar names on there, and maybe a few you didn’t expect.

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Guy who Does Stuff. Parent. Part cyborg. Is stuck in the Snowbelt, but would rather be living in the DATABASE, DATABASE.