Best Anime Openings of the 80s

Some of the best anime theme songs of the 1980's
December 28, 2011
As I stated in my previous article, anime is a term originally coined by the Japanese to denote animation in general, but has since been known elsewhere to denote any Japanese animation. Though anime had been localized in North America since the 1960s with shows like Marine Boy and Astro Boy, it did not have any significant understanding in the west until somewhere in 1990's.

This is a fan at an anime convention in the 1980's reading manga (Japanese comics). Image from

1989 marked the end of a "golden age" of anime, caused by the death of Astro Boy's creator Ozamu Tezuka and the start of the Japanese recession of the 1990's (there were still excellent series in the early 90's as well). A new golden age sprung up in 1995 with the advent of Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Nevertheless, anime played a significant part in animated entertainment in the 1980's. Many western cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) and Dinosaucers (1985) had an anime-ish feel, since much of the animations were outsourced to Japan.

Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of an anime (and cartoons in general) is the opening sequence. Here, I will show you some of the best anime theme songs of the 1980's. (Yes, I ripped it off from my first article)

This article may not be written in an nostalgic tone, but I am sure it will bring back memories, and perhaps get you hooked on a new show in this list.

Astro Boy (1980)

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This is the second Astro Boy series, a follow up to the 1960's black-and-white one. The description for this should be simple. A scientist designs a robot who looks like his recently deceased son. The robot is captured and shipped to a circus in America and is rescued by a doctor. He transforms into a crime fighting robot and is named Astro Boy. He retains his childlike personality and wishes to be peaceful.

The song is called Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) by Atoms, and is used in all regions in all languages (to my knowledge). The theme song is fun, happy and heartwarming. Couple this with nostalgia and you have a perfect theme song.

I included both Japanese and English opening, because they have the same melody, and are both good in their own way.

Urusei Yatsura (1981)

Urusei Yatsura is a romantic science fiction comedy anime. It is a teen sitcom about 17 year old Ataru Moroboshi, the most perverted person in the universe, and the character in my profile image. One day, his house is the site of an invasion of aliens who resemble mythological Japanese creatures, and strikingly human looking. The leader of the invasion makes a deal to Earth that if Ataru Moroboshi can beat his daughter Lum in a game of tag, the aliens will abort the invasion. Lum is a young alien who resembles a beautiful, busty girl, which catches the attention of Ataru. However, Ataru already has a girlfriend named Shinobu, who is infuriated with his lechery. However, she promises to marry him if he wins the competition. Ataru eventually wins the competition, but when he states that he was going to get married, Lum mistook it for a proposal to her, who accepts. Despite an initial refusal from Ataru, a series of misfortunate events endangers the world. Lum solves the problems, and in return, Ataru is forced to marry her. However, Ataru still loves Shinobu, causing a love triangle.

The opening is named Lum no Love Song (Lum's Love Song) by Hiroko Matsuya. It is stated that Urusei Yatsura was revolutionary in anime music, in which it started a trend of using pop music in anime. The song gives off a sickening feeling that your significant other is stalking you and no matter how much you try to escape, you can't. Perfectly appropriate for the show's theme!

Dr. Slump and Arale Chan (1981)

Dr. Slump and Arale Chan, known simply as Dr. Slump, is the first anime series by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. The show follows the protagonist Arale, an android who resembles a little girl. She is sent to a village full of cartoon animals and other creatures in an attempt to prove herself as a normal girl.

The series precedes Dragon Ball, and is a comedy science-fiction anime full of bathroom jokes and puns.

The song is called Waiwai World by Ado Mizumori and Koorogi '73.

Kinnikuman (1983)

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Kinnikuman is a wrestling comedy show, originally intended to parody the signature Japanese franchise Ultraman. The protagonist Kinnikuman is a terrible superhero who discovers he is a prince of a faraway planet. He partakes in various wrestling matches and has to fight enemies to gain respect from his royal family. The show contains a significant amount of crude jokes, already present in the *slightly* disturbing opening.

Kinnikuman was largely known as a toy line in the USA, released in the 1980's under the name M.U.S.C.L.E. (Millions of Unusual Strange Creatures Lurking Everywhere). The series would eventually be the inspiration for the Monster In My Pocket toy line, notable for its lawsuit on Pokemon. This anime was not released in English, but its 2002 follow up, called [/i]Kinnikuman Nisei[/i] (Ultimate M.U.S.C.L.E.), came out in English the same year it came out in Japan.

The song is called "Kinnikuman Go Fight!" by Akira Kushida.

Adventures of the Little Koala (1984)



I know what will be in the minds of many when they saw this choice: "HOLY $#!& THIS IS AN ANIME?" Well it is. The series is called Koala Boy Kokki in Japan. One may remember this show from the late 80's and early 90's on Nickelodeon. The show follows the adventures of Roo Bear (called Kokki in Japan) and his friends in an Utopian Australia. The show was a result of a koala craze sweeping Japan, after several Koalas were shipped to the country.
I've included both theme songs because they both sound amazing. The Japanese version is an upbeat song named Koala Boy Kokki sung by by Akasaka Komachi. The English version is a relaxing theme simply called Koala Song, sung by Sonja Ball, Shari Chaskin and Maxie Vaughann.

Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs (1984)

Named Sei JÅ«shi Bismark (Star Musketeer Bismarck) in Japanese, the series is an science fiction anime that largely takes place in outer space. Humans have explored space and colonized portions of it. In order to establish order to the colonies, the Earth Federation Government (EFG) was established. This caused an uproar and divided the colonies. Soon after, an aggressive alien race began to attack the colonies. A team of four named the Bismarck were dispatched to protect the colonies from the aliens.

The anime was originally targeted at teenagers, and had quite a bit of objectionable content. However, when the series was brought over to North America in 1987, the series was heavily edited, changing plot lines, names, and editing out content to make it a children's show. New episodes were also produced with vastly different art styles than the original anime.

The song is called Fushigi Call Me (Mystery Call Me) by MIO. It fits the show well, as there is a mysterious spatial and romantic feel to it, owing to the fact that it is a space drama and contains romance.

Princess Sarah (1985)

Considered an animated classic by Filipinos in the 1990's, Princess Sarah is a historical slice of life drama, based on the 1905 novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The story is about the British protagonist Sarah Crewe who moves to India. She came from a wealthy family and lived a dream life in a friendly boarding school. However, she is orphaned and her family goes bankrupt. The school's headmistress takes advantage of her situation and bullies her into becoming a maid. This does not stop her from being through the hard times by her friends.

The show is famous worldwide, and has an English translation, but it has yet to be released in the United States.

The song is called Hana no Sasayaki (Whisper of a Flower).

Dragon Ball (1986)

A Japanese dragon promises three wishes to anyone who can find seven magic balls (named Dragon Balls) across the Earth. The story centers in on Goku, a mysterious creature who resembles a little boy. A green haired girl named Bulma finds him, thinking he is a little boy, until she finds that he has a functional tail. After encountering one of the seven Dragon Balls, the two set off for a journey to find all seven of them, meeting countless new friends on the way.

Dragon Ball has become one of the most known animes in history, but it was still not as well known as its follow up Dragon Ball Z. The series has gone through many English dubs, ranging from the heavily edited and bastardized Harmony Gold experiment (in which Goku was named Zero), the Canadian Ocean and Blue Water dubs and the American Funimation dub. It is based off the first few volumes of the manga of the same name.

The theme song is called "Makafushigi Adventure!" (Mystical Adventure!) by Hiroki Takahashi, and has been used in most international dubs, including the Funimation and Harmony Gold dubs.

Saint Seiya (1986)

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The goddess Athena was served by fighters known as Saints who fought with the power of the Cosmos. A young man named Seiya trained to become a Saint, and joins other Saints to fight for the Goddess.

Saint Seiya was based off the popular manga of the same name, yet the anime was unfinished, until a series of Original Video Animations adapted the manga in the 2000's. The series has been dubbed into many languages. The English dub of Saint Seiya was named Knights of the Zodaic, and was heavily edited to make it a Saturday morning cartoon, using a cover of the Flock of Seagulls song I Ran as its opening and adding CGI effects. It failed.

The song is called Pegasus Fantasy by MAKE.UP. It is a rock song, which sounds distinctly 80's style.

Ranma 1/2 (1989)

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A young boy named Ranma Saotome trained with his father in a site of magical springs in China. Both fell into different springs, which put different curses on each of them. When splashed with cold water, Ranma turns into a girl and his father turns into a gigantic panda. When splashed with hot water, Ranma switches back to a boy, and his father into human form. His father arranges his marriage to a girl named Akane Tendou, who detests boys.

The theme song is called Jaja Uma ni Sasenai de by Etsuko Nishio. It is a catchy song with an oriental feel to it, and the "Yappa pa, Yappa pa" and "Ranma, Ranma" in the lyrics can get stuck in your head easily. You have been warned.

Dragon Ball Z (1989)

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This follow up to Dragon Ball is based off the later sections of the manga series. Goku is now grown up, married with a son, and has discovered that he is not human, but part of a critically endangered alien race named the Saiyans. The adventure continues, with new Super Saiyan forms, new and stronger enemies and much more characters. The series is split into different "sagas", which revolve around different plots. Despite being a late 1980's show (though more 1990's), it also entertained the masses in the following two decades.

Like its predecessor, DBZ had several English dubs. The most notable ones were the Canadian Ocean dub and the American Funimation one. The Ocean dub is more well known worldwide, but the Funimation one is better recieved.

The song is called Cha-La Head-Cha-La by Hironobu Kageyama. The English versions used different intros for each dub. The Canadian version used a sinister sounding theme song, which was basically "Dragon Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Dragon Bal, Z!". The American version used an alternate theme called Rock The Dragon. The Filipino used a cover of Cha-La Head-Cha-La for the theme.

Well, that's the end of the article. If you have some more of your favo(u)rite anime theme songs to add, feel free to add them in the comments.

[Some of the information from here comes from external sites, notably Wikipedia and Anime News Network]
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