First Opening – Hero’s Come Back by nobodyknows+
An overview on the band and song:
nobodyknows+ is a japanese rap group founded on 1999, at the point of this recording, they had six active members, that dropped to five around the time this song’s single was released, rappers Hidden Fish, Crystal Boy, Yasu Ichiban, Nori da Funky Shibire-Sasu (A fan of Del Funky Homosapiens eh?), and G-Ton, plus producer DJ Mitsu, i’ve listened to some of their work, is mostly very 90s hip-hop inspired, althrough, at around this time they were getting an heavier and sharper edge to their songs.
This song belongs to their third studio album vulgarhyhm, that reached as high as #32 on the charts, with the song itself being the main single of that album, reaching #17 on the japanese charts, making it a comfortable hit for them, as expected from a song of this series.
An overview on the creators:
This video was directed and animated on his totality by two animators, Hirofumi Suzuki and Toshiyuki Tsuru, the latter being the one that SB’d it, Suzuki famously started at Studio DEEN around the late stages of the 80s decade, with famous animator Atsuko Nakajima acting as his mentor and best friend Tokuyuki Matsutake practically animating everything with him, he worked a lot on the Ranma 1/2 series, worked on the beautifully animated You’re Under Arrest OVA series and was involved on a lot of OVAs at the time, and he particularly linked with colleague Toshiyuki Tsuru on the 90s, someone that he will eventually will end up working together with him during the rest of his carreer, specially on Hayato Date’s series, that ended up with him becoming the Naruto’s character designer along with Production I.G’s very own Tetsuya Nishio. Tsuru meanwhile, or, as he likes to call himself whenever working on those things, Yasuaki Kurotsu, started around the same time as Suzuki but on a completely different environment, he started on Studio Giants, along with people like Masayuki and Kazuya Tsurumaki, working on things like Takashi Nakamura’s Peter Pan or Hideaki Anno’s Nadia, and he is like, the most talented of the two, he is one of the pioneers of the use of digital technologies on Anime, using various times on Naruto and animes like Kaze no Yojimbo, also by Hayato Date, a very like, prehistoric, now really aged badly CGI, but that at the time was pretty much revolutionary, the Gaara vs Rock Lee fight, for example, couldn’t be made without CGI rotation effects and CGI sand all over it, for example, or the scene where Zabuza’s fights with Gato’s lynchmen, he has this very cinematic vision of Anime that can’t be reached without instruments like CGI and Digital Photography, that he also uses on this opening, and that can’t also underestimate is merit of also being a great animator, again, keeping with his cinematic theme, he is an overrealistic animator, on the same way as people like Hiroyuki Okiura and Tetsuya Nishio, with a lot of tridimensionality and volume to his work, that some people can even confuse by actual CGI, so, yeah, the guy is a genius.
Yeah, i don’t think i’m going to surprise anyone saying that this song is a great pump-up anthem, lyrics about stomping and making noise, and fighthing, and going all your will to your enemy, is a great Shonen song, and a great song to boost, DJ Mitsu’s production is very clean and powerful, just the correct emphasis on the correct beats, and the energetic shouting-like delivery style of the MCs do great accompanying DJ’s Mitsu great producing work. It’s fantastic, actually.
This video is just a great introduction to Tsuru’s work, a lot of digital photography and editing is used on there, and most if not all of the information is conveyed through the movements and the photography, for example, Sakura around 0:33 moving weirdly-puppet like, hard spoilers on the inversed images a few seconds after that, including spoilers that wouldn’t happen until a few episodes after this opening closed out, so, yeah, that was kind of a miss, but there are two main scenes there: Gaara’s dissapearing into sand “Mr. Stark, i don’t feel well” style, with everyone trying to capture him until Naruto’s does, and the Akatsuki revelation that is one of the most badass scenes on any opening of Naruto, it’s fantastic, a rotation shot around the members finishing on a close-up of Deidara’s hand, a fantastic move (if they didn’t already showed it on the fillers leading to this, but well, who watched them anyways?).
So, yeah, this was really nice, nothing great tbh, but good.
Second Opening – Distance by LONGSHOT PARTY
An overview on the band and song:
Long Short Party is a japanese Ska band that was founded on 1998 and broke up around 2010, like nobodyknows+, they also had six members: vocalist Sasaji, guitarrist 秀一, bass player SAITARO, drummer PxOxN, trumpetist Ken Iikawa and sax player KJ, and unlike nobodyknows+, their experiment with success went awful, like, they were independent for nine whole years before they signed with DefStar records, they released the first single, this one, a year later, and broke up just three years after it, with their debut big label album being postponed during three years until its release on 2010, the same year the band eventually broke up, their had four album-less years between 2006 and 2010, that absolutely killed them, their last independent album reached #294 on the charts, their first major label one wasn’t even on the charts to begin with, and this was their biggest single ever, reaching #25 on the charts, having just two top fourty hits, this one, and their Natsume Yuujinchou song, a two hit wonder, if you can call it that way.
They are probably really regretting this song now, well, i can believe that they were already regretting this song then, seeing that DefStar gave zero fucks about them during three stale years.
An overview on the creators:
Toshiyuki Tsuru directed it, Hirofumi Suzuki sakkan’d it, nothing new over the sun, a quick overview of everyone involved on its animation: Hiroyuki Yamashita, then promising new animator of the show, everyone already knows him and loves him, Naruto legend, spent the last twelve years stuck to this series and nothing else (except Colorful and a few cuts around there on Osomatsu-San, but you get the point). Kazunobu Hoshi, another Ranma animator like Suzuki, with less spotlights, Naruto opening regular. Takahiro Chiba, one of the shining gems of Production I.G, a graduate of the Tokyo Animator Gakuin, main guy behind Pro I.G’s Matsushita studio excellence during the past few years on series like Haikyuu, Run In The Wind and Ballroom E Youkoso. Keiko Shimizu, with very few spotlights, a trusted enough movie animator that well, animates on a anime movies for a living. Tokuyuki Matsutake, Suzuki’s best friend, Ranma guy too, really prolific, a great animator and director on its own right, now on Studio Silver, you know that you are something when Kou Yoshinari follows you everywhere. Yuu Yamashita, also known as charozo, graduated from YAG, he pretty much belongs to the same animator group as Koji Masunari and Koji Yabuno, which everyone knows are great character animators, very delicate, the Besame Mucho group, group that Suzuki, Matsutake and Chiba also belong to. Chiyuki Tanaka and Takeshi Ito, Pierrot animator, Naruto’s regulars. Hirofumi Masuda, effects specialist. Tsuru himself with his Kurotsu pen-name and Suzuki.
This is song isn’t even close to Ska, and is also overblown as hell, with as much as instruments as you can fit in thrown loosely and very loud on the mix over Sasaji’s voice, it isn’t garrish because it has certain calm moments but it can be headache-inducing on the long term, the lyrics are just about being distant with a close friend and always wishing the best for him, well, i’m pretty sure that Naruto does, but i don’t know if Sasuke does too.
It’s bland. Weird naked-sasuke-with-a-snake-on-his-crotch things aside, this video mostly works on a constant bombast that i’m not really fond of on anime openings, i mean, the animation is fantastic, but the video really doesn’t do anything creative with anything, like, it just hyping for the Sasuke’s re-encounter and nothing else, with actually a very nice parelism of the first and the last scene, but everything else, it’s just a one minute and half foreshadowing on the entire arc.