Sunday, July 14, 2019

Happy Birthday Syaoran 2019!

Baby Syaoran and His Father
by wishluv on DeviantArt

Poor Syaoran's been stuck in his birthday for over a year now. I was meaning to update the whole Hong Kong arc by July 13, but when will I ever learn that is just my hubris? I'm still aiming for a release pretty soon, but I'm working late hours all of this month unfortunately. Sorry to keep you all waiting for so long! I really miss being able to post updates as well. If I have a secret confession to make, sometimes, I actually like stepping away from writing New Trials just long enough to have forgotten some of the details and have fun rereading it with a "fresh" take. I know, it's silly, but it all comes down to the fact that I first started writing this fanfic for self-gratification and got greedier and dared desire a readership as awesome as all of you. Just wanted to reassure you all that my passion for CCS and New Trials is greater than ever! I also have an Instagram account mostly focusing on NT fanart and CCS merchandise for now but likely to expand in the future.

I was sketching an sexy, smouldering Syaoran when I suddenly found that I had doodled Ryuuren holding a baby Syaoran. There are many fanarts with a young Sakura and Nadeshiko, but you don't really see any with Syaoran and his father. I sketched and roughly colored this fanart in around two hours. I sometimes worry that there is really not much difference in my thoughtless doodles such as this and artwork that I spend weeks or months working on such as the Dragon Syaoran piece. I love seeing a masculine-looking man carrying something frail and like a baby. Ryuuren is a bishounen sort though he has the heart of a weary old warrior.

I love all my original characters and whomever I am focusing or featuring on at the moment usually can be called my favorite, but if I had to pick an overarching favorite, it just might be Li Ryuuren (sorry Kai!). Probably because Ryuuren's been with me the longest as well, and I have sort of watched over his growth as a teenage boy to adulthood and death, in a sense. I have a feeling Syaoran would have fought with Ryuuren a lot had Ryuuren lived since both of them are so hot-headed and stubborn. Ryuuren was a lot more cynical and poison-tongued than Syaoran as a teen, since Ryuuren grew up under fierce competition with his older brothers who tried to undermine him and degrade him every moment they got (especially Li Wutai). I contrast, Syaoran, while his mother was strict on him, grew under four doting older sisters who wanted to pamper him very badly--but he would have none of it. I think I have a soft spot for Ryuuren because of how flawed he was, how doomed his love for Nadeshiko was, and what a horrible husband and father he ended up becoming. 

Music Spotlight - amazarashi - "Karappo no Sora ni Tsubusareru" 

If I had to pick the band I've been most obsessed with over the past couple months, it would be amazarashi. They might be initially best known for writing Mika Nakashima's "Boku ga Shinou to Omotta no wa" single but their discography is amazing in a haunting way and their lyrics are also dark yet with an uplifting message mixed in somewhere oftentimes.  

"Karappo" is a song probably better befitting Syaoran during his birthday the previous year in Hong Kong circa beginning of Arc 4. Sorry for a depressing song, Syao-chan. For this year, I also included "Sakura"  below. Well, it's not that much cheerier, actually. But isn't it absolutely beautiful, especially the end "Sakura sakura ima demo sakura saku kienai?" The cherry blossom is such a lucky flower to have so many wonderful songs paying tribute to it.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Happy Birthday Sakura!!! Shirtless Syaraon fanart up!

Chosen One Li Syaoran with Dragon Wings
by wishluv on DeviantArt

Happy Birthday Kinomoto Sakura (and a bunch of other CLAMP characters) and April Fool's Day! 

Yes, I know it makes sense for me to draw Syaoran for Sakura's birthday.This fanart was actually finished for Halloween, except for some final details, but I held it off because I was stuck on the background, which I didn't end up changing after all. It has a combination of everything I love, shirtless Syaoran, ripped pants, dragon wings, sword, and even the Li Clan seal ring on Syaoran's finger if you zoom in enough.

This is a scene I've been dying to draw since I wrote it, and I'm glad to have gotten that out of my system. I'm not sure if I will ever draw another shirtless Syaroan artwork though because I think he's generally too bashful to go around shirtless. Though apparently Clone!Syaoran from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle isn't. I really enjoyed the whole Dragon Isles arc a lot because it's probably the most cinematographic of the whole New Trials series--hence the movie poster-like theme of this fanart. 

I have so many CCS-related things I want to share, but for now, this is it. I am also working on the next chapters albeit rather turtle-paced. Funny story--my worst nightmare scenario, I lost the whole New Trials Word file the other day--it wasn't in my folder and freaked out especially because I did write quite a chunk recently. I haven't been even saving it anywhere else lately. Luckily, I found it mysteriously moved into a different folder and have saved backup versions of it. Whew. I saw the first cherry blossoms of the spring today though. Spring is so beautiful and work is so burdensome, and time so fleeting. 

Music Spotlight:

Imagine Dragons - "Demons" 

I already shared the Boyce Avenue cover of this song a few years ago when I uploaded the "Eye of the Dragon," but it fits this fanart so well (since it's based on those chapters), and this is the original version of course.


They saw Li Syaoran, with a pair of magnificent black dragon wings sprouted from his back, fly up into the crimson sky gracefully. The wings had ripped through his black shirt. A gust of wind blasted from below, whipping off the tattered remains of his shirt to reveal his chiseled torso.

Syaoran held up his hand and the seal ring, blown up by the wind, landed on his extended palm. He held it up for them to see and slipped it back onto his finger. “Let me repeat one more time. I have traveled to the Dragon Isles and have passed the dragon’s test to become the 77th Great Elder of the Li Clan. Anybody who wants to challenge me can do so right now, or rest your case.” He glanced down from the sky at the Li Elders, the younger henchmen who had followed, at Leiyun, Jinyu and Wei, watching from not far off, and at Meilin standing off with the rest of the Star Alliance members. For just a brief second, his eyes lingered on Sakura, before turning back to the Elders.

Daifu had reached Wutai and dragged him back onto the rooftop. Doubled over to catch his breath, with his brother supporting his weight, Wutai stared hard at Syaoran, winged like a demonic angel, staring down at him with a strange look of pity, not anger. He was no longer the vulnerable boy who cowered from the Elders, who had knelt before Wutai in the Great Hall to be given another chance a year ago, maimed both in body and spirit.

Wei first dropped to his knees. “I, Li Wei, pledge my allegiance to serve and honor the new Great Elder Li Syaoran.”

With a thin smile, Leiyun also lowered his head, followed by Jinyu, Jingmei and the other younger Lis present.

One by one, the Li men and women dropped down to their knees, right arm on their chest, in a sign of deference.

Meilin stared hard at the strange sight of the proud and mighty Li Wutai glance around him helpless, watching even the haughty Daifu kneel, before finally dropping on his knees. But she did not miss the resentful gleam in his beady black eyes.  

Syaoran lifted his sword up into the sky, and a jet of lightening zapped from the clouded sky, to the tip of his blade. “By the power vested in me by the Dragonlords, I, Li Syaoran, son of Li Ryuuren, pledge my allegiance to the Li Clan, to protect and guide my bloodline as the new Great Elder and Chosen One.”  

Anybody with magic saw an etching of a great dragon facing upwards blazing in gold from Syaoran’s back. Then, the light faded, and the dragon mark disappeared.

From somewhere, Wei produced a long black silk robe with golden embroidery and placed it over Syaoran’s bare shoulders. The robe of the Great Elder.

- Excerpt from The New Trials of Card Captor Sakura Chapter 71: The Alliance of the Stars

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day and Happy 15th Anniversary of the Yahoo Group!

Syaoran's Birthday Omake #5
by wishluv on DeviantArt

I've always wanted Sakura to wear a statement green evening dress at one point in New Trials, especially after seeing Keira Knightley's green dress from the 2007 film Atonement. I still haven't watched the film, but the shade of that green dress really was alluring. I'd forgotten this thought for a while, however, until I was trying to decide on a dress for Chapter 73.5: The Hong Kong Encounter. Sakura's dress was supposed to be gold in the first draft, but it didn't feel right, and then I remembered I had been "saving up" a statement green dress all this while. Below is a concept art I did of Sakura's green backless dress when I was writing Chapter 73.5.This is an artwork I do plan on coloring eventually. I don't really share WIP frequently, and I wasn't quite sure I was convinced on the dress design, which is why I never finished this up last year.

The fanart I draw for the particular holiday never seems to really match the holiday and I have to scrap it (like the angsty Meilin and Kai artwork I was sketching for Valentine's Day). I doodled a Yue and Touya piece for Christmas last year which I never finished. Yukito's birthday is on Christmas Day, which I rarely remember. I'm never inspired to draw Yukito, for some reason. Yue on the other hand I do enjoy drawing, but his outfits are so hard to put together. I think he might be the hardest character in CCS to draw (besides Cerberus and Spinel Sun). 

I was just looking back and realized how quickly the past year passed by and was a bit taken back. This year marks the 20th anniversary of New Trials. It's all thanks to you guys that New Trials existed for 20 years, growing alongside the marvelous Card Captor Sakura franchise which has also made an awesome comeback. Again, belated Happy Valentine's Day and Happy 15th Anniversary of the Yahoo Group! The Yahoo Group really has been such an important support system, and despite it's somewhat outdated (and unreliable) platform, as a creature of habit, it really is my security blanket in a sense.

Music Spotlight:

I haven't gotten over my "I'm sick of everything on my playlist" ennui since last summer--I don't listen to as much music anymore in general lately because of this (I mean, I still do listen a lot, mainly when writing), but I have been seeking opera and then cycling back to my favorite musicals just to get through. And I supposed Korean drama OSTs because that's most readily available to me. I actually had a few more depressing songs picked out, but I realized this is the first "Music Spotlight" of 2019 (the Year of the Pig), and this is technically a Valentine's Day post, so I decide do share an uplifting song. 

Junggigo (정기고) - "D-Day" 

This song was from the Korean drama "My ID is Gangnam Beauty" and it was my rare groove last summer during my music dry spell. It's a feel-good song that puts you back into that excited campus crush, first love state of mind. Junggigo has a really soothing voice as well.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Cardcaptor Sakura Exhibition - Magical Art Museum Review - Happy New Year 2019!

First off, belated Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I apologize for disappearing off the radar in all CCS/New Trials communities for the past two months or so. Work and life sort of took precedent, not that I ever forgot all of you guys. 

Despite how hectic work was, I was able to squeeze in a few vacation days last week to visit Tokyo, which is also why I wasn’t able to update anything on Christmas. One of the reasons I did want to visit Tokyo was because ever since I heard that the Cardcaptor Sakura Exhibition - Magical Art Museum was taking place at the Mori Arts Center at the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower months ago, I knew I must visit it when I had a chance. The trip nearly did not happen because of work and whatnot, but in the end it worked out, and I did get to visit the Cardcaptor Sakura Exhibition. I thought I might share a little bit of my experience. 

Roppongi Hills is one of my favorite places in Tokyo, and I try to visit every time I do go there. This is actually the first time I’ve actually seen an exhibition at the Mori Arts Center, which has a fantastic view of the Tokyo skyline as well since it is located on the 52nd floor of Mori Tower. If you do visit Roppongi Hills, do take a look at the fantastic view of Tokyo Tower. And if you visit during Christmastime, enjoy the annual Christmas Market and the illumination on the streets.  

First off, because it was Christmas season, the exhibition was really crowded. I heard from my friend though who also visited Mori Arts Center this summer for the 50th Anniversary Commemoration Weekly Shonen Jump Exhibition: The 2000s that it was even more crowded then, rightfully so since there were so many series being covered there, whereas this exhibition covered not even CLAMP’s artwork but specifically one series.
The CCS Exhibition kicked off on October 26, 2018, so I was visiting near the end—as it runs to January 3, 2019. Anyone in Tokyo, do go see it before it closes! I would best describe this as a Card Captor Sakura “experience” more than simply just an exhibition, accommodating both to longtime fans and newcomers. The friend I went with while familiar with a lot of CLAMP’s works never read/watched CCS but she seems to have enjoyed the experience, albeit probably nobody as much as me. I was going to say I thought there could be nobody who enjoyed the exhibition more than me, that there is no greater CCS fan than me, but then again, some fans I saw that day may have proved me wrong. I was so thrilled to see how much love CCS is still getting after over two decades. 

You first enter a general “Library” area which introduces the series and photography is allowed here. The best part was the giant Clow Book. This part was international visitor friendly with English captions as well including a section kindly explaining, “Why is Cardcaptor Being Rediscoverd Now.” Except, yours truly never left the CCS fandom, hence it’s not a “rediscovery.” I just realized my smartphone took really good quality photos, so if anyone is interested in reading the text from this part of the exhibition and wants me to share the HQ photos, you can probably make it out. There was also a peephole where you can see original artwork of Sakura and Syaoran’s date.

Next, you enter a room where you see a screening of short clip of Kero-chan explaining that Sakura has released a bunch of cards, thus introducing the theme of the museum, I believe. He was speaking in Japanese, and it’s not like I really understood but Kero-chan did get me all hyped up! 

Then, you enter the “Flower” room, which might singly be one of my favorite rooms because I believe it started out as a white room, but visitors are allowed to pick a flower sticker from a booklet and stick in anywhere on the wall. The exhibition had been going on for two months already, so you can imagine the room was completely filled. There were also paintings of pretty flowers there.
The next room is Tomoyo’s studio, or the “Siege” room, and you get to see a couple of Sakura’s battle costumes brought to life! There were six costumes designed by Mokona. They are very meticulously done, and I’m sure Tomoyo approved. 

Unfortunately, you couldn’t take photos in the main exhibition section, showcasing select colored artwork from the 1990s the latest pieces, as well as original manga artwork. I especially enjoyed seeing the original black-and-white manga artwork by CLAMP, where you can actually see the indentations from the pressure from the pen, as well as white-outed spots where Mokono-sensei corrected her artwork and even the texture and cut-out outline of screentones layered on! There were lots of people reading carefully each manga panel—awesome seeing the pages large-scale—but I couldn’t read Japanese so I only marveled at the original drafts of the artwork. 

It was also nice seeing CLAMP’s artwork evolve from the original CCS series, especially in the early volumes, to the 2000s and then to the current Clear Card artwork. The currently artwork has rounder lineart, perhaps less intricate and detailed linework than the 1990s. The Clear Card artwork is more modern and CCS doesn’t look much aged currently. I can’t really say if I prefer one style or another—I appreciate both aesthetics. I went with a manga artist friend, so she told me that the artwork has clearly evolved, but then again, I have nostalgia for the old art. You also see an evolution in the colored art work. The 1990s CCS artwork is more watercolor-like, if that makes any sense, while the Clear Card artwork feels a bit more vibrant. CLAMP seems to enjoy using gold in their latest colored artwork which is so much more awesome to see in real life than in print. The perks of going with a mangaka friend was she told me about how a certain background was comprised of one entire sheet of screentone popular with manga artists (CLAMP getting a tad bit lazy), or what sort of gold paints are used for such artwork. It was really amazing seeing some of my favorite artwork in real life, as well as some of the iconic CCS manga scenes in print. Some of the most recent Clear Card manga pages were also displayed. 

After you emerge from the main exhibition section, the “Maze” room, you enter the “Cosplay” section with the gigantic Kero-chan plushy which you might have seen a lot of pictures of. There is an opportunity to even to cosplay as Sakura. There are two options, Battle Costume mode (with the iconic Clear Card pink cape and beret), or the Tomoeda Middle School uniform top. And a Clear Card mini staff as well. I actually wanted to wear the Tomoeda Middle School uniform blazer, but then I went with the cape and beret in the end because why not go all out. The uniform blazer looks like something that would have come out of my closet anyway. 

This room is connected with the Card Room, where the 52 or however many Clow Cards are lined up on one wall and the Sakura Cards on the other. Then, the Clear Cards are also displayed at the far end of the room. Truthfully, I wish I could have spent more time pouring over each artwork, but my friend and I had a dinner reservation, and also, it was really crowded so I was a bit drained by this point. 

The next battlefield was of course the exhibition store aka the grab everything you can find even if you don’t know what it is section. I think I will do another blog post if you are interested in the merchandise I did end up getting. Actually, it might be a special surprise for me as well, since that whole experience was a haze and I haven’t really opened up my shopping bag to see what I got then. There were a lot of interesting never-seen before goodies at the store, and I wish I had more time to pour over them. 

I didn’t get to visit the Cardcaptor Sakura café, located next to the entrance of the exhibition, but did take a peek in. I took a picture of the menu. Overall, there was a lot of lining up. I noticed that there was really a diverse blend of Japanese and international visitors, as well as a wide range of ages, from children to adults. The ticket cost was 1,800 yen, or around $18, which I think was pretty reasonable consider how thoughtfully put together the exhibition was, catering to fans, making the whole experience very interactive, including a chance to cosplay. I didn’t rent out the audio guide, which I believe would have been Yue’s voice since December. It was Kero-chan’s voice previously, before the switchover. You even get an exclusive special gift drawn by CLAMP at the end—a clear Sakura Card, the “Happiness Card.” 

The whole experience was sort of a penultimate moment in my some 20 years of Card Captor Sakura fandom and likely is going to give me some much-needed morale boosting in writing the finale of the New Trial of Card Captor Sakura fanfiction. It also seems a bit like my life has come to a full circle with CCS, because the series was introduced to me during perhaps my most impressionable years, and it has resonated with me for the past two decades, helped me grow as a writer, given me some direction on the meaning of life, and most importantly become a bridge to me and all of you, the readers of New Trials, and also just fans of CCS in general. The series will always be precious to me, and this exhibition at Mori Art Center—a contemporary art museum which has featured numerous famous artists--located in one of the poshest areas of Tokyo, is a testament to how CLAMP’s Card Captor Sakura has resonated with the entire world.  

Happy New Year and much good tidings for 2019!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Best Anime Openings Part 3: Top 5 Favorites from 2010 ~2018 (21st Century Edition)

My favorite anime openings post-2010 was much easier for me to pick from than previous decades, since it's freshest in my mind, and I've seen less shows in the past several years. I think the only new anime I watched this year was Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Arc. Unfortunately, none of the openings from CCS:CC made this list, despite my love for Maaya Sakamoto. Since this decade is not completely over, I chose five songs instead. This time around, I can clearly rank my favorite songs in order, starting with my most favorite as #1. The others songs have been tested with the passage of time, and I don't know if this will be the case for the songs I've chosen here, but I'm pretty sure I will enjoy these five songs for a long time to come.

I think I can't help having a 1990s taste in anime openings, which featured stronger hooks and a certain level of old school cheesiness. I realized I'm generally not a big fan of chaotic openings, both in terms of music and animation, which I think is more in vogue these days especially for shounen genre anime, not that I don't deny it works for some series. Neither do I like overly cutesy type openings (especially the gratingly squeaky kind), but again, I'm pretty open-minded as the list below probably covers a pretty wide range of anime genres and types of songs. I'm sure I must be forgetting some good opening themes but my rule of thumb for the test of time is if I don't remember it, it mustn't have been that great anyway.   

1. Guilty Crown OP1 - Egoist - "My Dearest" (2011)
This is one of my favorite openings in recent years, and was a chance find on Youtube recommendations. Because I liked it so much, I forced myself to watch the anime, which was not particularly as impressionable as the soundtrack. I wouldn't be able to summarize the plot of the anime for the life of me, but it was nicely animated and the character designs were good. The second opening, "The Everlasting," also by Egoist (of Supercell) is equally as excellent. Something about the vocals, the melody, the visuals all hits the right notes and embodies what the modern 21st century anime OP is all about. I think it'll remain one of the best openings of the decade to an otherwise lackluster anime TV series. Sometimes, the music is the best part of a series (Macross Frontier feat. Yoko Kanno).

2. Shingeki no Kyojin OP1 - Linked Horizon - "Guren No Yumiya" (2013) 
There are some anime openings that are so intense that you forget to breathe. Attack on Titan is probably THE shounen/fantasy anime of recent years, perhaps the only anime that could serve as a successor to the epic gritty shounen fantasy action that Fullmetal Alchemist was (though it will never come close to FMA in my heart). Actually that may be the main difference which sets apart FMA from others in its genre--the heart. The FMA characters, from Ed and Al, to the older military crew and even the side characters and villains are so well fleshed out and likeable. And the titans in Shingeki are just so ugly. In the AoT OP1, the German chanting, the smooth action sequences with detailed, rich backgrounds and the awesome composition by Linked Horizon (of Sound Horizon) make for the perfect anthem to a pretty chaotic anime. I admit, I put off watching this anime for a year before giving in because the opening sequence was so awesome. OP2 "Jiyuu no Tsubasa" is equally superb, with a more uplifting, anthem like tone to it, where as the first OP is urgent and frantic. I don't even remember what Season Two's OP3 was, however, though it had a too similar vibe to the other two. Anyhow, OP1 perfectly embodies the tone of the series in terms of music and animation in every way. 

3. Hanasakeru Seishounen - J-Min - "Change" (2009-2010)
I absolutely love J-Min's voice, and I chose this for the song more than the animation sequence, which is pretty generic limited-budget shoujo fare. My pet peeve over the past decade especially is how little effort goes into making shoujo series look good. You don't need a huge budget, but having consistent character designs and smooth animation and proper backgrounds can't be too hard. I'm not referring to this anime but just cookie-cutter shoujo series in more recent years. I recall enjoying this shoujo anime based off a manga by Natsumi Itsuki (who also wrote Jyu Oh Sei) since it had a splash of romance, political intrigue, a strong heroine, and that cheesy eighties romance novel feel. It is a reverse harem anime of sorts, done right. J-Min is a Korean singer, with a rock vibe, associated with SM Entertainment. This is also the most listenable song in this list.  

4. Magic Kaito 1412 OP2 - CHICO with HoneyWorks - "Ai no Scenario" (2015)
I love this opening song to pieces, and I've always enjoyed the various reincarnations of the Kaitou Kid franchise. Great job by HoneyWorks for writing a catchy, addictive hook. The opening animation sequence appears to have a more limited budget than Detective Conan, but it works well with the excellent song--I actually like the original HoneyWorks MV even more though!

5. Yuri!!! on Ice - Dean Fujioka - "History" (2016)
This was my favorite anime of that year, though I'm not really a sports anime genre fan generally. Ironically, several of my top favorite anime of the 1990s were sports anime ie. Slam Dunk and Cyber Formula. The opening animation sequence and choreography is fluid and beautiful in a minimalist way, which is attractive to me, since it's just Yuri, Yurio, and Victor skating--for a show centering around these characters about figure skating. I especially like it when animators update the opening sequence to progressively fill out with more color. Sometimes, openings have too many flashing images, psychedelic rendering, fan service character shots, random CGs and chaos, which suits some genres, like mecha and action series. But the appeal of this opening is how streamlined it is, how simple, and how well it suits its genre. I also find the singer Dean Fujioka to be a very hot and multi-talented actor as well. This is the most feel-good, inspiring song of the bunch.

Honorable Mentions:

The last last three openings are good and fall in 2010, but at the end of the day, I still prefer Yui's "Again" and Nico Touches the Walls' "Hologram," OP1 and OP2 respectively, as I mentioned in the previous list.Technically, both songs missed out making it onto the 2000-2009 list by just a hair because that decade had such strong contenders. After some consideration, I decided that unlike the previous list, I might like OP1 "Again" by Yui as a song a hair more that "Hologram," though I love all the thoughtful manga reference put into the OP2 animation sequence, such as the Roy Mustang vs. Lust scene. Cumulatively, I still think "Hologram" is the best opening theme of Brotherhood though for its animation sequence and shounen action anime tone in general--parallel to "Ready Steady Go." I could have included an FMA Brotherhood OP3~5 song into the list above, but at the end of the day, the first two songs are better. But I also like the original FMA OST better in general. Truthfully, I was just too emotional drained from the original FMA anime by the time I got to Brotherhood. The difference between the FMA franchise, and many other shounen anime out there, is that I got very emotionally invested in the characters and their life's voyage, and I love that both FMA series tries to imprint very strong visual messages, including the stop watch engraving of "Don't forget," the railroad, the sky, the hand/automail reaching to the sky, and so on. I suppose out of the 2010 opening themes, OP4, Chemistry's "Period" would be my pick as best theme song. It reminds of me of FMA's OP3 "Undo" a bit. OP5 was just depressing and a bit philosophical. 

Angel Beats! Lia - "My Soul, Your Beats" (2010)
This was a heavily music themed anime, and I went in not expecting much, but the OST was good and it was a more heartwarming anime than expected. Yui Makino (TRC's Princess Sakura) plays a character with like five words the entire show. Jun Maeda is like a male version of Tomoyo and does everything one his own from writing the script to composing the memorable music.

Selector Infected Wixoss OP - Kanon Wakashima - "Killy Killy Joker" (2014)
I have not watched the anime, nor have any clue what it's about, but the song is so darn catchy. It missed the top 5 list because I have an inkling I might get sick of the song if I listen to it too many times, but this song made me take another look at Kanon Wakeshima of Vampire Knight fame and her awesome cello skills. 

Umineko Nako Koro Ni (When the Seagulls Cry) - Akiko Shikata - "Katayori no Tori" (2009-2010)
The horror genre is usually not my slice of pie, but I do enjoy a good psychological thriller and mystery, and where as I couldn't watch Higurashi, I was drawn into Umineko initially because of Beatrice's awesome character design. Beatrice reminds me of Yuuko on crack and is likewise voiced Sayaka Ohara (Yuuko from xxxHOLIC). This operatic opening remains probably one of the more memorable openings of 2010, though unfortunately, fans of the original visual the anime was based on heavily criticized Studio Deen's production of the story. The ending is very unusual, a rock opera by Jimang from Sound Horizon, "la divina tragedia ~Makyoku~ and yes, you've heard Sound Horizon because of Attack of Titan.

Truthfully, I don't think this song will make it to my Top 10 list of the decade because I find the song a bit more forgettable than Maaya's other songs, and you all know how much I love her. This song was included for nostalgia's sake and a kickback to CCS OP3 Purachina, which I think is standing the test of time to be my Top 3 best anime opening theme of all time. The best part of the opening sequence is Sakura's feather dress, and I almost like the animated sequence of OP2 "Rocket Beat" by Kiyono Yasuno with the darker tone a bit more. But I found the song a tad bit forgettable and too bright compared to the imagery. Please, another collaboration between Yoko Kanno and Maaya Sakamoto for Season 2 of CCS:Clear Card so that we can close out this decade with another CCS song on the Top 10 list.

I'm pretty confident that my Top 5 best anime opening theme choices for the 2010~2019 decade will not change, but we'll see if I can even draw out a Top 10 next year. I think part of the reason I'm releasing this list early is because deep in my heart, I doubt there's going to be any strong game-changer or any challenger to the Top 5 list I have right now. I actually began writing this list in 2015, when I posted the Top 10 Openings Part 2, and the only new song I added since then was the Yuri!!! on Ice OP.  I'm kind of impressed at the range I covered as well, from Sci-Fi, Post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure, Shoujo, Shounen, and Sports. Truthfully, I can do away with all of the honorable mentions above and not bat an eye, and just have a Top 5 list for this decade. Most of the songs on the honorable mentions list I feel like won't stand the test of time for me, or I just included because they're supposed to be popular. For example, I debated including the opening for "Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, 2014)" because I think it was a very solid, well-made anime about classical music, and I do love Goose house, and the soundtrack was great, but it's a song I would forget in a couple years' time. In the list above, Guilty Crown's "My Dearest" is the best song, but I would say Attack of Titan's "Guren no Yumiya" is the best opening theme of the decade, though it's my least favorite song to listen to on my playlist of the Top 5 because it's too intense to listen to often. 

Please do weigh in and give me your recommendations in the comments below, and let me know if I've been missing out a great song!

Check out my list of:
Top 10 Anime Opening Themes Part 1: The 1990s
Top 10 Anime Opening Themes Part 2: 2000-2009
Top 10 Anime Ending Themes