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)
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.
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