So here's a fun fact, I used to do a lot of work on college radio and followed that up with becoming a professional freelance music critic. The world of music is incredibly vast, and I've spent a baffling amount of time and money exploring it. Both of my aforementioned jobs allowed me the opportunity and privilege to share and recommend some of that music I'd come across. Music can be wonderfully powerful at stirring up emotions, and it was always a joy to find out something I introduced someone to had brightened up their day
Well here I am again trying to brighten your day by highlighting seven songs used as anime openers, that are just bristling with happiness. Now, different kinds of music make different people happy, but for the purpose of this list I tried to focus on songs that created an atmosphere of joy rather than say, excitement, action, or love. For example, I love the Cowboy Bebop opener, "Tank" by The Seatbelts; it makes me quite happy...but it makes me happy because it's a really well performed jazz piece, not because the song radiates a general air of happiness. But here are seven opening songs that I do believe are happy, and I hope you find them to be too.
Nanka Shiawase by The Oystars
From: Flame of Recca
Hailing from 1997, the anime series Flame of Recca sported The Oystars’s “Nanka Shiawase” as its opening; a title that roughly translates to “Something Happy,” or “Somehow Happy,” depending on the source. Either way, the song’s about happiness; an emotion that comes through almost instantly via the plucky guitar line and clapping percussion track. The singer's light-hearted perfomance is supported by strong vocal harmonies throughout the verses, which also help launch the chorus into even happier heights.
From a production standpoint, it carries a lot of the kind of tone that you would normally hear in mid ‘90s pop-rock. Go ahead and compare this to the Del Amitri song “Roll To Me” or The Rembrandt’s “I’ll Be There For You,” both of which also happen to be exceedingly happy sounding songs. If this doesn’t put a smile on your face, figuratively or literally, then you may be a soulless demon…that or you just don’t like mid ‘90s pop-rock…or both.
Free and Dream by Suara
From: Tears to Tiara
Suara’s "Free and Dream" from the game turned anime, Tears to Tiara is the “hardest” rocking of the songs on this list. I say, “hardest” with quotation marks because most people would hardly classify this song as being “hard” in any sense of the term; it’s just that the guitar tone is more forceful than anything else here. “Free And Dream” builds itself around that but throws in some fantastic additional sounds like the organ and bell effects, to enhance the lyrics' sense of hope and life. The vocal hook in the chorus is what really captures the encouraging sentiment; I mean the singer is directly telling you to “get all the free and dream.” It doesn’t matter if that grammatically makes sense, just get it! All of it!
Tomorrow by Mikuni Shimokawa
From:Full Metal Panic!
Even though this isn’t my favorite song on the list, it is the one that inspired it. "Tomorrow," the opening track for Full Metal Panic! just radiates a sense of pleasantness and joy from start to end. The combination of stinging yet soothing electric lead guitar, coupled with the jaunty rhythm playing, forms an instantly arresting atmosphere of happiness. Mikuni Shimokawa’s voice is light, airy, and perky. Tie this altogether with a verse/chorus segue that highlights the lyrics' message of the hope of a wonderful tomorrow, and you get this blissful concoction. Picture a sunny day where you step out of your house with your headphones on and this song begins to play. If you’re not smiling in this mental picture, then you probably need a hug. hugs
Blue Water by Miho Morikawa
There was a time between the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that exists within a kind of vacuum; a time where the decades became one, and then became nothing. From this time period spawned a form of pop music that clearly says it was made in the ‘90s, but sounds like it was from the ‘80s. It is from this abyss that Miho Morikawa’s song “Blue Water” from the anime, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, is born.
The overall “shine” of the production reeks of ‘80s polish from the keyboards to the drums and holy hell does Morikawa have an amazing voice. It has a tremendous amount of power and range and she sings with a sweet sense of melody and a commanding depth. There’s a brief yet energetic guitar solo thrown in to give the song a bit of an instrumental bridge, and the chorus is just pure pop bliss. Compare this to 1987’s “Out of the Blue” by Debbie Gibson which is also a heavily polished piece of pop fluff and you'll hear more of that dimensional decade void, I spoke of, if you so dare choose to enter it.
Discotheque by Nana Mizuki
From: Rosario + Vampire Capu 2
With a name like “Discotheque” you probably know what kinda song you’re gonna get, and I don’t mean a soft piano ballad. With its funky bassline, jangling guitars, and horn infused backing, Nana Mizuki’s opening to Rosario + Vampire's second season is as immensely danceable as its title suggests. As is usual for Mizuki, her vocals are pitch perfect throughout and are just as lively as the aforementioned bass that propels the song along. The full album version of the track also includes an instrumental breakdown that brings the horns to the forefront of the mix, helping to further enhance the track’s care free, dance nature. And even though I didn’t take the OP’s visuals into account when forming this list, it’s quite clear when you watch it, that they tailored it to fit this song to a tee.
Brand New World by D-51
From: One Piece Season 9
Oh One Piece, so many seasons, so many openings. There are a number of potential picks that might suit various individuals tastes in happy songs, but I went ahead and grabbed D-51’s “Brand New World” from season 9. This track was actually a sizable hit on the Japanese Oricon music charts in 2006, reaching a respectable 15th place. It features the signature harmonies of the duo’s members, Yu and Yasu, and a WHOOOOOLE lot of keyboards. The percussion is a simple, brisk drum track, but the relentlessly driving keys push this song ever forward through numerous vocal hooks. The frequent repetitions of the chorus give the track a nice sing-along quality, and because that chorus is as lively as it is, it just keeps bringing out more and more energy; it’s almost enough to make me start watching One Piece again as I write this.
Happy Material by Cast of Negima!
From: Mahou Sensei Negima
Kinda hard to make a list of happy anime openings songs to brighten your day, without including "Happy Material" from Negima! This is a unique song on the rundown thanks to being the only one to have multiple different versions of itself. Each iteration of the song has different members of the voice cast singing it, all of them representing different members of the student body within the series. Incidentally, the third version of the theme is dubbed the “More Happy” version. Not only is this grammatically incorrect, but personally…I don’t find it that much happier.
Regardless of the version, the keyboards that primarily fuel the song’s melody are brisk and lively; suitably complimented by the chorus of voices that belt out the lyrics. There’s not a tremendous amount of great musicianship here since the song is basically just a medium to deliver a strong vocal hook and showcase the anime’s many cast members. Make no mistake, this song is pure pop fluff, but it’s happy pop fluff…“More Happy” pop fluff if you listen to version three.
There you go, seven songs, seven days of the week; it's like a daily musical vitamin...except you can take all seven at once and it won't be hazardous to your health.