Last week's debut of the latest Naruto opening got me thinking about some of the best Naruto openings we've had thus far. With the exception of the very first Naruto opening, there hasn't actually been a single bad one in the whole series. But I'd say that overall, Naruto Shippuden has produced better openings than the original series.
Part 1 openings mainly consist of character showcases and still images with music playing over it, with little in the way of action for the most part. They get the job done in telling the story and previewing the events of that particular arc, but they're not nearly as exciting as their Part 2 counterparts. With Shippuden they began showcasing a lot more action and actual fight scenes.
I love the openings because they're almost like little trailers, or short music videos that tell the story for what we can expect from the current arc, only with a lot more style and flare than you'd normally see in the regular show. The music is almost always super catchy, and the visuals are usually awesome. But awesome as they all are, I've picked out the five that have stuck out the most as the absolute best this series has delivered yet.
#5 - Naruto Opening 2: Haruka Kanata (Chunin Exams opening)
This is around the point where the series was really beginning to pick up, and served as the first big introduction to our new larger cast of secondary characters. And though the visuals are basic, this one's all about the song. Haruka Kanata is one of the very best songs they've used in an opening yet, and was so good that Cartoon Network even used it in their own exclusively made opening they used throughout the series' entire run on that station. The song just pumps you up and lets you know you're in for a fun ride. It certainly played a big part in originally drawing my attention towards this series, and still holds up as one of the best to this day.
#4 - Naruto Opening 5: Seishun Kyousoukyoku (Sasuke Retrieval opening)
This is the first opening to really begin incorporating a lot of action into the animation. This opening covers a lot, and was one of the first to have significant changes applied to it as the arc progressed. This was also around the time when the series started to get a lot darker, which I believe is reflected in both the music and animation. This was their last canon opening for Part 1, and they went out with a bang before filler hell could drag them down.
#3 - Naruto Shippuden Opening 2: Distance (Sasuke Reunion opening)
This is a personal favorite of mine, but not a popular one by any means. A lot of Naruto fans hate the song, which changed things up with more of a lively ska mix this time around. I love it, though, and it's probably my favorite song out of any of the Naruto openings. The fact that the visuals are top notch is just icing on the cake. But my favorite part about this opening is both the beginning and end. I love how we start with the younger Naruto and Sasuke walking towards each other, both with little smirks on their faces as if they're merely meeting as friends. Then how it ends with them in their older stages, both with serious looks this time and ready to battle one another. But despite the odds, the upbeat music really emphasizes Naruto's drive to succeed in bringing his friend back to their side.
#2 - Naruto Shippuden Opening 10: Newsong (Prelude to War opening)
I talked about this one last week, and have placed it right near the top of my list in accordance. This is another highly split choice, as a lot of Naruto fans hate how goofy it is, and have complained that it's not serious or emo enough. I explained why I love it, however, as it really shows how Naruto has finally put aside his emo feelings and has returned to form. And where a lot of the other picks are really about the song, this one's all about the over the top animation, though the song's not bad by any means. And besides, there's dancing ninjas! It's a great opening, and one of the best. However, if I'd have to pick one better it'd be...
#1 - Naruto Shippuden Opening 6: Sign (Hunt for Itachi opening)
This one really is the full package. Kick ass song, kick ass animation. This is, without a doubt, the ultimate Naruto opening. Instead of focusing on minor characters, this one sticks right with what's most important. And for this particular arc, that's the encounters between Sasuke and Itachi, and Jiraiya and Pain. Sure, Naruto takes a bit of a backseat for this opening, but then again, this was during the time where the spotlight really wasn't shining on him anyways, so that's fine. This was really Sasuke's arc, and that's where the focus should be. The series is probably at its darkest during this arc, and that's definitely shown with the super dark lighting, and that almost hauntingly mellow beginning portion, just before the song really kicks in. And the fight animation is off the charts, and is among the best the series has ever produced.
Well, those are my top five Naruto openings. I hope this was interesting, and if nothing else you should be able to enjoy some of the music provided in these videos. And if they've sparked your interest enough to dig a little deeper into the Naruto series, like some of them did for me, then even better!
Edited November 20th: Looks like Youtube pulled all the videos I originally posted. That kinda sucks, but I still encourage you to look them up and check them out if you can.