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OP-ED is a column in which we dissect and discuss anime OPs or EDs, from any period in anime history, that we feel deserve a mention. One writer will examine the visual component, and another will tackle the aural aspects.
by Jimmy Gnome
Dirty Pair: Project Eden’s opening is a distillation of 80s aesthetics, bursting with bright neon colors and loosely tied together science-fiction iconography. Its format recalls the classic introduction sequences of many James Bond films, focusing on abstract representations of mystery and adventure without tying itself to any greater narrative. In fact, the few characters that are heavily featured in Project Eden’s OP have no presence in the movie proper, but rather serve as an idealization of its general premise. I wouldn’t be surprised if, when approached to create this opening, Kouji Morimoto only had a passing understanding of what Dirty Pair was actually about, but he perfectly understood what it signified.
It’s worth highlighting Morimoto’s contributions to this piece, since it really is his creation alone—he key animated the sequence in its entirety and had no storyboard support. Each meticulously detailed cut was drawn by his hand, making it an excellent showcase for his talents as an animator and perhaps the crowning achievement of his entire career. The effects animation is particularly impressive; there are few in the industry who are able to compete with Morimoto’s fluidity, especially when it comes to flames. The leading cut is great for showing this off, starting with a frame-filling solar flare that pulsates smoothly until it’s interrupted by a stream of laser-fire, which emits a smoky trail that seamlessly transforms into the silhouettes of the main heroines.
Another particularly interesting bit of animation can be seen after the title drop. We’re shown a thin woman walking in the center of the frame before the shot is transitioned by a white silhouette of a man rolling over the shot. What’s impressive is how convincing the movement manages to be in so few frames and with such an undetailed figure, who is only lightly shaded on his coat and hat. Despite these limitations this remains one of the most realistic moments of character acting in the opening. There are a few other examples of miraculously convincing silhouette movement throughout that solidify Morimoto as a master of controlling shapes.
There’s more than just fantastic animation to appreciate, however. Each shot is composed impeccably, though quite unlike a traditional film. It’d be more apt to compare the opening to a collection of ambitious moving posters that advertise the best 80s sci-fi thriller you never saw, and the images will stay wormed in your mind for years to come. In that sense Project Eden‘s OP may be one of the most functional opening sequences ever made.
by The SubtleDoctor
“Safari Eyes” is performed by talented singer and songwriter Miki Matsubara. Along with international popularity in the anime community, she enjoyed a decade-spanning career as a domestically successful pop singer. In addition to her work in Project Eden, Matsubara wrote and performed the second OP for Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory as well as writing insert and theme songs for the little known mecha series Lord of Lords Ryu Knight and Lodoss War tie-in Legend of Crystania. She wouldn’t be pigeonholed though. 1984 saw Matsubara release a jazz album entitled “BLUE EYES.” Unfortunately, in 2004 she passed away due to complications from cancer. Matsubara was only 44 years old.
In many ways, Project Eden is just a loosely connected string of (very) 80s music videos. The OP is unquestionably the best of these, and, while the visuals stand out as best-in-class, the music holds up its end of the bargain as well. “Safari Eyes” is a pop/rock gem of its era and exemplifies what was so good about this kind of music. As excellent as the song is on its own terms, however, it’s how strongly it complements the visuals which makes this opening truly special.
When I think of this OP, the first thing that comes to mind is the lead guitar riff. For me, this rhythm is as instrumental as the visual presentation in compelling the viewer. It’s a funky, nod-inducing sound that simultaneously connotes both the powerful stride and seductive slink of the OP’s mysterious protagonist. We can’t stop from asking ourselves, “Who is this woman walking across our screen?” The riff contributes to the sense of intrigue surrounding her by effectively creating unseen, aural brushstrokes, accentuating her gait. It is an absolutely vital component in not only pulling the viewer in but keeping them engaged in the story of the unnamed woman.
“Safari Eyes” isn’t just a great guitar riff, though. Matsubara’s lulling vocal during the verse coaxes our attention into the depicted labyrinthine futurescape. Synth tones softly dance across a steady drum machine backdrop, and the audience is hypnotized; we are the ones willfully sinking into the sheets that the protagonist slides her fingers softly across. Then suddenly, a horn blast crescendos, perfectly in sync with the unnamed woman attacking her two would-be assailants. Matsubara’s voice becomes more pronounced, and the song becomes much more playful before switching back to its entrancing lead guitar riff to close out the number.
Alluring, arresting, mysterious and exciting, “Safari Eyes” is the musical manifestation of the “stranger’s kiss” Matsubara sings so beautifully about.