Generally I’m not one to watch ending themes until the end. I tend to skip them just so I can get to the next episode faster. But there are a few that have kept my eyes captivated enough to see through all the way.
Tonari no Seki-kun’s ED is a really fun, energetic and catchy summary of the “master of killing time”, and I have a certain fondness and relatability to the way Yokoi is uninterested at first, then her curiosity is sparked, resistance keeps her from participating, but then the catchiness becomes contagious and her reluctance turns to engaging enjoyment. Seki-kun’s improvised use of school utensils really harkens back to the boredom of school days and the creativity we employed to alleviate it. But it’s not my favourite.
The honour of my favourite anime ending theme goes to the ED to K-On!! Even though I have decided which one I believe is the better ED, I would like to highlight some of what the first one does really well. I find it difficult to explain what makes these EDs so great in my eyes, since I feel that a great ED should make one feel wistful, like the viewer is made to feel sad that they are leaving the anime’s world. K-On’s first ED, ‘Don’t Say Lazy’, doesn’t excel at this, but it doesn’t fail either. It is still a phenomenal performance vocal-wise, and absolutely gorgeous with rockin’ instrumentation, but doesn’t evoke a strong sense of me missing the world like the next one does.
K-On’s ‘No Thank You” ED is what I consider the most wonderful ending theme that makes me feel that wistfulness. All the Keions look kinda sad and distant from one another, and the little melancholic jingle at the start when Mio enters from the door definitely evokes a sense of things ending. Both in the sense that it is the ending theme, but also in that it is the girls’ final year in school together and the final season of K-On for us, the viewers. You could easily interpret this is fanciful foreshadowing, even on the first time viewing, because all the signals are there and their unpreparedness shows in both ED and the series itself.
Despite this bittersweet introduction, as if to not let it get the better of them, the band throws on the performance of a lifetime to shut out these pensive thoughts and feelings, and make the best of the time they have left. It almost brings a tear to my eye, as it plays with a multitude of my feelings. It’s sort of like a fanservice send-off, because even though it’s in the back of everyone’s mind; both the Keions and the viewers, that things are coming to an end, the show wants to keep things fun for as long as possible before the curtains call.
Great EDs are designed to make you want to come back and revisit the anime world, and I believe K-On’s ‘No Thank You’ does exactly that. It can make me forget (not necessarily forgive) what I may have disliked or been unable to appreciate in the show, focusing my attention on what’s important: in this case the K-Ons juggling having fun and trying to deal with the transience of their youth. This is made all the more poignant through its powerful imagery as I mentioned above. It’s even possible for the ED to help teach me how to love and appreciate what I may not have been inclined to do either for some things before.
However, the point of the ED isn’t just to make me feel sad that things are coming to a close, but also that there is a hope within the melancholy of it ending. A hope that inspires the viewer to remember their journey with the characters and the story, and everything in-between, as well as something to inspire a return. That is what makes this such a fantastically woebegone ED, and of course I can remember it fondly.