Because apparently I wasn’t ranty enough before.
Why are you here? Is it safe to assume that it’s because you like anime? I hope so, or else you have some serious issues to be resolved before moving on in your life. Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s continue.
Anime is a unique medium. It might just be a Japanese thing, but the single drama I’ve watched doesn’t give me enough information to actually comment as the culture as a whole. Also, I’m excluding every other culture’s TV shows due to unfamiliarity, which means that this is really just a commentary relating to American shows.
[Almost] every single anime ever produced that is more than 6 minutes long has an opening and ending song+animation. Each is generally standardized to about one and a half minutes. In total, a single episode of anime (minus commercials) will run you 23 minutes and 25 seconds or so, which means you’re only getting about 20 minutes of content. That’s less than half an hour. The minute hand on a clock won’t even go 180 degrees in that time. And remember, we’ve already decided that you love anime and wouldn’t be able to live without it. So why, why do people insist on skipping the OP and ED? If I wasn’t clear last paragraph, these are the things that are unique to anime.
I’m sure you’ve noticed, but the animation quality of these segments are usually way, way higher than the rest of the episode. Sometimes you get outliers like when SHAFT forgets to make them in time, but it’s a good generalization. …Alright, wow, I just stopped to write notes so that I don’t forget stuff later, and ended up with a completely new rant (look forward to an anime music talk eventually)! Anyway, back to the task at hand. The animators and producers put a lot of hard work into making these. Sometimes you may get screwed if they decide to include spoilers (thanks, Utawarerumono), but other times there are clever little things put in. To bring up SHAFT again- if you’ve ever watched the TV releases of Hidamari Sketch, you may have noticed subtle differences each episode. Unfortunately a lot of BD muxers like to separate the OP and ED to save space, so you lose these things (I’ll be bringing this point up again eventually, so—note to self, never walk away mid sentence or you’ll lose your train of thought). The point is, don’t skip them.
As for the actual songs used, one particular example that comes to mind is Madoka (minor spoilers ahoy!). Ah, yes… Madoka. The winter specula anime of 2011. It had a wonderful song by ClariS and a heartwarming animation.
That is, until you hit episode 10 and realize the truth behind the lyrics. In order not to spoil too much, try to think about just whose perspective it’s sung from, and what clues it contains.
As for endings, let’s look towards my other favorite studio. I’m sure everyone remembers the ending song from Clannad, and probably After Story as well. Both may seem inappropriate at times, considering the serious nature of the end of most story arcs. But is that really the case? Those who’ve played the game previously probably had a completely different opinion than first time anime watchers. Many complained about how happy Dango Daikazoku was, and how it took you out of the feelings of the moment. And yet, it’s based on Nagisa’s theme, as well as chiisana te no hira, two very emotional pieces. In retrospect or a second viewing, I’m sure one would feel very differently about it. So what about Torch? …
Nope, still sucks (and if you’ve heard the full version it goes on way too long).
So what am I really trying to say here? If you like anime, if it’s your hobby and you enjoy watching it, then why not sit down for the full episode? Some even have a different animation or different song each time! Even if you don’t like seeing the next episode previews because of spoilers, you’re still liable to miss valuable after-the-credits scenes that might be vital for understanding the plot (or at least be really enjoyable). Unless you’re marathoning (or watching Muv-Luv Total Eclipse, holy shit that OP sucks balls and I still watched it most weeks), then there’s really no excuse. There are some people out there who watch episodes at 2x speed just to get through them faster. Don’t be those people.