Best Pokémon English Anime Openings: The Ultimate RankingThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
I really don’t think there’s much that sparks my nostalgia quite like the intro to a Pokémon anime.
Over its monumental run so far, there have been notable highs and lows when it comes to kicking off an episode.
And while it’s been a long journey for Ash and his various friends and enemies, the different themes in the show are still reflected by very different openings.
So let’s take a look at our picks for the best intros from the English versions of the Pokémon anime.
As always, these are purely my opinions – so your mileage may vary!
15. Pokémon: Sun and Moon (Under The Alolan Sun)
All of the openings for the Pokémon: Sun and Moon seasons have little nods to their theme, set in the Hawaii-esque land of Alola
Under The Alolan Sun was no different.
It features a ridiculously catchy beat that describes in great detail just how awesome it is to live like you’re on a permanent holiday.
We’ll ignore the fact that all the characters apparently had to go to school on their holiday, though…
It’s cheery and full of camaraderie. And while it has its detractors (which I’ll never understand), this is an opening I find myself coming back to repeatedly.
14. Pokémon Advanced (I Wanna Be A Hero)
Alright, so the song isn’t great, I know that.
It’s dated in that early 2000’s way, which means it just doesn’t carry over well to future generations.
But it’s the opening animation that puts the sixth season of Pokémon here on the list, rather than something more of an earworm.
It shows us the vast breadth of the world we’re about to discover, from the jungle to the deep blue sea.
Plus, the mystery characters gave us something to look forward to outside of the scenes from the opening in the actual show – which is a cool bit of build-up.
I loved this one as a kid and I still dig it now!
13. Pokémon XY (Pokémon Theme XY)
It’s “blink and you’ll miss it” stuff from the frantic opening of the seventeenth season of the show.
Things are flying by at a thousand miles an hour, Pokémon are flashing out moves left and right – like I said, you’ve got to pay attention if you want to catch it all (which isn’t a deliberate pun, I promise).
The reworking of the original theme is… ehhhhhhh. That’s the word I’d use to describe it, really.
As much as I love things that remind me of the original theme, this just doesn’t press my buttons. No nostalgia doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it isn’t great either.
12. Pokémon BW: Rival Destinies (Rival Destinies)
I’ll be honest upfront with this one – Rival Destinies’ theme is just sort of fine all around, really.
Nothing about it stands out a whole bunch.
It definitely isn’t bad, don’t get me wrong – there are still plenty of cool shots (the diving legendaries are a particular highlight!) and the song is fine, if not being worth much of a re-listen.
It’s a shame, really.
Rival Destinies is definitely one of the better names for any of the seasons. And the accompanying visual just doesn’t sell it super well.
Like I said, not bad, not good. A definite reminder to the rest of the openings to make sure to stand out.
11. Pokémon: DP Sinnoh League Victors (We Will Carry On)
This OP has a bit of a subdued theme song– not too big and bold, but not so slow that we get bored either. Let’s rate it a 6/10.
But the opening animation is basically a forty-second series of Legendary Pokémon – and that gets me all sorts of ready to watch the show.
Legendaries soaring majestically? Got you covered.
Legendaries fighting? Oh yeah, there is.
Legendaries just sort of hanging about in the sea? We’ve got that too!
Oh, I guess Ash is doing something as well, whatever. But he is 100% not what I’m here for when it comes to this opening.
10. Pokémon: Johto League Champions (Born To Be A Winner)
Looking back to this after however many years it’s been since I watched it with fresh eyes (spoiler, a lot) gives me two distinct realizations.
One – the theme song starts out pretty rubbish, doesn’t it? It totally redeems itself about halfway through, but the stilted remix of the original theme is weird at best.
Two – Johto was a great season for new Pokémon, wasn’t it?
I’ll rep Lugia until my dying breath as one of the all-time greats, but there are so many classic Pokémon crossing over with newer and sometimes even better ones that it’s hard not to love this opening – even just for taking the time to show them all off.
Good-ish song with a great opening, all for similar reasons as before. I just like this one more than the Sinnoh League OP.
9. Pokémon XYZ (Stand Tall!)
This one is actually pretty cool, isn’t it?
Like “sunglasses and leaning on a motorbike” kinda cool.
The song is a classic rock style take on the usual “fight and win” theme. And while there are no points for originality, there are definitely points for being able to head bop along to it.
The CGI in the intro is a little glaring next to the more traditional style of animation. But there are lots of great shots to get you hyped about the season.
My personal favorite is the running Froakie evolving as it goes – it’s super memorable and just looks dang good!
8. Pokémon: Black and White (Black and White)
Right, let’s get this out of the way – this is probably my least favorite song on the list by far. Maybe it’s too far out of my generation, but it’s just a bit dull!
But remember we’re ranking whole openings here, not just songs.
And the visuals of the opening are absolutely great, if you can get past the very computer-y animation. And if you can do that, you’re getting treated to an almost ethereal display of colorful Pokémon really popping out against the black and white (get it?) chessboard planet assembling itself.
Awesome visuals – and if the song had been any better, this might have been a top five.
7. Pokémon XY: Kalos Quest (Be A Hero)
One of the shortest openings of the lot at a meager 28 seconds, Kalos Quest still manages to pack a lot into that short time frame.
A lot of that is taken up by a single battle too, which isn’t usual – not quite so many rapid fire shots of lots of different things.
Though I guess they didn’t have the time to.
But the song, oh the song. It’s so good.
The music by itself might be in my personal top three, if I’m honest. The buildup and the climax are brilliant. You’re bopping along all happy and then, all of a sudden, your 28 seconds is up in the blink of an eye.
Silver lining – means you can get a lot more re-listens in quickly. Which I urge you to do!
6. Pokémon: Master Quest (Believe In Me)
“I’m gonna be the very best, ‘cause I’ve got to do is believe in me; POKEMON!”
Alright, this one is a straight banger theme-wise and there’s no way to deny that.
The opening itself is great too; plenty of familiar visuals (some of them a little too familiar, don’t think I didn’t notice the reused shots in there!) and lots of grand, sweeping shots to really set up that this is the closer of the Johto season.
It sets up the final build-up to the league challenge perfectly with a brilliant combo of audio and visuals, plus it’s catchy as hell.
What’s not to love?
5. Pokémon: DP Galactic Battles (Battle Cry – Stand Up!)
Now this OP has a little bit of everything – and all the stuff it does, it does well.
From the rapid fire shots of Pokémon at the end, to the punchy theme song and action-packed previews of the show, this is an opening that really gets a piece of it all in a very short space of time.
And it doesn’t get much credit as a memorable opening. Which is strange to me – I feel like it sums up the season really well!
So while it might not have the best song or the best opening, this one definitely goes above and beyond in my eyes.
4. Pokémon: Advanced Battle (Unbeatable)
The words “Advanced Battle” flying across the screen might remind me of every PowerPoint presentation I ever did at school – but it’s quickly forgotten when you get around to realizing how good this opening is.
From its anthemic theme song to the dance numbers that the characters do throughout, this opening is just chock-full of personality. And the whole thing brings a smile to my face.
The song has some great lyrics, too, with the whole theme of it being about… well, being unbeatable.
“From the earth and land, the sea and sky, they can never win but they sure can try”. Inspirational stuff right there.
Also, there are Pokémon stampedes! There are never enough of those.
3. Pokémon: DP Battle Dimension (We Will Be Heroes)
This one might be a surprise to some of you. But I genuinely can’t get enough of this opening.
All of the opening visuals do just enough to get you excited, but don’t give literally everything away like some of the seasons that came before it (I’m looking at you, Season Six!)
And there’s an 80’s themed power-ballad tint to the theme song – which means I can listen to it for absolutely ages and never get tired of it, too.
Just try not to remember James and his Cacnea.
I can’t take getting that emotional all over again.
2. Pokémon Johto Journeys (Johto Theme)
Alright everyone, repeat after me!
“Do do do, do do-doo, do do do, do-do-doo!”
The fact you immediately know exactly how that tune goes is all the justification I need for the Johto Journeys opening to be this high on the ranking.
It’s a shame that it has to contend with our number one, in all honesty. Because bar the existence of what’s coming up next… this Johto theme would be hands-down the best of them all.
Though I guess that’s how a ranking works, I suppose… but I digress.
Fun, action packed, and catchier than the common cold, our adventure into Johto got off on the best possible foot with this theme.
1. Original Pokémon Opening (Original Theme)
Was it ever going to be anything else?
It’s the opening that captured the hearts of a generation, and launched millions of new fans into the Pokémon Universe.
This is the original and best OP – and nothing comes close.
The song is practically iconic at this point. And the visuals are just about at that level too – all the best and brightest of the original 151 zooming around and making eight year old me bounce around the room like nothing else could.
Just typing this out is filling me with the sort of warm feel-good memories. You know, racing home from school to put the TV on while mum told me off for not getting changed out of my uniform first.
Plus, that Tentacruel destroyed a building!
Unforgettable stuff – and I know full well that lots of you agree with me.