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File:SHAFT OP.jpg

Some of the openings that Studio Shaft has made for its shows.


Remember what the dormouse said

Feed your head!

Feed your head!
Jefferson Airplane, "White Rabbit"

A Theme Tune which consists of random, surreal lyrics with little direct relevance to the show.

Increasingly common for the Sitcom, possibly an outgrowth of the Thematic Theme Tune, intended to convey the "theme" that "This show is wacky" or will make you go "WTF."

Examples of Surreal Theme Tune include:


  • Studio Shaft is the absolute king of this trope.
  • The opening theme to Azumanga Daioh is "Soramimi Cake", which in Japanese is a play on the Japanese word for mondegreens, soramimi kaishi. The lyrics include Gratuitous English.
    • Osaka's Image Song is called "Time Pavement." It's as nutty as it sounds.
      • But it sounds rather smooth and cozy.
  • The closing theme of Dragon Half is a paean to an omelette sung to Beethoven's 7th symphony.
    • Which is really ironic, considering the main character (who also sings the song) hatched from an egg...
  • The closing theme to Welcome to The NHK is a dancing alien singing about how he wants to pretend to be a baby human (Or "kidult", as some people have translated it), while screaming incoherent things like "Nyaaaaaah". A fine closing to a series where most of the main characters are a little less than sane. (Note: This is actually related to the show--given that the show is about hikikkomori-ism and otaku-ism)
  • The opening themes to Galaxy Angel are often exercises in punnery, combining the lyrics in Japanese, English, and with what's shown in the animation, plus they don't really make much sense.
  • The opening song to Lucky Star, "Motteke Serafuku" is a bizarre piece that combines predominately Japanese Gratuitous English-style lyrics with opening and closing verses discussing the Sailor Suit girl's uniform. There are varying translations of it, and this is actually one of the translations that renders it more normally and sensically, to give you an idea of what it's like.
    • Both surreal and fitting with the shows "slice of life" theme, the ending theme of the first half of episodes were one of the girls singing karaoke of the theme of a completely different show.
  • It doesn't get more surreal than the opening of Paranoia Agent, which features the cast laughing at nothing in particular amid random and often apocalyptic scenes, and its accompanying theme song, "Yume no Shima Shinen Kouen" (aka "Dream Island Obsessional Park") by Susumu Hirasawa.
    • The lyrics of the song are on par, with such lyrics as "Ah! Such a beautiful mushroom cloud in the sky." Umm...what?
  • Divergence Eve is an anime series with a very strange first episode, but which establishes that it's in space and there's a battle against some sort of monsters. The episode ends on a gloomy note with an "I am... dead?" with a fade to black. Cut to the bouncy ending theme called Pump up!, which has absolutely nothing in common with the preceding content. It's like replacing the ending credits of Schindler's List with an episode of Powerpuff Girls.
  • .hack//SIGN's theme tune Obsession has a strange set of lyrics that don't seem to have much of a connection with the show. (It's also a very fast dance number, which belies the series' leisurely pacing.)
    • It's also entirely sung in English, which is odd itself for an anime. Not a single lyric is in Japanese. This is true for much of .hack//Sign's sound track actully
  • The anime series Animal Alley has a nonsensical, Word Salad-like theme song. (Translated) Lyrics include: "Oh, that's just a banana / Mint's not bad either."
  • You're Under Arrest's theme song, Courage At 100MPH, whose lyrics have nothing to do with police work, and have only cursory references to Courage or 100MPH. Instead, it speaks repeatedly of "The most wonderful dream in the world." Lyrics include "Since sadness is the road that leads to smiles, dull, dingy shoes will start to shine too," and "If we make our heels pound they'll soon become the sound of bells..."
  • Fist of the North Star Season 2 has quite possibly one of the few non intentional surreal themes. Tough Boy is full of gratuitous English and basically has no relevance to the series at all. It doesn't stop it from being made of awesome.
  • Macademi Wasshoi is a good example, as the show's theme song, while sort of relevant to the show, has lyrics that appear to lack any sense...or sentence structure at times.
  • FLCL's ending song, Ride on shooting star, is at once very catchy and chock full of this and extremely gratuitous English. Orange slides and revengeful lobsters abound.
    • A lot of the songs by The Pillows, who made most of the music used, have really strange lyrics.
  • The opening for Hellsing, Logos Naki World (world without logos).
    • The opening doesn't even HAVE lyrics. The man is speaking jibberish.
  • While not exactly theme tunes, Axis Powers Hetalia's English dub trailer songs are definitely hard to comprehend. Lalalalalala~
  • The Ending Theme of Transformers Victory muses about a young Star Saber getting up to childish fun and enjoying sweets, then exhorting the baddies to 'buzz off'.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!. Dear god, Yu-Gi-Oh. One of the few animes where you're more likely to get a seizure from the dub.
  • Haruhi-chan's OP Ima Made no Arasuji. Somehow is crazier than the actual anime, which is an Up to Eleven version of the already unique main series.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. There is no other description for the first opening.
  • Mirai Nikki: the song itself contains, along with the expected Japanese and Gratuitous English, a fair amount of Ominous Latin Chanting and Gratuitous German. The visuals contain a lot of symbolism that only makes sense if you've read the manga. All in all, it wouldn't look out of place next to an opening from Studio Shaft.
  • Death Note's second opening theme really has to be seen to be believed. What the hell is even going on?!


  • Film example: "Skeet Surfin'" from Top Secret!
  • One could make a case for the James Bond movie theme The World Is Not Enough, performed by Garbage, because it has a tendency to contradict itself. A lot.
  • How about Apocalypse Now's use of "The End" by The Doors? Jim Morrison's stream of consciousness lyrics certainly make it a surreal song (although the film doesn't use the Oedipal midsection), although Coppola has stated that he just did it because he thought it was funny to start the movie at "The End".

Live Action TV


 Hey smilin' strange, you're lookin' happily deranged

[unknown line]

And have you picked your target yet, Hey Sandy ai yai yai yai...

Don't you talk back, Hey Sandy

Four feet away, end of speech it's the end of the day

We was only funnin', but guiltily I thought you had it comin',

Hey Sandy, Don't ya talk back, Hey Sandy.

    • And no, the chorus is not "Does your dog bite?" no matter how much it sounds like it.
  • The theme tune for Red Dwarf is a woman (not one of the characters) singing about how she would rather be marooned on a tropical island than flying through space... or maybe it's just nonsense.

 I want to lie, shipwrecked and comatose

Drinking fresh mango juice

Goldfish shoals nibbling at my toes

Fun, fun, fun

In the sun, sun, sun

    • In the Red Dwarf Smegazine, the composer said that it was indeed meant as a reference to Lister's dream of going to Fiji, although since that was never mentioned after the first series, it is now a Surreal Theme Tune, which he's quite pleased with.
      • In an interview with the composer on the Series VI DVD, "Settling the Score", after confirming the above he proceeds to read out the 'lost' verses that had to be cut for time. Hint: the lyrics get even nuttier.
  • Round the Twist has a theme tune that mashes up the words to several nursery rhymes for its verses, including "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly", "Rain Rain Go Away" and "Humpty Dumpty", in keeping with the surreal nature of the show.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus. They wanted a theme song that meant nothing about the show, so they picked a Sousa march, and now everyone knows that opening bell when they hear it. These days, no one plays that march in real military-type occasions anymore. Nothing takes the gravitas out of a ceremony like music that brings to mind two grown men hitting each other with fish.
  • The ending theme of WKRP in Cincinnati is a peppy tune with gibberish for lyrics; the band in question recorded it as a quick test-run before doing the "real" theme, and the producer liked it so much he used it instead.
  • The short lived 1980s game show All Star Blitz originally had a mostly instrumental theme that had the title sung at a few points. For a brief period, some downright... weird scat singing (available here) was added. It was apparently used for a week.
  • Similarly, listen to the theme to The Better Sex with all its strange scatting.
  • The theme for the British version of Blankety Blank consisted of the show's title repeated over and again; the show's Supermatch Game used the same tune, but with "Supermatch Game! Supermatch Game!" awkwardly sung to the same rhythm.
  • While the theme to The Secret Life of the American Teenager could be considered thematic, the fact that it's talking about falling in love makes it surreal since the show centers around lots and lots of sex with random people, not love.

Video Games

  • The video game Persona 3 frequently plays music that fits this criteria, Mass Destruction is not an appropriate theme for fighting the countless Goddamned Bats the game features.
    • The same could be say about Persona4's Reach To The Truth if you think about it.
  • The original Kingdom Hearts features a surreal opening sequence that is vaguely plot appropriate, accompanied by a J-Pop song that is also vaguely plot appropriate. It doesn't stop the opening from being really trippy though.
    • The sequels opening is a recap of the previous two games, but just comes off as really trippy with out prior knowledge of the plot.
    • If you reverse the lyrics of Sanctuary, the theme song of Kingdom Hearts II, the entire song contains hidden lyrics that are quite relevant to the story of the other games.
  • Elite Beat Agents survives on this trope. For example, helping babysit three delinquent children... while Walkie-Talkie Man is playing. Will Chris Silverscreen's next picture be a hit or a bomb? Well, it Makes no Difference to me! Colonel Bob has struck oil? Well, Let's Dance!
    • Its Japanese counterpart isn't immune either. Help a ronin pass high school exams using Loop and Loop! Meteor heading towards earth? Let's get started, Ready Steady Go! But the most baffling example is probably when an anthropomorphic text message has to deliver its note during Christmas... to a song about soccer.
  • The visuals during the opening credits of The World Ends With You almost make sense, but the lyrics to the accompanying music are absolute nonsense like "I need more candy canes." Actually, it's all relevant to the plot, and gives away several spoilers. It's just so metaphorical that you can only tell this in hindsight. Still, much of it is based on what the original Japanese song sounds like (but not what it means). For example, "show me your best set" makes sense if you think about pins, but it also sounds like "shoumikigen" and "tokubetsu sei", lines from the first and third verse.

Web Animation

  • The Homestar Runner CD Strong Bad Sings And Other Type Hits has a Fake Band version of this in the form of the "Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Theme Song". Sweet Cuppin' Cakes itself being Strong Bad's made up on the spot example of "crazy cartoons"

Western Animation

  • The theme tune to Freakazoid seems to be an Expository Theme Tune trying to hang onto its sanity with ever-increasing difficulty. The absurdities in the song tell the viewer much more about the show than straight exposition would. Nonsense thus makes sense while sense would make no sense, creating a paradox and causing the universe to collapse in on itself. ("His home base is the Freakalair / Freakazoid! Fricassee! / Floyd the barber cuts his hair / Freakazoid! Chimpanzee!")
    • "Drives around in the Freakmobile / Freakazoid! Free kazoo (or "Freak-a-zoo")! / Wants to make a movie deal / Freak-a-me! Freak-a-you!"
  • The theme song for Cartoon Network's MAD is a bunch of random gibberish ("Hey yabba boy yamma / Mad!") and kazoo. Fitting, since the show is nothing but quick animated shorts and parodies.
  • The theme to Little Howards Big Question, an Edutainment Show about an animated boy who asks his roommate questions about the world, has a theme tune in which Little Howard performs a huge musical number about monkeys. ("With their tails, and their bananas/ I think that if we all were monkeys we'd have happier mañanas/ Give me monkeys/ Lots of monkeys/ for you know that it's the monkeys I adore/ if I loved her and she did not love those monkeys/ I would not love her any more - ANY MORE!")