A kind of gradual end-of-episode transition in which the beginning of the ending music plays on top of the final scene, often as background music to the last few lines of dialog. It then segues into the full ending with credits and the music continues without a break. In extreme cases, the final scene may replace the ending animation entirely, with the full ending theme played over it. May also occur in film and radio.
Works well for simultaneously saving time in an episode, making the transition to the ending seamless, and borrowing the feelings and atmosphere conveyed by the ending theme to supplement your final scene. Works best with end themes that have some kind of build-up, so that it can be low-key while the show is still running, then go full-force during the proper ending.
Closely related to Title Theme Drop
, which is about theme music appearing in the work itself, and Last Episode Theme Reprise
, for when the full opening or closing theme appears as background music during the most climactic moment of the show. Contrast Cold Opening
, for when the opening is late, and The Stinger
, for when a very brief scene happens after the credits.
- Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi (Sunday Without God): The ending theme "Owaranai Melody wo Utaidashimashita" comes early in many episodes of the anime adaptation (in particular eps 1 through 6). In episode 3, they entirely replace the ending animation with the final emotional scene of the episode and play the ending theme and credits over it.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. In several episodes (e.g. ep 19) of the 2012 anime adaptation, the opening acoustic guitar segment of the ending theme (Yes's "Roundabout") plays before they dive into the full ending animation and bring in the electric guitars.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED's first ending song, "Anna ni Issho Datta no ni", started playing during the closing shots in the first few episodes, segueing into the credits proper only after a few seconds.
- Black Lagoon likes to do this with the "Don't Look Behind" theme.
- Parodied in Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku, when Sakura and the other would try to air the ending twice in the first episode much to Natsuki's ire.
- Episode 4 of Season 1 of A Certain Scientific Railgun. This ending song "Dear My Friend" normally starts immediately with vocals but to do this trope they added an instrumental part to the beginning.
- In Ano Natsu de Matteru, only three episodes out of 12 avert this. Series finale forgoes ending animation, and not the music, completely.
- Saki: One hand of fingers are enough to count the times the full-fledged 25-episode-long first season anime doesn't feature an early starting ending theme.
- Sketchbook Full Color S: Save for the special outro finale in 13th episode, the ending starts early in every episode.
- Kyoukai no Kanata (Beyond the Boundary): Many episodes including at least the first four overlay the instrumental introduction of the ending theme "Daisy" with the final scene.
- More poignant episodes of Eastenders replaced the iconic drum beats with a sentimental piano riff that played almost a minute through the closing scenes (in some cases the piano riff continues into a full softer variation of the usual title theme).
- Early episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine had an extra riff of the title theme build up to the end credits, usually as the narration was just closing things up.