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In the same spirit as this question about aspect ratios...

A cold open is a narrative tactic where instead of showing the opening sequence at the beginning, the show jumps right into the story.

I've noticed that these days, most anime use cold opens. In fact, there are a number of anime, such as Symphogear (2012), Railgun S (2013), and Mekakucity Actors (2014), where the first episode is basically a super ultra great cold open: They put the opening sequence where the ending sequence usually is, and just omit the ending sequence entirely for the first episode.

However, in the past, this was not the case. For example, older anime such as Dragon Ball Z (1989) and Eureka 7 (2005) always put the opening right at the beginning.

So, when did the transition to cold opens happen?

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    I know it's not the same thing you are asking but this one can give the insight you are looking for since the reasons pretty much same.
    – JustPlain
    Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 7:26
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    @JustPlain it's seems you didn't get well the idea of "cold opening" which is commonly the reason the 1st ep doesn't have an opening - "this is often done on the theory that involving the audience in the plot as soon as possible will reduce the likelihood of their switching from a show during the opening commercial" quoted from Wiki, in 1st ep of the anime it is very important.
    – USerNAme
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 1:20

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Some shows do it this way and others do it that way. Seems it was a gradual process between the late 1990s and early 2000s that slowly favored cold openings.

1999 - Great Teacher Onizuka - First episode shows the OP only after three minutes.
2002 - Onegai Teacher - Opening in each episode only after a couple of minutes.
2003 - Full Metal Panic Fumoffu - First episode has no OP
2005 - Shuffle - First episode has no OP
2018 - Toaru no Majutsu Index S03 - Starts with a 90s recap and then goes directly for the OP.

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