Old School Anime?
February 26, 2013 by
Evan Kimball Plochmann in
I was wanting to watch some anime the other day, and without Netflix I kinda don’t have a lot of options. I was perusing through Hulu, and I found a lot of older anime, like early 90s- so not too old. This sent me on a search for “Old Skool anime,” maybe I could find some lists online.
To my disappointment the lists were really lame. When I think old school, I think 1970s and 80s, like that’s the way we rolled back then. I don’t really think of the 1990s because that was a really good time for anime and a lot of the shows that came out then don’t feel dated to me. The mid and late 90s stuff is especially good and not very different from most of what comes out now. If you didn’t know, many seminal animes came out and changed the industry in ways that are still relevant. So when I saw Ghost in the Shell, Cowboy Bebop, and Neon Genisis Evangelion in these old anime lists I was shocked. Am I that old? No, not really…I’m not even 30 and I could still be in school if I wanted. So, these lists were just some tween bla bla crap and I felt a duty to make a real list. So, what is old school?
I thought for awhile about how anime has changed and where significant lines of differences can be drawn; c’mon, it’s not like the year 2010 rolls in and people say, “oh, new decade, guess I need to make such and such completely original.” For me, anime of old school is gory, crudely drawn (for the most part) and relies a lot on sex and violence to sell. Old school is like the Transformers Generation, or G.I. Joe (though it’s not anime, but since I’m American is strikes me as needing mention). And then classic would be anything past that, so I’d say the 1970s. So, here is a list of animes I’ve seen with a short review for each. Because lets not forget, unless you don’t know, I’ve seen quite a bit of anime.
Classics– I don’t have that many actually, not so familiar.
- -Astro Boy (1963)- because it’s Tokyo Atom, I actually haven’t seen the whole series, but it is light hearted fun.
- Speed Racer (1967)- Is this show popular because it’s awful?
- Lupin III (1971)- I haven’t seen all of it, and I’ve mostly seen the remakes. But this anime is very funny and just plain cool.
- Doraemon (1972)- The manga was around for like 30 years, the tv show was pretty popular to. I don’t think it made it to America though, fun to watch but it is for kids.
- Space Battleship Yamato (1974)- This is a great show, but not consistently so. Worth checking out.
- *Galaxy Express 999 (1978)- by far my favorite on this classics list. The movies are butcherings of the show, the show is a butchering of the manga. But, each one has something deeply moving and powerful to it, yet it’s so simple. The best versions are the ones were Tetsuro is ugly and the ending makes your soul die.
- -Battle of the Planets (1978 or 72 for Japan)- I haven’t seen this, but I’ve had knives pulled on me by those who have and I’ve tried to argue with them it didn’t look promising.
- +Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)- okay, so maybe a steam train flying through space with a French New Wave bombshell seems dated to some. But Gundam is just damn good and immortal.
Old School– 1980s camp and early 90s residual films
- -Dr. Slump (1981)- Okay, I never saw it, but I’m such a big fan of Dragon Ball that I had to put it on.
- -Fist of the North Star (1984)- Not a good anime in my opinion. But were else can you see such primitive animation, awful violence, and horrendous dubbing?
- Nausica Valley of the Wind (1984)- Not Miyazaki’s most favorited film, but it is better than most of the films during this time.
- Robotech (1985)- the first anime to have a cult following I think. It’s actually very good with a decent ending, oh wait- they kept adding other animes to it- never mind it gets ridiculous after awhile.
- Vampire Hunter D (1985)- Super popular, but I could never really enjoy it. The talking hand is pretty fun though, reminds me of a early Sam Rami film.
- Castle in the Sky (1986)- So long, but entertaining Miyazaki film.
- *Dragon Ball (1986)- It is just so funny, okay…a bit perverse and maybe not for everyone. But I love it more than Dragon Ball Z.
- Project A-ko (1986)– C’mon, it’s based off of the film Project A but with hermaphrodite aliens. What more could you want?
- Saint Seiya (1986)- Called Zodiac Cowboys in Mexico, this gem of a shonen has an awesome start and is one of the most memorable series that people in multiple countries can talk about. It starts out really strong, and the Golden Saints are for the most part epic. Bad guys need work, and eventually characters just die and come back too much. Around episode 75 I was just done with the repetition. But, the blood and violence is always satisfying.
- M.D. Geist (1986)- No logical plot, no cohesion of animation; but it has the most epic cover to ever haunt a video store and for that it goes down in the annals of history.
- –Bubblegum Crisis (1987)- I’ll admit to watching this when I was too young, because I remember being bored, but the animation and designs look cool and the plot is thick.
- Devilman (1987)- The manga is supposed to be awesome. The anime is a bit confusing and somewhat unsatisfying.
- Wicked City (1987)- This is what Demon City Shinjuku should have been. If it wasn’t for the fact that this film is just disturbing, I think it would easily be called a Hentai. Lets see, spider women web slings with her naughties and one demon is just a big, glowing, undulating, soupy, writhing vagina. Okay.
- *Akira (1988)- It’s almost cliche to put this on an anime list, but no other anime from my childhood branded its visual imagery into my mind like this one did. You could say this film is too violent, dark, and the imagery is just spectacle. It’s true, too true, and the symbolism of it is so obvious that it is hardly noticeable. But, the manga soes more than make up for these shortcomings. The film in comparison seems like an animated pastiche of Blade Runner with immature thoughts and symbols
- Appleseed (1988)- So popular they remade it and it was popular again. This is done by Masamune Shirow, the Ghost in the Shell guy. Like Shirow’s books, I find the humor awkward and the story boring. Sadly, I like the way Ghost in the Shell was changed and I don’t like Appleseed very much.
- -Crying Free Man (1988)- Never saw it, but the title has always kept me interested in this film.
- Demon City Shinjuku (1988)- This film is what Akira would have been if Katsuhiro Otomo hadn’t written/directed. (well animated with a boring, common plot).
- Dominion: Tank Police (1988)- The epitome of overly sexual adult humor anime. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1Hy1GAvzcE Sometimes I wonder where they get the music, but oh well- it doesn’t matter. Don’t let that clip satisfy you, you’ll miss out on some good dildo jokes.
- +Grave of the Fireflies (1988)- A really solid film with a very serious story. Not anime like we know, could have been a real film, but if you’ve ever tried to film a firefly then you know that it isn’t easily possible.
- – Legend of the Galactic Heroes (1988)- This is one of those high rated animes that never makes it to America, hope to see it.
- * My Neighbor Totoro (1988)- Not just a good anime, one of the best films of all time. Don’t believe me? Watch it again and again and it’s hard to not see what makes it a perfect movie.
- * Dragon Ball Z (1989)- Despite its flaws, this is the best shonen for adolescent males. I used to love it and I still love it. This anime is still fun, but not as fun as Dragon Ball, and the characters I think are all very likable. Goku is not cliche like other anime male protagonists, he is soft hearted and has the voice of a woman (really). I think the filler in the Freiza saga and especially the Cell saga (not to mention cheaper animation) just kills the show, but the Buu saga is just as good as old school Dragon Ball. The writer, Akira Toriyama had not clue what he was going to do with the show, and you can tell at times- in good and bad ways.
- Goku: Midnight Eye (1989)- Rarely scene, this was a decent OVA. During a time of many, many OVAs with similar male protagonists running around abusing woman and beating people up in awfully violent and graphic ways, this anime is just the epitome of that. Funny, Goku in this show uses a staff much like Goku in Dragon Ball, hmmm…
- +The Guyver: Bio-Booster Armor (1989)- Okay, along with Saint Seiya this is the most representative old school anime. Gorey, blunt animation, and enjoyable. Okay, it needs boobs maybe, we’ll say M.D. Geist is worth a watch to understand old school. But I really liked Guyver, it was popular when I was a kid and there are some really good moments in the show. Beware the dub though.
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket (1989)- A lot of Gundam is good if you get into political thriller fantasy genres.
- Ranma 1/2- Now this is old school. A lot of fun to watch, but maybe too many similar gags. Anyway, a boy turns into a girl when he touches hot water, and a back to a boy with cold. I think, it’s been 15 years since I saw it. But I remember it being very funny, one of the better comedies.
- Venus Wars (1989)- Nothing too special here, but the idea of bike troopers is always fun to watch.
- Record of the Lodoss War (1990)- D&D in anime form, unless you play D&D and then you think that statement is way off. Uh, anyway, this anime is okay and a classic fantasy elf romp.
- Shin Chan (1990)- For some reason this anime feels older, but maybe it;s the resemblance to the Robot Cat anime, uhh…Doraemon. Well, any way, people really love this anime but it’s really Japanese culture oriented.
- +3×3 Eyes (1991)- Ah, this goes near the top of my favorite list. I love the concept of a man who dies often, only to immediately come back. Very interesting to watch, but hard to find and because of low budget it feels incomplete
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0083rd: Stardust Memory (1991) – I’m not sure if this is my favorite Gundam series because of the opening song, or the nuclear cold war themes?
- +Roujin Z (1991)- Not as popular as Otomo’s Akira (well, he only wrote, he didn’t direct); this is still a very memorable film with some profound concepts. Loneliness, old age, souls, technology, freedom, and love are all important concepts to an excellent film.
- Bastard! (1992)- This doesn’t belong on any list really, but this anime typifies the awful, low-budget, incomprehensible, ridiculously sexual and awkward, poor voice acting, and hyper violent but totally trying to be stylistically awesome anme that over populated the genre at this time. Akira made anime look serious to the outside world, but nobody was really willing to pay into it. The companies thought they could turn out cheaply animated crap just for entertainment sakes and anime wasn’t a serious genre. Violence and sex sold to put it blunt, and this almost killed anime. Sainy Seiya was fun and all, but enough is enough.
- La Blue Girl (1992)- The most famous, or infamous anime/hentai. Well, uh, I won’t admit to watching it *snicker* but it really did get a lot of people’s attention in a WTF way. If you don’t know, tentacle sex, that’s it.
- Porco Rosso (1992)- Okay, Miyazaki always is doing something different, so a pig man airplane pilot is okay with me.
- Sailor Moon (1992)- High School girls with magic powers wearing sailor suits and skirts that come up too high for 15 year olds. This is a side of anime, like it or not.
- +Ushio and Tora (1992)- This anime is really funny and has fun action. It is rare for me to like a dub more than a sub, but they really made this anime more fun with good puns and excited voice acting. Sadly, the dub was only for 1/3 of the OVA, so the latter half is only subtitled and for some reason I can’t get into the show as much. But the first part of the show is a cherished memory.
- Battle Angel (1993)- A really famous story, famous enough to get James Cameron’s attention. But the OVA is just so-so. Violent in cool ways, dark and gritty in the name of early 90s, but it is hindered again by what anime was then- sex and violence. But, there are strong philosophical inklings in this one, and we haven’t really seen too much of that yet.
- *Cashan: Robot Hunter (1993)- Okay, I’m gonna bite the bullet here and say I love this anime. Influenced me so much. Yes, it’s cheezy and has all that bad crap in anime I have been talking about, for example the sailor moon girl torture scene (hell, here name is Luna they didn’t try to hide it) where her clothes are “tortured” off. But, however, and furthermore the plot is dark, convoluted and deeply intriguing. Things aren’t as clear cut as they should be and it really dives deep into moral philosophy. I love it, and I’m excited to watch the remake which changes everything and I’ll hate. Oh yeah, from what I’ve read there is a really old version of this anime, like 60s, but I haven’t seen it.
- Dragon Half (1993)- I’m sorry, I thought it was funny. Check it out.
- Oh My Goddess! (1993)- I always considered this a rip of tenchi, but I guess it came first so I was wrong. But they are very similar, it just depends what characters you like. I’m not a big fan of 5 girls one guy animes, so this doesn’t really entertain me what-so-ever.
- -Slam Dunk (1993)- If you ask anyone in East Asia what there favorite anime is, this will pop up a lot. I haven’t seen it, and I don’t want to. Anime about basketball!!! NO Thanks.
- *Iria: Zeiram (1994)- Another one of my favorites. I like the Old School visual style, the names for things are fun, and it is just cool.
- Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (1994)- The best animated adaptation of street fighter, and still not very good. I love the rock music put in it and the dark style. Animation is simple old school, but better than the 3 year old drawings used for other street fighter renditions.
- -Bio Hunter (1995) – Another gorey kinda dark anime. I like dark anime though, so I will watch it.
- Slayers (1995)- I can’t really tell this apart from Sorcerer Hunters. And they came out the same year, maybe less boobs is the only difference.
- Sorcerer Hunters (1995)- Sex sells, or at least boobs. Mildly entertaining boob romp with magic and goof-ball gags. My friend Jon loved it.
- Birdy the Mighty (1996)- This anime was 1996? It felt like 86, so I leave it in old school. Way better things were being done at this time, why are these guys 10 years back? Okay watch but not spectacular.
- Bite Me! Chameleon (1996)- Again, late year but old school feel. Very funny to watch, has the humor of Dragon Ball.
- Super Atragon (1996)- Yet another okay anime with old school feel.
- Tekken: The Animated Movie (1998)- Damn, 1998 and they did this bad? Epic fail, had to make the list.
Vintage– Last 20 years, the revolution of 26 episodes series, deeper introspection into human spirit, and improved production value (thanks to Akira, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Ghost in the Shell)
- Ninja Scroll (1993)- The oldest, and maybe a lot of people will disagree with its placement. Although this anime uses violence, gore, and sex to sell itself, it was the first kinda pop anime to use better animation and voice acting- therefore an increase in production value. But no better story wise.
- +Blue Seed (1994)- This is from back when 26 episodes anime series were not that common. I’m not saying this was the first, but it is the first one to make this list. No more OVAs, a full series. At times, this anime series becomes painfully repetitive and the jokes can be too low brow. But the omake theater at the end is worth gold and the ending to the series was very good. I like the overall story arc and the immersion in Japanese mythology. In general, I like the way Yuzo Takada rolls, this includes 3×3 Eyes.
- -The Irresponsible Captain Tylor (1993)- I didn’t see this, but it makes the lists of funniest animes.
- Golden Boy (1994)- A pretty good comedy with a wierd, Brady Bunch Movie plot. Good laughs.
- +Pom Poko (1994)- Did this anime make it to America? I don’t know, but it is really great and fun for kids and adults. The story is very environmental, and the feel is somewhat Disney. But the characters are very Japanese and the legends are too. It’s about racoons that can shape shift, and they fight off foresters in the ever expanding Japanese metro.
- *Armitage III (1995)- Considered awful by many, because it is incomplete and confusing, I love this OVA. The ideas in it are very influential and I completely feel this is a good representation of the newer, smarter anime that still had remnants of old school violence – the sex. One of my favs for sure.
- -El Hazard (1995)- Considering all the awesome cyber punk stuff coming out, I didn’t pay much attention to this sword and sorcery anime.
- Ghost in the Shell (1995)- In all its incarnations this anime gets you thinking and remains focused on being profound while also showcasing some kick ass future tech ideas. Matsumoto is a genius I think, or at least really smart, good at drawing, and writing.
- Gundam Wing (1995)- This is different, more fantasy oriented, from the other Gundams that came before, and I like it a lot, way more than later installments. The politics are tight, the designs are cool, the characters are ridiculous and laughable, and the show is very rememberable.
- Gunsmith Cats (1995)- A think this one is mostly forgotten, but why. It was pretty fun and classic anime. Not enough boobs I guess, or no cats.
- Memories (1995)- This anime is a vignette of different stories, some better than others but none of them really great. Some legendary directors work on this one, and it’s worth watching, if anything for some good concepts and interesting animation.
- *Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)- There is too much I could say, so I won’t say much. I’ve seen it about 15 times and every time I notice something new. Not details, but philosophical meanings that speak deeply about humanity. Maybe God was added in as a popular motif at the time, maybe the characters are winy teenagers like every anime, but Anno knew what he was doing. Some complain that they had no budget and parts of the show are crap, well that is crap because so much meaning is thrown into the last two episodes and if you don’t get it too bad. All the reincarnations and movies I don’t like, it seemed like when Anno finally got a budget he focused more on masturbation, violence, and dark conspiracy themes which for me take away greatly from what is going on. I will say the re-animations of the battles are more satisfying, but the rest can just go away. Note also that this seminal anime established the 26 episode anime series for a long time to come.
- Tenchi Universe (1995)- This is a fun anime with a common theme. I call it the first big, but it’s not, diminutive mail protagonist fought over by 5 or so women animes. I like this one more than others, because the girls are more innocent. How can I say it, in later animes they kinda act like stupid whores.
- -Case Closed (1996)- This anime is hugely popular. Detective Conan is another translation of it. I think it’s for kids though, but it can be fun at times. Probably one of the most popular animes in Asia for sure.
- The Vision of Escaflowne (1996)- Teenangers, piloting giant robots- yawn* Hey, Evangelion did it with a lot deeper meanings and almost as a parody of how damaging it would be to a child. This does have cool mecha designs, really different and the animation is amazing. Maybe they had a good budget from riding the success of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team (1996)- Although there is a lot to like about this Gundam series, I don’t like it. Too dark in the end? It has many good points, but the ending just didn’t satisfy me. Watch it yourself and see what you think.
- -Rorouni Kenshin (1996)- The movie was really impressive, especially the animation. The anime was very popular in its time. But I didn’t like the main character’s red hair. Is that a good reason to dislike an anime? No. Is this a good review? No.
- X (1996)- I don’t even want to talk about this. An extention of brutal gore animes like M.D. Geist this anime is just screwed up and confusing. The story is just tripe and pointless. The evil is just there as a pure, unjust form (kinda like a Zhang Yimou film) and the gore is severe. Lets see, cuts off best friends head with a barbed wire garrote and rain that travels as fast as bullets and cuts people down.
- Berserk (1997)- I was begged to watch this anime by a good friend and I barely could stand it, it was soooo boring. Man, there was some good moments, but pretty much Lurtz just goes around killing and winning and loving Griffith. The undertones of homosexuality are nice, but since the God Hand isn’t explained, I kinda just felt this was another simple drawn anime reminiscent of the old school list. But OMG, the end just blows that impression out of the water. This has to be the most shocking ending to any anime, no any show ever made, ever. A must watch.
- *Perfect Blue (1997)- An anime that isn’t an anime, well- it is, but it didn’t need to be. The themes and acting could have been real people. So what you get is an amazingly good suspense, thriller, psychological mind f%$^!
- -Pokemon (1997)- No, I didn’t want to put this on the list. So repetitive and silly, not a good show. You never feel, save the first few episodes, that Pikachu or Ash are really going to fail. But, this did bring a lot of kids into anime and it is seminal to contemporary anime fandom. But it’s pretty stupid.
- *Princess Mononoke (1997)- I didn’t like this anime at first. The ending was too, reset button for me. But upon further viewing, it has made my best anime list easily. Something very, moving yet dark, despairing and hopeless, and full of fear permeates this anime.
- Cowboy Bebop (1998)- This anime constantly makes the top anime of the 90’s lists. Right under or above Neon Genesis Evangelion. Despite this reputation, I don’t like Cowboy Bebop. I like the music and graphic design, but the episodes don’t lead into each other, the characters don’t seem to cliq with each other at all, the back stories are predictable and lame, and after 5 episodes I kinda just enjoy the animation. Granted, some episodes such as Mushroom Mambo make me laugh pretty hard.
- -Gasaraki (1998)- I didn’t see all of this sadly, but the mecha designs are very cool, the plot seemed okay.
- -Golgo 13 (1998)- Eh, this is more old school feeling, but it comes late into the decade. I like this anime, it is entertaining, but nothing special.
- His and Her Circumstances (1998)- Anno’s next piece of work after Evangelion, this anime is very different from other animes but it is just like Evangelion, and parodies it at times, but it lacks giant robots or angels. So, that said this anime is good but not great. I would definitely watch it for sure though, because there are great ideas in it. Very popular in Japan from what I hear.
- Outlaw Star (1998)- This is what I call a generic anime. It’s like Power Rangers, but anime. By the way, Power Rangers in Japanese is hilarious and full of B-movie jokes and Kaiju references and fun- so Outlaw Star is a lot worse than Power Rangers. Anyway, some people love this, I find it too predictable.
- -Serial Experiments Lain (1998)- This anime is very highly rated, but I haven’t seen it. It’s in my download folder right now, so I might update this. It is very dark from what I can tell. *update, I’m watching it now and it’s amazing.
- *Trigun (1998)- I love Trigun. From the funny jokes, the loveable characters, the great universe, the interesting story, and the fun music, this anime has it all. The ending ~ okay, maybe not satisfying and sadly this is common in animes; but for the most part this anime is great and morally powerful. Many people say this anime is too common, all I can say is WTF, did you pay attention?
- -Yu-Gi0-Oh (1998)- This was a popular anime with kids in America. I don’t know why parents didn’t try to get it banned. Maybe it’s just me, but a young boy who uses some occult pyramid to make him self into a man with a very deep voice and powerful demon cards is just- uhh…not for kids. Hey, I’m not Christian but HTW did nobody notice? Very bad anime.
- Afro Samurai (1999)- I was wearing a Trigun shirt in Wal-Mart once, and a black cashier told me he thought that anime was awesome. So I asked him what the best anime was, I’m outta the loop. He told me, Afro Samurai. I went home and found it online, and OMG this anime is too violent for me. It is ridiculous action and quite fun, but not my style sadly. 😉 Blackplotation still popular with black?
- -Big O (1999) – Man, to think ’98 was such a good year. What happened ’99? What is this weird stuff?
- –Blue Gender (1999)- This anime is better than most of what came out at this time, but not by much. Not a waste of time, but nothing to write home about.
- -Digimon (1999)- The most unbearabley wooden and sterile anime ever shown on tv. A complete numbing experience and I’m sure it wasn’t good for kids.
- Excel Saga (1999)- Painfully stupid or hilarious? Both, you either like it or not. I liked it for a few episodes, stopped when nothing more was offered.
- -Great Teacher Onizuka (1999)- Is there a word for these types of anime? Plays like a Shonen but content is really quotidian. My friend Sean is always talking about an anime about baking bread which is really dramatic. I guess it is funny, but I aways feels a bit confused about how I’m supposed to react to these animes. I guess I’m not flexible when it comes to anime.
- Now and Then, Here and There (1999)- This anime had a good reputation, but the dubbing was so bad that I could barely take it. Maybe it just isn’t a good anime, only a good title? I won’t know, only the beginning concepts seem fun, the anime itself was claustrophobic and not very entertaining.
- -One Piece (1999)- Supposedly this anime will never end, the manga is too long and it’s been on for 14 years and only half way through the manga. It is very popular in Japan and China, and I think it is funny. It is very Dragon Ball and the author has shown pastiche to Akira Toriyama’s work, I think they’re buddies. I’ve only seen one episode, if I want to watch more, it’s kinda like a marriage vow…
- -Honey and Clover (2000)- A comedy of sorts, very popular in U.S. I’ve seen a little and I don’t know if I find it that funny, but we should all check it out.
- -Sakura Wars (2000)- Purely an action anime based on a video game franchise. This is fun to watch, but nothing profound for sure.
- -Fruits Basket (2001)- Another popular comedy that I don’t seem to laugh at??? Anime comedy not so funny to me.
- Hellsing (2001)- This anime was so popular that people would download it just 15 minutes after it premiered in Japan. I really don’t know why, it wasn’t that good.
- – Read or Die (2001)- Haven’t seen it, but it makes many top anime lists. Let’s watch it.
- *Spirited Away (2001)- One of Miyazaki’s better films. Very good animation and story, excellent music and just enjoyable throughout.
- -Gun Frontier (20o2)- Leiji Matsumoto’s old novel gets made into an anime after 30 years. Well, I love Galaxy Express 999 so I have to see this. There is also something called The Galaxy Railways, which has two sequels in Japan, and it is also placed in the 999 universe. I’m stocked to see these, though in a lot of ways Matsumoto’s adaptations miss the mark of the manga and also Matsumoto himself seems flippant on how dark and depressing he wants things to be.
- Haibane Renmei (2002)- This anime has a strange reputation, you either have never heard of it or it’s the best anime you’ve seen. I’ve seen it, therefore it makes my top anime list. Ohh, it’s just a gem.
- -Naruto (2002)- I couldn’t watch this. Doesn’t the main character look like Super Sayian Goku for Dragon Ball Z? Don’t their attacks remind you of early Dragon Ball characters moves? How is this not sued by Toei or Shonen Jump? Has all Shonen become the same thing, in just 10 years?
- *Full Metal Alchemist (2003)- A huge debate rages between which version of the anime is better, okay- most say it is Brotherhood because it is more accurate to the manga and therefore smarter. But really, both animes are very entertaining and this anime has to be the top anime of its time. Hands down.
- Full Metal Panic (2003)- Another full metal, a lot of full metal in this year, whatever that means? But, this anime is very common. Mechs, girls, teenangers, and guns. Move along, or look if you’re bored.
- Gungrave (2003)- This anime was written by Nightow, the guy who did Trigun, which I love. But this show was unwatchable. It somehow felt corny! Trigun could have been corny, but it was patient and had good music. This anime, didn’t have either.
- Tokyo Godfathers (2003)– Another great film by Satoshi Kan. Didn’t need to be an anime, but was just a great film.
- Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)- One of Miyazaki’s darker pieces, this anime is good, but sometimes confusing or too childish to deal with it’s darker themes. I like the ideas, not so much the movie.
- Blood+(2005)- This is everything that is wrong with anime of this time. It tries to be deep, but everything just feels fake. And on the top of that the action is basic with an over reliance on graphic design to wow the audience. Not worth the time.
No-Wave or Pomo or Contemporary Anime
- +FLCL (2000)- This anime was pretty big in its day, and I think it marks the start of a more disjointed and personal anime style. The animation is very good, the story can be somewhat hard to follow and de-emphasized, but it is a great anime, one of the best.
- *Cat Soup (2001)- My friend Salvador and I bought this by fate in a local mall. He hated it, I loved it and got to keep it. Although it is strange and maybe meaningless, I feel the imagery and emotion is powerful and a very personal story is conveyed to me.
- -Millennium Actress (2001)- I just learned that Satoshi Kon is dead, he passed away in his early 40’s in 2010. This is heartbreaking considering he consistently put out amazing anime and his scripts were amazing. I haven’t seen this anime, but I had to put it on the list.
- *Saikano- The Last Love Song on this Little Planet (2002)- Criticized heavily for not making much sense, and I’m on that boat for sure. But, my best friend Morgan and I, whom I watched it with, couldn’t tell it this was on purpose or not. See, the anime is so disturbing and emotionally fraying that you have to wonder if the narrative is a subjective experiment in cinema or just crappily done. Never the less, this anime really roped us in, we didn’t sleep for a whole night and just watched it; pulled into its insane and painful world and its tripe but pleasing love story. The plot is about a cliche high school girl who is the most powerful weapon in the world, but it is more of a cruel parody to anime in the way it depicts this role as absolutely unbearable and a punishment. In some ways this stick out the most, because it is so similar to the many forgotten cliche animes- you could say it was cut from the same cloth, but not sewn together, instead shredded to tatters.
- Voice of a Distant Star (2002)- Ghost in the Shell I think was the first anime to use a lot of digital compositing. Just 7 years later and the technology is being fully integrated into anime and famous productions like this rely on it to create a unique and powerful art form.
- Gunslinger Girl (2003)- This anime is hugely popular and I couldn’t bear it. I tried to watch the first 3 episodes, but the plot and acting were atrocious i.m.o. The girls were too wooden and the plot was just like a million other animes. Kids acting like grownups, moral ambiguity and suffering, and crazy big gun fights with gore. Really, this anime is not original, it only makes the kids younger than high school. I hear the end of the show is great, but as I said, too wooden for me. For those of you who are shocked or resentful, no really- I watched three episodes with my wife and immediately deleted it from my computer.
- +Bleach (2004)- Shonen is a sin, and most of it is crap. I didn’t really mention Yu Yu Hakisho or InuYasha because they, although just as good as maybe Sailor Moon, they don’t strike me as original or interesting enough and they weren’t as popular as say Naruto or Dragon Ball Z. But Bleach is different in a way. The creator somewhat venomously wanted to get away from Dragon Ball Z influence and move back an Old School anime feel, but updated. So this anime is more like Saint Seiya in a moral and manly sense, the main character is very masculine with very few character flaws except maybe a temper and occasional bouts of weakness compared to bad guys. That said, I still enjoy this anime because the graphics are awesome, the fights are very entertaining, and the general music can be very good (not always). The story is not bad either, it can be interesting and things play out perfectly as a Shonen without being too repetitive.
- Elfen Lied (2004)- I don’t know why this awful and suffering anime was so popular. Violent to no end, cliche to no end, gorey to no end, strange to an end, and then the end is not really an end. I hear in the Manga the whole Earth gets blow’d up, I would like that much more than this anime.
- *Mind Game (2004)- A gem of an anime I’ve not really heard much about until my friend Sean lent it to me. What a great film, it’s about people stuck in a whale…really great anime.
- Monster (2004)- You ask any Japanese what the most popular anime is, and they will say Monster. I had trouble getting into this anime because, well… to sound like a D-bag, anime is supposed to be action oriented—-right? So Monster is about a doctor who is hunting down a murderer for the sake of revenge. The first 5 episodes didn’t win my heart to be honest, it was too sporadic and it seemed certain characters were obviously bad. So, I should tough it through and watch the rest.
- -Paranoia Agent (2004)- Another Kon film that we should see, I think this one is part of a long lineage of adaptations on the same theme, I might be wrong; or you could say this about all anime.
- Hell Girl (2005)- This anime is really different. Summon a demon online to kill somebody you want revenge on. Pumpkinhead Online. LOL, but no, this anime is a must see for the uniqueness, but it gets awfully repetitive- like every episode is the same and there is no linear plot really.
- -Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu (2005)- I have’t seen this, but it’s supposed to be a better version of Saikano, which I love. I’ll have to check it out.
- -Xenosaga (2005)- A descent anime with some cool animation, never saw the whole things but it looks promising.
- -Code Geass (2006)- This anime is talked about a lot, supposedly really great. Sounds cliche to me, I’ll watch it soon.
- *Death Note (2006)- No other anime is so hard to stop watching. My wife an I just sat for 3 days watching episode after episode until it was over. A really intense rush and a great anime series.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers (2006)- This anime is so different, for one each episode is only 5 minutes. Second, it’s a goofball comedy with maybe some historical accuracy, good for history class and very, very funny.
- -The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006)- I haven’t seen the Haruhi Suzumiya series, but it is highly recommended by many friends and people.
- +Paprika (2006)- One of Kon’s newer styles of film, with the whole disjointed and confusin pomo feel (oh wait, he always did that). Okay, the animation is updated and the story is good. Worth watching, saw it in theaters and loved it.
- The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)- This is a cute premise, but not a very interesting anime to say the least. You can passively watch it and smile, but most of it isn’t rememberable.
- Tekkonkinkreet (2006)- Another popular anime I can’t enjoy. Too simple, black and white are just too homogenized and they really don’t seem to authentically connect in my mind. Some nice neurotic moments but kinda too disturbing to be a fun watch. Don’t get me wrong, I like disturbing films but this one just wasn’t balanced enough and too simple.
- Baccano! (2007)- This anime name gets thrown around a lot. Is it just an updated version of Bastard! No, but maybe similar.
- Claymore (2007)- Women warriors in suits of armor who turn into monsters to fight other monsters who sometimes are woman warriors who have turned into monsters. Hmm, something deeper in meaning here I find, much like Anti-Christ. Not a great anime, but fun and some mind food.
- Gurren Lagann (2007)- This makes the top list a lot and really it’s like Power Rangers on roids. Saying that will get me killed, but 10 episodes into it and not much happens that isn’t predictable. Very fun with good humor and some tna (covered).
- -Mushishi (2007)– A quaint and enjoyable anime, hard to fell compelled but also not hard to give it up. Watch in a peaceful mood.
- Corpse Princess (2008)- An interesting premise with good monsters, this quickly becomes the most forgettable anime to ever exist (except for the ones I’ve forgotten).
- Dead Space: Downfall (2008)- Anime horrors generally don’t work, especially ones with inconsistent animation and no plots.
- Sekirei (2008)- This is everything that is wrong with anime, and it’s too bad this came out so late. Sigh, high school girls with magic powers part of mad science experiment with large breasts that have to swarm around young, innocent men and love them to gain their true identities and power. It’s shit, just blatant sexist shit and people should be punished for it.
- +Soul Eater (2008)- A strange way of animating, like Disney meets Japan; but a great show in many senses. There is some strong reflections on what evil is. I like this anime, although it is Shonen in the way characters battle, gain abilities, usually win. But something darker and more interesting is going on, and that makes this a top pick.
- Spice and Wolf (2008)- Another quaint anime that is not compelling but enjoyable. The style and feel of the anime is very enjoyable, old time dark ages peaceful feeling. The story ehhh, the nudity is also not needed and dispels watching this with family or children, so that sucks.
- *X’amd Lost Memories (2008)- Everything about this anime I loved. The sci-fi, monsters, love story, politics, steam punk, character development, and the ending. This is a great anime, overlooked too much. Thanks Netflix!
- Eden of the East (2009)- At first, this anime is good and interesting. The plot is fun, perplexing but compelling, and the characters you like. But, it goes on too long and nothing resolves, and I had to give it up. I don’t know whether to tell you I like this or not, yes, I like the start, but I just gave up. So should you see it?
- +Guin (2009)- I have to like this anime because I played as King in the Tekken games a lot. He was based off of Guin, a man with a leopard’s head. This anime is pretty good though, plot, action, and story. It just ends, which sucks. The books have been around and published for more than 30 years. so a 26 episode anime series doesn’t cover the whole story. But what they did put there is very good.
- Rideback (2009)- What starts out as an interesting anime about a high school dancer who hurts herself and ruins not just her career and talent, but her life; but she finds a new life as a ridebacker, someone who competitively races on futuristic bikes; soon becomes an overly sentimental war flick with a crushingly bad amount of “I love my friends” crap.
- Angel Beats (2010)- Rumor had it that this was a good anime. Don’t believe everything you hear.
- High School of the Dead (2010)- This is something you shouldn’t admit to watching. TnA, violence, gore, silly cynical, dark humor plot lines and events, and ridiculous 15-16 year old girls with huge ah-hem. So, this goes back to the core of anime, and just magnifies it times 20.
- Summer Wars (2010)– I really wanted to like this film, but didn’t. It had cool parts, but overall laughable.
Okay, so the – mark means i haven’t seen it all the way through. The +mark means I think it is very good. * means I think it’s a best anime. So, a compilation.
God of Anime: Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. I mean, this is one of the few anime almost everyone has seen. And I can’t imagine my life without it tear tear :’)
My top 10 best anime:
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion: Because it is genius. I haven’t watched anything this much and noticed so many new symbols and deeper meanings into humanity, femininity, and what the f* instrumentality is.
2. Trigun: Because it’s fun and profound in a simple but perfect way. Many say this anime is just too silly or common and that is just not true. I haven’t seen a Christian text that spoke to me so well as this one does. Nightow has managed to create a symbolic world that not only captures the harsh social issues found in Japan, but that encompass our confusing, and technologically divided modern cultures. Oh, and best soundtrack ever!
3. Galaxy Express 999: Because the universe is just too good, and the dark elements of the show are shocking to even a jaded person like me. In some version, the ending is crushingly depressing, a lot like Berserk is- but this anime is much more fun and loveable than Berserk. I wish there was an exact duplication of the manga in anime form, but maybe we should just read the manga.
4. Haibane Renmei: Another simple anime, but very soothing. Also, the use of dreams and metaphysics is intriguing Something very special here and the imagery is not just a commonly drawn anime or some hyped up computer buffed showcase- this anime is really poetically drawn.
5. X’amd: Lost Memories: This anime is very good and also action packed. Probably this anime is one of the few that has a very satisfying ending that isn’t forced. Lets face it, a lot of anime just doesn’t go out with a bang. This anime is also touching, but doesn’t rely on the usual cliche found in boy/girl High School romance anime.
6. Akira: It’s hard to even put this on the list because it is so seminal. But in some ways it is flawed and therefore falls in a rightful place of #6. Some things just aren’t explained, and violence is too prevalent. I really didn’t notice all this until I read the amazing manga, truly one of the best pieces of literature from the last century.
7. Cashan: The Robot Hunter: Oh, it really did have a big influence on me. Yeah, it isn’t great- but the moral strife and ambiguity about human nature wins me over. When I was 11 years old I saw this, and the fact that Black King (the bad guy) imprisoned humanity to save nature just blew my mind.
8. Armitage the Third: Yet again, a ridiculously flawed OVA makes my fav list, what can I say, I’m a sucker for philosophy and cyberpunk. This robot can get pregnant, and the animation is good.
9. Saikano- The Last Love Song of This Little Planet: I have to stop apologizing for liking unpopular anime, it just burnt into my memory as the craziest shit to ever happen. I watched it with my friend and we just couldn’t stop- it was too mesmerizing. In some ways, I find this to be one of the most disturbing pieces of cinema I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quit some disturbing stuff.
10. Iria Zerium- A fun 90’s OVA with really cool names and it’s cyberpunk. Nothing deep, just visually satisfying.
Anime that is just objectively good:
1. My Neighbor Totoro: Probably the best film ever made. Objectively.
2. Ghost in the Shell- Finally an anime that gets everyone thinking and isn’t stupid shit like The Matrix.
3. Princess Mononoke- Another great and powerful film my Miyazaki.
4. Perfect Blue- Just a great thriller, but kinda disturbing.
5. Grave of the Fireflies- Absolutely the most depressing title to any film ever.
6. Pom Poko- A kids film really, but there are things for grown ups too, and it is legit funny.
7. Spirited Away- Another great film by the master.
8. Paprika- A mind bending fantasy/sci-fi noir romp that is a load of fun.
Why only 10, these are great anime too!!!
11. Death Note- Wow, what a fun show to watch, you just can’t stop. But it kinda ends 2/3 the way through. Too bad. I would have put it much higher, but after #^@& kicks the bucket, well- it just doesn’t work as well.
12. Cat Soup- A real gem, and pretty short too. Must watch if you like the weird side of Japan. It’s funny and deeply personal. I don’t know, the mood of it is sad and childish, and it is hard to not like.
13. Full Metal Alchemist- This might grow on me in time, because this show was amazing good. I finished it last summer, and i still feel it was great. But it is kind of overwhelming to watch such a long show in such a short time. Maybe in the future the essence of this show will float back up and be higher up on my list.
14. Mind Game- A really unknown but enjoyable anime feature film. A thinky, deep film about some people stuck in a whale and equally absurd stuff.
15. FLCl- This was a great anime, everyone of my friends loved it and we watched it over and over. Probably the most phallic product ever put on tv. Gotta love it just for that.
15. Blue Seed- A pretty interesting and well developed series steeped in Japanese myths. The ending is really great, and a lot of my fav anime have cop out ending, so this one really is a cut above the rest in that regard.
16. Guin Saga- This anime ended too short, but what was there I really enjoyed. It really seemed to be developing into a real epic, just like the novels. P.S. I love Tekken and I’d own you with King.
17. Soul Eater- Visually different, and with some really dark and philosophical concepts, this anime is a cut above the rest. This anime is kinda for kids it seems, but the complexity of the characters makes it enjoyable for anyone.
18. Ushio and Tora- a really funny and also cool anime. Not too well known either 🙁
19. 3×3 Eyes- I don’t think any anime is this spiritual and weird. I wish they made Buddha into an anime though, to lazy to find and read the books, and that’s even if they’re translated. This really is a must see I think, try to find it if you can.
20. Bleach- I do like Shonen, but I know it’s junk. Bleach however is different in the intense artistic design and its ability to shamelessly not try to be deep what-so-ever. No pretentious philosophy, just action.
So what is Old School Anime?
Stuff like Roujin Z, Guyver, and any Gundam is the best!!!!
note: there are probably a million typos and spelling errors, enjoy- if they are so bad just p.m. and I can fix them. Furthermore, it used to be okay to say animes, but I think the new generation of people prefer anime as a plural form. I’m old and don’t care, so just ignore it if it bothers you.
Did you like this? Share it: