Well, it’s now day three of Christmastide, or Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist’s Day according to the Anglican calendar. Yesterday I wrote a bit about how stereotypically “trashy” modern anime deserve more appreciation. Today I will continue with the theme of appreciating the underappreciated, but in the spirit of Saint John – the only apostle to live to an old age and die of natural causes – I’ll be focusing on another sort of anime that is underappreciated: older anime. It’s a great shame that so many older anime fade out of popular memory, when many of them certainly deserve better.
I’m not going to try to define exactly what counts as “old anime,” since in my experience that definition varies widely from individual to individual. For some people, even shows from the 80s are too recent to be old. For others – particularly those who are relatively new to anime such as myself – stuff from as recent as the early-mid 2000s can feel old. Plenty of the screencaps in this post will be from anime that came out when George W. Bush was sitting in the White House. Some people may laugh at this, but to me and many others who didn’t get into the medium until the 2010s, these shows are “old.”
I’m also not going to discuss specific anime right now – though the ones I’ve used as sources of images are all shows that I would recommend. Rather, the point of today’s post is simply to make a request of those reading this article: give older anime a try every now and then. Of course, almost everyone reading this will be familiar with big-name classic anime – Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mobile Suit Gundam, Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena, et cetera. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the classics, but they hardly count as underappreciated – they’ve survived the test of time swimmingly. There are plenty of other series, however, that haven’t maintained that level of popularity over time, but instead go relatively forgotten save for amongst those fans who watched them as they aired. Shows like Tenchi Muyo and Martian Successor Nadesico are far from unpopular, but they are also rarely recommended to new fans of the medium.
The fact that discussion of “old anime” is dominated by a few big names has the detrimental impact of causing people to miss out on several lesser-known shows from the past. People tend to assume that all the other shows – the ones that didn’t stand the test of time in terms of popularity – have fallen by the wayside because they simply aren’t worthy of attention. That is perhaps true for some anime – after all, I’m not trying to say that older anime are inherently better by virtue of age. However, there are tons of underappreciated shows out there, anime of years past that didn’t become lionized along the likes of Evangelion or Gundam. This is especially true for anime from the early 2000s – they are too recent to benefit from the retro appeal, yet too old to be remembered by most anime fans unless the show in question happened to be a big hit when it aired.
Why do these anime deserve to be appreciated? Well, honestly, there is no concrete reason to go out and try older series. I just find the idea of shows that so many people put their heart and talent into ending up forgotten to be a bit sad. As a result, one of the things I will try to do frequently on Jaesthetics is highlight lesser-known shows from years past. Until then, I recommend to all of you this: pick a year and a season at random, and go find a list of anime made in that year. AniChart’s archives go back to 1995, and MAL’s archives go back even further. Pick a year from the early 2000s, or the 90s, or whenever (well, preferably from the 70s onwards) and look up all the anime made in that year. Maybe something will catch your fancy, and maybe it’ll be available somewhere to watch. If it is, give it a try. Who knows, maybe it’ll be good.