In a world were airing anime can be watched in a nearly instantaneously, the latest and greatest series are always on the fore front of conversation. It makes sense why. Most of these series are readily available on most legal streaming services, unless they are licensed by Netflix, and have the latest visual effects that anybody could ask for, have a completely bright color palette, having the best voice actors in the business right now, and many other latest and greatest achievements that I can keep on going with. I cannot explain why you shouldn’t watch these shows, because I am in the seasonal watcher camp as well. (These shackles are hard to take off). That being said, watching older anime could be just as important and interesting as watching the newer stuff. I know that I might sound crazy to a lot of you, but that is just the kind of guy I am.
Before I jump into the pool, I think you might want to know where I am coming from. I admit early on a lot of posts and pages that I started watching anime when it was toonami years ago. A lot of the shows that were on the typical stuff, but that’s not what I fell in love with. The first anime series that truly caught my eye was Mobile Suit Gundam. A show that came out in 1979, so it doesn’t have the most perfect visual aspects. There was just something special about it that drew me toward it. I don’t think I was old enough at that point to figure out themes or character motivations completely, but it was the most complex world building and character driven thing that I have ever watched at that point. At that moment, I chose the path in which I would live my life. The path of a mech fan. You can tell, because the name of this blog is Mechanical Anime Reviews. What I am saying is that I do not have a completely unbiased opinion when it comes to the content of this post.
I know that this isn’t something the normal anime fan does, but I love connecting the dots and figuring out how one thing became another and another. The history and escalation of how things came to be. Anime is one of these things that I still trying to uncover and unravel. There are so many interesting things going on that I have to find out. To me, that is one of the many important aspects of watching older anime. Uncovering how some story lines have evolved over time or how one-character type has become so popular is just so cool. While I haven’t watched all the anime that have ever existed and probably never will. That doesn’t mean that the journey isn’t worth traveling though. Watching Fist of the North Star has helped me to understand how shonen anime has become the way it is. Watching Rose of Versailles last year has helped me to see were the female prince character archetype has come from and how this anime has changed so many other things in its wake. I know that working a fulltime job and going to school part time has taken a lot of time away from me researching history, but watching older anime fills this hole for me right now.
Of course, it’s not all about the history that drives me toward watching older series. There is also the fact that many of these series are fantastic. Especially the classics that everybody likes to talk about. Why else would they stick around in people’s minds for so long? Maybe not many of them have the animation or the art style that a modern anime fan works for, but a lot of them make have writing and character work that more then make up for that fault. Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, for instance. It’s a series that doesn’t look good at all most of the time with bad aspects of animation and a lot of out modeled stuff, but there are so many things that make up for it. Every single character is loveable in some way, this is one of the few shows that has a perfect love triangle, the plot is one of the most complicated yet nuanced thing that I’ve ever seen, and the love of music really flows through it all. Or what about Rose of Versailles? Another classic that suffers in the visuals departments, but is perfect everywhere else. So many shows are like this and need more attention then what is given to them.
Even if you afraid of watching an older show because of visual aspects, there are older series that have amazing animation and art to them. I know that my knowledge is limited to things that are science fiction, giant robot, and shonen battle based, but I can list some great examples. Yu Yu Hakusho, for one, is a series from the early 90’s, but has a lot of great action scenes that are still on par with a lot of shonen series that are airing right now. Despite being insanely old, for some people, I think that Fist of the North Star still has a lot of great cuts of animation as well. So do shows like Patlabor, the original Dragon Ball, Cowboy Bebop, Gasaraki, Votoms at points, and Blue Gender. Even if you don’t want to watch a series, how about a movie? There are a lot of recap movies that have high production values because well, they are movies. How about Macross: Do You Remember Love, Akira, Ghost in the Shell (1995), or Ninja Scroll? I know that there are a lot of good movies out there. Please give an older series or movie a shot. See if you like it.
One more point, before I close my argument on this. Once again, I know that I am biased toward watching older anime, but I honestly think that the redone HD versions of older anime are some of the most beautiful things that exist in this age. Bold claim I know, but I will stand by it. For starters, while Cowboy Bebop was always well animated and has excellent art design, but it’s Blu-Ray release is just so beyond this earth in quality. It could be airing right now OR maybe in a couple years, because it just looks fantastic. Moving a little farther back than that, Escaflowne’s HD version looks fantastic as well. Everything that has been redone about it brings out all the magical world of Gaea by making it feel real. Yu Yu Hakusho already looked pretty good to begin with as well, but it’s Blu-Ray release makes it look timeless. The Big O does too. I feel like I can keep going here, but you see my point, right? All those shows with solid cell animation and art design look their greatest in HD remasters. Especially when it’s the master copies of the show that are redone. Please look out for HD remastered of shows, if you are having trouble with older anime.
With all that said, please watch more older anime series if you get the chance. If not for the history, the visual aspects, or even how good a show is, do it to get out of the chains of watching seasonal anime shows. These are shows that are fully released and can be watched at your own leisure. They can be either binge watched, watched like seasonal series, or somewhere in between. That is the true advantage of watching older series. Watching at a piece that feels comfortable to you.
This post was influenced by Lethargic Rambling’s problems with watching older anime and Zeria’s defense of watching older anime. I doubt that I explained my points as well as them, but I had to share my take on this important topic anyway. Please check out both of their works.