This post is partially inspired from Aria’s post from forever ago and general life experiences. Since my 30th birthday is on the horizon (shocker, I’m old) and hits on Saturday, I am in that thinking about my own mortality and how old I am mode again. It always happens around this time of year for a wide variety of reasons, my existence only being one of them. This human experience thing really sucks, doesn’t it? It feels like an endless chain of achievements and disappointments with the achievements coming out on top sometimes. But that’s far from the point of this post, isn’t it? Maybe I should talk about something anime related here and get back on topic about what makes an anime old. Yeah, that’s a better idea.
If there is something that is always a little a nerving, it’s newer anime fans calling anime from maybe five years ago or so old. I get why. Believe me, I do. Every person has their own eternal reference frame and the landscape of anime has become more seasonal based. Before 2012 and 2013 when Sword Art Online and/or Attack on Titan made seasonal anime more popular, the pace of anime watching was so much slower. You didn’t watch this one anime, you say? You could easily catch up to other people and watch whatever you wanted at your own pace because the community itself knew about a smaller amount of anime then it does now. Now days, there is almost no chance to ever catch up and get involved in the discourse on some anime if you didn’t start it when everyone else did. I guess that’s just a nice way to say that anime ages as fast as memes do on the internet. A person just watches anime weekly then just watches different anime weekly immediately afterward. It’s like there isn’t as much impact as there was back then unless the anime series stands out for some reason. Either quality, controversy, or both. The seasonal anime cycle is mean to everyone.
Reference frames are the key to think about when it comes to whether or not an anime is older or not. Why? Because it makes you consider a series of questions. What age where you when you started watching anime, what anime have stuck with you since that age, what anime have you watched recently, and how has this recent anime’s look changed since you first start watching it? We can also add in some other equations centered on trends. Like everything else, anime has it’s number of up and down trends too. For example, cyberpunk anime was everywhere in the late 90’s, but is put on life support these days because it’s fallen out of favor. Combined those mental equations together and you can get your own feeling for things and your own answers for this issue. And that’s cool. The problem is that it automatically contradicts with the reference frames of a lot of other people causing friction. There is no singular answer.
(Maybe this is a little too mathematical of a thinking process? I’m sorry for that.)
I’ve been watching anime for a long time and that does play a part of what I think are older anime compared to other people. If you are looking for my answer, I am kind of in between two schools of thought for what that is at the moment. Here they are in general form:
Anime before Neon Genesis Evangelion
The reason I have for this one is this is where I feel modern anime fandom started. Neon Genesis recontextualized a lot of concepts and ideas from a lot of anime before it, mostly Tomino and other mecha anime with some ultramen there too, and put it into a single twenty six episode in length package. Besides all that dark and mysterious stuff near the ending, it’s easily digestible for fans to watch (if you can survive the content) and it set the tone for a lot of anime following it. A lot of modern anime wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for this anime series, sad to say. Waifu wars existed for a long time because I still think there is a fire under the Lynn Minmei vs Misa Hayase (Misa all the way) waifu war from the original Macross, but it’s nowhere near as insane as what came from Evangelion. Studio Gainax wouldn’t even be the same without it. Maybe somethings would come out because the 95 Ghost in the Shell movie by Mamoru Ooshi and was just as motivational, but I doubt it.
Before The Switch to Digital/Cell Animation (Early 2000’s)
Approaching anime from a visual perspective, modern animation is digitalized these days. The anime looks much cleaner and the amount of colors that can be used in anime are almost infinite. There are a lot of special effects that could be more easily applied to anime now as well. I mean, the mess that is Hand Shakers couldn’t easily be down in cell animation. Same for everything with Mob Psycho 100 with all it’s experimental animation and such. The digitalization of anime has hurt anime a little bit for me, because I miss imperfections on cells that remind you everything was made by human hands, but there are some added advantages that I really like as well. Especially with colors. I love how modern anime can play with colors instead of relying on different sets of paints. I keep thinking about new paints needed to be invented for Akira, the most expensive anime film in history, and that’s mind blowing to me. Nowadays we don’t have to do that.
So yes, now you know how I feel about what I consider older anime. I honestly can’t choose between these two concepts, because each have their strengths and weaknesses of argument. So how do you feel about this situation? What counts as old anime to you? I’m interested to hear your opinions and possibly feel even older then I do now.