Thinking about 70’s Anime

Ever since the Watch 70’s Anime panel I went to at Sakura-Con 2022, I’ve just been thinking more and more about it. You can read my initial thoughts on the panel here: Link. But there are so many things to think about anime from that time period that I can’t stop thinking about. For instance, did you know that Mazinger Z was not the first mecha series with a pilot-able robot. It was instead, Astroganger by Studio Knack. Yeah, the infamous Studio Knack that produced Chargeman Ken. Knack didn’t know what they were doing, but they did it anyway and that is what is so fascinating about 70’s anime.

This was a time period where the famous people we know were still coming to terms of what anime was. It was a time period where the genres that many of us knew these days. Not just mecha becoming how we know it these, but magical girl shows becoming more recognizable too. Then there is teh appearance romance dramas, sports anime, historical dramas, whatever Lupin is, and moe. Yeah, moe originated in the 1970’s and its kind of amazing to think about isn’t it? Things went from episodic shows to slowly gaining their stories as these early creators find their styles and tricks to make some foundation works. It’s incredible to see that.

I have not watched enough 1970’s anime to say this, but its really fun to see anime find its footing. For instance, the first Lupin part is the oldest anime series that I’ve ever watched and its really suffered to find its way in telling the stories in the way it wanted to. Not to mention the production was so hodge podged that you can feel all the struggle of the people behind it until Miyazaki and Takahata came around to make it a much cleaner production. That was 1971 and that show had four different openings until one similar to what we know came around.

There is another tool or things that comes from older anime that feels like a lost art now. Its the art of portraying things through minimalism. This is in early 80’s series too until the boom where animation took off like crazy, but framing a shot in a way without animation to capture the mood of a situation or impact without much animation in them. I keep thinking about so many of the shots in Captain Harlock that express so much with moving anywhere. Its incredible. I mean, there are some sakuga shots with Captain Harlock with the Arcadia, but they are rare and valuable. TV animation is still cool.

By the end of the 70’s, I think anime was completely understood. It found a form to exist and people worked hard to get it there. You can see that with Rose of Versailles, Captain Harlock, Mobile Suit Gundam, and so many series from the late 70’s that are iconic now. It was a growing time period with so many series leading finding crevices to make anime into something sustainable and lovable. So many growth pains, but it was so worth it. I need to watch more from this era. There is just so much that I haven’t watched yet and that panel really showed me that. Especially since I am interested in anime’s history.

16 comments

  1. 70s Anime for me is fond memories as at least a few of them I tried to see in some capacity down the road when I got into Anime. I watched some… If your generous enough to grant me the stuff that came to the West. Star Blazers (Yamato), Robotech (Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeda… Wait! Carl Macek built his own MCU mini universe before it was a trend! I was into Voltron before it was trendy to be into Voltron.

    I just realized I got to see the rarely seen Star Blazers Season 3 because I lived in the right place at the right time… Don’t worry. You didn’t miss much. It just rehashed Season 1 and wasn’t that interesting. Humanity screwed up the sun and they had to find a new home for humanity before the sun died. Boring.

    Yeah 70s Anime was nice. But nostalgia only goes so far. Anime fans… And Star Trek fans too… Need to move forward, and not be distracted by how great the past was. Especially Star Trek fans who complain constantly about new Trek. Hey. Five rotating series that keep Trek fresh and active year round? That’s a good thing. Sigh. Anyway bye.

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    1. No, New Star Trek would actually be watching if it wasn’t made out of hackneyed writing which also references or uses older stuff without understanding what those older series where doing instead of actually being original and telling new stories. No, I’m not having a discussion on this. Having more does not make it good.

      Also, research would be nice. Besides Star Blazers, everything else you mentioned and their source material came from the early 80’s.

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  2. 70s anime isn’t something I’m not too knowledgeable about, but it’s an era I should pay attention to more often. The last 70s anime I saw was something I surprisingly enjoyed which was Ringing Bell even though it is VERY dark despite the art style or the fact the characters are talking sheep and a wolf. It would be fascinating to see the earlier pre-Ghibli works of Miyazaki and Takahata.

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    1. Oh wow, haven’t gotten to that yet. If you haven’t yet, Lupin the Third Castle of Cagliostro is a wonderful lupin film from Miyazaki and its my favorite work from him. Or it was until I watched Future Boy Conan which looks amazing. (Also, apparently the Takahata and Miyazaki panda movie from their beginning stages is going to be in theaters? I’m kind of intrigued and want to see it.)

      I really wish a lot of master piece theater stuff from Takahata made in the late 70’s was more widely available because those look amazing.

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      1. That’s a good one, but please don’t watch it if you’re feeling depressed though. It covered so many topics and had more nuance than other animated works where a plot point involves an animal’s parent getting murdered. I still have yet to see Castle of Cagliostro and I’ve heard great things about Future Boy Conan. You mean, Panda Go Panda!? I didn’t know they worked on that movie.

        Same here! I’m intrigued about Takahata’s take on Anne of Green Gables which actually pre-dates the more famous movies that always get played on PBS.

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  3. There really is something to be said about being able to convey emotion, and sometimes just motion, in a still shot. The 70’s really knew how to do that, which seems to have been lost in a lot of more recent works.

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    1. Honestly, yeah. I can’t agree more. I feel like the latest Eva 3.0+1.0 is the last interpretation of using some of the older style of direction in anime and well, that is because it comes from an older man like Hideaki Anno.

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    1. Oh jeez, haha. But it would be fun to just write about different things about the 70’s if I do more research.

      70’s anime post don’t appear as often enough because I go from one series to another randomly.

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  4. Yeah, I can understand that how well they performed in the limitations they had. I am similarly fasinated by the games of 80s and 90s, since they didn’t have the powerful systems of today, and yet they told wonderful stories with great music.

    Also, I believe Osamu Tezuka was wild during this period. Once I learn my Japanese, I will watch lots of anime from the 70s as well.

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