While Japanese animation has been around since the early twentieth century, 1980s cartoons represents the Golden Age of anime in the West. Indeed, it was during that decade that anime experienced a significant increase in popularity in the United States. With no established community of anime fans, anime “appeared” with everything available in Japan, from saccharin-sweet romances to ultra-violent war stories.
Of course, a lot of anime that reached the West failed to make the transition to American culture and was quickly thrown into the cultural dustbin. However, other series or films have been able to find their voice and become beloved classics – sometimes even more so than in Japan. Below is a list of 10 1980s anime that have not only found their voice but have proven to be just as fun and enjoyable to watch now as they were three decades ago.
Super Dimension Fortress 10 Macross (1982)
Super Dimension Fortress Macross tells the story of Hikaru Ichijyo, Lynn Minmay, and Misa Hayase aboard the floating battle station SDF-1 Macross, an alien spacecraft that landed on Earth many years ago. Since then, the SDF-1 has been retrofitted by humans to form Earth’s last and best defense against the Zentradi: an alien race bent on eliminating humanity. Super Dimension Fortress Macross is an anime about machines where the technology is ancillary to the more interesting story of the people who control the machines and those who rely on them for protection. Although the machines in the film pale in comparison to those depicted in mech anime today, the human stories of love and betrayal, pride and greed, envy and courage Courage, courage, and rage are what make Super Dimension Fortress Macross worth watching again and again.
9 Golgo 13: The Professional (1983)
Golgo 13: The Professional tells the story of the adventures of master assassin Golgo, also known as Duke Togo. Golgo has never failed to complete its assigned tasks. He will do any job for the right price and if it fits his code of ethics. However, Golgo’s single-minded focus on work means he has made enemies in all countries and among all governments – constantly worrying about when someone will try to kill him. While the drama of planning and launching a “hit” is compelling, what truly ensures that Golgo 13 will never become stale as entertainment is its depiction of a man he faces the pressure of having no friends when the rest of the world is looking to kill. he. Like James Bond before him, Golgo is a unique character who is often imitated but never improved upon.
8 Captain Tsubasa (1983)
Captain Tsubasa chronicles the joys and sorrows of soccer teenager Tsubasa Ozora from his first days in the sport to his participation at the professional level. Thus, viewers not only see Ozora’s growth as a player but also as a person, including many off-field issues that necessarily play a role in how he performs on the field. yard. It’s that story of progress that makes Captain Tsubasa a timeless story that’s still relevant today. Captain Tsubasa is considered by many to be as influential on soccer anime as Blue Lock is famous today, but Tsubasa Ozora’s personal journey hasn’t lost its thrill.
7 Fists of the North Star (1984)
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans fight to survive, Fist of the North Star follows Kenshiro, who – having mastered a deadly martial art before the apocalypse – must now rely on it. to persevere in the harsh times ahead. Kenshiro also uses his abilities to help those more vulnerable than himself. The series has solid writing, complex character development, and jaw-dropping martial arts action that will always make it worth a watch. Although there is quite a bit of violence and gore, the depiction of violence has influenced the way fighting is depicted in later anime. Fans who love the series are in luck because a new anime reboot is on the way.
6 Mobile SuitGundam Zeta (1985)
As a sequel to the original Mobile Suit series, Zeta picks up not far from where the previous story ended. Amid the conflict between space colonists and Earth, Kamille Bidan joins an anti-Earth group that, in a twist of fate, ultimately decides the fate of the planet. Like the original, Zeta’s greatness lies in its focus on people rather than technology. The conflicts Bidan experiences throughout the series – from dissatisfaction with both sides to the emotional scars of facing the death of his girlfriend in war – are so well written, they will always make a great story.
5 They Are Eleven Years Old (1986)
They Eleven tells the story of ten space cadets who, for their final test, must survive for weeks on an abandoned spaceship. The test takes a turn for the worse when the 11 cadets arrive on the ship. Since they had never met each other before, none of the students knew which of them was the impostor. Now, in addition to the harsh reality of the test, they must also find out who the impostors are and why they are there. They Were Eleven has aged well because of its intriguing and suspenseful premise. Tension runs throughout the film from beginning to end. It shows that anime can be more than machines, heroes, and romance. Indeed, its sci-fi mystery theme was rare in anime at the time and remains exceptional today.
Dragon Ball (1986)
A series about a boy who wants nothing more in life than to become the best warrior in the universe might not seem like a story that could stand the test of time, but the fighting is only part of it. creating the appeal of Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball has a timeless appeal engraved into its DNA. It achieved this by being based on the classic Chinese film Journey to the West – an epic depiction of a hero’s journey that continues to be widely loved around the world. Second, Dragon Ball has endured because fans have never stopped loving and celebrating it, making it the anime equivalent of comfort food. It continuously gives fans an adventure story that is not too complicated but always interesting.
City Hunter 3 (1987)
City Hunter tells the story of Ryo Saeba and Kaori Makimura, two “repairmen for hire” who will solve a person’s problems – especially dangerous ones – for the right price. While the plot may be standard fare, it’s the presentation that makes it special. First are the characters. Ryo and Kaori set the standard. Not only are they stylish and interesting themselves, but their chemistry is also amazing. Tough and serious at times, goofy and fun at others, no one ever gets tired of watching tough characters do thrilling, dangerous jobs.
2 The Shooting (1988)
Only six episodes long, Gunbuster packs a lot of story into a short amount of time – but it never falters in what it wants to say and how it wants to say it. The story is about Noriko Takaya – a high school student trying to find her way to adulthood. However, before she could do that, Earth was threatened by aliens. Noriko joins a team of female mecha pilots tasked with stopping the alien threat. It’s a series that lays out the fundamentals of what makes a mecha story, and can still guide newer entries on how to do it. A word of warning, though: one aspect that no longer holds up is the fan service, which is decidedly inadequate by today’s standards.
1 Legend of Galactic Heroes
Interesting stories told with solid writing are the foundation of anime classics and that’s exemplified in the must-see Legend of Galactic Heroes. While the main focus of the story is on the conflict between the Galactic Empire and the Free Planets Alliance, the true genius of the series is its depiction of the myriad connections and motivations of humanity. the person behind the war. Game of Thrones has nothing on the behind-the-scenes plots of the various characters in this anime. Indeed, small problems on individual planets far apart tend to have consequences for the galaxy. Likewise, these microscopic interactions lead to intense interstellar battles. The scope of Legend of the Galactic Heroes is hard to beat, not just in terms of spectacle but also in the depth and complexity of every event – an achievement that has not been dulled by time.
It was a challenging time for anime outside of Japan in the 1980s. While the Western public said they wanted more anime, they weren’t sure what anime they actually wanted. The 1980s cartoons on this list are those who have been most successful in creating a fandom thanks to the quality that is maintained to this day.