Don’t Leave These Anime Classics Behind!
There is no doubt that there has never been a better time to be an anime fan in the west than right now. With the right of streaming services like Crunchyroll simulcasting shows as soon as they air in Japan and even services like Netflix getting in on the action, there have never been more ways to watch endless amounts of heroes punching massive bad guys very, very hard.
However, that’s not to say that everything about the rise of simulcasting the seasonal anime has been good. The truth is that it can often lead to a need to only ever watch whatever is brand new. And sure, this makes sense. You want to watch what everyone else is watching and you don’t want to fall behind. However, this leads to a situation where shows even a few months old are forgotten about. And that’s not even mentioning anime that came out years or even decades ago! This means that there are plenty of classics that are at risk of being lost to the winds of time. To make sure that doesn’t happen, here are some true blue anime classics that you shouldn’t leave behind.
For the longest time, if you wanted to get someone into anime, Cowboy Bebop was one of the standard go-to things to show them. Bebop was the kind of show that it was cool to like way before liking anime entered the mainstream. And it really isn’t difficult to see why, the charismatic characters, lived-in sci-fi setting, the incredibly fluid hand-drawn animations, and a soundtrack that ranks among some of the all-time best, there’s a very good reason why a lot of people say that this is the greatest anime of all time.
Following the adventures of Spike, Jet, Faye, and Ed, small-time bounty hunters and the crew of The Bebop, Cowboy Bebop is less plot-driven and more driven by tone and mood. This means that it’s not really the kind of show you obsessively binge but if you’re willing to get into the right frame of mind for it, there really is nothing better.
Satoshi Kon is a legend not only in the anime world but internationally as well. Films like Perfect Blue and Paprika gained him acclaim all over the world. However, his one foray into TV anime is often overlooked and that is a genuine crime because it is one of the best things he ever made.
Revolving around a selection of characters, all of whom are suffering in their lives and all of whom have violent encounters with a rollerskating boy wielding a metal baseball bat called “Lil Slugger,” Paranoia Agent explores the delusions that we create and the fantasies that we use to get away from the world. Many of the elements of paranoia agent are more relevant now than ever given the rise of social media, which is all the more shocking when you consider it came out a year after the launch of Facebook and a year before the launch of Twitter.
Yu Yu Hakusho
Everyone loves a good shonen battle series. A lot of shonen battle series is often ranked as the most successful anime of all time. So maybe that will help you realise just how much weight there is to the fact that Yu Yu Hakusho is the shonen battle series.
Telling the story of Yusuke Urameshi, a teenage delinquent who finds himself given the role of Underworld Detective when he is killed by a car attempting to save the life of a child. What follows are four seasons of some of the greatest shonen action the medium has ever seen. Going back to Yu Yu Hakusho now, you might find that some of it feels kind of… generic. However, the thing to remember is that this show is a big part of the reason why these genre conventions are there in the first place. Every shonen needs a tournament arc, but The Dark Tournament Saga will always stand above them all!
Dragon Ball Z is the show responsible for turning a lot of western anime fans into anime fans in the first place. Its place in anime history is well cemented. Which makes it all the sadder that so few people have bothered to go back and watch the original Dragon Ball.
Rather than the battle centred stories of Z, Dragon Ball focuses on young Goku and Bulma as they adventure across the world looking for the legendary Dragon Balls. It’s a globetrotting adventure that skews a little younger than Z but is still a joy to behold. With a more episodic tone than Z, a lot of the pacing issues of that show aren’t present here and there is something just so charming about that classic Akira Toriyama bubble art style.
This might be cheating because it’s a movie and not a show but that doesn’t matter but the fact of the matter is this: if you have not seen Akira, you need to fix that right now. After you finish reading this, stop what you’re doing and go watch Akira.
The story of a teenage boy discovering his psychic abilities in apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo is one that has influenced pieces of media all over the world for decades. From The Matrix to the genre of Cyberpunk as a whole, Akira is essential viewing not only for any anime fan but anyone who wants to experience truly great art.
Of course, this isn’t to say that the only anime worth watching are older ones and anything coming out now is terrible, not by a long shot! There are so many incredible anime coming out that there is no chance of ever running out. However, the experience of watching the classics gives you something none of the newer seasonal anime can: a sense of history. They help you understand the way that the medium has progressed and they give you an insight into the influences on many of your current favourites. So sure, don’t give up your seasonal anime. Just don’t be afraid to look back into the past every once in a while too.