In With the New: My struggle to “get into” older Anime

Every form of entertainment has its own set of “classics”, the pieces of media that came out decades ago that are fondly remembered by fans to this day. Anime is no stranger to this idea, and there are countless “classics” that many fans hold dear to their hearts.

Shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Fist of the North Star and Dragon Ball were incredibly influential, remain fondly remembered and are still spoken about to this day. They’re timeless and unforgettable. There is a whole world of old classics for Anime fans to explore and sink their time into, and many of these shows are often considered to be “essential watches” for any Anime fan.

And while I’m not entirely turned off to the idea of watching older shows, after all Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of my favourite Anime, it’s something I’ve always found to be a challenge.

It pains me to admit to it, but I find it very difficult to watch older Anime series.

It’s something I’ve struggled with ever since I got “really into” Anime, and it’s a struggle that I’ve never really managed to overcome outside of a few shows, such as the aforementioned Neon Genesis Evangelion, which I only managed to get into as a result of watching the Rebuild movies first.


And there are many reasons for this, the main one being video quality and retro aesthetics in general. While I can understand the appeal of old timey Anime visuals, having spent most of my time as an Anime fan looking at the super colourful, digitally drawn visuals of modern Anime, aside from the likes of what was airing on Toonami when I was a kid, seeing these washed out looking, hand drawn aesthetics feels off to me. I’m not saying that the visuals are bad by any means, because they’re not, but they just don’t appeal to me all that much after being exposed to the shows of today for so long. I like the “cleanliness” of modern day visuals, and how colourful everything looks, and while hand drawn animation can often look better due to the nature of its production, especially when things are moving, I just can’t get behind it as much as I’d like to.


Then there’s the video quality itself, which is a whole other issue entirely. This is 2017, a year where high definition video and widescreen exist and are considered the norm. Trying to watch an 80’s, 90’s or even early 2000’s Anime on a laptop monitor, in full screen, is an extremely painful and exasperating experience for me. The visuals become stretched. The picture is slightly blurry. The quality looks terrible. It hurts my eyes. As someone who is obsessed with quality to the point they buy ridiculously overpriced upscale hardware to make retro video game consoles look nice on an HDTV, this is a pretty big issue for me. You’d think this would be solved if the Blu-Rays for an older show exist, but trying to find a 720p or 1080p version of almost any old Anime online, legally or otherwise, is a freaking nightmare and a nigh impossible task. I don’t want to watch my Anime in a tiny window so it looks good. And no, I won’t buy Blu-Rays.

Black bars HELP

But it doesn’t stop there either. Even the act of finding these older shows online can be a real chore. As great as Crunchyroll and other legal streaming services are, they don’t offer everything, and many classics are missing from their catalogues. And I hate illegal streaming. I like torrents. Trying to find a torrent for an old Anime, that isn’t in 80’s camcorder quality is like trying to find a physical copy of Conkers Bad Fur Day for the Nintendo 64 at your local second hand goods chain.

But my biggest issue with retro Anime is the large time investment a lot of these series require. We often complain about modern Anime not being long enough, or wanting a series to have more episodes, but as someone who doesn’t have anywhere near as much time to watch Anime on top of everything else going on in my life, I’m more than happy for a show to be 12 episodes long, provided it wraps itself up decently (or gets a continuation of some kind down the line).

Like this little show that just got a continuation announced

But many older shows are 20 something episodes long. A large amount of them are 50 episodes long. There’s even a lot of classics that are hundreds of episodes in length. This wouldn’t have been a problem years ago, when I was a teenager who spent the majority of his free time locked away in his room, watching Anime into the late hours of the night. But I’m an adult now, with a significant other, a full time job and an insane amount of real world responsibilities and other hobbies to dedicate my time to. I don’t have time to watch 100 episodes of something any more, and I don’t want to spend a half year watching one series. I’d love to watch the entirety of Kenshin, but I just don’t have the time.

And what pains me the most about all of this, is that I want to get into older Anime. I feel I need to, and that I’m missing out on a lot of great shows as a result of a few stupid hangups that are specific to me and my weird preferences. As someone who prefers retro video games, enjoys old timey music and indulges in the occasional Hollywood classic here and there, it’s bizarre that I can’t get into older Anime.

Perhaps one day I’ll overcome these gripes and dive into the seemingly endless ocean of retro goodness that is 80’s and 90’s Anime. I sure hope so.

What are your thoughts on retro Anime? Do you struggle to get into older series? Let me know in the comments!

29 thoughts on “In With the New: My struggle to “get into” older Anime

  1. Nope. I don’t struggle at all! But I perfectly understand your side. Today’s video quality and all is really top grade. I’m critical with visuals too so I can relate.

    Just like you said, older anime shows take more time given that a lot of them have more episodes, but it’s actually what I like best. I’m all in for a nice story even if it takes months to finish.

    I have nothing against today’s shows, but I lately find myself going back in search for older series I missed.

    At the end of the day it’s a matter of preference and time. I have a full time job too so that makes a 100+ episode series longer to watch. But I’m completely okay!

    Relatable post! 👍

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s great that you can understand where I’m coming from despite not suffering from the issue yourself.

      As someone who appreciates writing above all else when it comes to the series they watch, it’s a little weird that quality issues stop me from experiencing many of these older stories. I’m definitely getting there though.

      I’ve also found myself becoming a little less enthusiastic about the current shows that have been coming out. Perhaps now would be the perfect time to go back and try some older shows.

      Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly what I feel right now. I compared my watchlist from the same season last year, and I have less than 5 this 2017!

        You’ll get there! Gambatte! I just hope you find good copies of those really old anime series.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As someone who is a avid anime collector and interest in older anime series. I understand your quirms you have with getting into the older genre and all the points you’ve made mostly the visual appeal of older anime is a big turn especially too newer anime fans. In a way this saddens me and makes me only strive to seek out all those older series.

    Series like kenshin, INUYASHA yeh they got a lot of
    Episodes. Regarding kenshin the two seasons would be more than worth your time as season three is nothing but filler. So there’s a huge
    Chunk off for ya but I say when
    It comes to long running series to just go by watching season by season. Currently watching right now Gundam 00 is a series
    That has 50 episodes and I’m watching season one first. Giving my thoughts on it Then diving into season two. Breaking it down is the best thing when it comes to long running series, I always use to say I don’t have the time. But now I say I’ll make that time even if it’s only one episode. Some day I plan to dive into one piece give that long long long one a

    With Anything you have to give it chance and could tell you right now some shows from seeing your anime tastes older anime that are short, you might enjoy. Older anime has something that newer anime doesn’t that’s such detail in the themes of their plots. Escaflowne is an example delving into not just romance triangle but a physiclogical war fare. It’s something that surprised me as it’s meant to be just romance/fantasy.

    Maybe you’ll surprise
    One day and find a older title that suits your interests and finding places to watch older series yes is a massive issue. I still choose somehow to invest my money lol

    Sorry for the long long comment you made some good points XD GOOD POST !!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For me, there’s nothing quite like old-fashioned, hand-painted cel animation. Sure, modern anime looks crisper and cleaner, but there’s a different feeling to older anime that makes it seem warmer and more human.

    I would also argue that in many cases, the longer episode counts of older anime were warranted, and as a result, they often had more fully developed characters, and even the closure of true endings that so many modern shows seem unable to achieve.

    Besides, there are scads of great (or at least interesting and influential) short OVAs from the 1980s and 1990s that don’t require a huge investment of time. There’s Bubblegum Crisis, Gall Force, and Magic User’s Club, just to name three. I could name many more, but you get the idea.

    I certainly understand the hesitation at watching older stuff when you’re used to modern animation. But trust me that after you’ve watched a car chase in an old show that was made before the era of CGI, you’ll maybe be able to better appreciate the effort and artistry of stuff that was made in the last millennium.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t disagree actually. Much like old video games, older Anime was made by a smaller, more dedicated team who put a lot more “labour” into their product as a result of it being less of a business, and that’s made evident through the aesthetics. Despite that, it’s still a barrier for me, although it’s one I’d like to overcome eventually.

      It depends on the show, but there are definitely some older shows that warrant such a high episode count. Kenshin for example.

      And of course, there’s still plenty of short shows out there that I can easily sink my teeth into for an hour, like the ones you mentioned. Perhaps they’d be a suitable way of easing me into older series due to their short length?

      Perhaps you’re right! There’s a lot of sense in what you’ve said.

      I’ll take this on board the next time I try diving in to retro shows!

      Thank you for reading and for understanding my perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I grew up when retro anime was new anime, so I find the aesthetics of it all to have a certain nostalgic charm for me. I get you with the length though. I remember watching Ranma 1/2 not so long ago and my word that was a slog. Most of my old favourites were film length anyway though, like teh Fist of the North Star OAV, Akira, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell etc, so I don’t think that the length problem used to apply so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As some one who has been buying more and more older series recently, the aesthetics of older series has never really bothered me. In a lot of ways, I miss the graininess from older shows because these new ones can be too clean and perfect looking. When a show or movie uses that perfection to is advantage in a visual manner I’m all in, but there all so many series that after cheaply produced and leave much to be desired too.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, maybe it’s because I grew up with it or something, but I can never get enough of old school anime. I really like quite a few older shows. You are right some of them these days are quite hard to find. YouTube is sometimes a great source as you can really find a lot of them there.
    I don’t think you are alone in this though. My visit to Animecon this year was a very good example. At one point there was a showing of Bubblegum Crisis, episodes 1-3, and I was the only audience member. It goes to show that not everyone is in for these shows anymore. A real shame as there are quite a few gems that simply never grow old 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t really mind older or newer anime. Admittedly, visually older anime will suffer in comparison (most of the time – though there are some pretty horrible new anime as well visually) I like anime for the storylines and some of the older stories are brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think there is always a little adjustment when you read or watch a classic series. But it’s the stories that tend to make them addicting even if you use a no-filler guide to know what episodes to skip. In some aspects, a lot of the good old time ones were almost more daring than modern series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely agree that there’s some needed time for adjustment when going back to older shows, perhaps I just need to let that sink in a little more.

      It’s the stories that have me intrigued, especially with the likes of Kenshin.

      No-filler guide huh? I didn’t consider something like that. Perhaps I’ll try using those in the future (if they’re needed).

      And that’s true. They definitely took more risks back then due to the fact the medium was less business like back then (much like video games).

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think your challenge is real—it’s hard to see what’s available today and jump back in time, largely for reasons of aesthetics (the animation is simply better today because of larger budgets and advancements in the field) and because the storytelling today speaks to people today, and the past to people of the past.

    I enjoy the series of the past because I grew up on them. But I would say if you like Evangelion, there is hope, haha. You can find series that have sharp storytelling that is still accessible (like NGE), is relatively short, and is easy to find. Cowboy Bebop comes to mind, for one. I think it’s now on Crunchyroll. Another is Big O, which I think is available on HiDIVE. Ghibli movies are also a good jumping off point.

    I’m happy to introduce you to other series that might fit your needs—just let me know! Take care!


  10. I don’t think those issues are unique to you. I mean, we adults have great demands on our time and energy, so we need to use such more prudently, and I’ve noticed when older anime are painful to look at or listen to. It’s a question of priorities and preferences, that’s all. I do hope, of course, you can find the opportunity to watch the classics (though the third season of Rurouni Kenshin is a great step downward), but sometimes that’s just the luck of the draw. Good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. So, the anime “Boys over Flowers” has visuals that killed me the first time I tried to watch. I didn’t get half way through the first episode. But when I did go back and eventually watch the whole thing, I discovered that it was really worth the time spent. I understand your point on the older art, though. Phew.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m kinda late to the party and I don’t think I’ve posted here before, but…hi! I’ve been a lurker in this particular part of the anime community for a little while, so hopefully you don’t mind me.

    Back to the topic though: most of my anime repertoire comes from the post-2010 era because that’s when a lot of shows started being made (I’m fairly new to the simulcasting circuit, having started in fall 2014), so I understand the struggle of getting into longer, pre-2010s anime.

    That being said, even though I don’t remember most of the era involving grainy visuals (because I was more into books in the past), there seems to be a sort of nostalgia to that style of older anime, even if you dislike it. I’m not entirely fazed by visual quality of older shows, but I’m picky on visuals past 2010…it’s really dependent on the anime’s circumstances, in that case.


  13. I think sometimes I prefer older anime over newer anime. They were the shows I grew up with or admired when I was a kid. Although the graphics are not as good, I guess the nostalgia and good memories associated with it are more important than that! It’s more of a personal reason for me. Your reasons make sense though. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have the opposite problem as you, but for different reasons. I never realized how older media could look like with an HDTV and everything. Personally, I have trouble getting into newer series not because of the access, but it’s because I was on an anime hiatus for years, so I barely know anything about anything that came out this decade or the really late 00s. I do want to check out more newer anime, but I never have the time because of work and dealing with my own creative endeavors.

    Liked by 1 person

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