A lot of good things get lost with time, and so does good anime. With the dawn of the era of technological prowess which has made animation relatively easier, we now have thousands of anime releases every year. This means that those who are totally new to anime may overlook some classic shows from the past that contributed significantly to the medium’s overall development through their stunning art, cutting-edge animation, or thoughtful storyline.
So here are 10 classic anime that you must watch.
Table of Contents
It’s the year 2019, thirty-one years have passed since World War III. When a child with extraordinary mental abilities escapes custody from a top-secret laboratory, the event unintentionally involves a motorcycle gang. One of the gang members, Tetsuo, experiences a psychic awakening as a result of that encounter, and the army captures him for experimental purposes. Due to the alteration of his mentality, he has chosen the path of war and is now seeking retribution from the society that formerly viewed him as weak.
Even though Akira is a hugely controversial work of art, it is nevertheless exceptional. It is not an easy film to watch or a simple topic for a review. The movie’s ambition and importance make it far from trivial to understand and evaluate in its totality.
Akira continues to be the Colossus of Rhodes of the anime world; it is an enormous creative accomplishment in and of itself and will continue to be a great anime for newcomers for many years to come. And for that, I sincerely appreciate its existence.
9. Great Teacher Onizuka
Eikichi Onizuka, 22 years old, is a former biker gang leader. He has a dream of becoming the greatest high school teacher in all of Japan. But his perverted nature desires a devoted adolescent wife when he is old and grey. Which is why he runs for the teacher position. Still, there’s more to Onizuka than meets the eye.
Onizuka is not the typical teacher you’ll see in a school anime. He doesn’t have proper education, didn’t have a proper growing up & guidance, and struggled to get where he is now. His past made him the character he is now, being empathetic, relatable, friendly, forgiving, and relatable. He wants to teach the kids how to be good human beings rather than bookworms & social zombies. He wants to guide his students to the path where don’t become corrupt just the society around them.
Though his goofy nature leads to some perverted and awkward scenarios, his actions always have his students as the top priority. He doesn’t hesitate to meddle with their private & family affairs to help them out. He understands the troubled kids that nowadays teachers don’t even bother. He is the model teacher we need in our times. He is reckless, brash, and tough, both mentally & physically. It’s always interesting and funny to see what he’s gonna do next. He always lightens the mood and eases the stress.
This may sound a bit too ideal but wait till you watch the anime which will probably turn your mind 180o. It appears as a goofy, perverted show but beneath the surface, you’ll find life lessons that you won’t find in any school. If this doesn’t convince you to watch GTO, I don’t know what will.
Kenzou Tenma, a Japanese brain surgeon practicing in Germany, had it all: a gorgeous and wealthy fiancé, a bright future at his hospital, and extraordinary skill at his job. But after growing frustrated with hospital politics, he decided to put the mayor’s life below saving the life of a young boy who was shot in the head.
He thus lost the hospital director’s backing, his job, and his fiancé. Shortly after, the hospital director and the doctors who succeeded him were killed, and he quickly rose to the top once more. Tenma did not have a simple life, either, as the main suspect in the killings. In actuality, it appears that the youngster he saved was much more than he had initially seemed to be. Tenma must now uncover the truth about these and other murders, as well as the identity of the Monster responsible for all of this, to clear his name and atone for his earlier error.
Monster plays out like a macabre game of cat and mouse in a world that is frighteningly similar to real life. Uncomfortable subjects such as coercive human conditioning and the psychology of the sociopath, morality issues regarding the origin of evil and the value of human life, are horrifyingly, yet engagingly, realized. The protagonist, Dr. Tenma, struggles to fix that which is so remorsefully broken in his world. Monster is a chilling tale rooted in reality, a far cry from the superpowers and supernatural forces found in more detached fantasy series.
The DC Mini, a tool used by psychiatrists to enter their patients’ dreams and gain insight into their unconscious minds, serves as the novel’s central theme. The researchers who worked on the experiment quickly discover that they are unable to distinguish between reality and their dreams, which begin merging into one after one of these gadgets is taken. One of the device’s main developers, Atsuko Chiba, enters their dreams as her alter ego, Paprika, to solve the puzzle of who is meddling with them.
Paprika is a pleasant, engaging movie with some original ideas, despite being somewhat predictable at some points and being quite typical of Satoshi Kon’s work. Paprika is a beautiful film that I believe both beginners and long-time fans of Kon’s work may appreciate.
6. Neon Genesis Evangelion
The massively fortified metropolis of Tokyo-3 serves as the last human settlement in post-apocalyptic Japan. Shinji Ikari, age 14, is transported to the NERV headquarters, the clandestine group that his estranged father, Gendou leads. He asks Shinji to fly an “Evangelion,” a massive android designed to battle the gigantic and destructive aliens called “Angels” who wreak havoc on the world and imperil the survival of the last of the human race.
Evangelion is one of the strongest anime ever produced. It makes use of strong characters, a profoundly moving plot, and artwork that has only started to age. Because people are still delving into this series and trying to learn everything there is to know about it today on websites like EvaGeeks, the show’s enduring power is increasing. I’m hoping that Evangelion will continue to be loved by the fans, who will cherish its deep & metaphorical meaning.
5. Ghost Hunt
Ghost Hunt is one of those rare gems that I accidentally stumbled across, and I’m so thankful that I did.
The series does not have a grand plot. Small arcs, which often don’t run longer than 3–4 episodes, keep the anime moving along without losing the audience’s interest. Each story arc is done masterfully and more eerie than the one before. The anime has its moments, but for the most part, you’ll be listening to the dashing and narcissistic Naru’s thoughts and computations. You might not be impressed at first, but when you view the horrific scenes with the lights out and no one around, you’ll realize how difficult it is to watch. Every mystery includes a backstory, supporting cast, as well as an occasionally described history of ghost hunters, vampires, or curses. You’ll be kept guessing and on the edge of your seat with every arc.
4. Hajime No Ippo
The story’s protagonist is Makunouchi Ippo, a regular high school student. He cohabitates with his mother and assists her in running their fishing shop. He experiences bullying at school because of that. Ippo is rescued from a violent after-school incident by upcoming fighter Mamoru Takamura, who then brings him back to the Kamogawa Boxing Gym for rehabilitation. Ippo’s blows stun Takamura and his teammates Masaru Aoki and Tatsuya Kimura because he has big muscles from years of working in his physically demanding family business.
Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of boxing. Having said that, this series is wonderfully produced. There is humor, romance, and an engaging plot. Watching Ippo develop both as a person and as a boxing pro, you’ll likely laugh and cry from time to time. The fact that I’m not into boxing never came into play. While viewing the show, you’ll probably also find yourself jabbing here and there. It’s that fascinating.
Brandon Heat, a silent and passive man, was living a laid-back life with his friends. He has feelings for Maria but her father doesn’t approve of their relationship. Following a violent incident, Brandon and his friend Harry MacDowell make their move. He and Harry decide to join the town’s largest Mafia organization, Millennion, after learning that they are keeping Maria captive. After joining the syndicate, he had to go through a lot of trials, but he is prepared to endure everything to be with Maria.
This is an excellent anime dealing with the underworld, mafia syndicates, and brotherly friendship. I don’t want to give anything away, but it is quite emotional on a personal level and had me in tears near the end. Gungrave is one of the few anime series that successfully depicts the friendship of a best friend. Despite Brandon having a quiet personality that borders on being overly silent, I still believed he was one of the best characters ever. The anime got revitalized in the form of a GunGrave G.O.R.E. video game. Do yourself a favor and watch this right away.
2. Spirited Away
Chihiro Ogino was moving with her family to a new place, and she was moody because she has to leave everything behind. During their travel, they accidentally come across an uninhabited fair but the food and everything else looks fresh. Chihiro’s parents got turned into pigs after breaking the rules of that place which was later found to be a place for ghosts, spirits, & yokai. Due to circumstances, she had to take refuge in a bathhouse building and get a job there to survive. Thanks to a spirit named Haku, she was able to get a chance to get her parents back.
Spirited Away transported me to a world that I never wanted to leave. One scene with suspense and conflict keeps you on the edge of your seat and then in the next scene, it calms you with surreal scenery of the vast sea, open sky, and building built in between them. This movie’s visuals are simply amazing. The magnificent structures and vivid scenery brought the tale of the movie to life. The music is fascinating and calming. The characters are interesting and every one of them has a unique tale to share.
The majority of people would dismiss this movie as a kid’s movie or just another Ghibli. But in my opinion, everyone—adults included—can watch and appreciate it. It’s more than just a film. It’s a mixture of sadness and joy. It touches you on a deeper level and makes you think about life. Those who are only fans of mind-numbing actions and violence should really give this movie a watch as a change of pace and makes them realize that there’s more to life than that. At least just listen to the song it plays in the end and hopefully it changes your mind.
1. Armitage III
The year is 2046. The murder of a country singer on her trip prompts Detective Ross Sylibus to be assigned to Mars. The vocalist is a “Third,” a robot with a human appearance and sensations, which complicates matters further. Armitage, a stunning female officer with a negative attitude, is Sylibus’ partner. They uncover a conspiracy that could lead to their deaths as they look into the killing of the singer and other women.
Armitage III is a truly great anime OVA. Sadly, it came out about the same time as the original GHOST IN THE SHELL and was overlooked. The story truly delves into whether machines are alive or not and whether could they be considered human, along with many other questions, like, can they fall in love, or even have children?
The plot is well thought out on the whole (barring a few inconsistencies), and the pacing is very good. There is a nice mixture of action and intrigue, as well as a dollop of political machinations. Even by today’s standards, the story holds up well, whilst much of the artwork’s bright and cheery palette belies the story’s much darker plot.
Who says cyberpunk is dead?