00 featured neon genesis evangelion screenshot

27 Old School Anime You Must Watch

New anime come and go all the time, but some legendary old school anime are here to stay and worth watching.

And as we all know there are too many awesome old anime to watch and new anime don’t stand any chance in front of these all time awesome anime.

Lets see some of the old school anime which are worth re-watching.

27. The Rose of Versailles (1979)

Old School Anime

It’s common for Westerners to enjoy anime, which is a creative retelling of Japanese history.

For us, it’s just Old School Anime!

You should watch The Rose of Versailles if you want to comprehend the true nature of these shows.

From their arrival in Versailles until the untimely death of the last Queen of France, it follows Marie Antoinette – yes, that Marie Antoinette – and Oscar François de Jarjayes, the commander of her Royal Guard.

The drama, romance, sexual tension, and even some comedy in the show will make you forget that the plot involves a guillotine and ends with it.

26. Martian Successor Nadesico (1996)

23 martian successor nadesico anime

In this series, Martian Successor Nadesico excels at the huge robot battles and lighthearted comedy.

With the addition of cute anime girls and more contemporary tropes, it incorporates some of the best elements of classics like Macross and Gundam.

Modern for the 1990s, at least.

It’s difficult to determine whether Nadesico is a harem anime, a comedy, or a drama because it starts to get a little more serious in the second half of its run.

However, one thing is for certain: the show is a tonne of fun.

25. Lupin the Third (Part I) (1971)

21 lupin the third part i anime screenshot

Arsène Lupin’s adventures can be compared to a more sophisticated Old School Anime version of Scooby-Doo, if only for the vibrant cast’s enthusiasm rather than the show’s emphasis on mystery.

Both of these programmes manage to stay current by constantly reinventing themselves from season to season.

But the quick-witted visual storytelling in Lupin the Third is what really grabs my attention.

That combined with the excellent animation in the programme results in a memorable viewing experience.

24. Princess Mononoke (1999)

20 princess mononoke anime

Ashitaka, a prince of the Emshi, has spent his entire life with his tribe. However, he is forced to leave his house in search of a cure after a curse develops in his arm.

In Princess Mononoke, as in many other Ghibli movies, there is an examination of the conflict between the individual and the community, but there is also the dichotomy between old and new, nature and civilization.

Lady Eboshi, the main antagonist, hardly qualifies as a bad guy.

Simply put, as is frequently the case in real life, she is too far to the side of this fundamental ideological issue.

23. Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982)

19 super dimension fortress macross anime

Macross was a very influential Old School Anime because it combined thrilling mecha combat with a deeply moving and human narrative.

This comprehensive treatment of the mecha genre drew in new viewers while also improving the experience for ardent fans of enormous robots.

It paved the way for shows like Gundam Wing and Martian Successor Nadesico.

But what makes Macross so compelling is how convincing its characters are.

We can clearly see how each one is impacted by war in a significant way, which increases our interest in how each battle turns out.

22. The Vision of Escaflowne (1996)

18 the vision of escaflowne anime screenshot

Thanks to its fantastical premise and odd huge robot design, which draws inspiration from mediaeval armoured knights, The Vision of Escaflowne is one of the most original Mecha Old School Anime out today.

In this show, Sunrise utilised their skill at animating Gundam fights to deliver a superb fusion of epic gigantic robot warfare and Shoujo romance.

Escaflowne is a must-watch if you enjoy well-written characters, strong female leads, and fascinating robots.

Since it was only produced in the 1990s, it appears that the quality has held steady throughout time.

21. Initial D (1998)

17 initial d anime screenshot

When Takumi Fujiwara gets behind the wheel of his Toyota AE86, he is just another student doing his own thing while working a part-time job.

This absolute lunatic spent several years delivering tofu for his father nearly every day, which taught him how to drive quickly and drift on Japan’s winding mountain roads.

Anyone who has played Need for Speed: Carbon is familiar with what to anticipate from this Old School Anime.

Even if you don’t care much for fast-paced entertainment, it has some of the most thrilling one-on-one races and insane drifting techniques you can imagine.

20. Ashita no Joe (1970)

16 ashita no joe anime

Most coming-of-age tales centre on graduating high school seniors and other people with promising futures.

What makes Ashita no Joe unique.

The programme centres on Joe Yabuki, a young vagrant who develops a passion for boxing while serving time in prison.

After being freed, he devotes himself to becoming a professional boxer, overcoming obstacles like not having any formal education or money.

It’s encouraging to see how he gradually develops into a world-class boxer.

However, the show also gives a fairly realistic representation of the sport. It also highlights the dangers and health problems that are inherent in the situation.

It’s a game for those, like Joe, who have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

19. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

15 my neighbor totoro anime

Totoro is well-known if you’ve visited any store selling anime-related goods.

The symbol of Studio Ghibli and current representative of Old School Anime is this enormously endearing forest spirit.

And it is all because of the wonderful movie My Neighbor Totoro.

The movie, which is set in post-World War II rural Japan, centres on two local girls as they make friends with a variety of amiable forest spirits, including the titular Totoro.

Not only is it a lovely children’s movie, but it also serves as a fantastic introduction to anime in general and the Ghibli works in particular.

It also conveys an environmentalist message that challenges us to reconsider how we interact with the natural world.

18. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

11 ghost in the shell anime

If you enjoy The Matrix, you must also appreciate this Old School Anime that served as its model.

Motoko Kusanagi, a public safety agent with a changeable cyborg body, is the main character of Ghost in the Shell.

Through her, the programme examines the ramifications of a post-human world in which the boundaries between humans and machines have vanished.

The best part is how this series, rather than relying solely on pretentious dialogue, tells its story visually.

17. Perfect Blue (1997)

09 perfect blue anime

Satoshi Kon is one of the most important Old School Anime filmmakers, along with Hayao Miyazaki.

Everything he works on, it seems, ends up becoming a masterpiece, and Perfect Blue is no different.

Of this movie, Mima Kirigoe, a former idol and aspiring actress, experiences stalker harassment because of her shift in career.

Idols frequently struggle with disrespectful supporters. But this one will go a step further and bring Mima dangerously close to losing her mind.

This psycho-thriller, like Kon’s other works, such as Tokyo Godfathers and Paprika, plays with the idea of fusing fantasy and everyday life in contemporary Japan.

16. Spirited Away (2001)

07 spirited away anime

The majority of people in my generation have at least one viewing of Spirited Away.

In fact, until Demon Slayer: Infinite Train surpassed it in 2020, it had held the title of the highest-grossing Japanese Old School Anime film since 2001.

Spirited Away examines the effects of our bad relationship with nature through gorgeously animated visual storytelling.

Chihiro can only make up for her consumerist parents after being coerced into working for nature spirits and putting in a lot of effort to clean Yubaba’s Bath House and its patrons, including the iconic No-Face.

Sounds recognizable?

15. Cowboy Bebop (1998)

06 cowboy bebop anime

When I was a teenager, older Old School Anime viewers in my immediate area used to constantly laud Cowboy Bebop’s praises.

I saw why the show connected with my older teammates after re-watching it as an adult.

A diverse collection of mismatched people are trying to move forward while coping with their accumulated karma in this gritty, dark comedy.

Every action has repercussions, and the past often catches up with you.

Of course, the animation is superb and seamless as well.

You simply won’t find this level of old-school charm in most contemporary shows, yet it permeates the character and location design.

14. Legend of the Galactic Heroes (1988)

04 legend of the galactic heroes anime

A remake of Legend of the Galactic Heroes is desperately needed.

One of the best storylines ever told in the medium is in this anime space opera.

Really, though, the script is superb, the characters are outstanding, and the soundtrack is motivational; but, the art (remember, this is the 1980s) hasn’t held up all that well.

This Old School Anime would still be entertaining even if it were a shoddy Flash cartoon.

It resembles reading a good book in certain ways.

It lingers with you long after the final episode has ended and can make you rethink some decisions.

The harsh realities of life, the price of war, and the volatile human connections formed during times of conflict are all themes in this Old School Anime.

13. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984)

03 nausicaa of the valley of the wind anime

Before deciding to watch Nausicaä, which is based on a manga by Hayao Miyazaki, I watched the majority of Ghibli’s most well-known films.

Like the majority of Miyazaki’s works, it addresses issues like environmentalism and war.

It not only demonstrates how a war could destroy everything we know, but it also serves as a reminder that even then, we would probably rise from the ashes to engage in stick-and-stone combat.

Both Nausicaä and the primary antagonist Kushana are fantastic characters that Miyazaki presents as strong and in charge, which at the time of the film broke with gender norms and continues to do so today.

12. Dragon Ball (1986)

02 dragon ball anime screenshot

As Goku’s hair grows wilder, DBZ is filled with exciting battles and cosmic-level threats for him to dispatch.

However, the original Dragon Ball anime is pure genius.

This 30-plus year-old anime gradually creates a fantastical world where children who transform into enormous apes coexist with cutting-edge tools you can fit inside a tiny capsule.

Now that I think about it, the premise sounds pretty ridiculous when written out.

But really, this Old School Anime is vibrant and new in every way. And that still holds true today, just as it did in the 1980s.

11. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995)

01 neon genesis evangelion anime

I’ve seen a tonne of incredible mecha anime with complex plots, including Gundam and Code Geass.

And yet, when it comes to fusing stylish giant robots with an introspective narrative, nothing compares to Hideaki Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Deeply relatable are Shinji’s troubles with relationships with women, friendships, family, and his personal trauma.

This is a result of Anno researching the psychoanalytical writings of Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung when creating the series.

At some point, we must all board the robot.

Life requires us to confront obstacles that appear greater than ourselves.

And occasionally you have to defend yourself against the real monsters by donning a beast’s hide.

10. Trigun – 1998

Trigun – 1998

Vash the Stampede is a gunman on the run with a 60 billion double dollar bounty on his head which has made it difficult for him to go anywhere without being chased and shot at.

Every town he ever visits ends up being destroyed because of his pursuers, but miraculously no one ever gets killed. Meryl and Milly are two insurance agents that have been sent to find Vash the Stampede and keep him under surveillance so no more damage is caused.

Meryl, who leads the pair, refuses to believe that the man they have met can possibly be the legendary gunman. This spikey haired, gangly, young man is extremely friendly, a pacifist, hates blood and suicide, absolutely loves donuts, and is a dork and a crybaby (far from a notorious outlaw).

But there is more to Vash and his past than meets the eye.

Trigun is another one of my “must see in your Old School Anime career” shows. The easiest way to explain why I believe this can be summed up by one name: Vash.

Vash the Stampede is arguably one of the coolest, toughest, and funniest characters ever created. He’s everyone’s favorite superhero (even though he demolishes everything he gets close to).

Vash brings forth something that I think everyone has a little in themselves, compassion. If Vash had a middle name, it would be Compassion.

As if Vash wasn’t enough for this show, they thought it might be a good idea to throw in a fantastic music score too. Tsuneo Imahori really hit the nail on the head with his work here.

Great opening, great ending, and great background music throughout the show. I like some tracks in this old school anime so much that I often listen to them while exercising.

Wolfwood, Meril, and Milly are great supporting characters. The constant bickering between them will trigger plenty of laughter. Not a ton of detail goes into their pasts, but enough is presented to satisfy the viewer.

Animation is from the late 90’s, so it’s nothing crazy. It’s great for the time period though.

Overall, one of my favorite old school anime. Worth a watch no matter what type of series interests you.

Genre: Action, comedy, drama, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, space western, Western, old school anime, vintage anime

9. Rurouni Kenshin – 1996

Rurouni Kenshin – 1996

Himura Kenshin is a vagabond with a dark anime past and sunny disposition. Not a ronin but a rurouni, he was never a samurai, but an assassin of utmost skill in the Meiji restoration, who in the turning point of the war simply walked away.

His travels lead him to Tokyo in the 11th year of the Meiji era, where he befriends a female Kendo master, a former thief, a brawler and a doctor all with their own secrets. Together they fight off the enemies surfacing from the dark past that Kenshin cannot escape. 

Your deeds of the past is something you won’t be able to evade, neither ignore in any way: it will always come back gnawing at you.

This is the tale of Himura Kenshin, who once was a ruthless assassin in the past, in his quest of finding redemption from his previous actions.

Rorouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan is a magnificent, well crafted samurai based Old School Anime with fantastic characterization and story, which is so rare to find these days.

However, it is profoundly clear that this old school anime falls apart in the last third of its duration, due to fillers.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Historical, Romance, Samurai, old school anime

8. Yu Yu Hakusho – 1992

Yu Yu Hakusho – 1992

One day, 14 year old Yusuke Urameshi suddenly finds himself dead, having died pushing a child out of the way of oncoming traffic.

Since he has such a bad personality, even the Spirit World was caught by surpise that he would sacrifice himself. Yusuke soon finds out he wasn’t supposed to die and has a chance for resurrection and bringing his body back to life.

After being resurrected, Yusuke becomes a Spirit Detective, along with his comrades, and one adventure after another happens, whether it be an investigation or a fighting tournament.

I was pleasantly surprised when I first watched this show, as I was expecting another typical DBZ clone that was heavy on action but light on the plot and character development.

Amazingly what I discovered was the first shounen action anime that was ever able to hold my attention for over 100 episodes.

Despite the length of the series and the now-familiar superpowered junior high school student cliché, Yu Yu Hakusho manages to deliver original material for each episode.

Genre: Action, comedy, drama, supernatural, tournament, old school anime

7. Berserk – 1997

Berserk – 1997

Guts, a man who calls himself “The Black Swordsman” looks upon his days serving as a member of a group of mercenaries, the Band of the Hawk, nicknamed “the Grim Reaper of the Battlefield.”

Led by an ambitious, ruthless, and intelligent man named Griffith, together they battle their way into the royal court, and are forced into a fate that may chang… more Guts, a man who calls himself “The Black Swordsman”

Looks upon his days serving as a member of a group of mercenaries, the Band of the Hawk, nicknamed “the Grim Reaper of the Battlefield.”

Led by an ambitious, ruthless, and intelligent man named Griffith, together they battle their way into the royal court, and are forced into a fate that may change their entire lives.

Berserk is an amazing Old School Anime. Although I heavily disagree with starting the first episode in a time line after the last episode in the series as it has discouraged more then a few people who I have had to set strait.

After you get to the meat of the story, and the relationships between Guts, and the other members of The Band of the Hawk you will find yourself in a late night cram session feeding your brain with episode after episode of Berserk. All in all this anime has everything I wanted.

Genre : Action, Adventure, Demons, Fantasy, Horror, Military, Romance, Seinen, Supernatural, old school anime

6. Outlaw Star – 1998

Outlaw Star – 1998

Outlaw Star is a space opera | Space Western set in the fictional “Towards Stars Era” universe.  

Gene Starwind and his partner Jim Hawking run a small business on the backwater planet of Centinel 3.

But all that changes the day that Hilda hires them for a bodyguard job. Now, thrust into a mystery they don’t fully understand, they’re on the run from the cops, the pirates, an angry alien, and a mysterious assassin.

But they’ve got one thing going in their favor – they have the galaxy’s most advanced ship, the Outlaw Star.

First off I’d say, right away, Outlaw Star does a fantastic job of painting a beautiful world of good vs. evil and those inbetween, the outlaws. The characters are all solid, but I particularly love that the main character is so… human.

He’s morally complex (and sexually deviant). I find something about his character so… believable, if not relatable. I hate it when characters, main ones in particular, are so pristine or so caught up in idyllic optimism that they just come across as naively romantic.

Genre : Comedy, Fantasy, Parody, old school anime

5. Fist of The North Star – 1984

Fist of The North Star – 1984

In the post-nuclear apocalyptic future in 199X, the human race has regressed. Weak villagers are reduced to slavery, while genetically enhanced giants rule the world.

Gunpowder seems only a distant memory, and the martial arts is the only weapon a man can count on.Two schools face one another in the battle for dominion: Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Seiken.

The series begins when the Hokuto successor, Kenshiro, travels the desert to confront Shin, a member of the Nanto Roku Seiken, their six ruling stars, who has taken his fiancee Yulia. 

When I first started Hokuto no Ken, I did not know a thing about Fist of the North Star. I had heard the name before, and I knew it was a popular franchise with bloody exploding heads. When I started watching the series, it looked so incredibly 80s.

In fact, the Shin arc made me stop watching it for a while. The endless mooks in poorly drawn 80s style really turned me off. A few weeks later, I decided to try it again. I am so absolutely glad I did. Hokuto no Ken is a post-apocolyptic epic, and I don’t use that term lightly.

Genre : Action, Drama, Martial Arts, Sci-Fi, Shounen, old school anime

4. Robotech – 1985

Robotech – 1985

Made in America from three unrelated Old School Anime. The first part tells of humanity’s first contact that ends in a war.

Rick Hunter is a pilot who gets dragged along with the SDF-1 and joins with them to stop the invaders.

Lyn Minmei is a singer who Rick rescues and falls for. Together they try to save the Earth and end the war without fighting, but with love.

The second part deals with children of the first, the rebuilding complete; we send the SDF-3 to attack the masters.

While it travels out in hyperspace to their worlds, the masters crawl into our solar system.

The Earth must fight a devesting second war for a secret prize. Someone else wants the prize, the Invid. The third part gives us a world controlled by the Invid.

The SDF-3 sends a probing force that is destroyed upon exiting hyperspace. A single survivor remains, a man taught to fight, with the will to free Earth.

He forms a resistance with the goal of destroying the Invid hive at Reflux Point, aka New York.

Genre : Action, Mecha, Military, old school anime

3. Mobile Suit Gundam – 1980

Mobile Suit Gundam – 1980

Their best hope of making it through the conflict is the Gundam, a giant humanoid robot, and its gifted teenage pilot.

It is the year 0079 of the Universal Century. A war has broken out between the Principality of Zeon, a space colony that wants independence, and the Earth Federation.

Mobile Suit Gundam is a televised Old School Anime series, produced and animated by Sunrise.

Created and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, it premiered in Japan on Nagoya Broadcasting Network and its affiliated ANN stations on April 7, 1979, and lasted until January 26, 1980, spanning 43 episodes.

Genre : Action, Mecha, Military, Shounen, Space, old school anime

2. Urusei Yatsura – 1981

Urusei Yatsura – 1981

Urusei Yatsura is the story of the unluckiest and most lecherous young man alive, Ataru Moroboshi.

When aliens decide to invade Earth, Ataru is randomly selected to defend his planet by playing a game of the aliens national sport, tag. Should he win, the world shall be saved.

However, Ataru is motivated for far less noble reasons, as the one he plays against is revealed to be the curvaceous alien princess, Lum.

The game goes for 10 days, and on the last day, Ataru, motivated by his girlfriend assuring him marriage (and consequently, a marriage night one can assume) should he win, finally catches Lum.

However, with his victory he gives a cry of joy for his coming marriage, which is misinterpreted by Lum to be a marriage proposal. She promptly agrees, beginning the two’s “marriage” together.

Genre : Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Thriller Anime , Sci-Fi, old school anime

1. Slam Dunk – 1993

Sakuragi Hanamichi is a junior high punk used to getting into fights and being rejected by girls but upon entering high school he meets the girl of his dreams, Haruko Akagi.

He will do anything in order to win her heart including joining the school basketball team that is aiming to conquer the nation lead by Haruko’s brother.

The problem is that Sakuragi has never played basketball before and a freshman sensation is stealing the spotlight and Haruko’s affection from him.

Slam Dunk is one of those classics of sports Old School Anime. You always hear about it and wonder if it actually is the best thing since sliced bread.

Well, it isn’t. But it is funny and entertaining and worthwhile if you have the patience for it.

Imagine GTO in high school and determined to learn how to play basketball to get closer to the girl he has a crush on — tah-dah, Slam Dunk!

Genre : Comedy, Drama, School, Shounen, Slice of Life, Sports, old school anime