In a recent topic that Yumeka focused on an interesting topic on why people feel that Anime made in the early years are considered too old. If we look at modern Anime today and compare it to the one’s in the 90s or early 2000s, we already seen that the medium gone such a long way from being something niche to going the main stream. While I’m not going to go compare the trends from each time period in detail, I want to share my reasons why people perceive some Anime as “too old” and if this feeling is subjective or not? (Image Source)
In the past, from my understanding, Anime in the 70s and 80s are influenced by the west, particularly Disney who was the leader in animated films and Star Wars, which spawn a lot of space opera and robot Anime in the 80s. However, I think one of the reasons people perceive Anime from the early years as too old is for the very fact that very few people outside Japan experienced these titles from that time period. The Anime licensing business wasn’t releasing a lot of titles until the mid 90s as Anime start becoming popular with Dragonball Z, Sailor Moon and Pokémon in the west. Furthermore, fansubs back then was very limited as broadband Internet was in its infancy and the difficulty to add subtitles to VHS video and distributing them until now.
In the past, I grew up watching Anime on television as I didn’t have blazing fast Internet and streaming isn’t available. The only way I could watch them is on television or on VHS, which you can only choose from dub or subtitles imprinted in the video with Japanese voices. Even so, most of these shows were in English only, which is why I got used to it before I started watching/listening stuff in the original language starting in 2004. Not only that, some stuff such as nudity and Japanese culture like rice balls got censored mostly because companies like 4Kids want to cater these shows for an American audience. It’s a stark contrast compared to today as fansubs, wider selection of licensed titles and legal streaming sites make these shows accessible to everyone. Because of that, older titles are easy to find and watch along with newer ones.
On the other hand, I think the big reason older Anime turns most fans off is the art direction even though the story and the characters can be potentially interesting. Besides the trends that were happening during that time that influenced the art style, the animation quality typically deters fans from watching older shows because they look unpolished and old, especially shows from the 80s and earlier. It’s mostly because computers weren’t as advanced back then, thus everything has to be hand-drawn, which could lead to a few mistakes. Animation quality eventually improved in the 90s and continued to do so up to this day as powerful computers made it possible to create higher quality animation. It’s evident with some shows like Air and Haruhi as the character designs look more detailed and pleasant to look at along with breath-taking scenery. As a result, people tend to prefer modern Anime as its eye-catching even though some older shows can have good stories.
Going back at the question I asked in the beginning: Do you think perceiving anime as “too old” is considered subjective or not? I think so as people are going to have different tastes and that there is a good amount of old shows that are considered masterpieces. I think new and old fans can enjoy anime regardless of the age and that main barrier that deters people from watching them is mostly the animation quality. Still, I think time is also the reason fans tend to ignore older shows. Life is short, thus we tend to prioritize currently airing shows opposed to old ones. This is true as I’m working on my Master’s degree and because of that, I don’t have time to watch older shows (and that I prefer watching shows from the 1990s on) let alone finishing my backlog.
Overall, I think people are quick to judge old anime as “too old” mostly because the animation wasn’t good back then and not too many got to experience them until faster Internet made that possible to watch them. While I’m reluctant to watch shows earlier than 1990s, I think rewatching older shows, especially from our childhoods can give a warm nostalgic feeling just like playing old video games. Watching them allows us to appreciate how Anime shaped to what it is today.
What are you feelings towards older Anime? Do you consider some Anime as “too old”?
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