Anime old-school

Do you have a favorite anime? Nowadays, especially with so much information and videos available on the Internet, we’re surrounded by so much anime of every genre conceivable that it’s easy to forget works that haven’t had significant recent exposure. But as you may well be aware, Japanese anime has been around for a long time. So today, we thought we’d take you on a trip back in time to share with you five of our favorite anime from more than 20 years ago, which we still think are awesome even today.

Whether you’re a long-time anime fan or a relative newcomer, come take a look at our selection and see what you think. (And by the way, the anime are listed in no particular order, since it was too hard to decide which anime we like the best!)

1. Mister Ajikko (ミスター味っ子)

Ajikko 3 My Ani

This anime, based on the manga by Daisuke Terasawa, ran for 99 episodes from 1987 to 89 and is considered to be a pioneer in the now popular cooking and gourmet anime/manga genre. One factor that made this story unique was that the protagonist, Youichi Ajiyoshi, is a 14-year-old boy in junior high school. Despite his youth, Youichi regularly cooks at the Hinode Cafeteria which he manages with his mother. Interestingly, quite a few of the rival chefs he encounters in his culinary adventures are also young boys around the same age, which we guess isn’t particularly realistic, but it did help make the series popular with girls with … shall we say, fujoshi inclinations.

Fujoshi considerations aside, the anime provides plenty of epic (often to the point of being ridiculous) cooking battles, with unbelievably exaggerated reactions from the characters eating all the expertly prepared food, and it’s not surprising that the series is thought by some to have  at least partly served as the inspiration for the legendary live cooking show, Iron Chef. If you like food, you’re bound to find the outrageous cooking antics by Youichi and his rivals both impressive and amusing.

▼Here’s a video of the very first episode of Mister Ajikko:

2. Galaxy Express 999 (Ginga Tetsudo Three Nine: 銀河鉄道999)

999Amazon JP

This space adventure fantasy is a classic originally created by renowned manga artist Reiji Matsumoto. A hugely successful manga and  anime that has been adapted into different versions over the years including several feature-length animated films, the original TV series that was aired from 1978 to 81 in 113 episodes captured the fascination of young TV viewers across Japan.

The story chronicles the inter-planetary adventures of Tetsuro Hoshino, a young orphaned boy who is determined to make his way to a distant planet in the Andromeda Galaxy where humans supposedly can receive a “machine body” for free which allows them to practically live forever. He makes the journey with Maetel, the mysterious beautiful woman who gives him a pass to board the Galaxy Express 999, which will take him to the planet where he can obtain his free mechanical body. Not only are Tetsuro’s adventures — sometimes funny and sometime tearful — on the numerous planets he visits enthralling, all of us who watched the series absolutely fell in love with Maetel, who protects and guides Tetsuro as he gains valuable experience and grows into young adulthood. Mention the name Maetel to any guy who grew up watching Galaxy Express 999, and chances are, he’ll get a far-away, dreamy look on his face. In a way, you could say that she symbolized the ideal woman for that generation.

You can see the first episode of the original TV anime here on AnimePlus.TV.

3. Touch (タッチ)

TouchAmazon JP

This hit anime based on the popular high school romance and sports manga by Mitsuru Adachi was broadcast in 101 episodes from 1985 to 87 and gave us some very memorable fictional characters — the twin brothers Tatsuya and Katsuya Uesugi, and their neighbor Minami Asakaura. The three have been friends since childhood and they all attend the same high school.

Youthful romance and high school baseball, which is practically a national obsession in Japan, both feature in the story and undoubtedly helped make the series a success, but certain dramatic twists in the plot make this anime much more than an ordinary tale of high school love and sports. The principal characters are portrayed vividly and attractively, making you feel as if you knew them personally — in particular, the pretty, cheery and smart Minami, who is the star of the school’s gymnastics team and who also supports the school’s baseball team, to which both Uesugi brothers belong at one point or another. She is, in fact, depicted as the ideal “girl next door”, and there are probably quite a few guys out there who grew up in 1980s Japan, who if they were being completely honest, would have to say that Minami could very well have been their first crush. Ahhh …. sweet youth!

Episode 1 of Touch can be viewed here on AnimePlus.TV.

4. Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin (Silver Fang — The Shooting Star Gin– : 銀牙 -流れ星 銀-)

GingaAmazon JP

This anime, based on the manga of the same title by Yoshihiro Takahashi, was broadcast as a series of 21 episodes in 1986, and it certainly featured an interesting cast of characters —  the protagonists are a group of intelligent dogs who speak and communicate with each other just like humans! Okay, so they don’t speak to humans, but when the dogs band together to fight against a dangerously crazed gigantic bear called Akakabuto (literally “Red Helmet”), all of their communication is presented as regular human speech. It’s quite entertaining to hear dogs negotiating, plotting fighting strategies and expressing emotions using completely human language, and some of them even have seriously kick-ass combat moves involving acrobatics and ninja-like skills.

The main character Gin (“Silver” in Japanese), who is an Akita dog, is still very young when he joins the group of dogs fighting Akakabuto, but through his experience with the pack, eventually grows up to become a powerful canine warrior and leader figure. The supporting characters are also very colorful, consisting of dogs of many different breeds and distinct personalities (although we’re not sure if technically, that word applies even when it’s not a person you’re referring to), so you’re bound to have your favorite canine character. Don’t worry, once you get over the talking dog part, it’s all action-packed adventure (although the fighting does get quite grisly and deadly in many parts)!

▼Here’s Part 1 of the first episode of  Ginga. (In the beginning of the series, when there’s interaction with human characters, the dogs don’t speak, but once the story gets going and the dogs are on their own fighting the bears, the canines get very talkative.) Part 2 is also available here.

5. Cutie Honey (キューティハニー)

CutieAmazon JP

Who doesn’t love a hot-looking girl battling the forces of evil, right? Well, that’s exactly what viewers got in this anime which aired in 25 episodes from 1973 to 74. Based on the manga of the same title by Go Nagai, Cutie Honey features one of the earliest warrior heroines in anime history and is considered a landmark work in the genre which to this day is very popular, including more recent anime such as Sailor Moon and Pretty Cure (or PreCure). According to Nagai, Cutie Honey is also the first female character to be the protagonist in a boy’s manga.

Honey Kisaragi, the main character of the series, is a schoolgirl who finds out that she is actually an android and she has inside her a device called an “atmospheric element condenser mechanism” (kuchuu genso kotei sochi) that can literally create matter from air and allows her to transform into various identities, including the sexy super heroine Cutie Honey, who battles the forces of the evil Panther Claw group. Now, when you look at her transformation scene, where she’s depicted for a short moment with almost no clothing on, you have to remember that this was back in the ’70s, and it had to be a thrill for the children watching. (In case you’re worried, the near-nudity is just for a second and it isn’t completely revealing, although it comes close enough to be tantalizing.) We guess you can now understand why she would be popular with readers of boys’ magazines! Even today, 40 years from the broadcast of the original anime, Cutie Honey is an instantly recognizable figure that has continued to be adapted into various anime and live action works. The show’s upbeat theme song was also a big hit and to this day, remains one of the most well-known anime themes in Japan ever.

▼ See the first episode of Cutie Honey and check out Honey’s hot transformation scene!

So, there you have our pick of five anime “oldies but goodies”. If, like this writer, you’re of a certain age, some of these anime may make you a bit sentimental with nostalgia. There are, of course, other mega hits from the same era, such as Dragon Ball, Fist of the North Star and Saint Seiya, but in this case, we thought we would introduce anime that were a little less well-known internationally. We hope you enjoyed our selection, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on anime that were and weren’t included on this list!