My thanks to all who have commented and participated in the poll below. Your comments have forced me to think a little more about just what counts as old school anime. In particular, I needed to think about how to separate it from both ancient anime and modern anime. An old school anime has the following qualities:
- Not black and white
- Uses cel animation
- Character animation is less influenced by Disney’s style, usually with a sharper look
- Has a story which appeals to teenage and older anime fans, which appeal is proved by current fans of anime still seeking out these stories
- First aired between 1970 and 1999
The fifth point likely surprises some of my readers. My old parameters for old school anime stretched from 1960 – 1989. This was based on the misconception that Ashita no Joe, an old school anime par excellence, aired in 1967, and I expected to find many others like this show in style. Ashita no Joe actually only officially aired in 1970 (a pilot episode did appear in 1969), and only two anime exist in the in 60’s to which do not strike me as ancient: Tiger Mask (1969) and Star of the Giants (1968). Not enough to classify the 60’s as an old school decade!
As for raising the final year from 1989 to 1999, the 90’s do have a lot more in common with prior decades than post-millennial anime; though, the 90’s style and stories still influences anime today. Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) stands as the greatest example of this decade’s influence. Moving the final year up to 1999 also counts as a concession to younger fans who think of the 90’s as old school. In return, think of everything prior to 1970 as ancient.
After the year it was made and the waning influence of Disney, old school anime’s continued appeal for older fans is the most significant factor. No one enthusiastically recommends Time Patrol Bon or Bikkuriman to new fans. We’d probably be inclined to call these shows cartoons rather than anime despite originating in Japan! Instead, one might hear about Macross, Cowboy Bebop, Captain Harlock, Urusei Yatsura, or Fist of the North Star. An old school anime ought to cool and enjoyable for high school aged fans and up.
Well, there you have it, my latest thoughts on what constitutes old school anime. Are there any other qualities you would add to what constitutes old school anime?