The first thing you begin to realize upon comparing anime from the 80s to anime that is airing right now is the level of repetition we are seeing. It seems that more and more of the anime being released now are tackling and revolving around the same issues, whereas if someone who is unfamiliar with 80’s anime is shown something like Ninja Scroll, they are more than likely to be surprised
After the year 2000, the world of anime took a giant leap forward in terms animation quality, however, when it comes to storyline and content it was a different matter. If you were to dig out an old DragonBall Z or Rurouni Kenshin DVD, you would realize that with the decent quality, came a story that was far more complex, interesting and daring than what you would see in the recent anime being released.
It is safe to say that between 1980’s and the year 2000, a number of anime have been produced that have been considered timeless, work of art and are considered to be masterpieces, even today. They have been considered such classics that their studios have even rereleased them in high-quality Dvd’s. So what is the reason that these anime were so different from the new anime we have now?
The 1980’s & 90’s could be considered as the golden era of anime in Japan, it was a time when animation came out either on television or VHS. While the anime on television was censored and had to meet certain standards to be telecast, no one was censoring or controlling what could be released in the form of VHS. This allowed animators to create and release whatever they imagined, although this extreme creative freedom resulted in some strange and questionable anime such as ‘Girl with Angel Egg’ it also gave birth to some of the greats of the time such as Gundam, Initial D, Dragon Ball, and Rurouni Kenshin, all of which got re-released on DVD and some have even been adapted into HD. This stands as a testament to its quality and indisputable standing as a ‘Classic’
Another reason why 80’s & 90’s anime had such creative freedom was due to the lack of American sensibility, in the world of creativity, sensibility is an enemy! Yet Japanese animators found themselves eventually including a large and profitable market overseas in their target audience, which inevitably led to further censorship and definitely played a hand in the kind of anime which was approved.
The anime we see today are mostly anime that comply with the above standards of regulation, sensibility and lastly, anime that have been approved by studios as ‘tried and tested’. The cost of making anime is extremely high and studios prefer to produce anime that they are sure will be profitable, as such we have shows with recurring, popular themes year after year as the industry is so costly & competitive, studios can’t afford to make losses.
This is also one of the main reasons they have reworked classic anime into high-quality DVD versions so that they can continue to profit from those as well. This is great news for anime fans that like the current, hyped anime like Attack on the Titans and My Hero Academia, but would also like to explore a more daring time in anime as well!