Anime is an art form that has captured people’s hearts worldwide for decades. While plenty of new and exciting anime series are being released yearly, there is something special about the classics that still manage to captivate audiences today.
From the 80s to the early 2000s, many classic anime series continue to stand the test of time. Whether you’re looking to relive your childhood memories or discover an anime gem you’ve never heard of, the old classics are a must-watch for any anime fan.
In this post, we’ve compiled the top 30 best old anime series you don’t want to miss. Get ready to dive into a world of nostalgia and discover why these anime classics are still so beloved today.
There’s no denying that old anime is some of the most popular content on the internet. Whether it be because of nostalgia or just how good the shows are, people love watching them. So which old anime are the most popular?
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the 30 most popular old animes classics that are still popular today. From Berserk to Cowboy Bebop, these anime will take you back to some of the best years of your life.
“Berserk” is a classic anime series that first aired in 1997. It follows the story of Guts, a skilled mercenary, as he embarks on a dangerous journey of revenge against his former friend, Griffith. The anime is based on a manga series of the same name, written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura.
The anime is known for its dark and mature themes, graphic violence, and intense fight scenes. It delves into its characters’ psychological and emotional struggles and explores the consequences of obsession and betrayal.
The animation style is gritty and raw, adding to the overall tone of the series. Despite being over two decades old, “Berserk” continues to be a beloved anime among fans of the dark fantasy genre.
It has influenced numerous works in both anime and manga, and its impact on the industry is still felt today. Whether you’re a fan of the original manga or enjoy a good action-packed story with complex characters, “Berserk” is worth checking out.
2. Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is one of the most popular old anime series out there. It was created by Sunrise and aired in 1999. The story follows a group of bounty hunters traveling across the galaxy searching for criminals. This series is known for its fast-paced action and clever humor.
Fans of Cowboy Bebop will love the latest movie, released in 2016. This movie tells the story of Spike Spiegel and his partners Jet Black, Faye Valentine, and Edward Elric. It is sure to be a delight for fans of the original series.
3. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shin Seiki Evangelion in Japanese) is an anime television series created by Hideaki Anno and produced by Gainax.
It was originally broadcast in Japan on T.V. Tokyo from 1997 to 2002, with a total of 77 episodes. A two-part remake aired in 2009 and 2010.
In 2007, the series was re-released with a new animation sequence called “Rebuild of Evangelion.” The series has also been released on home video since 1997.
Since its original run, Neon Genesis Evangelion has received widespread critical acclaim and is considered one of the most incredible anime series ever made.
The show’s story follows Shinji Ikari, a schoolboy cursed with the power to see the future after being impaled by an angel named Rei Ayanami.
Together they fight against angels and cyborgs that have escaped from a secret research laboratory called NERV, which seeks to use Shinji as their new pilot for a giant mecha known as Unit-01.
As of 2023, Neon Genesis Evangelion is the sixth most popular anime on Netflix worldwide, according to IMDb ratings.
4. Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin is one of the most popular anime of all time. The anime was created in 1996 and followed the story of Hitoshi Kenshin, a samurai who has retired from battle.
After a terrorist attack left many people dead, Kenshin takes it upon himself to track down the terrorists and bring them to justice.
The anime has been praised for its unique fighting style and its storylines. Rurouni Kenshin has even been dubbed into English and aired on various worldwide networks. The series has also inspired several mangas and video games.
5. Grave Of The Fireflies
“Grave of the Fireflies” is a heart-wrenching, critically acclaimed film directed by Isao Takahata and released in 1988. Set in Japan during World War II, it tells the story of two siblings, Seita and Setsuko, who struggle to survive amidst the devastation of war.
The film portrays the harsh reality of war and its impact on civilians, particularly children. Seita and Setsuko are forced to fend for themselves after their mother dies in an air raid, and they must face starvation, illness, and other hardships as they try to survive.
The film is a powerful reminder of the human toll of war and the importance of empathy and compassion. Despite being an animation, “Grave of the Fireflies” is a mature and emotional masterpiece that leaves a lasting impression on viewers.
It has been praised for its beautiful animation, haunting score, and powerful storytelling. The film’s themes of love, loss, and hopelessness have resonated with audiences worldwide and cemented its place as a classic in the history of anime.
6. Yu Yu Hakusho
Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the oldest anime series of all time. It was created in 1992 and aired for seven seasons. The story follows Yusuke Urameshi, a teenage delinquent who is killed in a car accident but then comes back to life as a spirit-like being known as an oni.
He then has to fight evil spirits known as youkai to protect humans from them. Yu Yu Hakusho has been praised for its high-quality animation and storytelling, and it remains one of the most popular anime series ever.
7. Fist Of The North Star
The fist of the north star is one of the oldest and most popular anime ever made. It was created in 1974 and is still being watched by people worldwide today.
This anime tells the story of a samurai named Ken who goes on a quest to find a legendary weapon known as the fist of the north star.
He encounters many obstacles and enemies along the way, but he never gives up. Ultimately, he triumphs over all of his challenges and finds the fist of the north star.
This anime is full of action and adventure and will keep you entertained for hours. If you are looking for an old anime you can trust, look no further than the fist of the north star.
8. Legend Of The Galactic Heroes
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a sci-fi anime that follows the story of several people tasked with saving the galaxy from an evil empire.
The show has been praised for its complex plot, stunning visuals, and epic battle scenes. It has become one of the most popular old anime series ever and remains highly popular today.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is set in a unique galaxy where dozens of different planets have gone to war with each other.
Several characters are drawn into this conflict and must work together to save their world and defeat the empire. The show is filled with action, adventure, and intrigue, sure to captivate science fiction fans.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes is a complex show requiring viewers’ dedication to follow along. However, those who invest themselves in the storyline will be rewarded with one of the most entertaining anime series ever made.
9. Mobile Suit Gundam
“Mobile Suit Gundam” is a classic mecha anime that has significantly impacted the genre. The series is set in a future where humanity has colonized space, and the Earth Federation is in a state of war with the Principality of Zeon.
The story follows Amuro Ray, a young civilian caught up in the conflict and becomes the pilot of a powerful mobile suit, the Gundam.
One of the most notable aspects of “Mobile Suit Gundam” is its depiction of the horrors of war. The show portrays the human cost of the conflict, with characters on both sides experiencing loss, trauma, and emotional distress.
The series also features complex political and social commentary, exploring themes of nationalism, war profiteering, and the dehumanization of soldiers. In addition to its thematic depth, “Mobile Suit Gundam” is notable for its groundbreaking mecha designs and action sequences.
The show introduced the concept of the “real robot” genre, in which mecha are depicted as military weapons with practical limitations and consequences. The Gundam is an iconic design that has become a symbol of the mecha genre.
10. Ashita No Joe
Of all the anime created over the years, one series consistently ranks high on popularity polls and lists compiled by fans. That series is Ashita No Joe, and despite its age (it was created in 1968), it remains one of the most popular anime ever made.
What makes this series so popular? For starters, it’s a highly entertaining blend of action, drama, and comedy. It also features some of the best character development in any anime ever produced.
Plus, the story has a wide range of appeal, from those who want to watch an exciting adventure to those who enjoy learning about Japanese culture and history.
If you’re looking for a classic anime that will keep you entertained for hours on end, Ashita No Joe is definitely worth your time.
11. Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon is one of the most popular old anime of all time. Beginning its life as a series on television in 1992, it quickly gained a following among children and adults alike for its lighthearted and romantic stories.
The characters and their interactions are well-loved by fans, and the show has been adapted into manga, video games, and even a live-action movie.
The story follows the adventures of Sailor Moon as she fights against evil forces to protect her home planet, Earth, from destruction.
Along the way, she meets new friends and allies, all of whom help her grow and become stronger. The show’s popularity is evident in the number of fans who love it and the numerous adaptations made over the years.
12. Lupin The 3rd Part I
Who wouldn’t love a good mystery, especially when it’s wrapped up in an exciting story with quirky characters? That’s what Lupin III: The Third Part I is about – a tale of a thief embroiled in various heist schemes.
The anime was created by Yasuo Ohno and began airing in Japan in 1986. It quickly became popular and even went to the United States, where it aired on Fox Kids from 1993-1995. In 2003, Shogakukan released the fourth part of the series, which concluded the storyline.
Despite its age, Lupin III still manages to capture the attention of viewers worldwide. According to the website MAL, it’s currently one of the most popular old anime titles on Netflix, with over 150 million views.
And judging by the comments on various blogs and social media platforms, fans are still as entertained today as they were when the show first aired!
13. Super Dimensional Fortress Macross
“Super Dimensional Fortress Macross,” also known as just “Macross,” is a classic anime series from the 80s that has influenced many other anime shows.
The story follows a young pilot, Hikaru Ichijo, who gets caught up in a war between humanity and an alien race known as the Zentradi. The series is known for its use of mecha and engaging plot, combining science fiction, romance, and drama elements.
The mecha in “Macross” are transforming fighter planes that can switch between humanoid and jet forms. This concept was revolutionary and has since become a staple in mecha anime.
The mecha designs are also unique and memorable, with the iconic VF-1 Valkyrie being one of the most recognizable mecha in anime history.
Aside from the mecha action, “Macross” also features a strong love triangle between Hikaru, his friend Roy Focker, and the talented singer Lynn Minmay.
The series is known for its music, with several memorable songs, including “Do You Remember Love?” becoming classics in anime. Overall, “Super Dimensional Fortress Macross” is a must-watch for fans of classic anime and mecha action.
14. Future Boy Conan
“Future Boy Conan” is a post-apocalyptic adventure anime released in 1978. It was directed by Hayao Miyazaki and animated by Nippon Animation. The story revolves around a young boy named Conan who lives on a deserted island with his grandfather.
One day, a girl named Lana washes up on the shore and is pursued by a group of pirates who want to use her to find a hidden treasure. With Lana’s help, Conan embarks on a journey to save the world from a power-hungry tyrant.
The anime is known for its stunning animation, lovable characters, and engaging storyline. The theme of environmentalism is also prevalent throughout the series, as Conan and his friends try to restore the world to its former glory. The anime is suitable for all ages and can be enjoyed by both children and adults.
“Future Boy Conan” has had a lasting impact on the anime industry and has influenced many other works of fiction. The series has been dubbed in multiple languages and has a loyal fanbase worldwide. It remains a timeless classic that is worth watching for any anime fan.
15. Aim For The Ace!
As a high schooler, it’s probably impossible for you to really enjoy a show like Aim for the Ace. After all, this anime is so deep that people tend to enjoy it for various reasons.
It talks about a girl named Hiromi Oka who wishes to become a professional Tennis player. And let’s say that this dream is a tough one.
Why? Because the series focuses on character development and relationships. Unlike most sports anime, this one focuses more on the characters and their relationships.
It discusses anxiety, stress, and love issues when trying to reach something great. And these characteristics elevate the narrative to a whole new level for the audience
16. Astro Boy
“Astro Boy,” also known as “Mighty Atom,” is a classic anime series that first aired in 1963. The story follows a robot boy named Astro, who a scientist created to replace his deceased son. Astro has a strong sense of justice and uses his superhuman strength, speed, and other abilities to fight against evil and protect the innocent.
The series was groundbreaking at the time for its use of futuristic technology and themes, and it paved the way for many other anime and manga series. The character of Astro Boy became a cultural icon in Japan and has been referenced in countless other works of fiction.
Despite its age, “Astro Boy” remains a beloved classic among anime fans and is still watched and enjoyed by new generations. Its influence can still be seen in modern anime and manga, making it a must-watch for any medium fan.
17. Urusei Yatsura
The title of this blog post is Urusei Yatsura. The anime series based on the manga written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi has been one of the most popular anime ever since its premiere in 1981.
Regarding ratings, it currently holds the #1 spot on T.V. Asahi’s Top 20 Most Viewed Anime list for both 1997 and 2007. It also placed first in a 2004 survey conducted by the Japanese magazine Animage.
Why is Urusei Yatsura so popular? There are a few factors that could potentially contribute to its widespread appeal. First and foremost is the unique combination of lighthearted humor with genuine tenderness and emotion.
Secondly, there are a large number of memorable characters who each possess distinctive personality traits and abilities.
And finally, the story arc, which spans six seasons, is full of exciting action sequences and charming dialogues between the characters.
Interestingly enough, despite its popularity, Urusei Yatsura has never gone out of print in Japan. This suggests something special about this anime may make it stick in people’s memories long after watching it.
So if you want something fun to watch during your free time, check out Urusei Yatsura!
18. Speed Racer
“Speed Racer” is a classic anime from 1967 to 1968. The story follows the adventures of a young driver, Speed Racer, who competes in various races with his high-tech car, the Mach 5. The anime was known for its fast-paced action, thrilling car races, and memorable characters.
In “Speed Racer,” the titular character is driven by his desire to become the best racer in the world and honor his family’s legacy.
The show also features his family, including his parents and younger brother, who support him in his endeavors. The Mach 5, with its advanced gadgets and abilities, serves as a central aspect of the show and adds to the excitement of the races.
The anime’s popularity led to its adaptation in various countries, with different versions and titles. Its influence on the racing genre and pop culture is still felt today, with numerous references and homages to the show in movies, T.V. shows, and video games. “Speed Racer” remains a beloved classic that continues to capture the hearts of fans of all ages.
19. Top Wo Nerae!! Gunbuster
There’s no denying that Gunbuster is one of the most popular old anime series ever. Its action-packed battles and lighthearted humor have won over fans worldwide. Gunbuster was one of the first anime series to break the mold and introduce a new style of animation called ‘hybrid animation.’
This technique allowed both computer-generated graphics and traditional hand-drawn animation to be used together, creating a more detailed and realistic look.
Unlike many other anime series, Gunbuster features many characters with complex backstories and personalities. As a result, viewers can connect with them emotionally and feel their pain or excitement during the episodes.
Whether it’s battle scenes between giant robots or chase sequences across outer space, Gunbuster is packed full of thrilling action that will leave viewers on the edge of their seats.
While not everyone may enjoy this aspect of Gunbuster, there’s no denying that it has a lot of clever jokes and humorous moments that make it enjoyable for both young and old audiences alike. Released as both an original soundtrack album and a video game soundtrack, the music in Gunbuster is legendary enough to
20. Space Battleship Yamato
“Space Battleship Yamato,” also known as “Star Blazers” in the U.S., is a classic science-fiction anime that first aired in 1974. Set in the year 2199, the story follows the crew of the titular spaceship as they embark on a dangerous mission to save the Earth from an alien race known as the Gamilas.
The show was groundbreaking in its use of multi-episode story arcs and character development, which was uncommon in anime then. It also features impressive animation for its era, particularly in its depiction of space battles and futuristic technology.
The character and mecha designs, created by renowned artist and designer Leiji Matsumoto, have become iconic in anime. “Space Battleship Yamato” has spawned multiple sequels, films, and spin-offs, and its impact on the science-fiction genre in anime cannot be overstated.
21. Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball is an iconic anime that fans have loved since its debut in 1986. The story follows Goku, a young boy with incredible strength and a pure heart, on his quest to find the seven Dragon Balls and become the strongest warrior in the world.
The first season of Dragon Ball introduces Goku and his journey as he meets new friends overcomes challenges, and battles powerful enemies.
Along the way, he learns about his Saiyan heritage and trains to become stronger. The series is known for its action-packed battles and comedic moments, making it a classic among anime fans.
Dragon Ball’s popularity led to several sequels, including Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super, as well as movies, video games, and merchandise.
The anime has left a lasting impact on pop culture and continues to attract new fans. Its themes of friendship, loyalty, and perseverance have resonated with audiences worldwide, making it a timeless classic.
22. Slam Dunk
Slam Dunk is a classic sports anime that aired from 1993 to 1996, adapted from the manga written by Takehiko Inoue. The story follows the journey of a high school delinquent, Hanamichi Sakuragi, who joins his school’s basketball team to impress a girl he likes.
Despite having no prior experience in the sport, he possesses natural athleticism and becomes a key player for the team.
One of the highlights of Slam Dunk is its portrayal of the sport of basketball. The anime accurately depicts the techniques and strategies used in the sport, making it enjoyable for fans of anime but also for fans of basketball.
The anime’s popularity was so great that it helped increase the popularity of basketball in Japan and other Asian countries. The characters in Slam Dunk are also a major draw for viewers. Each character is unique and has their own motivations and backstories, making them relatable and likable.
The character development throughout the series is well done, allowing viewers to become emotionally invested in the characters and their journeys. Overall, Slam Dunk remains a beloved classic in sports anime.
There is a lot of anime, and deciding which ones to watch can be hard. However, if you want to watch some of the most popular old anime, you should definitely check out Trigun.
This series is about Vash the Stampede, a gunslinger who travels through time searching for rare weapons. Although this series is old, it still enjoys a lot of popularity. This is likely because it combines action and comedy interestingly.
In addition, the characters are well-developed and sympathetic. If you’re looking for an anime that will keep you entertained from beginning to end, Trigun is a good choice.
24. Knights Of The Zodiac
“Knights of the Zodiac” (known as Saint Seiya in Japan) is a classic anime from the 1980s that is still beloved by fans today.
The story follows a group of young warriors known as “Saints,” who are tasked with protecting the reincarnation of the Greek goddess Athena from various enemies. The series is known for its action-packed battles, unique armor designs, and mythology-inspired storylines.
The series’s protagonist is Seiya, a young orphan who becomes the Pegasus Saint and sets out to save Athena.
Along the way, he and his fellow Saints must face powerful foes, including others who have turned against them. The battles in “Knights of the Zodiac” are intense and often involve the creative use of the character’s special abilities and weapons.
The series has spawned multiple spin-offs, remakes, and adaptations over the years, as well as a dedicated fanbase. The classic 1980s anime is still a must-watch for fans of action-packed shonen anime, and its legacy continues to influence the genre.
FLCL, also known as Fooly Cooly, is a coming-of-age anime series originally aired in 2000. It follows the story of Naota Nandaba, a 12-year-old boy struggling to transition into adolescence.
His life turns unexpectedly when he meets Haruko Haruhara, a mysterious woman who claims to be an alien. Haruko’s presence in Naota’s life leads to a series of bizarre and surreal events that force him to confront his fears and insecurities.
The anime’s unique visual style and unconventional storytelling stand out from other coming-of-age series. The show’s themes of adolescence, identity, and relationships are explored in a way that is both relatable and surreal. The soundtrack, composed by the Japanese rock band The Pillows, adds to the show’s quirky and energetic tone.
FLCL’s legacy has only grown since its initial release, with the series receiving a sequel in 2018 and influencing numerous other anime and manga works. The show’s blend of humor, heart, and surrealism has made it a classic among anime fans, and its impact can still be felt in the medium today.
26. Revolutionary Girl Utena
“Revolutionary Girl Utena” is a classic anime series that has gained a cult following since its release in 1997. The show follows the story of Utena Tenjou, a teenage girl who aspires to become a prince, and her encounters with a mysterious student named Anthy Himemiya.
The series tackles themes of gender identity, sexuality, and power dynamics through its surreal and symbolic storytelling.
The show’s unique visual style and character designs, created by renowned artist Kunihiko Ikuhara, have become iconic within the anime community.
The series also features a memorable soundtrack composed by J.A. Seazer, which perfectly complements the show’s themes and tone.
Despite its initial run ending over two decades ago, “Revolutionary Girl Utena” remains a significant work within the anime canon and has inspired numerous spin-offs and adaptations, including a manga series, a film, and a recent stage production.
The show’s impact can be felt in how it influenced subsequent works within the magical girl genre and beyond.
27. Star Blazers
According to a recent poll, the oldest anime series still being enjoyed by viewers is “Star Blazers.” The show originally aired in Japan from 1979-1987 and follows the adventures of a team of space officers aboard the starship S.S. Blue Star.
Over the years, “Star Blazers” has maintained its popularity among anime fans thanks to its well-written storylines, entertaining characters, and jaw-dropping space battles.
Today, several fan groups are dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of “Star Blazers.” A new animated film based on the series is currently in production and is scheduled for release in 2020.
In addition to continuing to enjoy episodes of “Star Blazers” on television or online, fans can attend live conventions featuring cast and crew from the show.
28. Knight Hunters
“Knight Hunters,” also known as “Weiss Kreuz,” is a classic anime series that first aired in 1998. It follows the story of four young men who are part of a secret society called Weiss, which specializes in killing dangerous criminals.
The group uses their skills and weapons to eliminate targets while hiding their identities. The main character, Aya, is a skilled swordsman and team leader. He is joined by Ken, a martial artist, Omi, a computer expert, and Yoji, an expert marksman.
As the series progresses, the team faces challenges and must fight to protect the innocent and prevent evil from prevailing.
“Knight Hunters” is a thrilling anime that combines action, suspense, and drama. It’s a classic example of the shonen genre, which focuses on male protagonists and their battles against evil.
Fans of the show appreciate the unique characters, exciting fight scenes, and complex storylines. With its timeless appeal, “Knight Hunters” is a must-watch for anime fans, especially those who enjoy action and adventure.
29. Initial D: First Stage
Initial D: First Stage is a classic old anime that has left a long-lasting impression on the hearts of racing enthusiasts. The series was first aired in 1998, and its popularity grew.
The anime revolves around Takumi Fujiwara, a high school student who spends most of his free time delivering tofu for his father’s shop.
Despite his seemingly mundane life, Takumi possesses exceptional driving skills that he acquired from delivering tofu on treacherous mountain roads. The anime is set in illegal street racing and showcases Takumi’s journey as he becomes an accomplished street racer.
The races are thrilling and educational, as they introduce viewers to the techniques and strategies used by street racers to outmaneuver their opponents. Initial D: First Stage features an impressive soundtrack, which perfectly complements the intense racing scenes.
The anime’s animation style is unique, with its exaggerated facial expressions and intense camera angles that make the races all the more exciting to watch. If you’re a fan of racing and adrenaline-pumping action, Initial D: First Stage is a must-watch old anime.
30. Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain is one of the most popular old anime series ever. It was created by the Japanese animation studio Kyoto Animation and aired on Tokyo MX from October 6, 1997, to March 26, 1998.
The story follows schoolgirl Ai Shiina as she becomes entangled in a computer network called “Whitechapel” that houses several experimental programs.
Serial Experiments Lain is often cited as an influential work in the cyberpunk genre. The series has been praised for its complex plot and thought-provoking themes. It has also been compared to acclaimed works such as Blade Runner and Deus Ex Machina.
In conclusion, the anime world is vast and filled with countless gems. While newer series continue to capture viewers’ hearts, a certain charm and nostalgia is associated with older animes that should not be overlooked.
The top 30 best old animes listed here have stood the test of time and remain relevant even today. Whether you’re in the mood for action, romance, drama, or comedy, an old anime will satisfy your cravings.
These anime have paved the way for modern storytelling in the industry and continue to influence the anime we watch today. So, trip down memory lane and discover or re-watch some of these timeless classics. You never know; you might find your new favorite anime among them.
Are any of these shows on your radar? Let us know in the comments below!