AnimeBest 80s Anime : Revisiting the Iconic 80s Anime

Best 80s Anime [Ranked] : Revisiting the Iconic 80s Anime

If there’s one word that can bring out the inner teen in all of us, it’s ‘anime.’ I want to go back to the times of neon colors, and when our televisions were as big as the room they were in. 

I’m talking about the 80s.

Back when a guy in a bad jumpsuit could fly through space, blowing up monsters while looking like a 13-year-old girl. 

The following is a list of my favorite 80s Anime. I have also provided links to a few online sources from which you can watch each Anime.

Best 80s Anime Movies You Can’t Miss!

best 80s anime movies you can't miss

When it comes to anime, the 80s were a very different time. While a lot of anime was coming out in the 80s, not all of them were good. However, among the river, some absolute classics showed up as well. 

Whatever anime you like, here are the best 80s anime movies that you can’t miss.

18. The Cyberpunk Classic “Akira”

akira 1988
  • Author: Katsuhiro Otomo
  • Studio:  Tokyo Movie Shinsha
  • Release Date: July 16, 1988
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

Akira is a story about friendship, loyalty, and how far people will go to save their loved ones. The main characters are Kaneda and Tetsuo, who have been friends since childhood. They have different personalities; while Kaneda is more easygoing and reckless, Tetsuo is calm but extremely ambitious.

This one is a must-see if you love cyberpunk films like Blade Runner or The Matrix. It’s about a teenage biker gang leader who has telekinetic powers. He gets into trouble when he tries to protect his friend from government agents who want to experiment on him.

The movie has a very rich visual style that makes it an unforgettable experience for any fan of cyberpunk movies or animated films.

17. The Epic Fantasy Tale of “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”

nausicaä of the valley of the wind
  • Author: Hayao Miyazaki
  • Studio: Topcraft
  • Release Date: 11 March 1984
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

One of the most famous and influential anime movies of all time, “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” is a classic tale of fantasy and adventure. This movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where humanity is forced to live behind walls due to fear of giant insects. Nausicaä is an intelligent young woman who takes it upon herself to learn more about this dangerous world.

The story begins as Nausicaä discovers a small wounded creature (a “Tyrannosaurus” that she names Teto) that is an airship belonging to her mother, the Queen of the Valley.

After returning home, she learns that her father has died in battle against Tolmekia. Also, the Tolmekians plan to destroy their home village so they can build an airship factory there. Later on, Nausicaä meets someone from her past who holds the key to defeating the evil forces threatening their world.

16. The Heartwarming Story of “Grave of the Fireflies”

grave of the fireflies
  • Author: Akiyuki Nosaka
  • Studio: Studio Ghibli
  • Release Date: April 16, 1988
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

If you’re looking for something more emotional than action-packed, then Grave of Fireflies may be right up your alley. The film begins with Seita and his younger sister Setsuko being bombed out of their home in Kobe. Their mother has already died from illness. So now they have to fend for themselves in the streets.

Eventually, Seita is drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army. He returns home one last time before heading off to war but fails to bring back any food for his sister. Setsuko dies after he leaves again.

The movie is heartbreaking and shows how resilient they could be by making do with their little ones. Also, how they could keep going even when they had nothing left.

15. The Groundbreaking “Robot Carnival”

robot carnival
  • Author: Katsuhiro Otomo
  • Studio: A.P.P.P
  • Release Date: July 21, 1987
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

The first time I watched this movie, I was amazed at how different it was from the other anime films I had seen. It’s a collection of six short animated films by different directors. 

First, “The Inspector I,” is a science fiction detective story with a touch of the supernatural. The second, “Crater,” is an experimental piece with lots of bizarre imagery.

The third and fourth segments are both titled “The Time Wanderer.” And the fifth segment is “Love Machine,” which features several characters trying to escape from or destroy the titular machine.

Finally, there’s “Madame Tutli-Putli,” which tells a simple story about a woman whose husband has been kidnapped by evil creatures from another dimension.

14. The Legendary “Neo Tokyo” Anthology Film

neo tokyo
  • Author: Rintaro (Labyrinth Labyrinthos), Yoshiaki Kawajiri (The Running Man), Katsuhiro Otomo (Construction Cancellation Order)
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Release Date: October 10, 1987
  • Where To Watch: Netflix

Anime movies don’t always have to be about a hero saving the world or defeating an evil villain. Sometimes, they can be about discovering who you are and where you belong. 

“Neo Tokyo” is one of the most iconic anthology films ever made and is considered one of the best 80s anime movies ever made. The film features nine stories in a futuristic, dystopian version of Tokyo. The result is a beautiful mix of animation styles that runs the gamut from psychedelic to surrealist, with influences ranging from German Expressionism to manga comic books.

The anthology format allows each story to be as short or as long as it needs to be, so while some stories are only two or three minutes long, others are almost an hour long.

13. The Cult Classic “Barefoot Gen”

barefoot gen
  • Author: Keiji Nakazawa
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Release Date: 21 July 1983
  • Where To Watch: Prime Video

If you want to see the best of what anime offers, you need to check out this movie. 

“Barefoot Gen” is probably one of the most controversial movies in anime history because it’s so raw and emotional that it almost feels like real life. 

Based on an autobiographical manga about surviving World War II, this movie tells an important story about humanity during trying times that should never be forgotten.

The film has been praised for depicting what it was like to live through those events and has become a classic among those interested in Japanese culture. It’s also widely regarded as one of the best 80s anime movies!

12. The Influential “Vampire Hunter D”

vampire hunter d
  • Author: Dr. Jonathan Swift
  • Studio: Epic Records Japan
  • Release Date: December 21, 1985
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

One of the most influential vampire-themed anime films is “Vampire Hunter D.” It was released in 1985 and was based on a book series called “Dracula Hunter.” The story revolves around a young hunter named D, a half-human/half-vampire who travels around hunting vampires for a living. 

The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic future where vampires have taken control of most of the world, with only small pockets of humanity remaining (the titular “Darkstalkers”). And D is charged with exterminating vampires from a small village.

The movie has great animation, characters, and an interesting plot line that keeps you entertained throughout its runtime. 

11. The All-Time Great “Castle in the Sky”

castle in the sky
  • Author: Dr. Jonathan Swift
  • Studio: Studio Ghibli
  • Release Date: August 2, 1986
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

If you’re looking for an all-time classic anime movie, you can’t go wrong with Hayao Miyazaki’s “Castle in the Sky.” This movie has been praised by critics and adored by fans alike.

Castle in the Sky is the story of two children, Sheeta and Pazu, who live in a world filled with airships and pirates. They’re both kidnapped by government officials and taken on a quest to find an ancient treasure that could save their country from war.

The film’s biggest strength is its animation.

It was made before Studio Ghibli became famous for its amazing visuals. Still, even then, it was clear that Miyazaki was a genius for interestingly using light and color. He also did an excellent job with the characters; they’re very expressive and fun to watch as they go through their adventures.

10. Thrills of “Wicked City”

wicked city
  • Author: Beatriz Williams
  • Studio: Mad House
  • Release Date: 25 April 1987
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

Wicked City is a dark, supernatural thriller film set in the future. The movie is about two detectives investigating a series of murders that may be linked to a demon cult.

The movie was released in 1987 and was directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. The film’s interesting and unique style makes it stand out from other anime movies. It is set in the future and has some elements, but it’s not a sci-fi movie. The art style is also unique as it looks like something out of Blade Runner or Akira, but with more fantasy elements added.

Wicked City is one of the interesting stories with some good action scenes, so if you’re looking for something different, this might be worth checking out!

9. The Urban Fantasy “Bubblegum Crisis”

bubblegum crisis
  • Author: Toshimichi Suzuki
  • Studio: Youmex
  • Release Date: February 25, 1987
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

Bubblegum Crisis is a four-part OVA series that was released in 1987. It’s set in a world ruled by corporations where robots are used for everything, from construction to warfare. 

A young woman named Sylia Stingray leaves her family, who have been involved in international arms dealing, and forms an underground vigilante group called Knight Sabers. The group consists of Sylia’s friends Priss (a punk biker), Nene (an ambitious model), and Linna (a shy computer hacker). They use powered armor suits to fight crime and corporate corruption in the dystopian 23rd century.

Bubblegum Crisis was one of the first anime movies to be released on DVD outside of Japan, which helped make it popular with fans in other countries and at home in Japan.

8. The Military Science Fiction “Macross”

  • Author: Haruhiko Mikimoto
  • Studio: Art Land Animation Studio
  • Release Date: October 3, 1982
  • Where To Watch: Amazon Prime Video

One of the most iconic anime series of all time, Macross is a military science fiction series that aired in 1982 and ran for three seasons. The story takes place in 2040 and focuses on an alien race called Zentradi, who are at war with humanity. 

This anime follows Hikaru Ichijyo, a talented fighter pilot from Macross 7, who is sent on a mission to infiltrate a Zeon base on Earth. But when he falls in love with Lynn Minmay, one of the local girls, he has to decide whether to stay loyal to his mission or follow his heart.

Macross has become one of the most popular anime ever made, spawning several sequels and spin-offs that have been adapted into other media, such as games and novels.

7. The Supernatural Adventure “Urusei Yatsura”

urusei yatsura

If you’re an anime fan, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of this classic series. The Supernatural Adventure ‘Urusei Yatsura” is an anime movie from the 80s. It’s the first movie of the series and the most famous one.

The movie is about Ataru’s quest to win Lum, an alien girl who has come to Earth as part of a mission to find a husband. He also deals with Mendo and his gang, who want Lum for themselves.

It’s interesting how the movie combined comedy, romance, and action elements into one great storyline. This is why it remains one of the most popular anime films today despite being released more than 30 years ago.

6. The Action Adventure “Project A-ko”

project a-ko uncivil wars
  • Author: Katsuhiko Nishijima, Tomoko Kawasaki
  • Studio: A.P.P.P
  • Release Date: June 21, 1986
  • Where To Watch: Netflix

The Action Adventure “Project A-ko” is another great anime movie from the 80s. It’s a sci-fi action comedy film about two high school girls fighting against aliens and monsters.

The main characters are A-ko Magami and B-ko Daitokuji, who want to win over their love interests. The film also features a lot of pop culture references from other movies, like “Star Wars,” “Tron,” and even “Back to the Future.”

Project A-ko is a good example of how some anime can take classic Western genres and make them their own without losing sight of what made those genres so good in the first place.

5. The Fantasy Adventure “The Fantastic Adventures of Unico”

the fantastic adventures of unico
  • Author: Osamu Tezuka
  • Studio: Sanrio
  • Release Date: March 14, 1981
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

The Fantastic Adventures of Unico is a simple tale about friendship, love, and family ties that will appeal to people of all ages looking for an entertaining animated feature film.

Unico is a little unicorn who lives in the Kingdom of Fantasy, where he is the last of his kind. He has been raised by an older man named Abel since childhood and has a good relationship with him. Unico’s carefree life ends when a three-headed dragon named Tyrant destroys the kingdom, killing Abel and making Unico lonely.

The unicorn travels to Earth with two humans transformed into cats by Tyrant and meets up with them again at their home in Tokyo.

4. The Historical Adventure “The Sea Prince and The Fire Child”

the sea prince and the fire child
  • Author: Masami Hata
  • Studio: Sanrio
  • Release Date: July 18, 1981
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

The story of this 80s anime is set in a fantasy world. This is a story about a young boy named Chihiro who lives in what seems to be an ordinary world but is not. There are spirits and monsters in this world, and Chihiro knows nothing about them. 

Then one day, he meets Hiiro, who calls himself a “Sea Prince.” The two go on an adventure together and encounter many different creatures.

This film has some heavy themes, including death and war, which can be difficult for younger viewers to understand. However, this movie is still worth watching because it’s so beautifully animated and has lots of funny moments too.

3. Demon City Shinjuku

demon city shinjuku
  • Author: Hideyuki Kikuchi
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Release Date: October 25, 1988
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

Demon City Shinjuku follows a young man named Kenji who’s on the run from the police after being falsely accused of murder. He finds himself in a mysterious city that is inhabited by demons and other creatures of the night.

There, he meets Ryo, another young man who soon becomes Kenji’s closest friend. The two must fight for their lives as they come face-to-face with these bloodthirsty creatures and try to find a way out of the magical realm before it’s too late!

Demon City Shinjuku is an action-packed anime film that any fan of supernatural thrillers will enjoy watching. It features plenty of suspense and mystery, as well as some cool action scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

2. The Mecha Adventure “The Five Star Stories”

the five star stories
  • Author: Mamoru Naganu
  • Studio: Sunrise
  • Release Date: March 11, 1989
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

The story follows a young man named Jinto who lives in an alternate universe where people live on giant ships called Yggdrasil. Five major kingdoms control most of the land on these ships and are referred to as “monarchs.”

Each of these monarchs has unique abilities, allowing them to create powerful weapons called “Mecha,” or large robots.

Jinto is chosen by one of these monarchs, Odin, to become his successor but must pass a series of tests before becoming king. This includes finding a girl named Lafiel, who used to be one of Odin’s servants but now runs away from him because she does not want to marry him.

1. The Romance Adventure “Wings of Honneamise”

wings of honneamise
  • Author: Hiroyuki Yamaga
  • Studio: Gainax, Bandai Visual
  • Release Date: March 14, 1987
  • Where To Watch: Crunchyroll

The film’s story is set in 2037 and follows Shirotsugh Lhadatt. He’s a young man from an impoverished country who becomes the first human to travel into space. Lhadatt is tasked with escorting a princess to her home planet. But he is distracted by his desire for fame and glory.

The film explores themes such as the nature of heroism and what it means to be human, as well as industrialization and pollution.

The movie follows his journey as he struggles with his ideals and the reality he has been thrust into. The plot is nothing new, but it’s executed well enough that it doesn’t feel like a retread of other stories. The animation stands out thanks to its hand-drawn style, which was unusual at the time, but still feels fresh today.

Looking back on 80s anime series like “Akira” and “Gundam” is a reminder of just how far this art form has come.

But still, beyond their nostalgia factor, some of these movies are still worth watching today for their beautiful animation and engaging stories. And on top of all that, they serve as a testament to the staying power of good storytelling.

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